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

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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.

CFC_GK_Cash

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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5/24/19  Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, US Ladies vs Mexico Sun 12 on Fox, German and Spanish Cups Sat, Full TV Game Schedule

Shane Best       The Ole Ballcoach

Indy 11

The Indy 11 look to stay undefeated at home vs 2nd place Nashville 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.  Special Indy 500 jersey’s and merchandise will be available during this “Racing Indy Night” with free special edition Indy 11/IMS Caps going to the first 500 in the building the night before the Indy 500. The game will also be on Wish TV.

USA World Cup

The final of the USWNT’s send-off friendlies will be this Sunday vs Mexico on May 26 (Noon ET, ESPN).  The US Ladies have dominated in their 2 other games (3-0 vs NZ + 5-0) and look ready to roll as the Women’s World Cup is now just 2 short weeks way.  Interesting stories below on Lindsay Horan’s skipping college and going to Europe before landing on the US squad and US star d-mid Julie Ertz being a bad, bad woman!  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.

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

On the men’s side – Gold Cup Preparations are underway as US Coach Greg Berhalter has called in a large squad for training before cutting down the roster on June 7th right before the first friendly in Cincy on Sunday, June 8th.  Notable omissions from the squad are defenders John Brooks and outside back DeAndre Yedlin – who will both miss the tourney due to injuries.   Headliner’s include Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Schalke’s Weston McKennie and RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams along with Toronto’s Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore.  (see full roster below).  The USMNT U20’s with coach Tab Ramos at the helm start their World Cup campaign on Friday at 2:30 pm vs Ukraine, then Monday at 2:30 vs Nigeria both on Fox Sport 1.  PSG Winger Tim Weah and Philly’s Chris Richards will lead the way.  The US games along with many other U20 World Cup games will be featured on FS1 & FS2 – here’s a US quick preview and the TV games are listed on the schedule.

Europa and Champions League

Trophies are not all that’s on the line in the Europa League final on Wednesday afternoon between Chelsea and Arsenal this Wednesday, May 29 on TNT.  Arsenal finished in 5th place in the EPL – which means a victory is the only thing that will put the Gunners into the lucrative Champions League next season.  For Chelsea there are rumors it will take a win for manager Sari to keep his job next season when American Christian Pulisic will join the team.  I am afraid Chelsea will win a close one but I will be rooting for Arsenal!  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.

World

Bayern Munich won its 7th Bundelisga Title as club legends Frank Ribbery and Arjen Robben both scored in their final home games.  Bayern edged Borrusia Dortmund by 2 pts for the title after Dortmund blew their lead down the stretch.  Good news for Americans in Champions & Europa League next season in Germany as John Brooks of Wolfsburg, Fabian Johnson of Borrusia Monchengladbach and Timothy Chandler of Enintract Frankfurt all made Europa League and Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig finished 3rd for a Champions League spot.  Of course, Tyler Adams and Red Bull Leipzig will face Bayern Munich in the German Cup finals this Saturday at 2 pm on ESPN News. Barcelona battles Valencia Saturday at 3 pm on ESPN Desportes/Watch ESPN for the Spanish Copa Del Rey title.  Meanwhile, Italy has 1 spot available in Champions League between 3 teams as Milan, Inter and Atalanta battle it out this weekend – games are Saturday on ESPN+.

MLS

Big news in MLS this week as Indiana’s own DeMarcus Beasley has announced his retirement at the end of Houston’s MLS Season, the former US international played professionally overseas for clubs such as PSV Eindhoven, Man City, and Celtic Rangers, before returning to finish out his career in Houston as a left back – here are some highlights.  I for one was hoping he might hook up with the Indy 11 at some point – who knows?   The only free TV game this week features Sporting KC vs Seattle Sunday evening 6 pm on FS1.  Of course, 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.  For Goalkeepers getting ready for high school or club tryouts – Carmel FC’s Head Goalkeeping Coach Indy 11’s Jordan Farr is offering individual and small group training – contact him at farrjordn13@gmail.com.

CFC_GK_Cash

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

GAMES ON TV

Fri, MAY 24  

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1           USA U20s vs Ukraine  U20 WC

Sat, MAY 25  

2 pm ESPNNews                  German Cup Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

2:30 pm FS2                                           Argentina U20 vs South Africa U2

3 pm ESPN Desp                    Copa Del Rey – Barcelona vs Valencia

3:30 pm ESPN+                                     Chicago Fire vs NYCFC

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Nashville (Lucas Oil)

7:30 pm EPSN+                                     Cincy vs NY Red Bulls

Sun, MAY 26  

9 am ESPN News                                 Torino vs Lazio

9:30 am FS1                                            Mexico U20 vs Japan U20

12 pm ESPN                                    USA Ladies vs Mexico

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     SPAL vs Milan (champ league race)

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     Inter vs Empoli (champ league race)

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     Atalanta vs Sassuolo (champ league race)

6 pm Fox Sport 1                                Sporting KC vs Seattle

7:30 pm EPSN+                                     Toronto FC vs San Jose

Mon, MAY 27   

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Nigeria U20 WC

Weds, May 29                      Europa League Finals

2:30 pm TNT                                   Chelsea vs Arsenal

Thur, MAY 30   

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Qatar U20 WC

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 Sweet 16

2:30 pm FS2                                           U20 WC Sweet 16

Mon, June 3  

2:30 pm FS2                                           U20 WC Sweet 16

Wed, June 5  

2:45 pm ESPN2                                     Portugal vs Switzerland Nations League

Thurs, June 6  

2:45 pm ESPN2                                     Netherlands vs England -Nations League

Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • 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
  • 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

Where to Watch Soccer Games on Which Channels

Indy 11 vs Nashville

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview of Nashville game and Indy Racing night

3 Things Indy 11 Last Week

Indy 11 Defender Garcia is Named to USL Player of Week

Late Goal leads to 1-0 Win over Charleston

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

Champions & Europa League

Arsenal’s Mkhitaryan forced to miss Europa Final

Arsenal’s Iwobi excited by Europa League Final – Goal.com

Champions League Winners Thru the Years – Video

Who’s Going to Win the Champions League Final June 1?

Oxade Chamberlain chasing Champions League dreams after Liverpool Injury

New Champions League Revamp would wreck EPL and others – Marcotti – ESPNFC

European League Hate the New Champions League Plan – Goal.com

USA

Yedlin & Brooks Left off US Men’s Gold Cup List – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic wants to emulate Hazard at Chelsea – EPSNFC

U20 US World Cup quick preview.

U20 World Cup Groups

Womens’ World Cup Power Rankings – Yahoo Doug McIntyre

Women’s World Cup ticket Fail

US Ladies Julie Ertz (Johnston) is Ass Kicker of US Women’s Team

US Lindsey Horan Skipped College- Road Never Traveled – Yahoo Soccer 

Get Ready for US Mal Pugh

Meet the 23 members of the USWNT 2019 World Cup roster

Carli Lloyd scores Brace in 5-0 win over New Zealand – Stars and Stripes

Ali Krieger Reaches 100th Cap for US Ladies – Stars and Stripes

Hosts France to feature 7 players from powerhouse Lyon

WORLD

Quick World Wrap-up with Marcotti – ESPNFC

30 Best players under 21 – Pulisic, Mbappe, De Jong lead list – ESPN

3 Teams battle for 2 Champions League Spots in Italy on Final Day on ESPN+ – AP

Bayern Munich win 7th Bundesliga Title as Robbin and Ribbery play last games ESPNFC

Bayern Edges Dortmund to Win Title on Final Day

Pulisic’s Warm Farewell to Dortmund

Man City could Lose Champions League Spot over FFP Breach –

Man City are the Greatest Team of this EPL Era – Gab Marcotti ESPNFC

Man City – How they Won the English Treble – ESPNFC

World Cup Qatar in 2022 Stays at 32 Teams

MLS

Chris Wondolowski Breaks MLS All Time Goals Record – Jeff Carlisle

Indiana’s own DeMarcus Beasley to Retire from Houston at Season’s End

Beasley’s Top 5 Moments for Club and Country

Run DMB – Beasley A look back – Stars and Stripes

Power Rankings MLS

Landon Donovan gives kudos to Wondo for breaking his MLS Goalscoring Record

Week 12 Review MLS – Greg Doyel

LAFC chase of history rolls on with another win

Zlatan suspended 2 games for Choking Goalkeeper

Goalkeepers

Goalkeepers – How do Pros Handle the Pressure – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

http://www.nwslsoccer.com/videos/8DC0EB23-738E-2F96-D474-B760EE0662DB  Saves of the week

MLS Saves of Week

Indy 11 THREE THINGS | OPEN CUP & WEEK 11

By IndyEleven.com, 05/22/19, 7:30PM EDT

Our three things from Indy’s back-to-back wins in U.S. Open Cup & Week 11

DONUTS FOR EVERYONE

I’ve only worked in a true office environment for a little over a year now, but it seems customary to bring donuts when you’ve shown up late or made some department’s life a little harder. That’s what goalkeeper Evan Newton did last Thursday morning after receiving an early red card in Indy’s U.S. Open Cup fixture against Lansing Ignite the previous night. He brought donuts to training to thank his guys for having his back a gracious gesture appreciated by his teammates (just ask defenders Paddy Barrett and Macauley King).But this point is about more than delicious, empty calories. It’s about how much adversity Indiana’s Team has overcome courtesy of red cards and the toll they take on you not only physically, but mentally. Just ask Head Coach Martin Rennie.

“What’s been important is we’ve had a bit of adversity early in the season,” the Scotsman said. “We’ve had red cards twice in the first 20 minutes.”Two red cards in the first 20 minutes of two matches two weeks apart; that’s going to take a toll on your squad, mentally, physically and emotionally. What’s most impressive though, were the donuts – aka “zeroes,” aka shutouts – that followed the cards. The squad pulled out a point by keeping an old-school glazed yeast against a goal heavy Tampa Bay Rowdies down a man for 70 minutes, followed by a chocolate cake clean sheet in the face of a strong North Carolina FC three days later.After a week off to recover, the Boys in Blue found themselves short-handed for 70 minutes after Newton’s early ejection against Lansing. That meant it was Jordan Farr’s turn to make the donuts with the defense (more on him later), and the team rallied to pitch a 1-0 maple long John to advance in the USOC. Another game, another donut (we’ll go vanilla sprinkled) three days later against Charleston helped spur the squad to a pivotal 1-0 win, ended a string of games that tested Rennie’s and the team’s resolve – and fitness.“We’ve come into home games with only two days recovery, but we’ve still been picking up points and winning games.”

THE HOT HAND AT HOME

Undefeated at home. Curse of the football lines, credit the defense, thank god for majestic own goals, or kiss the left foot of Tyler Pasher … regardless of whatever reason you put the most emphasis on for the home form of the Boys in Blue, they’re undefeated. as Oil Stadium is becoming a fortress, and last Saturday night’s fixture against Charleston Battery helped justify that.In the first four games at home, the ledger has been a bit unorthodox: four clean sheets – which helped ‘keeper Evan Newton become the newest Lew’s Crew to hold a USL Championship regular season record – two goals, one red card, and no losses.“We’ve been kind of unfortunate in the sense all of our home games have been after two days of recovery,” Rennie said. “As a result, we haven’t been coming out flying.”What has been flying is the defense. Indiana’s Team hasn’t allowed a goal at home in 360 minutes during the 2019 season, and 421 minutes dating back to October 6, 2018. But on Saturday night, fans had something to cheer about besides a fourth clean sheet after the 90 minutes against Charleston. The Boys in Blue scored their first goal at home, by our own player, when midfielder Tyler Pasher rocketed a shot off the chest of Charleston’s goaltender into the back of the net to secure a 1-0 win.“We talked about it before the game and again at half time that it was really important that we got a goal,” Rennie said. “At home in this stadium we haven’t had one of our players put the ball in the back of the net yet, so it was really important, even if it meant risking losing a goal, to go for it.”Now, with the proverbial monkey off the back of the collective Eleven attack and the squad able to enjoy a full week’s rest, the result could be more streamers floating over the BYB starting Saturday night against Nashville.

FARR OUT MAN

CFC_Far2

It might not have happened the way Rennie expected, but second-year goalkeeper Jordan Farr finally made his professional debut between the sticks for Indy Eleven last Wednesday against Lansing Ignite FC, the appearance coming 15 months after signing in February 2018.“It was funny,” Rennie said in the minutes following the U.S. Open Cup Second Round win at Butler University’s Sellick Bowl. “I brought him into my office [Tuesday] and spoke to him and said, ‘Look, I’m not going to play you in this game, but I do believe in you and think you’re going to be a great goalkeeper for us. I’ve got no problem putting you into a game when that time comes.’”What wasn’t funny was Farr’s performance. The 24-year-old made multiple acrobatic saves and looked more composed with every minute under his belt on his way to earning the first clean sheet in the Eleven’s now eight-game LHUSOC history.“When I got in it felt like home,” Farr said. “It felt fantastic and like I belonged there.”Farr’s next appearance will be anything but unexpected, the Corban University product is guaranteed to start due to Newton’s USOC red card suspension when Indy travels to take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in the Third Round next Wednesday. This time he’ll have to keep the net empty for a full 90 minutes, a task his head coach is confident he can handle.

“He proved what I already knew – and that is he is a very good goalkeeper.”

Indy Eleven’s busy month of May continues this Saturday, May 25, with the club’s first-ever “Indy 500 Eve” game. Kickoff for “Racing Indy Night” against Nashville SC at Lucas Oil Stadium is set for 7:00 p.m., and the first 500 fans through the gates will receive a special-edition Indy Eleven/IMS cap. Tickets remain available for as little as $15.

Pulisic wants to emulate Hazard at Chelsea

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New Chelsea signing Christian Pulisic has said he wants to fill the void left by Eden Hazard should the Belgian leave for Real Madrid this summer.

Chelsea signed Pulisic for £58 million (€64m) from Borussia Dortmund in January, a record fee for a U.S. player, although he remained in the Bundesliga for the rest of the 2018-19 season.

Pulisic could be the only new face to arrive at Stamford Bridge this summer with the prospect of a two-window transfer ban hanging over the club, while sources have told ESPN FC that Hazard wants to complete a move to Real as soon as possible, with the winger’s final game for Chelsea likely to be against Arsenal in the Europa League final on May 29.But Pulisic, 20, has said he is ready to replace Hazard should he exit Stamford Bridge this summer and has set his sights on emulating the Belgian, who has lit up the Premier League since his arrival in 2012.”It is incredible to see what Eden can do. He is a guy to look up to and what I would love to become,” Pulisic told BBC Sport.”It is definitely a goal. Any player would be dumb not to want to be in the same team as him.”Hazard led Chelsea in both goals and assists as the club finished third in their first season under Maurizio Sarri, scoring 16 Premier League goals while setting up another 15. Pulisic, meanwhile, scored on the final day of the Bundesliga campaign to take his season tally to four, although the forward was hit by injuries during the year.During his time in Germany, Pulisic became the youngest non-German to score a Bundesliga goal and the youngest player to play for Dortmund in the Champions League. He is also the youngest player to captain the U.S. men’s national team, but says he is motivated to set new records now he has arrived in the Premier League.”I don’t want to be looked at as someone who is the youngest to do this or that,” Pulisic said. “I just want to be an established player and someone people respect, who is successful in this league.”It is completely new to me and something not a lot of American players have experienced. It is a blessing to be in this position, so I can inspire American kids, to show them we can do it too.”Pulisic also wants to help Chelsea close the gap on Manchester City and Liverpool, who finished 26 and 25 points ahead of the Blues last season respectively.”Liverpool and City are two great teams who had great seasons but I have seen Chelsea compete against big teams and do well against them this season,” he said.”We want to go in with a winning mentality and compete with them right away.”

Gold Cup: Yedlin left off U.S.’s preliminary roster

May 20, 2019Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Chelsea’s Christian Pulisic, Schalke’s Weston McKennie and RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams join Toronto’s Michael Bradley as the headliners on United States coach Gregg Berhalter’s 40-man preliminary roster for this summer’s Gold Cup, while DeAndre Yedlin and John Brooks Jr. have missed out.

