Dec 31, 2015 -Soccer Year in Review – upcoming games

 

So we have arrived at the end of 2015 and boy what a year in Soccer both locally and around the world.  Starting at home Carmel FC added a new Director of Coaching as former EPL standout Paul Telfer came over from the Indy 11 to take over our club and lead it into the new year.  We have already seen some good changes and look forward to the future. A new board is taking over at the club as former Director Andy Fray is handing over the reigns after guiding the club thru our huge growth stages.  A million thanks Andy – folks have no idea the time and effort you put in at this VOLUNTEER Position as Director and sometimes Coach and Asst Coach since 2010 at Carmel FC.  As one of the founding coaches of our club way back in 2009 – I have seen the time, the organization, the endless

andyfray
Andy Fray

 

hours of work, and effort he put forth in making this club what it is today.  I think it’s a testament to him that his role will be filled by no fewer than 5 people as they move the club forward into 2016.  If you see Andy on the fields – give him a smile and a huge THANKS, he deserves it.

A huge step for Carmel FC this year was the advancement of our U14 and U13 Gold Girls teams to the Regional Finals of President’s Cup this past summer.  Coaches Cecilia Lacerda (U14G) and Ray Benton (U13G), did a great job of leading this great group of players to the highest level any Carmel FC team has ever advanced.  Ray’s now U14 girls won the Premier Division in the fall and is on track to be our first team to play in MRL. (3rd team to be invited – Lacerda’s now U15s and founding coach Will Ellery’s U14 girls a couple of years back qualified).

U13 and 14 Girls Advanced to President’s Cup Regional Finals in St. Louis.

Locally, the Carmel High School Boys soccer team advanced to the Semi-State Championship game (FINAL 4), dropping a heart breaker to eventual state champion Center Grove 2-1. The Hounds ended the year with a 17-3-1 record.  Senior Andreas Roslender was named 2015 Indiana High School

CHSboysBoys State Player of the Year. This amazing accomplishment marks only the fourth time in Greyhound Soccer history that a player has been named the Indiana Player of the year. Andreas was also named to the All-State 1st Team along with Senior Goalkeeper Justin Faas. Senior Defender Michael Hargis was named 2nd Team All-State and Senior Midfielder/Forward Evan Shaw was named 3rd Team All-State.

On the professional side – the Indy 11 struggled through their second season and finished 9th overall – the same as their inaugural  year in the league (maybe it was more lack of funds for players than coaching).  They have hired new head coach – Tim Hankinson to lead them into their 3rd season, while Tim Regan stays on as an assistant.

Indy native Lauren “Cheney” Holiday retired after helping the US Women Win their 2nd World Cup this summer in Canada. Also retiring just this past week was former Florida Gator and the all Time leading scorer in International Soccer US Forward Abby Wambach.

Ok I will have to move my Around the World Year in Review to Next Week. Happy New Year to your and yours!  The Ole Ballcoach – Shane Best

Around the World

Toe Poke Awards of the Year  – ESPNFC

Football New Year’s Resolutions – ESPN FC

Social Media Awards ESPN FC

EPL Season Review in 90 seconds

Jolly ESPN FC – United should keep Van Gaal

Brewin – ESPN Pep’s Arrival will make 2016 Yr of the Manager in the EPL

Liverpool takes down Leicester City

Leicester City is Forrest Gump

Top Saves of Week 19

Heroes and Villains: Ozil

shines, Matic flames out
– Miller: Missed chances rule day for Man City-Leicester
– Mitten: Man Utd fans torn over Van Gaal | Player Ratings

Top 5 Prem keepers | Ozil a master

Chicharito in Top Form

 USA

McIntyre: 2015 one to forget for Klinsmann, United States

US Year in Review – Jason Davis – was it really that bad?  ESPN FC

Top 10 Soccer Stories of 2015 – Grant Wahl – SI

Year in Review – US Women Win the WC – Avi Creditor SI

USWNT take spotlight as US Men Struggle in 2015 – Peter Nolan Got Soccer

Planet Football – Avi Creditor Podcast

Former Gator and Alltime Leading International Scorer Abby Wambach at Peace after Walking Away from US Ladies – SI

Indiana Star Lauren Holiday Retires –Indy Star

Indiana’s own Lauren Cheney Holiday retires after a decade on US Women’s World Cup Winning team SI Grant Wahl

The Lauren Cheney Story  – Indiana Soccer

Former Gator and All Time International High Scorer- US Forward Abby Wambach retires at Right Time –Grant Wahl SI

MLS

3 things about MLS End of 2015  Armchair Analyst -MLS soccer.com

NYRB Mat Miazga was Young player of the Year –MLS Soccer.com

Top MLS Bloopers

MLS 1st Weekend and US Soccer Games in Feb/Mar/April

Indy 11

Best of the Indy 11 2015

Indy 11 add experienced Players

Indy 11 Add New Head Coach Tim Hankinson

Indy 11 New Hire –Bloody Shambles

Bloody Shambles Squad comments

Bloody Shambles 2015 review and analysis

Target Man Soccer Impressed with Tim Hankinson

IndyEleven.com: Tim Hankinson Appointed Head Coach of Indy Eleven (official press release)

Indianapolis Star: Indy Eleven’s new coach says roster changes on the way

1070TheFan.com (AUDIO): Meet the new head coach of the Indy Eleven

WIBC.com (AUDIO): Tony Katz Introduces the New Indy Eleven Manager

WTHR.com (with VIDEO): Hankinson brings 36 years of coaching experience as new Indy Eleven head coach

Bloody Shambles Soccer: It’s Tim Squared for 2016

Bloody Shamles Soccer: A Conversation With Tim Hankinson

Midfield Press: Indy Eleven announce Tim Hankinson as new manager

Target Man Soccer: Hankinson makes good first impression ahead of busy offseason

RabbleTV (AUDIO): Indy Eleven name Tim Hankinson head coach

INside Indiana Business: Indy Eleven Names Well-Traveled Head Coach

Soccer America: Indy Eleven hires globetrotter Hankinson

Big Apple Soccer: New Man in Charge

http://www.indyeleven.com/standings

Indy 11 bring back Keller and Goalie Cardona

Brad Ring Returns in midfield

Kravitz on Indy 11

MUST SEE GAMES

Sun Jan 3 -11:00 a.m., NBCSN: Everton vs. Tottenham

Tues, Jan 5  3 pm beIn Sport Cap1 Cup Semis Stoke vs Liverpool

Wed, Jan 6   3 pm beIn Sport – Cap 1 Cup  Everton vs Man City  –

GAMES THIS MONTH

 Saturday, January 2

7:45 a.m., NBCSN:        West Ham United vs. Liverpool

10:00 a.m., TV TBD:      Arsenal vs. Newcastle, Leicester City vs. Bournemouth, Manchester United vs. Swansea, Norwich vs. Southampton, Sunderland vs. Aston Villa, West Bromwich vs. Stoke City

12:30 p.m., NBC:           Watford vs. Manchester City

Sunday, January 3

8:30 a.m., NBCSN:        Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea

11:00 a.m., NBCSN:      Everton vs. Tottenham

Tues, Jan 5

3 pm beIn Sport Cap1 Cup Semis Stoke vs Liverpool

Wed, Jan 6

3 pm beIn Sport – Cap 1 Cup  Everton vs Man City  –

Sat, Jan 9

FA CUP

7:45 am  Fox Sports 1   Wycomb Wanderers vs Aston Villa

10 am  Fox Sports 1      Arsenal vs Sunderland

10 am FS2                    Doncaster Rovers vs Stoke City

12:30 pm beIn Sports    Barcelona vs Granada

12:30 pm FS 2                          Man United vs Sheffield United

Sun, Jan 10

FA CUP

11 am Fox sports 1       Tottenham vs  Leicester City

Tues, Jan 12

2:45 pm  NBCSN           Newcastle United vs Man U

Wed, Jan 13

2:45 pm NBCSN            Man City vs Everton

3 pm                             Liverpool vs Arsenal

3 pm                             Tottenham vs Leicester City

Sat, Jan 16 

7:45 am  NBCSN           Tottenham vs Sunderland

10 am  NBCSN              Man City vs Crystal Palace

10 am USA?                  Chelsea vs Everton

Sun, Jan 17

9 am  NBCSN                Liverpool vs Man U

11:15 am NBCSN          Stoke City vs Arsenal

Sat, Jan 23

7:45 am NBCSN            Norwich vs Liverpool

9:30 am Fox Sports 1    Hoffenhiem vs Bayern Leverkusen

10 am NBCSN               Man City vs Southampton, Leicester City vs Stoke, Crystal Palace vs Tottenham,

12:30 NBC                    West Ham vs Man City

5 pm espn2?                USWNT vs Ireland

Sun, Jan 24

8:30 am NBCSN            Everton vs Swansea

11 am NCBSN               Arsenal vs Chelsea

Sun, Jan 31

3:45 pm                        US Men vs Iceland

Fri, Feb 5

10:15 pm                      US Men vs Canada

Tues, Feb 16

Champions League

2;45 pm  FS 1               PSG vs Chelsea

2:45 pm FS2                 Benefica vs Zenit St. Pete

Wed, Feb 17

2:45 pm FS1                 Roma vs Real Madrid

2:45 pm FS2                 Gent vs Wolfsburg

Thurs, Feb 18

Europa League

1 pm Anderlecht vs Olympiachos, Dortman vs Porto, Fioreentina vs Tottehman, Midtiland vs Man U, Villarreal vs Napoli

3 pm Ausburg vs Liverpool, Sporting Portugal vs Bayern Leverkusen, Valencia vs Rapid Vienna, Galatasaray vs Lazio

