9/10/19 US Men vs Uruguay Tues 8 pm FS1, Indy 11 Wed/Sat 7 pm games at the Luke, European Leagues back this weekend

So I watched the game a 2nd time before writing down my thoughts.  Let’s start with the good – listen the US men out-possessed Mexico 53-47.  Yes you didn’t read that wrong – the US had more possession of the ball than Mexico.  Mexico – THAT has never happened before -heck we are normally like 35-65 – versus Mexico.  Heck 70 minutes into this match – it was 0-1 on 1 incredible play by Mexico.   And this was without Altidore and Bradley, still two of our best players (thanks MLS – for not recognizing the International Break Again– IDIOTS!)

So you can see what Berhalter is trying to do.  He’s trying to possess not just kick and run and play defense with 10 behind the ball. Listen Mexico is better than us right now – better players, better manager – but I truly think our U23s are better than Mexico’s And if our kids can keep getting better – and play and start in Europe – we have a chance to catch up.   While I like the possession – I am not sure we are good enough to play out of the back ALL of the time.  I am not sure Steffen can do it honestly – if he’s going play this way – he may need to find a keeper that is better with his feet.  Steffen is really good and is probably our best keeper right now – but his footskills are just average – and I am not sure he can play this style.  Especially without dmids that will protect him rather than leaving him out to dry.

Interesting overall game – again we were in the game until the 70th minute – but unlike the Gold Cup – I didn’t feel the US had ANY chance to actually win this game.  We had maybe 2 shots on goal – 1 off a corner – (Morales post ball) – in the Gold Cup I thought we outplayed them completely in the first half before finally getting outplayed and losing a close one in a game when we outshot them overall. This time – Mexico had more shots, more chances, more corners and even though we had more possession – we really didn’t threaten the goal very often.  (Of course Zardes stinking up the forward position is nowhere close to what Altidore can do – and did vs Mexico in the Gold Cup.  How our coach didn’t start Josh Sargent tonight is mindblowing !!  Zardes is a Joke at the international level and has to be the 4th or 5th best forward option for us – why ???

I have given Fox Sports credit for coverage in the past – especially after the Women’s World Cup – but they screwed this one up big time.  After the US took an butwhipping at the hands of our hated rival Mexico – someone needed to explain what the heck happened post-game.  So what does Fox do?  Flip 30 seconds after we lose to stupid Baseball WhipAround.  Seriously?  Listen Fox I know you lost Millions when the US didn’t make the World Cup  -but if you are going to cover the US team – you have to have a postgame show?   Hell on FS 2 or Fox Soccer or something?  This was inexcusable and made the 3-0 loss to our hated rivals even worse.  Either cover the sport or Don’t Fox – Don’t HALF-A__ it though.

Tuesday night we’ll see if the US can bounce back vs a very good Uraguay team.  Hate to see Pulisic and McKinney and Steffan heading back to Europe before this game but I also understand its important to keep them starting at their club teams – especially in a friendly.  Still the chance to play this kind of competition doesn’t come along all the time for the US and I hate to see us not take advantage to have our best players playing.  We’ll see how we do Tuesday night at 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 again.  Hopefully we’ll show a little more fight tonight!

Indy 11 Host Games Wed/Sat this Week @ 7 pm

Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer. Next Games are Wed, Sept 11 vs Ottawa at 7 pm at Lucas Oil followed by Hispanic Heritage night next Sat, Sept 14.   Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

MLS

I am purposely not writing about MLS this week in protest of them playing games during the international break.

TV Games

Not a lot of good games on this weekend – maybe RB Leipzig vs Mayern Munich on Sat at 12:30 on FS1. A couple of good games in MLS –

3:30 pm FS1                                           Portland Timbers vs DC United

6 pm ESPN                                               Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls

Of course Champions League Group Stage Games start next week – no idea what channel they might be on TNT for 1 Game per day?

Tues

3 pm        Dortmund vs Barcelona

3 pm        Benefica vs RB Leipzig

3 pm        Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia

3 pm        Napoli vs Liverpool

Wed

1 pm        Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham

3 pm        Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

3 pm        PSG vs Real Madrid

3 pm        Shakhtar vs Man City

Shane’s Player Ratings for US Game vs Mexico

Coach Gregg B – Manager – 4 – hard to find much to like on this night.  His subs were late, his player choices questionable and his system for this game – I don’t know – but it didn’t work.  Oh and his rotating Captain – once again the guy who he makes captain Played Horrible – Zack Steffan was the captain and played possibly his worse game in a US Jersey.  Same for Trapp and Pulisic and McKinney in other games.  Still missing Adams and was hindered without Altidore and Bradley.

GK Zack Steffen, 4 – Steffen’s worse game in a US Jersey – too bad it happened on a night when his hero Tim Howard was presented his Framed Jersey for his many years of service and 3 World Cups.  Steffen was horrific with his feet making multiple miss-touches and bad passes.  He was responsible for the 2nd goal and could have done much better on the 3rd goal as well.  Will be interesting to see hopefully Gonzalez on Tues vs Uruguay.

DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on the right – Cannon did well not to stand out. Should have probably been marking Chicarito on the 1st goal but was pulled to the front post player when Zimmerman didn’t back off properly and got stuck in no-mans’ land.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 5 – Ok – had his moments – but also did not cover anyone on the first goal as the backside central defender – he got caught in no man’s land 3 feet in front of the front post – HORRIFIC position for a Center Back – would have like to have seen Brooks in there.  Zimmerman can’t hang at this level.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad.  Made some solid plays to keep it close.  Might have done better on the 3rd goal.

 DF Sergino Dest, 5 – Just ok – so he’s 18 years old – and for a kid he played ok – Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was OUTRIGHT EMBARRASSED by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal.  Did push forward well and seemed ot have some chemistry with Pulisic – other than their shared giving up the first goal.

MF Christian Pulisic, 7 – The Chelsea star has his moments and was the best player on the field for the US – made some really good runs but did not find that final pass for his teammates and barely got a shot on goal.  Oh and he has to take the penalty kick – just has too.  He’s the best player on thethis team – its time for him to step up and act like it.  He’s no Landon Donovan (yet) – but it’s a bit early for him to achieve that level of play in this game just yet.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 – I like his toughness and he has some moments – but he also delivered a HORRIBLE ball back to Steffan and it was HIS FAULT the US gave up the 2nd goal.  Listen he’s ok – but I don’t think he turned and headed up field more than twice all game – someone in the midfield besides Pulisic has to turn and relieve pressure – that’s something McKennie has not figured out how to do yet.

MF Wil Trapp, 3 – Ok this guy is horrible and should not be playing for the US NATIONAL TEAM PERIOD!!!  He can’t carry Bradley’s jockstrap much less take his spot on the field.  THIS IS Berralter’s folly – not sure if he has pictures on the coach or what  – but this guy has got to go.

MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy the US Needs in the middle – could probably player a disrupting role as a dual #6  -he did not back down to the typically dirty Mexican team.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 1  — ok this is beyond a joke now – this guy shouldn’t start for his MLS team much less the National Team.  He has no business on this squad.  I know Josie was unavailable – but my gosh – there have to be 10 other guys better than Zardes for the forward slot.  Seriously – Gregg playing his BOYS from Columbus has to STOP!!!  He touched the ball maybe 1 time in the offensive half the entire time he was in the game.  Sargent came in the game and in 10 minutes on the field did more than Zardes has done in 3 games up top.  Zardes can simply not play at this level !!

.FW Tyler Boyd, 4 – Really disappointing show from him – after the great start against the minnows in the Gold Cup I am not sure he can hang at this level – it was just 1 game but we need a lot more from him.  I am not sure “(not growing up in America – that he truly understands what this game means – he certainly didn’t play like it) his sub DID!

Substitutes

DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut but man he showed he is NOT READY for this level of play!!   Not sure the center backs are anywhere close to average and Miles didn’t prove to be an improvement.  We gave up 2 goals in his 20 minutes on the pitch.

FW Jordan Morris, 7 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) – I thought Morris was one of our best players on the night – made run after run after coming on for Boyd and won the penalty that should have given us a goal.   Gave the kind of effort required vs a Mexico – had best start Tues!

FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) – Interesting start – horrific that our coach did not start him tonight and didn’t bring him on until 20 minutes were left.  His impact was felt immediately upon coming on the field and he had a couple of chances.  Surprised he took the PK – he didn’t take it that well –  too bad.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

8 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uruguay

9:30 pm Fox Desportes                  Hondurus vs Chile

10 pm Univision, FUBOTV             Argentina vs Mexico

Weds, Sept 11

7 pm MyindyTV                              Indy 11 vs Ottawa

7 pm ESPNNews                                  Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Fri, Sept 13

2:30 pm    FS2                                        Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Wolfsburg

Sat, Sept 14

7 am beIN Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Levante

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Liverpool vs New Castle United

9 am ESPN+                                             Fiorentina vs Juventus

9:30 am FS1                                            Dortmund vs Bayer Leverkusen

10 am NCBSN                                         Tottenham vs Crystal Palace

12:30 pm NBC                                       Norwich City vs Manchester City

12:30 pm FS2                                        RB Leipzig vs Bayern Munich

3 pm beIN Sport                                 Barcelona vs Valencia

Sun, Sept 15

9 am NBCSN                                            Bournmouth vs Everton

9 am ESPN+                                             Fiorentina vs Juventus

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Watford vs Arsenal

12:30 pm FS1                                        Paderborn vs Schalke (McKinney)

3:30 pm FS1                                           Portland Timbers vs DC United

6 pm ESPN                                               Seattle Sounders vs NY Red Bulls

10 pm Fox Sports 2                           LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC

Tues, Sept 17

3 pm        Dortmund vs Barcelona

3 pm        Benefica vs RB Leipzig

3 pm        Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Valencia

3 pm        Napoli vs Liverpool

Wed, Sept 18

1 pm        Olympicos Piraeus vs Tottenham

3 pm        Atletico Madrid vs Juventus

3 pm        PSG vs Real Madrid

3 pm        Shakhtar vs Man City

USA

GB Needs a Better Gameplan or Different Players – SB Nation
Why the USMNT’s supposed ‘progress’ vs. Mexico was extremely flawed

Preview: USMNT v. Uruguay

Gregg Berhalter insists USMNT is progressing, but ugly Mexico loss ramps up scrutiny

Pulisic criticised over USMNT ‘fear’ comment and told to be a leader
Sargent’s Resilience Emblematic of USMNT’s Growing Pains, Process

WORLD

So far, so great for American coach Marsch with Red Bull Salzburg

Salzburg is 6-0 to start the league campaign, and has scored 27 goals while conceding just four.

Kane treble fires England in Bulgaria rout

Pickford pleased to take Everton form to international fold after solid England display

Harry Kane sets sights on next England goalscoring landmark before future target of Wayne Rooney’s record

Ramos equals Casillas’ Spain appearances record

Ramos equals Casillas’ Spain appearances, closes in on men’s world record

Indy 11

Indy 11 lose 1-0 on the road

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

Gregg Berhalter insists USMNT is progressing, but ugly Mexico loss ramps up scrutiny

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsSep 7, 2019, 5:34 PM,

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — When Gregg Berhalter was hired to coach the United States men’s national team last December, more than a year after the USMNT failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in over three decades, one of the biggest questions was if the possession-based playing style he preferred was compatible with the players he had at his disposal.Those questions came roaring back to the fore following Friday night’s embarrassing 3-0 loss to blood enemy Mexico, for good reason. The U.S. had no answer for El Tri’s high press, which forced the Americans into error after error. And had Mexico been a bit more ruthless, the score line could’ve been even worse.“As you can see,” attacking standout Christian Pulisic said afterward, “we still have a lot to work on.”Yet in his testy postgame press conference, Berhalter insisted that he was actually happier with Friday’s performance than he was two months ago, when the Americans lost the Gold Cup final to this same Mexican team on a late Jonathan dos Santos goal.“I see where the narrative is going now, it’s ‘Why are we playing the way we’re playing?’” Berhalter said. “The second is, ‘We don’t have the players to do it.’ That’s what all of you guys are thinking. And to me, it’s about developing players. We’re making progress. That’s not going to be your narrative right now, and I understand that. But internally, we believe we’re making progress.”Long-suffering fans of the national team could be forgiven for not seeing it that way. For the progress Berhalter was referring to wasn’t about the actual execution of his plan, but rather that his players didn’t abandon it, even after it became painfully clear, in this match at least, it wasn’t working., it’s admirable that Berhalter wants to stick to his principles. It’s also fair to wonder if it’s the right thing to do. For a program that is desperately trying to restore its reputation as a hard-to-beat team that consistently punches above its weight, getting routed at home by its biggest rival isn’t a sign that things are improving.Berhalter’s system is complicated enough that players are studying it while with their club teams. “You have to,” said midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who along with Pulisic was one of the Americans’ few bright spots against El Tri. When the team actually gets together, there are only a few days of training to make sure everybody is on the same page. It’s not easy.“It’s the hardest thing in the world,” Pulisic said after Friday’s defeat. “You have short periods to train, and it’s hard to teach a real system and be very specific with it.”The cold reality is, it seems to be impacting the Americans’ confidence against Mexico.“We still play with fear against them,” Pulisic said. “That is what I can’t really live with. So that needs to change.”It didn’t help that starters such as Tyler Adams, Jozy Altidore, John Brooks, Michael Bradley and DeAndre Yedlin were unavailable because of injuries or club commitments. And Mexico’s roster for this match was arguably stronger than the one that beat the U.S. in the Gold Cup.El Tri’s all-time scoring leader Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez was back after missing the regional championship, and sure enough an unmarked Chicharito ended up nodding home the eventual game-winner just 21 minutes into the contest. But dos Santos, Marco Fabian and other veterans didn’t even dress for the match, and it was hard to shake the feeling afterward that the U.S. basically beat themselves.“We could’ve played to our forward a little bit more, play a little bit more direct, change it up a little bit. Obviously the scoreline is what it is, but we played the way we wanted to play,” said U.S. goalkeeper Zack Steffen, whose mixup with midfielder Alfredo Morales led to the back-breaking second goal in the 78th minute. “When I get the all, I gotta have at leat two options. It’s all based off movements and the way the [other] team is pressing. And yeah, at times it’s a little sketchy.”“It’s a tough system and we’re playing very tough teams right now,” said defender Aaron Long. “It’s easy to just kick long in these games and play direct and maybe get a better result or get more chances, but if we want to be a team that plays out of the back — and that’s what we want to do — then these are the best games to try it.”This was only a friendly, of course. No points were on the line. But the U.S. program is still not in a position where it can afford to shrug off a lopsided defeat to of all foes Mexico.Several U.S. players talked this week about how they want to improve the perception of American soccer. It’s clearly a responsibility they’ve discussed and take seriously. But the public will judge this team first and foremost on results.“I’m not going to say ‘Listen guys, there’s going to be growing pains and you should expect losses,’ because they shouldn’t,” Long said when asked what message the performance sent to already-cynical USMNT supporters.Something will have to change if the U.S. is to get a better outcome against FIFA No. 5 Uruguay on Tuesday in St. Louis.“There needs to be a lot more movement and a lot more creativity within the team and just confidence when we go out and play against good opponents,” said Pulisic, who will miss the match against Uruguay as he and five of his teammates return early to their clubs.“We have to go out there and play like we’re good enough to be out there and be confident and play without thinking twice about it. That’s how it needs to be. And that’s just not where we’re at right now.”

Player Ratings: USMNT struggle to make grade in friendly loss to Mexico

September 7, 20191:40AM EDT Greg SeltzerContributor

The US national team lost control of matters early on Friday night, suffering an irksome 3-0 friendly defeat to border war nemesis Mexico in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

The hosts raced out of the blocks terrifically thanks to about 20 minutes of gutsy ball movement, but a Javier Hernandez goal ended the fun and completely changed the tenor of the match.The Nats had their positive spells of play here and there, but never fully recovered and missed the chance to gain quick revenge for their Gold Cup final loss to Tata Martino’s swarming crew.

Zack Steffen (3) — There’s no reason to fault the netminder on Mexico’s opener or capper, but his distribution was rather spotty even before he gifted their back-breaking second with a horrid pass up the middle. Steffen is a fine ‘keeper, but damaging decisions with the ball at his feet have become a concerning trend now.

Reggie Cannon (4.5) — The FC Dallas youngster picked some good moments to get forward, but was ineffective when the delivery moment of truth came. Though Cannon also had his moments defensively, a few dangerous crosses did emanate from his corner.

Walker Zimmerman (5) — While he committed no major errors at the back, one would expect the LAFC defender to come up with more stops, especially when the opponent spends a large portion of the game swarming the US end. More distressingly, there were simply too many risky, errant passes coming off his boot.

Aaron Long (3) — It was an off night from the Red Bulls center back, to say the least. On the first Mexico tally, Long wandered into no man’s land, forcing near post cover from Zimmerman that left tons of goalmouth space for Chicharito to exploit. He was also ineffectual when the team needed an intervention on El Tri’s third and uncharacteristically whiffed on a couple of clearances. Finally, no one needs him rushing out to commit a yellow card foul on a player facing the crowd next to the sideline near midfield.

Sergino Dest (5) — Like the team as a whole, the debutant was pretty terrific during the first 20 minutes. Dest showed no fear in handling business up and down the flank, and even drew a decent save from long range. After getting ruthlessly nutmegged on the opening goal play, he faded a good deal. Still, it was a fairly encouraging first US outing.

Wil Trapp (3) — When he’s not pinging diagonal leads to speeding wingers, the Columbus skipper struggles. Trapp did not do that in this game, which only makes his defensive frailties stand out all the more. His biggest demerit comes for neglecting to pick up the Hernandez run on Mexico’s first. It was a big no-no.

Alfredo Morales (4.5) — Back in the team after a long absence, Morales certainly came to play. He was stuck in all night, and definitely had some solid episodes. The problem is, he’s a lot better as a disrupter around or across the midfield stripe than he is in his own end. With that being the case, the limitations in his passing game tend to stick out like a sore thumb.

Weston McKennie (4) — Stop me if you’ve heard this before: we need more consistent activity on and near the ball from the Schalke talent. McKennie made zero defensive stops in the middle of the field and did not drive play forward as much as he usually does.

Tyler Boyd (5) — It’s hard to ding the Besiktas winger too much because he went long stretches without seeing the ball. Even so, Boyd was much more of a possession facilitator/track-back helper than an attacking headache for the opponent in this one. Just because the volume of touches drop, there’s no need for his aggression to do the same.

Christian Pulisic (4.5) — The Chelsea ace had a threatening look about him early, and contributed some strong pressure valve work throughout the contest. That said, he was oddly hesitant in the final third over the last hour. The bigger problem, though, was repeated instances of checking out defensively on Mexico advances down his side, such as on the first goal.

Gyasi Zardes (5.5) — Some may gripe over the Columbus striker’s performance, but there’s not a whole lot he can do when the team doesn’t get him any touches within, say, javelin-throwing distance of the goal. They weren’t even trying to use him for hold-up play. To his credit, Zardes did work his tail off defensively.

Coach Gregg Berhalter (3) — I could air a few objections about construction of the lineup (and the selection, for that matter), but let’s instead focus on in-game decisions. The match started well enough, but there was never a real tactical reaction from the boss after Mexico pushed their pressure line deep into the US end and grabbed the opening goal. Yes, it was a friendly and the players need to drill things. But Berhalter needs to drill things, too, like game management and putting your charges in an ideal position to succeed.

Subs:
Miles Robinson (6) — I’m not going to fault the debutant defender for his step into traffic on Mexico’s jailbreak for the third goal, as some might. From my view, there was nothing overly constructive or calamitous in Robinson’s half-hour-and-change on the field.

Jordan Morris (6.5) — The Seattle speedster looked lively and more full of intent than his right wing predecessor, and his expert body shaping to a lead pass earned the penalty.

Daniel Lovitz (5.5) — The Montreal left back got away with failing to track a back post runner. Other than that, there was nothing especially noteworthy about his 22 minutes of action.

Josh Sargent (5) — The sub striker pitched in with a few nice link touches, but he has to do better than a weak penalty try to the direction the ‘keeper is already cheating.

Sebastian Lletget (6.5) — Not everything he tried worked, but the LA Galaxy man provided nearly as many true moments of impact as all three starting midfielders combined. Lletget’s excellent entry pass led to the spot kick.

Jackson Yueill (-) — Stoppage time cameos generally don’t merit grades, but the San Jose midfielder did manage one positive attacking half pass completion per minute played.

 

U.S. ratings vs. Mexico: Pulisic 7/10, plenty of subpar performances in heavy loss

Sep 6, 2019  James TylerSenior Editor, ESPN FC

The U.S. always hates losing to Mexico, but even the most ardent of supporters could find little fault with Friday night’s 3-0 defeat at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez opened the scoring with a sharp, predatory effort following Jesus “Tecatito” Corona‘s cheeky nutmeg of U.S. debutant Sergino Dest to set up room for a well-weighted cross. The U.S. struggled to get back into the game, but well and truly folded after the second-half substitutes began coming on. Zack Steffen‘s careless giveaway led to Erick Gutierrez‘s fine, low strike for 2-0, but late on, the the hosts chasing, substitute Uriel Antunafinished yet another counterattack to put the result beyond doubt.There is little time for reflection as the U.S. travel to St. Louis next, where the Americans will face Uruguay on Tuesday, yet they need to seize what moments they have in order to assess what went wrong against Mexico and Gerardo “Tata” Martino, who remains perfect since taking over as El Tri manager.

 

Positives

Forget the result: It was a narrow defeat, but some players who figure to be vital in the 2022 World Cup cycle got valuable experience against the kind of team the U.S. must match up with in order to reach that fabled next level. Mixing Dest, an under-20 standout, in with the senior side was a nice boost, and it was good to see the continued rapport between Aaron Long and Walker Zimmerman at the back. After all, a strong center-back partnership can make a big difference in tournament play.

Beyond that, there was a subtle uptick to the Americans’ style of play; it felt like they’d received their homework prematch and set about applying the new principles at every opportunity. Whether playing out from the back — very much the hip trend for top clubs in Europe — or applying clever pressure on Mexico in certain areas of the field, it’s clear Gregg Berhalter is trying to do something new and different with this squad.

Negatives

It’s always nice to see new things, but the panicked nature of many U.S. possessions when the ball was at Steffen’s feet or those of a nearby defender showed there’s a way to go. Also, the midfield was constantly bypassed with ease by Mexico from start to finish; the Mexico players were consistently quicker to intercept wayward passes or seize upon heavy touches.

Still, it feels harsh to call these things a negative, because they at least show a willingness to evolve. And that enhancement will be most welcome in the future if the U.S. can strike the right balance.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — It feels as though Berhalter is moving at a glacial pace with implementing changes, but there is something to his U.S. team that looks a little different even if the end product is just as uneven was it was under his predecessors. Like a good coach should, he won’t dwell too much on a handful of individual errors no matter how glaring, given that it’s to be expected in a new system and with a new group of players.

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

GK Zack Steffen, 4 — Struggled at times with his distribution, looking for risky passes out from the back at times when a more simple approach would have been smart. Failed to recover to deny Hernandez with the opening goal, and then his continued efforts to play it out from the back resulted in a woeful pass from which Gutierrez scored. Needs to be better about knowing when to be adventurous and when to play it safe, else his swashbuckling attempts to reinvent the goalkeeper position will do much more harm than good.

DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Held things up well enough on his flank. The best defenders are rarely seen because they just do their jobs. Cannon did well not to stand out.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 6 — Fine defensive play. Managed to keep his cool in the 25 minutes of the first half following the opening goal when it seemed like Mexico could score four or five.

DF Aaron Long, 6 — Typically steady but lost Hernandez for the opener. Is cementing himself as a key member of this squad.

DF Sergino Dest, 5 — A genuine mixed bag. There’s obvious potential here given his ascent at powerhouse Ajax, but there are also a lot of obvious edges to his game that will require refining over time. Showed genuine positivity and purpose on either side of the ball, which is a plus. Yet he lacked positional awareness at times with regard to off-the-ball runs. Handled many of his defensive duties well but he was humbled by a Corona nutmeg for Mexico’s opening goal.

MF Christian Pulisic, 7 — Another extremely busy performance from the Chelsea star and undisputed leader of this side. Hurled himself into more than one 50-50 challenge, fought for every ball and showed little restraint when it came to trying to unsettle Mexico on the ball or forcing his opponents to think quickly in transition. Yet he can’t do it all alone.

MF Weston McKennie, 6 — Always plays on the front foot, something that the U.S. sorely needs in midfield against tough opponents. Had a couple of positive, promising moments with the ball at his feet. Unafraid to shoot but rarely caused trouble from 25-30 yards out.

MF Wil Trapp, 5 — It feels like he’s constantly in over his head. I can’t put my finger on why that might be. Lost the ball a lot and in dangerous positions, something you can’t do as that defensive midfield “pivot” upon whom much of the transition play falls.

MF Alfredo Morales, 6 — Chaotic but brought the kind of energy that can benefit the U.S. in midfield. Battled hard, disrupted Mexico on more than one occasion and also provided a bit of bite. A real character that this team needs. Seeing him get under the skin of more than one El Tri player brought a smile to my eye.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 3 — It’s time to try some other options up front. There are certainly alternatives to the long-serving Crew striker, who touched the ball just six times in a woeful first half. (Only one of those touches could be judged to be inside the Mexico half, too.) So much of a striker’s performance is down to the team play around him, but even then, Zardes failed to find himself in threatening positions or in situations where he could receive the ball and make something happen.

FW Tyler Boyd, 4 — It seems like an eternity ago that USMNT fans were freaking out over the New Zealand-born striker’s FIFA switch to represent the Stars and Stripes. And yet, his brace in the Gold Cup against Guyana might have been misleading. Barely involved in the final third, went searching for the ball a number of times to little avail and failed to link play with his passes, something you can’t go without if you’re playing with two up front. There has to be cohesion but so far, Boyd looks a bit lacking.

Substitutes

DF Miles Robinson, 5 (on for Zimmerman, 58 minutes) — The Atlanta United FC product got a well-deserved debut and grappled well enough. Fortunate with one dangerous giveaway close to the U.S. net in his first five minutes of action, but his inexperience showed with Mexico’s late goals. Still, when his team is chasing the game as the U.S. needed to, few defenders would fare better when outnumbered.

FW Jordan Morris, 5 (on for Boyd, 58 minutes) — Hustle and bustle. Worked hard to get in the position to win a late penalty.

FW Josh Sargent, 5 (on for Zardes, 67 minutes) — Not the best game state in which to show his skills, but he battled gamely all the same. Wasted a late penalty with a weak effort that could have added some shine to a streaky evening for the U.S. men.

DF Daniel Lovitz, 5 (on for Dest, 67 minutes) — Existed.

MF Sebastian Lletget, NR (on for Trapp, 77 minutes) — Was on the field.

MF Jackson Yueill, NR (on for Morales, 90 minutes) — Came on as a late injury cameo.

 

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HOSTS EASTERN CONFERENCE FOE OTTAWA FURY FC IN MID-WEEK CLASH

By IndyEleven.com, 09/09/19, 8:30PM EDT

Boys In Blue Return Home to Host Canadian Club for First Time in 2019

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET              Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, Ind.    

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23    Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)

Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM     In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Honda

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 15W-5L-5D, 50 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference

Ottawa Fury FC: 10W-7L-9D, 39 pts., 8th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

LAST TIME OUT:

Charleston Battery  1 : 0  Indy Eleven  | Sunday, September 8

Indy Eleven fell to Charleston Battery on Sunday evening 0-1, the team’s first loss since July 27 on the road to Nashville SC. Battery midfielder Romario Piggott notched the only goal of the match in the 42nd minute off a strong counter attack with a low shot just out of Indy ‘keeper Evan Newton’s diving reach. The fixture is also the first time the Boys in Blue have been shut out since losing to Nashville, having scored at least once in each of the last five matches. Despite finishing the game with 71% possession and 17 shots, the Boys in Blue couldn’t muster the equalizer.

Atlanta United FC 2 3 : 2 Ottawa Fury FC  | Saturday, September 7

Ottawa Fury FC’s third loss in a row came at the feet of Atlanta United FC 2 in the Peach State last Saturday. ATL forwards Andrew Carleton and Patrick Okonkwo gained the high ground with strikes in the 17th second and 26th minute, respectively. Ottawa nullified the host’s lead with a penalty from Wal Fall in the 39th minute and closed the gap in the 70th minute with a goal from Hadji Barry, only to concede the game-winner to ATL’s Carleton two minutes later. The trio of goals allowed brings Fury FC concession count to eight goals in its last three matches, converting just two through the winless streak.

#INDVOTT STORYLINES

  • While Indy Eleven enters Wednesday in fourth place on the crowded Eastern Conference table with 50 points, a win would move the Boys in Blue level with first-place New York Red Bulls II and leapfrog past both the Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.) and Nashville SC (51 pts.).
  • Wednesday reunites Indy Eleven and Ottawa Fury FC, which were “Class of 2014” mates when they entered the North American Soccer League together six seasons ago.
  • The Canadian club has long been a thorn in the side of Indiana’s Team over the last six seasons. Indy owns a 2W-6L-3D all-time regular season record against Fury FC.
  • Ottawa is the only Eastern Conference foe the Boys in Blue have yet to face in 2019. The two sides will wrap up their season series on Wednesday, October 2 at TD Place Stadium.
  • Indy Eleven dropped the season series against Ottawa in its first USL Championship campaign in 2018, losing 0-1 at Lucas Oil Stadium on July 4 and settled for a scoreless away draw on August 18.
  • Last year’s Independence Day loss to Ottawa was the last time Indy fell at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy is currently on a 21-game undefeated run at home, tying the club’s previous record set between the 2015-17 seasons.
  • The Eleven’s current home run is now tied with Rochester Rhinos for the fourth longest home undefeated streak in USL Championship history. Ahead of Indy on the list is Richmond Kickers, 2012-14 (30 games); Charleston Battery, 2014-16 (28); and Orlando City SC, 2011-13 (25).
  • It’ll be a reunion of sorts Wednesday evening for four of the Boys in Blue. Indy’s Tyler Gibson and Karl Ouimette once shared the pitch with Ottawa’s Nana Attakora and Maxim Tissot during their single-season stint with San Francisco Deltas (NASL) in 2017. Additionally, Indy’s Dane Kelly and Tyler Pasher appeared on the same roster as Fury’s Kevin Oliveira during the trio’s 2016 season with Swope Park Rangers.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF MATT WATSON

When facing a tough stretch of games in a short span, it always helps to have an experienced veteran who can positively impact his teammates both on and off the field. For Indiana’s Team, that veteran is captain and midfielder Matt Watson. The 34-year-old has made 23 appearances, six of which have been starts, in 25 games for the Boys in Blue.With age comes experience, as Watson has played 387 games in his 13-year professional career. After starting the majority of games in his first season with Indy Eleven, the captain now plays a super sub role with the ability to play almost any position in Head Coach Martin Rennie’s system. The Englishman lurked in the center of the pitch for the majority of 2018, but has added play along the outside of Indy’s midfield and backline to his repertoire this season. Despite the rotation, Watson remains effective in all roles, having completed 80% of his passes, won 70% of his tackles and has contributed a goal through the 2019 campaign (so far).

OTTAWA FURY FC PLAYER TO WATCH | FW CARL HAWORTH

Watson might not be the only veteran present on Wednesday night. Ottawa Fury FC forward Carl Haworth will most likely feature in the Canadian Club’s starting XI come kickoff. Haworth, now in his 10th year of professional play, is no stranger to facing the Boys in Blue, something he’s been doing since both team’s inaugural NASL seasons in 2014. The 30-year-old has racked up 153 appearances for Ottawa and scored 24 goals.Eight of those 24 career goals have come in the 2019 USL Championship season, a statistic that lands Haworth as the team’s joint leading goal scorer. Much like Indy’s Watson, the forward has the ability to play multiple roles when called upon, showing his versatility on the pitch. Pending Ottawa’s game plan, Haworth may field as a forward in an attempt to break down a seemingly impenetrable Indy home defense or as an outside back in an effort to contain Boys in Blue midfielder Tyler Pasher.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY WING PLAY VS. OTTAWA BACK THIRD

Playing on the road doesn’t appear to favor Ottawa Fury FC. The side holds a 3W-5L-5D record on the road, a distant cry from its 7W-2L-4D home record. Moreover, the Fury is currently on a three-game losing streak, with the last two defeats coming away from home and the team continuing its away stint in Indianapolis this Wednesday evening.The last loss came against Atlanta United FC 2 in a match where attacks down the flanks plagued the Canadian side and all three goals allowed came from wing play. The first acted as a quick breakaway down the left flank in the 17th second, the fastest goal scored in ATL UTD 2 history. The second goal came from an early cross into the six-yard box off the right flank in the 26th minute to trail 2-0. Lastly, the final concession came in as a cross from the right flank that caught Ottawa goalkeeper Callum Irving off his line and edged Atlanta into the lead once more to secure three points.Indy has thrived on wing play in 2019. With a pair of arguably the league’s best wingers in Tyler Pasher and Ayoze, the Ottawa back third will need to be aware of their positioning and ready for balls played into the box. In the last two home matches against New York Red Bulls II and Charlotte Independence, the Boys in Blue played in a total of 26 crosses. Forward Dane Kelly’s header that toppled first-place NYRBII last Wednesday was the result of a ball played in early from the flank. Not only will Ottawa need to be prepared for crosses, but also pacey runs from the flanks into the box by Pasher and shots from distance courtesy of Ayoze.Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium for its first of two matches this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

RECAP | DESPITE DOMINANT EFFORT, INDY ELEVEN FALLS 1-0 AT CHARLESTON

By IndyEleven.com, 09/08/19, 9:45PM EDT

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Boys in Blue Control Run of Play but Fall Short in Game Postponed by Hurricane Dorian

Indy Eleven saw its five-game undefeated streak snapped on the road tonight via a 1-0 defeat at the Charleston Battery. Despite holding distinct advantages in possession, (71%-29%), shots (17-8) and shots on goal (6-1) on the evening and playing with a man advantage for much of the second half, Indiana’s Team could not capitalize in attack, suffering just its second shutout loss in 25 outings this season.Tonight’s match was delayed one day from its scheduled Saturday kickoff due to Hurricane Dorian’s pass through the Carolinas late in the week. The result kept Indy Eleven (15W-5L-5D, 50 pts.) in fourth place in the crowded Eastern Conference standings. However, the Boys in Blue still sit within a win of and hold at least two games in hand on all three teams in front of them – New York Red Bulls II (53 pts.), Tampa Bay Rowdies (52 pts.), and Nashville SC (51 pts.).

Click here for full 2019 USL Championship standings

“It’s a disappointing loss for us. We dominated most of the game and we hardly gave up any chances and we ended up losing 1-nil,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “The big thing is that we feel as though we should’ve taken more out of the game than that. We had quite a lot of chances and hardly gave any up. It’s not what you would expect from a game where you have that much of the ball and that much territory of the game.”The Battery began the proceedings with a trio of set pieces in the opening 10 minutes, but none of those opportunities, nor forward Jarad van Schaik’s 20-yard blast from the run of play, were put on frame. Indy’s attack flipped a switch in the 15th minute, when forward Dane Kelly was put in alone by Macauley King’s through ball, only to see Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky come up with a 1-v-1 save. Kelly recovered the rebound and cycled a cross to the far post that was headed on by debutant midfielder Nico Perea, whose shot was also stopped by Kuzminsky at his right post.Kelly was unfortunate to not take advantage of a miscue between Charleston defender Taylor Mueller and Kuzminsky in the 32nd minute, the two Battery backliners’ collision at the top of the area leaving the net wide open. However, Kelly took the chance early with another defender bearing down, the resulting shot dribbling just inches wide of the right post. Rather than sulk, the play seemed to spark the Jamaican striker, who ripped a more conventional shot from the same spot barely wide just two minutes later.Indiana’s Team felt hard done to give up the lead in the last five minutes of the half. In the 41st minute, forward Eugene Starikov had a case for a penalty kick when Kuzminsky slid in and made contact on the Eleven striker as the two converged on Kenney Walker’s ball played into the area from midfield. However, the referee instead gave Indy a corner kick, a short play that broke down and turned into an 80-yard breakaway for Charleston midfielder Romario Piggott, who finished low and left past Eleven netminder Evan Newton. The Battery’s lone shot on goal of the match would indeed be enough to send the home side into the locker rooms up 1-0, although Eleven defender Ayoze’s free kick from 25 yards at the death of the half certainly put that into question after missing just wide.It was another Ayoze ball, this time off a corner kick, that nearly led to an Indy equalizer three minutes into the second half, but defender Karl Ouimette’s crashing header inside the six was sent high. Straight after that play it was the Battery nearly scoring on the other end, but Eleven midfielder Tyler Gibson’s intervention at the right post was enough to keep Piggott from poking home for his second. In the 53rd minute it was Indy midfielder Matthew Watson making his presence known after entering late in the first half for an injured Walker, his 25-yard blast dragged just wide left, and a minute following it was another Ayoze service setting up Kelly, whose header, like Ouimette’s, was sent over the crossbar.Ayoze made more things happen in the 57th minute, when the Spaniard entered a 50-50 challenge against the Battery’s Kyle Nelson that drew a second yellow card against the Charleston rookie midfielder for a high boot, giving the visitors a man advantage for the last half-hour plus change.While Indy Eleven predictably began to boss the possession after the red card, the next truly dangerous chance would fall against to Piggott in the 70th minute, his shot from 20 yards out bouncing just wide of Newton’s left post. Starikov was twice frustrated by Kuzminsky on headers 90 seconds apart, first in the 76th minute when the Charleston ‘keeper tipped the Ukrainian’s attempt wide off the post, followed by an open shot from eight yards that went right to Kuzminsky on his line.Repeated crosses into the danger zone by Indy Eleven would go wanting over the last quarter-hour plus six minutes of added time, the increasing frustration boiling over in the 94th minute when a scrum inside the six yard box on yet another service saw the teams trade shoves and a yellow card issued to substitute striker Gabriel. That would be the last gasp for the visitors, who were shutout for just the second time in their last 15 matches dating back to early June.“We were pretty much on top anyways, but what the red card did was really made them sit back and bunker in. When a team does that, we’ve got to be a little quicker and creative in our play. That would be the one thing I think we need to take from tonight,” Rennie explained. “Also, making sure that when we’re being that dominant, that we’re decisive around the box, more creative in our movement and more confident in taking people on. When we do that, more chances will come.”Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium with a pair of games this week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night on Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Charleston Battery  1 : 0  Indy Eleven 

Sunday, September 8, 2019 – 6:00 p.m. ET   MUSC Health Stadium – Charleston, S.C.  Attendance: 1,359

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

9/6/19  USA vs Mexico Tonight 8 pm FS1, International Games next 4 days, Indy 11 21 unbeaten at home,

US Men vs Mexico Fri Night 8 pm FS1

Its USA vs Mexico –time – TONIGHT !!  Excited to see so many new young players in camp this week at newcomers from the U20 team include Paxton Pomykal and Sergino Dest from Ajax.  Hoping to see a younger but experienced team tonight with John Brooks back on the center line with newcomer Dest on the left and Reggie Cannon (who played so well vs Mexico last time) on the outside right and probably Aaron Long inside.  I hope to see Alfredo Morales in the Dmid – as he’s starting at Dusseldorf now – but maybe its time to put Wil Trapp out there to show he’s not good enough at this level. (I for one do not trust Trapp).  Look for Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan to fill the attacking mid roles – while Chrisitian Pulisic finally moves to his proper wing position.  Not sure who is on the other wing between Tyler Boyd and Sebastian Lletget.  Finally hopefully we will see Josh Sargent up top – fresh off this last weekend Josh Sargent Scores Wonder First goal for Werder Brennan.   I certainly hope we get to see some Paxton Pomykal along the way as well.  Either way its USA vs Mexico Tonight – must see TV!

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

Indy 11 Beats Top Team in East to Slide into 3rd overall

Our Indy 11 tied Louisville 1-1 before returning home to extend their home unbeaten Streak to 21 games. That’s 21 straight games without losing over 2 years at their new home in Lucas Oil Stadium.  So let me ask you soccer fans – how many of you haven’t been to a game in the Luke?  Honestly as the 3rd place team in the East fresh off a win over the top rated NY Red Bulls 2   1 to zero on Wed night – a team that hasn’t lost in front of its home fans but 1 time in 2 years – what do they have to do to get you to come out and take in a game?  While the Eleven are averaging over 9K per game – it takes 20K to get the Luke really rocking! Cincy did it starting in year 2 – averaging 20K+ per game and are now in the MLS.  There are only 4 more chances this year to take in a game. Lets fill that lower bowl on our final 2 Saturday night games Indy !   Next Games are Wed, Sept 11 vs Ottawa at 7 pm at Lucas Oil followed by Hispanic Heritage night next Sat, Sept 14.   Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

CFC GK

Carmel FC Goalkeeper Training will be Monday at Badger and Thursday next week at Shelbourne.  Indy 11 Goalkeeper and Carmel FC Head GK Coach Jordan should be there for both sessions this week.

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs Toronto FC

10:30 pm ESPN+                                  Portland vs Sporting KC

Sun, Sept 8

2:45 pm ESPN News                            Sweden vs Norway (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Finland vs Italy (Euro Qualifiying)

Mon, Sept 9

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Northern Ireland vs Germany (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Scotland vs Belgium

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

8 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uruguay

9:30 pm Fox Desportes                  Hondurus vs Chile

10 pm Univision, FUBOTV             Argentina vs Mexico

Weds, Sept 11

7 pm MyindyTV                                  Indy 11 vs Ottawa at Lucas Oil 

7 pm ESPNNews                                  Orlando Pride vs Chicago Red Stars NWSL

Fri, Sept 13

2:30 pm    FS2                                        Dusseldorf (Steffan /Morales) vs Wolfsburg, Sept 11

Sat, Sept 14

7 pm MyindyTV                                  Indy 11 vs Bethlehem Steel at Lucas Oil 

USA

What I want to See the US Do vs Mexico – Greg Doyle MLS.com

W2W4 Stars & Stripes

Berhalter concedes Mexico ‘slightly ahead’ of USMNT ahead of friendly rematch

3 key battles for USMNT v. Mexico 

Christian Pulisic, four other Americans will return to their clubs after USMNT-Mexico – sources

Aaron’s Long Road: USMNT, Red Bulls Center Back’s Unlikely Journey

Pulisic intrigued by possibility of playing in Olympics
Christian Pulisic gushes about life at Chelsea under Frank Lampard

Dest set for US debut but could switch to Netherlands

Reggie Cannon carries feeling of loss vs Mexico last time

Scouting Mexico –

Josh Sargent Scores Wonder First goal for Werder Brennan

World

Why the likes of Bale, Neymar and Dybala were not sold

 Study finds huge wealth gap in European soccer

Neymar behind only Messi and Ronaldo, says Tite

Neymar is happy despite failed Barcelona move – Ederson

 Premier League Club Power Rankings: Week 4

Atletico looks like class of La Liga

North London derby lessons 

 Juve, Napoli show flaws  

– Horncastle: Juve, Napoli show Serie A is wide open

Barca drop points  

Lukaku abused 

Man United’s transition 

 Bale back for Real?  

Dortmund’s wake-up call 

Salah, Mane drama?  

Super Simeone and Atletico| Rome derby a fun one 

Trouble for Lampard? 

Big statement by Bayern 

Ladies Soccer

US Drops 3 Goals on Portugal

Women’s Soccer is Coming on Strong – Marcotti

Jamaican women’s football team go on strike in protest at not being paid for historic World Cup performance

PREVIEW-Soccer-Women’s Super League kicks off amid high expectations with Manchester derby

Finland announces equal pay for national teams to help develop ‘a more responsible society’

Armchair Analyst: What I want to see from the USMNT against Mexico

September 5, 20191:34PM EDTMatthew Doyle  Senior Writer

he US men’s national team have two friendlies coming up, as you probably well know. They’ll play against Mexico in New Jersey on Friday night (8:30 pm ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN), and then against Uruguay next Tuesday in St. Louis.

These games are big in that they’re against two very good teams – the Mexico side we’ll see on Friday night should be a level-and-a-half above the one that beat the US in the Gold Cup final, as Tata Martino has basically a full-strength roster this time – and these games are not big in that they are friendlies. The US should feel pressure to come out and play like their lives depend upon the result, given that things can get out of hand in a hurry against excellent teams. And the US should feel free to experiment and take chances and kick the tires on new personnel and new tactical ideas and new formations given that … yeah, they’re friendlies. A bad loss would be a humiliation, but it also kind of* doesn’t matter.