CONCACAF released every team’s preliminary roster on Monday.In addition to the big names, Berhalter dug up a few surprises for his list, selecting Derby County midfielder Duane Holmes as well as Tyler Boyd, currently on the books of Portuguese side Vitoria Guimaraes, who just had a one-time switch to represent the U.S. approved after playing a handful of friendlies for New Zealand.There is also a recall for MSV Duisburg attacker Joe Gyau, whose once-promising career has been devastated by knee injuries. Fulham full-back Marlon Fossey, himself a victim of a knee injury last year, has been added to the list as well.Andrew Gutman, currently on loan with the USL’s Charlotte Independence after signing with Celtic, was named to the list, as was defender Miles Robinson, who has been outstanding for Atlanta United this season.There were a couple of notable omissions, though the biggest were injury-induced. Newcastle United defender Yedlin will miss out after recently undergoing groin surgery, while a knee ailment has rendered Wolfsburg defender Brooks unavailable.Bobby Wood, who hadn’t made the game-day roster in over two months while on loan at Hannover 96, also didn’t make the cut.Berhalter is expected to announce the group that will participate in a pre-Gold Cup training camp on Wednesday.The final 23-player rosters will be announced by CONCACAF the first week of June. After the official announcement, only injury-related changes will be allowed, up until 24 hours before each team’s first match, and any injury replacements must come from the preliminary 40-player roster. – Morris injures hamstring as Gold Cup looms

U.S. preliminary roster:

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Sean Johnson (New York City FC), Tyler Miller (LAFC), Zach Steffen (Columbus Crew),

Defenders: Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur), Marlon Fossey (Fulham FC), Greg Garza(FC Cincinnati), Omar Gonzalez (Club Atlas), Andrew Gutman (Charlotte Independence), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Daniel Lovitz (Montreal Impact), Matt Miazga (Chelsea FC), Tim Ream(Fulham FC), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC)

Midfielders: Paul Arriola (DC United), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Tyler Boyd (MKE Aknaragücü), Duane Holmes (Derby County), Jonathan Lewis(Colorado Rapids), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Djordje Mihailovic (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea FC), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jonathan Amon (FC Nordsjaelland), Corey Baird (Real Salt Lake), Joe Gyau (MSV Duisburg), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Christian Ramirez (LAFC), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew)

Bayern wrap up Bundesliga and say goodbye to legends. PLUS: Vincent Kompany calls time at Man City

May 20, 2019 Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

After another action-packed weekend in soccer, Gab Marcotti reflects on the big talking points in his latest edition of Monday Musings.

Bayern wrap up turbulent season with another league title

There was no drama on the final day of the 2018-19 Bundesliga season. Bayern won and did it emphatically, beating up Eintracht Frankfurt, 5-1, to win their seventh straight title. Despite being 90 minutes away from a Double — they play Leipzig in the German Cup final next weekend — Niko Kovac’s job is on the line.The fact that he said “I’m convinced I’m staying” rather than simply “I’m staying” speaks volumes here, and if you followed Bayern’s season, you’ll know why.

– Honigstein: Can Bayern ever replace Robben, Ribery?

This is a team that was nine points back from Borussia Dortmund in December. And rather than putting together an inspired comeback, the narrative of the campaign has been more about taking advantage of their rivals’ stumbles (and there have been many). In Kovac’s case, it was also about less-than-inspired football — the ghost of Pep Guardiola still haunts the Allianz Arena — and occasionally stormy relations with a number of first-team players. Saturday also marked the goodbye for three men who have marked Bayern’s recent history: RafinhaArjen Robben and Franck Ribery after a combined 30 seasons at the club. Robben and Ribery in particular ought to be singled out. It’s easy to forget that both started and made their name as traditional wingers, only to evolve into something different and more modern, during the Guardiola era. It’s one thing for young players to adapt to a new boss, quite another for two veterans pushing 30 to reinvent themselves and make a radically different change. That’s a credit to their professionalism and the environment that existed at the club.

There are big decisions ahead for Bayern even if Kovac ends up staying, but the lasting legacy of this season ought to be a warning shot across their bow: this title is more about your opposition’s flaws than your own merits. Fix things or watch someone else win next season.

Praise for Vincent Kompany

Watford failed to put up much of a fight in the FA Cup final as Manchester City romped to a 6-0 win, matching a record for margin of victory that stood since 1903 when Bury defeated Derby County. The win seals City’s domestic Treble and yes, they probably are the greatest English side in the Premier League era, although they certainly did not need Saturday’s win to prove it.In some ways, the day was all about Vincent Kompany, who announced his departure to join Anderlecht, the club where he grew up, in a player-manager role. Kompany, of course, may be City’s greatest-ever captain and the way he stormed back into the starting line up after three injury-riddled seasons, scoring the key goal at Leicester in the most improbable way only cements his place in history. (The fact that by shooting from 30 yards out, he chose not to follow the standard Guardiola instruction for a center-back in that position — play it out to the wings — also shows what a leader is: someone who knows when to follow orders and when to trust his gut.)Anybody who has met Kompany will tell you he is precisely the sort of charismatic, intelligent and empathetic individual who is bound to do something important in football upon retirement — if he so chooses. The fact that he opted to return home when, you’d imagine, City were willing to roll out the red carpet for him and groom him as a future coach or club executive — as they did with Patrick Vieira and wanted to do with Frank Lampard — as well as giving him the option of another season on the pitch, says plenty about him.He’s been a tremendous servant to City, but the Etihad is not reality. It’s an extreme situation, with a unique set-up and manager. If he wants to learn the ropes, he needs to dig in further down the food chain. The fact that he can do it at the (other) club he loves is a bonus.

A big summer ahead for Real Madrid and Gareth Bale

Real Madrid’s season finished with a whimper, beaten 2-0 at home by Betis in Quique Setien’s final game in charge of Betis. It was their 18th defeat of the season, their 12th in La Liga. It also marks arguably their worst campaign in more than two decades, and while the arrivals of Eder Militao and Luka Jovicmay inject new life in the side next season, Sunday also offered a reminder of how they can’t just flip a switch, blow up the team and start over.After two straight weeks where he was fit but wasn’t even called up to the match day squad, Gareth Bale made the substitutes’ bench against Betis. He was an unused sub as Zinedine Zidane sent on Marco Asensio, Isco and Lucas Vazquezinstead. Cameras pictured him laughing on the bench with Toni Kroos. At the final whistle, he disappeared down the tunnel while his teammates gathered to salute the fans: few got resounding cheers, other than Keylor Navas, who is leaving.Bale is one of the five highest-paid players in the world, with a salary of more than $30 million a year. While his output, when prorated over minutes on the pitch, has actually been relatively steady, at least statistically, he no longer fits into the club’s plans. They have Vinicius Junior, Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Brahim Diaz and they hope to sign Eden Hazard. It’s seemingly an open secret that they’d love to sell him.Except Bale’s contract runs through 2022, on the eve of his 33rd birthday. And the reality is that very few clubs can afford those wages and those who do maybe don’t want or need Bale. Certainly not at that salary, anyway, and not if they also need to pay a transfer fee however small. Bale doesn’t want to go on loan, and as far as we know, he won’t take a pay cut either.That’s his prerogative, of course. If he’s willing to sit and wait for Zidane to change his mind about him or for a new manager to take over, that’s his choice. But he shouldn’t be surprised if people don’t understand how a guy who likely has close to $100 million in the bank is unwilling to take a pay cut in order to play. His pride may be wounded, sure, but in a couple seasons, his body won’t allow him to play the game at all. And he’ll never get that opportunity back.Here’s hoping he takes a leaf out of the Arjen Robben play book, swallows his pride, cuts his salary — in the short term, at least, in the long-term it might extend his shelf-life and the money he earns — and relaunches his career elsewhere.I don’t want Bale’s Real Madrid tenure to end the way Jack Rodwell’s did in Sunderland. I refuse to believe the fire has gone out and that this really is all about golf.

Serie A’s top-four race goes to final weekend

The FC crew have their say on who among Atalanta, Inter, Roma, or Milan will be celebrating Champions League football qualification next weekend.

Serie A is going down to the wire in the battle for the final two Champions League spots after the weekend’s matches which saw Roma draw away to Sassuolo (0-0), Inter get thumped at Napoli, Milan overcome Frosinone (2-0, after Gianluigi Donnarumma saved a penalty with the game scoreless) and Atalanta concede a late equaliser away to Juventus (1-1).The first obvious point to make is that the old trope whereby late-season Serie A games yield “weird” results as teams that don’t need points happily gift them to the opposition is out the window. Napoli had nothing to play for and neither did Sassuolo. Juventus stormed back in the second half after a horrendous first 45 minutes. And sure, you can say that they didn’t want to spoil the postgame scudetto party but equally, quite a few of their fans wouldn’t have minded seeing Atalanta knock one of the Milanese clubs out of the Champions League places.The upshot?Atalanta — home to Sassuolo in theory but in practice away to Sassuolo, since Atalanta’s stadium is closed for renovations — and Inter (home to Empoli) control their own destinies. A win guarantees a place in the Champions League. Milan (away to SPAL) need to win and hope that Inter or Atalanta draw or Milan can draw if Atalanta lose since the head-to-head tiebreaker favours the rossoneri. There’s also a scenario where Roma can qualify, but it would require three different results to go their way, and they’d need a massive swing in goal difference.The stakes are high for everyone, particularly Inter and Milan.The former have just come out of their financial fair play settlement agreement, but missing out on Champions League revenue would limit the much-needed rebuild. (And yes, if you saw how awful they were at Napoli, you’d agree they need serious help beyond just a new manager). The fact that they’re playing Empoli, who desperately need the points to stay up, isn’t encouraging either. Meanwhile, Milan have their own FFP issues, of course, and things will only get more complicated if they miss out, particularly after shelling out $90 million in January on Krzysztof Piatek and Lucas Paqueta.Whatever happens, even if they don’t qualify Atalanta have already won Serie A, metaphorically speaking.

Will the real Dortmund please stand up?

From one vantage point, it’s hard to tell who the real Borussia Dortmund are. Are they the side that lost just twice before February and enjoyed a six-point lead at the top of the table? Or are they the team that won just eight of their past 17 games in all competitions the rest of the way?Youth can be an excuse for many things, and this is undoubtedly a side packed with promising talent. Then again, that’s why they signed an experienced coach in Lucien Favre who was supposed to guard against a second-half collapse. Instead we saw a side lacking maturity in the spring, particularly when injuries hit.In some ways, their final act of the season, away to Borussia Moenchengladbach, was a metaphor of the season, only in reverse. Against an opponent that still had a shot at winning a place in the Champions League, Dortmund looked chaotic and flimsy in the first half, only to rediscover themselves in the second and storm back to a 2-0 victory. Favre needs to convince the players that the real Dortmund is the one we saw after the break Saturday.When you throw titles away, it always hurts more, but this is the club’s third highest points total ever. There is plenty of raw material with which to work, and if they sell a prize asset or two, there will be plenty of resources available to narrow the gap with Bayern, who look to be heading towards a transition year next season.

Messi wraps up another Golden Boot?

Having sealed their eighth league title in 11 years, the main purpose of Barcelona’s final match of the Liga campaign away to Eibar was Lionel Messigetting a chance to pad out his goals total with a view towards winning his sixth European Golden Boot. (Whether or not he cares and whether he’d happily swap them all for a World Cup, Copa America or even another Champions League is a matter for debate.)

As it happened, he bagged both goals in the 2-2 draw, which means his season ends with 36 Liga goals: he has 50 overall, with the Copa del Rey final to come. Assuming Kylian Mbappe fails to score five goals in Paris Saint-Germain’s final game of the season (not likely he will) and Fabio Quagliarella doesn’t bag 11 in Sampdoria’s last outing (even less likely), it’s yet another piece of silverware for his trophy cabinet.

De Rossi’s exit causes chaos at Roma

News that Daniele De Rossi will be leaving Roma at the end of the season marks the end of an era. The man once known as “Captain Future” because, of course, there can only ever be one Capitano at Roma, will play his final game next weekend at home to Parma after 18 years at the club. The club are fortunate that they have quality ready-made replacements ready to take over the armband. Just as they went from Francesco Totti to De Rossi, they’ll go from De Rossi to Alessandro Florenzi and, perhaps, one day to Lorenzo Pellegrini and then to Luca Pellegrini (no relation, in case you’re wondering).That said, it’s telling how De Rossi’s departure is wreaking such havoc at the club. He simply said he imagined himself playing for Roma until he could no longer stand and they “dragged me off the pitch.” He also said that had he been in charge, he would have renewed his contract another year. He even said he was willing to stay on a “pay-for-play” deal. That was enough for a popular uprising among some supporters against the Roma top brass, from owner Jim Pallotta to executives Mauro Baldissoni and Franco Baldini. Even Claudio Ranieri, the outgoing manager, appeared to take a swipe when he said that he would have kept De Rossi around.You can get the fans’ reaction — we want our heroes to be immortal — but some of this also feels like a case of “point-scoring” against the club for what has turned into a disappointing season.As for De Rossi, you can’t picture him wearing different colors, and you’d imagine that if he has to play for a different club, he’ll want it to be as far away as possible. The fact that he speaks good English and his wife is British-American (although she was raised in Rome) has prompted some to see Major League Soccer in his future. You’d imagine that would be an option, although the legacy of great European midfielders moving to MLS isn’t great: Bastian SchweinsteigerSteven Gerrard and Andrea Pirlo didn’t exactly pull up trees.So here’s hoping he takes the more romantic option, mooted by some: he has long been an admirer of Argentine football, what if he rocked up at Boca Juniors or River Plate for a season or two?I have no idea if this is even a possibility, but yeah, if it happens I’ll want to witness it. And so will you.

Julie Ertz is the ass kicker of the U.S. women’s national team

Off the field, U.S. women’s national team star Julie Ertz is a ball of sunshine. On the field, she’s a tsunami. She’ll be a key to the U.S.’s success at the 2019 Women’s World Cup. Mary Ellen Matthews for ESPN

May 16, 2019Allison GlockSenior Writer, espnW

IT’S 10 MINUTES before practice in the Chicago Red Stars’ training room, and midfielder Julie Ertz is curled up on a massage table, cupping the arches of her feet. She suctions her skin into a small, pressurized globe, a process that calls to mind medieval torture but allegedly relieves tightness. Her toenails are painted periwinkle blue. A small cross tattoo is tucked behind her ear like a flower.Ertz winces as she pops the seal of skin, then hops off the table and runs the tender pockets of her feet over a golf ball. She has high arches, a foot shape better suited to ballet than soccer and one that causes her intense discomfort every time she hits the pitch.”I was 23 in the last World Cup,” the team captain says matter-of-factly. “Now I need to listen to my body more.”On the floor, various teammates receive their own treatments: icing knees, heating quads, feet submerged in buckets soaking ingrown nails. They chat amiably about the dubious sartorial cred of Uggs, big versus small dogs, new restaurants, Gossip Girl — the free-flowing, unconcerned conversation found in groups with decades of shared history and unambiguous commonalities. Every few minutes, forward Michele Vasconcelos’ toddler, Scarlett, is rolled through the room in a plastic pushcart, a small soccer ball bouncing in the front.”It was fire,” Ertz shares about the foosball tourney she and a few other players got into last night, noting, “I made Gilly [Arin Wright, née Gilliland] switch positions because she wasn’t defending well enough.” Ertz laughs, says she had no skin in the game beyond “you know, pride.”Soon, the players hit the field and begin running laps. They shift like a flock of geese, repositioning en mass, pivoting to and fro as if nudged by the wind. During drills, Ertz transforms. She yanks her ponytail tight, walks the turf with a purpose, bowlegged, arms bent and floating at her hips like a cowboy ready to draw. Her expression is serious, contemplative, her genial demeanor subsumed by the beast within.”I’m the kind of person that wants to take advantage of all my opportunities,” she explains. And for Ertz, practice is as critical an opportunity as any.

WORLD FOOTBALL

For more on the U.S. and global stars of the upcoming 2019 Women’s World Cup, check out the June issue of ESPN The Magazine.