 Tues, Feb 23

Champ League

2:45 pm FS 1 Arsenal vs Barcelona

2:45 pm FS 2 Juventus vs Bayern Munich

8 pm  FS1? Queretaro vs DC United

10 pm FS2? Seattle Sounders vs Club America

Wed, Feb 24

2:45 pm  FS1 Dynamo Kiev vs Man City

2:45 pm  FS 2 Eindhoven vs Atletico Madrid

8 pm Tigres UNAL vs Real Salt Lake

10 pm LA Galaxy vs Santos Laguna

Tuesday, March 1:

D.C. United vs. Querétaro, CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal second leg, 8:00 p.m. (TV TBD)

Santos Laguna vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg, 10:00 p.m. (TV TBD)

Wednesday, March 2: 

Club América vs. Seattle Sounders, CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg, 8:00 p.m. (TV TBD)

Real Salt Lake vs. Tigres UANL, CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg, 8:00 p.m. (TV TBD)

Sunday, March 6: 

Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew, 4:30 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City, 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes)

Los Angeles Galaxy vs. D.C. United, 10:00 p.m. (UniMás, Univision Deportes)]

Friday, March 25: 

Guatemala vs. United States men, WC qualifier, time TBD (beIN Sports,)

Tuesday, March 28:

United States men vs. Guatemala, WC qualifier, time TBD (ESPN2,-Columbus, OH)

Top 10 soccer stories of 2015

BY GRANT WAHL SI EmailPosted: Tue Dec. 29, 2015

Soccer never stops. Even now, when most of the world’s leagues are dormant at New Year’s, the English Premier League is powering through one of its busiest stretches of the season. Soccer’s continuously spinning wheel is one thing that makes the sport great, but the end of the calendar year is always a good time to look back and look forward.I’ll have my predictions for 2016 later in the week, but for now, here are my top 10 soccer stories of 2015:
1. U.S. Women Win World Cup
For the first time since 1999, the U.S. raised the Women’s World Cup trophy, and it happened in an astonishing way: A four-goal barrage against Japan in the first 16 minutes of the World Cup final, with Carli Lloyd capping her first-half hat trick with a goal from midfield.The 5-2 triumph captivated an average U.S. TV audience of 27 million, the most ever to watch a soccer game in the U.S., and set off a nationwide celebration that included a ticker-tape parade in New York City. My favorite WWC story was sitting down with Lloyd in Los Angeles two days later and hearing her talk about her truly hardcore training methods—and even practicing shots from midfield more than a decade earlier.

2. Loretta Lynch Nails FIFA
Corruption allegations have dogged FIFA for years, but everything changed May 27 when Swiss agents (working with the U.S. Department of Justice and its attorney general, Lynch) raided the fancy Zurich hotel housing FIFA honchos and made a series of arrests connected to racketeering, wire fraud and money laundering conspiracy. Within days FIFA president Sepp Blatter announced he would be leaving his post—FIFA would ban Blatter and UEFA president Michel Platini, the two most powerful people in world soccer, for eight years—and by the end of the year more than 40 soccer officials and marketers had been charged in the U.S. investigation. It’s hard to think of many situations in which far-reaching U.S. power would be embraced by the rest of the world, but this was one of them.

3. U.S. Men Fall Flat
After a 2014 in which the U.S. men exceeded expectations at the World Cup, 2015 was an annus horribilis by just about every measure. Jurgen Klinsmann’s team finished fourth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, including a stunning semifinal loss to Jamaica, and squandered its chance at redemption with a 3-2 extra-time loss to Mexico in the playoff for a Confederations Cup spot. Even the Under-23 Olympic team disappointed, losing to Honduras with a Rio 2016 berth on the line and forcing the U.S. into a playoff with Colombia in March. None of those failures impacts qualifying for World Cup 2018, which got off to a decent start, and the year did include road friendly wins at Germany and the Netherlands. But the aura surrounding Klinsmann dimmed considerably in 2015, and his U.S. team lost much of its identity. •​​ WAHL: USMNT must regain its identity in 2016 as disappointing year ends

4. Barcelona Rises to New Heights
The best club team in the world resides once again in Catalonia. Barcelona’s titles in 2015 included the UEFA Champions League, the Spanish league, the Copa del Rey and the FIFA Club World Cup. Lionel Messi returned to being the premier player on the planet, and his trident with Neymar and Luis Suárez produced some of the most sublime soccer we have ever seen. It’s one thing to have tremendous talent on your team (see: Real Madrid), but it’s another thing to achieve chemistry with that talent, and Barcelona has found a way to do it.
5. Mourinho Wins Premier League, Fired Seven Months Later
Rarely have we ever seen a team fall from champion to also-ran as quickly as Chelsea did in 2015. Mourinho’s team won the Premier League title by eight points in May, and even if the Blues didn’t play their best soccer last spring, nobody would have predicted they’d be just above the relegation zone in late December—and without Mourinho, who was fired December 17. What went wrong? Plenty. Several players stopped performing at a high level. Mourinho appeared to lose the locker room. And Chelsea lost its famous balance as the defense began conceding goals left and right. It was a reminder that at the highest level things can go off the rails with alarming speed, even for the best teams.

6. Surprise: Portland Timbers Rule MLS
This was one of the most parity-filled years in the history of MLS, and if a team got hot at the end of the season you figured it might have a chance at winning the MLS Cup title. That’s exactly what happened with Portland. The Timbers beefed up their defense before the season by acquiring Nat Borchers, and coach Caleb Porter made a major tactical change late in the season to move Darlington Nagbe centrally. It worked like a charm. Portland (the West’s No. 3 seed) survived the craziest penalty-kick shootout in MLS history in the knockout round against Kansas City (which hit three posts on two spot kicks which could have eliminated the Timbers), and Portland was solid the rest of the way, including on the road. The giant fan reception and parade from the rabid Portland fans back home was a cool moment to witness.

7. Abby Wambach Retires
The greatest goal-scorer in the history of international soccer decided to hang up her cleats after raising her long-awaited first World Cup trophy, finishing her career with a World Cup and two Olympic gold medals. Wambach didn’t have the starring role for the U.S. at Canada 2015 the way she had in previous tournaments, but she was still a driving vocal force for the team, and she handled her diminished playing role with dignity throughout. Wambach also continued to speak her mind, sometimes eloquently (as when she talked about the importance of the Supreme Court’s gay marriage decision on the day of the World Cup quarterfinals) and sometimes much less so (as when she criticized Klinsmann’s use of dual nationals she called “foreign”). But that’s all part of it with Wambach, who will always let you know what she thinks.

2015 a year to forget for the United States national team

There was a palpable sense of relief around the U.S. national team following last month’s scoreless tie in Port of Spain, Trinidad, in the Americans’ second World Cup qualifier of the 2018 cycle.Most of this was down to the valuable point that the sputtering U.S. squad had just managed to secure on the road. But at least some of it may have been because when the final whistle sounded at Hasely Crawford Stadium on Nov. 17, it officially marked the end of 2015 for Jurgen Klinsmann’s team.This has been a long 12 months for the coach and his players, no question about it. And while it wasn’t all doom and gloom, you can be sure than Klinsmann and squad are happy to put it behind them.We’re looking forward to 2016, too. But before the calendar flips, let’s reflect on the five biggest moments of this year.

January camp spat

The national team’s annual year-opening training camp in California is usually low on drama, but things got interesting in a hurry in 2015. U.S. Soccer scheduled a friendly in Chile just two weeks after the MLS-heavy group convened in the Los Angeles area, and after the Americans lost 3-2 to extend its winless run to five games, Klinsmann called out unnamed playersfor arriving to Los Angeles in what he said was less than optimal shape.That led to a near-revolt in the locker room, multiple sources told ESPNFC, and it turned the squad’s second and final match of the camp — in early February against Panama — into what USSF president Sunil Gulati later described as feeling like a must-win. The Americans did, comfortably, on goals by veterans Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey. Dempsey’s strike was set up by newcomer Gyasi Zardes, who would go on to lead the team with 19 appearances (along with DeAndre Yedlin), tying Claudio Reyna’s two decade-old mark for a first-year player. The victory eased any lingering tension within the squad, but the early controversy proved to be a sign of things to come.

Historic wins against global titans

The U.S. went 1-1-1 in its next three games, beating Mexico 2-0 in San Antonio on April 15 after a loss at Denmark and a tie in Switzerland in late March. When the Americans returned to Europe in early June, they pulled off two of the most impressive results in the program’s 102-year history.First, the U.S. beat the Netherlands for the first time in five tries, winning 4-3 in Amsterdam. Then Klinsmann’s current team shocked his former one, as the Americans defeated world champion Germany in Cologne. Never before had the Yanks topped Die Mannschaft on its own turf. The visitors came from behind in both games (they trailed twice against the Dutch) and both unlikely wins came late, with then-22-year-old striker Bobby Wood notching the decisive goals in each match.However notable, those wins came in friendlies that took place after the long European club seasons were over, and they proved to give the fans watching back home false hope about the state of the team, as the U.S. — without Wood (club commitments) and fellow young frontrunner Jordan Morris (injury) — went on to disappoint at the CONCACAF Gold Cup the following month.

The Gold Cup debacle

At his pre-match press conference in Trinidad, Klinsmann again brought up the Gold Cup without being asked about it, and again he suggested that calls that went against the U.S. during the July tournament were the reason for its fourth-place finish. That’s not true.The U.S. was atrocious throughout the regional championship before going out to a quick, athletic, opportunistic Jamaican team in the semifinals. The hosts created the fewest chances of any team in the first round, including Canada, the only participant that didn’t score a single goal.In the third place match against Panama, the Americans were outshot 25-5 overall (and 12-2 on goal). Defensively, they appeared incapable of avoiding simple breakdowns, like this one in the opener against Honduras. There were some questionable referee decisions, to be sure. But none were truly game-changing, unlike the ones that went against Panama and Costa Rica in knockout games against eventual champion Mexico.The U.S. got exactly what it deserved at the Gold Cup, a competition it was favored to win beforehand. Instead, El Tri took the title, setting up an intriguing one-game playoff in October for a spot in the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia a year before the main event.

