7/12/19 US Ladies Win World Cup #4, US Men Lose in GC Finals, Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, ICC Starts, MLS Rivalry’s

WWC – USA

So the Summer of Soccer has ended for the US – as the US Ladies add a 4th star to the shirt – with their impressive Back-to-Back World Cup Championships.  The ladies had the most difficult road as they had to beat 3 of the top 5 ranked teams France, England, Sweden and the European Champion Netherland’s along with way.  The US scored the most goals (26) in World Cup history – helped by the 13-0 beat down of Thailand?  They had 2 of the top 3 scorers as Megan Rapino (6 goals/3 assist – fewer minutes played) edged Alex Morgan 6 goals/3 assist for the Golden Boot and Golden Ball.   In all 11 different players scored for the US – a record in a ladies World Cup.  The crowds included lots of sold out stadiums in France and tons of viewers worldwide as the game outdrew last season’s Men’s World Cup with over 15 million viewers for the 11 am Final last Sunday.  The players return to the US as hero’s with a tickertape parade in NYC and calls for equal pay for the ladies coming from all fronts. Cool speech by Rapino after the parade in NYC.  I would certainly agree they need to be treated the same – same hotels, chartered flights, and treatment.  I do know the US ladies players are actually paid to play by US soccer not their clubs – while men make considerably more at their club and are paid bonuses to make the team and win World Cup games.  This will certainly be a hot topic as the US ladies look to arbitrate their case against US soccer while preparing a victory tour set to start in August in the US and of course return to their club teams in NWSL which just signed a deal with ESPN to show 10 games down the stretch of the season. This US ladies team winning their 4th star – with the largest TV audience to see a soccer game since the 2015 Women’s Final World Cup Game – has had a huge impact in the US – just how big may not be known for decades – but at least people are talking about women’s soccer and that’s pretty cool.  Oh and the Goalkeeping was pretty dang good this world cup – be sure to see saves below.

US Men –Gold Cup

Let’s start by saying the US Men under their new Manager Gregg Berhalter did some good things in the Gold Cup.  One of my favorite  wrap up on the Gold Cup was on Yahoo.  We made the final – and actually outplayed the favored Mexican’s in the first half at a 85% pro Mexican crowd in the final in Chicago.  I thought we basically dominated the lesser teams with both possession and shots early in the tourney while not giving up any goals – despite some issues along the back line at times. I thought the new system worked and for the first time since Bob Bradley the team seemed to have both direction and confidence in what the coach was asking them to do.  They had a plan that should certainly hold up against CONCACAF competition and should get us thru qualifiers and Nations League in route to the 2022 World Cup.  Now as for which players stood out – of course Pulisic and McKennie we knew would do great and they did.  This team needs Pulisic working on all cylinders to truly be top class – and when he was we were.  Paul Arriola continues to impress on the wing and I thought newcomer 24 year old Tyler Boyd was a revelation in the early part of the tourney and was actually the best player on the field in one game (I have no idea why he didn’t play in the last 2 games- coach was an idiot for not subbing him vs Mexico in the 2nd half down 1-0.  No idea what he was thinking putting Roldan in rather than Boyd).  Also making a name for himself was young 21 year old Right back Reggie Cannon – the starter in the final 2 games – solidified in my mind his importance.    Centerback 26 year-old Aaron Long emerged as a star in my mind and should be a starter moving forward with hopefully a healthy John Brooks or Walker Zimmerman or Matt Miazga.  I thought Miazga was weak in the Mexico game and honestly it was him not closing down that gave up the goal (he was right there and backed off turning his body to avoid taking the hit for the team) on the goal that cost us the game. Watch the goal again.  I also thought Tim Ream was just ok at left back – used more as a 3 man center back tandem in many games.  I actually thought Michael Bradley was ok at the #6 slot  -especially when McKennie slotted next to him in the last few games – he’s much better than ().  Bradley delivered some great balls overtop and did a good job protecting the back 3 or 4 depending on our alignment.  Now I did think he was overrun in the 2nd half vs Mexico and definitely ran out of gas – but McKennie who played poorly vs Mexico was just as much to blame.  Now of course I think 20 year old phenom and Red Bulls dmid Tyler Adams should slide into the #6 role as the US Moves forward – which would cut back on Bradley’s time – but he definitely still has a role on this team through qualifying at least. Finally let’s talk forwards – I was disappointed that Altidore was not played more in the tourney – Altidore when healthy is still truly our only #9 – and his hold up play and passing ability was huge in the wins over Caursao and Jamaica I am just not sure why he didn’t start every game.  I thought Zardes was ok and he hustles and he scored a couple of goals – but he’s not a #9 SORRY.  I sure would have liked to have seen Josh Sargeant in that role some instead of Zardes.   Anyway – overall it was not a bad showing by the US in this Gold Cup – and not a bad result for Gregg Berhalter.  He showed flexibility in his system and line-ups based on the players he had for each game and dealt with not having two of the best US players in Tyler Adams and John Brooks for this tourney.  We had every chance to take the lead on Mexico in the 1st half and certainly should have scored 1 if not 2 goals in a half where the US had equal possession and many more changes on goal.  And even after conceding in the 2nd half – and despite the horrible subbing – the US should have scored an equalizer in the final 5 minutes if not for an incredible save by Mexican keeper Ochoa.  So overall I give the US men a B.  Are we back to where the team was when Bob Bradley was coach?  No – but we also don’t have as many players playing in Europe or the EPL now as we did then.  We have a good young nucleus of players though – most under 25 – many under 21 who should help put US men’s Soccer back to where it was for the 2022 World Cup and more importantly for when we host in 2026.   Oh and will we ever be the home team in a full sized stadium in the US?  I was certainly sad to see Mexico fill 80,000 seat stadiums around the US – while the US could barely do 25K.  Sad to think that the same ratio of fans – I experienced in my first Gold Cup Final a 2-0 win in 2007 in Chicago 85% Mexican 15% US – was the same in 2019.

ICC

The international Champions Cup kicks off this week (see TV Schedule) – with some of your favorite European teams are playing across the country in NFL stadiums with many of the games on ESPN.  European Champs Liverpool will play Germany’s Dortmund on Friday night, July 19 on TNT at Notre Dame stadium and seats are still available.

MLS  

So now that the World Cup and Gold Cup and Copa America are over – (we still have the African Cup wrapping up this week on beIN Sport), MLS is finally starting to heat with the return of the Gold Cup Players across the league as is the NWSL – National Women’s Soccer League – where all the US World Cup Winners play and now have games on yahoosports and some ESPN games as well.  Rivalry week kicks off this week with DC United and Wayne Rooney hosting revitalized New England under Bruce Arena at 8 pm tonight on ESPN.  Seattle hosts Atlanta United Sun at 4 pm on ESPN while FS1 finishes soccer night in America with the NYC Derby – NY Red Bulls vs NYFCF.  Thursday night we get a double MLS ESPN dip with Cincy at DC United at 8 pm, followed by Portland hosting Orlando City at 10.  Then Friday night at 10 pm on ESPN we get El Traffico in LA – as the LA Galaxy host League Leaders LAFC.  Next Sunday wraps up rivalry week with Seattle hosting Portland in the Cascadian Cup 9:30 pm on FS1.

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

CFC_GK_Cash

USA LADIES WORLD CUP CHAMPS

Is this the Greatest Women’s Soccer team of all time?  Dan Wetzel Yahoo Sports

US Ladies A Team A cup Their Cause US World Class – Grant Wahl SI

Women’s WC Final TV Viewers tops Men’s Final in US – AP

World Cup Viewership and Disparity – Stars and Stripes –pay the ladies

Women’s Victory Parade and Inspiration at Victory Parade

Megan Rapino’s Excellent Speech at NYC Parade

What’s next for Megan Rapinoe and the older USWNT players? Graham Hayes ESPNW

US Ladies Player Ratings vs Dutch –NBC

US Ladies Repeat as World Cup Champs – Graham Hayes ESPNW

3 things we learned 

USWNT star Megan Rapinoe makes loud statement to silence critics

Chants of ‘equal pay’ accompany U.S. win

English Coach Phil Neville A Emotional Wreck after England Loss

US Men – Fall 1-0 to Mexico in Gold Cup Final

Mexico Delivers Harsh lesson to the USMNT – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

19 Things We Learned about the US Men at the Gold Cup – Harry Bushnell Yahoo Sports

3 Things US lose to Mexico

US lost the Gold Cup Final and that’s OK

Doyle: Clinical Mexico put USMNT to the sword Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle MLS.com

8.7 Million Tune in to see Gold Cup Final

– Marshall: Mexico’s ‘other’ Dos Santos haunts U.S.
– Mexico ratings: Pizarro leads way for El Tri
– U.S. ratings: Bradley, Morris too slow for hosts

Berhalter: US wasteful, but “Mexico were better” MLS.com

USMNT’s verdict? Progress, but we came up short

US Ratings: Who stood out in the loss to Mexico?

COPA America + African Cup

– Vickery: Messi’s red card overshadows Argentina’s positive steps
– Marcotti: Red card controversy casts cloud over Copa

African Cup Final 4 Set

 MLS

W2W4

MLS Power Rankings: LAFC reassert their title credentials

Atlanta title defense back on track after offseason of change threatened to derail campaign

USWNT named best team; Messi, Ibra win ESPYs

Galaxy teenager Alvarez ‘dominating training’ – Ibra

Ft. Lauderdale OKs Beckham Inter Miami stadium

Chicago agrees to $65m deal to leave stadium

Columbus Crew sign Curacao goalkeeper Room

Toe Poke Daily: Zlatan Ibrahimovic absolutely nails #bottlecapchallenge

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview weekend game with Hartford on ESPN+ at 5 pm

Indy 11 MF Tyler Pasher names to Team of Week 17

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

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

Goalkeeping

Best Saves from Women’s World Cup

Top 5 Saves World Cup Ladies

Great Saves by Netherlands Keeper Sari Veenedaal vs US

US Alyssa Naeher saves US vs England

Ochoa Wins Golden Glove huge saves vs US

Alisson wins Golden Glove in Copa for Brazil

Mexico’s Ochoa saves Mexico in shootout vs Costa Rica

Peru gets to Copa Final behind Gallese in Goal

Brick walls: Top saves from MLS Week 18

GAMES ON TV

Fri, July 13

8 pm ESPN                              DC United vs New England

Sat, July 14

  • 5 pm ESPN+                 Indy 11 vs Hartford

8pm ESPN+                             Chicago Fire vs Cincy

Sun, July 15

12 noon beIN Sport                 Senegal vs Tunisia Semis AFRICAN CUP

3 pm beIN sport                      Algeria vs Nigeria

4 pm ESPN                              Seattle vs Atlanta United

6:30 pm FS1                            NY Red Bulls vs NY City FC  

Wed, July 17

3 pm beIN Sport                     3rd Place AFRICAN CUP

8 pm ESPN+                            Chicago vs Columbus

11 pm ESPN 2                         Arsenal vs Bayern Munich  ICC

Thurs, July 18

8 pm ESPN                              Cincy vs DC United

10 pm ESPN                            Portland vs Orlando City

Fri, July 19

3 pm beIN Sport                     AFRICAN CUP FINALS

8 pm TNT                                Liverpool vs Dortmund (at Notre Dame)   

10 pm ESPN                            LA Galaxy vs LA FC  

10 pm yahoo sports                Utah Royals vs Portland Thorns NWSL

Sat, July 20

6:30 pm ESPN2                       Man United vs Inter  ICC

4 pm ESPN                              Benefica vs Guadalajara

  • 7 pm ESPN+, Myindy Indy 11 vs Loundon United

7 pm Yahoo Sports                                 Washington Spirit vs Houston Dash NWSL

8 pm ESPN2                            Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid ICC

Sun, July 21

7:30 am ESPN2                       Juve vs Tottenham ICC

4 pm ESPN                              Atlanta vs DC United (Rooney)

6 pm ESPN2                            Chicago Red Stars vs North Carolina Courage NWSL

7:30 pm FS 1                           Orlando City vs NY Red Bulls

9:30 pm FS 1                           Seattle vs Portland Timbers  

Tues, July 23

7 pm ESPN                              Real Madrid vs Arsenal ICC

9 pm ESPN                              Gaudalajara vs Atletico Madrid ICC

9 pm ESPN+                            Bayern Munich vs Milan  ICC

11 pm ESPN                            LA Galaxy vs Tiajuana  (League Cup)

Weds, July 24

7:30 am ESPN+                       Juventus vs Inter ICC

8 pm TNT                                Liverpool vs Sporting CP

8:30 pm ESPN+                       Houston Dynamo vs America  (League Cup)

Thurs, July 25

7:30 am ESPN+                       Tottenham vs Man United ICC

Fri, July 26

6:30 am ESPN                         Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid ICC

10 pm ESPN                            LA FC vs Atlanta United

Sat, July 27

8 pm ESPN+                            Chicago Fire vs DC United

10 pm ESPNNews                   Utah Royals vs NC Courage NWSL

10:30 pm ESPN                       Portland vs LA Galaxy  

Sun, July 28

3 pm ESPN 2                           Milan vs Benefica ICC

Wed, July 31

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

 USWNT’s World Cup title confirms status as greatest women’s soccer team of all time

Dan WetzelColumnistYahoo SportsJul 7, 2019, 12:55 PM

LYON, France — The United States arrived at the World Cup brimming with confidence and embracing a championship-or-bust mentality.They left, after a thoroughly dominating tournament, with not just their fourth World Cup overall, and second consecutive, but the mantle as the greatest women’s soccer team of all time.The Americans outlasted the Netherlands 2-0 in Sunday’s World Cup final. They broke the game open on a Megan Rapinoe penalty kick in the 61st minute before Rose Lavelle added a brilliant goal in the 69th. It was a final that was tough, hard-fought, even bloody at times. But while the score was close for much of the game, the U.S. controlled most of the action and most of the quality scoring opportunities.It was indicative of a World Cup where the Americans were almost never threatened.They never trailed. They outscored their seven opponents 26-3. They never needed a second of extra time. They led an astounding 442 out of 630 minutes (70.2 percent of the time, a number that may defy belief from future soccer historians).Essentially, they did everything they promised they would and believed they could when they arrived here and declared that due to their depth of talent they had the first and second best teams in the world.The Dutch were a game opponent, physical and determined, the reigning European champions. Yet the talent difference on the field was marked. They became just another team for the U.S. to steamroll in a tournament that saw the Americans defeat the teams ranked third, fourth, eighth, ninth and 13th in the world.The Americans have fielded some all-time great squads, but none can match this level, let alone the sheer depth of ability. In a sport that grows by leaps and bounds every World Cup cycle, they completely overwhelmed this tournament, only mildly pressed by France late in a quarterfinal and England in the semis. Even then, they were at risk of an even scoreboard, not in need of a comeback.This was a complete show of strength by the United States, asign of how the country has so many superior athletes playing youth soccer that coach Jill Ellis has an embarrassment of riches to pick from.Carli Lloyd, 36, was the hero from 2015. She was a late game sub on this team, scoring three times anyway. Mallory Pugh, 21, may prove to be Alex Morgan’s successor as the team’s goal-scoring threat up front. She couldn’t get on the field during the knockout stages.They lost arguably their best player, forward Megan Rapinoe, for the semifinals due to a strained hamstring, and her replacement, Christen Press, who would start on any other team in the world, needed just 10 minutes to score.Their veterans such as Rapinoe and Morgan each delivered six goals and Julie Ertz was everywhere. Their newcomers such as Sam Mewis, 26, and Lavelle, 24, showed why the team’s future is bright.Headed into the tournament there was but one question – goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, who is excellent but inexperienced at that level. She brushed that away with a brilliant penalty kick save against England and kept a clean sheet in the final.About the only concern that ever emerged during play was outside noise wondering if the Americans were too confident. They always prepared for, spoke highly of and respected their opponents, but it was clear that the U.S. believed if they played their game they would win.They were right. “It’s important that our team has confidence,” Ellis said early in the tournament. “I don’t think in any way this is an arrogant team. I think this team knows they have to earn everything, that we’ve got tough opponents like we played the other night still ahead of us and we have to earn every right to advance in this tournament.”It wasn’t long before the criticism turned to silly things such as celebrating too many goals with too much flair. When that’s what you are getting hit with as a tournament carries on, you’ve got a juggernaut on your hands.As long as their focus never wavered, neither would the results.Declaring this the greatest team in history isn’t an affront to the World Cup champions of 1991 and 1999. It is, instead, their legacy. They spawned not just a generation of girls who flocked to the sport, but the infrastructure of youth leagues and U.S. Soccer development that could handle them, nurture them and turn them into a ferocios group.The 2015 World Cup champions were very good, but they weren’t this good, they didn’t control the tournament this easily.As much as there is endless discussion of the soccer world, which is just now caring about the women’s game, catching up to the Americans, it never really panned out. These other countries, especially the seven European teams that joined the U.S. in the quarterfinals, are all better than ever.Yet the Americans are too – the gap actually widening for the time being.It wasn’t arrogance that powered their belief in themselves. It wasn’t overconfidence.It was domination, complete and utter American domination.

Unflappable. Unapologetic. Unequaled.

This edition of the USWNT has a claim to go down as the greatest U.S. women’s soccer team ever, winning the most competitive Women’s World Cup yet with the spotlight at its brightest, the target on its back glaring and outside pressures and attention raising the stakes to new heights. By Grant Wahl  SI Mag July 08, 2019

This story appears in the July 15, 2019, issue of Sports Illustrated. For more great storytelling and in-depth analysis, subscribe to the magazine—and get up to 94% off the cover price. Click here for more.

Which Megan Rapinoe pose did you prefer? Was it the one with her arms outstretched like a marble statue in the Louvre, aka The Purple-Haired Lesbian Goddess, that we saw after her goals against France in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals and against the Netherlands in Sunday’s final? Or was it the pose we saw on her Instagram, the one with her arms overflowing as she held a preposterous trio of Women’s World Cup trophies for the tournament title, the Golden Boot (top scorer) and the Golden Ball (MVP)?Or maybe pose isn’t the right word? That would imply something artificial, which is the last way you’d describe Rapinoe’s month-long tour de force during the U.S.’s second straight Women’s World Cup title runthe fourth in the team’s glorious history. Rarely in the annals of sports have we seen an athlete at the highest level talk the talk—and did she ever, demanding equal pay for women’s players, increased investment in the women’s game and greater respect for the LGBTQ, African-American and other minority communities—and then walk the walk, even with President Donald Trump calling her out on Twitter.“Megan should WIN first before she TALKS! Finish the job!” Trump tweeted on June 26 after a months-old video of Rapinoe saying, “I’m not going to the f—king White House” if the U.S. team was invited was published and went viral. Two days later, after standing her ground in a press conference, Rapinoe responded on the field by scoring both goals in the Americans’ 2-1 victory over the host French, the defining win that made another trophy possible. Three times in the knockout rounds, Rapinoe faced the ultimate pressure of taking a penalty kick for her country in the World Cup. Three times she converted, including on the game-winning goal at the final in Lyon. By Sunday, even Trump backed off, tweeting: “America is proud of you all!”We’ll go there. Muhammad Ali is a singular figure in American life. But there are elements of a modern-day Ali in Rapinoe’s stance toward sports and social activism, to say nothing of her ability to turn the glare of publicity—much of it controversial—to her advantage. Who else would say with glee that she was looking forward to a “total s—tshow circus” in a World Cup quarterfinal and then make the most of it when it happened?“I’m made for this,” the 34-year-old Rapinoe said after the final. “I mean, I love it. Obviously, getting to play at the highest level in a World Cup with a team like we have is just ridiculous. But to be able to couple that with everything off the field and to back up all those words with performances and back up all those performances with words, it’s just incredible. I feel like this team is just in the midst of changing the world around us as we live, and it’s just an incredible feeling.”

The U.S. players are in the midst of suing the U.S. Soccer Federation for gender discrimination—though both sides have agreed to try mediation first—and in the heady moments after Sunday’s final whistle, the American Outlaws supporters group engaged in a lusty chant of “EQUAL PAY! EQUAL PAY!” The chorus rang through the stadium as Rapinoe accepted her awards and shared conversations with FIFA president Gianni Infantino, French president Emmanuel Macron and U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro.Rapinoe knows her power, knows that she has to win to maximize it, and she isn’t afraid to push the envelope deploying her influence.“Everyone’s asking what’s next and what we want to come from all this,” she said. “And it’s to stop having the conversation about equal pay and ‘Are we worth it?’ and ‘Should we?’ and the investment piece. What are we going to do about it? Gianni, what are we going to do about it? Carlos, what are we going to do about it? Everyone. It’s time to sit down with everyone and really get to work. This game has done so much for all of us. We’ve put so much into it. It’s a testament to the quality on the field, and I don’t think everything else is matching that. So how do we get everything to match up and continue to push this forward? Because I think at this point the argument that we have been having is totally null and void.”So thoroughly did Rapinoe back up her talk on the field that you half-wondered if she was impervious to the cascading criticism she was receiving from one side of a divided country, whether it was over her 2016 decision to take a knee during the national anthem in support of Colin Kaepernick’s protest over police treatment of black Americans (U.S. Soccer later passed a rule requiring standing) or over her continuing protest of refusing to sing the national anthem or put her hand over her heart. But no, she’s human.“Megan actually is very sensitive,” her twin sister, Rachael, said last week when asked how Megan responded in private to Trump’s tweet. “But in regards to her profession she’s very good at compartmentalizing, so she doesn’t really get too rattled. I definitely gave her a lot of space. She wasn’t talking about it a lot, so I could tell she was trying to process it and not be too affected by it. When everything went down in 2016, at the time we had a different president. But now she’s not even protected by her own president. That’s something that’s almost surreal to me, that we have a president of the United States that’s essentially going after my sister, but also kind of the team, too.”But what a team these 19ers were. One of the greatest sports teams of all time? Probably. The most meaningful team in history? Perhaps, considering all the things the 19ers have represented to different people. The greatest U.S. women’s soccer team ever? Oh yes, certainly.“I do think this is a team that across the board is the best we’ve seen,” said no less of an authority than two-time U.S. World Cup champion Julie Foudy of ESPN. This was the first USWNT to win back-to-back World Cup titles and reach three finals in a row. Until the last game, it had scored in the first 12 minutes of every World Cup match in France before it. The U.S. won every game in its romp to the trophy, outscored its opponents 26-3, led for 442 of 630 minutes and never trailed. There was a raft of stories written during this tournament about the rest of the world catching up to the U.S., but that isn’t entirely true. While Europe is certainly improving, the U.S. is getting better too, maybe even at a faster rate.It would be easy to view the U.S.’s dominant run through this World Cup as an ass-kicking inevitability, a constant march onward and upward to back-to-back titles. Here we go again. But the journey over the past four years was anything but easy. In 2016, the U.S. suffered a quarterfinal elimination in the Olympics to Sweden—the U.S.’s earliest exit ever from a major tournament—in which Rapinoe, on the wrong side of 30 and not at full strength after a knee injury, looked like she might be finished on the international stage. Then in 2017, vowing to unlock more creativity in the attack, Ellis launched a period of experimentation (with formations and new players) that proved an old adage: Real change can be an ugly and uncomfortable process long before it becomes glorious.The grimmest night of all was March 8, 2017, at the SheBelieves Cup in Washington, D.C.’s RFK Stadium, when a thoroughly disjointed U.S. team went down 2-0 after nine minutes to France and ultimately lost 3-0. With Rapinoe not being called into the team in the wake of her taking a knee, Ellis tried a 3-4-3 formation, left several regulars on the bench—including Alex Morgan, Julie Ertz, Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan and Kelley O’Hara—and produced a result that left U.S. fans and media howling after two home defeats in the three-game tournament.“I remember thinking after that loss that we had a long way to go,” O’Hara said last week. “But that’s kind of a good thing, you know? You don’t ever want to feel like it’s easy all the time and there’s no obstacles or need for growth. After 2016, [Ellis] put out a statement saying I’m about to put this team through an evolution that I feel is necessary to win us a World Cup in 2019. And as hard as that was—it was hectic and stressful and full of uncertainty for a lot of people—it was necessary. I respect her a lot for doing that and sticking to her guns, and I respect the individuals on this team and how we handled ourselves through that time.”

As Morgan added, “You have to give credit to Jill for looking at new things throughout the course of the last three years in order to see what the right direction was for us … When you have a chance to coach a team for two World Cups in a row, you’re able to learn a lot along the way, what worked and what didn’t. For Jill, it was a little bit of experimenting, and she did it in a way that a lot of people criticized. But at the same time, when you get to where we are now, you can’t help but applaud that.”Yet even the U.S. players bristled at times during Ellis’s tinkering, and after a 1-0 home loss to Australia in July 2017 at the Tournament of Nations, several veterans went to then-federation president Sunil Gulati and told him they had deep concerns about the direction of the team under Ellis—and that if those concerns weren’t addressed they wanted a new coach. The players had specific issues with what they felt was Ellis’s lack of communication off the field and the team’s declining performances on the field. At a meeting several months later, Gulati responded to the team (with Ellis in the room) that she wasn’t going anywhere before World Cup 2019, and Gulati’s replacement, Carlos Cordeiro, kept Ellis in charge.Winning has a way of easing tensions, however, and in 2018 the U.S. went undefeated as Ellis and assistant Tony Gustavsson, her offensive guru, landed on a 4-3-3 formation with an attacking style that was much more freewheeling than that of the 2015 World Cup-winning team. The linchpins were an explosive starting front line (Rapinoe, Morgan and Tobin Heath), an indispensable role in the defensive midfield for Ertz, and a remarkable depth (Carli Lloyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh as subs!) possessed by no other team on the planet. Concerns over the defense would continue into the World Cup, especially when it came to Hope Solo’s untested goalkeeping replacement, Alyssa Naeher, but Naeher proved herself when it mattered most by making two giant saves (one of them on a late penalty) in a 2-1 semifinal win against England.As painful as Ellis’s experimenting was in 2017, it also unearthed some gems. One of the starters in the France debacle was a 21-year-old midfielder from Cincinnati named Rose Lavelle, who was making her second appearance with the national team.“I got subbed out at halftime because I was pretty awful,” Lavelle said last week. “I remember thinking, ‘Wow, that’s like the top of the top. I need to get better, and that’s where I need to be in the next couple years if I want to compete for a spot on this team.’”Now 24, Lavelle was the World Cup’s breakout star, the creative maestro on the U.S. team in both the semifinal and the final. Watching Lavelle in full flight on the ball is exhilarating, the kind of jolt that people will always pay real money to witness in person. In the 69th minute of Sunday’s final, she found herself on the ball with a half-acre of space in front of her and went to work, bamboozling Dutch defender Stefanie Van der Gragt to create room for her left-footed knockout punch.“It’s so surreal that I just won a World Cup with people I grew up idolizing,” said Lavelle. “I can’t put it into words. It’s amazing.”Last week was a vindication for Ellis, the first coach to win back-to-back Women’s World Cup titles. She used nearly all the capital she had won in 2015 to remake her U.S. team after the Olympic failure, and that sometimes excruciating process paid off in France.“Coming out of the Olympics, it was a moment to kind of reflect and look at making sure we played competitive games and increased our roster in terms of finding players like Rose Lavelle,” Ellis said last week. “Sometimes it’s part of the growing pains when you want to shift something. But full credit to the players. You build the system around them. They’re the gasoline that makes it work. That process was to get to this point with players in their right spots.”Over the last three years, Ellis was especially supportive of her most Promethean players, even through long periods of injuries, whether they were Lavelle (hamstring), Heath (back) or Rapinoe (knee). Without them, the U.S. wouldn’t have won in France. As Foudy said, “Her most creative players, she has had a commitment to them to say, ‘I’m going to have patience. You’re going to get back.’ As a player it’s everything, especially at that level where it’s so cutthroat, it’s hard to feel confidence when you’re injured and away from the group. And Jill was willing to tinker. Sometimes you would hammer her for it, but you have to live through those moments to learn and grow. I think she’s been courageous in that way.”But the 19ers, like the 91ers, the 99ers and the 15ers before them, will be known for far more than what they accomplished in 90-minute segments on a soccer field.“The fabric of this national team,” Foudy said, “has always been it’s more than soccer.”This World Cup produced record numbers of viewers for women’s soccer in countries around the world, including Brazil (where 35 million people watched the France-Brazil round-of-16 game), China, France, England, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain. The USWNT now has an impact there, too.“In ’99, we envisioned this as a catalyst that would spark a global movement, but the reality is I think it was a domestic one,” said Foudy. “I see the 19ers as responsible for a global movement. We’re seeing the numbers, but even beyond that, they set an example for women on standards of expectations. There are so many countries who are finally standing up and saying this isn’t right, and they have the courage as a player to stand up in one of these countries and say, ‘This needs to be better, not just for us but for the next generation.’ I think a lot of that comes from them seeing this U.S. group do this at a level that’s unprecedented.”Meanwhile, the public pressure on FIFA to invest more of its $2.7 billion in reserves in the women’s game, particularly from Rapinoe, appeared to be having an effect. Infantino announced last week a proposal to expand the Women’s World Cup from 24 to 32 teams, double the prize money to $60 million, double FIFA’s grassroots global investment in the women’s game to $1 billion and start a FIFA World League for women’s national teams and a FIFA Women’s Club World Cup. Rapinoe said it was promising, but she noted that his prize money proposal would mean the gap in prize money between the women and the men is actually increasing, not closing. After Rapinoe called out the FIFA president on Saturday, they had a brief conversation at the awards podium following the final.“There was a wry smile,” Rapinoe said with a grin. “He did say he’d like to have a conversation, and I said I’d love to.”That’s power. And after a World Cup that will put her in the canon of American athletic achievements, that’s Pinoe.

Women’s WC final viewers top men’s final in U.S. behind 2015 though

Jul 8, 2019Associated Press

The United States’ 2-0 victory over Netherlands in Sunday’s FIFA Women’s World Cup final averaged nearly 15.6 million U.S. viewers on English- and Spanish-language television.It was the most-viewed match this season, but a decrease from the 2015 final.  The match averaged 14.27 million viewers on Fox, according to the network and Nielsen, and peaked at 19.6 million. It was a 22 percent increase over last year’s FIFA World Cup men’s final between France and Croatia, which averaged 11.44 million.  The audience was down 43.8 percent from the 2015 final between the U.S. and Japan, which averaged 25.4 million viewers. That match, though, was played in Canada and started at 7 p.m. ET, compared to Sunday’s final in France, which kicked off at 11 a.m. ET. The Telemundo broadcast averaged 1.3 million and peaked at 2 million as the match concluded.The match averaged 589,000 viewers online — 289,000 on Fox apps and 300,000 on NBC and Telemundo apps — which makes it the most-streamed Women’s World Cup match ever.  The CONCACAF Gold Cup final between the U.S. and Mexico averaged 2.9 million on Fox Sports 1, making it the most-viewed non-World Cup match in the network’s five-year history.The Copa America final between Brazil and Peru averaged 3.1 viewers on Telemundo. The ESPN-plus streaming service had the English-language rights, but the network did not divulge figures.

What’s next for Megan Rapinoe and the older USWNT players?

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7:46 AM ETGraham HaysespnW.com

LYON, France — Among the waves that Megan Rapinoe’s words generated during this World Cup, one of her first answers created barely a ripple at the time.As the U.S. team held its training camp in the days before its opener against Thailand, Rapinoe — before she became the lead character in the entire tournament — listened to an English reporter ask her whether this World Cup had special meaning because, he noted, it would surely be her last.She started to answer, spooling out some boilerplate about taking things as they come. But she doesn’t do boilerplate well. She paused, smirked and couldn’t go through with it.”I don’t feel like I’m that old,” Rapinoe instead countered.She didn’t look old Sunday, even as she became the first woman to start three consecutive World Cup finals. She didn’t look past her prime converting the penalty kick that put the U.S. ahead to stay in a 2-0 win against the Netherlands and earned her the Golden Boot. She didn’t look over-the-hill basking in the adulation of tens of thousands of fans after the final whistle or having a quick chat with French President Emmanuel Macron in the receiving line for medals.”I’m made for this,” Rapinoe said afterward, beaming.In those moments, 2023 didn’t look so far away.What the Golden Ball winner showed in those moments was much of what allowed this team to win the World Cup. The oldest team in the tournament, the U.S. didn’t exactly rebuild following the Olympic disappointment of 2016. It retooled, revitalized and reconfigured. Mixing old and young in a way so that the team didn’t look either one, it figured out how to occupy a moment in time.”We still want to sit outside and hang out at night and have a chat and banter and spend time together,” Kelley O’Hara said on the eve of the final. “It’s very refreshing to be a part of a group that, what we show on the field — having each other’s backs, taking care of each other, doing whatever we need to win for each other — is really felt off the field, as well.”The challenge moving forward for the U.S. is, how long can anyone or any team pause time like that? How long will some of these players, and perhaps their coach, even want to try?With the 2020 Olympics right around the corner, it would be at least a mild surprise if the weekend marks the final major tournament for many of the front-line American players. No team has yet won the World Cup and Olympics in back-to-back years. That’s a prize of its own, and all the more because so many of these Americans felt the sting of falling short in 2016.Carli Lloyd has long talked about this cycle, 2019 and 2020, as the final chapter in her story. But in the days before the final, she said she feels like she is in her prime — both in her skills and her fitness. She said she would keep going as long as she woke up every morning and wanted to put in the work.After coming off the bench in the final, her regular role in a tournament in which she started just once, she sounded less certain.”It’s been a really tough couple of years,” Lloyd said after the final. “It’s not based on my ability. And for whatever reasons, coaches make the decision. I tried to put up a good case. So I’m going to go home, I’m going to kind of let the emotions die down a little bit, speak to my husband and we’ll go from there.”It was just four years after she stood atop the soccer world at the end of a World Cup. She was days away from turning 33 years old then. Rapinoe turned 34 last Friday, the same age as Becky Sauerbrunn, who celebrated her birthday as the tournament got underway in June.Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn, the defender who spoke Sunday about how difficult this cycle was, remain among the best in the world at what they do. It would be a surprise if either walked away before the Olympics. But four years is a long time when you already have two World Cup medals and your body starts to remind you more and more often of the price paid to get them.All now 30 or older, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan, Alyssa Naeher, O’Hara and Christen Press enter their own limbo after strong World Cups. Lloyd and Rapinoe certainly showed in 2015 and 2019, respectively, what is possible. Lauren Holiday, who retired in 2015 before her 30th birthday, showed not everyone chooses that route.There was a lot of talk in 2015 about winning a championship for the veterans, most particularly Abby Wambach and Christie Rampone. Perhaps because the players who became veterans on this team all won titles four years ago, that wasn’t a topic this time around.This team was instead centered in the present. First, surviving the buildup to this World Cup, when it was an open and sometimes ruthless competition for roster spots after 2016. And second, trying to merge old and new talent together for this run in France, while traveling a far more difficult path than four years earlier.Perhaps that leaves the U.S. in better shape to move forward. Abby Dahlkemper, Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle, Sam Mewis and Mallory Pugh are part of the new generation playing with Lloyd, Rapinoe and Sauerbrunn. Together, they are ready for more power.”It’s always been about what is this team at its core?” O’Hara said. “And that’s been a team that has that grittiness, that bite and that never-say-die attitude. I think that’s something that we had to continue to make sure that we were embodying and almost passing on — instilling in the players that were new and the younger players that were coming in. Because it’s something that the older players instilled in me when I got on this team. For me, it was something that was very important and is still very important to make sure that’s something this team always embodies.”Odds are the U.S. will choose to run it back, to borrow a basketball phrase, at the 2020 Olympics. Maybe an Emily Fox, Hailie Mace or Andi Sullivan will slip into the mix as a further bridge to the future. But with Olympic rosters capped at 18 players, and assuming Jill Ellis returns with a new contract, there is every chance the team will look more similar than 2016 did in comparison to 2015.They may be able to stretch the moment in time that long. They’ve earned the right to try, if they want. Beyond that? Well, four years changes a lot.Which is why it’s all the more impressive that the final outcome for the U.S., despite all the changes from the previous World Cup, remained the same.”Obviously, I’m aware I’m not 25 anymore,” Rapinoe continued that June day after being asked about her inevitable exit. “Winning that last one seems so far away. And it was such a different team. It seemed like such a different squad of players. This group, we’ve had a difficult cycle. We’ve been up and down with performances and sometimes the results and not doing well coming off the 2016 Olympics.”I feel like this group feels that motivation and that desire to go and win it. I feel like I’m now a part of this group.”

The USWNT is on top of the world again, but the gap is closing

3:00 PM E Graham Hays  espnW.com

LYON, France — It was less than a decade ago that some members of the French women’s national team posed nude for a German publication, in what was essentially a protest on the eve of a Women’s World Cup. What would it take, the captions asked, to get fans back home to watch them play a sport that is otherwise a national obsession?When France and the United States played an epic World Cup quarterfinal in front of more than 45,000 in Paris, 51 percent of the televisions in use in the host country were tuned to the game.In England, where the sport’s domestic governing body outlawed the women’s game until 1971, that team’s semifinal against the U.S. was the country’s most-watched sporting event since the men played in a World Cup semifinal a year ago.After the Netherlands beat Sweden in the other semifinal, De Telegraaf, the nation’s largest newspaper, turned its entire front page over to the team reaching its first World Cup final — just as the paper did two years ago when the Dutch women won their first European championship.Welcome to the new normal.The United States is again on top of the world. The team everyone wanted to beat — and the team many invented reasons to hate — extended its own record with a fourth World Cup title and won back-to-back World Cups for the first time. On European soil, five of the best European teams the continent had to offer couldn’t stop it. Sunday made clear that the U.S. owned 2019.Yet the reality for 2023 and beyond was already clear: Europe no longer follows our lead. And even as the U.S. won this title Sunday with a 2-0 victory against the Netherlands, it watched a monthlong preview of a more complicated future.Or as U.S. coach Jill Ellis said before a game against Spain in the round of 16, it was only “a matter of time” until this sleeping giant of a continent awoke to the women’s game.With that in mind, picture where we are after Sunday’s win as a location on Google Maps. Zoom in and zoom out to study it from three different perspectives.The street view is 90 minutes of soccer. From that vantage point, the U.S. beat the Netherlands because it was too deep and relentless as the game wore on in the second half.Pull back the focus slightly more to a neighborhood view and Sunday is the final part of a World Cup cycle that encompasses at least the three years since the last Olympics and arguably all four years since winning the World Cup in 2015. Ellis will always have her detractors, but they will have to work to turn this into something other than vindication. She won with a team she didn’t have much say in shaping in 2015. She won with a team of her own making in 2019.But zooming out to the final and widest perspective, the global view, reveals what ought to keep Ellis and everyone else associated with American soccer awake at night.The U.S. has the deepest and most talented roster in the world. Its confidence and belief, collectively and individually, is unmatched. Its fitness is unmatched. It is the best in the world at the moment. But only at the moment because so many European teams — France, England and the Netherlands, certainly, but also Italy and Spain — have come such a long way in such a short time.”You now have, let’s say the right of women to play — you know, it wasn’t there 20 years ago,” Ellis said of the evolving European dynamic before the U.S. played its first knockout game. “Now you have that. To me, it’s a natural progression in terms of the development in these countries. Because they eat, sleep and breathe soccer.”Imagine what will happen if Europe maintains its rate of progression. The risk for the 2023 World Cup, or even next year’s Olympics, is that staying on top is partially out of American hands.”It’s no secret we have to get better on the ball,” Rapinoe said of the coming European wave after a win against France in which the U.S. had barely 40 percent of possession. “Playing better with it, better offensively, better in our possession and our passing. They were clearly much better than us in that tonight. So the level is just growing, it seems like every game.”We have, absolutely, our work cut out for us.”This wasn’t a monthlong phenomenon. The U.S. finished on the podium in just one of four Under-20 World Cups so far this decade. It didn’t finish among the top three in any of four Under-17 World Cups. Along with Japan, European teams from France, Germany and Spain dominated those events, with England and Italy in the top three as often as the Americans.For U.S. defender Ali Krieger, the lightbulb moment came while playing professionally in Germany more than a decade ago. Not far removed from playing college soccer at Penn State, she looked up during a Champions League knockout-round game and saw a 16-year-old teammate enter as a substitute. That’s a far cry from a high school game.”That’s the different mentality,” Krieger said recently. “They’re thrown into their professional system so early, and that’s why they develop these really good players at a young age. It’s just a different model. Obviously, I encourage everyone to go to [college] and have that experience. But if you want to be a top player in our country, you have to understand the basic principles of the game. And you have to understand them at a young age and really grow with the game because the game constantly changes.”At the time she was in Europe, it was more difficult to find that kind of professional setting outside of Germany and Sweden. That’s no longer the case. The winner of the Champions League in each of the past four seasons, Lyon leads the way. But viable leagues exist in England, France and Spain, countries not so long ago resistant to the women’s game. Manchester United added a women’s team last season. Real Madrid will field one beginning in 2020.Even FIFA refereeing czar Pierluigi Collina noted recently that after so many years of cultural neglect, his native Italy set television records as its national team advanced to the quarterfinals. The same Italy where Juventus just won its second domestic title in its second year as a team.France had been the flag-bearer for this new wave of European success, which only added to the pain of its quarterfinal loss. After reaching a World Cup semifinal for a second consecutive time, England is in the midst of turning domestic investment into international glory. The Dutch never made a World Cup before 2015. They came within a game of a world title.But almost as telling of the U.S. predicament was the first knockout game, when a Spanish team that qualified for its first World Cup in 2015 went toe to toe with the Americans.Now a member of Reign FC in the NWSL who played collegiately at the University of Alabama for two seasons, Celia Jimenez Delgado was part of that Spanish team and grew up in the same world Krieger described. She wasn’t a paid professional, but she played for Sevilla in Spain’s top division at 16. She lived hours from her family, her roommate a goalkeeper in her 30s, all while coming through a youth national system for which those youth titles are a byproduct of preparing players for the senior level, rather than a goal unto themselves.”Spain has a really specific soccer philosophy, or style of play, and I think that game has been developing for the past 10 years,” Jimenez Delgado said. “The investment from the federation and the institutions that support the sport, they’re providing more money and more resources.”At the end of the day, if you as an athlete take care of every variable you can control, but you’re not provided with a platform or the materials or the coaching staff to keep growing as an athlete, it’s harder to improve.”None of which is to say that the European game is without its own issues of sustainability and support, despite the influx of brand names behind teams. But no matter what happened Sunday in Lyon and no matter who coached the team or how that person constructed it over the past three years, that is the world the U.S. now inhabits. Social progress on this order rarely regresses. Girls who grow up in Madrid, Manchester and Milan will continue to play the game.That happened in the blink of an eye.Netherlands defender Merel van Dongen, 26, was the only player on the field Sunday who went to an SEC school. She was 19 years old when she left home to play on scholarship for the University of Alabama. As a teenage player at home, she recalled working multiple shifts at a restaurant during the day, then training for two hours after work.”Then I went to Alabama, where they had a budget for women’s football that was insane,” van Dongen said before the final. “The only thing I had to do was train and play, and they did everything for me. OK, I had to make good grades in school. But that was the difference, it was so professional. They [taught] me how to take care of my body. I thought I knew what training hard was until I went to the University of Alabama.”One of the reasons I’m here is what I learned in the United States.”Empires rarely vanish overnight. Rome produced emperors and influenced the world long after it was sacked by the Goths. And the U.S. still has massive advantages in women’s soccer.Even amid decreasing youth participation in the U.S., no European rival will ever be able to match the overall talent pool in a nation of more than 300 million people. And as Jimenez Delgado was quick to point out from her time at Alabama, Title IX creates a legally mandated equality of opportunity that isn’t the case in much of Europe. She came to the U.S. precisely because it is possible to mix playing soccer and studying aerospace engineering in college.But there are options now. The year after van Dongen left Alabama, the Netherlands qualified for its first World Cup. Two years after that, it won the Euros at home. Everything changed.”If you’re 18, 19, you don’t have to work seven hours a day to make your money,” van Dongen said. “Absolutely not. You get a contract and you work and you train and you become a professional. It even starts from younger ages — Ajax, for example, they have a youth academy. A lot of the teams have youth academies now, something that I always wanted but couldn’t do.”That’s also something I take from the United States, is that they have such a history and they have been building young players. And we’re doing that now as the Netherlands.”So yes, the demise of U.S. women’s soccer would be greatly exaggerated. Like Brazil in men’s soccer, the U.S. will continue to produce so much talent that choosing a national team roster remains a riveting storyline second in popularity only to second-guessing coaches. The U.S. will remain among the favorites in every tournament. Also like Brazil, it won’t win most of them — which the U.S. did in winning eight of the 14 major titles available to it between 1991 and 2019.But when it comes to identifying, developing and training the very best players among us, it also wouldn’t hurt to follow someone else’s lead for a change. Despite a four-month college season and a pay-to-play/win-at-all costs youth culture, the U.S. has succeeded in spite of these things in the past.It succeeded in spite of those things in 2019. It won’t forever. It won’t, at least to the extent it has, for much longer.”It was a matter of time,” Jimenez Delgado said in regard to Spanish success at the youth level translating to senior success. “For the results to start showing.”This U.S. team is the best in the world. The past month showed that time was up on the American game leading the way.

 

Player ratings: USWNT v. Netherlands

By Joe Prince-WrightJul 7, 2019, 1:32 PM EDT

The USWNT beat the Netherlands 2-0 in the Women’s World Cup final on Sunday in Lyon, as Jill Ellis become the first coach in history to win back-to-back World Cups.There were plenty of dominant performances from the U.S. women’s national team, but a few stood out above the rest as a star was born and veterans stood tall.Below is a look at the player ratings for the USWNT from the final.

Alyssa Naeher: 7 – Solid enough. Came off her line well in the first half. Didn’t have much to do.

Kelley O’Hara: 6 – Reliable at right back but a nasty head collision saw her taken off at half time.

Abby Dahlkemper: 6 – Still a little shaky and was caught out and booked in the first half. Got better throughout the tournament.

Becky Sauerbrunn: 7 – Took a nasty knock to the head but held the US defense together.

Crystal Dunn: 8 – Another brilliant display at left back and could have scored late on.

Julie Ertz: 8 – The glue that holds this USWNT team together. Superb defensive leader. Great tournament. Almost scored in first half.

Rose Lavelle: 9 – Her fine solo goal capped off a fine display and tournament. The newest USWNT star.

Sam Mewis: 7 – Went close with a header in the first half and proved she deserved to start over Horan.

Tobin Heath: 7 – Never stopped running and caused so many problems for the defense.

Alex Morgan: 6 – Went down easily in the box in the first half. Battled hard and won the PK. Not her best tournament.

Megan Rapinoe: 6 – She scored the penalty kick, whipped in a good cross in the first half and was named the official woman of the match, but again, a pretty quiet game.

Substitutes
Ali Kireger : 6 – Very solid at right back after replacing the injured O’Hara at half time.
Christen Press: 6 – Late cameo saw her open up the Dutch defense on a few occasions.
Carli Lloyd: 6 – Some trademark surging runs after coming off the bench in what could be her last USWNT game.

The US Rises to Third on the Overall Global Soccer Power Index!

By stephen.whiting on Jul 7, 2019, 9:58am PDT +  TWEET  SHARE  PIN 

Dear America,

Know and accept this fact: your country is a world soccer power.I know we Americans have been conditioned to think of other countries, far to the east or south, as the true heavyweights of the sport. Yet, of all those other soccer-playing countries around the world, there are actually only two that surpass the Red, White, and Blue on the global soccer power index. That’s right, only two countries in the world outpace our beloved United States as soccer powers.Let’s cut to the chase. There may be lots of ways to measure a country’s position in the global soccer pecking order, but here’s one that is simple to compute and objective: rank order all the countries in the world based on the number of FIFA World Cup championships each has won. To lift a World Cup trophy is an extraordinary achievement for a country and its soccer enterprise, and rarely (if ever) does it happen as a fluke. Winning a World Cup is the result of a country’s domestic soccer talent, its ability to develop that talent, and its organizational coherence to form a team capable of enduring the marathon that is a World Cup cycle. So, comparing the total number of World Cups each country has won is a measure of global soccer power because, “you are what your record says you are.”

In the history of global soccer, 29 official FIFA World Cups have been held for senior men’s and women’s teams. 21 on the men’s side and 8 on the women’s side, and only 11 countries (out of FIFA’s 211 member countries) have ever lifted one of those FIFA world championship trophies. Yes, it is factually true the Men’s World Cup is older and produces more revenue, but the Women’s World Cup is equally valuable as a measure of a country’s soccer prowess. There is zero rational reason to weight a Men’s World Cup championship any more than a Women’s World Cup championship as a measure of a country’s global ranking in soccer.

So, adding up the total number of FIFA World Cups each country has won produces our global soccer power index. And here it is:

Nation Total FIFA World Cups Men’s Championships Women’s Championships
Germany 6 4 2
Brazil 5 5 0
Italy 4 4 0
United States 4 0 4
Argentina 2 2 0
France 2 2 0
Uruguay 2 2 0
England 1 1 0
Japan 1 0 1
Norway 1 0 1
Spain 1 1 0

Perhaps not surprisingly, Germany is the world’s greatest soccer country. As the only country to win both Women’s and Men’s World Cups (in fact, it has multiple of each), the Germans have the most FIFA trophies in their display case, and they truly represent the pinnacle of global soccer. They remain a serious threat at any World Cup (women’s or men’s) to appear in the final and win the trophy. The old adage from Gary Lineker is almost always true (except when the American women are on the field): “Football is a simple game. Twenty-two [players] chase a ball for 90 minutes and at the end, the Germans always win.”

The next team on the global soccer power index is Brazil, the spiritual home of the beautiful game. Brazil has produced geniuses on the ball, both male and female. They’ve come close to winning a Women’s World Cup to go along with their five Men’s World Cup titles (the most of any country), but it seems their women’s team has hit its high water mark (at least with this generation of players), and their men will be 20 years removed from their last World Cup title when the next tournament begins in 2022. If Brazil doesn’t win another trophy soon, the United States will tie them on the global soccer power index with one more title.

Germany and Brazil. Those two countries are stronger soccer nations than the United States. But, that’s it.

Here in the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave, our soccer prominence is derived from the success of our women’s national team, the most successful women’s team on the planet—by far. Consistency in the World Cup is remarkably difficult, yet the American women have been dominantly constant, reaching the semifinals in all 8 women’s tournaments. Our men have a lot of work to do right now to prove they can once again be a dominant power in CONCACAF, let alone a team which regularly advances out of the World Cup group stage to challenge for a World Cup title. But soccer in all its forms is on the rise in the US, and the US men need to be better and should be better to reflect this overall improvement in the American soccer landscape and to match their counterparts on the US women’s team. But, none of this about the US Men’s National Team really matters right now, for it is due to the remarkable exploits of our women that the United States earns its #3 spot on the global soccer power index.

