8/17/18 Indy 11 win & host home games next 2 Weds, La Liga, Serie A Start, What Leagues are on Which Networks, Full TV Game Schedule

INDY 11

So my buddy Paul and I made it out for the Huge come from behind win for the Indy 11 over North Carolina last night 3-2 with the winner scored in the 90th minute! But there is one thing I don’t understand?  Fans why aren’t you going to Indy 11 games anymore?  Really I want to know – sure it was a solid crowd for a Wed night – but if Cincinnati can put 25K in an outdoor university stadium downtown why can’t we do 10K PLUS in 1 of the nicest NFL stadiums around?  Ticket pricing is reasonable (cheapest seats $15 or cheaper with specials), the stadium is fantastic –with great concessions, easy parking, great bathrooms and what is truly one of the nicest stadiums around.  The BYB supporters section behind the goal provides a solid atmosphere – and the team is in playoff contention and playing pretty good soccer.  So why don’t you go??  I can’t help but think if we don’t start filling at least ¾ of the lower bowl – our Eleven may not play here again – and man this is a big time stadium with great big replay screens, and lots of things to do inside the stadium.  Indy 11 casual fans, rec players, travel players, parents of soccer players – you need to get to a game while we still have a competitive team playing in a fantastic venue – or we might just not have them anymore.

The Eleven are about to embark on a run of 6 games in 21 days that will probably determine if the team makes the playoffs. Two of the games are on Wednesday nights and special pricing is in play to see those games for as low at $10 per ticket.  Our Boys in Blue return home the next 2 Wed Aug 15 + 22 + 29, + Sat Aug 25 + Sept 1 and of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.  

Sat 8/18  2 pm ESPN+                     Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/22 7 pm MyIndy23         Indy 11 vs Toronto FC II

Sat 8/25 7 pm ESPN+                    Indy 11 @ Atlanta United FC 2 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/29 7 pm myIndy23          Indy 11 vs Pittsburg Riverhounds SC

Sat Sept 1 7 pm  Wish TV 8        Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Wed Sept 5 7 pm Wish TV 8      Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II

World Leagues Where Can You Watch Them?

The European Leagues are all starting their seasons either last week, this weekend or next weekend – now the question is where are the games Televised?  Of course American soccer MLS and USL (the league the INDY 11 is in now), and NWSL (women’s league), and of course the US National teams continue to be featured on US TV on ESPN, Fox Sports 1, Yes TV and Lifetime (NWSL) along with ESPN and Fox Sports online.  The new ESPN+ carries some MLS and all the USL games including the away Indy 11 games and costs $5 a month for online coverage.  (Yes I broke down and signed up to watch our Indy 11 and some MLS games especially Columbus and Chicago.)

NBCSN and NBC continue to show the English Premier League EPL- with just a few American’s playing with the occasional game on CNBC and MSNBC now and again with games on Sat and Sunday mornings starting as early at 7:30 am and continuing thru the 12:30 kickoff often on NBC. They also often have games on a Monday afternoon (Monday night football) and the occasional Friday afternoon (Friday night football) at 2:45 pm.  NBCSN have good show’s before and after the games along with the Goal Zone which reviews the goals each day.  Now if the game is not being featured on TV you have to order the NBC Gold Package ($50) which does allow you to watch the games not shown along with replays of all the games each club (4 each) will have games on NBC Gold only unfortunately.  Also online is TalkSport – where you can listen to the Radio version of the EPL games as broadcast in England.  (You will often see me on Saturday’s plugged in to my cell listening to a game).  American’ players Deandre Yedlin starts at right back for New Castle United, Danny Williams plays Dmid for Huddersfield (the coach is also a former US National Team player David Wagner), and Fulham has American defender Tim Ream and MF Luca de la Torre.  Sitting the bench are Arsenal’s MF Gideon Zelalem, Cardiff City’s GK Chris Konopka and Man United’s defender Matthew Olosunde.  See full season previews below but I like Man City and Liverpool to battle for the top slot in the EPL while Tottenham and either Man United or Chelsea will finish top 4.  I think Arsenal plays better overall in their first season after Wenger but will be on the outside looking in at the end of the season.

The Bundesliga continues to be on Fox Sports 1 & 2 & Fox Soccer with the most American’s in any league being featured starting next weekend.  The Bundesliga is perhaps the most underrated of Europe’s top three leagues, providing exciting, attacking football, albeit with a predictable champion. Fox doesn’t do a great job with its Bundesliga rights, but it does an adequate job and it actually shows them on TV and gives you the ability to watch online via your cable login.  Fox typically broadcasts Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund matches along with other teams at 9:30 am and 12:30 pm on weekends outside of the 2:45 pm Friday and Monday matches.  Now Fox Sports losing their buts on the World Cup without the US – seems to have resulted in Fox giving up on soccer.  They lose the Champions League, Europa League, and the FA Cup.

Serie A Kicks off Season on ESPN+ this Weekend

The big move of the summer was of course multi-time player of the Year and the leading scorer in Champions League Christiano Renaldo from Real Madrid to the Italian League Serie A’s Juventus.  The move has lead to ESPN signing a contract to show Serie A games on ESPN+ starting with the game on Saturday at noon between Juve and Chevio, Lazio follows at 2:30 pm.  Sunday gives us Torino vs Roma at Noon on ESPN News with all the other games at 2:30 on ESPN+.  I like Juventus of course to win the League with the addition of scoring machine Renaldo-  I look for Napoli to finish 2nd if they can find a good goalkeeper while Roma and Inter Milan will battle for that 3rd Champions League spot.

Spain’s La Liga Kicks off Friday on beIN Sport

beIN Sport continues to carry La Liga Spanish and Ligue 1 French soccer this season (LA LIGA Starts Friday) – they also have one of the best Review shows on TV The Extra at 7 pm and various other times EVERY day. Most Spanish and French games are in the afternoon in the US on Sat and Sundays and some Fridays.  beIN sports has my favorite announcing team in Phil Schoen and Rocky Ray Hudson.  Most of the time, beIN will broadcast the Real Madrid and Barcelona matches each weekend with a smattering of some of the other top few teams like Atlético Madrid, Villarreal and Valencia. LaLiga will continue a schedule that includes a 3 p.m. EST game on Friday, Saturday matches at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., Sunday matches at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and a Monday match at 2:30 p.m., with occasional midweek matches.  I think my Atletico Madrid– will finally break thru and win the Spanish League this season – as the full team returns including French World Cup winner Antoine Greizmann and backstop Oblak, with some added firepower for the Man in Black Diego Simeone –Now is the time for the people’s team to make the breakthrough and unseat the traditional champions with much bigger payrolls – Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Their 4-2 win over Real Madrid in the EUFA Supercup was impressive Wed!

Gol TV carries live Portegues soccer and the occasional German game.  All of the main channels have apps that allow you to watch online – so download those apps today and catch a game on the phone if you like.  (Email me if you want to borrow my login – I have them all).  (see more Season previews below on http://theoleballcoach.com-

EPL Weekend #2

We have some big games in Week 2 of the EPL as teams battling for a top 4 spot – each with new coaches will face off as Chelsea will host Arsenal at 12:30 pm on NBC, after my ole favorite – FULHAM America – faces Tottenham at Wembley at 10 am on NBCSN.  US defender Tim Ream will have his hands full with Harry Kane and the Spur stars.  Not sure if US defender Deandre Yedlin will be back from his knee knock for New Castle as they travel to Cardiff City at 7:25 again on NBCSN.   ESPN gives us Seattle the hottest team in MLS hosting the LA Galaxy (Zlatan) at 4 pm.   While Sunday we get top ranked East teams Atlanta hosting Columbus on ESPN+ at 4 pm and DC United and Wayne Rooney hosting NE.  Monday Liverpool will feature at 3 pm vs Crystal Palace.  (Bill we watching at pub?)

Carmel FC Goalies don’t forget 2 Goalie trainings this Fall with GK coach Kristian Nicht and Me – the ole ballcoach starts back up – Weds at Shelbourne & Thurs at Badger Field  6-7 pm U11-U12  7 to 8 pm U13 – U19.  Also some teams are still looking for players for the Travel season reach-out to the ole ballcoach if interested.

Finally as both Recreation and Travel Soccer Games are starting in full scale this weekend – I thought it good timing to include some links reminding us all as coaches, parents, and players what really matters in sports.

Great Link for Parents about Coaches and Refs – Frank Martin USC Basketball Coach

Game Day Nutrition for Youth Soccer Players 

6 Simple Values Learned Thru Playing Sports – from Indiana Soccer Director of Education – Steve Franklin

GAMES ON TV This Week

Fri, Aug 17                 

2:45 pm ESPN3            Schweinfurt vs Schalke (Mckinney)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Stade Reims vs Olympique Lyonnais (French)

4:15 pm beIN Sport     Real Betis vs Levante (Spain)

7 pm SEC Network     Florida vs Washington

Sat, Aug 18    

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Cardiff

10 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Fulham (Tim Ream)

10:50 am beIN Sport    EA Guingamp vs PSG (Tim Weah)

12 noon ESPN+            Juventus (Renaldo) vs Chievo (La Liga)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Chelsea vs Arsenal 

1:55 pm beIN Sport     Monaco vs Lille (French)

2 pm ESPN+                    Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

2:30 pm ESPN+            Lazio vs Napoli (Serie A)

4 pm ESPN                    Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy (Zlatan)

4:05 pm beIN Sport      Barcelona vs Alaves (SP)

7 pm Yes Network     Philly Union vs NYCFC

10 pm FS2                       Monterey vs Pumas (Mexican)

Sun, Aug 19    

8 am NBCSN                   Man City vs Huddersfield Town (Danny Williams)

11 am NBCSN                Brighton vs Man United

12 noon ESPN News    Torino vs Roma (Serie A)

4 pm beIN Sport          Real Madrid vs Getafe

4 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England

7 pm SEC Network+  Florida vs Fla Atlantic

Mon, Aug 20    

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 France vs Spain WC Semi-Final

2 pm beIN Sport         Valencia vs Atletico Madrid

3 pm NBCSN                   Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

Wed, Aug 22    

7 pm FS 1                     NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – NY Darby

7 pm myindytv/espn+ Indy 11 vs Toronto 2

Thurs, Aug 23    

7 pm ESPN+                    Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

10 pm FS2                       Tijuana vs Santos Laguna (Mex)

Fri, Aug 24                     German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1      Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

7 pm ESPN                       Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN              LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

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US Players in Europe

These Are the Oversea’s US Players to Watch – Brian Straus SI

Yanks Abroad: Goals around the globe

Tim Weah scores in PSG’s season opener

USA 2-2 tie with Spain not enough to advance out of group at U20 Women’s World Cup

USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Emmanuel Sabbi hot streak continues

Emmanuel Sabbi should be the next young attacker to get a USMNT chance

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Must Expand

EPL

DeAndre Yedlin Knee Injury not Serious – New Castle Confirms – ESPN

5 Things we Learned this Weekend in th EPL – yahoo soccer

Pogba’s Powerplay at United?

Sessegnon – Fulham were taught Premier League lesson by Crystal Palace

EPL Season Predictor – 538

EPL Preview – the Ringer Audio

WORLD

Where to Watch the European Games this Season

Where to watch UEFA Champions League and Europa League on US TV and streaming-World Soccer Talk

Turner TV Hi-Jacks Champions League and Europa League Games from Fox

ICC Cup Folks to Partner with La Liga to Bring a Regular Season Game to the US

Costa and Atletico Madrid deliver Statement Win in Supercup over Real Madrid 4-2

LA LIGA PREVIEW – Is It Finally Atletico’s Year to Topple Real Madrid and Barcelona? – ESPNFC Graham Hunter

La Liga Preview SI

Who had Better Signings in La Liga Race?

Coutinho Will Never Replace Iniesta at Barca – and that’s just Fine

Messi Captures Record 33rd Title with Barca in Spanish Supercup win as Captain

Allegri Eyes Champions League as Renaldo Scores in 8 min of first game for Juventus

Renaldo’s Move to Juve could be a Boost to Serie A

Goalies

EPL Saves of the Week 1

Best Saves of the World Cup

Save of the Week – National Womens SL –

Saves of the Week – USL

MLS Save

Golden Glove Winner Courtois Moved from Chelsea to Real Madrid for Family Reasons

Mattia Perin out to Prove Worthy Heir to Gigi Buffon for Juve and Italy

Bilbao GK Kepa Arrizabalaga becomes most Expensive GK with $71 Million Dollar move to Chelsea

Former Roma GK Allisson a Steal for Liverpool at $66 Million

Top Fantasy GK Picks for the EPL

Top Save totals at World Cup by GK

MLS

Jose Altidore draws interest of Serie A and Ligue 1 Teams – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Would you rather have Zlatan or Rooney?

Anthony Precourt Gets 1 Step Closer to Pimping out the Columbus Crew to Austin Tx  dead spin Bill Haisley

Seattle Hosts LA Galaxy and Zlatan Sat Aug 14 4 pm on ESPN riding a Winning Streak

Can Martinez break the MLS scoring record Sunday?

Discuss: Revs or D.C. a more likely playoff team?

Another late run? Seattle swear it’s not by design

2019 CONCACAF Champions League Qualifying Process is Qualified

Power Rankings: NY teams put the heat on ATL

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Indy 11

Dramatic Goal in the 90th Minute Lifts Indy 11 over NC 3-2

Football Lines will be Visible at Games with New Indy Colts Turf Installed

KEYS TO THE MATCH | #LOUVIND

Indy 11 Add New Players from MLS

Indy 11 Sends United Way Donor to MLS All-Star Game

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

Parking passes at Gate10  Events is $11 with advance purchase. $15 day of.  Save $$$ by buying early.

INDY 11 GAMES

Sat 8/18  2 pm ESPN+                     Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/22 7 pm MyIndy23         Indy 11 vs Toronto FC II

Sat 8/25 7 pm ESPN+                                               Indy 11 @ Atlanta United FC 2 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/29 7 pm myIndy23          Indy 11 vs Pittsburg Riverhounds SC

Sat Sept 1 7 pm  Wish TV 8        Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Wed Sept 5 7 pm Wish TV 8      Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 17                 

2:45 pm ESPN3            Schweinfurt vs Schalke (Mckinney)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Stade Reims vs Olympique Lyonnais (French)

4:15 pm beIN Sport    Real Betis vs Levante (Spain)

7 pm SEC Network     Florida vs Washington

Sat, Aug 18    

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Cardiff

10 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Fulham (Tim Ream)

10:50 am beIN Sport      EA Guingamp vs PSG (Tim Weah)

12 noon ESPN+            Juventus (Renaldo) vs Chievo (La Liga)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Chelsea vs Arsenal 

1:55 pm beIN Sport     Monaco vs Lille (French)

2 pm ESPN+                    Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

2:30 pm ESPN+            Lazio vs Napoli (Serie A)

4 pm ESPN                       Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy (Zlatan)

4:05 pm beIN Sport        Barcelona vs Alaves (SP)

7 pm Yes Network     Philly Union vs NYCFC

10 pm FS2                       Monterey vs Pumas (Mexican)

Sun, Aug 19    

8 am NBCSN                   Man City vs Huddersfield Town (Danny Williams)

11 am NBCSN                Brighton vs Man United

12 noon ESPN News       Torino vs Roma (Serie A)

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Real Madrid vs Getafe

4 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England 

7 pm SEC Network+  Florida vs Fla Atlantic

Mon, Aug 20    

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 France vs Spain WC Semi-Final

2 pm beIN Sport         Valencia vs Atletico Madrid

3 pm NBCSN                   Crystal Palace vs Liverpool       

Wed, Aug 22    

7 pm FS 1                      NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – NY Darby

7 pm myindytv/espn+ Indy 11 vs Toronto 2

Thurs, Aug 23    

7 pm ESPN+                    Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

10 pm FS2                       Tijuana vs Santos Laguna (Mex)

Fri, Aug 24                     German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1      Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

7 pm ESPN                       Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN            LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

Sat, Aug 25     

7:30 am NBCSN            Wolverhampton vs Man city 

9:30 am FS 1                  Wolfsburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

10 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs West Ham United

12 noon beIN Sport  Juventus vs Lazio

12:30 pm NBCSN        Liverpool vs Brighton

12:30 pm FS 1              M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen

7 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta 2 vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

8 pm ESPN News         Washington Spirit vs Portland Thorns (Ladies) 

Sun, Aug 26    

8 am NBCSN                   Watford vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am FS1                    Mainz vs Stuttgart

11 am NBCSN                New Castle United vs Chelsea

12 noon Fox Soccer  Dortmund (Pulisic) vs RB Leipzig

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Girona vs Real Madrid 

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England 

7 pm Fox Sport1          NY Red Bulls vs DC United (Rooney)

9:30 pm FS1                   Portland vs Seattle Sounders (Cascadia Cup)

Mon, Aug 27    

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Tottenham

Fri, Sept 7

7:30 pm FS1                   USA vs Brazil (Metlife)

Tues, Sept 11

8:30 pm ESPN               USA vs Mexico in Nashville (anyone want to go?)

Thurs, Oct 11

7:30 pm FSI                     USA vs Colombia (Tampa)

Thurs, Nov 15

3 pm ESPN2                    England vs USA (Wembley)

Sat, Nov 20

3 pm ESPN2                    Italy vs USMNT

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

EPL Schedule

 RECAP | INDY ELEVEN CLINCH THREE POINTS AGAINST NORTH CAROLINA FC, 3-2

By James Higdon, 08/15/18, 11:45PM EDT

Dramatic ending sees “Indiana’s Team” march away with a homecoming win

Indy Eleven claim three points in a homecoming fixture against North Carolina FC, 3-2. Goals from forwards Eugene Starikov and Ben Speas, and a dramatic late goal from midfielder Juan Guerra, sees the “Boys in Blue” jump to fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings.“Indiana’s Team” gained the upper hand early in the evening. A well-placed cross from Eleven forward Jack McInerney from the right edge of the pitch found Starikov at the top of Carolina’s six-yard box in the seventh minute. The Ukrainian forward scored his third goal of the season after his sliding shot edged around NCFC defender DJ Taylor. McInerney nearly got the first a minute prior after service from defender Kevin Venegas found him in front of NCFC’s goal, but a misplaced touch sent the attempt just wide of the post.

“He [Starikov] was out for two and a half months. You didn’t get to see him and we didn’t really get to use him.” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “Now we’re seeing the benefit of having him on the field and he’s scoring.”After a number of offensive pushes, NCFC came close to leveling the one-goal lead in the 21st minute. NCFC midfielder Kyle Bekker linked up with unmarked midfielder Marcel Kandziora inside Indy’s 18-yard box. Attempting to catch Eleven keeper Owain Fon Williams off his line, Kandziora chipped his shot high towards the net. The Welshman managed to get a touch, but it wasn’t enough to divert the ball from goal. The score looked to be even before a miraculous goal line clearance from Eleven defender Carlyle Mitchell kept the ball from crossing over. Kandziora came knocking again in the 28th minute with a shot 19 yards out, but ended wide of Indy’s frame.Indy responded to NCFC’s onslaught of chances by doubling its lead. In the 31st minute, Venegas bodied the ball away from Kandziora in Carolina’s defensive half. Speas waited nearby to receive the turnover. With three quick touches, Speas registered the match’s second goal, and his third in 2018, from 27 yards out.“It was a spectacular goal and he’s capable of that and we just want to see him on the ball more,” said Rennie. “He defended a lot too.”Refusing to end the first half scoreless, North Carolina narrowed the gap with a stoppage time free kick. The free kick opportunity came after a yellow card offense from Mitchell outside Indy’s 18-yard box. The linesman blew his whistle as defender Aaron Guillen and Bekker stood over the dead ball. Guillen charged past the ball as Bekker curled his shot into the lower left corner of Indy’s net.Both teams found and left chances in front of goal throughout the second half until NCFC hit its equalizer in the 77th minute. Carolina substitute defender Wullito Fernandes’ square pass bounced into Indy’s six-yard box where substitute forward Marios Lomis nodded the ball between the posts.In dramatic fashion, Indy managed to net one final goal, and the winner, in the 90th minute when Juan Guerra made the most of a deflected shot inside NCFC’s 18-yard box. The goal was Guerra’s first since joining the “Boys in Blue” earlier this year.Coach Rennie partially credited the new turf in Lucas Oil Stadium to tonight’s victory.
“It was a much better game tonight and there was much more passing and interchanging,” Rennie said. “The surface does play a lot better so that’s one big plus. The players made the most of it and I thought they did a good job.”Indy hit the road three days from now to take on Ottaway Fury FC for the second time in 2018. Shortly after, the “Boys in Blue” return to home turf once again to face Toronto FC II on Wednesday, August 22, at 7:00 p.m.. Fans can get tickets to the midweek fixture by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (37)685-1100.

USL Regular Season -Indy Eleven 3:2 North Carolina FC
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.  Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 

Scoring Summary:

IND – Eugene Starikov (Jack McInerney) 7′
IND – Ben Speas (Kevin Venegas) 31′
NC – Kyle Bekker 45+1′
NC – Marios Lomis (Wullito Fernandes) 77′
IND – Juan Guerra 90′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Reiner Ferreira, Carlyle Mitchell, Ayoze, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern, Matt Watson (C), Ben Speas (Seth Moses 62′), Juan Guerra; Eugene Starikov (Elliot Collier 84′), Jack McInerney (Soony Saad 74′)  Indy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK); Brad Ring, Karl Ouimette, Seth Moses, Zach Steinberger, Soony Saad, Elliot Collier

North Carolina FC lineup (4-5-1, L–>R): Alex Tambakis (GK); DJ Taylor, Tobin Connor, Michael Harrison, Aaron Guillen; Austin da Luz, Kyle Bekker, Steve Miller (Marios Lomis 45′), Marcel Kandziora (Wullito Fernandes 74′), Andre Fortune; Donovan Ewolo (Daniel Rios 87′)

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As the USMNT Turns Toward the Future, These Are the Overseas Players to Watch

By BRIAN STRAUS August 13, 2018

If a new global soccer cycle wasn’t set in motion the moment Hugo Lloris lifted the World Cup four weeks ago in Moscow, then it certainly began this weekendThe Premier League, Ligue 1, Eredivisie and Argentine Superliga campaigns kicked off. Germany and Spain staged their super cup games (UEFA’s version is Wednesday). Bayern Munich won by five goals, Cristiano Ronaldo found the net for Juventus (yes, it was an intra-club exhibition, but all of CR7’s bianconeri firsts will be momentous) and Arsenal’s title hopes were dashed. So it’s official. The page has turned and the new quadrennium is upon us.For U.S. national team watchers, that dawn should bring a slight sigh of relief. The pain caused by missing the World Cup was real, but the grinding-your-teeth-as-Panama-plays-Belgium portion is in the past. The World Cup cycle is over for everybody, and all but France—that leaves 210 nations—move forward with questions or concerns. So the USA is no longer an outlier, and it may even have had a slight head start thanks to last fall’s qualifying failure. A bunch of new American internationals made their senior debuts in the ensuing friendlies. Meanwhile, the U.S. Soccer Federation, under a new president, appointed its first national team GM. Earnie Stewart is on the job and has been charged with identifying the next full-time coach.