(*) Weirdly, we’re in an era in which friendlies against smaller Concacaf sides matter a little bit more than friendlies against Mexico right now. One of the things Gregg Berhalter & Co. have to do in the next 24 months is just beat the living hell out of the Panamas and Trinidads of the world and rekindle a little bit of the fear those teams used to feel when they faced off against the US. Non-Mexico Concacaf teams have gotten too used to going toe-to-toe with us.

Beating those teams is how you make the World Cup. Failing to beat those teams is how you miss the world cup.Beating Mexico is awesome in any context, but any honest assessment of the player pools and relative form of the US and Mexico says that El Tri are significantly better at the moment. Games like Friday’s are about making progress in closing the gap rather than establishing genuine superiority. Be sure to check out Andre Wiebe’s look at possible XIs we’ll see.Ok, my preamble is over. Let’s just put together a list questions, concerns and requests for the next 180 minutes:

Change the defensive shape in midfield

There’s been a lot written – a lot of it by me – about The System™, Berhalter’s very clever way of getting his side into a 3-2-2-3 formation when the US are in possession. It’s been written about because the way Berhalter has gone about getting his team into that shape has often been clever and sometimes ingenious. It’s been fun to watch.There’s been less written about the team’s defensive shape, which has been a pretty standard 4-2-2-2. And in the Gold Cup final, we saw what might have been the limits of that look as the lack of a true third central midfielder put the US at an almost constant numbers disadvantage against a Mexican side that just swarmed them, especially in the second half. Neither Michael Bradley nor Weston McKennie are reliable ball-winners at the international level at this point, but in their defense they were playing 2v3 and getting overrun.In both of these games I’d like to see a more standard 4-3-3. It’s ok to simplify a bit in order to win the numbers game, especially since it should open up playing time for players who are good at winning the second ball…

Punish the press & win the second ball

Berhalter’s teams always love to build from the back, but Martino did not let them do that at any point in the Gold Cup. And in the early going the US took advantage of that by repeatedly playing over the top of the press and then winning the second ball:It’s very Red Bulls-ish in the idea is less about completing meaningful passes and more about winning the ball in crucial spots where you have, if not necessarily numerical superiority, dynamic superiority. Christian Pulisic getting onto the ball on the move is a nightmare for even the best defenders in the world, and the “on the move” part is the dynamic part.When teams press you they are picking their poison. They are saying it’s worth it to exchange the danger of getting beat over the top for the increased chances of winning the ball in the attacking third and ramming it down your throat. The US very nearly made Tata regret that decision, and the truth is if Pulisic and Jozy Altidore had been a little sharper in front of net they could’ve been 2-0 up inside of 20 minutes.But after those first 20 minutes, the US didn’t do as good of job of winning those second balls. Whatever the midfield shape, if Mexico press then the US have to punish them for it.

Pulisic on the wing & a ball-winning 10

Pulisic is not a central midfielder, or a pure No. 10, or any other label you want to put on it. Maybe he grows into that (probably not, though).Regardless, he is so good on the wing now that it doesn’t make a ton of sense to play him elsewhere. And that becomes especially evident given the need for an extra, ball-winning/duel-winning presence in central midfield.It’s got to be Sebastian Lletget or Paxton Pomykal there. Lletget has had an under-the-radar year for the Galaxy, who are still struggling to figure out their best formation and approach. But he wins 57.4% of his duels, which is Ozzie Alonso/Diego Chara territory. Pomykal is even better in those situations, at 59.7% (for context, Jonathan dos Santos is at 52.5%).The numbers don’t tell the entire story, of course, but they’re a useful data point for understanding each player’s skill set.And to be clear: Neither guy is a true No. 10. Both guys have strengths in the attacking third – they combine well; have good, quick feet; are good on the half-turn; both are willing to take space off the ball – but neither is a pure chance creatorThat doesn’t matter, though, because in the modern game the No. 10 is a less specialized role, and in the US set-up it’s less about visionary passing and more about the ability to execute pre-arranged patterns. Lletget’s already shown a facility for that, and hopefully Pomykal will get his chance to show the same.Beyond anything else at this camp I’m very, very interested in seeing whether Pomykal and Lletget can affect the rhythm of the game by 1) winning second balls, and 2) facilitating. If they’re able to do that in central midfield, that changes so, so much about how the US can/should play.

Josh Sargent, please

We know Altidore can manhandle most center backs, and we know Gyasi Zardes‘s limitations in those situations.We don’t know a ton about Josh Sargent at this level just yet. There’s a lot we suspect, and there have been pretty strong data points in the past. Just think back 11 months:

Sargent’s going to have to do some of the donkey work the US asked of Altidore in the Gold Cup final, and hopefully he’ll also get to do some of the combination work you can see in that compilation above.I will be actively disappointed if he doesn’t start vs. Mexico, even with his fitness concerns.

What type of d-mid?

Berhalter very explicitly wants a defensive midfielder – like Bradley or Wil Trapp – who excels at hitting long diagonals to the flank in order to pick out a winger in isolation or an overlapping fullback in primary assist zones. A few of the US goals this summer came from exactly those types of passes.“What I’d say is we always want a player that has a good range of passing and if you look at a lot of chances we created in the Gold Cup it’s from trying to overload on one side of the field, we can’t overload, it comes back into the middle and then that player plays a diagonal ball to a fullback or to a winger running behind the line. How many goals did we score in the Gold Cup like that?” Berhalter told The Athletic’s Paul Tenorio last month. “So I feel like we need that person on the ball. A person has to be able to process the ball in tight space, has to be able to open up, has to have the vision and the technique to be able to hit a pass like that. Michael is a great example of a guy who can do that, Wil is a good example of a guy who can do that.”We want to see these qualities from other players because that’s a really valuable weapon in soccer.”In the long-term, this is a request from Berhalter to Tyler Adams: Please add this to your game! In this camp, it sounds like a suggestion that another Bundesliga starter, veteran Alfredo Morales, will get his opportunity to prove he can do this as well.Morales has been a fine player for a long time, but long-range, zone-moving passing has never been his forte. He has an opportunity in this camp, it seems, to show otherwise.Of course, Martino did everything in his power to take those passes away from the US back in July. The El Tri central midfield swamped Bradley and McKennie, daring the rest of the team to build enough to beat them. It didn’t happen.There’s a lot on the line in this camp for both Trapp and Morales. Trapp knows the system and has the range of passing, but has frequently looked out of his depth both athletically and defensively against good teams at the international level. Morales has been on the outside looking in for nearly half-a-decade, and this might be his last, best shot at carving out a meaningful international career.

Invert the left back

I actually suspect that neither the right back nor the left back will be inverted, playing that hybrid FB/DM role against Mexico that Berhalter concocted back at the start of the year. It feels too risky against a team that’s likely to line up Rodolfo Pizarro (dominant in the Gold Cup final) on one side and Hirving Lozano on the other.But if he’s determined to try The System™ in this one, I’d like to see him swap sides and have the left back invert rather than the right back doing so. Both Sergino Dest and Nick Lima have proven their comfort at LB, and both have shown a measure of comfort coming inside as ad hoc defensive midfielders.It would be a slightly different, but worthwhile look. And any time Dest, in particular, is pushed forward into attacking spots, he is a potential game-breaker.For what it’s worth it sounds like Dest is going to play a bunch in these games. You can listen to Berhalter’s full interview on last week’s Extratime here:

The No. 1 CB pairing

It’s just important to get John Brooks and Aaron Long some reps. Maybe they won’t be the No. 1 pairing a year down the road when World Cup qualifying starts, but at this point the US should proceed as if they will be. Get them used to each other.nd get them used to beating the first wave of pressure on the ball, please! Brooks and Long both have the ability to drop a shoulder and step past a closing defender, which is becoming a required skill for center backs at the highest levels of the game. There will be times against both Mexico and Uruguay when they’re required to be brave.Worth noting that Miles Robinson, who’s in his first full camp here, has shown to be very, very good at this already:

Folks are calling it “The Miles Robinson Run”. It’s the perfect advertisement for ball-carrying center backs. MR receives the ball, moves past an onrushing opponent, breaks into midfield, and forces the opposing right back to step to him, leaving a left-sided attacker in space.

Wes the boss

My biggest complaint about McKennie thus far in his young career is that he doesn’t find the game enough. His usage rate has tended to be lower than you’d expect of a $20 million-rated central midfielder, and against El Tri this summer there were times when it looked like he was just determined to stay as far away from the engine room as possible. He’s basically the opposite of Adams and Pomykal in that regard.The beginning of his Bundesliga season has been promising in this regard. He’s still not close to being a field general, but he’s not an E-2 anymore. He might be an NCO at this point, with the potential for much more.Long-term, though, in Berhalter’s system (and David Wagner’s at Schalke), he’s going to be asked to boss the midfield – everything from receiving on the half-turn in traffic, to hitting long switches, to creating overloads with his movement, to popping up between the lines in possession, to creating easy outlets for his back line. And, of course, to getting around the damn ball defensively and winning it.We already know that he can be a devastating force when playing downhill in attack – either running off the ball, or carrying it himself – but there’s so much more he needs to do in order to reach his potential and be the type of player a team (club or country) can build around.

Patience in possession

Related to the above, and to the Lletget/Pomykal discussion, and to the Sargent’s combination play idea, and to everything else: The US have to be both more patient and more confident on the ball in those instances when they do establish some possession. Let runs unfold, be willing to cycle up-and-down the field, and trust that you have the skill and shape to do it.

Gimme this lineup:

Sargent

Pulisic /Boyd

Llegett/McKinney

Morales

Dest/Brooks/Long/Cannon

Steffan

Wiebe: Three starting lineups for the USMNT’s revenge match vs Mexico

September 5, 201912:43PM EDTAndrew WiebeSenior Writer

This is not a tactical deep dive. This is not a think piece that’ll strain your brain. I’m leaving the heavy lifting to Matt Doyle. He’s got nothing better to do than spill thousands of words previewing a couple friendlies, and I respect that.I’m standing over the US men’s national team grill, beer in hand, throwing red meat on the flames. These USMNT XIs have been marinating in my mind for a couple days: one dedicated strictly to fan service, one I hope to see against Mexico and one my prediction for what we’ll actually see on Friday against Mexico (8:30 PM ET | FS1, Univision, TUDN). Yes, I am still upset that rain ruined my Labor Day barbecue.While you peruse the lineups – you’re free to drop your own squads in the comment section for evaluation – hit play on this Extratime interview with Gregg Berhalter from last week. You’ll learn something. Promise. I’ve got it all cued up for you, too.

What the fans want

Sergino Dest, you get an international debut against Mexico! Miles Robinson, you get an international debut against Mexico! Paxton Pomykal, you get an international debut against Mexico!Josh Sargent, your reward for staying patient after that Gold Cup snub is a start against Mexico! Score a goal or two, please. Lord knows US Soccer Twitter and MLS Reddit don’t want to see Gyasi Zardes up top again.What could go wrong, right? As Doyle said on Mass Confrontation on Tuesday, “throw the kids into the blender!” Everybody likes smoothies! Unless you’re the fruit…As for the rest of the team, we saw Reggie Cannon against El Tri in the Gold Cup final, so now it’s time for Nick Lima to get a run out and show us all what San Jose Earthquakes coach Matias Almeyda has taught him.  We also haven’t seen Alfredo Morales in US colors since 2016. Into the lineup you go, Bundesliga vet! Everybody seems to believe Christian Pulisic will be more effective on the wing. Your wish is my command (and he gets to combine with Dest!). Tyler Boyd starts for Besiktas, and therefore he starts for the US.There’s no doubt this is fun to imagine, even if it might not be so fun to see this XI in practice against a Mexico team that’s got Chucky Lozano and Chicharito back in the ranks.

What I want to see

Light your torch, grab your pitchfork and join Doyle in pounding on my front door. Yes, Gyasi Zardes is in my team. Yes, Tim Ream and Wil Trapp also start. Yes, I believe/hope that the best version of the USMNT likely has other names at striker, left back and defensive mid a year down the line.That’s not to say Zardes, Ream or Trapp are bad players! They aren’t! This is a chance to prove they belong in the lineup. Good luck to them.We all know a friendly against Mexico isn’t actually a “friendly,” so some consistency and experience in the team is important. Sargent, Dest and Pomykal can come off the bench. Just because they don’t start doesn’t mean they won’t play. I’m on record, by the way, saying Sargent ought to get the nod in his hometown next Tuesday against Uruguay.Against El Tri, the US must do a better job pressing defensively and dealing with the press when in possession than they did in the Gold Cup final.Sebastian Lletget ought to help with the latter. He’s not afraid to take the ball in tight spaces, and he can turn and create opportunities to play the ball to Pulisic’s feet in space or in behind to Jordan Morris or Zardes. Lima deserves a shot against Mexico, and he is more than capable on both sides of the ball. Morris gives Berhalter a direct route to goal and speed Tata Martino has to respect. Plus, he’s a willing defender. Track those runs, Jordan!

What Berhalter will probably do

Sargent

Pulisic /Morris

Lletgett/McKinney

Trap

Dest/Brooks/Long/Cannon

Steffan

UPDATE, 3 pm ET on Thursday: Berhalter announced at his pregame press conference that Sergino Dest will start the match. Get excited, folks! Best I can do is 10 for 11!  I will be over the moon if I get seven of 11 right here. I feel most confident about, in order, Pulisic, Zack Steffen, Weston McKennie, John Brooks, Aaron Long, Trapp and Zardes.Doyle believes Dest will start, both because Berhalter has raved about him publicly and also because the US needs to send a clear signal to the dual-national that he’s a big part of the program’s future. I think that could come against Uruguay. In the meantime, Ream provides a stay-at-home option to give the US defensive structure behind Pulisic.Cannon vs. Lima (or maybe Dest) at right back? Yeah, I have no idea. Zero. I closed my eyes and threw a dart at the wall. I expect to be wrong. The odds aren’t great. As for Morris and Lletget, I already explained those selections above, just from my own perspective. Berhalter will tell us what he thinks when the lineup comes out on Friday.

USA vs. Mexico, 2019 friendly: What to watch for

The rivalry continues immediately after the previous installment. By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Sep 5, 2019, 6:00am PDT

It’s back. The United States Men’s National Team will face off against Mexico tomorrow at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. If you’re thinking it hasn’t been that long since the last time these two teams have played, you’re absolutely right. It was July 7th when the two teams last faced each other in the 2019 Gold Cup final, which was a 1-0 victory for El Tri. Less than 2 months later, the teams will square off again. In a not-so-friendly matchup, who will have the edge? Will some of the newer players make an impact? Tomorrow, the latest chapter in North America’s biggest rivalry is written.

Recent Form

USA

L (0-1) – Mexico – Gold Cup Final

W (3-1) – Jamaica – Gold Cup Semifinals

W (1-0) – Curaçao – Gold Cup Quarterfinals

Mexico

W (1-0) – United States – Gold Cup Final

W (1-0 AET) – Haiti – Gold Cup Semifinals

W (1(5)-1(4) AET) – Costa Rica – Gold Cup Quarterfinals

What to watch for

How will the defense hold? Against Mexico last time, the defense did a fairly decent job for the first 45 minutes of the match. In the second half, they wilted under the pressure of Mexico’s attackers, eventually allowing the Gold Cup-clinching goal. Will there be a new game plan to hold El Tri off the scoreboard?

Can the USMNT limit Mexico’s possession? It’s likely unrealistic to hope that the USMNT can hold possession longer than Mexico, but the Yanks can’t allow El Tri to have 70-80% possession. If the midfield can limit Mexico to having the ball only 50-55% of the time, that means more opportunities for the USMNT to move forward and try to score. You can bet that head coach Gregg Berhalter will want to do what it takes to keep the ball off the feet of Mexico’s attackers.

Is there a hero in this group? Who’s going to step up? Every USA-Mexico match needs a hero, someone that can rise up and seize the challenge and be the guy that fans remember when it’s all over. Will it be a veteran? Will it be a newcomer hoping to make an impact? Someone will need to take charge and lead this team.

Lineup Prediction

Gregg Berhalter wants to develop a consistent lineup, but he also wants to evaluate some talent and determine if they can be counted on in a big time match. This is as big as it gets for a friendly. To that end, it’s expected that Berhalter opts for consistency with the lineup that he has used the most.   LINEUP Steffan // Ream/Long/Brooks/Lima  DM –Morales  AM  McKennie & Roldan  Pulisic & Boyd on Wings – Zardes up top.

In goal, Zack Steffen is back, and Berhalter will likely stick with him. Tim Ream, Aaron Long, John Brooks, and Nick Lima make up the back line, with Lima operating in that hybrid right back to defensive midfielder role. It’s entirely possible we eventually see youngster Sergiño Dest, but it’s hard to imagine that he makes the starting lineup.

In the midfield, Alfredo Morales is the lone “newcomer” that gets a look in the starting lineup. He operates the defensive midfield role, leaving Weston McKennie and Cristian Roldan free to roam and move the ball forward. Those three guys also seem to be the best three on the roster at holding possession as well, so it could be what Berhalter chooses to keep the ball away from Mexico.

Up front, expect Christian Pulisic to play on the right, but he will also operate space in the middle as a center attack mid at times. Tyler Boyd is back in the lineup and will patrol the left. He will have the challenge of covering a lot of space on the left side, particularly when McKennie presses forward. Finally, Gyasi Zardes is Berhalter’s main choice up top, so expect that to continue against Mexico.

Score Prediction

This is going to be a slugfest on a soggy night in New Jersey. Not a lot of action will happen with expected torrential rains associated with Hurricane Dorian moving through the North Atlantic Ocean. However, one man will become a hero: Tyler Boyd. He hammers home a rebound in the final 30 minutes to give the USMNT a 1-0 victory.

Berhalter concedes Mexico ‘slightly ahead’ of USMNT ahead of friendly rematch

Goal.com 6 hours ago

The U.S. coach believes his team are behind their rivals at the moment but says his squad will continue to fight for Concacaf supremacyUnited States national team manager Gregg Berhalter believes Mexico are “slightly ahead” of his squad, but says his squad remain in a position to battle them for Concacaf supremacy.The Americans face their biggest rival in a Friday friendly, the first game for either national team since El Tri topped the USMNT 1-0 in the Gold Cup final.

The victory for El Tri in Chicago continued a recent spell of dominance in Concacaf since the fall of 2017, when Mexico qualified top of the region in World Cup qualifying while the USMNT missed out on the 2018 tournament.And though Berhalter conceded Martino’s team has a bit of an edge at the moment after its Gold Cup final win and triumphs in World Cup qualification, he believes the USMNT remain in the battle to reign supreme in Concacaf. “I think that we’re both in a position where we’re battling for supremacy in Concacaf. We’re both trying to be the top team,” Berhalter said at a news conference Thursday. “I think right now Mexico is slightly ahead of us, having beaten us in the last game and performed well in the last few years.”But when we play them, you see the intensity takes a different level. Everything is up a level. The tempo of the game is up, tackles are a little harder. These are special games. It’s always an occasion to be playing against Mexico – even if it’s a friendly game or a Gold Cup game or qualifying game or World Cup game.”Friday’s friendly will be a back-to-back meeting for the two nations, albeit separated by two months. It will also feature different squads than the ones that battled in the Gold Cup final. Berhalter once again gets the services of center back John Brooks, who missed the Concacaf championship with an injury. There are also returns for Bundesliga duo for Josh Sargent and Alfredo Morales.Mexico’s team is different as well, with World Cup veterans Hector Herrera, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Hirving Lozano among the players who didn’t take part in the Gold Cup but are in Tata Martino’s squad for the September games.But Berhalter is looking forward to the opportunity to face the same opponent twice in a row, anxious to see how his adjustments will pay off. “That’s the beauty of playing them in the next game. You get to make adjustments,” said Berhalter, who played in the rivalry matches as a player and now is participating as the coach. “You get to look at what you want to learn, how you want to learn, change things a little bit, how the team is going to react. For us it’s good. What we’re trying to do is just gather information on Mexico, gather information on what we can do to off-balance them.”These are fun games. When you get to play them back-to-back, we’re obviously going to alter things and see what affect it can have.”The contest is set to kick off at 8:30 p.m. ET. at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

3 key battles for USMNT v. Mexico

Daniel Karell  NBC Sports•September 5, 2019

The U.S. Men’s National Team has a chance to avenge its defeat to Mexico in the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup final as CONCACAF’s two giants face off in a friendly match on Friday at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J.The teams will look slightly different on Friday than on that July evening in Chicago, but it should be a terrific matchup between two squads full of talented youngsters, with some veterans sprinkled in. There will be battles all over the pitch, but here’s three key matchups to keep an eye on during the match.

[READ: Premier League Power Rankings: Week 4]

Christian Pulisic v. Miguel Layun/Luis Rodriguez

All eyes will be on Christian Pulisic – and his Mexican winger counterpart Hirving “Chucky” Lozano. More on that later. Pulisic could certainly play in midfield, as the top of a three, but he seems more likely – having been listed as a forward on the roster, to take up one of the wide positions.That puts a lot on Mexico’s wide players on the backline, Jesus Gallardo on the left and either Miguel Layun or Luis Rodriguez on the right, to keep Pulisic in front of him. If Pulisic can repeatedly find space down the wings and cross into the box, that could leave to issues. Also, they’ll have to communicate effectively if Pulisic floats around, combining with the center forward to create goal-scoring opportunities for himself too.In the Gold Cup final, Andres Guardado and Edson Alvarez did enough to stifle Pulisic. If he plays out wide, away from those pair, can he be the difference?

Lozano v. Reggie Cannon/Sergino Dest

Similar to Pulisic, another key matchup will be the USMNT outside backs against Lozano. Assuming he starts on the left, Lozano will likely go up against incumbent right back Reggie Cannon or Sergino Dest. Both are young and inexperienced at this level, but they certainly have the speed to keep up with Lozano in a footrace.Lozano presents a difficult opponent, as he can certainly play within the channels or play outside along the wing, and he’ll certainly be a key focal point that El Tri will try and utilize during the game. How Cannon or Dest respond to this matchup will certainly also help the pair in future USMNT call-ups.

Aaron Long v. Raul Jimenez

Long, subject to transfer rumors from West Ham, will likely be battling with Wolves star forward Raul Jimenez all evening. Jimenez has taken his game to a new level, turning into a consistent scorer and great striker for Wolves. He’s a rare breed of a physical target forward, who also has excellent technical ability on the ball.For Long, he’s adept at positioning and reading the game from his time as a central midfielder growing up and his transition to centerback with the New York Red Bulls. He’ll have to be on his toes, anticipating passes into Jimenez’s feet or his head, as well as win long-balls in Jimenez’s direction. If the USMNT can keep Jimenez quiet in front of goal, it bodes well for the final score.

Pulisic intrigued by possibility of playing in Olympics

RONALD BLUMBritain Soccer Premier League

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, left, and Sheffield United’s John Egan battle for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at Stamford Bridge, London, Saturday, Aug. 31, 2019. (John Walton/PA via AP)

SHORT HILLS, N.J. (AP) — Christian Pulisic thinks about all the talented young American players and thinks they could go far in next year’s Olympic men’s soccer tournament, perhaps himself included.”I would never completely count that out because it’s a huge honor to play for your country in the Olympics,” the 20-year-old Chelsea midfielder said Wednesday, two days before the U.S. senior national team plays Mexico in an exhibition.Olympic men’s soccer qualifying is limited to players under 23, with three overage players allowed for the final tournament in Japan. Age-eligible Americans include Pulisic and midfielders Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Tim Weah.Clubs, however, are not required to release players for the Olympics or for qualifying, scheduled for March 20 to April 1 in the North and Central American and Caribbean region. The Olympic soccer tournament runs from July 23 to Aug. 8 in and likely would overlap a contemplated preseason tour by Chelsea and perhaps the start of the Premier League season.”A lot of factors come into play, I guess, but we’ll see,” Pulisic said.The United States failed to qualify for the 2012 and 2016 Olympic men’s soccer tournaments, a stumble that preceded the senior team’s failure to reach for last year’s World Cup. Pulisic thinks the U.S. could emulate Mexico, which won the 2012 Olympic men’s soccer gold.”We’re a confident young group of guys and I think there’s no reason why we couldn’t,” he said. “We set big goals for ourselves and, yeah, that would be one of them. That would be something I think we could do.”Pulisic was acquired by Chelsea in January from Borussia Dortmund for a 64 million euros (then $73 million) transfer fee, the most for an American player, then loaned back to the German club for the remainder of the season. He made his Premier League debut in the opening 4-0 loss at Manchester United and has started the last three league matches under new coach Frank Lampard, who replaced Maurizio Sarri.”It’s amazing. I mean, it’s everything I hoped it would be and more. It’s incredible,” Pulisic said. “It worked out really well, for sure. Frank’s a great guy and he’s helped me so much and he understands where I’m coming from and he’s done a really good job and helped me, teaching us, especially a lot of the younger guys on the team.”Pulisic laughed when asked who was the better player: himself or Mexican winger Hirving Lozano,”I’m not going to give you like an Ibra answer here,” he said in a reference to huge-egoed LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who two years ago boasted “lions do not compare themselves to humans” when asked where he ranked himself among strikers. Pulisic, naturally introverted, is reticent at times when speaking with media.”I’ll never be comfortable. I don’t like being in front of cameras,” he said. “I’m still getting used to it, I guess.”

Pulisic will be part of a rare trio of Americans this fall in Champions League Group D, joined by 18-year-old Ajax defender Sergiño Dest and Weah’s Lille, who is missing the match against Mexico and Tuesday’s friendly against Uruguay because of a hamstring injury.Dest introduced himself to Pulisic this week and joked about the possibility of playing against him.”I was asking him are you playing on the left side, right side, things like that?” Dest said with a smile.Pulisic left Hershey, Pennsylvania, to sign with Dortmund at age 16. While living in Germany, he could meet up with McKennie, a starter for Schalke. McKennie is proud of his friend but doesn’t have a chance to follow his club exploits too closely.”I’m not a big guy to watch sports,” McKennie said. “It’s always a big deal whenever you have an American you know being in Europe let alone at a giant club like Chelsea. I’ve heard he’s been doing well.”Pulisic has played primarily on the flanks with Chelsea, and falling back deep at times is part of his responsibility”Learning to help more on the defensive side of things, which is like a good challenge for me, as well,” he said.With the U.S., he has increasingly ventured into the central portion of the field. Coach Gregg Berhalter changed Pulisic’s listing from midfield to forward for this training camp.”We want him to be able to affect games in a number of different ways,” Berhalter said. “We want to be able to isolate him one vs. one at times but we also want him getting them ball between the lines.”Notes: Dest played for the U.S. at this year’s Under-20 World Cup and could make his senior debut Friday. He said the Royal Dutch Football Association contacted him about the possibility of playing for the Netherlands’ Under-23 team. Dest said he was not sure whether he would accept an invite from the U.S. for next month’s CONCACAF Nations League camp. By playing in a competitive senior match, Dest would tie himself to the U.S.

Aaron’s Long Road: USMNT, Red Bulls Center Back’s Unlikely Journey

Brian Straus,Sports Illustrated Wed, Sep 4 11:15 AM EDT

If there’s a level playing field to be found anywhere at an MLS club, where some make millions while others carpool to training with roommates, it’s in the sauna at the Seattle Sounders’ Starfire practice facility. That was the place where one of those millionaires, Clint Dempsey, often would hold court.Dempsey could be guarded, curt and cautious. But once you were familiar, you could become something like extended family. And that was the case whether you were his playing peer, an assistant equipment manager or Aaron Long, a relative no-name whose most significant soccer accomplishment at the time was the All-Big West selection that followed his junior season at UC Riverside.Inside the sauna, you were just another teammate in a towel. All were equal.“After training, he was always in there,” Long said of Dempsey. “We’d have these little sauna talks.”It turned out they had something in common that may have sparked some of those talks—a late start. Until the day he retired and no matter what he accomplished, Dempsey was fueled by the time he missed. When Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley were 20, they were at the World Cup. When Dempsey was 20, he was a junior at Furman. He wasn’t scouted or celebrated as a youth, and then as a pro, his determination to compensate for that delay was relentless. He spoke about it frequently. Dempsey wasn’t focused on establishing dominance or dominion where he was. He fixated on forging a new path through higher and more challenging terrain.“In terms of Clint, he did mention that: ‘I’m against the clock.’ He’d say little things like that. I figured strikers just have that mentality,” Long told SI.com. “I don’t know if I’m racing against the clock. But I do know I have things I want to accomplish, and I have less time in my pro career. I’m very aware.”They now have something more in common. They’re unlikely U.S. national team players. Long’s status isn’t in question now, even though he has only 11 caps. After a strong Concacaf Gold Cup—during which the central defender started five of six games, scored twice and earned a spot on the tournament’s Best XI—he seems like the most probable starter among the backs selected to take part in the USA’s upcoming friendlies against Mexico (Friday at the Meadowlands) and Uruguay (Sept. 10 in St. Louis). To draw a line from that spot in U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter’s 11 to the beginning of Long’s career in San Bernardino County, Calif., seems almost impossible. “It’s a story. It’s incredible,” said Chris Armas, Long’s coach at the New York Red Bulls. “It wasn’t the natural progression of guys coming through the national team ranks—youth national teams. It just wasn’t the path that he took. It was the one less traveled. He gets a lot of the credit—most of the credit. He has to.”Long said, “I wasn’t exactly a top dog comin through.”To say the least.Long grew up about 80 miles northeast of Los Angeles, over the San Gabriel Mountains in what he called “the high desert.”“He’s not really from California. He’s from the desert. you know? He claims he’s from L.A., but he’s from like an hour-and-a-half away,” said good friend (really) and Red Bulls center back partner Tim Parker. “We land at LAX and we get to [the hotel in] Santa Monica and he goes, ‘[inhales deeply] Ah, I’m home.’ I’m like, ‘Dude, you’re like an hour-and-a-half away. what are you talking about?’”Long made the Cal South state team once, in his final year of eligibility. He played near the fringes, and when it was time to pick a school he signed his one and only scholarship offer, from family friend and Riverside coach Junior Gonzalez. Long was a robust, athletic box-to-box midfielder, and at the end of his senior season at Riverside, even though he wasn’t invited to the 2014 MLS combine, he’d done enough to get drafted toward the end of the second round by the Portland Timbers. He went on two USL loans and then was cut in July.The rival Sounders scooped him up, and Long rode the bench for the rest of 2014 before starting the following season with S2, the club’s new USL reserve outfit (it’s now Tacoma Defiance). It was in Seattle, before those sauna talks, that Long’s evolution began. Sigi Schmid appreciated Long’s midfield versatility and imagined him as a “Brad Evans-type”—someone who could transition between multiple positions in midfield and along the back line.But Evans was still entrenched as the Sounders’ resident Brad Evans-type, leaving Long to spend the year in the USL. By its conclusion, he was 23 and still hadn’t played an MLS minute. The Sounders offered to bring Long back as the S2 captain in 2016. There also was interest in the Twin Cities, where Minnesota United was making its expedited jump to MLS. And then there was a somewhat surprising call from the New York Red Bulls, whose enticing proposal came with a hard and fast condition.Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch promised Long a preseason with the first team. But it was going to be as a center back. And only as a center back.It was not an easy decision.“It was moving across the country. I’ve been a west coast guy my whole life, Even Portland and Seattle are a couple hours a way from my parents. My girlfriend, who I’m still with, lived in Seattle at the time,” Long recalled. “Then there’s the whole thing where like, I don’t know anyone on the Red Bulls. I don’t know anything about Jesse Marsch. I don’t know anything about this Red Bulls system, this Red Bulls pressing. And I have to play this whole new position that I don’t really love, to be honest. As a center mid, you don’t love center back. You want be on the ball.”But he also wanted to avoid regression. And he could feel the clock starting to tick. So he packed up and switched coasts, making the sort of leap into the unknown that’s often necessary to further or jumpstart a career. Dempsey would’ve approved.“Jesse says, ‘Look, we think we’re a good place for young players. We see athleticism in you—courage,’” Armas told SI.com. “He was a confident kid. Showed up and worked hard, showed a real ability to read the game well and just put out fires. He had a top speed that was impressive. And he had the mind and feet of a six.“He decided to choose us, thankfully. He got thrown into the fire,” Armas continued. “Introducing the style of play to him, playing fast, this was a culture shock for a lot of players. You sink or swim. He swam. He was great. Jesse worked with him.”Long needed games at center back, so was willing to sign a USL contract because the club so frequently included Red Bulls II players in first-team training.“The culture at Red Bull is insane. It’s integrated like crazy, more so than anywhere else,” he said.The USL team was a juggernaut, rolling through the regular season before thrashing Swope Park Rangers, 5-1, in the final. Long was the league’s defender of the year, and the Red Bulls II roster included several players who made the jump to MLS, including Tyler Adams and Derrick Etienne.Only FC Dallas partisans would dispute the Red Bulls’ position as American soccer’s premier talent identifier and incubator. Whether it’s turning a journeyman like Bradley Wright-Phillips into an icon, Adams into a Champions League player, or Brian White into this season’s co-leading scorer, the club has become a launch pad. Long’s ascent is testament to the efficacy of the Red Bulls’ approach.“It helps that I was naturally pretty good at [center back], for sure, but the amount of time Jesse put into a USL player was crazy. The amount of time he spent with me doing video and talking to me after my games. He watched every Red Bulls II game. I think they still do, the coaches. That’s why they develop so much young talent. They watch every single USL game, which Seattle didn’t, by the way. That’s one of the reasons I wasn’t so keen on going back there,” Long said. “Jesse would call me in after every game, and we’d do personal video sessions. A lot of work went into it, and as a second-team guy, I was blown away. I was like, ‘This guy definitely cares about me. He definitely sees a future.’”Armas, then an assistant and now in charge with Marsch off to a strong start at Red Bull Salzburg, confirmed that they still watch every RBII match. New York’s frenetic style also was ideal for a player still learning the mental side of the position.“The club was perfect for him,” Armas said. “It’s aggressive, and it keeps him alert at all times. He almost got fast tracked and had to play catch-up. Playing center back on this team—what a demand. We’re not sitting deep in a block, shifting and stepping. It’s massive fires to put out, reading the game, combativeness, playing forward, playing fast. There’s a lot of details to how we play and I credit the philosophy of our club to his development.”Finally, things began happening quickly for Long. In 2017, he started 33 MLS regular season and playoff games, and then in ’18, there was another breakthrough. He was the league’s defender of the year, the Red Bulls won the Supporters’ Shield and in September, he earned his first national team invitation of any kind, junior or senior. He roomed with Parker. And although Dave Sarachan left Long on the bench during a pair of friendlies, the interim manager gave him his USA debut the following month against Peru.Parker jokingly said Long’s ego was out of control upon his return to the Red Bulls form U.S. duty.“He comes back and starts criticizing everyone,” Parker deadpanned.Which means, of course, that Long did anything but, instead handling it with his disarming California cool. Long is funny, candid, somewhat acerbic, and confident—without appearing to stray toward arrogance. He draws attention to himself only with his play and an inexplicable haircut.“He’s a real guy,” Armas said.Long believed in himself even when others didn’t, and he’s chased his goals with the sort of disciplined relentlessness that earns respect rather than antipathy.He needs those skills now more than ever. Because on the heels of his sterling Gold Cup, and with his professional bona fides cemented, European clubs came calling. Long said he is “very grateful” to the Red Bulls. They signed him to an extension in January that’ll pay him $800,000 this season and is guaranteed through 2021. They gave him the chance, the coaching and the platform he needed. But there’s little point to that platform unless you use it. And now Long wants to leave. He’s moved once for the chance to take his late-blooming career to the next level. And like Dempsey, he believes it’s time to do so again. Long turns 27 next month. There are only so many contracts left for a player that age. The window to move abroad won’t stay open forever.In January 2016, the Red Bulls sent 20-year-old center back Matt Miazga to Chelsea for $3.5 million. Adams, regarded by many as a future USA linchpin, made an in-house move to RB Leipzig for $3 million. That’s the same amount that West Ham United offered the Red Bulls in July for Long. It was rejected. An unidentified French club upped the ante to $4 million. That would tie the record for a transfer fee paid for an MLS defender. The Red Bulls weren’t interested.Long acknowledged his frustration. Meanwhile, the club was caught between competing missions. Yes, the Red Bulls have a proven knack for developing players and identifying talent and, yes, participating in the transfer market should be a vital component of every MLS team’s mission. But there’s only so much pride New York fans can take in knowing their club is where careers are born but not always where they blossom. From Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley to Tim Ream, Adams and Miazga, New York is known more for transfers than for titles.The club is starved for the latter (Supporters’ Shields are nice, but it’s not a championship of anything), and you can’t hang a transfer fee from the rafters. Selling a top player requires the development or acquisition of a replacement. That’s not always a given, even at Red Bull. Doing so in short order, with the playoffs approaching, represents an especially tough sell for a club with multiple constituencies. There’s the player and the market. But there’s also the fans, sponsors and community who have been through more on-field heartbreak than any others in MLS.“He can play in almost any league in the world. But what we need is another club out there to see his value and come in strong with an offer that makes sense to our club. … We’re not going to just give away our best players,” Armas said.  “It’s always going to be what’s best for the club with the player in mind. We don’t want to hold anyone back. We never have,” Armas continued, before rattling off the names of former Red Bulls. “They want a starting center back. One of our best players, starting for the national team, and he’s growing still. [The offer] has got to match that. At the same time, no matter what the offer is, of course there’s frustration if it doesn’t work out. I understand that.”Armas said his relationship with Long remains good. In the end, it’s not up to the manager anyway. Red Bulls sporting director Denis Hamlett and Red Bull Global executives Oliver Mintzlaff and Paul Mitchell will have the final say. Either way, it’s out of Long’s hands. His ability to shape his career has been limited, and the fate of his team and his potential appeal during the January transfer window will be impacted by his performance this fall.Parker joked that if the Red Bulls finally win MLS Cup, they’ll all go to Europe.“He had a tough time early on, when this came and went,” Armas admitted. “Like I said, he’s a real guy. He’s not going to have those dreams and have a chance to go and then just show up like nothing’s going on. Yeah, it bothered him. But he wasn’t a distraction to the team at all. He shows up every day as a pro. He endured a lot emotionally, but it didn’t stop his commitment to the team.”Long will get another chance in the shop window over the next couple weeks with the USA. Berhalter’s style is more balanced and possession-based than New York’s, but Long’s midfield pedigree is important to a manager who wants players who can see and pass through lines. Plus, there’s a chance at another crack at Mexico following defeat in the Gold Cup final.“We could’ve and should’ve won that game, in my opinion,” Long said, still sore over his silver medal. “It’s almost like a new rivalry beginning with these new generations. There’s not enough bad blood at this time between some of the players like Tyler Adams, Weston [McKennie], Christian Pulisic, and the young Mexican guys. Over 10 years, there’s going to be a lot of crazy games and there’s going to be some serious bad blood. Seeing Jozy [Altidore] and Michael [Bradley] getting psyched for that game was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.”Then comes the MLS Cup playoffs, perhaps more Red Bull heartbreak, and then the transfer dance will begin again. Considering his past, it might seem like Long is already playing with house money. But he’s always felt capable. So the next big step is an integral and inevitable part of his journey.“I understand where they’re coming from. … [But] I’ve got to make moves and I need to make them as soon as possible,” he said. “I want to take every opportunity I can take. I’m riding a wave right now and I want to see where it goes.”Added Parker: “He’ll have more opportunities. He’s good enough, and hopefully it happens again this winter. It would suck to lose Aaron, and it would be kind of good to lose Aaron.”It sounds like he’s channeling Ben Affleck’s Chuckie in Good Will Hunting when he said, “Because you’d be losing a bad guy in the locker room!”More banter, amid what’s becoming serious business.“I want to see Aaron succeed,” Parker said. “Whether that’s in New York, in Europe, whatever his desires really are.”

Dest set for US debut but could switch to Netherlands

RONALD BLUM,Associated Press 4 hours ago

FILE – In this May 24, 2019, file photo, Ukraine's Serhii Buletsa, front, duels for the ball with United States' Sergino Dest during a Group D U20 World Cup soccer match in Bielsko Biala, Poland. Dest, an 18-year-old Ajax outside back eligible for the United States and the Netherlands, could make his U.S. debut in Friday's exhibition against Mexico but also has been in contact with the Dutch soccer federation. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits, File)

SHORT HILLS, N.J. (AP) — Sergiño Dest’s tenure with the U.S. national team could be lengthy. Or he might cut it short.The 18-year-old defender is scheduled to start Friday night’s exhibition against Mexico in his debut for the American senior team but could switch his affiliation to the Netherlands in the future.Eligible to play for both nations, the outside back is keeping his options open after getting playing time with Dutch power Ajax at the start of this season.”I’m happy for this opportunity and I’m happy that I’m here right now, but I don’t know for the future yet,” he said this week at the U.S. team’s hotel.Dest was born in Almere, Netherlands, and his mother is Dutch and his father is a Surinamese-American. Dest played for the U.S. at the 2017 Under-17 World Cup and this year’s Under-20 World Cup, reaching the quarterfinals at both tournaments.While the Royal Dutch Football Association has contacted him about making a change, Dest decided to report to U.S. camp this week. Asked about the conversation Wednesday, he paused and smiled before answering.”Yeah they said something to me,” he replied. “It was not the first team yet, it was with the Under-23s. They want to have a meeting with me. I keep the options open for both ways.”He would not commit to playing for the U.S. next month in CONCACAF Nations League games against Cuba and Canada. Because those are competitive matches, if he appears for the Americans he would not be able to switch to the Dutch.”It’s about communication,” U.S. coach Gregg Berhalter said, “and then creating an environment that they want to be in.”There is little depth at outside back for the U.S., and the right-footed Dest can play on both sides. DeAndre Yedlin and Tyler Adams, the top right-sided U.S. players, have seen sidelined by injuries since spring, and left back is a traditional American weak spot.”I don’t think age matters. If you’re ready, you’re ready, and I think him coming in here is a sign of that,” said 21-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie, a regular starter for Germany’s Schalke. “It seems like he definitely has a good attacking mentality and good speed and everything that his position really needs.”Dest grew up in the Netherlands and had been to the U.S. only once, a trip to New York when he was about 14, before joining the U.S. youth team program. He started four of five matches at the Under-20 World Cup in Poland. His failure to get his head on the ball in a clearance attempt led to Ukraine’s first goal in an opening 2-1 win, and he rebounded to play far better in the following games.”I was thinking it’s like a childish fault and I was still a little bit upset about it in the hotel,” he said. “I learned from that moment.”His profile rose during preseason with Ajax, which was seconds from reaching the Champions League final last season before allowing a stoppage-time goal to Tottenham. Dest made his first-team competitive debut for Ajax in the Dutch Super Cup against PSV Eindhoven on July 27.”I played with second team and I did really well, so they gave me a chance in preseason to play with the first team and that went very well,” he said. “My focus was I want to stay there and I don’t want to go back to the second team.”He has since appeared in three Eredivisie matches and a pair of Champions League qualifiers.”Everyone has their own progress, right, and the speed in which they continue to progress is unpredictable,” Berhalter said. “He got an opportunity, he seized his opportunity and now he’s a starter for Ajax, a semifinalist in the Champions League, and that’s an unbelievable story.”Berhalter called Dest in mid-August and offered him the invitation to U.S. camp.”I didn’t expect it,” Dest said. “I like to play for the U.S. I love the opportunity.”Ajax was drawn into Champions League Group D, which Dest called “the opportunity to show myself to the world.” He could face a pair of young Americans, Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic and Lille’s Tim Weah, a teammate on the Under-20 team.Dest playfully tried to gain some tactical knowledge this week from Pulisic.”I was asking him are you playing on the left side? Right side? Things like that,” Dest said.Dest could slot in nicely on either side for the Americans, still experimenting ahead of the start of World Cup qualifying next September,”It happens all the time where you see a guy get an opportunity, take advantage of that opportunity,” Berhalter said. “You never can tell when it happens, who it’s going to happen to, but Sergiño’s in a good moment now, and we definitely want to capitalize on that.”Notes: The game is a rematch of the CONCACAF Gold Cup final in July, when Mexico beat the U.S. 1-0 despite missing many of its top players, including Hirving Lozano, Javier Hernández and Jesús Corona.