At this point, we will acknowledge that Italy is tied with the United States for third on the global soccer power index. Italy’s soccer success emanates from its men’s team, having won four Men’s World Cup titles, and reaching the semifinals on four other occasions when it did not win. Known for its defensive organization, the Azzurri are traditionally a threat to compete for a Men’s World Cup title, but they did not make the tournament in 2018—so they will have to prove they can get back to their winning ways. The Italian women’s team did make the quarterfinals at this most recent Women’s World Cup, but they will have to prove they can be a championship-level team in a rapidly improving UEFA women’s landscape.

That leaves a lot of other great soccer countries behind us in the global soccer power index:

– Argentina, thank you for producing two of the three greatest men’s players of all time. Messi is an ongoing wondrous soccer savant the likes of whom we may never see again (but it seems less and less likely he will ever lift an international trophy with Argentina), and Maradona remains…well, he remains Maradona. But, your women’s team hasn’t yet made a significant splash on the world scene as it was bounced in the group stage of this year’s Women’s World Cup.- France, you won a Men’s World Cup on home soil in 1998, were a head-butt away from another in 2006, and you lifted a second trophy last year in Russia, but your excellent women’s team failed to break through and win a World Cup trophy despite hosting this most recent tournament. If France’s women’s team can ever live up to their talent and expectations, and their men remain a regular contender, France seems primed to move up the global soccer power index in the years ahead.

– Uruguay, you were the first world soccer champion, and we still like watching your men play the game. But, what about your women’s team which has never qualified for a Women’s World Cup?

– England, as the country which invented this game, you still have an outsized influence on it around the globe. We enjoy the grainy film of your controversial 1966 Men’s World Cup victory over West Germany as much as any student of history, and the World Cup fortunes of both your women’s team and your men’s team (and your youth teams) are on the rise as you’ve been to the semifinals in the past two women’s tournaments and the last men’s tournament. It appears you’ve cracked the code on converting the terrific financial resources of the FA into success on the field, but will that actually lead to either of your teams lifting a World Cup trophy in the coming years?

– Japan, you are the technical wizards of the women’s game, and a pleasure to watch. Your men’s team is also a consistent World Cup team. But is either really a threat to win a world cup trophy in the upcoming cycles?- Norway, your single Women’s World Cup puts you on this list, but will you ever be able to reclaim your early glory in the women’s tournament? It certainly doesn’t help when Ada Hegerberg, considered by many to be the best women’s player in the world, doesn’t want to suit up for your team. And what about your men’s team? They haven’t made a World Cup since 1998.- Spain, your men’s team may have been the best team ever to play the game between 2008-2012, but can you get back to those heights? Your women definitely seem to be on the rise as well, and it will be fun to watch whether they can become a world championship side in the years ahead.This list doesn’t even include great soccer-playing nations which have come oh-so-close to winning a World Cup, yet have fallen short despite reaching a final: Netherlands and Sweden (both having reached finals at both the men’s and women’s tournament), Czechoslovakia, Hungary, China, and Croatia. And, other countries that consider themselves soccer powers of some sort, such as Mexico, Portugal, and Belgium, are nowhere to be found because this list is based on world championships.America, thanks to our terrific women, we now rightly take our place as the third best soccer nation in the world, standing shoulder-to-shoulder beside our Italian equals.It’s OK, America, if we still enjoy the soccer played in other countries, and our players still aspire to test their skills in foreign leagues. It’s also OK to say we need to improve in various ways across our men’s and women’s programs. But, let us never doubt our place in the global soccer pantheon again. Let us never apologize for our game, for our success, for our soccer heritage and traditions. They are just as valid, just as meaningful, and just as globally relevant as any other in the world, save for two.We are a global soccer power, no ands, ifs, or buts. All thanks to the US Women’s National Team.Four years ago, after Carli Lloyd led the United States Women’s National Team past Japan in the 2015 Women’s World Cup final, I shared an earlier version of this post with the good people over at Black and Red United, SB Nation’s D.C. United blog. Today, I post an updated version of this blog in light of the America’s outstanding women winning our fourth FIFA World Cup trophy, and singlehandedly moving the United States into third position on the table of soccer-playing nations.

19 USMNT things we learned (or didn’t learn) at the 2019 Gold Cup

Henry Bushnell,Yahoo Sports Wed, Jul 10 4:44 AM EDT

CHICAGO — The United States men’s national team entered the 2019 Gold Cup with two objectives. One was to win. And on a fiery night at Soldier Field on Sunday, it failed to do that.The first major tournament of the Gregg Berhalter era, however, was anything but an abject failure. Because the second objective was to learn. And that the USMNT certainly did. Players learned Berhalter’s system. He learned about them.And over eight games – two friendlies, six competitive ones – we learned as well.Those learnings are the subject of this Gold Cup epilogue, a look at both answers and questions that the past month unearthed.

1. The U.S. should qualify for 2022 comfortably

Let’s begin from 10,000 feet. The Gold Cup told us very little about the USMNT’s ability to reach, say, the 2022 World Cup quarterfinals. But the systematic breaking down of inferior opponents was encouraging with respect to qualifiers and the CONCACAF Nations League.The U.S. controlled games and attacked purposefully. It was relatively impervious to counters. There’s a slight outstanding worry that Central American and Caribbean pitches could disrupt Greggy Ball – as the Total Soccer Show has dubbed it. But gone are the days of USMNTs running around those fields cluelessly. This one has a plan. The possession-based approach will help it dispatch lesser foes – as it did over the past three weeks.

2. The big picture remains murky

It is still wholly unproven, however, against World Cup-caliber teams. And that has been the concern all along with a system predicated on “disorganizing the opponent,” as Berhalter puts it, with spacing and ball circulation in possession.To this end, the Mexico game provided both positive and negative indicators. We’ll dig into both below. My main long-term takeaway, though, was that the Americans’ willingness to shift their approach and play more direct was reassuring. Berhalter is far from a proverbial one-trick pony.

3. The adaptability of Berhalter’s system

The biggest lesson from the past month is Berhalter’s flexibility. There had been a concern among some that the new boss was married to specific formations, and to roles and ideas within them; that his commitment to that ideal would govern team selection; and that it would restrict his use of an already thin player pool. Club managers – which Berhalter had been his entire coach career – can mold their roster to their preferred systems. National team managers work with what they’re offered, and therefore often must mold roles to suit players. Was Berhalter willing to do that? Could he adjust withinthe system?The answer is yes.Berhalter has a favored attacking shape. It’s what we’ll call a 3-2-4-1. (It’s also been termed a 3-2-2-3 or 3-2-5.) Earlier this year, the USMNT would morph into it via a “hybrid” right back who’d “invert” into midfield, turning a base 4-1-4-1 into the 3-2-4-1.Berhalter went into June with Tyler Adams earmarked for that role. Then he lost the do-it-all 20-year-old to injury. He realized Nick Lima and Reggie Cannon were better as traditional, vertical right backs. So he adjusted. Gradually, throughout the tournament. Right backs pushed high, into the space previously occupied by wingers – who, rather than hugging the sideline, began tucking inside. Weston McKennie, the right sided attacking midfielder, began dropping into the space Adams would have “inverted” into. And … voilà – the 3-2-4-1 was alive and well.

Numbers by position: GK (1); RB (2), CB (5), CB (4), LB (3); DM (6), CM (8), AM (10); RW (11), ST (9), LW (7). (Animation: Henry Bushnell/Yahoo Sports via tactical-board.com)

In fact, in the Panama game, the U.S. had a third method for getting into it. From the 20th minute onward, defensive midfielder Wil Trapp would drop between the center backs. Both fullbacks would get forward. Both wingers would look for space infield. (See animation above.)With Tim Ream, a natural center back, at left back in every other game, the U.S. played asymmetrically. Ream would stay at home with the central defenders to create the back three. But with Daniel Lovitz in for him, and capable attackers at both fullback positions, Berhalter tailored the rotations to his players’ strengths.

4. Has The Pulisic Question been answered?

Berhalter also tailored the No. 10 position to the No. 10’s strengths. I wrote about that at length heading into the semifinal. The semi and the final drove home the answer to The Christian Pulisic Question even further. His best position with the U.S.? It’s whatever he makes it.Nominally, it’s a central position. But as Berhalter would say, Pulisic “interprets” that central position differently than others. He interchanges with Paul Arriola. He darts diagonally, in-to-out, when Arriola checks toward the ball, a run we’re hereby naming the “Pulisic run.”Movement like that bring out his winger qualities. His starting position brings out his central playmaking qualities. His defensive position alongside the striker brings out his counterattacking qualities – a crucial, under-discussed aspect of this debate. When the U.S. bypasses midfield, he can play off the central striker and gallop at goal.I used to be a “play him wide, especially against bad teams” guy. After the Gold Cup, I’m a “play him central” convert.

5. Defensive problems are in the details, not the shape

I’ve gotten questions and heard chatter about the shortcomings of, or even holes in, the U.S. defensive shape. And, to be honest, I’m confused. The Americans conceded two goals in 540 minutes of soccer. That’s … good? I think?The shape in question is a base 4-4-2, or 4-2-2-2, with Pulisic and the striker leading the press, and McKennie and Michael Bradley below them. It wasn’t the problem against Mexico. Actually, the problem was that the shape wasn’t enough of a 4-4-2 late on. When Mexico’s defensive midfielder, Edson Alvarez, would drop between the center backs in possession, the U.S. would go man-for-man. The striker would slide to the middle of a line of three. The right winger would step up and press Hector Moreno, Mexico’s left center back.This created a chain reaction. Right back Reggie Cannon would charge at Mexico’s left back. Matt Miazga, the USMNT’s right center back, would rotate over to Mexico’s left winger.That left Bradley and McKennie 2-v-2 – or sometimes 2-v-3 – in midfield. But only because Christian Roldan, for example, was playing like a third forward instead of a midfielder:/Yahoo Sports)That’s the buildup to the goal, which was mostly on McKennie. But a staid 4-4-2, with Roldan tucking in from the weak side, also could have prevented it.The point here is that no shape inherently does or doesn’t work. Effectiveness is determined by execution of it and details within it. The right winger’s defensive role wasn’t coherent on Sunday. Especially not in the second half, when legs got heavy and long pressing runs wore down already-worn players. The whole point of inserting Roldan was supposedly to shore up midfield … yet he defended exactly how Jordan Morris defends.This is a fixable problem, though. A detail within the 4-4-2, a small tweak to make against some opponents and ignore against others. And there will be other tweaks over the coming months and years as well. There’s no need for an overhaul.

6. Individual shortcomings weren’t glaring, but will be

In general, the vast majority of U.S. shortcomings – at the Gold Cup, and beyond – were and are personnel-related. They’re occasionally exacerbated by unfamiliarity with the system. I stand by most of what I wrote after the Venezuela game, even if some of it was overreactive: By 21st century USMNT standards, this crop of players simply isn’t that good. Not good enough to win Gold Cups, probably not good enough to get out of an average World Cup group.Of course, that sounds ridiculous, because the USMNT was good enough to win this Gold Cup. Three players who absolutely aren’t the problem – Pulisic, McKennie and Altidore – came up short in Sunday’s three biggest moments. But play that game a few more times – especially with both teams at full strength – and a small gulf in class would become clear.

7. Weston McKennie’s bumpy growth

McKennie wasn’t great against Mexico. He was awesome against Jamaica. He was sloppy against Curacao. He also scored the winner against Curacao. In five games, he was all over the place – in good ways and bad.But that’s expected of a 20-year-old. The mental lapses, the occasional discomfort in a complex system. It’s all par for the course. The most important development was McKennie’s grasp on his role. I wrote about that at length last week:McKennie opened the Gold Cup as something close to a No. 10. He was pushing high, lurking in between lines, looking to receive a forward pass on the half-turn and play another one. It’s a role he enjoys … but one that constrained him.Since, he has dropped deeper, from a Christian Pulisic-adjacent position to more of a Michael Bradley-adjacent one. And it has unleashed him. Opened up his soccer toolbox.It diversified his attacking game, and put an enforcer beside Bradley to keep Bradley protected. You can read the piece for a full breakdown, but the takeaway is this: Despite the inconsistency, Berhalter seems to have found McKennie’s best role. Now, if only Schalke would play him in it too.

8. Sunday’s contradictions

The most interesting aspect of the Mexico undoing were postgame explanations for it. As detailed here, everyone agreed the U.S. lost control of the game. Where players and coach seemed to differ was on what they should have done differently.Toward the end of the first half, Mexico started winning direct balls and coming right back down the USMNT’s throat. Berhalter, therefore, wanted his team to keep the ball; to use possession to halt the rising tide; to play his way.Some players, however, felt they could have doubled down on route one instead.This, as I wrote, is essentially a status report on the Berhalter era:

Until Sunday, Berhalter’s process had been humming. At half-empty American football stadiums, in front of pro-U.S. crowds, against inferior opponents, the U.S. rarely wavered from the boss’ approach. His teachings overrode their past tendencies, the freshly instilled philosophies uninfected by circumstance.On Sunday, that changed. Discomfort crept in. So did human nature.Inside players’ brains, in a way, there was likely tension: between what they knew and what they’d been told. In more serene environments, they had been able to adhere to coaches’ advice. In front of 50,000 Mexicans and Mexican Americans with immortal vocal cords, the beer in their cups waiting to fly, adherence was much more difficult. Some might view the postgame contradictions as problematic. But there was rationale on both sides. Route One, after all, had worked early. As long as coach-player disagreement is measured, reasoned, and communicated properly, it can actually be healthy.

9. So … the striker position

The most puzzling aspect of the entire month was Berhalter’s management of his striker rotation. Altidore is, to almost anyone with a lick of soccer knowledge, easily the best American at the position. He’s the team’s second-best playmaker. His hold-up play is vital. And yet … he only got more than 65 minutes once all tournament – in the meaningless final group match against Panama, with the reserves.There were rumblings early on about fitness, but Altidore played 90 minutes for Toronto FC before arriving at U.S. camp last month. Berhalter eventually confirmed that Altidore was “exactly where we need him to be,” and had “been ready to play.”OK, so load management, then?After the final, Altidore stopped to chat with print/online media for the first time all tournament. Presuming he’d had discussions with Berhalter about load management, I asked him: “What went into the way that your minutes and playing time were managed throughout the tournament?”His reply: “I don’t know.”In response to a follow-up, he confirmed he was fit.So … we have absolutely no idea what Berhalter thinks of his striker rotation going forward. I asked Berhalter ahead of the quarterfinal whether Altidore was his No. 1 striker if fully match-fit. He gave a non-committal answer. If I had to pick my biggest criticism of Berhalter at his first official competition, his management of Altidore would be it.Even if he was saving Altidore for the semifinal and final, he didn’t give Altidore a chance to build up his match fitness. Or, he yanked a gas-tank-still-full Altidore in the 64th minute of a tie game. Or he doesn’t rate Altidore significantly ahead of Zardes. Either way, he was or is wrong.

10. Tyler Boyd emerged … then disappeared

We also have no idea why Tyler Boyd didn’t see the field in the semifinal or final. (I’m told he was not injured.) Starting Morris, for his direct off-ball running, made complete sense. Using Roldan and Lovitz off the bench in the final ahead of Boyd did not.In the short time we got to see the New Zealander, he seemed to have more upside than any other winger on the Gold Cup roster – though Arriola is better at present.

11. The player who helped himself the most …

… was Aaron Long. He barely put a foot wrong. He solidified himself as a starting center back, even when – er, if – John Brooks gets healthy.

12. Who else helped or hurt their stock?

The most pleasant surprise was Reggie Cannon, who went from not on the roster to 21st-birthday call-up to one of the USMNT’s better players in the final.Miazga was also excellent on Sunday after appearing to be second-choice through the quarterfinals (and after some lax marking on the Jamaica goal in the semis). Then again, the U.S. didn’t concede a single goal with Walker Zimmerman on the field.That positional battle in the center of defense probably speaks to a larger point: There are very few starting spots locked down for the foreseeable future. Probably only four. New players will be integrated in the fall. Competition for places is legitimate, especially as the attention now turns toward qualifying.

13. Zack Steffen, U.S. No. 1

One of those aforementioned four is goalkeeper. We didn’t necessarily “learn” that Zack Steffen is the No. 1, but the Gold Cup confirmed it. (Oh, hey, shameless plug for our feature on him.)

14. The vibe

The U.S. men are nothing like the U.S. women when it comes to personality and camaraderie. (In fact, the contrast can be pretty stark at times.) But the vibe around the team was generally good throughout the tournament. Players are receptive to Berhalter’s ideas and management style. They’re not all buddy-buddy, but for the most part get along with one another. There were no rumblings of rifts.

15. Berhalter’s captaincy rotation

Berhalter chose a new captain for each of the six games. It was Bradley, then Steffen, then Omar Gonzalez, then Pulisic, then Ream, then McKennie. It’s not a completely novel approach, but did raise eyebrows.Most captaincies, though, are symbolic anyway. The idea behind this scheme is that there isn’t one figure that others feel compelled to gravitate toward or fall in line with. Bradley, in a traditional sense, is probably the captain. But the whole point of what Berhalter calls “diversity of leadership” is that there isn’t one singular, domineering voice.Which, I guess, is all to say that this isn’t an issue – especially not three-and-a-half years out from a World Cup.

16 The big question: Where does Adams fit in?

As we turn our attention forward, and do some projecting of the future, the biggest question concerns Adams. He’s a sure-fire starter. Is he still a right back in Berhalter’s eyes? Meaning we’d revert to the “inverted” right back? Or is he a central midfielder, where he plays at club level?There’s no easy answer, in part because of the alternatives. Adams’ place in midfield would likely be the one currently occupied by Bradley – who, like him or not, is still one of the USMNT’s better players. Right back, meanwhile, is suddenly one of the team’s deepest positions, with Lima and Cannon both looking capable and DeAndre Yedlin returning from injury in the fall.We’ve seen Berhalter’s flexibility. We’ll see what he does here.

17. The current starting XI

What’s the USMNT’s starting lineup right now, if everybody’s healthy and a game against a team of Mexico’s caliber must be won tomorrow?I’ll go: Zack Steffen; Tyler Adams, Aaron Long, John Brooks, Tim Ream; Michael Bradley, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic; DeAndre Yedlin, Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola.

18. Who from the Gold Cup will be in Qatar?

Let’s frame the long-term look-ahead this way: Which players from the Gold Cup 23 are we more than 50 percent confident will be at the 2022 World Cup?

My list: Steffen, Long, Miazga, Bradley, McKennie, Pulisic, Arriola, Altidore.

(That’s eight. For what it’s worth, eight of the 23 from the 2011 Gold Cup made the 2014 World Cup roster. This time, the gap is five months longer. But this time, hopefully, the coach is the same.)

19. What about 2022 starters?

Similar question to wrap this up: Which players from the Gold Cup 23 are we more than 50 percent confident will start a 2022 World Cup opener?Factoring in the slim possibility the U.S. doesn’t qualify, my list cuts off at four: Steffen, Long, McKennie, Pulisic.

I look forward to being very wrong.– – – – – –Henry Bushnell is a features writer for Yahoo Sports

Mexico delivers harsh lessons to the USMNT

3:22 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

CHICAGO — Throughout this Gold Cup, United States manager Gregg Berhalter spoke of nothing less than winning the tournament. Given the strength of Mexico’s side — even one shorn of players such as Tecatito CoronaChicharito HernandezCarlos Vela and Miguel Layun — the odds of that happening seemed long.So the Gold Cup was always going to be about more than winning. It was going to be about gaining experience for the younger elements of the U.S. squad, as well as a manager new to the international game. It was also about absorbing tough lessons, and boy did the ones delivered in Sunday’s 1-0 Gold Cup final loss to Mexico hurt.One of the lessons is as old as the game itself: A team playing a more talented opponent simply has to take its chances, and the Americans didn’t, especially early in the match. Both Christian Pulisic and Jozy Altidore failed to convert clear breakaways in the first 10 minutes, with Mexico keeper Guillermo Ochoasaving Pulisic’s effort and Altidore failing to put his attempt on target. Paul Arriola darted through and beat Ochoa to a ball in the 31st minute, but could only roll his tight-angled effort wide. Jordan Morris had a header cleared off the line by Andres Guardado in the 51st minute.It was at that point that the game turned irrevocably, and it was time for U.S. to be handed some different lessons, most notably in terms of game management, both on the field and on the sideline. Berhalter never did have an answer for the tactical adjustments made by Mexico counterpart Tata Martino, in particular Martino’s moving of Rodolfo Pizarro to the right flank where he could run at Tim Ream, a center-back attempting to play left-back.Pizarro had already been a huge presence in the first half, teeing up Andres Guardado for a 16th-minute chance. Pizarro’s influence only increased in the second half, and the same was true of his teammates. Mexico’s grip on the game tightened. The U.S. proved incapable of keeping the ball. And after pounding on the door — with multiple shots going right at U.S. keeper Zack Steffen — Mexico finally carved out a goal of quality. Of course it was Pizarro in the middle of it, and his pass to Raul Jimenez was back-heeled to Jonathan dos Santos whose bending shot beat Steffen in the U.S. goal.So just how did the game get away from the U.S.? The assessments varied.”It became a very vertical game, and it opened up a lot of space,” Berhalter said postmatch about the second half. “We needed to avoid that by being able to keep [the] ball, being able to move the ball side to side, moving more horizontally rather than vertically.”We were rushing attacks in the second half, much too direct, and it cost us energy.”Berhalter added, “I think what we lacked was I think some of the confidence, some of the composure. We knew it was going to be a big event, we knew it was going to be a semi-hostile crowd. And I think what I’d say is the confidence is what we lacked. Mexico certainly had it.”Both Bradley and Altidore spoke of how the U.S. struggled to find the first pass when it regained possession.”We’ve got a young team, and I think there’s moments of growth there,” Altidore said about the second half. “I think if you look at that 10-15 minute period, we lost the game a bit. We were trying to play out of the back and stick to our guns and try to get up the field a bit, get in their half and try to change the momentum a bit.”The team’s inexperience in some parts of the field was evident as well, and was especially true for Weston McKennie. The Schalke midfielder was handed the captain’s armband, a surprising move given the presence of more experienced players such as Altidore and Michael Bradley. Whether it was the armband or the strength of the opponent, the occasion proved to be too heavy for McKennie. His passing was labored, and he lost dos Santos on Mexico’s goal.Berhalter’s attempts to combat the game’s change in fortune were mixed. Bringing on Cristian Roldan for the struggling Morris in the 62nd minute made some sense. Gyasi Zardes coming in for Altidore two minutes later, not so much. Both substitutions conveyed a message of being defensive in posture and playing to get to extra time.The introduction of Daniel Lovitz for Tim Ream was a head-scratcher given that Tyler Boyd was available, though Berhalter explained himself in his postmatch news conference.”When we brought on Cristian, the idea was to help us keep possession,” he said. “It was to help us overload the center of the field. I thought we had a difficult time in the center of the field tonight. We felt like he was going to give us the help that we needed centrally, and I think he did well.”With Gyasi, it was a case of legs, just getting fresh legs. It’s very hard to press Mexico if you don’t have the stamina, if you’re not ready to spring really hard. Jozy put in good shift. We were using him a lot, and I think he did a good job. But we needed some legs there.”In Daniel’s case, at the end of the game we wanted width, we wanted to move our wingers inside and get some crosses into the penalty box. We were willing to risk more staying with a two-and-one on the back line, getting our fullbacks high, tucking our wingers inside and trying to create pressure that way.”Berhalter’s moves regarding Altidore remain perplexing. The drop-off in play by the U.S. in each of the last two matches when Altidore departed was clear. At the least, Altidore could be counted on to occupy the opposition center-backs better than Zardes. Altidore was at a loss to explain it as well. Speaking to English-language media for the first time in weeks, he insisted that he felt fine when he was subbed out.”I felt really good, I felt strong. I felt like I was affecting the game,” the U.S. forward said.When asked about how he his minutes were managed in the tournament — he was the first player subbed in each of the last two games, and prior to that saw Zardes start most of the matches — Altidore said, “I don’t know. I felt good, or else I don’t think I’d be here.”The extent to which the U.S. can parley the experience of Sunday’s final, as well as the whole tournament, into continued growth is the big question going forward. Certainly the team looked more cohesive as the tournament went on. And while McKennie struggled in the final, and Pulisic’s finishing touch went missing on the night, it should be noted that both players showed progress over the last several weeks. The same was true of a back-line that conceded just two goals in the entire tournament.”We have a quality team, and we believe in a lot of the young players,” said Berhalter. “We think that at the end of the day, we need to gain experience. A game like this is perfect for us. It was a big occasion, a lot of the players first time playing in a game like this, and we need to learn. We weren’t ready for the step tonight but we will be ready.”The U.S. is still the beneficiary of lowered expectations as well as mediocre competition in the tournament. Given how many players Mexico was missing, it’s clear that a significant gap between the two sides remains. But the U.S. needed to start this cycle somewhere. Reaching the Gold Cup final isn’t a bad first step.

 

Armchair Analyst: Clinical Mexico put USMNT to the sword July 8, 201912:47AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

No matter that the US men’s national team made the Gold Cup final, there are still questions. No matter that they often played flowing, enjoyable soccer – including and especially in the first half against Mexico – there are still questions. No matter that they had young players step up all over the field, no matter that they only gave up two goals throughout the tournament while scoring 15, no matter that they smashed a pair of teams (Trinidad & Tobago and Jamaica) that really needed smashing, and a dose of reading from the book of “Turnabout is Fair Play,” there are still questionsNo matter that The System™ mostly worked, and a lot of what Gregg Berhalter’s been trying to do was vindicated by mostly linear progress (the Curacao game excepted), there are still questions. Here are a few:

  1. Can Tyler Adams manage the game from defensive midfield in the same way that Michael Bradleyso often did?
  2. Is there any other No. 9 in the US pool who can do the hold-up play that made Jozy Altidoreirreplaceable?
  3. Is there any upgrade available at left back?
  4. Can The System™ be more effective with Paxton Pomykalat central midfield and Christian Pulisic at left wing rather than Pulisic in central midfield and Paul Arriola at left wing?
  5. Will Weston McKennie continue to improve at central midfield – i.e., will Schalke actually play him there this coming season?
  6. Will we see a return to the hybrid RB/DM of the first four games of the Berhalter era, or continue with the more common overlapping right back we saw in this tournament?

These are all important questions, and there are at least a half-dozen others that need to be asked as well. But they’re questions that come from within the context of a team that’s both discovered and embraced an identity, and whose next 12 months have to be about leaning into it. They’ve asked and answered the “who are we?” question – it’s an answer I mostly like a lot, by the way – and now it’s about “how do we make who we are better?”

That’s the long view, and it’s a good one. Now a few thoughts from the game itself:

  • Things spun out of controlin the second half of the game after a first 45 in which the US had, I would argue, the better of play (and unquestionably had the better ideas). Tata Martino made two decisive moves, flipping Rodolfo Pizarro to the right side and pushing both fullbacks much higher than they’d gotten in the first half.Pizarro, who’s arguably been the best player in the last two editions of the Concacaf Champions League, was both an attacking menace and a defensive improvement, as he neutralized US left back Tim Ream as a distribution hub. Ream’s ability to pick passes in the first half was often the path forward for the US, and in the second half it no longer existed. It changed the game, and tilted it decisively in Mexico’s favor.Meanwhile the pushed-up fullbacks further cut off the US ability to play from the back. There were no open avenues.
  • Central midfield tracking hasworried me throughout the tournament, and central midfield tracking is what led to the game’s only goal:

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This is on McKennie. This is what it looks like when a talented player just switches off, when he lacks the awareness necessary to make match-winning plays. That’s been the knock on McKennie at Schalke, and it was the knock on him throughout the tournament.I’m, nonetheless, mostly encouraged by his overall performance. He found more of the game as the tournament went on and generally was more awake to danger match by match. He had the best one of his career against Jamaica in the semifinals, and he did some good things against Mexico in before that frustrating, naive final hour.And that’s the lesson: It’s so often a game of moments. Mexican veteran Jonathan Dos Santos has the reps to understand that, while 20-year-old McKennie doesn’t.Yet.

  • The other big, game-defining momentscame in the first 10 minutes of the game when first Pulisic and then Altidore missed chances they should’ve finished. The expected goals total for the game said as much:

Here’s the truth: If, at the start of the month, you’d offered me a 1-0 loss in the final with the US playing well but Mexico just being a bit more ruthless and clinical in the final third, I’d have taken it. I think most fans would’ve as well.Offer me that on top of the fact that the US really did seem to look like they knew what they were doing in the build-up and became progressively better at executing it, and I can’t complain too much.I know most feel differently. I don’t.

  • I’m going to borrow a line frommy buddy Tutul Rahman, who you should follow on Twitter: The biggest thing is if Berhalter learns from this. Specifically the next six months have to be pushing the player pool and getting less cute with tactical changes. He has a system that works and now he has to improve it by aggressively integrating younger players, and moving Pulisic to his natural wing spot, and figuring out how to vary the defensive shape a little bit out of the 4-2-2-2 and into more of a 4-1-4-1 or 4-2-3-1 that adds numbers to central midfield. Sometimes it really is that simple — just a numbers game.Mexico won it tonight. Tata did a good job, and Jona seized the moment. Mexico, despite struggling against Martinique, Costa Rica, Haiti and the US, are once again the kings of Concacaf. They were the better team in the biggest moments, and when you do that over the course of an entire month, at the end of it you get to lift a trophy.It’s a good lesson for this young US group — coach included — to learn.

Bradley and Morris too slow, get 4/10 as U.S. lose Gold Cup final to Mexico

Jul 8, 2019Jason DavisU.S. soccer writer

The rebuild for the United States finally hit a wall on Sunday in the Gold Cup final with a 1-0 loss to Mexico in Chicago.

Jonathan dos Santos‘ second-half goal was the difference, while Gregg Berhalter’s first competitive tournament as USMNT manager ends with a handful of positives and a host of bigger questions.

Positives

The Americans came out on the front foot in the first half and looked to be the better team for large stretches of the opening stanza. Via Jozy Altidore‘s hold-up play and Christian Pulisic‘s ability to dribble defenders, the United States created dangerous chances that should have resulted in gaining the lead. Defensively, the USMNT frustrated Mexico’s attempts to play through width.

Negatives

Following the promising first half, the U.S. quickly lost control of the game following the break. A poor performance from midfielders tasked with linking the defensive line and the attack limited what the Americans could do. The wasted chances in the first half point to a problem with finishing that may dog the team going into the future.

Manager rating (out of 10)

5 — Berhalter got a lot right and the opening half spoke to the progress the United States has made under the new head coach. But the lack of second-half adjustments and a series of questionable substitutions keep the grade down. In his first test against the USMNT’s biggest rival, Berhalter fell short.

Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Zack Steffen, 6 — Slightly questionable with distribution. Hard to fault for the Mexico goal.

DF Reggie Cannon, 6 — Another strong performance for a young player emerging in the tournament. Naive with decision-making in the attacking end.

DF Aaron Long, 7 — Excellent for most of the night. Made one obvious mistake in the first half. Dominant in the air.

DF Matt Miazga, 6 — Passed into pressure when the U.S. struggled to play out of the back. Very good defensively, including in one-on-one situations.

DF Tim Ream, 4 — Played a safe and defensively focused left-back. Made several good defensive stops. Put under pressure in the second half and mostly held up, though with significant help.

Michael Bradley was caught out by the lightning-quick Mexico attack in the USMNT’s 1-0 Gold Cup final loss on Sunday. John Dorton/ ISI Photos/Getty Images

MF Michael Bradley, 4 — A step slow to disastrous effect on a number of occasions, including on the lone Mexico goal. Struggled with passing and turned the ball over frequently in the second half.

MF Jordan Morris, 4 — Too slow with decisions, particularly when defending. Popped up with an excellent headed chance cleared off the line.

MF Weston McKennie, 4 — Did plenty of necessary work defensively. Did not pass well. Failed to impact the game on the attacking end.

MF Christian Pulisic, 7 —Fantastic on the run with the ball at his feet. Dangerous all night. Met the physical challenge of the game.

MF Paul Arriola, 5 — Not secure with the ball. Limited going forward by defensive requirements on the left flank. Put Mexico under pressure with energy and created a chance out of nothing.

FW Jozy Altidore, 6 — Missed a golden chance in the eighth minute. Did immense work with hold-up and passing. Battled for an hour-plus and won most of the physical confrontations.

Substitutes

MF Cristian Roldan, NR — Battled up the wing to help the U.S. regain a foothold in the game.

FW Gyasi Zardes, NR — Provided one flick-on for Pulisic.

DF Daniel Lovitz, NR — Made a short appearance. Wasteful with the ball.

MLS W2W4: Lodeiro, Pity headline superstar showdown in Seattle

Seattle Sounders and Atlanta United’s rabid fan bases have been huge staples of Major League Soccer. Be sure to tune in to ESPN on Sunday at 3:55 PM ET. (2:45)

8:41 AM ETArch BellU.S. soccer writer

MLS teams are returning to full strength following the conclusions of the Gold Cup and Copa America, and a pair of matches on ESPN this weekend should provide plenty of entertainment, with the Seattle Sounders hosting Atlanta United, and D.C. United facing the New England Revolution. Also, north of the border, rivals Toronto FC and the Montreal Impact will clash for the first time this season.

Superstar showdown in Seattle

Transfer rumors always add an extra layer of intrigue to proceedings, and we’ll have plenty of that when the Seattle Sounders host Atlanta United on Sunday (3:55 p.m. ET, ESPN).  For about the millionth time since he arrived in Seattle, midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro has been linked with a move back to Boca Juniors following his comments in an interview in which he expressed his affinity for the Argentine club where he played prior to joining Seattle.It may be that one day Lodeiro will end up back in the Bombonera, but for now the sense is that his near-term future is in Seattle. He’s under contract until 2021 and is the cog in Seattle’s attacking wheel. Still, the talk will remain as long as Lodeiro expresses his affection for Boca.The love for a former Argentine club is a trait shared by ex-River Plate man Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez of Atlanta United. Since arriving in Georgia from River after winning the 2018 Copa Libertadores in epic fashion, Martinez has struggled in his new digs, with just a goal and four assists.That has prompted its own share of transfer speculation, with TyC Sports of Argentina claiming that Atlanta wanted to loan out Martinez, a report that Atlanta boss Frank de Boer quickly dismissed.  Anyone who watched Martinez at River knows his creative capabilities, and it’s worth remembering that his adjustment at River in 2015 took time as well. Perhaps Atlanta won’t see the best of Pity until 2020, however they could certainly use a glimpse or two in the Pacific Northwest.

Revs get a big summer Bou-st

The summer transfer window is just a few days old but the New England Revolution have landed a haymaker with the signing of Gustavo Bou.

The Argentine is a proven goal scorer wherever he has played. The fact that he had 10 goals in the Liga MX Clausura with Tijuana suggests he could be even more prolific in MLS. If Brian Fernandez‘s early success with the Portland Timbers after a good season at Necaxa is a hint of things to come, Revs fans can feel optimistic.

The combination of Bou and Gil could turn New England into a force to be reckoned with this fall. It remains to be seen if Bou will debut on Friday night at D.C. United (7 p.m. ET, ESPN), but those in the nation’s capital know all too well the impact that a big summer signing can make after Wayne Rooney‘s stateside arrival a year ago. Unfortunately for Rooney, partner in crime Luciano Acosta will be missing due to suspension, giving a New England team with a spring in its step all the more motivation.

New arrivals in Canada

Saturday’s Canadian Classiquebetween the Montreal Impact and Toronto FC (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN+) arrives at an interesting moment for both teams.o continue the transfer theme, Ignacio Piatti is another player who has constantly been linked with a move back to his native Argentina, but Impact president Kevin Gilmore made it clear that Piatti won’t be leaving anytime soon.That will be a relief to the Impact faith ful, but the wait continues for Piatti to return from an injury that will keep him out until summer’s end. The Argentine danger man has played just five matches this season, yet manager Remi Garde somehow has the Impact sitting fourth in the East.On the other side, TFC boss Greg Vanney has been missing many of his key pieces due to international duty, but Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley are back in the fold, while new arrivals Omar Gonzalez and Erickson Gallardo should give Toronto a good shot in the arm. With Toronto teetering on the playoff line, Vanney needs contributions from those four to become a contender.

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN RETURN TO USL CHAMPIONSHIP ACTION IN REMATCH AT HARTFORD ATHLETIC

By IndyEleven.com, 07/10/19, 5:15PM EDT   Boys in Blue Seek to Extend Undefeated Streak at Hartford’s Dillon Stadium – 5:00 P.M. ET Dillon Stadium  |  Hartford, CT       

FOLLOW LIVE: Local/National TV: N/A   ESPN+  Streamig Video: ESPN+ (click for a free 7-day trial)  Radio: N/A

SETTING THE TABLE:

Indy Eleven: 10W-2L-4D, 34 pts., 2nd in Eastern Conference

Hartford Athletic: 2W-12L-4D, 10 pts., 18th in Eastern Conference

Click here for the full USL Championship standings

LAST TIME OUT:

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

Indy Eleven claimed a point from the first of two 2019 Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest (LIPAFC) matchups against the defending USL Cup champions. Midfielder Tyler Pasher scored the game’s first goal in the 9th minute, notching his seventh of the season and fifth in the month of June. Louisville leveled the score in the 55th minute after Paolo DelPiccolo’s Goal of the Week winning free kick found the back of Indy’s net.

#HFDVIND STORYLINES

  • Indiana’s Team will be looking to be rude housewarming guests this Saturday, when it will serve as Hartford Athletic’s first opponent at the renovated Dillon Stadium, an 84-year-old venue that received a $13 million facelift by Athletic ownership group Hartford Sports Group.
  • With its 1-1 draw against Louisville the last time out, Indy Eleven extended its undefeated streak in USL Championship play to 10 matches (6W-0L-4D), which is tied with Ottawa for the second-longest such streak in USLC this season and three games behind Tampa Bay’s season-starting 13-game undefeated run.
  • However, the LIPAFC stalemate also resulted in the end of the club’s record-setting five-game win streak.
  • Indy Eleven is also looking to extend its unbeaten streak on the road to three games, as the side hasn’t lost a match on the road since its 2-1 defeat to NYRB II on April 28. The only other away loss for the Boys in Blue – or any loss in league play, for that matter – came in the season opener on March 9 at St. Louis FC (1-2), which puts Indy’s impressive away ledger at 5W-2L-0D.
  • Midfielder Tyler Pasher looks to continue his red-hot hot month of June into July. The Canadian scored five goals and recorded one assist in six games last month, resulting in a well-deserved place among the USL Championship’s five Player of the Month nominees.
  • Indiana’s Team hopes to continue its four-game winning streak against 2019 USL Championship newcomers on Saturday night, having claimed all 12 possible points against expansion sides this season: 1-0 vs. Hartford (March 9), 3-0 at Memphis 901 FC (June 8), 2-1 at Loudoun United FC (June 15), and 3-0 vs. Birmingham Legion (June 26).
  • Former Boy in Blue Wojciech Wojcik will face his former club for the second time in 2019. Wojcik made 22 appearances and scored two goals from 2015-16 with Indy.
  • Hartford forward Jose Angulo is no stranger to facing the Boys in Blue as he’s made appearances against Indiana’s Team with Fort Lauderdale Strikers (NASL), where he made 47 appearances and scored 11 goals.
  • Fellow Hartford forward Giuseppe Gentile is also familiar with the Boys in Blue, having squared up against the Indiana’s Team every year since 2015 as a member of now six different NASL and USL Championship sides.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | DF MITCHELL OSMOND

Osmond put up another stout defensive 90-minute shift against Louisville City FC last time out, tallying two tackles, two clearances and a game-high six interceptions against the back-to-back USL Cup champions.Minutes came few and far between at the start of the season, but Osmond made the most of his recent six-match stint in the starting XI, which largely coincided with Neveal Hackshaw’s national team duties with Trinidad & Tobago. In the last 540 minutes of regular season play, the 25-year-old has accumulated 16 tackles, 17 clearances and 15 interceptions. Additionally, the University of Rio Grande graduate has completed over 85 percent of his passes on the season, created two chances on goal and has put his single shot on frame. But perhaps the most important number regarding Osmond is 0.50 – that’s the number of goals allowed per game with Osmond on the backline, the team conceding just thrice during his six June starts.

HARTFORD ATHLETIC PLAYER TO WATCH | MF HARRY SWARTZ

Swartz has been potent in front of goal for Hartford Athletic during his 10 appearances for the club. The 23-year-old has scored three goals for Hartford throughout the month of June, leaving him tied with forward Jose Angulo as the team’s leading goal scorer nearly halfway through the club’s inaugural season.The Massachusetts-born midfielder boasts an incredible conversion rate at 43 percent, scoring all of his goals within the first 30 minutes of the match. The objective will be to keep Swartz from finding space within Indy’s penalty area, as the scorer has scored his trio of goals from inside the opposition’s 18-yard box.

MATCHUP TO MARK | INDY FW THOMAS ENEVOLDSEN VS HARTFORD DEFENSE  If defense wins championships, then Hartford Athletic is in trouble. The club currently finds themselves at the bottom of the Eastern Conference table, having conceded the most goals in the Eastern Conference and the second most across the league at 41. Hartford’s defense has allowed 13 goals in their last five matches played, which can only spell good news for Indy Eleven forward Thomas Enevoldsen.The Dane is tied with striking partner Dane Kelly for second most goals scored at four through Indy’s first 16 games, but his impact isn’t just felt from the back of the net – he’s equally as adept at creating attacking danger as well. The 31-year-old has created the most goal scoring chances of anyone on Indy Eleven’s roster with 37 key passes, tied for sixth most chances in the Eastern Conference. During the most recent three-game-in-seven-day stretch, the Danish striker accounted for two goals after scoring against Birmingham Legion (June 26) and assisting on Tyler Pasher’s first-half goal against Louisville City FC (June 29). Enevoldsen and the rest of the Indy attacking corps will be chomping at the bit heading into the fixture against a porous Hartford defense.
Don’t miss out on the Boys in Blue’s return to USL Championship play this Saturday at 5:00 p.m. ET when they head off to Hartford Athletic. Catch all the action live via ESPN+or follow along on the Indy Eleven Live Twitter feed, presented by Honda.

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

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6/28/19 US Ladies vs France Fri 3 pm Fox, US Men vs Sun 9 pm FS1, Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, Copa & Gold Cup this Weekend & Next Week

WWC – USA

Good win for the US ladies – even if it took 2 PKs – 1 of them really soft To win the game with Spain 2-1.  The good news is the US only gave up one goal – on a silly pass out by GK Nauer to Centerback Becky Saubraugh (sp).  It was Nauer’s fault for passing to a player under a high press – but Becky also blew it and gave up the pass leading to the only goal scored against the US this WC.  Spain came out playing super rough – as the number of takedowns on Alex Morgan and Rapinoe were certainly above 10 each – and only 1 yellow card was thrown on Spain.  The reffing in this game was pretty poor – as many more fouls and yellow cards should have been thrown.  The US did a good job of womaning-up and stepping up their physicality as the game wore on.  It was a shame the US couldn’t find a goal in the run of play – and had to rely on a soft PK to win it in the end.  But honestly there were multiple takedowns of US players in the box – that were not called – so perhaps the 2 calls were just in the end.  As for the US play- I thought coach Ellis waited WAAY to late to call on our subs.  Alex Morgan was beaten up and not playing well up top – but stayed on until the 80th minute before giving way to Lloyd.  The US was the better team in the opening half but was really outplayed in the 2nd half overall.  The Defense continues to be the weak point of this team – and the addition of Julie Ertz in the midfield did not help.  We were continuously broken down – and Crystal Dunn at left back was of course EXPOSED again.  I counted no fewer than 8 crosses that came from Dunn’s left side.  The outside back’s responsibility is to not give up crosses folks – and Crystal Dunn (a forward) does not do this.  Fortunately the US center backs covered most of the crosses into the box. I still think Ellis needs to seriously consider actually playing a defender at left back vs France instead of Crystal Dunn – because while she is good going forward she is a nightmare on defense and is going to cost the US at least 1 if not 2 goals vs France.  I would also consider bringing Horan back in as D-mid, she’s just better at both covering the backline and dribbling/passing out of pressure than Ertz.  Move Ertz back to center back and perhaps consider moving a center back to left back or bringing in Rt back back-up Ali Krieger on the left side is something I would consider honestly.  If the US plays the same line up – we will give up at least 2 goals to France – and will have to hope we can simply outscore them.  Either way this should be an exciting game – 3 pm kickoff on Friday vs France on Fox – with coverage starting at 2 pm.  The winner should be the favorite to win it all.  GO USA!

WWC

Again the games have all been great – and fun to watch. I was disappointed in the Classless display by Cameroon vs England.  Cameroon certainly had some VAR decisions go against them – but honestly the calls were right.  Their refusal to restart after the 2nd goal was allowed by England, and then a Cameroon player spitting towards the ref and another one running over the ref later – were unbelievable and should have probably been red-carded.  They stomped and moped and cried about the calls – then started trying to hurt the English players late with some questionable tackles. This combined with the coach’s disdain and refusal to get his players in line – were honestly a disgrace in my mind and hopefully the African Soccer Federation will take action if FIFA does not.  Marta and the entire Brazilian team were inspirational in their comeback attempt vs Norway –another just fantastic game overall.  7 of the 8 teams in the Quarterfinals are European teams – showing how far the European Clubs adding female teams have helped the sport come along in Europe.

USMNT – Gold Cup

So the US hasn’t always looked great – but they are just 3 games from the Gold Cup finals in Chicago– which is where we all expect them to be.  After slaughtering a helpless T&T Sat night, they emptied the bench vs Panama as 11 new players came in for the 1-0 win on a nice bicycle by Jose Altidore.  While it was nice to see Altidore score – It appears Berhalter is set on Zardes as the US #9 for now.  I am ok with Altidore coming off the bench in the 70th if behind.  We still have needs at left back – I sure wouldn’t mind seeing Lima flip over to the left side – like he does for his club – allowing Reggie Cannon to remain a started on the right back side – he looked good vs Panama.  The US will return to play Sunday at 9 pm on FS1 vs Curacoa before an expected US vs Jamaica rematch on Wed night 9:30 pm game on FS1.

Indy 11 – Blue-Out Sat 7 pm vs Louisville

Our Indy 11 scored an impressive 3-0 home win Wed night over Birmingham.  The victory improved the club’s record-winning streak to five games and lifted Indy Eleven (10W-2L-3D, 33 pts.) into a tie for first place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference alongside the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The result also extended the Eleven’s undefeated streak to nine games (6W-0L-3D) and its home unbeaten streak at Lucas Oil Stadium dating back to last July to 16 games (10W-0L-6D).Goals early and late by Tyler Pasher and Thomas Enevoldsen, respectively, bookended a Legion FC own goal. Pasher’s game-winning goal was his fourth game-clincher in Indy’s last seven contests and his team-leading sixth tally of the season. Carmel FC Goalkeeper Coach and Indy 11 Goalkeeper Jordan Farr made four saves en route to his second consecutive clean sheet. He has started the last 3 games since Newton was injured vs Memphis with 7 saves, 5 clearances and 2 clean sheets. The shutout for Indy Eleven was the tenth in its first 15 games this season, and the seventh in eight home contests in 2019.  The Boys in Blue will host rival Louisville City on Saturday night at 7 pm at Lucas Oil Stadium – It’s a BLUE-OUT as fans are asked to wear BLUE vs the Red Louisville City.  I plan to be there!  Tickets start as low as $15 and can be purchased here indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100

Local Goalkeeper Wins USL Player of the Week – Eric Dick

Former Carmel High School and Butler Goalkeeper Eric Dick claimed USL Save of the Week honors last week for Swope Park Rangers.  Dick on load from Kansas City FC – was Goalkeeper of the Year in the Big East in his final season at Butler.  He grew up in Carmel and played at Carmel Dad’s club as a youngster – keep up the Great Work Eric!

CFC_GK_Cash

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

USA Ladies – World Cup vs France Fri 3 pm Fox

US or France – the Debate ESPN

Pressure on US vs France – NBC Joe Prince Wright

Any Questions About How the US Will Bounce Back from Mistakes- Answered – Graham Hayes ESPNFC

US – Spain Bullies US Pays Price with PKS – Stars  & Stripes

Rapinoe –Trump spat won’t Distract Team – coach says

VAR Controversy Plays On – S&S

African Soccer Wants action against Cameroon for Poor Behavior – ESPNFC

USA Men – Gold Cup

Doyle: What there was to like about US win Doyle – mls.com

– Davis: Altidore showed flashes of old vs. Panama

Why Berhalter rotated USMNT starting XI vs. Panama MLS.com

Gold Cup Bracket: Quarterfinals are set

As questions swirl, US find answers on the field

US Ratings: Who got top marks against Panama

Boys Tuning in to US Ladies More – Washington Post

T&T Win is Step Back for USMNT – S&S

Indy 11

Indy 11 Win 5th straight Game

Indy 11 Are First in USL Championship with 10 Wins

3 Things Indy 11 coming into this Week

Goalkeepers

Great Saves in the World Cup

Keepers Showing Out at World Cup

Chile GK Endler Was Player of Game vs USA

Endler fantastic save

Triple Save New Zealand Keeper

Former Carmel High School and Butler Goalkeeper Eric Dick claimed USL Save of the Week

USL Saves of the Week

GAMES ON TV

Fri, June 28

3 pm Fox                     WWC QF France vs USA

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA Venezuela vs Argentina

8 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA Colombia vs Chile

Sat, June 29

9 am Fox Sport 1                    WWC QF Italy vs. Netherlands,

12:30 pm Fox Sport 1             WWC  QF Germany vs. Sweden

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA QF – Uruguay vs Peru

4 pm ESPN                              Minn United vs Cincy

  • 7 pm ESPN+, Myindty Indy 11 vs Louisville City

7 pm FS1                                 Gold Cup QF Haiti vs Canada

10 pm FS1                               Gold Cup QF Mexico vs Costa Rica

Sun, June 30

2:30 pm ESPN2                       Euro U21 Final

5:30 pm FS1                            Gold Cup QF Panama vs Jamaica

9 pm FS1                     USA Men vs Curacao – Gold Cup

Tues, July 2

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC Semi Norway/England vs. USA/France

8 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA Semi

10:30 pm FS1                          Gold Cup  Mexico/Costa Rica vs Canada/Haiti Winners

Wed, July 3

3 pm Fox Sport 1                    WWC Semi Germany/Sweden vs. Italy/Netherlands

8 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA Semi

9:30 pm FS1                            Gold Cup Semi  USA/Curacao vs Jamaica/Panama Winners

Sat, July 6

11 am Fox                               WWC  3rd Place Game

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA 3rd Place Game

Sun, July 7

11 am Fox                               WWC  FINALS

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA FINALS

9 pm FS1                                 Gold Cup FINALS

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

 France or the U.S. in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinals? We debate

Jun 26, 2019ESPN

Since the Women’s World Cup draw last December, the U.S. women and France have been on a collision course to clash in Friday’s quarterfinals (9 p.m. local time, 3 p.m. ET). It’s the defending World Cup champ against the host, the No. 1 team in the world versus the co-favorite to win it all.So what are the X factors and key players that will most impact their match at Parc des Princes in Paris? ESPN UK’s Tom Hamilton, ESPN FC’s Julien Laurens, ESPN Brasil’s Natalie Gedra and ESPN’s Sam Borden, Graham Hays and Alyssa Roenigk — all of whom are on the ground in France — tackle the tough questions.

