Friday’s soccer news starts with the conclusion of the 2020 MLS regular season. Sunday is Decision Day, with lots left to play for courtesy of the points per game version of the league table. That includes Philadelphia (hosting New England) or Toronto (at the Red Bulls) winning the Supporters’ Shield. Points per game is having its convoluted way, with MLSsoccer working through the various permutations. That includes a path forward for Atlanta United.
It’s worth the reminder that Atlanta started the season as one of the presumptive favorites in the East. That’s not a tough prediction to make for a team that seemed to be coming together under Frank de Boer. He’s now the coach of the Dutch national team and their star player missed the season with an injury. The result is a disjointed version of Atlanta that remains in contention for a playoff spot. All it would take is… well, it would take some maneuvering with Atlanta needing some help.
They’re far from the only Eastern Conference team in that situation with Inter Miami and DC also capable of jumping into a playoff spot. The reward for making it into one of those final four playoff positions in the East is a play-in game to get to the playoffs proper. That will wait until after the November international window, with those two play-in games set for November 20.
What that means for the teams that wait through the international break only to immediately make their exits is a new twist on an old question. Making the knockout round and losing immediately under previous versions of the MLS playoff system didn’t necessarily lead teams to reconsider their setups. Coaches have lost their jobs for exiting in later rounds. What counts for success in this league in regular times can quickly become a moving target. In this strange season where shock results have become the norm, what counts as success already a very pertinent question.
Moving to the Europa League, Timothy Weah’s Lille won 3-0 at Milan. Yusuf Yazici has a hat trick, opening the scoring from the penalty spot in the 21st and adding goals in the 55th and 58th. Milan was undefeated in 24 games.
“That we can win in Milan, yes I thought so, from the moment my players decided to outdo themselves,” Lille coach Christophe Galtier said “But to win 0-3, I never dreamed of it. The players outdid themselves, even if the first quarter of an hour was difficult. After the game opened up a bit, we managed to set up what we wanted to do. Outdoing was one of the key words of the talk along with movement and dynamism. I am proud of them. My players made the game their own.”
The Guardian’s Paul McInnes reports on FIFA pushing ahead with regulating what agents make in Europe. AP’s Rob Harris updates the situation with UEFA lobbying FIFA to alter the handball rule. BBC Sport’s Simon Stone has Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer deflecting criticism.
Lampard reports Christian Pulisic is out of tomorrow’s game, as is Kai Havertz who is still self-isolating. Kepa is available again although he is still feeling some pain in his shoulder.#CHESHU
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) November 6, 2020
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