That search continues as the European and Latin American seasons begin, and the U.S. national team’s impending overhaul—not to mention the increasing spending power of many MLS clubs—ensures they’ll be seasons like no other. The days of following key U.S. veterans in Europe are over. That’s in part because many returned to MLS, and in part because now, there aren’t really that many key U.S. veterans. With a new coach coming, four years to go before the next World Cup and 10 months before the next official competition, there’s not much sense in relying on older players at this point. In fact, you’d probably need only one hand to count the men over 25 who should play a key role over the next 18 months.The U.S. national team is young. So is its foreign contingent. European clubs with the resources to invest in (or gamble on) American talent, not to mention their incentive to develop it and the logistical ease of giving young players a taste of first-team action, have become attractive options—especially as more MLS teams seem to rely on imports. While there’s been a drop in the number of established U.S. players abroad, there are more potential stars overseas than ever. Watching Americans in foreign leagues now is as much about keeping track of the national side’s future as its present.“We all that sense that there’s a small nucleus of veterans, and it’s probably one of the first times in a long time—if not the first time—we’re starting with a bunch of fresh faces,” Schalke 04 midfielder Weston McKennie, 19, told SI.com this spring. “[There are] a bunch of fresh faces at once. It’s kind of like building an actual new foundation of a house that’s been broken down.”McKennie, an FC Dallas product who’s impressed in his four appearances with the senior U.S. side, said there’s no definitive right or wrong when it comes to choosing Europe or MLS at the start of a career. It depends on the player. But he was clear when asked why Germany has been right for him and his good friend and Revierderby rival, Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund.“You see that Dortmund sees a future in the player, sees the development [possibility] and does everything they can to develop that person. If they think he’s ready, they’ll move him up,” McKennie said. “Over here [in the USA], it’s a little bit harder. You have college. You have eligibility rights. That’s one of the differences in Europe. If a player is 15 years old and you have an injured player on the first team in Europe, you can move that 15-year-old onto the roster for that weekend. In America, you can’t do that because he can’t go to college then, and doesn’t want to risk that future at 15.”McKennie and Pulisic are among the more than two dozen U.S.-eligible players now in Germany, where clubs spend more time and money on development than just about anywhere in the world. The pair has compatriots in England, France and several other significant European leagues, and there are a couple up-and-coming players to watch in Mexico as well.As the season begins, here’s a look at the present and future national teamers with big years ahead for foreign clubs.

FRANCE

We’ll start with the country that won the World Cup, and a player with sensational pedigree who’s already starting to make his own name—forward Timothy Weah. The New York City-born son of former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah, 18-year-old Tim plays with enough skill and confidence to stick around at a loaded Paris Saint-Germain side that’s gunning for a Champions League title.  Once the season is in full swing, he’ll likely have to settle for spot duty behind the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani. But Weah has made the most of his opportunities so far, scoring in PSG’s Trophée des Champions defeat of Monaco and then Sunday’s Ligue 1 opener, landing himself a spot on the cover of L’Equipe.

At some point, Weah may go up against U.S. defender Matt Miazga, whose loans away from parent club Chelsea took him to the Netherlands and now to Nantes. The 23-year-old has seven U.S. caps and is one of several center backs 25 or younger competing to anchor the American back four. Miazga won the KNVB Cup with Vitesse Arnhem and even captained the team, but Ligue 1 will represent a step up. Miazga was in the 18 but didn’t play in Saturday’s 3–1 loss to Monaco.

ENGLAND

The number of U.S. players in the Premier League is low, and may drop further temporarily as we wait to hear how much time Newcastle United’s DeAndre Yedlin will miss after suffering a knee injury on Saturday. The right back is 25 but has 52 caps already—experience that would be valuable to an incoming U.S. manager.

Yedlin is the only established EPL American who has an obvious national team future. Fulham’s Tim Ream, 30, and Huddersfield Town’s Danny Williams, 29, may be too old to play a part in the U.S. rebuild. Instead, it’s worth paying attention to how Tottenham Hotspur defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, Manchester United defender Matthew Olosunde and Fulham midfielder Luca de la Torre—each is 20 years old—progress with their clubs. Carter-Vickers spent time last season at Sheffield United and Ipswich Town and could be headed back out on loan.

In the lower tiers, Wigan Athletic left back Antonee Robinson, an Everton loanee, and skillful Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch have international potential and will be getting minutes. That’ll keep them on the U.S. radar, and Gooch’s strong start in League One may attract interest from above.

GERMANY

Steady speculation about a Premier League move for Pulisic didn’t pan out, which means the attacker will remain in Dortmund until at least the winter. But the pressure isn’t any lighter at the Westfalenstadion, where BVB has struggled to keep with up Bayern and where Pulisic didn’t make much obvious progress in his second full pro season. That’s not a slight against him. He’ll turn 20 next month. But now entering his third Bundesliga campaign, and with the USA’s future clearly tied to his growth and performance, he’ll have to take another step forward—whether it’s to spark the attack for Dortmund or entice offers from even bigger clubs.

McKennie is a midfield dynamo who scored in a friendly win over Fiorentina this weekend. His development seems inexorable, and he’ll be worth watching as a likely starter during Schalke’s Champions League campaign.

Among younger U.S. vets in Germany, both Wolfsburg defender John Brooks and Hannover 96 forward Bobby Wood, each 25, will be looking to bounce back from difficult 2017–18 seasons. They’ll both almost surely remain part of the national team picture, assuming Brooks’s health and Wood’s production rebound. On the younger side, striker Josh Sargent, 18, already has three U.S. caps and one goal even though he’s yet to make his official debut with Werder Bremen. He’s played and scored for the club’s U-23 side, but it’s unclear how or if he’ll be used when Bundesliga play begins at the end of the month.Nürnberg’s Timothy Tillman, Bayern’s Chris Richards and Schalke’s U.S. pair of Haji Wright and Nick Taitague are among the other new names to file away. In the 2. Bundesliga, Julian Green (Greuther Fürth) and Joe Gyau (MSV Duisburg) remain active.

ELSEWHERE

Right back Shaquell Moore made his senior U.S. debut in June and will spend 2018–19 on loan from Levante to Reus Deportiu in Spain’s Segunda División. Moore’s league season begins Sunday at Las Palmas.

In the Netherlands, center back Erik Palmer-Brown is on loan from Manchester City to NAC Breda. He didn’t play in a 5–0 loss to AZ Alkmaar to open the Eredivisie season, which may be a good thing. Forward Andrija Novakovich, who got his first U.S. minutes in March, tallied an impressive 22 goals last season for Telstar in the Dutch second tier. He’s now moved up a level with newly-promoted Fortuna Sittard, going 90 minutes in their 1–1 draw at Excelsior on Saturday.

In Belgium, winger Kenny Saief, 24, remains an intriguing player who’ll spend his first full season at powerhouse Anderlecht. His introduction to the U.S. setup has been limited by injuries. Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who has been beaten to the national team No. 1 shirt by the Columbus Crew’s Zack Steffen, remains at Club Brugge.

Where in Europe will you find American players?

The continent has a lot of soccer, and everywhere you turn, there will be an American to watch

By Donald Wine II@blazindw     Aug 10, 2018, 8:00am PDT

The opening of the 2018-2019 European club seasons are starting all across the continent, and several fans in the United States are ready to see more soccer hit their TVs on weekend mornings. Many people have their favorite teams, whether they happen to be in the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, or another league in the world. Others are happy playing the role of neutral when watching the major European clubs battle for trophies and international glory.

Still, when you’re watching these matches, you probably gravitate in some way towards matches that feature an American player, whether it’s a star like Christian Pulisic or a young emerging talent like Timothy Weah. So, while it’s by no means an exhaustive list, consider this your go-to list of American players in leagues all across Europe. Some of these players may feature primarily for their club’s reserve or youth team, but they are all listed under the main club they are currently with or play on loan:

Austria

Rheindorf Altach – F Josh Gatt

Belgium

First Division A

Anderlecht – MF Kenny Saief

Club Brugge – GK Ethan Horvath

Kortrijk – D Brendan Hines-Ike

Lokeren – MF Juan Torres

Gent – MF Ben Lederman

Denmark

Superliga

Nordsjaelland – F Jonathan Amon

Hobro – MF Emmanuel Sabbi

Aalborg – GK Mike Lansing

England

Premier League

Arsenal – MF Gideon Zelalem

Newcastle United – D DeAndre Yedlin

Tottenham Hotspur – D Cameron Carter-Vickers, GK Brandon Austin

Fulham – D Tim Ream, MF Luca de la Torre

Huddersfield Town – MF Danny Williams

Cardiff City – GK Chris Konopka

Manchester United – D/MF Matthew Olosunde

Championship

Stoke City – CB Geoff Cameron

Hull City – D Eric Lichaj

Wigan Athletic – D Antonee Robinson (on loan from Everton)

Nottingham Forest – MF Gboly Ariyibi

Queens Park Rangers – D Giles Phillips

Derby County – MF Duane Holmes

League One

Sunderland – MF Lynden Gooch

Rochdale – GK Brendan Moore

France

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain – F Tim Weah

Nantes – D Matt Miazga (on loan from Chelsea)

Rennes F Theoson- Jordan Siebatcheu

Ligue 2

Auxerre – GK Quentin Westberg

Germany

Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund – MF Christian Pulisic, MF Junior Flores

Schalke 04 – MF Weston McKennie, F Haji Wright, MF Nick Taitague, MF Zyen Jones

Wolfsburg – D John Brooks

Hannover 96 – F Bobby Wood, D Chris Gloster

Werder Bremen – F Aron Johannsson, F Josh Sargent, F Isaiah Young

Eintracht Frankfurt – D Timmy Chandler

Freiburg – MF Caleb Stanko

Borussia Mönchengladbach – D/MF Fabian Johnson

Fortuna Düsseldorf – MF Alfredo Morales

Hertha Berlin – GK Jonathan Klinsmann

Nurnberg – MF Timothy Tillman

Bayern Munich – D Chris Richards (on loan from FC Dallas)

  1. Bundesliga

Greuther Fuerth – F Julian Green

Sandhausen – MF Andrew Wooten, D Ken Gipson

Duisburg – MF Joe Gyau

Heidenheim – MF Kevin Lankford

Darmstadt – F Terrence Boyd, MF McKinze Gaines

Jahn Regensburg – F Jann-Christopher George

Holstein Kiel – GK Kenneth Kronholm

Union Berlin – D Lennard Maloney

Champions League Coverage Set To Get Screwy The Same Way EPL Coverage Has

Billy Haisley8/17/17 11:31am

In their infinite wisdom, NBC recently saw fit to take a good and beloved Premier League broadcast strategy and make it bad and hated by cleaving its once-unified televised and streaming services into two smaller and less satisfying parts, and charging for each separately. Turner, which recently bought Champions League broadcast rights starting with the 2018-19 season, has a similar money-grubbing plan, which will neuter Champions League coverage in the U.S. even more than NBC’s decision has done to the Premier League.For all the problems with NBC’s new, crippled Premier League coverage, at least their televised product is still more than acceptable. On any given weekend, most of the matches that the majority of EPL fans would be most interested in watching will be found somewhere on TV. Only about one-third of the league season’s matches will be stuck behind the streaming paywall, which means for many cable-subscribing fans of the Prem, the over-the-top streaming service is a luxury rather than a necessity they need to pay for in order to follow the league.This is not the case with Turner’s plans for the Champions League. Here’s some goober at the New York Times explaining Turner’s scheme:

Turner Broadcasting was a surprise winner earlier this year in the bidding for rights to the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top club soccer competition. But what the company plans do with the rights may be even more surprising: Launch a stand-alone sports streaming service next year that will broadcast the vast majority of the games.  Many of the most important Champions League games, including the semifinals and final, will still be broadcast on cable television. But starting next summer, more than 80 percent of the matches will only be available to fans who pay for the new subscription service — the latest move by a media organization to monetize unused parts of a multimillion-dollar sports rights deal.

That’s right: Fox Sports’ eminently accessible strategy of consistently televising at least two Champions League matches every matchday, and allowing you to stream every other UCL match online just by logging into their website with your cable info if neither of the televised games tickle your fancy, has now been sliced all to hell.

That cable subscribers will only be able to watch 20 percent of the applicable Champions League matches on TV isn’t really the problem, since that was more or less the case with Fox’s coverage, too. The problem is that if you want to watch one of those other games, you’ll now have to pay a fee to stream them when before streaming came free—as it should—with your cable subscription. Not only does this make the cable-only option untenable as a way of following the UCL season, the over-the-top service by itself isn’t a satisfactory substitute, either.Turner, like NBC, will not let its over-the-top subscribers stream the matches they televise. During the group stages and early knockout rounds, then, subscribers will often miss out on the big, juicy matchups Turner deigns to televise unless they subscribe to yet another service like Sling, which will allow them to watch games on Turner TV stations on their desktops at work. Nor will they be able to stream the later rounds of the knockout stages like the semifinals and the final. Thus, the over-the-top service has the appearance of being a good way for cord cutters to get the soccer they crave, but in reality is just another way to charge extra by compelling any serious fan to stump up for multiple services.

The specifics of Turner’s plans are even worse:

Of the 340 annual Champions League and Europa League matches that Turner acquired — games that have become a midweek afternoon staple for American fans — only about 60 will appear on television, mostly on truTV. The semifinals and finals of the Champions League will air on either TNT or TBS, as will the Europa League final.

Through the Champions League group stage in the fall, Turner will televise four matches a week — two each on Tuesday and Wednesday, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern time. Beginning with the knockout stage in February, Turner will televise two matches a week, one each on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Look at this horseshit! Group stage matches and even the semifinals and the final will be shown only on channels like truTV and TNT, which means that those hoping to go the stream-only route won’t be able to catch the biggest games of the season without ponying up twice one way or another. And for the TV-only crowd, Turner’s decision to only show a single game each matchday during the knockout rounds practically guarantees that they will miss out on some critical, competitive Round of 16 and quarterfinals matches and instead will have settle for whatever Turner’s bean-counters think will get the most ratings and thus will decide to televise.

That’s probably the biggest problem here—the matches Turner will and will not choose to air. It’s safe to predict that Turner’s match selection hierarchy will look something like this: 1) show the game that involves an English team; 2) pick the one in which Barcelona or Real Madrid play; 3) choose the one with another big-name club like Juventus or Bayern Munich; and 4) air whichever match looks to be the most competitive on paper. By constraining access to all their matches so stringently, Turner is sure to fail to cater to the desires of a huge number of fans.

If you’re a fan of a team outside England, even if it’s a big club like Bayern, you can be sure you’ll miss out on at least a couple of your squad’s games as Turner favors ones involving big British and Spanish teams. If you root for an even smaller club that nonetheless usually finds its way pretty deep into the competition—Benfica, say—then you might as well start saving up for the streaming service now, because your boys definitely won’t be getting on TV very often. And if you don’t have a particular horse in the race and would prefer to just watch the best match on offer, you’re going to find yourself shaking your head in disgust as some boring Manchester United vs. Ludogorets match bumps the Atlético Madrid vs. Napoli game that will obviously be the better spectacle. Viewer choice is critical in the Champions League, and starting next season Turner will have nearly eliminated it entirely unless you pay their ransom.Just like with NBC’s restrictive EPL coverage, it’s unclear whether Turner is making the right call here even in terms of their own bottom line. It might be economically prudent to squeeze all the juice out of the limited number of soccer super-fans who will have to pay the company twice in order to get all the soccer they want, but maybe it’s smarter to flood the growing market of diehard and casual soccer fans with as much product as possible so as to build a broader consumer base. All we know is that this is definitely a trend, and for fans, it’s a trend that really stinks.

Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid deliver statement of intent in Super Cup vs. Ronaldo-less Real Madrid

Aug 15, 2018Dermot CorriganMadrid correspondent

TALLINN, Estonia — Three thoughts on Europa League winners Atletico Madrid’s 4-2 win over Champions League holders Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.

  1. Atletico finally get one over their local rivals

Atletico Madrid finally won a European “derbi,” with extra-time goals from homegrown midfielders Saul Niguez and Koke sealing a 4-2 UEFA Super Cup win over Real Madrid. Wednesday night’s thriller at Tallinn’s A. Le Coq Arena swung back and forth and into extra time, with Diego Costa netting twice for Atletico before Europa League holders Atletico finally got on top of triple-Champions League winners Madrid to take an extra sweet victory given all the history and local rivalry involved.It took just 49 seconds for Costa to rampage his way through the entire Madrid defence and hammer Atletico in front, with the equaliser near the half-hour mark coming when Gareth Bale’s superb curling right-footed cross was deftly headed home by Karim Benzema.The game continued to ebb and flow after the break, with the energy and skill levels surprisingly high given how the World Cup had affected both sides’ preseason preparation. Although Atletico’s new midfielders Rodri and Thomas Lemar were impressing, veteran defender Juanfran’s handball from a corner led to a penalty that Blancos skipper Sergio Ramos coolly converted for 2-1.That should really have been that, especially given Atletico’s history of five losses from five previous competitive European “derbis.” But Simeone’s side continued to battle on. With just over 10 minutes remaining Costa equalised, finishing from close range after excellent work from Juanfran and substitute Angel Correa.Early in extra time, Ramos was at fault as Atletico won the ball at the edge of the Madrid box, and substitute Thomas Partey crossed for Saul to flash home a superb volley. Another replacement, Vitolo, then swept a pass to Koke who arrowed a low shot past Navas for 4-2.In the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals, Atletico came up just short, with Madrid’s greater strength in depth and experience being key. That the last three Rojiblanco goals Wednesday night were all laid on by substitutes was a sign that, even though this was “just” the Super Cup, Diego Simeone’s side can now claim to be top dogs in the Spanish capital.

  1. Bale and Benzema stand up, but need help

Losing the first big game of the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era is a big problem for Madrid’s new coach Julen Lopegetui, even if both Benzema and Bale showed they can deliver more now that they are out of the Portuguese’s shadow.The understanding between the two remaining members of the “BBC” trio was clear for Madrid’s equaliser, with a fully primed Bale sprinting away from Atletico’s World Cup-winning left-back Lucas Hernandez, and Benzema peeling away intelligently from marker Stefan Savic to find the space he needed to nod cleverly home. That was far from the only time the pair combined well.Benzema was also on the scene in forcing Juanfran into the spot kick early in the second period (although skipper Ramos showed he now tops the Bernabeu’s pecking order by grabbing the ball to convert). At 2-1 up, Bale worried Atletico with a driving run past five defenders before his shot was blocked, while in the very last move of normal time the Welshman almost set up a dramatic winner only for Marcelo to miskick his attempted volley.Emerging star Marco Asensio did not do badly in Ronaldo’s spot in attack, but Lopetegui sending on unproven youngster Borja Mayoral in extra time showed that Madrid have not yet fully covered the loss of the reigning Ballon d’Or winner. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez may still be persuaded to get his chequebook out before La Liga’s transfer window closes on Aug 31.

  1. Real can’t stop Costa

The game began with a bang with Costa bouncing away from both Ramos and the equally sluggish Raphael Varane before lashing a shot high past Keylor Navas, who had left a glimmer of a gap at his near post. It was the quickest goal ever scored in a UEFA competition final, and set the tone for the night.Costa also soon got involved in a running battle with regular sparring partner Ramos, who with his arm caught his international teammate in the face. Actual strike partner Antoine Griezmann was less influential, and withdrawn early, clearly not match fit after only recently returning from a holiday after winning the World Cup.Atletico continued to press at 2-1 down, and Griezmann’s replacement Correa laid on an equaliser for Costa, who again showed hunger and aggression to be on the spot to fire home. The Brazilian-born forward also won the ball back for Atletico’s clinching fourth goal, in what was a man-of-the-match performance.Last season’s return from Chelsea did not go exactly to plan for Costa, not helped by six months on the sidelines due to Atletico’s FIFA transfer ban. Wednesday night’s display showed he is ready to roar in 2018-19 — and after Atleti’s summer he has plenty of teammates around him to help out too.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival will show the world that Serie A is full of drama

Aug 14, 2018James Horncastle

The impatience for Serie A to start is palpable in Italy. This country has always been football crazy, but the sense of anticipation is heightened this year. For a start, last season felt like the best in a long time.It was the most compelling of Europe’s top five leagues. More or less everybody had something to play for right until the end. The title race was alive going into May, and you didn’t know who had qualified for the Champions League or Europa League, not to mention who had stayed up until the final day. The tifosireturned to Italy’s stadiums in droves, boosting attendance figures and recreating the atmosphere that makes watching football in the bel paese such a special experience.When it was over, withdrawal symptoms immediately kicked in, partly because Italy’s football lovers anticipated that this would be a long summer. Mediaset’s coverage of the World Cup in Russia received higher-than-expected viewing figures, but Italy’s absence from the tournament for the first time in 60 years left fans bereft of a team to be emotionally invested in.The longing for Serie A to return only intensified once Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Juventus. That he chose the Old Lady and Italy was a huge compliment, a gesture that encouraged the optimists to think this is the most significant step yet in restoring Serie A to its former glory. The same could be said for the return of Carlo Ancelotti, who ended his nine-year tour of Europe’s blue-chip clubs and replaced Maurizio Sarri at Napoli.Still, not everyone saw it that way. In fact, some pushed back against the notion that the league — not just Juventus — would benefit as a whole from Ronaldo’s presence. Everyone would have gotten a better deal had the transfer gone through before the domestic TV rights were sorted out. But it wasn’t to be.La Repubblica columnist Angelo Carotenuto compared Juventus’ move for Ronaldo to Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar: the clearest sign yet of the Bianconeri‘s intention to leave the crop plights and dust storms of Serie A behind for a new planet, where one day all of Europe’s elite teams will play in a Super League.Until then, debate is raging in Italy’s piazzas and bars about the treatment Ronaldo will get in Serie A. How many goals will he score in a country in which there is a tradition of world-class defending and shut-down tactics? In Spain they associate the triumvirate of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema with all-star attacking play. In Italy, it’s legion-of-boom style defence featuring Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini.

While there are grains of truth in stereotypes, they don’t tell the whole story. Serie A has experienced a shift in emphasis in recent seasons. There were 2.68 goals per game in the supposedly faster, looser Premier League last season. It might surprise you to learn that in Serie A the ratio was exactly the same.Graduates of Italy’s Coverciano coaching school aren’t rejecting tradition, but a new generation of managers is taking its cues from the legacy of Arrigo Sacchi and the times in which we live. The world has become smaller, and exposure to other leagues is greater than ever, which has helped turn the tide from the “keep it tight”, counter-attacking methods of yore to prioritising expansive, proactive, attacking football.Antonio Cassano is probably right, rather than just plain provocative, when he says, “Ronaldo will score 40 goals.” But the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Mauro Icardi, Edin Dzeko, Dries Mertens, Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile will have something to say about the bookies making the five-time Ballon d’Or favourite to top the scoring charts. It’s up to them and the teams they spearhead to rise to the challenge.

Of course, seven consecutive Scudetti give the league a one-sided appearance, and it never helps when a season ends as predicted. But the last campionatowas delightfully competitive. After Liverpool, it’s fair to say that the most memorable performances in Europe last season came from Juventus and Roma, who made the Champions League semifinals for the first time in 34 years. Inter and Milan finally look to be in good hands, with wealthy backers delegating key decisions to the right people. The top six all have talented coaches. No one looks out of their depth.