Capitalizing on her prospects is something the seasoned defensive champion has been doing since her teens. After a winning stint at Santa Clara University, the NWSL rookie of the year became the second-youngest player on the victorious 2015 World Cup team, a position she slid into after an injured Crystal Dunn was dropped from the roster. Former alternate Ertz seized her moment by the throat, playing every second of the tournament, emerging as a star.  In 2017, she was named U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year, and she is now viewed by many as the most critical component in the projected success of the 2019 national team — the strategic linchpin and a player head coach Jill Ellis describes as “a weapon” who “will run through anything.”Like the Kool-Aid Man, Ertz has a reputation for furiously demolishing barriers with a smile. On the outside, she is all warm, sunny blond; on the inside, it’s Game of Thrones, mother of dragons. She has etched her place in soccer history as a rare amalgamation of physical and technical threat, the uncommon defender who dissects film and tackles audaciously, her body as ruthless as her brain.”Julie is incredibly intelligent about the game,” Chicago head coach Rory Dames says. “She’s like having another coach on the field.”Dames drafted Ertz to the Red Stars five years ago, in large part because of her brute chutzpah. “Julie puts her body on the line. It’s unusual to have a player that has all the characteristics that Julie has and still have her willingness to tackle,” he marvels, adding, “There is no gray area for her.”Teammates describe Ertz as a player who thrives under pressure, joyfully running headlong into the mouth of every cannon.”Julie is probably one of the more aggressive players that we have,” says keeper Alyssa Naeher, who plays alongside Ertz on the USWNT and the Red Stars. “She’s the one that’s going to the ground. Which is weird because off the field, you don’t see that side.”Out of uniform, Ertz, 27, is chill, open, thoughtful. She makes a lot of deep eye contact. She keeps her indulgences in check. She does not smoke or drink or eat crappy food or sleep late or skip practice. She’s like Sandra Dee, if Sandra Dee possessed a secret, bone-deep desire to knock your punk ass into the artificial turf.”If her goal was just to be a great soccer player, that goal would’ve already been accomplished,” observes her husband, Philadelphia Eagles tight end Zach Ertz. “She could rest on her laurels and be complacent. But she’s not.”Julie Ertz is the opposite, consumed by self-scrutiny, poking at what she perceives as her weak spots like a tongue prodding an aching tooth.”When you fail or you make a mistake, you learn a lot about yourself,” she explains. “That wouldn’t happen if I just did everything right. You know what I mean?”

IF YOU ASK her, Ertz will tell you she doesn’t have nightmares. She dreams nearly every night. But her head is filled instead with happy fantasies and memories. Sometimes she dreams about past vacations or trips to the sea. More often, she dreams of soccer.”I see moments of a game that could happen,” she says, knitting her brow. Premonitions and “visions,” not of trophies but of plays, of tackles. Even at rest, she is strategizing.Ertz sees nothing odd about this. The infinite calculus of soccer has been her abiding preoccupation since she was an eager child in Mesa, Arizona, stumbling into a lifelong passion while trying to beat her two-years-older sister, Melanie, at something, anything. (Ertz’s grandmother remembers Julie making up rules to win at Candy Land.)Natural athletes, the sisters were encouraged to battle. Their father, David Johnston, a starting kicker for LSU, designed makeshift physical challenges to entertain them whenever he could. Chores became races. An idle jump on the trampoline transformed into a contest to see which daughter could jump higher over a swinging pipe.David worked in the cold room at Shamrock Foods, lifting heavy stock 65 hours a week. Mom Kristi was a nurse. The family bedrock was hard work and the belief in its ability to cement character.”It was tough love,” Ertz recalls.”My dad wanted us to find that drive at a young age,” Melanie says. “The mentality was, ‘No one is stopping you but yourself.'”The two girls shared a room, an enforced closeness that Melanie says brought benefits — “We were partners in crime” — and annoyances — “Julie borrowing my Hollister T-shirt, not hanging it up, it’s on the floor types of things.”The sisters excelled in every sport but showed particular promise in soccer, a game “my parents didn’t know anything about,” Ertz recalls. By age 9, Ertz thought of little else. Local leagues were joined. A net was erected in the backyard. Self-motivated practice was expected. If this was where the family time and money was going to be spent, the girls were called upon to take their commitment seriously. Ertz says the early accountability was a blessing.”It made us super independent. Our parents made it known, we’re going to treat you like an adult.”David and Kristi logged extra shifts to pay for team expenses. The girls’ heavy sporting schedule meant cheap pizza dinners in the car, hours commuting to matches every weekend. There were no vacations that didn’t revolve around soccer.”That’s why Julie and I are so hard on ourselves to perform at a higher level,” Melanie says. Neither child wanted the sacrifices their parents made to be for nothing.Whenever Melanie joined a league, Julie followed. After a growth spurt in middle school, Julie began eclipsing her sister on the pitch. “Julie was so advanced. She played above her age,” Melanie recalls.At 13, Ertz switched to a more hard-core club with European coaches, and the die of her career was cast. “I loved how seriously everyone there took it,” she says — her most of all. It was a fevered dedication that’s only grown over the ensuing dozen years, Ertz sewing up a heady college run before dropping out to go pro in 2013, a decision that haunts her slightly.”I wanted to finish, and I really, really tried,” she says. “It was hard to balance classes while I was getting called in with the national team. My parents still ask me when I’m going to finish my education, and I tell them, ‘Soon.'”When asked why she would bother at this point, Ertz says flatly, “To say I did it.”She is a completionist. “I want to win more games,” Ertz says of her immediate goals. “I will never be satisfied,” she says of her competitive mentality. “It’s such an honor to be able to represent your country that I just don’t ever want to let it down.””Julie is a sore loser,” Zach confides with a chuckle. “If I beat her at something, I try to keep it mellow because I know the repercussions if I go all out.”Julie does not disagree.  “I want to be a good, moral person and have good values,” she says earnestly. “But I don’t think I’ll ever mature about how to act about losing. I hate losing so much.”Ertz is happiest with her husband. (The soccer field, she says, is a close second.) Her call log reads like a skipping record. Hubby, hubby, hubby, hubby, hubby FaceTime, hubby FaceTime, hubby.   The two famously met at a Stanford baseball game, him quiet, her chatty. They shared sunflower seeds. A friendship developed. Six months later, they were an item, bonding over their willingness to forgo late nights on the quad for a pursuit of athletic excellence, a commitment unusual among their peers. Zach also reminded Julie of her father: reserved, with a well of sweetness beneath the surface. She knew it was serious when the two of them could drive in silence and not feel awkward.Julie took Zach home, the first boyfriend to meet her parents. It was July in Arizona. Sweltering. “He was absolutely miserable,” Julie remembers, laughing.Adding to the discomfort, the family Johnston is a “more the merrier” extended dance remix crew, the sort that gathers every aunt, uncle and second cousin together any chance they get; boisterous, voluble — at least on the maternal side. When Zach was introduced to the cheerful chaos, “he was like, ‘This is insane!'” Julie recalls. “He was really nervous.”Since then, “Julie has pulled a lot of stuff out of me,” Zach says. When they are together, the pair put fun first. They play games of gin or Bananagrams, tease each other good-naturedly. “More her making fun of me. We rarely have a bad day.”The couple did marriage counseling before they wed, approaching their partnership like they do their sport — giving it their all, in all ways.”Zach knows me better than anyone else in the world,” Julie says. “He’s that person I’m vulnerable with. We grew up together. In the soccer world, it’s really hard to root yourself.”For Julie, Zach is home. And that home is sacred. The couple decided long ago that their marriage would come first, before football, before soccer, before the World Cup and the Super Bowl and the raining down of international acclaim.”Our relationship wasn’t built on Julie’s ability to play soccer and my ability to play football,” Zach explains.”Don’t get me wrong,” Julie clarifies. “We want to give sports everything we have. But this career isn’t something you can do forever.”

IT IS LATE afternoon, and Alyssa Naeher is driving Julie to their midtown Chicago gym for their second workout of the day. Naeher’s side mirror is knocked off, so she wrenches her head hard left.”You look like me on the field,” Ertz jokes, dramatically swiveling her body, thick ponytail snapping. The women laugh, talk about Mike Trout’s record-breaking contract for $36.8 million a year.”Where’s our multimillion-dollar payday?” Naeher asks.”Right?” Ertz chimes in, noting that she and Trout are nearly the same age. (Ertz says she has no comment on the current USWNT lawsuit seeking equitable pay and treatment, preferring to “keep a one-track mind toward France.”)Ertz reminds Naeher that she knows Trout personally, that he’s a great guy. She and Zach have couples dinners with him and his wife. She says her second wedding anniversary is coming up, and she and Zach are going to buy each other surprise outfits to wear to dinner. She’s worried about what Zach will pick. She usually dresses him.”Hips Don’t Lie” comes on the radio, and Ertz breaks into song. She makes an inspirational playlist every December, adding songs “over the year whenever I hear one that speaks to me in the moment.” The last tune she added was “Sunshine,” by Maoli, a breezy island bop celebrating true love. She says it reminds her of a trip to Turks and Caicos with Zach.Earlier in the week, Ertz was interrupted by a soccer dad during dinner out. He said his 13-year-old daughter was holding herself back on the field and that he’d advised her to act like Ertz, told her, “It’s OK to be a savage on the field. I guarantee Julie would destroy someone.”Ertz nodded along, pleased.”My teammates all know not to go into a tackle when I go for it,” she told the man.Ertz is not ashamed of her rep for aggression. Or how observers interpret her game. “No matter what we do, somebody will have something to say about it.” She shrugs. “That’s just how it is if you’re a woman athlete.”Ertz knows all too well the cruel vagaries of pro sports, especially for women, where scarcity of opportunity casts every high and low in crushing relief.During the 2016 Olympics in Rio, Ertz was hitting her stride at center back. “The game against New Zealand was one of the best games I’ve played.” Later came Sweden: the first time Team USA didn’t win gold in 16 years and the first defeat for Ertz.”I’d never lost with the team when I was on the field until that game,” she says. “It didn’t feel real.”After the loss, Ertz was the one U.S. player randomly pulled for drug testing. She was driven to the doctor with a member of the Swedish team. They both waited for hours to pee in a cup, Ertz biting her cheeks in silence as her opponent gleefully celebrated into her cellphone, the scene something out of a goofy European farce.”I didn’t get to see my teammates, give them hugs,” Ertz says. “I didn’t hear what the coaches had to say.”When she made it back home to Philadelphia, Zach was already with the Eagles in OTAs, and Julie found herself alone in an empty house. Zach flew in her parents to nudge her out of her funk. “And I didn’t talk to them,” she says. “I literally sat in silence for two weeks.”On her phone, she kept a photo of her near-miss block in the fatal game as her screen saver. “It was not a great time in my life,” Ertz says, sighing.When you are a defender, your job is basically proving a negative, your triumphs largely invisible while your mistakes scream loud as sirens.”You could play a great game for 89 minutes, and then if you don’t do one thing …” Ertz quiets, shakes her head. “A forward can suck for 90 minutes, but if you score in overtime, no one remembers the rest of the game.”Ertz was benched from the national team after the Olympics. For nearly a year she didn’t start, an abrupt and gutting life change.”It was a really hard time for me. I never asked why. Probably never will. I don’t want to know.”Ertz is not one for self-pity. She can do the USWNT math. The bench is deep with exceptional players. Rejection is in the DNA of the cutthroat selection process. Still, it was hard to reconcile.”It’s weird to talk about,” she says. “I was pissed: ‘I’ll show you the mistake you’re making by not using me.’ I said that every day at practice in my head. Then as it went on and I wasn’t playing, I started thinking, ‘Maybe your life is going in a different direction than you think.'”She considered retirement. Sitting out game days was almost too painful to bear. But “I realized my career has been started in those moments. I could either choose to sit there and be mad or be prepared and prove my point. I still had that pride.””When you’re dealing with adversity as an athlete, you can pout and point the finger at someone else, or you can reflect and ask yourself, ‘How can I get better?'” Zach says. “That’s what she did. She ramped up to another level.”Ertz leaned in to the inescapable grind of professional sport. The monotony behind moments of elation, trudging through muddy parking lots to dimly lit practice fields to do the same drills she’d done almost every day for 20 years. She also doubled down on overall fitness.”To be elite, my fitness had to go way up. And I had to accept that mentally it’s going to be very, very hard and push past it.”Playing in the NWSL was a balm.”Feeling wanted, at least somewhere,” Ertz says, allowed her “to figure out where I belonged.”As it turns out, it was in the midfield. Asked by Ellis to sub as a midfielder for the Brazil game in the 2017 Tournament of Nations, Ertz didn’t hesitate. She did what she has always done. She said yes and worried about the details later.”I was told, ‘Don’t expect to be a midfielder.’ And I kind of just stayed there. I was working my ass off. I was thinking, ‘If this is the way that it’s going to go, at least I’m going to leave knowing that I did everything that I could.'”Observes Dames, “A lot of people would not mentally be able to overcome those obstacles. Her ability to reinvent herself in the midfield and become arguably the most vital piece of the U.S. team’s success, it’s special.””This is not a normal thing what we do,” adds Naeher. “It’s hard to understand the psychological side of it unless you’re in it.”Ertz still wants her passing completion to be higher. She wants more goals outside of the 18 she has. She wants to be fit enough to play seven games “at my top, because that’s what it’s going to take to win the World Cup.” But she is #grateful for her hardships.In the best case, failure begets knowledge, and Ertz has learned plenty. About her fortitude. About the limited value of what others believe are your limits. About going to the mattresses. She knows who she is now.”Days after the World Cup, I couldn’t wait until we could win the Olympics. And then days after we lost the Olympics, I couldn’t wait for another World Cup. I thought, ‘If I just won this, it would be everything.’ And then you get there and you always want something else.”Ertz sensed there had to be more than leapfrogging from medal to medal, goal to goal. “All I had was soccer. That was my identity. If soccer didn’t go well, nothing else was great.” So she shifted her perspective. Less end game, more journey. Ertz started asking herself, “What else is there?” And her answer was faith, family and deep friendship.”Everyone feels alone in this world,” she says. “I felt alone in college, and I lived in a room with five girls.”Ertz pauses, takes a beat to ponder her spiritual growth.”Sometimes it’s hard. I want to be a really good role model, but at the same time, look, I’m still trying to grow up.”

ERTZ LIVES OUT of a single suitcase. On the left side are her undergarments. On the right side, her toiletries. She packs only four outfits, two big old coats, leggings, sweatpants, tank tops. She’s an expert at simplifying in the service of excellence, at winnowing life to the crux of what matters.In third grade, Ertz’s teacher asked the class to draw a dream board of what the children wanted their futures to be when they grew up. Her classmates drew pictures of houses and dogs and firemen and doctors and flowers and princesses. Young Julie drew a soccer player. It was the only image on her board.Over coffee at a hipster café in the West Loop, Ertz contemplates her résumé: “I played soccer and I baby-sat. It would literally be that.”Ertz has already begun considering the end of her game. She is at her peak. And peaks do not last. That reckoning has not gone down easy. She does the mental prep, tries to focus on the joy that still awaits — children, her foundation, paying it forward, her faith. But the verdict remains heavy.”If I retire when I’m 55 or 28, it will never be the right moment. There is nothing that makes me as excited and joyful as soccer does.”Dames recently repositioned Ertz into the Red Stars’ back line, even though she’s ramping up for the World Cup at midfield.”The soccer IQ needed for juggling those two positions at this level is huge,” Naeher says.”It wasn’t best for her,” Dames acknowledges. “But she said, ‘Let’s do it!’ No hesitation. Not, ‘Well, I need to get into the six and my spot might be in jeopardy.’ Just a very simple, ‘Yep, I agree. It’s best for the team.'”To compensate for the demands of dual positions, Ertz adds extra running to her workout, concentrates on specialized ballhandling. She rarely takes a day off; she is still, as her parents imparted decades ago, accountable. The exigent complexity drives her.”When I’m called upon, I’m going to be ready.”After Red Stars practice, as her teammates trot off to showers and lunches, Ertz remains on the field. She does drills, gets in extra touches, examines her weaknesses, systematically dismantles them.In the far corner of the field, she launches the ball repeatedly into a wooden kickboard, maneuvering and adjusting her footwork centimeter by centimeter.Boom. Thump. Boom. Thump. Again and again she kicks.It sounds like a heartbeat.

Lindsey Horan’s road never traveled

Henry BushnellYahoo Sports•May 20, 2019

The sobs were audible. Chubby tear-stained cheeks visible via Skype. On her first of many lonely nights at 10 Rue de Poissy, in an apartment 10 miles west of Paris, long before she became a reticent U.S. national team star, an 18-year-old girl from Colorado called her mom and cried.It was September of 2012 when Lindsey Horan first wondered what the hell she had done. Months earlier, she had barged into her mother’s bedroom at a similarly nocturnal hour, flicked on the lights, and revealed the biggest decision of her life. She had turned down the most prestigious college scholarship in women’s soccer. Turned down a well-worn path to USWNT stardom, and instead chosen an untrodden one, all because of a dream. So in late August, to fulfill it, Horan flew an ocean and half a continent away from home, to a sprawling European metropolis, its culture and intricacies capable of swallowing up even the most mature foreign teenager. She was there to do something no American woman had ever done: Play soccer, professionally, straight out of high school. For PSG. On a six-figure contract.

But before she could, not two weeks into her trailblazing adventure, the club moved her out of a host family’s house, into the apartment on Rue de Poissy. And with her first evening alone winding down, she came to a problematic realization.She had no bed sheets.So she cried. Clicked Skype. Dialed mom, for one of several hundred emotional transatlantic calls that immediately became daily routine. She slept on towels that night, with a thought coursing through her mind.“Oh my God, what am I getting into?

