Friday’s soccer news starts with the Europa League semifinals. Bryan Reynolds wasn’t in the squad for Roma, who beat Manchester United 3-2 at home but exited 8-5 on aggregate. Down a goal on the night from the 39th minute, Edin Dzeko equalized for Roma in the 57th. Bryan Cristante gave Roma the lead in the 60th with United equalizing in the 60th. An own-goal made it 3-2 Roma in the 83rd minute. Manchester United advances to play Villarreal in the final. Villarreal drew 0-0 at Arsenal to take the series 2-1 on aggregate.
“I thought it was still possible to get to the final, even if we were facing a side like Manchester United,” Roma coach Paulo Fonseca said. “Today, and in the first 45 minutes of the first leg, I think we showed that was possible. But we got the second half wrong in Manchester and from that point it was always going to be difficult to score four goals against a team like United. But we scored three and we could have scored a few more – but Manchester United took advantage of the few chances they had.”
This is the final season of the Europa League as the only other European competition. Though it will remain UEFA’s second level tournament behind the Champions League, the Europa Conference League launches in 2021-22 as the third-tier in Europe. What that means for the Europa League is less teams, down to 32. The tournament still picks up the 3rd-place finishers from the Champions League group stage, but there’s now a playoff round between those eight teams and the Europa League group stage 2nd-place finishers. That round of 16 advances eight to play the Europa League group stage winners.
Both the Champions League and Europa League also drop teams to the new Europa Conference League. For the Champions League, that happens in the qualifying rounds. For the Europa League it’s also the qualifying rounds along with the 3rd-place finishers in the group stage dropping to the Europa Conference League preliminary knockout round. Because everything is straightforward in European soccer, that preliminary knockout round happens after the group stage. Those eight teams from the Europa League play the Europa Conference League 2nd-place finishers to advance to the round of 16 against the Europa Conference League group winners.
With all that in place, it’s worth the reminder that one of the bigger complaints about the Europa League is that it’s a safety net for losing Champions League teams. Manchester United was the highest ranked of the 3rd-place Champions League teams to fall to the Europa knockout round this season. The other three semifinalists started in the Europa League with their domestic leagues advancing four teams to the Champions League group stage rather than going through qualifying.
Also in the soccer news, Geoff Cameron will part ways with Queens Park Rangers when the season ends this weekend, returning to the United States. “I have tried to represent the club in the best way possible, both on and off the field. I have tried to set an example for the young guys and give them as much knowledge as I could. There comes a time when you have to do the best for your family, and the future ahead of me, but I’ll always be a QPR fan…. This ends a dream of mine in playing in two of the top leagues in the world, but it’s also a dream of mine to keep playing and it’s a pleasure to finish my time here in England at such a prestigious club in QPR.”
US Soccer announced that the US Women will play the first game at Austin FC’s new stadium. They face Nigeria on June 16 at 9pm ET. “We are both thrilled and honored that the first-ever match at Q2 Stadium will feature the four-time FIFA World Champions,” Austin FC president Andy Loughnane said. “Hosting the USWNT at Q2 Stadium speaks to the world-class nature of our city, our facilities, and the popularity of the sport in our region.”
Soccer America’s Scott French talks to former USMNT player Steve Cherundolo about his new job coaching the Las Vegas Lights. The NY Times’ Rory Smith on the Premier League version of the Champions League final. ESPN’s Rob Dawson relays Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s issues with the rescheduled game against Liverpool.
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