Inter seem to have done the most to close the gap, luring Stefan de Vrij and Radja Nainggolan from the Eternal City, while also beating some of Europe’s biggest clubs to the signing of potential breakout star Lautaro Martinez. A lot is expected of Luciano Spalletti in his second season at San Siro. In Higuain, Milan have finally found an heir worthy of Pippo Inzaghi’s No. 9 shirt. Roma have assembled a team full of potential with a very high upside indeed. As for Napoli, it’s up to Ancelotti to stop a team that was so much greater than the sum of its parts under Sarri from regressing to the mean.The fascination doesn’t end with the upper class. The Inzaghi brothers, Pippo and Simone, will face off against each other in the ultimate sibling rivalry when Bologna play Lazio on Boxing Day. Justin Kluivert joins the father-and-son club of which Giovanni Simeone and Federico Chiesa are already part. Which reminds us: For all the attention garnered by the signing of a 33-year-old, Serie A feels like a young league, and not just because the only foreign manager in the top flight, Udinese boss Julio Velazquez, is only 36. Fiorentina’s team should probably still be in school it’s so fresh-faced.  Encouragingly for Italy coach Roberto Mancini, talent is coming through. The under-19s finished runners-up at the Euros this summer, a year after Italy’s U20s reached the semis of the World Cup. Chiesa, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nicolo Barella, Moise Kean and Alex Meret are the faces of a promising new generation.Romantics will be thrilled to see Parma back just three years after going bust and having to start over in Serie D. Emanuele Calaio’s WhatsApp messages almost threw their promotion into doubt, a reminder that chaos and controversy are never far away in Serie A and act as major protagonists in the drama it generates. Chievo feared relegation amid the suspicion aroused by the vast amounts of money they have made from trading unknown youth team players in recent years. Milan were thrown out of Europe and reinstated only after the repossession of the club by the Elliott hedge fund. Teams up and down the country, most notably Bari and Vicenza, keep going bust.The spotlight turned on Serie A by Ronaldo will illuminate the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s a weird and wonderful league. Now all that’s left to do is get the season started.

Ronaldo-Less Real Madrid, Atletico Seek to Dethrone Barcelona in La Liga

By LUIS MIGUEL ECHEGARAY August 14, 2018

For a second straight summer, La Liga is dealing with the aftermath of losing one of its most talented and marketable superstars, but its teams aren’t coming close to standing pat.A year after Neymar bolted Barcelona for PSG and weeks after Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus, it’s been a busy offseason for teams in Spain’s top division, with La Liga clubs investing nearly €700 million, including transfer fees and annual contracts, on players. The number will almost certainly rise, given that the transfer window doesn’t close until Aug. 31, and given that Real Madrid has yet to replace the Ronaldo with an attacking superstar.While the usual suspects (Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid) make up for almost half of the league’s spending, having brought in players such as Malcom (Barcelona), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid) and Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal and Real Betis look to crash the top-three party with ransfers of their own. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, newly promoted Huesca prepares for its first campaign in La Liga.Here are the major talking points ahead of the 2018-2019 season in Spain’s top flight.

BARCELONA STAYS THE FAVORITE

Despite losing legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta, Ernesto Valverde’s side starts the campaign as favorite to retain the league title. This summer, Barça conducted plenty of business by reconfiguring the squad and trimming its underperformers. Players such as Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes, Gerard Deulofeu and Aleix Vidal added depth at Camp Nou, but didn’t really give anything extra when needed, especially during busy periods when the club was forced to play in league, cup and UEFA tournaments. It could be argued that Mina, who arrived last summer, wasn’t given the proper time to prove his worth, but he’s already been replaced with the signing of Clement Lenglet from Sevilla. Paulinho, who moved back to China, was a key piece in his one season at Barcelona, but his replacement, Arturo Vidal, is arguably a more complete midfielder. It all depends on the veteran’s fitness, but if he stays healthy, then Vidal should deliver.Elsewhere, Malcom and Rafinha provide more clout in the middle and wide areas, but the biggest talking point is Arthur, the ex-Gremio star who has been given the No. 8 shirt this season–a symbol of confidence from his manager.  There are comparisons being made to Iniesta, as the 21-year-old Brazilian captivated fans this preseason with his vision and ability to move the ball with simplicity. Time will tell if he can make it count in Europe, but as far as Valverde is concerned, Arthur is ready.

As Lionel Messi takes over as club captain, it seems as if the Blaugrana–who nearly went the whole 2017-18 domestic campaign undefeated and already have the Spanish Super Cup in tow–will retain the title, but, just like with Manchester City, the chief goal is to win the Champions League.

THE BATTLE FOR MADRID (AND THE LEAGUE)

Real Madrid begins life in the league without Ronaldo and with a new manager, Julen Lopetegui, hoping to adjust to a new philosophy and not only retain the Champions League title, but also deliver a league trophy for its fans. Despite the change in personnel, however, Lucas Vazquez believes the team’s objectives never change.”I think Real Madrid’s identity stays the same. In the end, our goals are to fight and give it our all,” he told SI.com. “While it’s true some things may change when you have a new manager, we still want to do our best and win as many titles as possible.”The obvious focus is now on Gareth Bale, who has had a tremendous preseason. After his sensational bicycle kick goal in the Champions League final, Bale has the opportunity to command the spotlight left behind by the Juventus-bound Ronaldo.”It’s been very good so far with the new manager,” Bale told SI.com. “Obviously we’ve been working very hard, but training has been very enjoyable and we’ve had some good results. It’s been very good with the new boss. Just anxiously waiting to start the season.”If we can take anything from the summer, we should see Lopetegui starting Bale on the right wing of a three-headed attacking midfield that also includes Marco Asensio and Isco, but with a lot of freedom to run and alter his movement. It will be interesting to see how much 18-year-old Vinicius Junior plays. His talent is undeniable, but the team has to be careful and not overwhelm the attacker with the pressures of playing for Madrid too soon. Though, judging by his summer performance, he seems more than ready.   Courtois’s arrival will take undoubtedly take headlines as well, as Keylor Navas will fight for his place with the Belgian star. Lopetegui faces a dilemma on who to start in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday, but more importantly, how will the manager deal with the rotation if Navas stays with Los Blancos?

Across town, you’d be wise not to sleep on Atletico Madrid. Once the Antoine Griezmann drama was settled earlier this summer with “La Decisión,” Diego Simeone’s squad went to work in the transfer market. If we were to judge the season on paper alone, it seems as if Atleti could give Barcelona a bigger headache than Real this season.Gelson Martins, who arrived on a free transfer from Sporting in Portugal, is a dangerous winger who in many ways fits Simeone’s counterattacking system. Rodri, Antonio Adán and Nehuen Perez also joined the team, but it’s Thomas Lemar who can really help this season. The 22-year-old French attacking star, who was part of Didier Deschamps’ World Cup-winning squad, joined the Spanish club from Monaco for a reported €60 million and will replace the production of Yannick Carrasco, who alongside Nicolas Gaitan, left the club for China. Lemar is extremely veratile, able to play anywhere across the midfield and will fit nicely inside Simeone’s 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 preferred formations. Nikola Kalinic, the Croatian striker who moved from AC Milan, is also a good addition. The question remains: Can Real or Atleti dethrone Barcelona?

THE PARTY CRASHERS

Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Real Betis have aspirations of crashing the elite’s party, and judging by the moves made this summer, it seems as if Marcelino’s Valencia is the likeliest of the bunch to do so. Having finished fourth and only three points behind Real Madrid in 2017-2018, Valencia is poised to make noise. The addition of Michy Batshuayi on loan is an astute one, while the signings of Kevin Gameiro and Russia World Cup hero Denis Cheryshev (who returns on loan after a previous stint with the club) and potential signing of Goncalo Guedes–who starred on loan at Valencia last season–adds even more firepower into the mix.Aside from being part of the greatest unveiling of a player signing ever, it will be interesting to see how Santi Cazorla’s return fits with Villarreal.

Meanwhile, Real Betis, which was one of six teams that defeated Real Madrid last season but conceded the most goals out of any team that wasn’t relegated, used the window to bring in more defensive players such as Portugal midfielder William Carvalho and Sidnei, who moved from Deportivo la Coruña after being relegated. Sevilla suffered similar problems as Betis, conceding too many goals and losing 14 matches last season. This will be an interesting time for the team, as its new manager, Pablo Machín, led Girona to La Liga promotion in 2016-2017 and guided the club to an impressive 10th-place finish last season, the best performance by a promoted club in the last 23 years. Losing midfield stalwart and World Cup winner Steven N’Zonzi to Roma won’t help, though.

VAR

After making its debut during last Sunday’s Supercopa de España between Barcelona and Sevilla in Tangier, La Liga will implement video assistant referees for the first time.According to Spain’s football federation (RFEF), league referees have taken on intense training in order to prepare for VAR, hoping to learn from the failures and successes from this summer’s World Cup in Russia.Some of La Liga’s stars were heavily involved in VAR decisions at the World Cup, and now they’ll compete on a weekly basis with the added technology.

INTRIGUE AT THE BOTTOM

At risk of not falling behind before the season even gets going, the newly promoted teams (Rayo Vallecano, Huesca, Real Valladolid) have been active in the transfer window, mainly taking advantage of loan signings as they get ready for the top flight. Peruvians now have to reasons to love Vallecano. First, the team’s kit is almost identical to that of the national team, and second, Luis Advincula, who had an impressive World Cup with Peru, joins Vallecano on loan from Tigres. Labeled as one of the fastest–if not, the fastest–player in the world, Advincula’s unveiling brought a frenzy of Peruvian players in Madrid.

Who’s The Favorite And Who’s A Sleeper In The English Premier League?

If you’re not rooting for Manchester City, this probably isn’t your year.By Terrence Doyle

 

The Premier League, which kicks off Friday afternoon, is often regarded as the most competitive league in the world, if not the best. In fact, both of those assumptions might be false: While the Premier League boasts four of the top 10 and six of the top 15 teams in the world according to our Soccer Power Index rankings, only one other team cracks the top 50.1

This imbalance shouldn’t come as a shock: Aside from Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95 and Leicester City in 2015-16, only four teams have won the Premier League since its inception in 1992-93. And if you look at the table for every Premier League season — especially for the past decade — the top six spots are more likely than not occupied by some or all of the same six teams currently ranked in the world top 15.

If you’re hoping that the upcoming season will offer some vicissitude at the top of the table, don’t hold your breath: According to our Premier League predictions, Manchester City is a good bet to repeat as champions. And the five spaces below the Citizens will likely be occupied by — you guessed it! — Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. After we ran 20,000 simulated seasons, the closest any team got to the top six was Crystal Palace — still 16 points off the pace.

The top six teams in the Premier League are among the richest sports franchises on earth. All that money means they can afford to pay often ludicrous fees to attract the world’s best players. Money turns into results in major competitions, and results in major competitions turn into more money. And that new money turns into the buying of yet more of the world’s best players, and the top six feedback loop endures. Let’s look at how each of the top six teams — and a few others — spent this summer, and what it means for their chances at winning the Premier League title.

Who got better?

Liverpool paid a then-record fee for 25-year-old Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who led the Italian Serie A in save percentage per 90 minutes during his first year as Roma’s No. 1. He wasn’t at his best during the World Cup, but Liverpool is hoping that if given the chance in a big situation, Alisson will perform better than Loris Karius did. Liverpool also added Guinean midfielder Naby Keita, Brazilian midfielder Fabinho and Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri, making its total spend the largest in England. Adding a defensive-minded midfielder like Fabinho and a world-class keeper like Alisson should help bolster a Liverpool defense that, at times, left something to be desired during the 2017-18 campaign — and it should give the Reds a real shot at challenging for the title.

It seems impossible, but defending champion Manchester City also got better, finally landing longtime target Riyad Mahrez. It’s not clear where the former Leicester City maestro will play — Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva did a pretty good job patrolling the wings last season, after all — but it never hurts to have a winger on your squad who’s proven he can score 15 goals and assist on 10 more. Not a bad pickup for a team that broke the all-time Premier League goal record a season ago.

Despite the departure of longterm manager Arsene Wenger, hopes must be high in Highbury: Arsenal found a potential replacement for the aging Petr Cech in German keeper Bernd Leno, and the addition of Uruguayan holding midfielder Lucas Torreira should help shore up its defense, which conceded the most goals of any of the top six squads last season. Fan favorite Jack Wilshere departed for West Ham United, but injury issues have long relegated him to “could have been” status anyway.

Everton hasn’t finished inside the top six since 2013-14, but Toffee fans will be pleased with their team’s transfer window successes. The club paid Watford a lot of money for the swift and tricky Brazilian winger Richarlison,2and also added French wingback Lucas Digne. If Evertonians were displeased with the park-the-bus soccer employed by Big Sam Allardyce, they should be happy that this year’s squad will feature some players who like to go forward. Signing Colombian center back and World Cup standout Yerry Mina means they won’t suffer at the back, either. Everton will probably still finish between seventh and 10th, but it should look better doing so.

 

Who stayed mostly the same?

Manchester United is hoping to unseat rivals Manchester City and win its first title since 2013,3 but it faces one problem: The Red Devils didn’t do much during the transfer window. Portuguese right back Diogo Dalot might be the eventual heir apparent to captain Antonio Valencia, but at the tender age of 19 years old — and with just six first-team starts for Portuguese club Porto — he doesn’t transform United into champions from also-rans. Former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder and Seleção member Fred should help in the center of the pitch — he is equally capable of going forward and dropping back behind his midfield partners to help in defense, and he can play with both feet — but his high price tag carries an intense weight of expectation. Ask Paul Pogba4 how that plays in Manchester.

Who stayed mostly the same but feels worse?

The boys from White Hart Lane spent zero dollars during the transfer window. Tottenham wanted midfielder Jack Grealish but ultimately couldn’t come to terms with Aston Villa. Spurs don’t really need Grealish — they had the second best possession rate per 90 minutes in the middle third in 2017-18 — but their depth may be a problem, particularly at the start of the season.

Meanwhile, Chelsea experienced one of the most tumultuous summers in recent memory — which is saying a lot, given owner Roman Abramovich’s apparent penchant for drama. Manager Antonio Conte got the sack despite delivering a championship in 2016-17, and truant goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois forced a sale to Real Madrid. The Blues better hope that Kepa Arrizabalaga, for whom they paid a now-record fee for a keeper, is ready for the Premier League grind. Otherwise they may be forced to rely on this guy.

Who got significantly worse?

This will be the first season since 2012-135 that Leicester City will be without Mahrez, which means that the Foxes probaby stand little chance to repeat their unlikely 2015-16 run to the Premier League title. While Leicester still has goal poacher Jamie Vardy, it failed to re-sign Nigerian striker Ahmed Musa (who, by the way, had a very good World Cup). James Maddison is a nice signing and should make up for some of the offense lost with Mahrez’s departure, but don’t expect another Cinderella run from the Foxes.

The woes of Newcastle United start and end with its agreement to a permanent deal that sent its best option at forward, Aleksandar Mitrovic, to newly promoted Fulham. The Magpies must be hoping that the strike trio of Matt Ritchie, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez — who scored 18 goals combined last season — is enough to account for the potential production lost from the young Serbian hitman.

Who could play Cinderella?

Fulham can find the net — it scored 1.57 goals per 90 minutes last season, the second most in the English League Championship, exceeding its expected goals rate of 1.47. Teenage phenom Ryan Sessegnon scored on 37 percent of the shots he took last season and outperformed his expected goals tally by 5.5, while Mitrovic — who impressed at the World Cup — contributed 12 goals of his own. Adding Andre Schurrle on a two-season loan will only increase Fulham’s firepower. The club also went all in on midfielder Jean Michael Seri, a player who has been linked to seemingly every big club in Europe over the past few seasons.

And let’s not forget about Crystal Palace, the world’s 48th best team according to our SPI rankings. The Eagles got off to a historically atrocious start last season before righting the ship and finishing in the middle of the table. Additions Max Meyer and Cheikhou Kouyaté should help stabilize a midfield that had the eighth worst possession rate per 90 minutes last season, while Manchester United castoff Wilfried Zaha’s return to Selhurst Park continues to bear fruit. Zaha has scored 22 goals from the wing in the past four seasons, and at 25 years old, he is entering the prime of his career. The Eagles will likely go as far as Zaha can take them.

U.S. Soccer doesn’t need to hire a USMNT U-23 coach

The best candidate is already employed.By Rob Usry@RobUsry  Aug 10, 2018, 7:00am PDT

The U.S. Soccer men’s coaching landscape is a total mess right now. While the senior team has an interim manager and a search for a permanent name is nderway, thanks to a recently revealed hiring freeze, several youth teams are without leaders as well. The U-23 team will soon need someone to begin reparations for Olympic qualifying and the federation may not have to look very far for the best candidate for the job.Qualifying for the Olympic games has been a well-documented nightmare for the U.S. men’s program, having failed to do so in the last two times of trying. If for nothing more than pride, you can bet that a lot of attention and resources will be spent on making sure it doesn’t happen for a third straight tournament.Current USMNT interim manager Dave Sarachan took over the position from Bruce Arena with very little fanfare and plenty of cynicism. However, the veteran of American soccer has quietly done a very good job transitioning the U.S. player pool from repetitive and tired veterans to new and exciting young prospects.Tim Weah, one of those new up-and-coming talents, went on record this summer in praise of Sarachan. The PSG forward even went as far as saying that the interim tag should be lifted from his coach’s title.While it’s highly doubtful that the USSF would ever make the 64-year-old the permanent senior team manager, strictly based on public perception after a bitterly disappointing World Cupqualifying failure, it makes perfect sense to reward him for his good work in the last year.The hiring freeze has hurt any chance of the U-23 crop getting together early and getting familiar with each other. But what if you didn’t have to hire anyone at all? Sarachan is the best and most logical candidate for the job. And it just so happens that most of the players he’s incorporated to the senior team are eligible for the U-23 team as well, thus solving the issue of familiarity.Sarachan’s time as interim USMNT manager have brought encouraging results, both on the scoreboard and in figurative terms. A young and hungry crop of prospects are fighting to prove themselves every time they are called upon. In his six friendlies in charge, the inexperienced sides he’s thrown out there have all looked organized and competitive. They’ve only lost once in those matches and even managed a draw against the World Cup champions. Of course it’s irresponsible to put too much credence into friendly results, but that’s all we have to go on at this point. Beyond the scorelines, each team Sarachan has assembled appeared to have a good understanding of tactics and responsibilities.When peering out into the coaching landscape, there are no obvious candidates to take on this important job. Tab Ramos himself has plenty of Youth National Team coaching experience (with mixed results) but it seems he has plenty on his plate already, including coaching the U-20 team. Georgetown’s Brian Wiese is a logical option if you want to go the college route, although that didn’t go too swimmingly the last time with Caleb Porter. Someone like John Wolyniec of New York Red Bulls II has a reputation for developing young players, but has little experience coaching at this type of level.Sarachan has a desire to stay on as USMNT manager, but realistically he has slim to no chance of that happening. He’s also shown a willingness to work with young players. This proposition seems like the best compromise for all involved. The players get a coach who they’ll accept as a leader won’t need to adapt quickly to. Sarachan gets a reward for his good work in a difficult time. And U.S. Soccer gets a coach who gives the program a realistic chance of qualifying for the Olympics for the first time in 12 years.

Five things we learned in the Premier League

AFPAug 12, 2018, 1:42 PM

London (AFP) – The Premier League is back, with the opening weekend producing impressive displays from title contenders Liverpool and champions Manchester City, while Manchester United and Chelsea also made winning starts.Here are five things we learned from the first weekend of the new top-flight campaign:

Silva service lifts City

“Right now, it’s Bernardo and 10 others,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said when asked about Bernardo Silva’s sublime display in the champions’ Community Shield win over Chelsea last weekend. Portugal midfielder Silva didn’t always start last term but he was a blur of energy and efficient passing in City’s engine room against Chelsea and Guardiola rewarded him with a place in Sunday’s 2-0 victory in their Premier League opener at Arsenal. Guardiola’s faith wasn’t misplaced as the 23-year-old once again produced a tireless performance and rarely misplaced a pass. The influential effort was capped in the 64th minute when Silva cleverly peeled away from his Arsenal marker to meet Benjamin Mendy’s cross with a fine finish that flashed past Gunners goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Still not so United

Despite getting off to a winning start against Leicester on Friday, all is still not well at Manchester United between star midfielder Paul Pogba, manager Jose Mourinho and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Mourinho named Pogba captain and hailed a “monster” performance after he took responsibility to open the scoring from the penalty spot. French World Cup winner Pogba, though, wasn’t so effusive in his praise for his boss, claiming “if you’re not happy, you cannot give your best” and that if he voiced his true feelings he would be fined. Meanwhile, Mourinho again let his frustration at not being backed by Woodward in the transfer market be known. Woodward is adamant Pogba is not for sale despite rumoured interest from Barcelona. But at the moment all three seem locked in an unhappy marriage ahead of a season that Mourinho himself has predicted will be a “difficult” one.

Keita’s new kingdom

Liverpool have had to wait a year to get Naby Keita after sealing the deal to bring him from RB Leipzig 12 months ago, but on the evidence of a storming display from the Guinean in Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing of West Ham it’ll be worth the wait. Keita started the move for Liverpool’s opener and possessed the pace and skill to consistently drove through the heart of West Ham’s pedestrian midfield. Jurgen Klopp now has new found wealth of midfield options with Fabinho also joining from Monaco, Adam Lallana returning from injury and captain Jordan Henderson getting back to fitness after his exertions at the World Cup with England. Keita, though, could be the real difference maker in turning a 25-point deficit to champions Manchester City last season into a title challenge.

Sarri’s Hazard warning

Maurizio Sarri admits Eden Hazard needs more time to get back to his very best despite an impressive 15-minute cameo as a substitute in Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Huddersfield. Hazard has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and only returned to training with Chelsea a week ago after helping Belgium finish third at the World Cup. The midfielder’s future may not be sorted out until August 31, when the transfer window closes in Spain. But his quality was there for all to see during his brief appearance on Saturday, with a fine run from midfield taking out several Huddersfield players before he slotted in Pedro to score Chelsea’s third goal. “I think that Eden in this moment cannot play for 90 minutes. He has to improve, to have training,” Sarri said. “I think the best thing is for him to play 15-20 minutes when the opponents probably are tired.”

Spurs show steel

Tottenham may not have spent anything in the transfer market and had to play several of their stars who have just returned from well-earned breaks post the World Cup. But they coped easily enough with Newcastle in their 2-1 win at St James’ Park. Spurs are the only top tier team not to have made a signing since the end of last season and manager Mauricio Pochettino will need a tougher test than this to assess whether fatigue will be a telling factor for his squad this term.

World Cup ref chief Pierluigi Collina dishes on VAR impact at Russia 2018

2:00 AM ETGabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FCEmail

A month has passed since the end of the World Cup in Russia, hailed by many as one of the best ever. Gab Marcotti caught up with Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA’s referees committee and the man in the middle for the 2002 final between Brazil and Germany, to talk about officiating, video assistant referees (VAR) and the future.

When you look back at 2018 and the fact that relative to previous World Cups, it had perhaps the least amount of refereeing controversy, to what do you attribute it? Could it be chance? Was it VAR?

First off, I can’t believe it’s already over. But no, I think 64 games is a good sample size. And I’m delighted that the good feedback we received came from those who follow the game professionally. I’ll get to VAR, but there are a number of things we did which, I think, helped us tremendously.

For a start, referees are athletes, just like footballers. So we had a dedicated medical staff and physiotherapists supporting them throughout the tournament, particularly in recovering quickly from minor injuries.

In the same way that too much time off can make a player rusty in terms of match rhythm, we had a problem since there was a five-week gap between the end of the club season and Russia 2018 during which referees couldn’t officiate, since a World Cup referee can’t take charge of a friendly involving a World Cup-bound team.

So we organized a tournament at Lokomotiv’s ground in Moscow involving local teams, just so the referees could work and stay sharp. This was key too.

We also studied the teams differently. We brought a couple of licensed coaches into our staff and some professional match analysts. Their job was to scout the teams ahead of time.

How did that help you?

The idea was to give our guys a chance to understand how a game was likely to be played tactically and, therefore, how play was likely to unfold. That’s a big advantage for a referee, because it means he can anticipate situations.