Forget Barcelona and Real Madrid: Atletico have the look and feel of La Liga champions

Sep 3, 2019Graham HunterSpain writer

Sometimes, especially when you’re trying to win just your third title in 42 years, you need things to go your way.You need the crowd to, almost literally, become your 12th man. You need your substitutes to produce three goals in two games. You need a wonderkid. You need your greatest comeback in a decade. You need your richer, more powerful rivals to drop four or five points across three games. And sometimes you need to suffer a shock, something akin to waking up to find a scorpion in your pajamas. Oh, and a last-minute winner to go clear at the top of the table doesn’t hurt either.

– Champions League group stage: All you need to know

Ladies and gentlemen: Welcome to the mad, pulsating but deeply promising world of Atletico Madrid — Spain’s sudden title favourites. Mind you, please whisper that phrase or Diego Simeone might take you by the shirt front and pin you to the wall. More of that later.Let’s join all those dots, starting with the 12th man.On Sunday night, as Simeone’s rather punch-drunk men tried to haul themselves back into their contest with Eibar after going 2-0 down inside 20 minutes before Joao Felix struck back, goalkeeper Jan Oblak began a move by rolling the ball out to his central defender, Jose Gimenez. Now, I don’t know for sure whether Gimenez was planning his postmatch meal or just taking a standing micro-nap, but he had his back turned. At that moment, he couldn’t have dreamt that an Atleti attacking move might be starting with him.The ball rolled towards Gimenez, unbeknownst to him, and Eibar look poised to go 3-1 up at the Wanda Metropolitano. But at that crucial moment, the 12th man, or rather 54,000 of them, roared to the rescue. Just before Gimenez’s position became fatally embarrassing, every man, woman, child and ball-boy in the stadium screamed at him to wake up and pay attention. No parental warning needed here because while there was language which would make anyone blush, I won’t repeat it.As soon as the Uruguayan was startled into turning around and gathering the ball, Atleti’s move for Vitolo’s goal that would draw them level at 2-2 began. The newspapers on Monday morning should have read: Assist: Lemar/Crowd. But they didn’t.

Remember the fears that leaving the now demolished Vicente Calderon stadium might be, for Atleti, like Samson getting a haircut? A huge drop in power? Forget it.The subs? Well Vitolo now has two goals in two blistering second-half performances, each contributing to wins which looked like being a draw and a defeat respectively. Thomas Partey joined the party (do excuse me) with a 90th-minute winner despite having only been on the pitch just over 10 minutes.Afterwards, Vitolo said: “I’ll keep on fighting in every training session, with every match minute I get to help the team and to try and force the coach into picking me.”Thomas added: “Every one, starter and sub, feels equally important here. The work the team did from the moment Eibar went 2-0 up was absolutely phenomenal.”The two of them followed the right actions with the right words. Everyone here sings from the same hymn sheet. Smells like 2013-14, doesn’t it?Whatever else is going on, Simeone has all his back-up players pawing the ground with energy, resilience and determination rather than sulking. They seem to know that the biggest trophies are always won by an 18-man squad, not 11 men. While 19-year-old Rodrigo Riquelme didn’t turn the game on Sunday, his introduction as a sub means that Atleti‘s coach, unfairly branded as “conservative,” has now brought on seven homegrown kids for their debuts since April last year.I don’t think it’s necessary to explain, again, what a dramatic impact Simeone has had on the club, the fan base, the media, the training ground environment, the squad, the academy or the trophy cabinet (seven in just under eight years). But I’ll bet you didn’t know that not only was Sunday against Eibar the first time his team had conceded twice at home before the 20-minute mark, or that Atleti hadn’t fought back to win from 2-0 down since 2009?Sunday’s fightback against Jose Luis Mendilibar’s Eibar represented just that for Atleti — calamitously shipping in one smash-and-grab goal, followed by a comedy second to give the impression that Barcelona drawing and the prospect of Real Madrid doing the same later on didn’t matter to them.But they have this wonderkid, see?Joao Felix is not only special, he’s durable and oozes winning mentality. After hogging the entire European preseason with his performances, the Portuguese phenom, still just 19, has a goal, an assist and a penalty won through three games for the top-of-the-table and title favourites. His delightful piece of skill (the Spanish have begun to call such tricks “delicatessen” recently) near the halfway line to take a crisp pass, flick it past his marker and set Diego Costa off on a run which would end with Felix side-footing home Atleti‘s first to make it 2-1, brought a primeval roar of approval from the gullets of the red-and-white 54,000.Yet when the Portuguese starlet tired, Simeone had the chutzpah to replace him with match-winner Partey. Normally a right-back, midfield enforcer or even a centre-back, here the Ghanaian was deployed as a second striker … and scored. I liked the cut of Simeone’s jib postmatch. He said: “I saw that Joao was flagging and I knew that Thomas had the impetus to play off Diego Costa. I wanted speed, I wanted to attack Eibar.”It brought drama, a third goal, postmatch questions about winning the title and three beautiful points but Simeone remained realistic.”If you win 3-2 then you’ve committed some errors. But the point is the fight back and winning. We want to win, then win some more then win again and again …” was his payoff, an homage to Luis Aragones, his only challenger as Atleti’s most famous, most loved servant, and the ‘Wise Old Man of Hortaleza’s’ historic phrase: “Ganar, y ganar y volver a ganar.Atleti are well stocked across their squad, trust their academy products, look fit, fast, renewed with the energy and competition that astute new signings can bring and, up front, they seem to ooze scoring power.Here’s the rub. It’s not for nothing that they’ve only won the title twice since 1977. Madrid and Barcelona have often claimed La Liga with “moderate” performances where their deep resources are impossible for Atleti to emulate. This time Simeone has the resources, several special players, a throbbingly good home support and his principal rivals are, at best, flat-planing and, likely, regressing.That leaves us with the fact that if they are to become Spanish champions it will be the first time in nearly half a century that they’ve done so starting as most people’s outright favourites. A burden.Expect the “one game at a time,” “we aren’t thinking about that” and “if you mention the title one more time” to be growled out from Atleti‘s Majadahonda training ground and postmatch news conferences all the way to next May. When, based on recent evidence, great things await.

It’s time to map out successful, meaningful change for women’s soccer

Sep 3, 2019Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

There’s no debate: as a standalone tournament, the Women’s World Cup is a rip-roaring, commercially viable success. The 2019 edition broke women’s football viewing records around the world. This happened not only in Europe, where the time zones were friendly and new marks were set in France, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, but also in the United States and Brazil. In fact, according to FIFA, Brazil set a new global viewing record when 35 million watched the Selecao take on France in the round of 16.And it’s not as if this audience was simply football junkies getting their fix at the end of the European season because there was nothing else on. They had plenty of other options, from the European under-21 championships to the Africa Cup of Nations, from the Copa America to the Gold Cup and Major League Soccer.The tournament was rightly celebrated across mainstream media, but you can’t help but wonder what happens next and whether the right questions are even being asked, not just of FIFA, but of stakeholders in the women’s game — players, fans, associations — around the world. Because the risk for women’s football is that it becomes like most Olympic events: massive audiences and media attention every four years, and then zero on the Richter scale until the next Olympiad. And like many Olympic events, it becomes not a true mass participation sport but a niche pursuit for the privileged elite.There is a significant window of opportunity for women’s football. It requires creative thinking. It requires belief. It requires a willingness to hold institutions, from FIFA to federations, to account. Above all, it requires a clear-eyed realization that the priority must be making the game accessible and sustainable to every woman and girl who wants to play it. With that said, here’s my take on the some of the most important issues facing women’s football as it looks to build on the successful Women’s World Cup.

Q: OK, let’s start at the top, with FIFA. Shouldn’t we be holding it to account over equal pay and equal prize money?

A: I can see why you would conflate the two issues, since much of the media has. But they’re entirely separate.Equal pay refers to what women’s national teams earn relative to their male counterparts. In some federations the women’s team is not just more successful, but also generates comparable, if not greater, amounts of money than the men’s team. It’s not quite “pay” in the sense that these aren’t salaried employees, but more like contractors. It’s also complicated by the fact that for most of the bigger men’s teams, the bulk of the players’ earnings comes from their club sides and the national team stipends are basically pocket money, whereas for the women they’re often the main (and sometimes only) source of income. So it seems justified and reasonable to treat the men’s and women’s teams equally.Norway were among the first federations to do it, and in the U.S., the women’s team took legal action last March.

Q: What about prize money? The men’s prize money pool in 2018 was $400 million. The women’s prize money in 2019 just $30 million.

A: Like I said, that’s a totally different issue. The men’s World Cup also had 32 teams instead of 24, so on a per-team basis, on average, the men’s prize money was 10 times as high. There’s a reason for that. (I’ll get to it in a minute.) But what many seem to fail to understand is that prize money doesn’t go to the players. It goes to the federations that then decide how to allocate it.Some of it goes to World Cup preparation and expenses — in the case of less wealthy federations, FIFA covers the cost with an additional pot of $20m — some of it goes to players and staff. In the case of men’s teams there’s another massive expense relative to the women: insurance. FIFA pays the cost of insuring players at the World Cup itself, but not for qualifiers and friendlies. But obviously you need to play qualifiers and friendlies to get there.In any case, there’s nothing stopping successful women’s teams like the United States from going to their federation and demanding equal pay, as they have done. It shouldn’t be tied to prize money.There’s also another, more pertinent, reason why discussion about investing in the women’s game shouldn’t focus on prize money.

Q: What’s that?

A: Increasing prize money would simply steer more cash to those who need it least. The countries who perform best at the Women’s World Cups are all wealthy nations with the best-established women’s football programs. All eight of the countries with the most registered women footballers reached the round of 16 in France and seven of the eight made the quarterfinals. That shouldn’t be surprising: when you have far more players to choose from and more money to train them you usually end up winning.FIFA’s mission is to promote and develop the game worldwide, not to run a commercial enterprise that rewards countries which already enjoy all sorts of advantages. Every dollar spent on prize money is a dollar not going into development, and FIFA’s job is primarily development. Roughly a quarter of FIFA member nations (156 of 209) don’t even field senior women’s teams and it’s extremely difficult (if not impossible) for a woman to play organized football at any level.This gap is why there’s such a disconnect in the conversation. The U.S. and Australia, two of the countries that have pushed hardest for increased prize money, are actually two of the ones who, frankly, need it least. The U.S. has more than 1.6 million registered women’s footballers, which is roughly 40 percent of all registered women’s players in the world. It has Title IX, which ensures opportunities for women to play at university level. These are luxuries most of the world’s countries can only dream of.Demanding more prize money from FIFA smacks of a “first world” attitude if it comes at the expense of development money, especially when these players can (and should) get more pay from their own federations.

Q: What exactly do you mean by “development money”?

A: These are funds that FIFA sends to member associations to promote football development. It can mean everything from coaching education to building pitches and training centers to buying equipment to leasing minivans to drive kids to matches. Right now, in addition to the general funds that FIFA makes available to member nations, it also has half a billion dollars earmarked specifically for women’s football programs.As FIFA president Gianni Infantino says, if you don’t run a woman’s program that meets certain requirements, you don’t get the money.

Q: Can we trust FIFA to hand out this money, given its past history of corruption and malfeasance? A football pitch is a football pitch after all: how do we know it’s going to be reserved for women’s football? In fact, how do we know it’s not going to be used for some local FA official to build himself a new swimming pool?

A: No doubt stuff like that happened in the past, as Infantino himself readily admits.Money just leaks out of the system. FIFA says it has tightened up requirements and oversight to ensure it won’t happen. And, possibly because of this oversight (or maybe because they simply don’t care), many FAs have left money on the table, But it requires more vigilance on a local level, that’s for sure, and it requires education — people in less developed footballing nations demanding the funds are spent — as well as, perhaps, some solidarity from the bigger, wealthier countries.

Q: But isn’t FIFA sitting on $2.75 billion in cash reserves (money sitting in the bank at the end of the last fiscal year)? Surely it can do both: increase prize money and increase development funds.

A: Of course it can, and that’s what Infantino has pledged to do. He wants to double prize money to $60m (plus another $40m to help cover World Cup expenses for less wealthy nations) and also double development funds for the women’s game from $500m to a billion over the next four-year cycle. It’s just a little disappointing that so much of the talk has focused on prize money and not development.In any case, hopefully this whole argument will be moot next time around.

Q: How’s that?

A: What many don’t seem to realize is that more than 95 percent of FIFA’s income comes from a single tournament every four years: the men’s World Cup and, specifically, the sale of tickets, commercial and broadcast rights.Effectively, the men’s World Cup subsidizes everything FIFA does, from development grants to organizing competitions like the Women’s World Cup, youth tournaments, beach soccer and so on. Without the men’s World Cup, none of these things would exist because none of them can pay for themselves — at least that was the case in the past.Take the current cycle from 2015 to 2022: those rights were sold off between 2010 and 2012, and FIFA would sell its international tournaments to broadcasters as a package deal by territory. You’d pay for the men’s World Cup, primarily, and FIFA would throw in competitions such as the Women’s World Cup, the under-20s, futsal and beach soccer for “free.” Infantino vows to change that when the next set of rights — for the 2027 World Cup — comes on the global market and, on a regional basis, possibly earlier.He pointed out that the men’s World Cup, with its global reach of around 4 billion, generates $6.5 billion in revenue. If the Women’s World Cup in France reaches a quarter of that audience, it should generate a quarter of the men’s World Cup revenue, or around $1.6 billion. Instead, because the commercial and broadcast rights are bundled with the men’s, it has generated close to zero: some ticket sales, minor local sponsorships and some merchandise and/or concessions.When he took charge of FIFA in 2016, Infantino appointed a dedicated head of women’s football, Sarai Bareman. Now the goal is to market the Women’s World Cup as a separate competition. If you look at the numbers and audience, surely sponsors and broadcasters will come on board. That’s a huge first step, and when it happens, it will be easier to increase prize money as well. But the goal, as far as FIFA is concerned, has to be development, grassroots and access to the game.

Q: What about the top end, the women we saw at the World Cup in France?

A: Here again it’s complicated, and this is where the biggest decisions need to be taken, not so much by FIFA but by those who care about the women’s game. Some see professional women’s leagues as a key stepping stone to promote and grow the sport. I’m not so sure

Q: How come?

A: There are basically two models for this. Neither has had much success thus far, though it’s still early. In Europe, they’ve tried to piggyback off of men’s clubs. On the surface, it makes sense since you already have a strong brand, ready-built facilities and a fan base that loves the club. Commercially, though, it has been tough.Atletico Madrid drew more than 60,000 for the visit of Barcelona last season in Spain and 39,000 showed up to watch Juventus take on Fiorentina in Italy. In reality, those are one-off, heavily marketed games that saw many tickets given away free or at deep discounts. Atletico’s average attendance is about 600 a game, while Juve attract less than 500.

Even in England’s Women’s Super League, or WSL, the only fully professional league in Europe, attendance is less than a thousand people per game. The Times reported that the FA, which runs the WSL, “did not see the women’s domestic game as a long-term project” and “were not the ones to take it forward.”In the United States and Australia, they’ve opted to create leagues and clubs from scratch with a franchise system. The first attempt at a fully professional league was the WUSA, launched in the wake of the 1999 Women’s World Cup, which lasted three years before investors pulled the plug. (There’s an excellent ESPN 30 for 30 about it.) Another league, the WPS, was started a few years after that and also went bust shortly thereafter.Now there’s the NWSL, in its seventh season. They’ve tried to avoid mistakes of the past by being more conservative in their spending (an approach also taken by the W-League in Australia) and their attendances, around 7,000 a game, are the highest in the world. (Those numbers are swelled a little by the staggering success of the Portland Thorns, who average 20,000 a game, which is higher than 14 of the 24 MLS clubs.)

Q: OK, so the numbers aren’t huge in most cases, but it’s still sustainable professional football, right?

A: Well, yes and no. The three fully professional leagues have very tight salary caps. The average NWSL salary is $21,000 (with a minimum of $16,000) and in the W-League, it’s $14,000 (with a minimum of $7,000). If that’s your only income, it puts the player close to the poverty line. In the U.S. in particular, where many of these players are college-educated and have more lucrative career options, it can be a tough sell.In England’s WSL, the average is around $34,000, but many teams are losing money: both Manchester City and Chelsea, for example, lost more than a million dollars last season on their women’s teams. Elsewhere in Europe you have a mix of professional teams paying high wages and being bankrolled by benefactors, and amateur sides, with players taking second jobs.So I guess it depends on your definition of sustainability. For now, it’s sustainable under the European model if someone subsidizes it. And it’s sustainable under the U.S./Australian model if you pay players a pittance.

Q: So are you saying that we should just abandon women’s professional club football?

A: Not at all, but we need to remember that the men’s game has a hundred-year head start and didn’t turn fully professional in most cases until 50 years ago. In other words, it grew organically, which is why it’s so important to grow the base, develop the game and get people playing, perhaps more so than seeking out investors to bankroll professional clubs.The reality is that investors, whether they’re NWSL owners or big European clubs bankrolling their women’s teams, want to see a return on their investment at some point. And if it doesn’t materialize soon enough, they often walk away, as they did with the WUSA and WPS. Reaching profitability from scratch takes time.

  1. So what should they do?

A: First of all, realize that the landscape across the globe is different and what’s good for women’s football in the U.S. may not work in China or Brazil or Germany.Second, don’t automatically mimic the professional men’s game and its structures, whether it’s the European setup or the U.S. version with franchises and no promotion/relegation. Those models developed over time for different reasons, neither is perfect and, most importantly, they may not fit the needs of the women’s game.In Europe, where a number of countries have a couple of professional teams and the rest are amateur, that might mean creating cross-border leagues to raise the standard and generate commercial critical mass. In the U.S., where distances are vast and travel costs massive, that might mean regionalizing play.More broadly, rather than insisting on the word “professional” (i.e. paid) maybe the emphasis ought to be on “full-time,” meaning ensuring women have a guaranteed certain number of hours to train per week, along with mechanisms that allow them to take time off. That would expand the base and help the club game grow organically.Most of all, maybe they could learn from other sports, like cricket and rugby.

Q: Oh? Why those sports?

A: Because cricket and rugby, despite having been around for a very long time, face some of the same challenges — and have some of the same strengths — as the women’s game. They’re not mass participation sports the way men’s football is and, like women’s football, they have to compete for attention. But they do have a thriving international game that commands huge audiences — think the Six Nations in rugby or the Ashes/Twenty20 in cricket — and the Women’s World Cup showed that women’s football can attract comparable audiences. So maybe the objective should be to monetize international women’s football since the interest is already there.Infantino wants to create a Global Nations’ League, along the lines of the very successful UEFA Nations’ League. That could well move the needle, and you already kind of see it in the U.S. with the women’s team’s “Victory Tour.” Indeed, this is one of the starkest differences between men’s and women’s football and, perhaps, one that the women’s game ought to embrace: stars are identified more with their national teams than with their clubs.Megan Rapinoe was all over the mainstream media after the World Cup, yet very few casual fans could name the club for which she plays (the Seattle Reign). It’s evidence of the different balance of power that exists in women’s football. You couldn’t imagine, say, Manchester United releasing Paul Pogba two months before the World Cup and then letting him go on a France national team victory tour for a month afterward the way many U.S. women did.

Q: OK, but they can’t just make a living playing for the national team, they need club football, no?

A: Sure. But maybe the answer is, if the international game is lucrative enough, putting a pool of players (say the top 50 or top 100) on central, or “national team,” contracts with the federation. (This is how it works in cricket.) That would give you a talent base from which to choose and relieve the pressure on leagues like the NWSL and others to pay the players.

And maybe, at the high end, you can create seasonal tournaments for the world’s top players.Infantino talked about a Club World Cup: it was one of his five proposals on the eve of the Women’s World Cup final this summer. You take the world’s top 24 club sides, put them in one place for a month and host a tournament. With fewer travel costs, centralized promotion and more stars, maybe it can work. Or — and I admit this is out of left field — you have mini-tournaments where the stars are drafted in, like the Indian Premier League does for cricket, to play in short, offseason competitions outside of their club careers.The point is there are creative solutions. Men’s elite football, with its polarization, imbalance of power and Euro-centrism, doesn’t need to be the model for the global women’s game.These are all conversations that need to be happening. FIFA can help — and after decades of hindering, it’s finally on board — so too can sponsors and investors. (But, remember, their help comes with strings attached.) What the women’s game needs most is for the people who care about it to sit down and figure things out. And that needs to happen before the window of opportunity generated by France 2019 closes.

USA drops 3 goals on Portugal in second friendly

Business as usual.By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Sep 3, 2019, 7:16pm PDT

Starting XI: Alyssa Naeher, Crystal Dunn, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, Sam Mewis, Julie Ertz, Morgan BrianTobin HeathCarli Lloyd, Jess McDonald

The United States women’s national team played out their second friendly against Portugal in Saint Paul much the same as their furst, utterly dominating space and gobbling the lions share of chances. They started off the half working the ball into wide space, often building through Tobin Heath or Morgan Brian, looking to finish on a cross. They also kept up pressure, defending high up the field, even pushing Julie Ertz higher and dropping Mewis behind her at times.Portugal contracted defensively again, looking hesitant to try and open up their play against the United States, making it hard to see through traffic around the goal. Abby Dahlkemper floated a great ball over all the congestion in the 18’ that dropped near perfectly for Carli Lloyd, but her volley went wide.Lloyd made up for the miss in the 22’ as she swept up a garbage ball that Portugal was still scrambling to clear. That didn’t open the floodgates, though. Portugal were definitely much more alert to crosses in this game and the United States resorted more to shooting from outside the 18. Portugal’s keeper certainly put together some great saves, including a big double block on both Mewis and the Heath follow up in the 29’, but she couldn’t stop the ref from awarding a penalty. Heath, perhaps with the aid of some small dark arts, earned a penalty kick in the 31’ for a foul just inside the box. Lloyd stepped up and buried it without hesitation to make it 2-0.But for the rest of the first half, the United States resorted to quick pushes or probing wide play without much in the way of shots on goal.The second half started off with a block of subs. Sauerbrunn, Sonnett, Heath, and Dunn all came off for Christen Press, Tierna Davidson, Casey Short, and Lindsey Horan. Davidson went left on the back line and Short took up her usual right back position, while Ertz dropped deeper, leaving space in the midfield for Horan. The change created some more movement through the midfield as Horan and Brian played off of each other, but the US still relied on dragging the game wide and building play through the flanks. It wasn’t a bad idea, trying to pull Portugal out of their shell, which they would sometimes do as two or three players swarmed Lloyd whenever she drifted wide.Horan also kept her head up just outside the box, pinging some hard shots from distance. She was unlucky to have one shot in the 62’ ring the crossbar after finding the shooting lane with a quick juke.The US made their fifth sub in the 57’ with Mewis off for Mal Pugh; Lloyd also dropped into the midfield to allow for Pugh to slip into the front line, with McDonald now playing centrally. McDonald didn’t get the chance to act as a target for much of the night, usually drawing other players out of position on set pieces or setting up the cross herself. She ended up getting replaced by her North Carolina Courage teammate in the 75’ as Kristen Hamilton came on for her first USWNT, which was arguably the best moment of the night.Lloyd and Press made for a decent duo along the left side, trying to play each other in quickly and often succeeding at dropping balls well enough to elude Portugal’s back line. But neither of them was quite able to put a finishing touch on the ball.The game picked up again in the last 10 minutes, first as Ertz made a hockey goalie stop on the ball to break up Portugal’s drive and restart play. Portugal’s only resort to stopping her was to literally attempt to drag her back by holding on to her with both arms. But the USWNT kept up the quick buildup from deep, which earned them a corner kick in the 83’. Press took the corner and Lindsey Horan slipped freely through Portugal’s zone to find the header and make it 3-0.That’s how the game ended, although not for lack of trying from Hamilton, who seemed fine in the fifteen minutes we got from her. It would be a shame if she didn’t get further opportunities to see where she fits in with the forward pool. It would also be nice to see the USWNT connect more through open play in their upcoming friendlies against South Korea; tonight they got a garbage goal, a penalty, and a set piece finish, but with a midfield as crazy good as the US has, in almost any configuration, they certainly have the ability to build very quickly through the middle and exploit defensive gaps.

RECAP | DANE KELLY’S LATE WINNER GIVES INDY ELEVEN 1-0 WIN OVER FIRST-PLACE NEW YORK RED BULLS II

By IndyEleven.com, 09/04/19, 10:45PM EDT

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Indiana’s Team Equals Club-record 21-game Home Undefeated Streak; Boys in Blue Now Within a Win of Top Spot in Eastern Conference

#INDvNY Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

Indy Eleven kept its cool under pressure and a steady attacking assault by New York Red Bulls II, eventually working its usual late-game magic – this time courtesy of forward Dane Kelly – to notch a pivotal 1-0 win at Lucas Oil Stadium.“We felt New York’s space as the game went on, since they press really high, the space was going to be behind a lot,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We knew Pasher couldn’t keep going behind for 90 minutes, so we felt that maybe with a little bit of time left that Dane would be a threat behind. That worked out well for us because then it keeps them honest all of the time. It was a great goal for us and, like I said in the beginning, against a really good team, lots of good players. I think their system and how they play is really hard to play against.”The win over Eastern Conference leading Red Bulls II allowed Indy Eleven (15W-4L-5D, 50 pts.) to jump into third place and within a win of the top spot, while still holding three huge games in hand on both New York (16W-6L-5D, 53 pts.) and second-place Nashville SC (51 pts.).Kelly’s 83rd minute winner off the bench also pushed Indy Eleven’s home undefeated streak to a record-tying 21 games, equaling a similar run across the 2015-17 seasons during the club’s NASL era at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium. The home unbeaten streak, which began last July 7, includes a 9W-0L-4D ledger in 2019 at Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Boys in Blue have outscored the opposition 17-4 and shut out nine opponents in 13 games after tonight’s clean sheet by goalkeeper Evan Newton, his eighth of the season and the club’s 11th overall.The game’s first action came as a pair of early chances for New York Red Bulls II, both by way of forward Mathias Jorgensen. The first came in the fifth minute as a cross played in deflected off Jorgensen’s foot and forcing Newton into a close quarters save. The second came five minutes later when midfielder Vincent Bezecourt played a cheeky chip into the forward, but his one-time volley inside Indy’s box carried narrowly wide of Newton’s post.Red Bulls II continued to apply pressure the bulk of the pressure until a 26th minute mistake by goalkeeper Evan Louro nearly led to the game’s opening a goal for the Eleven. A poor pass across his box was intercepted by Indy midfielder Tyler Pasher, who then faced Louro one-on-one. The New York ‘keeper nullified his mistake by coming up with a big kick save inside his six-yard box. Pasher nearly struck again in the 39th minute, when the pacey midfielder cut in on his preferred left foot after receiving the ball in the midfield. After easily dancing his way around three New York defenders, he unleashed a driven effort that floated just over the goal.The last action of the first half would come just before the whistle after a Red Bulls II corner was cleared only as far as defender Janos Loebe, whose left footed, one-time strike from the top right of Newton’s box rattled off the crossbar, leaving the sides to enter the half level at nil-nil.The first chance of the second half came in similar fashion to Pasher’s initial opportunity, a quick counter sprung by Indy midfielder Ayoze’s long ball in the 53rd minute freeing the Canadian for another one-on-one chance with Louro. Despite Pasher’s best effort to dribble past the goalkeeper, Louro stretched himself wide and got a paw to the ball, shutting the door on the goal scoring chance.Red Bulls II forward Tom Barlow nearly broke the deadlock in the 72nd minute, when a ball played into the box connected with the young forward. Barlow attempted an acrobatic flick with the outside of his right foot from near point blank range, but quick reactions from Newton allowed the Indy ‘keeper to push the ball wide. Two minutes later, Newton made another big save denying Loebe on another attempt from distance, this time thwarting the ball on frame with a strong two-handed diving save.Despite New York’s pressure and several quality chances, it would be the forward substitute Kelly who would break the deadlock in the 83rd minute. A long cross played in by fellow substitute Macauley King from the right flank would find the Jamaican at the back post. Kelly would climb and win the headed opportunity over two Red Bull center backs, sending the ball into the back of the net for his sixth goal of the 2019 USL Championship. The finish marked his second late-winner off the bench at Lucas Oil Stadium in the team’s last three home games, harkening back to the 81st minute tally that ultimately downed Saint Louis FC on August 18.Like much of the nation, Indy Eleven is keeping an eye on conditions along the Atlantic Coast, with Hurricane Dorian’s presence threatening a potential date change for this Saturday’s scheduled away game against the Charleston Battery (7:30 p.m. kickoff, live on ESPN+).Indiana’s Team will return to Lucas Oil Stadium with a pair of games next week, starting with Visit St. Pete/Clearwater Night next Wednesday, Sept. 11, against Ottawa Fury FC, followed by its annual Hispanic Heritage Night, presented by Financial Center First Credit Union, against Bethlehem Steel FC – which will be preceded by La Plaza’s annual Fiesta Celebration on Georgia Street throughout the afternoon. Kickoff for both contests is set for 7:00 p.m., and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvNY
Indy Eleven  1 : 0  New York Red Bulls

Wednesday, September 4, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET   Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.  Attendance: 9,124

2019 USL Championship records

Indy Eleven (15W-4L-5D, 50 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference)

New York Red Bulls II (16W-6L-5D, 53 pts., 1st in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:
IND – Dane Kelly (Macauley King) 83’

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Drew Conner (Yellow card) 17’

IND – Paddy Barrett (Yellow card) 28’

IND – Kenney Walker (Yellow card) 61’

IND – Karl Ouimette (Yellow card) 79’

NY – Amro Tarek (Yellow card) 92’
Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Evan Newton; Mitch Osmond, Paddy Barrett, Karl Ouimette; Ayoze, Kenney Walker (Matt Watson 76’), Tyler Gibson, Drew Conner, Lucas Farias (Macauley King 45+1’); Tyler Pasher, Ilija Ilic (Dane Kelly 78’)

IND Substitutes: Jordan Farr (GK), Eugene Starikov, Nico Perea, Gabriel Rodrigues
New York Red Bulls II (4-3-3, L–>R): Evan Louro; Sean Nealis, Amro Tarek, Janos Loebe, Edgardo Rito (Sean McSherry 62’); Jared Stroud, Vincent Bezecourt (Ben Mines 85’), Jean-Christophe Koffi (Kyle Zajec 75’); Christopher Lema Mathias Jorgensen, Tom Barlow

NY Substitutes: Rashid Nuhu (GK); Sebastian Elney, John Tolkin, Jordan Scarlett

 

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8/30/19  Indy 11 Tonite & Home Wed,  EPL Arsenal vs Spurs Sat 12:30 NBC, USA vs Mexico next Fri, Carmel Girls 2 Games Sat 

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Champions League Draw Set + Defender Van Dyke Wins Player of the Year   

The Champion League draw was made this week and the EPL teams certainly seem to have an easier road as the Spanish teams are going to be hugely challenged.  We’ll review more as we get closer to the First leg kick-offs of Group Stage play on Sept 18. Cool to see what could be a record # of Americans in Champions League this season.

Group A: Paris Saint-Germain, Real Madrid, Club Brugge, Galatasaray

Group B: Bayern Munich, Tottenham, Olympiakos, Red Star Belgrade

Group C: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta

Group D: Juventus, Atletico Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen, Lokomotiv Moscow

Group E: Liverpool, Napoli, Salzburg, Genk

Group F: Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Slavia Prague

Group G: Zenit St. Petersburg, Benfica, Lyon, Leipzig

Group H: Chelsea, Ajax, Valencia, Lille

US Men’s and Women’s National Teams Play Next Week US Ladies vs Portugal Tues 8 pm ESPN2/US Men vs Mexico Fri Night 8 pm FS1

Great to see 50,000 fans poured into Philly’s stadium to celebrate the US Ladies as they pounded Portugal 4-0 Thursday night. They face each other again on Tuesday night at 8 pm on ESPN2.  Friday night its USA vs Mexico in NJ on Fox Sports 1.  Fantastic to see so many young US Players called in as the U20s fresh off their fine World Cup Run this past summer – are finally putting new comers on this team.   See the Full Roster and write ups below.

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

MLS Derby Weekend was Spectacular

Well soccer fans if you took my advice and watched some MLS soccer this weekend during rivalry week you were treated to some fantastic action.  Seattle and Portland started things off with a well played 2-1 win for Seattle at Portland.  NYCFC upset the Red Bulls in the Hudson River Darby, Columbus shut down Cincy at Cincy 2-0 and el TRAFFICO was well El Traffico.  Yes I stayed up until 1 am watching the LAFC vs LA Galaxy and it did not disappoint.  This game could well be the most intense rivalry in soccer and perhaps in sports in America right now.  LAFC is vying to be the most successful team in MLS history –it has a chance to break the single season record as the best MLS team in history.  Despite all their success however – the 1 team they have never beaten is the LA Galaxy – and Zlattan Ibrahimovich is a big reason.  He scored 2 goals in the first 10 minutes to put the Galaxy out in front before a second half surge and goal by MPV favorite Carlos Vela tied it at 3-3.  The emotion in the stands as a full house looked on screaming and chanting the entire game was inspiring.  It was drama and injuries and weird calls and all around great soccer.  MLS may not have the quality yet of the EPL or La Liga or the German Bundesliga but we have some established rivalries now that are second to none.  MLS is getting there – the quality of play is much better, the crowds and fans are inspiring and this weekend of Derby’s exemplified everything that is great about soccer in America.  Keep watching US Soccer fans – we are getting there!  And speaking of getting there – Atlanta United captured their second cup of the season with a 2-1 win over Minn United in the US Open Cup this week.  Along with last season’s MLS Cup win, and the Campeones Cup win over Mexico’s top team, that’s now 3 in a row for the 3 year old club.  Games this week on national TV Sunday eve feature playoff position battles in the Western Conference as Seattle hosts the LA Galaxy at 6:30 pm on Fox Sports 1 followed by league leading LAFC hosting Minn United at 10:30 on FS1.  Saturday Carmel High Grad and former US National team player Matt Hedges for Dallas FC will host Cincy on ESPN+ at 7:30 pm.

EPL

American Christian Pulisic notched his first assist and played well overall in Chelsea’s first win of the season 3-2 at Norwich. (See full details here) Pulisic moved to the right wing with Pedro out injured and put in a workman performance as he continued to show blazing speed in his attacking runs at the goal.  His assist set up Chelsea’s 2nd goal as he left a ball for Mount who scored his second of the season.  Pulisic just missed a shot wide late in the 2nd half.  Its been great seeing Pulisic start and feature for the Blues – hopefully he can hang on to a starting spot as he adjusts to life on the big stage in the EPL.  Looking ahead to this last weekend of play before the international break – we only get 1 match among top 6 squads at Arsenal hosts a reeling Tottenham on Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN.  Sat’s EPL slate is Southampton hosting Man United at 7:30 on NBCSN, followed by Chelsea and American Christian Pulisic hosting newcomer Sheffield United who stands in 10th place in this first season back in the EPL in 3 decades at 10 am on NBCSN.  The Sat 12:30 NBC features Burnley hosting league leader Liverpool and Player of the Year Defender Virgil Van Dyke.

Indy 11 Fri Night @ Louisville on WISH8 TV and Wed at Home 7 pm vs NY Red Bulls2

Friday’s away installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest will mark the beginning of Indy Eleven’s busiest stretch of games in club history, a 10-game, 36-day gauntlet that will see Indiana’s Team make up the several games in hand it has on its fellow Eastern Conference elite.  Indy Eleven will then return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Wednesday, September 4, when it will look to even its club-record 21-game home unbeaten streak in a pivotal contest against East-leading New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Carmel High and CFC GK

The #1 Ranked Ladies Carmel High Soccer team will host two topped ranked teams this weekend – Sat at 9 am vs #1 2A Ranked Cathedral and Saturday at 7 pm vs #13 Fishers. Be sure to head to Noble Romans in Carmel to support the team in between as they support the Catherine Peachey Fund.  With the holiday on Monday – Carmel FC Goalkeeper Training will just be on Thursday next week at Shelbourne.  No Monday GK Training at Badger!!

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 30

2:30 pm FS 2                                         MGladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig

2:45 pm bEIN Sport                          PSG vs Metz

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Louisville vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 31

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Southhampton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayern Munich vs Mainz

9:30 am FS2                                            Schalke (McKinney) vs Hertha BSC

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea (Pulisic)  vs Sheffield United

11 am beIN sport                               Osasuana vs Barcelona

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Burnley vs Liverpool

12:30 pm FS1                                        Union Berlin vs Dormund

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Juventus vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sports                               France vs Spain (Ladies)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                 Portland vs Real Salt Lake

Sun, Sept 1

9 am NBCSN                                           Everton vs  Wolverhampton

9:30 m FS1                                              Werder Bremen vs Ausburg

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Arsenal vs Tottenham 

12 noon FS1                                           Frankfort vs Dusseldorf (Steffan)

3 pm beIN sport                                  Villarreal vs Real Madrid

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars 

6:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle vs LA Galaxy 

10:30 pm fS1                                        LAFC vs Minn United 

Tues, Sept 3

1 pm ESPN2                                       USA Ladies vs Portugal

WEds, Sept 4

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls2

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs Toronto FC

10:30 pm ESPN+                                  Portland vs Sporting KC

Sun, Sept 8

2:45 pm ESPN News                                                 Sweden vs Norway (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Finland vs Italy (Euro Qualifiying)

Mon, Sept 9

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     Northern Ireland vs Germany (Euro Qualifiying)

Tues, Sept 10

2:45 pm ESPN2                                    England vs Kosovo(Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+                                     France vs Andorra (Euro Qualifiying)

1 pm FS1                                               USA vs Uraguay

 USA

USMNT roster: Josh Sargent, Alfredo Morales, Brad Guzan return for Mexico/Uruguay friendlies

Doyle: US future is here with September roster

Berhalter: It’s a process to get kids to progress

Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

Matt Miagza injured early in Reading win over Huddersfield

18 MLSers named to latest US U-23 roster

US U-17 roster called up to prep for World Cup

US Ladies Win 4-0 in front of 50K in Philly

EPL

Emery could go for goals and pick Aubameyang, Lacazette and Pepe against Tottenham
Salah penalty ‘very soft’ – Emery defends David Luiz

Palace stuns wasteful Manchester United at the death

 Weekend Review: Are Tottenham getting stale?
– O’Hanlon: Should we be worried about “superteam” Man City?
– Jones: Sheffield United prove heart can beat talent

Lampard wants Kante to skip France’s Euro 2020 qualifiers

Chelsea Player Ratings – Pulisic a 6

MLS

Josef approaching a Messi world record

How Seattle Plans to Corral Zlattan and Pavon

Week 26: How the West playoff race is shaping up

Bogert: 5 big questions heading into the weekend

MLS Power Rankings after Rivalry Week

Tim Howard returns home one last time
The hype is real! Ibrahimovic and Vela help provide another instant classic as El Trafico remains best in MLS

Report: Atlanta United interested in NWSL expansion franchise

WORLD

UEFA Champions League group-by-group draw
– Van Dijk beats Messi, Ronaldo to UEFA POTY award 
– Cantona delivers unique acceptance speech

Ranking UCL draw: Which PL team was handed best group?

American’s in Champions League

Live, Europa League: Wolves, Celtic, Rangers one step from group stage

Marcotti’s Muzings From Around the World of Soccer – Gab Marcotti – ESPNFC

Rodríguez returns but Real Madrid held in home opener

Serie A: Milan stunned; Roma draw in six-goal thriller (video)

Juventus news: Maurizio Sarri leaves Matthijs De Ligt on the bench as Juventus begin season with win

Juventus opens Serie A with 1-0 throw-back win at Parma

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview vs Louisville City Fri Eve on ESPN+

Drew Conner Named to USL Champ Team of the Week

Indy 11 Sign New MF Nico Perea

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM 

USMNT roster: Josh Sargent, Alfredo Morales, Brad Guzan return for Mexico/Uruguay friendlies

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsAug 28, 2019, 11:01 AM

.S. men’s national team fans clamoring for fresh faces ahead of next week’s friendly-in-name-only match against rival Mexico and another exhibition against Uruguay Sept. 9 won’t be disappointed by Gregg Berhalter’s latest roster — even if some of the names on the coach’s list aren’t new.The USMNT boss called up 26 players on Wednesday ahead of the two tilts. Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic headlines the squad, which did not include veterans Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley or injured quartet Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga, Tim Weah and DeAndre Yedlin.But fellow vets Brad Guzan and Alfredo Morales were summoned for the first time under Berhalter, teenage striker Josh Sargent returned after being overlooked for the Gold Cup earlier this summer, and former youth national teamers Sergino Dest, Paxton Pomykal and Miles Robinson received their first senior invites.Here’s the full roster:

Goalkeepers: Jesse Gonzalez, FC Dallas; Brad Guzan, Atlanta United; Sean Johnson, New York City FC; Zack Steffen, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany)

Defenders: John Brooks, Wolfsburg (Germany); Reggie Cannon, FC Dallas; Sergino Dest, Ajax (Netherlands); Nick Lima, San Jose Earthquakes; Aaron Long, New York Red Bulls; Daniel Lovitz, Montreal Impact; Tim Ream, Fulham (England); Miles Robinson, Atlanta United; Walker Zimmerman, LAFC

Midfielders: Sebastian Lletget, LA Galaxy; Weston McKennie, Schalke (Germany); Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf (Germany); Paxton Pomykal, FC Dallas; Cristian Roldan, Seattle Sounders; Wil Trapp, Columbus Crew; Jackson Yueill, San Jose Earthquakes

Forwards: Corey Baird, Real Salt Lake; Tyler Boyd, Besiktas (Turkey); Jordan Morris, Seattle Sounders; Christian Pulisic, Chelsea (England), Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen (Germany); Gyasi Zardes, Columbus Crew

The 20-year-old Pulisic has played as a midfielder in most of his 31 international appearances, but he’s listed as a forward this time around, suggesting a more advanced role.

“He’s a great attacking player and we want to put him in position to affect the game,” Berhalter said.The coach also indicated that Guzan, a veteran of two World Cups, would’ve been summoned earlier this year — Berhalter’s first at the helm — but wasn’t because of conflicts with his club team.“Brad is a guy that I have a ton of respect for – respect for his career, but more importantly, respect for what type of guy he is,” Berhalter said. “He’s a guy that we tried to get involved in January camp and Atlanta had some Champions League games that took precedent there, but we’re excited to bring him back.”The last of Morales’s 13 caps came in 2016. But he’s been excellent through two Bundesliga matches this season, scoring a goal against Bayer Leverkusen over the weekend.“He’s done such a good job with Fortuna Dusseldorf, not only through the first two Bundesliga games, but we’ve seen reports from preseason where he’s been an outstanding player,” Berhalter said of Morales. “It’s nice to give a guy a reward like that – an opportunity because of how he’s performing at his club.”

