7/13/18 World Cup Finals Set France vs Croatia 11 am Sun on Fox, 3rd Place England vs Belgium Sat 9 am, CHS Soccer Camps next Week !!

Wow what about Croatia.  They become the 2ndsmallest country to ever make a World Cup Final – with just 4 million people.  (that’s 2.5 million fewer than Indiana).  Oh and Croatia has qualified for every World Cup since they became a independent country.  This team barely qualified for this World Cup as their new coach Zlatko Dalic who took over with 3 games left in qualifications – steered them from the brink of what the US did (not qualifying) to the Finals of the World Cup.  Don’t tell me that coaching doesn’t make a difference! This golden generation for Croatia led by the World’s Best midfielder Luka Modric’ (said Mo-Dridge) of Real Madrid, another fantastic midfielder in Ivan Rakitic and a Juve Forward Mario Mandzukic who found a way to score the final goal in the 115th minute.   The fact that they had to go to Extra Time in 3 straight games – winning 2 in PKs and this one in the final 5 minutes is just amazing.  Of course France will be favored on Sunday in the Final – but I am not going to pick against this seemingly team of destiny in Croatia – DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? – It might just happen Sunday 11 am on Fox!  Saturday we’ll see which team England or Belgium can recover from the disappointment to try to claim 3rd place – at 10 am on Fox.  My pick for Golden Ball if France wins is N’Golo Kante – especially if he can shut down Modric.  If Croatia wins its got to be Luka Modric of course.  Kane will win the Golden Boot unless Mbappe can score 3 goals in the final (even though 3 of Kane’s 6 goals were PKs.  Golden Glove this is a 4 maybe 5 horse race in my mind between the winner between England/Belgium (Pickford vs Courtios) or France vs Croatia (Loris vs Subasic).  I also thought the Great Wall of Ochoa for Mexico and Denmark’s Schmeichel covered themselves with glory – however I think assuming Belgium win’s the 3rd place game its Courtois’ to lose.  Oh and after the World Cup – next week – we’ll review my favorite commercials of this World Cup!

Renaldo to Juventus

So I am not sure how I feel about my favorite Goalkeeper Italy’s Gigi Buffon leaving for PSG right before the Old Lady Juve –sign freaking Renaldo.  Are you kidding me – all those years of Juve losing in the finals, the final 4, the final 8 – often to their nemises Real Madrid and now Renaldo flips to Juve (Perhaps putting them over the edge just as GIGI LEAVES?? AARGGG!!!  Now I completely understand Renaldo leaving – listen I have been in the Bernabau and seen and heard first hand the “PRECIOUS” Madradistas – In my mind the WORSE FANS in Sports — whistle at Renaldo because he didn’t score in the first half of a game.  Let me see – 3 Champ League Titles, 2 LA Ligas, an Absurd 1 goal per game tally in all games played with Madrid and they aren’t happy with arguably the GOAT – Greatest of all time?  Now I don’t pretend Renaldo is perfect – but dude I would never boo him at my own stadium.  Boo the coach yes – but not Renaldo.  Not in Madrid.  Now he has the chance to prove he’s better than anyone – if he can help take Juve to the Finals of Champions League and Win – there will be no more Renaldo or Messi question??  It will be Renaldo doing it at 3 different clubs.  NEVER BEFORE DONE.  We’ll see.  Oh and I am sure Madrid will spend a ton of money to bring in someone else but with the mastermind Zidane and Renaldo GONE — they will not repeat.  Heard it here first!!  The inside story of Ronaldo’s transfer  I will say I am sorry to see Conte leaving Chelsea – but honestly it just wasn’t working there despite the title win in the first year.  He’ll land somewhere and win wherever he goes.

INDY 11

Indy recovered Sat on a comfortable night at Lucas Oil and came from behind to win 2-1 over Charlotte.  Huge late goal by subbing forward Ben Speas.  At 8-4-5 and ranked 5th in the East with 28 pts, the Indy 11 will travel to my old neck of the Woods Tampa Bay – or actually beautiful Al Lang Stadium on the Waterfront in St. Petersburg to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies next Saturday night at 7:30 pm and the game will be on MyIndy TV 23 in 1 of their rare road game coverages and of course on ESPN+. Our Boys in Blue return home Wed Aug 15 and of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

neymar alphabet

Staying on the Neymar Bashing – how’s this Alphabet of Neymar antics ??

WORLD CUP

Tale of the Tape in the Final

Euro 2016 Failure Shapes France’s World Cup Approach, Final Motivation

France missed an opportunity to lift a major trophy on home soil when it fell to Portugal in extra time two years ago. Les Bleus haven’t forgotten that feeling.by Brian Straus si

Luka Modric’s Croatia Success Story is a Complex One si — by Jonathan Wilson

 Laurens: France determined to go all the way this time
Project Russia: Which fans are left at the World Cup?
Predictions: Belgium vs. England, France vs. Croatia
Duerden: Dalic’s untraditional path to the World Cup
Vickery: Questions for South American nations

Marcotti: Pogba’s keep-it-simple but effective World Cup

 Ogden: Mbappe makes French the firm favourites in World Cup final
FiveThirtyEight: How Croatia and France made it to the final
Marcotti: France aren’t broken, so Deschamps won’t change
Laurens: Pamela Anderson and a water fight – how France celebrated

England No Longer a Laughing Stock – Ian Darke EPSN

READ MORE: ‘England still a long-ball team’ Croatia hit out at Three Lions
READ MORE: England player and manager reaction as Three Lions downed in Moscow
READ MORE: It doesn’t matter that football didn’t come home – it was the feeling that it might

Gareth Southgate got subsitutions, tactics wrong in World Cup defeat ESPNFC

Inter Milan and Bayern Munich dominate World Cup final

Marcotti: Croatia’s unbreakable resolve denies England
ESPN FC TV: How England lost their way vs. Croatia
Project Russia: Three Lions bow out of the World Cup
ESPN FC TV: Do Croatia have enough left to face France?
Ogden: England must ensure their Russia run leads to more
England Players Take to Twitter

Ames: France edge past disappointing Belgium
Project Russia: France go from strength to strength
ESPN FC TV: Yet again, Belgium cannot deliver

Project Russia: The best on-scene video

French Firemen use Neymar in Agony to plug First Aid Course

Cristiano Ronaldo on the move

Ronaldo to join Juventus: The latest news and reaction
MarcottiThe inside story of Ronaldo’s transfer
ESPN FC TV: Transfer changes European football landscape
ESPN FC TV: Will Ronaldo keep scoring goals in Serie A?
How the social media world reacted
What are the most expensive transfers of all time?

Source: Real Madrid Targets Neymar, Mbappe, Hazard as Ronaldo Replacements Grant Wahl si

Buffon signs with PSG

Indy 11

Indy 11 Fall to Charleston 2-1

Indy 11 Fade in Heat at Charleston 1-2 Bloody Shambles- James Cormack

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for Saturday’s Game!   (Code 2018Indy)

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

USA

Why the Biggest Countries in the World – Like the US Fail with the World Cup  USA Today Martin Rogers

If Only the US wasn’t so America – We might win this thing – Parker Cleveland Stars and Stripes

Why Sampaoli would be a Disaster for USMNT

Jesse Marsch Hopes to be Manager of USMNT Someday – as he heads off the Europe to Coach RB Leipzig

Goalies

England’s Pickford Wants to Start and Win Golden Glove vs Courtois and Belgium

Goalies Battling for the Golden Glove

Best Saves Rounds 1 & 2 World Cup

England’s Pickford One of the Top Saves of the World Cup

Pickford’s Path to World Cup Hero

9 Saves  by Belgium’s Courtois Sit Down Brazil

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

Painting Success On and Off the Field – Indy GK

SUMMER CAMPS

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

GAMES ON TV This Week

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             England vs Belgium WC 3rd place

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

8 pm ESPN+                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            Croatia vs France – WC Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                                               LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   –          US Open Cup

8:30 pm ???                   Chicago Fire vs Louisville City FC

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                                                  Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sat, July 21                

7:30 pm TV 23/espn+  Charleston vs Indy 11

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham 

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

10:30 pm ESPN         LAFC vs LA Galaxy (we should be at the game !)

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

 Indiana Soccer League Discounted Offer for Chicago Fire Games
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club would like to invite all families and members involved with ISL out for a Chicago Fire MLS match this Summer and Fall. 
On-field experiences for children age 5-17 before every match!  This offer includes discounted group ticket pricing for anyone interested.
Please email Stew with the Chicago Fire – Sgreen@chicago-fire.com – for more information about on-field experiences for kids for specific game days, or any other questions!
Saturday, July 21st at 6:00pm vs Toronto FC
Sunday, September 16th at 4:00pm vs Orlando City SC

 France vs. Croatia: Mbappe makes French the firm favourites in World Cup final

Jul 12, 2018Mark Ogden, Senior Writer ESPN FC

MOSCOW — It is a World Cup final that few would have predicted at the start of Russia 2018, but France will face Croatia in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday with the chance to become world champions at stake for both sides.Didier Deschamps, who captained France to World Cup glory in 1998, has seen his all-star team build momentum throughout the tournament, and they go into the final as strong favourites to win.But Croatia have displayed resolve, perseverance and quality to overcome Denmark, Russia and England (all after extra time) to get to their first ever final, and led by Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, they will believe they can take the World Cup back to the Balkans for the first time.So which team has the edge going into Sunday’s final?

World Cup 2018 must-reads

– Make your daily ESPN FC Match Predictor picks!
– World Cup fixtures, results and coverage 

– England can’t let this be another false dawn
– Croatia tell themselves to get up yet again
– FC TV: England lost their way vs. Croatia
– France, Deschamps won’t change approach now
– No sleep ’till Moscow: Fan travels through Russia

Goalkeeper

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has produced a few world-class saves — from Martin Caceres in the quarterfinal vs. Uruguay, and Toby Alderweireld against Belgium — to remind us all of his ability, but the Tottenham No. 1 went into the World Cup on the back of an unconvincing season for club and country.

Lloris can be unsettled when he has the ball at his feet, so Croatia will look to target this weakness and hope that their goalkeeper, Danijel Subasic, can maintain his remarkable form in Russia.

Subasic has been a hero of two penalty shootouts and played in the semifinal win against England despite having injured his hamstring in the quarterfinal against Russia. The Monaco keeper will pose a determined barrier against the French, but Lloris has grown into this tournament, and he is the best keeper in the final.

Edge: France

Defence

Between them, France and Croatia have conceded just nine goals so far at this World Cup, and three of those shipped by the French came in the remarkable 4-3 win against Argentina in the round of 16.

Croatia have not kept a clean sheet during the knockout stages and, against England, were troubled by the pace and movement of Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli, with Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida enduring a tough opening hour against Gareth Southgate’s team before nerves set in.

France, with the blistering pace of Kylian Mbappe, will exploit Croatia’s weaknesses at the back and trust their own back line, marshalled by Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane, to win their battles.

Defensively, France have a strong advantage.

Edge: France

Midfield

Croatia are a match for any team in the world with their midfield triangle of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic, but they are up against a formidable unit in N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi.

This battle could boil down to Croatia’s streetwise experience against the energy, tenacity and power of the French.

Kante has been one of the stars of the tournament, while Pogba has quietly — unusually for him — gone about his business impressively.

Modric and Rakitic are world-class performers for club and country, though, so this will be the key tactical clash of the game.

Edge: Even

Forwards

France are blessed with some of the hottest attacking talent in the world right now and arguably possess the best options of any team in Russia.

Mbappe has already displayed his incredible ability at this World Cup, with Antoine Griezmann also impressing. The power and strength of Olivier Giroud has given France a crucial attacking dimension, while Deschamps can also call on Ousmane Dembele’s youthful talent and speed down the wing.

Croatia are at the other end of the scale, with battle-hardened veteran Mario Mandzukic leading the line. Wingers Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic are dangers — Perisic was outstanding in the semifinal win against England — and they will need to be on top of their game if Croatia are to have any hope.

Edge: France

Managers

Deschamps has all the pedigree you could wish for: a World Cup-winning captain in 1998 and a player who also won the Champions League twice, with Marseille and Juventus.On the other side, Zlatko Dalic was a journeyman midfielder who never represented his country and a man who only took charge of Croatia, following spells coaching in Albania, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, last October.Dalic has allowed his Croatia team to play to its strengths, however, and given senior figures such as Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic a voice on and off the pitch.He has hugely overperformed to get Croatia to the final, so all the pressure on Sunday will be on Deschamps, whose last final saw France lose to Portugal in Paris at Euro 2016.

Edge: France

Intangibles

There are two big question marks hanging over this game: how tired are Croatia and can France hold their nerve to win the World Cup?Croatia have played extra time three times to get to the final, and their senior players looked to be out of steam during the semifinal win against England. Somehow they dredged up incredible reserves of energy to win the game, but how punishing will those extra periods prove?As for France, they should win comfortably due to their extra freshness and depth, but they failed to deliver on home turf in the Euro 2016 final, so will they choke again?

Edge: France

Prediction

France 3-1 Croatia

N’Golo Kante deserves the Golden Ball

France’s midfielder has been the best player at the tournament, and a big reason they’re going to a World Cup Final.

By Nate Scott@aNateScott  Jul 12, 2018, 9:50am EDT

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The best player at the 2018 World Cup has not scored a goal. He does not have an assist. He’s made no saves, had no moments that made SportsCenter’s top 10. He’s picked up one yellow card, but other than that, you won’t find him on the score sheet.His name is N’Golo Kante, he plays for France, and he deserves the Golden Ball.Kante will never win it, unfortunately, unless there’s some wild groundswell in the next half week. Defensive-oriented players don’t really win the Golden Ball, unless it’s Italy in ‘06 and we give it to Fabio Cannavaro because we didn’t know what else to do with that tournament.It will most likely go to Luka Modric, another wonderful player who has been the engine for Croatia en route to a surprise World Cup final appearance. If anyone aside from Kante is going to win it, I’m glad it’s Modric, one of the world’s more under-appreciated and brilliant players over the last decade or so, and playing his best soccer at age 33.But still, in my heart, this award belongs to Kante.Kante seems out of place, doesn’t he, in this France side? There’s the attacking brilliance and youthful flair of Kylian Mbappé, just 19 and ready to take over the world. There’s Paul Pogba, playing next to Kante, he of the perfect hair and long strides and gorgeous passes that only he could make.And then there’s Kante. He stands 5’6. He weighs maybe 150 pounds. If you aren’t looking for him, you might not notice him, and will just hear his name called every once in a while as he intercepts a ball and then passes it along to a teammate.Kante is the type of player one needs time to appreciate. This was true of him professionally — it took time for scouts and the world’s top clubs to realize just what a special player he was. A few years ago, Kante was playing in the French second division for Caen. He got spotted by Leicester City, they plugged him into the midfield, and then they went and pulled off modern soccer’s greatest miracle by winning the Premier League.Chelsea bought Kante, and then he went and became arguably their most important player. At every level he’s only seemed to improve. His vision, his understanding of the game, keeps getting better. He was always brilliant (one of my few prophetic moments in this dumb sport is when I said Kante could play for any team in the world when he was at Leicester, and I got laughed at), but he’s become even more so. And now he’s doing it at the World Cup.His position doesn’t help him get attention. It’s a thankless job, defensive midfielder, and one that fans need to watch for a long time to understand just how much one contributes to a team. It’s a common trope among club team fanbases that, at the end of a long season, they won’t vote the 20-goal scorer as their Fan Player of the Season … but rather give the honor to the defensive center midfielder, tried and true, never doing too much but bailing out their team time and time again.For most soccer players, the defensive center midfielder is usually their favorite teammate, because he allows everyone else to do what they want to do. He’s the garbage man, dealing with the other team’s best player, making the simple passes, letting you go and do all the fun stuff.But Kante goes beyond the standard defensive center midfielder role. He isn’t just tidy with the ball, isn’t just a decent tackler. Well, he is those things, but it takes watching him closely to understand just how much he influences a game.For one, he covers so much ground that other players are given the freedom to do basically whatever they want. One of the favorite games for people who watch Kante play a lot, especially in his time with Leicester City and Chelsea in the Premier League, is to just keep a half-eye on him when watching the action, then crack yourself up when he shows up in the play, completely unexpectedly, often like 70 yards away from where you last saw him.

A typical thing you might see: Watching the ball, watching the ball … Oh look, Kante just showed up on the right edge of the opponent’s box, to collect a rebound and make a smart pass off a cleared corner kick … Watching the ball, watching the ball … Ha! Ha! Hah! WAIT, KANTE IS NOW 85 YARDS AWAY AND JUST SNUFFED OUT A COUNTER ATTACK FOR THE OPPONENT. THAT WAS LIKE SIX SECONDS. HOW DID … IS HE NIGHTCRAWLER? WHAT THE HELL? AHAHA!

But what separates Kante isn’t just his ability to run, though God can he run, but rather his seemingly preternatural understanding of where a soccer ball is going to go. If you watch him play, you can see him reading passes two or three ahead of time, and adjusting his positioning to deal with it.You can see this in the stats. Here, from earlier in the tournament, on teams that had allowed attackers to bypass defenders. Look at France:

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Nine. NINE. That’s Kante. Well, it’s Didier Deschamps’ organization, sure, but it’s also Kante. Teams don’t bypass him because they don’t even dare at this oint. He closes everything out. Passing angles disappear. They don’t even think of dribbling at him because that never ends well.

The best thing about Kante isn’t what he makes happen, though, but rather what he doesn’t allow to happen. Yes, he can seemingly see passes before they come and can intercept them. But he also possesses the ability to see entire attacks taking form before they begin, and then snuff them out.

There was one moment in the first half of the semifinal between France and Belgium where I caught myself watching Kante. The ball was with Belgium’s defender Jan Vertonghen on the left side of the field, and Belgium were on a mini break. Vertonghen saw a pass ahead to his center midfielder, Mousa Dembélé. Kante, realizing his responsibility wasn’t Dembélé, started shifting to the opposite side of the field, and he did so before Vertonghen even made the pass. Why? He understood not only that Vertonghen was going to make that pass, but that Dembele would receive the ball, turn, then pass it out to the other side to the waiting Nacer Chadli, who was on the entire other side of the field, with space and time.It happened exactly as Kante saw it. Kante was already on his way to Chadli when the pass came in. Blaise Matuidi, France’s left wing, who moments earlier was a bit stranded, could now step hard on Chadli, because Kante, understanding the way the game is played, had come over to support him. Chadli was put under pressure by Matuidi, saw Kante coming with the double team, so he was forced to turn backwards and cycle the ball back to the defense. The threat was over.It was a nothing moment, one that will never be on a highlight tape. Kante didn’t score a goal. He didn’t even make a tackle. But Kante’s ability to understand what was happening that second early, and to cover that 8-10 yards of space before he needed to, meant that he was there to provide support to his teammate when Chadli received the ball. An imbalanced situation for Belgium suddenly became them passing it backwards, and France was able to get organized defensively.That’s what Kante does, over and over again, throughout the course of a match. He reads and senses. He makes the right decisions over and over again. He allows the other France players to take chances, and make deep runs, and fly into attack when they see fit, because he is soccer’s greatest security blanket.

He’s tidy with the ball, sure. He’s underrated going forward, too. But that’s not what separates him from the rest of the World Cup. His greatness makes France great. He’s the most important player on the World Cup’s best team. For that, he deserves the Golden Ball.

Jordan Pickford wants to start against Belgium and win the golden glove ahead of Thibaut Courtois

  • chief football writer2 JULY 2018 • 10:30PM

Jordan Pickford says that he wants to play for England against Belgium in Saturday’s third and fourth-place play-off in St Petersburg and hopes to be selected as the goalkeeper of the tournament.The Everton goalkeeper made a fine save late on from Mario Mandzukic before the Croatia striker eventually scored the winner in extra-time in Thursday’s semi-final but it has been a good tournament for Pickford, now firmly established as the No 1. His ability to play with his feet from the back has seen him promoted ahead of Jack Butland by Gareth Southgate, and his save from Mateus Uribe of Colombia in the second round is arguably the best of the tournament.Pickford said: “Hopefully I will get the nod against Belgium. I’d love to get the goalkeeper of the tournament. But we came to win this tournament. We can’t do that now but we want to finish third. It will be a tough test against Belgium again.

“Of course it will be hard to get ourselves up for it. That’s where character comes in. It’s another chance to show our togetherness. We want to finish a great tournament on a high.We can’t finish the best team in the world but we can still be the third best.”He added: “My overriding thoughts right now is that we did ourselves proud. The country believes in us again. Beforehand, I don’t think they were expecting too much from us. Now they have seen the character there is in this squad. They can see we are capable of progressing.“It was really moving. At 12.45am the fans are still out there chanting. That got to me. It shows how far we’ve come.”The Fifa golden glove award for the tournament’s best goalkeeper is not decided on clean sheets but by the Fifa technical study group. He will be up against Thibaut Courtois who said Pickford should have saved Adnan Januzaj’s group stage winner against England. Pickford said his greatest moment was the save from Carlos Bacca in the shoot-out that set up the victory on Eric Dier’s penalty. “It felt big at the time and it still feels big now. We won a shoot-out. And we won a knockout game.“The other memory is that I know I have played well in the tournament. But above all this World Cup is about a group of lads embracing every moment, enjoying ourselves and doing ourselves justice.”

 

Cristiano Ronaldo’s need for love, respect helped push him to Juventus

Jul 11, 2018Mark Ogden, Senior Writer, ESPN FC

Cristiano Ronaldo loves to be loved. Forget the trophies, the Ballons d’Or and the goals: when you peel back all of the superficial players, he is simply a guy who wants love and respect and, therefore, his move to Juventus ticks those boxes.When Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford in 2013 for the first (and so far only) time to face Manchester United with Real Madrid in the Champions League, Sir Alex Ferguson instructed the club’s PA announcer to break with tradition and read out the Real team second, with Ronaldo left as the last player to have his name read out. Alan Keegan, United’s PA man, followed Ferguson’s instructions and the reception Ronaldo was granted made hairs stand up on the back of 70,000 necks. Just as Ferguson anticipated, Ronaldo was so taken by the standing ovation that his focus was clearly distracted in the opening stages.Ronaldo is so often projected as the pantomime villain in his battle for supremacy with Lionel Messi that any kind of affection is soaked up, so it is perhaps no surprise that he has traded Real for Juventus having already been given the respect he so craves by the supporters of the Italian giants.Back in April, after Ronaldo’s stunning overhead-kick goal against Juve was greeted with a standing ovation in Turin, nobody could possibly have envisaged the 33-year-old signing for the Old Lady just three months later.

Cristiano Ronaldo on the move

Ronaldo to join Juventus: The latest news and reaction
MarcottiThe inside story of Ronaldo’s transfer
ESPN FC TV: Transfer changes European football landscape
ESPN FC TV: Will Ronaldo keep scoring goals in Serie A?
How the social media world reacted
What are the most expensive transfers of all time?

Unless he knew differently, Ronaldo himself is unlikely to have had the Italian champions as his first-choice destination should he leave Real, but the gesture from the supporters that night will have left its mark on the Portuguese forward. Juventus showed him respect when he was an opponent; just imagine how much he will be indulged as one of their own.The Ronaldo narrative always suggested that he would only ever leave Real for a return to Man United. After all, his former club made enough attempts to bring him back to Old Trafford, but on one occasion at least, Man United’s interest was used merely to get a better deal from Real. Memories of being used by Ronaldo left scars at Man United — they still tried again once more, without success — but at 33, maybe even the richest club in the world believed that the sums just did not add up to bring him back this time.Paris Saint-Germain have also flirted with Ronaldo, but their lavish investment in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe forced them out of the running. It meant Juventus suddenly presented itself as a much better move than Ronaldo could possibly have expected.The serial Italian champions are a huge club with a global fan base. They may not be Real or Man United, but they are not far behind, and Juve can offer Ronaldo another lorry-load of trophies over the course of his contract. Any move from Real is a step down, but Juventus is one step rather than several.At 33, Ronaldo may have had to consider a move to China or even the MLS if Juventus had not come along. Remaining at Real would have been another option, but it seems that neither Ronaldo nor the Spanish giants were amenable to that.Juventus is a storied club with iconic former players and Ronaldo will relish the opportunity to add his name to their roll of honour. Paolo Rossi, Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Nedved, Roberto Baggio, Alessandro del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon all have their images plastered on the walls of Juve’s Allianz Stadium, and you can bet that Ronaldo will do something to earn his place alongside them. He may be 33, but he is still such a consummate, dedicated professional that Juventus can expect plenty of return on their investment.Ronaldo was the Champions League’s top scorer last season and he hit four goals at the World Cup, so he is still a goal scorer to be feared. And with Juventus desperate to win the Champions League after so many years of dominance in Italy, he will be given the stage to help inspire them to their long-awaited third European Cup.Maybe it is all about Ronaldo’s ego and the chance to win more trophies in Serie A, but it is not the one-team league that it has been for most of the seven consecutive seasons Juve have won the title. Napoli are a threat, with Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival as coach this summer highlighting their ambition, while Roma’s run to the Champions League semifinal last season underlined their determination to challenge Juve’s supremacy. Inter Milan are back in the Champions League, and AC Milan, subject to takeover talk, will always expect to be the best in Italy.So, Ronaldo has signed up for a challenge as well as a change of scenery. But he still has it in him to take another league by storm, and that is why Juventus have made such a bold move by signing him.

Why Jorge Sampaoli would be a disaster for the USMNT

Rumors are coming hard and fast, but this one would be trouble.By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 8, 2018, 1:06pm PDT

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The rumors about who could possibly become the next United States Men’s National Team coach are starting to come in bunches. Today, a report by Mundo Albiceleste, citing a TYC Sportsreport, claims that Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has received offers from U.S. Soccer, Mexico and Costa Rica to take over their head coaching positions.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has reportedly received offers to coach the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica. Now, we can easily dismiss this as a rumor, one that carries no legs for several reasons. Sampaoli is still the Argentina coach and while people expect him and Argentina to part ways, it hasn’t happened yet. Mexico still has their coach as well, with Juan Carlos Osorio also expected to leave but still holds the coaching position. New USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart doesn’t officially assume the role full-time until August 1st, and he is supposed to be responsible for all MNT coaching hires. But really, the main reason we should dismiss this rumor is simple: Jorge Sampaoli would be a disaster for the USMNT.For one, the baggage he carries is immense. Since he won the 2015 Copa America with Chile, he flamed out at Sevilla and took over an Argentine squad that was struggling in World Cupqualifying. While they eventually qualified thanks to some Lionel Messi heroics, they underperformed throughout his tenure. When they arrived at the 2018 World Cup, they did so as heavy favorites despite a pre-World Cup tour that saw them get smoked by Spain and have a friendly against Israel canceled over political protests.Then, there was the actual performance at the World Cup. Their 1-1 draw to Iceland and a 3-0 loss to Croatia in the group stage had his team on the verge of mutiny ahead of its final group stage match against Nigeria. His tactics were erratic, his substitutions were puzzling, and his decision-making was frustrating. Still, they somehow made it out of the group by the skin of their teeth.Argentina eventually met their end in the Round of 16 against France, a 4-3 defeat that was probably more lopsided than the final score. With the exception of just a few minutes of luck and brilliance on the part of the players, Argentina was no match for a French squad that dazzled from start to finish. La Albiceleste were out, a disappointing finish for the team who were the 2014 World Cup runners-up and runners-up in the 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America Centenario and were expected to at least return to the semifinals in this World Cup.Those don’t fare well for a stint with the USMNT. He’d also have to figure out a way to continue the development of the younger guys in the player pool, something he wasn’t the best at with Argentina. There, he took a golden generation of sorts and rode them until the wheels fell off…and fall off they did. The Argentine federation is in disarray, and many important players are now considering retirement. Sound familiar?When it comes to Jorge Sampaoli, of course he may have a decent resume coaching some big-time South American teams. But, the baggage he carries and his tendencies to have tenures built around turmoil rather than teamwork is something that should not be brought into a situation with the USMNT. There are other qualified candidates out there without the baggage, but as agents try to jockey their clients into prominent positions, know that these rumors will get people talking. But, for the USMNT’s sake, let’s hope Jorge Sampaoli becomes some other team’s problem and Earnie Stewart and U.S. Soccer say to his candidacy: NO WAY!!

 

USMNT July 13-15 viewing guide and open thread

One last chance for a World Cup bump

By jcksnftsn  Jul 13, 2018, 9:00am PDT

MLS and their television partners will try one last time this weekend to carry over audience from the World Cup into MLS action with two games on Sunday, the first starting on Fox immediately following their World Cup coverage. There are no Friday or Saturday network games this weekend so we’ll jump right into Sunday.

Sunday

Atlanta United v Seattle Sounders – 2:00p on Fox

Immediately following the conclusion of the World Cup coverage on Sunday Fox will roll into coverage of the MLS with a game featuring the Supporters Shield leaders, Atlanta United facing off against a disappointing Seattle Sounders side.Atlanta are 12-4-4 with identical home and road splits of 6-2-2 and coming off a road win against the Philadelphia Union with Josef Martinez scoring his league leading 18th goal 7 more than a trio tied for second place including American hero Gyasi Zardes! With Andrew Carleton remaining glued to the bench and Greg Garza and Darlington Nagbe both out with long term injuries the USMNT presence on this side of the ball is limited to Brad Guzan.Seattle’s season has been a disappointing one, having picked up only 16 points half way through their schedule after finishing last year with 53 points. Their results this season have them in 10th place in the Western Conference, 10 points back of the final playoff spot. At 35 Clint Dempseylooks to be regressing to a substitute role and has managed just one goal this season. Cristian Roldan has been a consistent presence in the lineup for the Sounders while younger brother Alex has appeared in 13 games including 7 starts.

Los Angeles Football Club v Portland Timbers – 5:00p on ESPN

Following the Atlanta v Seattle match you can flip over to ESPN to catch some West Coast action as this years “how can expansion teams be so good so fast when DC United is… that” team, LAFC, takes on the Portland Timbers.LAFC are coming off a 4-1 shellacking of Orlando City and sit in second place in the Western Conference just one point behind FC Dallas. Walker Zimmerman is the youngest of the LAFC Americans and most likely to be involved moving forward though the center back may not be more than an off-cycle / Gold Cup option if the young center backs playing abroad (Brooks, Miazga, EPB, etc.) continue to progress and be available as expected.

The Portland Timbers are also coming in off a win, over hapless San Jose, and are undefeated in their last 11 games. Unfortunately, their success cannot be attributed to any American development as the young Americans, Eryk Williamson and Marco Farfan, have failed to make an impact. Former U-20 member Zarek Valentin has started 15 games this season but at 26 years of age seems unlikely to break into the Senior team at this point.

Indy’s Battery Runs Low In Charleston – Charleston Battery V Indy Eleven REVIEW

By: James Cormack – Bloody Shambles Soccer

Indy headed southeast to Charleston to play their 5th match in 16 days with a chance of moving up another spot in the USL East standings if they could clinch a road win in South Carolina. The two teams locked horns in Indy’s last home match of May in a thrilling 3-3 tieAs expected with such a hectic period in the 2018 schedule we again saw some rotation to the starting lineup and as we saw against Charlotte it was backed up by a very strong bench. Even with injuries and knocks recently Martin Rennie has called on his depth to step up.Indy Eleven’s weekend game against Charlotte saw early departures for Justin Braun and Kevin Venegas and their replacements Ben Speas and Eugene Starikov started against Charlotte. Brad Ring who left the last game late with calf cramp took the bench.Seth Moses continued where he left off on Saturday at right back alongside Ouimette, Mitchell, and Ayoze. Pasher, Guerra, Matern, Watson and Starikov covered the midfield with Ben Speas playing forward and as usual Owain Fôn Williams in goal. I am not sure why and maybe I am mad, but the team and USL always display us as a 4-4-2 when we clearly are not. Is the starting lineup just based on D’s, M’s and F’s? No idea.As in the previous match the players starting are good enough to bring about a result, a mixture or starters, and some fresh leg rotation. With multiple games in a short period of time, it’s a sensible tactic to begin with when you have a bench stacked with outfield talent like Soony Saad, Jack McInerney, Zach Steinberger, Brad Rusin, Nathan Lewis, and Brad Ring.  Again it was a hot one around 90 degrees, and the first half saw both teams probing and feeling each other out patiently. There was no urgent attempt by either side to hit hard and early. Indy played and looked comfortable for most of the first half, perhaps becoming flat and static in the last ten minutes or so.After 22 minutes of give and take it was Charleston who found the first opening through Gordon Wild. Working inside Charleston’s right and untracked he received a pass from the wing, turned inside and struck a clean left footed shot into the far left corner of Indy’s net from about 24 yards out. Not much you can do about the clinical finish but the time and space he found deep in Indy’s half could have been limited and pressed by our midfield.Indy had a great chance to equalize with 30 minutes gone when Carlyle Mitchell connected with a corner delivered by Ayoze. His bullet header from a few yards out was denied by a great reaction save from Cuban stopper Odisnel Cooper.fter falling behind Indy Eleven continued a methodical and patient approach to the game but with around 10 minutes to go before the half the pass and move changed to a little pass and stand still, the team seemed tired and weary and waiting for the whistle.Whatever Martin Rennie had to say to galvanize his team at halftime worked as Indy Eleven started the second half with more urgency and aggression. Five minutes in Seth Moses made a drive into the left side of Charleston’s box and chipped a cross to the back post for Speas but Ben couldn’t get his bicycle high enough of the ground and his attempted shot found the topside of the net. Within ten minutes Indy Eleven did put the score level. From a central position ben Speas put a short pass through to split the Charleston defense, Eugene Starikov beat the offside trap and went one on one with Cooper. The keeper spread himself at Starikov’s feet but Indy’s number 9 calmly dinked a chip shot up and over to tie the game up. Starikov’s first competitive goal makes him the 12th Indy player to score in 2018.Indy continued to press and within moments could have taken the lead through substitute Soony Saad. A Carlyle Mitchell pass that went almost from the edge of one 18 yard box to the other was controlled by Saad and he pushed towards the Charleston goal. His first shot was saved by the sprawling Cooper which returned to his feet and his second attempt was cleared off the line by Taylor Mueller.It was by far a better half for Indy Eleven, but one man made the evening and the points his own. Gordon Wild again punished Indy, with a goal in each half he made the difference. His second perhaps not as spectacular as his first but it ended any hopes of Indy returning home with a point.ild was again in good space on Indy’s right this time, untracked and unmarked he received a pass from the middle of the field and managed to put a low shot with the left foot on the outside of Seth Moses and past Owain Fôn Williams into the far bottom corner of the net. 2-1 was enough to keep the three points in Charleston. Indy rallied in the second 45 and almost grabbed a point but again I feel a little bit of midfield being unable to regain their shape and press attackers allowed for a second individual goal in open play from Charleston’s number 15.Its been a difficult spell for Indy with an intensive June and July schedule, Charleston is a difficult side, so it is hard to criticize the result too much, they deserved it, we made mistakes. We drew 3-3 with them at a time where we knew we needed to change our effort to change our results and they were in second place. The win for the home side lifts them above Indy into fourth, the Eleven hold fifth place after Nashville fell 1-0 to Charlotte yesterday eveningThe game marked the first match past the halfway point for Indy, and the report card for the midpoint is most certainly not terrible. After 17 matches of the season we sat in the top half of the playoff positions, there have been some disappointing results against poor teams and great results against difficult teams such as Louisville and Nashville. As captain Watson has said previously you have to make those points yourself and make them as soon as you can and not rely on the results of others. We started the second half of the season with an away defeat against a difficult side, I am still confident enough in this squad to pick up the results they need going forward, and we can win away from home.Indy Eleven can take relief in having 10 days of much-needed rest before their next game, the first matchup of the season with old rivals Tampa Bay Rowdies in St.Petersburg. That match will be the first in a series of three away games before our Boys In Blue return to Lucas Oil Stadium on August 15th. After the Rowdies, Indy will play return matches against Bethlehem Steel and Louisville City FC.

Current USL Eastern Conference  Standings as of July 12th, 2018 (uslsoccer.com)

If you are planning to attend the August 5th Match in Louisville keep your eyes out for travel and ticket information from the Brickyard Battalion and don’t forget to pick up tickets for Indy Eleven’s next home match against North Carolina FC at BYBTix.com. And don’t forget to check out the World Cup FInal Watch Party with the BYB, SH19 and Indy Eleven at Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple on July 15th.

PAINTING SUCCESS ON AND OFF THE FIELD

By Drew Kamaski, 07/11/18, 12:00PM EDT  “Boys in Blue” Owain Fon Williams isn’t just a skilled goalkeeper, but a talented painter, too

Owain Fon Williams grasped his palette in one hand. In the other hand, he gripped his paint brush as he stroked the canvas gently. As the assortment of colors blended together, grey mountains covered in white moonlight filled the frame. In the middle stood a quarryman, modeled after his grandfather, who inspired a series of Fon Williams’ paintings.Fon Williams has painted as long as he can remember. He began painting as a child in the town of Penygroes, Wales, a small Welsh village with a total population of 1,793 people.“My mom and dad would just give me paper and some paint and I used to paint away,” said the Welsh keeper. “I’ve done it since I was a kid.”Fon Williams didn’t play FIFA and Fortnite during his adolescent years, instead he painted the majestic landscapes that surrounded his home in the Gwynned region of Wales.“Growing up I didn’t have console games,” the Indy Eleven starting goalkeeper said. “I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a loely area with mountains and seascapes. Whether I painted whatever I was into or just goalkeeper gloves, I always wanted to paint something.”As he grew older, Fon Williams became more involved with the pitch, and less involved with the canvas. Now, 12 years into an illustrious football career, Fon Williams finds himself stateside with Indy Eleven. Despite the rigorous life that comes with being a professional footballer, he never forgot his love for painting.His first serious painting was of a Highland bull. He took the painting to a local framing shop in Nantlle Valley, Wales. There he discovered the focus of the first half of his next collection of paintings – quarrymen.“My grand-dad was one many years ago,” said Fon Williams. “The industry has died now but if anyone was to go to Wales, especially North Wales, you wouldn’t be able to walk two steps without seeing the blue slate and the work these men did many years ago.”The other half of his works depict the goalkeeper’s time with the Wales National Team in one of Europe’s most renowned contests, the UEFA European Championship.Wales made its first ever appearance in the tournament in 2016. The Dragons pushed on to the semi-finals of the 2016 Euros, defeating the tournament favorite, Belgium, in the quarterfinal.“It was like a dream, to be honest,” the understudy to Wales International goalkeeper Wayne Hennesey said. “To beat Belgium in the quarter finals 3-1 showed the character and spirit we had in the team to fight back from down 0-1.”Fon Williams’ and Wales’ Euro 2016 run came to end in the semi-finals. A strong Portuguese side ended the Cinderella run for Wales. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, who Fon Williams labled“The Master”, and Nani defeated the small country from Southwest Great Britain.If not for injuries to Welsh teammates Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davis, Fon Williams believes the outcome would’ve been different.Despite the loss, Fon Williams focuses on the positive experiences of the Euros. He stays in touch with teammates from Wales’ 2016 Euros squad through WhatsApp.“I’ve grown up with Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Gareth Bale,” Fon Williams said. “We still keep in touch. That’s down to the bond we had with that kind of brotherhood. That gang-like mentality was kind of bred into us and made it so special.”Fon Williams discovered more than a bond with his teammates at the Euros; he discovered a wealth of knowledge.Wales head coach Chris Coleman nagged the team about little details according to Fon Williams.Coleman emphasized little goals that were set in place to help the team succeed. The Wales gaffer challenged the team to concede less free kicks, corner kicks, and crosses into the box if they were to advance.Now on loan from Scottish Championship club Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the Welsh goalkeeper is bringing those little goals and that bond to Indy Eleven.“When I joined here at Indy Eleven, we had a team gathering and the coaches spoke of the little goals Indy Eleven has,” Fon Williams said. “I know how something works with the little goals. Hopefully we can reach some of those goals.”Completing game-to-game goals is a short term task for Indy Eleven, a team comprised of mostly new faces. What will take time for Fon Williams and the “Boys in Blue” is developing the chemistry the Wales National Team possessed in France.“It’s not something you can buy that will happen overnight,” Fon Williams said. “We’re a new team. We’ve only been together a month or two. Some of us have never met each other let alone played with each other.”Fon Williams believes responsibility and accountability on the pitch will help the team develop a strong core as Indy Eleven seek in their first ever USL campaign.“That’s how that bond, that unity kind of starts,” Fon Williams said.Five games into the season, the bond has grown stronger after every game as the new squad adjusts to life in Indianapolis.For some players, coming to the Circle City was the benefactor of needing a place to play. For Fon Williams, a long-term stay in the States was a part of the plan for quite some time.“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said the Welsh International. “I’ve been coming here on holiday for about 10 years or more because I love the states, I love the people.”Fon Williams attributes his move to the generous hospitality he’s experienced and the growth of the game. He planned to surround himself with good people and feels he has done that here in Indianapolis with Indy Eleven.“The hardest part of the transition from life in Great Britain to life stateside has been the time difference,” Fon Williams said.A change in his biological clock isn’t going to keep Fon Williams from taking Indy Eleven as far as he can.“It’s a phenomenal team on the up that’s actually going to go somewhere,” Indy Eleven’s man between the sticks said. “I want to be as successful as I possibly can and I feel that Indy Eleven, as a team, have that fight in their belly.”Fon Williams has performed well with “Boys in Blue” in five games. He’s kept a clean sheet in three of the five matches while only conceding two goals on the season.After the final whistle blows and Fon Williams takes off his gloves, he goes back to the canvas. ne of his goals as an Indy Eleven player is to paint a mosaic of Indy Eleven’s crest.“If the supporters can fancy doing something with me, I’d like to do a mosaic of our crest, the Indy Eleven crest.”It is a massive undertaking that will require extreme amounts of supplies, time, and effort, but a goal Fon Williams is determined to achieve.“With something like art you can bring a lot of people together. If I can bring those people in and get them on board then happy day,” Fon Williams said.The professional goalkeeper finds solace in painting. Rest and relaxation is the most important part of his recovery.For Fon Williams, this is located in front of a canvas with a palette and brush in hand.“I find it very therapeutic for me,” said Fon Williams. “Even if it’s only an hour or two that I can pick up my brushes, knives, or whatever and start painting, I can switch off and I’m fresh back into my work.”