It’s especially true on set pieces. The match analysts studied them and prepared reports for referees, so that they had a better sense of how corners and free kicks were likely to be approached. They knew what to focus on, what was most likely, what certain teams and players’ tendencies were going to be. This was an important change.

Remember, at a World Cup you have referees from six different continents, all with different experiences and backgrounds who work with different styles of football. It’s important to give them all the support they need.

Let’s get to VAR. I get the impression that old-school referees, like the Collina of 20 years ago, might not have been in favor.

After a VAR referral, Nestor Pitana awarded France a penalty in the World Cup final that Antoine Griezmann converted. David Ramos/FIFA via Getty Images

I want to be honest here: When you have a background like mine, as a referee who came of age in a certain period and enjoyed making decisions on the pitch on his own, [VAR] might not be easy to accept.

But, equally, if the ability of a referee to officiate a game is going to be judged after the fact based on video replays from multiple angles, then referees should have those replays from multiple angles too. … I said that a long time ago, and I still believe it.

I know some people are philosophically opposed to VAR because they don’t think technology has a place in football. I can respect that. But we must be open-minded and ready to implement what can be really useful and helpful.

Before VAR, you were involved in another key officiating change, that of additional assistant referees (AARs) at UEFA.

As I said before, because of my own background as a referee, I liked making decisions on my own. But then [UEFA president Michel] Platini asked me to help shape the change. A bit like VAR, it was an answer to a need: To reduce mistakes on the pitch.

And the idea was that with two extra officials who watched the game from a different angle we could reduce — not eliminate, but reduce — mistakes on the pitch. It’s still in use in UEFA competitions.

Yet in many ways, it has been supplanted by VAR.

Obviously, over the years things change. AARs improved things, but clearly it’s not comparable to what VAR can offer today. Two extra sets of eyes can’t match dozens of cameras with the possibility of freeze-framing, watching over again … there’s a substantial difference. Believe me, VAR is like a parachute, and it’s better to have it when [you] need it.

For the past 18 months, you were doing double-duty: You were at FIFA and, at the same time, you were, until last month, UEFA’s chief refereeing officer. It seemed weird to some that, while FIFA was pushing VAR, UEFA was opposed.

Some said I was schizophrenic for that very reason … the reality is that they were two different contexts. Introducing VAR across UEFA competitions presents a different set of challenges compared to a World Cup.

My successor at UEFA is Roberto Rosetti, who I brought in to drive the VAR implementation at the World Cup, and I think we’re getting to the stage where the conditions are right for VAR in the Champions League and Europa League, too. … Obviously, the decision will be made by UEFA, but if they choose to do it, they’ll be ready.

You were on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) committee that helped lay down the VAR protocol. What were the early discussions like?

I remember at the very first meeting, I emphasized that the final say for any subjective decision that required interpretation had to be down to the referee on the pitch and not the VAR. I felt strongly about this, given my background. I didn’t want the referee to be a mere executor, controlled by a joystick by someone outside the field of play.

Back to the World Cup. One of the frustrations with VAR is that sometimes it is not clear why it intervenes or does not intervene and, when it does, what is actually going on.

First of all, I want to emphasize that VAR is always watching. You only need to look at the number of “silent checks” [when VAR evaluates an incident and does not deem it worthy of an on-field review].

Beyond that, communication is important, and I think we took an important step in Russia with on-screen announcements, both in the stadium and for [TV] viewers. It’s only right that people understand what is going on.

Often, however, they don’t. I think back to the World Cup final and the penalty that was awarded to France after Ivan Perisic handled the ball. The penalty was awarded by the referee, Nestor Pitana, only after VAR called for an on-field review. I understand that it’s down to interpretation, but it certainly did not look like a clear error.

I think those who watched it closely knew the referee could not have seen it since there were bodies in the way. And because he did not see it, VAR gave him the opportunity to review it. Then his interpretation was to give a penalty.

What other benefits do you think VAR brought at the World Cup? We saw fewer protests from players.

That’s one, and I think it offsets those who say reviews delay the game. Players have been very accepting of VAR. But one other important aspect is deterrence. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we had more set piece goals and fewer off-the-ball incidents. Knowing you are watched at all times means your attitude is going to be different.

When you were still an official, FIFA’s referee committee was made up mostly by football administrators and there were only a few former referees involved. Now you’re virtually all ex-referees.

That was one of things I asked when I took the FIFA job. The referees’ committee should be made up only of specialists; it’s a technical role that shouldn’t belong to those in the politics of football. Today the head of referees from each confederation sits on the committee and that’s a big step forward.

You talk about the importance of quality; if quality is most important, will we ever see, say, a Spanish referee taking charge of Spain vs. Germany? Or will we always be fixated on nationality and neutrality?

I think that’s a utopia. No matter how professional or talented a referee is, he’d have difficulty. Imagine an official making a mistake that hurts his own country.

But we’re already taking steps forward. I’ll give you an example. Japan qualified ahead of Senegal for the knockout phase and it was very close. For Japan’s next match, against Belgium, we appointed a Senegalese referee, Malang Diedhiou, because we thought he was best for the job.

In the past, that might not have happened, people might have talked about him feeling pressure to avenge his country. Which, of course, when you think about it, is absurd.

Similarly, as far as “confederation neutrality” is concerned, we had South American referees appointed to officiate South American teams [against teams from other confederations, which previously had only been the case with European referees].

Players make mistakes and referees make mistakes. But I guess there are some big differences. One is that people don’t pay to watch referees, they pay to watch players. The other is that it’s easier for a player to redeem himself for a mistake.

Well, some of us watch referees more than players, but, yes, it’s a key difference. A player can miss a sitter and then score a hat trick. A referee who incorrectly awards a penalty and then is flawless the rest of the game will still be remembered and criticized for the mistake … That’s why we’re trying, every which way, to help limit errors.

MLS Power Rankings: New York teams challenge Atlanta United’s dominance

August 14, 20189:45AM EDTAlicia RodriguezContributorOnly MLS league games will be reflected in the rankings. Rankings are voted on by MLSsoccer.com editorial staff; words by Alicia Rodriguez.

BIGGEST MOVERS: PHI +3; HOU, NE -3

1ATL

LAST WEEK: 1  HIGH: 1 | LOW: 7

10 more games…can Atlanta United maintain their lead on top and clinch the Supporters’ Shield? They’re technically behind the Red Bulls in points per game, so it probably won’t be easy, but the Five Stripes need at least one trophy to really commemorate this initial spell for the club.

Previous: Idle | Next: vs. CLB on 8/19

2 NY Red Bulls

LAST WEEK: 3

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 7

But the Red Bulls don’t look like they’ll be going quietly in order to pave the way for Atlanta. They’re 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, so if they keep up that stellar pace they could be lifting their third Shield in late October. A grueling road game in Vancouver will be a good test this week.

Previous: Won 1-0 at CHI | Next: at VAN on 8/18

3 NYCFC

LAST WEEK: 4

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 6

 

NYCFC post a good win in Toronto, which, yes, did include a very early red card to Jozy Altidore. But credit to the front office for picking up the likes of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi – he may not have the name recognition of previous signings, but he’s on a scoring pace of a tick under a goal every other game.

Previous: Won 3-2 at TOR | Next: at PHI on 8/18

4 Portland

LAST WEEK: 2

HIGH: 2 | LOW: 18

The streak had to end at some point, and Vancouver’s battling performance (and a wayward penalty by the usually reliable Diego Valeri) snapped Portland’s unbeaten run at 15. With a big two-game week here, it could be a pivotal juncture in the Timbers’ campaign.

Previous: Lost 2-1 vs. VAN | Next: at DC on 8/15; vs. SKC on 8/18

5 KC

LAST WEEK: 7

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 15

If at first you don’t succeed, go back on the road? Sporting have won their last two away from home, on conference opponents, and an efficient victory against a rotated LAFC lineup shows Peter Vermes’ group may be out of their summer slump for good.

Previous: Won 2-0 at LAFC | Next: at POR on 8/18

6 FC Dallas (Matt Hedges)

LAST WEEK: 5

HIGH: 4 | LOW: 18

Two losses in a row, although the latest, on the road against a surging Sounders team, isn’t a huge upset. But Dallas’ cushion at the top of the Western Conference is down to three points, so they can’t afford to keep dropping points.

Previous: Lost 2-1 at SEA  | Next: vs. MIN on 8/18

7 Columbus Crew

LAST WEEK: 9

HIGH: 2 | LOW: 12

The week off seemed to do Columbus good, as they returned to action and defeated the Dynamo, albeit by the skin of their teeth. Questions persist about whether this team is truly a contender, but might their game in Atlanta at the weekend be a preview for another playoff clash between the teams?

Previous: Won 1-0 vs. HOU | Next: at ATL on 8/19

8 LAFC

LAST WEEK: 6

HIGH: 3 | LOW: 17

LAFC are only three points out of second place in their conference, but five games winless in league play leaves them drifting just above the playoff line. Once thought to be a sure thing for the playoffs in their first year, if they stumble in a double-game week, that certainty may vanish.

Previous: Lost 2-0 vs. SKC | Next: vs. RSL on 8/15; vs. COL on 8/19

9 Seattle Sounders

LAST WEEK: 10

HIGH: 4 | LOW: 21

The Sounders’ rally isn’t quite done, but unbeaten in eight, with five wins in a row, they’re just three points out of the playoff spots now. A home game against the Galaxy remains a marquee match-up, and a win there could move them above the playoff line.

Previous: Won 2-1 vs. DAL | Next: vs. LA on 8/18

10 LA Galaxy

LAST WEEK: 8

HIGH: 6 | LOW: 14

The Galaxy posted a home draw against Minnesota that feels like a loss, and yet more injury concerns for key players could set them back again. The voters still believe LA are a top 10 team, but they may not find a way to climb much higher as their inconsistency continues.

Previous: Drew 2-2 vs. MIN | Next: vs. COL on 8/14; at SEA on 8/18

Football lines will be visible on turf in Lucas Oil Stadium for next seven matches

For the rest of 2018, National Football League lines and configuration will be visible on-field during Indy Eleven home matches. The change comes after new turf was installed in Lucas Oil Stadium last month. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to play our home games on the new turf,” said Indy Eleven president Jeff Belskus. “Unfortunately, painting over the football lines was not acceptable for all parties. As a result, we’ll be playing with football lines visible for the rest of the year.”
This is the first year Indy Eleven has played in Lucas Oil Stadium after moving to the United Soccer League in January of this year. “Indiana’s Team” agreement is with the Capital Improvement Board to play in the 70,000 seat stadium. The CIB was formed in 1965 by the Indiana General Assembly and empowered to finance and manage capital improvements throughout the city of Indianapolis. Indy Eleven have seven more home matches in 2018; August 15 against North Carolina FC, August 22 against Toronto FC II, August 29 against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, September 1 against Richmond Kickers, September 5 against New York Red Bulls II, September 26 against Tampa Bay Rowdies and October 6 against Bethlehem Steel FC

INDY 11 — Four matches in the next eighteen days!

Our Indy Eleven currently occupy the 8th and final playoff spot, however, have many games in hand on the teams ahead of us in the standings currently. These home games could ultimately decide our playoff fate over the coming weeks.Get your BYBTIX for the next four home games HERE! Don’t forget that you save $8 per ticket off the online and box office price by buying from us!

Wed, August 22   7PM kick off     v. Toronto FC II

Wed, August 15   7PM kick off     v. Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Wed, Sept 1         7PM kick off     v. Richmond Kickers

Parking passes at Gate10Events is $11 with advance purchase. $15 day of.  Save $$$ by buying early.

A letter to our former President and the all of the BYB  Joshmason

I’ve put this off for far too long at this point, but I wanted to publicly thank Josh Mason for all of the work he has done for the Brickyard Battalion over the past seven-odd years. As we recently have celebrated our seventh year in existence on August 3rd, one does not have the time to list all of the wonderful things Josh had championed for the BYB during his tenure as a board member. He leaves a legacy that includes two Brickyard Battalion-inspired beers, Full 90 by Flat 12 and our current partnership with People’s Brewing with our Battalion Ale. As you can imagine, getting a brewing company to brew a beer specifically for a lower division soccer supporters group and team is few and far between. The connections Josh has made over the years, both professionally and personally, led to the success of this venture. This only touches the surface of many of the projects owned and countless hours Josh has spent to enable our ability to support our club. His professionalism will be something that will be difficult to emulate.Thankfully, he made the career choice to move to the front office of our Indy Eleven. We know the energy and passion he has for our club will lead to many great things off the pitch and certainly his dedication will contribute to results on the pitch as well. I do, however, feel sorry for him as now he gets to feel the wrath of our own Peter Evans who pulls no punches when it comes to ensuring our support culture is treated like a top priority for the team, off the pitch. Just ask Tom Dunmore or Andy Piggush, those calls and texts will come at any hour of the day or night. Good luck! All jokes aside, we couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with between the BYB and front office, and we look forward to an even stronger relationship with the front office going forward.We will have a few board seats open in the coming months, including Josh’s vacancy. Please be on the lookout for future BYB meetings that will include an invite to any and all Indy Eleven supporters. We will need your help! If you’ve ever wanted to become more active in our supporters group and help us provide the best atmosphere for our club to thrive, keep an eye out on future emails/social media posts with more details to come.Until then, the best thing you can do is continue to buy tickets through our BYBTix initiative. Interest has waned slowly since our incredible success with our first home match against Cincinnati. We have 39 tickets to sell per match to break even and with the majority of our remaining home games on Wednesdays, it’s a tough sell. Please pass along the link to co-workers, friends and family.

All the best,
Andrew Retz
New President, Brickyard Battalion

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

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

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

 

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8/10/18 EPL Season Starts, Indy 11 at home Wed Eve 7 pm, MLS features Indy players on TV Sun

INDY 11

The Indy 11 tied defending Champs Louisville 2-2 at their place last weekend as a vocal crowd of BYB fans were on hand!!  Congrats to GK Fon Williams as his steady play in the win at Bethlehem led to his making the USL team of the week.  Our Boys in Blue return home this Wed Aug 15 and of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

EPL KICK OFF WEEKEND

The full season kicks off this weekend with Man United facing Leicester City Friday 3 pm on NBCSN, Newcastle hosting Tottenham Sat at 7:30 am and Everton hosting Wolverhampton Saturday at 12:30 on NBC followed by Goalzone (a 30 minute gameday wrap up show).  Sunday we get the meat of the best games with Liverpool vs West Ham at 8 am on NBCSN, and Arsenal facing Man City to follow at 11 am all on NBCSN.  While it is great to see EPL soccer on TV in the US and NBCSN has done a fine job and NBC – I am still disappointed that on opening weekend we have 4 of the 5 games at 10 am on pay per view – NBCsportsgold only.  As a longtime Fulham America fan – I am sad I can not see their return to the EPL today. (see Season previews below – I will make my picks after weekend 1 like normal)

MLS HomeGrown TV

The MLS TV slate this weekend features a trio of homegrown Indy players as Sunday’s tripleheader starts at 4 pm on ESPN with Westfield star Eriq Zavaleta (yes son of the owner Carlos Zavaleta of Indiana Soccer Academy) the 6th year pro who won a NC at Indiana University has settled in as a starting Center Back for the defending MLS Champion Toronto.  Toronto hosts NYCFC riding a 6 game unbeaten streak as the oft injured Jose Altidore has returned to the line-up.  At 8 pm DC United with new signing Wayne Rooney at the brand new Audi Field will host Orlando City and Carmel native and Guerin star Cam Lindley on Fox Sport 1.  The 2 bottom of the East Teams are headed in opposite directions as DC United is in better form with a Draw and Win while Orlando has lost 4 of their last 6 matches.  Finally former Carmel High State Champion and starting Centerback Matt Hedges will travel with his league leading FC Dallas squad to face Seattle at 10 pm on FS1. Seattle the hottest team in MLS with 4 straight wins and no losses in their last 8 games is a powerhouse at home at Century Link Field in front of their Gang Green home supporters – a must see for the what is arguably still the best home setting in US soccer.

4 pm ESPN                    Toronto (Eriq Zavaleta) vs NYCFC

8 pm Fox Sport1         DC United (Rooney) vs Orlando City (Cam Lindley)

10 pm FS1                     Seattle Sounders vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

EPL – Starts this Weekend

EPL Season Predictions EPSN

Liverpool Still has Holes to fill

Chelsea Fans Happy to See Courtois exit

Arsenal Will Never Be the Same – if Takeover happens

The Luck Index: The findings and methodology 
– Man United luckiest, Liverpool unluckiest 
– Index proves luck doesn’t even out over time

MLS

Power Rankings After Week 23 MLS

Cincy Approaches 25K for Season Tix Sales for 2019

MLS Power Rankings

Doyle: Complete guide to the Week 24 MLS slate

Kick Off: What you need to know today

Hot Sounders look to keep rolling vs. FC Dallas

Sounders, Loons talk after Seattle’s last-gasp win

Whose stock rose and whose fell in Week 23?

FCD’s Pareja backs Gonzalez despite howlers

Bono: Sleeping on Toronto FC “is ridiculous”

Transfer window winners/losers + Acosta interview

Get deep inside the All-Star Game action

Indy 11

Indy 11 Gets Draw on Road at Louisville 2-2

Indy 11 Sends United Way Donor to MLS All-Star Game

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

Indy 11 GK named to USL Team of the Week 20

Indy 11 beat Bethehem

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

WORLD

SUPERCUP 8/15 Wed 3 pm -Real Madrid vs Atletico Notes

GAMES ON TV This Week

Fri, Aug 9     EPL Starts

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Leicester City      

Sat, Aug 11     EPL Starts

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United vs Tottenham

10 am NBCSN                Huddersfield Town vs Chelsea

12:30 pm NBCSN        Wolverhampton vs Everton

Sun, Aug 12     EPL Starts

8 am NBCSN                   Liverpool vs West Ham United

11 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs Man City

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

3 pm bein Sport          PSG vs Caen

4 pm ESPN Des/+        Barcelona vs Seville – SUPER CUP

4 pm ESPN                    Toronto (Eriq Zavaleta) vs NYCFC

8 pm Fox Sport1          DC United (Rooney) vs Orlando City (Cam Lindley)

10 pm FS1                      Seattle Sounders vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Mon, Aug 13            

7:30 am Fox Sport 2 USA U20 Ladies vs Spain U20 

7:30 am Fox Soccer Japan U20 Ladies vs Uraguay U20  

10:30 am FS 2               Germany vs Haiti

Wed,  Aug 15

3 pm TNT?                       Real Madrid vs Athletico Madrid UEFA Super Cup

7 pm myindytv             Indy 11 vs North Carolina   

10 pm ESPN2                 LAFC vs Real Salt Lake      

Thurs, Aug 16           

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC QF

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 Womens WC QF

Fri, Aug 17                 

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC QF

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 Womens WC QF

2:45 pm FS2?                Schweinfurt vs Schalke (Mckinney)

7 pm SEC Network     Florida vs Washington

Sat, Aug 18    

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Cardiff

10 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Fulham (Tim)

12 noon beIN Sport      Cheivo vs Juventus

12:30 pm NBCSN        Chelsea vs Arsenal  

2 pm ESPN+                    Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

4 pm ESPN                       Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy (Zlatan)

7 pm Yes Network     Philly Union vs NYCFC

10 pm FS2                       Monterey vs Pumas (Mexican)

Sun, Aug 19    

8 am NBCSN                   Man City vs Huddersfield Town (Danny Williams)

11 am NBCSN                Brighton vs Man United

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Real Madrid vs Getafe

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England  

7 pm SEC Network+  Florida vs Fla Atlantic

Mon, Aug 20    

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

2 pm beIN Sport         Valencia vs Athletico Madrid

3 pm NBCSN                   Crystal Palace vs Liverpool       

Wed, Aug 22    

7 pm FS 1                       NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – NY Darby

7 pm myindytv/espn+ Indy 11 vs Toronto 2

Thurs, Aug 23    

7 pm ESPN+                    Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

10 pm FS2                       Tijuana vs Santos Laguna (Mex)

Fri, Aug 24                     German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1      Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

7 pm ESPN                       Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN            LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

Sat, Aug 25     

7:30 am NBCSN            Wolverhampton vs Man city 

9:30 am FS 1                  Wolfsburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

10 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs West Ham United

12 noon beIN Sport      Juventus vs Lazio

12:30 pm NBCSN        Liverpool vs Brighton

12:30 pm FS 1              M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen

7 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta 2 vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

8 pm ESPN News         Washington Spirit vs Portland Thorns (Ladies) 

Sun, Aug 26    

8 am NBCSN                   Watford vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am FS1                    Mainz vs Stuttgart

11 am NBCSN                New Castle United vs Chelsea

12 noon Fox Soccer  Dortmund (Pulisic) vs RB Leipzig

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Girona vs Real Madrid 

7 pm Fox Sport1          NY Red Bulls vs DC United (Rooney)

9:30 pm FS1                   Portland vs Seattle Sounders (Cascadia Cup)

Mon, Aug 27    

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Tottenham

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

“DEAR INDY ELEVEN FANS…”

By Martin Rennie, 08/08/18, 12:30PM EDT    An open letter to the fans from Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie

Dear Indy Eleven Fans,

I hope you’re having a great summer and I trust you are looking forward to the rest of our 2018 USL season. We have just passed the midway point in our schedule so I wanted to take the chance to thank you all for the tremendous support you have given to me, my staff, my players and our families. Indianapolis truly is a great city and the Indy Eleven family is something that we are all very proud to be a part of. For most of us, this is our first season with Indy Eleven, so thank you for making us feel welcome.When most USL teams were beginning their training camps for the 2018 season, Indy Eleven had just appointed me as Head Coach following a turbulent offseason for the club where there was a phenomenal amount of work to be done. We have had to contend with a new stadium, league, coaching staff, players and all the uncertainty that the previous offseason delivered. For our club to be where it is at this point in the 2018 season is an incredible feat, and it shows the passion and commitment that we all have for this club.Before Indy Eleven kicked a ball in the 2018 USL season, I had heard great things about the unwavering support the Indy Eleven fans were well known for. Now that I have personally experienced this support, I can only say that our fans have delivered way beyond my expectations. From the ‘You Better Run’ tifo in our home opener to the roar that greeted our winning goal in our most recent home game, our fans have been with us every step of the way. You have inspired us to do more than at times seemed possible.We have built a strong foundation with the team so far this season and we have adapted to our new surroundings. We have set a new franchise record for road wins this season and it is now our goal to make sure we set that bar as high as we possibly can for the future. We also recognize that we have to make our home stadium a fortress that becomes far more difficult for opponents to play in. As a team, we need to be in the face of the opposition from the first whistle playing with confidence and passion that matches what we see from our fans in the stands.

Off the field, there is also much work to be done to take Indy Eleven Soccer operations to a much higher level. We want to be able to support the Indiana soccer community in a more meaningful way. Our vision is focused on partnering with local clubs and coaches to support them in developing young soccer players all across Indiana. As I have coached around the world, I have seen the power that the game of soccer has to unite communities, teach valuable life lessons and deliver joy to its participants. We plan to have our players and coaches pass on their knowledge and experience to any players, teams, administrators or coaches who have an interest in partnering with us.

I really believe that this is an exciting time for Indy Eleven and for soccer in our community. We are part of a stable league in the USL that has been around for more than 30 years. Our club has established itself in this market despite many obstacles and has become stronger than ever. The future is bright for Indy Eleven. I am very happy to be a part of it and I am very thankful that you are a part of the team too. Together, we are building a soccer organization that many communities around the country could only dream of.  As we stick together and help one another there is no doubt in my mind that the best days for Indy Eleven are in front of us.