With a decision no other American girl had ever made came a journey no other American girl had ever embarked on, a journey armed with challenges no other American girl had ever faced. Challenges as complex as soccer drills, explained only in French, defenders and profanities bombarding her with equal venom; and challenges as simple as grocery runs. Or cooking. Or a search for a fitted sheet.For weeks, they consistently brought Lindsey Horan to tears. “Not that I was depressed,” she recalls six years later. “But I was homesick.”But the journey, in part because of those unprecedented challenges, led her to a podium in Portland, an MVP trophy in hand. It led her to world player of the year shortlists; to the cusp of World Cup stardom; and, last fall, to a hotel lobby in Raleigh, where, sporting a black “E♀UALITY” t-shirt and an effortless smile, she reflected on her odyssey using both words and a hand motion: Up and down, up and down, the wave-like movement representing the trajectory of her rise.“There were so many learning experiences,” Horan says of her time 5,000 miles outside her comfort zone. And in so many ways, she’s stronger because of them.

The obsession

The most remarkable aspect of Horan’s story isn’t anything that transpired on glistening swaths of French grass. It isn’t her unique footballing blend of physical prowess and artistry. It isn’t a starting point or a final destination. It’s an incongruity – between the profile of a prototypical pioneer and the profile of this one.Horan, in her own words, “wasn’t outgoing whatsoever” as a kid growing up in Golden, Colorado. When an overflowing soccer schedule relented, her most common weekend diversion involved smuggling food into a movie theater with her best friend. When she arrived in Paris, she’d snuggle up in her room with TV shows or soccer streams. And when her first American teammate, Tobin Heath, arrived at PSG, Horan was the last to greet her – with minimal eye contact, in the corner of the room, timidity and nerves obstructing words.Heck, when organized footy first enticed her, 5-year-old Lindsey would only play if her mom, Linda, signed up to coach.“So shy,” Horan says now of her younger self.

Soccer, though, has transformative power. It reshapes personalities, cracks shells. And Horan, from a young age, was “just obsessed” with it. She and her older brother, Michael, would play in backyards and basement hallways. Linda remembers Michael’s friends retiring to the house after hours of friendly competition and marveling to him: “Man, your sister’s tough.”The obsession broadened around age 11 when a club coach with the Colorado Rush, Tim Schulz, gave Horan an assignment: Don’t just play the game fanatically; watch it as well. Schulz mentioned Barcelona and a 17-year-old phenom named Lionel Messi. Horan became an OG Messi fangirl – “never a bandwagon[er],” she clarifies – with multiple jerseys, a scarf, a Barca flag and posters still adorning the walls of her childhood bedroom to this day.

Then, soon after her European football indoctrination, Horan realized this magical world in which she’d immersed herself through TV screens was in the same universe as hers. After a club practice, Schulz told Horan and her teammates that one day, one of them would play professionally, perhaps overseas. Which led to her declaration, in the car on the way home: “Mom, that’s gonna be me.”Over the coming years, she’d occasionally reiterate her ambition. And after one regional coach literally laughed at it, she pursued it compulsively. After a youth national team coach cut her, leaving her in tears for three days, she became almost possessed. She’d rise with the Rocky Mountain sun for 7 a.m. training, rearranging school schedules to accommodate dream-chasing. After her last class of the day, she’d zip to practice with the academy boys from 3-4:30 p.m. Then she was off to her own team. Afterwards, she’d go again, a fourth session in 12 hours, with whoever had the field next, no matter the age group or gender.She prioritized training over school dances and family dinners, instead returning home late at night for microwavable meals. She endured criticism and rude comments from opponents for playing with a boys team. “Everything I did was for soccer,” Horan says. She fit in whatever homework she could.And that was all before what she now calls “the most stressful year of my life.”

The decision

It began with a phone call, at Denver International Airport, with vacation mere hours away. The Horans were checking in for their flight. Their destination? Barcelona, then a European cruise. The occasion? Grandparents’ 50th wedding anniversary.But now Lindsey’s phone was buzzing. Schulz’s voice was coming through it, delivering fantastic yet inconvenient news: He’d negotiated an opportunity for her to train with Lyon, the reigning European champions.“You’re kidding me,” Lindsey immediately thought. “When is it?”What followed was a 12-day trip that Linda admits “was horrible.” While she and her husband – Lindsey’s father, Mark – argued about whether to let their 17-year-old daughter go to France alone, their daughter fretted about measuring up to top pros. The vacation impeded preparation. Lindsey’s solution was a small-sided field on the cruise ship’s deck that hosted daily pickup games. Her parents’ solution was to arrange for Erik Bushey, one of her club coaches back home, to accompany her to France.So Horan jetted from Barcelona to Lyon, and eventually trekked up into the Alps, with big eyes and almost zero French words in her linguistic arsenal. She ran and biked miles at altitude, the preseason fitness regimens startling to a girl who’d never sniffed a proper strength and conditioning program. She battled with and against French national teamers while French instructions rippled off tongues and over her head.And yet the brutality, the challenges, the draining work … they would have broken most 17-year-olds. But they attracted Horan.Over two grueling weeks, she earned a four-year contract offer. She and her family eventually decided it came a year too early. Back in Colorado, with a deadline looming, and with parents pushing the importance of at least completing high school, Lindsey sat down with some of her best friends, cried, hugged them, and said through sniffles, “I don’t want to leave you guys.” With fulfillment of her dream at her fingertips, she bravely turned it down.But she still yearned for it. The opportunity lingered, and therefore a decision – go to college, or turn pro? – loomed throughout senior year. The top-ranked player in her recruiting class, Horan committed to the University of North Carolina. The program’s track record – 20 of 30 national titles, 21 American World Cup stars produced – fueled unimaginable pressure to honor the pledge. To do what every other player in the history of the U.S. women’s national team had done. To take the safe route. To conform.But as she sought advice, heard opinions – most nudging her toward Chapel Hill – she found herself thinking: “No, you’re wrong. I know what I want.”

“In the end,” she says, “I knew what I wanted the whole time. I needed a push.” It came during an hours-long discussion with Bushey after training. Coach did most of the talking, impartially laying out pros and cons. Pupil listened. And cried.And drove home. Linda remembers it being after midnight. “My mom’s in bed,” Horan recounts. “I turn on all her lights. And I was like, ‘Mom, I made a decision!’ ”Linda, still groggy, wondered: “Am I having a dream?”“She’s half asleep,” Horan continues. “And I’m like, ‘I’m going pro!’ ”

The French adventure

Lindsey Horan, in case it wasn’t already clear, is a crier. She wept while telling her best friends she wasn’t ready to leave them, then a year later while realizing she was. She wept when a youth national team coach told her she wasn’t good enough. She wept without bed sheets, without family on Thanksgiving, without English-speaking friends consistently by her side. And on the Friday before her maiden away trip with PSG, the list grew.Horan had snubbed UNC for Europe. Lyon, however, had maxed out its international roster slots. With the back-to-back European champs no longer an option, Paris Saint-Germain swooped in to seal a deal. Horan, despite an arrival delayed by a July knee surgery, quickly earned a place in the starting 11.Before her professional bow, though, was a trip to France’s western tip, to tiny Guingamp. And before her team’s match was her other team’s match.One of many things Horan sacrificed to turn pro was a crack at the 2012 Under-20 World Cup. As former and future teammates marched onto a field in Tokyo for the final that Friday, Horan sat in a hotel lobby, staring up at “this tiny-ass TV in the corner of the lounge area.” As seconds ticked away on a U.S. victory, a few PSG players joined her and remarked: “Oh, you were supposed to be there!”Horan forced a laugh. Tried to stifle tears. Couldn’t.“I just started bawling my eyes out,” she recalls. “Like, ‘Oh my gosh, what did I do? I’m in Guingamp.’ It was a nightmare.”UNC also won a national championship that fall. Meanwhile, Horan would retreat to her room, resort to frozen foods or McDonald’s, too afraid of a short grocery store expedition. Adapting to a foreign land as a timid teen, she says, “was one of the toughest things I’ve ever done.”On the field, assimilation came quicker, but was nonetheless turbulent. At training, Horan would wait for English explanations that never came. Some of her first French words were the soccer terms for “man on” (sa vient) and “space” (sol) – but of course she mixed them up, and would turn into pressure, or hurry passes unnecessarily, until realizing the interpretive error.She also had to reform her diet. “I was the worst with my nutrition and fitness,” Horan admits. “I knew nothing about it, nor did I care about it.” And the club’s technical staff, led by head coach Farid Benstiti, didn’t care about communicating fitness goals respectfully. “They were just terrible,” Horan says. “Especially with female players, they were just [saying], ‘You need to lose weight, you need to get thinner, you need to run more.’“But it was more [about] how you were seen and not how it was helping you play,” Horan says of the demands. At one practice, Benstiti told her she was benched until she shed weight. Afterward, she called mom and said she wanted to quit.As she struggled with adaptations, however, she largely found comfort in football. (Horan uses both “football” and “soccer” interchangeably.) With her four-a-day practice habit reduced to one per day, she would sneak in solo sessions. (“Don’t tell Farid,” she jokes.) In late September, she scored on her debut. She bagged five goals in her first five league appearances, and 17 in 20 by the end of her first season.And in January, she received a godsend in the form of Heath’s arrival. After awkward intros and unwelcoming beginnings, the two Americans bonded. They explored the city. They frequented a nearby Indian restaurant, so frequently that after a while they didn’t even have to speak to order. Heath would get buttered chicken, Horan tikki masala. “Every time,” Horan remembers with a smile. They’d sit and talk for hours, hours that felt unexceptional at the time, but that in retrospect, Heath says, “were really special.”As Horan eased into her new life, however, soccer began pelting her with adversity. After two USWNT appearances in 2013, she went 23 months without a senior call-up. U.S. head coach Jill Ellis stated publicly that Horan’s decision to play abroad – despite accelerating her development – hurt her national team chances. Then, as Ellis called in roster after roster comprising exclusively U.S.-based players, Horan suffered a January knee injury that ruled her out of 2015 World Cup contention.Instead, she trekked to Canada as a fan, and was overcome with mixed emotions. “I’ll never forget being in the stands as the national anthem started to play, just looking down onto the field, and seeing all the women with their hands over their hearts,” she recalled in a Players Tribune article. “And I mean … I lost it. I wanted to be out there so bad that I actually started to cry.”

The dream realized

In a few weeks, one of those women will be her. On June 11 in Reims, 90 miles along highway A4 from the city that hosted so much suffering and yet so much growth, Lindsey Horan will stand with her right hand over her heart. She’ll face an American flag. She’ll sing. And then she’ll justify all the four-practice days and offseason grinds; all the homesickness and risk; all the courage required to follow that heart and take a road never traveled.In January 2016, Horan left PSG after three and a half seasons as a prolific striker – and after a week of teary-eyed goodbyes. She arrived in Portland, to play for the National Women’s Soccer League’s Thorns, at the same age a typical college grad would – but with a “reading [of] the game, game intelligence, game understanding,” says Thorns coach Mark Parsons, that “was a big, big difference from the player you normally get at that age.”Since, Horan has morphed into a domineering midfielder the likes of which 21st-century women’s soccer has never seen. She sits deep and dictates play, then bursts forward into the attacking third, a 6, 8, 9 and 10 all packed into one 5-foot-9, 24-year-old frame. “There is no midfielder in the world that has all the elite tools that she has,” Parsons says. And numbers reinforce his passionate praise. In the NWSL in 2018, Horan touched the ball more than any other player; won it more than any other player; and won more aerial duels, too. She completed the second-most passes and second-most dribbles, and scored the third-most goals. Her all-around excellence earned her an MVP award and 26 consecutive USWNT appearances, a streak interrupted only by minor injury.The positional changes, Horan says, actually haven’t been difficult. Not for someone who got tastes of everything from center back to center forward growing up. Not for someone who’s “glued to the TV any time football is on”; who consumes women’s and men’s games, as fan or student; who’ll sometimes do both, greeting Barca goals with yelps, but also recording matches and re-watching for educational purposes. “Watching football is such an underrated thing to help you grow as a player,” she says. And “if you know the game,” she later continues, “if you’re a football player, you can play anywhere.”There’s a certain confidence about Horan nowadays, a confidence she credits Parsons with instilling. It shows up in the way she purposefully checks to the ball or attacks crosses, but also away from the pitch. Soccer, throughout her life, is the one thing that has consistently pulled her out of her shell, into a comfort zone. With self-belief in her soccer soaring, and with close friends almost always close by, she is no longer that timid teen who boarded a plane to Paris seven years ago.Which is not to say the accolades that accompany success don’t make her uncomfortable. She “absolutely hated” the fanfare that came with last year’s MVP announcement the day before the NWSL Final. She has “a love-hate relationship” with her nickname, “The Great Horan” – the brainchild of U.S. teammate Rose Lavelle via Twitter shenanigans. “More hate,” grins Lavelle, who considers it one of her “proudest accomplishments.” With the moniker now adorning T-shirts, Horan has reluctantly embraced it. But “she still does not like the spotlight,” her mother says – even if she’s getting used to it.At times, Horan has wondered whether well-traveled roads would have led her to similar success. Whether the homesickness and heartache were necessary. “Any player can make their situation good for them,” she admits. “If I went to UNC, I’m sure I would find a way to make myself better, make things harder, challenge myself. It’s what the player puts into it.“But then again, where I went, the challenges I went through … experiencing a different culture, language … you can’t get that anywhere else.”Occasionally, back at 10 Rue de Poissy, or in that Guingamp hotel lobby, it all felt like a “nightmare.”“That was the best thing for me,” Horan says now. “I do not regret it whatsoever.”

Previewing the US national team at the 2019 U-20 World Cup

May 20, 20195:56PM EDTTravis ClarkContributor

The Under-20 World Cup kicks off this week in Poland with arguably the best US Under-20 national team roster ever assembled, ready to compete against some of the top talents in the world.Head coach Tab Ramos is preparing to lead the US in the competition for the fourth time, and as Concacaf champions for the second straight cycle.At the start of May, Ramos named a roster of 21 players set to compete in Group D, aiming to improve on two straight quarterfinal finishes in 2015 and 2017. Ten of the players on the roster hail from MLS teams, with early season standouts like Edwin Cerrillo and Paxton Pomykal among the contenders to carve out key roles.

A familiar style

Ramos has favored a press-intensive style of play throughout his time in charge, looking to win the ball high up and the field and turn that into scoring chances. This year’s group should be similar to past Ramos teams: a 4-3-3 formation, pressing high and looking to control games and create chances in that fashion. He has a dynamic and exciting group of attackers to choose from, with Tim Weah, Konrad de la Fuente, Justin Rennicks, Ulysses Llanez and Ayo Akinola among the wide options to complement Sebastian Soto in the middle.

Defensive questions to answer

Provided the attack clicks and the US show that they are capable of scoring goals, the group’s defensive quality is going to determine how far it can go in the tournament. Chris Richards is potentially the team’s most important player, as the Bayern Munich center back has the intelligence and athletic ability to put out fires where needed.As the team presses high, if they lose out in transition moments, that could put pressure on the back line and leave them exposed. One of Cerrillo, Chris Durkin or Brandon Servania are likely to be on the field as well, shielding the team’s defense and providing a helping hand at the back.Who lines up next to Richards is the other part of the question. Matt Real, while more of a left back, saw time centrally in qualifying. Aboubacar Keita, the Columbus Crew SC Homegrown signing who is on loan at Richmond Kickers, is another. Mark McKenzie is still working his way back to full fitness from an appendectomy as well, but should be in the mix soon. Sergino Dest and Chris Gloster are the leading candidates to start on the right and left, respectively, providing support on both sides of the ball.

Group ambitions

Back in 2017, the US U-20s won Group F, advancing to a favorable Round of 16 matchup against New Zealand. The ambition heading into the 2019 edition of the competition, where they’ve been drawn into Group D with Ukraine, Nigeria and Qatar, is the same: Win the group. That would see the United States advance to a knockout game against a third-place team from Groups B, E or F, which is likely a more favorable opponent.A second-place finish means a round-of-16 clash against the first-place team in Group E; barring a huge shock or surprise, that is almost certain to be France, considered to be one of the favorites of the competition. That means getting off to a good start against Ukraine in Friday’s group opener is huge, as that provides the ideal platform to progress as deep in the tournament as possible.

Key players

D Chris Richards – As noted above, the Alabama native’s presence in the backline is huge. He’ll need to stay fit and avoid picking up too many yellow cards, as there is a notable drop-off in quality between him and the other options in central defense.