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Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

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Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

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7/10/18 World Cup Semi-Finals Eng vs Croatia Wed, Belgium vs France Tues 2 pm on FOX, Indy 11 Win on road Wed Night

So we are down to the Semi-Finals of a World Cup that most experts agree has been the most exciting EVER!  How about shootouts deciding 2 of the 4 Semi-Finalist — wow!!  Anyone feel like joining us at the Stacked Pickle off of Old Meridian across from Meyers Wed 2 pm for the England game?  England advances and the cry of is it Coming Home?  (Remember England invented the game and the cry of bring it home as been there since their 1966 World Cup Win).  Russia who many considered to be one of the weakest host countries ever took heavily favored Croatia to penalty’s (both team’s 2nd straight penalty shootout) in an epic battle to the death with both team’s players utterly exhausted after the game.  The most compelling games of the Quarterfinals Brazil vs Belgium (2-1) and England vs Sweden 2-0 both somewhat surprising but not shocking.  I like Belgium to squeeze by France perhaps in penalty’s as both teams are fantastic, while Saturday England will survive a tired Croatia 2-0.  Man has fantastic Goalkeeping make a difference this world cup or is it me?? Wow –  I have a solid group of Saves from the World Cup – check out to see them all – http://theoleballcoach.com.  Oh and I love the continued dogging of Neymar with the Neymar Challenge taking off Worldwide  and this which includes this KFC Ad in South Africa.  Speaking of Commercials what are your favorites?  For me the new Coke Commercial, the Holyfield Bite Comercial and this new Wish One featuring Buffon are near the top.  Here are some of the older ones Top World Cup Commercials so far.    

Tues, July 10

2 pm Fox                Belgium vs France (WC Semis)

Wed, July 11

2pm  Fox               Croatia vs England (WC Semis)

INDY 11

Indy recovered Sat on a comfortable night at Lucas Oil and came from behind to win 2-1 over Charlotte.  Huge late goal by subbing forward Ben Speas.  At 8-4-4 and ranked 4th in the East with 28 pts, the team is on the road Wednesday night on ESPN+ as they travel to Charleston for their 6th game in 15 days.  Join the BYB for the Watch party in Broad Ripple at Union Jack Pub or Union Brewing Company in Carmel if over 21.  The Indy 11 return home Wed Aug 15 and of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

Buffon to PSG

So I am not sure how I feel about my favorite Goalkeeper Italy’s Gigi Buffon coming out of pre-retirement to sign with Paris St. Germaine.  In one sense – PSG was seriously a great goalkeeper away from advancing a few times in the past.  Their inability to get to the Quarterfinals a huge issue for one of the highest payrolls in the world.  But is Buffon at 40 years old – (still unquestionably a top 10 keeper) really good enough to help get PSG into the Final 4 of Champions League?   I am not sure but I will certainly be rooting him on!

World Cup Cool Stuff

Coke Commercial  

Holyfield Bite Comercial

Top World Cup Commercials so far   

Neymar Challenge Takes Over the World

Neymar Challenge Commercial and More

 World Cup

Facts – Belgium and France

Why France Will Win – Yahoo Soccer

Let’s just go straight to penalty kicks

Don’t get too cocky yet, England fans

After so much humiliation, England a source of pride, unity

England inspire nation as Premier League stars shine

England Star Players as kids

Croatia defender ruffles Russia with political comment after World Cup win

 Belgium boss Roberto Martinez exclusive interview 
Why former France Star Henry’s allegiance is with Belgium 

Ogden: Who will reach the World Cup final?
Kuper: Why it is folly to buy players who starred at a World Cup
Project Russia: Host nation’s Cinderella run to remember
Photos: No sleep til Moscow — fans’ travels through Russia

Ogden: Southgate’s new-look England have changed perceptions
Marcotti: Croatia’s resilience propels them into the semifinals
Project Russia: The England dream continues
#FCExtraTime: Penalties, Subasic, Martinez and ‘Three Lions’
England fans balance weddings and World Cup
Strini: Brazil leave Russia with bittersweet emotions
Laurens: France acting like a team that believes

Ames: Belgium’s Martinez got the better on Tite and Brazil
Project Russia: Brazil ousted, all access at their hotel
Marcotti: France go through but have room for improvement

World Cup breakout star XI

Belgium’s Golden Generation Shines Brightest in Ousting Brazil From World Cup SI by Jonathan Wilson

The Factors and Figures Behind Europe’s World Cup Dominance Trend

England Coasts, Croatia Perseveres as Both End World Cup Semifinal Droughts – Grant Wahl SI

Cratia Win Over Russia Explodes World Cup Viewership; Best Since 1990 – Update

Belgium’s Win Over Brazil Breaks Ratings & Streaming Records For Fox Sports

Why Soccer Players Flop – and why they aren’t the only ones to Blame – FC Yahoo Henry Bushnell

Indy 11

Indy 11 beats Charlotte 2-1

Come From Behind Victory Thrills the Crowd – Bloodyshambles – Rebecca Townsend

USA

Pulisic Shows CBS What he Can do on the Pitch

Why the Biggest Countries in the World – Like the US Fail with the World Cup  USA Today Martin Rogers

Goalies

England’s Pickford One of the Top Saves of the World Cup

Pickford’s Path to World Cup Hero

9 Saves  by Belgium’s Courtois Sit Down Brazil

Oldest World Cup Player Ever Saves PK for Egypt

Best Saves Round 1 World Cup

Best Saves Round 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

 SUMMER CAMPS

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

GAMES ON TV This Week

Tues, July 10         

2 pm Fox                Belgium vs France (WC Semis)  

Wed, July 11         

2pm  Fox               Croatia vs England (WC Semis)

7 pm ESPN+/Utube Charleston vs Indy 11

8:30 pm ESPN+             Chicago vs Philly Union

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

8 pm ESPN+                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                                               LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   – US Open Cup

8:30 pm ???                   Chicago Fire vs Louisville City FC

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                                                  Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham 

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

10:30 pm ESPN         LAFC vs LA Galaxy (we should be at the game !)       

Indiana Soccer League Discounted Offer for Chicago Fire Games
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club would like to invite all families and members involved with ISL out for a Chicago Fire MLS match this Summer and Fall. On-field experiences for children age 5-17 before every match!  This offer includes discounted group ticket pricing for anyone interested. Please email Stew with the Chicago Fire – Sgreen@chicago-fire.com – for more information about on-field experiences for kids for specific game days, or any other questions!
Wed, July 11 at 7:30 pm vs Philly Union

Saturday, July 21st at 6:00pm vs Toronto FC
Sunday, September 16th at 4:00pm vs Orlando City SC

World Cup semifinals: Pressure on Belgium’s golden generation, England can outlast Croatia

Mark Ogden, Senior Football Writer

With the quarterfinals done and dusted, there are just four teams left standing at the 2018 World Cup.Out of Belgium, France, England and Croatia, who will book a place in the final on July 15?

Belgium vs. France, Saint Petersburg

It’s a game between two European neighbours and arguably the two teams that have produced the most outstanding performances so far.Belgium’s so-called golden generation have fallen short in recent tournaments, failing to deliver at the past two European Championships and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but their destruction of the Brazilians in the quarterfinal was the performance of a team that believes it can become world champions.France, who laboured through their group with only three goals in three games against Australia, Peru and Denmark, showcased their incredible depth of talent when teenager Kylian Mbappe led their second-round dismantling of Argentina in Kazan.

France are perhaps peaking ahead of their time, with Didier Deschamps’ young team viewed by many as not likely to mature into potential World Cup winners until Qatar 2022.Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann will almost certainly all be around in four years’ time, but for Belgium, this World Cup has to be their moment. With so many players in or approaching their 30s, Roberto Martinez’s men have to grasp this opportunity or risk seeing it evaporate forever.But Belgium — led by outstanding efforts from Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku — were so hot against Brazil, they go into this game against their big-brother neighbour as favourites.France have the greater pedigree — winners in 1998 and finalists in 2006 — but Belgium are the team that seems to have come together at just the right time in Russia.The Belgians, having kept Neymar quiet against Brazil, must find a way to do the same with Mbappe, but Vincent Kompany’s return to fitness ensures that Martinez can rely on the Manchester City captain’s experience to marshal the defence.

France, in turn, have to find a way to nullify De Bruyne and Hazard, but the Belgians possess more match winners.Do they have the mentality to beat France in a huge game? That is the only real question.

Winners: Belgium

Croatia vs. England, Moscow

An unlikely semifinal matchup at the start of the tournament, Croatia and England now stand on the verge of the World Cup final after negotiating a favourable route to reach this stage of the competition.England have eliminated Colombia and Sweden, while Croatia, so impressive having won their group with three victories, have been taken to penalties by Denmark and Russia in the knockout rounds. But having twice endured the draining yet ultimately successful ordeal of extra time and penalties, the big question over Croatia going into Wednesday’s semifinal will be how much they have left in the tank.Will goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, the shootout hero against Denmark and Russia, be fully fit after appearing to injure his hamstring late in Saturday’s game against Russia?

England have no such fitness concerns after coasting to a 2-0 quarterfinal win against Sweden in normal time in Samara, but manager Gareth Southgate does have tactical questions to answer before the Croatia clash.  Should he break up the attacking midfield trio of Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli to accommodate an extra holding midfielder (Eric Dier) to help snuff out the threat of Luka Modric, or did their combined performance against Sweden make a change a gamble?  If it boils down to a football contest in Moscow, Croatia’s ability on the ball will be a huge test for England.  The two countries have a colourful history, having met seven times since Croatia earned its independence in the early 1990s.  England won 4-2 at Euro 2004 in the only meeting at a major tournament, but the most famous encounter was in November 2007, when Croatia’s 3-2 win at Wembley denied England a place at Euro 2008 and earned manager Steve McClaren the nickname of the “Wally with the Brolly” after he forlornly patrolled the touchline under an umbrella.The past two meetings have ended in big wins — 4-1 and 5-1 — for England, so Southgate’s men will have no fear on Wednesday, and their extra energy could be decisive.

Winners: England

Key battles in World Cup semifinals

By Joe Prince-WrightJul 9, 2018, 12:39 PM EDT

With the 2018 World Cup semifinals taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the focus is switching to where each of the games will be won and lost.Below we focus on France vs. Belgium and Croatia vs. England, as some pivotal battles will take place across the pitch to decide who makes the final on Sunday in Moscow.Take a look below as we break down the big battles to watch. My goodness, this will be epic.

France vs. Belgium (Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET in Saint Petersburg)

N’Golo Kante vs. Kevin De Bruyne
With KDB deployed further forward against Brazil for Belgium, the battle between the Man City playmaker and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante will be intriguing in front of France’s back four. De Bruyne may play a little deeper against France but that still lines up a collision course with the most destructive holding midfielder on the planet in Kante. His main job will be to stop Belgium from launching their blistering counters and keeping De Bruyne locked down is key to halting those attacks. What a battle this will be.

Raphael Varane vs. Romelu Lukaku
The power of Lukaku against the finesse of Varane. Lukaku has scored four times for Belgium at this World Cup but you can argue that his hold-up play and the timing of his runs has been even more impressive. Varane scored in France’s quarterfinal win over Uruguay and the Real Madrid center back has looked as calm and composed as always at the heart of the Les Bleus defense. Lukaku will try and bully Varane who loves to step high and intercept balls into a targetman.

Kylian Mbappe vs. Vincent Kompany
In all honesty we could have picked any one of Belgium’s back three with Jan Vertonghenand Toby Alderweireld expected to start alongside Kompany, but there’s no doubting that Mbappe will try to target Belgium’s veteran leader in Kompany. Mbappe, just 19 years old, has searing pace and with Belgium eager to attack he may get plenty of chances to rip their defense open on the break, just like he did against Argentina. Kompany has proven his fitness but the Man City skipper has shown a few shaky moments so far. His nous and supreme reading of the game is undoubted and he will need all of it to shut down Mbappe.

Croatia vs. England (Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET in Moscow (Luzhniki)

Luka Modric vs. Jordan Henderson
This may be the biggest challenge of Henderson’s career. The Liverpool skipper has been a rock in front of England’s fluid three-man defense but he will have the unenviable task of stopping Modric from dictating the tempo of the game. Real Madrid’s magician has won the Man of the Match award in three of his five games at the World Cup and is a serious contender for the Golden Ball as the best player at the 2018 tournament. If Henderson can’t stop Modric linking up with his central midfield partner Ivan Rakitic then England is in big trouble. Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard won’t offer Henderson much defensive help in midfield, so maybe Eric Dier will come in to help shore things up. Modric is the man of the moment.

Dejan Lovren vs. Harry Kane
This particular battle hasn’t gone well for Lovren in recent times with Kane bullying him at Wembley Stadium last season en-route to a 4-1 win for Tottenham against Liverpool. Kane leads the World Cup with six goals but what has been more impressive is the way he has lad the line, held up the ball and taken a battering for his team. Lovren played superbly for Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final and has played well for Croatia in this tournament, despite the occasional slip-up. Lovren will have to play a near perfect game to stop Kane given his current form. This battle will perhaps be the key to determining who reaches the final.

Ivan Perisic vs. Kieran Trippier
An intriguing battle this will be down England’s right flank. Trippier has been a revelation at right-wing back but Perisic will be a huge test for the Tottenham full back. The Inter Milan star not only has the ability to score and create goals at key moments but his work rate sees him buzz down the left channel tirelessly and Trippier will not be able to switch off for a minute. That channel between Trippier and Kyle Walker has been a slight problem for England at times as Walker pushes forward from center back and Croatia may look to thread balls to Perisic as soon as they can when launching counter attacks.

Why they’ll win the World Cup: France

Nicholas MendolaNBC Sports•Jul 7, 2018, 1:15 PM

First of all, relax — This is part of a four-post series making the case for each of four World Cup semifinalists in their respective bids to win the 2018 edition of the tournament.

That said, let’s talk about why France will be lifting the World Cup trophy on July 15 in Moscow.

Why France will win the tournament: Following a 2-0 defeat of Uruguay in Friday’s quarterfinal, manager Didier Deschamps noted that Les Bleus relative inexperience peeks out at times.That might be helping France, who has built its tournament acumen back up following the embarrassment of 2010 in South Africa. France lost to eventual champions Spain at EURO 2012, then again fell to a champion when Germany knocked the French out at the quarterfinal stage of the 2014 World Cup.The French then (mostly) bossed the home EURO 2016 and the final despite losing to Eder‘s extra time tally in setting the stage for this summer in Russia.France has survived legacy-desperate Lionel Messi and Argentina (just, really) and a feisty Uruguay despite still waiting to get consistent star turns from Samuel Umtiti and Hugo Lloris (though the backstop made a magnificent save late in the first half Friday versus the South American side.Olivier Giroud, a man known for big goals, also is still waiting to break onto the score sheet. France has thrived through a kid (Kylian Mbappe), a dominating should-be Ballon d’Or candidate (N’Golo Kante), and two stars attackers doing it loudly (Antoine Griezmann) and quietly (Paul Pogba).Throw in Raphael Varane, and France has been steady up the middle. If they can get past Belgium, which this post assumes they do thanks to the title, find us a team on the other side of the bracket equipped to punish the French. England? Sweden? Russia?No, it would come down to Croatia. And right now we’d sign up for that feast of football… and expect Les Bleus to emerge victorious.

 Factbox: Belgium and France World Cup semi-final history

Reuters•July 9, 2018

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Belgium and France meet in the World Cup semi-final at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.

It will be only the second semi-final appearance for Belgium, but for France it is a sixth:

BELGIUM

– Belgium’s only previous semi-final appearance came at the 1986 finals, where Diego Maradona turned on the second half magic and ensured for Argentina a place in the final with both goals in a 2-0 victory.

– In that tournament, Belgium squeezed through the first round in third place in their group after losing to hosts Mexico, before needing extra time to beat the Soviet Union in the last 16 and penalties to overcome Spain in the quarter-finals.

– Defender Eric Gerets rated the class of 2018 as more talented footballers than his 1986 team mates but said he did not believe they had the same fighting spirit until he saw their 2-1 win over Brazil in Friday’s quarter-final.

– After losing in the 1986 semi-final, Belgium faced France in Puebla for the bronze medal in the third place playoff and were beaten 4-2 after extra time despite taking an early lead.

– Belgium made it to the last eight at the last World Cup in Brazil but their hopes of a semi-final spot were snuffed out by one early Gonzalo Higuain goal for Argentina.

– There are 15 players from the 2014 Belgian squad who have returned for the tournament in Russia, having picked up considerable experience in the meantime.

FRANCE

– Just Fontaine’s record of 13 goals in a single tournament from the 1958 finals still stands as he helped propel the French to their first-ever semi-final, where they lost 5-2 to Brazil in Stockholm, with teenager Pele scoring a hat-trick.

– France lost on post-match penalties to West Germany in Seville in the 1982 semi-final, best remembered for an unpunished kung-fu style challenge by goalkeeper Harold Schumacher on France’s Patrick Battison that saw the Frenchman stretchered off 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute with a cracked vertebra and damaged teeth.

– Four years later in Mexico, France were again semi-finalists but once more thwarted by the Germans, losing 2-0 in Guadalajara.

– France won the World Cup when they hosted the 1998 finals, beating Croatia in the semi-final 2-1 with both goals from defender Lilian Thuram, but they had big defender Laurent Blanc sent off, meaning he missed the final win over Brazil.

– Current coach Didier Deschamps captained France that year as they lifted the trophy for the first time. He is now seeking to return to the final as he chases the double of winning the World Cup as both a player and a coach.

– France’s fifth semi-final appearance came in 2006, when Zinedine Zidane’s penalty was enough to beat Portugal 1-0.

England inspire nation as Premier League stars shine

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By Joe Prince-WrightJul 9, 2018, 10:58 AM EDT

England have reached their first World Cup semifinal since 1990 and in doing so they’ve inspired an entire nation to once again believe in their national team.After plenty of heartbreak over the past five decades since their only major trophy, the World Cup in 1966, England is united behind the Three Lions.Ahead of the 2018 World Cup tournament, nobody either at home or abroad gave Gareth Southgate‘s young side much hope of advancing to the latter stages.But with the Three Lions, the youngest team left in the competition, facing Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday for a place in the final, an entire nation is behind their likable, hard-working squad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“Football’s Coming Home” is the new mantra for every English man and woman, even if many started signing it ironically as they didn’t believe this would be the case at all. The song, originally released to help England win on home soil at EURO ’96, has now surged back to the top of the charts in the UK amid the patriotic euphoria surrounding captain Harry Kane and Co.“It’s amazing to meet any heroes from ’66 and it gives you so much inspiration, obviously it’s been a long time since England have done well in a major tournament,” Kane said. “As a player and as a professional I know that I have a job, on and off the pitch, to inspire people and inspire kids watching this tournament. It’s amazing because I was one of those kids growing up who wanted to play for England. So to be here now, leading this team out, I’m so proud.”Pride. Unity. Respect. All three have been forthcoming in recent weeks as England’s youngster have eased into the semifinals in Russia. Most of their fans have looked on delighted, yet slightly bemused, as all they’ve known is heartache and disappoint as the “golden generation” of David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard came and went without a trip past the last eight of a major tournament.On the streets of England the words “it’s coming home” is being muttered, yelled and sung by millions as the Three Lions, for once, have inspired a nation with huge watch parties up and down the land leading to pints of beer flying into the sky in celebration time and time again.Even Southgate, who got the England job after being promoted from the U-21 boss following Sam Allardyce’s disgraceful sacking, has become a symbol of hope as his kind, courteous demeanour has been a breath of fresh air. He looks, and acts, like your favorite uncle as his waistcoats have become legendary and #GarethSouthgateWould sums up his character perfectly.With England, and the rest of the UK, currently embroiled in political turmoil regarding Brexit and a deteriorating relationship with Russia, the national team have brought the nation together at least for a few weeks.Southgate hit the nail on the head when he spoke about England fans from different backgrounds now feeling that this is their team with his players representative of the multi-cultural British society.“We are a team with our diversity and with our youth that represents modern England,” Southgate said. “In England we’ve spent a bit of time being a bit lost as to what our modern identity is and I think as a team we represent that modern identity, and hopefully people can connect with us.”And it’s not just the English national team who have benefited from fielding youngsters used to playing in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.Both Belgium and France, who face off in the other semifinal in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, have been led by young squads, many of whom flourish week in, week out in England’s top-flight.In total there are 40 Premier League players remaining at the World Cup out of a total of 92 players. That’s quite remarkable.England have 23 PL players. Belgium have 11. France five. Croatia one.

When you look at the Europe’s other top leagues, 12 players from La Liga remain, plus nine from the Bundesliga, 12 from Ligue 1 and eight from Serie A. The Premier League has been one of the biggest winners from this World Cup, as stars such as Harry Kane, Eden HazardKevin De BruyneRomelu LukakuPaul Pogba and Hugo Lloris have shone.

Tottenham Hotspur has more players remaining at the World Cup than any other club on the planet with nine and you can point to the likes of Jurgen KloppPep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino mangaging in the Premier League in having a huge impact on how England have fared due to their faith in giving young English players a chance to shine.The financial muscle of the Premier League makes it tough for young Englishman to break through, but we are starting to see that the ones who do make it are not only worthy of their spot on the national stage but also the global one.England have given their nation reason to dream and the Premier League stars who litter the final four will make sure those dreams continue to be met in stadiums across the country for the 2018/19 campaign and beyond.Even if football isn’t coming home, the state of the English national team and the Premier League is very healthy indeed.

England Coasts, Croatia Perseveres as Both End World Cup Semifinal Droughts

By GRANT WAHL July 07, 2018

MOSCOW — England and Croatia set up a World Cup semifinal showdown on Wednesday after England beat Sweden 2-0 and Croatia eliminated Russia on penalties after a crazy 2-2 tie that included two goals in extra time.The World Cup hosts needed a 115th-minute goal from Mario Fernandes to stay alive, but it couldn’t conjure a second straight PK triumph in a row. Croatia, however, could. Fernandes missed everything on his spot kick, tilting the balance Croatia’s way, and Ivan Rakitic scored on the clinching kick for a second consecutive match, allowing Croatia to go through on a 4-3 edge. It marks Croatia’s second trip to the semifinals–the other came 20 years ago–and is the culmination of another talented side having its golden generation meet its potential after Belgium secured its last-four berth on Friday.

England, Croatia, Belgium and France make up an all-European semifinal, with the latter two kicking off the last four on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg.But before then, here are my three thoughts on the day:

• THIS ENGLAND TEAM HAS A FRESH KIND OF APPEAL

England is in the men’s World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990, but the appeal of this particular England team lies in much more than just the length of its tournament run. This is a refreshing, young team. It’s one that has a clear identity, one that has put in the time to build chemistry on and off the field and one that has worked on combination plays that you can see on set pieces and during the run of play. That was the case against Sweden on England’s first goal, yet another set-piece strike off a corner kick, and it was the case on the second goal, which scorer Dele Alli said was a combination with passer Jesse Lingard that they had worked on in practice sessions.Another aspect of England’s appeal is its likeability. Most of that comes from the players. The captain, Harry Kane, is leading the Golden Boot race with six goals, and his youth, his normal-guy-ness and his ability to handle pressure-packed situations have won him even more fans globally during this World Cup. Across the board, players like Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young, John Stones and Jordan Pickford just seem like team-first personalities instead of what we have seen at times in the past from England players at World Cups.Then there’s the coach, Gareth Southgate, who has pushed so many of the right buttons during the tournament, preparing his to take advantage of set pieces better than any team in the World Cup and defusing situations off the field—the Sterling tattoo story, the leaked lineup story—that would have caused bigger problems in previous World Cups.England may not be the best team in this World Cup, but it has a real chance to win the World Cup, and that’s a credit to the selfless work of the coach and his players.

  • WILL ENGLAND HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGE ON REST IN THE SEMIFINALS?

You can be certain that it will be a talking point heading into the semifinal: England played only 90 minutes on Saturday, and it will face a team that has played 120 minutes in each of the last two games. But my sense is that while it will be a talking point, it’s not that big a deal when it comes down to it.Consider that England also played 120 minutes against Colombia and went to penalties in the round of 16, and having a full three days off between the quarterfinals and semifinals should be enough time for players to recover. The questions for Croatia will surround starting right back Sime Vrsaljko, who was forced off with an injury in extra time, and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, who appeared to tweak his hamstring at the end of regulation before toughing it out through the shootout.

  • LUKA MODRIC IS STRANGELY UNDERRATED

It’s crazy to write that about a player so vital to Real Madrid, but it’s true. Modric hasn’t gotten enough credit for his role in his club’s three straight Champions League titles, and now he’s not getting enough credit for being the best player of this World Cup (so far).In a wild victory on penalty kicks against Russia, the fantastic Modric took over the game in the latter stages, and his energy output and surpassing skill were evident at a time when other players were struggling to move. He had some good fortune in the penalty shootout, when Igor Akinfeev got a hand to his kick only to put it off the post and in, but his leadership and control were vital for Croatia to see out the result.Croatia is now in its second World Cup semifinal in the country’s history, the last time coming in 1998, and it will be fascinating to see how England tries to contain Modric in the midfield. It could well determine which of the two sides advances for a final berth that few saw as a real possibility before the tournament began.Grant Wahl has covered soccer for 22 years at Sports Illustrated. His new book, Masters of Modern Soccer, details the craft of soccer position by position. You can order it here.

The Factors and Figures Behind Europe’s World Cup Dominance Trend

By BRIAN STRAUS July 08, 2018

  1. PETERSBURG — For Uruguayan coach and soccer sage Óscar Tabárez, this story really isn’t much of a story.“Don’t ask me something that is self-evident. I think there are other things that are worth commenting on,” he said following La Celeste’s round-of-16 loss to France.The question, from a Bolivian journalist, was about what had gone wrong with South American soccer. Why was the continent that had produced Pelé and Messi, Uruguay’s garra charrúa and Brazil’s joga bonito—and which as recently as 2002 had won more World Cups than Europe—now struggling to contend at the very highest level? Why were European teams on the verge of an unprecedented fourth straight title?Tabárez correctly pointed out that Brazil remained alive at the time, and insisted, “We can’t take this match today as a point of reference.”A few hours later, however, Brazil was out—defeated by Belgium, a small European nation whose best World Cup was a fourth-place finish back in 1986.The big picture, for those looking for one, was best summed up by the well-known Spanish daily, Diario AS. A few days after its front page lamented “El Fin De Una Generación”—the end of a generation—AStrumpeted sustained hegemony. La Furia Roja were out. But Europe remained dominant.“EUROMUNDIAL” was the one-word headline superimposed over a picture of dejected Brazilian players.The World Cup is European. Again.

In part, this is a story about sample size. When does a pattern emerge? Tabárez certainly was correct when he suggested that the 2-0 win by that specific French squad over that specific Uruguayan squad was emblematic only of the fact that France was better that day in Nizhny Novgorod. After all, La Celeste already had eliminated the reigning European champion, Portugal, in this World Cup’s second round. One game, team or tournament isn’t sufficient to create a trend. And if one of Brazil’s numerous second-half chances goes in against Belgium, perhaps we’re not even having this conversation.But they didn’t, and so European rule has become one of the themes of the 21st World Cup here in Russia. When Brazil secured its fifth star in 2002, no continent (meaning, Europe or South America) had won more than two in a row. And Europe hadn’t claimed consecutive titles since Italy went back-to-back in the grainy, black-and-white days of 1934 and 1938.But now, with France and Belgium (Wednesday in St. Petersburg) and Croatia and England (Thursday in Moscow) set for the semis, a UEFA country will be crowned world champion for the fourth straight time. And the fact that four nations will have built that streak is a testament to the continent’s depth. Since Brazil’s fifth title, European sides will have taken seven of the eight available spots in the World Cup final (Lionel Messi’s Argentina claimed the eighth after defeating the Netherlands on penalties four years ago), 13 of the past 16 semifinalists and 11 of 12 medals.Yes, Europe gets more teams than each of the other five confederations. But its rate of advancement and success is higher than the 43.75% of the field it occupies. A continent’s World Cup allotment should be evaluated in part by the performance of the bottom teams, not the top, because any increase will come from there. And there’s no depth of talent and potential like the depth in UEFA. Among those 13 recent European semifinalists are nine nations. Over the past four tournaments, 16 European countries have advanced past the group stage. Some that aren’t good enough to qualify in one cycle may be primed for a deep run only four years later.That ’02 World Cup won by Brazil looked like it might represent the turning of the page, staged as it was in the new football frontier of Japan and South Korea. France’s title defense began with a loss to Senegal, an African debutant. Seven non-UEFA nations qualified for the round of 16. And thequarterfinalists included Korea, Senegal and the USA. It appeared the olde world order was on the verge of subversion.Instead, in hindsight, 2002 looks like an outlier, or maybe even a last hurrah. Europe has assumed control, with only the occasional foray by Brazil or Argentina threatening its dominance. It could be luck. It could mean nothing. It could be a temporary, self-sustaining trend sparked by internal competitive combustion that’ll inevitably wane or reverse, kind of like the NFC’s 13-year Super Bowl streak over the AFC that ended in the late ‘90s.Or, it could be the result of a genuine evolution in the sport, a quasi-permanent seizure of the continental balance of power resulting from factors as diverse as player recruitment and movement, youth development and sport science, finance and marketing, or even coaching and tactics. The best clubs, leagues and players are in Europe, whether they were born there or not. And now the best national teams are as well.When Tabárez brushed off the Bolivian reporter’s question, it wasn’t because it had no merit. It was because the answer was “self-evident.”Said Tabárez, “You have said European football is stronger … and saying that, means ignoring football reality, from a financial point of view [and] from a historical point of view.”Recent history certainly suggests that the global game has been reshaped by the money and power flowing to a narrowing number of leagues and clubs. At its apex, soccer is more elite than ever, even as the sport’s base expands. The global demand to watch these top teams on TV fuels massive rights and sponsorship fees. In the 2016-17 season alone, the 20 clubs in England’s Premier League produced revenue of around $6 billion. Money from continental competition pours in as well. UEFA estimated that next season’s Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup would generate around $3.8 billion. According to Deloitte, the sport’s top 20 clubs—all European—earned revenue in excess of $9 billion in 2016-17.The last time a club from outside Europe finished in the top 30 of Deloitte’s revenue ranking was 2014 (No. 24 Corinthians).

A lot of that money is spent on stuff that improves domestic soccer, from coaching education and facilities to technology and nutrition. It’s all significant, and you’d have to think that eventually the investment shows on the field. Fans in North and South America, Africa and Asia want to watch Barcelona play Manchester City, and the money flows from their TV networks and corporate partners—essentially their own pockets—into European soccer, likely making the players developed by its clubs even better.Wealth in general probably is a factor as well. Of the planet’s top 30 countries in GDP, 14 are European. Latin America, the only region that currently can challenge Europe’s footballing obsession and depth of talent, is home to three. On a per-capita basis, the highest-ranking Latin American country in 2017 was Chile, at 56.Meanwhile, the top talent from outside Europe, especially from Latin America and Africa, is scouted, recruited and signed at increasingly younger ages. This obviously is a generalization, but perhaps there are enough players leaving non-European homes, and at an earlier age, to impact chemistry or tactical cohesion back with their senior national sides, which gather and play only intermittently. Even though European nations make up less than half the World Cup field, around 74% of the tournament’s rostered players are on the books at European clubs.For example, Brazil’s 2002 winners featured 13 players from its domestic Serie A. This summer’s quarterfinalist had three. Tite’s Brazil was good enough to win it all, and three also is the number of domestic players on the Argentina team that came so close in 2014. That’s a reminder that none of these issues, on its own, comes close to a potential explanation. But maybe in combination, they paint an impressionist picture. It’s worth noting that African countries like Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast have been loaded with players starring for clubs in quality European leagues, but there’s been next to no World Cup dividend. For some reason, talent flowing into Europe seems to benefit mostly Europe. Perhaps it raises the bar for domestic development as much as it helps those incoming foreigners, all while weakening imports’ connection with home ever so slightly.None of these are definitive reasons. But to whatever extent Europe’s four straight World Cup titles constitute a trend, it seems that it may be partially fueled by these dynamics.Another potential influence is tactics and style of play, which at a World Cup may shade toward the things at which more European sides stereotypically embrace. In short, defensive structure, set pieces and vigor are probably easier to implement in a few short weeks of national team training time than complex attacking patterns or individual game-breaking skill and flair. The fact that this has been the World Cup of the set piece, penalty kick and own goal is illustrative. There certainly have been South American sides with grit (see, Dunga), and tiki-taka powered Spain to a star in 2010 (although one could argue that pressing and possession are as much about defense as attacking). But we’re talking about a small shift in what works at the World Cup that might benefit European teams just enough to offer another slight nudge toward a title.Possession hasn’t necessarily been helpful here in Russia. According to TruMedia Networks, the top six teams in average possession at this World Cup already have gone home. Interestingly, Croatia, England, France and Belgium rank 7th through 10th, respectively. Uruguay, the CONMEBOL side that held the ball the least, still stands 19th overall. Four years ago, Germany finished second in the possession standings at 60%, but none of the other semifinalists were in the top eight.South American teams have more of the ball than European teams on average (53% to 50%) since Brazil won in 1994. And European sides appear to be more comfortable without it. Across the past nine tournaments, 10 UEFA teams have gotten out of their group with less than 45% possession. South American sides have managed that just twice. In short, apart from Spain’s legendary 2010 side, it’s going to be tough to “Olé” your way to the World Cup trophy. This tournament is just as likely to reward bare-bones soccer.All of which may mean little when so many games are decided by such miniscule margins. Or, perhaps all of it, in concert, moves those margins just enough. Four straight is four straight, and 13 of 16 is 13 of 16. And so for some, like Tabárez, the definition of World Cup success may have shifted slightly as well.“Today we have lost,” he said after falling to France. “But it seems the four games we won before this one are worth nothing. That’s not true. Today we played against opponents that were stronger than we were. We have to admit it and we have to congratulate them. That’s all we can do.“And I think the world has seen what we have achieved,” he continued. “The world knows what we were able to do and they also know what kind of country we are. We’re a small country, and of course certain things are more difficult for us than for other countries like France or Germany or England.”

Why the world’s biggest countries fail with the World Cup

Martin Rogers, USA TODAYPublished 3:30 p.m. ET July 8, 2018 | Updated 6:01 p.m. ET July 8, 2018

SportsPulse: Fox Sports’ Cobi James breaks down Belgium’s win against Brazil and France’s triumph over Uruguay.USA TODAY Sports

MOSCOW — Nowhere does the idea that “size matters” feel more out of place than in soccer.Lionel Messi, all five feet and seven inches of him, is one of the sport’s all-time greats. Even seemingly towering goalkeepers stand no taller than your typical NBA point guard.Yet size seems to be even less of an advantage when it comes to factors of national population. Indeed, in relation to the World Cup the bigger a country is, the more likely it will be sitting at home watching on television.Compared to their lofty standing in tables detailing the sheer scale of humanity, the planet’s largest countries punch well below their weight in the global game. And yes, count the United States squarely among the underachievers – this year at least.The four most populated nations on earth make up nearly 44 percent of all the humans in existence. However, not one of those countries is present at the World Cup, and most of them didn’t even get a sniff of it.So why is it that the likes of the U.S., China, India and Indonesia are bad enough to be excluded from a field of 32 that included Iceland, Uruguay, Panama and Croatia, whose numbers combine for slightly more than the state of North Carolina?“They share large populations which would make you think that they’d all be capable of producing highly talented players (from that) big pool,” Stefan Szymanski, co-author of the book Soccernomics, told USA TODAY Sports. “The reasons are all different.”

India, the biggest country on earth, has never truly prioritized soccer. While India got through a playoff against Nepal, it placed bottom of its first qualifying group for this World Cup behind Guam, population 162,000 and not even an official country.

Indonesia took part once, as the Dutch East Indies, back in 1938. It played one game, got hammered 6-0, and has been nowhere near since. In 2014, it lost all six games in its qualification group, conceding 26 goals in the process. It was likely spared further embarrassment this time by being suspended by FIFA for government interference in its soccer federation.

China has played once at the World Cup, back in 2002, losing all three games without even scoring a goal. This time it got a qualifying win over South Korea, but still finished fifth out of six teams in its Asian pool.

As for the United States, you know what happened there and we don’t need to talk about it. We do? Okay, well, needing only a tie against Trinidad and Tobago (population 1.3 million and having lost eight in a row), the Americans stumbled to defeat and missed out. Panama (population of 4.1 million) qualified from the CONCACAF region instead.“Not that soccer’s not played (in the U.S.), but it’s not an important activity,” Szymanski added. “It hasn’t been. The potential is there because it has a wealthy economy, but schools, colleges, people…have mainly been interested in other big sports rather than soccer. That may change in the future, but that’s been the way it has been.”All of the populous nations mentioned also occupy huge areas. Smaller geographic nations can benefit from elite players being able to collect in close proximity.The four semifinalists come from the 78th (Belgium), 128th (Croatia), 21st (France) and 22nd (England – though stated population is for the United Kingdom) most populated nations on the planet. Brazil (5th) is the most populous country at the World Cup and got bumped by Belgium in the quarters.“Our team are like brothers,” Icelandic soccer agent Magnus Magnusson said. “One of the disadvantages of being so small is obvious – you have less players. But the big advantage is these guys have played together since they were young.”Being an underdog can also foster spirit.