Eleven Forever, Martin Rennie   Head Coach, Indy Eleven

Premier League preview: ESPN FC’s writer predictions for 2018-19

lay

The Exploding Heads are back for another Premier League season and share their rather hilarious outtakes of what to expect this season. (2:34)

5:47 PM ETESPN

The Premier League is back! Which club do our writers think will win the title in 2018-19? Who will finish in the coveted Champions League spots? Which three clubs will go down? And who will finish as top scorer and player of the year? We asked our writers, here are their answers.

Gab Marcotti

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Bournemouth
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku, Man United
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Mark Ogden

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Bournemouth, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool

Graham Hunter

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Shaka Hislop

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Watford
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Tony Evans

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Brighton, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku, Man United
Player of the Year: Raheem Sterling, Man City

Steve Nicol

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Fulham
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Michael Cox

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Craig Burley

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Nick Miller

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Man City surpassed 100 goals and reached 100 points while running away with the 2017-18 title. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Paul Mariner

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Brighton, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Nick Ames

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Ian Darke

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Man City 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Southampton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Richard Jolly

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Adam Hurrey

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Julien Laurens

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Fulham, Brighton, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Stewart Robson

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Newcastle
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Harry Kane, Tottenham

Raf Honigstein

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Bournemouth
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

James Horncastle:

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Southampton, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Paolo Bandini

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Man United
Relegated: Southampton, Watford, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Roberto Firmino, Liverpool

Mattias Karen

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Brighton, Cardiff City, Wolves
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Jonathan Smith

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Newcastle, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Rob Dawson

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Dan Thomas

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Southampton, Brighton
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Glenn Price

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Man City 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Newcastle. Brighton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Sadio Mane, Liverpool

Liam Twomey

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Scott Patterson

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Watford, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku, Man United
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Janusz Michallik

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Simon Curtis

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Bournemouth, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: John Stones, Man City

Kevin De Bruyne lost out to Mo Salah for PFA Player of the Year in 2017-18. Will he win it in 2018-19? Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Brian McBride

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Brighton, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Mark Worrall

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Luke O’Farrell

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Fulham
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Steven Kelly

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Tottenham 3. Liverpool 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Southampton, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

James McNicholas

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Leroy Sane, Man City

Alexis Nunes

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Leroy Sane, Man City

Musa Okwonga

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Man City 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Southampton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

David Mooney

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

David Wagner and Huddersfield impressively survived Year 1 but could they be in relegation trouble in 2018-19? Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

John Crace

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Tottenham 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Cardiff City, Bournemouth, Huddersfield
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Sebastian Salazar

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Cardiff City, Watford, Brighton
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: David Silva, Man City

Phil Lythell

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Brighton, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Tom Adams

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Watford, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Herculez Gomez

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Watford, Brighton
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Ben Pearce

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Adrian Healey

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Arsenal 3. Man City 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Crystal Palace
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Sadio Mane, Liverpool

Andy Mitten

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Southampton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the comments section below and join the debate on ESPN FC.

Jurgen Klopp spending puts Liverpool in title contention but squad still has holes

Aug 8, 2018  Steven KellyLiverpool blogger

After an active transfer window and a successful preseason, optimism at Liverpool is higher than for many years. That has translated into giddiness in some quarters. Some fans are even predicting a title win, never mind a challenge.That may just indicate a desire to meet outsiders’ estimates of Liverpool’s chances head on. If the Reds should slip below inflated expectations this season, mockery would be unavoidable anyway — so why worry about it?Be as realistic as you like, point out the 90 points needed to even threaten a challenge has never been achieved by any Liverpool team. It still wouldn’t dampen the positivity, and nor should it.The first choice side is clearly going to be very good. Were that the deciding factor in a title battle, Liverpool could stand their ground with anyone. Yes, even Manchester City who’ve already lost three times to the Reds in 2018.Bill Shankly once said the league was a marathon not a sprint. Factors other than ability will be decisive during a long, arduous campaign.Luck and fitness will certainly play a part. With Jurgen Klopp’s high-octane style there’s bound to be more than the odd casualty. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is already sidelined for the season.Modern football long since moved into the squad era, never to return to a simpler time when Liverpool won the 1965-66 title with just 14 players while also reaching a European final.To be successful you need an entire second XI that’s talented enough to perform well in the Premier League if it were a separate entity.Do Liverpool have that? By buying quality players in the summer they’ve certainly strengthened but will it be enough to justify the hype?They could improve in certain areas. Fans will pray Alisson stays fit, reducing the need to see if Loris Karius can maintain sufficient focus during what will probably be a largely inactive year.Klopp might have been indulging his unique sense of humour by making Alberto Moreno captain for the last preseason friendly, a 3-1 home win against Torino.The Spaniard seemed to have fallen from grace after a strong first season showing from Andrew Robertson. When rarely called upon, Moreno didn’t cover himself in glory. Should the Scot suffer a difficult second season, there would be little faith in the alternative.At centre-half there are continued physical doubts over Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, hence the earlier than usual appearance of upcoming youngster Nathaniel Phillips. During the Torino game Marko Grujic and Fabinho also filled in at centre half — grim reminders of Lucas Leiva’s sticking-plaster attempts to play that role.Central midfield looks like being a strong area, but finding the right three players and the appropriate blend may be tricky for Klopp. Choice is good, but you can be spoilt for it sometimes.Liverpool’s magical forward line appears to have no problem whatsoever, but they’re such a unique combination that any deviation from the usual three stars may cause confusion and weakness.Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge have both looked good during the summer matches, perhaps solving another problem from last season when few changes from the substitutes’ bench filled supporters with hope.Sturridge’s long run of fitness difficulties may create scepticism on that score, unless there’s finally been an acceptance of a peripheral role by a footballer who can be one of England’s deadliest strikers on his best day.Squad rotation is never easy. To compete for the title, Klopp would need to get at least 90 percent of his changes absolutely spot on.So many factors come into play. It isn’t just about ability. Fitness is often considered the main reason for change, but you also depend on the character of certain players to accept they won’t play a lot but must perform to their utmost whenever selected.There is also the manager’s assessment of the opponent, whether change can be risked against certain teams which “shouldn’t” present much of an obstacle. Over the years, those have been the games that numerous Liverpool managers have had most difficulty with.Klopp’s early transfer business was clearly planned, to try and get his team to hit the ground running while the World Cup messes around with everybody’s normal summer preparations.Liverpool’s spending has captured the imagination and catapulted them forward as main contenders, despite coming a fairly distant fourth last time.The colossal burden of intricacies involved in winning 80 percent of the available points is frightening, but even that might end up not being enough.Preseason confidence is justified however and a little luck with injuries would go a long way towards making the Reds true contenders.The size of the task and the number of things that need to go the club’s way to succeed should never be underestimated or ignored, however.

Thibaut Courtois tarnishes Chelsea legacy as fans rejoice at Madrid move

Aug 9, 2018Mark WorrallChelsea blogger

Thibaut Courtois was Chelsea’s problem child, but thankfully for the club’s supporters he’s not their issue anymore. Finally, after what feels like an eternity of his whinging and whining, the goalkeeper has realised his “dream” of being transferred to Real Madrid.

There was always a chance that the drawn out saga centred around Courtois’ desire to return to the Spanish capital would become bitter and twisted. No other player in the Chelsea history has polarised fan opinion in the way the Belgium international has. Indeed, no other Blues player has seen the vestiges of support for his cause evaporate into nothing in such spectacular fashion as it did when the news broke on Monday that Courtois had failed to report back to Chelsea for preseason training.

Having spurned the opportunity to talk with new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, a further no-show by Courtois on Tuesday brought about a social media meltdown as supporters unified to denounce the keeper for the ultimate cardinal sin in their eyes — disrespecting the club.

It had all started out sweetly enough in 2011 when Courtois was signed from Genk for a fee of £7.9 million. Viewed as the long-term successor to Petr Cech, who was still at the peak of his powers, a loan deal with Atletico Madrid was agreed. The young keeper, 19 at the time, would end up spending three seasons with the Rojiblancos — a hugely successful period for the club who won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Europa League and were runners-up in the Champions League final.

So far so good, but when Jose Mourinho called Courtois back to Chelsea in the summer of 2014, that’s when the tribulations started. The keeper had been stand-offish about coming to Stamford Bridge and refused to sign a new contract unless he was given assurances by Mourinho he would be first choice between the posts. The arrogance of youth held sway, the Special One buckled, and Cech — then just 32 and still viewed by many Chelsea supporters as the best keeper in the world — was marginalised and would eventually be sold to rivals Arsenal.Courtois signed a new five-year deal, but the circumstances didn’t sit easy with fans and as a consequence many questioned whether or not playing for Chelsea meant anything to him.Of course he was shown plenty of welcoming love by the fans, the chant “Thibaut, Thibaut!” would echo around Stamford Bridge, but that didn’t stop Courtois at every given opportunity, particularly when away on international duty with Belgium, talking about his love of Madrid.Yes, there was sympathy for his domestic situation, as he had a Spanish girlfriend and two children back home, but there was no need for Courtois to constantly repeat himself. Chelsea had bent over backwards to accommodate his wishes, even shunting aside goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon — brought in originally to work with Cech — so the apparent lack of loyalty rankled.Real Madrid making no secret of their ambition to sign Courtois didn’t help matters and once again the Belgian stood off signing an improved contract with Chelsea, making a series of “wait and see” non-committal comments.Although he played a major part in winning two Premier League titles, many fans wondered if he’d actually improved as a goalkeeper. As it transpired, his Achilles’ heel was exposed earlier this year during a Champions League tie with Barcelona in the Camp Nou when Lionel Messi beat him twice by putting the ball through his legs. The keeper’s disclosure this was his area of weakness drew ridicule and scorn from fans, but he seemed unfazed by it. By the end of the season it was a case of enough-is-enough

Sarri hit the nail squarely on the head when he said he only wanted players “with a very high level of motivation”. That was never going to be Courtois, and his inability to meet the new boss face-to-face bore all the hallmarks of cowardice.When the news broke on Tuesday that Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was set to sign for Chelsea, the sense of joy among fans was palpable even if the fee was an astronomical £71.6m.Finally, closure over Courtois was in sight. In the end it mattered little to them that the deal agreed with Real for the Belgian to get his move to the Bernabeu amounted to just £35m, sweetened with a one-year loan of Croatia international midfielder Mateo Kovacic.Football is a simple business. Supporters need to feel an affinity for a player, and that’s a two-way street. When a bond is established, it can override all manner of problems.Unfortunately, Courtois never really got to grips with this concept at Chelsea because deep down his heart never looked in it at the Bridge. It didn’t have to end this way, but it has and the manner of Courtois’ departure has all but ensured his legacy will remain tarnished.

Arsenal takeover by Stan Kroenke kills part of club’s soul

Aug 8, 2018Tom AdamsArsenal blogger

What is a football club? Is it the bricks and mortar that provide its physical structure? The players and coaches who are responsible for shaping its fate and pursuing its ambitions on the pitch? Or the supporters, who through their collective expression of identity and deep emotional attachment supply a club with its soul?If you lean towards the third option, it’s hard not to feel that a part of Arsenal’s soul died this week.Arsenal, which with its marble halls and conception of doing things the “Arsenal way” has always had a fond sense of its own history, will never quite be the same again after the news emerged that majority shareholder Stan Kroenke had toppled the last remaining barrier to sole ownership by convincing Alisher Usmanov to sell his 30.05 percent stake in the club for around £600 million. With 97 percent of the club now in his possession, Kroenke can and will force the remaining shareholders to sell up.

For the first time since a group of workers at the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory joined together to form a football club in 1886, Arsenal will be the sole private interest of one individual. Supporters who were proud to be shareholders and act on behalf of their contemporaries in a custodial role will have their investment forcibly removed from them. A Rubicon has been crossed.In practical terms, it will essentially be business as usual — at least for now. Arsenal’s refusal to allow Usmanov onto the board means that Kroenke has effectively been running the club as he likes in any case. This is no leap into the unknown under a new owner; indeed, Arsenal fans are only too aware of Kroenke’s hands-off approach. His desire to run Arsenal as a self-sufficient entity without needing to dip into his own pockets is well established.But if it carries minimal practical weight, the emotional toll exacted by this week’s announcement is nevertheless substantial. The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust described it as a “dreadful” development for the club. Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn has voiced his regret that “this sale will bring to an end the longstanding official role of Arsenal supporters in the running of the club.”Even if supporter oversight and investment in Arsenal had waned in the face of Kroenke’s expanding ownership and stony-faced silence, it still existed in a very real sense. Minor shareholders could still attend Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and voice their concerns, asking probing questions of the Arsenal hierarchy. They feel they had some say, however small, in the direction of the club.Even if their questions were sometimes met with an arrogant response from various chairmen, the AGMs maintained an important link between the club and its supporters: a reminder that Arsenal was at heart a collective enterprise still beholden to its community. Mirroring the wider trend in football, that link will now be severed entirely. Arsenal, a whole club with a verdant history and millions of supporters around the globe, will be the sole property of one man. Frankly, it’s unthinkable.When Kroenke made his first investment in Arsenal, purchasing 9.9 percent of the club in 2007, then-chairman Peter Hill-Wood, bristling with indignation, said the other shareholders would be “horrified to see the club go across the Atlantic.” Hill-Wood’s suspicion of Kroenke mellowed pretty quickly as the American began working alongside him on the board and started buying up his shareholding, but today his words ring true in a very real sense.

Divorced from any oversight from supporters at home, and with no requirement to open up the financials in public fashion, Kroenke can effectively decide the future of the club from his base in Delaware. Arsenal can now be officially registered in America. In an administrative sense, they can become every bit as American as the other assets in his portfolio: the Los Angeles Rams, the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Rapids.The days when football clubs were run as benevolent social institutions, of and for the local community, are long gone. Full supporter ownership of a sports behemoth valued at £1.8 billion by the Kroenke takeover is a utopian dream rendered impossible by the financial realities of an engorged industry. But before this week, Arsenal at least paid lip service to the notion that supporters could match emotional investment with financial investment and have some sense of ownership over their club. Now, those supporters are utterly powerless.Of course, Arsenal will carry on. Games will be won, lost and drawn, players will be moved in and out, matchday tickets will be purchased and message boards and social media sites will be a constantly flickering hive of debate, impassioned argument and general ridiculousness. If Arsenal are wildly successful under Unai Emery, then most people probably won’t even care. But underneath it all the fabric of Arsenal, and that fundamental relationship between a club and its supporters, has changed forever.

Armchair Analyst: Your complete guide to the Week 24 MLS slate

August 10, 201810:38AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

Just a bit of housecleaning before we dive in: I’ll be on vacation next week, so talk to Wiebe and Warshaw about Week 25. On a scale of Nigel De Jong to Mauro Diaz, how much will you miss me?Let’s take a look at what’s coming up in Week 24:

Saturday Slate

Columbus Crew SC vs. Houston Dynamo
7:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

There are a couple of other X-factors kicking around, one being the lack of a healthy No. 10 for Crew SC, and the other being Houston’s weary legs after a long and successful Wednesday night of U.S. Open Cup action. The first might mean that Meram plays centrally as a 10, and the other should mean three points for Columbus regardless.

New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
7:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

As with Houston, we should all expect the Union to come into this game with weary legs after serious midweek action. Philly did have a bit of a stroll – it was a 3-0 USOC win over a Fire team that was inferior for the full 90 – but those minutes add up, especially when heading out on the road for a game that is, frankly, ginormous.Philly need to bottle what it was they had against Chicago and somehow take it with them to Foxborough. They utterly dominated central midfield on Wednesday night, knocking the ball around a ton and generating chance after chance both into and out of Zone 14.Obviously that’s harder to do against a Revs team whose whole gameplan is build upon disruption. Rule No. 1 under Brad Friedel thus far has been “get pressure to the ball,” and his team has bought in.The problem is that when they’re not able to get pressure to the ball, they’re not able to keep it out of their own net. I’m not sure how close Michael Mancienne is to full fitness, and I’m sure they signed him for a lot of reasons, but here’s the big one: They have to defend better in the 18. If he can help with that, he’ll play.If he can’t help with that, and the Revs don’t get three points here, it’s very, very difficult to figure out their path to the playoffs. I’m not going to call this “do or die time,” but rather “don’t and probably die.”

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls
8:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Chicago lost on Wednesday, and then on Thursday outright waived two rotation players: right back Kevin Ellis (who’s started 19 games), and center mid Tony Tchani (who was mostly disappointing after a solid 2017 season in Vancouver). They sit in 10th place in the East, have won once in the last two months, and it seems safe to say that things are broken for them.To put it gently: There’s not a single thing they seem to do particularly well. This team was so dynamic building through the middle, so lethal up top last year, but age, injury and attrition caught up to them and smothered them. Philly was able to do that on Wednesday:nd that’s what the Red Bulls will attempt to do on Saturday. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Chris Armas experiment, at least a little bit, with a two-striker look since Chicago have so much trouble tracking runners in their defensive third.

Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes
9 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Did anyone look at this game coming up and think it would feature two teams attempting to build a winning streak? The Rapids and Quakes have both been, let’s say, “not good” for a long while, but both were “quite good” last weekend.There’s nothing much I can add to my colleague Bobby Warshaw’s take on how Kellyn Acosta and the 4-4-2 diamond have transformed Colorado over the last couple of weeks. I will just say that 1) watch out for El Homie on the overlap – if you take that away, I think the Rapids won’t be able to invent any sort of creative thrust no matter what formation they play, and 2) I still want to see Acosta get on the ball more. My biggest complaint about his game is that for a player so gifted, he spends far too much time as a passenger.I’m still solidly in “continue to wait, continue to see” mode about the Quakes. The defense definitely does seem better organized since Guram Kashia arrived, and after a month of nothing the attack finally took advantage of some gifts in Frisco. That was all very nice, and something to build upon, but I’m not rushing out to buy stock just yet.

Real Salt Lake vs. Montreal Impact
10 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

I’m kind of wracking my brain trying to come up with what, exactly, to say about this one that I haven’t said before a million times. There are obvious things that need to go right for RSL: the central midfield has to stay together defensively, and Corey Baird has to drag the opposing center backs all over to create unexpected angles for the wingers, and the fullbacks have to push into the attack and add a bit of variation to things.When all that happens, and they play at home, they win. It’s straightforward at this point.The same is mostly true for Montreal, who’ve sunk back to earth over the last five weeks (1-2-2 record) after a very nice June. They’re still defending deep, absorbing pressure and hitting on the break. Push too high and let Saphir Taider hit one of his heat-seeking outlets, and they will get out and get after you.At the same time, you’ve got to force them to really, really defend in their own 18 because they’re not particularly good at it. They especially struggle tracking outside-in runs from opposing wingers, which should play to RSL’s strengths.

LAFC vs. Sporting KC
10:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

One of the big questions all year for LAFC has been “can they do it without a true defensive midfielder?” Mark-Anthony Kaye was the closest they had – he was more of a pure central midfielder, though one with more defensive responsibilities than the other guys in Black-and-Gold – but now that he’s done for the year it’s the likes of Benny FeilhaberLee Nguyen and Eduard Atuesta trying to keep things tight through the middle.None of those guys is a ball-winner, and that matters. First, because it means they have to defend by having the ball. Second, because it means they are starting to look more and more vulnerable when they don’t:Those are Houston’s key passes (yellow arrows) and assists (blue) from Wednesday night’s 3-3 USOC semifinal thriller (which the Dynamo won in penalties). And that’s a ton of chances to give up out of Zone 14.SKC haven’t been great lately, but they just brought Krisztian Nemeth back, Johnny Russell‘s expected to play this weekend, and Gianluca Busio is clearly an upgrade over Yohan Croizet at attacking midfield. They are built to punish the type of loose defensive play LAFC showed on Wednesday in Texas.

LA Galaxy vs. Minnesota United
10:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs. the Minnesota United backline. Darwin Quintero against the LA Galaxybackline.No real need to overthink this one. Just make sure you adjust your fantasy teams accordingly.

Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
11 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Portland’s approach under Gio Savarese so far: First do no harm.Portland never, ever beat themselves by giving you extra possesssions, and they still usually have plenty going forward they can use to beat you. That now includes Jorge Villafaña, who should provide an attacking dimension from left back that Zarek Valentin has mostly lacked, and Lucas Melano, a pure speed option in the attack.The ‘Caps are weary and wounded after a heartbreaking draw-that-felt-like-a-loss against TFC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday. They also have, by the numbers, one of the very worst defenses in the league.They are also a potentially tricky matchup for the Timbers, who are 21st in MLS in possession and generally have not wanted to have a ton of the ball. Vancouver are 22nd in MLS in possession and seems to want absolutely, positively nothing to do with having the ball or carrying play. There is every chance they will park the bus to the best of their abilities, hope that holds, and then try to get into space on the counter.

Sunday Tripleheader

Toronto FC  vs. NYCFC
4 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

TFC should be happy enough with Wednesday’s result, but they didn’t look great – sluggish all over the field, still a little unbalanced in midfield, and generally just looser defensively than you’d want to see from a team that desperately needs to keep picking up wins if they’re going to make the playoffs.For as much as the narrative has shifted over the past three weeks, the Chicago Fire are the only MLS team Toronto have beaten in the last two months. Last weekend’s result at Atlanta was great, and the last 10 minutes were legitimately impressive, but they’re not there yet. And now they have to fly back across the country on short rest to prove, against another of the league’s very best teams, that I’m being needlessly skeptical.We shall see.And the way we shall see is via what happens in central midfield. Yes, David Villa‘s likely back for this one (I doubt he starts), but that’s almost an afterthought compared to what’s happening in the middle of the park for NYCFCEbenezer Ofori didn’t even make the 18 last week, and Domé Torrent’s tactical switch (detailed HERE) paid no dividends.

To be clear: Give the Reds that much time, space and running room, and NYCFC will lose 4-3.

D.C. United vs. Orlando City
8 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

D.C. should press as high and hard and viciously as possible. The Orlando City defense is a mess – they’re on track to break Minnesota United’s mark for worst single-season defense in league history – in just about every facet of the game. If I’m Ben Olsen, I’m taking the risk of letting them run in behind because the payoff (multiple chances against a scrambling, disjointed backline) is worth it.

Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas
10 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Lest anyone missed, it, here’s how Seattle have flipped the game the past couple of weeks:

I’d expect them to once again selectively use the 4-4-2 this weekend. And I expect Dallas to try to absorb and counter for the entire 90 minutes here.One thing to keep an eye on: How aggressive will Jesse Gonzalez be in coming off his line? He got burned twice last week as he tries to evolve into a more modern goalkeeper, and games like that can damage anyone’s confidence.It may not be that big a deal since, as I said, I suspect the Dallas backline will be defending in his lap. But it’s worth thinking about at least a little bit.

MLS Power Rankings for the week of August 7, 2018

 

Portland Timbers players celebrate Dairon Asprilla’s second-half goal in a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union in an MLS soccer match at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.  By Kevin Lindstrom , Special Contributor Contact Kevin Lindstromon Twitter:@Kevin3rdD

You can really see which teams are hitting their stride going into the last stretch and those who … well, lose to the last place team in the league. Sorry, FC Dallas, but that was really bad, and it was not the first time they had laid an egg like that. Just the first time they did it to a team in the bottom tier.  FC Dallas is not alone, though. A number of teams, including some good ones, had poor showings. And some teams with very poor records showed that they have some life in them yet. Specifically, as we have noted the past few weeks, watch Seattle and Toronto closely. They may or may not make the playoffs, but they are clearly not the dumpster fires they had been for much of the season.

Top Shelf

1 – Atlanta United (Previously 1). While they may not be hitting as many highs as they were earlier in the year, their lows are home ties to teams with good rosters. Especially after this weekend, we feel confident our Shield pick will make it stick.

