Tuesday’s soccer news starts with a lot of people no longer pretending that the Champions League group stage matters in December. There are calls to drop the group stage entirely and return to the now very old two-leg knockout format from the beginning. That’s counter to what UEFA needs from the Champions League, subbing in for a breakaway Super League. Instead, the current pressure is simply trying to make the existing games matter.
We already know that UEFA can’t figure this one out. They’ve tried. Double group stages was once their bright idea. Part of the point of offering more guaranteed group stage places to the elite leagues is to limit the over-matched teams. That’s always going to get a response centering on teams from lower-ranked leagues that did well in their group alongside elite league teams that didn’t.
Regardless, UEFA has a point. The expectation is yet another team from Europe’s big leagues will have the resources to perform well in the Champions League. That increases the likelihood of group stage games that count in December.
Also in the soccer news, MLS announced its Best XI with seven players debuting on the list.
2016 MLS Best XI
GK: Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)
DEF: Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Axel Sjoberg (Colorado Rapids), Jelle Van Damme (LA Galaxy)
MID: Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas), Giovani dos Santos (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact)
FOR: Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), David Villa (New York City FC), Bradley Wright-Phillips (New York Red Bulls)
ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle talks to Seattle Sounders investor-operator Adrian Hanauer about the team regrouping to make the MLS Cup final. Sportsnet’s John Molinaro writes about what it’s been like covering Toronto FC since their debut season.Atlanta United announce the signing of Miguel Almiron to a young Designated Player deal. Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep argues that it’s time for Portland’s Darlington Nagbe to try something new, namely a move to Europe. FourFourTwo’s Richard Farley wonders what the lower divisions of American soccer will look like should the NASL not make it to 2017.
The NY Times’ Rory Smith explains the benefit of finishing in 2nd-place rather than winning a Champions League group. The Telegraph’s Matt Law reports that Swansea City’s ownership is reviewing why the club is stuck at the bottom of the Premier League. Inside World Football’s Paul Nicholson has Barcelona FC part of a new training center in China.
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