The soccer news starts with what counts as a Champions League disappointment. Christian Pulisic didn't play in Chelsea's 1-0 home loss to Valencia. Rodrigo scored the game's only goal in the 74th minute, with Chelsea taking 22 shots with 6 on goal to Valencia's 8 with 2. Chelsea missed a penalty, adding to the pressure now on the squad.
"We created enough good chances, had a penalty, and then conceded from one shot on target. It's a harsh lesson of Champions League football because we played pretty well but lost. The good news is we’ve got five more games left in the group but we should have got more tonight."
It's a theme that should resonate with the defending champions. Liverpool lost their opening game 2-0 at Napoli, giving up an 82nd minute penalty and another goal in stoppage time.
"We have to accept the result and we do that," Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said. "We are really critical with ourselves but it was not a really, really bad performance; it was a game which you can win at Napoli, but we didn’t because we didn’t score and that doesn’t work then really. You want to then have at least a point and we didn’t get that because of the penalty. I am pretty sure there are different views on that situation, but when the player jumps before there is contact it cannot be a penalty. We cannot change that anymore, so now we carry on. That’s it."
Last season no team won all of its group stage games. Porto came the closest winning five. There's no expectation of a clean sweep in the group because it so rarely happens. Even when it does, there's not a lot of momentum given the break between the group stage and the knockout rounds. In 2017-18 multiple teams won five of their six games, but it was Real Madrid winning the title. They won four in their group.
As for the rest of the USMNT players in the Champions League, Sergiono Dest's Ajax shutout Lille 3-0 at home. Quincy Promes scored in the 18th minute with Edson Alvarez doubling the lead in the 50th. Nicolas Tagliafico finished off the goals in the 62nd with Andre Onana making five saves to keep the clean sheet.
"It is a fantastic result, let's put that first," Ajax coach Erik ten Hag said. "I have seen beautiful goals, I think the audience enjoyed it. But at a certain point it became too frivolous, we broke down. You can be punished, but luckily we had a fantastic Andre Onana."
Timothy Weah missed the game for Lille due to injury. Tyler Adams is also injured, missing RB Leipzig's 2-1 win at Benfica. Timo Werner scored in the 69th and 78th minutes with Benfica pulling a goal back in the 84th.
Football 365's Seb Stafford-Bloor looks at the Liverpool loss. The Independent's Miguel Delaney with what Liverpool can take from their opener. The Guardian's Barney Ronay on that penalty decision. The NY Times' Rory Smith asks about Barcelona needing so much from Lionel Messi to draw at Borussia Dortmund.
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