F Timothy Weah – It’s been an up-and-down club season for Weah, who spent the first half of the 2018-19 season hardly playing for Paris Saint-Germain, before playing in fits and starts on loan at Celtic FC in Scotland. Like others on the roster, he’s a versatile player, capable of lining up as the central striker or on either wing. His desire to play at the U-20 World Cup is notable, and he’ll provide an important presence and experience on and off the field.

M Alex Mendez – Winner of the Golden Ball at the U-20 Concacaf Championship, where he scored eight goals, Mendez heads into the World Cup in good form. A smooth, left-footed central midfielder who can pick a pass, smash home from distance and deliver dangerous set pieces on a consistent basis, the LA Galaxy academy product has recently scored some spectacular goals for SC Freiburg’s A-Junioren side. That threat is going to be massive for the US, whether it’s unlocking an opposing defense with his passing range or offering up a chance to score from set pieces.

F Konrad de la Fuente – Something of a mystery to US fans, the FC Barcelona prospect is one of a host of exciting options on the wing. Between him and Uly Llanez, Ramos has a pair of wide attackers that can take defenders on one-v-one, which can certainly create chances in transition moments during the game.

M Paxton Pomykal – Before picking up a hamstring injury, Pomykal had been firmly in the middle of a breakout season with FC Dallas. Assuming he’s healthy and available for selection, his two-way ability in either central midfield or potentially on one of the flanks can create space and opportunities for his teammates.

Champions League revamp would wreak havoc on Premier League and others

May 16, 2019 Gabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

There are bad ideas and there’s bad execution. The European Club Association’s (ECA) proposed “reforms” of the Champions League happen to be both.On the one hand, they are bad ideas founded purely on the self-interest of a tiny number of wealthy super clubs. On the other hand, the plan has been ham-fistedly executed. It has prompted not only threats of lawsuits and expulsion from domestic leagues, but also failed to rally the public support of other super clubs, thereby negating the leverage — rich revenue-driving clubs acting in unison to get their way — they might otherwise have had.The battle rumbles on because the deadline is not that far away. Once the current deal governing the FIFA calendar expires, in 2024, European football could look a whole lot different.

Here’s the proposal:

– Instead of eight groups of four playing a total of six games in the Champions League group stage, you’d have four groups of eight playing 14 games. The top four in each would advance to the Round of 16, which would continue as normal. So if you get to the final, you’d play a total of 21 matches, rather than 13.

– The majority of teams wouldn’t qualify, as they do now, based on their domestic finish the season before. Instead, the top six sides in each group would automatically return the following season. The bottom two would be “relegated” to next season’s Europa League, unless they managed to qualify via their domestic seasons. But, of course, that would be more difficult, since there would be only four slots (remember, four would go to the Europa League semifinalists, who get “promoted” to the Champions League) to share among 55 leagues.- To maximize global revenue, some games, maybe in the knockout stage, would be played on weekends.- It would be a three-tiered system, with the Champions League on top, Europa League in the middle and UEFA’s new third European competition on the bottom.That’s it in a nutshell, with details to be determined. The thinking is that with most of Europe’s biggest clubs guaranteed a place and with more games (and a potentially bigger audience) the competition will grow and generate far more money, some of which would be reinvested back into the system and a lot of which would go back to the super clubs. Trickle-down economics at its finest.Last week, Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu, one of the main backers along with ECA (and Juventus) president Andrea Agnelli, said it was “evolution” and that the fans were asking for it.This is where you might be tempted to call BS.

Given how lucrative the Champions League is to most clubs, you’d effectively be creating a permanent upper class of clubs who would be guaranteed a massive stream of income year after year, only for finishing sixth or higher in a group of eight. And if they do screw up? No worries, they can still qualify via their domestic league. In an already polarized footballing landscape, where the one-percenters dwarf the rest, is this what football needs?Then there’s the obvious issue of incentives. If four of eight qualify in a 14-round tournament, there’s bound to be somebody who locks up their spot, just as there’s bound to be somebody who will finish bottom early, with nothing to play for. You already have meaningless in a six-round format: you’d have many more with 14.Would fans of the big clubs even enjoy the group stage? Bartomeu says everybody wants to see the big clubs playing each other more often. Sure, if it means something. But if they have already qualified for the knockouts — and that will happen early and often with four of eight teams going through — is it really an audience-grabber?Agnelli loves comparing Champions League revenues with those of the NFL, which are twice as high despite having a smaller audience. I can’t tell if he really thinks this is a valid comparison or if he’s being ignorant. In any case, here are 10 reasons why it’s a foolish analogy.  Then there’s the fact that this proposal would wreak havoc on domestic leagues. Whether it’s playing games on weekends — sure, you can move the Champions League clubs’ domestic fixtures to midweek, but what about all the other clubs? Are they going to sit around weekends? — or creating situations where sides have no shot at winning the league but have already secured their spot in the UCL by December so they simply go through the motions the rest of the year, it would simply be disastrous for the domestic game. Which, of course, is the bread-and-butter for most clubs and, indeed, supporters.Why are they pushing this? One-percenters would say it’s only fair because they take on the “entrepreneurial risk”: they spend more, they have more skin in the game, they generate most of the income, so why should they share equally with clubs along for the ride?The problem with that argument is that, in an era of Financial Fair Play, owning a big club is no longer the loss-making, risky affair it once was. Europe’s top-flight clubs made more than a half billion dollars last year on aggregate. In the Premier League, 85 percent were profitable last year. The reality is that it’s really about delivering ever-increasing returns to your shareholders, which, in Juventus’ case, happens to be mainly Agnelli’s own family, who own nearly two-thirds.Or, in the case of clubs like Barcelona and Real Madrid that don’t have shareholders, becoming even more of a perpetual powerhouse would be a surefire way to bolster your status as a president and maybe one day have a stadium named after you. (It worked for Santiago Bernabeu… how does Estadi Josep Bartomeu sound?)It’s not surprising that representatives from Europe’s top leagues fired back, with Liga boss Javier Tebas saying he’d go to court to stop the ECA proposal. French league officials have said they’re ready to ban any clubs participating in such a monstrosity from Ligue 1. Even the usually rather measured Premier League boss Richard Scudamore said it was “out of order.” You’d imagine mid-sized to small associations, who make up the bulk of UEFA’s 55 members, are also ready to go on the warpath.The UEFA president, Aleksander Ceferin, insists these are consultations and brainstorming. He notes that the last time we had major reform, in 2016, just before he took over, it was the result of private backroom negotiations between UEFA and the clubs. This time, he wants to bring the discussion into the open before a decision is reached.Of course, he’s caught between a rock and a hard place. Big clubs drive Champions League revenue and the threat of some sort of breakaway league/Champions League boycott is always in the background despite assurances to the contrary. It happened before in basketball with the creation of the Euroleague and it’s not lost on anybody that three Euroleague clubs — Barcelona, Real Madrid and Bayern — also happen to be elite football clubs.Backers of the proposal argue that there would be a windfall for everyone, with increased revenue trickling down the system. On the flip side, given how high the barriers of entry would be (and they’re already sky-high) you wonder why anybody would ever invest in a club outside the elite. For what? To play on Wednesday nights in a devalued domestic league, at best competing for a title against sides who either have 10 times your revenue (most of it due to their virtually permanent Champions League status) or who field reserve teams because their focus is Europe?

There is an additional bulwark against this: the Premier League. England’s big clubs are far less reliant on Champions League income, because the Premier League is so lucrative. Which means they would balk at anything that messes with the Premier League.It’s also notable that other continental super club bosses have stayed on the sideline. You wonder if even they realize that this is an asinine proposal, but they’re happy to let Agnelli do the dirty work: a bit like a spoiled 18-year-old demanding a Lamborghini for his birthday knowing he’ll have to settle for a Porsche.Agnelli and ECA keep pushing, while plenty worry that UEFA are in lockstep with them. Ceferin denies this. Others say he’s giving Agnelli enough rope to hang himself. The impression is that unless Agnelli can build support among the leagues and other stakeholders, which appears about as likely as Cristiano Ronaldo developing a beer belly over the summer, UEFA won’t even consider it.Yet frankly, it’s a whole heck of a lot more appealing than what ECA are proposing. If this crashes and burns it will have more to do with ham-fisted incompetence in the way it was pushed, rather than the idea itself. That’s why the game needs to remain vigilant. These guys will be back, in another guise, likely with a similarly self-serving pitch.

Goalkeepers go to ‘dark places’ after making a high-profile mistake. How do the pros handle the pressure?

3:28 AM ET  Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Tim Howard has experienced the highs and lows of goalkeeping, but it’s the lows that really stick in the memory. “You have to go to some dark places as a goalkeeper,” the former United States and Manchester United No. 1 told ESPN FC.Howard was feted by President Barack Obama and became a national hero after an incredible display during the World Cup defeat against Belgium in 2014, but his failure to hold onto Benni McCarthy’s 90th minute free kick during a Champions League second-round tie against FC Porto 10 years earlier gifted Costinha a decisive goal that knocked United out of the competition and convinced Sir Alex Ferguson that Howard was not up to the job of being the club’s first-choice keeper.”In order to be successful in England, you’ve got to be great for the better part of five-10 years,” Howard said. “I had a great season at Manchester United and then phew, I didn’t see the field for two years, so it’s not about having one or two good games.”Being a goalkeeper is a thankless task, one that requires a certain kind of individual to don the gloves and pull on the No.1 jersey. You can make 10 incredible saves — “worldies,” in goalkeeper parlance — and then allow one to slip through your grasp and into the back of the net. Guess what gets remembered?”In my experience of football, goalkeepers are more invested than outfield players in the psychological side [of the game]. And they need to be,” sports psychologist Dan Abrahams said, who has worked with Premier League players and clubs, said. “They are individuals operating in a team setting and there are times when their world can cave in if they make a calamitous mistake.”David James made high-profile mistakes during his early days at Liverpool, and once he was nicknamed “Calamity James,” it stuck for the remainder of his career. You can only imagine how former France No. 1 Dominique Dropsy — yes, that’s his real name — would have been treated in today’s ferocious, unforgiving world of social media if he accidentally dropped the ball onto the toes of an opposition forward.David De Gea, Manchester United’s No. 1 keeper, knows all about the downside of the position these days. Rated by many as the best in the world, he’s had a nightmare run of mistakes between the posts, dating back to his unconvincing performances for Spain at last year’s World Cup. His error against Chelsea on April 28 ultimately proved to be a key moment in United’s late-season slide.Loris Karius has had it even worse than De Gea. The German keeper made two huge mistakes leading directly to goals in Liverpool’s 3-1 Champions League final defeat against Real Madrid in Kiev, Ukraine, last year, and even though it transpired that he was suffering from concussion following a collision with Sergio Ramos earlier in the game, he became the target of merciless criticism. Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool defended Karius in public at the time, but he hasn’t played for the club since: He was shipped out on loan to Besiktas in Turkey, where his battle to rebuild his confidence has been marred by further mistakes. An error on his debut against Bursaspor in September resulted in Besiktas being held to a 1-1 draw and he made another high profile mistake to concede a goal during a Europa League defeat against Malmo in October. But Karius’s time in Turkey hit its lowest ebb in March when, after being jeered by fans following a goal conceded against Konyaspor, Besiktas coach Senol Gunes claimed publicly that “something is wrong” with the German.Mark Bosnich, the former United, Aston Villa and Australia goalkeeper, saw Karius make those errors against Real, and it triggered memories of his young days at Old Trafford, from 1989 to 1991 (he had a second stint at the club, 1999 to 2001). “What happened to Karius, it had been coming.” Bosnich told ESPN FC. “He had made mistakes in games running up to the final and you could see he was having a tough time. His manager, Klopp, should have helped him and taken him out of the firing line before that game and allowed him to rebuild his confidence and go again.”When I was a kid at United, I saw the same happen to Jim Leighton, who was an experienced No. 1. He had a bad run, his confidence dropped, but Alex Ferguson played him in the FA Cup final and he let in three and was dropped for the replay. Jim never really recovered from that, but sometimes a manager has to spot the problems before a big mistake happens. They have a responsibility to act before it can be too late.”Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has that decision to make with De Gea,” Bosnich added of the United manager. “I believe De Gea can come through this period but at some point, the manager has to make a decision when a keeper is struggling.”Karius and De Gea have both been in the eye of the storm, but when you are the last line of defence, you need to be able to handle that, right?”I always wanted to be a goalkeeper as a kid, but I also knew that you had to take the rough with the smooth,” Bosnich said. “As a keeper, you have to have that mindset. Whenever I made a mistake, I would just apologise to my teammates in the dressing room and move on. That’s how I was.”My best game for United was against Palmeiras in the Intercontinental Trophy, when we became world champions in 1999, but I was the same after that. No big deal. Move on.”Not all goalkeepers are as mentally tough as Bosnich, however. The Australia international was an extrovert, criticised more for being too confident rather than being riddled with self-doubt, while others have sunk after high-profile mistakes.The England careers of the likes of Rob Green and Scott Carson ended before they properly began thanks to costly errors in big games for their country. Scrutiny can be intense, especially in an era of all-angle replays, VAR and super-slo-mo analysis, but Howard said that staying strong is crucial for every keeper who has, quite literally, dropped the ball. “You have to prepare for some dark days,” he said. “You have to be strong, block out the media, the fans and even some of your own teammates when they’re looking across the dressing room at you and you know they have no confidence in you.”It’s never-ending. Your self-belief can never waver. Confidence ebbs and flows, but self-belief is not something that ebbs and flows with performances. You have to always believe in yourself.”That’s where I think a lot of goalkeepers get it wrong. I wasn’t stupid, I could look in the mirror and say, ‘By the way, you haven’t been playing very well,’ but I never discounted the fact that I belonged there or that I could play.”Ben Foster also experienced the unforgiving spotlight that comes with playing in goal for Manchester United. He, too, fell foul of Ferguson after one mistake too many. Massimo Taibi and World Cup-winner Fabien Barthez went the same way as Leighton, Bosnich, Howard and Foster at Man United. Now Watford’s No. 1, Foster said it’s taken until his 30s for him to develop the strength of mind to deal with the pitfalls of his profession.”United was definitely the wrong place at the wrong time for me,” Foster said, recalling his time as a young keeper making his way at Old Trafford. “I wasn’t equipped mentally to be able to deal with being at United at that time.”Young goalkeepers now, they get taught how to play football, with training for this and that, but they don’t get taught how to deal with stuff mentally. Personally, I think the mental side of the game is 50 percent and the coaching and football side of it is 50 percent, but the mental side is completely neglected.”The influence of psychologists such as Abrahams points to football learning that goalkeepers need specific help, countering Foster’s assertion that the area is overlooked. Abrahams said that coaching a goalkeeper to deal with adversity is the key.”There are tools and techniques to help keepers cope with making mistakes,” Abrahams said. “It’s about staying focused, using key trigger words to themselves to control the situation, projecting positive body language and, crucially, not dwelling on the mistake.”Foster agrees, insisting that “if you ever think [about a mistake], that’s when you’re going to start getting problems.”So how do you rebuild a keeper’s confidence on Monday morning, after a costly mistake, when he heads out to train?”Some keepers will want to focus on the mistake and work on it, others will just want normality and repetition of what they always do,” said Ant White, a member of Bournemouth’s goalkeeping coach team. “But they have to know their identity, what makes them a top goalkeeper and remain focused on their strengths.”A mistake could be a 1-in-5,000 incident, so you also make sure they don’t forget the other 4,999 good moments.”Only De Gea truly knows whether his energy and focus is being drained by his run of mistakes. The same applies to Karius, too: Does he have nightmares about those two errors in Kiev? Ultimately, all players grapple with mistakes they’ve made, but it’s different for a goalkeeper. They are exposed, in every sense.”I almost don’t see myself as a footballer, you know?” Foster said. “I just try to get in the way of a ball that’s going in the back of a net. That’s what it comes down to at the end of the day. But you’re on your own.”As a goalie, you’re on your own and you’ve got a deal with it on your own.”

Robben and Ribery’s status as Bayern legends assured, but are they irreplaceable?