“We have big hearts and we fight for our people back home,” Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said.In many countries soccer is not just the national sport, but the only one that truly has a serious following. In India, the same can be said instead for cricket – at the expense of all else. India did qualify for the World Cup once, in 1950. It promptly withdrew – for reasons that are still entirely unclear – and didn’t participate in the tournament.   Indonesia finds things tough due to factors both economic and geographical. It is spread out over several islands, making it hard to pull together strong and cohesive national teams at all age group levels.Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Ethiopia and Bangladesh all have more people than any of the semifinalists. None of them have ever played in a World Cup.The U.S. qualified for the seven World Cups before this one and is unlikely to miss out again in four years’ time. The Americans aside, China is the most viable high-population nation to do something about its soccer struggles. President Xi Jinping has taken up the soccer cause as a personal pet project, ordering that it be made part of the national school curriculum and encouraging major businesses to invest as a way of currying favor.After years of being a corrupt joke, the Chinese league has gotten serious by investing huge sums in signing elite international players. Xi’s blueprint is to qualify for a World Cup, host a World Cup and eventually, one day, win one.Given China’s economic clout and ability to rally behind a cause, at least two of those outcomes seem plausible.Yet ultimately, the impact population has on soccer success boils down to a simple reality. However many people might live in a country, only 11 of them can be on the field at any one time.Contributing: Jack White

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN CLAIM THREE POINTS AGAINST CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE, 2-1

By Trey Higdon, 07/08/18, 12:00AM EDT

“Indiana’s Team” ends third home match in seven-day span with a win

Indy Eleven close out their third home game in a seven day span with three points after downing a 10-man Charlotte Independence squad, 2-1. The “Boys in Blue” came back from a one goal deficit with strikes from forward Ben Speas and defender Carlyle Mitchell.“We had a lot of adversity in that game,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “We had two players go off in the first fifteen minutes, we lost a goal and were down, but we managed to keep fighting and get the win. We showed a lot of character and confidence and we’re really happy with that.”The night started in favor of the visitors after “Indiana’s Team” was forced to make two early substitutions within the first 20 minutes of play. The first of the two subs occurred in the 10th minute when Indy forward Justin Braun hobbled out of play while tracking the ball into Charlotte’s 18-yard box. The speedy forward was immediately opted out of the game upon inspection from the team’s medical staff. The second occurred seven minutes later when forward Eugene Starikov came on in place of defender Kevin Venegas.Both sides had solid looks at goal in the first half, but neither side could find the back of the net.Charlotte’s first attempt came in the 15th minute. Independence midfielder Cordell Cato managed to settle a falling ball inside Indy’s keeper’s box. A slight nudge from Cato created an opportunity at goal for Charlotte forward and former Eleven frontman Eamon Zayed. The Irishman tried to catch Eleven goaltender Owain Fon Williams off his line but the the Wales international did well to deflect the strike up field.Charlotte managed to find their lead in the 50th minute. A pass from Charlotte defender Sam Vines found forward Jorge Herrera’s legs in the center of Indy’s 18-yard box. The 37-year-old’s right-footed strike from the top of the box split between Mitchell and defender Karl Ouimette and in goal near the right post. The goal placed Herrera as Charlotte’s leading goal scorer with nine goals in 2018.Charlotte’s lead lasted 12 minutes before Indy’s pressing resulted in a response from Speas. In the 62nd minute, Speas volleyed a shot past Charlotte goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra from a midair chain between defender Ayoze and Starikov. The goal marked Speas’ first of 2018 and his first since August 26, 2017 against former rivals Jacksonville Armada FC.The level scoreline turned into a lead for Indy in the 70th minute. A corner kick from Ayoze squared the pass to the top of the six-yard box where Mitchell headed the airborne ball into the upper left corner of the goal. The goal makes for Mitchell’s second of the season, nearly mirroring his first against Atlanta United 2 in Week 13.Charlotte made a last ditch effort to equalize in the 90th minute when Cato struck from the corner of the six-yard box. Fon Williams denied Cato’s shot with a sprawling save, securing three points for the home team.Right now we’ll enjoy this game. Then, we’ll start thinking about Wednesday’s game,” Rennie said. “There is a little break after that which will be well deserved and well-earned but before that break we have to make sure we do well in the next game against Charleston.”The “Boys in Blue” hit the road for the remainder of July. “Indiana’s Team” will return to Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, August 15 to take on North Carolina FC for Networking Night. Fans can get tickets by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.
USL Regular Season    Indy Eleven 2:1 Charlotte Independence
Saturday, July 7, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.   Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 
Scoring Summary:

CLT – Jorge Herrera (Sam Vines) 50′

IND – Ben Speas (Eugene Starikov) 62′

IND – Carlyle Mitchell (Ayoze) 70′
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas (Eugene Starikov 17′); Brad Ring (Juan Guerra 90′), Matt Watson (C), Nico Matern, Seth Moses, Soony Saad, Justin Braun (Ben Speas 10′)Indy Eleven bench: Lundgaard (GK); Brad Rusin,Tyler Pasher, Ben Speas, Juan Guerra, Eugene Starikov, Jack McInerney

Charlotte Independence lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Andrew Dykstra (GK); Bilal Duckett, Lee Jung-Soo (Greg Jordan 73′), Joel Johnson, Sam Vines (Mutaya Mwape 86′); Kay Voser (Jake Areman 82′), Kevan George, Cordell Cato, Alex Martinez; Eamon Zayed, Jorge HerreraCharlotte Independence bench: Brandon Miller (GK); Jake Areman, Greg Jordan, Mutaya Mwape, Ricardo Perez

Buffon: Champions League not an obsession for me or PSG

Associated Press•July 9, 2018

PARIS (AP) — Despite it being the only trophy missing from a glittering collection, veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says the Champions League is not “an obsession” for him after joining Paris Saint-Germain.The 40-year-old Buffon completed his free-agent move last week after 17 years with Juventus, during which he became established as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.Buffon won his ninth Serie A title this season, leading the Bianconeri to a fourth successive league and cup double.He also won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 and the UEFA Cup with Parma in 1999, but has never lifted the Champions League, losing three finals with Juventus.”I don’t think it’s an obsession for me and neither for Paris Saint Germain,” said Buffon at his first PSG press conference on Monday. “I accepted this offer because I think there are the conditions here for me to grow as a player and a person.”I think I can also help PSG to grow a bit on the pitch and then we can aim for even more important goals. But when the season begins you can’t think of enveloping all this in the aim for the Champions League because that would be complete craziness and we’re not crazy here.”French champion PSG has spent more than 1 billion euros ($1.175 billion) on players since Qatar Sports Investments took over in 2011 with the aim of turning it into a world-class team.The club has so far failed to transfer its domestic dominance onto the international stage. It was eliminated from the Champions League at the round of 16 this season, having reached the quarterfinals the previous four years.Buffon will miss PSG’s first three matches in the 2018-19 Champions League, after being suspended for his red card in this season’s quarterfinal defeat against Real Madrid and for comments about the referee.Buffon, who made 656 appearances for Juve, was expected to retire at the end of the season and had said he was “planning a different future” until PSG made contact in May.He has penned a one-year deal, with the option for an additional season, and has no idea when he will hang up his boots.”I’ve stopped making these calculations because when I was 30 I thought I had two or three more years, then when I got to 34 I thought I had one or two years maximum, then I got to 37, 38 and now I’m 40,” said Buffon.”Until this year I played in the national team too and when someone plays in the national team it means they’re at the top level. I don’t want to ask myself this question again because I think it’s wrong and I think it creates a negative situation for myself that I don’t need.”Buffon, former captain of Juve and Italy, retired from the international stage in November after the Azzurri lost a World Cup playoff to Sweden, although he returned for a couple of friendlies.He made 176 appearances for Italy — a European record — and was voted Serie A’s goalkeeper of the year 12 times.Buffon has never played for a club outside Italy. He even stayed with Juve when it was demoted to the second division in 2006 following the Calciopoli refereeing scandal, which also saw the Bianconeri stripped of two Serie A titles.

Indiana Soccer League Discounted Offer for Chicago Fire Games
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club would like to invite all families and members involved with ISL out for a Chicago Fire MLS match this Summer and Fall. 
On-field experiences for children age 5-17 before every match!  This offer includes discounted group ticket pricing for anyone interested.
Please email Stew with the Chicago Fire – Sgreen@chicago-fire.com – for more information about on-field experiences for kids for specific game days, or any other questions!
Wed, July 11 at 7:30 pm vs Philly Union

Saturday, July 21st at 6:00pm vs Toronto FC
Sunday, September 16th at 4:00pm vs Orlando City SC

ATP_Gen_350x250

Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

 Proud Member of Indy’s Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.comCLICK HERE FOR BYBTIX

Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

7/5/18 World Cup Round of 8 – TV Game Schedule, Indy 11 unbeaten streak end at 5 games-discount tix for Sat 7 pm game 

So we are down to the Round of 8 the Quarterfinal of the World Cup and wow!!  3 Games go to Shootouts and England actually wins a shootout?  Imagine that.  Russia who many considered to be one of the weakest host countries ever – is alive and looking strong off their shootout win over Spain.  The most compelling games in Quarterfinals are Brazil vs Belgium in a showdown between Top 3 ranked teams, and England vs Sweden.  Interesting that Fox is taking the Quarterfinals to Fox Sports 1 on Friday they do return to Fox on Saturday however.  I like France to squeeze by Uruguay and Belgium to upset Brazil Friday, while Saturday England will survive Sweden and Croatia should beat Russia.  Goalies I have a solid group of Saves from the World Cup – check out to see them all – http://theoleballcoach.com.  Oh and I love the practicing the Neymar Video.  (thanks Tom!)   Check out this KFC Ad in South Africa.

Fri, July 6         

10 am Fox Sport1   Uruguay vs France  (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox Sport1     Belgium vs Brazil (WC Round of 8)  

Sat, July 7         

10 am Fox             Sweden vs England (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox               Russia vs Croatia (WC Round of 8) 

INDY 11

Indy falls to Ottawa 0-1 in heartbreaker as its 5 game unbeaten streak is broken Wed night at Lucas Oil.  The 11 face Charlotte Sat at home at 7 pm.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.  The Sat Night game on July 7th will be Indiana Youth Soccer Night, as all teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field.  Reach out to Youth Club Coordinator Shawn Burcham at shawn@indyeleven.com.  So I hope to be there again Sat night – hoping for a little AC – this time as the game we attended on the 30th was mighty hot.  That being said – folks if you haven’t been to an Indy 11 game since the move to Lucas Oil – you gotta get out and see a game.  Lucas Oil is fantastic – the food, the bathrooms, heck the stadium is truly spectacular and the viewing experience is solid – we just need to get more fans into the games.  I can’t imagine just how awesome it would be with 25,000 fans on hand like Cincy does.

MLS

Here’s the MLS rankings as we ready for some Saturday games including LAFC at Orlando City on FS1 before the big Hudsen River Showdown between the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC Sunday at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1. Interesting news that the LA Galaxy are hoping to sign US and Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron soon – also will we see DC United’s Rooney this weekend?  Oh and Don’t believe the Pulisic to Tottenham rumors coming out today!

cfcJuly4
Carmel FC players take part in July 4th Celebration at Carmel Fest !  

 World Cup

Fox Sets Streaming Record During the World Cup on Monday’s Brazil vs Mexico Game

US World Cup Ratings Down 42 Percent without American Team –NBC

Belgium Must Bench a Star to Beat Brazil in the Quarters – yahoo

Comparing the Quaterfinalist

WC Final 8 – Matchups and Predictions  Yahoosports

England Finally Breaks the Curse

GK Pickford Saves England in Foul Infested win over Colombia

Maradona Takes Aim at US Ref Gieger as he Claims Colombia were Robbed by Ref

Key #s in England Shootout Win

Ogden: England through after finally winning a penalty shootout
ESPN FC TV: England break their penalty curse
Project Russia: Is football coming home to England?
Marcotti: Sweden move on by doing things the “Janne Way”
Vickery: Neymar a selfish brat or misunderstood genius?
Ames: Neymar delivered the good and bad as Brazil cruised past Mexico
Miller: Belgium’s dramatic win over Japan could spell trouble for Brazil
Postcard from Russia: A different kind of sporting experience in Moscow
ESPN FC TV: What’s the deal with Neymar? 
Wayne Rooney talks to ESPN: England must play with freedom

Borden: Russia defy expectations vs. Spain as fairy-tale run continues
Hornby: England to bring the World Cup home?
Marcotti: Modric vanquishes ghosts of penalties past
Laurens: France in dreamland after unforgettable World Cup win
Vickery: Argentina at a crossroads after World Cup demise
Dana: Sampaoli’s Argentina tenure spluttering to an inevitable conclusion

Ogden: Ronaldo’s ambition means he could play at Qatar 2022
Marcotti: Should Messi’s failure to win a World Cup affect his GOAT claim?
Ames: Mbappe announces himself with Ronaldo-like performance
In pictures: Maradona watches as Argentina crash out
Ogden: Cavani outshines Ronaldo but injury could dampen Uruguay’s long-term hopes   Japan leaves Locker Room Spotless after World Cup Loss

US

US Has Regret for the Past and Hope for the Future – Noah Davis – ESPNFC

Don’t Believe the Pulisic to Tottenham rumors coming out today! – Stars and Stripes

Indy 11

Indy 11 Fall to Ottowa

Indy 11 Ayoze Named USL Team of the Week

Indy 11 Tie 1 to 1

Indy 11 – kiss their Sister with A Tie – BloodyShambles.com

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for Saturday’s Game!   (Code 2018Indy)

USL League Standings

Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

MLS

Questions That will Define Each MLS Team in 2nd half of 2018 ESPNFC

5 Years In What is Duece – Clint Dempsey’s MLS Legacy?

MLS Power Rankings

Goalies

Best Saves – Round 3 World Cup

Best 50 Saves of the World Cup so Far

Best Saves Round 1 World Cup

Best Saves Round 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

SUMMER CAMPS

CDC Carmel FC Camp – Shelborne Field July 23rd – 26th – Click here to Register

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

Weds, July 4       

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Ottawa Fury

Fri, July 6         

10 am Fox Sport1   Uraguay vs France  (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox Sport1     Belgium vs Brazil (WC Round of 8)  

Sat, July 7         

10 am Fox             Sweden vs England (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox               Russia vs Croatia (WC Round of 8) 

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

7pm Fox Sport South Philly Union vs Atlanta United

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Charlotte

7:30 pm ESPN News  Orlando Pride vs Washington Spirit (NWSL)

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

7 pm FS1                   NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls –(Hudson River Darby)

Tues, July 10       

2 pm Fox               World Cup Semi’s  

Weds, July 11       

2 pm Fox               World Cup Semi’s  

7 pm ESPN+/Utube Charleston vs Indy 11

8:30 pm ESPN+             Chicago vs Philly Union

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

8 pm ESPN+                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                     LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   – US Open Cup

8:30 pm ???                   Chicago Fire vs Louisville City FC

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                 Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham  

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

10:30 pm ESPN         LAFC vs LA Galaxy (we should be at the game !)       

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

 Indiana Youth Soccer Night  Post-Game Photo On The Field

In celebration of Indy Eleven’s official Indiana Youth Soccer Night all youth soccer teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at the completion of our game. All participants need a game ticket and all teams must register to be eligible for the post-game photo. To register, please sign up here. The deadline to register is Thursday, July 5th. Only one (1) member from each team is required to register for the entire team. For questions, please contact Youth Club Coordinator, Shawn Burcham, at 317-685-1100 or shawn@indyeleven.com.

INDY FALLS IN INDEPENDENCE DAY CLASH TO OTTAWA FURY FC, 0-1

By Trey Higdon, 07/04/18, 11:15PM EDT

“Indiana’s Team’s” undefeated streak halts at five

Indy Eleven’s undefeated streak is halted at five after falling to Ottawa Fury FC, 0-1. A critical error saw Ottawa pick up its fourth win on the season.“We had a lot of chances, a lot of possession, a lot of balls in the box, but we couldn’t manage to score,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “Unfortunately, that’s the way soccer goes some time. You don’t always get what you deserve, but credit to Ottawa. They came in and got what they wanted out of the game and we have to improve.”It was an aggressive start to the evening after three yellow cards were issued between both teams within the first 30 minutes; Two to Ottawa and one to Indy. Fury forward Chris Haworth was issued the first caution after a hard challenge on defender Ayoze saw the Spaniard tumble out of bounds. The second was issued to Ottawa forward Adonijah Reid and third to Eleven midfielder Juan Guerra for bad fouls.The “Boys in Blue” found their first opportunity in the 17th minute with a strike outside the six-yard box from Ayoze. The angled shot flew towards center net, but Fury goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau was far enough off his line for a close-quarters deflection away from goal.Aside from a close run at goal from Indy, the visitors found the lead 11 minutes later. In the 28th minute, Ottawa midfielder Kevin Oliveira stepped up to a free kick from outside the 18-yard box. The ball flew high towards the far post before taking a poor deflection off the outside of defender Carlyle Mitchell’s left boot and into the net for an own goal.Indy forward Jack McInerney came looking for another equalizer to match his previous from last Saturday against Penn FC. Ayoze fed a direct line near the left edge of the pitch in towards forward Eugene Starikov. The ball popped up off the head of Fury defender Thomas Meilleur, followed by Eleven midfielder Matt Watson before McInerney found space for a bicycle kick. McInerney’s foot made solid contact outside the six-yard box towards goal, but Crepeau quickly threw his hands down or a last-second save.Ottawa nearly doubled their lead in the 66th minute after a header from Fury forward Tony Taylor that ended wide right. The shot was setup by Oliveira.Two crosses from returning midfielder Tyler Pasher almost found their marks in the final minutes of second half stoppage time, but a strong defensive effort from Ottawa’s backline nullified “Indiana’s Team’s” attack.It was ‘one of those nights’ for Coach Rennie and his squad. Though Indy didn’t manage to collect any points, the Circle City squad is on the cusp of finding its ideal pace.“I think that obviously we’re right on the balance of what we want to do and being not quite where we want to be,” said Rennie. “I think the last two games are examples of that. It’s like we go to Nashville and get a great victory and we come back and in two games we pick up one point. So that to me is the balance of how close we are to being exactly where we want to be and exactly how close we are to not being where we want to be.”The “Boys in Blue” return home for the final of a three home game week this Saturday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m., to take on the Charlotte Independence for the second time in 2018. Fans can get tickets to weekend clash by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.
USL Regular Season   Indy Eleven 0:1 Ottawa Fury FC
Wednesday, July 4, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.   Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 
Scoring Summary:

OTT – Carlyle Mitchell (IND OG) 28′

Discipline Summary:

OTT – Carl Haworth (Yellow) 9′

OTT – Adonijah Reid (Yellow) 20′

IND – Juan Guerra (Yellow) 26′

OTT – Eddie Edward (Yellow) 69′

OTT – Onua Obasi (Yellow)79′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Brad Rusin, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern, Matt Watson (C) (Soony Saad 59′),Juan Guerra, Jack McInerney; Eugene Starikov (Tyler Pasher 73′), Ben Speas (Justin Braun 73′)Indy Eleven bench: Jordan Farr (GK); Brad Ring, Seth Moses, Tyler Pasher, Zach Steinberger, Soony Saad, Justin Braun

Ottawa Fury FC lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Maxime Crepeau (GK); Eddie Edward, Colin Falvey, Thomas Meilleur, Onua Obasi (Sergio Mansio 90+1′); Chris Mannella, Jamal Dixon, Kevin Oliveira; Carl Haworth (C ) (Jimmy Sanon 68′), Adonijah Reid (Kyle Porter 70′), Tony TaylorOttawa Fury Fc bench bench: David Monsalve (GK); Sergio Manesio, Kyle Porter, Christian Portilla, Nana Attakora, Jimmy Sanon, Gaberial Balbinotti

INDY ELEVEN REMAIN UNDEFEATED IN 1-1 DRAW AGAINST PENN FC

By Trey Higdon, 06/30/18, 11:45PM EDT  A late equalizer from forward Jack McInerney earns Indy a level result

Indy Eleven make a comeback in the final minutes of the night to end level against Penn FC, 1-1. A goal in the 80th minute from forward Jack McInerney sees the “Boys in Blue” extend their undefeated streak to five matches.Much of the action in the first half was found in the midfield as both sides traded possession. Both teams were able to make deep runs into each other’s 18-yard boxes that resulted in easy clearances or pickups by both Indy Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams or Penn FC man between the posts, Romuald Peiser.Indy came close to securing a first-half lead in the 27th minute. Eleven forward Justin Braun was on the receiving end of a passing play between midfielders Seth Moses and Matt Watson deep in Penn FC’s defensive half. Braun jolted into the right edge of Penn’s 18-yard box, followed by a quick pass inward. McInerney maneuvered quickly around Penn defender Kyle Venter to meet the ball with with a falling shot, but both players made contact with the ball to force it over the crossbar.Chippy play saw several players issued yellow card throughout the evening, which included Indy Eleven’s Watson, substitute defender Brad Rusin and Penn FC midfielder Dan Metzger. Additionally, Eleven defender Karl Ouimette accumulated two yellow cards, which saw the Canadian international exit the match with a red card in the 76th minute.Ouimette’s first yellow card in the 50th minute saw Penn awarded a controversial penalty kick. Ouimette and Penn forward Aaron Dennis locked legs near the top of Indy’s 18-yard box. As both fell forward into the box, the match official blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. In the 51st minute, Penn forward Lucky Mkosana stepped up and buried his shot into the upper right corner of the goal as Fon Williams dove to the left.As the match edged into the final 10 minutes playing down a man, Indy found the equalizer that salvaged a point. In the 79h minute, “Indiana’s Team” was awarded a free kick nearly 30 yards from Penn’s goal. McInerney took a right-footed shot, which sent the dead ball arching over Penn’s defensive wall and into the lower left edge of the goal, just out of Peiser’s reach. McInerney’s goal brings Indy Eleven’s total for the season to 20.Although Indy Eleven didn’t walk away with three points, Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie remains positive about remaining undefeated.“We didn’t give up hardly any chances so I think we did that well,” said Rennie. “Obviously we scored a good goal and had a couple chances to score another but there’s always room for improvement. I think it’s positive for us to stay on an unbeaten run now for five games and look forward to the next one.”
USL Regular Season  Indy Eleven 1:1 Penn FC
Saturday, June 30, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.    Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 
Scoring Summary:

PEN – Lucky Mkosana (PK) 51′

IND – Jack McInerney 80′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern (Brad Rusin 81′), Matt Watson (C), Juan Guerra, Seth Moses (Eugene Starikov 58′); Jack McInerney, Justin Braun (Ben Speas 63′)Indy Eleven bench: Jordan Farr (GK); Brad Ring, Brad Rusin, Ben Speas, Eugene Starikov, Zach Steinberger, Nathan Lewis

Penn FC lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Romuald Peiser (GK); Marco Franco, Kyle Venter, Ken Tribbett (C),Pedro Galvao; Richard Menjivar, Dan Metzger (Saalih Muhammad 79′), Paulo Junior (Issac Osae 55′), Fredrick Opoku; Lucky Mkosana, Aaron Dennis (Prince Baffoe 83′)  Penn FC bench bench: Sean Lewis (GK); Harri Hawkins, Jake Bond, Saalih Muhammad, Calvin Rezende, Prince Baffoe, Issac Osae 

Fox set a streaming record during the World Cup on Monday

Fox Sports has done a lot of work to deliver live streaming coverage of the

Fox Sports has done a lot of work to deliver live streaming coverage of the World Cup in Russia, but it seems to be paying off. The network announced that the Brazil-Mexico match was its top authenticated streaming event ever with 1.4 million unique visitors, and that Monday was its best all-time streaming day with 2 million viewers. That trumps its previous all-time high of 1.8 million unique visitors set just a week ago on June 27th.On regular TV, 4,181,000 Fox viewers, peaking at 5,373,000, saw Mexico play Brazil, according to Nielsen — numbers that are pretty great for not-exactly-soccer-mad America (though half of what Telemundo did). Soccer also drove more than half (55 percent) of Fox’s 632 million streaming views for all sports in June. That means, despite a lot of hand-wringing when the US was eliminated from World Cup qualifying, the $200 Fox spent to get the 2018 World Cup rights now seems like a wise bet.

US World Cup Ratings Down 42 Percent Without American Team

The 48 group stage broadcasts on Fox and FS1 averaged 2,069,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media ResearchPublished at 12:22 PM EDT on Jul 4, 2018

In games involving the U.S. team in previous World Cups, the average declined 28 percent from the 2014 tournament in Brazil.  Ratings include only television viewers and not those who viewed digital streams.Most group-stage kickoff times this year were morning EDT, starting as early as 6 a.m.

The lack of a U.S. team caused a big viewership drop for World Cup telecasts.

The 48 group stage broadcasts on Fox and FS1 averaged 2,069,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is down 42 percent from the 3.54 million average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC four years ago and down 15 percent from the 2,429,000 average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC eight years ago.

Excluding games involving the U.S. team in previous World Cups, the average declined 28 percent from the 2014 tournament in Brazil and was up 1 percent from the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Most group-stage kickoff times this year were morning EDT, starting as early as 6 a.m., and the latest matches began at 2 p.m. Games in 2014 started mostly from noon to 4 p.m. EDT, while in 2010 games there were many matches at 10 a.m. and some as early as 7:30 a.m.  nste Together After Stunning Upset Over Germany

Twenty-six group-stage matches were aired on Fox, up from six on ABC in 2014 and four on ABC in 2010.Ratings include only television viewers and not those who viewed digital streams.Spanish-language coverage for Telemundo and Universo, both part of Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal Inc., averaged 1.96 million viewers, including digital streaming. That was down 26 percent from the 2.64 million average on Univision and Unimas four years ago and up 7 percent from the 1.84 million average for Univision’s networks in 2010.

World Cup quarterfinals: What to watch and predictions for each matchup

After three weeks and 56 matches, the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup are set. A tournament that began with 32 teams is now down to just eight. Defending champion Germany is out, along with perennial favorites Argentina and Spain. Of the eight sides remaining in Russia, only two were among the pre-tournament favorites and several have already exceeded expectations to make it this far. Here’s what to watch for in the upcoming quarterfinals, when to watch, and our predictions for who makes it through to the semis.

Uruguay vs. France – Friday, July 6, 10:00 a.m. EST

In Friday’s first quarterfinal matchup, two of the three remaining sides in the tournament to have previously lifted the World Cup face off against each other. Unlike Uruguay, France came into this tournament among the favorites. After a slow start that saw Les Bleus labor to victories over Australia and Peru, and play out a boring stalemate with Denmark, Didier Deschamps’ team finally caught fire in a seven-goal Round of 16 thriller that saw it knock Lionel Messi’s Argentina out of the World Cup.Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe was the star of that show, bursting down the field with belief-defying speed to win the penalty that opened the scoring and netting two second-half goals to effectively end Messi’s hopes of ever winning a World Cup. With the likes of Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi and Olivier Giroud, France boast one of the most formidable attacks left in Russia.But if France is an unstoppable force, Uruguay might be the closest thing to an immovable object we’ve seen in this World Cup. The South American nation, which last won the World Cup in 1950, has a lockdown defense anchored by the Atletico Madrid centerback pairing of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. In four matches at the World Cup, Uruguay has given up just one goal. With Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani spearheading the attack, it also boasts what could be the deadliest strike partnership in the tournament.The worry for Uruguay is whether Cavani will be able to recover from the injury that saw him limp off against Portugal. Even if Cavani is fit, this France team has quality in every area of the pitch and seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time.

Prediction: France over Uruguay, 2-1

Brazil vs. Belgium – Friday, July 6, 2:00 p.m. EST

After not entirely convincing in the group stage, Brazil looked comfortable in the Round of 16 as it brushed aside the same Mexico side that opened its tournament by beating Germany. Having seen the team largely being carried by Philippe Coutinho in the early going, the match against Mexico gave us a glimpse of what a fully fit and motivated Neymar is capable of. With players like Coutinho, Neymar, Willian and Gabriel Jesus, Brazil’s attack is second to none. But its defense is equally formidable, with just one goal given up so far at this World Cup.But Belgium has been almost as impressive, coming through the group stage unscathed and fighting back from two goals down to win its knockout tie with Japan. Striker Romelu Lukaku is two goals behind England’s Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot and the 12 goals Belgium has scored have come from seven different players.The concern for Belgium is that we’ve seen it leak goals against far lesser teams than Brazil. Fighting your way back from two down to Japan is one thing, doing it against Brazil is entirely different. If Brazil scores first, Belgium could find itself exposed as it presses for an equalizer. Belgium is also a team that enjoys possession, and as we saw against Mexico, this is a Brazil team that looks very comfortable letting the opposition possess, soaking up pressure and then choosing its moment to strike.

Prediction: Brazil over Belgium, 3-2

Sweden vs. England – Saturday, July 7, 10:00 a.m. EST

If there is a team in this World Cup that’s passed every test it’s been faced with, it’s Sweden. Playing in its first major tournament since the international retirement of talisman, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden came through a difficult qualifying campaign and topped its group convincingly. The Swedes may not be spectacular to watch, but coach Janne Andersson’s players have bought into his gameplan and stuck to it. Despite benefiting from a lucky deflection in getting past an arguably superior Switzerland team, Sweden is here in the quarterfinals and has no reason to fear anyone, least of all England.That’s not to take anything away from Gareth Southgate’s likable team, which has made a good account of itself in this tournament, perhaps without being entirely convincing. Yes, England made easy work of lowly Panama, but it struggled to beat Tunisia, lost to Belgium’s reserves and required penalties to get past a Colombia team sans James Rodriguez. Although the fact that it did emerge from the shootout victorious could put wind in the sails of an England team that’s not short on talent but historically suffers from fragile confidence. The England we know gets easily rattled, this Sweden team seemingly does not. If things don’t go their way early on, it could be tough going for Southgate’s team of Premier League stars. Unless this truly is the “new England” team we’ve been assured it is.

Prediction: Sweden over England, 1-0

Russia vs. Croatia – Saturday, July 7, 2:00 p.m. EST

These are two teams no one really expected to still be around at this stage of the tournament, Russia in particular. But having already exceeded expectations by getting out of its group and knocking Spain out in the Round of 16, the host nation can play with a certain freedom, and perhaps a certain confidence. But just how far that confidence will get Russia against the team with the best midfield in the World Cup remains to be seen.Luka Modric has been an absolute orchestra conductor at the center of the park for Croatia. His tandem with Ivan Rakitic was instrumental in the 3-0 destruction of Argentina in the group stage. Disregarding Russia having squeaked past a Spain team that was clearly not itself on penalties, the one time we saw Russia go up against a truly quality team in this World Cup was when it got swept aside with relative ease by Uruguay in the group stage. Croatia, like Russia, may have required penalties to reach this stage, but the quality of Modric, Rakitic, and Co. should be too much for a Russian side that’s overly dependent on athleticism and has essentially ridden its luck so far.

Prediction: Croatia over Russia, 3-0

How do the World Cup quarter-finalists compare?

Kieran CANNINGAFPJul 3, 2018, 6:48 PMSaint Petersburg (AFP) – Just eight teams remain from the 32 who started the World Cup in Russia.AFP Sport looks how each side are placed ahead of the quarter-finals on Friday and Saturday.

Uruguay v France (Friday 1400 GMT, Nizhny Novgorod)

Uruguay

One of only two teams to win all four games so far, Uruguay boast one of the meanest defences in Russia marshalled by talismanic captain Diego Godin, and a lethal strikeforce in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.Cavani’s fitness is the big concern ahead of Friday’s meeting. The Paris Saint-Germain striker limped off with a calf injury after scoring twice to end Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal’s World Cup dreams in the last 16.

France

After cruising through the group stage in underwhelming fashion, France kicked through the gears thanks to Kylian Mbappe’s blistering pace to blow Argentina away in a 4-3 World Cup classic in the last 16.A very different task awaits in breaking through Uruguay’s brick wall of a defence that will not allow Mbappe the same space to exploit. But as legs start to tire in the latter stages, France’s strength in depth could start to make the difference.

Brazil v Belgium (Friday 1800 GMT, Kazan)

Brazil

Along with Uruguay, Brazil share the best defensive record, having conceded just once in four games so far and are slowly starting to hit their stride at the other end of the field too as Neymar struck his second goal of the tournament in the last 16.After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Switzerland, 2-0 wins over Costa Rica, Serbia and Mexico have taken Brazil into a seventh straight quarter-final and they remain the favourites to erase the scars of a humiliating 7-1 semi-final thrashing at the hands of Germany four years ago.

Belgium

Belgium will be the true test of how good the Brazilian back line is in Kazan on Friday, but coach Roberto Martinez has some big decisions to make after a stunning comeback from 2-0 down in the final 21 minutes avoided a shock exit to Japan in the last 16.Japan picked the holes in Martinez’s attack-minded 3-4-2-1 system and the Red Devils had to rely on their superior physical power in the latter stages with Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini heading home before Nacer Chadli completing the comeback at the end of a stunning counter-attack.Martinez must now find the right balance to harness the best from Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku without leaving Belgium exposed.

Sweden v England (Saturday 1400 GMT, Samara)

Sweden

They are not the prettiest side, but Sweden are extremely effective and happy to play the role of underdog, having seen off the Netherlands and Italy in qualifying and Germany in the group stages.Their run to the last eight for the first time since 1994 has been built on three clean sheets in four games, but while hard to break down, they lack a potent force up front.

England

Freed from the curse of the penalty shootout after they beat Colombia from the spot, England will be favourites to reach a first World Cup semi-final since 1990.For 92 minutes in Moscow, the Three Lions kept their cool as Colombia lost theirs and played with a patience in possession rarely seen by England sides in recent years.Yerry Mina’s stoppage-time header threatened to change all that, but a first World Cup win on penalties in four attempts gives Gareth Southgate’s men reason to believe this time really will be different.

Russia v Croatia (Saturday 1800 GMT, Sochi)

Russia

The hosts have delighted their public by surpassing all expectations to make it to the last eight thanks to a stunning penalty shootout elimination of 2010 winners Spain.Russian players were on their knees in exhaustion after defending for 120 minutes in Moscow with just 26 percent possession and they must now summon another huge physical effort, with Croatia expected to dominate the ball once more.

Croatia

Arguably the outstanding performers of the group stage, Croatia were made to suffer to make it past Denmark on penalties.Luck often has not accompanied Croatia in the knockout stages after bright tournament starts, but having bounced back from the blow of Luka Modric’s missed penalty four minutes before the end of extra-time in the last 16, the time for a highly talented generation may have come.

Jordan Pickford saves England, John Stones impresses, Dele Alli struggles

5:27 PM ET  -=  Liam TwomeyChelsea Correspondent

Jordan Pickford was the hero as England overcame Colombia in a dramatic penalty shootout in Moscow to earn their first victory in a knockout match for 12 years and book their place in the World Cup quarterfinals.Harry Kane’s second-half penalty opened the scoring in the 57th minute after he was hauled down by Carlos Sanchez at a corner kick, but Yerry Mina’s towering header in injury time sent the match all the way to penalties.Jordan Henderson missed for England, but Mateus Uribe struck the crossbar before Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca, giving Dier the chance to send England their first tournament shootout triumph since Euro 96.

Positives

This team proved it can emerge victorious — eventually — in the heated cauldron of knockout football, after what was as much a test of emotional control as technical quality. Colombia tried to turn this game into a petulant scrap and then threatened to break England hearts, but they gathered themselves and managed to banish a torrid history of shootout misery.

Negatives

Much of England’s best moves from open play come to nothing — David Ospina was tested almost as rarely as Pickford — and they will need more than set pieces to get past Sweden. They also wilted badly, if understandably, in the wake of Mina’s goal.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Southgate’s game plan was borne out by 92 minutes of control and undone by one set piece. His players’ resistance to Colombian provocation also spoke well of their manager, but England still do not create enough. But Dier and Marcus Rashford, two of his substitutes, were key to a shootout victory for which he promised his team were ready.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Jordan Pickford, 8 — So well protected by his back three for most of the night that his workload consisted of long-range shots from Juan Quintero. He made a brilliant late save to keep out Uribe’s long-range screamer, but could do nothing to deny Mina’s towering header. Made himself a hero in the shootout.

DF Kieran Trippier, 7 — Less of a factor going forward than in the group games, but his brilliant set-piece deliveries again represented his team’s biggest attacking threat and led to Kane’s penalty. Just too short to stop Mina’s header going in off the crossbar, but scored a fantastic penalty.

DF Kyle Walker, 6 — Generally more solid with his positioning and decision making than previously in this tournament, but was very fortunate not to bring about a Colombia equaliser when he gifted the ball to Bacca in his own half, only for Juan Cuadrado to bail him out by blazing over.

DF John Stones, 8 — Produced one of the most convincing performances of his career at the heart of the England defence, snuffing out danger early and winning the majority of his duels in the air and on the floor. Also resisted the wilder impulses in possession that have led people to doubt him.

DF Harry Maguire, 8 — Excellent in possession and calm with his decisions even when pressed. Did more than his bit to keep Radamel Falcao and later Bacca in check and was also a big threat to Colombia from attacking set pieces. Needs to work on his diving, though.

DF Ashley Young, 6 — Never gave an inch to Cuadrado and picked the right moments to dash forward into crossing positions, though none of his forays yielded significant chances. Was perhaps lucky not to be sent off when his studs caught Wilmar Barrios on the ankle in extra time.

MF Jordan Henderson, 6 — Passed reliably when he got the ball, but Colombia largely took him out of the game. His attempts at more ambitious distribution often went astray. Allowed himself to be drawn into a running battle with Barrios, with both fortunate to avoid red cards. Also telegraphed his penalty, which Ospina saved.

MF Jesse Lingard, 6 — A willing and intelligent runner as ever, but made all the wrong decisions on the ball and his touch failed him at key moments. Made up for a bad attacking night somewhat by relentlessly tracking back to help his defence.

MF Dele Alli, 5 — Protected against Belgium with this game in mind, but still doesn’t look right. He was a step slower than everyone else on the pitch and his passing was disappointingly sloppy. Replaced by Dier on 81 minutes as part of Southgate’s vain attempt to see the game out.

FW Raheem Sterling, 6 — Consistently made himself available to receive the ball and protected it under serious physical pressure. Also kept his head in the face of relentless provocation from Colombian players and staff. It was not his night in terms of end product, though, and he was rarely on the same wavelength as Lingard.

FW Harry Kane, 7 — The coolest head on the pitch, nervelessly winning and converting his penalty after a monumental delay. Provided a good focal point, but it is hard not to conclude that his tendency to drop deep to aid England’s possession game contributed to their toothlessness from open play. But did anyone ever doubt he would score in the shootout?

Substitutes

MF Eric Dier, 6 — Brought on for Alli with 10 minutes left to shore up the midfield alongside Henderson but offered little. Repeatedly gave the ball away, was slow in the tackle and missed a clear header from an excellent Trippier corner in extra time… only to redeem himself with the winning penalty.

FW Jamie Vardy, 6 — Brought on for Sterling with two minutes of the 90 minutes to go, he didn’t get much opportunity to make an impact beyond one volley straight at Ospina from an offside position.

DF Danny Rose 6 — Occasionally drifted too far upfield to be a realistic outlet for the back three as Colombia pressed, but his fresh legs were dangerous going forward and one low shot from a tight angle went just wide.

FW Marcus Rashford, 6 — Brought on in extra time to take a penalty, he dispatched his brilliantly.

England penalties: 11/11 in open play, 11/19 in shootouts

Jul 3, 2018Debayan SenSenior Assistant Editor

England are in the World Cup quarterfinals, and they did it – believe it or not – by winning a penalty shootout. ESPN brings you all the key numbers.

1

England won a penalty shootout at the World Cup for the first time in their history, on their fourth attempt. Interestingly, they have converted all of their 11 penalties in regular play, the most in World Cup history by a team that has never missed. Their 100 percent accuracy in open play drops to a little over 50 percent in shootouts, where they have converted just 11 of their 19 kicks.

6

Harry Kane has gone up to second among all scorers at World Cups for England, with his sixth goal in just his third match of the 2018 campaign. He has gone past Geoff Hurst, and now only trails Gary Lineker (10) among England scorers. He is also just the second England player with six goals in one World Cup after Lineker, who won the Golden Boot for his six goals in 1986.

12

England have advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 12 years, following a round of 16 win over Ecuador in 2006. They were then eliminated on penalties by Portugal in the quarterfinals, and they lost 4-1 to Germany in the round of 16 four years later. Matthew Upson’s 37th-minute strike in that match in Bloemfontein was the last knockout goal scored by England, before Kane’s penalty conversion.

2

Yerry Mina is just the second Colombian after James Rodriguez to have scored in three successive matches at the World Cup for Colombia. Rodriguez went on to score in five consecutive games of the 2014 World Cup, and finished as the Golden Boot winner with his six goals.

24

Sweden have made the quarterfinals after 24 years, having finished in third place in 1994. Emil Forsberg’s winner also marks the first time since 1994 that they have scored more than five goals in a World Cup — the 15 they scored in United States is still their record. It is also the first time since the 1958 edition that they hosted, that Sweden have won consecutive games in one World Cup.

3

Harry Kane is now the first Englishman to have converted three penalties — not counting kicks taken in a shootout — and the first to have done so in one World Cup since Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov in 1994. Johan Neeskens of Netherlands also converted three in 1974, whereas both Rob Rensenbrink of Netherlands (1978) and Eusebio (1966) converted four in one tournament. Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina also has four converted penalties overall in World Cups.

9

England’s nine goals scored at the 2018 World Cup are now the second best they have ever achieved in one World Cup, going past the eight goals they scored in both 1954 and 1990. Their record for most goals in one campaign remains 11 in 1966, the only year they have won the World Cup.

8

The England-Colombia match saw eight players (six for Colombia and two for England) being shown the yellow card, the joint most in this tournament. Both France-Argentina (round of 16) and Belgium-Panama (group stages) saw eight yellow cards shown to the two teams, while Argentina’s clash with Croatia in the group stages saw seven cards produced.

50

Sweden have become the 11th team to have played their 50th World Cup game, though they are one of only three teams to have played 50 or more matches without winning a single tournament — Mexico (57) and Netherlands (50) are the other two teams to have that record.

Don’t believe the Christian Pulisic to Tottenham transfer rumors

Silly season is really silly.By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 5, 2018, 11:46am PDT

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News reports have swirled over the past 36 hours regarding a $58 million bid that Tottenham Hotspur has offered to Borussia Dortmund for United States phenom Christian Pulisic. The reports were everywhere, from here to Europe.But, each of these reports is claiming the German outlet Kicker was the source of the report without a link to the article that referenced the proposed bid. Indeed, a quick search on Kicker yields nothing on a possible Pulisic-to-Spurs bid. Still, online media is going along with the rumor, even with nothing to source the information. So, how did a rumor with no foundation grow legs so quickly?It’s because it’s silly season, that time of year when transfer rumors and news come fast and in numbers. It’s almost like some outlets have a dart board that have star players, big clubs, and huge numbers, and they throw darts until a story comes up that they can run with. How many rumors have you seen today about Real Madrid or Barcelona or PSG or Chelsea or Juventus? Plenty. Nothing really set in stone until these clubs issue official statements.And for American fans, Pulisic is a name that brings attention. Rumors of his transfer to LiverpoolArsenal, and Tottenham have been swirling for months, and each time it brings fans to a frenzy about where is best for Pulisic to play soccer. Back in May, Christian Pulisic’s father labeled the rumors of his son moving from Dortmund to Liverpool, Arsenal or Tottenham as “hogwash,” adding: “[T}here’s nothing concrete. Right now, Christian plays for Dortmund and that’s where he is planning on playing again next year.” Nothing has changed, and until there is something with more substance, the current transfer rumors surrounding Pulisic should be disregarded.So, that’s where we are. Christian Pulisic is still a Borussia Dortmund player. He will remain there until a day that Dortmund and Pulisic decide that it’s best that he continue his career with another club. The rumors are going to continue to come with reckless abandon over the coming weeks until the transfer window closes at the end of August. Until then, listen to the words of Jay-Z:“So don’t believe everythin’ your earlobe captures, it’s mostly backwards, Unless it happens to be as accurate as me, And everythin’ said in song you happen to see, Then actually, believe half of what you see, None of what you hear, even if it’s spat by me”

Four years after Howard’s saves and Wondo’s miss, U.S. has regret about the past, hope for the future

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Dan Thoymas, Kasey Keller and Kate Markgraf discuss Bruce Arena’s latest comments and how the USMNT should feel watching the World Cup from home. (8:19)

Jun 30, 2018Noah Davis, ESPN.com freelance columnist

On July 1, four years ago, Belgium bulldozed the United States men’s national team in the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. The final scoreline, 2-1, did not reflect the match that millions watched; Jurgen Klinsmann’s side was outshot 38-15 with Tim Howard forced into 15 saves, the highest number in a single game since at least 1966 when FIFA started keeping track of the statistic.The U.S., thanks to its goalkeeper’s heroics, miraculously hung on through regulation before conceding to Kevin De Bruyne in the 93rd minute and substitute Romelu Lukaku 12 minutes later. While Julian Green’s volley provided a bit of solace near the death, it was a comprehensive beatdown.