Armchair Analyst: At long last, USMNT’s future begins to arrive

August 28, 20195:39PM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

There has been a lot written, most of it justifiable, about the “Lost Generation” of talent in US men’s national team age groups. The 1990-through-1994 birth years were relatively barren in comparison to the four five-year cohorts that had directly preceded it, the ones that had produced the likes of Claudio Reyna, Eddie Pope and Brian McBride, or Clint Mathis, Carlos Bocanegra and Tim Howard, or Landon Donovan, Clint Dempsey and DaMarcus Beasley, or Michael BradleyJozy Altidore and Benny Feilhaber.Those guys had all played huge roles not just at every World Cup from 1998 to 2014, but in qualifying for them. Those guys above, and dozens of others, had had what it took to get results in Honduras, never lose against Caribbean teams, protect home field against almost all comers, and grind through the Hexagonal time after time after time.We all know that didn’t happen for the 2018 World Cup, and we all know there are myriad factors as to why (I still say that coaching, both at the beginning and at the end of the Hex, was the biggest reason). One of the more determinative was lack of top-end talent in that entering-its-prime, 1990-94 birth year cohort. Guys like DeAndre Yedlin, Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood have been good players for the US, and others in that group – John Brooks, Gyasi ZardesSebastian Lletget – have made contributions at various stages throughout their national team careers including, at times, during the last qualifying cycle. But none of those guys, individually or collectively, raised the team to where it needed to go, and that remains a big reason why the USMNT watched last summer’s World Cup from home.When there were moments of desperate need in previous cycles there always seemed to be at least one or two players entering their prime who were ready to step onto the field in a qualifier and announce themselves by winning a huge game. Mathis and Josh Wolff in the first Dos-a-Cero way back in 2001 were and are the very best example, but are just one of many (Pope vs. Mexico in 1997; Pablo Mastroeni when Chris Armas went down; even Mix Diskerud vs. Mexico in what was to be the final Dos-a-Cero in 2013 all come to mind). Maybe Lletget would’ve been that guy if he’d been able to stay healthy, or maybe it could’ve been Morris or Aron Johannsson. Maybe if Walker ZimmermanNick Lima and Aaron Long had been identified and progressed through the system earlier the defense wouldn’t have been as fragile, and we wouldn’t be having this discussion at all. There is probably a slice of the multiverse where that is true.But not here. Not for us.Regardless, that’s all looking backwards. And the point of this is that, since the loss in Couva, the US fanbase as a whole has looked forwards, and done so with the great hope that the subsequent age-groups would produce more top-end talent and fill the US roster with players who would make the 2018 cycle’s failures seem like an aberration rather than the start of a trend.Given the success of the three cohorts following the Lost Generation (the 1995/6es, the 1997/8s and the 1999/2000s) at the last three U-20 World Cups – the US have made it to the quarterfinals in each of them, the only nation who can claim as much – there’s been reason for optimism. Given that players from those cohorts have steadily matriculated from youth national teams to professional starters and, in increasing numbers, full USMNT regulars, the reasons for optimism seem to be founded on more than just age-group dominance. Given that there were more players from those teams and those cohorts knocking on the door over the past few months in the aftermath of this summer’s Gold Cup, it seemed logical to hope that more help was on its way.And now, with this roster, it’s here. Gregg Berhalter has called in a lot of familiar faces, but he’s also turned on the faucet and begun what most USMNT fans expect will be a steady trickle of young, exciting, dynamic talent into the team. They will have to prove they can do the job, but if they’re doing so already for Ajax, or for FC Dallas, or under Matias Almeyda, or playing against Club America, is there a reason to think they can’t do the same for the US? If Reggie Cannon, at age 20, can step on the field in the Gold Cup final against Mexico and more than hold his own, what’s to stop his club teammate Paxton Pomykal from doing the same against El Tri in a friendly? If Miles Robinson put the clamps on Las Aguilas‘ $20 million attack in the Campeones Cup, why not expect him to do the same against the rest of Concacaf, for both club and country?

The first eight months of 2019 were Phase 1 of the Gregg Berhalter era. He established his team’s principles of play, he put three of his biggest young stars – Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Zack Steffen – in position to be the core leaders of the team going forward, he bid adieu to a cadre of veterans, and he got his team to really compete for the Gold Cup title, though they eventually came up short of winning it.Now it’s onto Phase 2: Adding more of that next young group of players, integrating it with the core group, getting them minutes in friendlies and Concacaf Nations League, and building both depth and cohesiveness throughout the roster. Everything over the next 12 months is about preparing for World Cup qualifying, which begins at this time next year.This is the part we’ve all been looking forward to, for almost two years. It’s finally here.

A few notes on the roster

  • The inclusion of Sergino Dest, a dynamic, 18-year-old,  attacking fullback for the US U-20s this past spring and for Ajax this summer – he’s already played for the Dutch giants in the Johan Cruyff Shield, then twice in league play and twice in Champions League qualifying – comes as a sigh of relief for many who worried Dest would abandon the US for the Netherlands (he’s a Dutch-American dual national) should his home country come calling. These friendlies don’t cap-tie him, but he’s been a core part of the US youth teams for the past four years, and this call-up looks like a prelude to next month’s Nations League games, which wouldpermanently cap-tie him.

It’s not a done deal yet but it’s trending in that direction.

  • To paraphrase a take on the roster expressed to me by three different folks: The best part of this group (aside from Dest accepting the call-up) is that Pulisic is listed as a forward and not a midfielder. I thought it was a worthwhile experiment this summer to play Pulisic in the middle as a No. 10, but he doesn’t offer enough defensively or in possession to play that spot against the likes of Mexico, and keeping him central robs both him and the team of his best feature: His dynamism as a winger either bursting into the open field or cutting inside to combine.
  • With Pulisic likely playing on the wing, the big question will be about how the midfield lines up. My guess is that this will be Pomykal’s chance to debut in that left-sided No. 10 role – the one that Pulisic played this summer. While Pomykal’s not an elite chance creator from that spot, he’s super clever about his combination play and movement, and should sort of naturally interchange with Pulisic (who, as mentioned, loves to cut inside).

If you think back to this summer, Pulisic and Paul Arriola – the left winger in the Gold Cup – spent a ton of time swapping spots during the run of play. And while Pomykal isn’t elite at creating chances from Zone 14, he actually is when he flares out wide:

I don’t just have “hopes” for how these guys work together; I have expectations.

  • With Tyler Adams injured and Bradley not called in, it seems like Wil Trappis going to get another look at d-mid. Alfredo Morales – who, at 29, is one of the oldest players on the roster – is another factor at that spot, though he more often plays as a roving destroyer rather than as a sit-and-protect orchestrator as Berhalter prefers.
  • Don’t take the absence of Bradley and Altidore to mean that we’ve seen the last of those guys in Red, White & Blue. Toronto FCare in the midst of a playoff race and have two games during the international date, so Berhalter was probably doing the Reds a solid by letting those two guys stay with their club.

I do wonder if Seattle‘s Morris and Cristian Roldan will join the camp late, as they’re also in a playoff race and have a game on September 7.

  • In addition to Pomykal and Dest, it’s likely that their U-20 teammate Tim Weah would’ve been here had he stayed healthy, but he picked up a knock recently for Lille. It’s still not clear where Weah’s best spot is in the short-term, but long-term my guess is he’s a winger in Berhalter’s system.
  • Another member of the U-20s I’d have liked to see in this camp is FC Dallas’s Brandon Servania. He’s been excellent all summer, and given how thin the US are at d-mid, I’d argue it would’ve made some sense to give him a call. Servania isn’t an Adams-level prospect at the spot, but he’s shown the ability to do some stuff on both sides of the ball:
  • Pulisic, Morris, Corey Baird(who’s played very well over the past six weeks) and Tyler Boyd (who’s starting for Besiktas) should be the group on the wing. Arriola withdrew from the camp due to family considerations, as reported by Steven Goff of The Washington Post.

Up top, Josh Sargent and Zardes are the only center forwards on this team. Sargent hasn’t played much for Werder Bremen so far, but it shouldn’t matter – he’s got to get the bulk of No. 9 minutes in these games.

  • Guys from the post-Lost Generation age-group on this roster:
  • 1995s: Steffen, Jesse Gonzalez, Roldan
  • 1996: Baird
  • 1997s: Robinson, Jackson Yueill
  • 1998s: Pulisic, McKennie, Cannon
  • 2000s: Sargent, Dest
  • Yedlin, Matt Miazga and Duane Holmes, like Adams and Weah, probably would’ve been here but for injury.

Here’s the full roster:

Pos. Player Club
GK Gonzalez, Jesse FC Dallas
GK Guzan, Brad Atlanta United
GK Johnson, Sean New York City FC
GK Steffen, Zack Fortuna Düsseldorf
D Brooks, John Wolfsburg
D Cannon, Reggie FC Dallas
D Dest, Sergino Ajax
D Lima, Nick San Jose Earthquakes
D Long, Aaron NY Red Bulls
D Lovitz, Daniel Montreal Impact
D Ream, Tim Fulham FC
D Robinson, Miles Atlanta United
D Zimmerman, Walker LAFC
M Lletget, Sebastian LA Galaxy
M McKennie, Weston Schalke 04
M Morales, Alfredo Fortuna Düsseldorf
M Pomykal, Paxton FC Dallas
M Roldan, Cristian Seattle Sounders
M Trapp, Wil Columbus Crew SC
M Yueill, Jackson San Jose Earthquakes
F Baird, Corey Real Salt Lake
F Boyd, Tyler Besiktas
F Morris, Jordan Seattle Sounders
F Pulisic, Christian Chelsea
F Sargent, Josh Werder Bremen
F Zardes, Gyasi Columbus Crew SC

Champions League draw reaction: Premier League clubs happy; difficult for Spain’s big three Ross Dyer rank Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham and Liverpool in terms of who got the hardest group draw in the UEFA Champions League.

Aug 29, 2019Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The draw for the UEFA Champions League group stage took place in Monaco on Thursday and, as ever, threw up some intriguing story lines. Mark Ogden picks his highlights and makes some predictions.

Jump to: Group A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H

English clubs get it easy

It is the luck of the draw, but while the likes of Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid got groups with heavyweight rivals, the Premier League’s quartet will all be happy with their outcomes.

Tottenham landed Bayern Munich, but will expect to overcome Olympiakos and Red Star Belgrade, while Liverpool and Manchester City will expect to coast through as group winners and Chelsea are favoured to take Group H.

– Full group-stage fixture schedule 2019-20

Another year, another Man City vs. Shakhtar clash

The two clubs were paired together in the group stage for the third successive season, so it might take an imaginative publicity campaign to tempt supporters to turn out for this fixture again. City’s executives will be happy to land yet another group lacking big-name glamour, but their fans might have wished for a bit more star quality.

Group F is the most difficult

Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter were drawn together in Group F, alongside Slavia Prague, whose cheerful directors chuckled at the prospect of three huge games in the Czech capital. It will be different for the hierarchy at the other three, however, with concerns over missing a top-two spot due to the strength of competition.

Messi and Ronaldo get along

In recent years, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have sat stony-faced with each other, as they wait to discover who has won the Player of the Year and Forward of the Year awards. This time around, the pair were laughing and joking — mainly at Eric Cantona’s speech — before the prizes were announced. Messi claimed best forward, but both missed out to Virgil van Dijk for the big one.

Eric Cantona

Having been given the UEFA President’s Award, convention dictated that Cantona give an acceptance speech. Dressed in jeans, creased shirt and flat cap, the former Manchester United forward made the most of his moment by quoting Shakespeare and discussing science and the ageing of cells, before closing by saying “I love football.” All of which left the audience utterly bewildered.

‘ class=”imageLoaded lazyloaded” data-image-container=.inline-photo v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>Matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League is on Sept. 17 and 18. Getty

Group A: PSG and Real Madrid go through

Paris Saint-Germain and Real Madrid meet in heavyweight clashes and while both will expect to progress to the round of 16, the story of this group is likely to be about which team finishes top and earns a seeding in the knockout stages. Finishing second could lead to a nightmare draw against another Champions League big-hitter. Galatasaray and Club Brugge, meanwhile, will enjoy a tough battle for the Europa League spot that comes with third place.

B: Bayern Munich and Tottenham go through

Bayern and Tottenham will be favourites to qualify, but both must be wary of slipping up in hostile arenas when they travel to Athens and Belgrade for clashes with Olympiakos and Red Star. Red Star beat Liverpool 2-0 at home last season and are the dangerous outsider in this group; they could upset Spurs if last season’s runners-up fail to rediscover consistency. Olympiakos can be tough to beat at home, though they are something of a soft touch on the road.

C: Man City and Dinamo Zagreb go through

This group is basically a case of who will finish runners-up behind City, who are many observers’ favourites to win the Champions League. Shakhtar have the most recent pedigree in the competition, but Dinamo Zagreb and Atalanta will believe they can reach the knockout stages. Champions League debutants Atalanta may suffer from losing home advantage by playing at the San Siro in Milan rather than their 21,000-capacity stadium in Bergamo.

– 

D: Juventus and Leverkusen go through

Juventus and Atletico Madrid, who met in last season’s round of 16, are the two to beat in this group, but Bayer Leverkusen could separate them. Juventus have strengthened in the summer, but questions hang over Atletico following the departures of Antoine GriezmannRodri and Diego Godin. Diego Simeone remains at the helm and has signed Portuguese wonderkid Joao Felix, but Leverkusen will be a tough nut to crack; Lokomotiv Moscow could also challenge for second.

E: Liverpool and Napoli go through

Reigning European champions Liverpool meet Napoli again, having played out two big encounters in last season’s group stage. Salzburg and Genk look to be making up the numbers, so Liverpool’s encounters with Napoli should decide who tops the group. Only a last-minute save by Alisson at Anfield stopped Napoli from dumping Liverpool out at the group stage a year ago, so the Italians will fancy their chances.

F: Barcelona and Inter go through

The most eye-catching group of all features three previous winners — Barcelona, Borussia Dortmund and Inter — slugging it out for two places. Barca will expect to finish top, but Dortmund could beat them. Inter, meanwhile, are still an unknown quantity under Antonio Conte, but the nerrazzuri have plenty of quality so don’t take your eyes off this group. Slavia Prague make up the numbers.

G: Lyon and Leipzig go through

Zenit St Petersburg’s Twitter feed joked prior to the draw that the Russian champions were the top seed that everyone wanted to get. Benfica, Lyon and Leipzig were the lucky clubs in each pot and while this group might lack glamour, it is perhaps the most competitive, with all four teams having a chance to qualify. Lyon made it to the knockout stages last season and will be favourites.

H: Chelsea and Valencia go through

Europa League winners Chelsea will be delighted to get an Ajax team weakened by the departures of Matthijs de Ligt and Frenkie De Jong, as well as a Valencia outfit that scraped in as Spain’s fourth qualifier and Lille, who finished a distant second to PSG in France. Chelsea, with Christian Pulisic signed to replace Eden Hazard, are in transition under Frank Lampard, but should top this group.

 

Premier League W2W4: Arsenal primed to take derby spoils against Tottenham

Nick MillerESPN.com writer

Ten clubs find themselves with one win, one draw and one loss after three games, making the 2019-20 Premier League picture as clear as mud. Nick Miller tries to make sense of the madness ahead of matchday four.

Jump to: The folly of Man United’s summer | Spotlight on Gracia | Bruce still fighting Rafa’s ghost | Time for the Toffees to unleash Kean

Who will cut through the chaos in north London?

The north London derby arrives this Sunday with two teams in differing sorts of chaos and flux.Arsenal have begun the season in reasonable fashion but are still figuring out what they are, still unpicking the problems left by the last, neglectful days of Arsene Wenger’s reign, a team with a promising attack and an unpredictable defence but one that is arguably on the upswing.For Tottenham, is this the beginning of the end of the Mauricio Pochettino glory days? Maybe. Logically speaking, it shouldn’t be a surprise, the only surprise being those glory days have lasted this long. They have looked tired and bereft of ideas in their last three fixtures, which is troubling considering these are the opening few weeks of the season.Pochettino said after their defeat to Newcastle last weekend that his squad were “unsettled,” with doubts over the futures of Jan Vertonghen and Christian Eriksen, among others, which could explain a few things.In some respects, it might be a relief for them both that they are playing each other this weekend. For a day they can forget the weighty business of wider context, of where both clubs are headed, and instead just concentrate on the frantic, self-contained world of the derby.Then again, it might be impossible to do that, so the question then becomes: Who will best be able to cope with the uncertainty around their clubs to win this game?

The folly of Man United’s summer becomes clear

The sight of Anthony Martial limping around the Old Trafford pitch last weekend was alarming for Manchester United fans, but also inevitable. Of course he’s going to suffer an injury at some point, an injury which lays bare the paucity of resources available to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, and by extension the strangeness of their summer transfer business.

The departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez without signing a replacement have left United with a pretty bare cupboard when it comes to strikers, with Martial and Marcus Rashford their only two senior options through the middle. Next on the list is Mason Greenwood, still only 17 and very promising, but not at the stage of his career when a club like Manchester United should be relying upon him.United had better hope that Martial is miraculously fit for this weekend’s trip to Southampton, or else the mistakes they have made will be laid out for all to see, in glorious technicolour.

Could this be it for Gracia?

Watford, as you will know, are not shy about sacking managers. The Pozzo family — the club’s owners — have got through nine of them in seven years at Vicarage Road, so maybe the big surprise is arguably that Javi Gracia has lasted this long; never mind their solid league form last season and reaching the FA Cup final.But the Pozzos do not just sack for the sake of it. They’re decisive and ruthless when they think a problem is more trouble than it’s worth, which is probably why reports have been circulating that Gracia’s position is in danger. Watford have lost their first three games of the season, as well as losing the last three of last season, and since around November last year have basically been in little better than relegation form.It may seem harsh to the outside world, but this is how Watford have operated for the last few years. If Watford lose at Newcastle on Saturday, it might be enough for them to conclude Gracia is not the man to stop the rot, and make a change.

Bruce needs another win to convince the Newcastle crowd

In the other dugout at St James’s Park will be another man with a point to prove. The extent to which Steve Bruce is disliked among the Newcastle fans is probably overstated: They will give their new manager a chance of course, but they will need to be convinced pretty quickly that he is a worthy successor to Rafa Benitez.

Of course, the only way he will do that is with more victories to follow the excellent 1-0 win at Tottenham last weekend, but it will be interesting to see how they play at home against a struggling side, as opposed to at a team expected to make all the running. Being the underdog and winning is one thing, but setting a side up to play on the front foot and be the protagonists on the pitch is another entirely.

If Bruce can pull this off too, he’ll go a long way to convincing the faithful that he’s their man. But the midweek defeat at home to Leicester in the Carabao Cup hasn’t helped his cause, and they need to bounce back.

Will Kean start for Everton?

It has been an indifferent start to the season for Everton. They have a win, a draw and a defeat to their name, but haven’t been convincing in any of those three games and what’s more, they haven’t been scoring goals. They have just one from 270 minutes of football so far, Bernard‘s winner against Watford in their second game.The good news for Marco Silva is it’s not as if his team aren’t creating chances: They’ve taken 34 shots so far, placing them in the middle of the Premier League’s chance creators. It’s good news because that statistic suggests they’re creating chances but not converting them, a slightly easier structural problem to solve than if they weren’t carving out those opportunities.With that in mind, you would think Moise Kean has a great chance of starting an Everton game for the first time, against Wolves on Saturday. The Italian has shown flashes of encouraging play during his three substitute appearances so far, and with Dominic Calvert-Lewin having not scored since March, surely the time is right to see what Kean can do against Premier League defences.

Americans Abroad: Weekend roundup

Joel SoriaNBC Sports•Aug 26, 2019, 12:12 AM

 

Mason Mount and Tammy Abraham stole the show in Chelsea’s victory, but Christian Pulisic recorded his first Premier League assist.

In Germany, although in different competitions, Alfredo Morelos and Terrence Boyd opened their scoring accounts. Also in Germany, coming on as a substitute, Timmy Chandler assisted late in Eintracht Frankfurt’s loss. 75 minutes into his Austrian Bundesliga debut, Erik Palmer-Brown was shown a straight red card and sent off.Here is a list of several other USMNT affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) abroad this weekend.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea — Pulisic played 84 minutes and recorded his first Premier League assist, setting up Mason Mount for Chelsea’s second goal in their 3-2 victory over Norwich City.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle — The fullback remains sidelined as he continues to recover from a groin injury. There’s no timeline on his return.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan Athletic — Robinson started and went all 90 minutes for the Latics in their 3-1 loss to Geoff Cameron‘s QPR.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — The 24-year-old started but came off in the 10th minutes due to a reported hamstring injury in Reading’s 2-0 against Huddersfield Town.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — The Tigers captain was sidelined for Hull City’s 3-1 loss to Bristol City due to injury.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — The defender didn’t feature for QPR – on the field or on the bench – for the first time this season, having played at midweek.

Tim Ream, Fulham — 90 minutes and a start for the 31-year-old in Fulham’s 2-1 loss to Nottingham Forest on Saturday. Earlier this week, Ream extended his contract at Craven Cottage until 2021.

Eredivisie

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — Wright is starting to fall in VVV-Venlo’s pecking order. On Sunday, the 21-year-old was not called off the bench in his team’s 2-1 win over FC Utrecht.

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Ajax are inactive this weekend.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — The U-23 MNT fullback didn’t play in FC Emmen’s 2-1 loss to Willem II.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Lille are inactive this weekend.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — On Sunday, the Washington D.C. native came on as substitute and played 45 minutes in Rennes’ 2-0 win over Strasbourg.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke — Early signs indicate McKennie will, once again, be a vital piece at Schalke. On Saturday, the midfielder started and played all 90 minutes in his side’s 3-0 to Bayern Munich.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — Steffen and Morales started and went all 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 3-1 loss to Bayer Leverkusen. Morales was Fortuna’s lone bright spot, scoring his first goal of the season.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen — The 19-year-old stayed on the bench in Werder Bremen’s 3-2 loss to Hoffenheim.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Mönchengladbach — Johnson, who didn’t start last week, started and played 81 minutes in Mönchengladbach’s 3-1 win over Mainz.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — In his first minutes of the new season, Chandler recorded an assist in Frankfurt’s 2-1 loss to RB Leipzig. The fullback played 13 minutes on Sunday.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Adams didn’t feature for Leipzig as he continues to deal with a reported“complicated” injury.

Honorable Mentions:

Erik Palmer-Brown, Austria Wein – Palmer-Brown’s stint in Austria is off to a poor start. In his league debut, the defender saw a straight red card in the 75th minute.

Terrence Boyd, Hallescher FC – Meanwhile in Germany, all things indicate that Boyd is feeling comfortable. The ex-Toronto striker scored a goal and played 82 minutes in Hallescher FC’s 3-0 win over Unterhaching in Germany’s third division.

Pulisic watch: How did USMNT star perform for Chelsea at Norwich?

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•Aug 24, 2019, 9:40 AM

 

Saturday was a big day for USMNT star Christian Pulisic in the Premier League, as he played a pivotal role in Frank Lampard securing his first win as Chelsea’s boss with the Blues beating Norwich City 3-2.

Pulisic, 20, grabbed an assist and a hockey assist in the first 17 minutes as the Chelsea winger caused Norwich all kinds of problems as he drifted off the right flank time and time again.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

The Pennsylvania native needed a big display with Willian and Callum Hudson-Odoi both fit and fighting for his spot out wide on the left but with Pedro out injured in the warm up, Pulisic played really well on the right and went 84 minutes.

Here’s a look at how Pulisic performed against Norwich at Carrow Road on Saturday.

1st minute: Pulisic lines up on the right wing after Pedro is injured in the warm up and Ross Barkleyreplaces him in the lineup.

3rd minute: Launches himself into three tackles in quick succession, winning the final with a perfect sliding lunge.

4th minute: Controls a long pass across the pitch, runs at Norwich’s defense and plays in the overlapping Cesar Azpilicueta. His cross is volleyed home by Tammy Abraham to give Chelsea a 1-0 lead.

6th minute: Norwich attack down Pulisic’s side and get behind Azpilicueta, as Pukki crosses for Cantwell to make it 1-1.

11th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally but Norwich win the ball box just before he bursts into the box.

13th minute: Slides into a tackle and is getting through a lot of defensive works with Buendia drifting inside from Norwich’s left.

14th minute: Links up well with Mateo Kovacic on multiple occasions with clever passing and flicks. He is starting to drift inside a lot more.

17th minute: Pulisic pops up centrally, again, and slots in a perfect pass to Mount who slots home to put Chelsea 2-1 up. Pulisic grabs his first Premier League assist.

23rd minute: After making a surging run down the right, moments later he slips as he tries to wriggle free from a defender in the box.

29th minute: Pulisic gets on the ball and plays in Jorginho in the box. All the Italian midfielder has to do is slot home, but he makes a mess of it.

33rd minute: After Norwich’s Teemu Pukki made it 2-2, the home side have the momentum. Pulisic launches into a fine tackle on Lewis and is dropping deeper and deeper to help his team defend.

36th minute: Azpilicueta whips a cross into the box and Pulisic jumps high but the ball is just flicked away from him.

38th minute: His cross to the back post misses everyone and drifts out of play.

39th minute: Falls down in the box under pressure as he tries to control a looping pass.

44th minute: After a lovely darting run inside, Barkley picks him out and he twists and turns in the box. Eventually gets a shot off which is blocked.

45th minute + 2: Pulisic again wriggles free centrally and sets up Barkley who smashes way over the bar.

47th minute: Races free into the box and slams a shot into the side-netting with Abraham waiting for the pass. Should have done better with the finish. Didn’t look confident at all when taking the shot on.

55th minute: Tammy Abraham flicks the ball around the corner to Pulisic but Lewis wrestles him off the ball. Moments later Pulisic is tackled by Lewis.

61st minute: Cuts inside from the right and plays the ball to Mount who sets up Emerson who fires an effort right at Krul.

66th minute: Wins a foul just outside of his own box as his fantastic battle with Lewis continues.

71st minute: Loses a tackle on the edge of the box as Norwich push for an equalizer after Abraham put Chelsea 3-2 up. Godfrey hits the crossbar from a corner soon after.

75th minute: Tracked back as Buendia controlled a flashed in a dangerous cross. Good defensive work.

79th minute: Again, fine work down the right and a ball cut back to the edge of the box is dummied by Mount and Barkley’s shot is blocked.

80th minute: Pulisic is found by Kovacic in the box and his cross to Giroud is scrambled clear by Norwich.

84th minute: Subbed out and replaced by Willian. Gets a pat on the back from Frank Lampard and a warm ovation from the Chelsea fans.

USA sets friendly attendance record during 4-0 win over Portugal

On a Thursday night!

By Stephanie Yang@thrace  Aug 29, 2019, 6:10pm PDTAll sharing options

Starting XI: Adrianna Franch, Tierna Davidson, Becky Sauerbrunn, Abby Dahlkemper, Emily Sonnett, Lindsey Horan, Julie Ertz, Morgan Brian, Christen Press, Carli LloydTobin Heath

There were some changes but not as many as you’d think to a line up dealing with several ongoing injuries. Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe, Rose Lavelle, and Kelley O’Hara were all unavailable for the USWNT’s friendly against Portugal in Philadelphia, while Ali Krieger was dealing with a family commitment. That meant starts for both Tierna Davidson and Emily Sonnett, which was somewhat surprising given the availability of Crystal Dunn and Casey Short.Still, defensive choices didn’t seem to be too detrimental to the United States, as they opened up the first half with a goal in the 4’. Tobin Heath cleaned up a a ball dropped across face of goal by Christen Press and the US followed that up with plenty of midfield and forward pressure to keep Portugal pressed back. The midfield added numbers high at times, putting four and five players into Portugal’s back line, while also forcing turnovers to interrupt any attempt from Portugal to make a foray forward.The US doubled their lead in the 18’ after Carli Lloyd earned a corner with her thwarted attack on goal from a steep angle. Press took the corner and literally dropped the ball on an unmarked Morgan Brian’s head at the far post. Brian barely had to move to pop the ball into the back of the net.Portugal contracted a bit after that, looking afraid to get suckered out of position, giving the US some easy opportunities to play wide and drop balls into the box. But they also turned up their defending, swarming any player with the ball in the 18. That left room for the US to operate out of the midfield, with Horan, Ertz, and even Press picking up the ball in space and looking up, but Lloyd wasn’t able to pounce as required on forward passes.The second half started with three subs, as Heath, Davidson, and Dahlkemper came out for Jess McDonald, Sam Mewis, and Crystal Dunn. Dunn went to left back and Ertz dropped into the back line, letting Mewis take over central midfield.Lloyd made up for any missed opportunities in a hurry, scoring in the 52’ as a long McDonald throwin deflected into her path. Lloyd’s stabbing kick was good enough to make it 3-0.The United States made another substitution en masse in the 60’, pulling Brian, Sonnett, and Horan and putting in Mal Pugh, Allie Long, and Casey Short. Lloyd dropped back, making it a Mewis – Long – Lloyd midfield.The US took a while to adjust to all the changes, getting tangled up a bit in midfield with their ball movement. They got stuck trying to move the ball out of the back with sloppy passing, but eventually crisped up again.Christen Press had a goal ruled out in the 78’ as a switch to McDonald put her into space for the cross. Unfortunately, as the ball deflected off the goalkeeper’s hands, it hit Press and was ruled a handball. The US was unbothered, making it 4-0 anyway in the 82’ as Carli Lloyd took that wide right space for herself, juked her defender, and hit Allie Long near post. Long dropped her head smartly to deflect it in.Press had another go in the dying minutes of the game, bringing the ball down in the box and setting herself up for a shot, but the ball hit the post. It was an unlucky moment for Press, who was a handful for defenders all night long whether she drifted wide or moved central.Portugal had a late push forward, trying to exploit space behind with Dunn pushed high, but the US defended it out and finished the game at 4-0.For all that the US had the occasional issue working their way through Portugal’s defensive shell, particularly while trying to reorganize themselves after group substitutions, they looked just fine, particularly given that many of them are sorely in need of a rest that they’re just not going to get as NWSL approaches playoff season (that sound you hear is Rory Dames yelling in the distance for Julie Ertz to sit out even 45 minutes). The midfield again showed off their ability to fluidly adapt, with Ertz, Mewis, and Horan drifting in and out of each other’s spaces. Action from the fullbacks was varied – to be expected, given Davidson being shuffled out of her more familiar central role. But Sonnett and Short were active on the wings; it was particularly nice to see Short getting good minutes and showing her ability to work in the current system.In the end it was a win with no injuries in front of a record friendly crowd of 49,504 on a Thursday night in Philly and the team can inch ever-closer to a (hopefully) restful offseason.

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN HEADS SOUTH TO TAKE ON LOUISVILLE CITY FC

Boys In Blue Gear Up for Second Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest of 2019

#LOUvIND Gameday Preview   Indy Eleven at Louisville City FC
Friday, August 30, 2019 – 7:00 P.M. ET   Louisville Slugger Field  |  Louisville, Ken. 
 Local/National TV: WISH-TV, ESPN3

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 14W-4L-4D, 46 pts., 4th in Eastern Conference

Louisville City FC: 12W-7L-6D, 42 pts., 7th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven  1 : 1  Louisville City FC | Saturday, June 29

The first edition of the 2019 Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest ended in a 1-1 stalemate at Lucas Oil Stadium. Indy opened the scoring in the ninth with a goal from midfielder Tyler Pasher, but an impressive, equalizing direct free kick from Louisville midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo 10 minutes into the second half left Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr flat footed.

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  3 : 1  Charlotte Independence  |  Sunday, August 25

Indy Eleven claimed three points in a 3-1 victory over Charlotte Independence on Sunday night after a second-half brace from midfielder Drew Conner sent fans home happy. Charlotte struck first in the 15th minute after an unlucky deflection off Niki Jackson from a free kick found the back of Indy’s net. However, Indy defender Karl Ouimette leveled the scores just before the half. Come the second half, Conner netted his first professional goal in the 53rd minute and a cheeky second 30 minutes later to secure the win.

#INDVLOU STORYLINES

  • A victory on Friday night would see the Boys in Blue climb as high as second place in the Eastern Conference. Indy Eleven currently sits within a win of both the second-place Tampa Bay Rowdies (49 pts.) and third-place Nashville SC (48 pts.) – and holds three and four games in hand on those clubs, respectively.
  • Friday marks the second of two scheduled 2019 editions of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (or LIPAFC, for short).
  • After their June 29 draw at Lucas Oil Stadium, the all-time regular season series is deadlocked at 1W-1L-2D each. Last year’s regular season series was split 1W-1L-1D, Indy Eleven taking the opener at home 1-0 on May 5 before crossing the Ohio River for a 2-2 draw on August 5 and a 0-1 defeat in the regular season finale on October 13.
  • It was LCFC capturing the most important LIPAFC fixture of 2018, a 4-1 win at Louisville Slugger Field in the USL Championship Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that began their march to a second consecutive USL Cup title.
  • In addition to last year’s meetings, the border rivals also met twice in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup action in back-to-back years at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium. Fittingly, the games were split, Louisville City upsetting the Boys in Blue 2-0 in the 2015 USOC Third Round and Indy Eleven capturing a 2-1 win in the same round the following year.
  • Indy Eleven leads the USL Championship with only 17 goals allowed. The Boys in Blue are also third in the Eastern Conference in clean sheets recorded with 10 and tied for fourth in the entirety of the league, trailing by only one in each category.
  • First-year Indy Eleven forward Ilija Ilic spent 2015-2018 with Louisville City FC, making 75 appearances and scoring 17 goals for the Kentucky-based team. Ilić, one of Louisville City FC’s inaugural signings, tallied 13 of his 17 goals and 10 assists in a record 32 games in his breakout season last year.
  • Ilic and teammate Macauley King, as well as LCFC’s Niall McCabe, played collegiately for Young Harris College, a Division II school based in Young Harris, Ga.
  • Louisville Defender Shaun Francis made two appearances for former USL Premiere Development League side Indiana Invaders in 2008. Since joining Louisville, the defender has made 12 starts in 13 appearances for the club.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF DREW CONNER

Midfielder Drew Conner had himself a game last Sunday night in his first start since signing for the Boys in Blue on August 13. The former Chicago Fire homegrown product scored his first professional goal and added another for good measure against Charlotte Independence in a 3-1 win at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The midfielder also completed an outstanding 96% of the passes he played against Charlotte, showing the 25-year-old not only knows how to put the ball in the back of the net, but can swiftly move up the pitch, as well. If that wasn’t enough, Conner created two more scoring opportunities for his teammates during his 87 minutes on the pitch, making him all the more dangerous in Indy’s attacking third. What other possible attribute could the versatile Conner bring to the table, you ask? He’s not shy to get stuck in either, which could help the visitors set the tone in an importantrivalry game.

LOUISVILLE CITY FC PLAYERS TO WATCH | LUKE SPENCER … OR GEORGE DAVIS IV

Back on July 28, both midfielder Luke Spencer and striker George Davis IV got the start in attacking roles in a 3-0 loss at Loudoun United FC – one that apparently didn’t sit too well with Head Coach John Hackworth. In the four games since, both players have entered every game as second half subs – and both have contributed a pair of goals, including a game-winner.So if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, right? Well, with red-hot team leading scorer Magnus Rasmussen suspended for Friday’s fracas due to yellow card accumulation, Hackworth’s hand will be forced, meaning one of the two recent “super subs” will likely be back in the starting XI. Whichever one it is will have plenty of motivation to keep his spot, and therefore might be an extra handful for Indy’s stingy defense.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY DF LUCAS FARIAS VS LOUISVILLE MF OSCAR JIMENEZ

Coach Martin Rennie is starting to rely on Lucas Farias to man his right flank more and more as we march into the latter half of the 2019 USL Championship season. In the first outing against Louisville, the man tasked with keeping tabs on Farias was midfielder Oscar Jimenez.The two squared off as attacking outside backs in each team’s system. In the first match against Indy, Louisville played a 3-5-2 formation that saw each player act as an attacking wing back. Since the end of June, Farias has been a prominent figure in Indy’s starting XI, appearing seven times on the right side of the midfield, with the last four consecutive appearances in the starting lineup. The Brazilian has racked up three assists when Indy has had homefield advantage, but playing on the road doesn’t appear to bother him too much. In his most recent away fixtures against North Carolina FC and Nashville SC, the 25-year-old completed 90% of his passes and created one chance.Jimenez has been an iron man in the Louisville backline, starting all of his 25 appearances and only being subbed off three times. He lined up on the same wing as Farias on June 29 and created five chances compared to that of Farias’ lack of key passes. Neither attacking back was able to complete a hefty number of passes, as the aggressiveness of the last match disrupted the flow of the game, seeing six yellow cards even distributed to both teams. In his last three matches, Jimenez has continued to flex his ability to distribute, recording one assist on 10 chances created. The 29-year-old leads his team by leaps and bounds in that category, having created 80 chances this season. Friday’s away installment of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest will mark the beginning of Indy Eleven’s busiest stretch of games in club history, a 10-game, 36-day gauntlet that will see Indiana’s Team make up the several games in hand it has on its fellow Eastern Conference elite.Indy Eleven will then return to Lucas Oil Stadium next Wednesday, September 4, when it will look to even its club-record 21-game home unbeaten streak in a pivotal contest against East-leading New York Red Bulls II. Kickoff for that contest is set for 7:00 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

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8/23/19  MLS Rivalry Weekend, EPL Liverpool vs Arsenal Sat 12:30 NBC, Indy 11 Home Sun 6 pm, Italy Season Starts

Italy becomes the last major European league to kick off their season this weekend as Juventus and Renaldo look to carry the baton for Italian teams into the Champions League season.  My favorite Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon has returned to his longtime home at Juve – this time as a backup – (yeah 3 weeks I give it till he startsJ).  Here is a quick Serie A Preview  here – but I look for Juventus to of course win the league – the battle will be for the Champions League spots among Napoli, Inter and AC Milan,  and more.  Of course all the games will be on ESPN+ with the occasional game on ESPN2 or News. 

Huge Congrats to US Keeper Zach Steffan who was Glorious in First Start in Germany he made no fewer than 10 saves in his first start for Dusseldorf – even stopping a sure goal from fellow US youngster Josh Sargent.  This week Steffan and Dussledorf travel to Bayer Levekusen at 9:30 am on FS1.  Later Sat US Dmid Mckinney will be in the spotlight at his Schalke travels to Bayern Munich Sat at 12:30 on Fox Sports 1 as Bayern looks to avenge their opening game tie.   US starlet Christian Pulisic will look to bounce back this weekend for Chelsea at 7:30 am on NBCSN vs Norwich, while Man U hosts Crystal Palace at 10 am and a solid top 6 matchup – as Liverpool hosts Arsenal at 12:30 pm on NBC.  Of course I will be keeping an eye on American players across the world as the seasons oversea’s get started.

MLS

The Playoff picture comes into focus this weekend as Rivalry Weekend kicks off with no fewer than 4 Championship Caliber Games on National TV this weekend.  Great piece on the Crazy fans in MLS as ESPN features some of the top MLS stadium experiences – that could rival many in Europe.  The fun starts Friday on ESPN with Orlando City looking to break their Atlanta United curse (8pm ET), followed by a Cascadia clash between Portland and Seattle (10 pm ET) with both teams looking to secure their playoff positions. Last but certainly not least, Hudson River Derby rivals New York Red Bulls and New York City FC clash Saturday in the Big Apple on ESPN 2 (7pm ET).  Finally and perhaps the BEST of them all is El Traffico between MLS best team LAFC with Vela and the LA Galaxy with Zlatan Ibrahimovich who has never lost to LAFC –  Sunday night at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Hey you European Soccer Snobs – (you know who you are) do yourself a favor and tune in tonight or tomorrow or Sunday to MLS – you might find like me – that the overall play has really improved and the TV experience is truly magnificent at some of these new temples of Soccer in America.  Oh and if you haven’t seen this yet – Carlos Vela with a Magic goal – (with a proper Goal Call by an American!!)  Was the goal maybe the best ever in MLS history – the boys at MLS Soccer discuss.

Indy 11 @ Home Sun 6 pm

I had a chance to head out to the Indy 11 win last Sunday night a solid 2-1 win over new MLS to be team St. Louis.  The Boys in Blue (13W-4L-4D, 43 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference) will return to USL Championship action Sunday night at 6 pm vs Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those 6:00 p.m. contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  The games will be on MyIndyTV and ESPN+ as well.

Pack the House Night for #1 Ranked Carmel Carmel Girls Friday night 7 pm

Pack the House night is this Friday Night, 8/22 at Murray Stadium at Carmel High School as the CHS battle Guerin High.  Here’s a quick Season preview  ton’s of former Carmel FC girls on that squad – including All State GK Erin Baker.  Congrats to former Carmel FC Goalkeepers Gabe Moorman and Henry Giesel for making the boys varsity team – Moorman helped lead #24 ranked Carmel to a 1-1 tie with #15 ranked Noblesville last night.  If you would like to have your team be Ballgirls for the Defending State Champion Girls team please reach out to Tom Baker at Tom@embarkto.com.

CFC Goalkeeping Training with myself and Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr will be Monday at Badger 6-8 pm and Thursday at Shelbourne 6-8 pm.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Aug 27

3 pm TNT                                              Crevena Zvedzda vs Young Boys  UCL

8 pm ESPN+                                            Atlanta United vs Minn United (US Open Cup) 

Thurs, Aug 29

7 pm Fox Sports1                             USA Ladies vs Portugal

Fri, Aug 30

2:30 pm FS 2                                         MGladbach (Johnson) vs RB Leipzig

2:45 pm bEIN Sport                          PSG vs Metz

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+                Louisville vs Indy 11

Sat, Aug 31

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Southhampton vs Man United

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayern Munich vs Mainz

9:30 am FS2                                            Schalke (McKinney) vs Hertha BSC

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea (Pulisic)  vs Sheffield United

11 am beIN sport                               Osasuana vs Barcelona

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Burnley vs Liverpool

12:30 pm FS1                                        Union Berlin vs Dormund

2:45 pm ESPN+                                    Juve vs Napoli

3 pm beIN Sports                               France vs Spain (Ladies)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Cincy

10:30 pm ESPN+                                 Portland vs Real Salt Lake

Sun, Sept 1

9 am NBCSN                                           Everton vs  Wolverhampton

9:30 m FS1                                              Werder Bremen vs Ausburg

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Arsenal vs Tottenham 

12 noon FS1                                           Frankfort vs Dusseldorf (Steffan)

3 pm beIN sport                                  Villarreal vs Real Madrid

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars 

6:30 pm FS1                                           Seattle vs LA Galaxy 

10:30 pm fS1                                        LAFC vs Minn United 

Tues, Sept 3

1 pm ESPN2                                       USA Ladies vs Portugal

WEds, Sept 4

7 pm  My IndyTV/ESPN+          Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls2

Fri, Sept 6

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Germany vs Netherlands (Euro Qualifiying)

8:30 pm Fox Sports1                         USA vs Mexico

Sat, Sept 7

12noon ESPN+                                      England vs Bulgaria (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  France vs Albania (Euro Qualifiying)

2:45 pm ESPN+?                                  Serbia vs Portugal (Euro Qualifiying)

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

NWSL. You can stream every game live on Yahoo Sports.

MLS – Rivalry Weekend

Best goal in MLS history? Inside Vela’s worldie

Wiebe: No need for hype, MLS rivalries are real

Doyle: STL, Rivalry Week & more in the mailbag

Seattle vs. Portland: History behind the rivalry

EL TRAFFICO – La Times

Robles: “No excuses” as RBNY run rivalry gauntlet

What a golazo! Matchday Central on Vela’s stunner

Wayne Rooney sent off early in Atlantic Cup

Meet the deadliest derby players in MLS history

Wondo: Breaking LD’s record brought me freedom

Warshaw: Why Montreal made their surprising change

Check out Nashville SC’s new stadium renderings

Soccer-MLS awards expansion franchise to St. Louis

What to know about soccer history in St. Louis

Twellman: MLS in St. Louis will “surprise” people

Actor McConaughey joins MLS expansion team Austin FC as part owner

USA

US Players Playing on TV

US Keeper Zach Steffan was Glorious in First Start in Germany

Why Christian Pulisic chose Chelsea over Man United

Predicting the USMNT September call-ups

Adams expected to return to training with RB Leipzig in ‘two or three weeks’

USMNT’s Green flying high with new manager, new position

LADIES USA

USWNT lawsuit goes to trial May 5

NC Courage gets to Final with Lyon in Women’s ICC Cup

 EPL

Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks Joe Prince-Wright reveals his score predictions for the 10 PL games this week

Arsenal nowhere near good enough to challenge Man City and Liverpool for title – Parlour

Kroenke talks Arsenal transfer success despite no UCL

WORLD

Why Juventus’s dominance isn’t a problem for Serie A

Serie A Preview – ESPNFC

Serie A 2019-20 preview: Juventus has strengthened, but so have their rivals

Messi ‘made me better player’, says Ronaldo

GOALKEEPERS

Most Valuable Keepers in the World Today (missing Buffon and Coach Jordan Farr)

US Keeper Zach Steffan was Glorious in First Start in Germany

Loris Saves Spurs vs Man City

Chelsea’s Kepa Great double Save vs Liverpool

USL Save of the Week

Great PK Saves

Manuel Neuer Training

NWSL Save of the Week Kailen Sheridan Sky Blue

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview of Charlotte Game at Home Sunday

Indy 11 – 3 Things

Indy 11 – 2-1 over St Louis

Indy 11 Signs pair of South American Strikers

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

 

Girls soccer: Carmel expects another competitive season

POSTED BY: RICHIE HALL AUGUST 18, 2019

Soccer seasons don’t get much better than the one the Carmel girls team had last year. The Greyhounds had a brilliant campaign in 2018, finishing with a 20-1-2 record and the school’s 10th IHSAA state championship. Carmel won the Class 3A final in overtime 2-1, with Kelsie James scoring the winning goal.So what will 2019 bring for the ‘Hounds? It’s likely there will be more success, as Carmel has what coach Frank Dixon calls “a very experienced team” with 10 seniors and seven juniors. That includes seven starters from last season’s state championship team.The list of returners starts with James, now a senior, who was Carmel’s leading scorer last year with 11 goals and 10 assists. The defense will be experienced too, led by goalkeeper junior Erin Baker, who was named to the All-State team last season. Baker totaled 45 saves and only allowed four goals to the Greyhounds’ opponents during the entire season.Carmel will have the majority of its returners in the midfield, with three starters coming back: Seniors Cassidy Eckstein and Morgan Parker and junior Susie Soderstrom. The other two returners were defenders, senior Olivia Fray and junior Claire Bonnici.“We graduated the right side of our back four as well as our starting defensive midfielder so we will be working on defensive organization and communication to start the season,” said Dixon. “One of those defenders was the Gatorade Indiana Player of the Year and she was very big in our attack so we will need to try to replace that production also.”That Player of the Year was Emily Speidel, now playing at Western Kentucky. Dixon said his team currently has five players who are verbally committed to continuing their soccer careers in college.
“With all the experience, I believe this team has the potential, if the players work as a team, to be very good,” said Dixon.
Carmel will begin its season Friday by hosting Guerin Catholic.“It should be another competitive year for the Greyhounds,” said Dixon.  Lots of former Carmel FC girls on this roster – including all-state Goalkeeper Erin Baker.

