A year ago, Major League Soccer declined a chance to sign Polish striker Krzysztof Piatek, who went on to star in Italy’s Serie A. The Revolution might have learned from that mistake, as they have officially acquired Adam Buksa, a former teammate of Piatek.
Buksa, 23, a year younger than Piatek, joined the Revolution this week on a $4 million transfer from Pogon Szczecin, the second-highest transfer fee the team has paid in its 24-year history. Buksa could be the latest of a group of productive Polish strikers that also includes Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich) and Arkadiusz Milik (Napoli).
“In my opinion, Poland has the best strikers in the world right now,” Buksa said. “We have some strikers who do really well in their clubs and never get a callup to the national team — like Kamil Wilczek, the best-ever scorer with Brondby and the best in the Danish League.”
Buksa teamed with Piatek and the Chicago Fire’s Przemyslaw Frankowski on Poland’s U-21 team and was on the bench for the senior team’s last game, a 1-1 tie at Portugal in a UEFA Nations League game last year.
“It meant a lot for me to be called up and be in camp with Lewandowski, Piatek, Milik,” Buksa said during an interview at the Revolution training facility in Foxborough on Thursday. “I think joining the Revs will help me be closer to the national team. This is a very big challenge, because these are top level players who score goals in Champions League and the best leagues in the world. But I am ready to take the challenge.
“I’m very excited to start playing here because the plan they have for me is familiar with my view of football — I will be a target man, a No. 9 who scores goals. I will have a fantastic player [Carles Gil] next to me who will help me, so I am sure we can do fantastic things as a team next season. I don’t want to predict an exact number but I want to score more goals than I did in Poland. That’s my target. I have to get to know the league. I will know more after two or three games.”
Buksa, who stands 6 feet, 4 inches, is expected to perform as a striker that holds possession, enabling teammates to join the attack. Buksa had his best seasons with Pogon, totaling 22 goals in 55 games.
“I have known many fantastic people there, and the coach [Kosta Runjaic] is a very important part of it,” Buksa said. “I was making a lot of progress, so it wasn’t an easy choice, but life goes on and I have to move forward. And joining the Revolution is progress for me.”
Buksa said he talked with Frankowski, who had a productive season with the Fire.
“He talked about the advantages of moving to the US,” Buksa said. “He said the league is challenging, there are high-quality players here, much better than the Ekstraklasa (Poland’s first division). He thinks it would be the right step for me to come here. Obviously, there are not as many Polish people here as in Chicago, which has more than 1 million. But I’m sure I will find some Polish people here and have time to meet them and speak to them.”
Klopp’s warning goes unheeded
Organizers have been ignoring Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp’s warnings about overscheduling. And this week, the logistics are catching up to Liverpool, which fielded a junior team while the main squad traveled to the Club World Cup in Qatar.
Liverpool used a group with an average age of 19 for a 5-0 loss at Aston Villa in the Carabao (League) Cup Tuesday. The youngsters displayed passing ability and skill, but were no match for Villa’s veterans, who took a 4-0 halftime lead, then eased up. It was the worst defeat Liverpool has sustained in the competition.
But, instead of reeling things in, FIFA has decided to expand — the 2021 Club World Cup is to be contested by 24 teams. The event is scheduled for summer, avoiding league seasons, but potentially conflicting with the Africa Cup of Nations, CONCACAF Gold Cup, and Nations League.
“You cannot just add on tournaments,” Klopp said. “It doesn’t work. FIFA doesn’t like I say it — sorry — but it is my opinion and my opinion has to be right sometimes because I think about football all day.”
Liverpool’s first team struggled to a 2-1 win over Monterrey and will meet Flamengo in the Club World Cup final in Doha, Qatar, on Saturday.
The teams have met once — Flamengo took a 3-0 win over Liverpool in the 1981 Club World Cup final. Circumstances have changed greatly since. Then, most of the best Brazilian players stayed in the country. Now, they are playing key roles for top clubs — goalkeeper Alisson, midfielder Fabinho, forward Roberto Firmino for Liverpool.
Mourinho’s plan for Spurs working
Jose Mourinho could be changing his ways. Mourinho, who has achieved success with mostly conservative tactics, has unleashed Tottenham’s attack since replacing Mauricio Pochettino as manager last month.
Spurs, who play host to Chelsea on Sunday, have outscored opponents, 14-7, in five Premier League games under Mourinho. Normally, Mourinho prefers to lock things up defensively, play with a single striker, and counterattack. But with Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min up front, Mourinho has decided to push the offense. In fact, he has often gone to a three-forward setup, moving Dele Alli to striker. Mourinho believes Alli has been playing out of position in midfield and, so far, he seems to be right. Since Mourinho’s arrival, Alli has produced four of his six goals.
But Mourinho next step is likely to reinforce Spurs’ back line, since the team has surrendered at least two goals in six of seven games.
In any case, Mourinho and Spurs appear to be back on track.
Tottenham (7-5-5, 26 points) was in 14th place and had a five-match winless streak on Nov. 23, before Mourinho replaced Pochettino. Spurs have won four of five games since then, climbing into fifth place.
Chelsea (9-2-6, 29 points), despite losing four of its last five, occupies the fourth and final Champions League qualification spot.
Spurs have a six-match (4-0-2) home unbeaten run and a 5-1-2 home record. Normally, Mourinho could be expected to lock up the midfield and present a tactical chess match, waiting for Chelsea to make a mistake. But should Spurs go with a three-pronged forward setup, this could become a wide-open match.
El Clasico lacks offense
Barcelona versus Real Madrid — Spain’s El Clasico — is usually expected to produce highlight reel attacking play. But this week’s match ended in a 0-0 draw, leaving the teams tied for first place with 36 points after 17 games.
The match was played in a tense setting, as pro-Catalan independence groups staged a demonstration outside the Nou Camp stadium and launched yellow beach balls onto the field in the second half.
Neither team generated the high-octane offense of the recent years. Lionel Messi inspired Barça, but failed to produce an assist or goal for the first time in 10 starts. Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed as he finished a cross from Ferland Mendy, who was ruled offside.
The teams last played to a scoreless draw in 2002, when Barcelona’s attack featured Patrick Kluivert, Juan Roman Riquelme, and Xavi, and Real Madrid’s Luis Figo, Raul, and Santiago Solari.