2 – Portland Timbers (3). Philadelphia may not be a top tier team, and they had to travel cross country, but a 3-0 win is still pretty convincing.

3 – New York Red Bulls (4). LAFC may be in the top end of the next tier rather than a top team, but that does not mean a win over them is not of note. It seems the Red Bulls have transitioned away from Jesse Marsh rather well.

4 – NYCFC (5). A home tie to a middling Vancouver makes it hard to move them up. Well, except for over the team that lost to the last place team in the league. (Sorry to the FCD faithful, but it really was that bad of a loss).

Quality

5 – FC Dallas (2). Those lingering questions. They are going to keep this team from doing something special unless they can find answers. Yes, they deserve credit for making good moves in the summer, but the jury is still out on whether those new pieces can integrate successfully this season, and whether this team can overcome what appears to be a significant lack of composure under a variety of circumstances.

6 – Los Angeles Football Club (6). It is hard to really criticize an expansion team for not doing more when they are doing so well in the standings, except that LAFC started so well. How much of this is players transitioning back from summer play, and how much of it is the league figuring out how to beat Bradley’s boys?

7 – Sporting Kansas City (9). How much of this was Houston sliding and how much of this was Sporting stepping up? Remains to be seen. But a road win might be what gives Kansas City some mojo back.

8 – Columbus Crew (8). In other circumstances, not playing can lead to moving up or down. Not this week.

9 – LA Galaxy (7). The Galaxy need to send a thank you basket to Frisco. Even with a rejuvenated Rapids team, that just isn’t a loss a good MLS side should take.

10 – New England Revolution (10). A tie against Orlando. Really tough to gauge what that means, other than the Revs are what they have been consistently all year – inconsistent.

11 – Real Salt Lake (12). It was Chicago, so let’s not get too excited folks. And it was at home, where RSL has been very effective, but it was still a positive result.

12 – Houston Dynamo (11). “A home loss to Philadelphia? Not good, Kemosabe. Then they lose at Portland? This team is running out of opportunities to get it going.” And then they lose to Sporting. Danger, Will Robinson.

Middling

13 – Seattle Sounders (15). Speaking of danger, MLS had better take note of the Sounders. They are gaining momentum by the week. If they can beat FC Dallas this weekend, it would be hard to argue against them being the hottest team in the West.

14 – Toronto FC (18). See Seattle Sounders. With all the quality at the top of the East, it is hard to say they would be the hottest team in their conference, but with a few more results, they can be back to being something dangerous.

15 – Montreal Impact (13). “The Impact are very much not a top half team.” A 1-1 tie with D.C. certainly seems like a closing argument for the prosecution.

16 – Vancouver Whitecaps (16). Very much like the Revs, Vancouver has been an up and down team this year. This week? A 2-2 tie with a resurgent NYCFC.

17 – Philadelphia Union (14). And reality sets in for the young team. They are clearly better than they were to start the year, but they are not good enough to hang with the really good teams.

18 – Minnesota United (17). It has to be disheartening to see a team you were ahead of for much of the season road past you at home…

Dregs

19 – Orlando City SC (20). I am not sure a 3-3 home tie is better than a 2-1 road loss in all circumstances, but we are seeing signs of life from Orlando that we just aren’t seeing from the Fire.

20 – Chicago Fire (19). We moved you down into this bracket last week, Chicago, and all you did was confirm the decision.

21 – D.C. United (21). If they continue to battle, they could pass Chicago.

22 – Colorado Rapids (22). The gap between the Rapids and D.C. was wider before this weekend. It is much tighter now.

23 – San Jose Earthquakes (23). How much of that was San Jose and how much of that was FC Dallas remains to be seen. But since that was the Earthquakes first win since MAY, we hesitate to put much stock in it. Credit for the win – we certainly noticed. But it is going to take more than that to move out of the bottom rung.

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC
2018 MLS Regular Season — Week 24

BMO Field — Toronto August 12  4 pm ET WATCH: ESPN, TSN4

Fresh off putting themselves in the driver’s seat to win another Canadian Championship title, Toronto FC return home to meet a New York City FC squad aiming to make up ground in their Supporters’ Shield pursuit Sunday at BMO Field.

TFC rallied to draw Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the opening leg of the CanChamp final at BC Place on Wednesday, while NYCFC also drew the ‘Caps in league play last Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

New York City have lost just once in regular season action to Toronto (3W-4D), though that lone win came in the most recent game in Toronto (July 2017).

Toronto FC

Toronto (6-11-5) are now unbeaten in six games across all competitions following a wild 2-2 draw in the opening leg of the Canadian Championship final at BC Place Wednesday night.

After Kei Kamara put the ‘Caps in front on a 24th-minute penalty kick, Jonathan Osorio leveled two minutes later. It appeared Erik Hurtado scored the late winner to put Vancouver in front, 2-1, in the 84th minute, but a Doneil Henry own goal deep in second-half stoppage time gave the Reds a much-welcome second away goal.

“The scoreline is in our favor with two road goals,” Greg Vanney said. “That’s a decent road result. We go home now with a need to try and win the game or keep the game in a good position for ourselves. The vision of the game wasn’t necessarily what we anticipated, but it’s the result that matters when you go home.”

  • Suspended: D – Chris Mavinga
  • Suspended after next caution: F – Sebastian Giovinco
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D – Drew Moor (quadricep strain)

Projected Starting XI
(3-5-2, right to left)
GK: Alex Bono — Gregory van der Wiel, Eriq Zavaleta, Nick Hagglund — Michael Bradley — Auro, Victor Vazquez, Jonathan Osorio, Justin Morrow — Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

  • Notes: Toronto FC are 3W-2L-1D in MLS play when Jozy Altidore has started this year. They have won as many matches in the 16 games he has missed (3W-9L-4D). … TFC have not tasted defeat in their last three MLS games (2W-1D), tied for their longest stretch this season without a defeat.

New York City FC

NYCFC (13-5-5) squandered a chance to move within two points of Atlanta United when they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against the Whitecaps last Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

After falling behind on a Nicolas Mezquida goal, Jesus Medina leveled in first-half stoppage time and Valentin Castellanos put NYCFC in front just after halftime before Hurtado leveled late for the Whitecaps.

“They can play in different ways. Toronto for now is the champions of MLS, never forget it,” Dome Torrent said. “I respect a lot this team and their coach because he was the best manager last year. That means, it’s a top team for me. It’s not easy to play the Concacaf [Champions League] and after that the MLS. But maybe right now they are in the best moment because they improved a lot. They changed some players and I think right now they are much better than, I don’t know, two weeks ago.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: M – Tommy McNamara
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M – Yangel Herrera (ankle injury), D – Cedric Hountondji (hamstring avulsion); QUESTIONABLE: GK – Sean Johnson (shoulder injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3, right to left)
GK: Brad Stuver — Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat — Jesus Medina, Alex Ring, Maxi Moralez — Valentin Castellanos, David Villa, Jo Inge Berget

  • NotesMaxi Moralez created seven chances last weekend against Vancouver, his third game this season with 7+ chances created in a match. Only two other players have done so twice. … New York City FC have won just one of their last eight MLS road games (5L-2D), conceding 2+ goals in all but one of the eight matches.

All-Time Series

  • Overall: Toronto FC 1 win, 14 goals … New York City FC 3 wins, 15 goals … 4 draws
  • At Toronto: Toronto FC 1 win, 5 goals … NYCFC 1 win, 3 goals … 1 draw
  • Last meeting at TorontoToronto FC 4, New York City FC 0 (July 30, 2017)

CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD ELLIOT COLLIER AND MIDFIELDER DIEGO CAMPOS JOIN INDY ELEVEN ON LOAN

By IndyEleven.com,     “Indiana’s Team” adds MLS talent to its lineup

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer acquires forward Elliot Collier and midfielder Diego Campos on loan from Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire. Collier joins the “Boys in Blue” pending league and federation approval, while Campos joins pending league, federation and visa approval.“We’re excited to have Elliot and Diego be available for us,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “They’ve both done very well in their rookie year so far with Chicago. They’re exciting attacking players who have good quickness and good ability to beat people moving forward. They’re a threat in the box, as well.”Collier, 23, was drafted in the third round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft as the 49th overall pick. The forward played four seasons at Loyola University, making 69 appearances, registering 15 goals and 11 assists in that time. In his junior and senior seasons, Collier was named to the First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference and to the United Soccer Coaches’ (USC) First Team All-West Region in 2016. Prior to Loyola, Collier played for New Zealand side Hamilton Wanders AFC in 2012, where he tallied eight goals and ten assists.Campos, 22, was selected in the second round (38th overall) of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft from Clemson University where he scored 23 goals and added 22 assists in 81 games for the Tigers. native of San Jose, Costa Rica, Campos has one goal and two assists in 21 league appearances and one goal in three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches this season.Per club policy, terms of player contracts with Indy Eleven will not be released.

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8/3/18 MLS Heats Up, Indy 11 on TV Sun 5 pm, EPL Community Shield, WORLD CUP WRAP-UP

So we had an absolute blast at EL TRAFFICO – LAFA vs the LA Galaxy in the new LAFC home next to USC’s Coliseum.  The crowd was electric as we stood in the supporters section for LAFC.  LAFC got off to a tremendous start with a goal off a header in the 5th minute then another just 30 minutes in.  But the Galaxy behind my man Ibra came to life late as he assisted one goal, nearly scored twice and nearly set up another down the stretch before the Galaxy tied it in the 90th minute.  Talk about drama!!  It was up and down football – both teams attacking at breakneck speed in the last 30 minutes.  A great comeback for the Galaxy and a disappointment for the home fans but man what an atmosphere – I was repping my Indy 11 – as you can see in the pics below.  Great times at EL Traffico in LA!  Check out some of these videos from the stands – like I was in Europe!

lafc

So with the world Cup wrapped up its time to turn our attention to MLS, here are the midseason grades as the MLS Allstar Game is just wrapped up. Some surprising teams on top of the divisions as defending champs Toronto and Seattle sit near the bottom in each division and teams like the NY Red Bulls and Philly Union battle amongst the top teams.  Of course as surprising as anyone is new expansion team LAFC lead by former US boss Bob Bradley and the guy who I still think is the best soccer coach the US has produced.  His LAFC is battling for first along with Dallas (Carmel High Matt Hedges) and Sporting Kansas City.  In the east its last season’s expansion surprise Atlanta United – at the top with NYCF and the Columbus Crew.  This weekend we get Atlanta United vs Toronto Sat on ESPN at 4 pm, while Sunday gives us New York Red Bulls vs LAFC Sun at 6 pm on Fox Sports 1 and both coaches Bob Bradley and Chris Armas appreciate each other.

INDY 11

The Indy 11 will travel to Louisville FC on Sunday at 5 pm on MyIndy TV 23 in 1 of their rare road game coverages and of course on ESPN+ or join the BYB in Broad Ripple at Union Jack. Congrats to GK Fon Williams as his steady play in the win at Bethlehem led to his making the USL team of the week.  Our Boys in Blue return home Wed Aug 15 and of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

USA

Huge Congrats to the US Ladies who bring home the Tournament of Nations Cup with their huge win over Brazil 4-1 Thursday in Chicago.  The ladies finished 2-0-1 overall and outscored Australia in overall goals to win the trophy.  Next up on the ladies side – the U20 Girls are in the U20 World Cup starting next week on Fox Sports 2. (see schedule below on the OBC).  Speaking of US Soccer – the US Men are playing Mexico in Nashville on Sept 11 Tues 7:30 pm – anyone interested in going down that night – I have access to American Outlaw Tickets behind the Goal.

ICC – on ESPN

Ah with about a month until the European Season’s kick-off its time for the International Champions Cup here in the states on ESPN.  This is always a fun way to see the best teams in the world as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Man United, Man City, Dortmund (with US star Christian Pulisic), Bayern Munich, PSG and more all come to the states on the ESPN networks.  (See the full TV schedule below on the oleballcoach). Of course with the World Cup break for many players – not sure how many starters will get 1st half minutes –but still fun to tune in and see your favorite European team.  ICC Notes

WORLD CUP

So Croatia ran out of both luck and energy in the final as France showed their young but true class in a 4-2 win.  The final had it all – a VAR call, a PK, goals off set pieces and more, but in the end France and that midfield held steady in limiting Luka Modric and company.  Of coure Modric still rightful won the Best Player award, while Mbappe took home the Silver Ball for young player of the tourney.  Cortouis (SP) won the golden glove in a close one over the finals GKs.  That dribbling gaff may have cost Loris the Golden Gloves – fortunately for him it didn’t cost him the game.  In the 3rd place game – Belgium’s Golden Generation of course overpowered a VASTLY OVERATED English team that could only score on set pieces and PKs.  Congrats to Harry Kane for winning the Golden Boot for scoring no goals with his feet in the run of play.  In fact 3 of his tourney leading 6 goals were PKs.  I was all about the feel good of England but lets be real they backed into the Semi-Finals and got beaten by the only 2 decent teams they played there.  Still it was a young team and Southgate did a fine job coaching up the set pieces.  Let’s see if they get out of the group stage of the Euro’s in 2 years before we crown this team just yet however.  Man the Euro’s should be good in 2 years by the way – a pissed Italy, Dutch, Germany, Spain along with England, Croatia, France, and Belgium WOW!

I meant to include this last week – this was my favorite World Cup Song-One World the one with RedOne, Adelina & Now United – BeIN Sports has been using it all month – much better than the official 1 I think than the Official Live It Up with Will Smith and Era Istrefi.  Overall I thought Fox did a fine job of covering the World Cup in this first go round.  Too bad of course the US was not in it which cost them ratings for sure – but the coverage with 1 hour pre-games, often 30 minute post games, a 1 hour late night show each night along with a highlights show and multiple replays on Fox Sports 1, 2 and Fox Soccer.  The US watched in droves – especially the final 8 on.  Of course having exciting soccer with goals scored in Extra time and shootout, no nil-nil ties, and a 4-2 Final don’t hurt.

So how about the official announcement that World Cup 2022 in Qatar will be from Nov 21 – Dec 18 – or right in the middle of football season.  Interesting how that will do in the US – one of the great things about the World Cup is it takes place during the DEAD Sports Summer Time – no football, no hoops, just boring baseball and WORLD CUP.  Also how will that affect the major European Leagues – they can’t be happy about this – as that will shut down the leagues from early Nov – till the end of December. Should be interesting.  Start saving up now for the US games in 2026 – tickets are expected to cost between  $400-$600 each.

EPL KICKS OFF NEXT WEEK

Wait it seems like just yesterday that the EPL Season ended but its back- with the Community Shield Kicking things off this Sunday at 10 am on ESPN+ maybe? I can’t believe this isn’t on cable TV somewhere?  Of course the full season kicks off next weekend with Man United facing Leicester City next Friday 3 pm on NBCSN, Newcastle hosting Tottenham next Sat at 7:30 am, Liverpool vs West Ham on Sun 8 am, and Arsenal facing Man City to follow at 11 am all on NBCSN.  (see some previews below – full preview next week)

CONGRATS HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS

Finally congrats to all those making their respective high school teams across the area – Carmel FC is proud to be so well represented on High School rosters across town including the 11 boys who made the Freshman boys team, 2 on JV and 1 on Varsity at Carmel High and the many who made the CHS Ladies teams, Guerin High, University and more.  For those who did not make it – please don’t give up on soccer – its soooo hard to make the Carmel teams with so very many students trying out.  Carmel FC with Travel and Select Teams – and of course Carmel Dad’s Club with Rec Soccer is still here to help you play the game you grew up loving!!

Indy 11

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

Indy 11 GK named to USL Team of the Week 20

Indy 11 beat Bethehem

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

USA  

US Ladies Defeat Brazil 4-1 in Chicago to Win Tournament of Champions!

US Youngsters You Haven’t Heard of

The World Cup is Coming to America – Indy 11

US Players to Watch on TV this Weekend

MLS

Juve Wins MLS Allstar Game in Penalty’s

Garber “hopeful” Crew will stay in Columbus 

Stejskal: Cincy lay out ambitious vision for 2019

Long Term Plans for US Soccer Leagues MLS/USL/USL 3 ? Nick Mendola –NBC

Atlanta United vs Toronto Sat ESPN 4 pm Preview

New York Red Bulls vs LAFC Sun 6 pm FS1 Preview

Parkhurst: “Goal is definitely Supporters’ Shield”

Rooney gives DC United hope with first win at home

Toronto to Face Tigres in UANL Campeones Cup

Atlanta Uniteds DP Approach is Changing the Game in MLS – Fast Company

Zlatan Does it All – Including Sales Calls

EPL + World

Can Arsenal Return to Top 4 – NBC

Can Liverpool Win the League? – NBC

Way Too Early EPL Predictions

Bonucci back to Juve, Higuaine to AC Milan in Swap

Chelsea Looks at Pulisic from Dortmund

Legue 1 Season Info

Goalies

Alison’s Tough Road to Liverpool as a #1

World Cup GK Ratings

Best Saves Rounds 1 & 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

WORLD CUP

World Cup Tourney Top 11?

Ogden: Belgium ease past England to claim third
Ogden: Hazard’s value, reputation have never been higher

Vickery: Questions for South American nations

Project Russia: Has VAR been a success at the World Cup?
Photos: How the World Cup is made

The World Cup of Set Pieces: How Teams Are Living Off Dead-Ball Plays

Englands World Cup Run, Southgate represent More for a Nation in Political Upheaval  SI

GAMES ON TV This Week

Saturday, Aug 4

8 am beIN Sport          PSG (Tim Weah)  vs Monaco – Legue 1 Super Cup

International Champions Cup 
2:05pm Internazionale vs Olympique Lyonnais ESPNESPN Deportes,
6:05pm Real Madrid vs Juventus ESPN2ESPN Deportes,
8:05pm Milan vs Barcelona ESPN News/Deportes,

4 pm ESPN      Atlanta United vs Toronto FC

8pm Yes Network   NYFC vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Sun, Aug 5th

10 am ESPN +??    Chelsea vs Manchester City

5 pm MyIndy TV         Indy ll @ Louisville FC

6pm  FS1       NY Red Bulls vs LAFC

Mon, Aug 6               

7:30 am Fox Sport2   Nigeria U20 Ladies vs Germany U20

10:30 am FS2                 Paraguay U20 ladies vs Spain U20

1:30 pm Fox Sport 2     USA U20 Ladies vs Japan U20  

Wed, Aug 7         

7 pm Ussoccer.com     Philly Union vs Chicago Fire – US Open Cup

9:30pmUssoccer.com  Houston Dynamo vs LAFC– US Open

Thur, Aug 8                

7:30 am Fox Sport2   China U20 Ladies vs Germany U20

10:30 am FS2                 Japan U20 Ladies vs Spain U20

1:30 pm Fox Sport 2   USA U20 Ladies vs Uraguay U20  

Fri, Aug 9     EPL Starts

3 pm NBCSN              Manchester United vs Leicester City      

Sat, Aug 10                 EPL Starts

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United vs Tottenham

10 am NBCSN                Huddersfield Town vs Chelsea

12:30 pm NBCSN        Wolverhampton vs Everton

Sun, Aug 11     EPL Starts

8 am NBCSN                   Liverpool vs West Ham United

11 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs Man City

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

3 pm bein Sport          PSG vs Caen

4 pm ESPN Des/+        Barcelona vs Seville – SUPER CUP

4 pm ESPN                   Toronto vs NYCFC

8 pm Fox Sport1          DC United (Rooney) vs Orlando City (Cam Lindley)

10 pm FS1                      Seattle Sounders vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Mon, Aug 13            

7:30 am Fox Sport 2 USA U20 WC Ladies vs Spain U20  

7:30 am Fox Soccer Japan U20 Ladies vs Uraguay U20

10:30 am FS 2               Germany vs Haiti

Wed,  Aug 15

3 pm TNT?                     Real Madrid vs Athletico Madrid UEFA Super Cup

7 pm myindytv             Indy 11 vs North Carolina   

10 pm ESPN2                 LAFC vs Real Salt Lake      

Thurs, Aug 16           

10 am                                U20 Womens WC

1:30 pm                            U20 Womens WC

 Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

The “Boys in Blue” head south to take on the 2017 USL Champions

WEEK 21: BEST OUT OF 3 – GAME TWO AGAINST LOUISVILLE CITY FC

Indy Eleven face Louisville City FC for the second time in the 2018 USL campaign on August 5. The first meeting between the two rivals took place in Week 8 when the “Boys in Blue” defeated Louisville 1-0, at Lucas Oil Stadium.Indy Eleven (9W-7L-4D) are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference with 31 points. The “Boys in Blue” downed Bethlehem Steel FC in their previous outing on the road, 1-0. The match seemed destined for a draw until Zach Steinberger’s 86th minute corner kick found an unmarked Jack McInerney who headed the ball home. The goal is McInerney’s fourth of the season, placing him in a three way tie for top scorer with defender Ayoze and forward Soony Saad. Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams also recorded his eighth clean sheet in 2018, earning him a spot in the USL Team of Week in Week 20. The victory marks Indy Eleven’s second win in their last five matches, three of which have been on the road.Louisville City FC (10W-4L-5D) is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with 35 points, just four points in front of sixth placed Indy. Louisville defeated struggling Ottawa Fury FC, 3-0, in their last fixture. Louisville captain and midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo opened the scoring in the 13th minute after he finished a corner played into the box with a diving header. Defender Paco Craig scored the second in the 47th minute and midfielder Devon Williams scored the third of the match and his first of the season 10 minutes later. Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh recorded his sixth clean sheet of the season in the shutout. Louisville defender Alexis Souahy will be unavailable for the fixture against Indy Eleven as a result of a red card received in the 77th minute.The “Boys in Blue’s” match at Louisville will be the last of a stretch of four games on the road. Indy head coach Martin Rennie will hope to return to Indy with at least half of the available points from the four-game stint away from home.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: MF MATT WATSON

Indy Eleven midfielder and captain Matt Watson influenced the match against Bethlehem Steel FC for a full 90 minutes, arguably having his best performance of the season despite not directly influencing the scoreline. The Englishman’s dominance in the midfield can easily be accredited as a key reason “Indiana’s Team” brought back three points from Pennsylvania.Watson completed over 90 percent of his passes throughout the game and created two opportunities for teammates. The 33-year old veteran midfielder displayed his defensive abilities, netting four interceptions and a tackle. Indy will need another dominant midfield performance from Watson in order to hand Louisville only their second loss at home.

LOUISVILLE CITY FC PLAYER TO WATCH: MF OSCAR JIMENEZ

Louisville City FC midfielder Oscar Jimenez currently leads the team in assists with six. Two of those assists came in the previous fixture against Ottawa Fury FC. The 28-year old has only averaged a 72 percent passing accuracy so far in 2018, which lived up to the billing against Ottawa as he averaged 71 percent, but what makes Jimenez dangerous is his set piece ability.Jimenez’s assists against Ottawa both came from dead ball situations. The first was an in-swinging corner kick played right into the edge of the six yard box that left the goalkeeper stranded in no man’s land. The second was an in-swinging free kick from near half field that found the feet of defender Paco Craig near the penalty marker. Indy defenders will need to be weary of Jimenez’s perfectly weighted passes from set pieces in order to defeat Louisville.

