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Three Spanish clubs through, Americans crash out in UEFA Europa League

Cherundolo (Getty Images)

Spain's La Liga certainly has a legitimate claim to be called the best league in the world.

After putting two teams in the UEFA Champions League semifinals earlier this week, three more Spanish teams reached the semifinals of the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, with all of them crushing the hopes of Americans along the way.

Atletico Madrid eliminated Steve Cherundolo's Hannover with a 2-1 victory, Valencia routed Jozy Altidore's AZ Alkmaar 4-0 and Athletic Bilbao maintained its two-goal aggregate edge with a 2-2 draw with Jermaine Jones' Schalke in the second legs of their respective quarterfinal ties to claim places in the semifinals.

Only one American's team will be represented in the semifinals, as Oguchi Onyewu's Sporting Lisbon advanced past Metalist Kharkiv, getting a massive save of a penalty kick in the second half to eke by with a 1-1 draw and a 3-2 aggregate victory.

Sporting will meet Athletic Bilbao in one semifinal, while Atletico Madrid and Valencia do battle in the other. Given Onyewu's injury timetable, which was said to be eight weeks from the end of February, it's unlikely that he'll be fit for either semifinal leg, with the first one slated for April 19 and the return leg set for April 26. The final will be held May 9 in Bucharest, Romania.


  1. Germany and France tend to be more competitive among the bigger leagues. Watching Man U take on one other team every year isn’t exactly very competitive and now that Man U isn’t what it once was its also less interesting.

  2. I don’t know. Every time I read about a Real Madrid or Barcelona blowout (5-1 etc) makes me think La Liga isn’t all that competitive week in week out. England has the best, most competitive league.

  3. not surprised, over the last 20 months when an opportunity for anything US-related to advance the cause on a bigger stage comes up, soccer gods take it away swiftly and painfully:

    Ghana loss at WC
    US Gold Cup Final
    CONCACAF Champs League

  4. This is very true.

    It’s easy to be a two-team league when your top two teams are far and away the best teams on the planet, with one of them being arguably the greatest team ever assembled.

    Bilbao is a mid table La Liga team and they wiped the field with United’s starting lineup over two legs.

  5. Yet many still refer to it as Scotland with sun. The second tier Spanish clubs have always been very good but Barca and Madrid have been unreal lately so the other clubs get less respect then they should.

  6. And the Spanish national side is the reigning World and European Champion.

    Spain is your destination to watch the best football on the planet.

  7. Isn’t saying “AZ Alkmaar” redundant? It’s equivalent to “RSL Salt Lake” or “PSG Paris”, no?

    Just sayin’…


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