Yet the red, white, and blue nearly won the thing in regulation, when Chris Wondolowski’s half-volley in the third minute of second-half stoppage time skied over Thibaut Courtois’ crossbar and into the Salvador night. The U.S. was inches from the quarterfinals.While the Americans were clearly second best — despite that miss — the tournament as a whole gave reason for optimism. Klinsmann led his team out of a brutal group after the squad defeated Ghana in dramatic fashion and dominated Portugal for long stretches before finishing with a 2-2 draw against the soon-to-be European champions, then lost 1-0 to eventual champion Germany.And it wasn’t merely the results that were exciting; so too was the fact that young talent played key roles. Twenty-one year old John Brooks scored the game-winner vs. Ghana and looked poised to establish himself in one of the starting center-back roles. DeAndre Yedlin, 20, offered tantalizing speed on the right wing, and Fabian Johnson, Jozy Altidore, Omar Gonzalez, and Michael Bradley provided a solid spine in the 24-to-26-year-old range. Green was the youngest goal scorer at the World Cup.Although they were not in Brazil, players such as Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta, Rubio Rubin, Paul Arriola, and Gedion Zelalem were close to breaking through and led the U.S. to a quarterfinal finish at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup. There was hope and excitement.Then, well, we all know what happened: Four years of fits and starts, featuring some highlights — the emergence of Christian Pulisic, the 2016 Copa America Centenario — and many more low points — 4-0 in Costa Rica, “Couva” entering the U.S. fan lexicon — that resulted in the squandering of almost half a decade.In retrospect, the signs were there in Brazil. According to WhoScored.com, the Americans played 34 percent of the tournament in their own third, more than any other team. Klinsmann’s side spent just 22 percent in their opposition’s third, tied for fourth worst behind Algeria, Iran, and Italy, a trio that went out in the group stage.The U.S. conceded 23.5 shots per game, five more than the two teams tied for the second most: Ecuador and Switzerland. FIFA.com’s statistics credited 27 saves, 21 tackles won and 19 blocks, a World Cup high of 67 attempts some 50 percent more than the tournament average of just under 45. Being the best defensive team is hardly the proactive soccer Klinsmann promised.But while optimism about prospects following 2014 was misplaced, so too is any pessimism four years later. In Pulisic, the Americans have a talent more accomplished at an international level than any young player in the history of the program.Meanwhile, 19-year-old Weston McKennie, a vital cog in the midfield of Bundesliga runner-up Schalke, is not far behind his close friend. Tyler Adams covers enough ground for two players, and Tim Weah shows tantalizing flashes of game-breaking creativity, and Josh Sargent could break out in Germany next season. The teens can ball.As can the slightly older generation. Miazga, still just 22, dominated while on loan to Vitesse in the Eredivisie and possesses the line-breaking passing that has required from an elite center back. Brooks, Carter-Vickers, and Erik Palmer-Brown will challenge for spots. Major League Soccer continues to produce young player with potential while Yedlin’s development continues in Europe, as does that of Benfica’s Keaton Parks, Andrija Novakovich at Fortuna Sittard, Anderlecht’s Kenny Saief and more.Even Green is back in the mix after a couple of years wandering the soccer wilderness. There is plenty of work to be done, questions to be answered, leaders to be found, but these are good places to start. They are building blocks that make a far stronger base than the Americans had following the 2014 World Cup.But, while all that is true, the fact remains that a so-far excellent and exciting tournament is going on in Russia without the U.S.; that’s tougher to take than Wondo missing that sitter.

Questions that will define each MLS club in the second half of 2018

Jul 3, 2018Matt PentzESPN FC

With some teams having already played more than half their games, and with Major League Soccer having come out the other side of its World Cup break, this feels like an appropriate juncture to take a hard look at where everybody stands. At the halfway point, which burning question is likely to define the rest of each club’s season?

Atlanta United: Can offense win championships? The Supporters’ Shield leaders boast an explosive attack which is a sight to behold. Can they lock things down at the other end of the field come playoff time, or might they pour in enough goals that it doesn’t even matter?

Chicago Fire: What happened to last year’s hot start? Around this time a year ago, the Fire’s turnaround story was the toast of the league. Then they lost six of seven, were routed by the New York Red Bulls on home turf in the playoffs and have since struggled to replicate those heights.

Colorado Rapids: How on earth did the Rapids make the conference finals in 2016? That’s about all I’ve got on this one.

Columbus Crew SC: Which city will the club call home next season: Columbus or Austin? Until that is resolved, all on-field concerns are secondary.

D.C. United: Can United make the most of its fresh start at its new stadium? Even with Wayne Rooney in the fold, there are ominous signs that D.C. is not entirely ready for its close-up.

FC Dallas: Are the chemistry issues resolved? Last season’s summertime swoon is even more inexplicable now that FCD has recovered its mojo. Are the underlying issues truly a thing of a past, or might Dallas again start to splinter?

Houston Dynamo: Can the Dynamo take the next step? Western Conference finalists in 2017, the Dynamo again look like a playoff dark horse. Can they find another gear and join the ranks of legitimate title contenders?

LAFC: Is this the Western Conference front-runner? Expansion team or not, a strong case can be made that this group has a higher ceiling than anybody else on their side of the bracket.

LA Galaxy: Are the wheels going to fall off? They’re certainly wobbling on their axles.

Minnesota United: How long will Loons fans remain patient? The club’s slow-and-steady team-building approach asks a lot of supporters to stay engaged with this second-year franchise.

Montreal Impact: How bad can it get? One of the league’s worst goal differentials (-9) hint that the Impact haven’t yet scraped rock bottom.

New England Revolution: Do the Revs have enough talent to sneak into the playoffs? So far, first-year coach Brad Friedel has done a remarkable job.

New York City FC: What is this club’s identity post-Patrick Vieira? For a coach who spent only two and a half years in the Big Apple, Vieira certainly left his fingerprints all over NYCFC’s vision of itself.

New York Red Bulls: What is this team’s ceiling? Jesse Marsch touts this as the best team he’s ever had. For a franchise crying out for some positive history, does that equal some long-overdue silverware?

Orlando City SC: What now? Having now fired coaches midseason in two of their four MLS campaigns, I’m not even sure the Lions’ ownership group could give much of an answer to that question.

Seattle 2-3 Portland: Mabiala lifts Timbers – Via MLS

Diego Valeri pulled the strings and Larrys Mabiala popped up with two goals to see Portland walk away from Seattle with a 3-2 victory.

Portland Timbers: Is this hot streak sustainable? The Timbers come out of the World Cup break unbeaten in 10 across all competitions, which catapulted them up the standings following a slow start.

Real Salt Lake: Move forward or blow it up? Despite sitting in fifth in the West coming out of the break, RSL seems to be going back and forth with that question.

San Jose Earthquakes: Does North America’s longest outdoor bar serve hard alcohol? That’s about the only way Quakes fans are making it through October.

Seattle Sounders: How much of a difference can one player make? Raul Ruidiaz is exactly the type of player the Sounders need, but his midseason signing might come too late to save a team sitting 11 points out of a playoff place.

Sporting Kansas City: Why should anyone believe this year is different? The first-place team in the West has started hot before, but seems to always falter down the stretch. Until Sporting keep the good vibes going into October, a degree of skepticism is necessary.

Toronto FC: When is TFC finally going to turn it on? If the defending champs wait too long, the gulf with the East’s playoff contenders will be too wide to bridge.

Vancouver Whitecaps: What are the limits to the Whitecaps’ approach? Carl Robinson has wrung a lot out of a bare-bones roster, but there’s a sense that the natives are getting restless with ownership’s lack of financial commitment.

Kick Off: MLS today

July 4, 201810:38AM EDT Greg SeltzerContributor

Here is everything you need to know about MLS and North American soccer this morning:

Dynamo storm back late for draw

Houston’s goose surely looked cooked midway through stoppage time of their Tuesday game against LAFC, but the hosts rallied in just two minutes to rescue a 2-2 tie. Adama Diomande turned provider with assists on each of the goals that had the away side up two, only for Mauro Manotas and Philippe Senderos to author the unlikely comeback. RECAP

Conference leaders make tricky trips

Supporters Shield table-toppers Atlanta United will put their seven-game road unbeaten run on the line in Wednesday’s tilt at FC Dallas (8 pm ET | TV & streaming info). It should be an emotional night for the hosts, who have just completed the sale of playmaker Mauro Diaz to UAE club Shabab Al-Ahli.

Galaxy aiming for playoff zone, Cameron

The LA Galaxy welcome D.C. United for a July 4 kickabout at the StubHub with a chance to rise above the playoff line with a win (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). According to Yahoo’s Doug McIntyre, the Galaxy are proving dogged in their pursuit of Stoke City’s US defender Geoff Cameron. READ MORE | PREVIEW

Atlanta back atop Power Rankings

After a one-week absence, Atlanta United reclaimed the penthouse in our MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings. Chicago and Montreal each rose four spots, while Toronto’s three-rung drop was the biggest of the week. READ MORE

World Cup: Svensson, Sweden to final eight

Seattle midfielder Gustav Svensson stepped into Sweden’s lineup on Tuesday, helping his country clinch a World Cup quarterfinal date against England with a 1-0 win over Switzerland in St. Petersburg. The Sounders man ably deputized for suspended teammate Sebastian Larsson to help oust the world’s sixth-ranked side. READ MORE

Warshaw: My midseason award favorites

Now that we’ve reached the midway point of the season, Bobby Warshaw has offered up his picks for MLS award front-runners to date. He also chooses a midseason Best XI, which unsurprisingly includes three Atlanta United stars. READ MORE

If you can’t get enough midseason analysis, Warshaw and Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle also ran the rule over all 23 teams, finding one positive and one negative for each team, no matter their record. READ MORE

MLSsoccer.com Must-Watch  Top 5 MLS goals scored by Americans in 2018 pres. by Target REDcard

 

Wiebe: Five years on, a look at Clint Dempsey’s legacy in Seattle

June 29, 20184:43PM EDTClint Dempsey seems perfectly comfortable with his place in history.When you’ve scored in three World Cups, blazed a trail the size of Texas through the English Premier League, sit (tied) atop your national team’s all-time scoring chart and made a successful comeback from a potentially career-ending heart issue, you don’t need someone else’s perspective.“I’m at peace with what I’ve been able to accomplish,” Dempsey said last December, in the days before the Seattle Sounders lost MLS Cup 2017, and I believe him.He scored his first MLS goal since that interview on Saturday, a sliding finish at CenturyLink Field that gave Seattle a hum-drum draw against Chicago in the midst of a season that’s tested the patience of the Rave Green faithful. It was the 35-year-old’s 47th regular-season goal for the Sounders, tying Fredy Montero for the club record, one Dempsey will surely own outright soon enough.It’s been almost five years since Dempsey arrived in Seattle. Five years is a long time. Long enough to win a few trophies. Long enough to play in and miss a World Cup. Long enough to become the second-longest tenured Sounder behind MLS original Ozzie Alonso.Long enough for us to wonder how will he be remembered in the Pacific Northwest once the time feels right, perhaps as soon as this offseason, to trade the daily grind of professional soccer for family time and fishing.I’m no Sounders fan. And I’m damn sure not Clint Dempsey. I won’t claim to know or understand how either feels. But with a Cascadia derby on deck for Saturday afternoon (4:30 pm ET | FOX – Full TV & streaming) – and Deuce often one to step toward rivalry-ruling opportunity – I do know which moments I remember most vividly from Dempsey’s time in Seattle.#DempseyWatch

Years before #BarcoWatch took over Soccer Twitter™, #DempseyWatch helped coin the genre.

MLS is a much different league now than it was in Summer 2013, when word started trickling out that the US national team star’s time with Tottenham could be coming to an end, a return stateside with the Sounders the likely next destination. It was by far the biggest story in American soccer that summer.As the rumors heated up, photos of Dempsey at various airports trickled into the social media conversation. Sounders sleuths tracked his movement from Heathrow Airport in London to the West Coast. By the time Dempsey removed his hoodie to reveal a Seattle jersey at halftime of a blowout victory against FC Dallas on August 3 of that year, the club had inked their new star to a deal that made him the highest paid player and biggest incoming transfer in MLS history.There was elation, from Sounders fans in particular, but there was also serious blowback, from the internet trolls all the way up to Jurgen Klinsmann. A top-tier player, arguably the country’s most accomplished in Europe, returning to MLS in his prime? One year before the World Cup no less?That decision, just as much as the goals he’d go on to score, is part of Dempsey’s legacy. When he signed that contract, the trajectory and perception of the league changed.For MLS, Dempsey was the personification of the “league of choice” mantra. If he could do it, why couldn’t others like him? His signing provided precedent for the moves that followed, bringing the biggest USMNT stars – Michael BradleyJozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Tim HowardAlejandro Bedoya – to MLS from Europe.For Seattle, Dempsey represented raw ambition. Along with Obafemi Martins, signed earlier that year, the more than $30 million outlay, according to reports, showed a desire not just be among MLS’s biggest spenders in but at the very top of the hierarchy. That the Sounders were the club to pull it off only reinforced the growing sentiment that there was an MLS super club in the Pacific Northwest, a giant both on the field and off.I remember being thrilled by the transfer coup, and a bit gob-smacked as well. No more setting alarms to watch Deuce do his thing in England. American soccer fans could watch the national team’s biggest star every week in person.

Oba-Deuce

Trust me, you should watch this goal. And this one. And this one. For sure this one, too.These are among the many masterpieces of Oba-Deuce, the sort of attacking partnership that left spectators and opposing defenders slack jawed just about every time they took the field.These goals are everything Dempsey came to represent in Seattle during his first two full seasons. Every time he took the field, there was buzz. There was anticipation. There was the possibility that, with or without Martins’ assistance, he’d do something we’d never seen before.There was plenty of success, too. That fourth goal I told you to watch? It was the game-winner in extra time of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup. That same year, the Sounders lifted the Supporters’ Shield, a fitting tribute to the folks who packed CenturyLink and made it all possible.Above all, there was swagger, a brash confidence unique to Dempsey. Don’t drag me, he seemed to be saying to those who doubted him or his decision to return. I make the big bucks, and I’m worth every penny.Then he brought that same swagger to the 2014 World Cup while repping the Sounders and Seattle.

Tear it all down

We remember the goals, but we also remember the outbursts. Dempsey has a knack for delivering spectacularly on both fronts.The only three red cards of his MLS career have come, one per season, over the last three years. Before that, however, is the moment that will stick with me forever.There’s not much I can say about this one. You’ll just have to watch it. It will almost certainly be the first and only time you’ll see a referee’s notebook ripped to shreds on the field.

Can’t Tell Me Nothing

Dempsey did not play in MLS Cup 2016, his heart condition forcing him to watch from the stands as Seattle put together a historic run to the playoffs and then eked out the only domestic championship to elude them.Never one to go missing in the big moment, Dempsey made his mark during the club’s victory parade a few days later. “Now that we’ve won one,” Dempsey said, “Portland can’t say [drawn out expletive].”The Cascadia rivalry matters to Sounders supporters, and it matters to Dempsey. He’s saved his best for the rivalry games, scoring nine goals (three game-winners) in 11 games.I’ll leave you with this, Dempsey’s three-goal outburst in April 2014 to snatch a sure victory from the Timbers’ grasp. Perhaps there’s more like this left to come. Rui-Deuce anyone?

Indiana Youth Soccer Night

Post-Game Photo On The Field

In celebration of Indy Eleven’s official Indiana Youth Soccer Night all youth soccer teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at the completion of our game. All participants need a game ticket and all teams must register to be eligible for the post-game photo. To register, please sign up here. The deadline to register is Thursday, July 5th. Only one (1) member from each team is required to register for the entire team. For questions, please contact Youth Club Coordinator, Shawn Burcham, at 317-685-1100 or shawn@indyeleven.com.

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6/28/18 World Cup Sweet 16 – TV Game Schedule, Indy 11 win 3rd in a row 3 Game Home Stand Starts Sat 7 pm, Summer Soccer Camps

Wow both Renaldo and Messi are out in the first games of the knock-out stages – fantastic and exciting games to watch with plenty of goals !!   I imagine the Seattle vs Portland MLS game – the oldest rivalry in US soccer would have been good too.  But the IDIOTS at FOX 59 here in Indy don’t give a SHIT about soccer – so they elected to show some bullshit Raw Travel BS Show instead????  SERIOUSLY so the Rest of the US gets to watch the game on Fox and Indy gets crapped on again ???    Well I am done promoting FOX 59 — no more Fox 59 References until our local terdheads at Fox 59 decide they give a crap about soccer.  If you would like to complain join me in leaving nasty messages at 317-632-5900.  I am working on finding a more direct line so our voices will be heard — otherwise they won’t show any of the MLS world cup lead in games scheduled over the next 2 weeks.

Very disappointing FOX 59 !!!!!!

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So the Group Stages have Wrapped up and wow we have some interesting results. First GERMANY – the Defending Champions are going home at the earliest stage in 80 years – their 2 goals in 3 games their lowest total ever, their exit makes them the 4th reigning champion in 5 World Cups to go home during the group stages joining France (2002), Italy (2010), and Spain (2014).  Of course Mexico will look to break the streak and get to Game #5 by winning a knock-out stage game for the first time since 1994 vs Brazil on Monday at 10 am on Fox after they backed into the Sweet 16 thanks to South Korea blanking Germany 2-0.  The strangest might have been Japan going thru over Senagal based on Fair play — which was only introduced as a tiebreaker at this year’s World Cup — was then used to split the pair, with Japan’s four yellow cards beating Senegal’s six. Japan, therefore, reached the round of 16 along with Colombia, with England or Belgium lying in wait.   So it came down to sportsmanship -Seriously???  That needs to be revisited to overall corner kicks or something?  Oh and England sitting their starters when they needed to win to be on the easier side of the group and the #1 team was just stupid !!  Colombia takes them out!!  Otherwise – VAR – Video Review is still getting either Lauded or trashed – for me I think its great.  Yes they have missed 1 or 2 but overall they have been getting the calls right and fairly quickly.  (hey NFL. NBA you watching??)  Man this Saturday are you kidding me!

10 am Fox         France vs Argentina  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Uruguay vs Portugal  (WC Sweet 16)  

US Failure to make it to the World Cup was made even worse with the pathetic showings of Panama and Costa Rica as they each flamed out with 3 losses. (Interesting column in the OBC) I still stick by my statement that the Best for US Soccer is to come.  We need to get the head coach right – but I truly believe this New Hope Group of under 20 US Players is going to get us to the Semi-Finals in the World Cup here in 2026.  The first good step has been taken with hiring of new GM and former national team player Earnie Stewart – next the hiring of one of the stronger American MLS coaches I think will come sometime in late August maybe.  I feel like good times are coming US fans – for now enjoy the no pressure watching of a World Cup without the US – we won’t see that again for a long time!  Either way enjoy those World Cup Commercials – here are my favorites so far – Gieco the Slide, Pirlo McDonalds,  and all of the Volkswagon ones.  Also loved James Corden’s England Team recruits American Fans.   Full World Cup Bracket Here

INDY 11

Our Indy 11 – silenced the Nashville Crowd on the road for a huge 2-0 win at previously unbeaten at home Nashville Tuesday night moving them to 4th place overall with 24 points on 7 wins/3 ties/4 losses.  Our Indy 11 coming off a 3 game winning streak return home this weekend for a Sat night match-up with Penn FC (Pride Night) at 7 pm and July 4th at 7 pm vs Ottawa at Lucas Oil.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available

Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.  July 4th will be military night with ½ priced tickets for military personnel and of course Indy’s Downtown Spectacular Fireworks Show after the game.  The Sat Night game on July 7th will be Indiana Youth Soccer Night, as all teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field.  Reach out to Youth Club Coordinator Shawn Burcham at shawn@indyeleven.com.  I plan to be there for the next 2 Saturday nights – hoping for an open roof.  (I will try to post some pics next week)

Local

Congrats to the 2 Indiana Teams (Indy Premier U16 Girls and St Francis U19 Boys) advancing to the Finals of the US Youth Soccer National President’s Cup July 11-15 at Grand Park.

After the ultra successful first camp in early June – Carmel FC has added another camp headed up by Director Juergen Sommer at Shelbourne from July 23rd thru 26th . Also some Carmel FC teams are still looking for players like the U17 (02) Boys team -email shanebestsoccer@gmail.com if interested.

MLS

Here’s the MLS rankings as we continue the powerhouse World Cup Lead-ins to MLS Games on Fox over the next few weekends. This Saturday we get one of the best venues and rivalries in US soccer as Seattle hosts Portland at 4:30 pm on Fox 59.  Sunday as we get a showdown of the defending Champs Toronto FC vs one of the top teams in the East the New York Red Bulls at 4:30 pm after the World Cup game on Fox 59.  Will be interesting to see if Rooney plays in the new home opener next weekend after finalizing the deal with DC United.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Beats Nashville on Road for 3rd Straight Win

Indy 11 Beats Nashville 2-0 – Blood Shambles Review – Rebecca Townsend

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for Saturday’s Game!   (Code 2018Indy)

USL League Standings

Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

militaryindy11

Indy 11 MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

Join us in honoring our military during Military Appreciation Night on July 4th.  Come to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Ottawa Fury and stay for the fireworks downtown.  In honor of our military, we will offering tickets at a 50% discount.  Use the promo-code “military18” and save today

WORLD CUP

My Favorite World Cup Commercilal

World Cup Geico Commercial – the Slide

VAR is Working – Gab Marcotti

Germany Disastrous World Cup Bottom of Group – fewest goals and 80 year low for Germany

We panicked and Went Wild in Search of Winning Goal – Germany’s Hummels

Messi Goal Sets off Celebration for Argentina

Maradona Requires Medical Assistance after Emotional Night and dropping the Middle Finger to Everyone

Argentina Call of Game Winner

Gary Lineker brands Diego Maradona a ‘laughing stock’ after middle finger celebration

READ MORE: Lionel Messi scores 100th goal of World Cup 2018

READ MORE: Argentina saved by Rojo as they set up France clash

Marcotti: Are you not entertained? The World Cup has delivered
OgdenThe Good, Bad and Ugly of the groups
BarnwellWho has the toughest bracket?
ESPN FC TV: Who will surprise in the round of 16?
LaurensHow France relax behind the scenes

Ochoa big Saves Keeps Mexico loss respectable – ESPNFC – Player Ratings

France looks Good Enough to Win this Thing – SI Brian Straus

Africa with Worse Showing Ever at World Cup?

VAR Controversy with Renaldo – World Cup shows system needs Tweeking – Sam Borden ESPNFC

What Do Players Get when They Win the World Cup

 US 

Roger Bennett Discusses American Fiasco

Ameriicans at Home – Even Worse Failures than WC Flameouts Panama and Costa Rica – Stars and Stripes

Arena Says Pulisic is in a Great Place at Dortmund

Why would Tom Ricketts buy AC Milan? Men in Blazers’ Roger Bennett weighs in »

Landon Donovan Clarifies his Vamos Mexico World Cup Ads after criticism

US Ladies Hit Their Stride – USA Today

Hope Solo calls US Soccer a Rich White Kid Sport – Fox

US to Play England, Brazil, Mexico and Italy in Friendlies this Fall

MLS

MLS Power Rankings

Rooney to Sign with DC United this Weekend?

Rooney Signs with DC United !

Seattle vs Portland Preview

Zlattan in ESPN Body Issue

Zlatan the Fortune Teller – James Corden

FC Cincy Lays out Plans for Training Facility

Goalies

Oldest World Cup Player Ever Saves PK for Egypt

Best Saves Round 1 World Cup

Best Saves Round 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

SUMMER CAMPS

CDC Carmel FC Camp – Shelborne Field July 23rd – 26th

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

Sat, June 30         

10 am Fox 59        France vs Argentina  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox 59          Uruguay vs Portugal  (WC Sweet 16)  

3:30 pm Lifetime       Orlando Pride vs North Carolina Courage (Women’s Soccer League)

4:30 pm FOX 59           Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

7 pm ESPN+, TV23   Indy 11 vs Penn  

8 pm Yes                           Chicago vs NY City FC

8 pm ESPN+                    LAFC vs Philly Union

10 pm Univ                     SJ Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy

10 pm g090                    Seattle Reign vs Portland Thorns

10 pm Fox Sport 1     World Cup Tonight

Sun, July 1        

10 am Fox         Spain vs Russia  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Croatia vs Denmark (WC Sweet 16)  

4:30 pm FOX            Toronto FC vs NY Red Bulls  

10 pm Fox Sport 1     World Cup Tonight

Mon, July 2       

10 am Fox         Brazil vs Mexico (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Belgium vs Japan (WC Sweet 16)  

Tues, July 3       

10 am Fox         Sweden vs Swiss (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Colombia vs England (WC Sweet 16)  

Weds, July 4       

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Ottawa Fury

Fri, July 6         

10 am FS1                        World Cup Quarter Final W49 vs W50

2 pm  FS1                         World Cup Quarter Final W53 vs W54

Sat, July 7         

10 am                                 World Cup Quarter Final W55 vs W56

2 pm                                    World Cup Quarter Final W51 vs W52

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Charlotte

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

7 pm FS1               NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls –(Hudsen River Darby)

Tues, July 10       

2 pm Fox           World Cup Semi’s  

Weds, July 11       

2 pm Fox           World Cup Semi’s  

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox         World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

8 pm ESPN+           Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Houston Dynamo

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox        World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                  Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                       LAFC vs Portland

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

Indy 11 MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

Join us in honoring our military during Military Appreciation Night on July 4th.  Come to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Ottawa Fury and stay for the fireworks downtown.  In honor of our military, we will offering tickets at a 50% discount.  Use the promo-code “military18” and save today

GET READY TO TAILGATE WITH THE BYB – Brick Yard Battalion Indy 11 Soccer Fan Club

Park and Tailgate for indy 11 Games with the BYB – Parking in the Gate 10 BYB Section is $4 cheaper per game than the stadium’s South Lot- and OBVIOUSLY more fun! Located at 343 W McCarty Street, Gate 10 is just across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. Gate 10—the 2018 official home of the BYB–is convenient and affordable. Parking is $11 per car for single games !  Click HERE to purchase your pass today. You Won’t want to watch the game in any other section after standing, screaming, singing, dancing, and partying with the BEST SUPPORTERS SECTION in the US – the BYB.

“Boys in Blue” aim to claim fourth consecutive win against visiting Penn FC

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview  -Saturday, June 30, 2018 – 7 P.M. EST -Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana  

WEEK 16: PART TWO

Indy Eleven entertain Penn FC at home in their second fixture of Week 16 play. The “Boys in Blue” aim to capture their fourth victory in a row as they attempt to defeat the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania based team.Indy Eleven (7W-4L-3D) defeated Nashville SC, 2-0, in their first of two Week 16 fixtures. The “Boys in Blue” also handed Nashville their first home loss of the season. In the 16th minute, defender Karl Ouimette headed home defender Ayoze’s corner kick into the middle. Indy Eleven forward Justin Braun beat Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the 35th minute with an angled shot that skid underneath the veteran goaltender. Braun’s goal last Saturday was his third in a two-match span after being sidelined by injury late in the 2017 season. Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams recorded his seventh clean sheet, which tied him for first in the USL for most clean sheets. The “Boys in Blue” now sit in fourth place with 24 points.Penn FC (5W-4L-6D) defeated Tampa Bay Rowdies, 2-1, in Week 15. Penn FC forward Lucky Mkosana netted a brace with two goals in the 49th and 67th minute. Tampa Bay scored first in the 34th minute, but Mkosana’s two goals from nearly the same spot on the pitch secured the three points for Penn. Penn have won three of their last five games, scoring 11 goals in the span and allowing 10. Forward Lucky Mkosana and defender Kenneth Tribbett lead the team in goals with four each. Goalkeeper Romuald Peiser leads the team between the sticks. He’s kept three clean sheets in 11 appearances. Penn now sits at 9th in the Eastern Conference just three points behind Indy Eleven.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW JUSTIN BRAUN

Indy Eleven forward Justin Braun has found his place in the back of the net in his last two outings since he returned this year after sustaining a season-ending  injury in late 2017. When Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie built his squad at the beginning of the season, Braun was a key inclusion as the club’s first USL era signing. Joining him were the likes of forwards Eugene Starikov, Soony Saad, and Jack McInerney. All of whom were high quality off-season signings that would force Braun to earn his time on the pitch.Braun has made the most of his recent appearance in the starting XI. The absence of forwards McInerney, Starikov and Saad through various instances meant it was Braun’s turn to step up. In his last two games, he’s scored three pivotal goals that helped the “Boys in Blue” to three points each time, with his goal in the last game against Nashville coming against one of the toughest goalkeepers and defense in the league. It will be up to Braun to continue his form if “Indiana’s Team” is to make it four victories in a row against Penn FC.

PENN FC PLAYER TO WATCH: FW LUCKY MKOSANA

Indy forward Justin Braun isn’t the only forward entering the game on Saturday night in form. Penn FC forward Lucky Mkosana is coming off a double against Tampa Bay Rowdies in Week 15. The Zimbabwean scored a come-from-behind brace that leveled the game in the 49th minute, and handed Penn FC its fifth win of the season in the 67th minute.Mkosana is currently tied with defender Kenneth Tribbett for most goals scored on the team with four each. He’s contributed four of the team’s 17 goals scored so far during the 2018 USL campaign. Mkosana will need to find a way to get through Indy Eleven defenders Carlyle Mitchell and Karl Ouimette inside Indy’s 18-yard box, where he has scored all of his goals, if he plans to beat goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams.

“THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE”

Indy Eleven and Penn FC will face off in Week 16 of USL play with offenses that have been finding the back of the net regularly. In the last five games, each team has scored a total of 11 goals, averaging just over two goals a game.Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie may disagree with the famous Vince Lombardi quote above. Rennie has preached a stern, stellar defense that doesn’t breakdown to help the “Boys in Blue” earn three points regularly. His team has given up seven goals in the last five games and recorded two clean sheets in that span. The ‘absorb the pressure’ style Rennie has taught his squad has proved fruitful, as the team has found its hot streak in front of net while not giving up many chances. What was thought to be a concern at the beginning of the season now seems a distant memory as the “Boys in Blue” are consistently finding the back of the net multiple times a game, just as they did in the 2-0 defeat of Nashville SC, one of the toughest defenses in USL, on last Tuesday night.“Indiana’s Team” will welcome another hot offense, led by forward Lucky Mkosana and defender Kenneth Tribbett, into Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night. The Pennsylvanian based team has been the king of the comeback on the road in their last two matches as they fought back from down 3-1 against Louisville City FC and 1-0 against Tampa Bay Rowdies. Penn FC has struggled on the road, finding the back of the net only six times and securing two wins. A positive last two road results, a 3-3 draw against second place Louisville and 2-1 victory at Tampa bay, has given the side hope of defeating Indy Eleven. The “Boys in Blue” have a 3W-3L-1D record at home and have conceded ten goals in Lucas Oil Stadium. “Indiana’s Team” aims to add a few more to their 11-goal haul at home this season, along with securing their fourth victory in a row on Saturday night. Coach Rennie’s side will need to continue their hot form in front of goal if they are to do so. “Indiana’s Team” will take on Penn FC for the first time in the 2018 USL campaign. A win would potentially boost the “Boys in Blue” into second place overtaking Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Louisville City FC.

GET READY TO TAILGATE WITH THE BYB – Brick Yard Battalion Indy 11 Soccer Fan Club

Park and Tailgate for indy 11 Games with the BYB – Parking in the Gate 10 BYB Section is $4 cheaper per game than the stadium’s South Lot- and OBVIOUSLY more fun! Located at 343 W McCarty Street, Gate 10 is just across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. Gate 10—the 2018 official home of the BYB–is convenient and affordable. Parking is $11 per car for single games !  Click HERE to purchase your pass today. You Won’t want to watch the game in any other section after standing, screaming, singing, dancing, and partying with the BEST SUPPORTERS SECTION in the US – the BYB.

 

Germany’s disastrous World Cup – Bottom of the group, fewest goals, and an 80-year low

10:30 AM ETDebayan SenSenior Assistant Editor  Germany’s World Cup ended in humiliation after a shock defeat to South Korea. ESPN brings you the numbers behind their disastrous campaign.

80

Germany have been eliminated in the first round of the World Cup for the first time in 80 years, since a defeat in 1938 at the hands of Switzerland, where they drew the first match 1-1, before being beaten 4-2 in the replay. Since group stages were introduced in the World Cup in 1950 — though they missed out on participation in that edition — Germany have failed to advance to the next stage of the tournament for the first time.

2

The two goals scored by Germany are now the fewest they have scored in a single World Cup campaign. The previous record for fewest goals by a German team at a World Cup was three, scored during the 1938 campaign where they played just two matches – both against Switzerland – and scored one goal in a 1-1 draw and then two in a 4-2 defeat in the replay.

4

Germany have become the fourth reigning champions to be shown the door in the group stages in the last five World Cup editions. France (2002), Italy (2010) and Spain (2014) had all suffered the same fate in recent years, exactly one tournament after having won the World Cup. Brazil, in 2006, are the only team to have bucked that trend in all these years, though they remain the only other defending champions to have been eliminated in the group stages, in 1966.

1

Korea have become the first Asian team to have beat Germany at the World Cup. In fact, they have become the first team from AFC to have scored against Germany in 24 years, since Germany beat Korea 3-2 in the 1994 World Cup. Germany had shut out four teams from Asia since then in World Cup meetings.

18

Andreas Granqvist converted the 18th successful penalty of the 2018 World Cup, when he put Sweden 2-0 up against Mexico. This is now a record for most penalties converted at a World Cup, surpassing the 17 conversions in 1998.

32

Germany have failed to win two matches in a four-team group stage for the first time in 32 years, since this format was introduced to the World Cup, and only for the fourth time overall. They won one game and drew two in both 1958 and 1978, while in 1986, they went on to play the final despite winning, drawing and losing one game apiece in Mexico.

13

Jesus Gallardo of Mexico was shown the yellow card within 13 seconds of kick-off against Sweden, which is now the fastest yellow card in World Cup history. The only other yellow card inside a minute was shown to Sergej Gorlukowitsch, inside 54 seconds for Russia against Sweden during the 1994 World Cup.

7

Edson Alvarez scored the seventh own goal of the 2018 World Cup, now a record for the most in one World Cup edition. Alvarez also scored Mexico’s fourth own goal in World Cup history, also a World Cup record, as it takes them past both Bulgaria and Spain. All numbers courtesy of ESPN’s Stats and Information Group

4 quick thoughts on the Lionel Messi goal against Nigeria, which has us screaming

Messi is one of the few people alive who could have done what he just did.

By Nate Scott@aNateScott  Updated Jun 26, 2018, 4:03pm EDT

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Lionel Messi scored the opening goal for Argentina in their pivotal match against Nigeria on Tuesday, and it was like the world exhaled in unison. After a nightmarish start to their World Cup, Argentina were in a position to advance out of the group stage … and it was their hero, oddly quiet up to this point, who had broken the deadlock.Once Argentina fans took a moment to feel relief at the goal, though, they undoubtedly started screaming. Because holy hell WHAT A GOAL.The goal was pivotal too, as it started off Argentina toward an eventual, dramatic 2-1 win and a place in the knockout round.Watch it here, then below, I have four thoughts on it, and how it might be even better than you realize.

  1. First, the run from Messi. I’ve watched Messi play so many times over the last decade or so, and one of the more underrated and incredible things about him as a player is the moment he sees a run and decides to go for it. He commits totally. He accelerates like a supercar, the time between initial thought to full speed takes place in the span of maybe half a second. At first, he drifts inside, just to lull the Nigeria defender into thinking he’s checking to the ball … then he and Banega locked eyes, and he took off running the other way. He wasn’t close to offside, and it didn’t matter. He was going, he would get past his defender, and then it was on Banega to put the ball where it needed to be.
  2. So, of course we have to talk about the pass from Banega. There was a lot missing from Argentina in their previous match, a disappointing lossto Croatia, but a glaring weakness was Argentina’s inability to pass the ball out of the midfield. With so many runners and high-energy guys in, they pressed, but they couldn’t make the passes they needed to. Banega in, and all of a sudden they have a player who can hit a 40-yard ball to Messi’s left thigh.
  3. The two touches Messi took to control this ball might be the single most incredible thing I’ve seen this World Cup. I’m including James’ pass. I’m including Quaresma’s trivela. I’m including it all. Some of those took daring, and vision. Messi’s two touches there are the product of a man with a generational touch. I’m struggling to wrap my mind around those two touches. Messi is running full sprint with a defender on his back hip, and he’s got a ball kicked at him that’s flying in from a distance of 40 yards, and — again, while running at full speed — he nestles the ball down with his trailing leg, takes another delicate touch in stride, and sets himself up to shoot. That’s not hard … that’s impossible. Think about how hard it is to do anything else when you’re sprinting. You’re really just focused on one thing: going as fast as you can. Now think about doing that, but mid-stride, receiving a ball fired in at you from 40 yards and having the grace and patience to calmly ease the ball down with your upper leg, then, while still taking that same step, take a second, even more delicate touch to your other foot. You’re still sprinting this whole time, faster than another extremely fast athlete, who doesn’t have the ball and doesn’t have to do anything delicate. You can’t imagine doing this, because there are only a few people who have ever lived who could do it. That’s what separates Messi.4. The finish. It seems a little rote, especially after those two touches … a cymbal crash at the end of a symphony. But Messi still had to take the ball onto his weaker right foot and fire it in at not a great angle. He did it, because he had to do it. We needed that goal. He needed that goal. Argentina needed that goal. It was the moment we were waiting for.