CONCACAF Cup loss to El Tri

This edition of North America’s Clasico was billed as the biggest since the U.S. upset its border rival in the second round of the 2002 World Cup, and it was. But while the U.S. and Mexico have mostly met on even terms this millennium, El Tri had all the momentum heading into the match at the Rose Bowl.The U.S. came in off an ugly 4-1 spanking versus Brazil a month prior and was the home team in name only, with the vast majority of the 93,723 who showed up in Pasadena wearing green. The U.S. showed plenty of its trademark fight when the game began, defending like their lives were at stake and equalizing twice before losing, 3-2, on Paul Aguilar’s spectacular volley with two minutes to go in extra time.The result was a just one, however, as interim Mexico manager Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti outcoached Klinsmann by using a three-man forward line that pinned the Americans into their own half for long stretches..The defeat was the national team’s most bitter since Klinsmann replaced Bob Bradley four years ago, and it rightly left the U.S. coach under more pressure than at any time during his tenure. The scrutiny only intensified in the days that followed, as Klinsmann sent star defender/midfielder Fabian Johnson back to his German club, Borussia Monchengladbach, and publicly chastised him for substituting himself late against Mexico.

Some bright spots along the way

A lopsided win against tiny St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the point in Port of Spain helped the Americans end the year on an acceptable note, but there’s no avoiding the fact that the Americans failed their two biggest tests of 2015.Although the Gold Cup and CONCACAF Cup losses will understandably linger in the memory, the truth is that the national team is primarily judged only at World Cups. With an aging core — World Cup vets Dempsey, Kyle Beckerman, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard (who retuned to the squad in September after a year-long hiatus) are all 32 or older — this was always going to be a transitional year for the national team.And there were bright spots in 2015 that bode well for the future. Attackers Morris, Wood and Zardes established themselves as regular contributors. For all the talk about an impotent offense, the U.S. actually scored plenty; their average of 2.1 per game was the second-highest since the modern era began in 1990.Yedlin compiled more assists (five) by a player 22 or younger since Landon Donovan had that many in 2004. And the U.S. quietly cap-tied five dual-nationals, with Ventura Alvarado, Greg Garza, Matt Miazga, Alfredo Morales and Darlington Nagbe all appearing in a competitive match for the first time. Bank on the new generation playing an even bigger role in 2016.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

U.S. team year in review — it wasn’t really that bad, was it?

Noah Davis, ESPNFC

Was 2015 really that bad for the United States men’s national team?

In 2015, they went on the road and defeated Germany and the Netherlands, teams that sat first and sixth, respectively, in FIFA’s world rankings at the time. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad finished the year on top of their World Cup qualifying group, set up to qualify easily for the Hexagonal round.The Americans integrated a few talented new faces like Gyasi Zardes, Darlington Nagbe and Matt Miazga, players who can make a significant impact on the road to Russia and beyond. Near the end of the year, the head coach seemed to (finally) learn from past mistakes, deploying sensible lineups that put players in familiar positions where they could succeed.So why are many men’s national team supporters calling 2015 a failure?”I think that the negative probably overshadowed [the positive] a little bit,” former national team forward Brian McBride said in looking back at the year. On one hand, this is an understandable perspective. The Americans failed to win the Gold Cup, finishing a disappointing fourth, and then lost the CONCACAF Cup against Mexico, a defeat that means they won’t play in the 2017 Confederations Cup. There were other low points as well, notably a 4-1 thrashing at the hands of Brazil, a game in which the U.S. never had a chance. On the field, the Stars and Stripes looked stagnant at times and lost in others.But on the other, let’s maintain perspective. While losing the Gold Cup hurts — and finishing fourth is an embarrassment — the defeat isn’t a large setback in the grand scheme. Not reaching the Confederations Cup means the U.S. misses out on some experience playing in Russia, but there’s no proven connection between competing in that tournament and success at the following year’s World Cup, which is the only thing that really matters. At least some of the on-field inconsistency is the byproduct of trying to install new players within the team.Was it ugly? Yes. Did Klinsmann find some answers or some way to succeed in the future? Perhaps.One key is Nagbe, a promising player who donned the red, white and blue for the first time. “I think that he’s a player who we haven’t seen come through our national team in a very long time,” McBride says. “He’ll continue to grow. He’s a very young player who keeps getting better and better.”Former national teamer and current ESPN color man Taylor Twellman agrees. “Nagbe has the tools to be a special player, especially now with his confidence in the central midfield spot. He looks to be a true No. 8 who doesn’t lose possession and, more importantly, he puts in work defensively. His inclusion will no doubt help Michael Bradley.”Nagbe, who earned eligibility late in the year and still hasn’t started a game for the U.S., was a bright spot, but his eventual impact remains unknown. In fact, none of what happened in 2015 means much now. “I think this year was not so much a progression as it was a fact-finding for Jurgen and everybody to start to figure out how the team is going to shape up,” McBride said.By definition, the year was a time to experiment, a period in which Klinsmann and his staff have the luxury of time. If a team is going to have a down year, the one following the World Cup is the best time to do so. The question now is whether the troubles in 2015 were simply small missteps or indicative of larger issues.Before the final two matches of the year, I would have been inclined to worry that they were the latter, that Klinsmann and his staff (but mostly Klinsmann, who is absolutely the leader and final decision-maker) were following the wrong path. Those thoughts changed during the games against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago. And really, it was about one player specifically.Fabian Johnson, one of the most talented (if not the most talented) members of the U.S. squad, usually plays left midfield for Borussia Monchengladbach. For the United States, however, he had been playing everywhere: right-back, left-back, right midfield, left midfield. Switching positions constantly is a difficult thing to do, especially at the international level, where players have little time to train together, and Johnson, who had an October blowout with Klinsmann, was tired of being shuffled around.In the two World Cup qualifiers, the coach deployed his skilled charge at left midfield and left him there. Johnson looked comfortable and played well. The decision to listen to his player and take Johnson’s wishes into account is something Klinsmann hasn’t done in the past. It’s a small thing but perhaps a sign that he’s willing to learn.”I don’t think Klinsmann went through this year and didn’t learn anything,” Twellman said. “Now, in saying that, will we see those signs when 2016 comes around?”That is the big question. How much did Klinsmann learn from the struggles of 2015 and how much will he apply those lessons going forward? We won’t know until the Americans take the field again — they play Iceland in a friendly on Jan. 31 — but the last two matches of the year were encouraging.Looking ahead, the U.S. has more World Cup qualifying followed by the Copa America Centenario in the next six months. They should defeat Guatemala, winning a home-and-home series that would qualify them for the final round of 2018 qualifying. As for the Copa America, which sees the best in CONMEBOL come to the U.S., it will be a huge test for Klinsmann, the type of tournament that can show signs of progress. If the Americans do well, they’ll quiet the critics. But even if they don’t, it’s still a team trending in the right direction.If Nagbe gets integrated more fully into the starting XI, if Johnson plays well on the left wing, if Zardes scores a goal or two and if the team continues to find its way into becoming a cohesive unit, the stumbles of 2015 look more palatable, like successful experiments rather than abject failures.Noah Davis is a Brooklyn-based correspondent for ESPN FC and deputy editor at American Soccer Now. Twitter: @Noahedavis.

2015 Year in Review: World-Cup winning U.S. women’s national team

BY AVI CREDITOREmail  SI Posted: Updated: Thu Dec. 24, 2015

The U.S. women’s national team had one objective in 2015 and it was met in entertaining fashion in Canada.The USA’s return to the winner’s podium at the World Cup restored the Americans’ place back atop the world, following a 5-2 win over Japan at Vancouver’s B.C. Place. The result exacted revenge for the 2011 final (although the USA did beat Japan in the Olympic gold medal game in London as well), and it cemented the ’15ers’ place in history. While 2015 spelled the end for the USA’s 16-year World Cup title drought, it also spelled the end for four veterans’ careers. Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny all retired, going out on top.

Here is the year in review for the USWNT:

HIGHLIGHTS

It doesn’t get much higher (actually, it doesn’t at all) than winning the World Cup. The U.S. women returned to greatness in Canada, winning a tough group, getting a favorable path in the early knockout rounds, surviving Germany and then overwhelming Japan to win a third World Cup title.Jill Ellis’s squad endured somewhat of an uneven, rocky road in the group stage, but insertion of Morgan Brian into the central midfield helped other dominoes fall into place. It took a couple of moments of good fortune in the semifinals against the Germans to help the USA reach the peak. Celia Sasic’s missed penalty was followed by a foul on Germany that looked to have taken place outside the box but was called as a penalty for the U.S. Carli Lloyd calmly dispatched it, and the U.S. never looked back.WAHL: USWNT turns in final performance for the ages   The championship was met with quite the reaction at home, as the U.S. left Vancouver for a victory rally in Los Angeles and then headed across the country for a parade down the Canyon of Heroes in downtown Manhattan. It all culminated with a trip to the White House to visit President Barack Obama in late October amid the team’s victory tour of friendlies.Prior to the World Cup, the U.S. captured the Algarve Cup, beating France in the final and returning to form after some early wobbles.  SI’s BEST PHOTOS: World Cup final | NYC victory parade | Cover outtakes

