There were several lessons for Weston McKennie, Gio Reyna and their teammates to take from their team’s respective results in the first leg of the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
They included not give up early goals, particularly in the opening minute, and never give up in a competition where aggregate goals will decide the issue.
Reyna didn’t get an opportunity to play for Borussia Dortmund in its 3-2 away win at Sevilla, but he watched his teammates concede an early goal before they rallied behind Erling Haaland.
McKennie and his Juventus teammates were caught napping at the start of both halves and paid for it with a 2-1 defeat at Porto, although the visitors managed to score an important away goal. That one away goal could go far when the Italian side hosts the Portuguese club in the second leg next month.
Paying the price
Juve was caught napping in the opening minutes of each half. Only 63 seconds after the opening kickoff, Porto’s Mehdi Taremi scored a goal gifted to him by the Juventus defense. Some 30 seconds into the second half, Moussa Marega converted a right-wing feed by Wilson Manafa for a 2-0 margin.
Federico Chiesa gave the Italians a lifeline for the second leg by connecting for an 82nd-minute goal.
While he ball-hawked Porto defenders in the attacking third, McKennie, who has enjoyed a breakout season for the Serie A side, did not make much of impact offensively. McKennie was replaced by Alvaro Morata in the 63rd minute.
In Sevilla, Suso gave the hosts a seventh-minute lead before the German squad bounced back. Mahmoud Dahoud equalized off a Haaland assist in the 19th minute before the Norwegian international striker took center stage. He gave Dortmund a 2-1 lead in the 27th minute culminating a give-and-go with Jaden Sancho after a brilliant run.
Haaland, who has an amazing 18 UCL goals in only 13 matches, gave the visitors a two-goal advantage in the 43rd minute before Sevilla pulled one back behind Luuk de Jong in the 84th minute.
A tough Tuesday
Tuesday’s Champions League matches were frustrating and disappointing experiences for Tyler Adams and Sergiño Dest, who became the first USMNT teammates to start in the Round of 16 on the same day.
However, their respective teams went down to a pair of multiple-goal home defeats that could be difficult to overcome in the second legs in March. Adams and RB Leipzig dropped a 2-0 decision to Liverpool while Dest and Barcelona failed to hold on to a 1-0 lead and suffered a stunning 4-1 loss to Paris St-Germain as Kylian Mbappé registered the first away UCL hat-trick at Camp Nou in 23 years.
Blanked at home
Adams started his first Champions League match and played the full 90 minutes. The one-time New York Red Bulls midfielder played a solid game on both sides of the ball as a right wing back, taking Leipzig’s throw-ins on the right sideline.
His teammates, however, struggled to find the back of the net.
Liverpool had no problem, Mo Salah snapped a scoreless deadlock in the 53rd minute, tucking in an effort from 12 yards out. Five minutes later, Sadio Mane doubled the score as he turned a looping pass into a breakaway, connecting from atop the penalty area.
The contest was played in at Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary and not in Leipzig because Germany has restricted travel from countries that have a variant of COVID-19.
Digging a deep hole
Dest, who was replaced by Oscar Mingueza in the 72nd minute, and Barcelona defended more than they had planned against PSG.
After Lionel Messi’s penalty kick, the 654th goal of his illustrious career, had given Barcelona the lead in the 27th minute, the game quickly became the Mbappé show as the French international scored on either side of halftime. Mbappé celebrated goals in the 32nd, 65th and 85th minutes. Moise Kean added a 70th-minute insurance goal.
USMNT forward Konrad de la Fuente did not dress for the match.