France Keeps Growing Into a World Cup It’s Talented Enough to Win

By BRIAN STRAUS June 26, 2018

MOSCOW — The most meaningful moment of Tuesday’s World Cup Group C finale between France and Denmark here at the Luzhniki Stadium occurred in around the 18th minute, 1,000 miles to the south in Sochi. There, Peru took a lead over desperate but underwhelming Australia, essentially confirming that the Danes would advance to the round of 16 along with Les Bleus.With the stakes all but resolved, the two European sides played (in a manner of speaking) to avoid injury, suspension or sweat stains as they lurched to this World Cup’s first 0-0 draw. They fulfilled their scheduled obligation under cascades of whistles and boos, but neither was concerned. In fact, both coaches expressed post-game satisfaction. Denmark, which is here to get out of the group then roll the dice in the second round, was content with second place. As for France—it’ll be far more interested on the July 15 game at Luzhniki than Tuesday’s. Les Bleus are in Russia to win the World Cup.The thing is, that’s been the case at a lot of World Cups. Yet France has just the one title—earned on home soil in 1998—to its credit. Obviously, all but eight countries would be thrilled to make that statement. But somehow, considering what seems to be an endless stream of world-class talent at their disposal, Les Bleus have frequently stumbled on the big stage. The stories of France’s near misses, implosions, bad luck and self-inflicted wounds are as legendary, and more plentiful, than the memories of its triumph two decades ago in Saint-Denis. It seems as likely to go home early, or in disgrace, as it is to stay until the end.A glance at the players left behind this summer by coach Didier Deschamps is an indication of the quality of those in Russia: Lacazette, Martial, Coman, Sissoko, Koscielny, Digne, Sakho, Benzema, Payet—France’s ‘B’ team might have a shot at the World Cup quarterfinals. Such is the wellspring of talent produced at Clairefontaine and in the Paris banlieues that Deschamps named just nine Euro 2016 silver medalists to his World Cup squad, and there are only six players remaining from France’s run to the last eight in 2014.n Tuesday, with a first-place finish likely and only three full days of rest before an expected round-of-16 game in Kazan, Deschamps displayed the measure of his resources. The likes of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappé, Blaise Matuidi, Samuel Umtiti, Benjamin Mendy and Hugo Lloris all started on the bench. Some were on a yellow card, others were rested or recovering. Yet still, Denmark adopted a withdrawn, defensive posture. “We were up against one of the best teams in the world,” Denmark coach Åge Hareide said following the game. “We would’ve been stupid to open up a lot of space for the French team. So we stayed back whenever we could, and we played to get the result we needed.”France controlled possession (62% to 38%) and more than doubled Denmark’s shot total. But against a well-organized opponent and absent any urgency, Les Bleus didn’t really press the issue. There were missed connections, stray passes and a dearth of clear looks at goal. Substitute Nabil Fekir came closest to breaking the deadlock in the second half, and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda did well to take a dangerous cross off Denmark starChristian Eriksen’s foot in the 29th minute. And so the group concluded anticlimactically, with France’s title credentials remaining obvious on paper, but still not established on the field.Les Bleus finished first-round play 2-0-1, with just three goals scored and one yielded. They hardly blew the doors off a quartet in which they clearly were the most talented squad. Deschamps said Tuesday evening that the 2-1 defeat of Australia was “not quite good enough” and that the subsequent 1-0 win over Peru was “better,” even though La Blanquirroja had their share of chances.Most of this tournament’s favored teams have started slowly, he said.“It’s challenging for everyone. Look at Argentina, for example—one of the top contenders … Germany got by by the skin of their teeth. It’s not easy,” claimed Deschamps, who captained the 1998 champions. “Obviously you can tell me there’s room for improvement. But even teams that are top contenders—Brazil, Germany, Spain—it’s not easy for them either. It’s complicated for everyone.”France’s goal now must be to avoid making it more complicated than it has to be. In the past, that’s been one of its specialties. There was the 2010 mutiny against coach Raymond Domenech sparked by the team’s dismissal of Nicolas Anelka. That followed the Zinedine Zidane headbutt in 2006 that very well may have cost France a second star.In other years, Les Bleus simply and grossly underperformed. Their title defense in 2002 (a year in which they were World Cup, European Championship and Confederations Cup holders) was derailed by an astonishing loss to Senegal in the opener. Zidane was hurt that day in Seoul, but a squad featuring Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry still managed to get beat by a debutant. In 1993, a team led by Eric Cantona, Jean-Pierre Papin and a handful of eventual champions failed to qualify after inexplicably blowing home games against Israel and Bulgaria. Michel Platini’s 1980s powerhouse fared better and came close, but lost two consecutive semifinals to West Germany.The trajectory looks good this summer. Deschamps’ group is relatively young, impressively deep and is getting closer to the summit, from the quarterfinal defeat by Germany in ’14 to the upset loss to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final. The question has been whether the manager can find the right formula—whether he can take all this individual ability and field a cohesive, all-conquering team.There remain several significant tactical questions, from the ideal number of forwards to the arrangement and responsibilities in a loaded and mobile midfield that features top players with overlapping abilities. Deploying Olivier Giroud as a target forward leads to one sort of approach. Putting Antoine Griezmann atop of a 4-3-3 produces quite another. And pundits and former players continue to chip away at the intangibles, looking for cracks in the foundation and wondering whether this generation of Frenchmen will succumb to the distractions or selfishness that bedeviled many predecessors. When Griezmann airs his “decision” special on the eve of the tournament, or whenever Pogba behaves oddly, commentary and questions flow that reveal fears of flaws and failures past.One of those skeptics was Hareide. The Denmark coach told Jyllands-Postenbefore the World Cup that France “don’t have a leader” like Zidane, and that it “needs to play as a team.”His opinion of Pogba: “Good grief, does he only think about his haircuts?”Hareide said here that his comments were taken out of context and after Tuesday’s draw and France’s first-place finish, he didn’t seem to think Les Bleus’ slower start was a sign of trouble to come. Champions grow into tournaments, Hareide said.“The big teams—Germany, Argentina, others–have had problems,” Hareide observed. “But France, I’m certain will come up there as a [contender] for the title. … The French team is getting better and better as you go forward. [It] will go into the last 16 and after that, the big games will start for France.”Its “big games” actually begin in the round of 16 thanks to Argentina’s last-gasp win over Nigeria later Tuesday. There haven’t been many World Cup matches at that stage that have had the profile of France-Argentina. They meet Saturday in Kazan.Center back Raphaël Varane, who’s learned a thing or two about clutch performance collecting trophies with Real Madrid, said here that France’s potential remains front and center, rather than its uneven start or any possible problems.“I think there is still a great understanding. It’s a young and dynamic group,” Varane said. “We don’t even need to talk about motivation. The motivation is there. We do have different personalities, but overall we’ve got a good dynamic. The coach has been here for six years now. He’s used to creating a group, and we’re living well together. So yes, we’re carrying on with the same good spirit and I think that’s very important in such a competition.”If he’s right, or prescient, then France has as good a shot as any team to be back at the Luzhniki for the biggest, most high-stakes game of all.

Mystery Solved: What do players get when they win the World Cup?

Alex Baker

Fame, glory, immortality, the gratitude of an ecstatic nation. The intangibles of what a player gets when they help their nation to a World Cup triumph are well understood. But what do players actually get when they achieve the honor of lifting the coveted Jules Rimet trophy at the end of the tournament?

Prize money

With a total of $400 million to be shared between teams competing in Russia, there is substantial prize money on offer not just for winning, but even just for participating in this summer’s World Cup. Making it to the tournament in the first place is worth $9.5M, $8M for participating in the group stage and $1.5M for tournament costs.Teams that make it through the group to the Round of 16 get another $4M bump.Making it past the first knockout round into the quarters gets you another $4M. Teams that get out of the quarters and into the final four receive different amounts, depending on how well they do.Even the teams that fail in the semis and play in the third-place match do pretty well, with the winner netting $24M and the loser getting $22M.he team that loses the final next month at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium will still take home $28M.What about the prize money for going all the way?The team that’s ultimately crowned the winner of the 2018 World Cup final will take home $38M in prize money.

Bonus payments

On top of the prize money on offer from FIFA, each nation’s soccer federation offers bonuses and financial incentives based on how well a team does and individual player performances. The amount of these bonus payments to individual players varies from association to association. Often it’s the players’ representatives who negotiate the amounts with the associations.Expectations also play a role in determining who gets paid what. Teams that are expected to challenge for the title, like Germany or Brazil for instance, aren’t likely to get paid much just for making the Round of 16 or the quarters. Smaller teams, on the other hand, who might be pleased just to make it out of their group, will typically receive greater bonuses for making the knockout rounds.Defending champion Germany will reportedly receive $9.3M should it retain the title. Divvied up between the 23 members of the squad, that would amount to about $407,000 each.England meanwhile, would receive $6.61M for bringing the trophy home for the first time since 1966, amounting to a payout of $284K for each player on the squad.

What, no trophy?

One thing the winning team at the World Cup does not take home is the trophy itself. While winning teams are allowed to hoist it aloft and party with it for an hour or two, the iconic Jules Rimet trophy is quickly returned to FIFA following the trophy ceremony and celebrations. Instead, the winning team will go home with a gold-plated replica of the actual trophy.This is likely a result of the numerous times the trophy has been stolen in the past, most notably, in 1966, when it was spirited away from a public exhibition in London, only to turn up wrapped in newspaper in some bushes a few days later.Unlike in American sports, where we tend to give out championship rings, players in World Cup winning teams receive medals.

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Although up until 1978, only players who appeared in the actual final match would receive a medal. FIFA changed that rule in 2007 and players on winning teams who had not appeared in the finals prior to 1978 were retroactively awarded medals.

 

US to face Brazil, Mexico, England, Italy in friendlies

AFP•June 25, 2018

Chicago (AFP) – The United States will face Brazil, Mexico, England and Italy in friendlies to kick off preparations for its World Cup qualification in 2022, it was announced on Monday.The United States Soccer Federation said in a statement the US men’s team, which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, would launch its “Kickoff Series” with a friendly against Brazil at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on September 7.Four days later the US will play regional rivals Mexico at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The US will head to Europe to face England at Wembley on November 15, before facing Italy five days later at a venue to be confirmed.The US will also play two other home matches in October, with opponents and venues to be revealed at a later date.”We are at the beginning phase of building our identity,” US general manager Earnie Stewart said in a statement.”These games are obviously huge challenges, and for young players it’s an opportunity to see the benchmark of some of the top teams in the world.”We can use these experiences to learn about ourselves and take the next steps towards developing into the team we want to become.”The US have not yet appointed a successor to Bruce Arena as national team coach. Arena’s tenure ended after the US failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.

Roger Bennett on ‘American Fiasco,’ the state of U.S. soccer and the ‘siren call’ of Chicago

Joe KnowlesContact ReporterChicago Tribune

The allure of Chicago knows no boundaries. The city’s charms and its passion for sports reached a young Roger Bennett, the co-host of NBCSN’s “Men in Blazers,” all the way across the pond in Liverpool and drew him to move here as a young man in the 1990s. “It was like a siren call,” Bennett says.Bennett, who became a U.S. citizen on June 1, also is the creative force behind the brilliant new podcast “American Fiasco,” which tells the story of the U.S. national team’s dramatic rise in the mid-’90s and their equally spectacular flameout in the 1998 World Cup. He and “Blazers” co-host Michael Davies recently released a book on the sport called “Encyclopedia Blazertannica: A Suboptimal Guide to Soccer, America’s Sport of the Future Since 1972.”The Tribune reached Bennett in Russia, where he is covering the World Cup for NBC, to talk about the podcast, the state of American soccer and his affection for all things Chicago.

The “American Fiasco” podcast series is an impressive piece of work. How much reporting time went into it?

In the field, just tracking down the players and broadcasters and doing the interviews, it took seven months.

What inspired you to do it?

I came to America in the mid-’90s and was just blown away by what I found there watching the U.S. team taking the field in the 1994 World Cup. I always felt that the rich soccer history that exists in this country was not always valued or self-respected, and to be able to tell their story from 1994 to the 1998 World Cup was the honor of a lifetime.

You were able to get the principal characters to speak very candidly about their roles on that team. What did you learn about them that you didn’t know before you began the project?

For some of them, even 20 years later, this is a wound that hasn’t healed. I asked Steve Sampson, the coach, whether he still dreams about what happened and he didn’t waste a second. He said, ‘Yes.’ He has recurring nightmares about it.The big thing I forgot, was how the 1994 team swaggered onto the field. In 1990 they showed they could qualify and in 1994 they won a game and showed they belonged. You guys (Americans) like nothing more than winning, you love winning dominant like the “Dream Team” and you love winning underdog like the “Miracle on Ice.”In 1995, they’d left the 1994 World Cup and went down to Paraguay for this big tournament, the Copa South America, and they opened up a can of whoop-ass. They beat Chile, they beat Mexico, and most impressively, they beat Argentina, the defending champion, and they trashed them … trashed a very good Argentinian side. They left the Copa feeling validated that they were a team that could take on massive powers and not just beat them but flush them. That part of the story, which happens in Episode 3, when they go down to Paraguay and just charm the world … there were kids on the playground there who were saying ‘I want to be Eric Wynalda’ and ‘I want to be Alexi Lalas.” They were the next big thing in world football and then things just splintered.

During that time in Paraguay, the U.S. Soccer Federation caused a rift by not paying all the players equally or fairly, a decision that was delivered on the plane during the flight to South America. Did the federation get caught off guard by the team’s success? How much did that contribute to the splintering?

Yeah, it was a shocking transformation. When you think about soccer, we forget that before 1994 most of these players could not get professional jobs. The European teams didn’t want them and there was no professional full-time league. MLS (Major League Soccer) didn’t come about until 1996. And so many of these players, before 1996, U.S. Soccer provided their housing, so they lived together and trained together, almost like a club team. They were making almost nothing.One of the players, Marcelo Balboa, described the transformation. It was like, one minute we’re living on five-dollar-a-day per diems, the next minute, after the 1994 World Cup, our faces are on cereal boxes, we’ve all got agents, we’re all driving Porsches, jet skis … one guy bought a horse farm. That transformation was incredible.Alexi Lalas tells the story that right before the 1994 World Cup, he was flying coach and an old woman asked him “What do you do, son?” and he said “I’m a soccer player, ma’am.” And she said, “No, I mean what do you do professionally?” And two weeks later, Lalas was on the field at the Silverdome with a billion people watching around the world. U.S. Soccer was transformed. These players’ lives were transformed.One of the themes (of the podcast) is that once you understand how radically transformed you can be by success, you can understand how your own self-interest, your own venality, can undermine everything that brought you success in the first place.

No one personifies that idea more than the coach, Steve Sampson. In “Fiasco,” he is portrayed as someone who was over his head running a national team. Do you think if that team had a different head coach it would have led to a different result?

You can’t be hypothetical about history, I really believe that. (Sampson) was, and is, an honorable man who has paid a terrible price and was made a scapegoat for the disastrous 1998 campaign. He almost lived a career in reverse where his first job was his biggest job, and since then the resume has gone in the other direction. Most people start with the small-college jobs and then work up to the big one.

Sampson cut his captain and arguably his best player, John Harkes, because Harkes allegedly was having an affair with a teammate’s wife. Would a more experienced coach have made a different decision?

He takes consolation in that he was true to his values. And ultimately, it’s hard to be a good football manager and be a man of values. He had a series of decisions, tactical decisions, personnel decisions, and he saw them as moral decisions. And that came back to haunt him.The players often said there were two Steve Sampsons. … The one at the beginning was calm, more of a player’s manager who let the players drive. Before him, you had a very dictatorial manager in Bora Milutinovic. Sampson let the players attack, let them express themselves, but the more successful he became, the players say, the more he wanted himself to be the story. Sampson tried to grab control and enforce his will on the team, but once you’ve let the players drive, it’s very hard to grab the wheel again.

Hmm, maybe a cautionary lesson here for Joe Maddon and the Cubs.

Sorry, you’ll have to forgive me, but I’m a White Sox fan.

I’m interested in your experience in Chicago. Did you really move to Rogers Park because of the name?

Absolutely. I moved to Chicago partially because of the Chicago Bears. I fell in love with the team and that glorious Buddy Ryan, defensive-based football. As a kid from Liverpool, just to watch this dominant team just smite all comers, it was one of the most thrilling sports experiences of my youth. (At home in Liverpool) I had a “Monsters of the Midway” poster and a “Refrigerator” Perry poster above my bed, right by a “Ferris Bueller” one, so it was a combination of sports and the movies that became kind of a siren call.When I was 15, I spent a glorious month in Highland Park with a Chicagoan pen pal and I went to New Trier (High School). I still have my green New Trier shorts. And I swore to myself that when I was done with university, I would come right back out to Chicago. I made good on that vow.I lived in Hyde Park originally and watched the World Cup in ’94 at Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap. I needed a place to live permanently and I really didn’t know much about the area, and I just saw Rogers Park, and my name was Roger, and I was like, that’s great, I’ll move there. And I did, and it was the greatest four years of my life.

What was it like for an American-obsessed, soccer-loving Brit to live in a place where the world’s most popular game was an afterthought?

It was hard to follow English football in America at that time. I’d phone my dad and he’d hold the phone by the television for big games so I could at least follow along that way.I still played the game, played on the Midway and those were some of the most talented and most polyglot games I think I’ve ever been involved in. You had South Americans, Jamaicans, Poles, Mexicans and me just kind of charging around the back trying to elbow people.But it was during that time I fell head over heels in love with American sports. The first baseball game I went to was at old Comiskey Park, I caught it just before it was to be torn down when I spent the summer in Highland Park. I adored old Comiskey Park. I loved (White Sox infielder) Joey Cora, the way he’d charge onto the field. … I follow the Everton football club and when they succeed, they succeed as a collective, because of their tenacity and grit. So I fell in love with the White Sox.Then there were the Jeremy Roenick Blackhawks. … He was just so much better than all the players around him. He made passes, brilliant passes, that would just bounce off the boards because the other players didn’t have the ice hockey IQ to understand where they should be.Unfortunately, the Bears at that time entered what appears to be a terminal decline.There’s no better city to experience sports than Chicago. Every affection I have for Chicago sports burns as brightly now as when I lived there.

The Jeremy Roenick trade broke my heart. On another Chicago note, there are reports that Tom Ricketts and his family might be interested in purchasing AC Milan. Do you think Ricketts could find the same success in Italian soccer that he has had here with the Cubs?

One of the most fascinating storylines since I’ve been in America isn’t just that Americans are falling in love with world football but that world football is falling in love with America. You have Bayern Munich, Juventus in Italy, Barcelona … they all covet the American fan. It’s this vast terrain of untapped fans. So you have all these teams trying to win the hearts and minds of the American fan.But at the same time, every sports entrepreneur in America is looking at these massive teams and thinking “Why am I not owning one?”I interviewed people with the Red Sox … they were one of the first (American) teams to buy a European soccer team and they told me two things. “We found out that when Liverpool play Manchester United in the regular season, 600 million people around the world tune in … and they’re guaranteed to play twice a season.” That dwarfs the Super Bowl.“And then, the other thing is that when we sell a Red Sox cap, we have to share the revenue with every other owner in baseball. But then we found out that if we sell a Liverpool jersey, we get to keep all of that sweet money.”America, it’s the home of capitalism … it’s a free-market economy everywhere but in sports. They look at these foreign teams, they’re not chained by a draft or a salary cap or revenue sharing. AC Milan is a sleeping giant. It’s a complicated club with a complicated situation but it’s definitely really worthy.

Here in the U.S. we’ve been hearing for a while that soccer is the next big thing, but it does seem like the sport is getting some traction here. Obviously, the professional league plays a huge role in the sport’s success. MLS is doing well in some markets, but not so well in others. What do you think the league is getting right and what is it getting wrong?

It’s amazing, the league is just over 20 years old and the leaps and bounds it’s made are unbelievable. When I was growing up, the Italian league was the top league, and now you have seen the Premier League rise up from the hooligan-filled, mud-pitch league it was when I was young to where it is today.MLS has great aspirations, and those aspirations are not yet real, but look at Atlanta, when 72,000 fans pack an NFL stadium, look at LAFC, which is a jewel of a team. In Portland and Seattle, you have a delirious atmosphere there.Then there are the originals, like New England, where it’s like the old MLS, the attendance and the atmosphere are not what you need it to be. And Chicago is facing some of the same early-MLS-experience challenges.I’m incredibly bullish (on MLS), having seen England become a huge football power. The change happens when you start bringing in young talent from places like Central and South America, 20- and 21-year-olds who are coveted by the world’s best teams. MLS is starting to do that and that’s the next iteration, when the quality of the football starts to catalyze into a glorious, tenacious sort of attacking style, and that’s what I believe MLS is morphing into now right before our eyes.

How big of a missed opportunity was the Americans’ failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup?

It was a darkness. A darkness for the players, who missed the jewel of their careers. It was a bigger darkness for the fans, especially for the “American Outlaws” who, in the last World Cup became just the darlings of world football. I feed badly for them. And it was a darkness for Fox. … Thank goodness for them this is one of the best World Cups of my lifetime.The best news, which I think has been under-reported and underappreciated, is that the 2022 World Cup will be coming to Canada, Mexico and the U.S. — the NAFTA World Cup, if NAFTA is still around by then. That will be a huge lift for the sport, the money that will be coming in that can be put to youth development and scouting and to coaching, my god, to coaching. Coaching in this country needs to uptick significantly, and then some.The award by FIFA of that 2022 World Cup is game-changing. 1994 made America not hate soccer anymore. I think 2022 will be deeply transformative.

Christian Pulisic ‘in a great place’ at Borussia Dortmund — Bruce Arena

Jun 19, 2018ESPN

United States and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic is at the perfect place for his development and shouldn’t move to another club if similar playing time isn’t on offer, former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena says.The 19-year-old has long been linked with a move to either Liverpool or Manchester United in the future, and the Telegraph reported last month that Tottenham are considering adding the U.S. international as well.However, Pulisic’s father called speculation that the young American star could move to the Premier League “hogwash” and told Sky Sports that his son plans to return to Borussia Dortmund — at least for next season.Speaking to Omnisport on Tuesday, Arena agreed with the decision: “I think Christian is in a great place. Dortmund has a very good reputation for developing players.”In his couple years there with the first team, he’s done very well. Hopefully, he can continue to do that, be consistent at the club level, and if he does that, he’s going to be a real plus for the national team program.”Any move Christian makes in the future, it’s important he goes to a club where he plays on a regular basis. There’s no point in him leaving Dortmund and going to a club where he doesn’t get the kind of minutes he needs to continue to develop.”Pulisic will not turn 20 until December, but he has already played in 70 Bundesliga games with Dortmund over the past three seasons, scoring nine league goals.With the U.S. failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, he will be able to rest until Dortmund resume training ahead of their U.S. tour in late July as part of the International Champions Cup.

U.S. Soccer Extends Interim USMNT Coach Sarachan’s Contract Through End of 2018

Khadrice Rollins,Sports Illustrated 21 hours ago

While the U.S. men’s national team continues its search for a permanent manager, it has decided to extend the contracts of interim manager Dave Sarachan and assistants Richie Williams and Matt Reis through the end of 2018. Sarachan’s contract was originally set to expire at the end of June, and U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the extension, Paul Tenorio of The Athletic reports.Sarchan has been at the helm of the squad since the end of October, when he was named as the replacement manager following the USA’s failure to qualify for the World Cup. He was an assistant under former manager Bruce Arena, who resigned the loss in Trinidad & Tobago.A different and permanent manager for the USMNT could still be hired before the end of the year. U.S. Soccer has ensured that stability for both the team, Sarachan and his staff if the coaching search goes deeper into the year. New general manager Earnie Stewart will oversee the search.Sarachan has the backing of at least one of the USA’s rising stars. In an appearance onPlanet Fútbol TV, Tim Weah said Sarachan “does everything right, he treats us like we’re his sons.” Weah added that he appreciates Sarachan and “he’s the right coach for the job.”Under Sarachan, the U.S. men have gone 2-1-3. Their most recent result was a draw against World Cup contender France.With the extension, it’s possible that Sarachan will be on the sidelines when the U.S. returns to action in a pair of friendlies against Brazil and Mexico.

Rooney Signs with DC United – Is Official

It’s official: Wayne Rooney will be suiting up in Black-and-Red.D.C. United announced on Thursday they have signed the English star on a permanent transfer from Everton, inking him to a three-and-a-half year deal  after weeks of speculation regarding a potential move.”It is fantastic to be joining D.C. United at such an exciting time in the club’s history with the new stadium opening in just a few weeks,” Rooney said in a team statement. “Moving to America and MLS fulfills another career ambition for me. I have the hunger to be a success here and will give D.C. 100 percent – as I have always done for every team I have ever played for.”When I visited earlier this summer I was really impressed with everyone I met connected with the club, and of course the new Audi Field. Now I can’t wait to get on the pitch in a United shirt and join my new teammates to bring success to this club.”Rooney, 32, joins the four-time MLS Cup champions after a decorated career in his native England. Getting his start as a precocious 16-year-old with Everton in 2002, the striker burst onto the scene with his hometown club, before making a high-profile move to Manchester United in 2004.With the Red Devils, Rooney won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, an FA Cup, a UEFA Champions League title, a Europa League title and a FIFA Club World Cup. In additional to a slew of individual accolades, including Premier League Player of the Season in 2009-10, Rooney finished his tenure with Manchester United as the team’s all-time leading Premier League scorer, with 183 goals in 393 appearances. The Liverpool native returned to Everton in 2017, scoring 10 goals in the recently concluded Premier League season.Rooney was also an England international from 2003-2016, leading the line for the Three Lions and becoming the all-time leading scorer for his country, with 53 goals in 119 appearances. He played in three World Cups (’06, ’10, ’14) and three European Championship tournaments (’04, ’12, ’16) with England.“Wayne is undoubtedly one of the best players in Premier League history and his goal scoring record for club and country speaks for itself,” said D.C. United GM and VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper. “He is a world-class player and he elevates those around him, both through his work-ethic and winning mentality. We are beyond excited to add someone of Rooney’s caliber and we are thrilled to welcome him to D.C.”D.C. United’s new star, who will occupy a Designated Player slot on the team’s roster, will be available for selection following the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window on July 10. He will be eligible for the club’s inaugural match at their new home, Audi Field, on July 14 when they host Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8 pm ET on ESPN+ in USA and TSN in Canada) and is expected to make his debut in that match, per a club release.”This is a seminal moment for our fans and organization,” said United Managing General Partner and CEO Jason Levien.  “Wayne is a global soccer icon and his presence at D.C. United will elevate our product on the pitch and soccer as a whole in our city and in this country. Wayne has thrived when competing at the most elite levels of soccer and we’re thrilled to have his leadership as we enter this new era at Audi Field.”Currently in last place in the Eastern Conference (2W-6L-4D, 10 pts), D.C. United will be looking to make up the 11 points that separate them from the last and final playoff spot. They have several games in hand to accomplish the feat and the remainder of their 22 regular season matches include 15 at Audi Field.

Report: Rooney to sign with DC United by end of week

By Nicholas MendolaJun 27, 2018, 7:15 PM EDT

Wayne Rooney to Major League Soccer will be confirmed Thursday, according to Sky Sports.A Monday press conference will follow, where DC United will unveil its latest acquisition.Rooney, 32, posted 10 goals with two assists for Everton this season, his first with the Merseyside club after a record-shattering time at Manchester United.[ MORE: Rodwell to MLS? ]And Carl Robinson’s Whitecaps could be staring down England’s leading goal scorer when they help DC christen Audi Field.

According to Sky:

He could then make his debut against four days later against Vancouver Whitecaps at the opening of the new £140m 20,000-seater Audi Field stadium in Washington.

Once his MLS career is over, Rooney is expected to return to Goodison Park as a coach after reportedly negotiating a deal with Everton.

As we detailed previously, Rooney is likely to succeed in MLS almost regardless of the measuring stick. If he doesn’t, at least DC will get a bunch of sell-outs and sell a whole lot of black-and-red shirts nationwide.Jermain Defoe, the England star and ex-TFC man, told Sky Sports that he believes MLS is a place where previously under-scrutiny Premier League players can “enjoy their football”:“There is not so much pressure on and off the pitch. He could probably enjoy his life a little bit without constantly watching what you do and the things you say.”

MLS expansion team FC Cincinnati reveal plans for training facility

June 26, 20185:21PM EDTAlicia RodriguezContributor

2019 MLS expansion team FC Cincinnati publicly unveiled plans on Tuesday to build a $30 million training facility in Milford, Ohio.The site, located less than 20 miles from FC Cincinnati’s future stadium site in the West End neighborhood of Cincinnati, will occupy about 23.6 acres, and is proposed to include both full-size grass and artificial turf fields, a goalkeeper training area, as well as indoor performance and work space facilities for the first team and a separate building for the FC Cincinnati academy teams.Cincinnati-based MSA Sport is the principal designer of the project, and construction will be carried out by Turner Construction, with FC Cincinnati privately financing the construction.Rendering of multi-use building at training facility. | Courtesy of FC Cincinnati

While an agreement has been reached between the team and city and county, the proposal is still pending final approval by local government.The team expects the first team to move to the training site in January, ahead of the team’s first season in MLS, with the complex fully running by July and all work on the site to be done by the end of 2019.“We’re excited to announce our state-of-the-art training complex in Milford,” FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding said. “We’ve been searching for the right location in the Greater Cincinnati area – including Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties, as well as counties in Northern Kentucky – for two-and-a-half years and this site presents the best opportunity for the growth for our club.“The accessibility of this location – being near major transportation routes and at the center of our youth development radius – gives us the perfect home base as we enter Major League Soccer in 2019 and also launch our FCC Youth Academy,” Berding continued. “We are building a transformational facility, not only our club, but also soccer in the region,” Berding said. “This project will be one of the key aligners of all levels of our soccer operations, from the MLS team down to our youth teams and community programming. This facility is a legacy project as we continue to grow soccer in the Greater Cincinnati area and bring the world’s game to the region.”

Indy Forces Music City Submission – Nashville SC V Indy Eleven REVIEW

y: Rebecca Townsend (aka The Pitch Bitch)

(Union Jack Pub, Broad Ripple, Indianapolis) — Nashville SC had a lot riding on the match it hosted Tuesday night against Indy Eleven: The club hadn’t been beaten in league play since April 14, not since the last time they met Indy Eleven. And they’d never been beaten — or even trailed — at home.This time, even home advantage was no help: Indy dominated, 2-0. A shutout that launched the club to 4th in the Eastern Conference and a 4-1-2 record on the road.
Karl Ouimette is the Pitch Bitch Man of the Match (even though the whole team deserves to share credit for working together so well!) because he played solid defense but also galvanized the evening’s attack. In the opening minutes, he made a great defensive stick which neutralized a worrisome Nashville effort toward the goal. Then, after a header from Justin Braun was deflected out of bounds by host keeper Matt Pickens, Ouimette’s head connected with Ayoze’s incoming corner to put the visitors up 1 with the majority of the first half still to play.nd speaking of good headers … Thanks to Ayoze’s positioning and quick reflexes on Indy’s goal line during a second-half Nashville set piece, a ball headed straight for the back of the net instead was redirected out into the field of play. The broadcasters (whose narrative was running about 5 seconds ahead of the accompanying video feed, by the way, which enabled those of us watching at the pub to learn we scored before we could actually see the ball in the net) were smitten. “Ayoze, clever on the line,” one of the men comments. “He really can do it all! This guy’s amazing, one of my favorites in the back!”]Nashville dominated shots in the first half (9 to Indy’s 4) and held the majority of possession, but Indy made the most of their time on the ball. This efficiency in working as a unit is evolving with Indy and its incredibly talented and versatile roster of players, which is unsettling opponents unsure of from what angle or with what tools the Eleven will strike.Indy keeper Owain Fôn Williams definitely found himself in some tight spots, but he remained on point throughout the match and managed to hold on to a shutout while his field players kept working. With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Justin Braun launched a longshot from the left corner of the 18 (from the attacker’s perspective) across the mouth of the goal. The shot did not appear to be super threatening, but Pickens could not keep the ball contained and it found the far-post corner to give the visitors a two-point advantage that held solid for the rest of the match.
The win was not for a lack of effort on Nashville’s part. They were just outclassed by Indy. A Kevin Venegas shot that ricocheted into the path of Jack McInerney almost gave Indy a three-point advantage before the half. Even though this and all subsequent efforts did not find the net, the pressure was phenomenal, even as the team recovered when defensive duties called — working together to neutralize what at times were very potent threats.Seth Moses had a great defensive presence and good connectivity with Matt Watson in the midfield, which stopped many of the host’s efforts from developing and planted the seeds for many gallant counter attacks from their own squad. But it really is impossible to choose favorites because, from back to front, the team was a cohesive unit. And the work rate was impressive. For instance, just before the half, an errant pass from McInerney led to a turnover. But instead of accepting the loss, McInerney chased down the interceptor and stole the ball back. Good form.Around the 70th minute, Nashville launched a threatening attack that had the defense scrambling to organize its pressure and cover. But Indy did manage efficient and effective resource allocation, slowing the player with the ball and manning up on all his friends quickly enough for the Indy midfield to drop in and provide the necessary cover. Minutes later, Venegas neutralizes another Nashville effort with a slide tackle that was at once both tough and beautiful.Indy will close out a successful month by hosting Penn FC on June 30. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tickets are available at IndyEleven.com and (if you want to avoid a fee and support the supporters) at brickyardbattalion.com/byb-tix/. A mid-week, holiday match at Lucas Oil will follow: The USL selected Indy’s at-home July 4th match against Ottawa FC as its Game of the Week.

Indiana Youth Soccer Night

Post-Game Photo On The Field

In celebration of Indy Eleven’s official Indiana Youth Soccer Night all youth soccer teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at the completion of our game. All participants need a game ticket and all teams must register to be eligible for the post-game photo. To register, please sign up here. The deadline to register is Thursday, July 5th. Only one (1) member from each team is required to register for the entire team. For questions, please contact Youth Club Coordinator, Shawn Burcham, at 317-685-1100 or shawn@indyeleven.com.

GET READY TO TAILGATE WITH THE BYB – Brick Yard Battalion Indy 11 Soccer Fan Club

Park and Tailgate for indy 11 Games with the BYB – Parking in the Gate 10 BYB Section is $4 cheaper per game than the stadium’s South Lot- and OBVIOUSLY more fun! Located at 343 W McCarty Street, Gate 10 is just across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. Gate 10—the 2018 official home of the BYB–is convenient and affordable. Parking is $11 per car for single games !  Click HERE to purchase your pass today. You Won’t want to watch the game in any other section after standing, screaming, singing, dancing, and partying with the BEST SUPPORTERS SECTION in the US – the BYB.

BYB PRIDE RAISER  – SUPPORT INDY PRIDE WITH EVERY INDY 11 GOAL IN JUNE

UPDATE:  as of June 5, BYB members have pledged $107 per goal.

The BYB prides itself in fostering an environment that welcomes all individuals to our section. This year, the Brickyard Battalion is participating in PRIDE RAISER to support the LGBTQ community in Indiana.
We are hoping you will join the Brickyard Battalion’s Board of Directors in pledging a few dollars for every goal scored by Indy Eleven in the month of June (4 games). All pledges will go to support Indy PrideMake A Pledge Today

Great 2,000 SF place in La Porte, IN just 20 min from both Notre Dame and the lakeshore. 3 Br/2 Ba Place 4 beds on Stone Lake – check it out: https://abnb.me/EVmg/KjWULabehK

Proud Member of Indy’s Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.comCLICK HERE FOR BYBTIX

Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

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Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

6/21/18 World Cup Full TV Game Schedule, Indy 11 win 2 in a row, US Ladies Win 2, Summer Soccer Camps

The World Cup has certainly had its Wow Moments.  My Favorites are Renaldo and Portugal tying Spain with the late Free kick, Mexico’s classic win over defending champion Germany, and Iceland’s surprising victory over Argentina and Lionel Messi.  Who would have guessed that favorites Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina would all have ties or losses in the first games?   Of course one big storyline has been the use of VAR – Video Review – I for one love it.  As a referee myself – I would love to be able to go to the monitor and see if I missed seeing a penalty or hand ball or offsides.  I honestly think it has been working fantastically so far.  Also cool to see the US MLS Referees being involved – great story below on the experience of handling VAR for a year leading to more US referees being involved this year.

INDY 11

Our Indy 11 coming off a 2 game winning streak return home next weekend for a Sat night match-up with Penn FC at 7 pm and July 4th at 7 pm vs Ottawa.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.  July 4th will be military night with ½ priced tickets for military personnel and of course Indy’s Downtown Spectacular Fireworks Show after the game.  The game on July 7th will be Indiana Youth Soccer Night, as all teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field.  Reach out to Youth Club Coordinator Shawn Burcham at shawn@indyeleven.com.

Local

Congrats to the 2 Indiana Teams (Indy Premier U16 Girls and St Francis U19 Boys) advancing to the Finals of the US Youth Soccer National President’s Cup July 11-15 at Grand Park.

After the ultra successful first camp in early June – Carmel FC has added another camp headed up by Director Juergen Sommer at Shelbourne from July 23rd thru 26th from Click here to Register.

MLS

Here’s the MLS rankings this week as we get a showdown of the top team in the East Atlanta United hosting the hottest team in the West with 8 straight wins or ties in Portland at 4 pm after the World Cup game Sunday on Fox 59.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Defeat Toronto FC 2 on the Road 3-1

Midfielder Juan Guerra shares his Expereince Playing for Venezuela 

WORLD CUP

My Favorite World Cup Commercilal

Argentina’s Meltdown – Who’s Fault Was it?

US & MLS

3 Things We Learned US Win over China – Stars and Stripes

Which Cities will Host the World Cup 2026 – MLS

US Ref Mark Geiger To Work World Cup

MLS Commish Says World Cup will be Rocket Fuel for Soccer in America

Former MLS Coach and current Mexican Coach Juan Carlos Osorio can Do it

US Chief Says World Cup could Make Soccer #1 Sport in America

NY Red Bull Parker Shows Mettle vs France

Tim Ream Named Player of Season for Fulham

US Work towards Gold Cup 2019 – US Soccer players

Top 10 Power Rankings MLS

US Open Cup Quarterfinal Pairings Set

Goalies

Best Saves 1st Round – World Cup 2018

Egypt Keeper Save  Save of the Day WC Day 1

Great Saves Friendlies before the World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL – Ashlyn Harris

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

 SUMMER CAMPS

CDC Carmel FC Camp – Shelborne Field July 23rd – 26th – Click here to Register

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

    THURSDAY, JUNE 21
8 a.m. ET FS1 France vs. Peru
11 a.m. ET Fox Denmark vs. Australia
2 p.m. ET Fox Argentina vs. Croatia
    FRIDAY, JUNE 22
8 a.m. ET FS1 Brazil vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Fox Nigeria vs. Iceland
2 p.m. ET Fox Serbia vs. Switzerland
    SATURDAY, JUNE 23
8 a.m. ET Fox Belgium vs. Tunisia
11 a.m. ET Fox Germany vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox South Korea vs. Mexico
    SUNDAY, JUNE 24
8 a.m. ET FS1 England vs. Panama
11 a.m. ET Fox Japan vs. Senegal
2 p.m. ET Fox Poland vs. Colombia
    MONDAY, JUNE 25
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Uruguay vs. Russia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iran vs. Portugal
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Spain vs. Morocco
    TUESDAY, JUNE 26
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Australia vs. Peru
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Denmark vs. France
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iceland vs. Croatia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Nigeria vs. Argentina
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 South Korea vs. Germany
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Mexico vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Switzerland vs. Costa Rica
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Serbia vs. Brazil
    THURSDAY, JUNE 28
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Japan vs. Poland
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Senegal vs. Colombia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 England vs. Belgium
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Panama vs. Tunisia

Tues , July 3rd

 

Fri, July 6         

10 am FS1                        World Cup Quarter Final W49 vs W50

2 pm  FS1                         World Cup Quarter Final W53 vs W54

Sat, July 7         

10 am                                 World Cup Quarter Final W55 vs W56

2 pm                                    World Cup Quarter Final W51 vs W52

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

7 pm FS1               NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls –(Hudsen River Darby)

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

militaryindy11

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN SECURE THREE POINTS AGAINST TORONTO FC II, 3-1

By Trey Higdon, 06/17/18, 12:30AM EDT  A brace from Braun sees Indy claim back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018

Indy Eleven pull away in a 1-3 victory against Canadian contenders Toronto FC II. The victory marks the first time the “Boys in Blue” have registered two consecutive wins in the 2018 season, which puts the team in fifth place.The night started strong for both teams. Toronto made the first breakaway run into Indy’s 18-yard box in the fourth minute. Defender Carlyle Mitchell did well to neutralize the early attack, one-on-one, which led Indy forward Justin Braun to make a similar run four minutes later.Indy continued to apply pressure with runs from Braun, forward Soony Saad and defender Kevin Venegas. The constant assault saw Indy take the lead.In the 23rd minute, Venegas rushed up the right edge of the pitch unopposed after he gained the ball near center field. The former Minnesota United FC defender made a sharp turn into the edge of Toronto’s 18-yard box and continued his run through the home side’s defenses. Venegas slotted the ball past Toronto goalkeeper Gianluca Catalano from near post to give “Indiana’s Team” the lead. The goal was Venegas’ first since signing for Indy Eleven earlier this year.Toronto came close to the night’s first goal in the 16th minute after two chances from loose balls in front of Indy’s goal, but Venegas and Mitchell ended the threat. Instead, Toronto settled for an equalizer fve minutes after the “Boys in Blue’s” opening goal.Short passing play by Toronto forward Aidan Daniels saw striking partner Ayo Akinola bag his goal from distancein the 28th minute. The goal, which ended in the upper left of the corner of the net, was Akinola’s third in 2018.The stalemate didn’t extend beyond the first half thanks to Braun. In the only minute of first-half stoppage time, Venegas forced a pass through a group of Toronto defenders in their 6-yard box to Braun, who was quick to shoot and score. The goal was Braun’s first since his return from injury last August.Indy widened its lead five minutes after half time with a headed effort from Braun. Passing play from midfielders Seth Moses and Matt Watson in the 50th minute saw service delivered to Braun inside the 6-yard box. Braun’s header ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar and over the line. The goal sealed the win for Indy.Toronto almost pulled one back in the 94th minute with a wide strike from substitute midfielder Malik Johnson. The low strike skid toward the right post, which led to Indy Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams to dive for the save. The Welshman managed to keep the ball out by the tips of his gloves.Though it was the players who scored the goals, Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie credits his coaching staff for their work behind the scenes.“I think a lot of credit goes to my assistant coaches, Phil Dos Santos and Dave Dixon, for the preparation they do to get the players ready for a team where it’s hard to know who’s going to play,” Rennie said. “It’s hard to know what kind of system they’re [Toronto] going to play, but Phil and Dave got it spot on. That helped the players a lot going into the game.”The “Boys in Blue” hit the road again Tuesday, June 26, in a rematch against Nashville SC “Indiana’s Team” will return home on Saturday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m., for Pride Night against Penn FC. Fans can get tickets to the next home match starting at just $15 by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100. USL Regular Season
Indy Eleven 3:1 Toronto FC II
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Marina Auto Stadium – Rochester, New York

Scoring Summary:

IND – Kevin Venegas 23′
TOR – Ayo Akinola (Aidan Daniels) 28′
IND – Justin Braun (Kevin Venegas) 45+1′
IND – Justin Braun (Matt Watson) 50′
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern (Brad Ring 76′), Matt Watson (C), Juan Guerra, Seth Moses; Soony Saad (Eugene Starikov 74′), Justin Braun (Ben Speas 87′)Indy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK);

World Cup 2018 Day 8 winners and losers: How it all went wrong for Argentina and Messi

Henry BushnellFC YahooJun 21, 2018, 5:27 PM

It was as if Lionel Messi knew. As if the mourning had already begun, before the scene that would culminate in the fatal blow even unraveled. The image has already become a meme. But it was more than that. It was pressure. It was expectation. Expectation soon to be unfulfilled.Shortly before 90 of the worst minutes of his prolific career, as millions of Argentineans around the world roared along with their national anthem, Messi shut his eyes and brought a pale right hand to his forehead. His head was slightly bowed.  Over the next two hours, the World Cup that was supposed to be his fell apart. A 3-0 loss to Croatia pushed him and Argentina to the brink. It left the soccer world stunned. And it left a single question on the tips of tongues everywhere: HowHow did Argentina, with arguably the greatest player the sport has ever seen, flounder so calamitously? How did a team with Lionel Messi become a national disgrace?

