Friday’s soccer news starts with another coronavirus issue for Major League Soccer. The Columbus Crew announced that Pedro Santos and Darlington Nagbe aren’t available for the MLS Cup final (Saturday, 8:30pm ET – Fox) due to positive coronavirus tests. Santos has played 22 games this season, tied for 2nd in team scoring, and 1st in assists doubling the next three players. There’s no replacing that kind of contribution. Nagbe started 14 of 15 games this season.
Losing Santos and Nagbe for the final not only reworks the Crew midfield on short notice, it changes any preview of the game. Columbus goes from a strong attacking midfield creating goals for itself as well as feeding target forward Gyasi Zardes to something else. Yes, Lucas Zelarayan to Zardes is still the obvious way forward, but the Crew’s game needs that midfield as it is. That also pushes Seattle into the position of clear favorites on the road at MAPFRE Stadium.
How both teams adjust to these changes becomes the overriding question the day before the final. The obvious solution for the Crew is taking a more defensive posture, but that may limit what makes Zelarayan effective. Disrupting the style of play from what got them this far was Seattle’s job. Now, it’s the Crew’s. Seattle now has the upper hand, but not in the way any competitive team would want.
At the same time, it’s a familiar scenario for the league itself. LAFC exited to Seattle in the opening round after positive tests reworked their lineup. MLS made it clear that positive tests weren’t going to derail the playoffs, and now they’ve got a final where positive tests are the story.
Moving to the Europa League, Richy Ledezma needed a stretcher to exit PSV’s 4-0 home win over Omonia in the 17th minute with what the club later confirmed as a ruptured ACL. Donyell Malen scored in the 35th minute with Denzel Dumfries doubling the lead from the penalty spot in the 63rd. Joel Piroe added two goals in stoppage time. PSV won group E by one point over Granada.
MLSsoccer’s Matthew Doyle previews the MLS Cup final. The Columbus Dispatch’s Jacob Myers with potential tactical shifts for the Crew. USA Today’s Jim Reineking also previews the final with the focus on Seattle’s run. ESPN’s Jeff Carlisle reports from an MLSPA press conference where union head Bob Foose talked about coronavirus positives across the league.
Tim Weah’s Lille lost 3-2 at Celtic. Down a goal from the 21st minute, Nanitamo Ikone equalized in the 24th. Celtic went ahead from the penalty spot in the 28th. Weah equalized for Lille in the 71st, but Celtic scored again four minutes later. Lille finished 2nd to Milan in group H.
“We came here to win and finish first in the group,” Weah said. “Unfortunately that was not the case and we did not manage to better Milan’s result in Prague. We still qualified and despite the defeat, we remain very proud of our start to the season, whether in the league or in the Europa League…. Personally, I’m happy to have scored, but I’m not satisfied with it. I have to score other goals, change matches.”
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