May 19, 2019Raphael HonigsteinGermany writer

For one final time, the most important duo of wingers in Bayern Munich’s history graced the Allianz Arena pitch and scored as second-half substitutes in a 5-1 win over Frankfurt to help the club to a seventh consecutive Bundesliga title. Then they showed everyone how much they differed as characters after the game.Whereas Franck Ribery was overcome with emotions and broke down in tears in front of the Sudkurve stand, Arjen Robben bemoaned not finding the net for a second time in a TV interview — it would have been his 100th Bundesliga goal — and admitted that he had done everything to get one last run-out before his farewell.”It was important to me to play one more time, I was totally up for the game,” said the 35-year-old, who had missed most of the campaign with a series of injuries. They didn’t call him “ego shooter” for nothing in the local tabloids.Even as all of Munich was swept up in nostalgia as the end of a decade dominated by his and Ribery’s spell-binding brilliance, Robben retained his own perspective: first person, first and foremost. The Dutchman’s self-obsessed outlook, nigh-pathological commitment in training and single-mindedness on the pitch neatly mirrored Bayern’s win-at-all-cost philosophy and hard-nosed professionalism.However, the crowd found it easier to connect with Ribery: an uncontrollable, complicated bundle made up of rough-edged genius, warrior-attitude and puerile humour. Scarred by an accident in his childhood, the Frenchman was an unashamed anti-hero who embraced adversity and made other people’s derision work in his favour. Defenders and fans of rival clubs hated him, which only made Bayern supporters love him all the more.Club president Uli Hoeness, his biggest fan, cried in the VIP area after the 36-year-old’s irresistible solo run for the Bayern’s fourth goal on Saturday. “Someone up there wrote the script today,” Hoeness said, adding that “Rib und Rob” (Abendzeitung) should be seen as Bayern all-time greats among Gerd Muller, Franz Beckenbauer, et al.heir place in the club’s pantheon of superstar icons is indeed assured. The duo did not just magically combine to produce the most crucial goal in Bayern’s recent history — the 2-1 winner over Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League final in 2013 — they were also instrumental in lifting the Bundesliga behemoths back to the spheres of the European elite after a few years in the second-rank doldrums.Ribery’s pacy, unpredictable style immediately added another dimension to final third attacks after his €25 million transfer from Marseille in 2007. A couple of years later, Louis van Gaal’s insistence on balance saw Robben arrive from Real Madrid for around the same price. Seen as big risk because of his persistent injury problems, the Bedum-born Flügelstürmer(winger) was an instant sensation, providing inverse wing-play class on a level which had not been seen in Germany’s top flight for quite some time.A combined tally of 185 league goals has gone some way to help Bayern win eight Bundesliga titles in 10 seasons. Their deepest impact, however, was on the team’s identity. Germany’s most successful side had traditionally relied on dominant players in the centre: sweepers, all-action box-to-box specialists and powerful centre-forwards. Robben and Ribery made Bayern’s game lateral.Attacking space and defenders with the ball on their feet, they set off tremors of panic in the opposition and excitement in the stadium; a rush that echoed football’s pre-modern roots as a gallant battle of individual dribblers hell-bent on making inroads into enemy territory.The new-found emphasis on wing-play begot a more structural approach in midfield which now had to provide defensive cover and a regular supply of passes to the dangermen out-wide. Thanks to “Robbery”‘s domineering influence, the team’s all-important metamorphosis into a position-possession team was both smooth and inevitable. The final step to Champions League-winning excellence was made when they started working much harder to hunt down the ball and protect their full-backs at the beginning of the 2012-13 treble-winning season.In recent years, Robben and Ribery were no longer able to perform consistently in line with their gigantic wages and pronounced self-importance; the club’s regression since coach Pep Guardiola’s departure in 2016, can partially be explained by the duo’s waning powers to make a difference against top opposition.Hoeness himself came close to admitting that the club’s reluctance to let them go earlier could have cost Bayern the championship this season. The dressing room will certainly feel a lot more spacious following the departure of the two super-sized egos, but Kingsley Coman and Serge Gnabry, their heirs-apparent, will do well to get close to their sustained levels of mastery.”Back in the day, I used to watch them on YouTube; learning from them has been amazing,” Gnabry told ESPN recently.The Germany international, 23, has closely watched the veterans’ positioning and taken a cue from their relentlessness in front of the box. “They are always on the attack,” he added. “They don’t ever shy away from an opportunity to go one against one. Whereas I would have said to [myself] before that you sometimes have to go back [with the ball], they helped me to just go again and again, saying that ‘eventually, you will break through’ [the defence.] Mentality-wise, they have defined an era here. Just to be around them has been been brilliant.”If Bayern are to get back to the world-beating heights of the first half of the decade, the successors to the most devastating double-act since Paul Breitner and Karl-Heinz Rummenigge in the early 1980s must become nothing less than world-beaters, too.That’s a tall order, though, and explains why Saturday’s title-celebrations were tinged with sadness — perhaps even fear. Robben and Ribery might well prove irreplaceable.

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5/17/19  Indy 11 home Sat 7 pm, FA Cup Finals Sat 12 noon ESPN+, German/Spanish League Wraps-Up, Full TV Game Schedule

Shane Best    The Ole Ballcoach

Indy 11

Fresh off their first US Open Cup win in a few years Wednesday night at the Butler Bowl, the Indy 11 are home this Saturday night as it’s back to USL Championship action for Indy Eleven (4W-2L-2D, 14 pts.) when it welcomes the Charleston Battery (4W-1L-4D, 16 pts.) on “Armed Forces Night” at Lucas Oil Stadium. 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.  Back-up goalkeeper, and Carmel FC Goalkeeper Coach Jordan Farr came in to save the day Wednesday night after starter Evan Newton was red carded in the 28th minute as he helped a 10 man Indy 11 outlast their League 1 opponents 1-0 with an extra time goal late in the first half- Highlights.  The Indy 11 also announced they will host a Coaches Symposium on Tues, May 21st at Grand Park for just $30.

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FA Cup

Tiny Watford will look to fulfill their FA Cup Dreams against EPL Champions Manchester City on Sat at 12 noon on ESPN+.   Singer Elton John’s boyhood and favorite team will hope for some FA Cup magic as they face one of the top sides in the world in Man City.  Not sure why this is on the Plus for ESPN – you would think they could find a spot on ESPN or ESPN2 for this FINAL match after serving all the other games on the Plus.  But that appears to be where we stand having to stream our overseas soccer these days.  I for 1 will NOT be watching.

USA World Cup

The US ladies won both of their Send-Off Series games this past week with a 3-0 win Sunday on Fox and a solid 5-0 win over New Zealand last night. You can watch the USWNT’s final send-off friendly next Sunday: vs Mexico on May 26 (Noon ET, ESPN).  The World Cup from France gets underway June 7 with the US starting June 11.  The US 20 World Cup featuring the US team with Tim Weah will kickoff next week with the US playing Friday on Fox Sports 1 vs Ukraine at 2:30 pm.  The US U17’s have qualified for next summer’s World Cup behind 7 goals from Reyna – yeah Claudia’s son. They lost a heartbreaker in the CONCACAF Finals vs Mexico 2-1 after dominating possession most of the game.

EPL

So the EPL season limped into the final weekend with just title race barely on the line – for about 2 minutes it was a thrill across Anfield as the score showing Man City trailing Brighton 1-0 came across the board.  Of course less than 2 minutes later Aguero scored and Man City was on its way to a 4-1 win and a second consecutive EPL title.  An amazing 98 points 1 year after having 100 total points and outlasting Liverpool who finished with 97.  How about the fact that Liverpool wins the EPL with 97 points any other year in the history of the league but this season and last except for Man City.  Amazing – great story here about the millimeters that truly separated Man City and Liverpool this season.  Of course with an All-EPL Champions League match-up of Liverpool vs Spurs and Chelsea vs Arsenal in Europa League at the end of the month we’ll have more EPL coming up.

Games to Watch

Great story about American Christian Pulisic as he played his final home game last week for Dortmund scoring his second goal in as many games after a moving pre-game celebration and after game visit to the yellow wall.  Dortmund still has a slight chance to win the Bundesliga title as they are 2 points back of Bayern Munich after having the lead for most of the season. Dortmund will be on Saturday at 9:30 am on FS1 vs Borussia Gladbach, Bayern Munich meanwhile hosts Frankfurt (who desperately needs the win to secure Champions League next season) on FS 2 at 9:30 am.  Of course, the top 6 teams in the Bundesliga are still mathematically alive for that 4th Champions League spot or certainly a top 7 Europa league position as the race will be to the finish.

In La Liga the 4th and final Champions League spot is between Spanish clubs Valencia and Sevilla FC who play at 10:15 am on beIN Sport.  If Valencia win they are 4th if Sevilla win they need tiny Getafe to lose to jump them and Valencia into the 4th position.  A day of drama for tiny club Getafe with the miracle chance to make Champions League for the 1st time ever.  Go Getafe!  Also in Spain – sorry to see my precious Atletico losing Greizmann but life goes on for the 2nd place team in La Liga this season as long as they still have the manager in black – Simeone!   Oh and Bruce Arena, former US and the most successful MLS coach ever, is back in the league as GM And Manager of the New England Revolution.

GAMES ON TV

Sat, MAY 18           (American’s in parenthesis)  

9:30 am Fox Sport 2                       Bayern Munich vs Frankfurt

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                     Borussia M’gladbach (Johnson) vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

9:30 am Fox Soccer                          Schalke (McKinney) vs Stuttgart

10:15 am beIN Sport                       Real Valladolid vs Valencia

12 noon ESPN+                    Manchester City vs Watford – FA Cup Final 

2 pm Univision                               San Jose vs Chicago Fire

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Charlestown (Lucas Oil)

8 pm ESPN+                                      Min United vs Columbus Crew

Sun, MAY 19  

6 am beIN sport                                  Real Madird vs Real Betis

11:30 am ESPN3                                  Netherlands U17 vs Italy u17 Eefa Finals

2:30 pm ESPN+                                     Napoli vs Inter (champ league race)

3 pm ESPN+                                            Orlando City vs Cincy

5 pm Fox Sport 1                                NY Red Bulls vs Atlanta United

Fri, MAY 24  

12 noon ESPN2?                  Copa Del Rey  Barcelona vs Valencia

2;30 pm Fox Sport 1           USA U20s vs Ukraine  U20 WC

Sat, MAY 25  

2 pm ESPNNews                  German Cup Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig (Adams)  

7 pm WISHTV                       Indy 11 vs Nashville (Lucas Oil)

Sun, MAY 26  

9:30 am FS1                                            Mexico U20 vs Japan U20

12 pm ESPN                          USA Ladies vs Mexico

6 pm Fox Sport 1                                Sporting KC vs Seattle

Mon, MAY 27    

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Nigeria U20 WC

Weds, May 29                      Europa League Finals

Thur, MAY 30    

2:30 pm FS1                         USA U20s vs Qatar U20 WC

Sat, June 1                             Champions League Finals

Women’s World Cup June 7-July 7

  • Fri, June 7 3 p m                                    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
  • 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

Where to Watch Soccer Games on Which Channels

Indy 11

Indy 11 Score 1-0 Win in US Open Cup with 10 men

Indy 11 douse Landing Ignite in US Open Cup – Soc Takes – Kevin Johnston

Indy 11 win USOC as odd Trend Continues – Brian Cook

Indy 11 Sign Indy Fire U17 Player

GK Evan Newton is USL Player of Week w/2 Clean Sheets

Indy 11 in USL Academy Cup for ages U13-U17

Flex 8 Pack Ticket is Back

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Full Schedule Released

Sat 8 am Soccer Talk with Greg Rakestraw on 1070 the Fan & 107.5 FM

 WORLD

Dortmund Hopes for Miracle on final day of German Season

Bayern has advantage but Dortmund still has a chance to German Title 2 pts back

Juve Manager Allegri to leave this summer

Former American Player and Huddersfield Town Mgr David Wagner takes over Schalke

EPL

Watford Captains Journey from jail to FA Cup Final ESPNFC

Top 10 moments of EPL Season – NBC sports

Lampard to Replace Sarri at Chelsea?

– Ogden: Epic title race decided by millimetres and seconds
– Ames: City showed character, guts to retain trophy

– Man City ratings: Laporte, Gundogan both 8/10 as title clinched

– Ogden: 10 year after City takeover — how football changed forever
– When are next season’s Premier League fixtures revealed?

USA

How Biggest Loss in Recent Memory for US exposed an Issue it Still Hasn’t Solved – yahoo soccer
Hays: USWNT solves South Africa »

Mewis, Lloyd goals lift USWNT »

US focus on firepower in search of 4th World Cup

FiFA hopes 1 billion watch Women’s World Cup

Tim Weah makes U.S.’s U20 World Cup roster, Sargent and Adams left off

U20 player Paxton Pomykal

US Qualifies for U17 World Cup on Reyna’s 5th Goal

GK

Buffon offered 1 year Extension at PSG

MLS Saves of the Week

USL Save of the Week

NWSL Save of the Week

Camps 

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

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN ADVANCES IN LAMAR HUNT U.S. OPEN CUP WITH 1-0 WIN OVER LANSING IGNITE FC

By IndyEleven.com, 05/15/19, 10:30PM EDT

Goalkeeper Jordan Farr’s Sudden Professional Debut – and Subsequent Shutout – Help Boys in Blue to Second Round Win

#INDVLAN HIGHLIGHTS

Playing a man down for 70 minutes was not a bridge too “Farr” for Indy Eleven in its Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup debut, as goalkeeper Jordan Farr came on in reserve duty to keep a clean sheet and help the Boys in Blue advance past Lansing Ignite FC 1-0 in Second Round action at Butler University’s Sellick Bowl. Forward Thomas Enevoldsen’s 57th minute tally was enough to give Indy Eleven its first USOC win since the 2016 tournament and set up a Third Round match-up at USL Championship cohort Pittsburgh Riverhounds in two weeks’ time. “Obviously, it was a hard game. It was doubly hard when we went down to 10 men. We had to put a lot of effort into it,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “I knew if we could get a goal that we could expect to defend well. It was nice to get the win as well. It was nice to not go to extra time with ten men. I thought we played really well given the situation.” Lansing Ignite almost took advantage of an Eleven defensive miscue within 30 seconds of the opening whistle, but thankfully defender Paddy Barrett saved an initial shot off the goalline, and midfielder Kenney Walker followed suit within the six-yard box on the rebounded effort. A scary moment and quick flash point came in the 16th minute, when Indy Eleven goalkeeper Evan Newton collided with Lansing forward Elma N’for as the two raced for a 50-50 ball just outside of Newton’s area. N’for received medical attention on the field for several minutes, and during the delay match referee Adam Behrens rescinded his initial yellow card to Newton and instead issued a straight red for the challenge, putting Indy Eleven down a man five minutes later. After a 12-minute delay, the match would restart with Steve Saint-Duc entering up top for N’for, and Farr going in between the posts in what became an impromptu professional debut. Two minutes later the substitutes would be introduced to each other, Saint-Duc’s scuffed shot from 10 yards forcing Farr to make his first save. Not much came from the next half hour, but waist-deep into 11 minutes of stoppage time Indy Eleven would create danger. Off a designed set piece, Matt Watson got free down the right flank only to see his cross towards the six-yard box driven just over the head of defender Karl Ouimette. A minute later, Lansing’s Rafa Mentzingen found space and tried his luck from 35 yards out, but his pacey shot would sail over the crossbar and mark the final shot of a fairly-even first half. A sluggish second half would spring to life in the 57th minute when header from Thomas “The Engine” Enevoldsen gave Indy the lead. After a cleared Indy corner, midfielder Tyler Gibson sent the ball back into the mixer from the midfield stripe and found defender Paddy Barrett, whose square header was nodded home by Enevoldsen to break the deadlock. Ricky Lopez-Espin had a chance to even things up in the 65th minute, but he couldn’t get enough on his near-angled shot to beat defender Neveal Hackshaw, who tracked behind Farr to cover his near post and clear off the goal line for a corner. Lopez-Espin was free again inside the penalty area five minutes later, this time sending a low shot that Farr pounced on with ease. With 15 minutes left in regulation it was Tumi Moshobane’s first-time laser that forced Farr’s best stop of the evening, the second-year ‘keeper batting the chance away off the tips of his gloves before it could reach his upper 90. The Boys in Blue withstood steady pressure by Ignite FC through the end of regulation and an additional four minutes of stoppage time to survive and advance to the Third Round. Indy Eleven and the Riverhounds are set to meet at Highmark Stadium on the banks of the Monongahela River in downtown Pittsburgh on Wednesday, May 29th, in an USL Championship-Open Cup mashup.  There’s no rest for the weary as it’s back to USL Championship action for Indy Eleven (4W-2L-2D, 14 pts.) this Saturday, May 18, when it welcomes the Charleston Battery (4W-1L-4D, 16 pts.) on “Armed Forces Night” at Lucas Oil Stadium. 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.

2019 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Second Round
Indy Eleven (USL Championship)  1 : 0  Lansing Ignite FC (USL League One)
Wednesday, May 15, 2019 – 7:00 p.m. ET

Sellick Bowl at Butler University – Indianapolis, Ind.   Attendance: 853    Next LHUSOC Game – Third Round

Indy Eleven at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (USL Championship)   Highmark Stadium | Pittsburgh, Penn.