Back to that image. To Messi’s agonized rubs of his forehead. Because they were telling.Messi seemed acutely aware of the torment approaching. And perhaps we should have been as well. His face told of expectations that didn’t align with the team trying to meet them. So perhaps we should have lowered them.The warning signs were there. They had been present for weeks, months, even years.essi’s brilliance afforded shelter from reality. And reality was that Argentina, over the past two years, was never all that good. It limped through qualifying, bailed out only by a Messi hat trick on the final night.Reality was that throughout Messi’s Argentina career, and especially recently, there have been inherent, structural problems. That Messi had not figured out how to mesh with his Argentinean teammates, nor them with him. Three managers had tried to facilitate that relationship throughout qualifying with tactics both complex and simple. All three had failed. Those incompatible relationships – between Messi and teammates’ skill sets, between Messi and coaches’ systems, between Messi and outsize on-field expectations – are at the heart of Argentina’s 2018 World Cup disaster. And blame for them lies everywhere, including with Messi, but not exclusively with Messi. In fact, far from it.All the bearers of Argentinean blame are the losers of Day 8 in Russia.

Loser: Argentina

It is often known as Messi Dependencia – Messi Dependence. It was as extreme as ever in Argentina’s opener against Iceland. And it’s the result of a years-long vicious cycle, one that turned a team of many talents into a team of one. Or, on Thursday, a team of none.Messi’s gifts are gravitational. Teammates naturally turn to him. The ball invariably finds his feet. And Messi, being the genius that he is, so often has rewarded their faith. Given the keys to the Argentinean car, he has driven it to success.But his individual success feeds into teammates’ willingness to rely on him. They yield to greatness. He makes magic. And positive reinforcement kicks in; the ball finds Messi’s feet more and more often. Teammates turn to him with increasing automation.That’s how the dependence developed, and it became habitual. It became an addiction impossible to break. Managers, consequentially, have understood this and structured teams around Messi. That, too, has facilitated the reliance even more.And the more teammates were made to feel like secondary or tertiary characters, the less responsibility they took; the more they disengaged; the more they underperformed. And the more they became incapable of picking up the slack when Messi misfired.  And when Messi did misfire …

Loser: Lionel Messi

Argentina’s reliance on Messi made his performances binary propositions. Either he succeeded or failed. Against Iceland, his free kicks struck foreheads; his curling 20-yard efforts whizzed by posts; his penalty was palmed away. So he failed.His failure left manager Jorge Sampaoli with a decision, one with which so many coaches have grappled in the past. Was the remedy to increase the effectiveness of Messi? Or empower 10 others at the expense of No. 10?Sampaoli chose the latter. He made three changes and swapped a coherent 4-2-3-1 for an undefined mess of a 3-4-3. And Messi got lost within it, just as he had warned Sampaoli he would months ago. His 49 touches were the fewest of any Argentina outfield player who went 90 minutes. He was borderline invisible.And his teammates were flat-out bad.Some of his invisibility, of course, is on Sampaoli, and on those teammates. But Messi cannot escape blame. He sputtered with responsibility on Matchday 1, then was unable to take it when it wasn’t given to him on Matchday 2. He didn’t do enough to get on the ball. He didn’t do enough with it when he did.Against an opponent intent on suffocating him, rather than rise above, he disappeared.

Losers: Jorge Sampaoli and the Argentinean federation

Until this past week, there was hope that Sampaoli could find a solution. That he could wean Argentina off its Messi Dependencia, or at least find alternative routes to success.He never did, and resorted to lunatic lineup changes for the Croatia game. But did he ever really have sufficient time?His and Argentina’s preparation for the tournament was badly mishandled. Messi missed the first set of warmup friendlies in March due to injury, rendering them useless. Sampaoli then got just one May friendly to experiment before the World Cup. The Argentinean soccer federation scheduled a misguided exhibition match in Israel. It was cancelled over safety concerns. Argentina went to Russia with just 90 minutes against Haiti – an experience far from translatable to Iceland or Croatia – under its belt. It therefore went to Russia still unsure of who it was.And was Sampaoli the right choice in the first place? His insistence on ravenous pressing was an awful match for an old, slow rearguard. It didn’t suit Messi either. Sampaoli was put in position to fail. That’s not on him. It’s on the federation.

Loser: Argentinean randomness

Nonetheless, there are still so many what ifs. What if Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson had guessed the other way? What if Sampaoli had simply started Franco Armani instead of Willy Caballero? What if Caballero’s gaffe had travelled 20 yards in the air instead of 10?

Belief still lingers. Belief in Argentina’s theoretical potential. Belief in Messi. Belief that if only Argentina can luck its way into the knockout round, a solution can be found. And if the answers to any of the above questions had been different, to the knockout round is likely where Argentina would be headed. In addition to all the structural problems and underachieving, a lot of bad luck has left Argentina on the verge of elimination. A lot of unexpected occurrences.But that was no consolation to Sampaoli as he stormed off down the tunnel. That was no consolation to Messi as he wandered off the field, bereft. Thursday was the culmination of countless faults and shortcomings. And under the utmost pressure, Argentina cracked.

Winner: Croatia

Lost in the Argentina furor will be deserved praise for Croatia, which is on to the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time since the 20th century. It is in pole position to win Group D and avoid France. The quarterfinals beckon. The so-called golden generation – an overused term, but it applies here – is, at long last, coming good.

Loser: Argentinean hope

Argentina is still in with a realistic chance of progression. Its hope rests on a victory over Nigeria on Matchday 3, and on Iceland picking up three or fewer points from its final two games. So the Argentines will be rooting for Nigeria in Group D’s other Matchday 2 fixture.

But with Croatia already qualified, manager Zlatko Dalic said after Thursday’s game that he’ll rest players in the group finale. That bolsters Iceland’s shot at a result there, and cuts further into any leftover Argentinean optimism.

Loser: Javier Mascherano

Javier Mascherano has had great moments in an Albiceleste shirt. This, on Croatia’s third goal, was not one of them:

Frankly, it was embarrassing. And it was emblematic of a performance that felt overly emotional and desperate from start to finish. When fortune turned its back, players’ heads sunk. Frustration boiled over. A few quit.That’s why, despite the many scenarios that could still see Argentina through, this felt like the end. And it’s why the inquest is underway.

– – – – – – –Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

 Cordeiro: 2026 World Cup could make soccer top sport in North America

June 13, 201811:41AM EDT

The first FIFA World Cup in the United States in 1994 helped birth Major League Soccer.When the World Cup returns here in 2026, as part of a unique United bid between the United States, Canada and Mexico, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro believes the event will be a “lightning rod” to make soccer the “preeminent sport in North America.”“We believe that soccer or football will become the preeminent sport in North America,” Cordeiro said. “I’m not just speaking for the U.S., I think I speak for Canada.”In a conference call with reporters just hours after the FIFA vote that awarded 2026 hosting rights to North America’s United bid, Cordeiro said he expects the World Cup to vastly increase participation among kids in the United States.“We believe this event will become a lightning rod, will become transformational for the sport as kids who are now eight, 10, 12 years old can all dream of potentially playing for a national team,” he said. “By in large, we need more kids, boys and girls, in the United States playing soccer inside the umbrella of the Federation, we don’t have enough of them. Three-and-a-half or four million registered kids, we believe there are many more out there who could be playing with us.”As for challenging baseball, basketball and gridiron football, Cordeiro admits there is a lot of competition. The same is true in Canada, with ice hockey considered the national pastime.But serving as a co-host for a “world-class event, the scope of which we haven’t seen in our country,” according to Canada Soccer president Steven Reed, could change things.“Ultimately our focus is to grow our sport or our game and to provide the impetus for that. There’s a strength in numbers in our country where we’ve got over one million registered players in a country that only has over 30 million in total population,” Reed said. “It’s one of the strongest sports, one of the largest sports and I think we can become the preeminent sport in our country. That’s the legacy we would love to see.”

 Osorio’s former MLS players say he can take Mexico to World Cup success

June 14, 20186:03PM EDTDave ZeitlinContributor

They all remember the notebook.Anyone who played under Mexican national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio will tell you how he always used to jot down notes in his little spiral pad, using a red and blue pen to differentiate attacking players from defenders.“You can still see him doing it now,” says New York Red Bulls II head coach John Wolyniec, who played under Osorio with the Red Bulls in 2008 and 2009.“I never quite got a peek inside of it,” adds Calen Carr, who suited up for him in 2007 when Osorio took over a last-place Chicago Fire team midway through the season and led them into the playoffs.But even though it may have been shrouded in mystery, that notebook was symbolic of Osorio’s meticulous nature during his three-year-run as an MLS head coach. And it’s that nature, some of his old MLS players believe, that can perhaps help Mexico snap a streak of six straight Round of 16 exits at the World Cup.El Tri open Sunday vs. defending champs Germany, with both sides looking to win Group F to avoid a potential meeting with Brazil in their first knockout game.“If there is a manager that can get Mexico to finally get over the hurdle,” Carr says, “I think Juan Carlos would be as prepared to get his team as psychologically and physically ready as anybody.”Carr only played under Osorio for a short period of time in Chicago but nevertheless called him “one of my favorite coaches.” And he credits him for coming in right away and changing the mentality of the group because he knows how to “find a way to get people to really buy into what he’s doing.”Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin agrees with that sentiment, although he admits Osorio’s style is “unorthodox” and initially came as a “shock to some players.” Curtin was certainly shocked the first time he saw Osorio sleeping in the Fire’s film room.“His preparation for training sessions was pretty meticulous in terms of setting a cone down to literally the exact inch and being out on the field two hours before a session to make sure everything was up and running and not a minute was wasted,” says Curtin, who was injured during much of that 2007 season in Chicago, allowing him to more closely observe his coach.“To watch what he’s done with Mexico is not a surprise because he did the same thing in the short time I was around him in Chicago. He’s bold. He doesn’t care what people think and he doesn’t care what the media says. He has his way.”Osorio certainly has his share of critics with the Mexican fans and media but Curtin thinks that if you look at his 31-9-8 record with El Tri since taking over in late 2015, “not enough people talk about how good of a job he’s done there.”  He and others also believe the Colombian is uniquely suited to do well in a tournament setting because of how sharp he is at scouting and how unafraid he is to make big adjustments when needed.“It’s no secret the criticism of Juan Carlos is he changes too much — changes formations, changes players,” Wolyniec says. “I think that comes from him coming at the game from a scouting perspective and reacting and adjusting to the opponent.”“If you look at his track record, he hasn’t been a lot of places too long,” Carr adds. “I think part of the reason is he comes in fast and he’s passionate and I think there’s something to that in getting the best out of people in a short format.”Carr also adds that not being Mexican may serve as an advantage because “he’s unburdened by some of the past, and I think he can help the team feel that way as well too.”Perhaps then, after the World Cup, he may also be in the running for the US national team coaching job?“I’d back him for it,” Carr says. “I think he checks a lot of boxes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him considered for that position, which would sort of be an interesting wrinkle in the US-Mexico rivalry.”Wolyniec agrees that Osorio certainly has the pedigree, work ethic, scouting chops, international experience and MLS background to make him a candidate for the USMNT job. But no matter where the 57-year-old ends up, or if he stays with Mexico, the Red Bulls II coach will continue to look to him as an inspiration, just as he has for the past decade.“The first thing you notice about Juan Carlos is his seriousness and his passion for the game,” Wolyniec says. “That comes off right away almost before he introduces himself. And that’s infectious.“He would say players pick up on anything, so if you misplace a cone or say the wrong player’s name, they’re going to pick up on that. So that’s why you have to be detailed and meticulous about what you’re doing.“He’s certainly an example to follow but a model that’s hard to replicate.”

USA vs China friendlies: 3 things we learned

There’s a good midfield somewhere in there, we just know it.

By Stephanie Y@thrace  Jun 13, 2018, 11:30am PDT

The United States put together a pair of close wins over China in June, winning 1-0 and 2-1. Their lone goal in the 1-0 win was an Alex Morgan header off a set piece, but their two goals in the second game came from open play. Perhaps Tobin Heath’s goal needed more than a pinch of luck, but that goal doesn’t happen without the nice buildup and Heath putting herself into position to shoot. But this wasn’t a case of individual brilliance overcoming bad tactics; in fact the tactics, at least in the second game, were fine, with three theoretically excellent midfielders to maintain control while the wings engaged and attacked from the flanks. It was that a good percentage of the team couldn’t execute on the night. Both Allie Long and Julie Ertz watched helplessly as passes rolled by half a step away in game 2, preventing smooth side-to-side transitions, and there were some messes with the defense. So here’s a few things we learned from USA vs China:

Sofia Huerta needs a lot more training at right back and she’ll probably never get it

Huerta did not have a good game 2. Game 1 showed her potential to be a complement to someone like Crystal Dunn, but her defensive work and decision making are not up to par for the USWNT. The problem is she’ll never get the repetitions she needs at right back to truly excel there, playing midfield/forward as she does for Chicago. There’s five games between now and World Cup qualifying. Maybe Tournament of Nations will be a crucible for Huerta, but is she really going to become a reliable enough RB by October that Ellis would risk starting her during qualifying? And then assuming the United States qualifies, will Ellis spend the time between then and June 2019 to make Huerta as complete a fullback as possible? Realistically, Huerta needs to be ready to go by the end of April at the latest. That’s six months after qualification to become a world class right back capable of competing in a World Cup.

One thing Huerta does have going for her is, like Dunn, she can switch around the field on the fly. Ellis might be taking into account her utility in being able to play almost anywhere on the right. The fullback pool is also a little thin on the ground at the moment, and even after Casey Short hopefully makes her triumphant return, that may still leave room for Huerta. There’s only one Crystal Dunn; they can’t just clone her and have her play both right and left fullback and forward.

…can they?

Our central midfield pool is fine

Yes, our midfield did look sloppy in all its iterations. Game 1 was a mix of McCall Zerboni, Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, and Sam Mewis. Game 2 used Mewis, Ertz, Horan, Morgan Brian, and Rose Lavelle. Of those players, Ertz, Brian, and Lavelle are all still recuperating. Brian was kind of quiet in the one half she did get, but showed flickers of her healthiest self operating in tight spaces and picking out the developing play.

Ellis rotated through Ertz, Long, and Zerboni as her holding mid; has Mewis, Brian, and Horan for box-to-box work; and Lavelle is once again a potential 10. Zerboni, Horan, Lavelle, and Mewis can all be asked to play higher and attack aggressively out of the midfield. Brian, Horan, and Lavelle can work the half spaces to help maximize our already dangerous flank play. And in a pinch, there’s good old battering ram Carli Lloyd, assuming her shift into central forward is just another piece of her toolkit and not a permanent move. That’s a lot of flexibility and talent! The question is who is going to become a starter and where; flexibility is nice, but stability can often be much better.

Christen Press can play wide

In game 2 of this friendly series, Christen Press was often the joint swinging the punch at China. Yes, China often gave her tons of room out on the right wing, which was odd considering how often she got fed the ball throughout the entire 90 minutes. But Press did a fine job playing the wide attacker, looking for Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe in the box. “Should Press stay central or be forced wide” is a pretty healthy ongoing debate among soccer fans and last night added a tick to the “play her wide” column. Of course, versatility has been the watchword throughout this things-we-learned, and there’s still arguments that Press can play well as lone striker or in a front two. We’ll see what happens once Mal Pugh recovers from injury.

FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY – Indy 11S jUAN gUERRA

By Trey Higdon, 06/13/18, 2:30PM EDT

One of the greatest honors a player can receive is being called up to represent their country’s national team. It’s an opportunity many fight for, but only a handful experience in their playing careers.For Indy Eleven midfielder Juan Guerra, it was a dream come true. He was asked to wear his country’s colors in a series of qualifying rounds for Venezuela in the 2014 World Cup.“My agent called me on the phone and said ‘Listen, you’ll probably want to check the newspaper tomorrow because your name is going to be on the list of 23 players that are going to play the next two World Cup qualifying matches.’” Guerra said.His name first appeared on the Venezuelan National Team roster in the team’s monumental 1-0 win over Argentina, a first in the nation’s history. Though Guerra didn’t feature, the young Venezuelan was floored to be there.“I didn’t get to play that game, but it was the first time that Venezuela beat Argentina in a World Cup qualifying match,” Guerra said. “It was great because I was with the first team.”Soon after Venezuela defeated Argentina, Guerra received two additional call-ups to his country’s World Cup qualifying matches against Columbia and Chile. Guerra made a second-half substitution appearance against Columbia, but didn’t get any play time in the home game against Chile. Regardless, the experience was invaluable.“I did get to play against Columbia and we tied. We were playing away in Barranquilla and it was great being in a full stadium of more than 60,000 people. Playing in a match against people like Falcao, James Rodriguez. It’s an experience that I’m definitely never going to forget.”While growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, Guerra’s father would take him to see the Venezuelan National Team. which is often referred to as La Vinotinto, play in Barcelona, Venezuela, nearly 200 miles from their home.In his youth, Guerra received first hand experience watching his idols play. Idols who would one day become his friends and his mentors. One of who was former New York Cosmos and La Vinotinto teammate Juan Arango.“Juan was a main reference for all of us because he was one of the best players when I was young,” Guerra said. “He was one of the first players to get out of Venezuela and cause an impact in a main league around the world when he was playing in Spain.”Former Venezuelan forward Giovanni Savarese, another idol, would later coach Guerra during his time with the New York Cosmos. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Savarses played for top clubs around the world, which included stints with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and the English Premier League’s Swansea City.“My dad used to take me to the stadium to watch the National Team play and some of the team’s that Gio played for when he was in Venezuela,” Guerra said. “I would’ve never, ever have expected that after so many years we were going to develop such a good relationship.”Guerra found his footing in the United States’ professional system. He spent eight years in the US; four years in high school followed by another four years in college. During his collegiate career with Florida International University, he scored 15 goals in 44 appearances in his four-year stay. Guerra also spent a season with United Soccer League Premier Development League’s Brooklyn Knights, where he scored four goals in 15 appearances.In 2008, Guerra was drafted by MLS’ FC Dallas right after college, but was told after preseason he wouldn’t be signed by the club. Unsure of his future, Guerra decided to return to Venezuela to play professionally. He signed his first professional contract with Primera Division 1. League club Monagas SC.“It was tough at first,” Guerra said. “I had to go to a city with people I didn’t know after being in the US for eight years. At the time, I knew I was doing it for a reason, and the reason was that I wanted to play professionally. I wanted to make it all the way.”Removed from his comfort zone, Guerra made his on-field performance his main focus. Monagas’ manager at the time bestowed Guerra with the Captain’s armband after six months. To Guerra, it was a sign he had made the right decision to return home.“Being 21-years-old and being the team captain was an incredible responsibility and also gave me the confidence to know I could go all the way,” said Guerra.Guerra finished his only season at Monagas with one goal in 21 appearances. While he wasn’t a prolific scorer with the club, Guerra’s performance caught the attention of Venezuela’s most successful club, Caracas FC. He signed for Caracas the following season and helped his hometown club claim another Primera Division 1. League title. His career blossomed from there.“I played one year with Caracas and then got offered a contract to go play in Europe,” said Guerra. “After Europe, the National Team came, and so on, and so on.”In 2012, 24-year-old Guerra had signed a contract for top-flight Spanish club, Las Palmas. He only featured once for Las Palmas, but the minutes he didn’t get with his club was replaced with minutes on the pitch with the Venezuela National Team.“I’m very glad that I made the decision when I didn’t get picked by FC Dallas to go back home and started playing first division in Venezuela,” Guerra said.Venezuela failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which gives 31-year-old Guerra the ability to focus his energy on his first season with Indy Eleven and his son, Santiago. Attending training sessions and games has been the daily routine for Guerra’s small family, ensuring ‘Santi’ is a part Guerra’s journey as a player.“As soon as I got married, me and my wife talked about it.” Guerra said. “I told her that I wanted to have kids while I was still playing, and I wanted to make sure that our kids see me play and share the same passion. I didn’t want to have kids later on and to have to show them newspaper articles and to say ‘This was me. I used to play.’”Guerra’s wish was granted. Guerra and his wife, Maria, often have to keep Santiago from sleeping in his Indy Eleven jersey, and refrain from telling him when games are to keep him from staying up at night out of excitement. It’s become commonplace to see Santiago at the training grounds or on the field after a home match with a ball at his feet, happily dribbling back and forth.Santiago is years away from a professional career, but the world is focused on the next generation of players.In 2017, the Venezuelan National Team U-20 squad were runner-ups in the U-20 World Cup, falling to England’s U-20 side 0-1 in the Final. Though they didn’t win, it was the furthest Venezuela’s U-20 side had advanced in the tournament, having made it to the U-20 World Cup Second Round only once before.In the last 15 years, Venezuela has experienced political, cultural and economic turmoil. Guerra believes the role of a National Team player goes beyond the impact one makes on the pitch.“Understand that being called up for the National Team is not a gift, it’s a huge responsibility,” Guerra said. “Once you put on that jersey, you’re representing your country. You’re representing every single guy, girl and kid that dreams of putting on that jersey. You’re representing people that have to work seven days a week to put food on their table for their kids.”As Guerra and his Venezuelan teammates age out, it’s up to the next generation of athletes to take their places.“My time and my process with the National Team has already passed,” Guerra said. “It’s time for this new generation of kids that are young to get prepared for Qatar 2022.”

militaryindy11

MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

Join us in honoring our military during Military Appreciation Night on July 4th.  Come to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Ottawa Fury and stay for the fireworks downtown.  In honor of our military, we will offering tickets at a 50% discount.  Use the promo-code “military18” and save today

Indiana Youth Soccer Night

Post-Game Photo On The Field

In celebration of Indy Eleven’s official Indiana Youth Soccer Night all youth soccer teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at the completion of our game. All participants need a game ticket and all teams must register to be eligible for the post-game photo. To register, please sign up here. The deadline to register is Thursday, July 5th. Only one (1) member from each team is required to register for the entire team. For questions, please contact Youth Club Coordinator, Shawn Burcham, at 317-685-1100 or shawn@indyeleven.com.

ATP_Gen_350x250

Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

 

6/14/18  World Cup Starts Today, Spain Fires Coach, Full TV Schedule, Indy 11 travel to Toronto, CFC Coaches Game Thur Night

The US/Canada/Mexico Will Host World Cup 2026

So huge news on Wednesday when The United Bid – consisting of the US/Canada/Mexico will host World Cup 2026.  Finally FIFA with a legit and open vote gave the World Cup to the right bid.  That means in just 8 years we get the World Cup here in the US.  With the Finals in New York and the Semi’s probably in Dallas and Atlanta.  Currently Nashville and Cincinnati are the closest possible World Cup Cities that might have games.  I can only imagine how much tickets will be – but man its going to be in our country – GLORIOUS!

The World Cup is Upon Us

So I understand that many like myself are both heartbroken and disgusted that the United States Men’s National Team did not qualify for the World Cup – for the first time in over 30 years.  But the World Cup is indeed upon us and there are tons of reasons to watch.  But let me start here – the reason I am ordering Telemundo during this month of the World Cup as one Andres Cantor will be doing the Spanish Language coverage.(see story below)  Andres Cantor’s Call of Landon Donovan’s WC Goal vs Algeria.  If that doesn’t get you excited – how about this?  Cantor on Telemundo World Cup Warm Up  or The Official Video and Song of the World Cup 2018.  So sure the US and Italy, the Dutch and Chile are missing – but look at who is in.  Can Lionel Messi finally lift Argentina to World Cup Glory after reaching the finals in the last World Cup and Copa America? Can Germany repeat as champion – a feat that hasn’t been done since Pele in 1958 and 1962 with Brazil?  Can Brazil with a semi-healthy Neymar put the demons of a 7-1 home beatdown to Germany behind them and reach the pinnacle again?  Will Mexico get #5 – that elusive win of game #5 and a visit to the Quarterfinals?  Can Spain with new coach Lopetegi return to glory of 2010 with an aging set of veterans?  Can Belgium and all that talent finally make a run to the finals? Can France with all its youth like Pogba and Mbappe, put things together and reach the Championship?  Will Portugal and superstar Renaldo, just 2 years off a European Championship, find lightning in a bottle once again here in Russia?  There are tons of storylines and even more predictions for this World Wide Phenomenon known as the World Cup which is expected to be watched by more than 4 billion people over 5 weeks from June 14 till the Final on Sun, July 15 at 11 am on Fox 5.  The Games are at interesting times from Russia – with 8 am, 11 am and 2 pm the most popular start times for most of the games.  (Thank God I work from home!)  So tons of previews out there but here are my favorites.  World Cup Predictions – SI Planet Futbol   ESPN FC’s experts make their picks
As for me – I will be rooting for lots of teams of course.  I for one would love to see an underdog say an Iceland, the smallest country to ever make the World Cup, make it to the Elite 8.  I have lots of friends who love Germany or Mexico – and while I don’t mind Germany doing well – I always like to see new teams win it all.  As for Mexico – I should be rooting for our neighbor and CONCACAF Champion and I will certainly thru the Group stages. It will certainly be interesting to see how American sport networks cover this World Cup without the US in it.  A run by Mexico into the Semi-Finals would most certainly energize our Mexican-American friends, neighbors and co-workers and might do a bit to re-unite this somewhat fractured country of ours.  As for my picks – oh it depends on which of my 3 sheets you look at?  For now I am going with a rejuvenated Brazil under Tite to make the finals and win it all vs Spain or Germany.  Maybe Germany since Spain fired their coach Wednesday. Man I would love to see Argentina and Messi find a way however.

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US Ladies Win Both

Had a chance to watch the win on Tues night over China for the US Ladies – a hard fought win over a good China squad – I thought the US Ladies did a fine job of possession and pulled out the victory 2-1 – great to see Tobin Heath back from injury score the game winner.  Look for many of the US Ladies in the NWSL on Lifetime and ESPN News (see TV Schedule below).

Indy 11

Fresh off the big home win last week the Indy 11 will travel this week to Toronto 2 this Sat night at 7 pm on ESPN+ (Join the BYB at Union Jack in Broadripple).   The Eleven will be on the road until they return June 26th for a Sat night match-up with Penn FC at 7 pm and July 4th at 7 pm vs Ottawa.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

Carmel FC Coaches Game @ Shelbourne Fields

Thursday, June 14th 6:30 pm Pizza and Water provided – All CFC Coaches and Managers welcome!

SUMMER CAMPS

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – June 18, 20, 25, 27 July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

Thur, June 14        World Cup on Fox

10:30 am Fox         OPENNING CEREMONIES

11 am Fox              Russia vs Saudi Arabia

Fri, June 15           World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox Sport1     Egypt (Salah) vs Uruguay

11 am Fox              Morocco vs Iran

1 pm Fox                Portugal (Renaldo) vs Spain

Sat, June 16          World Cup on Fox

6 am FS1                France vs Australia

9 am Fox                Argentina (Messi) vs Iceland

12 noon FS1           Peru vs Denmark

3 pm FS1                Croatia vs Nigeria

8 pm ESPNNews    Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns NWSL

9 pm USSocccer.com Sporting KC vs Dallas (Matt Hedges) US Open Cup

Sun, June 17         World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox 59          Costa Rica vs Serbia

11 am Fox Sp1   Germany vs Mexico 

2 pm FS1               Brazil vs Switzerland

 WORLD CUP

World Cup Video – 2018 – Live It Up  –

World Cup Warm Up Video

Andres Cantor to Call World Cup for Telemundo

Andres Cantor’s Call of Landon Donovan’s WC Goal vs Algeria.

2nd Most Memorable World Cup Goal – Argentina – Hand of God – Fox

3rd most Memorable Goal – Brazil

Pele Meets the World

Which World Cup Team Should You Support?

– Welcome to the Alternative 2018 World Cup Fans’ Guide
– ESPN FC’s experts make their picks
– Marvel’s amazing World Cup spoilers
– Revealed: World Cup 2018 Ultimate XI
– Fixtures, results and full coverage
– Team-by-team previews of all 32 nations

ESPN  – WORLD CUP HOME PAGE

Spanish FA Right to Fire Lopetegui – Gab MArcotti

Argentina Wary of Iceland Height –

 Goalies

Save of the Week – NWSL – Ashlyn Harris

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

 Indy 11

Indy 11 Snap 4 Game Winless Skid with 2-0 downing of Atlanta United 2 – Kevin Johnston indy Star

Indy 11 2 Tough 2 B Bothered by Atlanta United 2 – Bloody Shambles – Rebacca Townsend

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for Saturday’s Game!   (Code 2018Indy)

Flex Packs: Discount Indy 11 Flex Pack Tickets
Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

GAMES ON TV 

 

Fri, June 15           World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox Sport1     Egypt (Salah) vs Uruguay

11 am Fox              Morocco vs Iran

1 pm Fox                Portugal (Renaldo) vs Spain

Sat, June 16          World Cup on Fox

6 am FS1                France vs Australia

9 am Fox                Argentina (Messi) vs Iceland

12 noon FS1           Peru vs Denmark

3 pm FS1                Croatia vs Nigeria

7 pm ESPN+        Toronto II vs Indy 11

8 pm ESPNNews    Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns NWSL

9 pm USSocccer.com Sporting KC vs Dallas (Matt Hedges) US Open Cup

Sun, June 17         World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox 59          Costa Rica vs Serbia

11 am Fox Sp1   Germany vs Mexico 

2 pm FS1               Brazil vs Switzerland

  MON, JUNE 18
8 a.m. ET FS1 Sweden vs. South Korea
11 a.m. ET FS1 Belgium vs. Panama
2 p.m. ET FS1 Tunisia vs. England
    TUESDAY, JUNE 19
8 a.m. ET FS1 Poland vs. Senegal
11 a.m. ET Fox Colombia vs. Japan
2 p.m. ET Fox Russia vs. Egypt
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
8 a.m. ET FS1 Portugal vs. Morocco
11 a.m. ET Fox Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia
2 p.m. ET Fox Iran vs. Spain
    THURSDAY, JUNE 21
8 a.m. ET FS1 France vs. Peru
11 a.m. ET Fox Denmark vs. Australia
2 p.m. ET Fox Argentina vs. Croatia
    FRIDAY, JUNE 22
8 a.m. ET FS1 Brazil vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Fox Nigeria vs. Iceland
2 p.m. ET Fox Serbia vs. Switzerland
    SATURDAY, JUNE 23
8 a.m. ET Fox Belgium vs. Tunisia
11 a.m. ET Fox Germany vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox South Korea vs. Mexico
    SUNDAY, JUNE 24
8 a.m. ET FS1 England vs. Panama
11 a.m. ET Fox Japan vs. Senegal
2 p.m. ET Fox Poland vs. Colombia
    MONDAY, JUNE 25
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Uruguay vs. Russia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iran vs. Portugal
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Spain vs. Morocco
    TUESDAY, JUNE 26
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Australia vs. Peru
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Denmark vs. France
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iceland vs. Croatia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Nigeria vs. Argentina
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 South Korea vs. Germany
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Mexico vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Switzerland vs. Costa Rica
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Serbia vs. Brazil
    THURSDAY, JUNE 28
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Japan vs. Poland
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Senegal vs. Colombia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 England vs. Belgium
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Panama vs. Tunisia

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

McCordsville/Ronald McDonald House – Greater Indy 3 vs 3 – June 23

www.3v3live.com  $200 per team up to six players. Each player will receive a t-shirt, top three teams in each division get custom medals, top four qualify for Regionals the road to Disney. Full details and fun details on our tourney https://www.3v3live.com/mcdonalds

The U.S. will co-host the 2026 World Cup: Here’s everything you need to know

5:53 PM ETJeff CarlisleSoccer

MOSCOW — The World Cup is coming back to North America.The “United Bid” comprising Canada, Mexico and the United States prevailed in a vote against Morocco here on Wednesday and it represents something familiar and something unfamiliar. Old in that Mexico will be hosting the tournament for a record third time after previously hosting the 1970 and 1986 editions. Meanwhile, the vote marks the second time the U.S. has won the honour of hosting the tournament, and it was the highly successful 1994 World Cup that in part helped the Americans land the tournament this time around. For something new, you have Canada hosting the men’s edition for the first time, though it has hosted other FIFA events, including the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

So what does it all mean? Let’s try to fill in the blanks.

Q: When will the tournament be?

A: In all likelihood, the tournament will run from mid-June to mid-July, though given the increase in teams from 32 to 48 (more on that in a bit), the timeline for the tournament may be stretched out a bit longer. Yes, that falls smack in the middle of summer, and those who recall the 1994 World Cup remember that a few games were played in searing heat. But with more indoor stadiums to pick from, the hope is that will be mitigated to a degree.

Q: How many teams will take part?

A: Barring a change of heart by FIFA as it relates to 2022, this will the first World Cup to feature 48 teams. That decision may have actually aided the United Bid’s cause given that the three nations have a host of World Cup-ready stadiums to pick from, with more sure to be built. Morocco couldn’t say the same.

Q: How will this impact World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF? Will the three hosts get spots automatically?

A: The expanded field will see CONCACAF get allocated six guaranteed slots with the possibility of more via a playoff. As for the question of whether three spots will be set aside for the hosts, that won’t be decided until next year’s FIFA Congress in Paris. But FIFA certainly seems to be leaning towards granting automatic spots to all three countries. Former U.S. Soccer Federation president and current FIFA Council member Sunil Gulati told ESPN FC colleague Sam Borden that he would “fully expect” that all three countries would get automatic bids.

Q: Why didn’t the U.S. bid on its own?

A: Because the odds of winning the bid jointly were greater. Each country could have bid on its own, but a combined bid was viewed as a bid for the entire region as opposed to one that was for individual countries. Had some combination of the U.S., Mexico and Canada bid, it might have fractured the vote within CONCACAF, bolstering the bid from another confederation.

Q: How much did the political climate impact the decision to bid jointly?

A: Even in the best of times, geopolitical considerations have an impact on a World Cup bid. That was true when the U.S. lost out on hosting the 2022 tournament when Barack Obama was president. It’s also true now that Donald Trump is president. Simply put, there is plenty of anti-American sentiment around the world that would have hampered a U.S.-only bid. The inclusion of Canada and Mexico made the bid more palatable to voters.

Q: Has a World Cup ever been co-hosted?

A: Yes. Japan and South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, and while the tournament generally came off without any major glitches, it was very much a forced marriage. Both countries wanted to host the tournament themselves, but the bids were so even that FIFA was loathe to select one over the other. So FIFA hit upon a compromise, but one that was ultimately unsatisfying, so much so that afterwards FIFA swore it would never go for such an arrangement again. Then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that having two host countries required twice as much effort in terms of organizing, which led to twice as much cost with no additional money heading FIFA’s way.

The vibe of the United Bid was different in that from the beginning the decision was made to join forces, and that helped sway voters.

Q: So what’s the breakdown of games by country?

A: The U.S. is hosting the bulk of the games, 60 out of 80 in fact, and every single match from the quarterfinals on.

Q: Are Mexico and Canada okay with this?

A: There is some grumbling for sure. Mexico in particular feels that given it has hosted the tournament twice previously, it should get more games, but at present this is the arrangement the three countries have agreed upon.

Q: What will be the expected crowds be?

A: Big, really big. The 1994 edition of the tournament set records for total (3,587,538 fans) and average attendance (68,991 per match) that still stand to this day. This is despite the fact that it was a 24-team tournament that contained just 52 games as opposed to the 64 that have been played in each edition since. The larger stadiums in all three countries, as well as the additional games should see those records shattered. The United Bid is projecting average crowds of 72,500 over the 80 games.

Q: How much money will the World Cup bring in?

A: The official bid book submitted by the United Bid touted $14 billion in revenues and $11 billion in profits for FIFA. Exactly how much of a cut the host countries would get isn’t known exactly, and there has been some skepticism that the numbers listed in the bid book are inflated. But USSF president Carlos Cordeiro has said that he wants the USSF’s annual budget to increase from $100 million to $500 million and winning the bid was a major part of his plan for getting U.S. Soccer to that level.

Q: Where will the games be played?

A: Ultimately ,there will be 16 host cities. For now, 23 host cities — 17 in the U.S., three in Canada and three in Mexico — have been selected. All three cities in both Canada and Mexico are likely to be chosen which would leave the United States to pick 10 remaining cities from their preliminary list of 17. There appears to be some wiggle room, though. CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani stated that his hometown of Vancouver — which opted to take itself out of the running over concerns about among other things security costs — might have a way back in. We’ll see.

World Cup predictions: ESPN FC’s experts’ picks for champion, Golden Ball and more

  Who will win the Golden Boot (top scorer)?

Gab Marcotti: Luis Suarez, Uruguay

A weak group and the fact that I have Uruguay going far suggest he may hit his peak after a relatively lacklustre — by his standards — club campaign.

Craig Burley: Neymar, Brazil

Neymar is much more prepared to carry his country than he was four years ago. He’s had a good rest after injury, too, so fitness permitting, he has the ability and supporting cast to back his showmanship up.

Mark Ogden: Neymar, Brazil

It usually takes six goals to win the Golden Boot. With Brazil benefiting from a soft group and a good route to the latter stages, it is difficult to see past Neymar in the race for top scorer.

Shaka Hislop: Gabriel Jesus, Brazil

Gabriel Jesus will launch himself into the top tier of players in world football, joining the likes of teammate Neymar.

Stewart Robson: Lionel Messi, Argentina

Given a free role, the best player in the world will finally show it on the world’s biggest stage.

Paul Mariner: Antoine Griezmann, France

Surrounded by top players, he will get the supply and will be on all of France’s dead ball opportunities. Always cool under pressure and a great finisher.

Alejandro Moreno: Timo Werner, Germany

I know this pick may be surprising to some, but Germany will be around for a while in this tournament and were drawn into a favourable group that could provide Werner with more opportunities than most to have very productive matches. Werner is not a popular pick, but I am guessing neither were past Golden Boot winners Salvatore “Toto” Schillaci (1990) or Oleg Salenko (1994).

Raphael Honigstein: Antoine Griezmann, France

One of the favourites, France are destined to go far, and Griezmann is in top form.

After scoring six goals at the Euros, what does Antoine Griezmann have in store for the World Cup. Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Julien Laurens: Neymar, Brazil

The fact that he didn’t play at all between the end of February and mid-May means that he will be fresher and sharper than other big players. This is a Brazil team that will go far in the competition and will score lots of goals, and Neymar will be at the heart of everything they do going forward.

Which two nations will reach the final?

Gab Marcotti: Spain vs. Uruguay

If last-minute replacement Fernando Hierro can guide a gifted and experienced Spain team to the final, it will be because they can beat you many different ways. Uruguay is more of a long shot, obviously. But that explosive attacking tandem, coupled with the grizzled warriors at the back and some fresh legs in midfield means they may just do it … and even upset favourite Brazil along the way.

Craig Burley: Germany and Brazil

Quite simply, two best teams entering the tournament will be the two best teams at it.

Mark Ogden: Germany and Brazil

Sorry to be predictable, but who can beat either of them?

Shaka Hislop: Germany and Brazil

Both Brazil and Germany looked impeccable in qualifying and will take that form and their tournament experience into the World Cup.

Stewart Robson: Brazil and Spain

Both countries have been brilliant in qualification and have mixed outstanding quality with defensive organisation.

Paul Mariner: France and Spain

There is massive pressure on France’s Didier Deschamps to get it right, and the players will respond. Spain, on the other hand, have quality in all the right areas and are experienced on this stage.

Alejandro Moreno: Brazil and Spain

The two best teams coming into the tournament will not disappoint. They may have a couple of nervous moments in the latter stages of the competition, but experience, character and talent will eventually separate these two from the rest.

Raphael Honigstein: Brazil and Spain

Brazil and Spain should both win their groups and will survive tough semifinals vs. Germany and France, respectively, to set up a mouth-watering final.

Julien Laurens: France and Argentina

France will beat Brazil in one semifinal and Argentina will knock out Germany in the other. Les Bleus will then get a superb 3-2 win thanks to a late Kylian Mbappe goal.

Who will win the World Cup?

Gab Marcotti: Spain

A shutdown goalkeeper, a veteran defense, a midfield that can keep the ball all day … all they need is some directness up front. If they can find it, they will be world champions.

Craig Burley: Germany

I’m swaying on this pick as Brazil in particular do look strong. However, the continuity in terms of coaching with Joachim Low means they can usually sail through rough seas as they did in 2014. They’ve been unconvincing recently in friendlies, but Germany aren’t about friendlies. Personnel changes mean some players are untried at this level, but they still have enough big-game players and game-changers to just sneak it.

Mark Ogden: Brazil

Brazil are stronger than four years ago, and if Neymar stays fit, they should go all the way this time around.

Shaka Hislop: Brazil

Brazil to bury the ghosts of 2014 and avenge that infamous 7-1 defeat to Germany!

Stewart Robson: Spain

This Spain team has many of the qualities of the clubs responsible for recent glories, but also includes a more penetrative attacking element and more athleticism.

Paul Mariner: France

The pressure is on the French, but with talent all over the field and a star like Griezmann, Les Bleus repeat their exploits of 20 years ago.

