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Soccer

European Football Drama

May 03, 2021
Source: BBC Merseyside Sport/Twitter
Source: BBC Merseyside Sport/Twitter

Challenge Cup final is locked in

May 03, 2021
Source: NWSL/Twitter
Source: NWSL/Twitter

NWSL: The Challenge Cup final is locked in, with NJ/NY Gotham FC punching their ticket to the finals with a 0–0 draw on Sunday vs. Racing Louisville FC. Gotham will face the West’s first place team, the Portland Thorns, who clinched their spot in the finals back on April 21st after going undefeated in the group stage. 

Football: In yesterday’s Champions League action across the pond, Barcelona topped Paris-Saint Germain 2–1 (3–2 on aggregate) to advance to their second Champs League final. 

  • In the other semi, Chelsea notched a 4–1 (5–3 aggregate) W over Bayern, sending Chelsea to their first-ever Champions League final and making coach Emma Hayes the first woman to coach in the final in 12 years. Big mood.
  • The final match (just one leg in the final!) is set for Sunday, May 16th at 3 p.m. ET. Mark your calendar.
🎾🏆

Bianca Andreescu just can’t catch a break

April 26, 2021
Source: Lynne Sladky/AP
Source: Lynne Sladky/AP

🎾Tennis: Poor Bianca Andreescu just can’t catch a break. After battling back from numerous injuries over the past two years, Queen B announced yesterday that she tested positive for COVID-19 and had to pull out of the Madrid Open (which starts Tuesday). Fortunately, she’s feeling well and has plenty of time to recover before the next major: the French Open, starting May 24th.

⚽️Soccer: Christine Sinclair is still amazing, if you were wondering. After suffering a lower body injury during the recent CanWNT friendlies, the all-time leading international goal scorer returned to the NWSL at full strength, captaining her Portland Thorns FC to their third win in the Challenge Cup group stage last week and a spot in the Cup final, set for May 8th.

⚽️SoccerFootball: Switching gears to the first leg of the UEFA Women’s Champions League semifinals, Paris St-Germain (PSG) — including Canada’s own Ashley Lawrence — drew FC Barcelona 1–1 yesterday, while Bayern Munich beat Chelsea FC 2–1 in the other matchup. The second leg is set for Sunday, so follow along here.

💪UFC: Though much of this weekend’s UFC 261 hoopla centered around Chris Weidman’s awful leg injury (if you haven’t seen it already, do NOT watch it), “Thug Rose” Namajunas and Valentina “Bullet” Shevchenko owned the night. Both MMA stars dominated their respective title fights with TKOs, proving that Saturdays are, in fact, for the girls.

Not So “Super” European Super League

April 22, 2021
Source: NBC Sports Soccer/Twitter
Source: NBC Sports Soccer/Twitter

Sunday: As we reported in Monday’s newsletter, 12 of the top European soccer clubs announced late Sunday that they were forming the ESL. The announcement came as a total shock, even to some of the teams’ players and coaches.

  • The 12 founding ESL clubs planned to ditch the UEFA Champions League (the top club competition in soccer) and run their own, more North American-style elite tournament. The reason? Money and power, naturally.
  • For a full explainer on the proposed ESL, and a look at the detrimental impact it would have had on women’s soccer, check out this week’s episode of The GIST of It.

Monday: Within about 12 hours, UEFA and FIFA introduced a ban to prevent ESL players from participating in the Euros and World Cup, respectively. And though a Spanish court ruled against the ban, the damage had already been done. Fans took to the streets in protest, analysts dragged the ESL on live TV, and players and coaches aired their grievances publicly.

Tuesday: By the end of the day, all six English clubs pulled out, leaving the three Spanish and three Italian teams on thin ice. Public outrage — including that from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and the Duke of Cambridge — continued. Twitter had a field day.

Wednesday: And then there were two. By yesterday, only FC Barcelona and Real Madrid (pronounced REY-al) — whose president Florentino Perez was the driving force behind the ESL — are keeping quiet. Technically the league is just “suspended,” but with dwindling membership, no new prospects and a terrible public image, it’s just a matter of time before it’s officially dead.

We’ll give the ESL this: it would’ve been interesting to watch. But at what cost? We’ll take a newly-refurbished Champions League, a steadily-improving women’s game, and a strong European grassroots program over that elitist BS any day.

🏀🎾⛸️

CanWNT’s Olympic opponents were announced yesterday

April 22, 2021
Source: Francisco Seco/Canadian Press
Source: Francisco Seco/Canadian Press

⚽️Soccer: CanWNT’s Olympic opponents were announced yesterday, and to say we’re fired up is an understatement. Team Canada will face host nation Japan, newcomers Chile and the amalgamated Britain (which features players from all U.K. nations). Should the world No. 8 emerge from the group stage, we could see a Canada-USA quarter or semifinal. Fingers crossed.

🏀Basketball: The Toronto Raptors are on a winning streak. They notched their fourth W in a row last night, with a 114–103 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. The Raps’ only recent loss came from $25,000 in fines over the weekend for “failing to comply with league policies governing player rest and injury reporting.” Oops.

🎾Tennis: The clay court season is underway (French Open starts next month!) and it's already proving fruitful for the Canadians. Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime are set to face each other (bummer) in today’s third round of the Barcelona Open. Follow along here.

Figure skating: Retiring at 36 just isn’t for everyone. Yesterday, Olympic medalist Eric Radford announced that he’s coming out of retirement to make a last-minute push for an Olympic spot with new partner Vanessa James, a world medallist who previously competed for France. The news was very well-received...except by Radford’s former partner Meagan Duhamel. Awkward.