VARSITY ROSTER
Seniors: Emma Antoine, Abby Dickerson, Cassidy Eckstein, Olivia Fray, Gracie Gilbert, Mia Glass, Kelsie James, Naomi Mann, Morgan Parker.
Juniors: Brooke Bailey, Erin Baker, Claire Bonnici, Carly Jessup, Olivia Johnson, Riley Pennington, Susie Soderstrom.
Sophomores: Lauren Bailey, Saliyah Brady, Emily Roper, Tamara Smith.

 

USMNT Aug 23-25 viewing guide and open thread

By jcksnftsn  Aug 23, 2019, 8:00am PDTPhoto by Matthew Ashton – AMA/Getty Images

It’s rivalry week in the MLS and there are a number of regional match-ups throughout the weekend, including six on national TV. Add to that another seven nationally televised games being played across Europe and you have a weekend full of viewing options for people trying to find a glimpse of USMNT players in action with their club teams. Here’s what you can watch:

Friday

Portland Timbers v Seattle Sounders – 10p on ESPN

Portland and Seattle face off late Friday in Portland in what seems sure to be an exciting match between Western Conference playoff contenders and pacific northwest rivals. It’s apparently Seattle’s turn to win as the teams have alternated victories their past five matches with Portland winning most recently in July.

Jordan Morris and Cristian Roldan will see the field for Seattle who are coming off a 2-2 draw with the LA Galaxy while Jorge Villafana and Jeremy Ebobisse are likely to see time for a Portland team coming off a 2-0 loss to Atlanta.

Other Notes:

Saturday

Fortuna Dusseldorf v Bayer Leverkusen – 9:30a on FS1

Zack Steffen will look to follow up his man of the match performance last weekend with Fortuna Dusseldorf when the team meets Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday morning. It was a fantastic start to the season for Steffen as his 10 saves led Dusseldorf to a 3-1 win over Werder Bremen in their season opener. Steffen will look to build on that this week when the team meets Bayer Leverkusen who are coming off a 3-2 win over SC Paderborn. Also joining Steffen will be Alfredo Morales who went 90’ in the teams opener last weekend.

Other Notes:

  • Christian Pulisic will look to rebound from a rough outing when Chelsea face Norwich Cityat 7:30a on NBCSN.
  • Fabian Johnson has been seeing regular minutes as a sub for a Borussia Monchengladbach team that has top four aspirations this season. They play Mainz 05 at 9:30a on FS2.
  • Weston McKennie and Schalke will need to create some offense if they’re going to keep up with Bayern Munich when the teams meet at 12:30p on FS1.
  • New York City FC and the New York Red Bulls meet at 7p on ESPN2. Keaton Parks has been seeing regular minutes for NYCFC, for the Red Bulls keep an eye on Aaron Long.

Sunday

Hertha Berlin v Wolfsburg – Noon on FS1

John Brooks and Wolfsburg got their 2019-20 campaign off to a solid start last weekend with a 2-1 win over FC Koln and will look to build on that this weekend when they take on Hertha Berlin. Brooks had a nearly injury free season last year but was unfortunately injured towards the end of the season and forced to miss the Gold Cup. Thankfully Brooks is back to full health and looking ahead to another solid year in the Bundesliga.

Other Notes:

  • RB Leipzig and Eintracht Frankfurt meet at 9:30a on FS1. Tyler Adams is still 2-3 weeks from a return from his adductor injury but Timothy Chandler should be available for Eintracht Frankfurt though he has seen limited minutes for the club thus far this season.
  • DeAndre Yedlin also continues to recover from injury and will not be available when Newcastle meet Tottenham at 11:30a on NBCSN,
  • FC Cincinnati and the Columbus Crew meet at 6p on FS1 with Gyasi Zardes and Wil Trapp likely to see time for Columbus.
  • FC Dallas and the Huston Dynamo play at 8p on FS1. Paxton Pomykal leads the way for Dallas who’s youth movement also includes Brandon Servania, Edwin Cerrillo, Reggie Cannon, Jesse Gonzalez, and perhaps even Ricardo Pepi.
  • In the nightcap the Los Angeles Football Club and the Los Angeles Galaxy face off at 10:30p on FS1. Walker Zimmerman continues to lead the LAFC defense while Joe Corona will likely see time for the Galaxy.

 

Serie A Preview: Juve remain favourites, but Napoli, Inter poised to pounce if Sarri experiment backfires

12:57 PM ETTom WilliamsESPN.com writer

After a three-month hiatus, Serie A returns this Saturday, starting with Juventus at Parma, while every game in Italy’s top flight can be seen live in the United States on ESPN+ this season.On the eve of the 2019-20 campaign, there is hope for all 20 clubs and questions abound: Will Juve win a ninth consecutive Scudetto? Who will qualify for the Champions League? Can Mario Balotelli keep his hometown club Brescia from being relegated?Tom Williams is here to answer those questions and examine all of the calcio storylines to watch in 2019-20.

Serie A is still Juventus’ to lose

If Juventus fans will be closely scrutinising how their team adapts to life under new head coach Maurizio Sarri over the opening weeks of the new Serie A season, the same will be true for supporters of their expected title rivals, Napoli and Inter Milan.

Sarri, who might miss Saturday’s opening fixture against Parma after being diagnosed with pneumonia, was brought to Juventus to take the club to the next level. After eight successive Serie A titles, won by an average of more than nine points, mere domestic dominance will no longer suffice. The former Napoli coach is expected to inject panache into the somewhat perfunctory football that was Juve’s calling card under Massimiliano Allegri and end the club’s 23-year wait for a third Champions League crown.

It is no small order, but he has plenty of resources at his disposal. Juve saw off competition from various super clubs to sign centre-back starlet Matthijs de Ligt from Ajax and have bolstered their midfield with free transfers Aaron Ramsey from Arsenal and former PSG ace Adrien RabiotCristiano Ronaldo, last season’s Serie A Player of the Year, has had a full year to acclimate to life in Italy and is chasing a sixth Ballon d’Or. Although Juve must adapt to an unfamiliar coach, so too must Inter, AC Milan and Roma.

If everything clicks, the Scudetto will be Juve’s to lose. But if Sarri experiences any of the teething problems he encountered during his solitary season at Chelsea, where the fans never took to his vision or style, the chances of Italy crowning a first champion other than Juve since Allegri’s Milan took the spoils in 2011 will significantly increase.

 

Who can strike if Juve slip?

Runners-up last season, Napoli have enjoyed a more tranquil summer than their major rivals, with Carlo Ancelotti remaining at the helm and the club quietly conducting some impressive transfer business. Kostas Manolas, a €36 million capture from Roma, looks set to form what could become one of Europe’s most imposing centre-back partnerships alongside Kalidou Koulibaly, while Mexico winger Hirving Lozano will add dynamism and directness in attack — and soften the blow of losing to Arsenal for Nicolas Pepe.

Stream soccer on ESPN+: Serie A, MLS, Nations League, FA Cup and more (U.S. only)

Napoli failed to replicate 2017-18’s captivating title charge last season due to their inability to win the big games. They lost twice to Juve in the league, were eliminated by Milan in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals and crashed out of the Europa League against Arsenal, having previously failed to advance out of a Champions League group with PSG, Liverpool and Red Star Belgrade. But Ancelotti believes Napoli’s serene summer could give his side an edge.”Napoli will get to the start of the season quite tried and tested,” he told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “We don’t need to experiment in our play in order to become more fluent. That may give us a small advantage over our rivals, who have changed something.”If Napoli are banking on stability, an offseason of clear-minded evolution at Inter has left Nerazzurri supporters dreaming of a first league title since Jose Mourinho’s 2010 treble.Inter head into the new campaign with a management team that knows exactly what it takes to win the championship, after former Juve CEO Beppe Marotta brought in former Juve coach Antonio Conte to replace Luciano Spalletti. A born winner, Conte’s task is to infuse Inter with the kind of uncompromising mentality he instilled at Juve, where he won three Scudetti in a row, and with Chelsea, who stormed to the Premier League title in his first season in England.Conte’s preferred 3-5-2 system will benefit from intelligent additions in every department: the wily Diego Godin bolstering the defence, young Italy internationals Stefano Sensi and Nicolo Barella bringing craft and guile to midfield, and Romelu Lukaku, a €80 million acquisition from Manchester United, furnishing the new coach with the kind of battering ram striker he adores in attack. With Radja Nainggolan (loaned to Cagliari) and Ivan Perisic(loaned to Bayern Munich) gone and divisive former captain Mauro Icardi expected to follow, Inter will also hope to avoid some of the internal conflicts that hampered them in 2018-19.”I don’t have a magic wand, but it’s up to me to show the way, and it’ll be important for everyone to follow this path,” Conte said earlier this summer. “A spirit of sacrifice, ferocity, passion and a great desire to work hard will be required if we want to have a season where we’re one of the key players, as is our intention.”

 

The race for Champions League qualification

Conte’s return to his homeland maintains Serie A’s quota of tigerish former Italy midfielders, following Gennaro Gattuso’s departure from Milan in the wake of last season’s disappointing fifth-place finish. Former Sampdoria coach Marco Giampaolo will look to add some sparkle to the Rossoneri’s football, and with no European commitments to worry about, after Milan were excluded from the Europa League due to Financial Fair Play infringements, he will have plenty of time to hone his signature 4-3-1-2 system.Ismael Bennacer, signed from Empoli after starring in Algeria’s Africa Cup of Nations triumph, is an eye-catching acquisition in midfield, while young Portuguese forward Rafael Leao, bought from Lille for €35 million to replace the outgoing Patrick Cutrone (Wolves), will form a new-look strike partnership with Krzysztof Piatek, who hopes to put the curse of the Milan No. 9 shirt to bed after inheriting the jersey following his impressive start to life at San Siro last season.Sixth last term, Roma are looking to new head coach Paulo Fonseca and a youthful squad to find calmer waters after a turbulent few months in which the Giallorossi parted ways with a coach (Eusebio Di Francesco), a sporting director (Monchi) and two club legends in Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi. Simone Inzaghi remains in charge across town at Lazio, where last season’s Coppa Italia winners will attempt to improve on an eighth-place showing, despite modest dealings in the transfer window to date.Then there is last season’s surprise package, Atalanta, who were guided to a superb third-place finish by Gian Piero Gasperini. They must contend with the distraction of the first Champions League campaign in their 111-year history, which seems certain to take a toll on the squad over the first half of the season at least.

Other storylines to watch

The other clubs bidding to upset the established order include Sampdoria, where Di Francesco is now in charge, Walter Mazzarri’s water-tight Torino and Bologna, who are likely to benefit from widespread neutral support following head coach Sinisa Mihajlovic’s leukemia diagnosis. The former free-kick maestro, who steered Bologna to safety last season after arriving in January, has been watching training sessions and friendly matches from his hospital bed and delivering team talks via Skype.Brescia, promoted from Serie B alongside Lecce and Verona, have generated plenty of column inches following Mario Balotelli‘s decision to sign for his hometown club. The striker, who spent the second half of last season at Marseille, is motivated by the ambition of claiming a spot in Italy’s squad for Euro 2020, but national coach Roberto Mancini — who knows the 29-year-old better than most — has warned him to not expect any special treatment.”I love him, but I can’t do anything for him. He must remember that he’s in the prime of his career and that he still has so much to give,” Mancini told La Gazzetta. “It’s all about how much he wants it.”

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN CONTINUES HOMESTAND VS. CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE

By IndyEleven.com, 08/22/19, 5:45PM EDTShare bBoys In Blue Look to Continue Hot Form at Home in Second Match-up vs. Charlotte Independence

Sunday, August 25, 2019 – 6:00 P.M. ET  Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, IN       

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23   Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 13W-4L-4D, 43 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Charlotte Independence: 5W-10L-10D, 25 pts., 12th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven 3 : 2 Charlotte Independence | Friday, March 15

The Boys in Blue staved off two late goals at Charlotte Independence to secure a 3-2 victory in Week Two of USL Championship play. Goals from midfielders Macauley King and Tyler Gibson, in addition to a third from forward Thomas Enevoldsen, were enough to maintain the lead and begin a four-game winning streak.

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  2 : 1  Saint Louis FC  | Sunday, August 18

Indy Eleven’s relationship with late-game drama continued to burn bright after an 81st minute goal from forward Dane Kelly grabbed another three points last Sunday, lifting the undefeated run at Lucas Oil Stadium to 19 games. In-form midfielder Tyler Pasher scored the game’s opening goal, and his ninth of the season, in the 67th minute before Kelly doubled the lead. Forward Eugene Starikov also returned to the field for the first time since March 30, and new signee Drew Conner made his debut for Indy.

Charlotte Independence 1 : 3 Nashville SC  | Saturday, August 17

Charlotte Independence fell to Nashville on Saturday night after midfielder Enzo Martinez’s equalizer in the 23rd minute was nullified by a pair of second-half goals by Nashville’s Daniel Rios and Kharlton Belmar. The loss extends Charlotte’s winless streak to five (0W-3L-2D), with their last victory dating back to a 2-1 win over Saint Louis on July 13.

#INDVCLT STORYLINES

  • Indy Eleven has an all-time record of 2W-0L-1D against Charlotte Independence, scoring five goals and allowing three goals in the three meetings.
  • Indy has a chance to extend its 19-game home undefeated streak (12W-0L-7D) to 20 on Sunday, with the possibility of equaling the longest such streak in club history coming against the team, Charlotte Independence, it began against on July 7, 2018.
  • Indy Eleven remains undefeated through 11 games at home in 2019 (7W-0L-4D). The Boys in Blue have scored 12 goals while allowing just three,and have recorded eight clean sheets.
  • A victory on Sunday night could see the Boys in Blue jump as high as a three-way tie for second place in the Eastern Conference standings. Indy Eleven (43 pts.) enters the weekend with three games in hand on the Tampa Bay Rowdies (46) and a whopping four games on Nashville (45), North Carolina FC (46) and New York Red Bulls II (50).
  • Sunday night’s match will feature the two most prolific scorers in USL Championship history in Indy Eleven forward Dane Kelly (72 goals) and Charlotte Independence forward Jorge Herrera (71 goals). Kelly broke the tie for the title he held for most of this season with last weekend’s game-winner versus Saint Louis FC.
  • Indiana’s Team is level with Tampa Bay Rowdies for least goals conceded in the league, allowing just 16 goals in 21 games while recording a total of 10 clean sheets, which sees the side tied for third most across both USL Championship conferences.Charlotte’s Aaron Maund will return to Indiana after spending 2008-11 in the Hoosier state playing collegiately with the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, in addition to spending one year with former USL Premier Development club Indiana Invaders in 2011. Goalkeeper Brandon Miller also spent the 2010 PDL season with the Invaders.
  • The Independence will also feature former Major League Soccer heavyweight Dominic Oduro, who made 346 MLS appearances during his 12-year career in first division American soccer.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF NEVEAL HACKSHAW

When not on international duty, Neveal Hackshaw has been the man tasked with handling the left side of Head Coach Martin Rennie’s backline. The Trinidad & Tobago international has been Rennie’s go-to defender, playing every minute of the 17 starts he’s received in his first year with the team. He’s been a prolific defender since signing for the Boys in Blue, working in tandem with the likes of Paddy Barrett and Karl Ouimette to keep the opposing attack at bay.The 23-year-old’s transition from the midfield to the back third has also contributed to his excellent passing numbers. Hackshaw has completed 81% of his passes this season in addition to contributing two goals. He’ll be tasked with keeping forwards Jorge Herrera and Dominic Oduro quiet on the flanks against Charlotte on Sunday.

CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE PLAYER TO WATCH | MF ENZO MARTINEZ

Enzo Martinez’s 23rd minute equalizer was Charlotte’s lone goal against Nashville SC in the previous loss to the Tennessean side. Normally though, the 2016 and 2017 All-League First Team member acts as the team’s creator rather than goal scorer.Martinez leads Charlotte with six assists through 23 appearances. The 28-year-old leads his side in chances created as well, supplying 44 scoring opportunities for his teammates, nearly 10 more than the next in line. The Boys in Blue back third will have to keep an eye on Martinez come Sunday, as he created two chances, one of which led to a goal, in their previous meeting.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY FW DANE KELLY VS. CHARLOTTE FW JORGE HERRERA

Sunday night’s fixture will feature a marquee matchup between the USL Championship’s all-time leading goal scorer in Indy forward Dane Kelly and the runner up to the title in Charlotte’s Herrera.In his last time out, Kelly broke his 13-game goalless streak when he toe-tipped the winning goal past Saint Louis FC ‘keeper Tomas Gomez in the 81st minute. The goal was the Jamaican’s fifth of the season. putting him back atop the all-time goal scoring chart in league history with 72 regular season goals to his name. His pace and power in the final third make Kelly difficult for centerbacks to track and contain, as he showed against Saint Louis when he bodied off captain Sam Fink and applied the finishing touch to claim the full three points. Kelly has a bone to pick with Charlotte, after he hit the crossbar in the first meeting between the two sides.A goal for Herrera on Sunday night would bring the Columbian back on level terms with Kelly for most goals scored in all-time Championship play. The 38-year-old has netted six times in 2019, making him the side’s second highest goal scorer behind Oduro. In his last three games, he’s contributed to three goals, scoring one and assisting the other two. Herrera will look to keep in form going against the Boys in Blue, but may find it difficult as he failed to put a single shot on target the last time he faced Indiana’s Team.Indy Eleven will look to continue its climb up the Eastern Conference standings this Sunday, Aug. 25, when Indiana’s Team plays host to Charlotte Independence (5W-10L-10D, 25 pts., 12th in East). Kickoff for the team’s “Red Out Night” contest – for which fans are encouraged to wear their favorite red gear to Lucas Oil Stadium – is set for 6:00 p.m. (live on WISH-TV 8), and tickets remain available for as little as $15 at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

 

8/16/19  CFC Night at CHS Boys Game Thur night 7 pm, Germany & Spanish Seasons Start, EPL Man City vs Spurs Sat 12:30 NBC, Pulisic’s Chelsea vs Leicester Sun 11:30, Ladies ICC Sun, Indy 11 Home Sun 6 pm

Two more leagues kick off their season’s this weekend as the Bundesliga with plenty of American’s vying for playing time like Tyler Adams at RB Leipzig and starts and Weston McKinney at Schalke, John Brooks at Wolfsburg, GK Zach Steffen at Dusseldorf, and Josh Sargent at Werder Bremen.  La Liga kicked off Friday with a stunning loss by Barcelona at Athletic Club (with an injured Messi on the bench). Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid will try to take advantage on the Catalan’s misstep checkout the season preview here.  The EPL got off to a good start last week –as most of the favorites won and Man United dominated Chelsea at Old Trafford. American Christian Pulisic struggled in his sub appearance in the opener at Old Trafford losing 4-0.  But in the EUFA Supercup vs Liverpool Wed – the 20 year starred as he started and had a beautiful assist for the opening goal – and a questionable offsides on his own goal just minutes later.  You could argue he was the best player on the field in the first half as Chelsea took the 1-0 lead into the half.  Of course Liverpool battled back – Pulisic came off in the 70th minute and the Reds won the game in PKs after 120 minutes.  But the 1-1 loss was certainly a huge turnaround performance for the Blues and should set them and Pulisic up for the home opener vs Leicester City on Sunday at 11:30 am on NBCSN.  The highlight game of the weekend features a top 4 showdown as Tottenham is hosting 2-time Champs Manchester City Saturday at 12:30 on NBC.  That’s after Liverpool host Norwich at 10 am on NBCSN.  Of course I will be keeping an eye on American players across the world as the seasons oversea’s get started.

Women’s Soccer ICC Sunday Night on ESPN2 & News

The Ladies Game takes Center Stage again Sunday afternoon as the Women’s ICC featuring 4 of the top Club Ladies Teams in the World will be on ESPNnews and ESPN2.  At 5 pm Man City faces Atletico Madrid on ESPNNews.  In the final Lyon will face the North Carolina Courage in a Winner take all Final at 7:30 pm on ESPN2.  Lyon – the European champions brings the who who of World Cup teams – Wendie Renard, Amandine Henry, Dzsenifer Marozsan and Ada Hegerberg. Of the course NC counters with US stars Crystal Dunn, Sam Mewis, Lynn Williams and Jessie McDonald.

MLS

See what happens when the best teams play?  Finally Atlanta United (the defending MLS Cup Champs) got to represent the US in a match against LigaMX Champion Club America to  win this week’s Campeones Cup. The Five Stripes (Atlanta) outlasted Club America to win the one-game annual clash between the league champions of MLS and Liga MX that debuted last year. They’ll host Minnesota United for the Open Cup final at Mercedes-Benz Stadium later this month, and are odds-on picks to secure a high seed in the East side of the MLS postseason bracket come fall – could the be in line for a Treble?  Amazing what this now 3 year old team has done in MLS – they average over 55K per game in the city that has embraced soccer and MLS like few others.  Sat night we get a Revitalized LA Galaxy and Ibra hosting Seattle at 10 pm on ESPN2 with 4th place in a tight playoff race on the line!!  Sunday we get Atlanta United traveling to Portland in a rematch of last Season’s MLS Cup Final – at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1.  The playoff picture continues to take shape in this week 24 and of course the news that St Louis will be awarded the next MLS Francise L

Indy 11 @ Home Sun 6 pm

The Indy traveled to Detroit for a mid-week friendly and took home a 1-0 victory as Carmel FC Goalkeeper Coach Jordan Farr notched his 3rd shut-out of the season. (Here’s a great save). He’s given up just 1 goal across 4 starts and two sub appearances.  The Boys in Blue (12W-4L-4D, 40 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference) will return to USL Championship action with a pair of Sunday evening affairs the next two weekends against Saint Louis FC on Aug. 18 (Faith & Family Night) and Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those 6:00 p.m. contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  The games will be on MyIndyTV and ESPN+ as well.

Carmel FC Night at Carmel High School Game Thurs 7 pm

Carmel FC night is this Thursday Night, 8/22 at Murray Stadium at Carmel High School as the CHS Boys battle Noblesville.   Carmel FC players (girls and boys) wearing their blue jersey’s will get Free Admission for the game.  Kickoff is 7 pm at Murray.  If you are a Carmel FC coach looking to have your team be a ballboy for the boy’s season please reach out to club Prez Jeremy.slivinski@cdccarmelfc.com.  If you would like to have your team be Ballgirls for the Defending State Champion Girls team please reach out to Tom Baker at Tom@embarkto.com.

CFC Goalkeeping Training with myself and Carmel FC GK Coach and Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr will be Monday at Badger 6-8 pm and Wednesday 8/21 (not Thursday this week) at Shelbourne 6-8 pm.

Man U exposes Chelsea’s Defensive Flaws – Jon Wilson SI

Pulisic must impress quickly at Chelsea to shutdown unfair Hazard Comparisons Mark Odgen EPSNFC

Soccer-Bullet point previews of Premier League matches

UEL Roundup: Wolves thrash Pyunik, and more

It was another stellar performance from Wolves to advance in the Europa League.

·         Klopp applauds performance of referee Stephanie Frappart and UEFA Super Cup officials

A team of female officials took charge of the UEFA Super Cup for the first time on Wednesday and Jurgen Klopp was impressed.

Liverpool Super Cup hero Adrian injured by fan who crashed team’s on-field celebration  

USA

DaMarcus Beasley has some fixes for American soccer

How US Star Pulisic did in First Game – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic Family Adjusts to being at Chelsea –Grant Wahl SI

Should Nagbe be back in the USMNT fold?

Markgraf hired as USWNT GM; Stewart promoted

U.S. planning bid to host 2027 Women’s WC

American Defender Chris Gloster Signs With PSV Eindhoven

 U.S. U20 star Mendez makes jump to PSV rival Ajax
U.S. youngster Araujo could make switch to Mexico

U20 Star Soto being approached by Chile

NWSL Record Crowd of 25K Sees Portland beat NC 2-1 on ESPNNews

 

WORLD

Germany Bundesliga Season Preview

LA Liga – Spain – Season Preview

Transfer grades: Rating every major signing from Europe

UEFA postpones Champions League talks as clubs, leagues row

 

MLS

Week 24 Questions

What 2 Watch 4

Can Atlanta United win a treble this year?

Larentowicz: Campeones Cup was a “spectacle”

Warshaw: ATL bring the swagger to Campeones Cup

Breaking down ATL’s Campeones Cup win  Video

Inter Miami FC: How the franchise is shaping up

Zlatan, Galaxy get back in the winning groove

TFC, Impact through to CanChamp final

St Louis to be awarded next MLS Francise

 

Indy 11

Preview of Sunday St Louis Matchup

Indy 11 beats Detriot FC with Farr in the Net

Indy 11 Signs pair of South American Strikers

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

OC teen becomes youngest male to sign professional soccer contract in US

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 16

2:30 pm FS2                            Bayern Munich vs Hertha German Bundesliga Starts

3 pm beIN Sport                     Atheltic Club vs Barcelona (La Liga Starts)

Sat, Aug 17

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Arsenal vs Burnley

9:30 am FS1                                            Dortmund vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS2                                            Werder Bremen (Sargeant) vs Dusseldorf

10 am CNBC                                           Aston villa vs Bournmouth

10 am NBCSN                                        Southampton vs Liverpool

11 am bein Sport                               Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Man City vs Tottenham

12:30 pm FS1                                        MGladbach (Johnson) vs Schalke (McKinney)

7;30 pm ESPN+                                    Cincy vs NYCFC

10 pm ESPN2                                         LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Sun, Aug 18

9 am NBCSN                                           Shelfield vs Crystal Palace

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Leicester City

12 noon FS1                                           Union Berlin vs RB Leipzig (Adams)

1 pm ESPN News                                 Skye Blue (NY) vs Reign NWSL

4 pm beIN sport                                  Atletico Madrid vs Getafe

5 pm ESPN News                                 Women’s Man City vs Athletico Madrid – ICC 3rd place Game

6 pm  My Indy TV                Indy 11 vs St Louis

7:30 pm ESPN News                                                 Women’s ICC North Carolina vs Lyon – Champ Game

10 pm FS1                                                                        Portland vs Atlanta United  

Mon, Aug 19

3 pm NBCSN                                           Wolverhampton vs Man United

Thur, Aug 22

3 pm NBCSN                                           Sporting KC vs Min United

Fri, Aug 23

2:30 pm FS 2                                         Koln vs Dortmund

3 pm NBCSN                                           Aston Villa vs Everton

8 pm ESPN                                               Orlando vs Atlanta United

10 pm ESPN                                            Portland vs Seattle Cascadia Cup  

Sat, Aug 24

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Norwich vs Chelsea (Pulisic)  

9:30 am FS1                                            Bayer Leverkusen vs Dusseldorf (Stefan)

10 am NBCSN                                        Man United vs Crystal Palace

12 noon ESPN+                                     Parma vs Juventus

1 pm bein Sport                                  Real Madrid vs Real Valladolid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Liverpool vs Arsenal  

12:30 pm FS1                                        Bayern Munich vs Schalke (McKinney)

7;30 pm ESPN2                                    NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC

10 pm ESPN+                                         Toronto vs Montreal  

Sun, Aug 25

9 am NBCSN                                           Bournmouth vs Man City

9:30 m FS1                                              RB Leipzig (Adams) vs Frankfurt (Chandler)

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Spurs vs New Castle (Yedlin)  

12 noon FS1                                           Hertha Berlin vs Wolfsburg (Brooks)

1 pm ESPN News                                 Skye Blue (NY) vs Reign NWSL

3 pm beIN sport                                  Barcelona vs Real Betis

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs Chicago Red Stars  

6 pm  My Indy TV                Indy 11 vs Charolotte

6 pm FS1                                                   Cincy vs Columbus (Ohio Derby)  

8 pm FS1                                                  Dallas (Hedges) vs Houston

10 pm FS1                                                                        LA FC vs LA Galaxy – El Trafico  

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

NWSL. You can stream every game live on Yahoo Sports.

‘Pulisic has it all to become as good as Hazard’ – Ex-Chelsea striker thrilled with U.S. star’s Super Cup showing

Chris Burton04:53 8/15/19

 

The United States international impressed again during a showpiece event in Turkey and is being backed to fill a creative void for the BluesChristian Pulisic has an air of Arjen Robben about him, says Tony Cascarino, with the American being tipped to fill the void created by Eden Hazard’s departure from Chelsea.The United States international playmaker has linked up with the Blues in a £58 million ($70m) deal.Big things are expected of him, with the 20-year-old boasting more top level experience than most players of his age.Added pressure has been placed on his shoulders following Hazard’s summer switch to Real Madrid, with Chelsea seeking a creative spark in the final third.

Pulisic’s early efforts bode well, with the youngster earning plenty of plaudits, and he is considered to boast the potential which will allow him to fill some big boots in west London.Former Blues striker Cascarino told The Times after seeing the U.S. star tee up Olivier Giroud for the opening goal in a UEFA Super Cup defeat to Liverpool: “Christian Pulisic looks like he will be a very dangerous player for Chelsea.“Jurgen Klopp had been interested in the young forward and you could tell he was wary of his threat as he changed his defence to counter him, selecting Joe Gomez at right back instead of Trent Alexander-Arnold.“Gomez is a better defender than his team-mate but it still wasn’t enough to stop the United States international at times.“I don’t remember a young Eden Hazard being as quick and direct and there’s no reason Pulisic can’t develop into a player of Hazard’s standing.“Pulisic reminds me of Arjen Robben, you cannot stop him one-on-one because you don’t know which way he’s going to go and his pace is devastating.“He will be a massive asset for Frank Lampard this season.”Chelsea need Pulisic to make the impact expected of him in 2019-20.With the club operating under the constraints of a two-window transfer ban, new boss Frank Lampard has been unable to bolster his ranks.He is still looking for a first competitive victory as Blues manager, with the current campaign having opened with a humbling 4-0 reversal away at Manchester United and a penalty shootout setback against Liverpool in Istanbul.Lampard and Pulisic will take in a first Premier League game at Stamford Bridge on Sunday when they play host to Leicester.

Pulisic must impress quickly at Chelsea to shut down unfair Hazard comparisons

9:58 AM ET  Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Christian Pulisic will have woken up on Monday morning knowing precisely what awaits him in the Premier League with Chelsea. After a bruising welcome to English football on Sunday as a substitute during Chelsea’s 4-0 defeat at Manchester United, the only positive spin for the United States forward is that the magnitude of his challenge is now crystal clear.

During a 32-minute debut for his new team following his summer arrival from Borussia Dortmund — having spent the last six months of last season on loan at the German club after completing a £57.6m transfer in January — Pulisic was left floored by a Paul Pogba bodycheck and forced to chase lost causes as United raced away to complete their emphatic opening weekend victory.

While manager Frank Lampard made the worst start of any Chelsea boss for over 40 years, Pulisic was given a glimpse of how tough it could be for him to make his name at Stamford Bridge.The midfielder is expected to make his first competitive start for Chelsea against Liverpool in the UEFA Super Cup final in Istanbul on Wednesday and it’s unlikely to get any easier against the European champions. He struggled to make any impact against United’s new right-back, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, at Old Trafford, and he will face another daunting opponent when he comes up against Trent Alexander-Arnold in Turkey.At 20, Pulisic clearly needs time to adapt to his new surroundings, and under Lampard he will be given that space to acclimatise, develop and realise his undoubted potential. But Pulisic’s biggest problem is one that he cannot control, and that is never a good place to start.Rightly or wrongly, the young forward will be compared to Eden Hazardwhenever he takes to the field as a Chelsea player, which is unfortunate considering that the Belgian almost single-handedly carried the club to two Premier League titles and other major honours during his seven years at the club, prior to his £88.5m summer move to Real Madrid. This is a Chelsea team in clear transition, with a new manager, and already under pressure to deliver; for Pulisic, the challenge feels greater given the price tag and the departure of the Blues’ enigmatic Belgian.Hazard was Chelsea’s go-to-guy when they needed a moment of inspiration to get the team out of a hole. He didn’t always deliver, but more often than not, he came up with the goods when it mattered. In 245 Premier League games, he scored 85 goals and racked up 54 assists. He also struck fear into opposition defenders and, crucially, gave his teammates the belief that no cause was lost while he was on the pitch.When Chelsea sealed the deal for Pulisic in January they knew that, barring an unlikely change of heart, Hazard would be leaving for Madrid at the end of the season. With the club being hit by a two-window worldwide transfer ban by FIFA following an investigation into the recruitment of foreign players under the age of 18, Chelsea ensured that they had a replacement for Hazard before their star man headed off to Madrid.But Pulisic is not there to directly replace Hazard. This is a new Chelsea team going in a new direction rather than one trying to replicate what worked last season but with new players. Pulisic is a young forward with the potential to shine in the Premier League. He is not blessed with the robustness that enabled Hazard to cope with the physical challenge of English football and is still, quite clearly, a talent in the making rather than the finished article.f course the comparison to Hazard is inevitable; Chelsea sold a forward (Hazard) for big money and replaced him with another forward (Pulisic) for big money. However, Sunday’s brief cameo at Old Trafford highlighted their differences.Chelsea were 1-0 down when Pulisic replaced Ross Barkley on 58 minutes, with Lampard deploying the American on the wide left in an effort to put more pressure on United’s back four. Had it been Hazard entering the fray, United would almost certainly have assigned a player to shadow him closely, but they did not make any changes to deal with Pulisic because there was no need. The game quickly passed the U.S. forward by as United upped the tempo and took advantage of Chelsea’s absences — in particular, their best defender, Antonio Rudiger, was out injured — to score three more goals. Pulisic ended the game looking like a man who had just spent half an hour in a washing machine.Pulisic will feel more at home at Stamford Bridge, where the smaller pitch will enable him to be more effective but he needs to make an early impression on his own terms, for his own sake, to avoid being regarded as a shadow of the man he replaced.Hazard also had quiet games at Old Trafford, but he made amends soon enough by delivering a big contribution when it mattered. That is Pulisic’s challenge. In a team going through a difficult transition, the American must be allowed to become his own man and make his own impact at Chelsea.

EPL- W2W4: Eriksen must play in Spurs’ big clash vs. Man City

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Peter Crouch addresses the dominance of Manchester City and Liverpool in the English Premier League title race. (1:21)

2:56 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writer

The Premier League is back and this weekend has plenty of talking points. Nick Miller runs us through some of the biggest storylines.

Eriksen indispensable for Spurs

In the end a 3-1 victory over Aston Villa last Saturday was perfectly satisfactory for Tottenham, on the face of things: three points, their big new signing Tanguy Ndombele excelled and Harry Kane notched up a pair of goals. Job well done, congratulations lads.But there were things to concern Spurs fans, most specifically the curious omission of the apparently un-injured Jan Vertonghen from not just the starting XI but the match day squad, and the absence of Christian Eriksen. For the 64 minutes that the Dane remained on the bench against Villa, Spurs looked ponderous, occasionally devoid of ideas about how to unlock a stout defence, even leaden. As soon as he came on, that all changed and they scored three goals. In the short-term the situation is rectified easily enough — he will surely start in this weekend’s big game against Manchester City — but looking further down the line it might be concerning that Spurs are seemingly so reliant for creativity on a player who, unless something significant changes in the coming months, won’t be around this time next year.Of course, Giovani Lo Celso could turn out to be brilliant and Ndombele could pick up some of the slack and Dele Alli isn’t fit yet and so on and so forth, but it’s a little uncomfortable for Spurs that they apparently need Eriksen so much.

 

Who will play for Manchester City?

Pep Guardiola has a slightly different problem to Mauricio Pochettino. After their frankly fairly tedious, routine evisceration of West Ham last weekend, Guardiola essentially admitted that he had picked Riyad Mahrez and Gabriel Jesus for that game to ensure that Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero don’t get complacent. It was almost a pleasing bonus that both men played superbly, Mahrez in particular instrumental in most good things City did.So the question for Guardiola is: who will he select for a rather stiffer task than the Hammers on a Saturday lunchtime? Will he go for the tried and trusted Aguero and Silva, or the hungrier duo of Mahrez and Jesus? To a point, it doesn’t really matter that much, as City’s options are now of such high quality that it barely makes any difference who the individual bricks in the wall are, it only matters that they perform. And, going on the basis of last weekend (not forgetting Kevin De Bruyne, looking back to his best after last year’s injury issues), everyone is performing to an incredibly high standard.Whoever Guardiola picks: good luck, Tottenham.

 

Adrian’s remarkable story at Liverpool

It was barely a couple of weeks ago that Adrian didn’t have a club, released after spending a season on West Ham’s bench. He was training with Union Deportiva Pilas, a team from the outskirts of his hometown Seville, who play in the Spanish sixth tier. Then Simon Mignolet went to Club Brugge, Liverpool needed a goalkeeper quickly, Alisson did something nasty to his calf and suddenly Adrian is saving the winning penalty in the European Super Cup.

These are the odd, hazy days in a story like this, where strange things are possible, but soon enough Adrian will be deep in the weeds, and he’ll have to deal with the more prosaic business of keeping goal for Liverpool over the next few weeks. Assuming he can recover from an ankle injury sustained by one of his own fans, he should be doing that at Southampton this weekend, where his new team were given an awful fright last season as they chased the title. When the slightly surreal afterglow of Istanbul fades, it will be interesting to see how Adrian fits in with Liverpool’s defence for a longer period of time. Or perhaps we’ll be saying the same thing about Andy Lonergan next week.

Chelsea must turn good performances into a result

The broad consensus has been that Frank Lampard’s Chelsea have played well in both of their games so far this season, even if they won neither and lost the first handsomely. Little bits of luck in both the Premier League opener against Manchester United and the Super Cup loss against Liverpool would have made the difference to both results, and Lampard would be striding into this weekend’s game against Leicester with a big smile on his face.

He probably doesn’t need to worry too much. Chelsea have arguably performed above expectations so far, which seems odd given they lost one game 4-0 and threw away a lead in the other before going down on penalties, but given the broader circumstances, with an already inexperienced squad impacted by injuries, Lampard will probably be quite pleased.However, being pleased is all very well, but they do need to turn that into something tangible. If they don’t beat Leicester it probably won’t mean much in the general context of the season, but a win would serve as some sort of affirmation that they are doing something right, and thus give them something off which to propel into the rest of the season.

Will the promoted trio continue to be positive?

It’s a similar story with the three promoted clubs, after appearing in their first games back in the big boys’ league. Sheffield United grabbed a good point at Bournemouth, Aston Villa had Tottenham sweating and while Norwich’s defence was weak against Liverpool, the way they attacked at Anfield was at least encouraging for the season ahead.Which is great, and congratulations to them all, but now all three have games at home against teams that should not, to say the least, put the fear of God into them. Sheffield United have Crystal Palace, Villa host Bournemouth and Norwich welcome Newcastle.If there was one theme that ran through the three newbies’ opening day performances then it was positivity: to different extents, all three played their own games with conviction, and weren’t cowed by the prospect of facing established top flight teams. That will hopefully give them confidence that their approaches can work in the Premier League, and that they will continue in this vein.

Kante 8/10, Pulisic 7/10 but Chelsea suffer penalty shootout defeat in UEFA Super Cup

6:50 PM ETJames Capps

penalty-shootout defeat against Liverpool (2-2 after extra time) will be a tough one to take, but Frank Lampard can take plenty of encouragement from his side’s display in the UEFA Super Cup in Istanbul. After Sunday’s 4-0 season-opening loss to Man United, this was a much-improved display in nearly every way.

Positives

N’Golo Kante‘s return to fitness gave the Chelsea midfield a huge injection of energy and quality, while Christian Pulisic showed he has the potential to at least fill some of the void left by Eden Hazard‘s departure. There were also encouraging signs defensively, with the Blues looking much more compact at the back.

Negatives

Despite an excellent performance, Chelsea came out of the game empty-handed, which could cause some heads to drop in the Blues camp. Tough tests lie ahead, and experienced heads will need to ensure there’s no Super Cup hangover in the weeks to come.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Lampard’s inclusion of Kante gave the Chelsea side a much-needed lift following a deflating defeat at Manchester United on Sunday, and the decision to start Pulisic over Mount was rewarded with an excellent full debut by the American.

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

GK Kepa Arrizabalaga, 6 — The Spaniard was unconvincing for Liverpool’s equalizer when he failed to get two hands on a loose ball to allow Sadio Mane an easy finish. Redeemed himself, however, with a stunning double-save to deny Mohamed Salah and Virgil van Dijk late in the second half, but will be disappointed to have not saved a couple of Liverpool’s spot-kicks in the shootout.

DF Cesar Azpilicueta, 6 — The experienced full-back looked much more assured this time around than at Old Trafford at the weekend. Good work up the field from Pedro numbed the threat of Liverpool left-back Andy Robertson, allowing the Chelsea man to have a relatively untroubled evening.

DF Andreas Christensen, 6 — He was on hand to provide an important header away to deny Mane a tap-in at 0-0, and enjoyed a surprisingly comfortable first half before Liverpool began to get a grip on the game.

DF Kurt Zouma, 6 — Zouma has an air of clumsiness about him, but his no-nonsense approach to balls in behind meant he avoided any hairy moments in the penalty area. Could’ve won it at the death in normal time but headed over.

DF Emerson Palmieri, 7 — The Chelsea left-back will be surprised at how little he was tested by a Liverpool attack that was nowhere near its fluent best. Going forward the Brazilian offered plenty of support in attack and capped off a decent night with a successful penalty in the shootout.

MF N’Golo Kante, 8 — An outstanding display from the World Cup winner on his first start of the season. The Frenchman was at his energetic and destructive best early on to help absorb Liverpool pressure, and grew more and more influential as an attacking force as the game wore on.

MF Jorginho, 7 — The Italy international saw plenty of the ball throughout, and his quick distribution helped his side bypass a lacklustre Liverpool midfield press. He expertly slotted away his extra-time penalty with his signature run-up, before doing the same again in the shootout.

MF Mateo Kovacic, 6 — A quiet game in comparison to his midfield colleagues, and the Croatian will be hoping to have a much bigger impact on games as the season progresses.

FW Pedro, 7 — The 32-year-old’s movement and flexibility gave Liverpool a host of problems across the Reds’ back line, and he was at the heart of everything good about Chelsea’s attacking play.

FW Christian Pulisic, 7 — Chelsea’s new winger will be extremely pleased with his first start in a Blues shirt. Pulisic started brightly, culminating in a great driving run through the Liverpool half before providing the pass for Olivier Giroud to finish for the opening goal. After that, he continued to provide a threat before being subbed on 74 minutes.

FW Olivier Giroud, 7 — The centre-forward was feeding off scraps as Liverpool dominated the opening quarter of an hour, but soon began to enjoy much better service from his midfield, before clinically taking his chance from Pulisic for the opener.