LOWLIGHTS

It wasn’t all trophies and victory laps for the U.S. women. Hope Solo remains involved in a domestic abuse case with her nephew and half-sister, the facts of which are still in dispute. She was suspended early in the year for 30 days for her role (missing a pair of games), and the case could cloud her 2016 after the lower court’s decision to throw it out was reversed by the Washington state appeals court.The turf-equality dispute was thrust back into the spotlight after U.S. Soccer was forced to cancel its friendly in Hawaii because of unplayable field conditions. The trip was even more costly, as Megan Rapinoe tore her ACL in training for that match, and her availability for they Olympics is up in the air.On the field, Holiday’s retirement is hardly a lowlight by definition, but the fact that the USA is losing a 28-year-old star midfielder in what could be a continuation of her prime can’t be seen as a plus. And whilethe fanfare and and tribute to Wambach in New Orleansprovided a fitting farewell for the world’s all-time leading international goal scorer, the U.S. wound up losing to China 1-0, snapping a 104-game unbeaten streak on home soil.  WAHL: Holiday retires a champion after decade of dedication

PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Carli Lloyd

Lloyd’s dominant World Cup knockout stage was one for the ages and has been well documented. Goals in every knockout match. A hat trick in 16 minutes in the final. A goal from the center circle in the final. It was stunning to behold, and its legend will only grow with time.Lloyd is a finalist for FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year, an award she’s likely to claim in Zurich next month to pair with her U.S. Soccer Female Player of the Year honors, which she won last week (and her SI Sportsperson of the Year finalist nomination!). Her play didn’t relent when she returned to NWSL either, as she was voted the league’s Player of the Month for July. Lloyd has prided herself on rising to become the world’s best, and in 2015 she did just that. A strong second place goes to Becky Sauerbrunn, the stalwart center back who was overlooked by FIFA in just about every way on its World Cup player shortlists and World Player of the Year shortlist. As great as Lloyd was, it was the USA’s stout defense that carried the team through the group stage, and Sauerbrunn (along with Julie Johnston, Ali Krieger and Meghan Klingenberg) was at the center of it all. Sauerbrunn also won a second straight NWSL title, helping FC Kansas City to a repeat while sending Holiday out with a second trophy in about three months.

GOAL OF THE YEAR: Lloyd’s third vs. Japan

Like it was even a question. From the center circle, in the final, for the hat trick:​There’s little time for the U.S. to rest on its laurels. Olympic qualifying takes place in February, and if all goes according to plan, the U.S. will be defending its Olympic gold in Rio against some motivated competitors. The nucleus of the team and its backbone–the defense–remains intact, but with Wambach, Holiday, Boxx and Chalupny gone (and it’s yet to be determined what the future holds for 40-year-old captain Christie Rampone), there’s a bit of a changing of the guard.While Wambach’s minutes and production can be replaced, there will be a leadership void that she leaves behind. The likes of Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan, Emily Sonnet and Stephanie McCaffrey were integrated into the squad during the victory tour, and they’ll all be looking to cement their places for the future. Should the U.S. qualify for the Olympics, as expected, Ellis will be taking an 18-player roster with her to Brazil, and she’ll have some tough personnel calls to make. If Rapinoe’s injury keeps her from Brazil, that’s a huge blow in the quest for a fourth straight gold medal.After Olympic qualifying, the U.S. will reportedly be tested in a four-team friendly tournament that includes world powers Germany, France and England. That will provide an ample barometer for where the defending world champions stand ahead of their next major tournament.

U.S. WNT Claim the Spotlight as U.S. Men Struggle in 2015

Posted on December 30, 2015 by Peter Nolan  Got Soccer

As we look back on the year 2015 in American soccer the spotlight shines brightest on the World Cup winning U.S. WNT and most harshly on their male counterparts.The women’s national team added a third star to its jersey, with Carli Lloyd, Abby Wambach, Hope Solo and company finally taking their place alongside the legendary 99ers led by Mia Hamm, Julie Foudy, and Michelle Akers as World Champions.The men were always going to come in a poor second to the women’s nats, and while Jill Ellis and her squad set an unreachable bar for Jurgen Klinsmann’s crew, the men fell far below even Klinsmann’s own targets.Coming off of a Round of 16 exit at the 2014 World Cup that was considered a success by most, if a step forward by only some, the U.S. MNT failed dismally as the host nation at this summer’s Gold Cup.As defending CONCACAF Champions, the Yanks would have advanced to the 2017 Confederations Cup if they could match 2013’s Gold Cup victory.Klinsmann had repeatedly spoken of how important it was to qualify for the World Cup walkthrough in Russia and had named winning the Gold Cup alongside Olympic qualification as his program’s top priorities for 2015.But the U.S. played like a team that hadn’t gotten the memo, advancing from Group play without impressing before hammering a weak Cuban side 6-0 in a match that inspired false hope that all was well.That all was not well was made abundantly clear when Jamaica eliminated the U.S. 2-1 in the semifinal. That loss was then compounded when a disinterested home team dropped the third place game on penalty kicks to Panama.At the time, U.S. coach and Technical Director Klinsmann made much of Jamaica’s improvement, of the region’s improvement, but we must go back to 2000 when the U.S. were eliminated by guest competitor Colombia to find a worse finish in the Gold Cup for the Americans.Klinsmann’s job security was called into question by many in the media, but USSoccer President Sunil Gulati stood by his man, claiming, “there are no parallels at all,” to Bob Bradley who was fired to make way for Klinsmann after losing the 2011 Gold Cup final to Mexico.Never mind that Klinsmann’s World Cup ended at the exact same stage as Bradley’s had, in extra time in the round of 16, Gulati was right. Elimination in the semifinals to Jamaica, followed by a poor performance versus Panama was not a parallel performance to elimination by Mexico in the 2011 final, it was clearly worse.Regardless, the coach was safe, and the U.S. had one remaining route to Russia 2017, a showdown with Mexico in the first ever CONCACAF Cup.The U.S. showed heart in losing in front of huge, mostly pro-Mexico crowd at the Rose Bowl but despite forcing overtime the Americans were badly outplayed before falling 3-2 and missing out on the Confederations Cup.So how are things looking for that other U.S. MNT goal, qualifying for the Olympics? Not great, frankly. A 2-0 loss to Honduras on the same day the senior side lost the CONCACAF Cup to Mexico makes October 10, 2015, a day to forget in U.S. MNT soccer, and it leaves the Americans facing a two-game set in March versus Colombia for one last shot to make it to Rio.Should the U23 team fail to get past Colombia, and the Americans will be underdogs, they would join the 2012 team, that missed out on the London Olympics as the second group on Klinsmann’s watch to fail to qualify for the Olympic games.Klinsmann labelled that group “a lost generation.” Will this generation be lost too?The U17 side offered little encouragement when it was unable to get out of group play in the U17 World Cup in Chile. That result, coupled with a failure to even qualify in 2013, saw coach Richie William replaced by former Philadelphia Union manager John Hackworth.The one ray of light in the youth set up on the men’s side came from a talented U20 squad. The Young Yanks were eliminated on pk’s by eventual champions Serbia, but the talent at this age group appears abundant and several of the U20’s will be in the reckoning for the March showdown with Colombia.Then there was the U.S. WNT. With the World Cup memories so vivid for U.S. soccer fans it might surprise some to remember the struggles the team endured in the run-up to World Cup glory.Although English born, Jill Ellis has long been a servant of the U.S. Women’s soccer program and so it was no huge surprise when Ellis moved up from assistant to interim to full-fledged head coach after Tom Sermanni’s dismissal in 2014.It was not all smooth sailing for Ellis and a loss and drw to Brazil in December. followed by a distressing 2-0 loss to France in February, caused alarm in many quarters.Ellis seemed unsure of her best formation and players as Alex Morgan struggled to regain fitness and then form and age and a certain staleness began to set in.The U.S. were still the U.S. but teams like Germany and France seemed more likely champions when the Women’s 2015 World Cup kicked off in Canada last June.Lineup problems persisted as Morgan never quite hit stride and all-time leading international goal scorer Abby Wambach seemed to age before our very eyes.Group play proved a chore for the Americans who advanced with two unimpressive wins and a draw. A scrappy 2-0 win over Colombia saw the Yanks move on to the quarterfinals with Morgan and Lloyd providing the goals.That Lloyd scored from a penalty hardly mattered, the midfield marksman was on the scoresheet and she was just getting started. Lloyd had been shackled with a defensive midfield role early in the Cup, and the U.S. attack suffered.While the U.S. defense in front of Hope Solo had been rock solid it had been left to winger Megan Rapinoe to provide what little spark and creativity the Americans could muster in the early going.Now Lloyd approached Ellis and asked for the freedom to do her thing and to Ellis’ everlasting credit she turned Lloyd loose.The effect was immediate and the 99ers, and the 91 team too, were about to get some company. Lloyd would score six goals in the final four matches including a brilliant hat-trick that finished off Japan before they ever got started in the World Cup Final.Lloyd had plenty of help as Ellis finally hit on the right combination, a combination that saw off China and Germany before felling Japan.Things were fairly quiet on the Women’s side of the youth competitions, although we did get a glimpse of the future when Mallory Pugh led the way as the U.S. advanced to the U20 Women’s World Cup by winning the CONCACAF U20 Championship.Pugh was brilliant and will be worth watching when she goes up against the best at the U20 WWC in November and December in the somewhat unlikely locale of Papua New Guinea.The U17 Women’s World Cup will also be up for grabs in 2016, with CONCACAF Qualification this March in Grenada.

So there it is, 2015. The WNT started in turmoil and went on to win the ultimate prize, the Word Cup. The Olympics are next and the U.S. will be expected to at least finish among the medals, as it seeks to defend the title it won four years ago in London.And the men. 2015 was a bad year but the soccer calendar always seems to provide another chance at redemption and 2016 is no exception.World Cup Qualification got underway early this year with a facile 6-1 win over St. Vincent and the Grenadines followed by a 0-0 tie at Trinidad and Tobago.After the draw with T&T, we were greeted with the by now expected justifications. We were told how good Trinidad and Tobago is, how tough it is to qualify from CONCACAF, etc, etc.

