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Around the Leagues: Quest for MLS Cup Continues

December 2, 2021 - United Soccer League Championship (USL) - Sacramento Republic FC News Release

USL Championship

The 2021 USL Championship season came to a thrilling end on Sunday, with Orange County SC pulling off a stunning 3-1 upset of Tampa Bay Rowdies to raise the trophy.

A 20th minute penalty save for Orange County keeper Patrick Rakovsky set the tone, as the SoCal club would go on to stack three first-half scores on Tampa's vaunted back line. Five minutes after Rakovsky's save, Ronaldo Damus would pull his team ahead, before adding another in the 38th minute. Midfielder Miko Kuningas stretched their lead to three just before the half, burying a free kick from just outside the penalty area in the lower left corner. Orange County's defense would stand strong even after a 57th minute score from the hosts, keeping the result in their favor.

USL also announced the league awards this week- Colorado Springs striker and Goldent Boot winner Hadji Barry took MVP honors. Young Player of the Year went to Louisville City FC 18-year old Jonathan Gomez, and Goalkeeper of the Year went to Tampa Bay's Evan Louro, who led USL in saves and clean sheets. Forrest Lasso took Defender of the Year honors for his work on Tampa Bay's back line.

Major League Soccer

The conference finals are here, setting up four squads for battles to reach the MLS Cup.

Real Salt Lake has stolen the show in the Western Conference, stunning Seattle Sounders FC in penalties before edging out a strong Sporting KC squad in stoppage time to advance. The Utah club rides high into their Saturday trip to Portland, where they'll face off with a Timbers team confident after upsetting top-seeded Colorado on Thanksgiving Day, a match that set a record for MLS television viewership.

In the Eastern Conference, Philadelphia's momentum matches that of Real Salt Lake. They'll play host to New York City FC for a spot in the final after taking down New York Red Bulls in the opening round and a penalty shootout win over Nashville that featured two saves from Andre Blake. However, New York won't be an easy foe to best, especially following a thrilling 2-2 result that saw them best Supporters Shield winner New England Revolution in front of a national audience.

Premier League

The Premier League's 30th season has continued delivering some fantastic football between some of the world's top clubs.

Chelsea FC remains at the top of the table through 14 matches, maintaining their spot on Wednesday with a 2-1 result on the road against Watford. The North London club has failed to drop points in any contest since late September, keeping them a sliver ahead of Manchester City and the League's highest scoring team in Liverpool.

Following an abysmal start to their season, Arsenal has maintained their turnaround in recent weeks, winning all but one contest since October 22. They enter the holiday season with a stretch favorable to their desire to continue rising in the table, with contests against three skidding clubs in Manchester United, Southampton, and Everton.

UEFA Champions League

Europe's top club competition has continued matching up some of the continents best as the fight to advance to the knockout stage continues.

Advancement to the round of 16 is nearly set, with just five spots remaining. Thus far, Ajax, Bayern, Chelsea, Inter Milan, Juventus, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, PSG, Real Madrid, and Sporting Portugal have all secured advancement to the knockout stage by securing one of the top two spots in their respective groups.

The group stage has not disappointed, with Manchester City's meeting with the now Leo Messi-led PSG delivering fireworks and Chelsea's 4-0 result over Juventus proving their strength last week. However, the final matchday next Tuesday will bring plenty of suspense and spirited play for sides close to the line, as five groups still have yet to have their top two confirmed.

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United Soccer League Championship Stories from December 2, 2021

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