Which team is under more pressure: France at home or the U.S. women facing a potential second consecutive quarterfinal exit in a major tournament?

Hays: The opportunity is greater for France. Television numbers for the host’s group games cooled only slightly from the record-smashing opening game. And while on the ground, it doesn’t always feel like World Cup fever is sweeping the land yet. The event and the French team have very visible presences. But the French can rationalize a loss to the defending champion and No. 1 team in the world, especially a valiant loss. For the United States, in such a crowded sports landscape and with how invested members of the team are in using their platform for advocacy, bowing out before the semifinals of a major event again would be costly on and off the field.

Roenigk: The U.S. women. They’re the tournament favorites, the defending champions, the top-ranked team in the world and, yes, the team is still recovering from the sting of the Rio Olympics. Anything less than a World Cup win will be seen as a failure.

Laurens: The pressure has to mostly be on the defending champions, the U.S. This is the best team in the world right now so being knocked out at this stage would be a failure, especially after losing in the quarters in the 2016 Olympics. France is also under pressure because a loss in the quarters would be disappointing. However, there would be no shame in losing against this impressive American side.

Borden: France. In addition to playing at home and trying to follow up the championship performance the team’s colleagues turned in at the men’s World Cup last summer, a loss to the United States also means the France women’s team can’t qualify for the Olympics next summer since the top three European finishers at the World Cup get the Olympic spots. With seven European teams in these quarterfinals, this match is, in effect, a double-elimination game for France.

Hamilton: Great question. There are so many subplots to this match, but the pressure is more on the U.S. France has had a mediocre tournament so far, and its home support will be demanding a win, even though this team is the underdog. The U.S. started this World Cup in dominant fashion, and the world expects it to end up winning the tournament, so the pressure is on them to deliver.

Gedra: France, for sure. The French people are very much involved with the tournament, and they were not expecting to face that much difficulty as they did against Brazil. The French are expecting not only a good performance, but a win.

Which players are key for France and the United States?

Roenigk: The U.S. front line, specifically Alex Morgan, who has been largely absent since her record-tying, five-goal onslaught against Thailand, and has drawn more attention — and more penalties — than anyone on the U.S. roster. On the flip side, center back Wendie Renard (France’s leading goal scorer this tournament) and the French defense will be charged with stopping a fired-up American side. Aiding France? An extra day of rest since its round of 16 match.

Hays: Beyond the obvious suspects, what does France coach Corinne Diacre do with Gaetane Thiney? The veteran who resurrected her international career after falling out of favor with previous regimes has been a mainstay for Diacre, but she didn’t start against Brazil when the manager changed formations to get more speed on the flanks. Midfield is also an area to watch for the Americans, especially Lindsey Horan and Julie Ertz. The United States missed Horan when she didn’t start against Spain but will need her ability to conduct the attack while maintaining a physical presence against the French. And it’s not a coincidence that Ertz didn’t play in a 3-0 loss to France in 2017 or the 3-1 loss earlier this year. She’s the best bet to break up French rhythm.

Borden: Renard having a strong game is critical if France is going to control the U.S. attack, and she’s a threat on set pieces that the Americans have to be constantly monitoring. Kadidiatou Diani has had an incredible motor in the French midfield and can do damage if the U.S. slacks. For the United States, Horan has the ability to break through what will probably be a physical game and impose herself, while goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher and defender Becky Sauerbrunn have to bounce back from a combined bad mistake against Spain to be at their peaks.

Hamilton: Eugenie Le Sommer has to deliver for France but the key player will be Amandine Henry. The captain needs to ensure her team remains unwaveringly focused for 90-plus minutes if France is to knock over the U.S. And for the world champions, the Americans need goalkeeper Naeher to put in a near faultless performance. She made an error against Spain, which led to a goal in the U.S.’ 2-1 win. She cannot let the same happen against France.

Laurens: For France, Sarah Bouhaddi will have a huge role to play in this game. So far, the defense has been quite solid for Les Bleues, but Bouhaddi will get properly tested Friday by the Americans. And she will have to have the game of her life for France to be able to go through. Henry will be key in midfield against the energy and movement of the U.S. midfielders. Up front, this is a game for Le Sommer to shine. Even on the left-hand side, she has to be effective and decisive. For the U.S., Ertz is the key. She is the brains, the power and the heart of this team. If she bosses the midfield, the Americans will win. The front three will obviously have a huge role to play too. Sauerbrunn, who could be the weakest link in this team, will have to step up.

Gedra: Henry showed she can make a difference with her quality and experience. And Le Sommer can create a lot of trouble as an aggressive winger. That is why, besides the big stars, a good defensive performance from the U.S. will be key.

Which part of each team’s game will their opponent have to prepare for most?

Borden: The U.S. women have to be ready for an even more physical game than the one they endured against Spain, particularly because France is even more capable of turning turnovers into real chances. France will have to keep up with the Americans’ speed and relentless drive, which will be made even tougher by the expected heatwave — the United States has more players who are accustomed to playing in oppressive temperatures than does France. If they have to chase the game, that will be a factor.

Laurens: Both teams know each other so well. France has to match (or try to at least) the U.S.’ intensity. The French know how quickly the Americans attack and push forward, how much the midfielders press, how high the full backs play. So they will have to stay well organized and disciplined while keeping the ball as much as possible. On the other hand, the Americans will have seen France’s potential on set pieces. But also the mental strength of this team. The U.S. is in for a battle on Friday and they have to get ready for it.

Hays: A strong case can be made for set pieces in both cases. Renard is unique in the problems she creates because of her height and agility on set pieces. There are a lot of reasons the United States might keep Sam Mewis in the starting lineup, but her height in defending set pieces should be near the top of the list. But as Sweden’s coach said, the U.S. women might have the biggest binder of set plays in the world, so France must also keep to a minimum the free kicks and corner kicks it gives away. The United States also has struggled for years, and through a variety of outside backs and formations, to deal with French speed on the flanks.

Gedra: The French attack makes fast transitions, so the U.S. needs to be aware of that. As for France, it’s facing the team that shows the highest level of sophistication in this WWC. The U.S. has variations and can be patient with the ball. Diacre will have to prepare the team for that.

Roenigk: For the U.S. women, it’s depth and a bench that forward Megan Rapinoe has called “the deepest we’ve ever had” — which has allowed coach Jill Ellis to rotate and rest her starters, as planned. France will rely on its physical defense, technical ability and a mentally tough team that knows how to win. Seven players on Les Bleus also star for Lyon, which has won the Women’s Champions League six times.

Hamilton: Both teams will be on red alert over their opponent’s attack. France is likely to focus on its play down the flanks with Diani a key outlet on their right; Rapinoe is going to be fired up for the Americans. But with two offensive teams, there is going to be plenty of space on the counterattack, so expect to see the U.S.’ two attacking full backs suddenly spring into action, while France will be looking for opportunities to return favor.

Which team has the edge in goal?

Borden: Even before Monday’s mishap, Naeher was more of a liability than Bouhaddi. While Naeher is a World Cup rookie, Bouhaddi has been France’s No. 1 since the 2015 World Cup. She won’t be cowed by the pressure Friday night.

Roenigk: Naeher will learn from an early mistake against Spain and prove herself to be not only worthy of this gig, but one of the best in the world.

Hays: Some American fans will worry because they haven’t seen Naeher in a game like this. Some French fans might worry because they have seen Bouhaddi. Most of the time, Bouhaddi is a wonderful goalkeeper. She’s athletic, aggressive and experienced. Her ability to play long passes jump-starts the attack, even if she tends to linger with the ball in her hands well beyond what the rules allow. But for just about her entire international career, Bouhaddi has had one or two moments during a game — coming out rashly, playing the ball into traffic, etc. — that scare her own fans to death. Both sides might be white-knuckling this game.

Laurens: Bouhaddi has the edge. She has a lot of experience. She has played this kind of game before, at the World Cup, at the Olympics, at the Euros. She has won six Champions League titles. Also, she has played with Morgan and Rapinoe at Lyon. She knows them very well. On the other hand, this is all new for Naeher. She has waited many years for this chance but she is inexperienced. I think the pressure can get to her.

Hamilton: The error against Spain aside, Naeher is the more complete goalkeeper than her counterpart Bouhaddi. But Bouhaddi’s distribution is second to none in this World Cup.

How much does the recent history in the series (3-3-2 since 2014) matter?

Laurens: Even if every game is different, I think it is important for the French to know they have beaten the U.S. before, that they know how to beat them and that they can do it again. Psychologically, they don’t fear the U.S. because of some of the the recent French success. There are a lot of things the French admire about this American side: the mentality, the power, the talent, the self belief. In many ways, this France side wants to be like this U.S. side. And beating them would be like the apprentice beating the master. However, I don’t think the U.S. cares too much about the past against the French though. They are so focused, driven and ambitious.

Hays: It’s everything. Nothing better underscores France’s growth than the fact no team in the world has given the U.S. such consistent fits in recent years. France shut out the United States while scoring multiple goals twice since 2015. The last team to do that even once, other than France, was Norway more than a decade ago. And that doesn’t even count France’s 3-1 win earlier this year, at the start of the U.S. preseason. The French ability to match the Americans athlete for athlete, giving away little in fitness, confounds a team used to clear advantages there.

Roenigk: History matters to journalists, statisticians and commentators and is a lot of fun to discuss prematch and postmatch. But during those 90 minutes Friday night, past performances mean nothing.

Borden: Not much. At this level, the top women’s teams face each other often enough that there never figured to be many secrets. The question is which team executes better? Neither was particularly impressive in the round of 16, but looking at the tournament as a whole, the U.S. women have probably been a touch sharper.

Hamilton: It means very little. This is knockout football in the Women’s World Cup in Paris, in front of the Tricolore, with La Marseillaise ringing from the stands, with pockets of stars and stripes, with the backdrop of the USWNT’s battle for pay equality, with France hoping to inspire a nation. It is going to be epic.

Gedra: Not much, because the circumstances are different this time: France is playing a World Cup quarterfinals at home with a loud supporting crowd and high expectations. That changes the scenario compared to previous head-to-heads.

Predictions

Borden: In a hard-fought, physical game, the U.S. women get a second-half goal from Horan to just take it 2-1.

Hays: The crowd in the stadium might be split, but the streets of Paris will be full of the Tricolore after France wins a thriller.

Roenigk: The United States advances to the semifinals 2-1 over Les Bleus in extra time.

Hamilton: Expect extra time, and for Rapinoe to win it on a penalty. The U.S. wins 2-1.

Laurens: France will win 1-0.

Gedra: It’s a tight match and the U.S. squeezes by France 2-1.

 

World Cup quarterfinal: Heat is on USWNT v. hosts France

Joe Prince-Wright  NBC Sports•June 27, 2019

 

It will be close to 97 degrees in Paris on Friday as France swelters in a severe, unexpected heatwave.The U.S. women’s national team will also be feeling the heat at the Parc des Princes (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET online via Telemundo Deportes) as they face the much-fancied tournament hosts in a mouth-watering World Cup quarterfinalFrance versus the USWNT sees fourth play first in terms of their FIFA rankings, as the reigning champs struggled by Spain in their Round of 16 clash and know that the pressure is on them to deliver and keep up their incredible record of at least reaching the semifinal stage in every single Women’s World Cup in history.The fact they’ve failed to beat France in their last three games against them, including two defeats with the latest loss coming in January, means that the pressure is cranked up a few notches as the eyes of the world lock in on Paris.“This U.S. team lives in pressure. When you are young and come into this program, there is always a target on your back,” head coach Jill Ellis told the media. “This is a big game, the players know that. You’re wired for this and built for this. Some teams visit pressure, but we live there. Are there going to be some nerves? Sure. There is a lot at stake. They are wired to handle it.”Much of the talk ahead of this game has been about President Donald Trump and his reaction to comments from co-captain Megan Rapinoe who said she is “not f****** going to the White House” if the USWNT win the World Cup.

Those comments were to a magazine, Eight By Eight, in January and have gone viral in recent days after the video clip was released.Rapinoe addressed Trump’s comments — the U.S. president said that she “should never disrespect our Country, the White House, or our Flag, especially since so much has been done for her and the team” and to “be proud of the flag that you wear” — and said she stands by what she said and would urge her teammates to follow her lead.Back to the action on the pitch, Rapinoe is fired up, as she elaborated on her eccentric comments about facing the hosts in Paris on Friday in primetime“The secondary market for tickets is wild. Looking at this match, what it means for the tournament, it is a huge game and our chance to play the host nation in a World Cup,” Rapinoe smiled. “For me, these are why you play all of the thousands of friendlies, training on your own and grinding away. I think it is going to be a fantastic match. It will be fun and it will be a great stage for both teams to go out and enjoy themselves.”France’s head coach Corinne Diacre put it bluntly when talking about the expectation levels on France against the USWNT, who have plenty of fans supporting them every step of the way in France.“We have no pressure when we play USA,’ Diacre said.So it’s over to Ellis’ team as they are focused on spoiling the French party in what should be an epic battle between two teams littered with stars, as Wendie Renard, Eugenie Le Sommer and Amandine Henry lead the French charge and the likes of Rapinoe, Julie Ertz and Alex Morgan will be front and center for the USWNT.“From where we were four years ago and from where France were four years ago, we are both stronger teams,” Rapinoe said Which team will be strong enough to better handle the inferno of expectation and reach the final four?

Any questions how the U.S. will bounce back from mistakes? Not anymore

2:42 PM ETGraham Hays  espnW.com

REIMS, France — For all the goals, celebrations and wins of the past two weeks, the World Cup in some ways began Monday for the United States with a mistake.Not a cataclysmic error or a failure of character. Just a mistake.But World Cups can turn on one mistake. This one, resulting in the U.S. allowing its first goal in 674 minutes, didn’t. Not yet.With the ball at her feet, the place where she has the best claim to being among the best goalkeepers in the world, Alyssa Naeher picked the wrong pass. With Spain already pressing the U.S. with vigor bordering on recklessness in the opening minutes of Monday’s knockout game, Naeher played a short pass to defender Becky Sauerbrunn to begin a buildup.She hesitated uncharacteristically before the pass, as if unsure which teammate to choose. It still might not have mattered, but Sauerbrunn’s own hesitation receiving the pass allowed Spain’s Lucia Garcia to steal the ball and find Jennifer Hermoso. With Naeher pulled out of her goal, Hermoso lofted a shot that rose over Naeher’s hand and found the back of the net.”I think I just tried to do a little bit too much,” Naeher said of the goal. “Shouldn’t have played that ball into a pressure pocket. Probably a smarter decision to just play it a little bit higher up the field. But things happen when you try to play. Unfortunate way to give up a goal, but I thought we responded well.”That sequence in the ninth minute led to the first goal the U.S. conceded in the World Cup — and the first time it was so much as tied at a score of more than 0-0 in the knockout rounds since 2011. It also wiped out the momentum the Americans thrive on. Two minutes earlier, Tobin Heath drew a penalty that Megan Rapinoe capitalized on.”Obviously, with pressure like that, just need to get rid of it,” Rapinoe said. “I think we all kind of came together like, ‘It’s fine, it’s early.’ Obviously, getting an early goal for us, those things are going to happen. … Just stay in it and have each other’s back. “We’ll watch film, and they won’t do that again in that exact same way.”The goalkeeper and the back line responded on this day by keeping a clean sheet the rest of the way. Busier than they were in any of the first three games, maybe all three games combined, the defensive effort after the equalizing goal gave the U.S. the breathing room it needed to pull out a 2-1 win and move forward in the tournament.In the end, Spain pushed for one more tying goal. At one point, Naeher rose to get to a ball ahead of a Spanish player, then stayed on her feet through the end of the subsequent play only to fall the ground in a collision.While otherwise praising Naeher before the World Cup, former U.S. goalkeeper Briana Scurry noted it’s impossible to know how someone will react to major tournament adversity until they experience it. It didn’t mean she thought Naeher couldn’t. She just didn’t know. Couldn’t know.The miscommunication or miscue between Naeher and Sauerbrunn could have been more costly. The U.S. never did control this game, even as it fought throughout for the upper hand.The game could have gone to extra time. It could have gone to penalty kicks, like the 2016 Olympic quarterfinal against Sweden that derailed a U.S. effort. It could have unraveled.But it didn’t. And now Naeher has some of that experience, too.”When you get out into the knockout rounds, it’s always so much more pressure, so much more tense out there,” Rapinoe said. “Everything matters, every play matters. Every sort of wave of the game is important. I think halfway through the second half, it was like we need to take this up a notch. Obviously, there’s quite a few of us that have been there in these big games and sort of realize those moments. And that experience was really big for us tonight.”Whether or not the World Cup began for the U.S. on Monday, it didn’t end.

All eyes turn to Paris

There will be plenty of time this week to hype a game that has already received its share of hype, a quarterfinal in Paris between the teams that entered the tournament as betting favorites.And Rapinoe, for one, is ready for the fun. Even if she picked a different word.”Hopefully, a complete spectacle,” Rapinoe said. “Just an absolute media circus. I hope it’s huge and crazy. That’s what it should be. This is the best game, this is what everybody wanted. I think we want it, seems like they’re up for it … all the fans. Maybe it will be a pretty even split between the fans in the stadium. We’ve been traveling pretty deep in this World Cup.”I hope it’s just a total s—show circus. It’s going to be totally awesome. I think this is what everybody wants.”

VAR smiles on the United States

It wasn’t the first VAR review for the U.S. in this tournament, or even the first to involve a penalty kick, but it was the most important for the defending champion. And fittingly for this World Cup, it will leave its own trail of controversy. With extra time looming and the U.S. still short on quality scoring chances in the second half, Hungarian referee Katalin Kulcsar awarded a penalty when Rose Lavelle was clipped as she chased a ball across the box in the 71st minute. Replays showed minimal contact, albeit contact nonetheless, by the Spanish defender after Lavelle reached the ball.After Spanish players gathered around the ball in a delaying tactic that was likely unnecessary given the frequency of VAR reviews in this World Cup, Kulcsar jogged over to the sideline, watched the review and held her ground on a penalty as the correct decision.Alex Morgan stepped up to take the initial penalty, but Rapinoe said she was instructed during the delay to stick to the team’s established protocol and take the penalty herself.”It’s ultimately the coach’s decision, so the ball went back to Pinoe,” Morgan said. “I’m happy taking it, I’m happy giving it to Pinoe.”

The physical price of success

On a hot day, with temperatures at about 90 degrees at kickoff, and with the U.S. on three fewer days of rest than its opponent, Monday’s game was always going to be a physical challenge for the Americans.Spain then pressed and pressed on that pressure point, looking almost like North American rival Canada in its willingness to go in hard on every challenge. It was a style of play Kulcsar allowed from the outset, but she was consistent in allowing it. Everyone on the field for the U.S. seemed to take their share of the hits, but Morgan was perhaps the most frequent recipient.”I got a knock last game, but luckily I recovered,” Morgan said. “Maybe the Spain players saw that and wanted to be a little more aggressive with me. But I feel like, if anything, it took them off their game more than it took me off mine.”Just as in the game between the teams in January, Spain showed off the possession game for which it is known, nearly equaling the U.S. with possessing the ball 46% of time. But the physical play was a new twist that reflected a World Cup knockout game instead of a winter friendly.”I don’t remember that being this physical, this aggressive, this reckless — in challenges at least,” Morgan said. “For me, that was a little different. I wasn’t expecting that. At the same time, we were able to capitalize on that with penalties.”

Spain is coming

The contrast was stark between the challenges France and the United States faced in this round. France held off one final push from Marta, Christiane and Formiga, the stalwarts of a Brazilian team that has tantalized with its potential for more than a decade. It isn’t clear what Brazil will look like when next on this stage.The team the U.S. faced Monday is just getting started. Whether it was reckless or courageous, or maybe a little of both, Spain brought showed a fearlessness few opponents exhibit against the Americans. All the more from a team that has just one all-time World Cup win and had played the United States just once in its history.Spain wasn’t intimidated by the opponent or the stage. It is already well on its way to building the kind of talent pool that will allow it to win these games soon enough.Her eye puffy from a first-half collision that resulted in her coming out of the game, Vicky Losada chose to focus more on what’s ahead than the penalties that doomed her team Monday.”I think we have a really good future,” Losada said.

Ellis: Rapinoe-Trump spat won’t distract USWNT

12:23 PM ETGraham HaysespnW.com

PARIS — With one of the most anticipated games in the history of women’s soccer a day away, United States coach Jill Ellis and veteran forward Megan Rapinoe attempted Thursday to shift the focus away from any confrontation with President Donald Trump and toward a World Cup quarterfinal between tournament co-favorites at the Parc des Princes.

Ellis said the off-field controversy that built through the week wouldn’t be a distraction for the U.S. in Friday’s game against France, because players on the world’s top-ranked team are familiar with the spotlight that both their success and frequent advocacy for social issues brings.”We all support Megan,” Ellis said. “She knows that. We know we have each other’s backs in there.”I think for our players, there is only one purpose, one mission that we’re here. Comments, media, whatever, it’s always been something that I think we can block out pretty easily.”In a statement she made Thursday before declining to take further questions related to the controversy, Rapinoe said she regretted only her choice of words in a video released earlier this week by the soccer magazine Eight by Eight. In that video, she said she will not accept an invitation to visit the White House if the U.S. wins the World Cup.”I stand by the comments that I made about not wanting to go to the White House, with the exception of the expletive,” Rapinoe said Thursday. “My mom will be very upset about that. But I think, obviously, answering with a lot of passion considering how much time and effort and pride we take in the platform that we have and using it for good and for leaving the game in a better place and hopefully the world in a better place, I don’t think that I would want to go.”And I would encourage my teammates to think hard about lending that platform or having that coopted by an administration that doesn’t feel the same way and doesn’t fight for same things that we fight for.”Rapinoe expressed similar sentiments about any potential White House visit earlier this year, as did teammate Alex Morgan.After Rapinoe’s comments about a White House visit appeared Tuesday, Trump again criticized her on Twitter and also invited the U.S. team to the White House after the World Cup.The week began with Trump criticizing Rapinoe in an interview with The Hill, saying he disagrees with her not singing or putting her hand over her heart during the national anthem. Rapinoe knelt during the anthem before two U.S. games in 2016 to express solidarity with NFL player Colin Kaepernick‘s protests to raise awareness of racial injustice and police brutality.In both cases in 2016 — for games in Columbus, Ohio, and Atlanta — Rapinoe was a substitute on the sideline when the national anthem was played. U.S. Soccer subsequently instituted a policy requiring all players to stand during the anthem.Ellis named Rapinoe one of three captains before World Cup qualifying in 2018, along with Morgan and Carli Lloyd.While only a quarterfinal, Friday’s game is between teams undefeated and untied thus far in the tournament and which entered the World Cup as essentially co-favorites among oddsmakers. Even Rapinoe said during the team’s training camp in England that she considered France the favorite to win the title. The Americans are 3-3-2 against the French in the last eight games in the series.The U.S. has never failed to reach the semifinals of a World Cup.”For me, [games like] these are why you play all these friendlies a thousand times and are training on your own for hours and hours and grind through the rest of it,” Rapinoe said. “I think it’s going to be a great stage for both teams who have had a lot of pressure and a lot of eyes on them to just go out and perform and enjoy themselves.”

U.S. didn’t dazzle vs. Panama, but squad depth bodes well for deep Gold Cup run

11:07 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

KANSAS CITY, Kan. — In the end, Gregg Berhalter’s strategy worked, and while it wasn’t much fun to watch, the payoff could come later in this Gold Cup for the U.S. men’s national team.Heading into the group stage finale against Panama, both teams had already secured their spots in the quarterfinal. The main questions centered on the order of finish and who each team would face next, but there were deeper issues, as well. The games in the knockout stage take place at an accelerated pace — just two full days separate the quarterfinals from the semifinals — and there is the matter of getting rest for the presumed starting lineup. That led to questions of squad rotation: How much, and for whom? Panama manager Julio Dely Valdes opted to name nine new starters, but Berhalter went even wilder, swapping out all 11 players that started against Trinidad & Tobago and replacing them with their nominal reserves. It seemed a bit of a gamble from Berhalter given how elusive consistency has been for the U.S., but he didn’t see it that way.”The decision to start 11 new players was an easy one, to be honest,” he said. “We believe in the group. We believe in keeping the group together. We believe that everyone can contribute to this team, for the team’s success, and we wanted to show that.”The guys have been training really well, and they deserved this opportunity.”The game itself was hard on the eyes, even if it did end with a 1-0 U.S. victory. While the home side controlled the game’s tempo for long periods, the attack sputtered, creating little in the way of chances. Some of this can be chalked up to some rust, while Panama seemed content to sit back and absorb pressure as well. The service from the flanks wasn’t good enough, either, and was easily cu out by the Canaleros’ defense.”I think we gave too many bouncing balls. We lost the balls in tough areas; our touches were a bit sloppy,” said midfielder Cristian Roldan. “Just a bit rusty overall. When you change the lineup, that can happen.”If a goal was going to come, it was either going to arrive via a mistake or a gritty play. As it turned out, it was a bit of both. Djordje Mihailovic swung in a corner that was intended for Roldan, but seeing his teammates marked, he kept the play alive and headed the goal back across goal. When a pair of Panamanian defenders didn’t deal with the danger, Jozy Altidore went for thebicycle kick and deposited the ball in the net from close range.The celebration that followed saw Roldan go for the bear hug on Altidore, only to realize the bear was too big.”It’s hard to grab that man. He’s a big boy, and he’s very powerful,” said Roldan about Altidore. “It’s very hard to get on his front side.”The sight of Altidore getting on the scoresheet was the most welcome development of the night. The Toronto FC mainstay remains the best forward in the U.S. pool, and his hold-up play and passing will come in handy as the games get tougher. But he entered the training camp for the Gold Cup carrying the remnants of a hamstring injury, and Berhalter has opted to bring him along slowly. While Altidore played 45 minutes in the 3-0 friendly defeat to Venezuela, he had logged just 16 minutes in the Gold Cup prior to Wednesday night.The extent to which that has left Altidore frustrated is unknown. He’s done little to no media since arriving in the U.S. camp and declined to speak with reporters after this match. But his primal scream of a goal celebration hinted at some pent-up energy, and he was determined to see out as much of this encounter as he could.Berhalter said, “I talked to Jozy at halftime, and I asked him, ‘How much more do you have in you?’ He said, ‘I want to stay on the field.’ When you hear that from a player, it makes you feel great. And then when that player goes out and scores the winning goal, it makes you feel even better, because him and all the players on the field today, they wanted to win. They wanted to win for the team.”Given the fact that he lasted 83 minutes, it would seem that Altidore is ready to lead the line in the knockout rounds. As for the rest of the lineup, center-backs Miazga and Omar Gonzalez acquitted themselves well, and right-back Reggie Cannon was able to get forward and contribute to the attack. Yet it seems likely that besides Altidore, no one did enough to burrow their way into the starting lineup for Sunday’s quarterfinal against Curacao. The minutes they chewed up still have value, however, in that they allowed the usual starters to get rest, an important consideration as the games get tougher.With the quarterfinals now set to begin, the U.S. finds itself in a good, albeit imperfect, place. The U.S. knows it needs to be better, but given the alarm bells ringing at the beginning of the month following two warm-up defeats, the sight of a clean sweep in the group stage with an 11-goal margin in terms of goal differential is one the U.S. will take.What matters now is performing when the Gold Cup stakes are highest. The prize is three wins away.

RECAP | FIFTH CONSECUTIVE WIN PUTS INDY ELEVEN ATOP USL CHAMPIONSHIP’S EASTERN CONFERENCE

By IndyEleven.com, 06/26/19, 11:15PM EDT Dominant Performance Pushes Unbeaten Streak to Nine Games, Home Unbeaten Run to 16 Games

#INDvBHM Stats via USLChampionship.com Match Center

Each of the last three home wins for Indy Eleven have been nail-biters, but tonight the Boys in Blue flipped the script, spreading goals throughout a convincing 3-0 victory over Birmingham Legion FC at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The victory improved the club’s record-winning streak to five games and lifted Indy Eleven (10W-2L-3D, 33 pts.) into a tie for first place in the USL Championship Eastern Conference alongside the Tampa Bay Rowdies. The result also extended the Eleven’s undefeated streak to nine games (6W-0L-3D) and its home unbeaten streak at Lucas Oil Stadium dating back to last July to 16 games (10W-0L-6D).Goals early and late by Tyler Pasher and Thomas Enevoldsen, respectively, bookended a Legion FC own goal. Pasher’s game-winning goal was his fourth game-clincher in Indy’s last seven contests and his team-leading sixth tally of the season. Goalkeeper Jordan Farr made four saves en route to his second consecutive clean sheet. Tonight’s shutout for Indy Eleven was the tenth in its first 15 games this season, and the seventh in eight home contests in 2019.“I thought tonight’s performance was solid,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We scored a really good first goal early. It was nice. We haven’t really done that at all at home. Then we scored a good goal on a set play, which is something we like to see because it’s something we work on a lot. I was pleased with Thomas [Enevoldsen] getting a goal at the end. It was obvious he really wanted one. He and Alioune [Diakhate] linked up well and he got his reward. It was a good performance and as we head towards the midway point in the season, we’re doing well.”The Boys Blue opened the scoring early when, in the seventh minute, Pasher played a textbook one-two with defender Lucas Farias from the left corner of the 18-yard box. After Pasher retrieved Farias’ return ball, the Canadian took one touch to the Birmingham six-yard box and slotted low and inside the far post. The game’s opening goal continued the hot streak for Pasher, who has scored all of his six goals in the Eleven’s last seven outings.“We’ve been playing well most of the season. The big thing is just taking our chances and being more clinical, which we were today,” Rennie said. “Everyone on the team are really getting to know each other and work really hard for each other. There is a good chemistry amongst the group and a good culture around the team.Midfielder Macauley King nearly doubled the lead 14 minutes later, with Pasher nearly creating the goal. After leaving a Birmingham defender behind him, the Canadian played a diagonal pass that found King at the top of the Birmingham box. King would unleash a driven effort that flew just inches over the bar, but surely worried Birmingham ‘keeper Matt VanOekel.Birmingham had an excellent chance to draw level at the half hour mark after a cross played to the back post found an unmarked Eddie Opoku. Much to Farr’s relief, the Birmingham forward failed to put the would be tap-in on frame, sending the shot into the right side-netting.Birmingham would live to regret the miss thirteen minutes later, as Indy Eleven would double the lead through an own goal via Legion FC defender Mathieu Laurent. Indy defender Ayoze was tasked with playing in a free kick from 35 yards out, and the Spaniard’s in-swinger would glance off the head of two Birmingham players before ricocheting off the chest of Laurent and into the back of the net, despite a touch from Van Oekel.The second half began on a less active note, as the first clear chance of the second 45 minutes manifested through a Birmingham cross into the Indy Eleven box in the 57th minute. The cross would find Legion FC’s leading goal scorer, forward Chandler Hoffman, but he was unable to redirect the effort on frame, sending his header wide right.Farr would be forced into another goal-saving stop at the hour mark – but not from the opposition. Birmingham’s Daniel Johnson played a lofted pass into the box from the right side of the 18-yard box attempting to find Hoffman. Indy defender Mitchell Osmond went to clear the effort acrobatically, but unintentionally redirected the effort towards goal and, luckily, right at an alert Farr. Ten minutes later, Farr would be tested again by the foot of Hoffman. After receiving a pass at the top of the Indy 18, Hoffman took a decisive touch towards the face of goal and drove in a low shot that Farr extended on the ground to gather as the score line remained 2-0.The game’s last clear cut chance wouldn’t surface until the 91st minute, when Enevoldsen would put some iffy decisions by the center referee in the late stages behind him by putting the nail in Legion FC’s coffin. Forward Alioune Diakhate – making his first start for the Boys in Blue on the evening – would place a shot on frame from inside the box that would be saved by Van Oekel, but the rebound would find the Danish forward creeping at the back post as he killed off the game.”We’ve had very close wins; 2-1 vs Loudoun and won by one the other night [against Atlanta United FC 2]. It’s been like that for a while now, so it’s good to get a comfortable win,” said Enevoldsen. “The early goal probably helped us a lot, it gave us the confidence to keep going and I think it was by far our best home performance this season.  We were good on the ball, we created good chances and it’s good to say we [have won] five games in a row – that’s a very good streak.”Indy Eleven’s busy week concludes this Saturday, June 29, with the club’s first “Blue Out” at Lucas Oil Stadium, presented by Blue Indy, against two-time defending USL Championship title holder Louisville City FC. Fans are encouraged to support the “Boys in Blue” by donning blue for the latest edition of the Louisville-Indianapolis Proximity Association Football Contest, which is slated for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Tickets remain available for as little as $15 and can be purchased at indyeleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.

Depth is a great thing to have. It really is. Depth gives peace of mind to the head coach, to the technical and training staff, and to the fans. For the past 198 minutes of USL Championship play, Indy goalkeeper Jordan Farr has been the one providing peace of mind. Farr has started the last two matches against Loudoun United FC and Atlanta United 2 and played the remaining 18 minutes at Memphis 901 FC that saw starting goalkeeper Evan Newton subbed off.Since coming on in the 72nd minute against Memphis, Farr has racked up four saves, three clearances (courtesy of his courageousness as a ‘keeper), a clean sheet and allowed one goal (which in Farr’s defense, was about as good a goal as you can allow). The 24-year-old’s performance against Atlanta United 2 solidified Farr’s class, as he recorded three massive saves and his first USL Championship clean sheet.With Newton upgraded to questionable for last Saturday’s win, Farr’s impressive relief stint may be coming to an end as early as this week. No matter who goes between the posts Wednesday against Birmingham Legion FC and Saturday in the rivalry showdown with Louisville City FC, the Corban University grad (shoutout to Salem, Oregon) knows this – the Boys in Blue, from front to back, will be ready for the challenge.“We’re excited to get nine points quickly,” Farr said. “We’re not going for ties. We’re going for wins.”

USL Championship Regular Season – #INDvBHM
Indy Eleven  3 : 0  Birmingham Legion FC
Wednesday, June 22, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET

Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Ind.

Attendance: 9,248

Indy Eleven (10W-2L-3D, 33 pts., T-1st in Eastern Conference)  Birmingham Legion FC (3W-9L-4D, 13 pts., T-12th in Eastern Conference)

Scoring Summary:

IND – Tyler Pasher (Lucas Farias) 7’

IND – Mathieu Laurent (own goal) 44’

IND – Thomas Enevoldsen (unassisted) 91’

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6/21/19 US Men vs Trinidad & Tobago Sat 7 pm FS1, US Ladies vs Spain Monday 12 noon Fox, Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, Copa & Gold Cup this Weekend & Next Week

WWC

I have really enjoyed watching this Women’s World Cup so far – there has been some great play and some close games even with so many new teams in the World Cup.  Now we are down to the Sweet 16 so it gets real. Nice wins for the US in games 2 and 3 – I am still thinking Sweden played it smarter resting 6 starters – thusly (allowing the US win) and an easier road to the Finals in Lyon.  The US for winning the revenge game vs a depleted Sweden team 2-0 (really 1 – since Lloyd was offsides on that play – and DID AFFECT THE PLAY.)  It should have been 1-0.  The truth is I thought Sweden exposed the US back starting back line – as converted forward /Left Back Crystal Dunn was EXPOSED time and time again.  The centerbacks didn’t cover her well enough a number of times – and anyone who doesn’t think France will slice and dice that back line and Actually put difficult shots on our untested Goalkeeper have not been watching this tourney.  The truth is the US have to play the toughest road to the finals.   The US faces Spain on Monday at 12 noon on Fox in a game they should definitely win with or without Alex Morgan who was hurt in the first half of the Sweden game.  Then it will be FRANCE in PARIS in the Round of 8.  If we face France in the Finals – I think the nerves get to France and we win going away.  But in the Quarter Finals on Friday at  9 or 12 pm on Fox with all of France – and hell after the 13-0 game – the entire world rooting against the US – it will be a HUGE test for the US.  I really think Horan did a great job in the #6 slot the last 2 games for Ertz – which sets up Ertz to move back to Center Back to solidify the back line with both speed and BITE!  Will be interesting to see if Morgan is healthy enough to start – if not Lloyd can get us to France – but we will need our best team vs France to have a chance.  I hope I am wrong – but I don’t feel good about that France match-up.  Come on US – prove me wrong on this one!!

Some surprises this world cup have been how good Italy has looked – and just how exciting some of the last group games were with Cameron scoring in extra time to make the sweet 16.  Oh and Argentina knocking poor Scotland out with the 3-3 tie – man Scotland got ripped off having the PK save overruled. But man how can you give up 3 goals in 15 minutes in a game you must win to advance?  How?  Oh and VAR Are you kidding me – VAR and the level of Reffing in this Women’s World Cup has been an absolute farce.  Listen I am ok with VAR – but you still have to make the right call VAR – and more times than not they have missed it.  Questionable penalty calls, offside decisions, and ridiculous penalties have made VAR a farce at this World Cup – unlike it was in the men’s game for World Cup, Champions League, or league games. Not sure why they are screwing it up – but no one would vote for the women’s version of VAR – especially on GK’s leaving the line early – my goodness – nice to hear the Men’s game say they will not use VAR on PKs.  The whole thing has been a joke – and it has really affected games – hell the US was gifted 2 goals and France was gifted both of their winning goals in the last 2 games to win the group.

Congrats on the solid fan #s as Fox and Fox Sports 1 – who is doing a great job delivering these games with proper pregame and post game coverage, had the 2nd rated soccer game in the US this year behind the Men’s World Cup Finals last year.  Unfortunately the US has had mostly weekday afternoon games – FIFA could mess up an Ice Cream Sunday.  World Cup tonight every night at 10 pm or 10:30 has been solid and they replay the day’s games every night on FS1, FS2 and Fox Soccer – in case you miss the games. is smart.  Great to not have to pay a fee to watch soccer in America (ESPN+ or TNT)!  Oh and the Commercials have been pretty good too! Hulu ,  Germany’s AdUSA Fox David vs GoliathNike’s,  Coca-Cola

Gold Cup Underway – US to Play Trinadad and Tobago Sat 7 pm. 

The busy slate of soccer continues this weekend as both the Gold Cup and Copa America continue.  USA vs Trinadad and Tobago for the 1st time after beating the US to knock us out of the World Cup will take place on Saturday night at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Don’t ask me why this game is not on Fox?  Come on Guys!!  Anyway – after a solid 4-0 win vs Guyana on Thursday night – I expect the US to handle T&T with a 2-0 maybe 3-1 win in Cleveland.  Hopefully Weston McKinney is healthy enough to go – at least the first half – and hopefully Pulisic will come alive in this game.  I thought the US – especially new US winger Boyd looked really good Thursday night.  Even Michael Bradley unlocked a lot of good passes from the #6 spot – just not sure he has the speed to hold down the middle by himself vs better teams.  The US will finish up group play Wed at 9 pm vs Panama on FS1.  All games the US men should win in root to winning the group.

Indy 11 host Atlanta United 2 Sat 7 pm at the LUKE

Don’t look now but our Indy 11 are making a run now in the Eastern Division –heading into a big run of home games tomorrow night, Wednesday night at 7 pm vs Birmingham and next Sat Night vs Louisville City at 7 pm.

CFC_GK_Cash

Carmel FC Head GK Coach – Indy 11 GK Jordan Farr -is looking for a couple of 8th grade or high school aged kids to fill out a training group – email him at FARRJordn12@gmail.com

Women’s World Cup  

US has toughest Gauntlet to the Finals Si – Grant Wahl

Will the Alex Morgan injury overshadow a perfect group stage for the United States?

U.S. gets revenge against Sweden to win Group F

Women’s World Cup predictions: Who will win the title in France?

Best Goals of the Group Stages S&S

US fans take over Paris

No cards for off-line WWC keepers on shootouts

Chile GK Endler Was Player of Game vs USA

USWNT agrees to mediation over pay after WCup

The 1999 U.S. women’s national team: Instant icons, lasting legends

USWNT family members make emotional visit to Omaha Beach

Scotland out after dramatic Argentina draw

White scores brace as England top Group D

Netherlands down Canada to win Group E

Last-gasp goal sees Cameroon into round of 16

France secure Women’s World Cup win over Nigeria after VAR saves the day

VAR helps France to group-topping win over Nigeria

Kerr nets four in Australia’s win over Jamaica

Marta sets World Cup goal record in Brazil win

What it’s like to play against (and with) Brazil’s Marta

Germany thrash South Africa to win Group B

Spain, China book last 16 spots in scoreless draw

USA Men

Bradley Talks Grudge Match vs T&T Sat Night

US Wins but Questions Remain –MLS.com

Boyd double guides U.S. to Gold Cup-opening win

Boyd emerges with 8/10 showing as U.S. stars struggle to victory – Jason Davis ESPNFC

Player Ratings – Greg Seltzer

Jose Mourino as USMNT Coach ?  – Yahoo Sports

Freddy Adu exclusive: ‘I’m not ready to give it up’

Fifa Releases Details on Yedlin Youth Case

Gold Cup  

Guardado saves Mexico in win over Canada to keep up Martino’s 100% record

Orgill hits brace in Jamaica’s win over Honduras

Jimenez stellar but Antuna the perfect 10 in Mexico rout

Canada rout Martinique in Gold Cup opener match

Costa Rica hits four past Nicaragua

COPA America

Messi ensures Argentina live to fight another day

Venezuela’s draw with Brazil was no fluke – it’s proof of their U20 plan

Colombia in Copa quarters with win over Qatar

Lionel Messi is throwing Argentina off balance

Brazil overcome early jitters to win Copa opener

VAR cancels out Brazil goals in Venezuela draw

 

Transfer Rumors

– Pogba wants out. How should Man United respond?
– Transfer hot list: Five players every club wants
– Ogden: Liverpool De Ligt’s best option; expect him to join PSG

– United won’t consider Pogba sale

– PSG nearing €75m De Ligt deal

– United to improve De Gea offer

– Oblak wants Atleti exit, favours Utd

– Rabiot could stay at PSG

PSG’s interest in Donnarumma leaves De Gea with one fewer landing place

 

 

GAMES ON TV

USA Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Sat, June 22

11:30 am Fox Sports 1            WWC Germany vs   Round of 16

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC Norway vs     Round of 16

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          Peru vs Brazil

5:30 pm FS1                            Guyana vs Panama Gold Cup

  • 7 pm ESPN+, Myindty Indy 11 vs Atlanta United 2

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Cincy vs LA Galaxy

8 pm FS1                     USA Men vs Trinadad & Tobago – Gold Cup

Sun, June 23

11:30 am Fox Sports 1            WWC     vs   Round of 16

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC France vs     Round of 16

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          Colombia vs Paraguay

3 pm beIN Sport                     Mallorca vs Deportivo – La Liga Promotion Playoff

5:30 pm ESPN+                       Columbus vs Sporting KC

6 pm FS2                                 Canada vs Cuba Gold Cup

8:30 pm FS1                            Mexico vs Martinique Gold Cup

Mon, June 24

12 Fox                          WWC  Spain vs USA Round of 16

3 pm Fox Sports1                    WWC   vs     Round of 16

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          Chile vs Uruguay COPA

9 pm FS1                                                 Haiti vs Costa Rica Gold Cup

Tues, June 25

12 Fox Sports 1                       WWC  vs   Round of 16

3 pm Fox Sports1                    WWC   vs     Round of 16

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          Chile vs Uruguay COPA

8 pm FS1                                                 Jamaica vs Curacao Gold Cup

10:30 pm FS1                          Honduras vs El Salvador Gold Cup

Wed, June 26

  • 7 pm ESPN+, Myindty Indy 11 vs Birmingham Legion

9 pm FS1                     USA Men vs Panama- Gold Cup

thur, June 27

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC  vs   QF

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA QF1

Fri, June 28

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC  vs   QF

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA QF

8 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA QF3

Sat, June 29

9 am Fox Sport 1                    WWC  vs   QF

12:30 pm Fox                          WWC  vs   QF

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA QF

4 pm ESPN                              Minn United vs Cincy

  • 7 pm ESPN+, Myindty Indy 11 vs Louisville City

7 pm FS1                                 Gold Cup  QF

10 pm FS1                               Gold Cup  QF

Sun, June 30

2:30 pm ESPN2                       Euro U21 Final

5:30 pm FS1                            Gold Cup  QF

8:30 pm FS1                            Gold Cup  QF

Tues, July 2

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC  vs   Semi-final

8 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA Semi

10:30 pm FS1                          Gold Cup  Semi

Wed, July 3

3 pm Fox Sport 1                    WWC  vs   Semi-final

8 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA Semi

9:30 pm FS1                            Gold Cup  Semi

Sat, July 6

11 am Fox                               WWC  3rd Place Game

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA 3rd Place Game

Sun, July 7

11 am Fox                               WWC  FINALS

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          COPA FINALS

9 pm FS1                                 Gold Cup FINALS

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

 

Women’s World Cup predictions: Who will win the title in France?

10:03 PM ET

Thirty-six games are in the books. Only 16 teams remain in the Women’s World Cup. Which teams are the favorites to reach Lyon for the final three matches in France? And which players have performed most impressive in goal and on the field? ESPN FC’s Tom Hamilton and Julien Laurens, ESPN Brasil’s Natalie Gedra and ESPN’s Graham Hays, Julie Foudy and Alyssa Roenigk make their picks for how the rest of the World Cup might play out.

Which teams will reach the semifinals in Lyon?

Foudy: England, Germany, Netherlands, United States

Gedra: England, Germany, Netherlands, United States

Hamilton: England, Germany, Netherlands, United States

Hays: Australia, France, Germany, Netherlands

Laurens: England, Germany, Netherlands, United States

Roenigk: Australia, Germany, Netherlands, United States

Which teams will reach the final?

The U.S. women were a near unanimous pick to win the World Cup, and Alex Morgan is a favorite to win the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best player. Thomas SAMSON / AFP)THOMAS SAMSON/AFP/Getty Images

Foudy: Germany vs. United States

Gedra: Netherlands vs. United States

Hamilton: Germany vs. United States

Hays: France vs. Netherlands

Laurens: Germany vs. United States

Roenigk: Germany vs. United States

Which team is your Cup winner?

Foudy: United States

Gedra: United States

Hamilton: United States

Hays: France

Laurens: United States

Roenigk: United States

Which goalkeeper will win the Golden Glove?

Goalkeeper Almuth Schult posted clean sheets in each of Germany’s group stage games. Up next? Nigeria on Saturday in the Round of 16. TF-Images/Getty Images

Foudy: Christiane Endler, Chile

Gedra: Sarah Bouhaddi, France

Hamilton: Almuth Schult, Germany

Hays: Almuth Schult, Germany

Laurens: Almuth Schult, Germany

Roenigk: Christiane Endler, Chile

Which player will win the Golden Ball?

Foudy: Alex Morgan, United States

Gedra: Alex Morgan, United States

Hamilton: Sara Dabritz, Germany

Hays: Wendie Renard, France

Laurens: Alex Morgan, United States

Roenigk: Alex Morgan, United States

USA Refuses to Avoid Harder Women’s World Cup Route–and Is Dealt a Knockout Gauntlet

By GRANT WAHL June 20, 2019

LE HAVRE, France — The U.S. women’s national team just got through its easiest group stage ever at a Women’s World Cup–and now begins what on paper looks like the Americans’ hardest knockout stage ever.The U.S. beat its old nemesis Sweden 2-0 in their Group F finale on Thursday and set up a round-of-16 clash against Spain, thanks to a third-minute set-piece goal by Lindsey Horan and a 50th-minute Swedish own goal that came after a shot by Tobin Heath. But after beating overmatched Thailand and Chile by a combined 16-0 in its first two games, the U.S. didn’t even get a full-strength Sweden team to play.Swedish coach Peter Gerhardsson decided to make seven changes and even said afterward that “we didn’t think in advance that it was important to end up first or second” in the group—a nod, most likely, to the fact that the first-place team in the group would end up on the harder side of the bracket and be on a course to face host and favorite France in the quarterfinals.“I think after the game that might be a fair comment,” cracked U.S. coach Jill Ellis when she heard about it.The U.S. players, by contrast, said not going 100% to win just is “not even in our DNA,” as winger Megan Rapinoe put it. In the end, it only took three minutes for the Americans to show they wouldn’t be doing any sandbagging.“We’re winners, and we want to win,” said left back Crystal Dunn. “For anyone to think we were going to throw this game to not play France in France in Paris is crazy. But of course they have to go through to that round, and we obviously have to go through to that round.”Even with the seven changes, Sweden still provided significantly more resistance than the U.S.’s first two opponents, which gave the American defense more opportunities to get some game action. Goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher had to make two saves, and while she was never really troubled, it was good to knock some rust off.Meanwhile, when Sweden did manage to get forward, it appeared to target Dunn, especially in the first half. Dunn is not a natural fullback, but Ellis has put her in that spot to get her on the field in a position that is extremely attack-minded in the U.S.’s 4-3-3. She still has to defend on occasion, though, and she won a few one-on-one battles on Thursday that had the American Outlaws chanting her name in the stands.“I think the way we were set up is we were caught a little bit in transition, and the opening was just down my side,” Dunn said. “But at the end of the day, as an outside back do I love this position all the time? Absolutely not. I’m yelling at my midfielders all the time to disallow that person to run in acres of space like that. But at the end of the day, it’s my job to limit opportunities, and that’s what I tried to do tonight.”It’s not hard to imagine, say, France’s Delphine Cascarino challenging Dunn in a high-speed transition game in a potential quarterfinal against France. By that time, of course, Ellis will hope to have her full compliment of starters available. Defensive midfielder Julie Ertz was a surprise precautionary scratch from the lineup after picking up a hip contusion against Chile. Ertz is probably the U.S.’s most indispensable player, but Horan filled in without much dropoff against a less-than-full-strength Sweden. What’s more, Sam Mewis got another start in the midfield as a result and played well, including unspooling some penetrating diagonal passes.Ellis also took off forward Alex Morgan after 45 minutes for what Ellis called “a knock” Morgan suffered in the first half. Ertz said she expects to be ready for the Spain game, while Ellis said Morgan’s removal was merely precautionary.The win against Sweden put some closure on the 2016 Olympics loss to the Swedes, and it also sets up a dramatic upgrade in challenges moving forward for the Americans. After beating Thailand (FIFA ranking: 34), Chile (39) and Sweden (9), the top-ranked U.S. could now potentially face Spain (13), France (4), England (3) and Germany (2) in their next four knockout-round games.The Spaniards put up a fight when the U.S. beat them 1-0 in a friendly in January, and Sauerbrunn said she learned a lot about Spain in that game.“Very good passing team, very good at finding different seams, breaking lines,” she said. “They played a little bit with a false nine, and so they weren’t really making runs in behind, but they were kind of playing in front and trying to slip people through. So that’s something that our back line will have to be vigilant about, and I’m sure we’ll watch plenty of film.”The U.S. defense can feel good for now that it went through an entire Women’s World Cup group stage without conceding a goal for the first time ever. But the Americans are also well aware that the degree of difficulty has been low so far, and it’s about to go sky high very soon.

