Soccer Monday: MLS playoffs, Bayern takes Der Klassiker and Fluminense wins Copa Libertadores
Kick off your week with all the action from this past weekend
This week brings with it the return of the Champions League and the acknowledgement that Bayern Munich are in excellent form. Bayern, along with Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona, can advance to the Champions League round of 16 with a fourth straight.
At the same time, the MLS Cup Playoffs packed plenty of emotion this weekend, while South America crowned a new club champion.
Here’s a look at the three things that stood out the most from this past weekend:
3. Sporting KC upset ends St. Louis’ dream season
St. Louis City, an MLS expansion team, spent most of this year at the top of the Western Conference. By comparison, Sporting Kansas City languished near the bottom of the conference standing, only making the playoffs after downing the San Jose Earthquakes in the wildcard match.
That set up a clash between St. Louis and Sporting KC, a nascent regional rivalry. The rest was the No. 8 seed Sporting Kansas City defeating St Louis 2-1 at home on Sunday to take the best-of-three series 2-0.
A league’s new playoff format — more bloated than ever before — offered hope to the lower seeds. The New York Red Bulls, also a No. 8 seed, almost defeated FC Cincinnati, winners of the Supporters’ Shield after amassing the best regular-season record.
With the Ohio club 1-0 in the series, Saturday’s game at Red Bull Arena was do-or-die for New York. In the end, we got an epic match that ended 1-1 and FC Cincinnati only managed to sweep the series after winning 8-7 in a penalty-kick shootout.
It secured one the most frenzied and chaotic wins in FC Cincinnati history. Like every fall, when we have to turn back our clocks, the Red Bulls get eliminated.
In another crazy finish, Los Angeles FC, the defending MLS champions, also completed a 2-0 sweep of the Vancouver Whitecaps on Sunday following a 1-0 road win. Denis Bouanga scored the winning goal on a penalty kick in the 24th minute.
2. Bayern humiliates Dortmund to win Der Klassiker
Harry Kane’s impressive start at Bayern Munich continued as the England captain scoared a hat trick in a 4-0 win at Borussia Dortmund.
Bayern, chasing a remarkable 12th consecutive Bundesliga title, went up 2-0 in the opening 10 minutes. Dayot Upamecano headed the visitors into a fourth-minute lead before Kane doubled the lead five minutes later.
Kane added two more goals in the second half, brining him to 15 goals in 10 league matches. For Kane, it marked his third hat trick of the season since joining Bayern this past summer.
The win left Bayern on 26 points, two points behind league leaders Bayer Leverkusen who won 3-2 away at Hoffenheim. For Dortmund, it marked their first league defeat of the season.
1. Fluminense champions of South America for the first time
Fluminense captured the Copa Libertadores for the first time in the club’s history, beating Boca Juniors 2-1 in Saturday'‘s dramatic final at Rio de Janeiro’s Maracana Stadium.
German Cano opened the scoring for the Brazilians after 36 minutes, but Luis Advincula equalized with a stunning strike from distance in the 72nd to take the game to extra time.
John Kennedy — that’s his real name — scored the winning goal in extra time. The Brazilian striker, who had already collected a yellow card, celebrated the goal in the crowd and was dismissed on his return to the field.
Boca Juniors, however, did not take advantage of the extra man and was also reduced to 10 players when Frank Fabra was given a red card for slapping Nino.
The Copa Libertadores is an annual continental club tournament organized by CONMEBOL since 1960. It is the highest level of competition for clubs and the South American equivalent to the Champions League.
The Brazilian side will now play in the Club World Cup next month in Saudi Arabia, a tournament that will also feature Premier League and European champions Manchester City.
In other news: Newcastle inflicted a first Premier League defeat of the season on Arsenal as the home team came out on top in another controversial match involving VAR. Antony Gordon scored the winner at St James’ Park from inside the six-yard box midway through the second half — but only after a triple check on the same goal finally confirmed there was no reason to disallow it. … The U.S. Soccer Federation's board of directors has approved the hiring of Chelsea manager Emma Hayes as the new head coach of the U.S. women's national team, The Washington Post reported. A formal announcement could come as early as this month. …. Inter Milan continued its Serie A domination this season, defeating Atalanta on the road 2-1. Lautaro Martinez scored the winning goal in the 57th minute. Inter Milan remain first with 28 points. Juventus moved within two points after posting a 1-0 road win on Sunday against Fiorentina. Fabio Miretti scored the game’s only goal after just 10 minutes.