Real defeats Juventus and defends title
This season of European soccer saw predictable results: league champions included favorites like Chelsea FC in the English Premier League, FC Bayern Munich in the German Bundesliga and Real Madrid CF in the Spanish La Liga.
The UEFA Europa League final in Stockholm on May 24 saw Manchester United FC defeat AFC Ajax, 2-0. United’s Manager Jose Mourinho made waves this off-season by releasing the legendary Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a free agent and bringing in Alvaro Morata of Real Madrid.
It is rumored, though unconfirmed, that Ibrahimovic will join former United teammate Bastian Schweinsteiger, traded to the United States by Mourinho in 2016, in Major League Soccer for next season.
The European soccer season ceremoniously drew to a close on June 3 in Wales, where Real Madrid lifted the Champions League cup over the Italian club Juventus FC. Despite its squad of young stars like Paulo Dybala and aging giants like Gianluigi Buffon, considered by many to be the greatest goalkeeper of all-time, Juventus was unable to match Real Madrid’s four goals. The Italian side only managed to score one, an overhead strike from Mario Mandzukic in the 27th minute that Business Insider Sports Editor Cork Gaines has since called “one of the most incredible goals you will ever see in Champion’s League Final.”
This year marks the first time a reigning Champions League cup-holder has successfully defended their title, with Real Madrid also lifting the trophy in 2016. Real Madrid remains the winningest club in Champions League history, this year marking their twelfth victory. However, the club failed to secure a treble, having lost the Copa del Rey to FC Barcelona. Chelsea and Bayern, league champions in England and Germany, also lost their respective domestic cup titles to Arsenal FC and Borussia Dortmund, respectively.
Though the season in Europe is over, stateside soccer is starting to heat up. The United States men’s national U-20 team made it to the U-20 World Cup Quarter-final, falling 2-1 to Venezuela in extra time. The Venezuelan team later lost 1-0 to England in the final on June 11.
Meanwhile, the senior United States men’s national squad is about halfway through the fifth round of World Cup Qualifiers for 2018. The top three teams in the CONCACAF region for round five will qualify for the World Cup.
Across the last two rounds of qualifiers, the United States has scored the most goals in CONCACAF at 30, nine ahead of second-place Guatemala. Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey are the second and third individual top goalscorers in the confederation, having scored six and five goals respectively. Three of Dempsey’s goals came in the form of a hat trick against Honduras in a 6-0 victory on March 24. Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund, only 18 years old, has also emerged as a rising star in the United States senior squad, scoring two goals in a 2-0 victory over Trinidad and Tobago on June 8.
On June 11, the United States drew with Mexico, nearly ensuring automatic qualification.
Reading United AC of the shocked the U.S. soccer world by knocking out the New York Cosmos in the second round of the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup on May 17.
The Cosmos have been criticized for failing to focus on domestic competitions, playing a friendly match three days later with 2017 Jameel League champions Al-Hilal FC in Saudi Arabia that resulted in a scoreless draw.
The New York Red Bulls and New York City F.C., the two MLS clubs in the New York market, met in the fourth round of the competition at Red Bull Arena in Harrison, New Jersey on June 14 with the Red Bulls coming out on top, 1-0. The Red Bulls will host the Philadelphia Union in the Round of 16 on June 27.