MATCHUP TO MARK: INDY GK OWAIN FON WILLIAMS VS. LOUISVILLE FW CAMERON LANCASTER

The “Boys in Blue” shut out Louisville City FC the first time the two teams played in Indianapolis. Now, Indy travels to Kentucky to face a LCFC side that has scored the fourth most goals and possesses the third best goal scorer in the Eastern Conference. Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams kept another clean sheet in Indy’s previous match against Bethlehem Steel FC. The 31-year-old recorded four saves on his way to shutting out the third highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference with a stellar record at home. Now in Week 21, Fon Williams faces Louisville City FC, another team with an incredible home record and high powered offense. The Welshman tallied two saves and a punch against the Kentucky based team the first time around. He’ll need to repeat his Team of the Week performance from Bethlehem against a Louisville side that has scored 20 goals at home this season.In order to add his ninth clean sheet to his 2018 USL season total, Fon Williams will have to stop the power house that leads the Louisville City offense, forward Cameron Lancaster, from finding the back of the net. Lancaster wasn’t able to net against Indy in Week 8 or against Ottawa Fury FC last time out, but has tallied 10 on the season so far. That tally sees him as joint owner of third most goals scored in the Eastern Conference and sole owner of most goals scored on Louisville City FC. Lancaster came on as a sub in the fixture against Ottawa, but expect the 25-year-old Englishman to play the full 90 minutes as he did in Week 8 against Indy Eleven.

2018 MLS All-Star Game breaks ASG attendance record with 72,000

August 1, 20189:25PM EDTMLSsoccer staff

UPDATE: The official announced attendance was 72,317, breaking the record for the highest attendance at a standalone MLS All-Star Game and becoming the second-largest attendance of any All-Star Game across North American sport leagues.Major League Soccer announced on Wednesday afternoon that the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target is sold out. Some standing-only tickets were still available through Ticketmasterat the time of the announcement for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium-hosted event, pitting the squad representing MLS against defending Serie A champions Juventus. This means that the 2018 edition of the annual match is expected to surpass the prior attendance record, set in 2010, for a standalone MLS All-Star Game. The 2010 match in Houston, which pitted the MLS All-Stars against Manchester United, drew 70,728 fans. The record for MLS All-Star Game attendance remains 78,416, set at the inaugural edition of the match in 1996 — part of a doubleheader that also featured Brazil’s national team vs. the FIFA World Stars. Atlanta United already has hosted the top five single-game crowds in regular season MLS history, most-recently breaking their own record for largest such crowd when 72,243 watched their 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders on July 15.

MLS All-Stars leave Juventus impressed with physical, technical quality

August 2, 201812:06AM EDTNick RosanoSenior Editor

ATLANTA – Wednesday evening’s 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target left a strong impression on the visiting Juventus players and coaching staff, and not just because of the atmosphere created by the 70,000-plus fans packed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but also because of the quality of opposition they faced.The MLS All-Stars held their own against Juventus, the seven-time defending Serie A champions and one of Europe’s most successful clubs, playing them to a 1-1 draw in regulation before falling, 5-3, in a penalty shootout. The All-Stars created plenty of quality scoring chances, forcing Juventus starting golakeeper Wojciech Szczesny into a couple of quality saves in the first half and forcing a clearance off the line of a Diego Valeri shot in the second. Afterwards, the Juventus players asked were very complimentary of their opposition.“I think there’s quite a lot of good players,” said Juventus midfielder Emre Can after the game. “As a team they were just good and you could see in the game that they are in good shape. It was a good game.”Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri also came away impressed with the quality of his team’s opponents, even with the constantly rotating substitutions providing him only a brief glimpse of the opposition players.“It’s hard to say, only seeing most of them for 30 minutes, but I’ve seen some very good players, some very fast ones, very technically well prepared,” Allegri told reporters when asked which players had impressed him. “I think that they can have a future in Europe.”All-Star goalscorer and MVP Josef Martinez, formerly of Juve’s city rivals Torino, left a lasting impression despite playing just under a half-hour in the game, showing off the tenacity and hunger to score that has made him the runaway Golden Boot leader and left him poised to shatter MLS single-season scoring records.“He played 20 minutes, but within 20 minutes he showed that he is very good, Martinez,” said Juve’s Dutch youth international Leandro Fernandes. “I think [Alphonso] Davies is a good player. All are good, but especially those two for me.”

USA wins the Tournament of Nations: four things we learned

After a long time in the wilderness, the US is finally starting to play like the best team in the world

By Charles Olney@olneyce  Aug 3, 2018, 1:00pm PDT

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The United States concluding the Tournament of Nations last night in resounding fashion with a 4-1 victory over Brazil that secured a first place finish in the event. Here are four things we learned from these matches.

Jill Ellis is finally playing to her strengths, and it’s producing much better results

The US spent some time in the weeds over the past couple years, in a period of ‘experimentation’ that often felt ill-considered and poorly executed. During that period, the players often appeared lost, playing well below their intrinsic ability, and struggling to impose themselves on games. The offense in particular was far more stagnant than it had any right to be considering the personnel available. And whatever stability was occasionally found was quickly disrupted as key players fell to injuries or loss of form. The results weren’t terrible, but the performances were far below what US fans have come to expect. Despite endless promises of a new, silkier, more possession-oriented style of play, success always seemed to be just beyond the horizon, with old habits dying hard: play getting shuttled around the midfield, and offensive buildup remaining stagnant. In the last year, however, they’ve generally settled into a system—a relatively straightforward 4-3-3, with a defensively-minded holding player at the pivot of the midfield, and with attacks generally being led by quick movement down the wings. This system is hardly the most innovative, but when you have the best players in the world, innovation can be less important than simple effectiveness. That’s particularly true when your head coach is a good player manager, and tolerable when it comes to broad themes, but not particularly strong on intricate design.Moreover, by settling the style of play, this new approach finally seems to have created some space for the creativity of the players to shine through. The US is still relying on speed and athleticism, but it’s also increasingly giving its more technical players opportunities to shine. This is still not Guardiola’s Man City or Sasaki’s Japan, but the US is now dominating not just by force by also sometimes by style. They’re controlling possession, creating channels with off-the-ball movement, and moving the ball quickly through tight spaces. Witness the interplay between Heath and Lavelle against Brazil or the emerging relationship between Dunn and Rapinoe on the left.This is still very much a Jill Ellis team, which means intense focus on racing up and down the wings and a midfield that’s more focused on disruption than possession. But it’s far more successful iteration of the model.

The defense is shakier, but they’re more than making up for it

Through eleven games in 2018, the US has only managed to keep three clean sheets. But it’s hard to get too upset about this new defensive frailty, given the accompanying offensive explosion. After all, conceding one but scoring four creates a greater margin for error than those narrow 1-0s results they spent so many years eking out.This is not to say that there is no reason for concern. The US was shockingly exposed on a number of counterattacks during the tournament, in games they were otherwise dominating. That is a real problem, and certainly something that the team will be working on in future training camps. But to a certain extent, this is simply a feature of their high-pressing, aggressive tactics, which push the game heavily into their opponent’s half and create those spaces that can occasionally be exploited.It’s a tradeoff worth accepting, but they’ll need to get better at executing if they want to protect those leads they plan to acquire. That means:

  1. Dropping to shield space rather than attack the ball when their opponents are coming at them, at least until you reach the vicinity of the goal (see the Brazil goal)
  2. Greater willingness to give away tactical fouls where necessary to break up plays before they become truly dangerous (see the Australiagoal)
  3. Getting better at setting up the counterpress for when possession is lost. Too often the team overcommits to the attack, leaving holes exposed which opponents can quickly punch through

Each of these is achievable. And while they won’t prevent this sort of attack entirely, they’ll do a bit more to manage the risk.

The midfield is alright, mostly

Many followers of this team (including your truly) have spent years fixated on the broken midfield. Those problems persist, but finally seem to at least be under control. In this 4-3-3, Ellis generally designates one player to serve as the pivot, in more of a traditional holding role, asking the others to move more horizontaly to link with the wide attack. At times, this can make building through the middle quite difficult. But Ellis has never cared much about that sort of development, and at least this system grants its midfielders more options to shield possession where needed, and then link with their wide support further upfield.That means that while the midfield remains a weak point, it’s only weak in relative terms. The structure enables more fluidity than the old double-pivot that so often stagnated in previous years. By sacrificing a bit of defensive solidity, the US has gained quite a bit more flexibility.It also helps that the midfield options have expanded significantly. Installing Julie Ertz as the #6 at this tournament last year made a huge difference, and she continues to be a critical contributor. Meanwhile, Lindsey Horan is in the midst of a breakout season—very impressive considering the quality of performance she was already offering before this year—and offers more physicality and insightful movement to the midfield. Absent significant developments, Ertz and Horan seem like locks for the World Cup next summer.But the US is blessed with a wealth of other options, who provide different skills, giving Ellis tools to tweak her team’s play without fundamentally shifting the structure.There’s Rose Lavelle, finally finding her way back into form after a year spent on injury walkabout, reminding us of just how exciting she was last spring. She made an immediate impact against Japan when she entered as a sub, but her true potential was made clear in the Brazil game, where her combinations with Tobin Heath on the right were wonderful—the sort of intricate play the US has so long been missing.Then consider McCall Zerboni, who is busy proving that her 2017 performance was anything but a fluke. She picked right back up in 2018, and showed over the course of several appearances here that she can be a valuable contributor: offering bite, aggression, and flexibility to the US midfield. Against Brazil, Zerboni allowed Ertz to push further upfield, to excellent results. Against Japan, she offered vertical movement that put the defense under serious pressure   Morgan Brian also seems to have finally turned a corner in her recovery. She’s still a step or two off her peak, but is far closer than she’s been over the past 24 months. The acceleration still isn’t quite there, and the touch still seems a little rusty. But the vision and awareness remains off the charts. In the past couple years, she’s been in and out of national team camps based primarily on talent and potential, rather than on form. At this point, the performances are good enough to say that she deserves a spot in the rotation even if there’s no further improvement. And if she canmake that next step back, she could return to being one of the world’s elite midfielders.Finally, remember that the US barely used Sam Mewis in this tournament—arguably their best player in 2017. When she completes her recovery, it will be hard to argue against her inclusion.For a team that spent so long struggling to build a coherent and sustainable midfield, the US suddenly finds itself with a wealth of options. There are still plenty of question marks here (will Lavelle and Brian be able to return to their absolute peak? Will Zerboni be able to maintain her form? Will Mewis get healthy enough to play a full consistent 90?) but the future seems a lot rosier here than it did even a few months ago.The competition is fierce, but the US should be considered favorites to retain the World Cup next summer

After a difficult season in 2017, the US women were teetering on the edge. The gap between them and the rest of the world seemed to have closed entirely, or maybe even shifted to the other side. They had sputtered in She Believes and the Tournament of Nations and seen some of their key rivals expose their frailty in the process. The mystique of the US was gone.One year later, things seem to have settle back into familiar patterns. At this point, it would be exceptionally hard to argue for anyone besides the US as the world’s top team—after a year in which they have gone undefeated while running a gauntlet of matches against virtually every serious competitor.The performances haven’t always been pretty, but the results have been good. And increasingly the style seems to be filling in behind the results. The US decisively outplayed their opposition this week, exposing Brazil and Japan as far weaker teams than one might have guessed from their rankings, and putting Australia under serious pressure as well.The level of parity in women’s soccer has never been higher, and it would be foolish to treat success as a foregone conclusion, especially in a single-elimination tournament. After all, the US nearly lost to Australia this week, in a game that they actually played quite well. But all things considered, the US remains the team to beat.

USWNT defeats Brazil 4-1 to clinch Tournament of Nations title

Associated PressAug 3, 2018, 7:30 AM EDT

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan scored second-half goals and the United States took control to beat Brazil 4-1 on Thursday night for the Tournament of Nations title.Heath’s curling goal in the 62nd minute put the United States up 3-1 and gave the team the margin it needed to edge defending tournament champion Australia. The Matildas edged Japan 2-0 earlier in the day at Toyota Park, putting pressure on the Americans to beat Brazil by two goals to finish atop the table.Morgan helped secure the title with her 90th international goal in the 77th minute and the Americans extended their undefeated streak to 19 matches. The United States has not dropped a match since losing 1-0 to Australia in the Tournament of Nations last year.There was concern in the final moments when Morgan was stretched off with an apparent injury, but she was on her feet for the trophy ceremony following the game. Morgan had four goals in the tournament.“Brazil’s so technical, so we knew that they were going to bring it. There’s a lot of things that we can learn as well,” Ertz said. “This tournament was huge for use in terms of progress, obviously with qualifying coming up. We’re got to tweak a few things but I’m just so proud of this team and how hard we work for each other.”The United States, ranked No. 1 in the world, is gearing up for World Cup qualifying in October. The Americans hope to defend their title next summer at the World Cup in France.Brazil, ranked No. 7 in the world and led by five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta, has already qualified for France.The Brazilians struck first with an own goal that hit Tierna Davidson in the 16th minute. But Lavelle tied it with her third international goal in the 33rd minute.“I think we knew we couldn’t take our foot off the pedal, even though they got that goal. We knew we still had to keep being aggressive and be on our front foot and attacking and not let it get to us,” said Lavelle, who started. “Thankfully it worked.”Ertz pulled the United States in front with a sliding goal off Heath’s cross to the far post in the 53rd minute before Heath added her own goal.Alanna Kennedy and Sam Kerr each scored for Australia in the opening game at Toyota Park. The eight-ranked Matildas have a secured a spot in the World Cup.Japan, ranked sixth, has also qualified from France.

Watch US youngster Tim Weah for – Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco – 8a on bein Deportes

The French Super Cup pits the Ligue 1 winners against the Coupe de France winners. Because PSG won both competitions last year they will face off with Monaco, who finished 2nd in League 1, for the Super Cup trophy Saturday morning.With several PSG players, including Angel Di Maria returning for availability in their last International Champions Cup match Timothy Weah did not get the start on Monday but he did come off the bench in the 45th minute as PSG held on to defeat Atletico Madrid for their first win in the tournament.Weah has made a good impression on manager Thomas Tuchel this preseason:

“The build-up to Timothy’s goal against Bayern was remarkable. Now he must use this quality not just for himself, but also for the team in order to become a dangerous, confident and professional player: these are the next steps for Timothy to take. ”He is intelligent and wants to learn, so Timothy holds all of the cards here.”However, with a number of stars, including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe still making their way back to the team Weah will have his work cut out for him if he’s going to see the field for PSG this season. He may have another opportunity to impress on Saturday with Neymar’s status unknown and Mbappe still away from the team.

 

Liverpool confident of challenging for title

By Joe Prince-WrightAug 2, 2018, 9:31 AM EDT

Adam Lallana believes “the signs are really good” for Liverpool to “get to the next step” and win a trophy under Jurgen Klopp.Liverpool have reached three major finals since Klopp took charge in October 2015 and although they’ve lost all three they’ve made major strides forward over the past 12 months with back-to-back top four finishes in the Premier League and finishing runners up in the UEFA Champions League in 2017/18.So what’s the goal for this season? Lallana was asked if Liverpool are the biggest contenders to reigning champs Manchester City for the PL crown in 2018/19.That’s not for us to say, that’s for other people to speculate. But, of course, we are going to be in the pack who want to chase down City,” Lallana said. “Hopefully, Liverpool and three or four of the other top teams can squeeze a few more points out of City this year. That would make it more interesting.”Lallana’s optimism is certainly shared by neutrals, pundits and supporters of the Anfield club, with Liverpool’s impressive summer spending set to give them a whole new dimension this season.With Alisson arriving in goal, Fabinho in holding midfield, Naby Keita in central midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri as a back-up attacking midfielder, Klopp has upgraded in key areas and added plenty of strength in-depth.Sure, it’s cost him $325 million over the past 12 months (if you count Virgil Van Dijk‘s $100 million arrival in January) but Liverpool now look like genuine title contenders and they certainly gave Man City plenty of problems in their record-breaking title campaign last season.The pressing and pace of Sadio ManeMohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino totally threw off City in a 4-3 defeat at Anfield in the league, while Liverpool beat them 5-1 on aggregate over two legs in the UCL quarterfinals to assert their dominance.Although Lallana is correct to hope for help from the other title contenders in taking points off City, Liverpool must take care of business against bottom feeders in the PL. Last season they lost against Swansea and drew with fellow-relegated teams West Brom (twice) and Stoke.For all of their high-pressing and speedy forward play, Liverpool must develop a Plan B this season if they’re going to chase down City. With Keita, Shaqiri and Fabinho on board, their options in midfield have been bolstered and with Alisson (the most expensive goalkeeper in history) in goal they should eradicate costly errors.

Season Preview: Arsenal to return to top-4?

By Daniel KarellAug 3, 2018, 9:00 AM EDT

Arsenal at a Glance:

Premier League (and old First Division) titles: 13 – last in 2003/2004 season.

FA Cups: 13 times, last in 2016/2017.

League Cups: 2

FA Community Shield: 15 (last in 2017).

Top Four Finishes: 20-in-a-row between 1997 and 2017.

It’s a new era at Arsenal.

After 20 years at the club, Arsene Wenger stepped down at the end of last season, in which Arsenal failed to break into the top four for a second consecutive season, allowing for a fresh set of eyes to come in and manage the side. In comes veteran Spaniard Unai Emery, who perhaps couldn’t live up to expectations in France but certainly beat the odds over and over again with Sevilla and Valencia in Spain.

Emery’s attention to detail and defensive focus could pair well with Arsenal’s wonderful abundance of creative, playmaking midfielders. But based on Arsenal’s preseason performances, there’s still plenty of work to be done at both ends of the pitch.

Arsenal will finish top four because….the new signings gel and add strength in depth to what is an already very strong squad. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hits the ground running in his first full-season at the club with 20 or more goals, partnering at times with Alexandre Lacazette or trading spots with him between the heavy workload of matches. More importantly, the summer signings of Sokratis, Lucas TorreiraMatteo Guendouziand Stephan Lichtsteiner help shore up Arsenal’s leaky defense after a few months of struggles to start the season. Torreira, affectionately called “pac-man” for his ability to eat up attackers all over the field, morphs into the best defensive midfielder Arsenal has seen since the days of Patrick Vieira.

Arsenal will miss out on the UEFA Champions League because….defensive problems remain. While the team is beautiful in its attack, Emery is left pulling all the hairs out of his head wondering why Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis can’t figure out how to play together and defend as a unit. With Laurent Koscielny set to miss a large chunk of the season coming back from his torn Achilles injury, Arsenal miss his defensive leadership. In addition, both Lacazette and Aubameyang struggle to score in the big games, making Arsenal fans continue to suffer as the team fails to live up to expectations.

Best possible XI: List the team’s strongest lineup for this season when everyone is fit

———————Leno———————-

—-Bellerin—-Mustafi—Sokratis——Kolasinac

—————Torreira——-Xhaka——————

——-Mkhitaryan——Ramsey———-Ozil——

———————Aubameyang———————

Transfers In: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Matteo Guendouzi (Lorient, $9.1 million), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria, $34.4 million), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, $25 million), Sokratis (Borussia Dortmund, $23 million)

Transfers Out: Per Mertesacker (retired), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal, free), Jack Wilshere(West Ham, free), Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Angers, undisclosed)

Ranking their offseason: A-

Arsenal found itself outside the Champions League for the second straight season, and with a new manager entering, the club could have been in for a rough summer. Instead, it’s been very good so far by all accounts. Arsenal spent strategically and already, Guendouzi looks like a strong signing, having performed well as a holding midfielder in multiple preseason matches. Leno looks like the future goalkeeper the Gunners have been wanting with Torreira and Sokratis shore up a creaky defense. In addition, the Gunners were able to hold on to Aubameyang, Lacazette, and though his future is still up in the air, Aaron Ramsey so far. Through preseason, it’s clear that Arsenal needs to work more defensively, but in terms of the attacking side they’re looking good enough to start the season.

Star player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The French-born Gabon International was a star both domestically and in Europe for Borussia Dortmund. If he can produce at his old level, Arsenal will be just fine.

Coaches’ Corner: Unai Emery: The 48-year-old manager comes from Paris Saint-Germain, where he gained valuable experience coaching some of the biggest names in world football. But the majority of his coaching success has come in Spain. With Valencia and Sevilla, Emery constantly beat expectations and helped his side play better than the sum of its parts. If he can pull that off for Arsenal, he will quickly win over fans.

PST predicts: After a strong offseason, Arsenal look set to return to the club’s old glory as a regular top-four team. The spine of the squad was improved, which should give players like Mesut Ozil, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi the freedom to attack down the wings and through the heart of the opponent’s defense. The new manager should refresh the player’s attitudes and deliver a fitter, more defensively-sound squad, which will help in terms of getting back in the Champions League. Arsenal may still be a bit away from challenging for a league title, but they’re not that far off.

Alisson a boost for Liverpool but Premier League title talk is premature

7:29 AM ET blogger

Liverpool’s move for Alisson Becker triggered a massive reaction among supporters. This was the clearest indication to them that Liverpool meant business at last, perhaps even enough to end a 28-year league title drought.That seems presumptuous, though, completely ignoring the reigning champions and their 100 points. And Manchester City haven’t stood still either, signing Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez. They’ve sold nobody and can look forward to a full season from Benjamin Mendy this time around. Liverpool already have a fair amount of ground to make up.The Reds’ latest big move will add around £60 million to what was already a significant increase in Jurgen Klopp’s spending at the club. It’s almost like he’s served his apprenticeship. Even his success at Borussia Dortmund and two cup finals for Liverpool in his first eight months weren’t enough to prise open each club’s coffers.Having significantly improved Liverpool since the cup final, it’s now been deemed time to cut loose and spend whatever it takes so Klopp can make the crucial next step forward. Before Alisson, the ambition might still have been consolidation. It was unlikely they’d get to the Champions League final again but reaching another knockout stage would’ve been acceptable. Remaining in the top four of the Premier League would have been the priority, assuming Chelsea and Arsenal would make serious attempts to clamber above the Reds.Without challenging for the title yet, Klopp has moved Liverpool into a similar position to Gerard Houllier in 2002, Rafa Benitez in 2009 and Brendan Rodgers in 2014; runners-up who were spoken of as future title winners. That’s why some supporters will hold fire on the supercharged optimism, for now at least.Liverpool’s spending indicates a seismic shift in ambition, but it’s wiser to reflect on what they also lost in 2018. As team carried on performing well for the second half of last season, it’s almost forgotten they sold Philippe Coutinho in January. As the squad looked tired and depleted by May, his absence was felt more. There were also times Liverpool found themselves deadlocked in matches and looked around in vain for some Brazilian magic from outside the area.They’ve also lost Klopp’s trusted assistant Zeljko Buvac, and no-one knows how much that will influence the team in the future. Emre Can left for Juventus and there’s been sad news about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who’s now expected to miss virtually all of the coming season because of injury. Adam Lallana had a poor, injury-ravaged campaign in 2017-18 and it wasn’t a given he would return to his previous excellent form under Klopp.Loris Karius’ mistakes against Real Madrid in the Champions League final pretty much demanded a change of goalkeeper anyway. If it hadn’t been Alisson, it must surely would be somebody else.Given all these departures, absences and failures Liverpool couldn’t afford to do nothing. Football is unforgiving and you need to keep spending just to remain at par. Progress requires much more.There is also the theory that their amazing forwards dragged Liverpool beyond their true level last season. A huge 91 goals were scored collectively by Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. It’s so rare that people were bound to speculate on whether the Reds could count upon it again. Salah may re-join the ranks of the mortals next season, although that was often predicted throughout his miracle debut year and he was only eventually stopped by Sergio Ramos’ wrestling hold.It’s great to see fans bumptious and optimistic, but a calmer more clinical analysis on what’s happened in 2018 may avoid disappointment further down the line. Of course, if Liverpool aren’t done spending yet and Lyon’s Nabil Fekir also came, forget trying to stifle optimism. It would gain express-train momentum by then and probably couldn’t be stopped anyway.Liverpool’s ability to keep opponents from scoring was the biggest headache last year. Record fees for a centre-back and goalkeeper are real statements of intent. Is simple expenditure enough? Last season, Klopp needed to affect minor change in game management, where Liverpool were a few goals ahead but still clung desperately to victory before the final whistle — not always successfully. Meddling with a working formula has its dangers. Klopp may just opt out, claiming superior footballers in positions once considered weak improves matters anyway.But whether you’re preaching caution or telling Liverpool to make more space in their trophy cabinet, you can’t deny how exciting the new season looks. The manager has been backed properly and few can complain about lack of spending now. It’s not Manchester City levels certainly, but there was never a chance of that happening.Gradual improvement, the sale of Coutinho and a lucrative Champions League run brought all this about and Klopp deserves this belated acknowledgement of his excellent efforts.