Alejandro Moreno: Brazil

Assuming Neymar is fully recovered from his foot injury, Brazil has everything you want from a team in a World Cup. Brazil are the total package as they have attacking talent everywhere, balance in midfield and discipline in the defensive half. Brazil’s best is just better than that of every other contending team.

Raphael Honigstein: Brazil

The perfect blend between skill, depth and tactical balance.

Julien Laurens: France

It is France’s destiny, 20 years after their 1998 triumph, to win the World Cup again. This squad is ready for it!

Potential dark horse(s)?

Gab Marcotti: Senegal

Boasting arguably the best defender in the competition in Kalidou Koulibaly and plenty of punch up front, you’re not sure what you’ll get with them, but if they’re in stride, they can spring a few surprises.

Craig Burley: none

Think it’ll be the usual suspects. Don’t see a smaller nation making a huge dent in this World Cup.

Mark Ogden: Uruguay and Egypt

Uruguay are the perennial dangerous outsider, capable of beating any team on their day with a combination of skill, mental toughness, cynicism when required and goal threat. Egypt, meanwhile, are an African powerhouse and could make it to the last eight here if Mohamed Salah is healthy.

Shaka Hislop: Senegal

Africa’s second-highest-ranked team will surprise a few. Given a good draw as well with Poland, Colombia and Japan in Group H.

Stewart Robson: Uruguay

Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin allied with an experienced coach in Oscar Tabarez make the South American team a dangerous opponent.

Paul Mariner: Colombia

The Colombians boast pace on the counterattack and are rock-solid in central defence.

Alejandro Moreno: Colombia

This squad is filled with skill and athleticism all over the field. If they defend well and David Ospina has a solid tournament in goal, Colombia has enough to scare the big teams.

Raphael Honigstein: Colombia

A manageable group followed by a decent shot vs. Belgium or England could see Colombia make it to the quarterfinals.

Julien Laurens: Senegal

I really fancy Senegal to surprise a lot of people. They are back at the World Cup for the first time since 2002, where they were wonderful and reached the quarterfinals. This is a golden generation for Senegal with lots of talented players, and coach Aliou Cisse was the captain of that team that reached the quarters in 2002.

Which country will flop?

Gab Marcotti: Germany

OK, we’re talking “flop” by German standards. And that means failing to make the semifinal for the first time since 1998. But hey, they set the bar very high. Joachim Low has had a tremendous run, but striking the right balance between youth and experience might be a big ask this time.

Craig Burley: Belgium

Belgium are full of talented individuals but have yet to prove themselves a contender on the international stage. Manager Roberto Martinez’s usual defensive carelessness will bite them against the real big boys.

Mark Ogden: Portugal and Mexico

Portugal may be the European champions, but they still rely too heavily on an aging Cristiano Ronaldo. As for Mexico, it will be the same old story of high hopes and early disappointment.

Shaka Hislop: Argentina and England

All eyes are on Messi, including those of his teammates. He can’t do it alone, though. Same old story for England.

Stewart Robson: Portugal

They may be the champions of Europe, but not enough creativity and an ultra-defensive approach will see them crash out early here.

Paul Mariner: Belgium

Loads of talent but with very high expectations around the world, the pressure will be too great.

Alejandro Moreno: Portugal

I don’t know how much is expected of them, but much like Greece years ago, Portugal is an unlikely European champion that will not be able to sustain that level of success in the World Cup.

Raphael Honigstein: Argentina and Portugal

Don’t see Portugal’s defensive approach being rewarded a second time. Argentina won’t flop in the sense of crashing out super early, but they will exit at the quarterfinal stage at the hands of Spain, if not in the round of 16.

Julien Laurens: Portugal

I don’t believe in them. I think they have a tricky group outside of Spain. Spain will beat them in their first game and a talented Morocco team and Iran could give them trouble. I don’t see Cristiano Ronaldo having a good tournament, either.

Who will win the Golden Ball (best player)?

Gab Marcotti: Luis Suarez, Uruguay

So difficult to call this. It’s usually from the World Cup winners, but Spain are so multidimensional that a goal-rich tournament and a run to the final from Suarez might just swing it his way despite Uruguay falling at the final hurdle.

Craig Burley: Neymar, Brazil

This has a chance to be his tournament. He needs to deliver and I think he will.

Mark Ogden: Neymar, Brazil

The guy who scores the most goals usually dominates the individual awards, so Neymar again. But Antoine Griezmann may be an outside bet.

Shaka Hislop: Neymar, Brazil

Neymar in the yellow of Brazil isn’t the arrogant and sometimes selfish player we see in the blue of PSG. He usually responds well to the pressure of his country.

Stewart Robson: Lionel Messi, Argentina

Why would you bet against the best player in the world over the past 10 years? Messi will take home the top individual hardware for the second straight World Cup and become the first player to win the award twice.

Paul Mariner: Antoine Griezmann, France

France is my pick to win it and Griezmann is their best individual. Griezmann was the best player at Euro 2016 and will do it again here, this time on an even bigger stage.

Alejandro Moreno: Neymar, Brazil

This is his moment. There is always pressure when you wear the No. 10 and captain’s armband for Brazil, but under Tite, Neymar seems to have embraced this responsibility. The World Cup stage will provide Neymar with the unique opportunity to take a big leap and put his name alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the very top of the game.

Raphael Honigstein: Antoine Griezmann, France

Griezmann’s goals will power France to the semis while Brazil’s stars, while deserving, are likely to split the vote.

Julien Laurens: Kylian Mbappe, France

He is only 19 and this is his first big tournament, but he is the type of prodigy we see only once every 20 years or so. The PSG youngster will play with freedom, without any pressure and will take the World Cup by storm.

Who will win the Golden Gloves (top goalkeeper)?

Gab Marcotti: Alisson, Brazil

He has all the tools to make this tournament his own defensively … at least until the semifinal.

Craig Burley: Manuel Neuer, Germany

Neuer had a difficult season with injuries, but I think if Germany do go all the way, he’ll have been a busy boy. Not convinced by the German defence, so success could hinge partly on the goalkeeper.

Mark Ogden: Jordan Pickford, England

The new England goalkeeper is confident, good with the ball at his feet and a risk-taker. He has the ability to be spectacular, too.

Shaka Hislop: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Germany

With the lack of playing time for Neuer this season, I have a sneaky suspicion that Ter Stegen will get the nod. At Barcelona, he has established himself as one of the world’s best. Expect to see just that in Russia.

Stewart Robson: David De Gea, Spain

Not only does De Gea make match-winning saves, but he rarely makes a mistake.

Paul Mariner: David De Gea, Spain

He makes the key saves when called upon and, almost as importantly, is an error-free goalkeeper.

Alejandro Moreno: Thibaut Courtois, Belgium

Belgium is a sexy pick for many in and around the game. If Belgium advance deep into the competition, Courtois may have to come up with a few big saves and maybe even a memorable penalty kick shootout performance.

Raphael Honigstein: Alisson, Brazil

The most gifted of keepers, Alisson is set to have a breakout tournament.

Julien Laurens: Alisson, Brazil

The Brazilian had a superb season with Roma and has proved to be a wonderful shot stopper. In an attacking Brazil side, he will show how good he is in this tournament.

Player most likely to be red carded?

Gab Marcotti: Mats Hummels, Germany

What he lacks in pace he makes up for in reading the game. But you only get away with it for so long. And in a tournament marked by flat-out speed — and on a team that tends to play on the front foot and can get caught on the counter — he’s got to be among the candidates.

Craig Burley: John Stones, England

I like John Stones as he’s a flamboyant centre-half, but I think he takes too many risks and makes some bad decisions, both with and without the ball. Can see him making a daft challenge in desperation and seeing red.

Mark Ogden: Dele Alli, England

The England midfielder has insisted he will not fall foul of the officials in Russia, but opponents will be wise to his short fuse and we have yet to see evidence that Alli can count to 10 before reacting.

Shaka Hislop: Sergio Ramos, Spain

Sergio Ramos is always good for an error in judgement. With VAR he won’t be able to get away with things he often does.

Stewart Robson: Nicolas Otamendi, Argentina

A great season under Pep Guardiola but too many rash challenges from behind in an emotionally charged environment makes Otamendi a prime candidate to see red.

Paul Mariner: Dejan Lovren, Croatia

In Croatia’s group with Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria, the front players are too quick, technical and strong. He will struggle.

Alejandro Moreno: Sergio Ramos, Spain

There will be a lot of people watching Sergio Ramos very closely after the Champions League fallout. With VAR in play in the World Cup, maybe one of the multiple cameras catches Ramos doing something naughty.

Could Sergio Ramos’ temper and reputation get him in trouble in Russia? Photo by Shot for Press/Action Plus via Getty Images

Raphael Honigstein: Luis Suarez, Uruguay

Luis Suarez might just stumble and accidentally bite into someone again.

Julien Laurens: Pepe, Portugal

He is 35 and played only four games with Besiktas between March and May. He will be out of form if he starts for Portugal, and despite his experience, I expect him to get sent off.

Group winners (A-H)

Gab Marcotti: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Senegal

Craig Burley: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Colombia

Mark Ogden: Uruguay, Spain, France, Croatia, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Colombia

Shaka Hislop: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Stewart Robson: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Paul Mariner: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Alejandro Moreno: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium Colombia

Raphael Honigstein: Uruguay, Spain, France, Croatia, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Julien Laurens: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Colombia

Group runners-up (A-H)

Gab Marcotti: Russia, Morocco, Peru, Nigeria, Serbia, Mexico, England, Poland

Craig Burley: Egypt, Portugal, Peru, Nigeria, Serbia, Mexico, England, Poland

Mark Ogden: Egypt, Morocco, Denmark, Argentina, Serbia, South Korea, England, Senegal

Shaka Hislop: Egypt, Portugal, Peru, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belgium, Senegal

Stewart Robson: Russia, Portugal, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Mexico, Belgium, Senegal

Paul Mariner: Egypt, Portugal, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Mexico, Belgium, Poland

Alejandro Moreno: Russia, Portugal, Denmark, Croatia, Switzerland, Sweden, England, Senegal

Raphael Honigstein: Russia, Portugal, Peru, Argentina, Switzerland, Mexico, Belgium, Senegal

Julien Laurens: Egypt, Morocco, Peru, Croatia, Switzerland, Mexico, England, Senegal

The unbearable hope — and inevitable pain — of supporting England at a World Cup

Jun 8, 2018Nick Hornby

 (Editors’ note: We asked Nick Hornby — novelist and screenwriter who wrote about his obsessive fandom of Arsenal in “Fever Pitch” — to reflect on what it’s like to follow England during a World Cup. This is the first of three pieces he’ll be writing for ESPN while England chases glory in Russia.)

“You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK?,” said a senior member of the squad this week. “I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic. It’s going to be all right in the end.”Yes, it’s time for another England World Cup campaign, and it doesn’t matter that the senior member of the squad is Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, or that he happened to be talking about the Brexit negotiations, now into what seems like their ninetieth year, and with no end in sight.An English World Cup campaign will almost certainly include a meltdown, and there will be panic, and introspection, and calls for something, anything, to be done to — or by, or for — somebody. But it’s going to be all right in the end. It’s just that as with Brexit, nobody knows when the end will be or whether any of you old enough to be reading this will live long enough to see it.England’s two friendly victories this past week, against a poor Nigeria team and a workmanlike Costa Rica, allowed the nation (or the nation’s football commentators, at least) to accentuate the positive. The thumping header with which Gary Cahill opened the scoring against Nigeria got them excited about set pieces; more ominously, it earned Cahill the man-of-the-match award. The willing, likeable but tortoise-paced centre-back is not the recipient one might have been hoping for in a home game against Nigeria, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling all up the other end.In the game against Costa Rica, TV pundit and former England manager Glenn Hoddle enthused about the left-footed full-back Danny Rose putting a left-footed cross into the penalty area from the left side of the pitch. “Lovely to see,” said Hoddle. “Natural.”Nothing came from the cross and if you have a season ticket at Rochdale, you’ve probably seen something similar in every home game this season but keep it to yourself. England need to keep morale high and if that means praising an international footballer for kicking the ball with his stronger foot, then so be it. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic.In previous tournaments, it was possible to feel the disappointment turning to rage and bile even before a ball had been kicked. In 2014, the “Golden Generation” had almost vanished in a fog of under-achievement but Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were still there. Two goals, two defeats and one goal-less draw later, they were home again, after the group stage, and England could draw a veil over another era of expectancy and failure.This time around, the players are not celebrities, not yet; those with no interest in football would be hard pushed to name a single member of the squad, let alone any of their wives or girlfriends. Several players — Marcus Rashford, Rose, Cahill, Danny Welbeck — can only occasionally push themselves into the first team at their clubs, and one of them, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, can’t force his way into his club at all: he’s spent the year on loan at Crystal Palace instead.So maybe — and this, inevitably, is an undertone in the conversation — that could work in England’s favour, right? A young, hungry and humble squad, nearly all of them belonging to a top four Premier League team; a modest, thoughtful, likeable coach … why couldn’t a team like that win the World Cup? Why couldn’t Dele Alli destroy Spain like he destroyed Real Madrid in the Champions League for Spurs?Then you remember who won the Champions League, and that the Spurs vs. Real Madrid game was a group match that didn’t count for much, and that when it came to the crunch, Spurs (who are providing five of the 23-man squad) conceded two late goals to a battle-hardened Juventus team and went out of the competition. Nobody in this England squad has ever scored a goal in the World Cup finals; then again, the national team have only scored 20-odd goals during the five tournaments that have taken place since Sterling was born.Usually in the build-up to an England World Cup campaign, expectations, both great and grim, come out in precisely the same place: we think we have more than half a chance either way.The second of the two friendlies this week was played at Leeds’ Elland Road ground and the difference between the atmosphere there and the atmosphere at Wembley for the Nigeria game was striking. The Leeds fans got behind the team and sang the National Anthem, giving the players a rousing send-off.The Wembley fans were much more apathetic, as usual, and though there are easy explanations — the rest of the country rarely gets to see the national team play outside the capital — this World Cup, and the whole idea of national identity, is taking place at a very peculiar moment in the nation’s history.There is a schism in the country just as there is in the United States; those who voted to leave the EU and those who voted to stay are snarling at each other with mutual incomprehension. The city of Leeds voted (only just) to stay in the EU but the north of England (and Leeds is very much in the north of England) voted overwhelmingly to leave.Meanwhile, 75 percent of Londoners voted to remain. England’s relationship with Europe is complicated (at least from our side — one suspects gloomily that it’s much more straightforward over the Channel) and it’s not hard to imagine that in the current climate, the England team means different things to different English people. If, as some fear, our far-right nutters clash with the Russian hard-right nutters, then feelings will become even more diffuse.Of course, it would be great if England won the tournament but that “if” is too small to the naked eye to be any use to the editor of this piece. What many of us crave is an England team we can like: one that plays fast, muscular, ambitious English football, beats the teams that are inferior to them and goes out bravely to the one that’s better.It’s not much to ask, but it would help an unhappy country to feel better about itself.

McCordsville/Ronald McDonald House – Greater Indy 3 vs 3 – June 23

www.3v3live.com  $200 per team up to six players. Each player will receive a t-shirt, top three teams in each division get custom medals, top four qualify for Regionals the road to Disney. Full details and fun details on our tourney https://www.3v3live.com/mcdonalds

INDY ELEVEN FRONT OFFICE GROWS WITH ADDITION OF NEW HIRES

By IndyEleven.com, 06/12/18, 8:45AM EDTShare

 Indy Eleven adds Vice President of Sales and Marketing, additional positions

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer announces the hiring of Josh Mason as its Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Mason, who attended Ball State University for his undergraduate degree and Indiana Wesleyan University for his MBA, will start July 1, 2018.“We’re very excited to have Josh join our Front Office staff,” said Indy Eleven presidet Jeff Belskus. “We’re very appreciative of [Indy Eleven owner] Ersal Ozdemir in making the investment to grow our organization.”Mason has spent the last 18 years in various sales and marketing roles with top brands including: Monarch Beverage, Miller Brewing Company and Starbucks Coffee Corporate. Most recently, Mason acted as Central Regional Manager for Enthuse Marketin, a New York based beverage marketing agency. “Josh brings many years of experience as a sales and marketing executive, and as President of the Brickyard Battalion,” Belskus said. In addition to his marketing experience, Mason is one of the founding board members of Indy Eleven’s supporters group, the Brickyard Battalion. Mason has been acting President of the non-profit organization’s board for the last four years. “We want to bring in someone in, like Josh, who is very passionate about this club and connected with our local supporters,” said Belskus. “Our supporters are very important to the organization. We want to continue building a stronger relationship with those who continue to support us.”Indy Eleven has also added Dan Dripps as its new Corporate Partnership Manager, and is in the process of adding two Ticket Account Managers and a new IT Director.

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INDY ELEVEN FRONT OFFICE GROWS WITH ADDITION OF NEW HIRES

By IndyEleven.com, 06/12/18, 8:45AM EDTShare

Indy Eleven adds Vice President of Sales and Marketing, additional positions

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer announces the hiring of Josh Mason as its Vice President of Sales and Marketing.  Mason, a Carmel FC Coach, who attended Ball State University for his undergraduate degree and Indiana Wesleyan University for his MBA, will start July 1, 2018.“ We’re very excited to have Josh join our Front Office staff,” said Indy Eleven presidet Jeff Belskus. “We’re very appreciative of [Indy Eleven owner] Ersal Ozdemir in making the investment to grow our organization.”Mason has spent the last 18 years in various sales and marketing roles with top brands including: Monarch Beverage, Miller Brewing Company and Starbucks Coffee Corporate. Most recently, Mason acted as Central Regional Manager for Enthuse Marketin, a New York based beverage marketing agency. “Josh brings many years of experience as a sales and marketing executive, and as President of the Brickyard Battalion,” Belskus said. In addition to his marketing experience, Mason is one of the founding board members of Indy Eleven’s supporters group, the Brickyard Battalion. Mason has been acting President of the non-profit organization’s board for the last four years. “We want to bring in someone in, like Josh, who is very passionate about this club and connected with our local supporters,” said Belskus. “Our supporters are very important to the organization. We want to continue building a stronger relationship with those who continue to support us.”Indy Eleven has also added Dan Dripps as its new Corporate Partnership Manager, and is in the process of adding two Ticket Account Managers and a new IT Director.

PREVIEW | TORVIND

By IndyEleven.com, 06/14/18, 4:45PM EDT

“Boys in Blue” to face Toronto FC II on mutual ground in New York

Saturday, June 16, 2018 – 7 P.M. EST  Marina Auto Stadium – Rochester, New York  

Watch/Listen Live: Local/National TV: N/A  Streaming Video: N/A

Follow Live: In-game updates: Follow @IndyElevenLive on Twitter  Official stats: USL Match Center

WEEK 14: SIGHTS SET ON ANOTHER WIN

Indy Eleven look to improve their 2W-1L-2D record on the road this weekend against Toronto FC II. The “Boys in Blue” are attempting to win their second game in a row, something the team has not done since the Week Four and Five victories.Indy Eleven (5W-4L-3D) currently sit at 10th in the Eastern Conference with 18 points. The “Boys in Blue” are three points off of third place, chasing Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC with 21 points. In their last outing, “Indiana’s Team” defeated 15th place Atlanta United 2, 2-0, which ended a four game winless skid. Goals from Indy Eleven midfielder Matt Watson and defender Carlyle Mitchel handed Indy the victory. The two goals were also the first of the season for each player. Indy Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams recorded his sixth clean sheet for “Indiana’s Team”, which ties Fon Williams for most clean sheets in the Eastern Conference.Toronto FC II (0W-11L-2D) currently sit at last place in the Eastern Conference with two points. The home team will attempt to get their first points since its draw with New York Red Bulls II on April 28. Toronto FC II nearly secured a point against Penn FC in their previous match in Week 13. The game was level at two when Toronto defender Robert Boskovic committed a hand ball in the Toronto 18-yard box resulting in a penalty for Penn FC. Penn substitute Jerry Ortiz scored the penalty and dashed hopes of a point for Toronto. The loss is now their seventh in a row and first under newly appointed head coach Michael Rabasca.Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie will aim to continue the attacking performance and defensive dominance displayed last weekend against a Toronto FC II team that has conceded the most goals, and scored the least, in the Eastern Conference. Rennie will rely on captain Matt Watson to keep his squad focused going into the Week 14 fixture.“You don’t underestimate anyone,” Watson said. “If we work hard, as hard as them or harder, then our talent will shine through.”

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW EUGENE STARIKOV

Indy Eleven forward Eugene Starikov returned to the pitch in last week’s matchup with Atlanta United. The reappearance of the forward, his first since Week Three, bodes well for Martin Rennie’s lineup. Starikov’s ability to return to action is timed perfectly, as teammate and forward Jack McInerney serves the second of his two-game suspension against Toronto FC II.Starikov adds pace and flexibility to Indy Eleven’s offense, with the ability to bounce between forward and midfield. Last season with NASL’s New York Cosmos, he made 25 appearances for th club and found the back of the net four times.

TORONTO FC II PLAYER TO WATCH: MF LUCCA UCCELLO

What Toronto FC II midfielder Lucca Uccello lacks in size, he makes up for in talent on the ball. The 5-foot-5-inch midfielder has been a positive light in a dark tunnel for Toronto FC II. He has started 9 out of12 games for the Canadian side. Despite his youth, the 20-year old midfielder has moved the ball well this season and averaged just over 80 percent passing accuracy.The Canadian born midfielder has been a threat in front of goal, having found the back of the net twice in 12 appearances. In addition to scoring goals, he can create them for his teammates as well. Uccello has tallied one assist so far this season and created 10 chances.

MATCHUP TO MARK: INDY OFFENSE FACES TORONTO FC II’S DEFENSE

Indy Eleven’s offense seems to be catching stride at the right time. In the last three games the “Boys in Blue” have found the back of the net six times. The team has also found the back of the net using various methods, keeping opposition defenses from being able to contain one aspect of the team’s offense. They’ve found the back of the net once from a penalty, once from a corner kick, twice from direct free kicks and twice from the run of play.Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie’s compact press has led to effective counter attacking play. The aim is to apply pressure in the midfield and attacking third taking away opponents time on the ball and forcing sloppy passes that lead to turnovers and goal scoring chances. The tactics proved fruitful as they led to midfielder Matt Watson’s first goal against Atlanta United 2.“I think we’ve always been better on the front foot as opposed to letting them have good possession around the half way line,” Watson said. “I think we’re always better when we win the ball high.”Toronto FC II will have to be weary of the counter attack deployed by Indy Eleven. During the 2018 season, Toronto has averaged a completion percentage of three-quarters of their passes per game. They also average 86 percent completion in their own half.The high pressure may be amped up against Toronto FC II, as the Canadian side has given up 10 goals in the last three games. Toronto has given up the most goals (30) in the Eastern Conference through the 2018 campaign.The “Boys in Blue” will aim for another three points and a chance at third place as Indy Eleven’s offense continues to pick up steam.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no local/ESPN+ live stream available for this match. Be sure to follow @IndyEleven and @IndyElevenLive on Twitter for live updates at the “Boys in Blue” kickoff against Toronto FC II at 7:00 p.m. in Rochester, New York.

Catch “Indiana’s Team” when it returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. for Pride Night against Penn FC. Fans can get their tickets starting at $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.

 

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Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

 

6/11/18  US Man Tie France 1-1, US Ladies beat China play again Tues Night 7 pm ESPN2, Indy 11 win 2-0, World Cup Starts Thurs.

So I didn’t plan to write today – after this fabulous weekend for the US Men, Ladies and the addition (finally) of New US Men’s General Manager of Soccer- Earnie Stewart – things are really looking up.  Listen I have said this before and I stand by it.  The loss generation of US Soccer has been replaced with the NEW HOPE.  This group of US players most between 18-23 years old – might well be our best group of US players ever.  Have they proved it yet – not necessarily but wins at the U17 and U20 World Cups and advancement to the final 4 of each – (only England did that too) this group of young American’s are showing that they might well be special.  Already 18 year old’s Christian Pulisic and Westin McKinnie are taking the US, and Europe by storm as both are now playing and starting for Champions League teams in Germany.  Now this result a 1-1 tie against a France team that many are picking for a Semi-Final World Cup run – shows just what the US is capable of.  Zack Stephan in goal was as much the difference as anything as he made save after save – 8 on the day- to keep the French at bay.  Now the US still has lots of work to do and that’s where someone like Earnie Stewart comes in.  For those who don’t know – Ernie Stewart has been named our new US General Manager.  I am not sure there is a better candidate for that role than Stewart.  He wore the US Shirt for 2 world cup cycles, he played in Europe and in the MLS – so he understands the commitment and travel involved with playing in Europe and wearing the US jersey. He has managed in both Holland and the United States – recently building a growing Philly Union squad using the youth system that is now starting to show dividends.  I think Earnie Stewart is the perfect man for this role – a dual National player who played as hard as any US player ever.  He will re-instill that love and commitment to country when wearing the red, white, and blue.  I know a World Cup over the next 3 weeks without the US is going to be really tough – but I truly expect the next 8 years to be an incredibly exciting time to be a US Soccer fan.

US Ladies Play China Tues Night, ESPN2

The US ladies eeked out a hard fought 1-0 win over China with a goal by Alex Morgan over the weekend and will look to keep their winning streak alive again tonight on ESPN2 at 7 pm against China as they prepare for the  2018 Tournament of Nations vs the best teams in the World in late July.  Don’t forget the US Ladies will play just 3 hours away in Chicago vs Brazil on Thurs, Aug 2 at 6:30 pm & on FS1.

WORLD CUP

So we’ll know if this week has really been a Great Week for US Soccer – on Wednesday Morning – 6 to 8 am when the World Cup in awarded for 2026.  If the United bid of the US, Canada and Mexico win the bid AS THEY SHOULD- then we have 8 years to get ready to host the greatest sporting event in the World.  Wow – wouldn’t that be fun!  Now as far as watching World Cup action – Fox and Fox Sports 1 will be the go to channels for all of the games and most of the coverage.  It all starts at 10:30 am on Fox and Fox Sports 1 on Thursday, June 14th with the World Cup Opening Ceremonies live from Russia. Don’t forget I have a World Cup Poolclick here to join.  Make yourself a login and play along. With the US out and my 2 other favorites Italy and the Netherland’s out I figured I better do something to give myself more reason’s to watch all the games.  Each day World Cup Tonight will be featured on Fox Sports 1 at 11 pm each night.  Also beIN Sports Soccer Extra will be there every night at 7 pm.  Not sure what the HELL ESPN is doing?  Sportscenter coverage I assume – but not having a 30 minute show each night just because you got outbid – well obviously ESPN is not really interested in soccer anymore.  I will have my full World-Cup Preview on Friday of this week.

Indy 11

Good win for our Indy 11 at home Saturday night with the 2-0 victory over Atlanta United.  (See stories below)  The Eleven will be on the road until they return June 30th for a Sat night match-up with ____ at 7 pm in Lucas Oil.

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Tryouts for Carmel FC – @ Shelbourne Fields

This Monday and Tuesday – June 11 & 12 (U11-U13 5:30 pm- 6:45 pm), (U14-U19 – 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm)

Carmel FC Coaches Game @ Shelbourne Fields

Thursday, June 14th 6:30 pm

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 US Soccer

Earnie Stewart is first USMNT General Manager – SI Brian Straus

US Shows Progress after World Cup Failure – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

US Should Rely on this Younger Generation – James Tyler – ESPNFC

No Poor Showings for Players vs France – Sarachan says – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

US Men Close with nice Final Impression vs France – SI Avi Creditor

US Young Squad hangs on for Draw with France – Jason Davis ESPNFC

US Player Ratings Zack Steffan Shines – Jason Davis – ESPNFC

US Players Ratings vs France – NBCSports – Joe Prince Wright –

3 things we learned

US Soccer Team Shows Potential – US Soccer

Mbappe Spares France embarrassment with late Equalizer vs US – Daily Mail UK

How Good Can the US Be – Noah Davis – ESPNFC

Antonee Robinson Looks for Breakout for US – ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Tim Weah Credits Mom for Soccer Pursuit – not Chill Best Player Dad

Mexico’s Jon Gonzales – I felt like I turned my back on the US –


Hays: U.S. women still have work to do »

  Zerboni right at home in first start »

  Morgan’s header leads U.S. past China »

  Rankings: USA, Germany, England 1-2-3 »

  Hays: Lloyd joins rare company »

  Lloyd scores 100th international goal 

Hays: Dunn’s versatility a key for USWNT »

 

 Indy 11

Indy 11 Snap 4 Game Winless Skid with 2-0 downing of Atlanta United 2 – Kevin Johnston indy Star

Indy 11 2 Tough 2 B Bothered by Atlanta United 2 – Bloody Shambles – Rebacca Townsend

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for Saturday’s Game!   (Code 2018Indy)

Flex Packs: Discount Indy 11 Flex Pack Tickets
Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

World Cup

Politics Out of The United Bid’s Control ESPNFC

England Team Preview = NBC Sports

World Cup Predictions – SI Planet Futbol

United States of El Tri – Mexico Owns US World Cup Spotlight – SI Brian Straus

Why America Should Root for Mexico in this World Cup – ESPN MAG

World Cup Rosters Are Announced – ESPNFC

France’s and Man United’s Paul Pogba is ready to Shine – ESPN Mag Feature –

Stay Messi my Friend – ESPN Mag –

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Tryouts for Carmel FC – @ Shelbourne Fields

This Monday and Tuesday – June 11 & 12 (U11-U13 5:30 pm- 6:45 pm), (U14-U19 – 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm)

Carmel FC Coaches Game @ Shelbourne Fields

Thursday, June 14th 6:30 pm

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GAMES ON TV

Tues, June 12

7 pm ESPN2        USA Women vs China

Thur, June 14        World Cup on Fox

10:30 am Fox         OPENNING CEREMONIES

11 am Fox              Russia vs Saudi Arabia

Fri, June 15           World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox Sport1     Egypt (Salah) vs Uruguay

11 am Fox              Morocco vs Iran

1 pm Fox                Portugal (Renaldo) vs Spain

Sat, June 16          World Cup on Fox

6 am FS1                France vs Australia

9 am Fox                Argentina (Messi) vs Iceland

12 noon FS1           Peru vs Denmark

3 pm FS1                Croatia vs Nigeria

7 pm ESPN+        Toronto II vs Indy 11

Sun, June 17         World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox 59          Costa Rica vs Serbia

11 am Fox Sp1   Germany vs Mexico 

2 pm FS1               Brazil vs Switzerland

  MON, JUNE 18
8 a.m. ET FS1 Sweden vs. South Korea
11 a.m. ET FS1 Belgium vs. Panama
2 p.m. ET FS1 Tunisia vs. England
    TUESDAY, JUNE 19
8 a.m. ET FS1 Poland vs. Senegal
11 a.m. ET Fox Colombia vs. Japan
2 p.m. ET Fox Russia vs. Egypt
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
8 a.m. ET FS1 Portugal vs. Morocco
11 a.m. ET Fox Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia
2 p.m. ET Fox Iran vs. Spain
    THURSDAY, JUNE 21
8 a.m. ET FS1 France vs. Peru
11 a.m. ET Fox Denmark vs. Australia
2 p.m. ET Fox Argentina vs. Croatia
    FRIDAY, JUNE 22
8 a.m. ET FS1 Brazil vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Fox Nigeria vs. Iceland
2 p.m. ET Fox Serbia vs. Switzerland
    SATURDAY, JUNE 23
8 a.m. ET Fox Belgium vs. Tunisia
11 a.m. ET Fox Germany vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox South Korea vs. Mexico
    SUNDAY, JUNE 24
8 a.m. ET FS1 England vs. Panama
11 a.m. ET Fox Japan vs. Senegal
2 p.m. ET Fox Poland vs. Colombia
    MONDAY, JUNE 25
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Uruguay vs. Russia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iran vs. Portugal
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Spain vs. Morocco
    TUESDAY, JUNE 26
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Australia vs. Peru
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Denmark vs. France
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iceland vs. Croatia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Nigeria vs. Argentina
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 South Korea vs. Germany
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Mexico vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Switzerland vs. Costa Rica
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Serbia vs. Brazil
    THURSDAY, JUNE 28
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Japan vs. Poland
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Senegal vs. Colombia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 England vs. Belgium
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Panama vs. Tunisia

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

SUMMER CAMPS

FC Barcelona Camp – Grand Park June 11-15 $499

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – June 18, 20, 25, 27 July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

McCordsville/Ronald McDonald House – Greater Indy 3 vs 3 – June 23

www.3v3live.com  $200 per team up to six players. Each player will receive a t-shirt, top three teams in each division get custom medals, top four qualify for Regionals the road to Disney. Full details and fun details on our tourney https://www.3v3live.com/mcdonalds

U.S. Soccer Hires Earnie Stewart as First USMNT General Manager

By BRIAN STRAUS June 06, 2018

Some uncertainty remains about the ultimate scope of the job, its purview and potential long-term impact. But we now have a face, name and vision to place alongside U.S. Soccer’s new technical title.Earnie Stewart, an influential midfielder in the 1990s-early 2000s who is currently the sporting director at the Philadelphia Union, was named the first U.S. men’s national team general manager on Wednesday. He’ll assume the new position August 1 after moving to Chicago. At that time, he’ll be the point man in the federation’s search for a permanent head coach. And Stewart said during a Wednesday conference call that, although the search will be characterized by “process over speed,” he’s already presented U.S. Soccer with a list of candidates.“Having played for the [USA] and seeing what the capabilities and possibilities were in the United States, this was something where I wanted to jump on board,” Stewart said in a Wednesday statement. On the call, the 49-year-old Netherlands native, who was capped 101 times by his father’s homeland, said he was “extremely proud and honored to be named the general manager of the U.S. men’s national team.”The position was created by the federation’s board in December, a couple months after the USA was eliminated from this summer’s World Cup. The fallout from that historic failure resulted in coach Bruce Arena’s resignation, the election of a new U.S. Soccer president—Carlos Cordeiro—and the search for GMs for the both the men’s and women’s senior teams (the latter is expected to be appointed before the end of 2018). Cordeiro pledged during his presidential campaign to involve additional people in soccer decisions and in April, he announced the creation of a board-level technical committee empowered to weigh in on appropriate matters and lead the search for the new GM. Previously, former president Sunil Gulati and CEO Dan Flynn had almost total de facto control of those processes and appointments.Cordeiro said Stewart’s appointment “is a further step in our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”Stewart now is just one of several “soccer experts” at the federation. He won’t have full control over the governing body’s entire sporting structure, instead focusing on the senior men’s team and its coach, culture, logistics, style of play and player pool. The limits on the GM position’s power, the extent of which still seems somewhat theoretical, reportedly scared off some potential candidates. The GM won’t have the final say over the Olympic and junior national team coaches, for example, or certain development initiatives. But Stewart insisted Wednesday he was satisfied with the conversations that took place during an “extensive interview process” and that he felt he could make an impact.Stewart will report to Flynn, and the board will give the final thumbs up or down on Stewart’s coaching choice. Considering his August start date, which Flynn said was designed to accommodate Stewart’s transition from the Union, that choice won’t be made until well after the World Cup’s conclusion.“I don’t know many organizations where someone can just come in and pick whatever he wants,” Stewart said regarding the federation’s collaborative process. “I will be responsible in making sure I do the recommendation towards the board and Carlos when it comes to the U.S. men’s national team coach. That will be my responsibility, and obviously in that process I’m a person that’s always been known to collaborate, and that’s the way the U.S. Soccer Federation will work. In that search, I’ll make sure to speak to those that are very important in the search process and together, in the end, we’ll come with a recommendation toward our board to make the best decision.”Clearly, in practice, Stewart must have significant latitude and influence in the search process. Otherwise, his position is cosmetic. On Wednesday, Flynn said Stewart’s appointment was for the “long-term,” designed to transcend given coaches and competitions. “At the same time,” Flynn added, “we need to see progress between now and 2022.”Said chief sport development officer Nico Romeijn, “It’s a long-term position. It’s about overseeing the whole program. It’s looking at style of play, the player pool—not only the current player pool, but we’re looking at 2022 and 2026 … [The GM] should be the sounding board and counsel of the men’s national team coach. He will also be involved in the daily environment and the creation of the best conditions for players.”Stewart said in a Q&A published by U.S. Soccer that the most important qualities he’s looking for in a coach are people-management skills, and the ability to communicate and implement tactical principles and a consistent style of play during the short period in which a national team is together. Style of play was a hot topic during Wednesday’s call. Style isn’t about formations or lineup choices, Stewart said, but rather, “the style goes toward the values—what we want to see on the field from our players.”He said establishing a long-term style of play wouldn’t be a hindrance in finding the right coach, who would “have the autonomy within the style of play to play in different formations.”Stewart said, “You’ll get an understanding, and I think it’s great that the coach knows exactly what we want to see on the field. … Everybody wants to work here. I don’t think there will be many coaches that will say, ‘No’, because the United States has values about what they want to see when they step on the field and what they want to see from their players. On the contrary, when you come with a plan, a lot of people will want to jump on board because there’s a plan, a vision, and an identity.”Stewart revealed in the Q&A that he also was preparing to “get to know this whole player pool,” from the senior side to the youth, and hoped to visit U.S. players and their clubs for conversations. Until now, there’s been no one at the federation responsible for keeping track of potential internationals’ long-term progress and eligibility, or with establishing consistent communication protocols. Mexico’s GM was instrumental in the January switch of former U.S. midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, for example. A coach is worried about the next camp and the next tournament. The GM can peer around corners, keep potential players in the loop and, Stewart said, help them stay apprised of their short- and long-term roles.The GM position may evolve as needs, results or politics dictate. Some have expressed concern that the role won’t have the desired impact at a federation that’s been slow to open up. But Stewart’s hiring is a step, and the spotlight and onus now are on U.S. Soccer as much as the new GM.Stewart’s comfort with the big picture, and among the primary reasons he’s a hire who comes with the benefit of the doubt, is rooted in a lifetime spent in European and American soccer. The son of a U.S. serviceman, Stewart enjoyed a productive 16-year career in the Eredivisie and MLS, and he played 101 times for the USA. He was a member of three World Cup squads and was U.S. Soccer’s player of the year in 2001. After retiring, Stewart returned to the Netherlands and held technical positions at VVV Venlo, NAC Breda and finally AZ Alkmaar, which was a Europa League regular under his watch. He then took over in Philadelphia prior to the 2016 MLS campaign.His performance with the Union can be graded only in context. It’s a budget-conscious club, and although Philly hasn’t won a playoff game with Stewart at the helm, it’s made progress as a talent incubator. He’s also chosen to stick with coach Jim Curtin, whom he didn’t hire, despite the well-liked manager’s failure to finish higher than sixth in the Eastern Conference during this three full seasons on the bench (Philly is 5-6-3 so far this year and in seventh). That suggests Stewart believes in seeing a process through, and that continuity is more important than ego or quick fixes. If that’s true, that’ll serve him well in a much-needed position that’s going to take shape on the fly.

U.S. shows progress vs. France; hope grows for future, post-World Cup woe

Jun 10, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer – ESPNFC

LYON, France — In the aftermath of the United States’ failure to qualify for the World Cup, caretaker manager Dave Sarachan has been in experimental mode as the men’s national team seeks to move on. After six games, it was possible that the result would not pass muster but, instead, the U.S. is finding a mix worth keeping around for a while, albeit one in need of more refining.Saturday’s 1-1 draw with France was the latest confirmation of that progress. Sure, France dominated the ball, but the U.S. hung in there defensively, got an opportunistic goal from Julian Green and then, after conceding an equalizer to Kylian Mbappe, rode Zack Steffen’s goalkeeping late to secure the draw.”It’s wonderful,” midfielder Wil Trapp said. “It’s not always going to be pretty. We understood that. Look, it’s one of the best teams in the world, favorites for the World Cup, and I thought we adjusted really well. We scored the goal first, shocked them a little bit, and then weathered the storm.”Granted, it probably won’t be Sarachan who gets to do the additional tweaking. There is a chance that he hangs around until the next round of friendlies — against Brazil and Mexico in September — but, with general manager Earnie Stewart on board and leading the search for a new manager, it’s also possible that one will have been hired by then.Either way, the team moving forward with more hope than it had in October, or even before Saturday’s game. The concern prior to playing France wasn’t that the U.S. would lose, but rather by how much. Instead, the young side simply went about its business, while Sarachan dug even deeper into his youthful roster as well as his tactical bag of tricks.Neither DeAndre Yedlin nor Jorge Villafana appeared until late in the match, with Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore getting the starting nod as wing-backs in a 5-3-2 and both held up well.”We have a young group that’s hungry and willing to fight for each other and I think that showed today,” Moore said.The same is true of the central three of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Miazga and Tim Parker. Even when Miazga had to leave the match in the second half with a head laceration, Erik Palmer-Brown entered the game and filled in ably. A stumble by Carter-Vickers contributed to Mbappe’s equalizer, but afterward, Steffen was there to help preserve the result, especially when he dove to his right to deny Nabil Fekir’s free kick. The match proved to be tougher for midfielders Trapp, Tyler Adams and McKennie. A few wayward passes set up some dangerous counterattacks for France but the trio did grow into the match, using its defensive effort as a springboard for the attack.”I think in the first half, we were a little nervy with a different formation and trying to break down plays and find passing angles,” Trapp said. “But I think as Tyler, Weston and I started to rotate more, we started to unsettle them a little bit more and find better spots.’And so the France result sits alongside other confidence-building performances that have taken place in this period. Yes, these games were all about learning lessons and, in the 2-1 defeat to Republic of Ireland, there were a few sharp ones.However, it’s beneficial when the bulk of what’s learned is accompanied by some encouraging results. It validates hard work and a way of doing things, and that is what has happened in this squad.”I think it’s a huge step for us as professionals, and as a group, not listening to outside noise,” Trapp said. “And believing in ourselves and believing in each other in adverse situations, that’s a huge experience for young players, and of melding together and continuing to grow.”These are times of high curiosity and low expectations. The results have little in the way of stakes attached to them and the same will be true later this summer and into fall, with friendlies vs. Argentina, Colombia, England and Italy also in the offing.There will be a desire to see further progress, even if the opposition is of a high caliber. But this young U.S. side has moved forward over the last eight months, at times against difficult opponents. There is excitement to see how much farther it can go.