Substitutes

FW Mason Mount, 6 — Always a willing runner, and carried the ball well as the game became stretched. Drew a superb one-handed save from Adrian in extra time, and fired a brilliant penalty into the top corner during the shootout.

FW Tammy Abraham, 5 — Won the Chelsea penalty in extra time, before somehow missing a glorious chance of his own at 2-2. The unfortunate one to miss the vital penalty in the shootout.

DF Fikayo Tomori, N/R — Didn’t catch the eye one way or another after replacing Christensen near the end of regulation.

MF Ross Barkley, N/R — Failed to make an impact as an extra-time sub for Kovacic, but confidently dispatched his penalty.

 

Gemany Preview -Why you should watch the Bundesliga: Is this the year Bayern finally slip and Dortmund win it all?

11:37 AM ETMusa OkwongaESPN.com writer

This year’s Bundesliga season is upon us and so it seems only right to identify some intriguing themes for the coming months. With Bayern Munich having just advanced to a seventh successive championship, the Bavarians look like the obvious favourites for this year’s title, but that doesn’t account for some interesting developments elsewhere in the division, and nor does it give the full story of German football’s top flight.Without further ado, here are seven intriguing storylines for you to watch (and a bonus one, just for fun).

1. Is this the year Bayern finally slip?

It is strange to refer as a club between eras when they’ve just won the league title and then added two World Cup winning full-backs to their squad, but that’s Bayern Munich for you.The champions have signed Lucas Hernandez and Benjamin Pavard, from Atletico Madrid and VFB Stuttgart respectively, but questions remain. How will they cope with the loss of retired Arjen Robben, so often a reliable insurance policy off the bench in tight games? Will they be able to fend off a vengeful Dortmund?Niko Kovac will enter his second season in charge, which is in itself something of an achievement given the continual criticism he faced last year. However, he seems to enjoy the respect of his players even as they stumbled out of the UEFA Champions League. Bayern’s focus must be on regaining the continent’s top prize, but they must be very careful not to take their eye off matters at home. (The bookmakers currently have them as odds-on favourites to retain the title, with Dortmund a distant second in the betting.)

2. Dortmund’s unfinished business

To paraphrase the 1984 hit single by Rock Master Scott & the Dynamic Three, “the youth, the youth, the youth is on fire.”Jadon Sancho scored one and set up the other to give Borussia Dortmund a 2-0 win over Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup — Germany’s traditional season opener — to confirm his status as one of the best forwards in Europe, young or otherwise. Sancho, 19, was a key force in Dortmund’s championship pursuit last season, a pursuit so sustained that it was easy to forget just how young they were: this season’s squad has an average age of 25, so you can expect more of the same. (Related: watch out this season for the occasional cameo from 16 year-old Gio Reyna, son of former U.S. international Claudio.)Last time around, all Dortmund lacked was experience in key moments and they’ve since added that in the form of returning club legend, centre-back Mats Hummels. Most notable is the arrival of Julian Brandt, fresh off an eye-catching spell at Bayer Leverkusen. Last season, Dortmund found the net only times fewer than Bayern; with Brandt on their staff, a prodigious provider of assists and a reasonable goalscorer, they have a good chance of outscoring last season’s champions.

3. The Nagelsmann era begins at RB Leipzig

The finest signing of the German transfer window was arguably not a footballer at all; it was the unveiling of Julian Nagelsmann, one of the most coveted coaches in Europe, at the helm of the RB Leipzig project.Though Leipzig have attracted much criticism for their big-spending approach and corporate overlords, something that’s still a novelty in the Bundesliga, their progress remains inexorable: since being founded in 2009, they’ve soared from the fifth division up to the top, finishing second, sixth and third in three seasons among the giants. They had the best defensive record in the German top flight last season, and Nagelsmann believes that they can be contenders for the title. For that to be the case, though, he must galvanise his team’s attack, which has seen no major additions this summer.RB Leipzig scored only 63 times in the league last season, 26 fewer than Bayern and 19 fewer than Dortmund. Nagelsmann will back himself to increase that output, given that his over-performing Hoffenheim team scored 70 times, the third-highest total last season. A front line featuring a mix of Timo WernerYussuf Poulsen and Emil Forsbergcertainly has goals in it; the only question is, how many.

4. The arrival of Union Berlin

Union Berlin are playing their first-ever season in the Bundesliga since the original club was founded in 1906, which naturally means an intensification of their rivalry with Hertha Berlin, a longstanding Bundesliga side across the city.  Uersfeld: Inside Union Berlin’s promotion party

It’s a clash of contrasts: Hertha in the west against Union in the east, the wealthy incumbent against the working-class upstart. Yet Union are keen not to let inexperience cost them and have already assembled a squad of players with sufficient accomplishments at the highest level. The most eye-catching name is by far Neven Subotic, formerly of Borussia Dortmund, who played over 250 games for them in one of the most successful periods in their history; but Christian Gentner, a veteran and former captain of VFB Stuttgart, will also add some Bundesliga nous.

5. The rise of Kai Havertz

When one of the greatest footballers in history says that you could one day follow in his footsteps, you pay attention.Lothar Matthäus, the first and only German to be named FIFA World Player of the year, recently stated that one day Bayer Leverkusen’s Kai Havertz could receive the same accolade. The German game loves a breakout star, reserving a special affection for its young players — just look at Sancho last season — and Havertz looks like being the next to find fame on the international stage.

At 20, the playmaker scored almost one goal every two games last season (20 in 42 matches), already has three caps for Germany and is the youngest ever to play 50 games in the Bundesliga.

6. Getting streetwise at Paderborn

How will newly promoted Paderborn adjust to the challenges of the Bundesliga? They have the division’s smallest stadium — with a capacity of 15,000, some 7,000 fewer than Union Berlin — and few stars in their squad, while just selling two of their leading goalscorers. Coach Steffen Baumgart will therefore have a particularly tough task on his hands but has made a commitment to keep his team up by playing attacking football.Some cause for comfort is that the two players who scored in perhaps Paderborn’s most noteworthy win last season, a 4-1 win in mid-May over fellow promotion challengers SV Hamburg, are still at the club. Sebastian Vasiliadisand Christopher Antwi-Adjei, who both found the net twice in that startling victory, have been joined this summer by Rifet Kapić, who showed some promising touches in preseason.The odds are against them but given the swaggering manner of their promotion (they scored 76 goals in 34 matches) you suspect that may be just how they like it.

7. Wolfsburg, a club hungry on two fronts

Last season was a strong one for VFL Wolfsburg as a club but left plenty of room for growth. In the 10th year since they won their only Bundesliga title, their men’s team finished sixth in the Bundesliga. Meanwhile, their women’s team clinched the league and cup double but were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage of the UEFA Champions League by eventual winners Lyon.Winners of this trophy in 2013 and 2014, they will look to go yet further this year and spearheaded by Pernille Herder, Europe’s player of the year in 2018 and the Bundesliga’s top scorer last season, they are well-placed to do so. This summer, the men’s team has looked very good in preseason, most notably with a fine 2-0 win over PSV Eindhoven, and with the additions of Joao Victor they should score more of the goals that would raise them towards the league’s very elite.

And finally… someone is learning German

It would not normally be major news that a 56-year-old man is about to take up intensive German classes, but it is news when that man is Jose Mourinho.The former Real Madrid, Chelsea and Manchester United boss revealed this information in an interview with Sky Sports, saying that he would be going to two or three lessons a week from September onwards. He also emphasised that he would persist with the language despite its difficulty, that he would be patient in awaiting the right job and that he would only consider a position in one of Europe’s top five leagues, in a club befitting his level.Leaving us to connect the dots as he so obviously has, that would suggest that Bayern Munich are one club that may be particularly high in the former Man United manager’s esteem. It will be interesting to see how long Mourinho will wait and whether, once he becomes more explicit in his ambitions, Bayern will be at the tip of his tongue.

SPAIN- Atletico won the summer transfer window but will they pip Barcelona and Real Madrid to La Liga?

:49 PM ETGraham HunterSpain writer

The 2019-20 La Liga season kicks off this weekend and much of the attention will be on the top three teams fighting it out for the title. Graham Hunter gets you ready for the new campaign with a look at how their offseasons unfolded.

Jump to: Will Felix be La Liga’s star? | Can Atletico’s new arrivals shine? | Did Real do bad business? | Neymar a distraction for Barcelona?

Atletico Madrid have won the summer, hands down.Diego Simeone’s team having sold over €300 million of talent and brought in over €240m of young, hungry replacements (to date) means that even if either of their La Liga arms-race rivals managed to land Neymar before the window closes on Sept. 2, Barcelona sheepishly pick up the silver medal, with Real Madrid not only third (where they finished the last two La Liga campaigns) but frantically trying to convince everyone that bronze looks awfully similar to gold.

If only there were a trophy to show for it. The transfer-related tag of “Summer Champions” signifies about as much as the increasingly heard but slightly risible tag of “Winter Champions” for those who sit top of the table when the Christmas break arrives.Nevertheless: a job well begun is a job half done, right? So let’s give more than just kudos and a patronising pat on the back to Atleti. They faced what looked like a horrendous challenge, haemorrhaging a mix of experience, winning mentality, club legends and two superb young bucks in Rodri and Lucas Hernandez. Yet their judgment, efficacy of market management, speed of work, ability to spot the revelation of this transfer window (or indeed many previous), Joao Felix, and their net spend of around €8m — if you factor in the €60m arrival of Rodrigo from Valencia — suggests that Atleti have spat in the eye of adversity.Whether it wins them La Liga remains to be seen, but a summer that could have left them fighting an uphill battle now sees them muscular, nimble and potentially able to punch above their weight. This season in Spain is going to be xciting, a real smackdown between the three giants of La Liga — Barca, Real and Atletico — so here are some talking points.play

Will Joao Felix be La Liga’s star?

Felix is only 19, still rather slender and will find it testing to work with Atletico manager Diego Simeone and coaches Mono Burgos and Oscar Ortega. Felix is a La Liga debutant with initiation songs to sing, pranks to put up with, and image-management by the club imposed on him so that expectations are dampened after his €126m arrival.Yet, this is a kid blessed with such extraordinary talent, such chutzpah, acceleration, positional wit and an exceptional eye for goal that his Atleti teammates are already instinctively looking for him whenever they have the ball. Every single player in that squad has taken one look and said: “We have signed a diamond — let’s get him on the ball.”– When does the 2019-20 La Liga season start?
If the composer George Frideric Handel were still alive, Atleti would be commissioning him to compose a second Hallelujah chorus. They have found their Messiah.No matter his talent, a player of Felix’s age, carrying such a weight of expectation and responsibility, will encounter bumps along the road in his first complete season in La Liga. That said, the move remains extraordinary for a number of reasons. With Madrid and Barcelona involved in what is both an unseemly and, arguably, unnecessary squabble for Neymar’s grossly expensive services, don’t they both look stupid for missing the chance to purchase Felix? The answer is a resounding “YES!”Moreover, Atleti somehow managed to agree with Benfica, the player and his agent, Jorge Mendes, a payment plan where they only have to splash out in the region of €40m (down payment, agent payment, sell-on payment to Porto where he originated) before the rest is paid over the course of his contract. If Felix performs well enough to help Atleti reach at least the Champions League semifinals, the forward could earn his new club the entire remainder of the fee within nine months. That. Is. Utterly. Astonishing. Business.

Can Atletico’s other new arrivals replace those who left?

Losing Rodri (€70m to Manchester City) and Lucas (€80m to Bayern Munich) are blows Atletico would have wanted to avoid, but the club have long known they would need replacing at some point.At the back, even though Diego Godin — who left for Inter this summer — was bedevilled by errors last season, it’s worth waiting to evaluate the loss of his personality and “win at any cost” attitude. But for Atleti to add the tall, tough Felipe from Porto, as well as the talented Mario Hermoso, for €30m less than Bayern were forced to pay for Lucas, is spectacular.Kieran Trippier’s move from Tottenham came out of the blue, but while he might not be as attentive to details and defensive concentration as Simeone likes, his attitude and crossing ability should give A+ service to what should be a thrilling Atleti front line.None of Renan LodiHector Herrera or Ivan Saponjic make you fret for Atleti’s investments, while Marcos Llorente, signed from hated rivals Real Madrid, is a fine facsimile of Rodri. They aren’t identically talented but Llorente was under-priced at €30m, brims with energy, industry and athleticism, is a superb professional and looks ready to make Atleti’s central midfield punishingly hard-working.Then there’s the “other Rodri,” Rodrigo Moreno. If Atleti wrap up a €60m move for this athletic, relentlessly team-minded striker, who has been playing winning international fotball with Koke and Alvaro Morata since they were all kids, it’s the icing on the cake.Atletico have had one hell of a summer. But it’s not over yet. Spain’s transfer market closes on Sept. 2 and there’s still time for huge change, though they are already looking in better shape than their rivals.The fact that several key veterans chose to leave at the end of their contracts had threatened disaster, but it can now be construed as advantageous. Madrid and Barca are replete with players on high wages they’d like to ship out but who are refusing to budge. Not Atleti.

Has Real Madrid’s spending addressed their needs?

Atleti’s rapier-like approach to business contrasts starkly with Real Madrid’s blunderbuss style. Yes, they’ve splashed out (at the time of writing) €305.5m (gross, not net) and there’s quite a lot of “rock ‘n roll” glitz to boast about with the likes of Eden Hazard. But have they specifically reinforced the things that went awry last season? Have they done what coach Zinedine Zidane wanted this summer?In short, no. And an utterly horrific 7-3 thrashing imposed on Zidane’s team by Atletico at the ICC tournament in July suggests that Real might not even be favourites in their own city, let alone for the La Liga title.Left-back Ferland Mendy was indeed a Zizou choice, and has sparked Marcelo‘s competitive instincts, but at €48m it’s not good that Mendy is already out with a thigh injury. Centre-back Eder Militao may turn out to be an ideal buy, but Zidane has been flitting uncertainly between four at the back and a 5-3-2/3-5-2 system, so we’ll see how quickly the €50m 21-year-old (a €40m+ profit for Porto just 12 months after buying him) can bring security at the back.

Rodrygo and Kubo (an 18-year-old Japanese starlet who was initially part of FC Barcelona’s academy until their FIFA ban was imposed) ooze promise, thrills and a sprinkling of the magic dust of international marketing allure, yet will struggle to make a real impact until they gain a bit more experience.Hazard adds the pedigree — unquestionably a talent of gargantuan proportions — but why on earth did the €100m winger turn up for work at his new club, one that is in turmoil, in the kind of preseason shape that would have been acceptable in, say, 1978? It’s not Madrid’s fault but it’s certainly emblematic of dipping standards.And finally, €60m striker Luka Jovic will score goals but looks well short of having the build-up play and savvy that Madrid will need against the elite group of Liga and European clubs they measure themselves against. He’s that mythical breed of striker who “only” scores goals. An odd, expensive signing.The players who have arrived all add their own parts of youth, athleticism, hunger and energy — valuable commodities in what was a moribund Madrid squad last season — but there are still more weaknesses in the business that club president Florentino Perez and his right-hand man, Jose Angel Sanchez, have managed to conduct since May.

Gareth Bale, with the Premier League and Chinese transfer markets now closed, has stayed put — despite Zidane admitting in public that “it would be best” if the Welshman left — and is likely to stay unless PSG accept him in part exchange for Neymar or he’s sent out on loan.

Thus far, there has been no move for Man United midfielder Paul Pogba either. Whether the controversial World Cup winner is or isn’t the cure for Los Blancos’ midfield ills, Zidane is wedded to the idea of buying him and has been infuriated by Perez’s failure to secure that deal.

If Neymar arrives, it will be like salt in the wound. Thus far, Real’s best midfield options are Luka ModricToni Kroos and Casemiro, which although still full of class, is bemusing. Slow, sometimes disinterested, porous, unable to control possession, lacking athleticism and physicality all last season, it’s remarkable that (attempts to sign Pogba aside) no corrective action has been taken to strengthen the midfield.

Will Barcelona be distracted by Neymar pursuit?

Judging them by their own, well-publicised objectives for the close-season, Barca could award themselves a complacent pat on the back, a glass of cava, exchange mutually appreciative smiles among their football executives — and then their rivals could laugh up their sleeves at the Camp Nou finances.Barcelona’s self-set task sheet was: add competition at left-back, augment possession-control and passing in midfield and then, a year late, add French flair up front. Junior Firpo, Frenkie de Jong and Antoine Griezmann (was there really any doubt where he was going?) tick those boxes.Throw in some measurable progress from their young talents (Jean-Clair TodiboCarles Alena, Ricki Puig and Carles Perez) and the outward signs are decent. However, even with the departures of MalcomAndre GomesMarc Cucurella and Denis Suarez, Barcelona need to sell … and profitably.RafinhaPhilippe Coutinho and Juan Miranda must be calculating how long it’ll take them to unpack their training ground lockers, while if the right price were offered for Arturo Vidal then the Camp Nou bean-counters would produce their abacuses in Olympic time.

The club has vastly strained its financial muscle for three reasons. 1) expensive contract extensions; 2) investment in the Camp Nou renovation project; 3) President Josep Maria Bartomeu’s public promise that his parting gift (before summer 2021, which is the latest there can be elections to determine his successor) will be another lengthening of Lionel Messi‘s contract.Messi craves Champions League victories, not because Cristiano Ronaldo has more of them but because he’s a natural-born competitor who has also suffered a series of brutal European disappointments in recent years at the hands of Atletico, Juventus, Roma and Liverpool.If Bartomeu wants “Team Messi” to look indulgently on the opening of contract negotiations, he’ll do well to re-patriate Neymar. Messi, whether you concur or not, believes that his Brazilian pal will add incisor teeth to Barca’s European bite (Luis Suarez hasn’t scored a Champions League goal away from home for nearly four years and hit the net only five times in the last 29 UCL matches).

However as long as PSG keep insisting on cash only for Neymar, whether that sum is €120m or €220m, Barcelona can’t afford to buy him back. I believe it’s that simple. Nor, it seems increasingly clear, can they persuade Ivan Rakitic or his Sevilla-born wife that the footballing life (and climate) is anything but worse any further north than Barcelona. PSG want the Croatian, but like Bale at Madrid, he’s not keen to depart.

All of which leaves both Barcelona and Madrid desperately thrashing around for a means to secure a Brazilian they can’t afford, didn’t budget for and who’ll also cost them dearly in terms of existing playing staff (Vinicius Jr., Isco, Karim Benzema and Rodrygo at Real; Ousmane Dembele and Coutinho at Barca) who’d be required to drop to the bench or leave altogether.Meanwhile, over at Atletico, Felix may still only hint at the potential to reproduce what Neymar has achieved in his career, but the Portuguese is impressing with a new cadre of athletic and hungry teammates around him.Atleti win the summer. Now, can they add the La Liga title?Hold tight, this battle has the potential to be immensely entertaining, explosive, and potentially embarrassing for some.

 

NWSL-record crowd gets what it came for in Thorns’ win

Aug 11, 2019Graham HaysespnW.com

PORTLAND, Ore. — It wasn’t the largest crowd ever to watch a professional women’s soccer game in this country, but it was the largest crowd that knew what it signed up for.The 25,218 people who filled Providence Park on Sunday afternoon to watch the Portland Thorns play the North Carolina Courage, the largest crowd in NWSL history and second largest in any of three attempts at a domestic league, weren’t there for what women’s soccer could be. They weren’t there for the potential.They came because a game between these two teams matters.They weren’t here to celebrate the World Cup that the United States won last month. They came because the NWSL Shield, handed out to the regular season’s best team, is very much up for grabs, with Portland taking the lead after Sunday’s 2-1 comeback win. Not to mention the trophy to be handed out at the conclusion of the playoffs.With rosters across the league finally at full strength after a summer of comings and goings, the race to the finish is on in the NWSL. That finish has never mattered more. The league has never mattered more. Which is why every team in the league is trying to figure out how to be the best version of itself.”The team that integrates their World Cup players and their international players and whomever else best throughout July and throughout August,” Portland’s Meghan Klingenberg said before the game, “is going to be the team that comes out on top at the end of the season.”It took North Carolina all of four minutes to find at least some chemistry between those who have been around all summer and the newly returned. The reigning NWSL player of the month, Kristen Hamilton, chased down a Lynn Williams pass that pulled her wide on the right side. Hamilton’s cross from the end line caromed off a charging Williams in front of goal, Portland defenders slower to react than Williams, and fell to Crystal Dunn’s feet. The defense again a step slow to react, Dunn had an extra beat to settle her feet and send the ball into the back of the net for a 1-0 lead.Dunn spent much of the summer, of course, focused on denying goals rather than scoring them, playing outside back for the U.S. throughout the World Cup. But her return to North Carolina, interrupted last week by the opening game of the U.S. victory tour, meant pivoting back to the attacking role that she has filled so well throughout her NWSL career.

“It’s day by day,” Dunn said this weekend. “For me, there’s some good days and some bad days. But I think that’s just what comes with it. I always think I am fit for the job. My career has always allowed me to embrace that role, but it’s not easy. It takes a week, maybe two weeks — hopefully not more than that.”It might be less pronounced for others, but that’s the adjustment that most World Cup players are making as they return to the league, where they rarely play an identical role. That was certainly the case for Portland’s Adrianna Franch, who didn’t play a minute as the third goalkeeper for the U.S. in the World Cup but Sunday faced a barrage of 20 shots en route to 10 saves.On the other side of that equation, the players left to mind the fort during the summer have grown accustomed to life without those players on the national team. Go back to the opening goal and the role Hamilton played. It was fitting that she helped set up Dunn, because much as Dunn seized her opportunity to shine during a World Cup year in 2015, Hamilton has made as much of this summer as any player in the league — her player of the month honors evidence of that.”I think you can attribute where she stands to the World Cup,” North Carolina coach Paul Riley said. “She might not have got that opportunity had Jess been there the whole time. It worked in her favor. This is a life-changing, career-changing thing that can happen in the World Cup, and it’s changed her career, I think. She’ll go on to bigger and better things.”The same goes for Portland’s Midge Purce. It wasn’t a coincidence that after the Thorns looked discombobulated through long stretches of the first half, the tide turned when Purce and Australian World Cup returnee Hayley Raso entered the game as halftime substitutes. The goal that leveled the game at 1-1 was officially an own goal, bouncing in off North Carolina keeper Steph Labbe in the 56th minute. But it was Purce, challenging for the ball, who was responsible for the traffic that knocked Labbe off balance as she jumped to go after Elizabeth Ball’s cross.Dunn’s coach with the Washington Spirit in 2015, current Portland coach Mark Parsons, said he envisioned a similar role for Purce this season — that she would play out wide in the early going and then take over the No. 9 role as the team’s striker when World Cup duty decimated the roster. Now the World Cup stars are back and Purce still looks mighty comfortable in the that role.”Midge has done a great job of grabbing the game by the neck and not letting go — and I mean that in the most positive way,” Klingenberg said. “I don’t think that Midge scores or assists every game, but she causes havoc for the other team. And because she causes havoc, it allows our other players to get on the ball and produce goals. So even if she isn’t getting in on the action, she’s still making her mark. That’s the mark of a really sophisticated player. I think that Midge didn’t have that last year, but since she was able to get those minutes … and develop into the player that she is, that she’s really done a great job making herself indispensable.”The challenge for the weeks to come is fitting all of those pieces together, ensuring Dunn and Hamilton have chemistry together or that Purce reads Tobin Heath and Christine Sinclair well.That cohesion wasn’t there Sunday, not for all 90 minutes. Both teams scrambled, with the game not decided until after a second North Carolina own goal and a series of last-ditch saves from Franch.Considering a loss would have dropped the Thorns off the pace set by North Carolina and Chicago, with the top two finishers in the regular season earning the right to host semifinals, Sunday’s result was especially valuable for the hosts. But the result was only the short-term objective. Building for October is the bigger goal.”When we see consistent high-level performance with results, I think that’s when you can say it’s there,” Parsons said. “Because we have the talent, we have everything we need to succeed. When things are clicking, we’re rolling. … We’re getting there slowly. I hope [we get there] very, very soon. If in the next week everything came together perfectly, great.”But I predict there’s a few more games like this where it’s wild, it’s chaos.”The only game in a women’s pro league that outdrew Sunday’s contest was the very first game in the WUSA, the first attempt at a pro league that launched in 2001 in the afterglow of the 1999 World Cup. People showed up then because of what they hoped women’s soccer could become.They showed up Sunday because, certainly in this soccer-mad city, women’s soccer became that.It became a place where the title the Thorns and Courage chase isn’t merely an afterthought.”I feel like the league, in and of itself, is so important,” North Carolina’s Sam Mewis said. “It’s a place for so many people to play. I don’t feel like it has to be a feeder league for the national team anymore. I think being in the NWSL is a huge deal. A lot of times that gets overlooked when you don’t get into the national team, because I feel like that is a goal for everybody.”But I kind of want to start looking at the NWSL as totally separate. And playing [in the league], that’s what people want to do.”

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN RETURNS HOME IN SECOND MATCH-UP VS. SAINT LOUIS FC

By IndyEleven.com, 08/15/19, 6:15PM EDT

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The Boys in Blue Look to Extend Year-Long Home Undefeated Streak to 19 Sunday Night

 


Indy Eleven vs. Saint Louis FC    Sunday, August 18, 2019 – 6:00 P.M. ET   Lucas Oil Stadium  |  Indianapolis, IN       

 

Local/National TV: MyINDY-TV 23

Radio (Spanish): Exitos Radio 1590 AM

In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Honda

 

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 12W-4L-4D, 40 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Saint Louis FC: 6W-7L-8D, 26 pts., 11th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

 

#INDVSTL STORYLINES

  • Indy Eleven looks to capture its first victory against Saint Louis FC in regular season play this Sunday. Indy has an all-time record of 1W-1D-1L against the Missouri club, defeating and drawing the side in two pre-season friendlies played in 2015 and 2016 in addition to a loss at the start of the 2019 USL Championship campaign.
  • A victory would boost the Boys in Blue back into sole possession of third place in the Eastern Conference with 43 points, while still having three games in hand on the current clubs leading Indiana’s Team in the table.
  • Indy Eleven has the chance to extend its undefeated home streak to 19 games come Sunday night, a streak that stretches back to July 7, 2018, following a 2-1 victory over Charlotte Independence.
  • Indy’s defense at home has been nearly impenetrable. The Boys in Blue have given up two goals in 10 games at home en route to recording eight clean sheets inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
  • Indiana’s Team leads the entire USL Championship in fewest goals allowed with 15 total concessions, and is second in the league and Eastern Conference in clean sheets recorded with 10.
  • A few new Boys in Blue could be available for selection Sunday night in forwards Gabriel Rodrigues and Cristian Novoa and midfielder Drew Conner.
  • Conner spent the 2016 USL season with Saint Louis FC on loan from Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire. The former Fire homegrown signing made 12 appearances with Saint Louis FC before being recalled back to the MLS ranks for the 2017-18 seasons.

 

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF KENNEY WALKER

Walker’s first assist came in the opening game of the 2019 USL Championship season against Saint Louis FC back on March 9. The former FC Cincinnati midfielder assised defender Neveal Hackshaw in scoring his first goal as an Indy Eleven player from a well-placed corner kick in the 61st minute. Walker went on to record two more assists the following two games before being sidelined for a short period with injury.The 30-year-old has been a consistent presence in the midfield, completing 81% of his passes through 17 appearances in his first season with Indiana’s Team. He’s moved the ball, and did so especially well against Saint Louis, completing 88% of his passes in Week One.

 

SAINT LOUIS FC PLAYER TO WATCH | FW KYLE GREIG

Grief, the squad’s joint-leading scorer forward, will look to add to his current five-goal tally against Indiana’s Team this Sunday. The 29-year-old has been an aerial force for Saint Louis through his 19 appearances, as every goal the six-foot-two-inch forward has scored has ricocheted off his cranium.  The Boys in Blue will have to mark Greig tight during dead ball situations and when lofty crosses are played into the box. The forward leads his team in aerial duels won, winning 102 of the 170 he’s battled in. Greig failed to cross the goal line in the last outing against Indy, but was able to record the assist on Saint Louis’ winning goal.

 

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY’S TYLER PASHER VS. SAINT LOUIS’ SAM FINK

In the first meeting between Indy Eleven and Saint Louis FC, young forward Josh Penn ran rampant down Saint Louis’ flanks. Penn showed flashes of brilliance with his skill and nearly scored the game’s opening goal, even grounding the outside back he faced with a stutter step leading up to the on-target attempt.Now, Saint Louis will have to deal with experienced winger and midfielder Tyler Pasher in the role that Penn played at the start of the year. Pasher leads Indy in scoring with eight goals to date, three of which have come as bursting runs down opposition flanks at the expense of Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, Charleston Battery and most recently against Loudoun United FC. Pasher’s been deadly when placing shots on target, scoring half the 16 shots he’s put on frame.The man in the middle of the Saint Louis defense tasked with containing the pacey Canadian is center back Sam Fink. The 26-year-old dominates Saint Louis’ defensive statistics, leading his side in every major category. He’s also tied with Greig for goals scored (5) after converting a penalty in the last match against Charleston – and that doesn’t count the clutch late goal he tallied in Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup play to down MLS side FC Cincinnati in dramatic fashion. The captain, now in his fourth season with Saint Louis FC, has been incredibly dependable for his side this season, starting every match and being subbed off in only one appearance.Indy Eleven (12W-4L-4D, 40 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference) will return to USL Championship action with a pair of Sunday evening affairs the next two weekends against Saint Louis FC on Aug. 18 (Faith & Family Night) and Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those 6:00 p.m. contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

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8/9/19 EPL Season Kicksoff, US Christian Pulisic plays at Man U Sun 11:30 on NBCSN, MLS Rooney leaving DC United faces LA Galaxy Sun 7:30 pm on FS1,

Ok soccer fans – so the EPL Season kicked off Friday afternoon with European Champions Liverpool destroying Norwich 4-1 on opening day.  Full game line-ups on Saturday and especially on Sunday at 11:30 am when Chelsea and New American startlet Christian Pulisic is expected to make his regular season debut with Chelsea when they take on fellow top six challengers Manchester United in a match that could set the tone for both teams heading into the season. Chelsea finished the 2018-19 season in third place in the EPL, but due to their incoming transfer ban, they have seen several key players depart including Eden Hazard and David Luiz. Pulisic is the most notable addition to the squad for the upcoming season. The general movement would suggest that the club could have a hard time maintaining their Champions League position under first year manager Frank Lampard. Manchester United finished the 2018-19 campaign in sixth place in the Premier League, and they would like to push themselves back into top four relevance this season. But, it remains to be seen whether Ole Gunnar Solskjær is really the manager to be leading them and whether the pieces they’ve assembled this season, with the loss of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan and the addition of Harry Maguire from Leicester City, will be enough to get the job done.  It all goes down Sunday right after New Castle United and US defender Deandre Yedlin host Arsenal.  So I guess I need to make my picks for this season.  I think Liverpool will finally win the English Premier League for the first time in 30 years – however they won’t win Champions League – out in the round of 4 or maybe 8?  I think Man City will make the run to the final 8 at least in Champs League but will give up the title chasing UEFA honors.  Tottenham will finish 4rd in my mind – as they kept everyone and made a good late addition to the squad.  The battle for the 4th Champs League spot should be epic with Arsenal, Chelsea, Man United and perhaps a retooled Everton making that push.  I think Arsenal might well be the team – but I am of course will be rooting for American Pulisic and Chelsea to claim that spot.  I think Pulisic will have to score double digit goals and double digit assists for that kind of run to happen and while that would be awesome for US Soccer I just don’t know.  (Not since Dempsey was starring at Fulham has an American scored more than 10 goals in a season.) I am still worried that Pulisic might get injured – the EPL is a really rough league – much rougher than the Bundesliga.  Here’s hoping he has success – this new Chelsea fan will be watching!

MLS

So plenty of MLS teams made some interesting pick-ups on transfer deadline day this week – as LAFC, LA Galaxy and others made big signings.  The biggest move however was DC United’s Wayne Rooney’s announcement that he is leaving to become player coach at Derby County after the MLS Season ends.  That leaves us with probably our only opportunity to see the two legends Wayne Rooney and Zlatan Ibrahimovich for LA Galaxy clash the Sunday, 7:30 pm ET on Fox Sports 1.  Also huge news as Carmel High Grad and former Carmel High Soccer star Matt Hedges is set to tie the record for most starts for Dallas FC this weekend.

Carmel FC

So Carmel FC Goalkeeping Training returns this week with Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr.  We plan to be at Shelbourne on the upper school fields Thursday 8/15 starting at 6 pm U10-U12, 7 pm U13-U15.  CFC Coaches please send me new names and contact info if you have new Goalkeepers this season.  Congrats to all those players who made high school teams this past week at CHS or Guerin or University and good luck on the season.  For those who may not have made the team – please reach out to Carmel Dads about Recreating soccer last second additions as soon as you can.  The recreation high school games start next weekend.

JF-flyer-8x11-v4

Carmel High Grad and former Carmel High Soccer star Matt Hedges is set to tie the record for most starts for Dallas FC

Former Carmel High Ladies Grad Emily Speidel Wins Gatorade Player of the Year

EPL
American Youngster Pulisic could become an instant start at Chelsea – Doug McIntyre Yahoo Sports

Americans Abroad: EPL Season Preview Stars and Stripes

All Rise for Chelsea vs Man United Sun 11:30 am on NBCSN

Ian Darke’s EPL Predictions

What if the USMNT played in the Premier League? S&S

Ranking the EPL Kits Worst to Best

Premier League Season Preview – Arsenal

Liverpool have to bolster depleted squad’ – Lack of movement surprises Houghton

Premier League fixtures 2019-20 in full 

 USA

USMNT Viewing Guide for Watching your Favorite US Player S&S

Americans Abroad: EPL Season Preview Stars and Stripes

Chelsea’s Pulisic not Your Wonderboy Anymore

World

– Kuper: Why De Ligt chose Juventus
– Horncastle: How did Juve become the best at free transfers?

MLS

Americans at home: Checking back in on all of your favorite Americans in MLS

What to Watch For ESPNFC

Tale of the Tape: Two legends face off in D.C.

Ring: ATL-NYC always one of the best games in MLS

Atlanta United to host Club América in second-annual Campeones Cup – Onefootball

MLS and Liga MX announced that Atlanta United will take on Club América in the Campeones Cup at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on 14 August.

Atlanta United to host Minnesota United or Portland Timbers in USOC final – MLSsoccer.com

– Vickery: Pavon boosts Galaxy’s attack in hopes of Europe move
– Carlisle: Why Rooney’s Derby move diminishes his MLS legacy

Indy 11

3 Things Week 22

11 Beat NC to Stay 3rd in East

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 9

3 pm NBCSN                           Liverpool vs Norwich City EPL Starts

Sat, Aug 10

7:30 am NBCSN                                    West Ham vs Man City

10 am NBCSN                                        Bournemouth vs Sheffield United

11:30 am bein Sport                                                Marseille vs Reims (France Ligue 1)

12:30 pm NBCN                                   Tottenham vs Aston Villa

4 pm ESPN+                                            Barcelona vs Napoli Friendly

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Columbus vs Cincy

Sun, Aug 11

9 am CNBC                                              Leciester City vs Wolverhampton

9 am NBCSN                                           Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Arsenal

11:30 amNBCSN                                  Man United vs Chelsea (Pulisic)

12:30 pm ESPN+                                 Juventus vs Atletico Madrid  ICC

3 pm beIN Sport                                 PSG vs Nimes

3 pm ESPN News                                 Portland Thorns vs North Carolina  NWSL

4 pm ESPN                                                                       Atlanta United vs NYCFC

7:30 pm FS1                                           DC United vs LA Galaxy

10 pm FS1                                                                        LAFC vs NY Red Bulls

Weds, Aug 14

3 pm TNT?                                               Liverpool vs Chelsea (Pulisic) – UEFA Super Cup

8 pm Fubo TV/UD                              Atlanta united vs America (Campeones Cup)

Fri, Aug 16

2:30 pm FS2                            Bayern Munich vs Hertha German Bundesliga Starts

3 pm beIN Sport                     Atheltic Club vs Barcelona (La Liga Starts)

Sat, Aug 17

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Arsenal vs Burnley

9:30 am FS1                                            Dortmund vs Ausburg

9:30 am FS2                                            Werder Bremen (Sargeant) vs Dusseldorf

10 am CNBC                                           Aston villa vs Bournmouth

10 am NBCSN                                        Southampton vs Liverpool

11 am bein Sport                               Celta Vigo vs Real Madrid

12:30 pm NBC                                      Man City vs Tottenham

12:30 pm FS1                                        MGladbach (Johnson) vs Schalke (McKinney)

 

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

NWSL. You can stream every game live on Yahoo Sports.

Premier League preview: Why Christian Pulisic can become an instant Chelsea star

Doug McIntyreYahoo SportsAug 5, 2019, 10:35 AM

Welcome to Yahoo Soccer’s Premier League Starting XI. This lineup of stories will get you ready for the upcoming season as we count down to kickoff on Friday.

For American fans of the English Premier League, this season has a little bit of extra spice. A United States-born field player — Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic — will for the first time ever head into the new campaign as a surefire starter for a top-end club in the world’s most popular circuit. Better yet, from the looks of things so far, it appears he is up to the challenge.When we first learned last January that Pulisic would be leaving German powerhouse Borussia Dortmund for the biggest stage in the club game, the move was met with tempered enthusiasm. Sure, the $73 million price tag that almost tripled the previous record for a U.S. national teamer and spoke to how highly the 20-year-old attacker was regarded by one of the game’s richest teams.This was Chelsea, though, where current superstars like Mohamed Salah and Kevin De Bruyne were chewed up and spit out before their talent was nurtured by Liverpool and Manchester City, where they blossomed into world-class attackers. It was fair to wonder how much Pulisic would actually play at Stamford Bridge.

So when then-Blues manager Maurizio Sarri said he didn’t know the club was about to complete the deal for Pulisic — a quote was both taken out of context and lost in translation — the idea that Chelsea might not be the best fit for The Great American Hope took hold. Seven months later, though, those fears appear overblown.While success for the basketball-loving Pulisic isn’t a slam dunk, he seems significantly better positioned to do well immediately than he did when he first signed. Sarri is gone, having been replaced by club legend Frank Lampard. Lampard may have just one season on the sidelines under his belt — he led second-tier Derby County to the brink of Premier League promotion in May — but he’s probably a better fit for Pulisic than the 60-year-old Italian. Lampard’s first language obviously is English, and the former star midfielder, who retired just three years ago, knows from personal experience the pressure Pulisic will face coming of age under the bright lights of the British game.  Plus, Lampard seems to like him. Pulisic endeared himself to his new boss immediately by cutting short his post-Gold Cup vacation to join up with the team in Asia. Lampard rewarded him by starting the Hershey, Pennsylvania native in all but one of Chelsea’s preseason matches, including its last four. Pulisic has played well, too, scoring his first two goals and adding an assist for his new club in last week’s friendly win over Austria’s Red Bull Salzburg.  At this point, it’s clear that Pulisic will be in the starting lineup when Chelsea kicks off its 2019-20 campaign on Sunday in the highest-profile fashion possible: a trip to 76,000-seat Old Trafford to face Manchester United, the team Pulisic grew up idolizing an ocean away.  It should go without saying that both Lampard and Chelsea’s demanding fans will insist on production from the start. But this move has been a long time coming for Pulisic, who will celebrate his 21st birthday next month. He knows what’s expected. He always wanted to play in England, to return to the country where he spent a year of his life as a boy thanks to his father’s job.  The change of scenery appears to have energized him so far. Pulisic’s early performances suggest a player determined to prove he can excel in the sport’s most cutthroat circuit. He’s been playing as a left forward, a position he excelled at in Dortmund. And even if it does take Pulisic a few months to fully settle, a FIFA transfer ban confirmed in May will prevent the club from simply replacing him midseason.  Sure, constant comparisons to longtime Blues playmaker Eden Hazard, who left the club for Real Madrid this summer, are inevitable. And Stamford Bridge, despite Russian owner Roman Abramovich’s endless supply of cash, remains a famously dysfunctional place. Things can always go sideways.  Based on how the stars are aligning, though, Pulisic could well excel with the Blues.

Americans Abroad: EPL Season Preview

Christian Pulisic leads a small contingent of just 3 Americans in the English top flight.

By Alex Showell  Aug 5, 2019, 7:00am PDTChristopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019-2020 English Premier League season kicks off this week and United States Men’s National Team fans will want to keep a close eye on the three Americans playing in the league. Christian Pulisic will attract the most attention, as he will likely prove to be integral to Chelsea’s chances of success. DeAndre Yedlin will also be a vital contributor to his club, but NewcastleUnited could be in for a fierce relegation battle. While Cameron Cater-Vickers is still at Tottenham, he seems to have no path to the Starting XI and will hopefully be heading out on loan. Here’s a closer look at what to expect for Pulisic, Yedlin, and Carter-Vickers.

Christian Pulisic

Club: Chelsea

Age: 20

Position: Right/Left Winger

Last Season: Christian Pulisic is by far the most notable American playing in the Premier League this season. Christian Pulisic completed an approximately $71 million transfer to Chelsea in January but was loaned back to Dortmund for the end of the 2018-2019 season.

The young superstar contributed seven goals and six assists in thirty appearances (all competitions) for Borussia Dortmund, but he had a frustrating season. Pulisic fell down the depth chart and suffered from several injuries. He was not as his best but showed glimpses of his incredible skill.

Upcoming Season: Pulisic is expected to be a starter every match and will look to fill the void left by the departure of Eden Hazard (who joined Real Madrid). If he could he contribute 10+ goals and assists, that would mark an excellent season for the guy who will turn 21 in September. However, this may be too much to expect from a young player who will be adjusting to a new league. As a team, Chelsea will look to advance to the UEFA Champions League knockout stages and qualify for next season’s tournament (by finishing in the Premier League top four).

The London-based club have experienced an offseason full of upheaval. Star player Eden Hazard and manager Maurizio Sarri (who joined Juventus) have departed, FIFA has handed the club a transfer ban and club legend Frank Lampard has been appointed as the new manager. Pulisic will look to guide the club to a top-four finish and improve upon his previous season, but this could be quite difficult.

 

DeAndre Yedlin

Club: Newcastle United

Age: 26

Position: Right Back

Last Season: DeAndre Yedlin had an inconsistent season for a Newcastle side that finished 13th in the Premier League table. He made 29 appearances (in all competitions), scoring one goal and adding two assists.

Upcoming Season: Expect Yedlin to be a consistent starter. He and the Magpies will face a brutal relegation battle. Fans are understandably fed up with owner Mike Ashley, who has spent little money on the club and seems to have no intention of selling it.  The departure of manager Rafa Benitez and the hiring of Steve Bruce makes it seems like Newcastle will be in for a long season. Given the difficult circumstances, Yedlin performing at the same level as last season would be a success. However, it’s nearly impossible for defenders to excel individually when their teams struggle.

 Cameron Carter-Vickers

Club: Tottenham Hotspur  he was loaned to Aston Villa on Thursday !

Age: 21

Position: Centerback

Last Season: Cameron Carter-Vickers had a solid season for Championship side Swansea City, making thirty-three appearances in all competitions. He struggled to break into the squad during the first half of the season but became a regular starter by January.

Carter-Vickers demonstrated impressive poise on the ball and a decent passing ability however, his tackling leaves much to be desired.

Upcoming Season: As of now, Carter-Vickers is still on the books at Tottenham. Tottenham has an excellent chance to make a deep run in the Champions League and will be challenging for the title. However, don’t expect Carter-Vickers to play much of a role.  He will hopefully be sent out on loan shortly, or otherwise will be spending a season on the bench. He is buried on the depth chart behind Toby AlderweireldJan Vertonghen, and Davinson Sanchez. Carter-Vickers is a solid, but still raw defender who needs more playing time to further his development. Another loan to a Championship side would provide an excellent opportunity.

 

*While Kyle Scott plays for Newcastle United, both Transfermarkt and Wikipedia list him as a member of Newcastle’s U-23 side. It’s unlikely he appears in the Premier League this season, but he may feature in a few cup matches.  What kind of seasons are you expecting from Pulisic, Yedlin, and Carter-Vickers?