Clint Dempsey’s bewildering omission was explained away and four points happily collected. We move on.  2016 also brings Copa America Centenario to our shores. The United States, Mexico, Costa Rica, Trinidad and Tobago, Jamaica, and Panama will compete alongside the giants of South America in the 100th year of the CONMEBOL Championship all across the U.S.A.  It is a historic moment for soccer in the United States and a good showing offers Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. MNT a chance at redemption. Can they take it?

Manchester United should stick with Louis van Gaal – David Moyes

Louis van Gaal should be given more time to succeed as Manchester United manager — according to his sacked predecessor, David Moyes.Moyes was given a six-year contract when he succeeded Sir Alex Ferguson at Old Trafford in 2013 but lasted less than 10 months before he was fired with United in seventh place.Van Gaal’s team are now sixth after going out of the Champions League, going eight games without a win and losing four of their last five matches.But while the Dutchman is under pressure, Moyes believes that he has a huge rebuilding job as United adjust to life without Ferguson and former chief executive David Gill and urged executive vice-president Ed Woodward to keep faith with the 64-year-old.”After Sir Alex the job was always going to be very difficult. It was going to take time. It was a rebuilding job at Manchester United,” Moyes told the Clare Balding Show on BT Sport 1.”And you have to remember that David Gill left who was a big influence at Manchester United. And I think even what Manchester United stand for is that they keep their managers. They have always supported their managers who have been before.”So I hope they stick with Louis van Gaal. He deserves more time. It is still a work in progress for him. He has made some signings and from my experience in Spain it will take time for players from abroad to settle in.”So I think they should stick with it. They don’t want to become a club which continuously changes their manager.”Moyes had a better win percentage as United manager than Van Gaal, but the former Ajax, Barcelona and Bayern Munich head coach achieved a fourth-placed finish last season.Van Gaal, who has been in charge for 17 months, insisted after Monday’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea that he will not resign and said he has the backing of his players and the United board.

Pep Guardiola’s arrival will make 2016 the year of the manager in England

ESPN FC’s Gab Marcotti responds to reports suggesting Pep Guardiola’s possible move to Manchester City next season.It took less than 48 hours for Jose Mourinho’s intentions to be revealed after he was jettisoned by Chelsea. “He will not be taking a sabbatical, he isn’t tired, he doesn’t need it, he is very positive, and is already looking forward,”read a statement from representatives Creative Artists Agency last Saturday lunchtime. “Jose will remain living in London.”No return to Portugal for anything other than a family break, no lobbying for a lucrative contract in Turkey at Christmas and only the faintest whisper of a return to Real Madrid to succeed favourite foe Rafa Benitez.Instead, Mourinho will remain in the country that, in the age of the superstar coach, has become the place to be. If he is to prove that the last four months, where Chelsea slid from champions to relegation battlers, were but a blip, then England — the place that during his six-year absence at Inter Milan and Real Madrid he would regularly describe as his “natural habitat” — is where he would like to show it.The English Premier League’s pretensions of being the best league in the world are being ruined by its clubs’ performances in the Champions and Europa Leagues, and the absence of the likes of Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar. Still, 2016 looks like being a year where the management game’s elite make their homes in England.The money is good, as a multi-billion-pound TV deals flow in, and the competition is stronger than anywhere else. No English champion has defended their title since Sir Alex Ferguson’s Manchester United made it three in a row in 2009. Winning a title in England is a much-desired addition to a football manager’s resume.Pep Guardiola, his departure from Bayern Munich confirmed for the summer, holds the key. At Manchester City, clear favourites to land Guardiola’s signature, even current incumbent Manuel Pellegrini has admitted that he wants the former Barcelona coach to succeed him “because I love this club.”And Guardiola’s potential availability may well have slowed United’s haste in sacking the struggling Louis Van Gaal and turning to a freely available Mourinho. ESPN FC sources suggested that United officials have “upgraded” their contact with the Guardiola camp.Down in London, football’s rumour-mongers have increased the chatter thatArsenal are considering joining the chase if either Arsene Wenger decides to step aside this summer or Guardiola takes a sabbatical, as he did after leaving Barcelona in 2012 before heading to Germany the next year. That timeline would fit in with Wenger’s retirement schedule.Though Wenger has been critical of the Guardiola announcement and its possible side effects on his fellow managers, he did not spare his admiration for the Catalan’s genius capabilities. “He wants his team to play football in a positive way,” Wenger said. “I respect that highly.”Meanwhile, Chelsea have Guus Hiddink temporarily in charge as options are considered. Owner Roman Abramovich has tried to lure Guardiola to Stamford Bridge before. The club’s transfer business of the summer of 2012, in which ball players like Eden Hazard and Oscar were added to lighten the touch of a previously muscular team, looked like an act of attempted seduction, as did the employment of two stop-gaps in Roberto Di Matteo and Rafa Benitez, yet Guardiola chose Bavaria. The newspaper talk is of a “money is no object” bid from Abramovich this time.Guardiola will end up disappointing three such suitors, perhaps all four should he instead look to recharge his batteries. Whatever his choice, the big names see England as the promised land. “The important managers always want to work here in the Premier League,” Pellegrini said this month. “It is impossible not to want to work here — especially if you have experience of working in other leagues.”Setting aside triple Champions League winner Carlo Ancelotti — Guardiola’s replacement at Bayern who did a two-year stint at Chelsea from 2009 to 2011, it is possible that the jigsaw puzzle could place big-name coaches at each major English club. Jurgen Klopp is already at Liverpool. His October appointment had the look of pre-emptive opportunism, as Liverpool shunted aside Brendan Rodgers to make sure that they got to the two-time Bundesliga champion first.Mourinho’s refusal to dig out Manchester United in the fashion he has derided other opponents has long pointed to a reluctance to offend the brass at Old Trafford. Should Louis van Gaal’s collapse in credibility force the club to make a decision, then the Portuguese looks in pole position, Pep permitting. The chance of Mourinho and Guardiola rivalling each other in one city looks like box-office gold.”We don’t know what will happen in the future, but now there is no agreement,” said Mourinho’s agent Jorge Mendes this week, hardly quelling speculation by doing so. There have been revived links with Paris Saint-Germain since Mourinho’s sacking, but the French capital has the look of a fall-back.For Mourinho’s former post at Chelsea, another Mendes associate is widely rumoured to be on the shortlist. Diego Simeone’s links with Atletico Madrid, a club where plenty of Mendes clients play, are strong and may take considerable persuasion to be broken. But the Argentinian’s aggressive philosophy and rebel stance rather reminds of the first iteration of Mourinho at Chelsea from 2004 to 2007.Should Simeone stay on in Spain, Antonio Conte, currently managing Italy and holder of three Serie A titles with Juventus, is another possible candidate. He, like Simeone, does not speak fluent English, but the lucrative lure of English football might soon change that.With or without them, 2016 looks like being the year when England becomes home to the football world’s coaching A-list.John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter@JohnBrewinESPN.

Armchair Analyst: Three Things about … MLS at the end of 2015

December 30, 20151:02 PM ESTMatthew DoyleMLSsoccer.com

  1. The formation of a shift

The funny thing is: It didn’t happen overnight. It never does. But it still feels like it because of who took home the silverware.

What I’m talking about is, of course, MLS teams shifting away from the classic 4-4-2 as a default formation. In 2014, the Montreal Impact won the Canadian Championship playing in a 4-4-2; the Seattle Sounders won the Supporters’ Shield and US Open Cup double in the 4-4-2; and the LA Galaxy polished off a run of three MLS Cups in four years playing yet another variation of the 4-4-2.

It didn’t matter that most of the league had edged away from that formation, because the teams that dominated it were lining up with two forwards.Fast forward a year, and here’s how it went: The Vancouver Whitecaps won the Canadian Championship playing a 4-2-3-1; Sporting KC won the US Open Cup playing a 4-3-3; the New York Red Bulls played a 4-2-3-1 en route to their second Shield in three years; and the Portland Timbers morphed from a 4-2-3-1 to a 4-3-3 down the strech, riding a solidification of the midfield and flank penetration to the franchise’s first piece of significant hardware: the 2015 MLS Cup.In all, 16 MLS teams played either the 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 as their standard formation, and a tactical shift naturally followed. More creative input came from the central midfield, as the league’s list of top chance creators shows:

Player

Chances Created (inc. assists)/Chances Created from Open Play/Big Chance Created

Javier Morales

84

58

7

Sacha Kljestan

79

56

6

Cristian Maidana

79

51

4

Matias Perez Garcia

78

39

3

Federico Higuaín

76

49

7

Benny Feilhaber

70

48

10

Brad Davis

69

36

4

Darlington Nagbe

67

65

2

Diego Valeri

64

34

2

Sebastian Giovinco

62

44

8

Davis is the last of a hibernating breed, the playmaking wide midfielder. Giovinco is a pure second forward – not a midfielder nor a winger – and no one else at that spot even cracked the top 30 in chance creation.

A year ago, various attackers like Landon Donovan, Thierry Henry, Davis, Lloyd Sam, Robbie Keane and Obafemi Martins were all near the top of that list. This year, it’s almost all No. 10s.

  • MORE ANALYST: On-field evolution and the role of the No. 10

They’re No. 10s of a different stripe, to be fair: Kljestan excels in the final third with his misdirect passes while Feilhaber sits deeper, sending in through balls; Maidana drifts wide to bend in crosses and Morales is a warlock who will not age until people start destroying horcruxes – new formation, new teammates, new defensive responsibilities? Doesn’t matter, the dude’s still gonna be among the league leaders in chances created. (I’m saving that as a macro for next year’s article, and 2017’s, and 2018’s, etc. etc. ad infinitum.)Simply put: If you didn’t have some sort of a classic No. 10, one able to take strings of possession and develop creativity out of midfield, then you probably weren’t going to compete with the league’s best.A year ago that wasn’t true.

