Friday’s soccer news starts with the 2021-22 Premier League season. From an American soccer perspective, that means starting with Chelsea and Manchester City. Christian Pulisic and Zack Steffen spent the early part of the summer winning the Nations League with the USMNT. They return to a new club season where the expectations only increased. Chelsea won the Champions League while finishing 4th in the Premier League. Manchester City won the Premier League but lost to Chelsea in the Champions League final. For both clubs, winning one trophy but not the other is the issue.
Chelsea is once again spending, adding Romelo Lukaku from Inter Milan in a transfer reportedly worth €115m. Lukaku returns to Chelsea and the Premier League as the type of striker expected to make an immediate difference. For a club already as strong as Chelsea, it’s a clear indication that output has to increase. They scored 58 goals last season, ten less than the teams in front and behind them in the table. Only two teams finishing in the top ten scored less goals than Chelsea.
That’s not the problem for Manchester City, putting up 83 goals last season ten more than anybody else. The 1-0 loss to Chelsea in the Champions League final resonates because of City’s lack of output. They got credit for one shot on goal, sending the game Chelsea’s way by an inability to press the offense.
City has spent most of this transfer window trying to work out a deal for Spurs to bring in Harry Kane. Reports have Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland linked with a move to City, but at this point there are reports linking him with moves to pretty much every European contender. That’s what is happening in the wake of what is resetting expectations this season.
Once Lionel Messi officially joined PSG the scope of competing in the Champions League changed. PSG now has the strongest offense in Europe, and by a large margin. There’s no downplaying what Neymar, Messi, and Kylian Mbappe can do, and the rest of the European challengers are quickly trying to adjust. Exciting times at the end of the transfer window, with squads still in flux as the Premier League season begins.
Speaking of the transfer window, there’s significant transfer speculation involving Owen Otasowie with Wolverhampton reportedly considering offers. This comes after reports that Otasowie wasn’t interested in a new deal with the club. Spurs defender Cameron Carter-Vickers is also receiving transfer interest from other Premier League clubs. Reports also have Erik Palmer-Brown leaving parent club Manchester City for either Serie A or Ligue 1. Matt Miazga’s situation with Chelsea is unclear. He’s played in friendlies and is listed on the club’s roster, but rumors once again have him going on loan this season.
Josh Sargent’s recent move to Norwich City puts him in an interesting position after spending last season with Schalke 04. Norwich City won promotion as Championship winners, suggesting that they’re in a better position to deal with the pressures of the Premier League. Sargent is a significant addition, expected to pick up some of the scoring load. Last season’s relegated clubs scored 27, 35, and 20 goals with goal differences of -26, -41, and -43. Burnley stayed up with 33 goals and a -22 differential. Only one club in the top 16 scored less than 40 goals, the clearest indication of what safety means in the Premier League.
Moving to the Leagues Cup and what’s close to the worst case scenario for Major League Soccer, only one team advanced to the semifinals. Orlando City lost 1-0 to Santos Laguna at Exploria Stadium to a 30th minute Ferney Otero goal. Orlando’s Junior Urso saw red five minutes into stoppage time. That means only Seattle advances from the four MLS teams that entered the tournament. They play Santos Laguna in the semifinals on September 14. UNAM Pumas play Leon in the other half of the bracket.
One semifinalist should seem familiar to MLS since it’s also happening in the Concacaf Champions League. Philadelphia lost 2-0 at Club America at Estadio Azteca in that tournament. Richard Sanchez opened the scoring in the 17th and Emanuel Aguilera converted a penalty in the 80th minute. The Union hosts the second-leg at PPL Park on September 15.
The importance of getting an MLS team through against Liga MX clubs is tough for MLS to downplay after the addition of the Leagues Cup and Campeones Cup. Both are supposed to increase that level of competition rather than giving Liga MX another trophy to win. How the league treated Atlanta winning the first Campeones Cup is the example. It was a big deal for the league because it’s a competitive metric they value.
With that in mind, both competitions are still open. Seattle could advance to the Leagues Cup final. Philadelphia could turn around that series with Club America. MLS has an opportunity here. It’s just not as good of one as they’d like.
In Europa Conference League qualifying, Christian Ramirez’s Aberdeen advanced with a 2-1 home win over
Breidablik, taking the series 5-3 on aggregate. Ryan Hedges put Aberdeen up in the 47th with Breidablik equalizing in the 59th. Hedges scored again in the 70th. Ramirez subbed out in the 79th minute.
The Washington Post’s Ben Straus with La Liga now on ESPN. The Athletic’s Sam Stjeskal’s interview with RB Leipzig coach Jesse Marsch.
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