Ian Darke’s Premier League predictions: It’s Liverpool’s year

Aug 8, 2019Ian DarkeESPN.com writer

On the eve of another Premier League season full of intrigue, optimism runs high everywhere … well, almost everywhere. But before a ball is kicked, there are more questions than answers even for the usual suspects in the top six (and check the bottom for my final verdict on the Top 4 and relegation battle).The smart money says it will be Manchester City and Liverpool running away at the top again. Both have been relatively quiet in the summer market. As talented as City are, you wonder if their focus might switch to the prize that has eluded them, the Champions League, when push comes to shove this season. That might just open the door to a Liverpool team who will bring manic intensity to their quest to end a long league title drought going back to 1990. Yet the heavy summer workload on their famous three strikers — Mohamed Salahand Sadio Mane played in the African Cup of Nations for Egypt and Senegal, respectively, while Roberto Firmino represented Brazil in the Copa America — makes you wonder if the Reds should have bought extra cover.

Arsenal will surely be full of goals now that £72 million winger Nicolas Pepe is joining the prolific Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Alexandre Lacazette, but the club has not done enough to fix a leaky defence — they signed David Luizfrom Chelsea, but as we all know, he is often a howler waiting to happen — and need to improve their performances away from home.

Meanwhile, how will Chelsea cope without Eden Hazard (who decamped for Real Madrid) in Frank Lampard‘s debut season as a Premier League manager? For starters they’ll need Christian PulisicMason MountCallum Hudson-Odoiand Tammy Abraham to deliver … and deliver fast.

Even with the excellent midfield addition of Tanguy Ndombele and 19-year-old left winger Ryan SessegnonSpurs’ squad still looks a bit too thin to bridge the 27-point gap between them and champions Manchester City last season. 

Manchester United have beefed up their defence with Harry Maguire and Aaron Wan-Bissaka. But there are still issues with Paul Pogba, who has been linked to Real Madrid, though he remains at Old Trafford (for now). United also sold Romelu Lukaku to Inter, and while the Belgian international is hardly a world-beater, he does score goals — a responsibility that will fall on the likes of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and out-of-form and out-of-favor Alexis Sanchez. It’s against this backdrop that we’ll learn if Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is a good enough manager to turn the club around in the post-Alex Ferguson era, something David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and Jose Mourinho failed to do.

Manchester United should also be concerned with the clubs chasing them. Take Leicester, which enters its first full season under Brendan Rodgers and will be well worth watching. Could they challenge for a Top 6 spot? Don’t rule it out with the likes of Youri Tielemans and James Maddison supplying marksman Jamie Vardy in front of goal.

West Ham, irritatingly inconsistent last season, have made a couple of big signings and could finish in the Top 8.

Everton have signed the exciting Juventus teenager Moise Kean, but will miss Idrissa Gueye in midfield. With a posh new stadium on its way, it’s vital that the Toffees find themselves at least in contention for a cup.

Wolves were superb last season, but needed to boost their squad depth more with a busy Europa League workload this time around.

TRANSFERS

Why did Prem teams spend less this window?

Why were Chelsea given a transfer ban?

Elsewhere, Crystal Palace’s fate may depend on whether they keep their match-winning winger, Wilfried Zaha, while Watford have a streetwise mid-table look about them.

Manager Steve Bruce inherits the poison chalice at Newcastle, where turmoil is a way of life under owner Mike Ashley. Bruce needs new £40m man Joelinton to be a hit, otherwise Newcastle might find themselves in a relegation fight again.

Southampton were galvanised by manager Ralph Hasenhuttl last season, and if Nathan RedmondDanny Ings and James Ward-Prowse all perform well, they might surprise.

Eddie Howe always keeps Bournemouth clear of trouble, the football equivalent of defying gravity, and with Callum Wilson and David Brooks around that trend is likely to continue. Likewise, you sense that Sean Dyche’s band of brothers at Burnley have too much grit to go down.

But it might be tougher for Brighton, where Graham Potter takes over from Chris Hughton. There’s a desire to play sexier football, but do they have the players to do it? Doubtful.

What of the three promoted clubs? Norwich must hope the top scorer in the Championship, Teemu Pukki, raises his game even higher, and the club has several good youngsters. But staying up? It will be tough.Chris Wilder has managed in all four divisions, so he won’t be daunted by the Premier League Sheffield United. It’s whether he has enough quality at his disposal to stay afloat.

Aston Villa have splashed the cash, but their shrewdest moves might be signing under-rated keeper Tom Heaton for £8m and keeping their playmaker Jack Grealish.

Predictions are there to make fools of us, but I reckon this is Liverpool’s year to win the title (I expect City to come in second, followed by Spurs in third and Arsenal grabbing that last Champions League spot) with Brighton, Norwich and Sheffield United leading contenders for the drop. Top scorer? If he stays fit, look no further than Harry Kane at Tottenham.

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic is not your wonderboy anymore

Aug 2, 2019Sam BordenESPN global sports correspondent

Christian Pulisic is but 20 years old and the number of effusive words already written about him is staggering.

His classic speed. His majestic acceleration. His touch, which allows him to keep the ball so close to his feet that defenders can only trip or wave at him as he flies past. The near clairvoyance with which he finds space amid a thicket of defenders near the goal. The way he shoots, like an archer. The way he sets his jaw, like a bouncer.

To be clear, the enthusiasm is warranted. Christian Pulisic is the most talented player in American soccer history. And, should he pull it off, what he is about to do — that is, play for Chelsea in the English Premier League — will be one of the most impressive feats in American sports history. Yes, Tim Howardplayed for Manchester United, but he was a goalkeeper; and yes, Clint Dempsey and Landon Donovan made the move to the EPL as well, but they debuted at smaller clubs in Fulham and Everton.

Pulisic is different. By joining Chelsea, he is the first American aiming to star for one of the game’s largest clubs. Nearly half the population of the planet watches the Premier League, more than 3 billion people a season. If Pulisic, a young, fresh-faced American, succeeds — if he scores and dazzles and captivates fans in the U.S. and Europe and China and India and all over Africa — it changes the calculus on him. His ceiling isn’t Landon Donovan anymore. It’s Lionel Messi.

On a dank day in Dortmund, Germany, this spring, I meet Pulisic at a restaurant in the city center. He is dressed Euro-casual, in tight jeans and a black hoodie. I notice the sweatshirt right away because it has words written in circles on the sleeves.”It’s from the Uninterrupted guys,” he says. “LeBron started this thing with ‘More Than an Athlete,’ and they sent me one.”Pulisic typically has presented himself as more quiet than brash, but knowing the move he’s about to make, the sweatshirt makes me wonder if something has changed. It wouldn’t be crazy. Science tells us that if a person picks up two objects at the same time and they have identical weights but different sizes, the larger object is the one that will actually seem lighter. (It’s true: Try it with an iPhone and a Kindle.)This phenomenon has to do with the incredible power of human expectations: We expect the bigger thing to be heavier, so it feels lighter. In sports, the work of becoming a legend is the same either way, but if you make it look bigger, then actually doing the lifting might feel easier. Many superstars have done it this way: Tiger Woods when he said “Hello, world”; LeBron when he welcomed comparisons to Michael Jordan before he was out of high school.So maybe Pulisic has decided he wants the attention and limelight and microphones that will come at Chelsea. Maybe he is ready to stand up and make a grander statement on, say, pay equity in soccer or the development model in the United States. Maybe he wants to speak.”You’re part of it then?” I ask Pulisic about Uninterrupted. His forehead crinkles. His eyes drop.”Um, not like part of it,” he says. “I support it, I guess you could say.” Later, he explains that the fame and the platform might be the bit about his Chelsea move that most challenges him, because he doesn’t particularly like being famous.Fair enough, I tell him, except he just made a career move that guarantees the greatest scrutiny an American soccer player has ever received. He sighs.”It’s definitely one of the hardest parts of my life,” he says, stressing that he really does appreciate having fans who support him and really does understand why people stop him for a selfie or an autograph.”I just hope people realize it’s tougher for some of us,” he says. His voice lowers. “At times, you just want to be alone.”

I have schnitzel, Pulisic has a salad, and then he leads me through the Borussia Dortmund locker room at the team’s stadium. He stops in front of his locker and explains, with a touch of wistfulness, that when he saw his jersey hanging there for the first time in 2016, it was the “coolest thing in the world.”Outside on the field, standing in front of the towering south stand where 25,000 fans crowd together to form the so-called Yellow Wall during games, he almost giggles as he reminisces about the noise in the stadium after a goal.”You hear the stadium announcer yell ‘Christian!’ and then everyone yells your last name back,” he says, cocking his head as though it is echoing right now. “I mean, scoring a last-minute goal in front of this wall, and you see the beer flying everywhere and …”His voice trails off. Leaving for Chelsea might have been a fairly straightforward business decision for Pulisic, but the departure from Dortmund is difficult. Dortmund was a haven for Pulisic, a place to develop his game and discover how he wanted to present himself as an athlete. In soccer terms, Dortmund was Pulisic’s boyhood home.Club scouts found him when he was 15, smitten after watching Pulisic play at a U.S. youth national team tournament in Turkey. They saw then what Chelsea officials see now: a soft, silken touch more European than American. For Dortmund, which has a renowned youth development academy, he seemed a perfect fit.”We only sign players from foreign countries if we’re extremely confident that he’s becoming a player for the professional team,” Lars Ricken, Dortmund’s youth coordinator, tells me at the team’s training facility, adding that he sees Pulisic as one of the club’s biggest success stories.Pulisic arrived in Germany from Hershey, Pennsylvania, when he was 16. He initially struggled with school — to this day, he says, he’s still not sure what classes he attended at first since he didn’t understand a word of German at the time — but blossomed quickly on the field.Many soccer analysts say success at the highest levels of the sport comes down to millimeters. If the space between the ball and a player’s foot is much wider than that, he isn’t truly in control of it. Pulisic’s gap, even as a teenager and even when he was sprinting, was minuscule. He was called up to Dortmund’s first team in less than a year. “We don’t buy stars,” Ricken says now, with obvious pride. “We build them.”Pulisic became the youngest non-German to ever score in the Bundesliga (he celebrated by dabbing). Then he became the youngest Dortmund player to ever play in the Champions League. He appeared in 127 games over four seasons for Dortmund and helped the team win the German Cup in 2017.Along the way, he hung on to plenty of his American tendencies — “I remember him driving like two hours to Frankfurt to get burritos sometimes,” says Dortmund winger Jacob Bruun Larsen, his former roommate — but he also worked to connect with the city and the fans. Instead of sloughing off the language barrier, he embraced it, practicing his German to the point where he was able to do interviews on television. His grammar wasn’t perfect, but the effort endeared him to the team’s supporters.They loved that he tried, loved that he put his head down and grinded in the blue-collar image of Dortmund players who came before him. He trained rigorously and diligently. He battled against juggernaut Bayern Munich. He scored important goals, like the gorgeous lob over Benfica’s goalkeeper in the Champions League. He also suffered through one of the worst weeks in the club’s history. In 2017, as the team traveled from its hotel to the stadium, its bus was struck by explosives planted by a deranged fan.

Pulisic has rarely spoken about that episode, and his eyes soften as he recounts the fear he felt when the windows of the bus exploded and rockets of glass flew everywhere. “We were just going to a normal game, like always, and there was just a really loud bang,” he says. “It was so loud, I couldn’t hear anything. I was confused.”

He pauses. “I just remember [Dortmund goalkeeper] Roman Burki next to me grabbed me and pulled me under the table because he probably recognized what was going on before I did. We were just so scared.”

Pulisic looks away, his voice slowing down. “And then I hear Marc screaming. … He was right across from me. … And I see blood. … And he’s yelling for the doctor. And everyone’s screaming at the bus driver, ‘Driver, keep going!'”Marc Bartra, a defender, was struck by the glass and had shards embedded in his arm. He underwent emergency surgery that night. There were no other serious physical injuries among the players, but the emotional fallout from the episode was significant. Pulisic was 18, living on his own in Germany.e had to deal with knowing someone had tried to kill him and his friends. He had to deal with staying at the same hotel before another game. He had to deal with getting back on the team bus without feeling his skin crawl. He had to figure out how to process it.It was a hyperintense event within a hyperspeed maturation. Pulisic learned how to shop for groceries in Dortmund, how to cook for himself in Dortmund, how to get ready for work each day in Dortmund. After the bus attack, he learned how to confront his own demons and move on from a nightmare in Dortmund.”I’ve changed a lot,” he says at one point, “a lot on the soccer field but maybe even more off the field.”As we walk back up from the locker room, he looks around and says, “In a lot of ways, I grew up here.”

Pulisic decided to leave Dortmund on Jan. 2. Chelsea shipped $73 million to the German club, making Pulisic the most expensive American player sold in soccer history. (It’s not close either: Defender John Brooks is second after his $22.5 million jump from Hertha Berlin to Wolfsburg in 2017; Dempsey’s shift from Fulham to Tottenham in 2012 cost Spurs only $9.6 million.)

To Pulisic, the move is part of a progression, the obvious next step on his path. It is natural to him, expected even. In fact, the most animated I see him get over the course of our conversations is when I mention how he has often been called a “wonderboy” by broadcasters and fans and analysts, a term that was originally flattering but now seems to strike him as borderline demeaning.”The reason I just don’t like to hear it anymore is because I feel like now I’ve been a part of this enough,” he says. “And I think I’ve earned my spots in teams and shouldn’t just be looked at as just a prodigy.”He takes a breath. “I don’t see myself as that label anymore. It’s just not how I feel.”Pulisic is 20. Kylian Mbappe, star of France’s 2018 World Cup win, is also 20 and isn’t called a wonderboy or a prodigy — he’s just a superstar. At this stage of his career, Pulisic says, he doesn’t want to be compared to other players his age; he just wants to be compared to other players.

That, I assure him, will happen quickly and often in the Premier League. But Pulisic will always reckon with a different contextual comparison because of his nationality. It doesn’t especially matter that Mbappe is French when considering his value as a player; France has produced plenty of international stars and will produce more. Pulisic, though, is playing as the face (and legs and feet) of American soccer. If he fails, it isn’t clear when another American will have a chance like this.That reality is no doubt part of why the initial reaction to Pulisic’s Chelsea move, at least from outsiders, has been tempered with a fair bit of caution. While Chelsea is a club teeming with stature and success, it is nonetheless known as one of Europe’s great powder kegs. Its owner, Roman Abramovich, is a notoriously erratic Russian oligarch who has made 14 managerial changes in 16 years and has cultivated a culture of turnover at Chelsea that a former team employee once described to me as a “combustible nightmare.”

What that means for Pulisic is that he will be playing under (no surprise) another new Chelsea manager, Frank Lampard, who was a longtime star player for the club but has only one season of coaching experience. Pulisic also will be charged, at least in part, with replacing Eden Hazard, a Belgian wizard who is generally considered one of the 10 best players in the game. (Hazard left Chelsea for Real Madrid after seven seasons.)Add in a transfer ban that means Chelsea isn’t allowed to sign more players for a year — ratcheting up the heat on the current crop even more — and it creates a set of circumstances that are, as Donovan says when we meet up this spring to talk about Pulisic, “concerning to me.”Donovan had a solid spell playing abroad himself, but he really built his legacy on his work with the U.S. national team and in Major League Soccer. Pulisic’s task, he says, is something far greater. “I can see it being a massive home run for him,” Donovan says. “[But] Chelsea spends a lot of money on a lot of players. They have money forever. They can spend $70 million to bring in Pulisic, and if it doesn’t work right away, it’s no problem. They can move on to the next player.”He shrugs. “He’s not going to be afforded as much leeway if things don’t go well as he would at a different club.”Stu Holden, a former national team forward who played with Bolton Wanderers for four years, says the same, calling Chelsea a club with “rich history and tradition” that is also “unstable” and “a bit of a mess.”Even Jurgen Klinsmann, the German legend and former U.S. national team head coach who gave Pulisic his first international call-up, isn’t totally sold. He praises Pulisic for “jumping into the colder water” but then adds, “I thought maybe another one or two years in Dortmund wouldn’t have been wrong.”What they are all expressing, in one way or another, is the uncomfortable certainty that it will not be enough for Pulisic just to shine with Chelsea; he will have to shine quickly. As Donovan says, there is little doubt about Pulisic’s place when it comes to the U.S. national team — “For the next decade, he’s going to be the most important player” — but it is not so easy to say the same for Chelsea.Could Pulisic step right in and thrive? Absolutely. Lampard says Pulisic is the kind of player “who wants to take people on, the sort of player the fans are going to like,” while longtime defender David Luiz says he believes Pulisic “is going to have a great future with us.” And maybe it really will be that easy. But could Pulisic struggle or get injured or find himself on the bench or out on loan to some smaller club? Could we look up next spring and wonder where he went? The list of talented young players who went to England and had that result isn’t exactly short.Nevertheless, Pulisic seems undaunted. He talks about normal nerves and overwhelming excitement and confidence and verve, delivering the sort of steely assurance that is both accepting and dismissive at the same time. Even when I mention the notoriously harsh British news media, he barely wavers.Pulisic sees this move in soccer terms and little else, and that perspective is probably both healthy and correct. Even the notion that his nationality matters, that being American might help Chelsea sell a few (thousand) more jerseys in the U.S., might be overblown. Chelsea signed Pulisic for the same reason any club signs any player: They think he can help them win. They see his creativity and his ability to play far up the field in Lampard’s expected formation. They see the way he chases in the attacking third and the way he pings passes from sideline to sideline.”I know what kind of player I am,” Pulisic says. “And they know exactly the same.”Could he have waited? Could he have stayed in Dortmund? Could he have held out for a situation that didn’t involve an unpredictable Russian owner and a superstar whose departure dials up the pressure? Maybe. But it’s also hard to say that with a straight face.”Nobody would turn down that offer, right?” Donovan says.Done with being compared to his own potential, Pulisic is going to Chelsea to stand on his own. “I know I’m ready for this,” he says.The game ended on an October night in 2017, and Christian Pulisic saw an assistant coach walking toward him. His throat was sore from shouting. It was steamy at the stadium in Couva, Trinidad, the air hanging heavy. The rain-soaked field was so waterlogged, he heard the squish of the coach’s shoes.The United States had just lost a game it should have won, a game in which it needed only a tie to qualify for the World Cup. Pulisic didn’t know whether other teams might have bailed out the Americans by losing too. He looked at the approaching assistant hopefully.”We’re not going,” the coach said. Fast. Blunt. Brutal. Pulisic rocked back. In the locker room, team staffers rushed to move out the champagne and beer that were supposed to be part of the celebration. On the field, Pulisic crouched down and cried.He had scored. He had pushed. He had run. He had never considered, not for a second, that it wouldn’t be enough. He had never considered, not for a second, that he wouldn’t be playing for his country in the biggest tournament in sports.As he changed out of his uniform, teammates cried around him. On the flight the next morning, there were wet eyes again. The wound from that evening blistered over and lingered, jabbing at Pulisic for weeks.”It was,” he says now, “the worst night of my pro career, by far.”Nearly two years later, though, the images from that night’s failure — Pulisic burying his head in his hands, pulling his jersey over his eyes, tears streaming down his face — seem blurred by time and circumstance.In July, instead of going on the post-Gold Cup vacation that many other top players take, Pulisic joins his Chelsea teammates in Japan on a preseason tour. He signs autographs and takes selfies with fans outside the team hotel. He makes an appearance at a local store with Lampard. He laughs during pre-practice stretching with Luiz. He juggles a ball while wearing a new style of studs that have his name splashed across the heel. The coverage, not surprisingly, is breathless: There are articles about his jersey number (he picks 24) and even a full recap, with video, of a thundering goal he scores during a practice drill.On the field, Lampard eases Pulisic into the group. He comes on as a substitute and plays a half-hour against a Japanese team, making a few good runs without real result. A few days later, against Barcelona, he is a dervish, whipping runs from both sides and showing no fear as he goes up against the world’s most celebrated side. In Austria a week later, he gives Chelsea fans an early glimpse of what’s to come: He wins a penalty, pulls off a glorious nutmeg and scores two goals, showing off his superior touch as Chelsea goes up 3-0 inside 28 minutes.

These are only friendlies. The real run of show begins next week, when Pulisic officially enters the most watched soap opera in the world. The fans will be thrumming, Lampard will be stalking the touchline and supernovas like Paul Pogba will be on the opposite side, whizzing along at breakneck pace and demanding a level of excellence from Pulisic that he has never needed to reach so often. It will be fierce. It will be ambitious. It will be daring. “I’m going to go in there,” he says, “and play with my same attacking style. I think I’m going to fit in really well.”

Two years ago, after that awful Trinidad game, a belief like that felt so far away. At 19, it was hard to be patient, and Pulisic left that night frustrated and antsy, wanting to know how the loss would affect the U.S. team, wanting to know what all of it meant for his chances to move to a bigger club. Two years ago, he wanted to know if his moment would ever come.

 

Wiebe: Can anyone stop LAFC? Plus four more questions ahead of this MLS weekend

August 9, 20191:57PM EDTAndrew Wiebe Senior Host and Producer

A couple housekeeping notes before we get to your regularly scheduled Week 23 preview.First, I think The Movement is the best thing we do at MLSsoccer.com. It’s an intoxicating mixture of the game, the people who love it, the culture that surrounds it and the curiosity and empathy soccer can inspire in all of us. Calen Carr puts his heart and soul into the show, and I cannot recommend the latest episode – Football & Faith: Being Muslim in MLS – enough.Second, I got the lowdown on Wayne Rooney’s decision to swap D.C. United for Derby County from The Athletic’s Pablo Maurer and the full rundown of MLS transfer deadline day from former Montreal Impact technical director Adam Braz on Thursday’s Extratime. Now’d be a good time to choose a segment to listen to before you continue on.

Now, onto the five questions:

Can anyone stop LAFC?

The New York Red Bulls will give it a try on Sunday to conclude Week 23 (10 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info). Only the Portland Timbers have won at Banc of California Stadium this season, and that was in the U.S. Open Cup. In other words, good luck!  Honestly, just give LAFC the Supporters’ Shield already and be done with it. They’re the league’s best team, and it’s not particularly close. They’ve got a 10-point advantage on the East-leading Union with two games in hand, a 13-point head start on Atlanta with one game in hand and a 14-point lead in the West. They’re on pace to shatter every MLS record for single-season dominance. Bob Bradley won’t let them get comfortable, either. Shield first, then MLS Cup. Let’s put it this way, I will print this column out and eat it if they aren’t lifting the Shield come Oct. 6 (or more likely even sooner). I do not think LAFC will be stopped, in the regular season at least.  I, like most of the MLS All-Stars I talked to in Orlando, always make time to watch Bradley’s team play. The Red Bulls have plenty going on, too. Here’s what I’ll be watching come Sunday night:

Which Adama Diomande will we see? Christian Ramirez is gone. Time for the dominant Diomande from a year ago to come back and give LAFC yet another best-in-class goal threat. In case you weren’t paying attention, the 29-year-old is starting to get there (four goals, two assists in the last five games). Prior to that, though, he’d scored once since March 10. Add a rampant Diomande to Carlos Vela and Diego Rossi and LAFC are liable to start dropping five spots on everyone.

Will Aaron Long be distracted by his own transfer saga? Long is a “foundational piece” for the Red Bulls. He wants to move to Europe. The Red Bulls don’t want to sell him. These things happen. Thing is, the scoreline can start adding up quickly against LAFC if you’re even a little bit preoccupied by anything other than Vela and Co. Long’s a professional, and I don’t for one second question his effort. He’s human though, just like the rest of us.

How could you miss Zlatan vs. Wayne Rooney?

You can’t. This is probably our only opportunity to see the two legends clash in MLS (Sunday, 7:30 pm ET | FS1 — Full TV & streaming info), barring an unlikely (but not impossible) MLS Cup matchup. Unlike LAFC-Red Bulls, which East Coasters will have to stay up to watch, you won’t even have to sacrifice any sleep. Make time.I already wrote about Rooney and D.C. United this week. My hope is that with his future set, Rooney returns to his MLS best and drags Luciano Acosta along with him. Having Ola Kamara to lead the line ought to put LuchoRoo in more comfortable positions. Last fall was special, and I want one more taste of the dynamic duo before we bid adieu to the both of them, assuming Acosta signs elsewhere as a free agent. It may not happen. D.C. have won twice since May 12.As for the Galaxy, I’ve got nothing but respect and admiration for general manager Dennis te Kloese. He stayed patient, he got creative and he made sure Cristian Pavon ended up in Los Angeles. As Matt Doyle pointed out this week, he’s still got a team that mostly looks “meh” and remains over reliant on Zlatan, which isn’t the worst thing in the world if we’re being honest.Then again, said Zlatan-reliant team missed the playoffs last year – sorry to bring up Decision Day, Galaxy supporters – and truthfully nobody is safe in the Western Conference other than LAFC.Either of these teams could win MLS Cup. Either could end up the biggest collective disappointment of 2019. Either Zlatan or Rooney could do something that goes down in MLS history. Only one way to find out. Just watch the game.

Will New York City FC take advantage of their games in hand?

Same question, different team every year. Over in the Western Conference, the Timbers are in the same boat, only they play 10 straight home games.Thursday was touch and go. The blue side of New York would have dropped points to Houston had Taty Castellanos, he of seven goals and three assists in just over 1,000 minutes at the age of 20, not delivered late to seal a dramatic home win in a weather-delayed match at Yankee Stadium.Those were an important three points in New York City FC’s quest for at the very least a home game in the playoffs. It was, by definition, one of their games in hand, a midweek match in which no other teams played. They’ll have three more home midweek matches the rest of the way, all opportunities to climb the table in exchange for less turnaround time for weekend games.Now, you’ve still got to win games in hand to make them count, and then you’ve still got find a way to recover for Saturday and Sunday and get resutls there too when the schedule starts getting busy.This Sunday will be a good test for the rest of the campaign. Can NYCFC bounce back? Did Torrent manage his roster well? The good news is that he was able to rest the likes of Maxi Moralez and Anton Tinnerholm ahead of Sunday’s trip to Mercedes Benz Stadium (3:55 pm ET | ESPN — Full TV & streaming info).

Which players will I have my eye on?

Xavier Arreaga (Seattle Sounders) – I’m not able to watch a game casually and tell you in great detail about the actions of one player. I have to be more intentional about it. There’s no Chad Marshall (or Roman Torres) to bail the Sounders out anymore. They need Arreaga to come good. So far, in four starts, he’s made big plays and also allowed some. I’m planning on watching the 24-year-old Ecuadorian closely on Saturday when the Sounders host Teal BunburyGustavo Bou and the Revs. He’s part of the club’s long-term spine, after all.Dom Dwyer (Orlando City) – More on the Lions below. Here’s what Doyle wrote in his Tiers of MLS column this week: “Live by the mercurial striker, die by the mercurial striker. The season’s probably done, but if Dom suddenly gets hot (he’s entirely capable of scoring 10 goals in their last 10 games), then we could still see this team in the postseason.” I’m rooting for Dwyer to make it interesting in the East.Darwin Quintero (Minnesota United) – Is it just me, or does Quintero look a bit …  disinterested? Apart from the U.S. Open Cup, in which he leads the tournament in scoring, the Colombian has two goals and two assists in MLS play since April 19. The heady days of March are long gone. Quintero doesn’t seem comfortable with the players and movement around him. If Minnesota are going to keep climbing upward and perhaps even make some noise in the playoffs, they need Quintero to rediscover his 2018 form, starting Saturday in Dallas.

What’s the must-watch ESPN+ game of the weekend?

Easy one for me: Toronto FC hosting Orlando City on Saturday at 7:30 pm ET. Why? It’s a true six-pointer, of which there will be many the rest of the way.If Toronto FC win this one and some results go their way, they’ll jump the line and be a win or two away from the possibility of hosting a first-round match in the playoffs. That’s good! This team has enough talent, including an influx of TAM players this summer, to credibly believe they can challenge for their second MLS Cup in three years.If Toronto lose it, the gap between 7th and 8th could grow to four points, depending on the Revs’ result in Seattle … and the Reds would be tied with Orlando on 32 points. That’s bad! There’s already pressure on Greg Vanney, and the prospect of another year outside the playoff field (with one extra place available) would be a bitter pill to swallow.For Orlando, the pressure’s not as high, but it’s not nonexistent.The Lions have never made the playoffs. They just lost at home to a rival they’ve still never beaten in a U.S. Open Cup semifinal. Josef Martinez laughed at them on Insta stories. The non-playoff consolation prize is dead, and a bunch of guys are playing for their jobs. Teams below the line can’t wait around for results to come their way. Time to go for it.Enjoy the weekend! We’ll see you after LAFC-RBNY (or Monday morning on your work second screen) to wrap up Week 23 on Matchday Central.

Wow this is dead on spot – I mentioned this last week – after watching the LAFC vs LA Galaxy and Portland vs LA Galaxy last week and LA vs Atlanta this week -the Play in MLS has been tremendous while the ICC games have been – well exhibition games.  Not sure they felt that way in the past – but they feel that way now in the 3rd season the ICC and I the tix simply aren’t worth the hundreds of dollars they are charging to see these great teams play Exhibition matches.  The ICC needs to go back to have a Championship and trophy of some sort – and they have to lower the ticket prices – or people are not going to go.  Also they need to go to new locations across the country – hopefully to fields with natural grass.

CHANGE IS AFOOT – How MLS MANAGED TO OVERSHADOW THE ICC THIS SEASON 

There has been a lot of soccer star power visiting the United States recently, whichever way you look at it.  Reigning Champions League winner Liverpool danced its way onto American shores, and even played in the first ever soccer game at Notre Dame Stadium. Real Madrid, winner of the three previous editions of Europe’s finest club competition, was also here, playing in the International Champions Cup.  There was the German Bundesliga champion, Bayern Munich, and runner-up Borussia Dortmund (which knocked off Liverpool in that aforementioned Notre Dame matchup), English Premier League notable Arsenal and a collection of leading Italian, Portuguese and Mexican clubs. There was even a Madrid derby between Real and hated neighbors Atletico that produced 10 goals, four of them for Atletico’s brilliantly unpredictable Diego Costa, in a 7-3 win.

Yet once soccer thoughts turned away from this summer’s Women’s World Cup, an upset of significant standing took place in the States. Despite all the celebrity-studded visitors from overseas playing preseason matches around North America, Major League Soccer has provided the most relevant and noteworthy examples of the beautiful game for the past few weeks. “Our teams are giving our fans genuine, competitive, high-quality soccer,” MLS commissioner Don Garber told me by telephone. “We are not paying too much attention to the (exhibition games).”

Whereas the arrival of top European teams, especially those from the English Premier League, was greeted with great excitement in past years, the tide seems to have turned – sharply. To wit, this summer, there were only 11 ICC games in the U.S., down from 17 in 2018. Instead, American fans have flocked to their domestic league.  (its because those Exhibition Games cost too dam much too-OBC)

 

 

The Notre Dame game between Liverpool and Dortmund was half-full, with an attendance of 40,361. When Mexican giant Chivas took on Portugal’s Benfica at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, only 15,724 turned up. And even the best game on paper, Real against Bayern, did not sell out Houston’s NRG Stadium, with 60,343 in attendance. Overall, attendance for the 11 ICC matches played in the U.S. was down 35% from 2018 and 47% from its peak in 2016.
While ICC attendance slumped, MLS, by a happy coincidence, produced some of its most exciting and remarkable games of the campaign.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored a hat trick and then provided a swath of headline fodder by taunting a rival assistant after spearheading the LA Galaxy to a memorable 3-2 victory over crosstown foe LAFC in mid-July. Last Friday, that league-leading LAFC side outdueled defending champion Atlanta United 4-3 in a thriller that saw six of the goals scored in an exhilarating 18-minute spell.

And fans are turning out for MLS games. The Galaxy victory over LAFC was played before a capacity crowd of 27,000 at Dignity Health Sports Park in Carson, CA. LAFC has averaged more than capacity of 22,000 for its 10 home games this season at Banc of California Stadium. Atlanta United FC leads MLC in attendance with an average home crowd of 53,000. “The days when watching a European game and an MLS game felt like two different sports are long gone,” Chan Walker, a Los Angeles data analyst and soccer fan told me. Walker watched Bayern Munich v. Arsenal, then saw that Galaxy/LAFC game three days later.  “The big European teams are still stronger but when they come over here it is hard to believe the players truly care about the outcome,” he added. “The MLS games are fiercely fought and highly compelling. I have to be honest; the MLS experience was a lot more fun and felt a lot more real.”

 

 

Walker’s comments summed up the most common knock on the preseason exhibitions — that they are just that, exhibitions. Key players are often rested or play limited minutes. Reserve and youth players are given a chance to prove themselves, and, in extreme cases, the lineups carry virtually no correlation to the true strength of the squad. Meanwhile, MLS has stood out this summer through a combination of skill, top-notch competition, and sheer passion — a passion that has become the hallmark of the season.

MLS does have an exhibition of its own this week, of course: the MLS All-Star Game pitting a composite team of the league’s best players against Atletico. The game will be played Wednesday in Orlando and will be broadcast on FS1.  Garber likes his league’s All-Star experience compared to either the NBA or NHL version or the NFL’s Pro Bowl. Atletico will use a full-strength lineup, and Garber believes the contest can provide further evidence of MLS’ increasing strength. “It is a celebration of all the good things about our league, the competitiveness and strength of our players — and featuring an excellent opponent,” Garber added. “Someone like Zlatan could play in any league in the world. He is showing that week-in, week-out, and we have a lot of players who are performing at an incredibly high level.”

MLS continues to look toward expansion, even with the franchise fee having risen to $200 million. Now in its 24th year with 24 teams, the league will feature 27 clubs by 2021 with more likely on the way.

MLS isn’t the NFL or the NBA, and neither is it one of the top European soccer leagues. But it is here, it is growing, and it is stronger than ever. Outshining this summer’s latest batch of touring celebrity teams is the latest piece in the puzzle – and an important one.

 

 

Here’s what others have said…

John Cross, Daily Mirror: “It feels very different now. There isn’t the same feel about it. In the past you could sense the excitement, there would be lots of fans lining up outside training. Maybe it is too much of a good thing. When the Premier League teams go to Asia, there is still that fanatical kind of welcome. And when you have big names like Zlatan Ibrahimovic and [former England forward] Wayne Rooney doing big things in MLS, that is going to generate attention.”

Alfredo Relaño, Diario AS: “The International Champions Cup, which started out aspiring to be the main football attraction of the summer, is starting to feel a little flat. I can see some clubs have started to turn their back on it — among them, Barça and Manchester City, champions of LaLiga and the Premier League, two of the biggest and best leagues in the world — the best leagues for many. What Charlie Stillitano envisaged would be the biggest annual sports showpiece event of the summer — which on the sly, would also serve as a veiled endorsement for the creation of a mooted European Super League, now seems to have wilted.”

Ryan Bailey, Yahoo! Sports“It no longer has the feel of a competitive tournament. Although there is a points table for the tournament, which technically determines a winner (Tottenham finished first last year), the lack of a final takes away the facade of competitiveness. The International Champions Cup is no longer a ‘cup.’ It is a collection of loosely related friendlies.”

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

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7/26/19  MLS takes Center Stage, ICC Winding Down, Goalkeeping Training Mon/Wed, Indy 11 win

So MLS takes center stage next week as they present the MLS All-Star game live from Orlando Wednesday night on FS1 at 8 pm.  LAFC superstar Carlos Vela has been voted by fans on Twitter as captain of the MLS All-Star team, set to face Atletico Madrid in the 2019 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target. The Spanish giants will face the best of MLS at Exploria Stadium in Orlando on Wednesday, July 31 (8 pm ET | FS1, UniMás). Vela, who is contributing goals at a historic pace this season, leads the league in goals (21) and is second in assists (12) after just 20 appearances. He is on pace to break the league’s single-season record for goals (31), set by Josef Martinez last year. It’s the second consecutive season that Vela will captain the MLS All-Stars. The other candidates for the armband were Wayne RooneyNani and Chris Wondolowski.  Other huge games this week include Friday night’s showdown between this season’s top team LAFC and last season’s Champ Atlanta United at 10 pm on FS1.  Atlanta seems to have recovered from the slow start under a new coach – and stand in first in the Eastern Conference while Bob Bradley has his LAFC on a record pace in the West with an MLS best  14-4-3 record.  Saturday night at 10:30 pm on ESPN a surging Portland hosts the LA Galaxy fresh off their thrilling 3-2 thrashing of LAFC behind a hat-trick from Zlatan Ibra.  El Traffico was thrilling as always as the Galaxy continued their domination of LA having never lost to LAFC.  We are over the half-way point of the season now as teams begin to jockey for playoff position.  It was disappointing to see the MLS teams lose 3 of 4 versus Mexico this week in the Leagues Cup but this shot of super cat in the RSL vs Tigres game was worth it.

ICC

So interesting watching the International Champions Cup games this season – the crowds have really fallen off in this 4th season of the competition. I think the combination of ridiculously expensive tickets and the realization that these are really just pre-season practice games – often missing the stars (see Liverpool – without Fermino, Saha or the Pharo) has taken away some of the excitement overall.  Still a good competition – but I have to admit – I have only really watched a couple of the games – this summer.  Still more on the docket over the next few weeks including the huge Madrid Derby with Real Madrid playing Atletico Madrid this Friday night in NJ – on ESPN at 8 pm.  Followed by MLS LAFC vs Atlanta United at 10 on ESPN.

Indy 11

The Indy 11 scored 2 goals in the last 10 minutes to secure a 2-0 victory over Loundoun United Saturday night as over 11,000 fans looked on at Lucas Oil.  Tyler Pasher scored his team leading ___ goal to put things away for our Boys in Blue.  The 11 recorded their 10th shutout of the season behind a stellar performance by GK Evan Newton who replaced CFC GK coach Jordan Farr who had stared the past few games including the last 2 shutouts at home.  Newton had 4 strong saves to help the 11 preserve the home shutout.

Indy Eleven will take to the road the next two weeks with the chance to put some distance between its closest foes in the Eastern Conference table, starting with this Saturday’s meeting against Nashville FC at Nissan Stadium (8:00 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+). After traveling to face North Carolina FC on Saturday, August 3 (7:00 p.m., live on WISH-TV & ESPN+), the Boys in Blue will enjoy a bye week before returning home for back-to-back Sunday affairs against Saint Louis FC on Aug. 18 (Faith & Family Night) and Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets.

CHS Tryouts

Good luck to those trying out for the CHS girls and boys soccer teams in the next couple of weeks – the ladies have a tourney vs local teams today/Sat at River Road Fields off Hazelldell and tryouts are the first week of Aug.  Both teams tryout Aug 5-7 mornings/6-8 pm at River Road.  Carmel FC coaches/Managers – we are looking for teams to serve as Ballboys/Ballgirls for CHS Girls and CHS Boys Varsity games – please contact the Ole Ballcoach at shanebestsoccer@gmail.com if interested in grabbing a date – they go early so don’t delay.

SPECIAL PRE-SEASON GOALKEEPER TRAINING with Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr – Mon/Wed 7/29 + 7/31

Time to get back in shape whether its for High School Tryouts or getting a jump on the Club Season.  Private GK training with Jordan Farr and his brother who is a College GK Coach in Portland, Oregon Mon after 12:30 or Wed. all day.   If interested please reach out directly to CFC Goalkeeper coach FarrJordn13@gmail.com  or RE: this message.

CFC_GK_Cash

GAMES ON TV

Fri, July 26

6:30 am ESPN                                        Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid ICC

10 pm ESPN                                            LAFC vs Atlanta United

Sat, July 27

8 pm ESPN+                                            Chicago Fire vs DC United

10 pm ESPNNews                                 Utah Royals vs NC Courage NWSL

10:30 pm ESPN                                     Portland vs LA Galaxy 

Sun, July 28

3 pm ESPN 2                                           Milan vs Benefica ICC

Wed, July 31

8 pm Fox Sport 1                                MLS All-Star Game vs Atletico Madrid 

Sat, Aug 3

11 am ESPN2                                          Chelsea (Pulisic) vs Borussia M’gladbach (Johnson)

12:30 pm ESPN2                                     ICC – Man United vs Milan

2:30 pm                                                    Dortmund vs Bayern Munich German Super Cup

5 pm ESPN+                                            Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy

7 pm ESPN+                                            NC vs Indy 11

10 pm  ESPN2                                       US Ladies vs Ireland

Sun, Aug 4

10 am ESPN+                                          Liverpool vs Man City (FA Community Shield) 

10 am ESPN+                                         Tottenham vs Inter – ICC

4 pm ESPN                                             Minn United vs Portland Timbers

7:30 pm FS1                                           DC United vs Philly

10 pm FS1                                             Seattle Sounders vs Sporting KC

Tues, Aug 6

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Orlando City vs Atlanta United (US Open Cup)

Weds, Aug 7

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Minn United vs Portland Timbers (US Open Cup)

11 pm ESPN News                              Sacramento vs Las Vegas Lights USL

Fri, Aug 9

3 pm NBCSN                                        Liverpool vs Norwich City EPL Starts

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

NWSL. You can stream every game live on Yahoo Sports.

MLS

Allstar Week Wrap

Captain Carlos: Vela given All-Star armband

ATLUTD gearing up for Vela…and rest of LAFC

Bradley: Josef is the “main challenge” vs. ATL

Week 20 Wrap-up

Dynamo cherishing Beasley like a fine wine

The best storyline in Major League Soccer is…

Dominant LAFC know the going’s about to get tough

Doyle: What we learned from Leagues Cup this week

Former US International Josh Wolff new Austin FC Head Coach

Wiebe: Josh Wolff and Austin FC’s missing piece

MLS Disciplinary: Galaxy-LAFC mass confrontation

Zlatan – I don’t Need to Dream – I am the Dream – ESPNFC 7/18/19

MLS Player Poll

TFC, Impact in 2019 CanChamp semifinals

Doyle: What we learned from Leagues Cup this week

Cat invades RioT, attempts tackle on star player

US Men

Pulisic ‘really happy’ after making Chelsea debut

US to Face Mexico Labor Day Friday on FS1

U.S., Mexico straight to Hex in new CONCACAF format

U.S.’s Johannsson joins Swedish side Hammarby

USMNT way-too-early look at 2022: Pulisic, Adams vital to future, but lack of depth remains a serious issue

U.S. U-17 men’s national team learns 2019 World Cup group

US, Canada, Mexico U17s learn Draw for late Oct World Cup

US U17s led by Sounders Duo

US Women

Secret Deodorant Offers $23K per player to help Equal Pay for US Ladies Team

USWNT get $529K gift from Secret deodorant

Rapino says Controversy helped secure the Title for US – ESPNW Graham Hays

NWSL Attendance is Up as US Players Return

USWNT players draw sellout NWSL crowd to Chicago Red Stars game

Rose Bowl unveils statue in honor of ’99 USWNT

Rapinoe accepts Congress invite for USWNT

US Ladies to face Ireland Aug 3 at 10 pm on ESPN2

13 Year-Old Girl Turns Pro with Portland Thorns

Indy 11

Indy 11 On Road at Nashville Sat

3 Things Week 20

Indy 11 partners with Learfield IMG College Ticket Solutions

Late Magic Leads to 2-0 Win for Indy 11 at Home over Loudoun United

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 9 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

Goalkeeping

How Liverpool’s Alisson become world’s Best GK and lead Red to CL Glory

Top Saves Africa Cup of Nations

Best Saves from Women’s World Cup

Top 5 Saves World Cup Ladies

Best saves of 2018/19 Europe Season Part 1

WORLD

ICC Attendance Is Way Down Across the US

Africa Cup of Nations Review – Algeria Win

Algeria’s AFCON Title wasn’t pretty but memorable – ESPNFC

Man United – Pogba life and soul of Trip

Juve – Renaldo Still Leader but winning UCL on Sarri

USMNT set to face Mexico in September friendly

Goal.com 1 hour 18 minutes ago

The Americans will get the chance to avenge their Gold Cup defeat when they battle El Tri ahead of Concacaf Nations League play in October.  The United States men’s national team will renew their rivalry with Mexico in a September friendly, U.S. Soccer has announced .The two nations met on July 7 in the Gold Cup final with El Tri emerging triumphant, 1-0, on the strength of a second-half Jonathan Dos Santos goal.Mexico’s victory saw El Tri reclaim the regional crown from the USMNT in the first Gold Cup final between the two nations since 2011.September’s friendly will take place September 6 at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey, where the USMNT last played in 2018 against Brazil in a 2-0 friendly defeat.The match will be televised on Fox Sports 1 and Univision with coverage beginning at 8:30 ET.It is the second announced friendly for El Tri in September, with the Gold Cup winners set to battle Argentina on September 9.The USMNT will be aiming to build off the Gold Cup, where Gregg Berhalter’s first tournament in charge saw them make the final before falling in a close contest with their southern rivals.Mexico, meanwhile, will aim to continue their stellar start under former Argentina and Barcelona head coach Tata Martino, who has won each of his 10 matches since taking the helm of El Tri following winning the MLS Cup with Atlanta United.It will be the 70th meeting between the two nations as the pair gear up for Concacaf Nations League League A play, which the duo will begin in October.The USMNT will compete in Group A against Cuba and Canada, with the Americans opening up October 11 against the Caribbean island and then facing their northern neighbors four days later.Mexico will battle in Group B, opening against Bermuda on October 11 and facing Panama on October 15.Both nations will play return matches against their respective opponents in November to close out the initial round of League A play.The teams will compete for a place in the Nations league semi-finals, given to the respective winners of the four groups, while the bottom team in each group will be relegated.