U.S. gets revenge against Sweden to win Group F

Jun 20, 2019ESPN

Goals either side of half-time saw the United States beat Sweden 2-0 to win Group F at the Women’s World Cup on Thursday night in Le Havre, setting up a round-of-16 match with Spain.After making seven lineup changes for the match against Chile, coach Jill Ellis went back to the front three she used in the opener: Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath. Julie Ertz was not in the lineup for the U.S. as a precautionary measure because of a hip contusion after she started and scored in the 3-0 win against Chile.

– FIFA Women’s World Cup: All you need to know

– Full Women’s World Cup fixtures schedule

The U.S., looking for a bit of revenge after losing to Sweden in the 2016 Olympics, got off to a perfect start when Lindsey Horan poked home from close range in the third minute after Megan Rapinoe’s corner kick skipped past goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl.Despite the early goal and plenty of pressure from the U.S., Sweden settled into the game and looked dangerous on the counter-attack, with Sofia Jakobsson in particular causing the Americans’ back-line problems.The U.S., unbeaten when leading at half-time in World Cup play, brought on Carli Lloyd in place of Alex Morgan at the start of the second half. Morgan was involved in a couple of collisions in the first half and at one point held her right knee.”Alex took a knock in the first half and it was just, ‘Let’s be smart about this.’ Similar vein to Julie. It is a zero risk game in terms of having players available for the next round,” Ellis said.Tobin Heath had the ball in the net minutes after the restart, beating her defender at the near post and benefitting from a slight deflection from Joanna Andersson that beat Lindahl. The play was reviewed by the referee on the pitchside monitor as Lloyd appeared to be offside in the buildup, but the goal was allowed and ruled an own goal by Andersson as the U.S. took a 2-0 win.”It’s a good performance and we wanted to continue to build momentum,” Ellis told a news conference after the match. “We have things to work on to make sure we’re sharper next game, and the players know that. It was a rival game and I thought the players showed a great mentality.”The U.S. did not concede a goal in the group phase and extended its team record of 13 games without a loss in the Women’s World Cup dating back to a 2011 group stage defeat to Sweden.”It’s huge and a big part of what we’re trying to do both offensively and defensively. We talk about the idea of 360-degree defending where everyone is defending,” said Heath.The goal was the 18th for the U.S. in group play, breaking the Women’s World Cup mark set by Norway in 1995.The U.S. plays Spain, who finished second in Group B, on June 24 in the knockout round, while Sweden will play Canada on the same day.

USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago, 2019 Gold Cup: What to watch for

Time to start exorcising some demons.By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jun 21, 2019, 8:00am PDT

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The United States Men’s National Team enter their second matchday at the 2019 CONCACAF Gold Cup, and they face a familiar opponent in Trinidad and Tobago. We don’t need to discuss all the storylines behind this match. We know what happened, and some of us still have nightmares from being in the stands the last time these two teams played each other. Still, the USMNT will want to put that night behind them and exorcise at least some of the demons by taking care of a Soca Warriors side that has not performed well lately. A win will set themselves up to possibly qualify for the knockout stage should Panama beat Guyana. Can the USMNT do what it takes to defeat Trinidad and Tobago and not leave a knockout stage berth to the last matchday?

Recent Form

USA

W (4-0) – Guyana – Gold Cup Group D

L (0-3) – Venezuela – Friendly

L (0-1) – Jamaica – Friendly

D (1-1) – Chile – Friendly

W (1-0) – Ecuador – Friendly

Trinidad and Tobago

L (0-2) – Panama – Gold Cup Group D

D (0-0) – Japan – Friendly

L (0-1) – Wales – Friendly

L (0-1) – Iran – Friendly

L (0-1) – Thailand – Friendly

What To Watch For

Gregg Berhalter needs to account for variable change. USMNT head coach Gregg Berhalter has a formation and a system, and for better or worse, we’ve seen him stick to that system so far in his short tenure. Sometimes, that system seems too scripted, taking off players that could make a difference down the stretch. If a player is playing well, Berhalter needs to give that player the confidence that he believes in his ability to finish the match. We should also be looking for guys who are tired or not performing well or reading the changes in the match tactically and making the adjustments necessary to win the game. We didn’t do that last time we played Trinidad and Tobago, and Berhalter needs to make sure he does that tomorrow when the situation arises.

We need leaders. There are a lot of veterans on this team and some young players who fans would call part of that future core of the team. The team needs a leader to emerge. Is it Christian Pulisic? Is it an older veteran like Michael Bradley? Is it someone else? They don’t need to have the captain’s armband, but at times against Guyana, the leadership wasn’t visibly present, which led to some chaotic moments. For this team to get back to its core and defend its title, it needs to have leadership visible at all times, from the defense up to the attack. Who’s going to assert themselves tomorrow?

Will Jozy be in the lineup over Gyasi Zardes? Jozy Altidore, who has the most goals of anyone on the roster and the 3rd-most in USMNT history, is on the bench in favor of Gyasi Zardes, who scored a goal by getting the ball deflected off his face against Guyana. Say what you will about Altidore and what his role in the disastrous 2018 World Cup qualifying failure may have been in your eyes, but most would think that he should be in a lineup that is desperate for goal scorers over Zardes. We’ll see if Berhalter elects to finally see what Jozy can do in his offense or if he continues to rely on Zardes in his system.

Lineup Prediction

With this match being the 2nd of the group stage and with the most dangerous opponent, Panama, looming on the 26th, there is a chance that Gregg Berhalter rotates his players to give some of them opportunities against Trinidad and Tobago. However, given the recent history of these two teams when they play, the more likely prediction is that Berhalter only makes a couple changes from his lineup against Guyana.

Predicted Lineup: USMNT vs. Trinidad & Tobago

In goal, Zack Steffen will still be the guy, only having to stop a couple shots against Guyana. The changes we will likely see will be on the back line, with Nick Lima and Aaron Long remaining in the starting lineup. Matt Miazga could be the option at centerback along with Long, while Daniel Lovitz could replace Tim Ream at left back.In the middle, Michael Bradley once again gets the start and the captain’s armband. Christian Pulisic will occupy the right wing, while Weston McKennie, who was substituted off against Guyana after picking up a knock, will likely reappear on the left wing. It wasn’t deemed serious, and he’ll want to get back out there.Up front, Tyler Boyd, who had a dream brace Tuesday night, and Paul Arriola, who had a goal as well, will man the wings, while Gyasi Zardes will once again get the call at center forward. However, expect Jozy Altidore to appear as well as a substitute.

Match Prediction

This is a match that fans have circled on their calendar ever since the Gold Cup groups were announced. The team will be ready to, and they will not take the Soca Warriors lightly. Expect this game to be a match that doesn’t ease many concerns about whether the USMNT can compete against Mexico or Costa Rica, but it will be a 2-0 victory for the United States.

Bogert: US national team win Gold Cup opener, but questions remain

June 19, 20194:55PM EDTTom BogertContributor

Playing against a country rated 177th (of 211) in the FIFA world rankings was never going to serve as the magic elixir to cure all symptoms and obviate all fears for the US men’s national team, especially the ones diagnosed following a pair of entirely disappointing friendly defeats to Jamaica and Venezuela.It wasn’t perfect, and head coach Gregg Berhalter may be disappointed his side didn’t find the back of the net more times. But it sure felt good to see the USMNT plunder four goals against Guyana in their victorious Gold Cup Group D opening match. Posting a shutout wasn’t bad, either. But Berhalter’s reign won’t be judged on Gold Cup group-stage games against minnows. It was the bare minimum. Anything short of a comprehensive victory would have triggered a sky-is-falling meltdown, particularly after how a shorthanded Mexico demolished Cuba 7-0 a few days prior. All that said, some data can still be analyzed from the United States’ first competitive match in 20 months:

It’s time for Pulisic to take over this squad

…And he seemed to embrace that on Tuesday night. He’s undisputedly the best player on the squad at the moment, something he wasn’t in his time at Borussia Dortmund, nor in his first run with the national team. As such, he carries more expectation and responsibility, both to perform consistently and also be a leader. From the opening whistle, Pulisic was demonstrative in his movements, confident in his touches and didn’t drift out of the game until his substitution after 60 minutes. For young wingers – a position he played for Dortmund and is expected to play with Chelsea – that last part can be tricky. The U.S. attack won’t float on if Pulisic goes missing.What will he look like against Panama, then Trinidad and Tobago in group play. What about Mexico, should the two regional powerhouses meet in the final? How will he deal with the full-on Concacaf star treatment from opponents should they deem he’s worthy to be kicked at every chance?

Still, the attack didn’t quite hum as hoped

…Especially against an inferior opponent. It’s a concerning trend of late. Would Panama or T&T capitalize on a number of loose passes in their own half? Breaking lines from the defensive third to midfield, then midfield to the attacking third, weren’t always smooth, the former of which specifically when Guyana focused on man-marking Michael Bradley. Things started to break down when he wasn’t quarterbacking possession. That’s why it was so important that Pulisic demanded the ball, seeking not just the creative burden but helping out as much as he could in building possession. Jozy Altidore‘s underrated hold-up play should help on this front whenever he makes his tournament debut.

Starting places on the wing are up for grabs

…And Tyler Boyd went ahead and took one. Paul Arriola did, too. Arriola did what Arriola does: High work-rate, unselfish, solid (if unspectacular) for much of the game, and even opened the scoring.Boyd’s ceiling is higher, in part because he is more unknown, but he showed real upside with regularity against Guyana. Daring forward passes, direct runs and a pair of goals is an injection of creativity Berhalter’s side have been lacking on the wing as long as Pulisic has featured through the center.Keeping in mind the caveat above regarding Guyana’s standing in the FIFA rankings, it’s still a strong Gold Cup debut for the 24-year-old.

Left back is also up for grabs

…While Tim Ream has it now, he’s not the long-term solution. His once-a-game mistake manifested itself Tuesday night in a nutmeg that set Twitter ablaze, which, considering recent cases of fatal back passes, isn’t too bad.

Berhalter unfurled another little tactical wrinkle

…Which showed he isn’t married to one ideal, one philosophy. More on that abstract thought in a second; first the literal tweak: Instead of the right back (Nick Lima) joining central midfield in possession as the left back (Ream) shifted to form a back three, it was the right winger (Boyd). So, with the ball, Arriola provided the width down the left flank, Lima on the right with Boyd drifting infield.

One way to view it, with a positive outlook, is that Berhalter won’t be stubborn. Being flexible, and bending the tactics to the personnel, is a good trait. But, how much is too much? What is there to be said of picking one system with the aim to master it, or at least maximize it? TBD.

  • Still left entirely unanswered: What is this squad’s strongest XI? Obviously, in a macro sense, we won’t see it at this tournament. Tyler Adams and John Brooks feature in that. Tim Weah and Josh Sargent (hopefully) will in the near future.

For this squad… it’s still very much up in the air. Altidore and Matt Miazga started on the bench. Ream remained unconvincing. Will Berhalter reinstate Wil Trapp over Bradley at the base of midfield? What if Arriola or Boyd go cold? It’ll be a game-by-game development on this front until the US are eliminated or lift the trophy.

  • Weston McKennie limped out of the game injured: It was a brutal sight for USMNT supporters because, simply put, that would be a gut punch if it’s serious enough to keep him out of a team already missing a few regulars. But after the game Berhalter downplayed the significance, saying he “should be okay” and that he had “a little bit of a cramp.”

So, on to Trinidad and Tobago in Cleveland on Saturday, out to exorcise the demons from 20 months ago. Oddly enough, the last time the US won a competitive match 4-0? The game before that fateful day in Couva.

 

USMNT Player Ratings: High marks for creators Boyd, Pulisic, Arriola

June 19, 20191:59AM EDTGreg SeltzerContributor

It took a while for their field tilt domination to pay dividends, but the US men’s national teamultimately pulled away from underdogs Guyana to post a comfy 4-0 victory in their opening Concacaf Gold Cup group stage match.Wingers Paul Arriola and Tyler Boyd keyed the happy result by forcing the visitors onto their heels time after time. The duo combined for three goals and an assist, and could have chalked up more counting stats with a little more final-third cutting edge from teammates.

Zack Steffen (6.5) — The US netminder was reduced to spectating for most of the game, but came up with a solid stop the one time he was called upon.

Nick Lima (7) — Even if his cross accuracy wasn’t always optimal, the San Jose right back gave Guyana a torrid time by racing into the final third. Lima also slid inside to test the goalkeeper on one surge forward and did well making defensive challenges.

Walker Zimmerman (6.5) — The main takeaway from this game was  Zimmerman’s ability to prod the team forward with incisive passes and creeping possession support, especially in the first half. The LAFC defender’s grade takes a slight hit for one iffy pass out of the back and a case of wayward positioning, each of which put the team under duress.

Aaron Long (5) — The New York Red Bulls center back was mostly safe with the ball and in positioning, but he twice misjudged potentially dangerous crosses as they sailed past in the area. That can’t happen when the opposition gets tougher.

Tim Ream (5) — After making some solid defensive interventions early, the Fulham veteran had a few shaky moments at the back. Ream largely played it safe on the ball, but with tougher tests ahead, it would be nice if his splitting-pass game returned on short order.

Michael Bradley (6.5) — The US skipper was playing his first game in a month, and the rust was plain to see on both sides of the ball in the first half. Bradley was considerably better after the break, both in guarding the gate and passing. In the 51st minute, his trademark diagonal-ball assist for the second earned the team some needed breathing room.

Weston McKennie (6) — The Schalke youngster definitely had his moments playing wingers into the final third, such as when his perfectly-weighted entry pass sent Arriola into the box for the opener. However, he can still be more consistent in winning midfield battles and controlling the flow of play.

Christian Pulisic (6) — The fresh Chelsea catch will have much better nights finishing plays around the area, but his insistent attacking nature in the middle of the field helped open up space for the wide threats.

Tyler Boyd (9.5) — The new flank terror on the scene was far and away the best US player in the opening frame, and eventually got his just rewards with a pair of well-struck goals. Boyd repeatedly got behind the Guyana defense, picked all the proper crosses, delivered tempting corners and even worked hard to get back on defense. Bravo and welcome aboard, sir.

Paul Arriola (8) — The D.C. United man’s constant exploitation of space out wide effectively set the table for the rout. Arriola lashed home a beaut for the opening goal and repeatedly played the team into dangerous positions until he notched a late assist.

Gyasi Zardes (5) — Setting aside his “oopsy daisy” goal, the Columbus striker could have provided a lot more in attack. The effort was always there, but clumsiness in touch and choices kept Zardes from making the required impact up front.

Coach Gregg Berhalter (7) — The boss asked for a methodical win prior to kickoff and that’s precisely what he got. Berhalter wisely tinkered with his right back wrinkle, electing to send Lima straight down the flank instead of having him overload central midfield. With Ream acting as a stay-at-home left back, the plan eventually paid off.

Subs

Wil Trapp (6) — The Columbus midfielder didn’t open up the game with his usual traffic direction passes, but sticking to the safe routes was enough against this opponent.

Cristian Roldan (6.5) — When the US build started to flag, Roldan hopped off the bench to bring some needed juice. He also battled much better in his own end than in recent caps.

Djordje Mihailovic (6) — In a short shift, the Chicago midfielder showed that he’s capable of being a late transition weapon during this tournament.

 

Boyd emerges with 8/10 showing as U.S. stars struggle to victory

Jun 19, 2019Jason DavisU.S. soccer writer

While it was never comfortable, the United States opened up its Gold Cup defense on Tuesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota, with a 4-0 win over tournament debutants Guyana. After taking a one-goal lead into halftime, the Americans put in three more goals in the second half to secure maximum points.

Positives

Following two warm-up friendlies that ended in losses and no goals scored, the clean sheet and the offensive output are significant positives for Gregg Berhalter’s team. The needed confidence boost on both ends of the field will serve the team well moving forward into the tournament.Both wingers stood out, with Tyler Boyd putting in a particularly impressive showing. The newly minted U.S. international scored twice and was a constant menace on the right side of the Americans’ formation.

Negatives

It took too long for the United States to get going against the 177th-ranked nation in the world. The lone goal in the first half was a good one, created through the work of Weston McKennie and finished by Paul Arriola, but Berhalter’s team struggled to create clear-cut chances through the first 45 minutes.A couple of dodgy defensive moments nearly allowed a breakthrough from Guyana, a warning sign for future matches against better competition. The late injury to McKennie is a cause for concern.

Manager rating out of 10

6 – The choice to start Gyasi Zardes over Jozy Altidore is hard to defend in a vacuum, but it appears that Altidore was not fit enough to be in the first XI. With the U.S. up 3-0 after the first hour, Berhalter was able to pull two key players in Christian Pulisic and Michael Bradley. Tactics were of a secondary concern against an overmatched opponent, which means that judgment will have to be reserved for games against the stronger teams in the group.

cite=”https://twitter.com/cboehm/status/1141192419582627840″ data-tweet-id=1141192419582627840 data-scribe=”section:subject” data-scribe=”element:user_link” aria-label=”Charles Boehm (screen name: cboehm)” style=’color:inherit;text-decoration:inherit;-webkit-box-flex: 0;flex: 0 0 auto; outline: 0px;font-weight:inherit’ class=”imageLoaded lazyloaded” data-image-container=.inline-photo v:shapes=”_x0000_i1025″>Tyler Boyd had a night to remember with a two-goal showing. AP Images

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

GK Zack Steffen, 6 — Forced into one reasonably difficult save and made it. Made no obvious errors with distribution, an improvement over recent matches.

DF Nick Lima, 5 — Occasionally dangerous up the field, overlapping with Boyd on the right side. Crossed effectively. Exposed in one vs. one defensive situations a few times.

DF Aaron Long, 4 — Showed signs of rust. Slow to respond to two crosses in the box, unnecessarily complicating what should have been simple defending.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 5 — Far from perfect but provided the passes from the back needed to help spark the U.S. going forward. Part of a back line that wasn’t clean enough for comfort.

DF Tim Ream, 5 — Mixed a number of competent defensive moments in with intermittently poor passing and a bad moment 10 minutes from halftime scrambling to deal with a Guyana cross.

MF Michael Bradley, 4 — Struggled in the first half, committing several giveaways after getting caught in possession. Provided a patented diagonal to set up the second goal.

MF Tyler Boyd, 8 — Best of the Americans on the night. Aggressive and dangerous going forward. Scored twice and could have had a third.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 — Provided a pair of key passes in the first half. Sloppy with possession and close control with the U.S. pushed up and vulnerable.

MF Christian Pulisic, 5 — Frustrating night for the best American attacker. Showed ability to dribble through defenders, but lacked the final ball or shot to make those moments count.

MF Paul Arriola, 7 — Scored an excellent goal to relieve the pressure on the U.S. in the first half. Consistently good with first touch and decision-making.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 4 — Made good runs but was let down time and again by a bad first touch. Scored, but not intentionally.

Substitutes

MF Wil Trapp, NR — Smart and in control with the U.S. well ahead in the final half-hour.

MF Christian Roldan, NR — Got off a shot and helped spray the ball wide into space after coming on for Pulisic.

MF Djordje Mihailovic, NR — Made one clear poor decision with the U.S. pushing for more goals late in the game and had a limited impact because of it.

 

Boyd double guides U.S. to Gold Cup-opening win

Jun 18, 2019ESPN and Jeff Carlisle

Tyler Boyd scored twice as the United States started its Gold Cup campaign with a 4-0 win over Guyana at Allianz Field in St. Paul, Minnesota on Tuesday night.

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter made three changes from the lineup that started a 3-0 loss to Venezuela on June 9, the last of 18 exhibitions for the Americans since the October 2017 loss at Trinidad and Tobago that ended a streak of seven World Cup appearances. He inserted Michael Bradley as captain for the first time in his tenure, Christian Pulisic into the midfield and Walker Zimmermanin central defence, removing Wil Trapp, Christian Roldan and Matt Miazga.  Guyana frustrated the U.S. in the opening 30 minutes, but the Americans found a way through just before the half-hour mark when Paul Arriola picked up a pass from Weston McKinnie and blasted a shot past Akel Clarke to make it 1-0.

“We knew we had to get started on the right foot and after breaking the ice, we were able to break them down,” Arriola said.”The most important thing was to win with confidence and clarity and I think we did that today. It’s a great start for us but it’s just one game.”Gyasi Zardes had a golden chance to double the lead right before half-time but inexplicably whiffed on the doorstep after Arriola had headed the ball back across the goal to him.he U.S. got off to the perfect start in the second half when Boyd cut inside to his left foot in the 51st minute and hit a nice low line drive past Clarke to double the lead.Boyd’s 52nd minute-goal, his first for the U.S. national team, marked the 1,000th in program history in match No. 700.=Zardes was credited for the third goal in somewhat bizarre fashion as a headed clearance from the Guyana defense bounced hard off the Columbus Crew forward’s forehead and went into the back of the net.Such was the manner of the result that Berhalter could afford to joke about the fortuitous manner of Zardes’ goal.”It was a great reaction from him. It was a really good reaction. You see strikers, they can just sell things like that,” Berhalter joked after the match.It’s funny, the two goals that he’s scored so far for us, since I’ve been around, have been very interesting goals. But I talked to him after in the locker room, and he said, ‘I’ll take it,’ and I don’t blame him. I’d take that also.”Again, Gyasi is a tremendous worker, a guy who you know exactly what you’re going to get from in the game. I’m really proud of him and how he performedBoyd then scored another excellent goal, this time courtesy of a slight deflection, this time cutting onto his right foot firing home from just outside the area to make it 4-0 in favor of the U.S.The victory was the biggest yet for Berhalter, who was hired in December after the United States failed to make last year’s World Cup.”The first game of a tournament is always a little bit nervy,” he said.”I remember back in the day in youth soccer tournaments, the first game it’s always a little bit nervy, and we expected a lot of the same. We told the guys to enjoy the experience, it’s competition time. And I felt that we slowly got out of the nerves and started playing.”I think we got stronger as the match went. I liked how we kept going.”We, for the most part, stayed organized. That was the focus, not getting too stretched even though the scoreline was what it was. We wanted to stay compact and keep moving. Overall, I think it was a good start to the tournament.”If there was one concern from the match, it was the sight of midfielder McKennie hobbling off in the 74th minute with what looked like a hamstring injury. But Berhalter indicated he didn’t think the injury as serious.”Weston should be okay” he said. “It seemed like it was a little bit of a cramp, so we think he’s alright.”Next up for Berhalter’s side, which is atop Group D on goal differential, is a much-anticipated match against Trinidad and Tobago on Saturday, while Guyana will face Panama on the same day.

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6/14/19  US Women World Cup vs Chile Sun 12 noon on Fox, US Men prepare for Gold Cup Tues, Copa America Starts Tonight, Full TV Game Schedule

Since I wrote the following the night after the USA Dismantled Thailand 13-0 – the story has captured both the nation and the world.  I have heard the arguments on both sides and sorry but I stand by what I say below.  Now because of the huge win and controversy around it – I do expect the Women’s World Cup ratings to soar even higher in the next few weeks – especially Sunday at noon as the US face Chile on Fox.

US Women Embarrass Thailand and Themselves with 13-0 win in WC

I have had to check myself this week after the US Men’s loss last weekend and now after the demolition job done by the #1 Ranked US Women on Thailand.  Listen I have no issue with a 7 to 8 to zero victory in a game like this.  But 13-0 and celebrating like you won the World Cup each time – even our Dam Coach was in on it.  I am ok with sending a message especially after France spanked you in your last competitive match on the road 3-1 last January.  But 13-0 is ridiculous against a tiny – outmatched nation like Thailand.  If this was Sweden or Germany  – an established power – I might understand.  But what the heck do you get out of embarrassing a country where you could name the score.   We actually pulled 2 defenders, went to a back 3 and put on 3 more forwards/wingers with the score 6-0 in an attempt to score more goals!  I could see that for practicing being behind and having to score a goal or 2 late.  But then they kept going – 9, then 10, then 11 – seriously!  And it was Morgan, Rapinoe, Lloyd – all established veterans scoring?  Why?  It’s not like all countries are equal in Women’s soccer – some like Thailand are just lucky to get to the World Cup – as they try to build excitement and respect for the women’s game in their country – just to be punked around by the US?  Alex Morgan scores 5 goals ?  So What? Save that for when it counts.  I for one was embarrassed and humiliated by the reaction of the US players and coaches.  Of course, I have been beaten that bad in sports so I know what it feels like – and when my teams won that big – it was with severe restrictions like all defenders and GK up front and use your left foot only and everyone must touch the ball before we shoot.  Seriously – since when did SPORTSMANSHIP become un-American?  We are lucky someone didn’t take out Rapinoe or Morgan with a dirty tackle.  I honestly think this sets the US up for 1st in Group F and a LOSS in the Quarterfinals to home-squad France, who looked just as impressive without the embarrassing score line, on opening day.  And the Entire World will be on their feet screaming for that to happen after this display of punkhood by the US.  Sorry Soccer Fans – I am glad we won – and I want the US  Women (I refused to call them ladies after that classless display) to do well – but I can’t help but think we acted like total punks in our first win.  No Wonder everyone hates the US!  Good Luck USA  – but I have to admit I am really embarrassed to be an American Soccer Fan today.  Thanks, but NO THANKS – Learn some Humility, and Sportsmanship before claiming you are champions!

The US Women play another outmatched team Chile on Sunday at 12 noon on Fox.  Chile hung strong with Sweden for the first 75 minutes before losing 2-0 after a long lightning delay in their first-round match.

Now overall – I have really enjoyed watching this Women’s World Cup so far – there have been mostly competitive and close games even with so many new teams in the World Cup this time.  Can’t wait to see the third round games – and the next rounds on Fox and Fox Sports 1 – who is doing a great job delivering these games with proper pregame and post game coverage.  I sure do miss Fox Sports having Champions League.  World Cup tonight every night at 10 pm or 10:30 has been solid and they replay the day’s games every night on FS1, FS2 and Fox Soccer – in case you miss the games.  Great to not have to pay a fee to watch soccer in America (ESPN+ or TNT)!  Oh and the Commercials have been pretty good too! Hulu Germany’s Ad, USA Fox David vs Goliath, Nike’sCoca-Cola

Gold Cup Starts Sat thru July 7  

The busy slate of soccer continues this weekend as both the Gold Cup and Copa America get underway this weekend.  Fox Sports will have all the Gold Cup games starting Saturday night as Canada will open with Martinique Sat at 7:30 pm on FS2, followed by Mexico vs Cuba at 10 pm on FS2.  The US will face Guyana on Tuesday night at 10 pm on Fox Sports 1. Full Gold Cup Preview  in what better end up as Mexico vs the United States.  Of course Jamaica found a way to knock out Mexico’s third string team 2 years ago – but this year its Mexico who should be on top with the US and new coach Gregg Berhalter hoping to get his banged up US Squad there as well.   Must see early games are 6/19 Wed Canada vs Mexico FS 2 10:30 pm, Sat 6/22 8 pm on FS1 – USA vs Trinadad and Tobago for the 1st time after beating the US to knock us out of the World Cup.

US U20s bow out of World Cup in Elite 8

Our U20’s lost a heart-breaker 2-1 to Ecuador the South American U20 champion in the Quarterfinals – marking the 3rd straight time the US was knocked out in the Quarters of the U20 World Cup.  I was disappointed the US did not find a way to win this game especially as Ecuador lost to South Korea thanks to a great Goalie.  South Korea will face Ukraine at 2 pm on FS2 Sat.  Still overall I thought Tab Ramos did a fine job coaching this team (I would love to see him move up to the U23s now!), the US out-possessed most teams in the tourney and really had a solid attack – we just couldn’t finish enough.  But we really outplayed Ecuador and France – now it will be exciting to see what’s next for the U20 stars like PSG’s Tim Weah, Dallas’ Paxton Pomykal, Hannover’s Sebastion Soto (4 goals) and Chris Gloster, Bayern’s Chris Richards and when they might join the full USMNT.

Copa America Starts Today thru July 7

A full preview on Copa America as Brazil will host the tourney for the first time in 30 years.  Chile will look to defend back to back titles, while Messi and Argentina will look to finally grab silverware for his country for the first time.  Of course, much is also expected of Brazil on home soil – despite Neymar being out injured. Brazil gets started tonight vs Bolivia at 9:30 as all the games in the US are on ESPN+.  Must see games are tomorrow 6/15 at 6 pm Argentina vs Colombia on ESPN+, Mon 6/17 Chile plays Japan at 7 pm on ESPN+,  while Tues 6/18 gives us Brazil vs Venezuela 8:30 pm.  (how good is that Venezuela team that destroyed the US 3-0 last week really?)

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GAMES ON TV

USA Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Fri, June 14

8:30 pm ESPN+ Copa – Brazil vs Bolivia

Sat, June 15

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Netherlands vs Cameron

12 noon Fox Sport 1                U-20 WC Final

  • 3 pm FS2 WWC Canada vs New Zealand
  • 3 pm ESPN+ Venezuela vs Peru  Copa America
  • 6 pm EPSN+ Argentina vs Colombia Copa America
  • 7:30 pm ESPN+ Loudoun United vs Indy 11
  • 7:30 pm FS2 Canada vs Martinique GOLD CUP
  • 10 pm FS2 Mexico vs Cuba GOLD CUP

Sun, June 16

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Sweden vs Thailand

12 noon Fox               WWC USA vs Chile

3 pm ESPN+                            Uraguay vs Ecuador COPA

6 pm Fox Sport 2                    Haiti vs Bermuda Gold Cup

8:30 pm FS1                            Costa Rica vs Nicaragua Gold Cup

Mon, June 17

12 noon Fox Sports 1              WWC China vs Spain

12 noon Fox                            WWC South Africa vs Germany

3 pm Fox                                                 WWC Nigeria vs France

  • 3 pm FS 1 WWC Korea vs Norway

Tues, June 18

3pm Fox Sports 1                    WWC Italy vs Brazil

3 pm Fox                 Sport 2                    WWC Jamaica vs Australia

7:30 pm FS1                            Panama vs T&T Gold Cup

8:30 pm ESPN+                       Brazil vs Venezuela Copa

10 pm FS1                   USA Men vs Guyana Gold Cup

Weds, June 19

3pm Fox Sports 1                    WWC Japan vs England

3 pm Fox Sport 2                    WWC Scotland vs Argentina

8 pm FS1                                 Cuba vs Martinique Gold Cup

8:30 pm ESPN+                       Argentina vs Paraguay – Copa

10:30 pm FS1                          Mexico vs Canada Gold Cup

Thurs, June 20

12 noon Fox Sports 1              WWC Cameron vs New Zealand

12 noon Fox                            WWC Netherlands vs Canada

3 pm FOX                             WWC USA vs Sweden

3 pm FoxSport 1                    WWC Thailand vs Chile

7 pm ESPN+                            Uruguay vs Japan Copa

7:30 pm FS1                            Nicaragua vs Haiti Gold Cup

9:30 pm ESPN+                       Costa Rica vs Bermuda Gold Cup

Sat, June 22

11:30 am Fox Sports 1            WWC Round of 16 1B vs 3

3 pm Fox                                  WWC Round of 16

3 pm ESPN+/Tele/Fubo          Peru vs Brazil

5:30 pm FS1                            Guyana vs Panama Gold Cup

7 pm ESPN+                 Indy 11 vs Atlanta United 2

7:30 pm ESPN+                       Cincy vs LA Galaxy

8 pm FS1                     USA Men vs Trinadad & Tobago – Gold Cup

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

US Women – World Cup

Pack Mentality – How US Geared Up for month in France

Hays: USWNT makes opening statement with record win

USWNT Was right to Run Up the Score – Dan Wetzel USA Today

Canadian Broadcaster Receives Death Threats after criticizing US Goal Celebrations  US Players Not Sorry for Celebrating Goals – Doug McIntire Yahoo Sports

US Routs Thailand – 13-0 questions of Sportsmanship – SI – Grant Wahl

Solo Criticizes US for Goal Celebrations – Yahoo sports

Hope Solo Not Thrilled with Goal Celebrations – the Guardian

Alex Morgan Building Up to this Role – ESPNFC

US Game Report – US Soccer

Germany’s Star Midfielder out with Broken Toe

Reactions After First Round of Games – SI

SI – WWC Predictions

Handball Rule under the Spotlight using Var

US Men Gold Cup

ESPN Gold Cup Preview –Can US get to Finals with Mexico ?

U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter Q&A: Pulisic’s best position, beating Mexico in the Gold Cup and moving on from World Cup failure

Gold Cup Preview – Forbes

Group C – Breakdown

CONCACAF Gold Cup 2019: Group B Preview – Stars and Stripes FC

Berhalter sees Gold Cup as ‘learning process’

Berhalter, U.S. have myriad problems to solve before upcoming Gold Cup

U.S. national team roundtable: Should we be worried about their Gold Cup chances?

Tyler Adams to Miss Gold Cup

Concacaf Rankings: Who’s best in the region?

USMNT Gold Cup mission: “Time to start winning” Video

Gold Cup Breakdown – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Berhalter on Adams, Gold Cup: “We’re here to win”

Donovan – US No Longer Kings of CONCACAF ESPNFC

Martino has Mexico firing ahead of Gold Cup as players highlight positive changes

CanMNT meet Martinique as Gold Cup curtain raises

Mexico duty ‘makes you tired mentally’ – Guardado

Gold Cup Home on ESPNFC

U20’s post Mortem – What’s Next for U20 Prospects – Matt Doyle MLS.com

UNITED STATES, Group D

Group games: vs. Guyana (6/18, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/22, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Panama (6/26, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 24  SPI chances of winning: 43.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: This Gold Cup represents a full clean slate for the U.S. team since their World Cup qualifying disaster, and the new generation of U.S. players will be keen to stake their claim and erase the nightmare of the past 20 months. There is Champions League quality in midfield with Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic, plus head coach Gregg Berhalter can count on having one of the deepest squads at the tournament to counter the injuries and suspensions that are sure to come.

Why they won’t: The U.S. suffered from poor center-back play in World Cup qualifying, and there are still plenty of question marks over whether Long, Ream and Miazga can get the job done. If Brooks isn’t 100 percent, he can be really bad. Injuries are also a worry up top. Altidore’s track record of health is not the best, and who exactly will be scoring the goals for the U.S. has yet to be answered.

Player to watch: Christian Pulisic

Best XI (4-4-2): Zack Steffen; Tyler Adams, Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson; Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Weston McKennie, Paul Arriola; Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes

World

Scheduling Snafu’s with 3 Tourney Finals including Ladies World Cup Final on July 7 – Shows disregard for Women by FIFA – – Yahoo

Copa America Preview

Copa America 2019 Rankings: Who Needs to Win the Competition the Most?

MLS

Doyle: Sorting out a slimmed down Week 15 in MLS

2019 U.S. Open Cup Bracket

2019 MLS Ambition Rankings: Who Is Keeping Up in League’s Arms Race?

Elfath given whistle at FIFA U-20 World Cup final

Austin FC break record for season tix deposits

GoalKeeping

Great Saves in WWC Lydia Williams vs Italy’s Laura Guiliani

Argentine Keeper Correra big timed Japan

Women’s World Cup Top Saves Sunday

South Korean Keeper Gwang-Yeon got them to U20 WC Finals

MLS Saves of the Week

Dutch Keeper Yann Sommer saved in Nations League

Manuel Neuer German GK embarrasses forward with footwork

Indy 11

Preview Sat Night game with Loundon United

Three Things Week 14

Indy 11 Extends Unbeaten Streak to 6 with 3-0 Win at Memphis

Defender Hackshaw to Represent T&T in Gold Cup

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

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

 Women’s World Cup 2019: U.S. women make opening statement with record rout of Thailand

6:54 PM ETGraham HaysespnW.com

REIMS, France — The last team off the field four years ago in Canada, when it hung around amid the confetti to celebrate its third world championship, the United States was the last contender to take the field in the 2019 Women’s World Cup.The Americans looked like a team that was tired of waiting.Paced by a record-matching performance from Alex Morgan, whose five goals equaled Michelle Akers’ for the most by an American in a World Cup, the U.S. women routed Thailand 13-0 on Tuesday. The final tally set a record for the most prolific offensive performance in tournament history.Playing in front of a sold-out crowd at the Stade Auguste-Delaune that sounded and looked as if it were watching a game in Portland, Oregon, or New York rather than the north of France, the United States took the game to Thailand from the opening whistle.

Morgan nets five in U.S. women’s record rout of Thailand

In addition to Morgan’s five goals, Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis each scored twice, and Lindsey Horan, Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh and Megan Rapinoe added single goals.By the end, the U.S. women weren’t competing against an overmatched Thailand as much as against what France did to electrify this nation last Friday in the tournament’s opening game. First and last, those were the command performances. It’s hard to argue the United States didn’t one-up the hosts.

Alex Morgan makes the stage hers

Earlier in the week, a French journalist asked Morgan how she felt about being the most popular non-French women’s player in France. As beloved as the home team is, she might have won over even a few of the locals Tuesday.Morgan has talked openly about the disappointment she felt with her own performance in the 2016 Rio Olympics, but she nearly matched the entire U.S. goal output in that tournament with her quintet of goals against Thailand. Better still, some of her best moves on the night came with the ball at her feet while trying to set up teammates. She was fully integrated into an attack operating at something close to its peak. That isn’t a coincidence.”To tie Michelle Akers’ record is obviously incredible,” Morgan said. “But even more than that, I think that this was such a great team performance for us. We were able to execute on so many chances that we had, and we showed just how diverse our attack really is. And we know that every goal counts in the group stages, and that’s why we had to keep going.”

How many goals is too many goals?

The U.S. women had the game comfortably in hand a few minutes into the second half, when Mewis made it 4-0. The game was long since settled by the time Mewis and Lavelle scored within two minutes of each other to make it 7-0 with more than 30 minutes to play.Still, on and on the United States came, wave after wave, creating chances and goals until the U.S. women had topped the 11-0 record win Germany put on Argentina in the 2007 World Cup.But to put blame on the United States ignores two obvious points. First, the Americans didn’t make the rules under which the number of goals scored is part of deciding the outcome of the tournament. Goal differential counts. The U.S. women want to win their group. Unlike just about any other sport, they have a vested interest in running up the score.And second, it isn’t the United States’ fault it can’t clear its bench. It is allowed three subs. It used three subs.”If this is 10-0 in a men’s World Cup, are we getting the same questions?” U.S. coach Jill Ellis asked at repeated queries about the score. “I think a World Cup, it is about competing, it is about peaking, it is about priming your players ready for the next game.”But beyond that, why is it the obligation of the U.S. team to act in the interest of a creating a picture of a falsely level playing field. Why shouldn’t FIFA or the Asian Confederation get blamed for not doing more to promote the women’s game in places where it lags behind?Are we really going to blame players for celebrating a goal, in many cases in their first World Cup, instead of looking at the underlying reasons for the disparity in the first place?It’s understandable that Thai players looked stunned and embarrassed after the game, far from the joyous scenes after they beat Ivory Coast in their World Cup debut four years ago. It is unfortunate for them. But it’s also competition. Both sides of it.”Obviously, we have the utmost respect for everyone we play,” Rapinoe said. “But it’s the World Cup, and that’s part of it. That’s part of growing the game and growing the pool.”   Here is a breakdown of the U.S. women’s total shot location (40), goal placements (13) and key numbers from the match:

  • The Americans’ 13 goals against Thailand were the most in a game in men’s or women’s World Cup history.The United States men’s national team has scored 12 World Cup goals in the past 6,202 days.Alex Morgan is the just the second player in Women’s World Cup history to score five goals in a single game. Michelle Akers was the first in 1991.

The kids are all right

Lavelle: USWNT made a statement in World Cup opener

The United States is the oldest team in this year’s World Cup, thanks to a core of veterans already in their 30s (a group that will include Morgan by the time the World Cup ends). But it’s also a team that featured six players making their World Cup debut in Tuesday’s starting lineup.None of them looked nervous. And the midfield looked positively precocious.With Julie Ertz starting in the back line in place of Becky Sauerbrunn, the entire midfield of Horan, Lavelle and Mewis started in their first World Cup game. All helped fuel the U.S. attack, well before each got on the score sheet. With Horan looking a lot like former standout Lauren Holiday in the deep midfield, sending passes around the field like a quarterback, Mewis and Lavelle brought their own considerable attacking skills to bear.”It gave us all a good feeling to know that we could contribute at this level,” Mewis said. “I know that for all of us, this has been a dream for so long. And to be able to contribute to the team out there and feel like we were doing something right felt really good.”It might also reveal something that after scoring a goal and drawing gasps of approval from many in the stands with some of her footwork, Lavelle wasn’t ready to bask in the praise.”I just think I didn’t connect some of my passes,” Lavelle said. “And I don’t think I was as clean, technically, as I should be.”There is always next time. And there will be many next times for this group of midfielders.

The opener the U.S. women needed

The camera on the world feed found Hope Solo a few times, the former U.S. goalkeeper in the arena, working as an analyst for the BBC. Solo’s recent criticism of U.S. coach Jill Ellis was the closest thing to a dark cloud over this team entering the opener. In making it all about the coach, Solo also boosted the idea that this was a team without its own identity, a team without the strong personalities to win anyway. Well, this looked like a team the United States is going to enjoy watching — and in many cases, getting to know in the coming weeks.

“I don’t know if we need to really make a statement,” Rapinoe said. “We’re us — I feel like it’s always on our backs anyway. … But yeah, we wanted to have a good performance and have a good feeling, obviously. We know the competition will be much stronger from here on out and, hopefully, once we get to the knockout stages.”The United States was always going to win this game, probably comfortably. But in making sure of success by playing so aggressively early — in a tournament in which many top teams have struggled to squeeze out wins — this U.S. team created breathing room for itself.

Ertz buys time for Sauerbrunn

Sauerbrunn, a veteran defender, was held out because of a minor quad injury, but team officials said before the game that she was at 95%, and the decision to sit her (she was in uniform and available) was precautionary. The U.S. women don’t play again until Sunday, giving her five extra days to recover. Without saying as much, the message was essentially that someone who played every minute in the 2015 World Cup and 2016 Olympics could have played in a game in which the United States needed its defense.And no, there wasn’t a lot of defending for Ertz or anyone else to do. Yet, in anchoring a back line that had more than 300 collective caps — but only a fraction of them as defenders — Ertz looked the part of veteran leader after coming on as a young sensation in 2015. And in acting as the go-between for instructions from the bench and shifting to a holding midfield role at times, allowing the U.S. women to play out of a 3-4-3 for stretches, she highlighted this team’s versatility.The U.S. women are better with Sauerbrunn. They’re also better for knowing they have a darn good deputy.

All signs still point to a showdown with Sweden

It looked for much of the evening elsewhere as if Chile might copy fellow South American entry Argentina in springing a group-changing surprise. But where Argentina was able to hold on for a draw against Japan on Monday, Chile conceded two late goals after a weather delay and lost to Sweden in Group F.That means the U.S. women and Sweden are still on track for a group finale that will settle who finishes first (and takes a road that could lead through Paris and a quarterfinal against France). And with the goal differential it built up Tuesday, the United States could enter the finale knowing a draw would be enough to top the group.Sweden again goes first Sunday, playing Thailand in Nice. The U.S. women then play Chile in Paris.

No place for orange slices: Why USWNT was right to run up score against Thailand

Dan Wetzel  USA TODAY Columnist  Yahoo SportsJun 11, 2019, 10:07 PM

The United States women’s national team opened the World Cup on Tuesday by defeating Thailand 13-0.The most disappointing aspect of that result is that it wasn’t 14-0 — an early goal by Alex Morgan was disallowed due to a questionable offside call.Morgan still netted five goals, tying a World Cup record. Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis had two each. Lindsey Horan, Megan Rapinoe, Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd all added one. It was a complete beatdown, the largest margin of victory in World Cup history.And for everyone complaining it was too lopsided or unsportsmanlike or unfair … please, this is the World Cup, not some rec league where everyone gets a snack bag and an orange slice afterward.“This is a world championship,” said U.S. coach Jill Ellis.Thailand obviously isn’t at the level of the United States, the favorite this month in France. That’s unfortunate. Women’s soccer is still a developmental sport around the globe, mainly because national governing bodies have refused to invest in it. Maybe getting crushed — and witnessing just how beautifully women’s soccer can be played — will spark some soul searching back in And, yes, the U.S. is richer than Thailand. But this is also about will, not just money. The American men have all the resources they could ask for, yet they can’t play dead in a cowboy movie.To criticize the women for being too good and arguing they needed to make the final score “look good” for Thailand not just ignores the rules of World Cup play, but is a complete insult to every athlete on the field — on both teams.First off, this is group play. The top two teams will advance to the knockout stage. The Americans want to win the group and get, presumably, an easier draw in the knockout stage. Goal differential is the first tiebreaker.To stall the offense and win by a more “respectable” 5-0, for example, would put the U.S. at a decided disadvantage. Sweden, the other Group F contender, could just beat Thailand 13-0, or even 8-0, when they play. Then Sweden could have gone into its final preliminary stage game against the United States knowing that all they needed was a tie to win the group because the Americans went soft on Thailand.That would be a huge strategic advantage for Sweden, and thus a disadvantage for the U.S. In turn, by staking out a plus-13 goal differential in this game, should Sweden not be able to match the U.S. firepower against Thailand, then the Americans would have that advantage.The Americans didn’t make the rules, they are just playing by them. FIFA is clear — score goals. Lots of them.What about pulling all the starters? Well, first off, talent runs 23 deep on the U.S. roster, so that would only help so much. Lloyd, the hero of the 2015 World Cup, was a sub on Tuesday. That’s how good the U.S. is.Regardless, in World Cup games, teams are allowed just three substitutions, so eight starters are going to be out there no matter what. Again, those are the rules.Every other complaint ranges from patronizing to pathetic.Should the U.S. have not played as hard in an effort to somehow spare Thailand’s feelings? Well, why would anyone think the Thai players are so emotionally fragile that they couldn’t handle a lopsided scoreboard?This isn’t youth sports. These are grown women. They can deal with disappointment as well as the men.

Likewise, it’s absurd to think it would be less embarrassing if the United States just passed the ball around and didn’t shoot (and thus score) late. How so? Thailand would know the Americans were taking pity on them and didn’t see them as worthy competition. It would be humiliating.“I think that to be respectful to opponents is to play hard,” Ellis said.Afterward, some Thai players spoke about the honor of playing the best in the world, despite the result. Thailand celebrated when it qualified for the World Cup even though it knew it would be overmatched against quality sides. Just getting here was the accomplishment.  When you’re a No. 16 seed in the NCAA tournament, you want your chance at Duke. You don’t want Coach K to tell Zion Williamson to go easy because maybe you are so dumb you won’t notice and thus feel like you actually are equals. No one would ever suggest such a thing.  Finally, there were complaints the U.S. players shouldn’t have celebrated their goals because scoring was so easy.Except, scoring a goal in the World Cup is never easy.  It might not have been difficult against Thailand in the second half, but that was just a single moment of the play. Just getting here required years and even decades of sacrifice and work from each and every American player (and their families, coaches and teammates through the years).To score in the World Cup is an accomplishment any serious player dreams about. For Pugh, Lavelle, Horan and Mewis, these were their first-ever World Cup goals. To say they shouldn’t celebrate the accomplishment or suggest it holds less value due to the opponent is to dismiss all the blood, sweat and tears it took to get here.Yes, the game was a massacre, but that’s what happens sometimes in sports. These American women aren’t here to go easy on anyone. They aren’t here to consider hurt feelings. That would be insulting to everyone involved.They are here to win and they’ll inspire a generation of girls around the globe by playing exactly how they did on Tuesday: full-throttle, unapologetic and with both power and creativity.They played the beautiful game, beautifully. It was something to behold, not condemn.

USWNT doesn’t see their 13-goal deluge as unsportsmanlike, and neither does a Thailand player

Doug McIntyre  Yahoo SportsJun 11, 2019, 7:36 PM

REIMS, France — The United States women’s national team hung a World Cup-record 13 goals on Thailand to open their title defense on Tuesday. And no, they were not about to apologize afterward for running up the score against a clearly overmatched foe, for a variety of reasons.Reason No. 1?“This is a world championship,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said flatly in her post-match news conference. “I think that to be respectful to opponents is to play hard. As a coach, I don’t find it my job to go and harness my players and reel them in because this is what they dreamt about. This is it for them.”The margin of victory was the largest at any previous World Cup, men’s or women’s. It was undoubtedly humiliating for the Thais, who are making only their second World Cup appearance this summer. There’s no getting around that.But the Americans had lots to consider beyond the feelings of their opponents or the fans watching, first and foremost goal differential. In a group that includes Sweden, which knocked the U.S. out of the 2016 Olympics and were the only team to take a point off the eventual champs in Canada four years ago, that tiebreaker could be the difference between finishing atop their foursome (one that also includes Chile) or not.“Goal differential matters,” said defender Kelley O’Hara, who helped open the floodgates when she set up the first of Alex Morgan’s five tallies just 12 minutes into the contest. “At the end of the day, you can’t feel bad for scoring as many goals as possible.”Perhaps the biggest reason to keep piling on had to do with momentum. Tournaments more often than not are won by the hottest team, not necessarily the best one. After the host country France, unanimously considered the Americans’ biggest challenger, beat South Korea 4-0 in the competition opener, the U.S. wanted to make a statement by coming out of the gates strong. “You play players who get hot,” Ellis said. “And if you can get as many hot as you possibly can, feeling good, feeling the back of the net, that’s so important. Those feelings are what can help you through the tournament in terms of the next game. We have to come out and play as hard as we possibly can every single game. This will be an incredibly hard World Cup. This is only game one.So Ellis was thrilled with the performance of Morgan, who scored just once in 2015, and just as pleased to see second-half substitutes Mallory Pugh and Carli Lloyd both score after coming on. “That was the message going in for me,” Lloyd said. “Just keep the foot down on the pedal.”Most of the questions to both Ellis and her players revolved around the lopsided scoreline, or if the Americans should’ve emphatically celebrated the six strikes that came after the 70th minute. “I’ll be honest,” Ellis said, “I sit here and I go, if this was 10-0 at a men’s World Cup, are we getting the same questions?”“It’s how you want to start a tournament,” she continued. “You want to have that feeling. It’s having players feel good about their game. It is about building momentum, it is about getting that first game under your belt. It kind of lights a little bit of a fire in terms of confidence, for sure.”That’s not to say the U.S. didn’t have sympathy for Thailand. After the final whistle, the Americans could be seen consoling their counterparts.“Thailand’s goalkeeper [Sukanya Chor Charoenying] had some good saves, and in the first half their team was organized,” said Lloyd, who tied a record by scoring in her fifth straight Women’s World Cup game. “Hopefully they continue to hold their heads high.”Meantime, Morgan made a point of having a quick word with Thai-American striker Miranda Nild who, like the U.S. headliner, starred at the University of California.“She said to keep my head up, and that this is only the first game. It was really sweet,” a visibly emotional Nild said. “We’re a developing program, we all know that. With this game under our belt, it will give us more knowledge going forward.”As Nild was being ushered away by a Thai team staffer, a reporter asked if she thought the Americans had been unsportsmanlike.“No,” she said.

