MLS tonight, Bielsa's Uruguay makes a statement, Neymar makes history: Starting Lineup, September 9
by Jason Longshore
Some very important games in MLS tonight, in the midst of the international break. I've said it before, there needs to be fewer international breaks in the calendar. However, MLS is also at a point where it just can't play through them anymore. It's too disruptive to the competitive balance in the league and the league is mature enough to schedule an additional midweek match and still draw good crowds. Reports are out there that the league will avoid the international breaks starting next year, we'll see if that can get done in a year that will have the Copa America tournament and the Euros.
1- Four games in Major League Soccer tonight, highlighted by a Messi-less Miami hosting Kansas City in Ft. Lauderdale. The list of absences for the Herons is a long one, but they do still have Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba along with Facundo Farias so it's not unthinkable that they get a much needed win here. Kansas City is missing Gadi Kinda, and Peter Vermes wasn't happy about the Israel national team staff calling him in when he missed Sporting's last game due to injury. Miami's attempted turnaround into a playoff spot is capturing the headlines, but Sporting went ten matches without a win to start the season and a win tonight would put them into the wild card spots.
2- Two wild card teams play in Washington tonight as DC United hosts San Jose. DC has an 8-point cushion on Miami as we start the day in the last playoff spot after their win over Chicago last week leapfrogged the Fire. The Quakes are trying to get into the proper playoff spots and can with a result tonight. Minnesota is the team they're trying to jump over, the Loons host host New England tonight while Portland hosts LAFC in the nightcap.
3- Marcelo Bielsa made his return to the South American World Cup qualifiers last night in charge of Uruguay and La Celeste emphatically defeated Chile 3-1. Nicolás de la Cruz scored twice while the captain Federico Valverde (chosen by his teammates according to Bielsa) scored the other Uruguayan goal. It was 3-0 before the ageless Arturo Vidal pulled one back for La Roja. Next up for Uruguay is a difficult trip to Ecuador on Tuesday.
4- Alvaro Morata's hat trick led Spain to a 7-1 thrashing of Saba Lobjanidze's Georgia in Tblisi. Barcelona's 16-year old Lamine Yamal became the youngest-ever to play for Spain and to score a goal. Spain are second in Group A on six points after three matches and bounced back nicely after a loss on the road in Scotland in their last Euro 2024 qualifier.
5- Speaking of Scotland, they continued their storybook run in the Euro qualifiers with a 3-0 win over Cyprus. Their qualification could be sealed on Tuesday if results fall their way in the group. First half goals from Scott McTominay, Ryan Porteous and John McGinn made the second 45 minutes a stroll for the Scots. This could be Scotland's first automatic qualification for a tournament since 1998.
6- Brazil had a Neymar penalty saved in the first half and a number of other opportunities that only resulted in one goal against Bolivia at the Estadio Olimpico. Rather than get frustrated, the Brazilians came out flying in the second half to win 5-1. Neymar became Brazil's all-time leading scorer, surpassing Pele. His stoppage time goal was his 79th in the famous yellow shirt in 125 appearances. Rodrygo also scored twice in the rout. On Tuesday, Brazil heads to Peru while Bolivia will host Argentina.
7- Today's schedule around the world is highlighted by Ukraine hosting England in Poland and North Macedonia hosting Italy in Euro qualifying Group C. Germany will host Japan in a friendly as Hansi Flick is feeling some pressure to get his team in proper form ahead of hosting next summer's Euros. Gregg Berhalter makes his return to the USMNT as they host Uzbekistan in St. Louis.
8- On the college side yesterday, it was a good night for the Stormy Petrels of Oglethorpe on the road. The men went to Virginia and defeated Roanoke College 2-1 on goals from Nicolas Sciarra and Cristian Medina. They'll play another game on the trip Sunday at the University of Lynchburg. The women also played Roanoke, but a little closer to home in Piedmont, GA. Mackenzie Jones' goal earned Oglethorpe a 1-1 draw. They return home for a Sunday match with Meredith College kicking off at 11am. Nick Aliffi will have the call for you on that one at the link.
9- In other college updates from last night...
Mercer's men moved to 3-1-1 on the season with a 0-0 draw on the road at #15 Wisconsin. Goalkeeper Trevor McMullen made four saves in the clean sheet. The Bears will play Bradley on the road on Sunday night. Georgia Southern's men fell 2-1 to North Florida in Statesboro last night.
Clayton State's men will fall in the D2 rankings after a 4-0 loss at the University of Tampa last night. Emory's men won on the road 2-1 at Pacific Lutheran in Salem, Oregon. Covenant lost their first match of the season 3-0 at Lynchburg. LaGrange lost on the road 3-0 at Centre.
10- Today's college action sees Berry's men hosting Wabash today at noon while their women are on the road for a 11am kickoff at Cabrini University in Philadelphia. The NAIA #22 Georgia Gwinnett women host Brewton-Parker today at 5pm in Lawrenceville.
11- One of Georgia's finest musicians was born on this day in 1941 in Dawson. Otis Redding packed so much incredible music into only 26 years of life. His biggest song was one of the last he recorded and hit #1 in the charts when released a few months after his death, and it's your Song of the Day. The 2nd Annual King of Soul Music Festival continues today in his honor and it benefits the outstanding Otis Redding Foundation.