XI: The Weekend of May 18th

1239133-Atletico Madrid did it. They needed a draw at Camp Nou in the final match of the season to clinch the Spanish title, and against all odds, they got one. Los Rojiblancos had to sub off Diego Costa and Arda Turan early in the first half due to injury, and their hopes looked bleak after Alexi Sanchez scored from a seemingly impossible angle in the 33rd minute. But Diego Godín’s header early in the second half equalized the match, and Atletico clung to the draw and the title for 40 minutes. After the final whistle, the Champions were applauded by Barcelona supporters at Camp Nou. 

-The magnitude of Atletico’s title really can’t be overstated. It’s the first time since 2003-04 La Liga went to a club other than Real or Barca. For Atletico, it’s their first title since 1995-96, and in the period since, they spent two years in the second division. And the domestic success is only compounded by their European efforts; they could win a most improbable double with a victory in the Champions League final over Real Madrid on Saturday.

– Perhaps the most telling figure of the Spanish season is this: Barcelona faced Atletico six times, and failed to win any. For Barca, the draw Saturday marked the end of a season without silverware. Tata Martino has already resigned from his post as manager, and having staved off a transfer ban, this summer will need to be one of overhaul. Long-time captain Carles Puyol is retiring, and key players like Xavi, Andrés Iniesta, and Dani Alves are all 30 or older. If the club’s golden era isn’t over, its window is certainly closing.

-Arsenal won the FA Cup, but, because they are Arsenal, it wasn’t easy. The Gunners fell down 2-0 to Hull in the opening ten minutes of the final, but bounced back to force extra time. Aaron Ramsey provided the winning goal

-Bayern Munich won the DFB Pokal, also in extra time against Borussia Dortmund. Arjen Robben scored the winner in the 107th minute for Bayern, clinching a domestic double in addition to the UEFA Super Cup and Club World Cup earlier in the season. Despite the success, there have been questions surrounding Pep Guardiola in recent weeks. After wrapping up the Bundesliga with several weeks remaining in the season, Bayern suffered multiple losses, most notably to Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.

-The New England Revolution continue to roll over Major League Soccer. They extended their winning streak to four games with a 5-3 win in Philadelphia that wasn’t as close as the scoreline suggests. It’s the first time in club history that they’ve scored 10 goals over a two game span, and for the Union, it’s the first time giving up five goals at home. While other top teams in MLS will have to make do with makeshift lineups in the coming weeks, New England doesn’t lose any of its key players to World Cup duties.

-The best MLS game of the weekend was a 3-3 draw between Portland and Columbus. Things seemed to be working against the Timbers early, with both a red card and  penalty given before half-time. But Portland, down a man, dominated the second half, and came back from deficits of 2-1 and 3-2 to earn a point. The Timbers are still 8th in the Western Conference, but with five points from their last three matches, they might finally be getting their bearings on the 2014 season.

-MLS’s World Cup snubs seemingly all scored over the weekend. Obafemi Martins, left off of Nigeria’s World Cup squad, scored a candidate for goal of the season in a 1-0 Sounders win over San Jose. Jermain Defoe, who is only an alternate for England’s World Cup squad, scored early in Toronto’s win against New York. Eddie Johnson, the surprise exclusion from Jurgen Klinsmann’s 30-man USMNT roster, finally got his first goal for DC United, a late equalizer against Montreal.

-DaMarcus Beasley is expected to go to Brazil with the USMNT, but his club team Puebla announced that he is for sale. At 31, this might be Beasley’s last World Cup, but he still has a few years left in him, and MLS teams are expected to be very interested in his services. He last played in MLS for Chicago, but they no longer hold his rights, which means he would go through the allocation order. Toronto currently holds the first spot in the allocation order, but as they already have three designated players, they likely could not add Beasley. Columbus is next in line, but the Reds might seek to trade their spot to the highest bidder.

-Speaking of Toronto, the Reds are supposedly interested in American Brek Shea, who is looking to return to MLS after seeing only limited playing time in England. Shea is less likely than Beasley to command a DP contract, which gives TFC first dibs on the former FC Dallas player. Toronto and Shea reportedly couldn’t come to terms on a move back in April.

-Sepp Blatter dropped a bit of wisdom on Friday morning, admitting that awarding the World Cup to Qatar was “a mistake.” Not, mind you, because of the human rights violations being committed in constructing the infrastructure and stadiums required, but because of the heat. You know, the thing they knew about before voting. There are eight years during which FIFA could possibly fix this mistake. They won’t.


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