by Jason Longshore
1- It's a busy week ahead with midweek matches in MLS, the second leg of Copa Libertadores quarterfinals, the Champions League draw, and so much more. College soccer in our area is in full swing, with schools at all levels continuing or starting their seasons this week. The Starting Lineup will be here all week to keep you up to speed on all of the big stories and some of the small ones too.
2- Let's start in MLS. Yesterday's 1-1 draw in Minnesota between the Loons and the Seattle Sounders continues one of the strangest things in the 2023 season. Minnesota is 2-2-7 at home this year, but they're level on point for the final playoff spot. The Loons are 6-6-1 on the road to keep themselves in the mix. They have the second fewest home wins, and they have the most road wins in the league this season. Just bizarre. Yeimar Gomez Andrade was the hero and goat (lower case goat) yesterday as he gave the Sounders the lead at halftime and his own goal was the equalizer for Minnesota early in the second half. While the Sounders are still in third in the West, they only have two wins in their last eleven league matches.
3- When Virgil van Dijk was sent off in the 28th minute, it looked like LIverpool was toast at Newcastle. The Magpies already had the 1-0 lead. Darwin Núñez was the hero off the bench, checking it at the 77th minute mark and scoring twice to lead Liverpool to a surprising 2-1 win. Back-to-back losses for Newcastle (to the Reds and Manchester City) while Liverpool stays unbeaten and keeps pace with three other teams two points behind the defending champions.
4- Speaking of comebacks, we'll head down to Argentina for their Copa de la Liga competition. Essentially, it's a miniature league competition with the 1st division's 28 teams being divided into two groups and teams play the other team's in their group once. Barracas Central headed to El Monumental to face the league champions River Plate and Los Camioneros took the 1-0 lead in the first half thanks to Bruno Sepúlveda. VAR took a goal away from River five minutes later before an own goal from Sepúlveda leveled things before halftime. It was all River in the second half as Pablo Solari scored twice in what turned into a 5-1 win.
5- Stupidity continues from sections of fanbases. A brick hit Aston Villa's team bus on Sunday as the side were travelling home from a Premier League clash at Burnley on Sunday. Luckily no one was injured.
6- Mohammed Kudus left Ajax to join West Ham in a deal worth a reported $48 million on Sunday. Kudus was one of the players who really stood out to me at the last World Cup and I think West Ham, who is two points off the lead in the early days of the Premier League season, have really added a great player to their squad. He'll join his former Ajax teammate Edson Alvarez in London.
7- Another move that has been expected but should finally get done today is João Cancelo to Barcelona. Fabrizio Romano reports that it would be a loan from Manchester City with a buy option included.
8- In women's college soccer action yesterday, Georgia State earned a hard-fought 1-0 win at home over Presbyterian through Maddie Johnston's first half goal and a big save late from Jaddah Foos. Georgia Southern went on the road and defeated Miami 2-1 to earn their first win over a Power 5 opponent since 2014. Mercer routed Alabama State 9-0 in Macon, while South Alabama defeated Kennesaw State 3-1. The Owls' freshman from Fayette County HS, Anabel Orozco, scored the Owls goal, a first half equalizer.
9- Georgia State's men host UAB tonight at the GSU Soccer Complex in downtown Atlanta at 7pm. You can also join me on ESPN+ for the broadcast if you can't make it out.
In yesterday's college action on the men's side, Georgia Southern defeated UNC-Asheville 2-0 in Statesboro to give new coach Lee Squires his first win with the program. Mercer played their second match in Evansville, Indiana and defeated Southern Indiana 2-0.
10- On this date in 1968, the Atlanta Chiefs hosted Santos and Pele at Atlanta Stadium in an exhibition match that drew the largest soccer crowd in the city's history. The attendance of 26,173 was the largest crowd for an Atlanta match until Atlanta United opened their 2017 season at Bobby Dodd Stadium.
From Chiefs' player Emment Kapengwe, “We won the toss and our captain Vic chose the kick-off. Our number nine put the ball to Fred who flicked it back to Vic at four. Then Vic passed a long ball to me on the Santos goal mouth. I fed the ball back to Fred who blasted home the opener under a minute. Santos had never been scored like that before and they cheered for us.” Then Santos woke up and won 6-2. Pele scored three goals and assisted on another one.
11- Your Song of the Day was #1 on that date in 1968 and was probably being played in the parking lots around Atlanta Stadium before fans went in to see the Chiefs and Pele. "People Got to Be Free" was the third #1 hit for The Rascals and their last. They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1997.