Columbus Crew SC, after a very emotional and wild week and a half, have marched into Atlanta, held Atlanta United scoreless for 120 minutes, and won in penalty picks to move on to the Eastern Conference Semifinals, where they will take on New York City FC. It would not have been possible without Crew Goalkeeper Zack Steffen, who stood on his head throughout the match, with eight saves in 120 minutes, and two in the penalty shootout, including one ball that was already behind the length of his body. Steffen, after the match, said the Crew wanted to “shut the crowd up,“ which they very much did by sending Atlanta out of the playoffs in their first season ever. The Houston Dynamo also needed extra time to beat Sporting Kansas City, who sure did not look like the best defense in the MLS. Houston will take on the Portland Timbers.
This falls more under the category of “world news“ than “sports news,“ but Catalonia (now the Independent Republic of Catalonia), has declared independence from Spain. Spain, as they have expressed before, is not very happy about this, and plans to impose direct rule from Madrid, treating the independence vote as secession. This goes wider than just the countries, though, as we now have the burning question of what FC Barcelona does. There have been talks of possibly moving to another league, or staying in Spain, or starting a Catalonian League, but right now, you have the civil part of this whole thing being more important. In addition, Real Madrid has to travel to Girona, which is located in, you guessed it, Catalonia. It’s unclear if that game will even happen, given the current circumstances. This story is far from over, and is in general a pretty big event for Europe, so we’ll keep our eyes on this moving forward.
Goal-scoring machine Harry Kane has been ruled out of Tottenham’s match against Manchester United on Saturday because of a hamstring sprain suffered against Liverpool. He pulled up in the last few minutes holding his hamstring, and Mauricio Pochettino said he was just tired, but the injury is enough to keep the striker out of both the Carabao Cup loss to West Ham and the Premier League clash with United. Pochettino has said he wishes all his players were available, but says he is not going to take a risk, even a very small one, by starting someone with an injury. It sounds like Kane will be fine moving forward, but it is a shame we won’t get to see two of the League’s best strikers go head-to-head.
I, for one, think Antonio Conte may be fed up with the rumors of players not being happy with him. One English paper had an article that claimed players were texting England assistant coach Steve Holland saying they no longer wanted to play for Conte and that they did not have a healthy relationship with him. Conte has since dropped a couple s-bombs in the press room and said that Holland told him those rumors are not true. So it appears that, for what seems like the third time this season, no, Conte is not going anywhere right now.
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