 Shining the Shield

Kljestan was at the heart of the Red Bulls’ run to the Supporters’ Shield, their second such trophy in the last three years. He finished with 8 goals and 14 assists, leading the league in passes both attempted and completed in the final third.Why does that matter? Because it explains how the Red Bulls played: pressing high and hard, relying upon the brains and fitness of their central midfield (Kljestan, Dax McCarty and Felipe) to smother opposing teams, refusing to let them build directly out of the back. That, in turn, allowed the backline to compress the field, which led to sequences of play like this:

Kljestan buried a goal moments later, capping a six-minute stretch during which Orlando City weren’t able to cross the midfield stripe. New York got goals from everyone in their front four, including 17 from forward Bradley Wright-Phillips.The No. 2 team in the East, Columbus Crew SC, vanquished RBNY in the Audi 2015 MLS Cup Playoffs behind their own 4-2-3-1 and balanced attack. Led by Kei Kamara at center forward and wingers Ethan Finlay and Justin Meram, Crew SC gave No. 10 Federico Higuain free rein, with their fullbacks encouraged to overlap higher and harder than any pair in the league.

Out West, another 4-2-3-1 team, FC Dallas, posed the stiffest competition in the Shield hunt. Led by their own magical No. 10, Mauro Diaz, Dallas equaled New York’s 60 points, but came up just short on goal differential.

The lack of an elite, BWP-class finisher was one of the big reasons for that. Another was that while Kljestan, Feilhaber and Higuain each logged over 2,700 minutes, Diaz was on the field for just under 2,000. When he played FCD were 14-5-5, and when he didn’t they were 4-5-1.Those types of margins are how trophies are won or lost.

  1. To The Cup!

The team that beat Dallas in the playoffs were the West’s No. 3 seeded team, the Portland Timbers. And as is customary in Portland, 2015 was weird.How weird? Their 41 goals scored were the lowest total of any playoff team, and their +2 goal differential was worst in the conference. That number actually lived in the negative until a 4-1 victory over Colorado in the regular season finale – a win that broke a two-month-long home scoreless drought.In the midst of that home streak, Portland naturally became a road juggernaut, going 4-0-1 in their final five away from Providence Park. They carried that form into the postseason, stomping Vancouver 2-0 at BC Place in the Western Conference Semifinals before taking a 2-2 draw out of Dallas in the second leg of the Conference Championship.nd then came the coup de grace: A 2-1 victory at MAPFRE Stadium over Columbus, making Portland the first team since the 2002 Galaxy to win the Cup in their opponent’s house. The Timbers took a page out of New York’s book, with high pressure leading to the first goal and a midfield turnover leading to the second.

What’s Next?

I expect at least a couple of teams to experiment with variations on the 3-5-2 next year. Toronto FC in particular seem to have the personnel for it, and I could convince myself a reconstructed LA Galaxy might be headed in that direction as well. Bruce Arena’s been married to the 4-4-2 for a long time, but he’s been willing to play the 3-5-2 when necessary – such as during the 2002 World Cup knockout rounds against Mexico and Germany.And let’s remember that the 3-5-2 basically exists in order to swamp opposing No. 10s. In a league that’s basically built around that position, it makes sense for someone to run against the grain, right?

We’ll see if any brave souls among the ranks of MLS coaches feel the same way. We’re putting a cap on the 2015 season here, but players report to training camp for 2016 in less than three weeks. The planning has, most certainly, already begun.

Best of MLS 2015: New York Red Bulls’ Matt Miazga was our Breakout Player of the Year

December 29, 20156:00 PM EST

First, a few ground rules. Having a breakout year is not the same as making a first impression. For example, Orlando City rookie forward Cyle Larin made a first impression with his 17 goals. But he didn’t have a breakout year because he wasn’t in MLS the year before. Having a breakout year is also not the same as extending an upward trajectory. For example, Crew SC’s Ethan Finlay extended his upward trajectory with his 12-goal, 13-assist season in 2015, which came on the heels of an 11-goal, 7-assist season in 2014. But he didn’t have a breakout year because he had already broken out.To have a breakout year, you had to be on the scene last year but not really make much of an impact until this year. It’s kind of a backhanded compliment. Here is our breakout player of the year in MLS, as voted by the MLSsoccer.com editorial staff.

MLSsoccer.com’s Breakout Player of the Year: Matt Miazga, NY Red Bulls

What a year Matt Miazga had in 2015. After making just seven appearances in 2014, the tall center back became a mainstay on the Red Bulls back line in 2015, playing in 30 games (regular season and playoffs) and finishing second among defenders in minutes played. He also scored his first goal (see video above) and proved to be one of the top aerial defenders in the league.He also rose quickly through the ranks of the US national team. He started for the U-20 US teamthat reached the quarterfinals of the U-20 World Cup in May. Then he was one of the few bright spots for the Olympic qualifying team that failed to earn an automatic berth to Rio 2016. Finally, in November, he made his full USMNT debut in a World Cup qualifier against St. Vincent & the Grenadines. This month, he was named U.S. Soccer’s Young Male Player of the Year.  Recently, there have been reports that Miazga could go abroad next year, and given his success in 2015, you can understand why the likes of EPL giants Chelsea and current EPL leaders Leicester City have been mentioned as possible suitors. But nothing is done, and we certainly look forward to seeing if he can extend his upward trajectory next year.

Honorable Mention

Kellyn Acosta, FC Dallas — The smooth, 20-year-old box-to-box midfielder saw his minutes double in 2015, plus he scored his first MLS goal (and his second and third) and added a couple of assists. A favorite of our analyst Matt Doyle, Acosta also captained the US at the U-20 World Cup.

Tim Melia, Sporting KC — Through his first five seasons, the 29-year-old goalkeeper played in six MLS games. In 2015, he started 23, solving SKC’s frustrating goalkeeper issues. Along the way, he posted eight shutouts and was fourth in the league in save percentage.

cropped-cfc-tyler.jpg

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The Ole Ballcoach – Coach Shane Best

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Dec 16, 2015  US Abby Wambach Retires Tonight 8 pm-FS1, Champions League and Euro Cup Sweet 16 set, EPL News

So the big news in Europe as the Champions League Sweet 16 (the knockout stages) and the European Cup Draws were done over the weekend.  Champions League finds some interesting match-ups on Feb 16/17 + Feb 23/24 as last season’s finalist Juve face Bayern Munich, PSG matches Chelsea again, and Arsenal is again placed against 5-time and defending Champion Barcelona.  Full Analysis Below.

Turning to US Soccer – the Leading Scorer in World Soccer history –both men’s and women with 184 goals – Abby Wambach (a former Florida Gator) retires tonight as the US Women’s team WC Victory Tour continues with the USA facing China on Fox Sports 1 at 8 pm. Gotta See this Commercial.

MLS has announced increased payroll for new players which can only be good for the league in the long haul, that and of course 2 new teams join the league next spring.  Be sure to scroll all the down for the MLS Cup Final Recap – it really captures what was a fantastic MLS Cup final – made so by the traveling whord of Timbers Army.  Other news has US and Stanford forward Jordan Morris scoring 2 goals in the NCAA final as he led the Cardinal to their first NCAA Championship-you have to assume he will now turn pro either with MLS’ Seattle Sounders or perhaps overseas.

The EPL has some intriguing story lines as the coaches at Chelsea and Manchester United are both on the hot seat.  Leicester City – Amazingly sits atop the EPL as we near Boxing Day and Chelsea is in the relegation zone. BREAKING MOURINO IS FIRED AT CHELSEA 

Mourino is Sacked by Chelsea – Marcotti ESPN FC

#s behind Special One’s Exit ESPN FC

5 Turning Pts in 2nd Tenure at Chelsea – John Brewin – ESPN FC

Champions League –Draw Sweet 16

Teams will play home and away with aggregate high scorer advancing to Quarterfinals. First legs February 16-17 and February 23-24 and conclude with the return legs on March 8-9 and March 15-16

KAA Gent vs. Wolfsburg
AS Roma vs. Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain vs. Chelsea
Arsenal vs. Barcelona
Juventus vs. Bayern Munich
PSV Eindhoven vs. Atlético Madrid
Benfica vs. Zenit St. Petersburg
Dynamo Kiev vs. Manchester City

USA and MLS

Copa America Announces Seeded Groups and US Locations – 3 games in Chicago including US + Semi’s !

Gotta See this Commercial on Abby

Abby Hangs up the boots – Grant Wahl SI

Abby Retires at Proper Time and Place – Grant Wahl SI

Abby Wambach Retires tonight –Mia Hamm’s thoughts

Jordan Morris Wins NC at Stanford

What Should Stanford Star and USMNT Forward Jordan Morris  do next

Gent Forward Kenny Saief sheds light on possible switch from Isreal to US National Team

Kenny Saief from Champions League Sweet 16 to US Team?

