Wednesday’s soccer news starts in the Concacaf Champions League, where Philadelphia advanced 4-0 on the night and by the same score on aggregate over Alianza. Playing a man up from the 40th minute, the Union’s Damion Lowe scored a minute into stoppage time at Subaru Park. Daniel Gazdag converted a 62nd minute penalty and Andres Perea added goals in the 81st and 84th minutes. Philadelphia goalkeeper Joe Bendik made one save to keep the clean sheet.
“These are the types of games players want to play in in the Champions League,” Philadelphia coach Jim Curtin said. “It was very difficult for us to break them down. I’d like for us to do a better job breaking teams down in the run of play. Obviously, good to get a goal off of a restart with Damion right before the end of the half. Obviously, the red card helps as well. I thought we played a professional second-half.”
Austin exited the Champions League to Violette, winning 2-0 at Q2 Stadium but losing the series 3-2 on aggregate. Sebastian Driussi scored in the 51st and 63rd minutes with Austin goalkeeper Brad Stuver not facing a shot on goal.
“It’s certainly disappointing to lose out,” Austin coach Josh Wolff said. “It’s a day where we certainly could’ve scored multiple goals, but it’s two legs. We didn’t do ourselves any favors in the first-leg. No goals away was damaging, to give up the goals certainly in the way that we did. But there were many opportunities tonight as well to put more on the board. Of course it feels like an opportunity lost that we’re not advancing, but we’ve got to learn from it.”
Moving to the Championship, Zack Steffen’s Middlesbrough drew 1-1 at home with Stoke City. Chuba Akpom put Boro up in the 23rd with Stoke equalizing in the 45th minute. Steffen made five saves.
“First time we’ve probably really had that type of game where we found it difficult the longer the game went on and didn’t quite have our spark, didn’t quite have our rhythm,” Midlesbrough manager Michael Carrick said. “But I was really pleased with the boys’ effort, they gave absolutely everything. I thought it’s a great learning experience for everyone really in terms of games like this, how we deal with them as a group and staying positive….”
Matthew Olosunde wasn’t in the squad for Preston North End’s 2-1 win at Rotherham United. Thomas Cannon scored for PNE in the 23rd and Rotherham equalized in the 35th. Preston’s Ched Evans scored two minutes into first-half stoppage time.
Also in the soccer news, FIFA announced the men’s international calendar from 2025-30 and the structure for the 2026 World Cup. The new international calendar has a two-game window in March, another two-game window in June, a four-game window in late September ending in early October, and a two-game window in November. The 2026 World Cup scheduled to start on June 16, will keep four-team groups with eight 3rd-place teams now advancing to the knockout stage.
“FIFA promoted a truly global approach to the discussions on the International Match Calendar, which considered the perspectives of all key stakeholders,” FIFA president Gianni Infantino said in the press statement announcing the decisions. Our fundamental objective is to have clarity on this topic, and to have meaningful football matches while protecting the well-being of the players and recognizing that many regions need more competitive football.”
With FIFA also confirming the new expanded 32-team Club World Cup for 2025, Concacaf announced that the Champions League winners from 2021-2024 will take the region’s four spots in that tournament. That means Monterrey and Seattle have already qualified.
THURSDAY’S SOCCER TV
Europa League on TUDN: Real Betis vs Manchester United at 1:45pm and Arsenal vs Sporting at 4pm. Copa Libertadores on beIN Sport: Cerro Porteno vs Fortaleza at 6pm and Sporting Cristal vs Huracan at 8pm. Concacaf Champions League on FS1: Leon vs Tauro at 8pm and Pachuca vs Motagua at 10:15pm.
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Photo by the Philadelphia Union