DC United

Liverpool's celebration still delayed two wins from its first English soccer title in 30 years

Liverpool's celebration still delayed two wins from its first English soccer title in 30 years

Weekend mornings haven’t been the same since the English Premier League paused its season. The hope is the EPL is back on NBC sometime soon. Until then, NBC Sports Washington is devoting a week of stories to each of the Big 6 clubs in England: Liverpool, Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City. Because we miss the Premier League, too. 

Our second week begins with a look at Liverpool and manager Jurgen Klopp, ready to celebrate its first league title in 30 years before the coronavirus pandemic halted play. 

Six points. Two wins.

That is all that separates Liverpool from its first Premier League title and first English top-flight title in 30 years.


Coming off the high of winning the Champions League last season, Jurgen Klopp’s side ran rampant through the early stages of the Premier League schedule and amassed a 25-point lead when the season was put on hold due to the coronavirus pandemic in mid-March.

What should have been a weekend of triumph and sheer madness in Liverpool, instead became another harsh reminder that the trophy they’ve been clamoring to regain since 1990 is still just out of reach.

When Klopp, the gregarious German, took the reins of Liverpool FC on October 8, 2015, the team was mired in a slump that saw it sit 10th in the table through the first eight fixtures. Although the team only managed to make up two spots in the standings by season’s end, there were flashes of what the Reds would inevitably become under Klopp, including some triumphant results in the Europa League that season.

Always an effusive character from the sideline, Klopp is well known for his celebrations of goals and big wins, with plenty of bear hugs for his players. In a recent episode of Inside the Mind with NBC Sports’ Premier League studio host Rebecca Lowe before clubs returned to training, Klopp commented on how much he has missed that physical connection with his players.

“We all are prepared to see each other again,” Klopp told Lowe. “Then it will be different because how everyone probably misses, to hug a friend, we miss as well to do that because we are really close to each other.”

Liverpool was certainly clicking on all cylinders as NBC's Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle noted in an extensive breakdown of Liverpool's season in their podcast last month. 

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As the Premier League’s Project Restart continues down the path to playing games in the coming weeks, and as Liverpool march to their inevitable title, it will be strange to see a potentially subdued Klopp on the sidelines unable to interact with his players in his usual way. 

“I’m old enough to realize that I cannot change these things,” said Klopp of the coronavirus pandemic and the physical distancing policies that have changed the way he is able to communicate with players and staff. “I can help with the things we can help, whatever it is, that’s what we obviously do.”

Liverpool have been working out together via Zoom calls since the pandemic started and came back to their Melwood training facility on Friday for their first group practice together since mid-March. Klopp, ever the man-manager, said Friday that none of his players are under any pressure to train if they don’t feel safe and that there will be no repercussions from the club for missing practices.

Klopp emphasized to Sky Sports that returning to play is not more important than the health and safety of the players and staff and their families. 

“Yes, we love football, yes, it's our job, but it's not more important than our lives or the lives of other people,” Klopp said.

As for what Klopp thinks the world can learn from this dire situation, his outlook is, as is usual, hopeful, optimistic.

“In this moment, we really see we all live in the same place, we have to take care of the same place, and that’s what I really hope we can learn this from the time,” Klopp said. “And I’m pretty sure we will.”

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FC Dallas-Vancouver Whitecaps match postponed after eight positive coronavirus tests

FC Dallas-Vancouver Whitecaps match postponed after eight positive coronavirus tests

The MLS is Back Tournament match between FC Dallas and the Vancouver Whitecaps set for Thursday has been postponed after eight players tested positive for the coronavirus.

The group-stage game will be rescheduled, the league said Saturday.

FC Dallas announced earlier this week that six players had tested positive for the virus upon arrival in Florida for the tournament. The entire team was quarantined.

Two Whitecaps players tested positive, forcing the team to remain in Canada, the league said. Additional tests were negative, but the team had to push back travel until Monday.

RELATED: WHEN ARE SPORTS RETURNING FROM CORONAVIRUS

The MLS is Back Tournament is set to open on Wednesday with a match between Orlando City and expansion Inter Miami.

The league's 26 teams will be sequestered in hotels for the duration of the monthlong tournament played without fans at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex at Walt Disney World.

MLS shut down because of the coronavirus pandemic on March 12 after teams had each played two games.

FC Dallas said all players and staff tested negative for the coronavirus before leaving for the tournament on last Saturday. Upon arrival, two players tested positive. Subsequent tests found four more players infected with the virus that causes COVID-19.

"In consultation with MLS medical officials, FC Dallas took proactive steps to isolate the newly affected players as well as all FC Dallas players and staff in Orlando out of an abundance of caution. All members of the club delegation are following MLS health and safety protocols and will remain quarantined in their hotel rooms pending the results of further COVID-19 testing," the team said in a statement.

The names of the players were not released.

The league said no other team was in contact with the FC Dallas delegation. League protocol requires players and staff to be tested every two days upon arrival in Florida.

FC Dallas will now open the tournament on July 15 against the Seattle Sounders, while the Whitecaps will play the San Jose Earthquakes later that day.

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MLS food for players in Orlando bubble might not be what you expect

MLS food for players in Orlando bubble might not be what you expect

With teams arriving in Orlando for the beginning of the MLS is Back Tournament that starts on July 8, players are excited for the opportunity to once again take the field and compete. However, there is one detail that doesn't have many too excited: the food.

On Tuesday, Toronto FC defender Omar Gonzalez, who played collegiately at the University of Maryland, shared a picture of the meal he was given in Orlando. Despite the description sounding appetizing, the sandwich looked anything but that, and it was accompanied by a rather unimpressive side of potatoes and a banana.

Gonzalez's teammate Eriq Zavaleta also shared a picture of his meal, which somehow looked even worse.

The photos are reminiscent of the infamous Fyre Fest disaster that promised fine-dining cuisine and instead provided guests with bread and a piece of cheese. The MLS meals don't look that bad, but it is surprising to see the athletes being given such unappetizing meals as they prepare for a month-plus of intense soccer games.

RELATED: HOW TO WATCH DC UNITED IN MLS IS BACK TOURNAMENT

The MLS is Back Tournament that begins on July 8 will mimic a FIFA World Cup with teams competing in group and knockout round stages with the chance to earn a spot 2021 Scotiabank Concacaf Champions League and win prize money. Hopefully, the events on the field go smoother than what is happening in the kitchen.

Stay connected to your favorite teams from the DMV with the MyTeams app. Click here to download for comprehensive coverage of your teams.