MLS – Increases payrole ESPNFC

MLS Cup Final – Recap MLS.com

Trimming of Portand’s Borchers infamous Huge Red beard post game

 Champions League – Sweet 16 Draw

Sweet 16 Draw results

Quick Analysis of the Champs League Draw – SB Nation

UCL draw | Delaney: Predicting the games | Predictor

Juve Punished for losing last game face Bayern Munich

Bayern eye classic vs Juve in Sweet 16

Gunners draw Barcelona again

Renaldo should score lots vs Roma

Chelsea and PSG go At it Again

Man City should Roll Kiev – but gonna freeze

European Championships Draw and Analysis

 Marcotti on Euro 2016 | A | B | C | D | E | F | Euro ’16 Express

 EPL + world

Can LVG and Mourino Save their Jobs?  ESPN FC

Marcottis Musings – ESPN FC

– Brewin: Leicester add to Chelsea’s crisis | Player Ratings

How has Leicester City overtaken the EPL  ESPN FC

Chelsea’s Special One on the Cusp –EPSN FC

Chelsea Board discussing Mourinho Future

Klopp Stunt could Backfire

Liverpool in Striking Distance

 GAMES THIS WEEK

 Wed, December 16

8 p.m., Fox Sports 1  USA WNT vs China – Abby’s Last Game

 Thur, December 17

5:30 am – Fox Sports 1, Fifa World Club Cup–Evergrande vs Barcelona  

 Saturday, December 19

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 1 German – Bayern Munich vs Hannover 96
9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2: German -Koln vs Dortmund
10:00 a.m., NBCSN and NBC Universo: Chelsea vs. Sunderland

10:00 am., USA Network: Manchester United vs. Norwich City
10:00 a.m., Extra Time: Everton vs. Leicester City, Southampton vs. Tottenham, Stoke CIty vs. Crystal Palace, West Bromwich vs. Bournemouth
11 Am , beIn Sports : France – Caen vs PSG

12:30 p.m., NBC: Newcastle United vs. Aston Villa

Sunday, December 20

5:30 am – Fox Sports 1, Fifa World Club Cup Final – River Plate vs Barcelona ??  

6:30 am, beIn Sport  – Italy  – Carpi vs Juve

8:30 a.m., NBCSN: Watford vs. Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 1 German – Hertha BSC (John Brooks) vs Mainz 05
11:00 a.m., NBCSN: Swansea City vs. West Ham United

11:30 am, fox sports 2, German – Borussia MGladbach (Johnson) vs Darmstadt 98

2:45 pm, Bein Sport, Inter vs Lazio

Monday, December 21

3:00 p.m., NBCSN and NBC Universo: Arsenal vs. Manchester City

Saturday, December 26

7:45 a.m., NBCSN: Stoke City vs. West Ham United
10:00 a.m., TV TBD: Aston Villa vs. West Ham, Bournemouth vs. Crystal Palace, Chelsea vs. Watford, Liverpool vs. Leicester City, Man City vs. Sunderland, Swansea vs. West Bromwich, Tottenham vs. Norwich

12:30 p.m., NBC: Newcastle United vs. Everton
2:45 p.m., NBC: Southampton vs. Arsenal

 Sun, Dec 27

9 am, Fox Soccer Plus, Scotland -Midlothian vs Celtic

11 am, beIn Sport, England Champ – Nottingham Forest vs Leeds United

Monday, December 28

10:00 a.m., NBCSN: Premier League Breakway, featuring whip-around coverage of all concurrent games
10:00 a.m., Extra Time: Crystal Palace vs. Swansea,, Everton vs. Stoke City, Norwich vs. Aston Villa, Watford vs. Tottenham, West Bromiwich  vs. Newcastle
12:30 p.m., NBCSN: Manchester United vs. Chelsea
12:30 p.m., Extra Time: Arsenal vs. Bournemouth, West Ham United vs. Southampton

Tuesday, December 29

2:45 p.m., NBCSN: Leicester City vs. Manchester City

Wednesday, December 30

2:45 p.m., NBCSN: Sunderland vs. Liverpool

Saturday, January 2

7:45 a.m., NBCSN: West Ham United vs. Liverpool
10:00 a.m., TV TBD: Arsenal vs. Newcastle, Leicester City vs. Bournemouth, Manchester United vs. Swansea, Norwich vs. Southampton, Sunderland vs. Aston Villa, West Bromwich vs. Stoke City
12:30 p.m., NBC: Watford vs. Manchester City

Sunday, January 3

8:30 a.m., NBCSN: Crystal Palace vs. Chelsea
11:00 a.m., NBCSN: Everton vs. Tottenham

Mailbag: Abby Wambach’s finale

Y GRANT WAHLPosted: Tue Dec. 15, 2015

The road ends on Wednesday for Abby Wambach. After 254 caps, after an all-time record 184 international goals, after one World Cup title and two Olympic gold medals, Wambach will call it a career when the U.S. meets China in a friendly in New Orleans (8 p.m. ET, FS1).And yet a few things came in loud and clear in the far-ranging conversation I had with Wambach for the new SI Planet Fútbol podcast. One of them is that she thinks her road is only beginning. Wambach does not plan to disappear from the public discussion after the final whistle blows in New Orleans. In fact, she’s making it her mission to fight for equality in a way that she did not during her playing career.“I want to be passionate about what I do next,” Wambach says in the interview, which will be released in full Wednesday (we played a portion of the interview last week, and you can listen to that here). “Since I retired I’ve felt the inequalities that I allowed to happen to me throughout my career—and when you’re in it, it’s harder to see and feel the disparity, and there’s a lot of fear that goes on, which is probably why you can’t see it so clearly. I think stepping away and getting more perspective has allowed me to see more clearly what really needs to happen.”“To be quite honest, I’ve been getting a little bit mad at myself for not fighting more while I was in it,” she continues. “I kind of promised myself I’d do whatever I can at this point to make sure this next generation of studs that hangs their cleats up is going to feel differently about their retirement than I do. I want them to have more choices and options than I do.WAHL: Wambach retires at appropriate place, time

“When I look across the aisle, I’m pretty sure Landon Donovan isn’t stressing or worrying about his financial position. For me, not to sound crazy or egocentric, but to have the resume I have and because I’m a female changes completely the landscape of the opportunities of what I’ll be able to do when I’m done playing, quite frankly I’m going to make it my mission: I’m going to change the world so that no woman who has done the things I’ve been able to do or have the course of the career I’ve had will have to make the same decisions.“Somebody has to make equality real and happen. I know it’s a huge undertaking. And I know saying the words changing the world is such an arbitrary thing. How are you going to do that? I know all these questions will come. But I’m just going to do it.”  OUTTAKES: Best unused shots from SI’s USWNT cover shoot

This isn’t your typical “walk off into the sunset” retirement talk. And that’s refreshing, even if it makes some people feel a little uncomfortable. In fact, that’s precisely the point. Wambach says she’s looking forward to ending her playing career on a high note Wednesday before adoring fans and teammates, but she also has reached a point where she believes she can help create the change she wants to see for women, both inside and outside the sports world.I’m fired up to see what she can do with her bully pulpit.

Abby Wambach retires at appropriate time, place to cap iconic career

U.S. women’s national team forward Abby Wambach announces retirement

BY GRANT WAHLTwitter EmailPosted: Tue Oct. 27, 2015

In the end, Abby Wambach came full circle.On Tuesday, October 27, 2015, the most prolific goal-scorer in the history of international soccer began her day at the White House, where President Barack Obama honored Wambach and the U.S. women’s national team for winning this year’s Women’s World Cup.Thirteen years ago, in 2002, Wambach started her professional career in the same city, Washington D.C., where she arrived as a talented yet uncommitted forward with the Washington Freedom and became something else entirely: A relentless force of nature who would go on to score 184 goals for the U.S. on her way to winning a World Cup, two Olympic gold medals and six U.S. Soccer Athlete of the Year awards.The nation’s capital is where Wambach toughened up while playing alongside the legendary Mia Hamm, who helped unlock Wambach’s potential and release the beast that she knew Wambach could become.On Tuesday, in a city dear to her heart, the 35-year-old Wambach announced she will retire from soccer at the end of this year, after her final U.S. game on Dec. 16 in New Orleans against China. The timing was typical Wambach, which is to say it was nearly as good as it was on her most famous goal, the 122nd-minute Hail Mary equalizer against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup quarterfinals.  MOST SIGNIFICANT U.S. GOALS: Wambach stuns Brazil, 2011

As she contemplated her future in recent weeks, Wambach did not want her decision to take away from anything else connected to the team. Not their visit to the White House, where President Obama said “this team taught all of America’s children that playing like a girl means you’re a badass.” And not theplanned retirement farewells for teammates Shannon Boxx, Lori Chalupny and Lauren Holiday.Wambach has always been a team player that way. In fact, at one point Wambach had told her friends that she just wanted to quietly fade away, avoiding any big celebration for her career in the final games of this year’s Victory Tour. She reconsidered, thankfully, after realizing that properly celebrating her accomplishments would also be a good thing for her sport, which has come so far, and for showing a 10-year-old girl in the stadium on Dec. 16 that you, too, can do this with your career—and perhaps even surpass it.Video  The timing was good in another way, too. Wambach can go out having just won the World Cup, the trophy that had eluded her for so long, the one she said her career would not be complete without. She could have tried to hang on for next year’s Olympics, a tournament she has already won twice, but there might have been more costs than benefits in doing so, both for her and for the U.S. team, and no guarantees she would have made the roster.And so, even though we will still see plenty of Wambach in the public sphere, our lasting final images of her as a competitive player will be from that magical time in Canada this summer, when she finally raised the World Cup trophy and when, in a remarkable seven-minute monologue on Fox Sports, she spoke directly to her teammates on the eve of the World Cup final.Wambach’s finest moments have always been unscripted. That’s what we love about her. That’s what we love about sports.

Proud Member of the Brick Yard Battalion – http://brickyardbattalion.com, Sam’s Army-http://sams-army.com ,  American Outlawshttps://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SWEET 16, US News, College Cup Tonight

 

So the we are down to 16 teams in Champions League after a fantastic midweek of play as the EPL loses Man United but Arsenal climbs back in to join Chelsea and Man City in advancing to the Knockout Rounds.  Portland is still celebrating their MLS Cup Championship with parades and parties galore as we the boys at ESPN FC look at the season wrap up and what’s coming next season.

On the US front Fabian Johnson continues his tear for Borussia M in the German Bundesliga – as he had  2 assist in their loss on Tuesday in Champions League .  Be on the lookout as the US will play host to Guatamala on March 29th in World Cup qualifying just 3 hours away in Columbus.  Anytime the US really needs a win they come home to the US friendly confines of MLS oldest and most comfy stadium in Columbus. You should make plans to go catch a bit of history.  Not many good games this weekend – Tim Howard and Everton do host Norwich City, while Man City hosts Swansea on Sat. on NBCSN at 10 am.