Scoring Summary:
IND – Thomas Enevoldsen (Paddy Barrett) 57’

Disciplinary Summary:

IND – Evan Newton (red card) 21’

IND – Thomas Enevoldsen (yellow card) 51’

LAN – Grant Stoneman (yellow card) 62’

IND – Matt Watson (yellow card) 62’

IND – Kenney Walker (yellow card) 88’

Indy Eleven lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Evan Newton (GK) (red card 21’); Karl Ouimette, Paddy Barrett, Neveal Hackshaw; Tyler Pasher, Kenney Walker, Tyler Gibson, Matt Watson (captain) (Ayoze Garcia 86’), Macauley King; Thomas Enevoldsen (Dane Kelly 74’), Alioune Diakhate (Jordan Farr 28’)   IND Substitutes: Mario Perez (GK), Mitch Osmond, Emerson Nieto, Josh Penn
Lansing Ignite FC lineup (3-5-2, L–>R): Kyle Ihn; Grant Stoneman, Brandon Fricke (captain), Kevin Coiffic; Nathan Lewis (Xavier Gomez 69’), Christian Silva, Tumi Moshobane, Marshall Hollingsworth, Rafa Mentzingen (Alex Bruce 69’); Elma Nfor (Steeve Saint-Duc 28’), Ricky Lopez-EspinLAN Substitutes: Mike Kirk (GK), Rhys Williams, Kyle Carr, Nick Moon

Borussia Dortmund’s warm farewell for Christian Pulisic, a player always destined to move somewhere else

May 13, 2019Stephan Uersfeld   Germany correspondent

DORTMUND, Germany — As he walked down the tunnel, he was holding back tears. Four minutes before half-time, Christian Pulisic was again holding back his tears; he’d just scored to hand Dortmund the lead. They remain firmly in the title race and “Captain America” had come to the rescue. Just over an hour later, Borussia wrapped up the 3-2 win and Pulisic obliged with the media tour before walking to the locker room. At 6:36 p.m. local time, he left, his family waiting for him near the exit.In the end, Pulisic could not have wished for a better ending to his time at the Westfalenstadion, though there might always be a sense of what could have been. But before he joins his new Chelsea team, there’s still one more match to be played, and in a turbulent season, he could still sign off with a Bundesliga title.”We will never give up,” Pulisic vows.Going into the penultimate day of the season and Christian Pulisic’s home farewell, Bayern held a four-point lead over Dortmund and boasted a vastly superior goal difference. The fans were listless about it all, having seen their team lose control of the title race. This is what the fans discussed over prematch beers and giant plates full of asparagus and meat at Zur Sonne, one of the traditional meeting points for Dortmund fans.They also contemplated why Pulisic might not leave that big a footprint in Borussia’s club history.

– Report: Pulisic scores in final Dortmund home game
– Video: Bayern’s slip takes title down to final day

“Had he not been an American and had Chelsea not been hit with a transfer ban, Dortmund would have got €5 million for [Pulisic],” said Thomas Reske, a member of Borussia’s Goldener Oktober fan club, jokingly of course. Jens Weber, a lifelong BVB supporter like everyone at the bar, recalled the American’s first steps in the U-17 and U-19.”He’s a Dortmund youth product and he wasn’t even the most talented player of his age group,” Weber said, remembering Felix Passlack, currently on loan with Norwich City. “But he prevailed. And it was nice to see Pulisic work himself up to the first team.”The past 1,495 days have been a wild ride for Pulisic. It began with his unassuming debut for Borussia Dortmund’s U-17, a 4-1 win against Fortuna Dusseldorf’s U-17 in front of just 100 spectators at the Paul-Janes-Stadion in Dusseldorf. On Saturday, he played his penultimate game in a 3-2 win against Dusseldorf’s senior side in front of a capacity crowd of 81,365 at one of the cathedrals of world football. In between, he became the superstar of American soccer and he put his name on the map of European football. He broke records on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, making clear that he is the real deal.The 20-year-old U.S. international first set up a goal back on April 8, 2015, in his debut and scored one on Saturday, too. Overall, his record speaks for itself: he made 151 competitive appearances for Borussia Dortmund, scoring 33 goals and setting up a further 38. The vast majority (126 matches, 19 goals and 25 assists) were for the senior side.Saturday’s goal was notable in that it kept alive Dortmund’s hopes of winning a first Bundesliga title since 2012. When he leaves for Chelsea, which paid €64 million in January for him — the highest-ever fee for an American — he can say he has given his all for BVB until the final minutes. Before that, though, he has one more match to play at Borussia Monchengladbach next Saturday. It could still win him his first Bundesliga title, although his side’s chances remain slim.Of course, nobody was more aware of Saturday’s occasion than Pulisic. It felt like he didn’t even want to leave his home of the past five years; he was the last to leave the locker room down in the catacombs of the Westfalenstadion. His last home match for Borussia Dortmund had ended hours earlier, but he was still there, soaking up every moment. There was time for one final interview with the club TV and one last walk up to the journalists waiting for him.”I still can’t believe it. Everything worked out perfect today. But the most important thing is that we got the win and still have a chance,” he said in English before switching to German. “Most of all, I will miss the fans and the stadium. It was a super goodbye for me and yes, I am thankful for the fans and for Dortmund.”The American’s time at Dortmund was never going to be a lifelong love affair; rather it was laid out as a chapter in Pulisic’s career, an important one for him and one Dortmund knew they could capitalize on in the future. Turning Pulisic into a star would not only boost the club’s profile as one of the go-to places for the best young talents in world football, but it also would one day get the club a good transfer fee.Last season, Borussia and Pulisic endured a difficult campaign. Prior to 2017-18, he’d been a young player at the Westfalenstadion capable of providing that bit of extra magic. While Pulisic already was the star player of American soccer by that point, he could always return to Dortmund, where there was no extra pressure. But this year, the pressure was on him too. There were games in which he was the most experienced player in Dortmund’s attack and it was expected of him to just deliver.Pulisic’s unresolved future and his new role were weight on his shoulders, but once his next move was secured, he vowed in a statement that he’d fight for Borussia until the last matchday. The club told him he must live up to his words and, bar a few injuries, he did.Over the past couple of months, Borussia squandered a nine-point lead at the top, lost 5-0 at Bayern and, only a fortnight ago, suffered humiliation against Schalke 04 in the Ruhr derby, with their rivals taking all three points back home to Gelsenkirchen. Yet Pulisic remained true to his word: at Bremen the week before, he embarked on an Eden Hazard-like run through the opponent’s defense to hand Dortmund an early lead. He had fought back and become a force for Dortmund again, but in that same game, Borussia blew a 2-0 lead, which opened the door for Bayern to extend their lead to four points ahead of his final home match.As Dortmund’s fighting spirit resulted in a call for perseverance, with the fans stating “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” in a giant banner unfolded on the stands at Bremen, Pulisic prepared for his last match at the Westfalenstadion.He raced out onto the pitch to warm up just over half an hour before kickoff. He kicked his ball toward the Sudtribune and took a long look at the Yellow Wall. He absorbed every moment during his 17-minute warm-up, watching Dortmund’s 1989 cup heroes receive a warm welcome by the fans as they celebrated 30 years of bringing Borussia back on the map of German football.As Dortmund’s veterans left the pitch, Pulisic walked up to stadium announcer Norbert Dickel, one of those 1989 cup heroes. Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc and CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke were waiting for him ahead of a small ceremony. He got a bouquet of yellow flowers and a giant portrait thanking him for his service. Pulisic posed for photos and then grabbed the microphone, walking toward the Yellow Wall. He addressed the fans in German: “Dortmund will always feel like home!” The supporters applauded him. “All the best and hopefully see you again one day.”He then returned to the locker room to finish prematch preparations, where former captain Marcel Schmelzer gave a speech. It ain’t over ’til it’s over was the message, but Pulisic was aware that his own journey was nearly complete. “It hit me when I was walking to the locker room. It was really emotional. My last time. It was not easy,” Pulisic later said.”It was very emotional for Christian. He can just be proud how he solved it today. And also how well he handled the overall situation,” BVB squad manager Sebastian Kehl said in the postmatch scrum.While some fans might argue Pulisic will not leave a trace at the club, he earned a lot of respect over the course of five impressive years at Dortmund. Now it’s time to see what he can do in the Premier League.

Dortmund hopes for ‘small miracle’ to take title from Bayern

Associated Press•May 16, 2019BERLIN (AP) — Despite needing a “small miracle” to win the Bundesliga title on the final day of the season, Borussia Dortmund already has its celebration party planned.Bayern Munich, which leads Dortmund by two points and has a huge advantage on goal difference, is favored to win its record-extending seventh straight title on Saturday. But Dortmund hasn’t given up hope.”I have the feeling we’re on the verge of something great,” Dortmund chief executive Hans Joachim Watzke said. “I myself can’t explain it.”Bayern essentially needs only a point at home against Eintracht Frankfurt, which hasn’t beaten the defending champions in 15 league games and has lost on its last nine visits to Munich. Dortmund, meanwhile, faces a tough game at Borussia Mönchengladbach at the same time.”It’s still possible. We want to achieve the small miracle,” said Sebastian Kehl, a former Dortmund midfielder who is now a club official working closely with the players. “If there’s a little wobble from Bayern we want to use it.”Plans for an open-top bus parade through Dortmund’s streets on Sunday were made months in advance, when the team held a nine-point lead over Bayern.”We look at the standings,” said Oliver Nestler, the head of the city’s fire department.But Dortmund squandered its lead in consecutive draws against Frankfurt, Hoffenheim and Nuremberg in February before losing at Augsburg. A 5-0 win for Bayern in Munich underlined the difference between the teams last month, before Dortmund dropped more points at home against Schalke and then at Werder Bremen.Bayern could have won the title last weekend but was held to a goalless draw at Leipzig. However, the team is determined the take the second of what coach Niko Kovac described as “two match balls” against Frankfurt, his former team, and bring what has been a testing season to a successful close.”If we had this situation in winter, that we could seal it with a win at home against Frankfurt, we would have signed for it straight away,” Bayern forward Thomas Müller said.It should be straightforward. Frankfurt claimed the last of its three wins in Munich (from 47 visits) in November 2000. It avoided conceding only twice in those 47 games.Frankfurt has conceded eight goals in its last two league games and is clearly feeling the effect from a long European season. The team pushed Chelsea hard before bowing out in the semifinals of the Europa League.Frankfurt, which was fourth and in the last place for Champions League qualification, is now sixth and in danger of missing out on qualifying even for the Europa League.”We only have ourselves to blame for this situation,” said Frankfurt coach Adi Hütter, who took over from Kovac and was leading Frankfurt to its best ever league campaign. “We still have the chance to re-qualify. We have to take it.”With favors from elsewhere and a win in Munich, Frankfurt could even reclaim fourth and earn its place in Europe’s premier competition for the first time since 1960.One omen gives Frankfurt – and Dortmund – hope: Bayern has never won the title at home since moving into its new stadium in 2005.

SECOND DIVISION

Cologne has already earned promotion back to the Bundesliga as second-division champion despite only one win from its last six games.  Either Paderborn or Union Berlin will join Cologne in the top division, replacing relegated Hannover and Nuremberg.Paderborn, currently second, leads Union by a point ahead of its visit to Dynamo Dresden on Sunday. Union realistically needs a win at Bochum and a favor from Dresden at the same time to claim the automatic promotion spot.Failing that – and barring an extraordinary 21-goal turnaround from fourth-place Hamburger SV – Union will face Stuttgart in a two-leg playoff to determine which team plays in the Bundesliga next season.

Manchester City vs. Watford: FA Cup final predictions and key battles

4:34 AM ETThe 138th final of the FA Cup, the world’s oldest club competition, pits all-star Premier League champions Manchester City against able underdogs Watford.The odds may be heavily stacked in favour of Pep Guardiola’s team, but there is enough cause to believe that Javi Gracia can mastermind a memorable upset that would be a fitting conclusion to what has been a thrilling tournament this season. Here’s everything you need to know.

WHERE: Wembley Stadium, London (capacity 90,000)
WHEN: Saturday; noon ET, 5 p.m. UK (live on ESPN+)

BACKSTORY: This is Watford’s second FA Cup final (35 years ago, they lost 2-0 to Everton) and for most of their history they’ve been a second-tier club, though since their most recent promotion to the Premier League in 2015 they’ve generally been solidly mid-table, finishing 11th this season.

Manchester City are arguably the best team in the world right now and, in English terms, have completed the most dominant two seasons ever, having gained 198 of a possible 228 in winning back-to-back titles. They retained the Carabao Cup this year and would complete an unprecedented domestic treble if they win this too.

MUSICAL ICON: Oasis’ Noel Gallagher is a fixture at City games, and he led the title celebrations in the dressing room at Brighton. But Elton John has him trumped, despite having to miss the match to perform a concert in Copenhagen, Denmark. He was actually chairman of Watford on two occasions for a total of 16 years. Plus, his middle name is Hercules, whereas Gallagher’s is a more mundane Thomas.

ROAD TO WEMBLEY: The FA Cup is a straight knockout competition, so luck and happenstance play a key role, especially since the rounds are one-legged: you only play the return leg if it’s a draw through to the fourth round. City won all five of their games on the way to the final, but faced just two Premier League clubs (Burnley and Brighton) en route. Watford faced three top-flight clubs on the way (Crystal Palace, Newcastle United and Wolverhampton Wanderers) and only played at home once.

KEY COMEBACKS ON THE WAY: Watford had to come from two goals down in the semifinal to overcome Wolves 3-2 in extra time. Manchester City found themselves 2-0 down with 21 minutes to go away to second-tier Swansea in what would have been one of the shocks of the season. But they stormed back and grabbed a winner with two minutes to go, sealing a 3-2 victory.

KEY BATTLE: Abdoulaye Doucoure and Etienne Capoue vs. the Silva brothers

OK, the latter aren’t actually brothers, they just have a chemistry and understanding that suggests either blood relations or extra-sensory perception. If City, as expected, have the bulk of possession and Watford raise the barricades, it will be up to Bernardo Silva and David Silva (or possibly Ilkay GundoganKevin De Bruyne or Phil Foden — yes, City have that many weapons) to break them down. Capoue and Doucoure form one of the best midfield duos in the Premier League, offering physicality, workrate and tactical nous. If City can’t get through them, they’ll need to figure out a way around them.

– Ogden: Deeney’s journey from prison to FA Cup final
– United need City to win FA Cup to avoid fixture chaos
– Who qualifies for Europe from the Premier League?
– ESPN+: Man City and Watford’s road to Wembley

X FACTOR, WATFORD: Gerard Deulofeu

He doesn’t always start, but he has the unpredictability and one-on-one ability to create something out of nothing and, of course, his heroics in this very stadium in the semifinal are what got Watford here.

X FACTOR, MANCHESTER CITY: Leroy Sane

The fact that you can chuck the German roadrunner on the pitch late in games, against tired, glassy-eyed opponents is a huge boost. He gets in the box with the ball with an ease rarely seen at this level.

HEART AND SOUL, WATFORD: Troy Deeney

It’s the ninth season at the club for this battering ram of a striker who leaves nothing on the pitch and has worked under 11 different managers. Not always the prettiest to watch, but his effort and underdog redemption story — he spent time in prison for his involvement in a brawl when he was 22 and later passed the equivalent of a GED (General Educational Development) exam — make him appealing to neutrals.

HEART AND SOUL, CITY: Raheem Sterling

His is also a redemption tale, though more a factor of how he was perceived rather than anything he did. Cruelly and unfairly lampooned as greedy and bling-obsessed when he moved from Liverpool to Manchester City, he is now adored in England and has established himself as a thoughtful commentator on social issues as well. At 24, his star is still rising …

OLD TIMER, WATFORD: Heurelho Gomes

He’s 38, he’s no longer a regular, and he’s meant to be leaving at the end of the season, even though Watford have asked him to stay another year. But he’s immensely popular at the club and the chief cheerleader, whether he starts or not. Definitely one of the good guys.

OLD TIMER, MANCHESTER CITY: Vincent Kompany

He’s been here for 11 years, pre-dating the Emirati owners and the transformation of Manchester City into a super-club. Once one of the best defenders in the world, he was slowed by injuries the past three years only to come roaring back this season with some vintage performances (and an improbable key goal against Leicester City) down the stretch. Articulate, bright and a natural leader, when (if?) he leaves then he can pretty much write his own ticket whatever he chooses to do.

WHAT WATFORD HAVE TO DO TO WIN IT: Impose themselves physically in midfield with the Doucoure-Capoue partnership. If, as expected, Gracia opts for two strikers, ensure that they pin back City’s full-backs when not in possession and disrupt the build-up as much as possible. Exploit the size advantage on set pieces.