Scoring 13 against Thailand was great, some of the US celebrations were not

Hope Solo

Carli Lloyd’s sympathy with the Thai goalkeeper was a far better expression of what the US team are about than any choreographed celebrations @hopesoloWed 12 Jun 2019 11.30 EDTLast modified on Wed 12 Jun 2019 15.20 EDT

Should the US have taken their foot off the pedal against Thailand? Absolutely not. When you respect your opponent you don’t all of a sudden sit back and try not to score. This is the World Cup and all you can do is play with heart, with passion, and with intensity. Doing that is showing the opposition respect.The 13-0 victory over Thailand on Tuesday was a comprehensive performance from the Americans. Every player looked fit. Every player looked like she had technical ability. They played as a team. They were good on set pieces. They looked like they were having fun. I loved seeing Rose Lavelle, Tobin Heath, and Kelley O’Hara combine so well. Alex Morgan displayed what a great player she can be.

The US scored 13 against Thailand but we still don’t know if they can defend

It was tough for me to watch some of the US goal celebrations – which have come under criticism – considering the scoreline. You do want the game to be celebrated and you do want to see players having fun but at the same time I thought some of the celebrations were a little overboard. A few seemed planned out and I do know some players spend a lot of time thinking about celebrations for the fans. It’s not always necessary. We haven’t won the World Cup yet. My favorite celebrations capture the rawness of the moment and are filled with spontaneous emotion. When that happens you actually see how much passion there is in the sport and how much pride the players have.

FacebookTwitterPinterest— Carli Lloyd expresses sympathy to Thailand’s Sukanya Chor Charoenying and Taneekarn Dangda after Tuesday’s game.

That said, one of the classiest things I saw was Carli Lloyd going directly to Sukanya Chor Charoenying, Thailand’s goalkeeper, after the game. Carli put her arm around her and supported her as they walked off the field. Thirteen goals on a goalkeeper has to be incredibly tough. As a goalkeeper, I don’t know how you deal with that many goals. I’ve had five scored past me and that was a heavy blow. I never wanted to feel that way again and it took me a long time to get over it. It is something that I have never forgotten.I would love to give some advice on how to deal with it but really you just have to suffer. Struggle helps us grow in life and soccer is similar. You have to feel the pain and find a way to get through it. Unfortunately, you have to go through it yourself. The goalkeeper is on her own. I hate to say that but it doesn’t matter what anyone says to you and it doesn’t matter who tries to comfort you. Goalkeepers have to deal with it ourselves. It does take time. It is hard and it is painful and we have to face it.I felt bad for the Thailand team in general, especially when I saw some players physically dejected and actually give up. That’s not good. By the end of the game they had nothing left and that was hard to see. The difference between the US and Thailand – who made the Asian Cup semi-finals just last year – is complicated and like the chicken and the egg. Do you open up the World Cup to grow the game? Or do you grow the game and then open up the World Cup? I think you have to first invest in the women’s game before you get to the World Cup but unfortunately that’s not what a lot of the federations around the world have done or do.

So what did we learn about the US from the game? We already knew that we can score goals and that we have a variety of ways to score goals. We already knew how skilled these individual players are. We did learn that the young players managed any nerves very well and that they can be fun to watch. The younger players certainly got their feet wet and got some World Cup experience. That will help them going into the next match against Chile.But what we still don’t know is if the US have a sound defense when they get tested. What we need to know is if some of these big name players – who did do really well against Thailand – can do it against the better teams. This American side is the best attacking team in the world, individually. I want to see all the players perform as they did against Thailand when it really matters and it really counts.

Adams withdraws from U.S. Gold Cup squad

8:07 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

United States defender/midfielder Tyler Adams has withdrawn from the Gold Cup with a groin injury, U.S. Soccer announced Tuesday.FC Dallas defender Reggie Cannon has been tabbed to take his place on the roster.”Following further evaluation in New York City, the 20-year-old has been diagnosed with acute on chronic groin issues that will require a minimum of 6-8 weeks recovery period,” U.S. Soccer said in a statement. The announcement is a huge blow for U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter, who is feeling some heat following two poor performances in Gold Cup tune-up losses to Jamaica and Venezuela.Adams was expected to take on a hybrid role in Berhalter’s system, playing as a right-back, but stepping into central midfield when the U.S. is in possession. Yet the RB Leipzig man missed a six-week stretch from the beginning of April until mid-May due to an adductor injury, and though he returned for a pair of games at the end of the campaign, including Leipzig’s 3-0 defeat to Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal final, he was deemed insufficiently recovered to participate in the Gold Cup.  Adams had been scheduled to arrive at the U.S. camp on June 11. Now Berhalter will have to cope without one of his most important players. San Jose Earthquakes defender Nick Lima has filled the right-back/central midfield role in a few friendlies, but it remains to be seen if Berhalter will stick with the system when the U.S. opens the tournament against Guyana on June 18. Meanwhile, Cannon, 21, has made two appearances with the U.S., but none under Berhalter.He made his international debut in a 1-1 draw with Peru last October and followed that with another start against Italy a month later. Following his professional debut in 2017, Cannon has made 56 appearances for Dallas in all competitions, scoring one goal.

2019 Gold Cup ultimate preview: Can anyone topple Mexico or the U.S. this summer?

Jun 11, 2019ESPN staff

You have to go back to the 2000 Gold Cup to find a winner who isn’t Mexico or the United States, but 2019 sees both of those sides enter the tournament with more questions than answers, and they’ll be hunted down by teams full of dynamic young talent threatening to upend the order in North and Central America.The U.S. enter the tournament as defending champions, but all has not gone well for the Stars and Stripes since lifting their continental crown in 2017. After failing to qualify for last summer’s World Cup, the Americans jettisoned their second manager of the 2018 cycle and ushered in a new coach in Gregg Berhalter and a new generation of players to restart the program. (So far, the results have been less than promising.)Mexico, meanwhile, have a new coach of their own in Gerardo “Tata” Martino. While the former Atlanta United, Argentina and Barcelona manager inherited a much more stable situation than what awaited Berhalter north of the border, Martino must cope with a Gold Cup squad shorn of its biggest players, whether through injury or personal reasons.

ESPN FC’s Arch Bell dives into the biggest questions facing the U.S. and Mexico, a primer on some of the tournament’s biggest challengers and a team-by-team guide to all 16 teams hoping to make a run for this summer’s Gold Cup.

Jump to: U.S., Mexico vs. the rest | Key players | Must-see days and matches | Team-by-team guide

Key storyline: Can anyone stop U.S. or Mexico?

It’s not often that Mexico and the United States enter a major tournament with new coaches, but here we are with Martino, who has just a few friendlies under his belt with El Tricolor, and likewise for Berhalter.

Despite no Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Hector HerreraCarlos VelaHirving Lozano and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, Martino has the more talented squad and the expectations are always that Mexico wins this tournament. But with so many players turning down call-ups — MLS MVP front-runner Vela in particular — Martino is feeling some heat. It hasn’t affected them yet, as Martino’s a perfect four-for-four in games since taking over, but the stress of official tournament play is its own beast.Even without the aforementioned attacking players, Mexico still have the most talent in this tournament and are in good shape to win their eighth Gold Cup. Albeit just friendlies, El Tri have responded nicely to Martino with 13 goals in four friendly wins against Chile, Paraguay, Venezuela and Ecuador.- Full Gold Cup fixtures schedule

At the back, they are well stocked with Hector MorenoDiego ReyesCarlos Salcedo and others. Rodolfo Pizarro has enjoyed an excellent season at Monterrey and will bolster a midfield that includes Andres Guardado, Edson Alvarez and Jonathan dos Santos. Jimenez will be the man up top; it’ll take a near-perfect match to eliminate them.

It will be different for Berhalter. With the U.S. in a new cycle and the wounds still fresh from not qualifying for Russia 2018, U.S. fans will be keen to see how their team plays. While not winning the tournament would be disappointing, an attacking brand of soccer from a young U.S. team would be a decent consolation, though warm-up defeats to Jamaica and Venezuela have fans wondering what the best- and worst-case scenarios might be this summer.

There is an intriguing unknown surrounding the Gold Cup hosts at the moment. Berhalter has called upon plenty of experienced players, such as midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore, who are well-acquainted with lifting the Gold Cup trophy. He’s also counting on two players from his former club, Columbus Crew, in key positions, with Wil Trapp expected to anchor the midfield and Gyasi Zardes the back-up option at striker.

Defensively, center-back John Brooks failed to be healthy in time, meaning things look a little shaky all of a sudden: a back four of Nick LimaMatt MiazgaAaron Long and Tim Ream conceded three times to Venezuela in the first halfin their final tune-up. It’s not all bad, of course: Tyler AdamsWeston McKennie and Pulisic is a dream midfield trio that U.S. fans are pining to see, and this Gold Cup could be the start of something special. If Berhalter can find the right combo at the forward position, like finding a partner for Altidore, the U.S. can feel good about their chances.

– Carlisle: U.S. have many problems to solve before Gold Cup
– Berhalter: U.S. won’t scrap tactics after latest loss
– Martino’s first six months: The good, bad and ugly

Outside of Canada’s Cinderella conquest in 2000, no one from outside the “big two” of Mexico and the U.S. has ever won. Of the remaining teams, the first one that springs to mind is Costa Rica. Even without Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who withdrew from contention for the fourth consecutive Gold Cup, the Ticos have the ingredients to go all the way. One has to go back to the “Snowclasico” of 2013 to find the last time the U.S. beat Costa Rica with Navas in goal.

Other teams that could flirt with a deep run are Canada and Jamaica. The young talent is there for Canada with Alphonso Davies, while Jamaica were finalists in 2015 and 2017. The Reggae Boyz are a difficult out for anyone and did just stun the U.S. 1-0 in a tune-up at D.C. United’s Audi Field.

Beyond that, one team capable of a shock this time around is Curacao. They were three-and-out in 2017, but all three matches vs. Jamaica, Mexico and El Salvador were very close affairs. With a team boasting players from the top two divisions in the Netherlands, Curacao shredded opponents for 22 goals during CONCACAF Nations League qualifying to finish fourth in the table and punch their ticket again to the Gold Cup.

Taking coach Remko Bicentini’s team lightly would be a mistake.

Players to watch: Jimenez, Pulisic, Davies

Christian Pulisic: Ever since the infamous Trinidad and Tobago loss, Pulisic has hardly been seen in a U.S. uniform, with five appearances since October 2017. Without question he is, or should be, the leader of the U.S. team.

And so, the 2019 Gold Cup serves as Pulisic’s first chance to put his stamp on the U.S. team and dominate their CONCACAF opponents. The U.S.’s opener against Guyana on June 18 will mark 20 months since the team’s last official competitive match, and after a strong finish to the Bundesliga season with Borussia Dortmund, a good Gold Cup would be the right way for Pulisic to launch into his Chelsea career.

Raul Jimenez: With Hirving Lozano likely out and no Hernandez or Vela, Wolves striker Raul Jimenez will be the guy that Martino will rely on to supply the goals.

– Marshall: Martino has Mexico firing ahead of Gold Cup
– Marquez: Times have changed for El Tri stars

Jimenez excelled in his first season in the Premier League, scoring 13 goals in 38 league matches. He served as a substitute in last summer’s World Cup, coming off the bench in two matches, but after his fine season in England and at age 28, he is poised to take the Gold Cup by the scruff of the neck. His big, physical stature will suit him nicely against the big CONCACAF center-backs he’ll encounter.

Alphonso Davies: Davies had his international breakout two years ago in the 2017 Gold Cup, when he finished tied as the tournament’s top scorer with four goals at the age of 16. Now with a half-season of experience at Bayern Munich under his belt following his move from the Vancouver Whitecaps, it’s all there for Davies to be one of the top players at the tournament and lead Canada on a deep run.

Must-see days and matches

June 19, Mexico vs. Canada, Group A: This can be the game that Canada shows it is a major player in the region. There is talk about Davies, but fellow young attackers Jonathan David and Cyle Larin will be undaunted going against an experience Mexican defense. Canada’s history against Mexico is not good — they were drilled by El Tri 3-0 and 2-0 in a pair of 2018 CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers — but that was the pre-Davies era.

Mexico will, of course, enjoy the majority of fan support, but if they begin to struggle, the whistles and jeers will rain down. With so many key attacking players missing, the lack of goals could increase the pressure Mexico feels and anything outside of a decisive win will be heavily criticized.

June 20, Nicaragua vs. Haiti, Group B: For two teams that rarely faced each other up until a few years ago, this has become a bitter rivalry. The genesis came in March 2017 when the Pinoleros and Les Grenadiers squared off in a two-legged playoff for a berth in the 2017 Gold Cup. Haiti looked to be in control after winning the first leg at home 3-1 and was holding Nicaragua to a 0-0 draw heading into the final 10 minutes of the second leg. That’s when Juan Barrera exploded for three goals to stun the Haitians.

Twenty months later they faced off in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying and Haiti had the last laugh with a 2-0 win in Nicaragua.

June 22, United States vs. Trinidad and Tobago, Group D: Do we really need an explanation here? In April at the Gold Cup draw at the Banc of California Stadium in Los Angeles, an audible “oooohhh” was heard when these two teams were placed into the same group. Yes indeed: it’s the rematch of that October 2017 World Cup qualifier when the Soca Warriors dashed the Yanks’ World Cup hopes with a shocking 2-1 win in Couva. Most of the players have moved out of the U.S. frame in the time since — five players have carried over from that night in Couva in Bradley, Altidore, Pulisic, Paul Arriola and Omar Gonzalez — but there will be a lot of pressure for the U.S. team to deliver. Perhaps former U.S. international Landon Donovan put it best when right after the draw he told a pair of reporters, “Well, I know I’d be ready for that game …”

Team-by-team Guide

BERMUDA, Group B

Group games: vs. Haiti (6/16, 6 p.m. ET), vs. Costa Rica (6/20, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Nicaragua (6/24, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 175
SPI chances of winning: 0.1 percent

Why they’ll go far: Opponents would be unwise to count on an easy three points against Bermuda. After a poor start to Nations League qualifying, losing 3-1 to Aruba, Bermuda closed the four-match slate in very strong fashion with a 1-0 home win over El Salvador and then a comeback 3-1 win away to the Dominican Republic. Led by QPR forward Nahki Wells, Bermuda will be playing without pressure given their low expectations. Midfielder Zeiko Lewisand forward Justin Donawa are also proven goal scorers.

Why they won’t: Their defense faces a trial by fire given that it’s mostly comprised of amateur or semi-professional players. They performed admirably against El Salvador but rainy conditions last November in Hamilton helped slow down the Cuscatleco strike force. Whether they can contain the likes of Campbell, Nazon and Barrera will be a big question mark.

Player to watch: Nahki Wells

Best XI (4-5-1): Dale Eve; Donte Brangman, Dante Leverock, Jaylon Bather, Calon Minors; Roger Lee, Willie Clemons, Reggie Thompson-Lambe, Lejuan Simmons, Zeiko Lewis; Nakhi Wells

CANADA, Group A

Group games: vs. Martinique (6/15, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. Mexico (6/19, 10:30 p.m. ET), vs. Cuba (6/23, 6 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 78
SPI chances of winning: 2.8 percent

Why they’ll go far: The joys of youth. Davies and David are two exciting, talented players who can carry Canada to at least their first semifinal since 2007. Plus, there is enough experience to rely on with midfielders Samuel Pietteand Junior Hoilett. While most eyes will be focused on Mexico and the U.S., Canada can swoop in and make some noise. El Tri might get the best of them in the group stage, but the two could meet again in the semifinals.

Why they won’t: Yes, this is a different Canada but it is mostly inexperienced in big-time international matches. Two years ago they limped to a 2-1 quarterfinal defeat against Jamaica, and outside of some pretty easy fixtures in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying, this new core of players hasn’t been tested. A poor response to the first sign of adversity could make for a quick exit.

Player to watch: Alphonso Davies

Best XI (4-3-3): Milan BorjanDoneil HenryMark-Anthony KayeDerek CorneliusZachary Brault-Guillard; Samuel Piette, Jonathan OsorioScott Arfield; Junior Hoilett, Lucas Cavallini, Alphonso Davies

COSTA RICA, Group B

Group games: vs. Nicaragua (6/16, 8:30 p.m. ET), vs. Bermuda (6/20, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Haiti (6/24, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 38
SPI chances of winning: 12.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: Costa Rica don’t have the luxury of Navas in goal, but they showed in 2017 that a deep run can be made without Navas when they fell in the semifinals. Spearheading the Tico attack is forward Campbell, who was on fire in Liga MX with Leon, with two goals in the Liguilla and three during the month of May.

Why they won’t: There are plenty of questions surrounding the Costa Rica midfield. Bryan Ruiz and Celso Borges boast loads of experience but there’s a huge gap between those two and the others. Their MLS-heavy defense with players like Kendall WastonGiancarlo Gonzalez and Francisco Calvo struggled at last year’s World Cup.

Player to watch: Joel Campbell

Best XI (5-3-2): Leonel Moreira; Giancarlo Gonzalez, Kendall Waston, Ronald MatarritaKeysher Fuller, Francisco Calvo; Celso Borges, Allan Cruz, Bryan Ruiz, Joel Campbell; Mayron George

CUBA, Group A

Group games: vs. Mexico (6/15, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Martinique (6/19, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Canada (6/23, 6 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 174
SPI chances of winning: 0.5 percent

Why they’ll go far: The Cubans are no strangers to Gold Cup competition. This will be their ninth appearance in the past 12 Gold Cups. They’re coming off a very good Nations League qualifying campaign in which their lone loss was to Haiti. Luis Paradela and Yordan Santa Cruz give Cuba a one-two punch that can do damage.

Why they won’t: Any time Cuba is in the U.S. in official competition, there is always the risk of player defections. Such was the case four years ago when a slew of players and a coach defected, leaving Cuba shorthanded. In a tournament like the Gold Cup where depth is the key, the defection situation always leaves them vulnerable and hampers any chance of a deep run.

Player to watch: Luis Paradela

Best XI (4-4-2): Sandy Sanchez; Erick Rizo, Yosel Piedra, Yasmany Lopez, Dariel Morejon; Roberney Caballero, Andy Baquero, Daniel Luis, Yordan Santa Cruz; Arichel Hernandez, Luis Paradela

CURACAO, Group C

Group games: vs. El Salvador (6/17, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Honduras (6/21, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Jamaica (6/25, 8 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 82
SPI chances of winning: 0.6 percent

Why they’ll go far: This is not a team lacking for weapons. Rangelo Janga hit six goals in the Nations League but won’t be at the Gold Cup. Not to worry, as other key contributors like Leandro Bacuna (three goals), Gevaro Nepomuceno(four goals) and Edson Hooi (three goals) will be present. With the large majority of their players plying their trade in the Netherlands’ top two divisions, Curacao have the talent to make a deep run. Premier League veterans Cuco Martina and Bacuna will be undaunted going against the likes of Jamaica, Honduras and El Salvador.

Why they won’t: Curacao is still not very well-versed in the nuances of the CONCACAF game. They lost all three group-stage matches in 2017, albeit by narrow margins; if they get behind in a group stage match, they’ll need to keep their composure. Honduras and El Salvador are well acquainted with the art of frustrating opponents when ahead.

Player to watch: Leandro Bacuna

Best XI (4-4-2): Eloy Room; Cuco Martina, Shermar MartinaDarryl Lachman, Jurich Carolina; Shanon Carmelia, Leandro Bacuna, Michael Marina, Edson Hooi; Gevaro Nepomuceno, Gino van Kessel

EL SALVADOR, Group C

Group games: vs. Curacao (6/17, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Jamaica (6/21, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Honduras (6/25, 10:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 71
SPI chances of winning: 0.6 percent

Why they’ll go far: El Salvador has made it to the quarterfinals in three of the past four Gold Cups and will be plenty familiar with their group opponents. The Cuscatlecos defeated Jamaica 2-0 in Nations League qualifying and also faced the Reggae Boyz and Curacao two years ago in the 2017 group phase. With Nelson Bonilla and playmaker Gerson Mayen, El Salvador have the goods to win the group and potentially reach a first-ever semifinal.

Why they won’t: El Salvador have long had the problem of errors and mishaps at key moments completely wiping out their strong soccer. They can play a very good first half and then unravel in a 15-minute span, especially against superior sides. The defense can sometimes lack discipline and a lack of depth in midfield could hurt, especially if they come up against the U.S. in the quarterfinals. A clash of egos between coach Carlos de los Cobos and LAFC striker Rodolfo Zelaya means that the latter won’t be called, which is a shame considering Zelaya was El Salvador’s best player in the 2017 Gold Cup.

Player to watch: Nelson Bonilla

Best XI (4-5-1): Henry HernandezBryan TamacasIvan ManciaRoberto DominguezJonathan Jimenez; Oscar Ceren, Darwin CerenNarciso OrellanaJaime Alas, Gerson Mayen; Nelson Bonilla

GUYANA, Group D

Group games: vs. United States (6/18, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Panama (6/22, 5:30 p.m. ET), vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/26, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 175
SPI chances of winning: 0.01 percent

Why they’ll go far: Nobody is expecting anything from Guyana so if any team has the impetus to stun their group stage rivals and put a charge into the tournament, it’s the Golden Jaguars. Led by former Birmingham City legend and Jamaica international Michael Johnson, Guyana have a core of players who play in England’s Football League, plus Philadelphia Union defender Warren Creavalle knows the U.S. team well. Forwards Sheldon Holder and Emery Welshman each fared well in Nations League qualifying and will be called on again in the Gold Cup.

Why they won’t: There simply isn’t the quality and depth for Guyana to make a serious run. They might be able to steal a point against Trinidad and Tobago or Panama, but overall the outlook is grim.

Player to watch: Emery Welshman

Best XI (4-5-1): Akel Clarke; Kadell Daniel, Sam Cox, Terence Vancooten, Ronayne Marsh-Brown; Anthony Jeffrey, Callum Harriot, Neil Danns, Keanu Marsh-Brown, Elliot Bonds; Emery Welshman

 HAITI, Group B

Group games: vs. Bermuda (6/16, 6 p.m. ET), vs. Nicaragua (6/20, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Costa Rica (6/24, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 100
SPI chances of winning: 2.5 percent

Why they’ll go far: Haiti will come into the Gold Cup feeling plenty confident about their chances of advancing far. Les Grenadiers topped CONCACAF Nations League qualifying with a perfect 4W-0D-0L record, 19 goals scored and just two conceded. The Haitians boast one of the region’s most in-form strikers in Duckens Nazon, who scored six goals in just two Nations League matches. Four years ago, Haiti proved a tough opponent for anyone they came up against. Derrick Etienne of the New York Red Bulls also provides strength in attack.

Why they won’t: There are still some vulnerable spots in the Haiti starting XI, specifically in midfield, where there just isn’t a lot of experience or depth. While Haiti’s talent can compensate for any midfield shortcomings against the likes of the U.S. Virgin Islands in the Nations League, teams in the Gold Cup won’t be as forgiving. In a group in which a spot in the knockout round could come down to goal difference, Haiti’s lack of midfield depth could rear its head.

Player to watch: Duckens Nazon

Best XI (4-3-3): Johny Placide; Alex Junior Christian, Mechack Jerome, Ricardo AdeCarlens Arcus; Charles Herold Jr., Bryan Alceus, Wilde-Donald Guerrier; Duckens Nazon, Frantzdy PierrotMikael Cantave

HONDURAS, Group C

Group games: vs. Jamaica (6/17, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. Curacao (6/21, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. El Salvador (6/25, 10:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 61
SPI chances of winning: 2.3 percent

Why they’ll go far: Honduras are no strangers to reaching the final stages of the Gold Cup. In 2009, 2011 and 2013 the Catrachos made it to the final four and head coach Fabian Coito will be expected to return them there in 2019. The attack is very promising in the form of Girona’s Anthony Lozano and Houston Dynamo duo Alberth Elis and Romell Quioto. Elis in particular looks primed to take the next step at the international level.

Why they won’t: Honduras certainly does not lack for experience but the aging legs of Maynor FigueroaEmilio Izaguirre and Brayan Beckeles could exact a toll when the knockout round comes around. There are also questions in midfield. FC Dallas man Bryan Acosta looks a surefire starter, but after that Coito has to decide whether to go young or stay with age and experience.

Player to watch: Alberth Elis

Best XI (4-4-2): Luis Lopez; Emilio Izaguirre, Maynor Figueroa, Henry Figueroa, Brayan Beckeles; Michaell ChirinosLuis GarridoDanilo Acosta, Alberth Elis; Alexander Lopez, Anthony Lozano

 JAMAICA, Group C

Group games: vs. Honduras (6/17, 9:30 p.m. ET), vs. El Salvador (6/21, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Curacao (6/25, 8 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 56
SPI chances of winning: 1 percent

Why they’ll go far: Been there, done that. Jamaica have defied the oddsmakers and reached the last two Gold Cup finals with a strong defensive team and opportunistic scoring. Head coach Theodore Whitmore, who constructed the team’s 2017 run, is back in the fold as are many of the protagonists from that team, like goalkeeper Andre Blake, left-back Kemar Lawrence and forward Darren Mattocks. There’s also the intangible of Bayer Leverkusen winger Leon Bailey, who finally accepted the call-up in May and will represent his place of birth despite reports he was trying to get eligibility to play for England. It remains to be seen how he’ll fit in just yet.

Why they won’t: At age 35, Watson does not have the speed and quickness of past years and that will be a concern. Also, Jamaica struggled to score goals in the final two games of Nations League qualifying, mustering just a pair of goals against Suriname and then being held scoreless at El Salvador. Mattocks and Cory Burke have their fair share of doubters.

Player to watch: Darren Mattocks

Best XI (4-4-2): Andre Blake; Kemar Lawrence, Damion LoweAlvas PowellMichael HectorDevon WilliamsJe-Vaughn WatsonRicardo Morris, Leon Bailey; Darren Mattocks, Cory Burke

MARTINIQUE, Group A

Group games: vs. Canada (6/15, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. Cuba (6/19, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Mexico (6/23, 8:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: N/A
SPI chances of winning: 0.0 percent

Why they’ll go far: Not a lot is expected of Martinique so they’ll hopefully be able to enjoy themselves in the U.S. this summer. Martinique performed quite well in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying to claim their Gold Cup berth, joining Haiti and Canada as the only teams with a 4W-0D-0L record. Two years ago, they put a major scare into the U.S. in a tough 3-2 group-stage loss thanks to Kevin Parsemain‘s two goals. He’ll be back leading the line and will be keen to make the bigger boys in the group sweat.

Why they won’t: While Martinique could spring a surprise and get a result against Mexico or Canada, they could also very well go three losses and out. Most of the players on the Martinique squad play in the country’s amateur league, while all their opponents play in some sort of professional capacity. Squad depth will also take a toll.

Player to watch: Kevin Parsemain

Best XI (4-4-2): Loic Chauvet; Sebastien Cretinoir, Yann ThimonJordy Delem, Samuel Camille; Christophe Jougon, Wesley Jobello, Stephane AbaulKarl Vitulin; Kevin Parsemain, Gregory Pastel

MEXICO, Group A

Group games: vs. Cuba (6/15, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Canada (6/19, 10:30 p.m. ET), vs. Martinique (6/23, 8:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 18
SPI chances of winning: 30.7 percent

Why they’ll go far: In every Gold Cup, the teams with the most depth rise to the fore. Playing every three to four days during a U.S. summer takes its toll, but Mexico have the deepest squad going into this tournament, especially in defense and midfield, and that should manifest itself in the knockout rounds. Mexico also boast one of the best goal scorers in the tournament in Jimenez and a sound tactician like Martino should be the thing that gets El Tri across the finish line first.

Why they won’t: If Jimenez gets hurt, Mexico could suddenly find themselves in a striker crisis, with Vela, Lozano and Hernandez already out. There is always a level of drama and off-field distractions that Mexico must contend with, and if El Tri are not up to their best in the group stage, the pressure from media and fans alike could lead to a toxic atmosphere that can’t be overcome.

Player to watch: Raul Jimenez

Best XI (4-3-3): Guillermo OchoaLuis RodriguezNestor Araujo, Carlos Salcedo, Jesus Gallardo; Edson Alvarez, Jonathan dos santos, Andres Guardado; Roberto Alvarado, Raul Jimenez, Rodolfo Pizarro

NICARAGUA, Group B

Group games: vs. Costa Rica (6/16, 8:30 p.m. ET), vs. Haiti (6/20, 7 p.m. ET), vs. Bermuda (6/24, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 129
SPI chances of winning: 0.04 percent

Why they’ll go far: For the second consecutive time, the Pinoleros are in the Gold Cup, and the lessons learned in 2017 — in which they lost all three games in somewhat close fashion — can be applied to this year’s edition. If they can keep things close in their opener against Costa Rica, there’s no reason why they can’t win their other games. Leading the way is Barrera, the national team’s all-time leading scorer with 17 goals. Coach Henry Duarte also has the experience of 2017 under his belt.

Why they won’t: Things could just as easily break the other way for Nicaragua. A lopsided loss to the Ticos could sink their efforts in the following two matches. There was also a 2-0 home loss to Haiti in Nations League qualifying, so questions will be asked if Nicaragua can overcome that mental hurdle when the two sides meet in the second match. Ghosts of 2017’s failure could come back to haunt.

Player to watch: Juan Barrera

Best XI (4-3-3): Justo Llorente; Josue QuijanoManuel Rosas, Luis Fernando Copete, Oscar LopezMarlon LopezLuis Galeano, Juan Barrera; Bryon Bonilla, Renato PunyedJorge Betancur

 PANAMA, Group D

Group games: vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/18, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. Guyana (6/22, 5:30 p.m. ET), vs. United States (6/26, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 74
SPI chances of winning: 2.7 percent

Why they’ll go far: Despite the retirements of national-team stalwarts like Blas Perez and Felipe Baloy, Panama still have many familiar faces from teams that know how to battle in this tournament. New York Red Bulls’ Michael Murillo is one of the best defenders in the region, while in attack Montreal Impact man Omar Browne, who torched Toronto FC in the CONCACAF Champions League, will be one to watch, along with forward Gabriel Torres. Also back in the fold is manager Julio Dely Valdes, who led Panama to the 2013 final.

Why they won’t: One can’t help but think that Panama is going to suffer a post-World Cup hangover for a while. Reaching the World Cup was such a momentous accomplishment, but with so many leaders leaving the team, it might take getting a few lumps in this Gold Cup for the Canaleros to fully adjust to being back in a new cycle. Also, outside of Torres, there isn’t really a proven goal scorer in the squad.

Player to watch: Gabriel Torres

Best XI (4-4-2): Luis Mejia; Michael Murillo, Harold CummingsFidel Escobar, Erick Davis; Alberto QuinteroArmando CooperAnibal GodoyJose Rodriguez; Edgar Barcenas, Gabriel Torres

TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO, Group D

Group games: vs. Panama (6/18, 7:30 p.m. ET), vs. United States (6/22, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Guyana (6/26, 6:30 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 93
SPI chances of winning: 0.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: After missing the 2017 Gold Cup, Trinidad and Tobago are back in the fold with a squad that boasts good experience in defense and midfield. Joevin Jones of the Seattle Sounders, Alvin Jones and Daneil Cyrusanchor the back, while Khaleem Hyland and Kevan George are two midfield stalwarts. Outside of Joevin Jones, what do those other four have in common? They all have experience beating the U.S. in competitive fixtures.

Why they won’t: While the sight of Alvin Jones may spook some of the U.S. players — he was the one that scored that long-range golazo on Tim Howard — the Soca Warriors don’t exactly have a scorer they can turn to in a time of need. Kenwyne Jones is now retired, and with this forward pool held scoreless in their past three friendlies, the jury is still out.

Player to watch: Joevin Jones

Best XI (4-4-2): Marvin Phillip; Alvin Jones, Makeil Williams, Daneil Cyrus, Joevin Jones; Kevan George, Nathan Lewis, Khaleem Hyland, Kevin MolinoShahdon WinchesterLester Peltier

UNITED STATES, Group D

Group games: vs. Guyana (6/18, 10 p.m. ET), vs. Trinidad and Tobago (6/22, 8 p.m. ET), vs. Panama (6/26, 9 p.m. ET)

FIFA rank: 24
SPI chances of winning: 43.4 percent

Why they’ll go far: This Gold Cup represents a full clean slate for the U.S. team since their World Cup qualifying disaster, and the new generation of U.S. players will be keen to stake their claim and erase the nightmare of the past 20 months. There is Champions League quality in midfield with Weston McKennie and Christian Pulisic, plus head coach Gregg Berhalter can count on having one of the deepest squads at the tournament to counter the injuries and suspensions that are sure to come.

Why they won’t: The U.S. suffered from poor center-back play in World Cup qualifying, and there are still plenty of question marks over whether Long, Ream and Miazga can get the job done. If Brooks isn’t 100 percent, he can be really bad. Injuries are also a worry up top. Altidore’s track record of health is not the best, and who exactly will be scoring the goals for the U.S. has yet to be answered.

Player to watch: Christian Pulisic

Best XI (4-4-2): Zack Steffen; Tyler Adams, Tim Ream, Matt Miazga, Antonee Robinson; Christian Pulisic, Michael Bradley, Weston McKennie, Paul Arriola; Jozy Altidore, Gyasi Zardes

2019 Copa America ultimate preview: Will Messi win this wide-open tournament on Brazil’s home turf?

1:06 PM ETESPN staff

Brazil will host the Copa America for the first time in 30 years, with a tournament that is full of drama. Chile will look to defend back-to-back crowns, the Selecao will seek redemption on home soil, and Lionel Messi returns to Argentina for another chance at silverware with the senior national team.

ESPN FC’s Tim Vickery spells out the biggest storylines of the tournament and assesses all 12 teams taking part in this summer’s Copa America, with all matches streaming live in the U.S. on ESPN+.

Jump to: Key storylines | Key players | Must-see days and matches | Team-by-team guide

Key storyline: This year’s Copa is wide-open

South American national teams have not been in competitive action since last year’s World Cup. Those teams that failed to make it to Russia have had nothing but friendlies since October 2017, but the silly season comes to an end with a bang in Brazil. It’s time to get serious.This summer’s Copa begins a new competitive cycle in South America, which will run all the way to Qatar at the end of 2022. Many new coaches are facing their first real challenges — of the 10 South American nations, six will be playing for points for the first time under their current coaches — and plenty of new players have been introduced. Whatever happens, when the story is written of the South American teams at the next World Cup, events in Brazil 2019 will form part of the narrative.The traditional powerhouses also have plenty of questions. The hosts’ being without Neymar has caused some anxiety, but frankly, they might perform better without him. Roberto Firmino and Gabriel Jesus, fresh off fine seasons for Liverpool and Manchester City, respectively, will get the chance to definitively lead the line.Argentina have Messi back and fully engaged in the cause, but the squad around him — 15 of the 23-man squad have fewer than 15 international caps — is always a concern. He has often struggled when having to “do it all himself,” but this raw squad lacks the muscle memory of back-to-back defeats in the Copa final, both times to Chile. It might breed a sense of fearlessness that spurs them forward. Plenty of scrutiny will fall on interim boss Lionel Scaloni in what amounts to his first full-time management role, having previously been a national team assistant under Jorge Sampaoli and at Sevilla.Then there’s the issue of timing. Usually, the road to the World Cup starts very soon after the Copa America, but because Qatar 2022 will be played at the end of the calendar year, the qualifiers have been pushed back, and as a result, some of the urgency has been removed from the Copa. Beyond Argentina and their caretaker at the helm, Bolivia, Colombia and Paraguay played their first games under new coaches as recently as March. Having so many “undercooked” teams will open plenty of room for surprises.Making things most intriguing is the choice of invited teams. Japan and Qatar take part in 2019, and it will be fascinating to observe their progress. Japan are a vastly better team than the one that performed poorly on their previous Copa appearance 20 years ago, and Qatar have proven that they have some quality, having beaten Japan earlier this year in the final of the Asian Cup. Playing in that competition could make the guests more battle-hardened than some of their opponents, making it a tough competition to predict.

– Vickery: With Neymar out, time for Brazil to step up
– When is the Copa America?
– Full Copa America fixtures schedule

Layered across all the present-day intrigue is the history and emotion of the Copa America itself. It is football’s oldest continental competition, a reflection of the extraordinary speed with which the game took hold in the south cone of South America in the first few decades of the 20th century. The tournament was contested for the first time in 1916, and in the early years, it was held as often as possible, often on an annual basis. This gave rise to an extraordinary improvement in standards and the development of a new style of play.

Both innovations became clear to a European audience when Uruguay caused a major upset by cruising to the gold medal in the 1924 Olympics, with a balletic game that astonished the crowds. Four years later in Amsterdam, they did it again, with Argentina winning silver. By then it was clear: There had to be a football competition open to all comers, amateurs and professionals alike, to find out who really was the best. And so the World Cup was born, staged in Uruguay in 1930, just 14 years after the little country organised the first Copa America. Uruguay won that competition too.

Jesus, James and Messi: Players to watch

Gabriel Jesus: Destined to be the solution to Brazil’s puzzling centre-forward problem, Jesus drifted out of form at the wrong time. After he scored so freely in qualification, it all went wrong in Russia 2018. The young Man City forward suffers the stigma of being a Brazil No. 9 who failed to score a single goal in a World Cup, and coach Tite later regretted not dropping him.Jesus was left out of Brazil’s first post-World Cup squad and spent the rest of the season as a backup option to Roberto Firmino, but he seems to have turned it around at the right time. With five goals in the past three games, Jesus should begin the Copa as the starter up front, where the pressure will be on him to carry his form into the tournament.

James Rodriguez: The breakout star of the 2014 World Cup, James will surely enjoy returning to the scene of his greatest triumph. He has endured a frustrating five years. Unable to be the main star in Cristiano Ronaldo‘s Real Madrid, he was loaned out to Bayern Munich, where he failed to shine, and now he faces an uncertain future. With the national team, though, there is no doubting his importance to the cause, something made obvious by the tameness of Colombia’s performances when he was injured during Russia 2018.

James clearly relishes his status with the national team, and on the evidence of the FIFA dates in March, this has not been altered now that Carlos Queiroz has taken over. He will probably be given a free role in the Copa, able to wander across the attacking line, causing problems to the opposing defence and reminding everyone of the brilliance of his 2014 displays.

Lionel Messi: Football fans are starting to realise that every Messi performance takes us closer to the end. It’s an added bonus, then, that some of those games will take place with Argentina.Following the disaster of the 2018 World Cup, when Argentina lost in easy fashion to eventual winners France, it was not clear that Messi would play for his country again. He sat out international duty until March, but now it is clear that he’s willing to enter one final cycle in a bid to win a senior title with the national team.There is a Copa on home soil next year, but the book will surely close with the 2022 World Cup. With this in mind and with Argentina currently coached by a caretaker, it would have been understandable if Messi had decided to take the summer off. Instead, he’s willing to put himself on the line once more, which adds an extra layer of interest to the competition.

Must-see days and matches

June 15, Argentina vs. Colombia, Group B: An excellent clash to light up the first Saturday of the Copa (live on ESPN+, 6 p.m. ET). Ever since Colombia’s astonishing 5-0 win in Buenos Aires back in 1993, this has been one of South America’s most entertaining matchups. Added spice comes from the fact that the pair will be co-hosting next year’s Copa and are engaged in a tug-of-war to decide which country will have the biggest knockout games, including the final.

Argentina, of course, have won two World Cups, but of the South American nations that have never won the World Cup, Colombia are probably the most likely to do so. This, then, in Salvador’s excellent Fonte Nova stadium, is a meeting of heavyweights.

June 17, Chile vs. Japan, Group C: Chile go into this game as reigning champions after finally getting their hands on the trophy in 2015 and winning again in New Jersey a year later. It is harsh on a team that is rebuilding, but the pressure is on them. The class of 2019 have a lot to live up to.

Equally, it will be intriguing to see how Japan perform (live on ESPN+, 7 p.m. ET). Back in 1999, in their previous Copa adventure, they were novices. They have since played the past six World Cups and should arrive in Brazil with no trace of an inferiority complex. Oh, and they’ll have no lack of support, either; they begin their campaign in the city with the world’s largest number of Japanese immigrants.

June 18, Brazil vs. Venezuela, Group A: Merely making up the numbers as recently as 20 years ago, Venezuela are now a serious force and underlined their progress with a convincing win over Argentina in Madrid. They have beaten Brazil in a friendly and held them to draws in competition, but at the senior level, they have never won a match against Brazil with points at stake. Convinced that the current side will take them to their first World Cup, they are now aiming high (live on ESPN+, 8:30 p.m. ET).

Brazil, meanwhile, will be under pressure. Can the Venezuelans take advantage? In one corner, the five-time world champions; in the other, the team with no tradition. It will be fascinating to see whether the outsiders have a shot.

Team-by-team Guide

Every game of the 2019 Copa America will be on ESPN+ in the U.S. this summer (all kickoff times ET).

ARGENTINA, Group B

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 11
SPI chances of winning: 13.96 percent

Why they’ll go far: The good news, signalled by his return to the national team in March, is that Messi is back in a bid to win a senior title with his country. The Barcelona genius, plus the likes of Sergio Aguero and Angel Di Maria, still has plenty to offer, and over the past few months, there has been some pleasing development from midfielders Giovani Lo Celso and Leandro Paredes.

Argentina, then, can call on some dazzling individual talent — enough to give them a puncher’s chance. The 2018 tournament was such a shambles that expectations have fallen, which might prove to benefit Scaloni’s side.

Why they won’t: Going into a major tournament under the command of a caretaker coach is frankly bizarre. It has to do with the facts that Scaloni is cheap — the local FA had to dig deep to pay off Sampaoli — and that World Cup qualification doesn’t get underway until next March. In fact, it would almost be a problem if Argentina were to win the Copa: How could they get rid of Scaloni after landing the first senior title since 1993?

Uncertainty over the future, then, is clearly a problem. Although a more pragmatic side have been defending better since the World Cup, the headaches remain. There will surely not be a repeat of the ill-advised three-centre-back formation that collapsed against Venezuela in March. For all the wealth of attacking riches, there is a dearth of top talent at the other end of the field. In his first eight games in charge, Scaloni had a look at seven goalkeepers, which is surely excessive, and Argentina’s wait for a centre-back of undisputed quality shows no sign of coming to an end.

Player to watch: Lionel Messi

Best XI (4-3-2-1): Esteban AndradaRenzo SaraviaNicolas OtamendiGerman PezzellaNicolas Tagliafico; Giovani Lo Celso, Leandro Paredes, Roberto Pereyra; Lionel Messi, Angel Di Maria; Sergio Aguero

 

BOLIVIA, Group A

Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 63
SPI chances of winning: 0.6 percent

Why they’ll go far: The last time Bolivia made any impact on the Copa was in 1997, when they reached the final — on home ground. Away from the extreme altitude of La Paz, it is hard to find too many strong points. Perhaps the main one is precisely the lack of expectations.

Bolivia are traditionally seen as sacrificial, but on a number of recent occasions, they’ve surprised complacent opponents. There is some evidence that coach Eduardo Villegas can field a dependable defensive unit, and the longer their matches stay goalless, the more chance that their opponents might overreach and leave themselves open to the counterattack.

Why they won’t: Bolivian football has yet to replace the fine generation of talented players who got them to the 1994 World Cup, and to the absence of genuine quality, they can add an absence of preparation time. The chaotic Bolivian FA keep chewing up and spitting out coach after coach, and the latest man in charge, Eduardo Villegas, was appointed in February. Bolivia could find themselves outgunned both technically and physically.

Player to watch: Marcelo Martins

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Carlos Lampe; Marvin Bejerano, Luis Haquin, Adrian Jusino, Diego Bejerano; Raul CastroLeonel JustinianoAlejandro ChumaceroSamuel GalindoLeonardo Vaca; Marcelo Martins

 

BRAZIL, Group A

Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 3
SPI chances of winning: 65.78 percent

Why they’ll go far: As tournament hosts, there is no chance of Brazil using the 2019 Copa to experiment. They have to win the trophy, as they did on all four previous occasions they staged the event. Coach Tite, then, is not holding back. He is going with the best of what is available to him.

There will be plenty of experience; midfielder Fernandinho and right-back Dani Alves have been recalled, as much for their dressing room wisdom as for their many virtues on the pitch. Willian has been called in to replace the injured Neymar, and there is no room for the likes of Lucas Moura or Vinicius Junior. The emergence since the World Cup of Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta gives the side extra options in the final third.

Why they won’t: The survivors of the 2014 World Cup campaign need no reminding that home advantage can turn into a handicap. Playing in front of their own expectant and volatile fans brings plenty of pressure.

This team is still finding their way. Tite confessed that selecting this squad was harder than naming his World Cup 23. A year ago, Brazil cruised through qualifying to Russia, but now, there are a few uncertainties. Post-World Cup performances have been disappointing, with Tite aware that he has yet to find the right blend. This is especially true in the centre-forward position. Since the World Cup, Firmino has been first-choice, but Brazil have so far been unable to knit his attributes into a team pattern, and much needed training time has been hit by Liverpool’s winning run to the final of the Champions League.

Player to watch: Gabriel Jesus

Best XI (4-1-4-1): Alisson; Dani Alves, Marquinhos, Thiago SilvaFilipe Luis; Casemiro; Richarlison, Arthur, Fernandinho, Coutinho; Gabriel Jesus

 

CHILE, Group C

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 15
SPI chances of winning: 2.97 percent

Why they’ll go far: After 99 years of waiting, Chile finally won the Copa on home ground in 2015. A year later another triumph, this time without home advantage, probably rates as the greatest moment in the history of the national team. All of this means that the class of 2019 will be highly motivated; they go into the tournament as defending champions and will fight hard to retain their crown.

Colombian coach Reinaldo Rueda has pedigree — in the Copa Libertadores, in the World Cup and in youth development — making him a qualified name to oversee this next stage in the team’s development. In little more than a year in charge, his results have been mixed, but he has been working hard to find a blend and might have hit on something in March, when he tried a back-three formation in a friendly against the U.S.

Why they won’t: Almost all of Chile’s golden generation came through the 2007 Under-20 side. They have all aged together and ran out of collective steam in the tail end of the Russia 2018 qualifiers. The big question — a problem for all of the lesser South American nations through the years — is how to replace them. There is a lack of top-quality talent coming through, and Chilean clubs are performing poorly in continental competitions.

Player to watch: Alexis Sanchez

Best XI (3-5-2): Gabriel AriasGary MedelGonzalo JaraGuillermo MaripanMauricio IslaArturo VidalEsteban PavezCharles Aranguiz, Oscar Opazo; Alexis Sanchez, Nicolas Castillo

 

COLOMBIA, Group B

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 12
SPI chances of winning: 6.56 percent

Why they’ll go far: With a sizable population and a football-crazy fanbase, Colombia are a long-term bet to one day add their name to the list of World Cup winners. Having qualified for and occasionally lit up the past two tournaments, they can claim to be moving in the right direction, and with Portugal’s Carlos Queiroz, they have a coach with global pedigree and massive experience. He has already proven his capacity to adapt his methods to the players at his disposal.It will be fascinating indeed to see what he makes of the current Colombian squad, filled as it is with players of technical and physical prowess. It is also a squad that, after two World Cups, has lost any inferiority complex. They should enjoy the support of Colombia’s traveling army, such a feature of international tournaments since the 2011 Copa in Argentina.

Why they won’t: For all his experience, Queiroz has never worked in South America before. There is an obvious danger, then, that he will still be finding his feet in the Copa and that the tournament will come a little too early for his team to be anywhere near their best.There is also a worrying dependence on a number of key individuals. The disappointing nature of last year’s World Cup elimination highlighted the importance of James Rodriguez, and there is a lack of top-class cover for keeper David Ospina, himself not always the most reliable last line of defence. Playmaker Juan Fernando Quintero, so impishly brilliant in Russia, will miss out through injury.

Player to watch: James Rodriguez

Best XI (4-4-2): David Ospina; Santiago AriasYerry MinaDavinson SanchezCristian BorjaWilmar BarriosMateus UribeJuan Cuadrado, James Rodriguez; Duvan ZapataRadamel Falcao

 

ECUADOR, Group C

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 59
SPI chances of winning: 1.1 percent

Why they’ll go far: Hernan Dario Gomez was not a universally popular choice to take over as national team coach, but the man has undoubted pedigree. From Colombia in 1990 to Panama last year, he is dripping with World Cup experience, which includes taking Ecuador to their tournament debut some 17 years ago. He returns to an Ecuador side that has developed some of the characteristics that he encouraged: They are an athletic, physically imposing side that will seek to close the game down through the middle and launch quick and powerful breaks down the flanks.When it works — as it did in November’s 2-0 win away to Peru — Ecuador can be an impressive sight. Gomez seems to have made some progress in tightening up a defensive unit that fell to pieces in the closing stages of the Russia 2018 qualifiers.

Why they won’t: In his previous spell in charge, Gomez confessed that he did not take the Copas of 2001 and 2004 particularly seriously — he has continually played down the importance of this year’s tournament. No one, he says in his defence, stops him in the street to ask about the Copa America. Qatar 2022 is the big subject. And so he makes no secret of his priority — World Cup qualification — or the fact that he believes his team will not be fully prepared until next year.

Moreover, there is a lack of outstanding quality, with some of the players from the 2014 World Cup now aging and in decline. There is a worrying dependence on Enner Valencia for goals. Gomez will have half an eye on the Under-20 World Cup, in which Ecuador are thriving as reigning South American champions, in the hope that such potential can soon break through.

