Welcome to the Papal Edition of the weekly soccer column. Yes, the Pope’s visit to the United States included a soccer angle.
During his visit to Washington, the Pope was presented with a D.C. United jersey that read “Pope Francis” on the back. It goes without saying that the shirt was No. 10 because the Holy Father is a native of Argentina, so what more appropriate number to offer him than that of legend Diego Maradona, who benefited from the “Hand of God” goal in the 1986 World Cup.
The Pope is a lifelong fan of Argentine club San Lorenzo, and has received replica shirts from famous players over the years.
According to the Washington Post, the idea to give him a D.C. United shirt came from Paul Hill, a “very well-connected” fan who is the ex-husband of Courtney Kennedy — daughter of the late Robert Kennedy and Ethel Kennedy, who had VIP access for the Pope’s visit to the White House on Wednesday.
Hill worked out that Kennedy would give the shirt to the Pope, but first had to get the shirt made on very short notice. He contacted Miami-based soccer promoter Peter Smith, a close friend who grew up with United general manager Dave Kasper in Pittsburgh.
Kasper got the shirt made, and the Kennedy family made sure in got into the Pope’s hands.
▪ Lewandowski’s quintuple-goal day: Speaking of godly, Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski seemed to have divine intervention last week as he scored an astounding five goals in nine minutes to rally his team from a 1-0 halftime deficit to a 5-1 victory over Wolfsburg.
Lewandowski came off the bench and scored in the 51st, 52nd, 55th, 57th and 60th minutes. It was the quickest hat trick in Bundesliga history. During that span of nine minutes, the Pole scored more goals than six Bundesliga teams have scored all season. He also scored more than Liverpool, Newcastle or West Brom have scored this season.
He was one short of Dieter Muller’s Bundesliga record of six goals in a game, when Cologne beat Werder Bremen 7-2 in 1977.
Lewandowski is the third Bayern player to score five in a game — Gerd Muller did it three times, and Dieter Hoeness once.
He has scored 10 goals in seven games thus far this season, and if he continues even close to this pace, he could be the player who finally breaks the scoring record of legend Gerd Muller, who had 40 goals in 1971-72.
▪ Movie time: The much-anticipated Oct. 10 match between the United States and Mexico will be shown at more than 200 movie theaters across the United States, as well as on Fox Sports 1. The winner of the match earns a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia, a warmup event for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
The match is being played at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, at 9:30 p.m. EDT. The South Florida theaters showing the game are Sunset Place 24 (Miami), Cinemark Paradise 24 (Fort Lauderdale) and Cinemark Palace 20 (Boca Raton). Go to fathomevents.com for more information.
▪ NWSL final: The National Women’s Soccer League championship game is a repeat of last year’s final, which FC Kansas City won 2-1 over the Seattle Reign. The match is Oct. 1 in Portland, Oregon, at 9:30 p.m. EDT (Fox Sports 1). Seattle features Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and four players named to the league’s Best IX — Lauren Barnes, Kim Little, Jess Fishlock and Beverly Yanez. Kansas City is led by Amy Rodriguez and Heather O’Reilly.
▪ Oliveira called up: Ricardo Oliveira, 35, was among the players called up by Brazil coach Dunga for World Cup qualifiers next month against Chile and Venezuela. He replaced Roberto Firmino of Liverpool, who has a back injury. Oliveira, who plays for Santos, leads the Brazilian league with 17 goals. Brazil plays at Chile on Oct. 8 and is home against Venezuela on Oct. 13
▪ Local events: U.S. Women’s World Cup champion coach Jill Ellis, a resident of Palmetto Bay, will be honored Sunday before the 1 p.m. women’s game between the University of Miami (3-6-0) and seventh-ranked Clemson (7-1-1) at Cobb Stadium. It is the Canes’ Atlantic Coast Conference home opener. … Former Colombian and Miami Fusion star Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama, he of the fluffy hair, is a special guest Sunday afternoon at the Copa Coca-Cola youth tournament at Amelia Earhart Park in Hialeah. The Copa is an international youth event that takes place in 11 cities around the United States, and this weekend the semifinals and final are in Hialeah.
MLS: East — New York (48), Columbus (47), New England (46), D.C. (45), Toronto (40). West — Vancouver (48), Dallas and Los Angeles (47), Seattle (45), Kansas City (44).
NASL: Ottawa (31), Minnesota (26), New York (23), Edmonton (22), Atlanta (21), Fort Lauderdale (20).
EPL: Manchester City (15), Manchester United (13), West Ham and Leicester City (12), Arsenal (10).
La Liga: Real Madrid, Celta Vigo and Villarreal (13), Atletico Madrid and Barcelona (12).
Serie A: Inter Milan (15), Fiorentina (12), Sassuolo (11), Sampdoria, Torino and Chievo (10).
Ligue 1: PSG (17), ASSE (16), Rennes (14), Lyon and Stade Reims (12).
Bundesliga: Bayern Munich (18), Dortmund (16), Schalke 04 (13), Wolfsburg and FC Koln (11).
On the tube: Sunday — AC Milan vs. Genoa (6:25 a.m., BeIN Sport), Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Hertha Berlin (9:30 a.m., FS1), Watford vs. Crystal Palace (10:55 a.m., NBCSN), Seattle vs. K.C. (5 p.m., ESPN), Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose (7 p.m., FS1), Dallas vs. L.A. (9:30 p.m., FS1). Monday — West Brom vs. Everton (3 p.m., NBCSN).