WHAT CITY HAVE TO DO TO WIN IT: Let their superior talent and know-how shine and carry them to victory. Do not get frustrated if the goals take time to come. Drop Sterling into central positions to wreak havoc if Watford pack the penalty box. Dominate the wide areas to stretch the opposition and create gaps for the midfield to exploit.

PREDICTION: Manchester City to win 3-1

It’s a combination of nous and firepower. Watford can be very awkward to play against, so if things don’t pan out early for City boss Guardiola he may need to find other solutions. Luckily for him, he has a whole array of options to call upon, either from the bench or simply by switching players around.

How the USWNT’s biggest loss in recent memory exposed an issue it still hasn’t solved

Yahoo Sports•May 15, 2019

The U.S. women’s national team has been unpredictable over the past three years. From game to game, or even within the same game, there’s consistently been a surprise from coach Jill Ellis designed to add more firepower in the attack.There were the times Ellis had the team play with just three defenders to add an extra number going forward. There were asks for offensive players to fill defensive positions so they could attack, even from the back line. And there have been the late game substitutions where balance goes out the window – just get every attacker possible on the field, even if players are in unusual positions.Many of these experiments haven’t gone particularly well, but Ellis has persisted because the USWNT suffered a trauma in 2016 that she hasn’t quite gotten over: losing to Sweden in the Olympics.At the Rio Games, the USWNT lost to bunkering Sweden team and got knocked out in the quarterfinal round, the USA’s earliest exit ever. Up until then, the USWNT had never failed to finish third in a World Cup or an Olympics, and Ellis’s mission since then has been to ensure such a disaster never happens again.But that’s been easier said than done, as failed experiments over the past three years have proven, and it’s unclear the USWNT has found its answer.After all, a far inferior South African team bunkered with two blocks of four on Sunday, and the USWNT looked stymied for long stretches. It was a friendly, and the USWNT did eventually win 3-0, but there were many moments where the Americans did not look up to the task of unlocking South Africa’s defense.A better bunkering team could surely still succeed like Sweden did. And given how that loss to Sweden has guided the USWNT’s tactics over the past three years – not to mention the fact the two countries will face each other in the final group game at this summer’s World Cup – it’s worth revisiting that match.The first thing to understand about what happened in 2016 is that Sweden’s game plan was not a surprise to Ellis or her team.”They will park the bus,” Ellis said the day before the game. “They will sit as low as they possibly can and then look to transition, and they’re going to try to kill the game off that way and not give up space. I imagine they’ll play a 4-5-1 and be very compact.”That’s exactly what Sweden did, and yet the USWNT still couldn’t take a lead at any point. The score ended in a 1-1 draw after 120 minutes, and the U.S. lost in penalty kicks.But the Americans’ performance in Brasília has been colored – tainted, even – by the fact that they ultimately lost. In truth, they found plenty of chances and were simply unlucky to not put more of them away. If the U.S. had won the penalty kick shootout, the Sweden match would’ve been a forgettable affair.

Here is each team’s shooting map from the game:

The USWNT took 26 shots and only got five of them on target – a problem of execution rather than opportunity. Of those 26 shots, 16 were taken inside the penalty box.The Americans also dominated the game in other ways. They held onto 64 percent of the possession and controlled the rhythm of the game. They won 65 duels to Sweden’s 38, and won 17 tackles to Sweden nine.Carli Lloyd even scored what should’ve been the game-winner in the 115th minute of extra time, but she was incorrectly called offside.In other words, the USWNT’s attack wasn’t the biggest problem on that day. Sweden did successfully cram the penalty box, and it made it harder for the U.S. to get the shots they wanted. The U.S. also did play a bit too directly and focused on crossing the ball more than working it into dangerous areas with combination play, which led to some low-quality chances. But there were good chances, too.The reason Sweden won in 2016 was partly because of the USWNT’s attacking-first approach. The defenders were flung so far forward in an effort to overload the midfield that it took Sweden two quick passes to bypass the entire defense. It was a textbook absorb-and-counter play, and the USWNT left itself vulnerable because it was so focused on barraging Sweden.Ellis’s takeaway, however, has been the opposite – she apparently decided the USWNT attack didn’t do enough against Sweden and more firepower is needed to break a bunker.In the book, “The National Team: The Inside Story Of The Women Who Changed Soccer,” Hope Solo recounts how the day after the loss to Sweden, Ellis spoke with her about the U.S. needing to learn to get past bunkering teams. Solo was later kicked off the team for calling Sweden “a bunch of cowards” for their ultra-defensive strategy, but up until Solo’s punishment overshadowed the loss, the talking point from the game was how Sweden successfully bunkered past the No. 1-ranked team in the world.That’s why after the Olympics in late 2016, Ellis concocted a three-back system that would remove one defender and replace her with an attacker.The experiment was a disaster. The way the USWNT got beat on the counterattack by Sweden became even easier. Romania, a team that has never even qualified for a World Cup, scored a goal that looked beat-for-beat similar to Sweden’s goal in the Olympics.Ellis abandoned the three-back but has been tinkering with other ways to give the USWNT more numbers in the final third.That’s why she has tested out some ultra-attacking rotations, such as putting Tobin Heath, one of the best wingers in the world, is in the central midfield. Mallory Pugh, another winger, started some games in the central midfield during the SheBelieves Cup. Pugh brought almost no defensive presence, but Ellis said she wanted Pugh there to race behind back lines.The USWNT is as aggressive as it’s ever been, and it’s because of how Ellis has responded to that loss at the Rio Games three years ago. The team’s fullbacks are converted forwards who bomb up the field. The center of the pitch doesn’t have a stay-at-home holding midfielder as Julie Ertz is encouraged to fly forward and join the attack.The Americans undoubtedly are going to score goals in France – that’s what they’re built for. The question is how much they will concede in the process.After all, despite everything that Ellis has tried, one simple soccer truth remains: bunkering often works. That’s especially true when the defending team can be quick on the counterattack.Ellis has to hope that teams in France don’t use the Americans’ attacking style against them. That’s what Sweden did, and becoming an even more attacking U.S. side hasn’t solved it.Caitlin Murray is a contributor to Yahoo Sports and her book about the U.S. women’s national team, The National Team: The Inside Story of the Women Who Changed Soccer, is out now. Follow her on Twitter @caitlinmurr.

U.S. women’s national team solves South Africa in Women’s World Cup tuneup

11:40 PM ET  Graham Hayse EspnW.com

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The United States played its first game Sunday since announcing the roster of 23 players that it hopes will produce the latest in a series of unforgettable summers. And then promptly ran into the sort of forgettable game that is almost always a part of those stories.To get through seven games in the World Cup, there will be 90 minutes like this.So although a 3-0 win against South Africa was an exercise in problem solving more than riveting entertainment for the largest crowd to see the national team play this year, 22,788 inside Levi’s Stadium, there was at least a solution that sent everyone home satisfied. It isn’t inconsequential that it started with Sam Mewis, someone yet to play her first minutes in a major tournament.Mewis scored the first two goals for the U.S., the second time in the midfielder’s 48 games with the national team that she scored multiple goals. Carli Lloyd provided the final goal, the 108th in an international career that began when Mewis was in middle school.But for much of the afternoon, Mewis’ first-half goal looked like it might be all the Americans managed against an opponent that showed increasingly little interest in possession, let alone possession with intent to score. Missing three of its best players because of their professional commitments abroad, South Africa set out to defend en masse behind the ball.”That’s a challenging thing, I don’t care what level you are,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “That’s challenging to break down teams that are organized and get low and get a lot of numbers in the box.”For a team that itself shares a World Cup group with the likes of Germany and Spain, that plan might have been South Africa’s own sort of practice for what’s ahead. Defense first may also be what the U.S. sees from Chile and Thailand in its own group in France next month.It may even be what the U.S. sees from the other team in its group, a Swedish team ranked among the best in the world. Because more to the point, Sunday was not altogether unlike the game that eliminated the U.S. from the most recent Olympics before the medal round. Albeit that defensive strategy was employed by a more talented Swedish team with far more counterattacking intent than Sunday’s opponent.”The things that teams throw at you know now, the things that you have to adapt to, the things that you see — I would hazard to say a lot of that wasn’t there five years ago,” Ellis said. “When Sweden did it to us in the Olympics, it left a mark on me, in terms of we’ve got to make sure we have players that can break teams down. Because when there’s no space in behind, you have to problem solve in a different way.”The first half, and to some degree the first 60 minutes, was not a master class in how to do that problem solving. Ellis said the team looked “sloppy.” Veteran defender Kelley O’Hara noted that they struggled to get people into the box. No one tried to pretend it was perfect. Against an opponent that was committed but hardly impenetrable, touches were off, crosses too heavy or too light, and rhythm missing.Yet the U.S. still went into halftime with a lead, if not a fully satisfying one, because of what two World Cup rookies, Mewis and Rose Lavelle, produced in the 37th minute.obin Heath found Lavelle with a pass in a pocket of space in the center channel and between South African lines. Lavelle dribbled past one defender, then drew two more players toward her as she continued forward. That movement, in turn, left Mewis in space with only one defender to worry about at the top of the box. A quick feint to the left forced the defender to overcommit, and Mewis shot the other direction, finding the corner of the net.Amidst an otherwise messy half, two World Cup rookies broke out of the bunker.”Something we were talking about was just more central runs and more penetrating runs,” Mewis said. “So I think Rose found me kind of making a penetrating run and I just tried to find an angle. I think that we’ll grow from that and just keep trying to create chances. I think this team usually creates a ton of chances, so it was actually a really important challenge for us to face something like that.”Mewis played more minutes than any outfield player save Becky Sauerbrunn in 2017, as the national team began to retool in search of those things Ellis felt were missing against Sweden in the Olympics. But injuries slowed her progress in 2018, when she made just two starts for the U.S. and played fewer than 300 minutes. Sunday’s performance was the continuation of a strong start to 2019 for a 26-year-old who is already among the best players in the NWSL and indispensable in league champion North Carolina’s success.”Sammy’s confidence just grows and grows and grows with match play and experience she gets out there,” Ellis said. “She’s a dynamic player that can impact a game. When you go to a World Cup, your midfield — you need to have players that can score goals from distance, that can get in the box that can, obviously, play-make. I think there is versatility in Sam.”Mewis may not be among the starters when the U.S. gets to France, her place in the three-player line dependent on the health of Lindsey Horan, who was in uniform Sunday but didn’t play as a precautionary measure because of injury. Or Mewis may start in some games but not others. What matters is that the U.S. would be comfortable with her in the starting lineup, just as it would be comfortable with Tierna Davidson, Crystal Dunn, Lavelle, Mallory Pugh and others preparing for their first World Cup.After three years of auditioning, those players now know there is faith in them.

“People don’t really seem to understand our environment — we’re basically in tryout mode every year, every camp I would say, until a major roster needs to be named,” Dunn said this week. “This is that time that it’s no longer tryout mode but more so this is our team. This is our 23 that is going to the World Cup and hopefully hoist that trophy up at the end. So I think there is that shift of, OK, you can breathe a little bit. Not get complacent, but at the same time, feel like I’ve accomplished something and I should feel really happy where I am.”It’s worth noting that an afternoon that finished so well for Mewis began with a misstep. She let an opportunity slip away in the opening minute, unable to make good contact on a ball that Heath sent across the box and that could easily have found its way into the back of the net. Mewis misplayed her share of moments in that sloppy first half. But when Lavelle split the defense and gave her teammate an opportunity, Mewis calmly gave the U.S. the lead.”When she’s comfortable,” Ellis said, “that’s when you get the best out of her.”Less than a month away from the opening game in France, Mewis looked comfortable. So although Sunday was a largely forgettable affair for fans, that doesn’t mean it wasn’t useful.”I think everyone on this team has been through adversity,” Mewis said. “All of our journeys have been amazing in the fact that they’ve led us here.”

Top Ten moments of the Premier League season

Nicholas Mendola  NBC Sports•May 15, 2019

  1. Neil Warnockstands defiantly at midfield, stares at referees

Cardiff City didn’t do enough to stay up, but it got a lot of help from officials in its fall into the Championship.

Fortunately for us, manager Neil Warnock did not lay off of the officials who made or reversed calls he perceived as major slights to his Bluebirds.

Perhaps his best tune would be best accompanied by a version of The Robot dance.

“I always thought Mike Riley was a manufactured referee from day one,” Warnock said after a loss to Chelsea. “I don’t think he’s changed since then. He’s been coached, manufactured, almost like a robot. He knows everything about the rules, but I feel these people struggle to understand the game and the human element. A lot of referees are like Mike Riley and that’s why I think we have gone backwards. Common sense is not allowed nowadays, but the best refs still use it.”

That loss ended with Warnock standing at midfield, staring at the referee crew before stating that the Premier League is “the best league in the world with the worst officials.”

  1. De Gea stuns Spurs to take Ole mania up a notch

Manchester United’s star goalkeeper was not up to his standards this season, but his performance against Tottenham Hotspur early in the Ole Gunnar Solskjaerera was impeccable.

Spurs dominated the Red Devils, but De Gea made 11 saves at Wembley to give OGS his first win over a top side.

  1. Arsenal wins thrilling North London Derby

Arsenal finished below Tottenham Hotspur on the table, but the Gunners sent a message that they were up for the fight with a thrilling 4-2 win over Spurs on Dec. 1.

It had everything, including Mike Dean calling penalties for both sides. Arsenal outshot Spurs 22-11, and the teams combined for 13 shots on target. And the Gunners trailed 2-1 at the break!

Most importantly for the Gunners, it was a victory over their hated rivals which ran their unbeaten mark to 19 matches.

  1. Wolves howl into contention with first upset

Nuno Espirito Santo‘s Wolverhampton Wanderers became giant killers for the first time when they ended a six-match dry spell by using a second-half burst to beat Chelsea 2-1.

The win was typical of Wolves’ best days, as Raul Jimenez and Diogo Jota were the goal scorers. On the season, the newly-promoted Wolves beat Chelsea, Arsenal, Spurs, and Manchester United, drawing the Blues, Gunners, and Red Devils as well en route to a possible Europa League berth.

  1. Mourinho’s “respect” rant

Manchester United had just lost 3-0 to Spurs at Old Trafford, but that’s not the three Jose Mourinho wanted to discuss in his post-match media briefing.

“Three-nil. Do you know what that also means? Three Premiership titles, and I also won more titles than the other 19 managers combined.”

  1. Emiliano Sala‘s plane disappears

Cardiff City’s joy at the record purchase of Nantes striker Emiliano Sala soon turned to sickening grief when the Argentine’s plane was lost at sea. His body was recovered from the wreckage a few days later.

  1. Pickford error gives Origi, Liverpool the derby

Everton supporters don’t need to be reminded that Liverpool had two moments of good fortune for every bit of bad luck in a run to second on the Premier League table. Jordan Pickford lost track of the ball in stoppage time to deny the Toffees a memorable point against their despised cross-town Reds.

  1. Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha mourned

Leicester City lost its owner in November when his helicopter crashed after leaving King Power Stadium, and the world soon learned just how deeply Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha was loved by the Foxes’ faithful. The scenes at the next home game were poignant and unforgettable.

  1. Kompany’s thunderbolt

Manchester City’s big Belgian leant an aire of inevitability to his side’s title defense when he busted down the door of Kasper Schmeichel and Leicester City with an absolutely stunning strike.

  1. Eleven millimeters

Let’s set the scene: Unbeaten Liverpool has a chance to put Man City in its rear view mirror at the Etihad Stadium when Sadio Mane beats the keeper and hits the post. City center back John Stones‘ effort to clear the ball hits his keeper Ederson, and the Englishman does this en route to City’s 2-1 defeat of the Reds.

GK Gigi Buffon offered contract extension by PSG

Omnisport•May 16, 2019

Gianluigi Buffon confirmed Paris Saint-Germain have offered him a contract extension.Buffon, 41, was expected to retire at the end of the 2017-18 campaign with Juventus before PSG persuaded him to move to France, and now he is considering a further extension to his career.The Italian has featured 24 times across all competitions for the Ligue 1 champions this season, sharing first-choice responsibilities with Alphonse Areola.He only signed a one-year deal with PSG, but has shown himself to still be capable of performing at the highest level despite his age.And PSG seem intent on keeping him around until he is 42.Speaking to Sky Uno, Buffon said: “The club has offered me an extension, which makes me really happy.”We will look in a few days to examine this project and see if we both believe that it is good to continue together.”It’s going well in Paris. I live an exceptional life experience at 41 years old. I arrived convinced that I would be involved as a player and as a person, and I found what I came for.”Should Buffon stay at PSG for another year, he will enter his 25th season as a professional.

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