Andre Blake set to return from injury against Sporting Kansas City
Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake is set to return to the field on Saturday in the home match against Sporting Kansas City.
The 32-year-old previously has missed Philadelphia’s last three games across all competition after suffering a groin injury in the March 11 home match vs. Chicago Fire FC. Blake picked up the knock early in the game, and attempted to play through it before making the early exit off the pitch.
But he’s now back in training, and expected to miss just under three weeks total.
“The hope is that he [Blake] will play on Saturday,” head coach Jim Curtin said during his Wednesday media availability.
“He’s the best goalkeeper that our league has and we’re stronger with him in the group. So he’s a great goalkeeper, he’s been a quick healer in the past. Hopefully everything stays on schedule… All signs are pointing to a positive return for Andre to the group on the weekend.”
In Blake’s absence, Curtin turned to veteran backup Joe Bendik. Though he started well, helping the Union advance to the Concacaf Champions League quarterfinals, the goalkeeper saw a decline with the 3-2 loss against CF Montreal and 2-1 defeat vs. Orlando City on consecutive weekends.
Blake is set to make a comeback for the upcoming game, alongside Daniel Gazdag and Jose Martinez, who were away on international duty. The inclusions would leave the 2022 MLS Cup and Supporters’ Shield runner-up “pretty much at full strength ” when hosting a slumping SKC.
In addition to MLS play, Blake’s presence would boost Philadelphia’s CCL aspirations as they start the quarterfinal series against Liga MX side Atlas on Tuesday.
Strasbourg 1-1 PSG: Player ratings as Les Parisiens clinch Ligue 1 title
Paris Saint-Germain won a record 11th Ligue 1 title after drawing 1-1 at Strasbourg on Saturday night.
Les Parisiens now have an unassailable four-point lead over Lens – who have now secured qualification to the group stages of the Champions League – heading into the final matchday of the season next week.
The visitors looked to beat their hosts with balls over the top for Kylian Mbappe early on but they nearly fell behind when Habibou Diallo managed to beautifully bring a high ball down and dance past Danilo Pereira, only to be denied by a smart save from Gianluigi Donnarumma.
Mbappe’s first actual chance saw him skip and prance away from a slieu of Strasbourg defenders, only to be denied a near-certain goal by a challenge from Ismael Doukoure.
From the resulting corner, Lionel Messi pulled the ball back for Renato Sanches to volley, with Matz Sels coming up with an instinctive save.
PSG were struggling to deal with Strasbourg’s bombardment, with Diallo thundering a shot against the post via a hand from Donnarumma after Mouhamadou Diarra beat Sergio Ramos in an aerial duel.
But the visitors took the lead on the hour mark. Danilo’s long ball over the top was expertly brought under control by Mbappe, and he teed up Lionel Messi to fire home.
Mbappe should have doubled PSG’s lead when Messi returned the favour minutes later, but he somehow fired wide from a few yards out.
With ten minutes to go, the Ligue 1 leaders were pegged back by a familiar face. Morgan Sanson’s strike was palmed away by Donnarumma, and Kevin Gameiro nipped in front of Danilo to tap into an empty net.
Once more, Mbappe was released on goal by Messi but this time was denied by Sels as the game entered the closing stages.
With Strasbourg’s safety secured with a point, both sides were happy to play out for the draw in two minutes of stoppage time, with PSG’s title confirmed at the final whistle.
GK: Matz Sels (6); CB: Ismael Doukoure (6), CB: Gerzino Nyamsi (6), CB: Lucas Perrin (5); RM: Colin Dagba (5), CM: Ibrahima Sissoko (6), CM: Morgan Sanson (5), LM: Frederic Guilbert (5); RF: Mouhamadou Diarra (6), LF: Jean-Richer Bellegarde (5), CF: Habibou Diallo (6)
SUBS: Dimitri Lienard (5), Kevin Gameiro (7)
GK: Gianluigi Donnarumma – 7/10 – Kept PSG in the game with some stunning stops in the first half.
CB: Danilo Pereira – 5/10 – Looked a little ropey throughout, though his pinpoint pass led to Messi’s opener.
CB: Sergio Ramos – 5/10 – Thrown around by Diarra and Diallo in physical duels.
CB: El Chadaille Bitshiabu – 6/10 – Up for the fight physically but Gameiro was able to ghost in on his side to score the equaliser.
RM: Warren Zaire-Emery – 7/10 – Played with a maturity and fearlessness beyond his 17 years of age.
CM: Vitinha – 5/10 – Did not stand out in the midfield battle, again.
CM: Marco Verratti – 6/10 – Played at a lower intensity than usual but given the circumstances that was understandable.
CM: Renato Sanches – 6/10 – Made more inroads than compatriot Vitinha, but that wasn’t a particularly high bar to clear.