Player to watch: Enner Valencia

Best XI (4-5-1): Alexander Dominguez; Pedro Pablo Velasco, Gabriel AchilierRobert ArboledaBeder CaicedoCarlos GruezoAntonio ValenciaJefferson Orejuela, Jhegson Mendez, Ayrton Preciado; Enner Valencia

 

JAPAN, Group C

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 26
SPI chances of winning: 0.82 percent

Why they’ll go far: They’re fundamentally tough to break down. The backline might be young but looks solid without the ball and confident with it. This tournament also comes at a perfect time. Just as Qatar want to toughen up ahead of 2022, Japan are looking toward the Tokyo Olympics next summer. It’s no surprise, then, that 18 out of the 23 are 22 years of age or under. Nobody at home expects or demands success in the Copa; it’s an important staging post in a long-term preparation plan, which should give the players the freedom to express themselves.There is some experience in the shape of goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima in goal, Gaku Shibasaki in the middle and Shinji Okazaki in attack, but the focus will not be on these French, Spanish and English-based stars, as there is talent elsewhere. Takefusa Kubo has just turned 18 and is eligible to return to Barcelona, but Real Madrid and PSG are interested in the midfielder’s silky skills. He has the confidence to shine in South America, and then there is Shoya Nakajima. All in Japan know that the 24-year-old can make the team tick going forward — he was signed by a Qatari club for €35 million in February — but now is the time to show on a wider stage.

Why they won’t: There is a worry about where the goals will come from. Okazaki has a fine international goalscoring record, but if he struggles in South America, it’s asking a lot for the likes of Daizen Maeda and Ayase Ueda (the latter still a university student) to make the step up.

Take out the sprinkling of veterans, and there’s zero senior international tournament experience in the squad, which means they’re heading into the unknown. Finally, Japan have a poor record against South American opposition in competitive games, losing all four World Cup meetings before last June, when an early sending off and penalty against Colombia led to that long-awaited win.

Player to watch: Gaku Shibasaki

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Eji Kawashima; Tomoki IwataTakehiro TomiyasuYuta NakayamaDaiki SugiokaKo Itakura, Gaku Shibasaki; Takefusa Kubo, Shoya Nakashima, Tatsuya Ito; Shinji Okazaki

 

PARAGUAY, Group B

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 36
SPI chances of winning: 0.86 percent

Why they’ll go far: In this year’s Copa Libertadores, all three Paraguayan clubs topped their groups, often finishing ahead of rivals with far greater financial resources. There is a clear lesson here: Never underestimate the Paraguayans. Their teams have an innate ability to dig deep, to add up to more than the sum of their parts.Replacing the generation that reached the 2010 World Cup quarterfinal has not proven easy, but on paper, at least, the current group has the potential to form the strongest team since then. They will come to Brazil in the hope of setting out on the right foot on the road to Qatar 2022.Why they won’t: After Colombia’s Juan Carlos Osorio lasted just one game in charge, former Argentina centre-back Eduardo Berizzo has come in to coach the side. He comes well qualified, but there are two problems. The first is he has only just taken over. The other potential problem is Berizzo’s idea of play. He wants his team to defend high up the field and take the initiative in the game. This is alien to the traditional Paraguayan style of heroic deep defence. The difficulties of implanting a new style and mentality were apparent in March, when both times the team was poor and half-hearted in the first half. It’s also still not apparent where his side’s goal threat will come from.

Player to watch: Miguel Almiron

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Junior Fernandez; Bruno ValdezFabian BalbuenaGustavo GomezSantiago ArzamendiaRichard OrtizMatias RojasDerlis Gonzalez, Juan Rodrigo Rojas, Miguel Almiron; Federico Santander

 

PERU, Group A

Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 21
SPI odds of winning: 1.14 percent

Why they’ll go far: Peru are essentially taking to Brazil the same squad that went to Russia last year, ending a 36-year World Cup drought. This should certainly be a positive. With few exceptions, the squad is a young one, full of players who have yet to hit their peaks. It was fascinating to watch them grow together, picking up confidence under the calming influence of Argentine coach Ricardo Gareca. They made massive strides toward the end of the 2018 qualifiers, and despite group-phase elimination in Russia, they gave eventual champions France a tough game and could fly home with heads held high — plus the knowledge of being able to write more chapters together.Now, then, they enter the era of consolidation, the time when they show that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the next few years. Centre-forward Paolo Guerrero is back and reinvigorated after his harsh drugs ban, and Peru should be in a much better state of preparation than some of their opponents and so are entitled to aim high in Brazil.

Why they won’t: Coach Gareca might well be disappointed by the lack of renewal in his squad. It’s good that he can keep his players together, but a little more competition for places would be no bad thing. Domestic Peruvian football, though, is not throwing up a glut of quality. There is always the danger of complacency setting in.Results since the World Cup also raise a question. It is always unwise to read too much into friendlies, but their lack of consistency, though, is striking. Are his men mentally strong enough to achieve good results on a regular basis? Has their 4-2-3-1 formation become too predictable?

Player to watch: Yoshimar Yotun

Best XI (4-2-3-1): Pedro GalleseLuis AdvinculaMiguel AraujoAnderson SantamariaMiguel TraucoRenato Tapia, Yoshimar Yotun; Andre CarrilloChristian CuevaEdison Flores; Paolo Guerrero

 

QATAR, Group B

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 55
SPI chances of winning: 0.12 percent

Why they’ll go far: Qatar are on a roll, are full of confidence and have nothing to lose. Wins over Switzerland and Ecuador (and a draw with Iceland) in 2018 suggested that there was something happening, but then the Maroons took the Asian Cup by storm in January, lifting the trophy by scoring 19 goals and conceding once. Such form means that the opener against Paraguay is winnable and then anything can happen. This is a national team that feels like a club, and this could be Qatar’s biggest strength, coupled with the possibility that they will be underestimated.They also play an appealing style. Their counterattack was too good for the likes of South Korea and Japan earlier this year, and they displayed a ruthlessness in front of goal that has been all too rare in Asian football over the years. Almoez Ali scored a tournament record of nine goals, a tally that was supported in some style by the relentless assists from Akram Afif. These youngsters, two of 10 in the squad who are 22 or under, will relish this chance to show how good they really are.

Why they won’t: It is one thing to win the Asian tournament in Abu Dhabi, a 45-minute flight from Doha, but competing in Brazil is completely different. Qatar could not have moved further out of their comfort zone if they had tried, even if that is the point of participating for a team that craves tournament football. Qatar have not traditionally travelled that well and have little experience playing teams from South America and even less actually playing there.The entire squad is based in the Qatar league, one of the better tournaments in the Middle East but one that lacks intensity and pressure. South America could be a real shock to the system. Equally, it remains to be seen how that system functions against the likes of Messi. In the UAE, Korea and Japan were frustrated by a team they expected to beat and lacked a plan B when the first was not working. The likes of Argentina and Colombia are likely to be a little more savvy. Qatari hands will be full with the conditions, the physical challenge and the skills of the opposition.

Player to watch: Almoez Ali

Best XI (5-3-2): Saad Al Sheeb; Ro-Ro, Bassam Al-Rawi, Tarek Salman, Assim Madibo, Abdelkarim Hassan; Hassan Al-Haydos, Boualem Khouki, Abdulaziz Hatem; Almoez Ali, Akram Afif

 

URUGUAY, Group C

Group games: vs. Colombia (7 p.m. ET June 15), vs. Paraguay (9:30 p.m. ET June 19), vs. Qatar (4 p.m. ET June 23)

FIFA rank: 6
SPI chances of winning: 5.92 percent

Why they’ll go far: Statistically the best South American side in last year’s World Cup, Uruguay progress with a serenity and a promise that have enthused coach Oscar Washington Tabarez, even at the age of 72, to extend a spell in charge that stretches back to the start of 2006. At the heart of the Tabarez project has been the use of the youth sides, and especially the Under-20s, to prepare the next generation.

In the run-up to Russia, Uruguay freshened up their lineup with a new crop of talented midfielders who changed the characteristics of the team. Instead of relying on a combination of resilience and quick breaks, the newcomers added the possibility of controlling possession and dictating the tempo of the game. A year on, the likes of Rodrigo BentancurLucas Torreira and Federico Valverdeare older, wiser and presumably better, and this offers real hope that Uruguay will be contending for titles.

Why they won’t: Tabarez has been able to count on a handful of stalwarts, and some genuinely world-class players have put in more than a decade of service. But on the evidence of the past club season, time could be catching up with them. Luis Suarez appears to have lost some of his pace, his strike partner Edinson Cavani has run into injuries, and captain and centre-back Diego Godinis looking vulnerable.

Youngsters are also coming through, but the process of transition — substituting some of the best players in the history of the Uruguayan national team — will be a delicate affair.

Player to watch: Luis Suarez

Best XI (4-4-2): Fernando MusleraMartin Caceres, Jose Maria Gimenez, Diego Godin, Diego Laxalt; Rodrigo Bentancur, Lucas Torreira, Matias VecinoNicolas Lodeiro; Edinson Cavani, Luis Suarez

 

VENEZUELA, Group A

Group games: vs. Brazil (9:30 p.m. ET June 14), vs. Venezuela (9:30 p.m. ET June 18), vs. Peru (4 p.m. ET June 22)

FIFA rank: 29
SPI chances of winning: 0.71 percent

Why they’ll go far: The only South American side never to have played in a World Cup, Venezuela are confident that the road to making their debut in Qatar will start in Brazil this summer. They have certainly been moving in the right direction, as highlighted by the comprehensive 3-1 win over Argentina in March.

Coach Rafael Dudamel now has a fascinating blend; some of the youngsters who reached the final of the 2017 Under-20 World Cup have come through well, such as excellent goalkeeper Wuilker Farinez, and are forming a team with more established stars such as midfield stalwart Tomas Rincon and fearsome centre-forward Salomon Rondon. They attack with pace down the flanks, and Dudamel has tried to make a point of tightening up the defence — the weak part of the side in the last qualification campaign — with the addition of more pace at the back.

Why they won’t: Venezuela are moving into uncharted waters. How will they cope with the heightened expectations brought about by their progress? They had a brief flirtation with such a situation toward the start of the decade; a win over Argentina in the early stages of Brazil 2014 qualifiers set off hopes that Venezuela might be on the verge of the breakthrough, which would soon be dashed, as the team were unable to score enough goals to keep them in the hunt.They should be much better prepared now, though Dudamel is concerned by his side’s over-dependence on the counterattack. Against opponents less open to the counter, can Venezuela dictate the tempo of the game with controlled possession in midfield?

Player to watch: Salomon Rondon

Best XI (4-3-3): Wuilker Farinez; Roberto RosalesYordan OsorioMikel VillanuevaLuis Mago; Tomas Rincon; Jhon MurilloYangel HerreraJunior MorenoDarwin Machis; Salomon Rondon

PREVIEW | INDY ELEVEN LOOKS TO FURTHER UNDEFEATED STREAK VS. LOUDOUN UNITED FC

By IndyEleven.com, 06/13/19, 8:00PM EDT   The Boys in Blue take to the road to face Loudoun United FC in a series first match-up

Indy Eleven Gameday Preview
Indy Eleven at Loudon United FC – #LDNvIND    Saturday, June 15, 2019 – 7:30 P.M. ET    Audi Field  |  Washington, D.C.

Local/National TV: N/A

SETTING THE TABLE:

LAST TIME OUT

Indy Eleven 3:0 Memphis 901 FC | Saturday, June 8

Indy Eleven extended its undefeated streak to six after defeating Eastern Conference expansion side Memphis 901 FC 3-0 on the road last Saturday. A first-half goal from forward Thomas Enevoldsen and second-half heroics from midfielders Kim Do-heon and Tyler Pasher handed the Boys in Blue their first victory on the road since April 20. Indiana’s Team also kept its seventh clean sheet of the season following Memphis’ scoreless performance.

#MEMvIND:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

Loudoun United FC 1:2 Louisville City FC | Saturday, May 22

Loudoun United FC fell to defending USL Championship champions Louisville City FC 2-1 on the road last weekend. Loudoun forward Griffin Yow’s 49th minute strike wasn’t enough to overcome the two first-half goals Louisville put past the visiting side. The goal was Yow’s third in five appearances for the club, trailing only Kyle Murphy by one goal.

#LOUvLDN:  Highlights  |  Recap  |  Stats

#LDNVIND STORYLINES

  • Saturday night’s fixture between Indy Eleven and Loudoun United FC will be the first meeting between the two teams.
  • Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jordan Farr earned his first USL Championship minutes last Saturday at Memphis, replacing Evan Newton in the 72nd minute.
  • The Boys in Blue are undefeated in their last six matches (GF: 6/ GA: 1), claiming 12 out of 18 points with five clean sheets.
  • Indy hasn’t conceded a goal on the road in the last 110 minutes of USL Championship play since New York Red Bulls II’s Tom Barlow scored in the 69th minute on April 28.
  • Last Saturday’s 3-0 win at Memphis is the fourth time that Indy Eleven have recorded three goals during a match in 2019, all of which have resulted in wins on the road.
  • The Boys in Blue currently have a 4W-2L-0D record on the road, having scored 14 goals and conceded seven.
  • Indy forward Dane Kelly played for Loudoun United FC’s Major League Soccer affiliate D.C. United in 2018, making just one regular season appearance for the club.
  • Loudoun defender Peabo Doue has faced Indy multiple times since 2017, having played for Jacksonville Armada (2017; NASL) and North Carolina FC (2018).
  • Forward Andrew Lubahn is no stranger to facing Indiana’s Team, having faced the Boys in Blue in the 2016 U.S. Open Cup with Louisville City FC, five times in 2017 with San Francisco Deltas (NASL), and three times in last season with Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF KENNEY WALKER

After spending a short stint on Indy Eleven’s injury list, Kenney Walker is back and better than ever. The 30-year-old has become quite the playmaker for the Boys in Blue, as he leads his teammates in assists (4) and is currently tied for second most in Eastern Conference. The midfielder has created 12 scoring opportunities so far this season, which equates to an average of one assist out of every key pass.Just as he’s found his teammates in scoring positions, Walker has also begun to find the back of the net. The Wickliffe, Ohio native opened his scoring account with a long distance screamer that sparked the comeback in Indy’s 2-1 win against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC on June 1.

LOUDOUN UNITED FC PLAYER TO WATCH | MF CONNOR PRESLEY

Major League Soccer FC Dallas youth academy product Connor Presley has started 10 of Loudoun United FC’s 11 matches played through the start of the season, subbing off twice and playing a total of 863 minutes for the expansion side so far. In that time, the Austin, Texas native has converted two goals out of the seven shots he’s taken and earned USL Championship’s Goal of the Month award in May.Presley has proven that his presence can be felt no matter where he’s at on the pitch. As of now, the 20-year-old leads his team in tackles (25), tackles won (17), duels (144) and duels won (53). Though the midfielder’s passing accuracy sits at a touch over 71 percent, he’s played a team-high 12 key passes and tallied a single assist.

MATCHUP TO MARK | INDY FW THOMAS ENEVOLDSEN VS. LOUDOUN FW GRIFFIN YOW

Saturday night’s fixture at Audi Field, home of Loudoun’s MLS affiliate D.C. United, will feature veteran striker Enevoldsen squaring off against United’s rookie Griffin Yow.Enevoldsen added goal #3 to his Indy Eleven scoring account last Saturday at Memphis 901 FC after netting the first of three for Indy in the 31st minute. The 31-year-old curled his shot around Memphis’ ‘keeper and off the far post following a one-on-one duel against 901 FC defender Jacob Hauser-Ramsey. In addition to scoring, the Danish striker is currently tied with teammate Ayoze for the most chances created with 22 on the season.Much like Enevoldsen, Yow netted his third goal of the season and Loudoun’s lone goal in last Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Louisville City FC. The 16-year-old cut around LCFC’s Alexis Souahy before rocketing the ball into the net from outside the 18-yard-box, earning a Goal of the Week nomination. In just 380 minutes of play, the D.C. United Homegrown loanee is now Loudoun’s second highest goal scorer, trailing forward Kyle Murphy by one, and has managed to find the back of the net every 126 minutes on average. Indy Eleven will continue its away swing this Saturday in the team’s first-ever meeting against expansion side Loudoun United FC. Kickoff for the contest at Audi Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m., and the match will be streamed live online via ESPN+.

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6/11/19  US Women World Cup Game Today 3 pm vs Thailand on Fox, US Men prepare for Gold Cup Tues, European Cup Qualifications, Full TV Game Schedule

Something about national anthems and solid soccer that has to get me excited for World Cup Soccer.  The opener in France was electrifying.

The US Ladies get underway Tuesday at 3 pm vs Thailand on Fox with coverage starting at 2 pm.  Replay is 8 pm on Fox Sports 1 in case you miss it! So can this team repeat or has the rest of the world caught up with the US ladies?  The creation of women’s leagues in Europe with really strong teams in France like Lyon, and PSG, and England, has led to a resurgence in top-ranked European teams as Germany, England and France fill out the top 4 along with the US.  Canada is also strong at #5, while former lady powers Japan, Brazil, China and Norway have fallen off.  A potential Quarter Final match-up with France in Paris if both they and the US win their groups is why I am still worried for the US.  I am just not sure our current defense can stand up to France’s attack (yes they put up a 4-0 win in game 1) and could have scored 2 or 3 more with any luck.  Still the US are defending champs for a reason – and with more than half their team back from the 2015 World Cup they have plenty of experience returning.  New to this team are former forward Crystal Dunn stepping in at right back, Naeher in goal for the Crazy Hope Solo, Abby Dahlkemper is solid but this is her first WC at center back for Julie Johnson Ertz who has moved into the #6 slot.  And the addition of Lindsay Horan and Rose Lavelle or Sam Mewis in the midfield.  Returning superstars Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and Tobin Heath head up a front line that is among the most deadly in the world, while behind them are Ally Loyd, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh all of who could start for anyone else in the world.  I think this US team is good – but losses on home soil to France and England a year back have me concerned especially on with those teams probably having more fan support in France.  I seriously might consider not winning the last game to finish 2nd in the group and not have to face France until the Finals rather than the Elite 8.  It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

US ah Men – crawl into Gold Cup

Any questions about how important Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore are to this US team for the Gold Cup they have been answered in the first 2 warm-up losses.  Bradley has yet to play while horrific Will Trapp tried to hold down the #6 and was “ “ captain.  Are you kidding me – Trapp has neither the speed, the intelligence or the bite to play the #6 at the international level much less serve as the US Captain.  And Altidore looked better in 45 minutes than any US forward has looked since that fateful night of World Cup DISQUALIFICATION 2 years ago. I realize our new coach is getting his VERY INEXPERIENCED feet wet so I’ll wait until after the Gold Cup before making full judgment – but man back to back losses including a 3-0 loss Venezuela (a team that hasn’t made the world cup out of South America in like 3 cycles, and loss to an undermanned Mexico 3-1 last week) is not a good start.  This team needs to actually score a goal, solidify its defense, start playing with HEART like most former US teams have done and honestly get to the Finals of the Gold Cup.  Good thing our Ladies Team actually plays with the heart and skill expected on an American squad because our men seem to have lost that.  Sad, sad times for the USMNT.  We’ll see if they recover as the Gold Cup gets underway next Tuesday.

Nation’s League Success

So this Nations League thing might be a good idea after all.  After watching the final 4 this past week in Portugal – with full stadiums and huge crowds on hand for the very exciting final 4.  Portugal defeated the Dutch 1-0 in the Final. Heck even the 3rd place game went to shoot-out with England’s GK Pickford the star to provide some extra excitement – along with the Hat Trick by Renaldo on Wednesday.

Carmel FC Tryouts & Camps are Set

Tryouts for kids from U11 till 18 wrap up today. Carmel FC is a community-based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Tryouts are June 10 & 11 for U11 & above. Click here for more info about CFC Tryouts.  Also Carmel FC is looking for Coaches for the 2019/20 Seasons please click here if interested.

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumi Soccer DEADLINE TODAY 6/11– College Aged or just out of college players are invited to play Carmel Dad’s Alumni Soccer on Wednesday nights, all summer long.  Cost is just $95 for the season – bring a team or we can add you to one – guys and girls – rec play thru travel play – there is room for everyone!! Please click here  to register for this league.  Registration is open now- June 11.  Questions please contact the office 317-846-1663 or League Coordinator Mercedes Martin admin@jamesembry.com

CFC_GK_Cash

US Women’s Cup

Who can Beat the US Ladies and Why

How the US Wins or Loses the World Cup – yahoo sports

US World Cup Predictions – the Guardian

Hope Solo trashes Jill Ellis as US manager

US Players Respond to Hope Solo Criticism – Yahoo Soccer

Tobino Heath would Nutmeg you in a Second – ESPN W – Graham Hayes

Fearless Rapinoe leads US on and Off the Field – Yahoo Soccer

Unbreakable Bond Between US Midfielders Key to World Cup Success – Graham Hayes – ESPNW

Can new US Keeper stack up ?

Bob Marley’s Daughter saves Jamaica Women’s Team USA Today

Carli Lloyd knows her moment will come again with U.S. women

Women’s World Cup 2019: Everything you need to know
Women’s World Cup – All Teams Preview – S & S

US Men Gold Cup

Berhalter Not about to Scrap Tactics after 2 losses – Jeff Carlisle EPSNFC

US Men’s 3-0 Loss Highlights Reality of Where the US Is – Yahoo Sports

US Still Confident in System after Loss – MLS.com

US Player Ratings in horrible loss to Venezuela – ESPNFC

US Men’s Ratings – Greg Seltzer MLS.com

GoalKeeping

Women’s World Cup Top Saves Sunday

MLS Saves of the Week

Manuel Neuer German GK embarrasses forward with footwork

England’s Pickford scores a goal and saves one in shootout win

Atlanta GK Brad Guzan with 3 saves

Mexico’s Ochoa with the Save

American 19 YO Keeper makes great saves for Jamaica in World Cup

WORLD

Voting for MLS All-Star Game ends this Monday

Portugal Wins UEFA Nations League Trophy with win over Dutch

GK Pickford Saves the Day for England in 3rd place game

GAMES ON TV

USA Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

 Tues, June 11

  • 11:30 am Fox Sports 2           U20 WC – Ukraine vs Italy
  • 12 noon FS1 WWC Chile vs Sweden
  • 2:30 pm ESPN2 Italy vs Bosnia – Euro Qualifying
  • 2:30 pm FS2 U20 WC – Ecuador vs Korea
  • 3 pm FOX USA Women vs Thailand

Wed, June 12

9:30 am Fox Sports 1              WWC Nigeria vs Korea

12n Fox                                   WWC Germany vs Spain

  • 3 pm FS1 WWC France vs Norway
  • 7:30 pm ESPN+ Cincy vs Louisville City  US Open Cup
  • 10:30 pm ESPN+ Seattle vs Portland  US Open Cup
  • 10:30 pm ESPN+ La Galaxy vs Orange County FC US Open Cup

Thur, June 13

12 noon Fox                            WWC Australia vs Brazil

Thur, June 13

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Japan vs Scotland

12 noon Fox                            WWC Jamaica vs Italy

2:30 pm Fox Sport 2               U20 WC 3rd place game

3 pm Fox                                  WWC England vs Argentina

  • 8:30 pm ESPN+ Copa – Brazil vs Bolivia

Sat, June 15

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Netherlands vs Cameron

12 noon Fox Sport 1                U-20 WC Final

  • 3 pm FS2 WWC Canada vs New Zealand
  • 3 pm ESPN+ Venezuela vs Peru  Copa America
  • 6 pm EPSN+ Argentina vs Colombia Copa America
  • 7:30 pm ESPN+ Loudoun United vs Indy 11
  • 7:30 pm FS2 Canada vs Martinique GOLD CUP
  • 10 pm FS2 Mexico vs Cuba GOLD CUP

Sun, June 16

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Sweden vs Thailand

12 noon Fox               WWC USA vs Chile

3 pm ESPN+                            Uraguay vs Ecuador COPA

6 pm Fox Sport 2                    Haiti vs Bermuda Gold Cup

8:30 pm FS1                            Costa Rica vs Nicaragua Gold Cup

Mon, June 17

12 noon Fox Sports 1              WWC China vs Spain

12 noon Fox                            WWC South Africa vs Germany

3 pm Fox                                   WWC Nigeria vs France

3 pm FS 1                                  WWC Korea vs Norway

Tues, June 18

3pm Fox Sports 1                    WWC Italy vs Brazil

3 pm Fox  Sport 2                    WWC Jamaica vs Australia

7:30 pm FS1                            Panama vs T&T Gold Cup

8:30 pm ESPN+                       Brazil vs Venezuela

10 pm FS1                   USA Men vs Guyana Gold Cup

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Is the U.S. a clear favorite at the 2019 Women’s World Cup?

Yahoo Sports StaffYahoo SportsJun 5, 2019, 3:53 PM

Henry Bushnell: Friends! It’s been a while. Almost a year, in fact. But just in time for the 2019 Women’s World Cup, the Yahoo Soccer Mixer is back.

We’ve covered the tournament and the USWNT plenty already. But I felt compelled to reinvent the Mixer for one reason, and one reason only: I think we – as a Yahoo Soccer staff, and as an American soccer media collective – are being far too pessimistic with respect to the U.S. and its chances in France this summer.From my not-expert-but-thoroughly-educated perspective, the Yanks are pretty clearly the best team in the world. They’re only slightly less clearly the World Cup favorite. And all the hand-wringing over Jill Ellis’ tinkering and faulty tactics and bunker-breaking difficulties is waaaaay overblown.  What’s more, I feel pretty confident I can refute any argument to the contrary. So I invite you to fire away with your reasons to worry. (Or with your reverential acknowledgements that I’m right. But that would be boring. So please, convince me to doubt my own confidence.)

Doug McIntyreI sort of pride myself on being an optimist, both in life and in soccer. And I completely agree that by just about any measure, the USWNT is and deserves to be the odds-on favorite to repeat this summer. They’re absolutely the best team in the tournament. Coach Jill Ellis cut players who’d be starting for other contenders. Hell, she has the likes of Carli Lloyd and Christen Press coming off the bench. None of it means a thing.  Look, things rarely go how we think they will in sports. As often as not, the best team doesn’t finish on top of the podium for any number of reasons. The USWNT was probably also the deepest and most talented team at the 1995, 2003, 2007 and 2011 World Cups (not to mention the 2000 and 2016 Olympics) and they didn’t win any of those tournaments. Plus, it’s really hard to win back-to-back World Cups. There’s a reason why it’s only happened twice on the men’s side and once on the women’s. So, sure, the U.S. has the best chance out of the 24 participants to hoist the hardware. But do I take the Americans over the entire field in FranceThat’s a much tougher question to answer.Then you consider that Ellis’ team hasn’t performed at its best in the months leading up to the World Cup. You add in the fact that the U.S. is on a collision course with the host nation long before the final – the U.S. and France will meet in the quarters if both squads top their groups, as expected – and I think it’s reasonable to have some doubt.Les Bleus are widely regarded as the second-best team in the world. Athletically, they present a matchup nightmare for the Americans, relatively speaking. They’ll obviously be playing in front of their own fans. And after beating the U.S. 3-1 in January, they will not fear the Yanks. It would be a shame in some ways if that do-or-die match happens so early. If it does, though, I see the victor riding that momentum all the way to the title. Just don’t be shocked if it’s not the U.S. this time around.

Leander SchaerlaeckensHi again. It’s me, the unpopular-opinion-haver. I’m not at all convinced of the USA’s invincibility in France. It’s easy to look at your national team with rose-tinted glasses ahead of a World Cup. Just as it’s easy to see a contender in just about any baseball team during Spring Training, if you squint hard enough.Is this team talented? Absolutely. Deep? Oh yeah. The best version of the national team ever? Probably not. But all the same, the U.S. is one of the favorites. The talent up front and in the midfield is staggering. But look for them, and you’ll find plenty of weaknesses as well. The U.S. no longer has a goalkeeper who will paper over mistakes in the back. The defense isn’t entirely convincing. The full-back positions are thin and staffed by players who don’t play there for their clubs. The best center back from the last World Cup, Julie Ertz, has been moved into midfield and Becky Sauerbrunn can be exposed for her lack of speed.Meanwhile, France and Germany have stupefyingly good forward lines, backed by heavyweight midfields. Both of these teams can give the U.S. defense fits. And it only takes one bad day when the shots won’t hit the net to go crashing out in any of the four knockout games you need to win to defend the World Cup.This is why it’s so hard to repeat as winners. Everything has to go right. Twice. And there are enough question marks there for me to feel that the French and Germans have as good a chance as the Americans, if not better.

Henry Bushnell: Alright, a couple points to push back on.

But first, let me clear: I agree with the vast majority of Doug’s first two paragraphs. Of course I wouldn’t take the U.S. over the field. Taking any World Cup team, ever, over the field would be loco. I’m by no means saying a repeat is automatic. Single-elimination tournaments inherently introduce more randomness than we realize.And that’s why it’s “hard to repeat.” Not because it’s particularly difficult for a defending champion to win a World Cup, but because it’s difficult for anybody to win a World Cup. There have been six opportunities for repeats at Women’s World Cups. Probabilistically, based on the number of true contenders in a given year, 1-in-6 is about what you’d expect. And as I discussed after Germany’s flameout last summer, the idea of a team “repeating” some 1,400 days after winning the first time around is somewhat silly, simply because four years is a long time.But I absolutely think the U.S. is more likely than any other individual team to win this thing. And I’m not sure why we’re so convinced the French are a “matchup nightmare.” The U.S. has never played them with more than six of the 11 who’ll be first-choice starters this month. France is great, but what makes us think the U.S. wouldn’t be a definitive, though perhaps not heavy, favorite in that quarterfinal?

Joey Gulino: So much, at least for me. France’s strengths almost seem engineered to either exploit or stonewall the United States’ strengths. The Americans are incredible in the attack? Central defender Wendie Renard and goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi are among the best in the world at their positions. The playmaking might have to come more centrally? Too bad Amandine Henry is there to clog everything up. The fullbacks are a question mark? Eugénie Le Sommer will be doing the asking. And that’s not something I’d find comfortable.This isn’t a new challenge the French are presenting, either. They hammered the U.S. in that January friendly, and drew the U.S. in the SheBelieves Cup last year, and gummed up the 2016 Olympic meeting, admittedly a narrow loss. So whoever’s been in the Americans’ lineup, France has had answers.They’re playing in front of their own country, too. The home soil boost hasn’t been as pronounced in Women’s World Cups as the men’s – only once, in 1999, has the host nation ever won it, and we’re already 16 years removed from the last time a host even made the semifinals – but this feels different. As much as I hate to say it as an American, it feels like the USWNT is walking into a giant exclamation point on the sentence about the rest of the world catching up.There are concerns with that take, like pressure and Le Sommer’s health and (yes) the USWNT’s overwhelming talent, but I really think the French women do what the men did last summer.Henry Bushnell: I like that this has evolved into a “U.S. vs. France” debate. Because, deep down, that’s how some USWNT players see it. Ask in public about top challengers, and they’ll give you the ol’ “we’re focused on Thailand.” But they’re boldfaced liars if they tell you they aren’t aware of the quarterfinal collision course. And, if you listen closely, they’re already playing mind games.Here’s Megan Rapinoe, on Wednesday, speaking about France: “I consider them the favorites, and I feel like all the pressure is on them.”And Lindsey Horan, at media day two weeks ago: “I think they do have a little bit of pressure on their back playing at home. … And they’ve gotten so much better these past few years. It’s kind of a mentality thing for them.”And honestly? That, more than any of your misguided arguments, gives me a bit of pause. Not because Megan Rapinoe thinks France is the favorite – I don’t think she actually believes that. But because mind games shouldn’t be necessary. All they do is lend to the idea that this French team is in the Americans’ heads a bit.But none of the matchup chatter scares me. It’s so selective and non-specific. The biggest individual mismatch, to be honest, is U.S. wingers vs. French fullbacks.And by the way, the home-turf advantage argument? I’d bet on move American fans being at the Parc des Princes on June 28 than French fans. The U.S contingent is going to blow us away. And there just aren’t too many reasons to think the USWNT won’t blow away the field just the same.

Women’s World Cup: Why France, Germany, three others can beat Team USA

Marcus WhiteNBC Sports BayArea•Jun 8, 2019, 4:41 AM

Women’s World Cup: Why France, Germany, three others can beat Team USA originally appeared on nbcsportsbayarea.com.   The United States Women’s National Team’s defense of their World Cup title won’t be easy. This summer in France, a handful of elite teams are poised to pose problems for the USWNT in the knockout stages of the competition. The Americans never have won consecutive World Cups, and they will arguably face their toughest opposition yet in pursuit of a repeat if (and when) they advance from Group F. Here are five teams from the other groups in the tournament that can stop the United States’ bid for a second straight World Cup.

France

The hosts got off to a smashing start Friday, kicking off the World Cup with a 4-0 rout of South Korea. Defender Wendie Renard took an early lead for the Golden Boot with two headed goals off of set pieces, and the French cruised en route to three points. France has been close-but-not-quite there for a decade, advancing to at least the quarterfinals in every World Cup, Olympics and European Championship during that time. It all seems to be coming together for Les Bleus, as the side has lost just three times since Corinne Diacre took over almost two years ago. The French only have been defeated once in 2019, and beat the USWNT 3-1 in Le Havre, France back on Jan. 19.A tournament on home soil could be just what France’s “golden generation” needs to win its first major title. The USWNT could face the French as soon as the quarterfinals if both sides top their groups, meaning one of the co-favorites could be responsible for the other’s tournament ending in trophy-less disappointment.

Germany

It’s always the Germans, isn’t it? Germany is the only nation to win back-to-back World Cups (2003, 2007), and won gold at the 2016 Rio Olympics. A lot has changed in three years, though. Nine of the 23 players on Germany’s roster were on the Rio team, and the Germans have had three managers (two full-time) since. Considering Germany had three total managers in the preceding three decades, that’s quite a bit of turnover for a country that has been Europe’s most successful in the sport. Still, the Germans have not lost in 2019, handed France its only loss of the year (so far) in a January friendly and are No. 2 in FIFA’s rankings. Germany has a favorable bracket path, too, and wouldn’t have to play another group winner until the semifinals at the earliest if it is able to top Group B. Assuming that happens, a match with the USWNT in the quarters is possible if the Americans don’t top Group F, setting up a revenge match with the team that knocked out Germany in the semifinals in 2015.

Australia

Australia made a coaching change itself back in January, leaving Ante Milicic with only a few months of preparation. That was apparent in the run-up to the World Cup, as the Matildas allowed three goals in both pre-tournament friendlies with the Netherlands.But the Australian attack is as fearsome as any team in the tournament, in large part because any Golden Boot/Ball conversation is incomplete without Sam Kerr. The 25-year-old will be playing in her third World Cup, but is still looking for her first goal in the tournament. Chances are the NWSL’s all-time leading scorer won’t wait long in France. Australia’s group is sneaky-tough with up-and-coming Italy and Marta-led Brazil waiting in the wings. A Kerr-Marta showdown on June 13 will offer plenty for neutrals, but should prepare the Matildas well for the knockout stages. Depending on how results shake out in the group stage, the Australians’ path to the Final in Lyon could go through the Netherlands and Germany in the quarters and semis, respectively. Kerr is prolific enough to see Australia through.

England

The English have good reason to believe football’s coming home in 2019. After semifinal runs in the 2015 World Cup and the 2017 Euros, the Three Lionesses are arguably the country’s best chance at winning its first major soccer trophy since the men won the World Cup on home soil in 1966. England won the round-robin SheBelieves Cup back in March, drawing 2-2 with the USWNT. Lucy Bronze is considered by many to be the best fullback in the world, and could complete a quadruple — she won the French league, French cup and UEFA Champions League titles with Lyon — if England raises the trophy in her home stadium on July 7. Expect England to win Group D, thus dodging another group winner until the semifinals. Awaiting the English there could be France or the United States, possibly leaving the obligatory penalty shootout with Germany for the Final. England is more than capable of writing a different ending to that familiar story this time around.

Canada

Canada has not lost in 2019, and lost three games in 2018 by a combined four goals to France (1-0), Germany (3-2) and the United States (2-0). In other words, the Canadians can hang with the world’s elite. Aging star Christine Sinclair remains Canada’s focal point in the attacking third, and she can surpass Abby Wambach’s all-time international record (184) with four goals in France. Canada’s defense, led by central defender Kadeisha Buchanan, is sturdy, having allowed just one goal in eight matches this calendar year. The group stage will be a different matter entirely, with the European champion Netherlands lurking. Both teams likely will have advanced from Group E by the time the two square off on June 20 in Reims, and the winner’s path won’t be much easier than the loser’s. Group E’s runner-up will, in all likelihood, face Germany in the quarters, while its winner probably draws Australia. But Canada can beat either side on its best day, and is capable of ensuring a North American side lifts the World Cup once more.

Shaky defenders and France’s threat: our writers’ US World Cup predictions

Caitlin Murray, Gemma Clarke, Shireen Ahmed and Beau Dure,The Guardian 5 hours ago  The Guardian

USWNT’s key player is …

Julie Ertz. No one else in the squad offers the same physical disruption in central midfield, and the USWNT’s defense, which has looked shaky, needs all the cover it can get. Her scoring ability on set pieces could also be the difference. CM

Tempted to say Lindsey Horan but I’m going to go with Becky Sauerbrunn. She’s rightfully described as the soul of the team, and they’ll need her experience and steadying influence both on- and off-the-field. At her best, she can bring calm and composure to a young defense, the rest of whom haven’t competed in a World Cup before, barring Ali Krieger. GC

Megan Rapinoe. She is a key playmaker, is lethal on set plays, and has an unapologetic drive and energy that fuels her teammates. She has played with some of the top players in the world, and her experience gives her the ability to read the game and act accordingly. ‘Pinoe’ also often acts as the moral compass of this team. And that makes her even more powerful. SA

Becky Sauerbrunn. The old joke about Roberto Carlos – that left-back wasn’t his address but the place he could be found in case of emergency – applies to both full-backs. Aside from them, the only defender who has played in a major tournament is surprise call-up Ali Krieger. Sauerbrunn, criminally omitted from 2015 post-Cup honors, will need to be the cornerstone at the back once again. BD

Unheralded USWNT player to watch …

There isn’t much attention on Rose Lavelle because this is her first major tournament. But her creativity in midfield could be crucial if the USWNT’s usual approach from the flanks is unsuccessful. Lavelle is the only playmaking No10 on the roster who can pull the strings in the attack. CM

It’s hard to pick an unheralded player in a team of all-stars so I’m going to go with somebody who is currently unheralded in Carli Lloyd. She’s going into this tournament as a sub due to her age but she’s incredibly focused, hard-working and still has the capacity to come on and change a game with a moment of brilliance. GC

Jessica McDonald. The US have notable talent up front (Alex Morgan and Tobin Heath) but McDonald has a point to make. She is bold, and I love that. She’s the only mother on this squad, and has worked relentlessly to get better, and be noticed. She brings a confidence to the pitch that tells us she has nothing to lose. She is ready. SA

Rose Lavelle. The US have never been known for playmaking midfielders, but they have one now. In the NWSL, where wily veterans typically humble incoming draftees, Lavelle was a rare immediate-impact rookie before injury trouble struck. If the USA face a bunker, as they did in the fateful 2016 Olympics loss to Sweden, she’ll be the key to unlocking it. BD

USWNT’s biggest weakness …

Defense, defense, defense. When the USWNT have faced teams ranked in the world top 10 this year, they have conceded multiple goals on all but one occasion. The USWNT attack is potent, but the forwards will have to work extra hard to make up for all the goals the USWNT looks poised to concede. CM

At the back. The defense has looked a little shaky at times, particularly against other big teams. It doesn’t seem like they’ve quite gelled and I think part of that is a lack of experience. On top of that, Briana Scurry and Hope Solo set an incredibly high bar in goal and Alyssa Naeher will need to keep a cool head and put in some great performances to reassure the players around her. GC

Overconfidence. The USWNT have a tendency to hold to notions of what they were, not what they are. They are not the youngest team out there, and did not perform well at the SheBelieves Cup earlier this year. I am pleased they have huge support from their fans but that doesn’t always lend itself to humility. SA

Depth at the back. The puzzling roster decision wasn’t Ali Krieger over Casey Short, a capable left-back. It was Jessica McDonald, a seventh forward, over Short, who could give Crystal Dunn a break or a chance to play in the attack. Meanwhile, in goal, starter Alyssa Naeher has been shaky this year, and third-stringer Adrianna Franch didn’t make her debut until March. BD

The biggest threat to the US …

France. The host country have a supremely talented group and are widely considered the favorite of this tournament. Unfortunately for the USWNT, the draw has put the Americans on a collision course to face France in the quarter-finals, which could spell the USA’s earliest exit in a World Cup. CM

France. They carved the USWNT apart in the pre-tournament friendly, they’re on home soil and look extremely dangerous. What they lack in experience, they make up for in fluid, dynamic attacking play. They’re a team who can sit back and soak up the pressure, then produce clinical finishes on the break. GC

There are plenty of threats out there. This year they have been beaten by France and faced tough battles against England, Australia and Japan. They also rely heavily on physicality and not necessarily technical skill. SA

The cruelty of the World Cup draw is that the USA will likely face bona fide contender France in the quarter-finals. The hosts routed the USA (admittedly rusty in the NWSL offseason) in January, and they have a strong mix of experience and youth. BD

One bold prediction …

There’s no good reason to think Spain will make a run in this World Cup. They only qualified for the first time in 2015 and were knocked out in the group stage. And conventional wisdom says they lack necessary depth. But World Cups are for chaos and what Spain lack in talent they may make up for in having an identity. Plus, keep an eye on goalscorer Jenni Hermoso. CM

This is very bold, but I think Thailand may hold the USWNT to a draw in their opening fixture. They held Australia to a shock draw in the semi-finals of the Asia Cup last year, only to lose on penalties. It’s a huge tournament, all eyes are on the reigning champions and all that scrutiny could cause an upset in their opening game. If the forwards aren’t on their game and they don’t score early, the pressure of the occasion could produce a shock. Unlikely, but possible. GC

Despite their opening loss to Italy, Australia will get to the final, because Sam Kerr is flanked by a squad that often gets unnoticed as they toil Down Under. SA

The ticket fiasco is the last domino to fall for Fifa. Western Europe, North America and a few South American and Asian countries form their own soccer federation, and we endure a decade of dueling international organizers before everything is resolved. Hey, it worked for chess, more or less. BD

Will the USWNT’s gender discrimination lawsuit affect their campaign?

If the USWNT falter in this World Cup, it will be because women’s soccer is more competitive than ever before. What I learned in researching and writing my book on the USWNT, is that they have been in these sorts of off-field battles continuously over the years. In the past it just happened a lot more privately. CM

If they don’t win, it’s what some lazy pundits will suggest but no. The battle between the USWNT and US Soccer for fair pay has been ongoing for decades, just in different forms. Now it’s a legal matter. That US Soccer continues to undervalue and undermine its most successful team is an embarrassment. There’s no loophole or pernickety justifications of pay structure that can justify this persistent inequality. GC

Much to their credit, the USWNT have been champions despite the incompetence of US Soccer. There is a part of me – albeit, as a Canadian, a very small part – that hopes they win everything to spite the people who will not give them proper remuneration. These women deserve everything that America can give them. SA

Not at all. The team’s veteran leadership, especially US Soccer Athletes’ Council member Sauerbrunn, won’t let that happen. BD

USWNT’s campaign will end with …

The realistic expectation is that the US should make it to the semi-finals, because that has always been the standard. But after years of asking whether the world has caught up to the USWNT, I think this could be the year we finally see it happen and the US exit in the quarter-final, which would be their worst World Cup ever. CM

Defeat in the semi-finals. Possibly to a heartbreaking, last-minute goal or a questionable refereeing decision. I feel like the USWNT have benefitted from some of those over the years and the football gods tend to exact their revenge every once in a while. GC

They’ll ease through their group but the reigning champions will not advance beyond the quarter finals. The competition is very, very tough. Which makes this the most exciting World Cup yet. SA

Misguided takes from US pundits who pay attention only when the spotlight is on. Depending on results, that could be “Why didn’t they take Hope Solo?” or “When will Congress intervene?” Or maybe “They won, so why won’t they get paid more,” not realizing that they will. We don’t know all the CBA details, but winning matters.

Oh, and they’ll win it. They’ll get past France in extra-time, beat England 3-2 in the semi-finals and take the final 4-1 over Australia, who won’t be able to build on the momentum of ousting Germany in the semis. BD

The unbreakable bond between U.S. midfielders key to World Cup success

8:02 AM ETGraham HaysespnW.com

REIMS, France — They wear the same uniforms. They are around the same age. They occupy the same space on the field, literally the middle ground between those tasked with producing goals and those expected to prevent them. And none of them has been here before, not like this.Any number of superficial strands connect Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Sam Mewis, the four midfielders who top the United States depth chart and who competed for three starting positions throughout the buildup to this World Cup. But as the middle without which the entire U.S. effort on the field will crumble, the personal bonds that knit together their individual promise are anything but superficial. None of them know what it’s like to play in the midfield in a World Cup, but all of them know they aren’t alone.”I call them soul ties,” Ertz said. “Because I think when you have history with somebody your bond just is stronger.”The U.S. will play Thailand on Tuesday with a starting midfield that collectively lacks even one World Cup start in midfield. The front line is loaded with experience. Likely starters at forward, Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe have played 34 World Cup games. The defense, including goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher, has its share of inexperience, but Becky Sauerbrunn is hardly a newcomer in the middle of the back line.

Among the four midfielders who received most of the minutes in recent years, on the other hand, only Ertz has World Cup experience — and that as a center back in 2015. Horan played in the midfield in the 2016 Olympics, but started only once in four appearances in Brazil. Lavelle and Mewis have yet to play a minute at any position in any major tournament.Nowhere did Jill Ellis have more of a blank canvas with which to work after 2016 than in the midfield. What emerged is a reflection of how she wants to play.”Obviously it’s a coach’s preference in terms of profile and what they want the function to be,” Ellis said of what goes into shaping a midfield. “I think for me it was important to have balance in there. It’s not just about [one thing]. It’s obviously breaking up plays, but then players that can play the final pass. With the front three, the attacking profile of our forwards, the ability for us to break lines requires players making the final pass in midfield.”She referenced recent Champions League winner Liverpool as an example. Liverpool’s collection of “hard, strong, physical, hard-working” midfielders, as Ellis put it, did the work that fed the star-studded front line and aided a back line built around one undeniable talent. It sounds familiar. All of those midfielders fit an athletic profile for an aggressive system. But rather than interchangeable parts, each complemented the others. That’s the model.While Horan got her foot in the lineup during the 2016 Olympics, the midfield truly took shape in the 2017 Tournament of Nations. With the U.S. trailing Brazil in San Diego, Ertz came on as a substitute at the holding midfield position. It wasn’t a coincidence that a 3-1 deficit became a signature 4-3 win. Ertz scored a goal in the comeback, but more than that, she brought an energy and intensity to winning back that spread throughout the lineup that day.The energy is still different when she’s out there. And as the U.S. settled on an aggressive 4-3-3 formation, taking cues from her hard-tackling, ball-winning ways, it relied on her even more. They take risks going forward knowing she will throw her body in the way to back them up.”Just that sort of transitional style and getting after it and always wanting to go forward and push, push, push, she kind of provides that anchor for us,” Rapinoe said of Ertz. “She’s good box to box and can get up and down, but we want to send the [other two midfielders] and be able to have them go unattached from the back line and get our outside backs forward. So Julie provides that anchor for us and the ability to break up the counterattack.”By her own analysis, Ertz plays the No. 6 with a more defensive mindset than Lauren Holiday, the maestro who retired after the 2015 World Cup (and Morgan Brian, who filled the same role in the later rounds of that tournament with Holiday higher on the field). But Holiday still has a successor in Horan, the 25-year-old NWSL MVP who came into her own for both club and country in 2018, when she was also a finalist for U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year.A forward for much of her youth career, including when she signed with Paris Saint-Germain out of high school, Horan developed into a true box-to-box midfielder, the No. 8 who can do everything from a pinpoint 30-yard, switch-of-play pass to a header in the box on set pieces.”Her presence in the midfield already intimidates other people,” Ertz said. “She’s fantastic in the air. She is feisty on the ground to be able to win tackles with her strength alone. But not only that. Her foot skills, being both-footed and finessing her passes, I think elevated me, for sure, but elevated the team’s standard for being able to pass and build out.”Lavelle was the final piece to fall into place, one that Ellis had to wait patiently for through a series of injury delays, mostly related to a nagging hamstring issue.”Rose is amazing at changing the tempo of a game,” Ertz said. “She is so much faster than I think people realize. She can create these chances out of nothing. Her creativity and her vision, especially in [the final] third, is world class. On top of that, she works so hard to get back, which obviously helps me. Her having that 10 role, more freedom and creativity, has been amazing.”Ellis tossed Lavelle in the deep end for her senior international debut against England in 2017. Yet despite the class of opponent and a wickedly frigid day in New Jersey, the rookie was one of the stars for the U.S. in an otherwise forgettable loss. It didn’t hurt that for all the newness, she was surrounded in the lineup that day by Horan and Mallory Pugh, all three teammates on the U.S. team that competed in the 2014 U-20 World Cup, and Mewis, one of her best friends.”I felt like I came in at a time that was a lot easier for younger players to transition into because we had a lot of each other to lean on,” Lavelle said. “The older players were great, but I think having someone you’re a little more familiar with off the field definitely made it easier because it is such a competitive environment.”It isn’t just those four midfielders who are intertwined. Ertz and defender Crystal Dunn go back years as friends and teammates. They won a U-20 World Cup together, along with Mewis and Morgan Brian. Colorado natives who shared youth rosters and bypassed college in favor of pro soccer, Horan and Pugh are inseparable — Lavelle often not far removed. Emily Sonnett is in the middle of most everything that goes on for the younger generation. And on and on.They weren’t thrown together as strangers on one of the most competitive teams in the world and forced to find common cause on the fly. They brought their bonds, formed long ago in club soccer, college soccer and youth national teams, to that crucible.”When you have somebody who has your back, it automatically creates a bond,” Ertz said. “The DNA of this team has had that, having each other’s backs, fighting to the last whistle. That is what makes this team so dangerous in tournament because people can’t touch that.”You can touch tactics, you can sit back, you can change that stuff. But you won’t break somebody’s will to fight for each other.”The fourth member of the quartet exemplifies the collective strength best of all, precisely because she may be the odd one out when starters are announced June 11. Mewis has done plenty to merit a place in the starting lineup, coming into her own in 2017 and bouncing back this year after an injury-marred 2018. A powerful presence who can play any midfield role, she will play important minutes in France, starter or not.”When I’m on the bench, I’m cheering the loudest for Lindsey and Rose, even though they’re in front of me and they play my position,” Mewis said. “Because their success is my success. We’re all working in this together, and it feels really like a team in that way. And of course, it is, but this team is so competitive, and I think that having those strong bonds of support and caring for each other is going to carry us a long way.”The American midfield in 1999 was already full of World Cup winners from eight years earlier. The midfield in 2015 had Olympic champions multiple times over. This group doesn’t have that history. But it has its own history. So while the individual parts are what the U.S. needs to play the way it wants to play, the friendships and trust that bind them together are what the U.S. hopes will let them shine.”It’s all there for them,” Rapinoe said. “We’ll do our best as older players to sort of embolden them and encourage them, but I think [they should] realize that they have everything that they need. Their individual strengths and talents that they have coming out of the midfield is exactly what we need them to do. We don’t need them to be anything different than what they are.”And if the middle holds this summer, anything is possible.