Rapinoe says controversy helped secure title

11:33 AM ETGraham HaysespnW.com  7/11/`19

Megan Rapinoe said that, far from a distraction to overcome, criticism and controversy during the Women’s World Cup played an important part in propelling the United States to the title.In an interview with ESPN FC, Rapinoe said players rallied together after President Donald Trump tweeted during the tournament that the U.S. captain should win before talking about visiting the White House. Those tweets followed the release of a months-old video in which Rapinoe said she wouldn’t accept an invitation to the White House if the U.S. were to win the World Cup.”If anything, it united everyone around us and united the team around itself,” Rapinoe told ESPN FC. “And it was emboldening in a way.”She added that she didn’t spend much time following the reaction to the controversy in the moment. She also said that the U.S. already possessed ample motivation to win its fourth World Cup title. But coming the same week as a much-anticipated quarterfinal in Paris against host France, a co-favorite among oddsmakers to win the tournament, she contended that the episode brought players together as they began a stretch in which they played three top European opponents in the run-in to lifting the trophy.”It was one of those things that kind of came at this funny moment,” Rapinoe said. “I think it was more of a unifying thing than any sort of distraction.”Teammate Ali Krieger made a public show of support at the time with a tweet criticizing the president, but the game against France on June 28 was the first public appearance for most players since the president’s tweets intensified the controversy two days earlier.Playing a much more defensive style than at any other point in the tournament, the U.S. protected its early lead and withstood a barrage of French attacks in a 2-1 win. Rapinoe suggested it was a collective effort worthy of admiration from even Jose Mourinho — the men’s coach famous for winning major titles with a pragmatic, often defensive approach — who she saw in the stands that day. It was not, in her estimation, the performance of a distracted team”We knew exactly what we wanted to do and what we were going to do to win,” Rapinoe said. “We were sort of all on board in that moment, like, ‘OK, this going to be more of a defensive game. We’re going to counterattack.’ … And if you’re going to beat us, you’re going to have to break down a very organized, committed, disciplined team, which is really hard to do.”

Zlatan has something to tell you: ‘I don’t need to dream. I am the dream.’

Jul 17, 2019   Andrew Corsello, special to ESPN

LOS ANGELES — Early June, morning. Zlatan has just finished wind-sprinting, vomiting and showering (in that order). The hurling — it’s standard. “I need to suffer today,” he tells the LA Galaxy’s physical trainer upon arriving at the team’s facility. Which the trainer took to mean: again.”I need to work,” Zlatan explains. “When I suffer, I feel good.” It’s a theatrical and self-regarding thing to say. He clearly knows it, and knows that I know it, too. Which is why, being Zlatan, he then issues a pirate’s grin and doubles down. “You just missed it! Five minutes ago, I could not breathe, I was throwing up so hard. You see? This is the way I work: very hard. I always say, ‘Let’s drag out the maximum from my body.'”It’s working — and how. Thirty-seven years old, this guy! To behold Zlatan is to pose a series of rhetorical questions. Do you know how old that is for a professional athlete of any stripe? But especially for a soccer player and for a center forward at that? By all rights, Zlatan ought to be a past-tense figure by now, remembered for being the John McEnroe of soccer: touched, insolent, dazzling, infuriating, balletic, mouthy, inventive, clownish, immortal. He blew out his right knee playing for Manchester United in the spring of 2017, for crying out loud. Should have been game over, right?But you know Zlatan. And you know what came next. If you don’t on either count, first: You’ve been off planet. Second: The surname is Ibrahimovic; he’s known in the soccer world as “Ibra” or, simply, Zlatan.

Also, a reminder: On March 29, 2018, Zlatan and his English bulldog flew from his home country of Sweden to California. On the 30th, after being introduced to his new LA Galaxy coaches and teammates and practicing for 20 minutes, he submitted to an examination by a team doctor, who strapped him to a machine, scanned the readout and told him what he already knew. “You’re very tired. You shouldn’t play tomorrow.” On the 31st, in the first-ever El Trafico game against LAFC, Ibra sat on the bench while the home crowd chanted his name. Thunderously. Ceaselessly. Until coach Sigi Schmid couldn’t take it anymore and, 26 minutes into the second half, sent his new No. 9 onto the pitch. Six minutes later, LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller cleared the ball about 70 meters, from the right side of his box. A Galaxy defender headed the ball back over the center circle in a slow, bloopy arc. It took one high bounce, then anoth… no, actually, it didn’t.

Before we go any further, you need to know that what happened next was, is, uniquely Zlatan. Now, in statistical and analytical terms, he’s probably the third-greatest player of this era after Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. All three are not only great finishers but great creators who elevate the play of their teammates. Messi’s genius is low to the ground, squirrelly, a quick accretion of darts and scurries dictated by his bat-gene echolocation. Ronaldo’s genius is all about aerial beauty — that perfectly balanced matador’s chassis of his — and his dribbling and, once upon a time, blinding pace. Zlatan’s is a pirate’s genius, full of drunken daring and sword-through-the-Gordian-knot solutions. He possesses an inventiveness, a gleeful and childlike (haters would say childish) willingness to envision superheroic possibilities for himself that is unique in this era, and maybe in the history of the game. Goals that can be described as artful and transcendent, yes, but also as silly, preposterous, wacky, arrogant, jejune and just straight-up stupid.Know this, then, about that El Trafico ball that didn’t take a second bounce because it can be said of countless goals Zlatan has scored since his professional debut with Malmo in 1999: Ninety-nine out of 100 wouldn’t have dared it. Wouldn’t even have thought it. They’d have let that ball settle, controlled it and looked for options. But Ibra took the ball at chest level and volleyed a 41-freaking-meter line drive over Miller’s head and into the back of the net. Six minutes in. Virtually his first touch as a Major League Soccer player after being sidelined for nearly a year.With that one touch, along with a stoppage-time header that helped the Galaxy overcome a 3-0 deficit to win 4-3, Ibra instantly became what he remains today, on the eve of another El Trafico: one of the greatest players in MLS history. And to be clear, we’re not talking “greatest” in the Pele-NASL sense — as in a football deity who was great a long, long time ago on a pitch far, far away in Europe or South America, then came to America to capitalize on his name recognition. Zlatan’s is a present-tense “greatest.””From the moment he arrived, his goal ratio has been ridiculous, nearly one-a-game. And these volleys and bicycles where this 6-foot-5 giant is flipping himself all over the place with the power and control of a 5-foot-5 gymnast? At the age of 37!” says the Galaxy’s technical director, Jovan Kirovski, who played professionally in Europe for more than a decade. “It’s getting to a place where I’m saying, and I know the coaches are saying, ‘Stay high and score goals — don’t worry about chasing!’ But he keeps delivering.””I don’t come here because of what I did before,” Zlatan says. “I come here to demonstrate who I am. I come here to provide.”Provide? An interesting word choice. Not wrong, but not exactly right, either. The first time he uses it, I chalk up its use to the fact that Zlatan’s English is very good but not great — not yet attuned to idiom. But as he continues, not only to use it but to stress it, it becomes clear that he’s fully aware of all the extra-soccer connotations the word carries. In fact, that’s his point: He wants you to know that he’s come to Los Angeles not to score goals, but to give and provide them.”I believe I see things before it happens,” he says.”There are many things about you that don’t make sense,” I reply, nonresponsively, thinking of how odd it is for a muscle-bound guy to have some of the finest needle-threading foot skills the world has seen.”Like the goal against England,” he continues.”I was going to ask you about that next!””You see? I know the future. Now tell me: How many would do that?” He answers before I can: “Only a crazy man!”People will forever argue about which goal is the greatest ever scored. But the greatest volley goal — this is it, right?November of 2012, playing for the Swedish national squad in a friendly against England, Ibra departed this Earth, scoring one goal, then a second, then a third. And then there was the fourth. England goalkeeper Joe Hart ventured outside his box to clear a long ball with his head. Before he could, though, Ibra, who was chasing, did something spooky. He … stopped. Because like all transcendent athletes, he’d seen several seconds into the future. His third eye had solved the chaos math in real time. He knew, not only that Hart would head the ball but precisely where. Which is how Zlatan wound up leaping into the air and bicycling a shot without ever eyeing the goal; without letting the ball bounce; and with his back parallel to and at least 4 feet off the ground — into the goal from 35 meters out. It cleared the crossbar by 1 foot, about two-tenths of a second before a sliding defender could block it.Perhaps the daftest thing about this goal was that it was not a reflex. Ibra had a lot of time — full seconds! — to think it over. The moment is now 7 years old, but Zlatan recalls it in the present tense: “I know he will head the ball. That’s the only chance he has. If he lets the ball go down, I will steal it from him. I have two opportunities. Either I go against him and take away, or I wait for where the ball comes. So when he jumps up, I back off. I know where he will try to put it is behind me … “To think: Yes, this is in my arsenal, fire away. … The delusion, the punk-ass hubris of that! This goal, which even England’s captain, Steven Gerrard, called “the best I’ve ever seen,” remains the ultimate example of Zlatan’s not playing by the rules. Not in the sense that he’s cheating or playing dirty, but that he’s defying the rules of physics, geometry, human physiology, common sense and good taste — and constantly getting away with it.Even so, when Ibra talks of providing, he’s talking about something larger and less manifest than “mere” goals.”[I] Don’t come to MLS because I am ‘Ibrahimovic,'” Ibrahimovic says. “I come because I want to show you what football is. I come because I want to show U.S. what my game is about.”Grandiose? Given! But Zlatan put his money where his mouth is. “I said to Galaxy, we sign this deal now. If you not happy in one month, we can cancel, and I go.” This would seem tall if there weren’t a precedent. When he was no longer able to provide after blowing out his knee, Ibrahimovic offered to reimburse Manchester United for the games he missed.Eventually, it dawns on me that what Zlatan wishes to provide is nothing less than “Zlatan” — in quotes, fully meta — and everything that entails. Not just his beautiful game but also his unbeautiful game: his long history of cards and bans for unleashing his ire, fists and feet on opponents and teammates. Only when fans see the whole Zlatan package, the lovely and the ugly, can they comprehend the passion and anger he feels for the game.

The weeks preceding our early June interview had been pure Zlatan. In May, the ugly: He served a two-game suspension for grabbing NYCFC goalkeeper Sean Johnson by the neck. (“Ah! That clown fall down fainting and almost died, and I said, ‘Let’s call the ambulance because you are dying!’ Then he send a picture to MLS showing a scratch on his neck! Listen, I’ve played 800 games. I’ve played against animals that almost broke my legs. But what happens in the game stays in the game. In Europe, if he send a picture of a scratch on his neck? They eat him alive.”)And then, on June 2, the beautiful: In a 2-1 upset loss to the New England Revolution, Ibra provided one of the most crazy-stupid-brilliant goals of his career. Late in the game, with his back to the goal, he settled a cross on his chest, flicked it up just so and bicycled the rock — hard, a missile — home.He dissects each of these moments with the same evangelical zeal.”I gave you the last goal, yes?” he says.Me? You gave it to me? I think, then remember this is the guy who, upon signing with the Galaxy, took out an ad in the Los Angeles Times that read “Dear Los Angeles, You’re Welcome” with a hand-signed “Zlatan” at the bottom.”Yes,” Zlatan says, answering his own question. “That was good.”Zlatan will be the first to tell you that Zlatan has never fit in. That the essence of Zlatan is outsiderness and, with it, a ceaseless and nourishing anger. The son of émigrés, a Bosnian caretaker (dad) and Croatian cleaner (mom), Ibrahimovic was born and raised in Sweden. He was, by his own admission, a gangly, dark-eyed, raven-haired, big-nosed, lisping punk. He fought, he stole (candy, bikes, cars, whatever), he footballed, he didn’t get along.”I’ve been at this school 33 years,” his former headmistress told BBC Sport in 2013, “and Zlatan is easily in the top five of the most unruly pupils we have ever had. He was the No. 1 bad boy, a one-man show, a prototype of the kind of child that ends up in serious trouble.””School was OK,” Zlatan says. “I got free food.””They made me feel different,” he continues. “Soccer in Sweden was only Swedish players with Swedish background. And then I come — big. Not just big nose, dark hair, brown eyes. But I was playing big style, not typical Swedish.””What was your playing style, and what was ‘wrong’ with it?” I ask.”Swedish way was ‘Work hard for each other.’ Where I came from, we were all challenging each other, trying to become individual type of player. Who was the best to dribble? Who was the best to shoot? Who was the best to put it on the crossbar? Who was best to put between the legs? Who was strongest? I learn to resolve my own things: Give me the ball, and I will take care of it. I will score the goal. I will make one against one. I will dribble him. I will put between his leg. I will make this crazy goal.”In other words, a purely Darwinian, me-against-the-world ethos.”We did not think ’11 against 11.’ It was not that kind of game,” he says. “It was more individual competition. Like I show I’m the best. I will make a fool of you now. Pop! Pop! I will dribble you, put it between your legs, then make fun of you. That is what we stood for. It was more physical, and it was technical football. But it was not the Swedish game.”Such a great malapropism there, the notion that little Zlatan would not only dribble between your legs but dribble you, kicking you in whichever direction he pleased.”It was not ‘I run here for you and you pass,'” he says. “No. It was ‘I will run where the ball goes because I want the ball.’ So they were on me all the time: ‘You are a spoiled player. You are a diva. You cannot play like that.'”Indeed, even after Ibra joined his hometown’s professional club at 17, the parents of one of his teammates petitioned to have him booted from the league. “This was the moment I said to myself, ‘Now I will destroy everyone. I will not have respect for nobody.'””I was not even a talent in their eyes, just a little s— from Rosengard,” he adds.A question presents itself: Was football fun for the young Zlatan?”It was competition, always,” Zlatan says. “You were No. 1, or you were nobody.”Is it fun now?”I look at him and ask myself that question all the time,” Kirovski says. “Me, I still love it. I play all the time. I’m competitive, I want to win, too. But when I look at this guy, the intensity of his training, of his mindset, I wonder if he’s ever having fun out there. And I think that if he doesn’t score and win, it’s not fun for him.”If you’ve followed Ibra’s long and glorious career, his triumphant march from Malmo to Ajax to Juventus to Inter Milan to Barcelona (the only place things didn’t work out, thanks to seismic clashes with manager Pep Guardiola) to AC Milan to Paris St-Germain to Manchester United, it’s hard not to suspect that, as flamboyant and funny as he is off the field, he doesn’t experience fun on the field. When he scores one of his crazy goals, there is joy, yes, but it’s a joy born of grim, gladiatorial satisfaction. There. I’ve showed you. Now do you believe?You can see this. Watch any of Zlatan’s-greatest-goals compilations fans have put on the internet. Compare them to those of his generational peers like Messi, Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. The others inevitably seem as amazed by what they’ve just done as their fans. They’re stricken, their joy unabashed and beyond their control; they’re like birthday boys caught in the deluge of candy under a shattered piñata. Ibra, he’s different. Childlike glee, though present, is secondary. It’s interesting that his list of transcendent athletes — that is, athletes who in his view don’t just play their sport but embody it — includes Mike Tyson. Because the look on Ibra’s face after many of his craziest goals uncannily resembles the mask of joyless vindication Tyson used to don after flattening yet another patsy.It’s the darnedest thing because, off the field, Ibra is nothing but playful. At one point, as we’re talking about his daily routine, I ask if he dreams about soccer.”Dream? No, I don’t need to dream. When I was young, I was dreaming. Now I’m in the dream. Now I am the dream.”I laugh and nod in a game “Of course you are, Zlatan” way, and he issues a grin, conceding that he has slipped seamlessly from being Zlatan into performing “Zlatan.”Interestingly, these moments where Ibra slips, perhaps unconsciously, between answering my questions in earnest and playing (toying?) with me, are never off-putting. Others around him feel this way, too. “He’s always coming out and saying these … things,” says one Galaxy executive. “If these things came out of anybody else’s mouth, you’d think ‘What a jerk.’ But when Ibra says them, it’s always charming.”I’ve interviewed highly intelligent athletes who, like Ibra, have a meta understanding of themselves and use the interview process to test and mock the interviewer. But when Ibra plays with an interviewer, there’s a startling absence of malice; there’s no sulk in his toying, no insinuation that he’s trying to alleviate boredom. To him, the role of “Ibra” is just good, clean fun. I can’t help but wonder if he seeks out and capitalizes on this fun because fun is not part of the equation when he’s on the field. There, it’s all about the anger and vindication. (For opponents, refs and even teammates, yes, but mainly for himself.)”Do you play well when you’re angry?” I ask him.”YESSSSsssss!” Ibra says, slowly, with more than a few extra S’s thrown in to make the sentiment imprint. “That is when I get the best out of myself. That’s the way I feel my life.””Some athletes are eaten alive by anger.””Not Zlatan,” says Zlatan. “I need to be angry because I need to feel alive. When I relax, when I play without anger? It becomes sloppy, and it might appear I get violent.” A startling possibility there — that without anger and the focus it gives him, Zlatan succumbs to petulance and pettiness, which in turn leads to sloppy, violent play and red cards. “When I’m angry, then I’m on my toes.””Anger creates energy?””Yesssss. I see the whole environment when I’m angry. Now, anger to hurt somebody? Never. That’s not part of my DNA.” (Nedum Onuoha of Real Salt Lake would beg to differ. After Zlatan threw him to the ground during a 2-1 Galaxy victory this spring, Onuoha dubbed him a “complete thug” and then predicted that “it will get spun into a story about how he’s really competitive and this is what gets him going, this is why he’s one of the best of all time. That’s just the way that it works. I’m not the type of person to say that the better MLS players get preferential treatment, but from what I’ve seen so far, it’s a lot easier to be Zlatan than it is to be the striker for Real Salt Lake.”)To Zlatan, 50% of soccer is mental. Mental toughness, that is. Which is something he thinks American soccer players lack. This lack, he believes, is institutional and largely explains why MLS has always stood in the shadow of the international game. Kirovski agrees. “In Europe, if you don’t pass me the ball, I can really have a go at you and yell at you, and it’s no big deal. Here that kind of thing is taken personally. Our youth players are getting better at handling pressure, but there’s still a way to go.”When I asked Zlatan what it will take for MLS to achieve parity with Europe and South America, he responds with a question.”Do they want to make it?””Who is ‘they’?””They that control it. The owners. Do they want it to be big?”

“Yeah. Of course.””You think?””You don’t?””I don’t.””Why?””Because you don’t make money in soccer,” he tells me. “In Europe, I can pick two clubs that make money. The rest don’t; they do it out of passion. Here, with the sports, you make money. That’s it. And I think with all the rules you have here, you are not boosting up the soccer.”What rules?”The budget things. The salary cap. You cannot bring in players you want. They have more rules here than I have in my home.”He paused for a moment, measuring the thought that came to him, then let it go.”I will tell you that of all the places I’ve been in my life as a professional, this is the most difficult.”Zlatan says the American game needs to continue to evolve.”MLS is not the level of Europe, to be honest. Before, I played with players either on my level or close to it. Which makes the game connect easier. … Here, I am like a Ferrari among Fiats. And it can happen that the Ferrari can become the Fiat, or the Fiat can become the Ferrari. I had the same issue with the national [Swedish] team, though not as much. I said, ‘I don’t accept it. I don’t accept when the ball doesn’t arrive, or arrives too late. I want them to come up to my level.’ All of this makes me slow down a bit. The game here [in America] could be so much faster, so much more tactical, so much more rhythmic.”Then there are the regrets. It is striking that, having won everywhere he has gone, and despite his ongoing ability to score, Zlatan was unable to get the Galaxy into the playoffs last year (and that his team is not even the best in its own city). The issue rankles Ibra, not just the failure to get in but also the “playoff mentality” itself.”Here, you can lose five games and it’s still, ‘Don’t worry, we are in the playoffs.’ So why even play first eight months of season? No, I don’t accept. To be best, you have to be best every day. You know, in Euro, if you come in last, you go down to Division 2. That is pressure. … So last year, we fight for six position to go to playoff, but came in seven. If we had made sixth position, people would have said we had a ‘good season.’ I say, ‘Fighting for the sixth position? That means we had s— season!” We need to fight for No. 1, not 6.”When, inevitably, we talk about his injury, Zlatan was at his sincerest and most unperformative. “It was not easy,” he said in a whisper, as if speaking the sentiment aloud might make real the prospect of not being able to play. What would, what will, it do to a man like him, once his anger can no longer find purchase on the pitch?”It was not easy,” he says again.After a beat, he mentioned that the night before, he’d been watching the NBA Finals. “When Kevin Durant got injured? I turned off the TV. Because for me he is the best. He is the game. Once he was hurt, there was nothing to see.”Or, perhaps, he couldn’t bear to see an all-time great, past the 50% point of his career, felled and with a long and painful recovery ahead of him. “I feel my body has always followed what I want. I feel it’s answering to me now. When it’s starting to not answer, then I will know: It’s time.”The passion is what makes him so good at the age of 37, but it will also make the game all but impossible for him to let go of.”I think it will be very difficult to stop. When I got injured, I went away from my family to do my rehab. I did not want them to see me in a bed paralyzed, not moving. I am so emotional with my game. But emotional with control. You’re not gonna see me jump in front of a car because I cannot play football anymore, OK?”I sit for a moment, thinking about Zlatan and his anger and where in his life he finds fun. Then I remember a story Brendan Hannan, the Galaxy’s vice president of marketing, communications and digital, told me. He was talking about how incredibly accessible Ibra has made himself in LA, both to fans who show up at training sessions looking for autographs and pictures and to those employed by the Galaxy in promotions. Shortly after he arrived at the club, Ibra agreed to film a promotion with Mickey Mouse.”Ibra had just gotten here,” Hannan recalls. “He hadn’t played in months, and nobody really knew what kind of condition his knee was in. Some people doubted he’d score more than 10 goals” — so far he has notched 35 goals in 43 appearances — “and some even doubted if he’d even play.”Which was why the whole Galaxy staff froze when Zlatan began playing with Mickey Mouse and, according to Hannan, “doing crazy stuff.” Juggling. Nutmegging the Mick. Striking the ball 30 feet in the air, then assuming a full limbo posture with his legs bent back and his chest facing the sky before trapping the ball there — no bounce, as if the ball were a rotten grapefruit — then flexing his chest in order to pop the ball 3 feet up. The coup de grace: bicycle-kicking the thing off into the ether. Zlatan was going full Zlatan. For the love of God, why?”I just wanted to make Mickey Mouse happy. He was not answering me!” Zlatan protests. “Just blinking. So I kept doing tricks and asking, ‘You like that, Mickey?’ But I didn’t get any answer. Jst more blinking. So I’m like, OK, let’s try this, and this, and this.””That’s not normal,” I said.”I am not normal,” Zlatan agreed. Then, apropos of absolutely nothing and everything, he whispered: “It is a beautiful game, no?”

Alisson’s first year at Liverpool: How the goalkeeper became the world’s best and led Reds to CL glory

Jul 19, 2019 Melissa Reddy Correspondent ESPNFC

“There were so many positives — his physique, how he commanded his area, his comfort at building play — but what immediately stood out was his decision-making. You can spend hours working on technical aspects, but you have to have the natural ability to read situations and react so that you make the difficult things look simple.”Liverpool’s goalkeeping coach John Achterberg is talking about a time in 2013, when, hunched in front of the laptop in his home office, he began dissecting footage of Alisson Becker. His first impression was so strong that he began compiling an extensive dossier on Brazil’s No. 1, who was just 20 and playing for Internacional before permanently displacing his older brother Muriel (five years his senior) and the World Cup-winning Dida in the position.The army of scouts that scour Brazil for “The Next Big Thing” were zoned in on playmakers, but the young goalkeeper stood out to an unlikely talent spotter. Goalkeeper Alexander Doni, signed by Liverpool on a free transfer from Roma in 2011 and making just four appearances before his release, had taken note of the calm yet imposing figure wearing the gloves for Inter. He was convinced Alisson had an incredibly high ceiling and would quickly be considered elite at his position.”I kept in touch with Doni after he left Liverpool, and in 2013, I asked him if there were any goalkeepers in Brazil worth following,” Achterberg tells ESPN FC. “He responded without hesitation that I should check out Alisson at Internacional because he was going to be special.”I watched him and his style of play — he was comfortable with the ball, aggressive, positive — fitted in perfectly with what we needed at Liverpool. But most importantly, he was excellent at doing the basics right and really well. ‘Ali’ would anticipate danger and make all kinds of saves: easy, hard, high, low. He had the physical aspects in terms of height at 6-foot-4 and his athleticism.”Achterberg had seen enough evidence over a long stretch to suggest Alisson could be a game-changer for Liverpool, and the coach pitched as much during transfer discussions. “He had the right profile, ticked all the boxes. He came into our recruitment talks about a year or two after the recommendation from Doni, and I spoke to his agent. The problem at that time was getting him a work permit for the UK, which would have been very difficult.”Alisson’s wife, Natalia Loewe, has relatives from Germany and Italy, so the pair were in the process of trying to get Italian-Brazilian citizenship when Roma spent a bargain £7 million to sign him in July 2016. As luck would have it, the move to Serie A encouraged Liverpool to intensify their analysis given the heightened technical demands of the Italian league. Alisson was frustrated as Wojciech Szczesny’s understudy during his debut season in 2016-17, only clocking minutes in Cup games. But the Merseysiders already had the opportunity to examine him at close range in August 2016, during a preseason friendly defeat against Roma at Busch Stadium in St. Louis.”He played an impressive game, and I said to the boss [Klopp], ‘That’s the goalkeeper I keep telling you about,'” Achterberg says. “The next season, he was Roma’s No. 1 and confirmed why he was so highly thought of.”By December 2017, Liverpool were not alone in viewing Alisson as a primary transfer target. Real Madrid and Chelsea had both made approaches to the player’s camp, but the Reds had the advantage of the time and depth to their research. The Spanish giants realigned their sights and wanted to secure Thibaut Courtois from Stamford Bridge, which made the Blues the biggest threat to Liverpool landing their man. Chelsea dithered and eventually pursued Kepa Arrizabalaga as the Anfield side slowly chipped away at Roma, who were being obstructive with an initial base price of £62m in February 2018, which kept rising.The closing months of Liverpool’s five-year process of recruiting Alisson felt like football’s “House of Cards.” Talks would start and stall as neither the Premier League side nor Roma would blink in negotiations. During international breaks with Brazil, Philippe Coutinho, already at Barcelona after his £142m departure, was Liverpool’s chief salesman, ably assisted by Roberto Firmino. They detailed the family feel of the club to Alisson and spoke about the city, Klopp’s long-term vision and the adulation from the Kop.The keeper, who had experienced the power of Anfield during Roma’s 5-2 Champions League semifinal defeat in April 2018, was sold, but there were other obstacles. The Italians predicted desperation on Liverpool’s part after the Champions League final in Kiev, where a concussed Loris Karius made two decisive errors as Real Madrid beat the Reds 3-1 that May. Roma raised their valuation to £90m, which threatened to completely kill a deal. It took them softening their stance to such an extent in July that the fee for Alisson dropped to a guaranteed £56m, with £9m in add-ons for the long-awaited transfer to finally be completed.Klopp described Alisson as “one of the world’s best goalkeepers” when his signing was announced on this day a year ago, but as Trent Alexander-Arnold has since stated to ESPN FC, “there is no one better on current form.”The 26-year-old is a Champions League and Copa America champion, pivotal to both triumphs with Golden Glove honours in those competitions as well as in the Premier League. He was labelled a “transformer” at Melwood, along with Virgil van Dijk, and there was confidence he would have as much of an impact on Liverpool’s rearguard, results and psychology as the world’s most expensive defender.The squad’s introduction to Alisson came at the lower floor of the palatial Hotel Royal in Evian-les-Bains last summer, where the club were based for a training camp. When he walked into the room in late July, there were audible gasps, with one player unable to conceal his excitement as he declared: “Get him in my f–king goal!”There were pauses during Alisson’s first training stints as his teammates stopped to marvel at and applaud him.”Straight away he made impressions on the team with the speed of his reactions in the training games and how he restarted play,” Achterberg says. “As soon as he caught the ball, it was ‘boom, counter-attack!’ because of the power and accuracy of his throws.The coaching staff believed the real challenge would come when Alisson made his first sizeable blunder. It came at Leicester City on Sept. 1, 2018, when he hesitated after receiving van Dijk’s misdirected backpass in the second half, which allowed Kelechi Iheanacho to dispossess him and square for Rachid Ghezzal to score. Alisson didn’t let the error affect him, and he owned up to it post-match, telling ESPN Brazil: “It was bad judgement, I made a mistake reading the play. I didn’t get a very good pass. We have to learn from our mistakes.”How he reacted to the gaffe was commended in the dressing room. “He stayed positive, so the team stayed positive,” Achterberg says. “If you play out from the back, there’s always risk. The players needed to make quicker options for him so he could find a solution earlier.”It’s really important if you make a mistake, you realise it’s gone and you move on, which is what he did. You have to be bigger than the mistake you made.”Clemer Silva, who coached the keeper at Internacional B, saw the very same attributes when Alisson was a teenager: He never lost focus after a fault. His effortlessness in high-pressure and testing moments means his brilliance is sometimes asterisked. That was the case with his save two minutes into stoppage time to thwart Arkadiusz Milik in last season’s Champions League matchday 6 game against Napoli.Liverpool were 1-0 up and had to win to progress to the knockout stages when Jose Callejon’s left-footed cross fell at the feet of the Polish striker in the six-yard box with only the keeper to beat. The speed with which Alisson reacted to the danger, the intelligence of his positioning and his size, panicked Milik into sending the effort straight at him.”The save Allison made, I have no words for that. That was, of course, a life-saver,” Klopp said in the aftermath. But many questioned whether it was actually that good. It was an example of Achterberg’s assertion that the Brazilian has a gift for making difficult things look simple.Marco Savorani, goalkeeper coach of Roma and widely regarded as the best in his trade in Italy, made the same observation. “Alisson is able to make everything simple. He reads the game, is very calm and calculated,” he said last year.This line of thinking is not recent either. Daniel Pavan, who schools keepers at Internacional, had been witness to Alisson’s development since he was a 10-year-old kid mimicking his brother; Pavan gave him the moniker “Iceman” due to his composure. Goalkeepers at Inter’s academy were drilled to be in the right position and cover as large a portion of the goal as possible rather than constantly making elaborate, acrobatic saves. They were taught to be smart rather than showy.Klopp regularly pinpoints Alisson’s intervention against Milik as one of Liverpool’s defining moments of 2018-19. For all the focus on the belief, bravery and goals that resulted in the Reds conjuring a historic Champions League comeback against Barcelona in the second leg of the semifinals, Liverpool’s players often admit that without Alisson’s one-man blockade against Leo Messi & Co., victory would have remained a fantasy.His efficiency continued in the 2-0 triumph over Tottenham in the final, and as such, there was a shared pleasure among staff and the squad that UEFA’s stellar, near 13-minute short film of the showpiece in Madrid ended with a shot of Alisson FaceTiming his family to show off his winner’s medal.Alisson has excelled on the grandest stages over the past year, his influence explicitly linked to silverware for his club and country. He has collected the three most prestigious goalkeeping accolades and went nine consecutive games without conceding in all competitions before reaching the Copa America final. That included shutting out Messi twice, for Barcelona and Argentina, as well as Harry Kane.Since moving to Liverpool, he has kept the same number of club clean sheets (35) as he has conceded goals. Lev Yashin of Dynamo Moscow was the first and only goalkeeper to win the prestigious Ballon d’Or in 1963, but Alisson surely has to be a part of the conversation this year. He is too humble to consider himself a possible candidate, playing down such talk last month. “There are a lot of top players aspiring for that prize,” he said. “I’m just a goalkeeper.”Roberto Negrisolo, the former Roma goalkeeping coach, previously provided the perfect counter.”This guy is a phenomenon,” he told Il Romanista of a player who was so far behind in terms of his physical development — he was chubbier and shorter than his colleagues — that his parents considered making him quit football at 15.”He is the No. 1 of No. 1s. He is worth as much as Messi because he is as important as Messi. He’s the type of goalkeeper who can define an era.”A year ago, Liverpool officials confided that £65m for Alisson would soon be seen as a steal. They were spot on, too: As Klopp himself admitted, Alisson is easily worth double as he regularly proved during the past 12 months.

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN LOOKS TO IMPROVE STRONG AWAY RECORD AT NASHVILLE SC

By IndyEleven.com, 07/25/19, 5:30PM EDT

 

Boys in Blue head to Nissan Stadium for second fixture against fifth-place Nashville SC

FOLLOW LIVE:

Local/National TV: N/A

Streaming Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)

Radio (Spanish): N/A

In-game updates: @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed, presented by Honda

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 11W-3L-4D, 37 pts., 3rd in Eastern Conference

Nashville SC: 9W-5L-5D, 32 pts., 5th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

FIRST 2019 MEETING:

Indy Eleven 0 : 0 Nashville SC | Saturday, May 25

The Boys in Blue shared points with Nashville SC the last time the two teams faced each other on Indy 500 Weekend in Indy. Goalkeeper Evan Newton recorded his fifth consecutive home clean sheet after stopping a Nashville side that didn’t start either star striker in Cameron Lancaster or Daniel Rios. The best chance of the game came early in the 15th minute, after a through ball freed Nashville forward Tucker Hume for a one-on-one opportunity just outside the Indy six-yard-box, but Newton, quick off his line, nullified the goal scoring chance and saved a point for Indiana’s Team.

#INDvNSH:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats 

LAST TIME OUT:

Indy Eleven  2 : 0  Loudoun United FC  | Saturday, July 20

The Boys in Blue returned to winning ways last Saturday night after the toppling Loudoun United FC, 2-0. Late-game theatrics courtesy of forward Thomas Enevoldsen (fifth goal of 2019) and midfielder Tyler Pasher (team-high eighth goal) paved the way for the double over Major League Soccer’s D.C. United’s affiliate side. Evan Newton helped record the team’s 10th clean sheet and his seventh of the 2019 USL Championship season. The victory sees Indiana’s Team extend its undefeated streak at home to 18 games.

#INDvLDN:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats 

Memphis 901 FC 0 : 2 Nashville SC  |  Wednesday, July 17

Goals from defender Jimmy Ockford and leading goal scorer Daniel Rios saw Nashville SC edge out Memphis in the Tennessee rivals’ second and final meeting of the 2019 USL Championship regular season. The second fixture featured the same exact score line as the first, played back on April 13. The clean sheet was Nashville’s seventh this year, ranking tied for fifth across the 36-team Championship and trailing Indy’s league-best mark by three. The clean sheet is also the fifth time in 2019 that Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens has kept the goose egg from cracking.

#MEMvNSH:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

#NSHVIND STORYLINES

  • Indy Eleven holds a 5W-3L-0D record on the road in 2019 (17GF/10GA), averaging 1.25 goals allowed per game.
  • After their May 25 stalemate, Indy’s all-time record against Nashville SC stands at 2W-0L-1D (3GF/1GA).
  • An Indy Eleven win and New York Red Bulls II draw or loss this weekend will propel Indiana’s Team into sole possession of second place in the Eastern Conference. The Boys in Blue sit one point behind NYRB2 and six behind the East-leading Tampa Bay Rowdies, but holds two games in hand on both squads.
  • Indy boasts an impressive defense, leading the Eastern Conference in clean sheets and tied for first in the USL with 10. Goalkeeper Evan Newton has the second most clean sheets in the Eastern Conference and is tied for fourth overall in the USL Championship with seven.
  • That stingy play has allowed Indiana’s Team to post the second best goals allowed mark in both the Eastern Conference and USL Championship, its 0.67 average on 12 goals allowed just a sliver behind the Rowdies’ 0.65 pace.
  • The Boys in Blue have scored in each of the last eight games, including five multi-goal games. (15GF/5GA). In fact, the last team to hold the Boys in Blue scoreless happened to be Nashville SC back on May 25.
  • Indy midfielder Tyler Pasher has scored or assisted in eight of his last nine starts (7G/1A).
  • Nashville SC’s Ramone Howell spent four years playing at Valparaiso University in Northwest Indiana, where he made 67 appearances and scored seven goals.
  • Nashville fullback Justin Davis is no stranger to Indy Eleven, having faced the side 10 times with Minnesota United from 2014-2016 and twice in 2018 with Nashville SC.
  • Davis’ fellow wing back Darnell King faced the Boys in Blue a total of nine times while playing for Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Tampa Bay Rowdies from 2014-2016.
  • Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens has faced the Boys in Blue with both Tampa Bay Rowdies and Nashville SC. The Brickyard Battalion’s favorite netminder had a 2W-1L-6D record against Indy Eleven in nine games with Tampa Bay Rowdies and owns a 0W-2L-1D record against Indy with Nashville SC.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | FW THOMAS ENEVOLDSEN

The man who’s been on the pitch the most for Indy Eleven is forward Thomas Enevoldsen, as the native of Denmark has started every one of Indy’s 18 games and played all but three minutes of those starts. The tenacious forward has racked up five goals along the way – and his never say die attitude and tireless engine have played key roles in his goal scoring exploits.Despite being denied scoring opportunities throughout the season – and refreshingly wearing his frustrations and emotion on his sleeves – the Dane never stops making runs into the box and putting himself in the right positions to score as he showed against Birmingham Legion FC with a 91st minute goal last month and against Loudoun United FC on Saturday with an 81st minute goal. Enevoldsen also plays more than a nine role for his club. He’s not afraid to help create chances for teammates as a 10, as he leads Indy Eleven in chances created with 41, two of which have resulted in assists.

NASHVILLE SC PLAYER TO WATCH | FW DANIEL RIOS

Neither influential striker Cameron Lancaster or Daniel Rios started for Nashville SC the last time the side traveled to Lucas Oil Stadium to face the Boys in Blue, most likely the result of playing 90 minutes against Birmingham Legion three days before. Failing to start against the Boys in Blue on May 25 is the only game this season that Rios hasn’t started of his 19 appearances.In that time, the Mexican has scored 12 goals, seeing him tied for the leading goal scorer honor in the Eastern Conference and tied for second in the Championship’s Golden Boot race. The 24-year-old has been potent recently, having scored four goals in his last five outings. Expect Rios to attempt to land a shot on goal this go around against Indiana’s Team, after failing to take a single shot in the 13 minutes he played off the bench on May 25.

MATCH-UP TO MARK | INDY’S TYLER GIBSON VS NASHVILLE’S MATT LAGRASSA

If coaches Martin Rennie and Gary Smith were choosing teams for a pickup street soccer game and had their pick of the Championship’s solid selection of “number sixes” to hold down the middle third, they’d likely stand pat with Gibson and LaGrassa, respectively.

Both midfielders encapsulate what it means to be a box-to-box, do the dirty work that goes unnoticed, holding midfielder. For starters, both midfielders have incredible engines. Gibson has started every match of Indy’s 18 games played and has played all but six minuts of those appearances, being subbed off one time to avoid injury. On the other hand, LaGrassa has started all but two of Nashville’s 19 fixtures, failing to play only 40 minutes of his 17 starts. Each trail only a forward in minutes played on their respective squads – Gibson trails Enevoldsen by three minutes and LaGrassa to Rios by 62 minutes.

The pair are excellent defensively, each leading their team in interceptions. The 28-year-old Gibson has racked up 20 interceptions and LaGrassa 25, a fifth of which came against Indy Eleven in May. Each also leads their team in passes played, as Gibson has played 968 passes to LaGrassa’s 771. The one area that Gibson has a slight edge over 26-year-old LaGrassa is passing accuracy, which he displayed in the first meeting against Nashville where he averaged 94 percent pass completion while LaGrassa completed 77 percent. Gibson – a native of Knoxville, Tenn. – boasts an average 89 percent passing accuracy this season as opposed to LaGrassa’s 79 percent. Look for these two to boss the midfield and butt heads on more than one occasion come Saturday night.

THREE THINGS | WEEK 20

By Drew Kamaski, 07/23/19, 10:45AM EDT1

Our Three Things from Indy Eleven’s 2-0 victory vs. Loudoun United FC

SECOND HALF FORM

The Boys in Blue have taken a liking to scoring goals in the second half over the last two months. In June, Indiana’s Team tallied nine of its 12 goals within the second stanza of each match. The trend has rolled through July as well, as all three of Indy’s goals have come in the latter half of matches, adding a bit of entertaining drama to the team’s recent run.The first second-half goal this month came through a penalty at the death, finished by Ayoze in the team’s first visit to Hartford Athletic on July 13. Late-goals two and three came in last Saturday’s 2-0 home win against Loudoun United FC, Thomas Enevoldsen opened the game’s scoring in the 81st minute, followed by Tyler Pasher’s devastating nutmeg goal that sealed victory 10 minutes later in stoppage time with his eighth goal of the season. The Boys in Blue will aim to continue the form in front of net at Nashville SC and North Carolina FC over the next two weeks, after playing to scoreless draws in the first meetings of 2019.

DANE KELLY

If we’re looking at stellar second-half performances, look no further than Dane Kelly’s 23 minutes against Loudoun United FC. The Jamaican’s impact was felt almost immediately after nearly breaking the deadlock eight minutes into his late-game appearance, a through ball from Pasher freed Kelly for a one-on-one from the left side of the box, but his effort was pushed wide.Kelly left his mark on the match via an assist six minutes later. The 28-year-old’s perfectly weighted one-touch pass into Loudoun’s penalty area created space for Enevoldsen to tuck a shot down middle and between the wickets of Loudoun’s ‘keeper, handing the Boys in Blue the lead. He might not have scored the goal, but his ability to read Loudoun’s defense and vision to play the pass crafted the opportunity.“I think one of the things that helped us was Dane [Kelly] came on fresh and helped us stretch the opposition,” Head Coach Martin Rennie said. “Once he came on we had quite a lot of chances.”

KEEPING IT CLEAN

The 2-0 victory over Loudoun United FC marked goalkeeper Evan Newton’s seventh clean sheet of the 2019 campaign and his first since returning from a groin injury that sidelined him a month. Newton recorded four saves in the team’s eighth shutout at home this season. Last season’s Golden Glove winner has recorded all but two of those eight home clean sheets, with Jordan Farr laying claim to the outliers against Atlanta United 2 and Birmingham Legion FC.The team’s strength at home has come through the stellar play of the back three in the 3-4-3 formation coach Rennie has deployed this season. The Scotsman’s squad has allowed just two goals in 10 home matches, boasting the lowest goals allowed tally in the entirety of the league (12) after Tampa Bay Rowdies conceded its 13th on the season against Saint Louis FC last Saturday.  “It’s always good to get a clean sheet and the guys in front have done a good job,” Newton said. “You have to keep pushing and I’m confident with everyone on this team and whoever’s in front.”Indy Eleven will take to the road the next two weeks with the chance to put some distance between its closest foes on the Eastern Conference table, starting with next Saturday’s meeting against Nashville FC at Nissan Stadium (8:00 p.m. ET, live on ESPN+). After traveling to face North Carolina FC on Saturday, August 3 (7:00 p.m., live on WISH-TV & ESPN+), the Boys in Blue will enjoy a bye week before returning home for back-to-back Sunday affairs against Saint Louis FC on Aug. 18 (Faith & Family Night) and Charlotte Independence on Aug. 25 (“Red Out” Summer Celebration). Tickets for those contests at Lucas Oil Stadium remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

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