This week is full of cup matches in Europe — lots and lots of cup matches — but if that’s not your thing, start looking ahead to the weekend.
Remember when Jurgen Klinsmann kicked Fabian Johnson out of national team camp this fall? If the intent was to motivate Johnson, his German club, Borussia Monchengladbach, is reaping all the rewards. Johnson scored twice in the league on Saturday and once in the Champions League last Wednesday. That’s five goals in seven games. If you want to see what’s gotten into him, Bayern Munich’s visit to Borussia-Park on Saturday (9:30 a.m. Eastern time, Fox Sports 1) is as good a time as any.
The rest of the European schedule suggests this weekend might be a good one for that project you’ve been putting off. At least until Sunday night, that is. ….
Major League Soccer
M.L.S. will crown its champion in Columbus, Ohio, on Sunday night when the Crew host the Portland Timbers (4 p.m., ESPN). Portland, which could have been out on penalties in its first playoff match, instead will make its first appearance in the M.L.S. Cup final. The Timbers haven’t lost in eight games, and are young and fun and dangerous.
Columbus, meanwhile, showed magnificent poise and tactical discipline in eliminating the Red Bulls on Sunday night — until they almost made a mess of things in the final three minutes. (M.L.S. is probably as happy as anyone that Bradley Wright-Phillips’s last-second header bounced off the post and out, what with his being clearly offside and all. Oh well, no harm, no goal, no foul.)
What the Columbus fans saw Sunday night wasn’t the real Columbus, however. Its focus at Red Bull Arena was stopping the attack; this week, it will be on pressing it. With the freakishly athletic striker Kei Kamara supported by the dangerous wings Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram, and the supremely cool Federico Higuain pulling the strings in midfield, that is an achievable goal.
“We hope to put on an entertaining final,” Columbus Coach Gregg Berhalter said, echoing every coach ever.
This time, though, with these two teams, it might just happen.