• The USA-Jamaica Gold Cup semifinal was exciting, especially for Jamaican fans, but the Mexico-Panama semifinal featured everything that’s terrible about your typical game in CONCACAF. Abysmal refereeing decided the outcome, in favor of Mexico. There was a near-riot on the field after the referee awarded a controversial penalty. The Mexican fans showered Panamanian players with garbage from the stands. Both teams deployed the full suite of time-wasting and gamesmanship tricks. The region’s off-the-field corruption has been in the news lately, but when fans talk about “getting CONCACAF’d,” it’s not shady business deals they’re talking about — it’s the toxic combination of awful refereeing, terrible fan behavior and blatant on-field cheating that define the typical game in the region.
• The Los Angeles Galaxy struggled through the first few months of the MLS season. Over the past five games, though, the Galaxy has four wins and has outscored its opponents 20-6. With the signing of veteran Steven Gerrard to further shore up the team’s disappointing central midfield, Los Angeles is not only back in the playoff picture — it would be somewhat surprising to see it anywhere but the top of the Western Conference at the end of the season.
• According to the oddsmakers, of the five biggest European leagues, only England is even remotely up for grabs. Bayern Munich (Germany), Paris St. Germain (France) and Juventus (Italy) are such heavy favorites that every other team is a long shot; in Spain, only Barcelona and Real Madrid are expected to have a chance. The Premier League is remarkably unequal, but Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United and Arsenal all have a shot at the league title — more teams than in any other major European league.
• Soccer fans were genuinely excited when Fox purchased the rights to show the Bundesliga, assuming the network would cover the German league much like NBC Sports covers the Premier League — as a centerpiece. Instead, the schedule indicates that Fox will broadcast no games on Fox Sports 1 and will relegate most of the schedule to its paid streaming service. It’s yet another reason to appreciate the in-depth Premier League coverage NBC Sports puts out every weekend — and yet another misstep by Fox in its sports coverage.