LM: Juan Bernat – 6/10 – Stretched play but like many of his teammates wasn’t outstanding in his efforts.
CF: Lionel Messi – 9/10 – Picked apart Strasbourg at will. Now the all-time record scorer in Europe’s top five leagues and he overtook Cristiano Ronaldo in style.
CF: Kylian Mbappe – 8/10 – Twisted and contorted himself to flee trailing Strasbourg’s legs. Major criticism is his finishing was a tad off but it didn’t really prove crucial.
Carlos Soler (84′ for Vitinha) – N/A
Christophe Galtier – 6/10 – PSG didn’t really need to win and they didn’t spare any effort that was otherwise needed.
Player of the match – Lionel Messi (PSG)
Messi breaks Ronaldo’s record for most goals scored in Europe’s top five leagues
Lionel Messi has smashed the record for most goals scored in Europe’s top five leagues after he scored in PSG’s Ligue 1 clash with Strasbourg on Saturday.
Les Parisiens all but secured the French title thanks to Messi’s 496th league goal of his career, overtaking the number put up by Cristiano Ronaldo.
A lofty through ball from Danilo Pereira was taken in stride by Kylian Mbappe, who picked out the run of Messi and he fired past Matz Sels to take home his newest accolade.
The Argentine managed to equal Ronaldo’s record when he scored against title rivals Lens last month, but he’s had to wait a while to move in front of his Portuguese rival in part due to serving a club suspension for travelling to Saudi Arabia on a training day.
Messi was back to his best this weekend though and he ends it as a two-time champion of France and the greatest scorer this continent has seen.
Stat in Europe’s top five leagues
When competing directly with Ronaldo for the record back in 2020, Messi stated: “I think less and less about scoring goals.
“Obviously I like scoring, and If have a chance I’ll take it, but every time I go on to the pitch I’m less focused on scoring goals and more focused on the game. I’ve never been obsessed with goals.”
Messi is likely to return to Barcelona this summer, though he does have a lucrative offer to reunite with Ronaldo in the Saudi Pro League.
Mohamed Salah’s record in the Europa League
Though Liverpool have become accustomed to the Champions League, their star man Mohamed Salah is no stranger to Europe’s second-tier competition, the Europa League.
Jurgen Klopp’s outfit now have time to reflect and recuperate after finishing 5th in the Premier League and out of the Champions League spots for the first time since the 2014/15 campaign.
Unai Emery – now in charge of high-flying Aston Villa – put the sword to Liverpool in the final of the 2015/16 Europa League final, with Coke’s second-half double proving crucial for Sevilla that day.
As they exchange their Tuesday and Wednesday nights for Thursday’s, Klopp, who had pledged to make the Europa League “our competition” will look to Salah in particular to prevent a repeat of that torrid night in Basel seven years ago.
FC Basel plummeted out of the Champions League after failing to meet their aim of reaching the group stage in 2012/13.
The Egyptian King, in the infant years of his career, made more appearances from the bench than he did as a nailed-on starter in Basel’s Europa League campaign but he was a star nonetheless.
Salah scored his first of eventually many goals on the European stage in the quarter-finals as Basel edged past Tottenham on penalties after drawing 4-4 on aggregate scoring.
His scoring exploits did not halt there as his future employers Chelsea were at the hands of a Salah double in west London. Although the Egypt international crashed out of the competition thanks to the Blues, his Europa League showings earned him a rightful move to the English giants a few months later.
Salah helped Basel to their best-ever finish in the competition, performing when it mattered the most and often being the difference-maker.
Wedged in between his other two Europa League campaigns came his least successful one, with just a goal and assist apiece.
12 days after scoring his first goal for the club against Sassuolo, Salah added one to his European CV against, once again, Tottenham. Spurs had become a familiar sight for the tricky winger and a match-up that he flourished in.
Bearing in mind his spell in Fiorentina was merely a loan, Salah enjoyed positivity for the majority of the season and spurred his side into the semi-finals of the Europa League. His influence – goals aside – was undeniable, though his game time was limited on the centre stage.
A theme begins to reoccur with Salah and the Europa League as he helped Fiorentina – very much a surprise package of the 2014/15 Europa League season – reach the semi-finals of the competition for only the third time in the entirety of the club’s history.
Salah’s most recent Europa League campaign came just before his high-profile move to Liverpool, featuring in six games for Roma in 2016/17.
The Italian side endured a torrid campaign in Europe, preventing Salah from showing the footballing world his undeniable talent. Domestically, Roma finished in second place and secured themselves a spot at Europe’s top table for the following campaign, but cracked under pressure when vying for European silverware in the same season.
Neither goal amounted for anything in this term, either. Roma’s four-goal thumping over West Ham’s conquerors in Astra Giurgiu was already wrapped up before Salah’s effort came, and he managed to grab his second of the competition in a last 16 defeat to Lyon.
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