Next generation has shown the U.S. should trust in youth

4:25 PM ETJames TylerSoccer

For the first time in a while — eight months, at least — the future looks brighter for the U.S. men’s national team. For that reason, the service given by the old guard should remain exactly where it is: in the past. Now is the time for the next generation, several of whom wrestled France’s stars to a creditable 1-1 draw in Lyon on Saturday.If U.S. Soccer is to take a meaningful step forward, following the gut-punching misery of October’s defeat to Trinidad and Tobago and failure to reach the World Cup in Russia, which starts Thursday, it must end the careers of nearly all the players who were part of that debacle in Couva.Granted, France missed enough chances to win several games, but even if you discount the result itself, there was plenty of spirit and optimism to suggest that the U.S. should just move forward from here without the majority players that got them into this strange and uncertain mess. Heck, one of the exceptions to that, Christian Pulisic, wasn’t even playing against the 1998 World Cup winners.Goalkeepers tend to play into their late 30s, but just because Gianluigi Buffon can do it doesn’t mean that the older U.S. shot-stoppers should, at least not at international level. The acrobatic confidence of Zack Steffen against a bleuassault was pleasing to the eye; he’ll surely let in some goals for the national team over the course of his career, but he seems capable of shrugging off a setback.Meanwhile, the defense was battered with 19 shots as France enjoyed 70 percent of possession, but a trio of inexperienced center-backs — Tim Parker, Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers — kept their cool and strained just enough to put France in difficult shooting positions. On the outside, the athleticism of Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore ably covered up the fact that they’re still learning their responsibilities.The three-man midfield was predictably overrun thanks to a lumpen 5-3-2 formation, but Weston McKennie, Wil Trapp and Tyler Adams atoned by using their stamina and hustle to fill space, deny passing lanes or simply swallow up French attackers to prevent them from clear shots on goal. It wasn’t pretty, and more confidence and calm in possession would also help, but it’s something upon which to build.The U.S. forwards were poor — Bobby Wood tried gamely but strayed offside on what could have been a vital second goal — given the lack of support they received, but Julian Green, back in the fold after a seemingly eternal absence, pounced on his one clear-cut chance and made the hosts pay. That’s all you can really ask for. So who cares if the Americans had only two shots all game and just 30 percent of possession? To frustrate one of the front-runners to win the whole thing in Russia carries its own cultural cachet, and as this group spends more time playing together at the international level (especially when Pulisic returns to the fold), from such green shoots can things truly grow.And therein lies the vital point: Time together is needed before qualifying for the 2022 World Cup begins at the end of next year; the best way to do that is to put the national team’s future at their feet. Arguably the biggest failing of recent years is the attempt to straddle two worlds, balancing the demands of the here-and-now and a CONCACAF trophy or two, with bedding in players to take the team forward.For example, the 2017 Gold Cup was a successful one for the U.S., but the fact that Bruce Arena called for the cavalry — Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard were among those brought in for the knockout rounds — was a grim message. Namely, “Thanks for your help, but we’ll take it from here.” Such shifts should not happen again.Observers have looked at the way Germany rebuilt in the 2000s after its own international humiliation as the template for how the USSF should remake itself. I think that is the wrong approach. Instead, the U.S. should look at how Chile did things.Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival in 2007 was met with skepticism, but he quickly transformed a conservative style of play and trusted in a promising crop of young players — among them Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel — who finished third at that year’s Under-20 World Cup. Over time and with consistency, that groundwork yielded success after Bielsa’s exit, including two trips to the World Cup round of 16, back-to-back Copa America titles and a runner-up finish at the 2017 Confederations Cup.The tenets of Bielsa’s coaching went beyond the wacky 3-3-3-1 formation: By drilling his players on their effort, intensity, footballing intelligence and positivity, he created a fearless group — consisting of many largely unheralded players — who took the game to any opponent.”He delivered a message,” author Armando Silva said. “We can play as equals, we can take on the more historically powerful teams and cause them problems, or at least try to, instead of living in constant fear of being thrashed.”The current U.S. squad is experimental and still finding its feet, but the vital thing is that it lacks institutional muscle memory: These players have not carried the weight of a nation by, say, losing to Ghana or missing a chance to beat Belgium at World Cups, or finishing fourth in a Gold Cup that you’re hosting.They have not yet been burdened by the emotional strain of life in the USMNT fishbowl, where a draw against Honduras is used as a bludgeon on social media. As such, there is a blank canvas for the next manager beyond caretaker Dave Sarachan, who deserves credit for leaning on the kids in 2018, to imprint. They’re young, eager, hungry and malleable. Let them fly free.

U.S. get big confidence boost from 1-1 draw vs. star-studded France

Jun 9, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

, France — The U.S. men’s national team played France to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly on Saturday. Julian Green scored just before half-time, but France dominated possession throughout the match and finally found an equalizer through Kylian Mbappe in the 79th minutes. Here are three thoughts from a credible result for the U.S. overall.

  1. USMNT nearly pulls off a shocker

On paper, the game set up as a total mismatch. The average age of the U.S. starting lineup checked in at 22 years, 183 days, their second-youngest in the modern era (1990-present). Only the U.S. lineup in the recent friendly against Bolivia was younger — by just 23 days. Meanwhile, France featured a lineup littered with stars playing at some of the biggest clubs in the world.Yet the Americans hung tough, and while no one will doubt who the better team is overall, the U.S. by no means embarrassed itself on the night.The U.S. began the match playing in an unfamiliar 5-3-2 formation, and the hosts were soon overloading the wings, looking threatening in possession. Paul Pogba hit the post in the fifth minute and Olivier Giroud had a free header from a set piece that was right at U.S. keeper Zack Steffen.The Americans weren’t helping themselves, with some sloppy play in midfield that sparked some French counterattacks, but the home side couldn’t convert. Antoine Griezmann earned some clear opportunities as the half went on but was unable to find the target. Credit was due to the U.S. defense, which, after looking wobbly early on began to look more organized as the half progressed.The visitors then took a shock lead just before the break. A cross from Shaq Moore was poorly dealt with by Djibril Sidibe and Green was quick to pounce, firing home past Hugo Lloris at the near post. The goal dismayed the crowd who serenaded the home side with whistles and boos as the half ended.The U.S. thought it was two goals up just minutes into the second half as Bobby Wood slotted Moore’s cross home, but he was called offside, a constant problem for him on the night.The Americans looked to have suffered a blow when Matt Miazga, who performed well, was forced off after a clash of heads, but Erik Palmer-Brown entered the match and the U.S. still looked solid.The parade of substitutions didn’t do much to alter the match. France still dominated and the only question was whether the U.S. could hold on. Ultimately it couldn’t. Substitute Benjamin Pavard found space down the right wing, and with Cameron Carter-Vickers losing his footing, his cross found Mbappe who fired home.With the dam finally broken, France went for the winner and nearly found it when Nabil Fekir’s free kick was headed for goal, only for Steffen to deny him with a superb two-handed save. Steffen continued his fine play in the closing stages, delivering a string of superb saves to preserve the result.Given that a blowout seemed likely once the team sheets were released prior to the match, this is a result the U.S. will gladly take. Some of its young players gained valuable experience, and better yet, it’s of the kind that will increase confidence rather than deflate it.

  1. U.S. defense acquits itself well

After playing some version of a 4-1-4-1 for almost the entirety of his tenure, Sarachan trotted out a 5-3-2, with Moore and Antonee Robinson as wing-backs. The U.S. looked overwhelmed early on, and with the midfield slow to provide defensive help out wide, Moore and Robinson looked vulnerable at times. But after about the 15-minute mark, the U.S. was more on the same page, and looked more organized.Granted, they were bound to concede chances against a team of France’s quality, but the U.S. hung tough. Tim Parker and Miazga in particular stood tall, putting out countless fires.For Miazga, this kind of performance has been building for a while. He has spent the last two years at Dutch side Vitesse and has steadily added more composure to his game. Unfortunately for Miazga, his night ended prematurely when a clash of heads with Giroud forced him to be substituted.Parker was something of a surprise given that this was just his second international appearance and first start. But he was everywhere on the night, especially in the opening exchanges when the Americans were looking shaky.oore, Robinson, Palmer-Brown and Carter-Vickers did their collective bit as well. Moore was even one of the better attacking options on the night, continually testing France left-back Benjamin Mendy.Finally, honor is due to Steffen as well. The goalkeeping position looks wide open, but given the way he performed on a reasonably big stage, he has taken the lead in the ongoing U.S. goalkeeper battle.If there was one negative on the night, it was the lack of precision by the U.S. midfield. To be fair, the three-man unit of Wil Trapp, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie defended like demons, but their passing in the middle third was suspect at times, which in turn led to a few counterattacking opportunities for the home side. It’s true that the result is encouraging, but the U.S. will ultimately want to contest such matches on more level terms, and that starts with taking better care of the ball.

  1. Questions for World Cup-bound France to ponder

Les Bleus had been feeling pretty good about themselves thanks to their two previous results, a 3-1 win over Italy and a 2-0 victory over Ireland that wasn’t that close. Have those good vibes evaporated following Saturday night’s draw?On the plus side, France still dominated, and had Griezmann been a bit more clinical on the night, there might have been a few more cheers instead of jeers. But France’s World Cup opponents will take note at how vulnerable Les Bleuslooked at times on the left side of their defense. Bunkering down just might work if that is what is called for.Of course, in a week’s time, when France opens against Australia, this result will largely be forgotten, especially since it managed to get a draw as opposed to a loss. But in the meantime, it’s likely that France’s confidence will have taken a minor hit, though that might not be the worst thing. At the least, there will be no reason for overconfidence.

USMNT Closes Camp, Awkward Period With Nice Lasting Impression vs. France

By AVI CREDITOR June 09, 2018

What most expected to be a one-sided rout wound up being quite the lasting impression. A young and wide-eyed U.S. men’s national team held firm in the face of a world-class France team in Lyon, completing its training camp with a 1-1 draw against Les Bleus on Saturday. France dominated the ball (outpossessed the U.S. 70 percent to 30) and had the lion’s share of chances (outshot the U.S. 19-2), as expected, but the Americans defended with numbers, and goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up big when called upon to ensure all of that amounted to a single goal. Julian Green’s goal out of nowhere–the first U.S. goal ever scored aginst France–opened the scoring just before halftime, but Kylian Mbappe’s equalizer in the 78th minute gave France positive momentum it can take to Russia, while avoiding being sent off with jeers from its own supporters.Here are three thoughts on the surprise result and its possible implications:

A STRONG WAY TO FINISH

This was by no means a perfect game for the U.S., but given the expectations–especially after how things looked against Ireland last week–there was reason to walk away feeling somewhat optimistic. The USA’s 5-3-2 setup–a first deviation from the 4-1-4-1 that has become a staple under interim manager Dave Sarachan–meant the Americans were entering the match ready to concede the ball, and that’s how things played out. Midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams did yeoman’s work in applying support for the five defenders behind them, and while France whipped in 19 shots, only a handful of them required Steffen to exert himself. We’ve seen this script play out before with U.S. teams in the past. Overmatched in talent, the U.S. defends its heart out and hopes to nick a goal. That came, this time, from Green, who pounced on a terrible Djibril Sidibe touch off a seemingly harmless Shaq Moore cross and beat Hugo Lloris with a first-time finish inside the near post.Was the match a total success? It depends what your hopes were. Intriguing talents Keaton Parks and Andrija Novakovich were healthy scratches, and Tim Weah, who has the most familiarity with France’s stars of anyone, didn’t get off the bench. Only so many can get on the field, but if the point of this camp is seeing what you’ve got, one could argue that some stones were left unturned. The U.S. also did a rather terrible job of relieving the pressure on itself. On a pair of first-half ocassions Matt Miazga attempted to complete passes through the lines and play out of the back, only for unforced errors on the receiving end to cede possession. That’s no way to beat a powerhouse. Every touch has to be crisp, or you risk being ripped apart by a punishing opposition.But Steffen was a rock in the back and has cemented his status as the No. 1 goalkeeper going forward, and the team spirit and fight that U.S. fans have come to recognize (and miss over the course of the last year-plus) were evident again. The end goal, of course, is to be even with or superior to a side like France, not to accept being second-best and absorb its possession and pressure. Perhaps in a few years’ time, this young core will grow to be at that level. In the meantime, it was a strong way to finish a two-week camp.

THE END OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD

Sarachan has steered the U.S. ship in extraordinarily brutal circumstances, and he’s largely, and eventually, done what most in the U.S. supporter peanut gallery wanted. Perhaps not to the full degree, but the list of young players who have received their first caps in the past few months is extensive. He proclaimed that he was setting out to give players a glimpse of what to expect in a national team camp, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean going out and playing all 90 minutes regardless of training performance or opponent, those players have now had a taste.There are few consequences now, of course. It’s widely expected that the U.S. will go in a different direction when it hires a full-time coach, something that now falls under new general manager Earnie Stewart’sumbrella. Without that big unknown answered and without a single competitive match for another year, it’s hard to completely judge just how impactful these last six months were.More tough friendly matches are coming, though, with a fall slate that is expected to include Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Italy and England likely to test this young core even more. Player selection will be up to the new manager, but there’s reason to believe that a lot of the players called in during the March and most recent camps will figure into the picture. Will veterans like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and others join them? That’s a question for a to-be-hired coach to answer.At last, though, the awkward transition period of purgatory is over. The 2022 cycle begins in a couple of months, and for a program looking forward to getting over its most unthinkable setback, it’s most certainly welcome.

REASON FOR FRENCH WORRY?

France probably expected to steamroll this USA team, and to a large extent it did–everywhere but the scoreboard. Green’s opener right before the halftime whistle brought on the boo birds, though, and the inability to fully break down the U.S. should give reason for pause, given what France can expect in Russia from its group opponents.There’s also the matter of Olivier Giroud, who walked off the field bloodied following a head-to-head collision with Miazga (who reportedly required 15 stitches of his own and has been entered into U.S. Soccer’s concussion protocol). If he’s not ready to go, that takes away an important aspect of Didier Deschamps’s team. Naturally, there are stars in droves waiting in the wings, but none who really play like Giroud. If nothing else, his absence allowed Mbappe to be a more central figure, and he came through with the equalizer.There’s also Lloris, who is a superb shot-stopper but has been prone to the occasional blunder for club and country. While he likely wasn’t expecting Green to win the race to Sidibe’s poor touch and fire away, he has to have his near post covered. That’s a bad goal to concede. The World Cup often comes down to fine margins, and Les Bleus, who will still be among the favorites regardless of the result, have some tidying up to do once they touch down in Russia.

Zack Steffen shines, Julian Green scores as U.S. youngsters earn plucky draw with France

Jun 9, 2018Jason Davis

mistake by France to squeeze out an encouraging 1-1 draw at Groupama Stadium in Lyon.

Positives

With another young lineup put out by caretaker coach Dave Sarachan, the Americans stayed organized and focused for most of the 90 minutes.The French were largely limited to long shots for much of the match, with the trio of center-backs in the 5-3-2 formation doing good work defending deep to prevent chances from inside the box.With the U.S. wilting late in the second half, goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up big with several important saves.

Negatives

Although expected, the lack of possession and real attacking teeth for the Americans will be something of a black mark on the performance. The U.S. finished the match with just over 30 percent possession and managed just two shots. Bobby Wood and Julian Green struggled to get on the ball, with the midfield mostly concerned with defending.

Manager rating out of 10

5 — Sarachan’s defensive setup proved good enough to secure a surprise draw, but with the USMNT in a rebuilding phase, he might have taken the opportunity against one of the best teams in the world to be a bit more aggressive. The experience earned by the litany of young players in the squad will serve them well moving forward, something Sarachan should get some credit for.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Zack Steffen, 8 — Faced no serious danger in the first half, but came up big with several important saves in the last 45. Hesitant on at least one cross, but was not forced into difficult decisions on many occasions.

DF Shaquell Moore, 5 — Mixed bag over the course of nearly 75 minutes. Provided the cross that led to the U.S. goal, but struggled with 1v1 defending and was occasionally overaggressive.

DF Cameron Carter-Vickers, 5 — Looked composed and relatively comfortable in the first half before fading in the second. Forced to move to the middle of three center-backs with a half-hour to go. Lost Kylian Mbappe on France’s goal.

DF Matt Miazga, 6 — Forced off early in the second half after a clash of heads with Olivier Giroud. Part of a fairly composed group that held the French attack goalless during his period on the pitch.

DF Tim Parker, 7 — Best defender on the field for the United States. Solid positionally and read danger well. Made several important interventions with the U.S, sitting deep.

DF Antonee Robinson, 6 — Grew into the game slowly in just his second appearance for the USMNT. Pushed up into the attack intelligently and provided one excellent cross in the first half.

MF Wil Trapp, 6 — Only Misplaced a few passes on the day while playing the holding midfield role. Found Moore in space leading to a goal that was correctly ruled out for offside early in the second half. Less effective when fatigued in the last 15 minutes.

MF Tyler Adams, 6 — Covered ample ground with the United States playing on the back foot for most of the match. Played confidently and handled defensive work against the likes of Paul Pogba impressively.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 — Only missed two passes, but had limited influence with the ball. Collected three defensive interventions, but was also guilty of turning the ball over on occasion with sloppy play.

FW Julian Green, 7 — Put the United States up just before halftime with an opportunistic strike. Made the most of limited touches and looked to be the most dangerous American on the field, whatever that is worth.

FW Bobby Wood, 4 — Starved of service, but was ineffective when on the ball. Struggled to keep possession with his hold-up play, and made poor decisions off the ball when the Americans attacked. Had the ball in the back of the net early in the second half but was correctly flagged for offside.

Substitutes

DF Erik Palmer-Brown, 5 — Did not look out of place after being forced on with a half-hour to go. Pulled out of position on one occasion and was sloppy with his passing when taking possession in the back.

MF Joe Corona, 5 — Helped with defending by tracking back on multiple occasions, but lost Thomas Lemar on a France chance in added time.

FW Josh Sargent, N/R — Mostly limited to defending in 15 minutes, but again showed his strength with his back to goal. Played a flick on for Adams that almost led to a chance late in the match.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, N/R — Played stay-at-home defense with the Americans trying to close out a narrow win.

DF Jorge Villafana, N/R — Struggled with 1v1 defending. Beaten by Nabil Fekir when one-on-one in the 88th minute.

Player ratings: How did USA fare v. France?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports Sat, Jun 9 7:28 PM EDT

The U.S. men’s national team were just over 10 minutes away from beating France in Lyon on Saturday, as a virtual USMNT U-23 U.S. side drew 1-1 with one of the favorites to win the World Cup.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Julian Green’s goal right on the stroke of half time put the USMNT ahead (against the run of play), but Les Bleus equalized late on through Kylian Mbappe to deny the U.S. what would have been a shock victory.

Below is a look at the standout performers for Dave Sarachan’s side as they signed off for the summer with a gutsy display.

USA

Zack Steffen: 8 – It seems like the USMNT’s No.1 jersey is now his and the Columbus Crew star looked steady, assured and confident throughout. A late double save from Fekir and Dembele sealed his superb display.

Shaq Moore: 7 – Recovered well after being pinned back early on by Benjamin Mendy‘s marauding runs. Dangerous cross into the box created the chance for the USA’s opener and he crossed for Wood’s offside goal too. Strong display from the Levante right back who gave away a few free kicks cheaply.

Cameron Carter-Vickers: 8 – Led the defense and made some great tackles when covering behind the five-man defensive unit. Kept Olivier Giroud fairly quiet and was calm in possession. Mature, commanding display from the 20-year-old.

Matt Miazga: 6 – Really good in possession with some lovely long passes out of the back and solid enough positionally. Replaced early in the second half after a nasty clash of heads with Olivier Giroud as a corner came in.

Tim Parker: 6 – Caught out of position a few times and one moment of naivety almost let Kylian Mbappe in during the first half, but put his body on the line in a typically committed display.

Antonee Robinson: 6 – Didn’t really get the chance to get forward but solid enough defensively. Did enough to warrant enough chance despite France’s equalizer coming from his side of the pitch.

Will Trapp: 5 – Tidier on the ball than his other midfield partners but the USMNT skipper struggled to impact the tempo of the game.

Tyler Adams: 6 – Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante are tough to lock down and Adams’ duel with Kante in particular was tasty. His engine is incredible and he kept popping up to keep things ticking over nicely.

Weston McKennie: 4 – Struggled to get on the ball and gave Pogba a little too much time to pick his passes. A learning experienced for the youngster who had a few heavy touches.

Bobby Wood: 4 – Strayed offside as he thought he had scored the USA’s second goal and he really should have been able to delay his run. The Hamburg man worked hard, as always, but didn’t get much service.

Julian Green: 5 – Scored a shock opener right on half time with a snapshot at the near post but had one bad giveaway and barely touched the ball in the first half apart from his fourth goal for the USA. Quiet second half.

Subs
Erik Palmer-Brown on for Matt Miazga (60′) – 6 – Sat in alongside Parker and CCV and was solid enough.
Joe Corona on for Julian Green (70′) – 5 – Flashed an effort across goal late on but caught out defensively. DeAndre Yedlin on for Shaq Moore (74′) – 5 – Didn’t get a chance to impact the match.
Josh Sargent on for Bobby Wood (74′) – 6 – Looked lively in his brief cameo and set up Corona for a chance. Jorge Villafana on for Antonee Robinson (82′) – 5 – Didn’t have much time to make an impact.

The U.S. men missed the World Cup. What does the future hold from here?

 explains why focus in squad selection should be players eligible for the Olympics. (4:35)

Jun 9, 2018Noah Davis

When the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 14, it will be the first tournament since 1986 without the United States national team. That’s the bad news: an unmitigated failure at the top of the American men’s program. Soccer, however, goes on.There will be life after the 32 squads leave Russia and another World Cup just four years away. The big question is how good can the U.S. be, assuming the squad qualifies for Qatar? The answer is that there are signs of life and in some ways, missing out on the 2018 event might — I stress might — speed the process along. “You have to qualify for the World Cup. There’s no way to go around it,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. youth technical director. “But I do believe from where I’m sitting at the youth levels, this is going to open opportunities that should have been given already … The fact is that this has opened the door and sped up the process to take advantage.”There’s always a generational switch and a re-evaluation of talent after a World Cup, but the act of not reaching the tournament in Russia forces those decisions to come sooner. It’s given some younger players a chance to play for the national team before they would have otherwise while also prioritizing a look into the current pool, especially after such an epic failure.Two players who fall into the latter category are Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, leaders on the 2018 qualifying campaign that came up short. Determining what (if any) role they will play going forward is one of the first questions the new coach needs to answer.To get a sense of where they might stand, I called up a couple of scouts who work domestically and abroad. (They were offered anonymity in exchange for their unvarnished opinions.)”Realistically in four years, Michael’s 34 and Jozy’s 32,” one scout said. “I think we are going to need them especially through qualifying. But are we going to be able to rely on them like we would have this year? It’s tough to say.”

Another took a more hard-line approach.

“Let’s give Michael all his due for what he’s done in the past, but if we’re going to be moving forward and doing what’s best for the future, I think from day one the new coach is bringing in the young players, and players like Bradley and [Jozy] Altidore should not be involved,” he said. “They had their opportunity.  The truth naturally lies somewhere in the middle. Altidore and Bradley — along with others like Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Jorge Villafana, Graham Zusi, Eric Lichaj, Alejandro Bedoya, Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan — have small roles to play in the future, especially in the short term, but they shouldn’t be key cogs by the time the U.S. is closing in on Qatar. (The older generation like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and DaMarcus Beasley should have played their last meaningful games.)

So, then: Where should the U.S. start building?

That process begins with one person: Christian Pulisic. It might seem obvious but the Borussia Dortmund star is the best and most dynamic player on the American team; he’s the key to the future. He’ll initiate the attack, provide the spark and potentially be the first true American superstar.”The team has to revolve around him and what he does,” Ramos said. That’s a lot to ask of a 19-year-old, and he’s going to need help. Look no further than another teenager, Schalke’s Weston McKennie, to provide some of that support.”A healthy Weston definitely will be involved,” one scout said. “He can be a top-of-the-line starter right now.”Other players with more national team experience who should be a major part of the mix going forward are John Brooks — “I don’t think we are going to turn away a healthy John Brooks,” one scout said — and DeAndre Yedlin, who became just the fourth American field player to start 30 Premier League games in a season. Kellyn Acosta boasts a versatile skill set and a deadly free kick. Matt Miazga has the inside track on a center-back role, but he will face challenges from emerging talents like Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown, both of whom will compete for roles in the middle.”There are a lot of guys who did well with us that have not taken a huge step yet, but I think will,” Ramos said. “For me, Palmer-Brown is a center-back and yet goes to CONCACAF U-20 Championship and gets the Golden Ball playing as a defensive mid. I think that’s pretty significant. He’s been to the last two World Cups. He was a great captain of the last run when we ended in sixth place. I think down the road he’s one that challenges for a spot in two or three years down the road. He has to.”Ramos also cited Keaton Parks, the 20-year-old Benfica midfielder who recently got his first cap, as someone who could make an impact.Nineteen-year-old New York Red Bull dynamo Tyler Adams continues to improve dramatically as well, covering a ridiculous amount of ground in midfield and could form a wrecking crew with McKennie alongside him. Scouts do question his ability to pass in tight situations, noting his struggles against a physical and technical Venezuela team in the U-20 World Cup, and wonder if right-back is ultimately Adams’ best spot. But as another scout said, “It’s very easy to throw him out as a right-back whenever. What separates Adams from a lot of top youth national team players is he has that attitude. He wants to be the best. He wants to be better.”Further down the pecking order, but pushing for spots and certainly in the mix for the future, are players like Josh Sargent — “One of the purest strikers that we have coming up in the system right now,” one scout said — and Tim Weah, who is working with David Hernandez at PSG. They’ve gotten tastes of the highest level but need to keep improving. Andrew Carleton, the bright young thing with Atlanta United, is another player in that category, although he’s further behind.”I like [Carleton], but he’s more show than substance, ultimately, at the high level,” a scout said. “I don’t think over time he will really make it stick.”This year is a big one for all three as they attempt to build some momentum.”Sometimes because you’re a young player, you get put on the first team and your only job on the first team is not to screw up,” Ramos said. “Now you need to step it up. If you’re a player like Carleton, Weah or Sargent, if you’re going to go to the first team, you need to make plays. You need to win the game. You play in positions that require you winning games. Not just passing the ball to the next guy who’s open. So that’s the next step.””The advantage that they are getting now is not going to make a difference if they don’t take advantage at their clubs.”A final factor in the success of the American squad going forward is going to be finding a capable leader, as the group that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup lacked such a figure.”You had guys like Clint [Dempsey] and Tim [Howard] who are exceptional at what they do, but they are not natural leaders and they aren’t really looking to be that,” one of the scouts I talked to said. “You’re looking to take ownership of that, but they don’t, so who are you left with? Bradley, who certainly wants to be that guy, but within the dynamic might not be that guy, and then Jozy, who people know isn’t that guy.”oing forward, Pulisic would be a natural choice because of his impressive talent, but it’s an open question whether he wants to wear the armband. Ramos does believe he has the personality to be a leader.While someone like Wil Trapp might fit the bill — a “23-year old who acts like he’s 30” with a natural disposition to lead — he likely won’t be a sure-thing starter. Elsewhere “there are quite a few guys who don’t need to wear the captain’s band to be a leader: Weston [McKennie], Tyler [Adams], Kellyn [Acosta],” said Ramos. “They all have great leadership qualities, as do Carter-Vickers and Miazga.”The point is that the players and the capabilities are there. It’s just time to realize the potential. The American team can be good, but for that to happen, the younger generation needs their time to come fast.

A few other names to watch

Four years is an eternity in international soccer. (In June 2014, Christian Pulisic was still playing for the PA Classics, eight months removed from joining Borussia Dortmund.) With that in mind, here’s an additional Starting XI of players with a chance to contend for a spot on the 2022 World Cup squad. Some of these players have earned national team calls, while others are barely playing for their club teams, but all got at least one mention from the experts who talked for this story.

Goalkeeper: Alex Bono (Toronto FC)

Defenders: Antonee Robinson (Everton), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Tim Parker (New York Red Bulls), Danilo Acosta (Real Salt Lake)

Midfielders: Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Emerson Hyndman (AFC Bournemouth), Chris Durkin (D.C. United), Luca de la Torre (Fulham)

Forwards: Brandon Vazquez (Atlanta United), Nick Taitague (FC Schalke)

Antonee Robinson was raised in Liverpool, ready to break out for U.S.

Jun 7, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

LYON, France — When Antonee Robinson was growing up in Liverpool, England, he would overdose on American television, spending his days glued to the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. He counted “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Hannah Montana” as his favorites. He couldn’t get enough of Star Wars, either, taking on the nickname “Jedi” when he was 5 years old, one that has stuck to this day.”I don’t remember it but my mum tells me that I watched those shows so much that I used to talk with an American accent. People used to ask if I was American when I was younger,” he told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview. He then grinned: “That’s pretty embarrassing.”Rest assured, Robinson’s accent now is Liverpool through and through, but his American connection remains, and he recently made his first forays with the U.S. men’s national team. The Everton left-back got his first experience with the U.S. during a camp prior to last March’s friendly against Paraguay. Then on Memorial Day he made his international debut, playing the whole 90 minutes in a 3-0 win over Bolivia, a stint that saw him assist on Timothy Weah’s second-half goal.”Obviously, you don’t expect to just turn up and be a member of the team straight away,” said Robinson. “You’ve got to work your way in and then earn the trust of your teammates and the manager. I feel like I’ve done as much as I can to show that I want to be in this team and I want to get a starting place.”obinson’s American ties run deeper than just his affection for the country’s pop culture, though. His father, Marlon, was born in England but spent some of his formative years in White Plains, New York. The elder Robinson later played collegiate soccer at Duke University from 1981 to 1984; it proved to be enough time to acquire U.S. citizenship, which he eventually passed down to Antonee. The younger Robinson even recalls family trips to New York for Christmas and vacations in Florida.I do feel like I have that connection,” he said.It’s one that was almost buried. There are obstacles to be overcome in every international career, but Robinson has had more than his share; he also has the scars to prove it. As he sits down in the lounge of the U.S. team hotel, one can’t help but notice the 5-inch surgical scars running down the front of each knee. The one on his left knee was needed to repair a fractured patella he suffered in 2014. A year later, he was forced to undergo micro-fracture surgery on his right knee, which sidelined him for the entire 2015-16 season.Robinson said it was the support of his father that kept him going. Marlon Robinson had seen his own career ended by a broken ankle and didn’t want to see his son’s career ruined in the same way.”He’d say how he didn’t have the physios that we have, and he didn’t have the attitude,” the younger Robinson said. “He would always say to me, ‘You’re lucky — you’ve got someone to tell you that you need a strong mental attitude and to come back stronger.'”Everton, who signed Robinson as an 11-year-old, stuck by him through all of these travails, and the defender has been able to stay healthy since then. The 2016-17 campaign was spent with Everton’s U-23 team, allowing him to log minutes and prove his fitness. This past season, he spent the year on loan with second-tier Bolton Wanderers, with the club avoiding relegation on the last day of the campaign thanks to a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest. Survival was achieved thanks to two goals in the last four minutes, plus the fact that both Burton Albion and Barnsley lost.”It was ridiculous,” said Robinson. “When were 1-0 up, we celebrated as if we’d won the World Cup final. Then we dropped back to 2-1 down and you’re just thinking, ‘How has this happened to us?’ Thankfully we stuck in it, we kept our heads up and got the win.”The escape has allowed Robinson to enjoy his most recent involvement with the U.S. team with a clear head, enabling him to sharpen some aspects of his game in the process.”Everything speeds up,” said Robinson about his time with the U.S. squad. “Even though we’ve got a pretty young group, the first thing I noticed when I came into camp was that everyone was quicker, sharper to the ball. There’s a lot of energy, and obviously a different style of play to how we played at Bolton. I think it’s a lot more possession, passing and moving the ball. Everyone is really confident as well, so you know you’ve just got to be yourself out there.”Whether Robinson sees the field in Saturday’s friendly against France is still unknown, though it seems likely that caretaker manager Dave Sarachan will opt for the more experienced head of Jorge Villafana. But Robinson is looking ahead as well. There’s a new manager, Marco Silva, to impress at Everton. Robinson is also age-eligible to take part in the 2020 Olympics.”From a young age, it’s always been a dream to go to the Olympics,” he said. “It’s not really been on my mind in recent years because I’ve never really thought a lot about it, but then coming back to the U.S., and knowing that I’m eligible for the next one — it’s in Tokyo, a place I’d love to go — is really exciting. I hope I go to that.”All in all, he sounds like a player who is more than comfortable to be called an American.

2026 World Cup vote: Politics out of United Bid’s control – U.S.’s Cordeiro

MOSCOW — For months, the leaders of the United States-led North American bid for the 2026 World Cup have been doing everything they can to convince the 200-plus global soccer federations to vote for them instead at Wednesday’s FIFA Congress.”We’ve been working basically nonstop,” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said here on Sunday night. “But there are some things out of our control, too.”At the top of that uncontrollable list? Politics. Because while Cordeiro reiterated on Sunday that no federation has questioned him directly about the Trump administration or its policies, he conceded that it is impossible to know how the ever-charged atmosphere around President Trump will affect the voters and the countries they represent.In many ways, it is the only significant wild card in this race.”We don’t control a lot of things, including what’s happening in Singapore,” Cordeiro said, referring to President Trump’s scheduled meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un this week. “Geopolitics is outside our terrain. And there’s always risk.”Because Wednesday’s vote is an open ballot, there has always been the concern that how a country feels politically about the United States (or Canada or Mexico or Morocco) could affect how that country’s federation president chooses to vote.And, with President Trump in the news for any number of controversies — including North Korea discussions, intense interactions with G7 countries and even a back-and-forth with the Canadian prime minister — politics provides a never-ending stream of news, much of it potentially awkward for the so-called United Bid.This week’s uncertainty comes after Trump in May questioned why the U.S. should support other countries who might lobby against the North American bid. Cordeiro then had to say Trump’s comment was not a threat.The irony, Cordeiro said, is that the Trump administration has provided “amazing” support to the bid, offering ironclad guarantees about visas, infrastructure and other details that were key to the United Bid receiving such dominant marks in FIFA’s technical evaluation of the two bids.On Monday, Cordeiro and other bid leaders will make a final pitch to each of FIFA’s confederations. Then there will be a bit more hand-shaking and late-night lobbying before Wednesday’s decision, where — assuming all eligible nations cast a vote — the magic number for victory is 104 votes.After several months of campaigning (the United Bid estimated it has met with 150 federations in person), Cordeiro struck a confident tone — “We can’t think about losing” — but is also leery of assuming anything. After all, it was just eight years ago that the United States thought it was going to win the hosting bid for the 2022 World Cup, only to lose to Qatar in a decision that has since led to multiple corruption investigations.”I feel we have a path to victory,” Cordeiro said, adding that he believes there will be “surprises” when the ballots are made public and everyone can see how widespread the United Bid’s support runs.Several small-but-important details about the ballot itself were handled on Sunday, including FIFA’s ratification of both bids as well as whether four American protectorates — American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — will cast ballots or have to abstain as the official bidders do. According to Cordeiro, it appears that as each of those countries has an independent soccer federation, all will be able to cast a vote.There was also a ceremony to determine the speaking order when the bids address the Congress on Wednesday. After a drawing of lots, the United Bid will go first.

Eleven snap 4-game winless skid behind Watson, Mitchell strikes

Kevin Johnston, Special to IndyStarPublished 10:45 p.m. ET June 9, 2018 | Updated 10:53 p.m. ET June 9, 2018

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Eleven were one of the surprises out of the gates in the USL Eastern Conference this season, racking up road results early on while only losing twice to one of the league’s elite teams in FC Cincinnati.Then came a rough spell. The Eleven went winless over a four-game stretch prior to Saturday’s match against Atlanta United 2, falling out of the all-important top eight — the playoff zone — in their conference.Indy snapped out of its funk Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium with a convincing 2-0 win over Atlanta in front of an announced 10,034 supporters. Eleven captain Matt Watson stepped in front of a lazy pass by a United defender and slotted the ball past opposing goalkeeper Paul Christensen for Indy’s first goal. Defender Carlyle Mitchell added the second on a corner kick by Ayoze.”It feels good,” said Indy coach Martin Rennie of ending the slide. “I thought we played well tonight. It’s probably our best performance together so far this season.”Atlanta saw plenty of the ball, holding a 63 to 37 percent possession advantage in the first half. The visitors’ problem, however, was turning that edge into anything remotely productive. Before the break, United only recorded two shots — zero on goal.Indy was content to allow United to pitter-patter around with the ball in exchange for being the more direct side. Indy’s offense wasn’t dynamic, as its often failed to be this season, but it did generate the more quality chances of the two teams.Atlanta finished with 58 percent of the possession, but only put one shot on target compared to Indy’s seven. United also completed 160 more passes than the hosts, most of which led to aimless position with no end product.Indy midfielder Seth Moses made a rare appearance in the starting 11. He turned in a solid shift at right midfield, contributing on both sides of the ball.”That was uplifting, man,” Moses said of the result. “I hope after tonight we celebrate together, we all laugh and smile together, and we keep going. This is just the beginning.””I thought (Moses) did well,” Rennie added. “He was good in his pressure. He helped us down that right side. We didn’t really give up any chances down there and I thought he created a few opportunities.”Indy (fives wins, three draws, four losses, 18 points) will return to action against cellar-dweller Toronto FC II next Saturday on the road. TFC II, the reserve side of defending MLS champion Toronto FC, has been dreadful this season through 13 games with no wins, two draws and 11 losses.

2018 World Cup team preview: England

Andy Edwards,NBC Sports 16 hours ago

Getting to know England: It’s been 28 years since England last reached the semifinals of the World Cup, but — and stop me if you’ve heard this before — this might just be the year the Three Lions reclaim their place as one of the world’s very best.For the first time this decade, injuries to key players aren’t a problem. For the first time this decade, the stars appear to be held to the exact same standards as everyone else on the roster. For the first time in nearly two decades, the squad is young (average age: 25.6 years old), ambitious, cohesive and full of ideas. For the first time ever, expectations are extremely low and these Three Lions will outperform what is currently thought possible.

What group are they in? Group F, where they’re second favorites to finish first, with an outside shot at beating Belgium to the top spot. That England-Belgium matchup will likely determine first place on the final day of the group.

Monday, June 18: Tunisia vs. England, Volgograd, 2 p.m. ET
Sunday, June 24: England vs. Panama, Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET Thursday, June 28: England vs. Belgium, Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET

Projected lineup (3-5-2) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

— Pickford —

— Walker —— Stones —— Cahill —

— Dier —

— Trippier —— Alli ——  Henderson —— Rose —

— Kane —— Sterling —

Star player: Harry Kane – 30 goals in the Premier League, plus another 11 in the Champions League and FA Cup — 2017-18 was the first time Kane surpassed the 40-goal mark in a season, but not the first time he’d come close (35 last season). Since becoming Tottenham Hotspur’s main man in the 2014-15 season — just after the last World Cup — he’s scored 135 goals in 187 appearances across all competitions (105 in 139 in the PL). Arguably the best no. 9 in the world, the next month could be Kane’s arrival to super-duper-stardom.

Manager: Gareth Southgate – The former England defender (57 caps) has been in charge since Roy Hodgson departed post-EURO 2016, and guided the Three Lions to an unbeaten qualifying campaign, with draws away to Slovenia and Scotland. The 47-year-old has been pretty consistent in playing a back-three, affording an extra body in midfield and typically deploying a partnership up top rather than a lone figure.

Secret weapon: Raheem Sterling – It’s a bit rich to call a player who’s coming off of a 18-goal, 11-assist season (in the PL; 23 and 12 in all competitions) a “secret” weapon, but with all the attention Kane’s getting — and rightly so — it feels like Sterling’s something of a forgotten man. His versatility and ability to operate in all different areas of attack — wide right as a winger; wide left as an inside forward; through the center as a second striker off a bigger man in Kane — make him the perfect piece to shift around the field when Southgate looks to change shape.

Prediction: The round of 16 is the bare minimum expectation, and they’ll get there, at which point it’s all about the matchup in the knockout rounds. Finishing second means a likely meeting with Germany in the quarterfinals, while winning the group would likely set up a battle with Brazil for a place in the semifinals.

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