If he does not have another good season, it will come as a major shock. In fact, much more than “good” will be expected.

Liverpool’s Alisson travelled a hard road to world’s most expensive goalkeeper

With Alisson’s move from Roma to Liverpool now official, the ESPN FC guys discuss where the club will finish with the Brazil goalkeeper on board. (2:37)

Jul 20, 2018

  • Marcelo Gomes, Rafael Valente and Vladimir Bianchini, ESPN Brazil

There were plenty of obstacles that almost took Alisson, starting goalkeeper for Brazil, off the pitch. Now 25, he has dealt with issues regarding his weight, height and his family’s finances, while also challenging his initial choice as a player, in order to become the player he is today. This is his story, as told by those who saw him as a child, rising in the football world.Alisson was born in Novo Hamburgo, in the Porto Alegre metropolitan region. Alisson Becker carries German genes in his DNA. His grandparents even live on a street named after his great grandfather: Gustavo Becker.That last name, which actually means “Baker” in Portuguese, became a symbol for the family, which proudly took on the tradition of producing (and tasting) lots of baked goods. And that’s where Alisson’s first big challenge started.”Alisson was a glutton,” Antonia, Alisson’s grandmother, says with a laugh. “As soon as he went home, he was headed straight to the kitchen. He asked me to bake some sweet bread for him. I prepared those with cinnamon, sweet herbs and the like. It was so delicious, and he loved it all.”Alisson had a sweet tooth and all of his grandmother’s recipes became a real temptation.”He loved to taste homemade dough, and he asked me to do it for him,” Antonia continued. “However, he loved to eat everything fried; whether it was dough, cheese, rice, everything. He also loved candy. During his vacations, I used to take him and [his brother] Muriel to the market. I bought chocolate and I told him: ‘Alisson, that’s not for you to eat!’ To which he said: ‘Oh, Grandma, please let me have a taste here, since mom’s not around!'”The problem was that the eating habit he developed as a small kid was also present when he started to play football. He already had an issue with his height; despite the fact he was actually taller than other kids defending the posts on the field, he was shorter than the rest of the keepers. Considering he was also struggling with the scale, it was logical that he would end up being relegated when he started to play at Internacional.

Let’s forget for a second about that calm and composed Alisson we are used to seeing between the posts nowadays. In front of his family, especially in those days, he showed an emotional side that he kept away from the public. He used to cry a lot.”During those days, he used to cry a lot because of his weight problem. We used to tell him that he needed to lose some pounds. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t play football ever again. Sometimes, he would return from practice in tears,” said Leandro Becker, the newly minted Liverpool keeper’s uncle.Becker saw up close how Alisson was born to play football. However, his initial stints on the pitch were away from the goalkeeping position.”He tried out to be a winger with Internacional,” Leandro says. “However, it was a matter of a few matches. Let’s say that, during the first or second week, I can’t recall exactly, his coaches asked him to play as a keeper since he was taller than the rest of the goalies there.”Alisson’s inspiration to become a goalie was already at home. His father used to play the position in pick-up matches with friends. His brother, Muriel, five years his senior, was already a strong presence in the Internacional system. Alisson’s first taste of the red was when he saw his brother train at the pitches then located next to the Beira-Rio Stadium.”I had the chance of meeting Alisson before he started to play,” recalls Daniel Pavan, goalkeeper coach at Internacional and credited by Alisson himself as the person who discovered his talents. “He used to join Muriel at his practices. Then, someone used to hand him a football, so he could play and have some fun. Then, he started to show a lot of interest in his brother’s position. The inspiration for Alisson to become a keeper was seeing his brother training.From the age of 10, he became a part of the Inter system. He already started to show technical skills which put him apart the rest of kids his age.” Pavan, who also attempted to become a keeper when he was younger, joined Internacional in 1995, when he was just a student. He did not train Alisson during his first two years at Internacional; however, he was there alongside him since he turned 13 and was there with him at a crucial time in his surging career.”He was quite chubby,” Pavan recalls. “It was a matter of genetics, combined with the fact he loved to eat. He loved to have a soft drink and a cookie. As soon as the training session was over, he already had one of each in his hands.”At the same time, his development was a bit slower than usual. He was a bit shorter and chubbier. He wasn’t a starter or a first substitution, either. However, people could see he had technical abilities which made him stand out from the rest. Thanks to our department’s studies on him, we knew he was going to grow up and gain some height and, with that, he would become leaner.”However, since his parents started to see that he did not play in the matches, they wanted to take him away from football. They thought he did not have a future as a player. They thought it was just a waste of time. Sometimes, in order to join some tournaments, he had to lose school time. That happened back when he was 12 years old and about to turn 13. They went and had a chat with me. They thought Alisson should dedicate himself to his academics, since they saw Alisson in here every day and they thought he was not having any benefits from it.”To make things even worse, Alisson’s dad, Jose, was unemployed.Jose worked at a shoe company, which went out of business. Since he was making a considerable financial effort in order to have his two children training in Porto Alegre every day, his money constraints reinforced the idea that maybe it was better to have his youngest son removed from football.”Despite all that, I managed to convince [his parents] that things would get better, that Alisson would mature as a player and that he had a huge technical upside and potential,” Pavan says. “Thank god, they listened to me.”Suddenly, it all came together. A year-and-a-half, about two years later, Alisson stretched out. He gained 16 centimetres in height and won his battle against the scale. He went on to become a starter at the base team, and then he joined the Brazilian national side at his age category. It was the start of a successful career.”Because of Pavan’s involvement in such an important moment in Alisson’s life and in his role in the national team, both remain friends to this day. They exchange text messages and words of encouragement and root for each other’s success.Nowadays, Pavan, Antonia and Leandro are all proud to see that the short, chubby kid from Novo Hamburgo, who used to cry a lot, is now the first name mentioned whenever the Selecao play. They hope that, one day, he will return with a World Cup for Brazil in his hands.

What’s the long-term plan for MLS, USL, and USL D-III?

By Nicholas MendolaJul 31, 2018, 7:45 PM EDT

The Premier League previews have yet to begin, Major League Soccer is on its All-Star break, and international soccer is gone for a spell, so allow this writer to take you on a tangent.For about as long as the promotion and relegation war cry has methodically danced around social media, I’ve had a difficult time believing Major League Soccer expansion would stop anywhere short of a similar system to the one employed by the rest of the world.

[ MORE: Phoenix, SD get Garber bump ]

As MLS partnered with the USL raised its maximum number of teams to its present stated goal of 28, it became clear that one of two things would happen:

  1. The number of teams would grow
  2. The league would eventually employ a system of pro/rel

Whether that’s years or decades away, it’s hard to say. What’s easy is that MLS knows it can capture the interest of two markets that are currently keeping it arm’s length at best by switching up its system: Soccer fanatics ignoring the growing quality of MLS play because pro/rel is their priority, and casual sports fans curious about an experiment.I’d put myself at about 90 percent confident of that before something clicked following this article on SocTakes which lays out the growth of the USL and the challenges still facing its individual owners.The strength of any group of teams lies within its league, and I’m not talking about the chemistry between its group of owners. The people who control and work for the actual league have to possess power, with a reservoir of funds, and avoid the arrogance that comes with the first two.Make no guarantees on the third part, especially given that the second part of the famous “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” line is “Great men are almost always bad men.” That’s not a shot at anyone specifically, just a judgment on the nature of business here.The only option outside of the pro/rel model that includes league growth eliminates plenty of draw for the top flight: Either clubs begin playing each other once a year, with no return date until the next season, or they expand the conferences with limited interplay and another unbalanced schedule

Nuh-uh.Clearly the USL is building up power and reserves, as MLS has done that already. Most of its top-end teams aren’t amongst the MLS B-sides and have the look of top-tier sides (FC Cincinnati, Sacramento Republic, Phoenix Rising).At some point, the MLS-B sides are going to disappear or head to USL D-III (or IV). The bottom half of USL average attendance is littered with those squads, even with high-performing on-the-field sides Real Monarchs and Red Bulls 2.  Neutral fans don’t want that. Shoot, I wouldn’t want to market that my local team is facing a must-win match against some MLS club’s guys 25-40. [ MORE: Garber “hopeful” Crew will stay in Columbus ]

So MLS “stops” at 28 teams. There’s 20-26 in USL, who will announce promotion and relegation between it and D-III. USL D-III will have another 20, and the way out of that place will be promotion.That’s where the experiment begins, with USL teams and the American soccer landscape seeing if pro/rel really is something that drives crowds.

This happens out-of-the-way of MLS, as owners continue to build up reserves to eventually serve as parachute payments for relegated teams. That money becomes available because MLS lifts its cap and entire salary structure. Teams like the LA Galaxy, Red Bulls, and NYCFC can spend and sell as much as they like and are buttressed by their academies.This lifts parity, once considered the jewel of the league, and makes the race to avoid the bottom a real thing. The MLS teams are still superior in salary and talent to the USL teams, so instead of Bottom 3 down, Top 3 up, MLS deploys some sort of promotion/relegation playoff similar to Germany.Naturally, the teams toward the bottom of MLS are going to be the ones who refuse to spend. So, yeah, it could be a San Jose having to deal with upstart FC Cincinnati for the right to get a top flight spot? Something tells me the spending will increase. Fight or flight (back to the bottom).Can it all be so simple? I really do think so. Maybe MLS can continue to expand, a couple of markets at a time, for 10 years. It can add to the schedule, maybe 40 games, but there’s a finite number of games it can add and have each team play home-and-away.

And wait til you tell a team owner from the East that it might not see Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the two or three seasons he’s here because of an unbalanced schedule. I don’t want to be in the room for that.MLS is growing in renown, and will continue to do so for some time, but it’s not going to reach its potential without building legitimate powers via letting big spenders spend. The Supporters’ Shield will become a bit less interesting for some clubs, but the final playoff spots and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will become even more prestigious.  As for the pro/rel part, it’s one of the things keeping nascent leagues alive with hope, and clubs/fans outside its system refusing to play ball. It makes too much sense and, over time, we’ll find out it was the plan all along. And the arguments from the peanut gallery, including this King Peanut, will keep things buzzing while it waits for its roll out.  The longer the league waits, the better chance a competitor tries and it gets some momentum. With the NASL lawsuits on the stove now and NISA without a leader, there’s no competition. That’s not to say an upstart rival league couldn’t be squashed by MLS, but why risk it?It’s going to happen, really. Otherwise, why would Alexi Lalas say things like this to his boss?

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

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

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

Renaldo to Juventus

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

INDY 11

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

neymar alphabet

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

WORLD CUP

Tale of the Tape in the Final

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

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

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

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

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

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

England No Longer a Laughing Stock – Ian Darke EPSN

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

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

Inter Milan and Bayern Munich dominate World Cup final

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

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

Project Russia: The best on-scene video

French Firemen use Neymar in Agony to plug First Aid Course

Cristiano Ronaldo on the move

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

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

Buffon signs with PSG

Indy 11

Indy 11 Fall to Charleston 2-1

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

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

USA

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

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

Why Sampaoli would be a Disaster for USMNT

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

Goalies

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

Goalies Battling for the Golden Glove

Best Saves Rounds 1 & 2 World Cup

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

Pickford’s Path to World Cup Hero

9 Saves  by Belgium’s Courtois Sit Down Brazil

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

Painting Success On and Off the Field – Indy GK

SUMMER CAMPS

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

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

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

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

GAMES ON TV This Week

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             England vs Belgium WC 3rd place

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

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

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            Croatia vs France – WC Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                                               LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   –          US Open Cup

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

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                                                  Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sat, July 21                

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

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham 

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

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

Jul 12, 2018Mark Ogden, Senior Writer ESPN FC

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

World Cup 2018 must-reads

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

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

Goalkeeper

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

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

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

Edge: France

Defence

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

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

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

Defensively, France have a strong advantage.

Edge: France

Midfield

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

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

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

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

Edge: Even

Forwards

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

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

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

Edge: France

Managers

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

Edge: France

Intangibles

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

Edge: France

Prediction

France 3-1 Croatia

N’Golo Kante deserves the Golden Ball

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • chief football writer2 JULY 2018 • 10:30PM

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

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

 

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

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

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

Cristiano Ronaldo on the move

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

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

Why Jorge Sampaoli would be a disaster for the USMNT

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

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

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

 

USMNT July 13-15 viewing guide and open thread

One last chance for a World Cup bump

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

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

Sunday

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

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

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

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

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

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

By: James Cormack – Bloody Shambles Soccer

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

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

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

PAINTING SUCCESS ON AND OFF THE FIELD

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

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

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

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

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

Tues, July 10

2 pm Fox                Belgium vs France (WC Semis)

Wed, July 11

2pm  Fox               Croatia vs England (WC Semis)

INDY 11

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

Buffon to PSG

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

World Cup Cool Stuff

Coke Commercial  

Holyfield Bite Comercial

Top World Cup Commercials so far   

Neymar Challenge Takes Over the World

Neymar Challenge Commercial and More

 World Cup

Facts – Belgium and France

Why France Will Win – Yahoo Soccer

Let’s just go straight to penalty kicks

Don’t get too cocky yet, England fans

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

England inspire nation as Premier League stars shine

England Star Players as kids

Croatia defender ruffles Russia with political comment after World Cup win

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

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

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

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

World Cup breakout star XI

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

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

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

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

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

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

Indy 11

Indy 11 beats Charlotte 2-1

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

USA

Pulisic Shows CBS What he Can do on the Pitch

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

Goalies

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

Pickford’s Path to World Cup Hero

9 Saves  by Belgium’s Courtois Sit Down Brazil

Oldest World Cup Player Ever Saves PK for Egypt

Best Saves Round 1 World Cup

Best Saves Round 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

 SUMMER CAMPS

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

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

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

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

GAMES ON TV This Week

Tues, July 10         

2 pm Fox                Belgium vs France (WC Semis)  

Wed, July 11         

2pm  Fox               Croatia vs England (WC Semis)

7 pm ESPN+/Utube Charleston vs Indy 11

8:30 pm ESPN+             Chicago vs Philly Union

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

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

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                                               LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   – US Open Cup

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

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                                                  Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham 

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

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

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

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

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

Mark Ogden, Senior Football Writer

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

Belgium vs. France, Saint Petersburg

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

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

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

Winners: Belgium

Croatia vs. England, Moscow

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

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

Winners: England

Key battles in World Cup semifinals

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why they’ll win the World Cup: France

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

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

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

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

 Factbox: Belgium and France World Cup semi-final history

Reuters•July 9, 2018

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

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

BELGIUM

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

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

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

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

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

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

FRANCE

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

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

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

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

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

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

England inspire nation as Premier League stars shine

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

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

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

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

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

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

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

By GRANT WAHL July 07, 2018

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

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

• THIS ENGLAND TEAM HAS A FRESH KIND OF APPEAL

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

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

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

  • LUKA MODRIC IS STRANGELY UNDERRATED

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

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

By BRIAN STRAUS July 08, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Trey Higdon, 07/08/18, 12:00AM EDT

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

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

CLT – Jorge Herrera (Sam Vines) 50′

IND – Ben Speas (Eugene Starikov) 62′

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

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

Buffon: Champions League not an obsession for me or PSG

Associated Press•July 9, 2018

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

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

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

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

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

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

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

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

Fri, July 6         

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

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

Sat, July 7         

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

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

INDY 11

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

MLS

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

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

 World Cup

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

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

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

Comparing the Quaterfinalist

WC Final 8 – Matchups and Predictions  Yahoosports

England Finally Breaks the Curse

GK Pickford Saves England in Foul Infested win over Colombia

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

Key #s in England Shootout Win

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

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

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

US

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

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

Indy 11

Indy 11 Fall to Ottowa

Indy 11 Ayoze Named USL Team of the Week

Indy 11 Tie 1 to 1

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

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

USL League Standings

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

MLS

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

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

MLS Power Rankings

Goalies

Best Saves – Round 3 World Cup

Best 50 Saves of the World Cup so Far

Best Saves Round 1 World Cup

Best Saves Round 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

SUMMER CAMPS

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

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

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

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

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

Weds, July 4       

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Ottawa Fury

Fri, July 6         

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

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

Sat, July 7         

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

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

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

7pm Fox Sport South Philly Union vs Atlanta United

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Charlotte

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

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

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

Tues, July 10       

2 pm Fox               World Cup Semi’s  

Weds, July 11       

2 pm Fox               World Cup Semi’s  

7 pm ESPN+/Utube Charleston vs Indy 11

8:30 pm ESPN+             Chicago vs Philly Union

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

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

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                     LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   – US Open Cup

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

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                 Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham  

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

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

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

 Indiana Youth Soccer Night  Post-Game Photo On The Field

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

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

By Trey Higdon, 07/04/18, 11:15PM EDT

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

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

OTT – Carlyle Mitchell (IND OG) 28′

Discipline Summary:

OTT – Carl Haworth (Yellow) 9′

OTT – Adonijah Reid (Yellow) 20′

IND – Juan Guerra (Yellow) 26′

OTT – Eddie Edward (Yellow) 69′

OTT – Onua Obasi (Yellow)79′

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

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

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

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

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

PEN – Lucky Mkosana (PK) 51′

IND – Jack McInerney 80′

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

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

Fox set a streaming record during the World Cup on Monday

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

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

US World Cup Ratings Down 42 Percent Without American Team

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Prediction: France over Uruguay, 2-1

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

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

Prediction: Brazil over Belgium, 3-2

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

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

Prediction: Sweden over England, 1-0

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

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

Prediction: Croatia over Russia, 3-0

How do the World Cup quarter-finalists compare?

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

Uruguay v France (Friday 1400 GMT, Nizhny Novgorod)

Uruguay

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

France

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

Brazil v Belgium (Friday 1800 GMT, Kazan)

Brazil

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

Belgium

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

Sweden v England (Saturday 1400 GMT, Samara)

Sweden

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

England

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

Russia v Croatia (Saturday 1800 GMT, Sochi)

Russia

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

Croatia

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

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

5:27 PM ET  -=  Liam TwomeyChelsea Correspondent

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

Positives

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

Negatives

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

Manager rating out of 10

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Substitutes

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 3, 2018Debayan SenSenior Assistant Editor

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

1

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

6

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

12

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

2

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

24

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

3

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

9

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

8

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

50

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

Don’t believe the Christian Pulisic to Tottenham transfer rumors

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jul 3, 2018Matt PentzESPN FC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Kick Off: MLS today

July 4, 201810:38AM EDT Greg SeltzerContributor

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

Dynamo storm back late for draw

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

Conference leaders make tricky trips

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

Galaxy aiming for playoff zone, Cameron

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

Atlanta back atop Power Rankings

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

World Cup: Svensson, Sweden to final eight

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

Warshaw: My midseason award favorites

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

Oba-Deuce

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

Tear it all down

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

Can’t Tell Me Nothing

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

Indiana Youth Soccer Night

Post-Game Photo On The Field

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

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

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

Very disappointing FOX 59 !!!!!!

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

10 am Fox         France vs Argentina  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Uruguay vs Portugal  (WC Sweet 16)  

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

INDY 11

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

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

Local

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

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

MLS

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

Indy 11

Indy 11 Beats Nashville on Road for 3rd Straight Win

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

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

USL League Standings

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

militaryindy11

Indy 11 MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

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

WORLD CUP

My Favorite World Cup Commercilal

World Cup Geico Commercial – the Slide

VAR is Working – Gab Marcotti

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

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

Messi Goal Sets off Celebration for Argentina

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

Argentina Call of Game Winner

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

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

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

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

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

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

Africa with Worse Showing Ever at World Cup?

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

What Do Players Get when They Win the World Cup

 US 

Roger Bennett Discusses American Fiasco

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

Arena Says Pulisic is in a Great Place at Dortmund

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

Landon Donovan Clarifies his Vamos Mexico World Cup Ads after criticism

US Ladies Hit Their Stride – USA Today

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

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

MLS

MLS Power Rankings

Rooney to Sign with DC United this Weekend?

Rooney Signs with DC United !

Seattle vs Portland Preview

Zlattan in ESPN Body Issue

Zlatan the Fortune Teller – James Corden

FC Cincy Lays out Plans for Training Facility

Goalies

Oldest World Cup Player Ever Saves PK for Egypt

Best Saves Round 1 World Cup

Best Saves Round 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

SUMMER CAMPS

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

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

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

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

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

Sat, June 30         

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

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

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

4:30 pm FOX 59           Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

7 pm ESPN+, TV23   Indy 11 vs Penn  

8 pm Yes                           Chicago vs NY City FC

8 pm ESPN+                    LAFC vs Philly Union

10 pm Univ                     SJ Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy

10 pm g090                    Seattle Reign vs Portland Thorns

10 pm Fox Sport 1     World Cup Tonight

Sun, July 1        

10 am Fox         Spain vs Russia  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Croatia vs Denmark (WC Sweet 16)  

4:30 pm FOX            Toronto FC vs NY Red Bulls  

10 pm Fox Sport 1     World Cup Tonight

Mon, July 2       

10 am Fox         Brazil vs Mexico (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Belgium vs Japan (WC Sweet 16)  

Tues, July 3       

10 am Fox         Sweden vs Swiss (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Colombia vs England (WC Sweet 16)  

Weds, July 4       

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Ottawa Fury

Fri, July 6         

10 am FS1                        World Cup Quarter Final W49 vs W50

2 pm  FS1                         World Cup Quarter Final W53 vs W54

Sat, July 7         

10 am                                 World Cup Quarter Final W55 vs W56

2 pm                                    World Cup Quarter Final W51 vs W52

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Charlotte

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

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

Tues, July 10       

2 pm Fox           World Cup Semi’s  

Weds, July 11       

2 pm Fox           World Cup Semi’s  

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox         World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

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

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox        World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                  Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                       LAFC vs Portland

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

Indy 11 MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

WEEK 16: PART TWO

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

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW JUSTIN BRAUN

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

PENN FC PLAYER TO WATCH: FW LUCKY MKOSANA

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

“THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE”

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

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

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

 

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

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

80

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

2

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

4

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

1

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

18

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

32

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

13

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

7

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By BRIAN STRAUS June 26, 2018

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

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

Alex Baker

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

Prize money

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

Bonus payments

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

What, no trophy?

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

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

 

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

AFP•June 25, 2018

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

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

Joe KnowlesContact ReporterChicago Tribune

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

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

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

What inspired you to do it?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Jun 19, 2018ESPN

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

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

Khadrice Rollins,Sports Illustrated 21 hours ago

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

Rooney Signs with DC United – Is Official

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

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

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

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

According to Sky:

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

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

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

MLS expansion team FC Cincinnati reveal plans for training facility

June 26, 20185:21PM EDTAlicia RodriguezContributor

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

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

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

y: Rebecca Townsend (aka The Pitch Bitch)

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

Indiana Youth Soccer Night

Post-Game Photo On The Field

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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