The soccer news starts with Scottish Premier League champions Celtic failing to advance in Champions League qualifying. Celtic lost 4-3 at home to CFR Cluj and 5-4 on aggregate in the third round of qualifying. They led 3-2 from a 76th-minute goal. Cluj equalized from the penalty spot in the 80th and scored seven minutes into stoppage time.
Unfortunately for the rest of the Scottish Premier League who would otherwise take a moment to bask in Celtic’s disappointment, this is the modern era of the Champions League. The Scottish champions represents the entire league, with its performance directly impacting their UEFA coefficient ranking. Scotland is currently 19th, an improvement from 26th for the ranking period that determined this season’s European spots. That jump in the rankings only counts so much. The group of clubs ranked 16-30 all get one spot in the Champions League qualifiers and three in the Europa League qualifiers.
Celtic now joins the Scottish Premier League teams trying to qualify for the Europa League group stage. That already doesn’t include Kilmarnock, losing to Welsh club Connah’s Quay Nomads in the first round of qualifying. Rangers and Aberdeen are still alive in the main path of the third qualifying round, but Aberdeen needs to comeback from a 2-0 first-leg loss at Rijeka.
What’s at stake for leagues like the Scottish Premier League is relevancy. With less qualifying spots in the Champions League group stage and rumors of what amounts to a promotion and relegation system with the Europa League starting in 2021-22, Scotland’s clubs could quickly find themselves among the outsiders in Europe playing in the new Europa League 2.
“We all wanted Champions League football and we’ve only ourselves to blame for not getting that,” Celtic manager Neil Lennon said. “We’ve been loose, and in the important moments of the game, we switched off. The players are bitterly disappointed, and we accept blame as a collective.”
That collective includes all of Scottish club soccer at a time where there’s no such thing as an individual club disappointing. All involved represent the rest.
Moving to MLS, Wilmer Cabrera is no longer the coach of the Houston Dynamo the club announced on Tuesday. Assistant coach Davy Arnaud will takeover as interim through the rest of the 2019 season. Houston is in 9th-place in the Western Conference with 30 points from 25 games. They lost 2-1 at Philadelphia in week 23.
“We’d like to thank Wilmer for all of his hard work and dedication over the course of the last two and a half seasons with the Houston Dynamo, including last year’s US Open Cup title,” Houston GM Matt Jordan said in a press statement. “We wish him all the best moving forward. At this time, we as a club believe the team will benefit from a fresh perspective as we enter the final third of our season and make a push to qualify for the playoffs.”
The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter talks to LA Galaxy GM Dennis te Kloese about the club’s changing approach this season. Pro Soccer USA’s Ben Ferree on Columbus potentially putting MLS in a position to make a solidarity payment.
The Independent’s Miguel Delaney explains the situation for Frank Lampard as Chelsea manager. AFP’s Tom Allnutt does the same for Zinedine Zidane at Real Madrid. ESPN’s Julien Laurens updates the Neymar to Barcelona story. FourFourTwo’s Richard Jolly finds a difference in the Premier League’s transfer spending. SBI Soccer’s Ives Galarcep highlights what USMNT player Tim Weah did in his debut for Lille in Ligue 1.
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