Berhalter, U.S. have myriad problems to solve before upcoming Gold Cup

8:02 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

CINCINNATI — After the U.S. men’s national team lost 1-0 to Jamaica last Wednesday, it didn’t seem as if things could get much worse for the Americans.Four days later, they’re worse. Way worse.The U.S. was absolutely hammered 3-0 — on home turf no less — against a Venezuela side that gratefully accepted all the gifts the Americans gave them. And to be clear, the U.S. was in giving mood. There was the horrible pass from goalkeeper Zack Steffen that set up the first of two goals from Salomon Rondon. Then there was Venezuela’s second from a throw-in, with the U.S. defense seemingly set, that allowed Jefferson Savarino to fire a shot off the post and then score himself on the rebound. Finally, a simple long ball found Rondon in space, isolated against Aaron Long, before the West Brom forward carved out enough space to hammer a shot past a helpless Steffen.Yes, Jhon Murillo looked to be offside in the run-up to Rondon’s first but bad calls happen, especially when there is no VAR on hand, as was the case in this friendly. The fact that Christian Pulisic, Tyler Adams and Michael Bradley were all missing didn’t help either, but the U.S. cannot hide behind excuses such as this. In moments of adversity a national team must come together, collect itself, and find a way to get back in the game. Instead the U.S. crumbled here.When the half mercifully reached its end, boos could be heard from the Nippert Stadium crowd. Midfielder Wil Trapp didn’t blame the fans.”It’s unacceptable to lose 3-0 at home,” he said.Manager Gregg Berhalter tried to project an air of composure after the match, though given the nature of the defeat his words didn’t inspire much confidence.”I think we need to be calm. I think we need to look at the game, look at what we need to improve on, and then set out to do it,” Berhalter said. “It’s really tough after a result like this and start making excuses. I don’t really want to do that. But what I’d say is we’re still getting guys where they need to be, and we’re not there yet, and that’s pretty clear. So we’re going to keep working on it.”So now Berhalter finds himself in something of quandary heading into the Gold Cup. Does he persist with the same tactics and personnel? Have some players played themselves out of the lineup? These are questions that apply to almost every part of the field. I say almost because Jozy Altidore, after coming on at halftime, gave the team a spark with his movement, link-up play, and being an overall attacking presence in the final third.Everywhere else there appear to be problems. The midfield lacked bite overall, and seemed incapable of doing anything to stop Venezuela’s attacks. At the other end of the pitch, the chances the U.S. did create were squandered fairly easily.Most sobering of all is the frailty of a defense that had been among the more stable parts of the U.S. team since Berhalter took over. On this day it had all the tensile strength of papier-mache. The three goals in that first half were more than the U.S. had conceded in the five previous games combined under Berhalter.There were several reasons as to why. The team’s press wasn’t cohesive and communication was lacking. Certainly Long looked as if he were shaking off some considerable rust after having not played for the last month because of an injury, but Berhalter defended his decision to put the New York Red Bulls defender on the field.”We need to get Aaron where he needs to be. We need to get him fit,” Berhalter said. “So the question is: Do we not play him? Do we not give him this game routine because we’re worried he can fail the challenge? Or do we know where we need to go and because of that he plays. To me it was clear. I needed to play. He needs fitness. Forty-five minutes was enough. He came out injury-free, which was positive. And then we build.”Despite the result, Berhalter is determined to stay the course.”The guys worked hard. They gave what they had. They came up short,” he said. “And it doesn’t mean that we’re going to scrap all the plans. We’re always evaluating, we’re always seeing how effective we can be, and where we need to improve. And we’re just going to continue that process.”When the likes of Pulisic, Adams, Bradley and Altidore return to full fitness, the U.S. will no doubt be a better and more dangerous side. But even then, there are questions. Can Berhalter afford not to have Adams play in the center of midfield? The U.S. manager wants Adams’ aggression, but also the passing ability of either Bradley or Trapp. But can either provide the defensive presence needed on their own? The answer, particularly in Trapp’s case, seems to be no. That is in part why Adams has been put in the hybrid right back/center midfield role. The issue becomes exacerbated when the team isn’t on the same page with its press, as was the case Sunday against Venezuela.”When we were in good shape, sliding side to side, they weren’t able to really break us down,” Trapp said. “As soon as we allowed ourselves to get stretched, they found balls forward, second balls, and could create chances.”Another question is whether the U.S. has the personnel to play out of the back. It’s easy to dismiss Steffen’s mistake as a one-off, but he made a similar error against Jamaica, although that one went unpunished. And what of the U.S. team’s ability to score goals? The Americans probably will have no problems doing that against Guyana, but what about the more difficult games that will follow?Then there is the troubling matter of the team’s competitiveness. This is an issue that Berhalter brought up after both of the recent friendlies. That used to be a calling card of the USMNT. Now it seems to come and go like the wind.It’s as if there are too many balls in the air right now for Berhalter to juggle.The team did what it could to put a positive light on what transpired.”The games showed us what we need to work on, that’s a good thing,” Steffen said. He later added, “It’s all up here, it’s all mental. It’s really just about everyone buying into that system.”Trapp added, “From the midst of adversity, we have to respond and build character, and that’s what it’s about. Are we happy with the results? Absolutely not. Are the fans happy? Absolutely not. But all we can control is getting on the field, training, and having time together to work through these things.”Is there enough time to do that? It seems unlikely, but Berhalter & Co. have nine days to figure it out.

Berhalter: Won’t scrap tactics after USMNT loss

6:18 PM ET  Jeff Carlisle  U.S. soccer correspondent

CINCINNATI — U.S. men’s national team manager Gregg Berhalter said his staff and players “need to be calm” and that he won’t scrap his system in the wake of the Americans’ 3-0 defeat to Venezuela.

The match was intended to serve as the final tune-up for the U.S. ahead of the Gold Cup, which opens for the Americans on June 18 when it takes on Guyana in St. Paul, Minnesota. What transpired instead was a brutal performance that saw the U.S. fall behind by three goals within the first 36 minutes.”I think we need to be calm,” Berhalter said. “I think we need to look at the game, look at what we need to improve on, and then set out to do it. It’s really tough after a result like this and start making excuses. I don’t really want to do that. But what I’d say is we’re still getting guys where they need to be, and we’re not there yet, and that’s pretty clear. So we’re going to keep working on it.Salomon Rondon scored the first of his two goals in the 16th minute following a wayward pass from U.S. keeper Zack Steffen, though there was a strong hint of offside in the buildup. Jefferson Savarino doubled La Vinotinto‘s advantage in the 30th minute, scoring from his own rebound after his initial effort hit the post. Rondon grabbed a second six minutes later when he latched onto a long pass from Tomas Rincon, evaded the attentions of Aaron Long, and rifled his shot past Steffen.For the Venezuelans, the win provides a boost ahead of the Copa America in Brazil, which kicks off on Friday (watch all matches on ESPN+ in the U.S.).For the U.S., it was a sobering performance with the Gold Cup nine days away, and one that came on the heels of another disappointing defeat against Jamaica four days ago.”We talked about wanting to be more aggressive, wanted to get behind them, wanted to get balls into their penalty box. I think to a certain extent we did that really well,” Berhalter said in his post-match press conference. “We gave up the goals. I didn’t love the response. And then, I don’t feel like for 90 minutes we competed on the level that we needed to compete on; the mentality. I’m understanding that it’s hot, that guys some have been playing 90 minutes every week for the last month, some have been on vacation and we’re getting everyone to where they need to be. But you still want more competitiveness, I think. It starts with putting guys in good positions to be able to make tackles and to do in on duels.”But Berhalter said he wouldn’t be scrapping his system as a consequence of the two recent defeats. Linchpin Christian Pulisic is still working his way back to full fitness after getting two weeks off. Tyler Adams is also getting a break and won’t join up with the team until June 11, while Michael Bradley is still recovering from a hamstring injury. Jozy Altidore played just 45 minutes. All four will be expected to start once the tournament begins. But Berhalter was keen to defend the players who played in this match.”The guys worked hard. They gave what they had. They came up short,” Berhalter said. “And it doesn’t mean that we’re going to scrap all the plans. We’re always evaluating, we’re always seeing how effective we can be, and where we need to improve. And we’re just going to continue that process.”One bright spot for Berhalter was the second half introduction of Altidore, who looked active and helped out the U.S. attack with his passing and movement.  “It’s what I’ve said all along about Jozy. He has top quality,” Berhalter said. “His ability to combine with players, his ability to see passes, his ability to hold the ball up, he’s a real quality striker. It would have been nice to get him a goal. I think we moved a lot of balls into the penalty box in the second half and it was unfortunate that he wasn’t on the end of one of those. But overall, it’s exciting to think about his quality coming back into the team.”But Berhalter is well aware of the negativity surrounding the U.S. team at the moment, one that is still reeling from the failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.”Obviously, I know what the narrative is going to be, that we have no chance [at the Gold Cup], that we’re going to lose or maybe not even make it out of the first round,” he said. “That’s fine. We’ll deal with it.”

Steffen 2/10, Long 3/10 as U.S. thrashed in final Gold Cup tuneup

4:57 PM ETJason DavisU.S. soccer writer

Coming off a depressing loss to Jamaica on Wednesday night in Washington, Gregg Berhalter and the United States men’s national team needed a strong performance Sunday against Venezuela in Cincinnati to reclaim some confidence ahead of the Gold Cup.They did not get it.Thanks to a series of defensive errors in the first half and an attack that failed to break through Venezuela’s deep-lying defense, the Americans fell 3-0 in front of 23,955 at Nippert Stadium.

Positives

The international debut of Tyler Boyd and the return of Jozy Altidore stand out as the lone positives on an otherwise disastrous day for the Americans on the eve of the Gold Cup. Boyd’s first appearance for the U.S. showed small signs of promise, while Altidore made a significant difference with his hold-up play and passing in the second half.

Negatives

Too many to count. The U.S. was toothless and sluggish against Jamaica and did not improve in either category against Venezuela. Simple errors at the back and an inability to press effectively as a team handed the South Americans easy opportunities to score. Whatever improvement there was at the back in the second half was undercut by the visitors’ willingness to sit back and an American attack that rarely created meaningful threats.

Manager rating out of 10

3 — The USMNT was missing Tyler AdamsChristian Pulisic, and Michael Bradley — the first is not yet with the team, the other two were held out — but those absences don’t excuse a loss like this just nine days before the start of the Gold Cup. Energy and effort were in short supply, something that falls squarely on Berhalter’s shoulders. The system installed by the USMNT boss seems fragile and overly dependent on the influence of a few players.

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

GK Zack Steffen, 2 — Horrific giveaway — a second egregious error in two games — gifted Venezuela the opening goal and took the air out of the United States early in the game. Oddly adventurous, a trait that bodes ill for the tourney.

DF Nick Lima, 5 — Mixed bag in attack as he provided a handful of good crosses that went unfinished. Recovered well enough to provide adequate defending when Venezuela countered.

DF Aaron Long, 3 — Poor in individual moments when defending and was beaten soundly on Venezuela’s third goal by Salomon Rondon. Struggled with aerial duels. Missed just a single pass, an indicator he was passing the ball very conservatively.

DF Matt Miazga, 4 — Improved in the second half, but played a disastrous first 45. Beaten on a header that led to Venezuela’s second goal and kept Rondon onside on the third.

Zack Steffen’s first-half mistake was just one of a number of blunders from the USMNT on Sunday vs. Venezuela. Getty

DF Tim Ream, 5 — Mostly competent, but struggled when facing quicker players. Played conservatively, rarely getting forward.

MF Wil Trapp, 3 — Rarely passed upfield, choosing to play negatively for most of the match. Complicit when failing to press the ball on Venezuela’s second goal and gave the ball away easily on more than one occasion.

MF Tyler Boyd, 4 — Some good and some bad in an international debut. Provided good set-piece service but was ineffectual with crosses and combinations when on the attack.

MF Weston McKennie, 4 — Saw the best chance of the first half saved, but had a limited impact on the game overall. Played only 22 passes in 90 minutes and lacked his usual energy on both sides of the ball.

MF Cristian Roldan, 5 — Worked to carve out opportunities to get the ball forward on the right side, working well with Lima and Boyd. Unable to create real chances with passing in the final third.

MF Paul Arriola, 4 — Made runs in behind to try to open up Venezuela when the U.S. labored with the ball in midfield. Energetic and good defensively but not sharp enough with the ball.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 4 — Limited by a lack of service, he provided help defensively tracking back, but was ineffective as part of a disjointed (and haphazard) press. His hold-up play left a lot to be desired.

Substitutes

FW Jozy Altidore, 6 — Improved the U.S. dramatically dropping in and playing runners into the final third. Missed on a touch in the 66th minute that might have led to a chance. No shots.

DF Walker Zimmerman, 4 — Picked up a yellow card immediately upon entering in the second half but made no obvious mistakes in his 45 minutes on the pitch.

MF Duane Holmes, N/R — Showed an ability to press space and move the Americans forward without making a dramatic difference in attack. Gave the ball away late in the match.

MF Jordan Morris, N/R — Managed one well-struck shot (wide) cutting in from the right. Got in behind and stretched the defense.

DF Daniel Lovitz, N/R — No significant moments in 12 minutes for the Montreal defender.

 

How personal turmoil helped Abby Wambach find her voice in retirement

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo SportsJun 10, 2019, 12:04 AM

NEW YORK – She still looks quintessentially like Abby Wambach, with the signature bleach-blonde mohawk and the tall, muscular frame. She still talks like Abby Wambach. That is to say, a lot and with great gusto and flair. She still is Abby Wambach, the world-record holder for international goals, male or female; the 2015 Women’s World Cup winner; the two-time Olympic gold medalist; the 2012 FIFA World Player of the Year; the first-ballot Hall of Famer.It’s just the setting that’s different.

Wambach stands before a crowd that’s come to watch her. But this isn’t a soccer stadium, where she would wear down opponents with her bruising physicality and hammered headers. Instead, she takes a seat in one of two comfy chairs – literally between two ferns – arranged to face an amphitheater on the ground floor of PayPal’s New York City headquarters.More than a hundred employees sit on the long rows of benches. They munch on the bagels and lox and sip from the assorted coffees set out in the sleek lobby. There’s an actual gas pump in the next room, to reflect that you can pay with PayPal at the gas pump as part of their partnership agreements.It’s Pride Month, and we’re less than five blocks from the Stonewall Inn, the iconic gay bar in Greenwich Village. So Wambach has been asked to come give a “Fireside Chat” with the company’s CEO, Dan Schulman, who is wearing jeans and cowboy boots, just in case it wasn’t abundantly clear that this is a tech company. Cameras are set up to beam the talk to offices in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Brazil and elsewhere.Wambach understands innately how to move through this corporate space. She’s been doing it a lot lately. She proclaims herself a “huge fan” of Schulman’s and seems sincere about it. She compliments PayPal several times on everything it’s been doing to achieve gender equality.A few parents brought their kids. Some U.S. Women’s National Team jerseys dot the crowd. Wambach begins to talk.

***

It didn’t occur to Wambach that she would have to reinvent herself until she’d been anointed an icon. In 2016, eight months after she’d retired following the celebration tour on the back of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, ESPN gave her, Peyton Manning and Kobe Bryant its Icon Awards at the ESPYs. That’s when she realized that whereas Manning and Bryant only need worry about how to fill all that leisure time, she had to build a new career.“At night, I was laying in bed and really trying to understand, ‘How could this happen? I just represented my country. I have a world record. I have gold medals. I’ve won a World Cup,’” Wambach recalled. “These guys, their hustling days just finished and mine are just beginning. Their biggest worry was where to invest their hundreds of millions of dollars – of which they earned every penny. And I was trying to figure out how I was going to pay my mortgage.“I was really trying to figure out what the hell I was going to for the rest of my life,” Wambach continued. “As a soccer player, I reached the highest highs. How could I replicate that? Why would I even try? I was just really struggling and abusing alcohol.”When soccer ended for her, after 256 national team appearances and an obscene 184 goals, Wambach fell into an abyss, just like a lot of other longtime athletes. She drank to excess and took prescription pills. She went through a divorce. She was arrested for DUI. “It was literally the worst thing that had ever happened to me, the most embarrassed I had ever been,” Wambach remembered. “It was all over ESPN.” She took pictures of how many days in a row her arrest was on the ticker, just to remind herself later.Wambach called her mom from jail and promised to somehow turn it all into something positive. She’s been sober since that night. “I had to go through a lot of self-work to get to where I am now,” she told the rapt PayPal audience.After her very public humiliation, Wambach stepped out of the public eye. She fell in love again and remarried, to author Glennon Doyle. She became a “bonus mom” to her three step-children and moved to Florida. She coached her 10-year-old stepdaughter’s soccer team. To the title game, of course. But late on in the season, it transpired that at least some of the girls had no idea who she was, or had been. When they found out, they asked if that meant she knew Alex Morgan.The DUI was indeed a tipping point.“Everything good in my life has happened because of that moment,” Wambach said. “Because of this really bad thing that happened, that forced me to make changes. The Barnard speech would never have happened.”

***

So about the Barnard speech, the genesis of all this.A year ago, Wambach was asked to give the commencement speech at Barnard College, the elite women’s college at Columbia University.“At 36 years old, I was able to sit down and really write down and figure out what I believed to be true about the world and what I wanted to do with it,” Wambach tells Yahoo Sports. “And I feel really grateful that the message is being received at some level.”The speech, about how women are less Little Red Riding Hood than the Big Bad Wolf and how the female graduates should band together as a wolfpack, was not just well received. It went viral.  The speech begat Wambach’s motivational book, Wolfpack: How to come together, unleash our power, and change the game. And the book begat a business.That’s how Wambach finally discovered her second calling. As a motivational speaker, women’s rights activist and gender equality consultant, all rolled into one. She regularly gives corporate talks like this one, telling stories about her career and life and encouraging women to ask for things: a raise, more responsibility, more seats at the table, more of whatever.Wambach sometimes took speaking engagements during her playing career, but now she’s turned it into a business.“Corporate America and corporate cultures are interested in knowing what I know about leadership because of my time on the national team,” she says. “And because of that, I was able to go around doing enough of these speeches that not only was I able to work on my public speaking, but I also learned that there was a void in all of these companies that I was talking to.”Some weeks, she now does multiple events, her message resonating in the time of #MeToo and the ongoing fight for gender equality and equal pay. She commands about $50,000 per appearance, according to her agent.She goes on extended book tours. And her company, Wolfpack Endeavor, creates programs to help mentor women and change the culture of companies. One such program at Verizon Media – full disclosure: Yahoo Sports is owned by Verizon Media – went through multi-day modules on “communication,” “self-reflection” and “emotional intelligence” and just graduated its first class. The idea is to send waves of women up the corporate ladder to begin to alter the fabric of companies from the inside. “It’s about getting more women at seats at tables where decisions are made,” Wambach explains.“It’s not a job per se,” Wambach says about the new career she’s crafted. “Finding a purpose feels a lot like this is what I’ve been meaning to do this whole time. I never sat down and figured this stuff out. Now I feel like I’m finding my lane and the thing I was put on this planet to do. It doesn’t make you worry about what the outcome is. Because when you’re doing what you’re meant to be doing all that other stuff is bonus and byproduct.”

***

If you’d spent any time at all around Wambach during her playing career, none of this will have come as a surprise to you. She always was a gifted talker. As a reporter covering the women’s national team, all you really had to do was ask her a broad question and turn on your recorder. Job done.U.S. head coach Jill Ellis remembers a game against France at the 2012 Olympics, when the Americans had gone down 2-0 early on. At halftime, the coaches could hear Wambach from outside the locker room, stirring her teammates with a rousing speech. So they waited until she was finished before going in. The U.S. won 4-2.“Having heard Abby many times in the locker room when I was the assistant and as the head coach, I knew she had that in her – her ability to command a locker room and inspire people, and not just by her actions, but also by her words,” Ellis says. “I think Abby was born to do this. She’s very good off the cuff, finding the right words and framing things in the right way that can connect to people. I saw it in the locker room. It didn’t matter if it was a brand new player or it was a seasoned veteran. She could adapt and reach everybody.”USA midfielder Morgan Brian only overlapped with Wambach for a few years, but she was there for that period around her final World Cup when the towering striker was on the team as much for her impact as a supersub as to inspire.“That was a large role for her, to be a motivational presence,” Brian says. “She has always been able to speak in front of people and to relay messages and what she wants to get across and articulates her words very well.”Alex Morgan, Wambach’s longtime strike partner, chuckles when asked about the latter’s capacity to persuade.“Abby could convince anybody on anything, whatever it is,” she says. “Whether she’s selling a product or a motivational speech, you buy into what Abby is saying. She has so much passion in what she says and says it with such grace. She really encouraged us and motivated us with those speeches. So I just see how that transitioned so fluidly.”

***

Now Wambach is telling the PayPal crowd, still paying close attention some 45 minutes into the event, about the way all those years in a locker room informs her current work.“Growing up in that environment taught me about different personalities, rubbing against each other. How to communicate,” she says. “How to get the best out of a group of folks. For whatever reason, I think it’s allowed me to sociologically become obsessed with how people connect and communicate and interact.”And then she reveals something interesting and fundamental about herself. How, as the youngest of seven children, all of them good athletes, she’s been fighting for attention all her life, whether it be with her goals or her words. “I’m a performer,” she says. “If anybody is watching me do anything, I’m like, ‘Yes, this is amazing.’ So now I do this. And this is basically me saying, ‘Mom! Watch!’ I just have made a complete career of doing that and I think that that has a lot to do with wanting to get attention from my parents.”What a very Abby Wambach thing to say. Funny. Introspective. Honest. Insightful. It’s what’s made her such a compelling speaker all her life. It’s what has given her life purpose again.Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports 

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Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

CHS Boys Soccer Skills Camp – Murray Stadium July 15-18 8:30-10:30 am ages 8-14 $85

Carmel FC is Recruiting Coaches for 2019/20 seasons

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

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

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

6/6/19  USMNT loses to Jamaica, Women’s World Cup Preview-starts Fri, CFC Tryouts Mon/Tues, US U20 WC quarterfinal Sat 11:30 FS1, Nations League Final Sat, Full TV Game Schedule

Carmel FC Tryouts & Camps are Set

Tryouts for kids from U11 till 18 are right around the corner.  Carmel FC is a community based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Tryouts are June 10 & 11 for U11 & above. Click here for more info about CFC Tryouts.  Also Carmel FC is looking for Coaches for the 2019/20 Seasons please click here if interested.

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumi Soccer – College Aged or just out of college players are invited to play Carmel Dad’s Alumni Soccer on Wednesday nights, all summer long.  Cost is just $95 for the season – bring a team or we can add you to one – guys and girls – rec play thru travel play – there is room for everyone!!

Carmel Dad’s Club Alumi Soccer – College Aged or just out of college players are invited to play Carmel Dad’s Alumni Soccer on Wednesday nights, all summer long.  Cost is just $95 for the season – bring a team or we can add you to one – guys and girls – rec play thru travel play – there is room for everyone!! Please click here  to register for this league.  Registration is open now- June 12.  Questions please contact the office 317-846-1663 or League Coordinator Mercedes Martin admin@jamesembry.com 

So just because the European Leagues and Champions League has wrapped up does not mean soccer stops – in fact it’s a very busy Summer of Soccer.

USA World Cup

The #1 ranked team in the world and defending champs are in France for the World Cup which kicks off next weekend. Check out the Casual Fans Guide to the Women’s World Cup, the World Cup Power Rankings and follow along on Yahoo Soccer for all the updates.  The World Cup from France gets underway June 7 with the US starting June 11.  I am still worried about our defense – against a solid France squad in the Quarter finals in Paris could be trouble for the US. Meet the 23 members of the USWNT 2019 World Cup roster.  (See the full Ladies World Cup Schedule on the Schedule on the OBC.)

  • Fri, June 7 3 p m  FS1                            France vs South Korea
  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden

On the men’s side –The USMNT U20’s with coach Tab Ramos knocked off the favorites and one of the top ranked U20 teams in the world with a huge come from behind victory over France 3-2 in the under 20 World Cup.  Two more huge goals from our #9 Soto who now has 4 goals in 4 games for the US – also impressive were Tim Weah and midfield sparkplug _______ from Dallas FC.  This is first US U-20 team with all professionals (no college players) on it. The US becomes the only team in the world to make 3 straight quarterfinals of the U20 World Cup.  Next up on Saturday at 11:15 am on Fox Sport 1 or 2 is Ecuador who surprisingly knocked off Uraguay to advance to the quarters.  We’ll see how the US handles being one of the favorites now.

US Men

Wow well the USMNT is going to have to play a lot better than they did against Jamaica to have success at the Gold Cup here in June?  I thought Goalkeeper Zach Stephen, the now Man City man headed to Germany on loan, made some pretty good saves last night in the 0-1 loss.  But that 3 man defense was sliced and diced many times, and while the US had more possession, Jamaica had far more shots and shots on goal.  I know this was not the US A team – but still – this was not a good performance.   So the roster has been set for the Gold Cup and very disappointing to see forward Josh Stewart left off.  If he’s not playing for the full team he should be at the u20 World Cup?  Interesting decisions.

One last chance to right the ship this Sun, June 9th at 2 pm on Fox vs Venezuela in nearby Cincinnati.  The pressure is on our new coach to at least get to the Championship game for this Gold Cup – I will reserve comments until then.

Champions League

So Liverpool won 2-0 over Tottenham – but did not dominate the way I thought they might.  Honestly I felt bad for Tottenham giving up the first goal on a PK due to an unfortunate handball.  It did hit his arm and his arm was extended – not a natural position – as he was pointing to his defense to move.  I thought it changed the game – as Spurs had to score and had a lot more possession in the game than I thought they would have.  Liverpool’s GK Alisson was certainly called on to make a lot of saves and may have well been Man of the Match – showing the huge difference he has made for the team this year.  Liverpool coach Klopp singing ‘Let’s Talk About Six, Baby!’ was right up there with Captain Jordan Henderson hugging his dad who has recently recovered from Cancer.  The title for Liverpool is their 6th overall European Champions League Title – passing Barcelona + Bayern Munich with 5 each.  Only Real Madrid (13) and Inter Milan (7) have more.

Indy 11

The Indy 11 remain undefeated at home after dispatching the Pittsburgh Riverhounds 2-0 at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night.  The next 2 weeks find the 11 on the road with Saturday night games on ESPN+.

Carmel FC Tryouts & Camps are Set

Tryouts for kids from U11 till 18 are right around the corner.  Carmel FC is a community based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Tryouts are June 10 & 11 for U11 & above. Click here for more info about CFC Tryouts.  Also Carmel FC is looking for Coaches for the 2019/20 Seasons please click here if interested.

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

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GAMES ON TV

Sat, June 8

8:50 am ESPN 2 Croatia vs Wales– Euro Qualifying

9 am Fox Sport 1                    Women’s World Cup  Germany vs China

11:20 am Fox Sport 1  U20 WC  USA vs Ecuador

12 noon Fox                            WWC Spain vs South Africa

2:30 pm Fox Sport 2               U20 WC  Quarterfinal #3

2:45 pm ESPN+/3                   Greece vs Italy  Euro Qualifying

3 pm Fox                                 WWC Norway vs Nigeria

8:30 pm ESPN+                  Memphis 901 vs Indy 11

Sun, June 9

7 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Australia vs Italy

9 am ESPN 2                           UEFA Nations League 3rd place

9:30 am Fox Sports 1              WWC Brazil vs Jamaica

12 Noon Fox                            WWC England vs Scotland

2 pm Fox                              USMNT vs Venezuela in Cincy

2:45 pm ESPN                    UEFA Nations League Final Dutch vs Portugal  

Mon, June 10

12n Fox Sports 1                     WWC Argentina vs Japan

  • 2:30 pm ESPN News Spain vs Sweden– Euro Qualifying
  • 3 pm FS1 WWC Canada vs Cameron

Tues, June 11

  • 11:30 am Fox Sports 2           U20 WC – Semi Final 1
  • 12 noon FS1 WWC Chile vs Sweden
  • 2:30 pm ESPN2 Italy vs Bosnia – Euro Qualifying
  • 2:30 pm FS2 U20 WC – Semi Final 2  USA??
  • 3 pm FOX USA Women vs Thailand

Wed, June 12

12n Fox Sports 1                     WWC Germany vs Spain

  • 3 pm FS1 WWC France vs Norway
  • 7:30 pm ESPN+ Cincy vs Louisville City  US Open Cup
  • 10:30 pm ESPN+ Seattle vs Portland  US Open Cup
  • 10:30 pm ESPN+ La Galaxy vs Orange County FC US Open Cup

Sat, June 15

9 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Netherlands vs Cameron

12 noon Fox Sport 1                U-20 WC Final

  • 3 pm FS2 WWC Canada vs New Zealand
  • 3 pm ESPN+ Venezuela vs Peru  Copa America
  • 6 pm EPSN+ Argentina vs Colombia Copa America
  • 7:30 pm ESPN+ Loudoun United vs Indy 11
  • 7:30 pm FS2 Canada vs Martinique GOLD CUP
  • 10 pm FS2 Mexico vs Cuba GOLD CUP

USA Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Summer of Soccer has Started

USA/Women’s World Cup

Carli Lloyd knows her moment will come again with U.S. women

— Women’s World Cup 2019: Everything you need to know
— Team preview: U.S. women
— Injured Marta expects to return before WWC

Women’s World Cup – All Teams Preview – S & S

Group D #3 England/Scotland/#7Japan/Argentina Preview S&S

USA Men

U20 US Men Victory over France 3-2

US Gold Cup Roster

Josh Stewart left of US Roster

US Loses to Jamaica 0-1 – MLs.com

 

WORLD

Is Chile’s Old Guard Ready for Copa America Defense? ESPNFC

Sergio Ramos to Stay at Madrid

Where will Hazard Fit in for Real Madrid?  Goal.com

Champions League

– Marcotti: Journey for Liverpool’s European champions is not over
– Liverpool ratings: 8/10 Alisson, Van Dijk set foundation for victory
– Tottenham ratings: 5/10 Kane, Alli struggle as Spurs fall short
– Toe Poke Daily: Klopp sings ‘Let’s Talk About Six, Baby!’

– Ogden: Tottenham must answer some difficult questions

Only the Start for Liverpool with Klopp on board

Liverpool GK Alisson Savior Once Again for Liverpool in Final

Oh and that Hug with Henderson and his dad who had Throat Cancer

Sissoko’s Hand Ball?

Ranking Champions League Finals

Women’s World Cup 2019: Carli Lloyd knows her moment will come again with U.S. women

Carli Lloyd, crowned the top player in the 2015 World Cup, comes off the bench for the U.S. women. The veteran insists she’s playing the best football of her life and is ready to do more than merely lend her support to the Americans’ hopes of repeating. Rich

10:12 AM ET  Graham HaysespnW.com

HARRISON, N.J. — Thousands of eyes and the blazing midday sun followed Carli Lloyd with equal intensity as she went through her pregame routine before the U.S. women’s national team played its final World Cup send-off game last week. As her teammates warmed up in groups around her, Lloyd dribbled in patterns discernible only to her. She juggled. She paused and surveyed the field.In stadium after stadium, the same scene played out over the past year, Lloyd in her own space.On the eve of her fourth Women’s World Cup, she intends to be ready when her moment comes. And she believes it will come. She knows only one way to prepare. Not as a starter. Not as a substitute. But as Carli Lloyd.”This last and final phase,” Lloyd said recently of her soccer journey, “the belief I have in myself is probably stronger than the entire course of my career.”It’s convenient to say Lloyd’s signature moment arrived in the 2015 World Cup, but it isn’t accurate. No single moment earned her the Golden Ball as the player of the tournament and catapulted someone who already had scored gold medal-clinching goals in both the 2008 and 2012 Olympics to a level of stardom few achieve. It wasn’t the opening goal against Germany in the semifinal. It wasn’t the goal from near midfield in the final, or even the first-half hat trick in that game against Japan.It was all of it. Lloyd’s moment four years ago stretched over days as she breathed oxygen into a smoldering U.S. attack.Four years on, a moment might be precisely the scale of opportunity that awaits Lloyd as the World Cup opens Friday. She’s 36 years old now, older than Marta or Christine Sinclair, but by her own estimation, Lloyd is the fittest she has ever been. She is ready, willing and insistent that she can play 90 minutes as often as asked. Yet to be a centerpiece of a world championship at 36 would, statistically, break new ground — and force Lloyd to excel in a role she doesn’t particularly want.Through 2016, Lloyd started in 176 of 202 appearances for the United States over the previous nine years. She has come on as a substitute in 28 of 42 appearances since the start of 2017, more than those previous nine years combined. Eight of her nine appearances this year are as a sub.When the U.S. women committed to a 4-3-3 formation in 2017, in part to get Tobin Heath, Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe on the field together, it came partly at the expense of a natural fit for a midfielder like Lloyd. To ask her to not only chase from box to box but cover so much ground laterally at this stage of her career risks playing against her strengths and wasting her skills in and around the 18-yard box. The shift also coincided with the emergence of Lindsey Horan, Rose Lavelle and Samantha Mewis, a new generation of midfielders who needed and earned minutes.But in the aftermath of the Rio Olympics, U.S. coach Jill Ellis struggled to find a second option up top in the middle who could be an aerial presence and hold-up player if Morgan wasn’t on the field or deployed wide. Enter Lloyd, still as good in the air as anyone on the roster and whose 110 international goals — 74 of them in her 30s — speak to her finishing instincts. The results of late: 10 goals in her past 16 appearances, five of which were scored in the team’s final four games entering the World Cup. It lends a measure of statistical support to her assessment that she is playing the best soccer of her life and is more well-rounded after getting up to speed as a forward.Not that she is looking for outside confirmation.”That’s not for anyone else to judge, that’s for me personally,” Lloyd said. “I know where I am. I know the kind of football I’m playing. I see myself grinding every single day, improving on things every single day. … I’m the sharpest I’ve ever been. I think my finishing ability, because I’ve been really, really working on that, has improved tremendously.”Asked after her most recent off-the-bench brace against New Zealand if she was beginning to enjoy the role of second-half game changer, Lloyd’s raised her eyebrows.”I’m trying to get off the bench,” she said. “If I liked coming off the bench, there would be something wrong. That’s not my mindset. I want to do everything I can to help this team. I’ve been sharp every single day in training, which none of you see, and just trying to be better every single day.”People always say, ‘You’ve got this chip on your shoulder,’ [and it’s about] proving people wrong,” she added. “To an extent, yes, but that’s who I am, that’s how I’m wired. I’m competitive with every single thing that I do, whether it’s in a training session with a 4-v-4 match or at home kicking around, got my husband on the opposite team. It doesn’t matter that you’re my husband, I’m going to be a train wreck and I’m going to come through you. That’s just how I’ve been. I believe in myself every single step of the way.”ow Lloyd fits into the U.S. women’s effort in France — their first game is June 11 against Thailand — is one of the World Cup’s intriguing subplots. It is not, however, anything the tournament hasn’t seen before. When Germany lost in the knockout rounds at home in the 2011 World Cup, 33-year-old Birgit Prinz — a veteran forward who was central to world titles in 2003 and 2007 — got a sizable chunk of the blame for faltering as a starter early in the tournament. Four years ago, on the other hand, then-35-year-old Abby Wambach’s willingness to accept a secondary role as the tournament progressed helped the U.S. women succeed, tactically on the field and behind the scenes.Anyone who expects Lloyd to settle into the role of reserved elder stateswoman will be disappointed. She gets along fine with her teammates; one of three captains, she says she’s having the time of her life playing with this group. But she will always believe she should be starting and goes out every day to prove it. That’s not a bad thing for a team that has 11 players making their World Cup debut. If Lloyd’s greatest strength is her unwavering belief, the team should use it as a reminder to train like someone is coming for your job.”We kind of make jokes now that she’s gotten a bit softer, now that she’s married and living with her husband and things like that,” U.S. defender Crystal Dunn said. “But she’s still the same Carli, bringing her A-game and really competing every single training and proving that she’s a top player.”So Lloyd waits. Not quite brooding but far from content. Not ready to merely lend her support. Ready for one opportunity to show everyone else what she believed all along.

Sargent snub the biggest surprise from Berhalter’s U.S. Gold Cup roster

Jun 6, 2019Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Josh Sargent maneuvered through the postmatch mixed zone Wednesday night, the look of disappointment on his face was clear. He had nearly equalized for the U.S. late in the 1-0 friendly defeat to Jamaica, only to be denied by a sharp save from Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake. It capped off what had been a difficult night for him, as well as his U.S. teammates.

“It was tough to get on the ball sometimes, and it was a difficult game it seems like for us to get a rhythm,” he said. “It was a little frustrating for me, but we have to learn from this experience and move on.”las, a tough night for the forward was about to get worse. U.S. manager Gregg Berhalter told Sargent later that night that there was no room for the 19-year-old on the 23-player Gold Cup roster. The decision was easily the most perplexing that Berhalter made. Heading into late spring, the biggest decision surrounding Sargent was whether he would go to the FIFA Under-20 World Cup or stay with the senior team for the Gold Cup. The least likely scenario — or so it appeared — was one in which he did neither.Yet, that is precisely what happened, and Berhalter was left to explain himself on a conference call with reporters. To hear the U.S. manager tell it, deciding to leave Sargent at home was the toughest call he had to make. And what sealed Sargent’s fate wasn’t so much what he did on the field or in training, but a hamstring injury to Sebastian Lletget that caused the Galaxy midfielder to be left off the roster, as well. Lletget’s versatility allows him to play any one of three midfield roles, be it as a deep-lying midfielder, an attacking midfielder or out wide. That forced Berhalter to select multiple players to fill in for what Lletget is capable of individually.”When [Lletget] got injured, it put a wrench in the plans a little bit, and we didn’t feel we could afford to carry three strikers on the roster anymore,” Berhalter said.So Sargent was the odd forward out, with Jozy Altidore and Gyasi Zardesselected instead, and Berhalter was clear in his reasoning as to why.”It’s a simple reason, and it’s that we think they’re ahead of [Sargent] right now,” said the U.S. manager. “We had to do what we felt was best for the team right now, and that’s the decision we made.”Altidore has the experience and know-how, and Zardes is more adept at stretching defenses with his speed.As for whether Sargent should have been placed with the U20s, Berhalter instead sought to praise what that U.S. side has done without Sargent. Tab Ramos’ outfit is now into the quarterfinals, and forward Sebastian Soto has stepped in nicely; his four goals are presently tied for the second-most at the tournament.

“I think with Josh in that team, we wouldn’t have the opportunity to see someone like Soto perform, and he’s flourished in that,” said Berhalter.In many respects, Berhalter was being consistent. He is very much a system man, and the players he selected seem able to plug in to his approach. The U.S. manager has also put a premium on players getting time with their clubs; as impressive as it is for a 19-year-old to be in the first-team of a Bundesliga squad, the reality is that after bagging a pair of goals for Werder in December, Sargent’s playing time eroded, and he was barely called upon the last two months of the season. He is still a player with just 10 first-team appearances to his name. It’s not to say the forward won’t ever make the next step. He just failed to do so now, and it is very much the present that Berhalter is thinking about.”We have to remember that he’s 19 years old, and that he has a bright future in front of him,” Berhalter said about Sargent. “When I talked to him and gave him the news, one thing I mentioned was that he’s going to be the striker for the national team in the future. We’re sure of that. He’s got a great skill set. Unfortunately, he didn’t carry that momentum from Werder Bremen in the second half of the season. He wasn’t able to play as much as he could have. He lacked a little sharpness. But Josh is a top striker, and he’s going to have a lot of opportunities in the future.”All that said, Sargent’s omission is certainly puzzling. Bringing him to the Gold Cup seemed to make sense given that the U.S. seems to have ample cover at the wing positions through Paul ArriolaJordan MorrisJonathan Lewis, and Tyler Boyd, who recently had his one-time switch from New Zealand approved. Fellow newcomer Duane Holmes is also certainly capable of filling in out wide, as well. Given Sargent’s upside, there seemed to be more to gain by including him rather than leaving him at home.In terms of damage that has been done to Sargent, that is bound to be minimal. There is no question he would have benefited from being at the Gold Cup. Even if his playing time was limited, it would have given him more experience, which would have helped him heading into preseason next year. But it is the daily work at Bremen that will ultimately determine just how much he progresses.It’s just unfortunate that U.S. fans will have to wait a bit longer to see Sargent perform again at international level.

Liverpool’s latest European Cup win comes on a journey that is far from over

Jun 1, 2019Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

MADRID — And now, after a 2-0 win against Tottenham Hotspur, it is six European Cups for Liverpool. With Barcelona and Bayern Munich left behind, ahead are Milan — just one away — and then 13-time winners Real Madrid, who have owned the European Cup competition like no others. No club can be separated from its past, but Liverpool, more than most, are marked by what came before, from the sublime to the tragic.

The latest title mirrored those that came before in the sense that it was gutted out and filled with might-have-beens, probably many more than there should have been. That has been the story of Liverpool’s European wins: twice on penalties, twice by a single goal, always with the game in the balance until the final minutes.So maybe it was apt that after the final whistle, when most of the newly crowned champions had collapsed to the Wanda Metropolitano pitch, felled by equal parts exhaustion, elation and the need for release, the last to get up was Jordan Henderson.The Liverpool captain stayed down for what felt like an eternity, first with head in hands, then hunched on all fours. Only when substitute Divock Origi put the match out of reach, with three minutes to go, had Liverpool been able to shake a creeping fear that a final marked by errors and fatigue could take a twist against them.

There, for much of the second half, when Tottenham shook off the torpor and finally realized that if they were going to go down, it could not possibly be with the sort of flaccid whimper that characterized the opening 45 minutes, was Henderson. Arms flailing, legs pumping, barking orders.He was not flawless, nor decisive, but he was the realization made flesh that a season’s work — heck, four years’ work — could be undone by a single, cruel moment. And in his ability to suffer, to fear and to excrete energy from every cell in his body, lay the key to Liverpool weathering Tottenham’s late revival.This was not the Liverpool side we had seen for much of the season, but it was the Liverpool side that needed to show up in order to win the European Cup, one year after losing in the final to Real Madrid.”It was a big challenge for both teams, after three weeks without a competitive game, with the heat, it turned into a fight,” manager Jurgen Klopp said. “Usually, I’d be sitting here to explain why we had played so well and lost. It’s nice not to do that.”The Wanda Metropolitano is a concrete bowl, surrounded by lanes of expressways, that still feels unfinished nearly two years after its opening. In truth, Atletico Madrid’s new home is about as welcoming as a port-a-potty, but less than a minute into the game, there was no place any Liverpool fan would rather have been.Moussa Sissoko‘s arm was up and away from his body, possibly pointing at potential runners in the Tottenham penalty area, when Sadio Mane‘s chip struck him near the shoulder. Referee Damir Skomina did not even need VAR: under the handball protocol, it was as straightforward a penalty as they come.Mohamed Salah converted from 12 yards and celebrated with a hint of rage, his own moment of release. Just over 12 months ago, his Champions League final was cut short after a clash with Sergio Ramos in Kiev. Now, not only was he back, he had scored early.The goal stunned Tottenham. You can understand why. For three weeks they had built up to this game, they had visualized, they had planned, they had dreamed. And now the cartoon piano had fallen on their heads.For the rest of the first half they were sloppy and imprecise in passing and movement. Harry Kane looked like what he was: a guy who had not played competitive football in nearly two months. Son Heung-Min was frantic and frenzied, his button stuck on 16x, but not in a good way. Christian Eriksen was AWOL, and the less said about full-backs Danny Rose and Kieran Trippier, the better.Chalk some of this up to Tottenham’s limitations, some of it to the psychological after-effect of the Sissoko blunder and some of it to a Liverpool press that worked just the way it does in Klopp’s mind: Mane and Salah rapaciously doubling full-backs and midfielders, Henderson and Fabinho squeezing up, Virgil van Dijk keeping the defensive line high enough to deny all but the most vertical balls for Son.Indeed, right up until an Eriksen shot just before half-time that landed among the Liverpool fans, Spurs’ only effort on goal was Sissoko’s attempt at redemption that also sailed into the second tier.But the early goal also had its effect on Liverpool’s forwards. They could pop Tottenham attacks like soap bubbles, but could not turn possession won back into clear-cut chances. Other than the odd strike from distance — Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andy Robertson had one each — there was little to trouble Hugo Lloris.Whether it was a creeping overconfidence or the fact that Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld slowly got the measure of Liverpool’s front three, it felt as if Klopp’s crew had wasted much of the opening period when it had an opportunity to close out the game.

Both teams went into the break knowing they could do better. A lot better. Previously subdued Tottenham supporters sprang into life with a rousing rendition of “When the Spurs go marching in,” perhaps remembering that, no matter how poor their team had been, they were still very much in the game.Mauricio Pochettino’s men could not let the club’s first European Cup final end like this and they did not. Robertson had to snuff out a 5-on-4 counter with a brilliant tackle on Harry Winks, and Joel Matip channelled his inner Dikembe Mutombo to reject a close-range Dele Alli effort.Klopp also had answers on his bench. On for Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum came Origi and James Milner: respectively, the late-goal hero of the semifinal comeback and the tireless veteran whom Lionel Messi called “burro” (which means donkey and which Milner, the epitome of humility, probably took as a compliment).When Klopp makes substitutions with a lead, the purpose is not to slow the game down and play on the counter, it is to add fresh legs, energize the press and go for the kill. And thus the game opened up.Milner — keyed by one of those patented Mane zero-to-60-in-nothing-flat accelerations — shot just wide. Van Dijk neutralized a Son scamper in his own apparently effortless way — 64 and counting, in fact. When Tottenham did pose a threat, Allison made a trifecta of stops, denying Son, Lucas Moura and Eriksen.Then came Origi’s moment and the sense of liberation for Liverpool that comes from knowing it is your night, no matter what came before. It is not a coincidence that Klopp said his overriding feeling was “mostly relief.” Silverware matters, of course it does, but he knows that what matters more is the work behind it, the journey that takes you there.Especially in a campaign with key moments that could easily have gone the other way, from the semifinal comeback against Barcelona to the dramatic 1-0 win against Napoli at Anfield in the final group-stage game, Klopp has seen enough, to paraphrase Rudyard Kipling, to treat those impostors — victory and defeat — just the same.It is about the process and it is not over. For one, there is the desire to go one place better in the Premier League and claim a title the club has chased for 29 years. As Klopp himself pointed out, this is not the culmination of anything; this is an intermediate stage in a long-term plan that began with his appointment on an October day nearly four years ago.”The players are still young; they have lots more to give,” the manager of the European champions said.The journey continues.

Tottenham must answer tough questions to emulate Liverpool’s success

Jun 1, 2019Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

MADRID — Defeat on the biggest stage can trigger two responses: The losers either allow the disappointment to drag them down to the realms of the also-rans or use it as inspiration to go again and come back stronger.Liverpool, having suffered a painful and comprehensive 3-1 defeat against Real Madrid in last season’s Champions League final, took the latter option. The Anfield club invested wisely in the likes of Alisson and Fabinho and, having almost won the Premier League with 97 points, ended this campaign with a 2-0 victory over Tottenham Hotspur that delivered the club’s sixth European Cup.Tottenham face that same fork in the road, but there are too many question marks hanging over Mauricio Pochettino’s team — not least that of the manager’s own future — to suggest with any conviction that the North London outfit will follow Liverpool’s example this summer. In the aftermath of this defeat, deep inside the Wanda Metropolitano, Pochettino was again careful not to banish the questions marks.”I think it’s not a moment now to talk too much,” he said. “You can interpret things in different ways. After five years in Tottenham, it was so clear the project. Our ambition was amazing, and the commitment of our players amazing, providing us with our first ever Champions League final. But now it’s time to be calm, change our mind and have time to talk.”Pochettino has three years to run on his contract at Tottenham, but recent non-committal remarks about whether he will stay or go after five years in charge have created doubt where there needs to be absolute certainty.If he does leave, then Tottenham will be back to the drawing board. But even if Pochettino can be persuaded to stay for another crack at turning the club into trophy winners, the job he faces will be a big one, both in terms of finance and ambition.Tottenham must somehow square a circle that has seen initial projections of the club’s new stadium costing £400 million, rise to an eventual £1 billion. They have to pay for the ground at the same time as investing in a squad that has not had a penny spent on it since Lucas Moura arrived from Paris Saint-Germain for £25m in January 2018.Pochettino’s ability as a coach has helped him work wonders overcoming that competitive disadvantage, guiding Tottenham to this final and a top-four finish in the Premier League once again. However, the lack of investment is why his line-up in Madrid featured two half-fit Harrys — Kane and Winks — and out-of-form right-back Kieran Trippier, whose dip since the World Cup last summer led to his being dropped from England’s squad for next week’s Nations League finals in Portugal.”We looked at the qualities of our players, but it would have been incredible to have won this trophy because Tottenham prioritised their stadium and spent zero on transfers,” Pochettino said. “We’re not the smartest in the class but not the stupidest, either.”Tottenham maximised every resource to reach the Champions League final, but if this run is to act as a springboard, rather than a high watermark, things have to change. They must spend to build, but also show the ambition that will convince the likes of Kane, Son Heung-Min and Dele Alli that they can win silverware.Kane, who will turn 26 next month, is approaching the peak years of his career, yet the man who won the Golden Boot at last year’s World Cup does not have a winner’s medal of any description to his name.Tottenham’s homegrown poster boy tasted the biggest stage as a runner-up in Madrid, albeit short of fitness following a seven-week injury layoff, and Kane has to decide whether he wants to fast-track himself to the winners’ podium by following the likes of Gareth Bale and Luka Modric from North London to a club of Real Madrid’s stature.The same applies to Alli — younger than Kane at 23 — and Son, 26. Both have their admirers, even though Alli has had a disappointing season, and Tottenham could face a battle to convince both that they should reject interest from elsewhere to stay. Meanwhile, Christian Eriksen is refusing to sign a new contract to replace his current deal that expires in June 2020 and might be the first to move on.One way to banish doubts over the futures of star players and manager would be for Daniel Levy to sanction the major spending required to maintain an upward trajectory. The chairman has never put the club’s financial well-being in jeopardy, though, so if the numbers do not add up, big spending will not happen anytime soon.Liverpool never looked like a team at the end of its journey last year, but it is hard to see how Tottenham can emulate them by bouncing back to win the Champions League in Istanbul 12 months from now. After the biggest night in the club’s history, arguably their biggest summer lies ahead.”We need to be clever now and, after a very painful game like this, it’s about building for the next period of your life,” Pochettino said. “Of course, it’s going to be tough.”

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5/31/19 Champions League Finals Sat 3 pm TNT, Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, WWC starts Fri, CFC Academy Tryouts Tues, Full TV Game Schedule

CFC_Tyler_U18   The Ole Ballcoach

Indy 11

The Indy 11 look to stay undefeated at home as they face the Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Lucas Oil Stadium Saturday night. Tickets for the 7:00 p.m. kickoff remain available for as little as $15 at IndyEleven.com/tickets or by calling 317-685-1100.  The 11 are coming off a heartbreaking 1-0 loss at Pittsburgh Wednesday night knocking them out of the US Open Cup.

USA World Cup

So the US Ladies finished 3-0 as they knocked off a game Mexico last Sunday in the final of the World Cup send-off series. Now the #1 ranked team in the world and defending champs will head to France to prepare for the World Cup which kicks off next weekend. Check out the Casual Fans Guide to the Women’s World Cup, the World Cup Power Rankings and follow along on Yahoo Soccer for all the updates.  The World Cup from France gets underway June 7 with the US starting June 11. Meet the 23 members of the USWNT 2019 World Cup roster.

  • Fri, June 7 3 pm  FS1                            France vs South Korea
  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden

On the men’s side –The USMNT U20’s with coach Tab Ramos at the helm went 2-1 in the group stages – their only loss a heartbreaker to Ukraine when they had NO ONE ON THE BACK POST for the GAME LOSING goal on corner early in the 2nd half.  They played well and had more than 60% possession in all 3 games but now must face a very strong French team in the Sweet 16 on Tuesday at 11:30 am on FS2. The full USMNT will face Jamaica Wed June 5th at 7 pm on FS1, followed by another friendly Sun, June 9th at 2 pm on Fox in nearby Cincinnati.

Champions & Europa League

Of course, the All English Finals continue on Sat, June 1 at 3 pm as Liverpool will face Tottenham on TNT for the Champions League final.  Huge game Saturday afternoon – as questions abound – will Harry Kane start for the Spurs or come off the bench, will Fermino start up front for Liverpool?  Will Alisson not make the huge blunders that cost Liverpool the win last year vs Madrid?  Time will tell as the 2 English teams and their fans invade Madrid for the final.  I am thinking much like Europa that this one isn’t close that Liverpool will dominate 3-1 or so.  But if anyone can pull a rabbit out of a hat – its been the Spurs this season.

So Chelsea obliterated Arsenal in the Europa League Finals 4-1 which mean Arsenal will not play Champions League soccer next fall – instead falling to Europa League in the 5th slot.  Despite the trophy and a solid 3rd place finish in the EPL I still suspect Chelsea will be parting ways with manager Sarri this week.

MLS

Final Columbus Crew Game this Saturday night at 8 pm on ESPN+ for Goalkeeper Zach Steffen as after the US Gold Cup he will head to Manchester City.  Of course, you can Vote now for your 2019 All-Stars as they will face Atletico Madrid.  TV Games this week include this huge return to their home stadium for the Portland Timbers as they host league leaders LAFC Sat night at 7:30 pm on ESPN2. Most MLS games are on ESPN+.

Carmel FC Tryouts & Camps are Set

Tryouts for kids from U8 till 18 are right around the corner.  Carmel FC is a community based club who has put tons of kids on the local high school teams at Carmel High, Guerin, University and more.  Tryouts are June 4th for academy teams U8-U10, and June 10 & 11 for U13 & above. Click here for more info about CFC Tryouts.  Also Carmel FC is looking for Coaches for the 2019/20 Season’s please click here if interested.

Indy 11 Soccer Camp – Carmel Dad’s Club Badger Field June 17-20 9-12 noon.ages 6-14 $135

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 9-12 pm Beginner Camp $150

Carmel FC Summer Soccer Camps – July 15-18 3-5 pm Elite Player Development Camp $150

Also Good Luck to all those teams playing in State, President’s and Challenge Cup Finals this weekend at Grand Park – especially our Carmel FC teams – with games on Sat – 05 Boys Gold (State Cup at 2:30 pm Field 13), 05 Girls Gold –President’s Cup at 12 noon Field 3, and the 08 Girls Gold- Challenge Cup 10 am field 4S.

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GAMES ON TV

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals

2:30 pm TNT/FuboTV               Liverpool vs Tottenham 

8:00 pm ESPN+                                     Colorado vs Cincy

8:30 pm ESPN+                                     Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Seattle

7:30 pm ESPN2                                     Portland vs LAFC (new stadium opens!)

Sun, June 2  

11:30 pm FS2                                        U20 WC Italy vs Poland

2:30 pm FS2                                           U20 WC Colombia vs New Zealand

3 pm  Watch ESPN                             France vs Bolivia

Tues, June 4  

11:30 am Fox Sport 2                                              U20 WC USA vs France

2:30 pm FS2                                           Argentina vs Mali

Wed, June 5  

2:45 pm ESPN2                                     Portugal vs Switzerland Nations League

7 pm Fox Sports 1      USMNT vs Jamaica

7:30 pm ESPN+                                    Montreal vs Seattle Sounders

8:30 pm beIN sports                                                Brazil vs Qatar

Thurs, June 6  

2:45 pm ESPN2                                     Netherlands vs England -Nations League

Fri, June 7

9:30 am Fox Sport 2                         U20 WC USA/France vs ??   

12:30 pm FS2 U20 WC QF2

2:45 pm ESPN+/Watch Denmark vs Ireland – Euro Qualifying

7 pm GOL TV Uruguay vs Panama

8 pm beIN Sport Argentina vs Nicaragua

Sat, June 8

9 am Fox Sport 1                    Women’s World Cup  Germany vs China

11:30 am Fox Sport 2             U20 WC  Quarterfinal #3

12 noon Fox                            WWC Spain vs South Africa

2:30 pm Fox Sport 2               U20 WC  Quarterfinal #3

2:45 pm ESPN+/3                   Greece vs Italy  Euro Qualifying

3 pm Fox                                 WWC Norway vs Nigeria

Sun, June 9

7 am Fox Sports 1                   WWC Australia vs Italy

9 am ESPN 2                           UEFA Nations League 3rd place

9:30 am Fox Sports 1              WWC Brazil vs Jamaica

12 Noon Fox                            WWC England vs Scotland

2 pm Fox                              USMNT vs Venezuela in Cincy

2:45 pm ESPN                    UEFA Nations League Final   

 USA Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Tues, June 11: 3 p.m. ET, Fox                S. vs. Thailand,
  • Sun, June 16: Noon ET, Fox                 S. vs. Chile,
  • Thurs, June 20: 3 p.m. ET, Fox S. vs. Sweden
  • Sun, July 7 3 pm ET, Fox Women’s World Cup Finals from France

Gold Cup TV Schedule June 15– July 7

Indy 11 TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

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

International Champions Cup Schedule July 16-Aug 18

Champions League Sat 3 pm TNT

Champions League Preview –

Liverpools & Spurs secret to UCL Success?  Systems over Stars – ESPNFC

Lloris Talks Tottenham’s Miracle Race to the UCL Final – ESPNFC

Alisson is Real Reason Liverpool are in Champs League Final – ESPNFC

Lloris – Pochettino Saved my Spurs Career says GK

The London Effect Finally Pays off for UCL and Europa London Teams – ESPNFC

Red’s Must Forget 2018 Final Woes – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

Can Song Make Asian Soccer History?

Firmino Set to Return to Face Spurs – Klopp – ESPNFC

– Reddy: Alexander-Arnold’s road from dreamer to record breaker
Ogden: Can Tottenham hang on to Pochettino after the final?

If you Likes Champions League this Year – Hope this Doesn’t Happen – Leander Schaelaeckens – Yahoo Sports

Women’s World Cup-June 7  

USWNT 3, Mexico 0: Takeaways from the American women’s World Cup send-off match

US Dunn impresses – Subs Shine in 3-0 win over Mexico

What We Learned – USA vs Mexico – S & S

US Heads to World Cup with Uncertainty Surrounding the Champs – Grant Wahl SI

Who for US is Coming Into World Cup on a High Note – Yahoo Soccer

These 23 Women Ready to Take on the World – Glamour Mag

US forward Tobin Heath’s Nutmeg Chronicles

Group A – France/South Korea/Norway

Group B Preview- Germany/China, Spain, South Africa  SI

US Men

Christian Pulisic’s Path Opens up at Chelsea in summer move – Avi Creditor SI

How will the Final US Men’s Roster look for Gold Cup – S & S

What We Learned After Group Stages for US U20s in World Cup – bobby Warshaw – MLS.com

Harsh Marks After 1-0 Win over Qatar get US U20s thru to play France as 2nd in the group

US U-20s Win 2-0 vs Nigeria

World

Manuel Neuer Brilliant in Bayern’s German Cup 3-0 Triumph over Leipzig

Aston Villa back in the EPL after winning $200 million dollar game over Derby County in the EFL Champ

Aston Villa back in the EPL – with Chelsea’s John Terry as an Assistant – ESPNFC

Atalanta, Inter Milan Secure Champ League Spots – AC Milan/Roma are out.

Brazil have taken Neymar’s Captains band – but why was he captain in first place? ESPNFC

MLS

Warshaw: Chad Marshall set the all-time standard for MLS center backs

Chad Marshall Never Had Much Chance on the USMNT – Stars and Stripes

Vote now for your 2019 All-Stars

Steffen on Crew finale: I’ll never forget Columbus

Wiebe: Five big questions for the weekend’s action

US Open Cup fourth-round draw: MLS learn opponents

Zlatan back with a bang in rare LA win in KC

Timbers open renovated Providence Park vs. LAFC

GK

MLS Top Saves

UEFA Champions League final ultimate preview: What you need to know before Tottenham vs. Liverpool

6:30 AM ETGabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

MADRID — The only thing left to settle for the European club season before the summer is the Champions League, and much like the Europa League final, it’s an all-English affair in Madrid as Liverpool take on Tottenham. Who will begin their holidays with a trophy and who will spend the offseason wondering what could have been?Here is what you need to know ahead of Saturday’s game, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET (8 p.m. BST) and is set to be played in hot temperatures.

– Reddy: Alexander-Arnold’s road from dreamer to record breaker
– Ogden: Can Tottenham hang on to Pochettino after the final?

BACKSTORY: Liverpool arrive with the greater pedigree. They’ve won the European Cup five times; only Milan and Real Madrid have more. They reached the final only last season, when they were beaten by Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine, and they finished this season a single point off the pace in the Premier League behind Manchester City.Contrast this with Tottenham. Only Michel Vorm, their third-choice goalkeeper, was even born the most recent time they were in a European final of any kind: the 1984 UEFA Cup final. That was also the most recent time they went beyond the quarterfinals in Europe. Spurs finished fourth in the Premier League and lost 2-1 both times they faced Liverpool this season, though the second clash, at Anfield, was a particularly tight, hard-fought affair that could have gone either way.

CARDIAC COMEBACKS, LIVERPOOL EDITION: If it wasn’t for a dramatic victory over Napoli in their final group-stage game in December — which saw them advance thanks to a tiebreaker — Liverpool’s Champions League quest would have ended before the knockout rounds. Plus, they pulled off the most dramatic of turnarounds at Anfield in the semifinal against Barcelona, winning 4-0 to wipe out a 3-0 first leg defeat.

CARDIAC COMEBACKS, TOTTENHAM EDITION: Tottenham were also headed out of the competition in December until Lucas Moura‘s goal, with five minutes to go away to Barcelona at the Camp Nou, in the final group game. Even then they only advanced thanks to the tiebreaker as well. Moura, of course, would prove decisive again in the semifinal second-leg comeback against Ajax, notching a hat trick including that buzzer-beater of a winner in injury time. Oh, and in the quarterfinal against heavily favored Manchester City, a dramatic Fernando Llorente deflected goal with minutes to go saw Spurs advance in a seesaw match.

NO SILVERWARE, NO PROBLEM: Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino famously said that trophies “build egos” but league finishes and year-on-year improvement build clubs. While Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp hasn’t quite gone that far, he too is living proof that a manager’s popularity rests on far more than delivering silverware. Both are immensely loved by their fan bases, yet Pochettino has never won a trophy in his managerial career and Klopp’s last major title was in 2012, when he led Borussia Dortmund to the Bundesliga title. His record in finals isn’t great, either, having lost six of seven.Obviously, that will change for one of these two men Saturday …

TACTICAL CONTRAST: Both managers believe in pressing, directness, high lines and speedy forwards, but Pochettino has been, often by necessity, the more pragmatic and shape-shifting of the two. Where Liverpool’s lineup has been relatively settled for much of the season, Tottenham have been hammered by injuries at various stages. As a result, Pochettino has played a variety of lineups and schemes, and going into this game, it’s hard to predict how Tottenham will take the field.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO FOLLOWING A DEFEAT, LIVERPOOL:They will be dealt a crushing psychological blow and folks start to murmur that, for all his touchy-feely, cult-of-personality schtick, maybe Klopp really does have issues in getting a team over the line. To miss out on the Premier League by one point and then to fail in Madrid after losing in last season’s Champions League final, ending another season empty-handed … it’s a grim thought the players and fans will not want to entertain.

WORST-CASE SCENARIO FOLLOWING A DEFEAT, TOTTENHAM:Given Liverpool are huge favorites, a loss for Spurs wouldn’t be a big deal. But there’s intrigue here, too. Pochettino says he’s taken Tottenham as far as he possibly can and demands further investment in the side in the summer. If it doesn’t come — and, in fact, contract malcontents Christian Eriksen and Toby Alderweireld leave — Pochettino resigns, too. Not the best way to end a season filled with so much hope.

CENTER-FORWARD CONUNDRUM, LIVERPOOL: Roberto Firmino is an atypical central striker whose contribution is less about goals and more about his movement, passing and work off the ball. He is invaluable to Liverpool’s system but suffered muscular injuries late in the season. Klopp says he’s fit for the final, but you wonder how a layoff of nearly six weeks since his most recent start is going to affect him.

CENTER-FORWARD CONUNDRUM, TOTTENHAM: Spurs born and bred, Tottenham fans sing that their captain, Harry Kane, is “one of their own.” He undoubtedly is, and what’s more, he’s one of the best center-forwards in the world, having scored 90 goals in the past three years in all competitions. While it appears he’s fit again, his most recent appearance for the club was way back on April 9, so rust is bound to be a factor.

Kane’s return also poses a dilemma for Pochettino: Does he leave out either Son Heung-Min or Moura, who were heroic in getting Spurs this far, or does he try to cram all three into his starting XI? On paper, it’s a risky thing to do … then again, he’s done it five times in the Premier League this season. And each time, Spurs have won.

STAR MAN, LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah took Liverpool by storm last season, when he scored 44 goals after joining from Roma, and many expected him to regress to the mean this season. But while his numbers are down (he has 26 this campaign), he’s still a constant scoring threat.

STAR MAN, TOTTENHAM: Christian Eriksen is the sort of player soccer connoisseurs love. Neither particularly quick nor athletic, he’s hugely clever in finding space and unlocking opposition defenses and is always a threat from long range.

WHERE THE GAME WILL BE WON OR LOST: Both teams love to exploit the flanks, and Liverpool in particular have devastating fullback-winger combinations in Andy Robertson with Sadio Mane on the left and Trent Alexander-Arnold with Salah on the right. How Pochettino defends them will be key since both his full-backs (Kieran Trippier and Danny Rose) are more attack-minded. He might resort to a back three or, more likely, demand more work off the ball from his wide attacking players.

(Side note: Keep your eye on Robertson — arguably the best crosser of the ball, he could place the ball on a dime in the most dangerous of attacking positions.)

Georginio Wijnaldum speaks exclusively to ESPN FC about the differences he foresees between the 2018 and 2019 Champions League finals.

X FACTOR, LIVERPOOL: Liverpool’s style means that Virgil Van Dijk is often asked to do a lot of open-field defending. He’s one of the best center-backs in the world, and how well he marshals the back four will have a huge impact; so too will the threat he poses at the other end on set pieces.

X FACTOR, TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR: Son has scored more key goals than you can shake a stick at this season, and his combination of strength, tactical nous and energy makes him both a nuisance (for opponents when in possession) and a threat to run behind (when opponents lose possession).

LIVERPOOL WILL WIN BECAUSE … They simply have more top-to-bottom quality in the lineup, and two key Spurs players are returning from injury (not just Kane but Harry Winks, too). Many of the matchups favor them in different areas of the pitch, particularly out wide. What’s more, they have a distinct edge in dead-ball situations — their goal difference in the Premier League in this department was plus-15, to Spurs’ plus-5 — and that can be decisive in a one-off match.

TOTTENHAM WILL WIN BECAUSE … Pochettino knows how to be pragmatic, and in a final, the old standby of soaking up pressure and hitting on the counter works well. There’s also more pressure on the opposition, and Pochettino is a master at spinning the underdog tale to motivate his players.

PREDICTION: Liverpool 3-1 Tottenham

There’s a reason why these two clubs were separated by 26 points in the Premier League this season. Liverpool have more of an edge to them this season — witness Robertson tackling Lionel Messi at Anfield — and Klopp has more tactical Plan B options, like Xherdan Shaqiri off the bench or Gini Wijnaldum ghosting into the front three, than he did last season.

Liverpool, Tottenham’s secret to Champions League success? Systems over stars

3:13 PMMusa OkwongaESPN.com writer

It is difficult enough to face Barcelona and Manchester City in the late stages of the UEFA Champions League, with both sides desperate for success in a tournament in which victory would define them for an era. To not only face them while missing your talismanic forwards, as Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur did, but to overcome them, is therefore a feat for the ages. When Spurs beat City without the aid of Harry Kane, and Liverpool came back at Anfield even though Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino were not in the lineup, they taught us something important about these teams: that the philosophy guiding them is more important than any individual player.This seems like a straightforward-enough point, but until recently we have not been living in straightforward times. We are slowly emerging from a decade dominated by Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi, individuals around whom entire teams have been built; a period we could almost call The Age of No Plan B, where the Plan A of using Ronaldo or Messi to best effect was so successful that no alternative was needed.The arrival of Spurs and Liverpool, whose coaches both had to make sharp tactical adjustments, in the Champions League final thus feels strongly symbolic. At one point, it seemed that Messi and Ronaldo would bring Barcelona and Juventus to the final by sheer force of will, only to be undone by some of the most thrilling attacking football that Europe has seen in a generation.The key to the versatility of most modern sides, and their ability to win games even when their best options may not be available, is of course fluidity; of using systems where players can perform multiple roles if needed. The most extreme example of this is Georginio Wijnaldum, a sort of footballing Swiss Army knife who was deployed by Jurgen Klopp against Barcelona as a centre-forward, despite being mostly known as a midfielder.Wijnaldum responded with a performance for the ages, scoring twice in three second-half minutes, and essentially doing the job of a world-class target man. It was a deserved and overdue place in the spotlight for Wijnaldum, who has spent mch of the past year quietly restoring the fortunes of his club and country to supreme shape.That is the compelling thing about this year’s Champions League finalists: the spotlight so often alternates, so many players have come forward to play starring roles. Son Heung-Min has been magnificent, taking up Kane’s goal-scoring mantle with aplomb, but Moussa Sissoko has arguably been even more effective this season, taking on responsibilities far beyond those once expected of him.That these players have felt empowered to do so is great credit to both Klopp and Mauricio Pochettino. It also suggests that while we may be leaving the era of the superstar player, we may be returning to the era of the superstar coach, when tactical innovation rather than individual brilliance is decisive at the highest level.The superstar coach is by definition rare, and is someone who can take good or very good players to extraordinary levels. What is remarkable about Klopp and Pochettino is that several of the footballers they have elevated to prominence — and, in one or two cases, greatness — probably could not have imagined such a grand fate under most other managers.Virgil van Dijk was undoubtedly a very fine player at Celtic and Southampton, but few could have predicted the speed or height of his rise even two seasons ago. Even in a time of exorbitant transfer fees, his price tag attracted much scorn, but there is little laughter when it is mentioned now. As promising of a youth prospect as he was, few could have expected that Dele Alli would blossom to such effect, but under Pochettino he has become elite.

It is this quality — this ability to bring barely imaginable brilliance from everyone in their squad — that enables Liverpool, and to a lesser extent Spurs, to adjust so well when their leading players are missing through injury. That is why, when Messi arrived at Anfield for that second leg and people were asking who would stop him, Klopp could have answered, without the merest hint of irony: “Divock Origi.” That is why, when three goals down to Ajax in the second half of a Champions League semifinal, Pochettino could look at Fernando Llorente on the bench — a 34-year-old forward who had barely found form since his arrival at Spurs nearly two years ago — and say, in the style of U.S. senator Elizabeth Warren, “I have a plan for that.”The rest, of course, is glorious history. Origi scored twice, at either end of the match, while Llorente gave one of the most disruptive centre-forward displays in recent memory, winning almost every aerial duel in sight against Ajax’s defenders and providing Lucas Moura with the room to score a second-half hat trick. And in the near future, we can celebrate whoever wins in the final — despite the resources at the disposal of both teams — as a triumph for tactical mastery.

Alisson is the real reason Liverpool are in the Champions League final

7:55 PM ETRyan O’Hanlon, Special to ESPN.com

Fair warning: Depending on your personal affinities, the following exercise may be either painful, hilarious or offensive. OK, now let’s quickly go through all of the once-in-a-lifetime incidents that happened in last year’s Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid.First, Mohamed Salah, he of the 44 goals and 16 assists in his debut season with Liverpool, badly injured his shoulder after a (pick your adjective of choice) collision with Sergio Ramos. He was subbed off in tears after just 30 minutes. In the first half-hour, Liverpool outshot Madrid 9-2; after Salah left, the balance shifted to 12-4 in Madrid’s favor over the final hour.Then, in the 51st minute, Liverpool keeper Loris Karius collected an over-hit through ball and proceeded to throw the ball directly into Karim Benzema‘s foot, seeing it deflect in to make it 1-0. After Sadio Mane evened the score in the 55th minute, Gareth Bale was subbed on with half-an-hour to go. Three minutes later, he scored on a contorted bicycle kick from the top of the penalty area. Bale scored again in the 83rd minute with a harmless-looking shot from 35 yards out hit right at the chest of Karius, who proceeded to aimlessly push the ball into his own net. From Liverpool’s point of view, there’s not much to be done about a game like that; it’s a matter of volatility. You can’t budget against your best player getting injured in the most important game of the season, and Real Madrid are Real Madrid because they have a player like Gareth Bale, who has decided multiple cup finals all by himself, sitting on the bench. Shake your fists at the soccer gods and then move on. Oh, and get yourself a new goalkeeper.A year after the debacle in Kiev, Liverpool are back in the Champions League final. This time, they’re favorites and this time, it’s not despite the guy in goal. No, they’re here because of him.

Last summer, Liverpool shattered the transfer fee for a goalkeeper when they brought in Alisson from Roma for £56.25 million. (It was then broken weeks later when Chelsea bought Kepa from Athletic Bilbao for £72m.) For a squad that had been mostly built on undervalued players, this seemed to mark a change in the way Liverpool did things… or, perhaps it wasn’t.”He maybe added one-third of the points that Liverpool gained this season,” said Paul Power, an analyst with the data company STATS. “You know, it’s chicken feed, basically, what they paid for him.”Goalkeepers have long been a frustrating puzzle for decision-makers, coaches and talent evaluators alike. As Statsbomb’s Derrick Yam wrote in a paper for this year’s Sloan Sports Analytics Conference: “A goalkeeper in the England Premier League faces only 12 shots a game, 80 percent of which miss the goal frame completely or were blocked before they reach the goalkeeper. It’s not uncommon for a goalkeeper to go an entire game without making one save.”On top of the scarcity of events, there’s an issue of context. The style of defense a team plays will affect the type and total of shots they allow. Stopping shots for Burnley — a side that concedes a ton of chances but tries to keep as many men behind the ball as possible — is a vastly different exercise than stopping shots for Liverpool, a team that doesn’t allow many shots but has fewer bodies back in defense whenever they do. Traditional numbers like “clean sheets” or “save percentage” don’t account for these effects, and they also don’t account for the quality of the finish.All of these moving parts seem to show up in just how little clubs seem to value the players they put in goal. Before Liverpool’s deal for Alisson, the world-record fee for a keeper was Juventus’s £47.6m transfer for Parma’s Gianluigi Buffon… in 2001. Among the 50 most expensive transfers ever, just three are keepers. Ederson, the fourth-most expensive shot-stopper, cost less than “punchline players” like PaulinhoAndy Carroll and Shkodran Mustafi, whose high fees have paid more for comedy than competence.Power, however, is working to change how keepers are assessed and, in turn, how they’re valued. At STATS, he helped create a model that uses artificial intelligence to determine what each keeper’s specific skills actually are. As he put it: “What’s his ability to come off his line? What’s his ability to make his body big? Is he better at shots to his feet or hands, or both?

With that information, they’re able to determine how likely a specific keeper is to save a specific shot. The model can then simulate how each keeper in the Premier League would have fared against every single shot taken across the competition that season: a useful way to compare the performance of players up and down the table. It can also help give a sense of how a keeper’s performance would translate across the unique shot profiles that each team concedes.According to the model, Alisson was the best keeper in England this year, and he was the ideal fit for Liverpool’s defense. The 26-year-old Brazilian saved 0.31 goals per game more than the average keeper would have. Despite a late-season swoon, Manchester United’s David De Gea was second at 0.27.”In the 2017-18 season, when Liverpool conceded shots, the shots were very dangerous,” said Power. “So Liverpool needed a goalkeeper who was able to cope in one-on-one situations where the defense just completely collapsed and the keeper had to do something amazing. Alisson’s true strengths were that he was able to make these kind of superhuman saves. He would have saved at least seven goals that [Simon] Mignolet or Karius would have conceded.”A goal is worth around one point and Liverpool improved by 22 points from last year to this year, but Alisson’s impact wasn’t just limited to domestic play. In the final Champions League group stage game against Napoli, with Liverpool up 1-0 in a game they had to win in order to qualify for the knockout round, he made a point-blank save to deny Arkadiusz Milik in the 89th minute.  “There aren’t many keepers who could have done that,” said Power. “There are maybe seven or eight in the world.”After the four-goal Champions League semifinal comeback against Barcelona at Anfield, much of the focus was on the fact that unheralded squad players Divock Origi and Georginio Wijnaldum each scored twice, or that Trent Alexander-Arnold‘s quick corner won the game, or that Barcelona collapsed, dramatically, for the second time in as many years. But none of that matters if Alisson doesn’t pitch a shutout and Barcelona get an away goal. He made five saves, including two on “big chances,” which the data company Opta defines as a “situation where a player should reasonably be expected to score.”Alisson’s counterpart on Saturday in Madrid will be Tottenham’s Hugo Lloris, who also rates highly in the STATS system. He saved the fourth-most goals above average (0.21 per game) in the Premier League this season.”In terms of actually picking out shots into the corners, Lloris is exceptional,” Power said. “Where he sometimes gets caught are shots that are actually straight at him. He compensates for shots that go through him by being able to reach these really high-probability shots that should be goals.”Of course, an inability to save shots directly at a keeper was partially responsible for Liverpool’s demise against Madrid last season. The acquisition of Alisson solved that problem, and then some.If there’s another bicycle kick into the top corner, Alisson is at least more likely to tip it wide than either of his predecessors. And if there’s another early injury to a key player — well, could he nurse his teammate back to health? We can’t say for sure; the model doesn’t account for that yet.

If you like this Champions League final, you’d better hope these proposed changes don’t happen

Leander SchaerlaeckensYahoo Sports•May 27, 2019

Everything that made the Champions League great this season is under threat.The final hasn’t yet been played, and a proposal put forth by the richest and most powerful clubs already imperils the future possibility of the very Cinderella runs and collapses by the favorites that made this such a captivating edition of the continental club championship.If adopted, could Ajax have found the formula to returning to European prominence and coming within seconds of reaching the final, as it did this season?No chance.Could Tottenham Hotspur have overcome years, even decades, of late-season collapses to survive heart-stopping thrillers with Manchester City and Ajax to make their first-ever title game?Possibly not.Even a legacy club like Liverpool’s second straight final, courtesy of a stunning comeback against FC Barcelona, would have been less likely.The European Club Association – a sort of trade group of 200 clubs controlled largely by the biggest teams – has convinced UEFA, the regional governing body, to consider its idea of reserving places in the Champions League for the 24 biggest clubs in Europe. The other eight spots would be split between qualifiers from outside the major leagues and the semifinalists from the prior season’s second-tier Europa League in a kind of promotion-relegation scheme that would trickle down into the third-tier tournament envisioned by UEFA.The plan was first reported by the New York Times but has since been acknowledged as a possibility by UEFA, although it claims it’s very much in the concept stage. The thing is, Europe’s biggest clubs hold enormous leverage over their governing body, aware as they are that they generate the bulk of the $2.3 billion in prize money UEFA redistributes. They want a bigger piece of it, while UEFA is trying to avoid a would-be departure of its rebellious cash cows.Such a scheme would ossify the current hierarchy in the sport and create a kind of über-class of clubs that already enjoy enormous economic advantages at the top of the food chain. And it would leave an incredibly narrow path for new teams to join that upper crust.Ajax, having mostly spent two decades in the wilderness after its last spell of European competitiveness, likely wouldn’t have made it. It wasn’t supposed to be able to get this far, outspent in multiples by its adversaries. And if this new arrangement had been suggested just a few years ago, Spurs surely would have missed out too. After all, it didn’t qualify for the elite European tournament from 2011-12 through 2015-16. Or indeed from 1962 through 2010. In fact, if the timing had been less fortunate, Liverpool would also be on the outside looking in, as the Reds qualified for the Champions League just once in seven seasons before these back-to-back runs to the final.And that’s just it. Fortunes rise and fall, but the ECA’s plan would effectively prevent that from happening in continental competition. It would make it harder for small teams to do well, since the proposal includes a group stage that would last 14 games per team, rather than six, making the chances of surprise eliminations smaller.What’s more, a slate of guaranteed Champions League entrants would make the domestic leagues largely unimportant. In the Premier League, for instance, Chelsea, Spurs, Manchester United and Arsenal wouldn’t have had anything to play for, other than marginal bumps in prize money, once they were out of title contention. Fewer game would matter.Much of the drama this season in the Spanish and Italian leagues came not from Barcelona and Juventus winning yet more domestic titles – Barca’s fourth in five seasons and Juve’s eighth in a row – but from little Atalanta and puny Getafe chasing Champions League berths. They would be a pair of major upsets and generational achievements for each club, but if they weren’t even playing for a place among Europe’s elite, nobody would have cared about their final standing.The domestic leagues have understandably pushed back against this plan – La Liga president Javier Tebas has called it “catastrophic” – which would not go into effect until 2024. Because there is even talk of the expanded schedule of Champions League games partly taking place on weekends, rather than being confined to Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as they are now. This, too, would undermine domestic soccer, no matter how beloved the league.In some ways, this sort of proposal was inevitable. The megaclub-controlled ECA has agitated for a breakaway league for years, figuring it would stand to make more money and suffer less risk by simply shutting out the smaller clubs. This is a more palatable version of the once-mooted Super League. And from a fan’s perspective, there is an argument to be made for the biggest clubs playing the biggest games on the biggest stage more of the time.But then the biggest clubs don’t always stay the biggest. Some decline. Others emerge. That’s the beauty of sport. The beauty of soccer, above all. Nothing is ordained – Ajax almost made the final. The games still have to be played. And sometimes the smaller team wins.Leander Schaerlaeckens is a Yahoo Sports soccer columnist and a sports communication lecturer at Marist College. Follow him on Twitter @LeanderAlphabet.

Warshaw: Lessons learned and questions to answer for US at U-20 World Cup

May 31, 201911:33AM EDTBobby Warshaw

Game 1, a 2-1 loss to Ukraine: “Meh. Not great, not bad – certainly some things to build on.”

Game 2, a 2-0 win over Nigeria: “This is everything I’ve ever wanted from an American men’s soccer team.”

Game 3, a 1-0 win over Qatar: “They won? I threw the remote through the TV at about the 40 minute mark.”

From mediocre to very good to very bad, the United States did enough in the group stage to secure second place in Group D and qualify into the Second Round the Under-20 World Cup. The US will likely take on tournament favorite France on Tuesday.

Things we learned about the US from the group stage:

  • When everything/everyone clicks, the team can play gorgeous soccer. Everyone is comfortable on the ball, and everyone can attack from multiple angles. The wingers can tuck central or stay wide; the outside backs can overlap or underlap; and all three center midfielders can drop deep or drive forward. The game against Nigeria was one of the most exhilarating attacking performances that a US men’s national team at any level has ever played.
  • With that said … holy crap, does the team need Paxton Pomykalat center midfield. It was not random that the team’s best performance came when Pomykal – who played on the wing in the first game and got rested in the third game – played in the middle against Nigeria. His instinct on where to move and what to do with the ball sets the pace for the group. And when that pace isn’t right … it gets precarious quickly. If the team takes punches, they struggle to stay standing. Every soccer game has momentum swings, and every team needs to know how to manage those swings. Instead of controlling the ball for a little, you focus on controlling the space. When the US lost control of the ball, though, they also allowed opposing players to get in dangerous gaps. They are a team who clearly has inserted the idea of “playing on the front foot” into their minds, but they also need to get more comfortable when they are pushed back.Hopefully Thursday’s win over Qatar will help with that … as they learned that they can win despite being second-best. That statement isn’t an attempt to put makeup on a pig. The win over Qatar was more “lucky” than “gritty.” That distinction won’t matter to the players, though. The idea of “We can win when we are getting outplayed” has now been inserted into their brains; it can function as a rallying cry when the game isn’t going as planned. Stay calm, stay in it – we can find a way. It’s likely that France will control the game on Tuesday, so this little nugget could be important.

Questions that need to get answered before the next game:

  • Can Tab Ramos find the right starting XI? The team had a pretty clear framework through the qualifying games last November, then in the first game of the World Cup, Ramos experimented; he opted to play without a true center striker. In the third group game, too, Ramos experimented; he put Mark McKenzie, usually a center back, at right back. I didn’t mind the logic behind either decision. It has to be said, though, that they both turned out to be the wrong decisions that almost cost his team the tournament. His next lineup decisions will garner plenty of eyes, both for their impact on a huge knockout game and what they could mean for a potential move to the professional ranks after the World Cup.And the first selection conversation among the coaching staff should be: Who plays center midfield? Chris Durkinand Alex Mendez, who both started all three group games, are suspended for the next match due to yellow card accumulation. Brandon Servania, who started the first and third games, hasn’t looked as sharp as he did in the Concacaf Championship. Pomykal figures to play one of the midfield roles. I’d guess Richie Ledezma gets a start, too, after he looked good in his cameo against Qatar. The last and deepest midfield spot? Does Ramos give FC Dallas’ Edwin Cerillo his first international game?  Similarly … Who plays right back? Sergino Dest, who plays for Ajax’s reserve team, has been breathtaking in attack. He’s consistently dangerous when he flies down the right. But he has struggled defensively in both of his starts, to the point that he could be a liability against France. It’d be a shame to lose his attacking ability from the starting lineup, but McKenzie or Julian Araujo could be the more reliable options at right back.

Predicting the USMNT Gold Cup roster

Which 23 players do we think get the call from Berhalter?

By Donald Wine II@blazindw  May 28, 2019, 6:00am PDT  Stars and Stripes

The CONCACAF Gold Cup kicks off on June 15th, and United States Men’s National Team head coach Gregg Berhalter will soon have to name the 23 players that will make up his roster. The USMNT will seek to defend its title from 2017, but will do it with a squad that would be considered almost full strength, save a few injuries.From Berhalter’s 40-man provisional roster will come the 23-man roster, and that roster will be firm thanks to new CONCACAF rules that will be implemented at this tournament. Because of this, the task of trimming 17 players to form the final roster is a difficult one. Berhalter is having a joint camp with the U-23s this week in Annapolis, Maryland before calling in a full USMNT senior roster to compete in the first Gold Cup warm up friendly against Jamaica on June 5th in Washington, DC. On June 6th, Berhalter will announce that final squad, who will head onto Cincinnati to face Venezuela on June 9th before competing in the Gold Cup.So, who do we think Gregg Berhalter will select to form the final Gold Cup roster? We predict, by position, who we think he eventually selects:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)

Zack Steffen is Berhalter’s number one goalkeeper, and he gets the first call amongst the shot stoppers. It will be a decent competition for the other two spots, but in the end they go to Ethan Horvath and Sean Johnson. They appear to be the two that Berhalter feels most comfortable with in terms of distribution out of the back. If Berhalter thinks he needs some more experience between the posts, he could opt to bring Brad Guzan instead of Johnson. In the end, it’s likely Johnson that gets that 3rd goalkeeper spot.

DEFENDERS (8): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Tim Ream(Fulham), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club)

There are several players that hope to play themselves into the mix for the 23-man roster, but there are a few that are solidly in Berhalter’s plans. Tyler Adams will be the starting right back in the hybrid formation that Berhalter employs. Nick Lima will also be brought on to back up Adams in that position. Whoever mans that right back position will be called on to also shift at times into the center defensive midfield position as well.On the left side, Daniel Lovitz, Tim Ream, and Antonee Robinson will be named to the team to hold things down. Greg Garza’s injury puts Berhalter in a tough spot, as he probably makes the team ahead of Robinson if he’s 100%.  For centerbacks, Matt Miazga, Walker Zimmerman, Aaron Long, and even Tim Ream will battle for the starting spots. They all will be expected to be ready to play as the squad rotates throughout the group stage.

MIDFIELDERS (6): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)

The main midfielders of Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie are going to be the go-to players each match. Michael Bradley and Wil Trapp will be called upon to serve in the center defense midfield area, while Sebastian Lletget and Cristian Roldan will provide cover off the bench. Still, it will be about where they play Pulisic. Will he be on the right, as he was for most of the year with Borussia Dortmund, will he play on the left, or will Berhalter place him in the center?

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Tyler Boyd (MKE Ankaragücü), Jonathan Lewis (Colorado Rapids), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

Jozy Altidore is back, he’s currently healthy, and is scoring or assisting (or both) in each match he plays in. If he can maintain his health, he’s Berhalter’s first name for forwards. Tyler Boyd’s ability to work the left side will mean he makes the roster along with Paul Arriola, whose work rate will get him in the starting lineup either at left attack wing or right attack wing. Jonathan Lewis will also be able to play either wing, though he appears to be most comfortable on the left. Josh Sargent and Gyasi Zardes could be options at center forward or withdrawn behind Jozy Altidore on either side.  Gregg Berhalter will likely bring in players who can play multiple positions while letting them know exactly what their role will be for the Gold Cup. His meticulous approach to establishing and executing a game plan will mean that while the versatility of this predicted roster will be utilized at times throughout the tournament, it will be done in a controlled way that maintains the structure of Berhalter’s desired hybrid 4-3-3 formation.

To recap, here’s who Gregg Berhalter will likely name to his final Gold Cup roster:

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath, Sean Johnson, Zack Steffen

DEFENDERS (8): Tyler Adams, Nick Lima, Aaron Long, Daniel Lovitz, Matt Miazga, Tim Ream, Antonee Robinson, Walker Zimmerman

MIDFIELDERS (6): Michael Bradley, Sebastian Lletget, Weston McKennie, Christian Pulisic, Cristian Roldan, Wil Trapp

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore, Paul Arriola, Tyler Boyd, Jonathan Lewis, Josh Sargent, Gyasi Zardes

We will find out who is actually selected on June 6th. For now, hit the comments and let us know who you think Gregg Berhalter names to the final Gold Cup roster. Most importantly…do you think this roster will be enough to win America its 7th Gold Cup?

Chelsea Clouded With Uncertainty, but Christian Pulisic’s Path There Clears Up

By AVI CREDITOR May 22, 2019 SI

Chelsea is facing plenty of uncertainty in the coming weeks. There’s the future of Eden Hazard, who is thought to be headed to Real Madrid after a year of public flirtation with the Spanish power. There’s the future of Maurizio Sarri, the manager whose hot seat has constantly changed temperatures, despite guiding the club to a Champions League place and the Europa League final. Then there’s the looming specter of a transfer ban, which would prohibit the club from signing players this summer and next winter, pending an appeal.Amid all of this has come the arrival of Christian Pulisic, the 20-year-old American phenom who joined the Blues in a $73 million transfer in Januarybefore being loaned back to Borussia Dortmund for the rest of the season. At the time of the transfer, the move was met with some skepticism as it related to the player’s chances for individual success. Chelsea was far from a shoo-in for a Champions League berth at that stage in the season, and its squad was flush with able-bodied players at his position.Fast forward nearly five months, and even with all of the uncertainty clouding his new club, Pulisic’s outlook is actually quite clear.Achilles injuries to Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have, by unfortunate circumstance, removed two chief competitors for playing time. Hazard’s departure is fully expected to take place after the Europa League final vs. Arsenal, which would open yet another chunk of minutes. The club has an army of players out on loan, but that figures to be its only source of player addition this summer. With Pedro and Willian both on the wrong side of 30, the runway is clear for takeoff.It all adds up to Pulisic, with the expectations of the pricetag bestowed upon him, getting the opportunity to meet them. That isn’t to say that it will be spoonfed, though. Pulisic’s last season at Dortmund was uneven at best, with the player fighting recurrent muscle injuries and the ascent of Jadon Sancho to the tune of only making nine Bundesliga starts in his 20 appearances. At Chelsea, he’ll have to win the favor of his new manager, whether it’s Sarri or someone else. But that was always going to be the case, and some of the obstacles for doing so have now been removed.”He is a world-class talent,” U.S. and now-Chelsea teammate Matt Miazga said in March. “You saw at a young age what he can do in the Bundesliga. This season he has been injured a lot, so it has been difficult for him to kick on, but everyone knows the talent he possesses, he is a great player. He is very comfortable on the ball in tight space. You don’t see that too often from American players, to have that level of technical ability and savviness in tight spaces to get in and out and create goalscoring opportunities.”You can see from his play that he can create those goalscoring opportunities, and be a nuisance for a defender on the wing. He can isolate a defender and beat him one-on-one with speed and technique. Chelsea have added a great player, and I think he will add a lot, particularly beating players one-versus-one.”Pulisic wasted little time in playing down the inevitable and immediate comparisons that will be made between him and Hazard while setting the goal of one-day reaching the Belgian’s heights.”Eden is a fantastic player, we all know that, and if I can get anywhere close to that I will be happy,” Pulisic told the club’s official site upon his introduction at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday. “He is a great player. I want to come in, be my own player, and do the best that I can do.”I want to use my skills, my pace, my quickness and creativity to help, especially on the attacking end of things. Scoring goals and providing assists, that is what I am here to do. I want to make an impact and be a team guy who is going to give it everything.”Nothing is set in stone. The last two years were supposed to be breakout statistical years for Pulisic, and they didn’t quite pan out that way. Such is the nature of being a young player at one of the world’s best teams. But with a fresh start amid some helpful circumstances, his Premier League breakout could happen sooner rather than later. “I was 15 when I moved to Dortmund,” Pulisic said. “It was something I always wanted and it was just a matter of finding the right time. Now I just felt that it was the right step [to join Chelsea]. It was a great time in Dortmund but it was a feeling and I still have that. This is the biggest stage, it is incredible to come in and be in England and part of this league. If you want to prove yourself it is the greatest stage to be on.”

As USWNT Heads to Women’s World Cup, Uncertainty Surrounds the Champs

By GRANT WAHL May 26, 2019  SI

HARRISON, N.J. — In its last game before the World Cup starts on June 7, the U.S. women’s national team beat Mexico 3-0 on Sunday at Red Bull Arena with goals by Tobin Heath, Mallory Pugh and Christen Press. But in the bigger picture, the most important things were that the U.S. suffered no injuries and felt like it was departing for the World Cup on a higher note than on each of the previous final “send-off” games that took place in the same stadium in 2011 and ’15.

Compared to the 2011 game, the attendance Sunday (26,332) was almost five times the size of the 5,852 that came eight years ago, reflecting the sea change in popularity that the defending World Cup champions are enjoying these days. And while Sunday’s win against Mexico could have been significantly bigger, given the amount of chances the U.S. created, there were more positive moments than in the 0-0 send-off game against South Korea here in 2015.  “I thought back to our performance here that we had in 2015, which was actually a really poor performance on our part, and we had a bad feeling to go to that World Cup with that as our last game,” said Press, who had a tremendously composed 88th-minute finish to score the final U.S. goal on Sunday. “We can absolutely play better than we did today, 100%, but it’s a far better place than we were four years ago. And four years ago, we won [that World Cup].”   Press is a prime example of just how scary the U.S.’s attacking depth is in 2019. The American front three in the first half was Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan and Heath. They were replaced after halftime by Press, Carli Lloyd and Pugh, who would start on basically any other national team in the world.When Press is at her best, she does things that few other American players can do. Witness the goal she scored against Spain earlier this year after running half the length of the field with the ball, or the patience she had in the box on her goal Sunday. “Phenomenal,” said Rapinoe afterward. “She’s such a good finisher, super-composed around the box. Her little fake to set herself up on the left was just beautiful.”Press’s ceiling is enormous; she’s capable of being the U.S.’s breakout star of the World Cup. But she’s also capable of not creating much of an impact, which makes her one of the USWNT’s most intriguing players.If Rapinoe did have one concern about the U.S. attack, it was over the hesitation to take a pause in certain moments like Press did in the 88th. “The key is understanding of the game and dominating games with our tactics and being able to control games that way,” Rapinoe said. “I still think we’re way too impatient, and I think we get caught in this transition-style game where we just go-go-go-go-go. We need to go when we get the best chance, not just when we get a chance. I think throughout the World Cup, especially in a seven-game tournament over a short period of time, we can play that game for maybe one or two or three games in a row, but physically we make ourselves do a lot of work doing that.“So we’ll need to be able to play a different style and control the game in a different way, and I think as well teams will probably sit in on us a little more, so we won’t be able to just go every time. We’ll need to be able to break down that low block.”The inability to do that against Sweden sent the U.S. out of the 2016 Olympics in the quarterfinals. But this U.S. team has more players who can break you down one-on-one and create space on the ball on their own. That was personified in the first half on Sunday by Rose Lavelle, who befuddled the Mexicans on the dribble and even brought down an errant pass with an outrageous scorpion kick touch before passing to Heath (who missed her chance on goal).The U.S. will be the favorite to win in France, largely due to having the most firepower we’ve ever seen in the history of the program. But the Americans are also less of a favorite than they were six months ago, not least because their defense has struggled at times against top competition, whether it was in the 3-1 friendly loss at France in January or in the SheBelieves Cup this year, which was won by England.

And while the USWNT did compete against world-class competition earlier in the year, its last four games before the World Cup were against less competitive teams in Belgium (6-0), South Africa (3-0), New Zealand (5-0) and Mexico (3-0). With two expected blowouts to open the World Cup against Thailand and Chile, the competition will take a swift spike upward in the third game against Sweden and in the knockout rounds thereafter.I asked U.S. coach Jill Ellis if she would have preferred to have more difficult opposition in the most recent four games.“When you do scheduling, you do it a year out,” she said. “No [World Cup-contending] teams are going to travel to us. We have to have three send-off games [in the U.S.], so teams aren’t going to travel from Europe at this point to come play us. So it’s really getting teams that are en route to the host country, so it’s part of that in terms of logistics. … Historically, it’s challenging. Unless we’re willing to travel early, it’s tough to get those top teams to come at this late a date. Actually, most of them are together already in Europe.”The U.S. will now head to Europe as well. For the next week, the team will be training in London at the grounds of Tottenham Hotspur before heading to France around June 7. (The U.S. and Thailand will be the last teams to play their first World Cup game, which happens on the evening of June 11 in Reims.)After a stay this week in New York that was dominated by media promotion, the U.S. players said they were ready for a quiet stretch of training and focusing inward on themselves and the team.“We have been talking about how excited we are to get out of here,” said Morgan on Sunday. “No offense to anyone, but we are ready to kind of have that tight-knit community within our team and just continue to build that chemistry and to do team-bonding activities. And also, no offense, to just get away from the media for a little bit. Just everyone kind of disconnects with everything and connects more with the team. So we’re looking forward to that piece of it and just enjoying everyone’s company before the roller-coaster gets real.”

USWNT Stock Watch: Who’s heading to the World Cup on a high note?

Caitlin Murray,Yahoo Sports•May 27, 2019

There are no more friendlies or send-off games. All that’s left is for the U.S. women’s national team to begin their Women’s World Cup campaign in France in two weeks.With that, here is our final stock watch before the tournament begins, where we look at who has proven their value and who is falling behind.

Trending up

Rose Lavelle, midfielder

With a talent pool as deep as the one in the central midfield, Lavelle has had to fend off the challenges of other players vying for her spot. But she reminded everyone again Sunday of why head coach Jill Ellis wants to find a starting spot for her so badly.When Lavelle wasn’t creating pockets of space with her smart through-balls, she was dribbling through the defense and setting up her teammates with crafty touches. Amazingly, Lavelle told reporters afterward she only just now is starting to feel the way she did before a rash of injuries. That means she can get even better.No one on the USWNT roster can provide the same sort of central playmaking that Lavelle can, and she figures to play a big role in France.

 

Crystal Dunn, defender

Ellis said that the decision to sub Dunn out at halftime wasn’t planned — Dunn had been dealing with some ankle stiffness, and as a precaution, she took Dunn out. In Dunn’s place was Tobin Heath, a surprising option for left back. Later, when Emily Sonnett came in at right back, Kelley O’Hara took over at left back.On one hand, this substitution pattern shows that Ellis is relying on depth within her core group of starters. But on the other hand, it highlights how there isn’t an ideal off-the-bench substitute option for Dunn. No one can replace her, and the team is expecting a lot out of Dunn in France.If you think of our stock watch as measuring a player’s value to the USWNT, Dunn’s stock is off the charts.

Christen Press, forward

The starting core is set: It’ll be Alex Morgan up top, Megan Rapinoe on left and Tobin Heath on the right. That means players like Carli Lloyd, Mallory Pugh and Press are vying to be the first option off the bench. Press proved she may be that option on Sunday, with a well-taken goal that was quintessential Press — she cut around a defender and calmly struck.

 

Trending down

Jessica McDonald, forward

This isn’t McDonald’s first time on the stock down list, but it’ll be the last before the World Cup begins. She’s one of the only players to have not played a minute in the final three friendlies, and it’s hard to imagine a role for her in rance.Asked about McDonald’s lack of playing time, Ellis said she was cognizant of McDonald as an option.“Jess, she’s a weapon and we’re going to make sure we know how to use her,” Ellis said.

Morgan Brian, midfielder

If there’s a player that shocked followers of the USWNT by making the 23-woman World Cup, it was Brian. She has struggled due to injury, form and playing time, but Ellis said she had seen Brian in the “pressure cooker” of a World Cup and trusted her.Still, it looks like that will only get Brian so far. She hasn’t featured for the USWNT in these send-off games and it remains to be seen if she can make any sort of impact in France. Ellis, however, was optimistic.”We brought Moe in and Moe’s been building and doing very well,” Ellis said.

Adrianna Franch / Ashlyn Harris, goalkeepers

Alyssa Naeher is the starting goalkeeper, and will play every minute in France, barring injury or suspension. Any chances that Franch or Harris had to change things are long gone.

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