Tonite you can catch Men’s College Soccer and US budding star Jordan Morris for Stanford as they play Akron at 8 pm on ESPNU., right after the Syracuse vs Clemson game at 6 pm.

USA

Fabian Johnson playing Best of All US players overseas?

US to play Qualifier in March vs Guatamala in Columbus, OH

Hertha wants US John Brooks to Stay ]

College Cup Tonite- 6 pm on ESPN Stanford’s USA Player Jordan Morris looks to Excel

US to Play Iceland in Jan

US Exports Play Well in Europa League MLS.com

US to call up 21 year old Isralie American – Kenny Sief from Gent I

US Women Cancel Game in Hawaii due to Turf Issues

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Walcott Says we can beat anyone in  UCL

Giroud Scores Hat Trick to Help Arsenal Advance to Sweet 16

Chelsea Advances vs Porto

Man U Excuses for Not Advancing This Time ? Marcotti ESPN FC

Sterling Stars as Man City Comes back to Shock Gladbach 6-2

Man United’s Van Gaal Side Deserved to Exit – Mitten – ESPN FC

MLS

Season in Review

Portland Victory Parade

MLS to Pile $37 Million into Player Salary

What to Look 4 in 2016 – Carlisle – SPEN FC

 The best and worst of MLS’s 20th season
– Davis: ESPN FC’s 2015 MLS Best XI

MLS year in TV Coverage – Philly Goalkeeper

 

GAMES ON TV

Friday, Dec 11

United States – College Soccer 

Live 6:00pm Syracuse vs Clemson ESPNU,
Live 8:30pm Stanford vs Akron ESPNU,

Sat, Dec 12

England – Premier League 
Live 7:45am Norwich City vs Everton NBCSN,
Live 10:00am Crystal Pala vs Southampton NBC Sports Live Extra,
Live 10:00am West Ham vs Stoke City NBC Sports Live Extra,
Live 10:00am Man City vs Swansea Nbcsn
Live 12:30pm Bournemouth vs Man United NBC,
  Live 12:30pm Bayer Leverkusen vs Borussia M’gladbach Fox Sports 2…  

 Sun, Dec 13

Live 8:30am Aston Villa vs Arsenal NBCSN,
Live 11:00am Tottenham vs Newcastle NBCSN,
Live 11:00am Liverpool vs West Brom NBC Sports Live Extra,
  9:00am Milan vs Hellas Verona beIN Sports U…
  12:00pm Napoli vs Roma beIN Sports U…
  2:45pm Juventus vs Fiorentina ESPN3,

Women’s Friendly 

Live 7:00pm USA vs China ESPN2Watch ESPN
North America – CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship 
Live 6:00pm Third Place:CONCACAF Women U20 Championship Fox Sports 2 USAFox Sports GO
Live 9:00pm Final:CONCACAF Women U20 Championship Fox Sports 2 USAFox Sports GO

Monday, December 14

3:00 p.m., NBCSN: Leicester City vs. Chelsea

Sat, Dec 19

Live 10:00am Everton vs Leicester City NBC Sports Live Extra,
Live 10:00am Manchester United vs Norwich City NBCSNNBC Sports Live Extra
Live 10:00am Chelsea vs Sunderland NBC Sports Live Extra,
Live 10:00am Southampton vs Tottenham Hotspur NBC Sports Live Extra,
Live 12:30pm Newcastle United vs Aston Villa NBC,

Sunday, Dec 20

NBCSNNBC Sports Live ExtraSir…
Live 11:00am Swansea City vs West Ham United NBCSNNBC Sports Live ExtraSir…

12/07/15 Champions League Tues/Wed as EPL tries to Survive, Portland Wins MLS Cup at Columbus 2-1

The Portland Timbers Outlasted the Columbus Crew as a Timbers Army crowd of 4K Traveled Across the Country to watch their Timbers beat Columbus 2-1 in the 20th MLS Cup Final at the Columbus Crew Stadium.  The atmosphere was electric – mainly due to the Portland Crowd behind the goal – but everyone stood the entire game despite the home team giving up 2 goals in the first 10 minutes of the ballgame.  Tyler and I had a blast – watching my Timbers pull off the improbable win – Portland’s first Championship in over 40 years as an organization.  Watch as they arrive home to Portland.   I do have to say however the organization of the Cup by MLS was spotty at best.  Tshirts, hats, scarves were impossible to come by and only available in the stadium after waiting for hours and they sold out of everything a full hour BEFORE gametime. The Exclusion of Timber Joey – the log cutting Timber man – after Portland had the log and huge chainsaw trucked across the country was an opportunity loss by ESPN, MLS and anyone who knows anything about Soccer in the US. It would be like saying the Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders can’t come to the SuperBowl. (the decision by Columbus to disallow the chainsaw wielding Joey and MLS/ESPN not stepping in to overrule was an opportunity loss by the league and show’s just how STUPID the big brass and decision makers at MLS are!!  It was all ok in the 80th minute however when I got to sing You Are My Sunshine (in honor of former Timber Jim’s- daughter who died ).

So its matchday 6 of Champions League with lots of different scenarios that can see teams thru this Tues/Wednesday.  The English teams with their backs to wall as Man United, Chelsea and Arsenal all need wins for a chance to advance to the knockout round of 16.  The Gunners need a 2 goal victory on the road at Greek Champ Olympiacos in fact, while Chelsea just needs a draw to advance.  (see the entire breakdown below)

Shane and Tyler at the MLS Cup in Columbus  12/5/15

Champions League

Who will Make it Thru – Video

How Teams Can Qualify from Matchday 6

Man U’s day of Reconing – UCL Matchday 6

Van Gaal says Goals Will Come

Roma hopes that Victory won’t be Necessary vs Bate

Marcottio – ESPNFC – Europe and more

MLS Cup –

Portland/Crew Hilights

Portland Timbers End Trophy Drought in Cup

Grant Wahl SI – MLS Cup won by Timbers

Timbers win 2-1 Wahl

Portland Timbers MLS Cup Win shows Porters Evolution

MLS Cup Photos

Columbus Rue missed Opportunity ESPN FC

Fans greet Timbers at Airport

Must See Games

 Tues Champ League  Man U @ Wolfsburg ,      Fox Sports 1 2:45 pm

Wed UCL  Barcelona @ Bayer Leverkusen       Fox sports 1  2:45 pm

Wed UCL  Bate @ Roma                            ESPN 2         2:45 pm

Wed UCL  Arsenal @ Olympiakos                        Fox Sports 2  2:45 pm

Sun USA Women vs China                                   ESPN             7 pm

Sun USA Women U20 Concacaf Semi-Finals Fox Sports 2  5 + 7 pm

Games This Week

Tues, Dec 8

Europe – UEFA Champions League 
Live 2:45pm PSG vs Shakhtar Donetsk ESPN3,
Live 2:45pm Real Madrid vs Malmö FF Fox Soccer 2Go USA,
Live 2:45pm Wolfsburg vs Manchester United Fox Sports 1…
Live 2:45pm PSV vs CSKA Moskva ESPN3T…
Live 2:45pm Benfica vs Atlético Madrid ESPN2
Live 2:45pm Galatasaray vs Astana ESPN3T…
Live 2:45pm Man City vs Borussia M’gladbach ESPN3
Live 2:45pm Sevilla vs Juventus ESPN3T…

Wed, Dec 9

Live 2:45pm Bayer Leverkusen vs Barcelona Fox Sports 1…
Live 2:45pm Roma vs BATE ESPN2
Live 2:45pm Dinamo Zagreb vs Bayern München ESPN3,
Live 2:45pm Olympiakos Piraeus vs Arsenal  Fox Sports 2…
Live 2:45pm Dynamo Kyiv vs Maccabi Tel Aviv ESPN3,
Live 2:45pm Chelsea vs Porto ESPN De…
Live 2:45pm Valencia vs Olympique Lyonnais ESPN3S…
Live 2:45pm Gent vs Zenit ESPN3T…

Thurs, Dec 10

Europe – UEFA Europa League 
Live 1:00pm Fenerbahçe vs Celtic Fox Soccer 2Go USACeltic TVSeta…
Live 1:00pm Ajax vs Molde Fox Soccer 2Go USAESPN3Sk…
Live 1:00pm Bordeaux vs Rubin Kazan’ Fox Soccer 2Go USARing.bgbeIN S…
Live 1:00pm Sion vs Liverpool Fox Soccer 2Go USAESPN3
Live 1:00pm Borussia Dortmund vs PAOK Fox Soccer 2Go USAFox Sports 2…

Full Europa League Schedule Thurs http://www.livesoccertv.com/schedules/2015-12-10

Fri, Dec 11

North America – CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship 
Live 6:00pm Semi Final 1:CONCACAF Women U20 Fox Sports 2 USA,

Live,  9pm  Semi #2  Fox Sports 2

Sat, Dec 12

England – Premier League 
Live 7:45am Norwich City vs Everton NBCSN,
Live 10:00am Crystal Palace vs Southampton NBC Sports Live Extra,
Live 10:00am West Ham United vs Stoke City NBC Sports Live Extra,
Live 10:00am Manchester City vs Swansea City Nbcsn
Live 12:30pm AFC Bournemouth vs Man United NBCNBC Sports Live ExtraSirius…

 Sun, Dec 13

Live 8:30am Aston Villa vs Arsenal NBCSN,
Live 11:00am Tottenham vs Newcastle United NBCSN,
Live 11:00am Liverpool vs West Bromwich Albion NBC Sports Live Extra,
Women’s Friendly 
Live 7:00pm USA vs China ESPN2Watch ESPN
North America – CONCACAF Women’s U-20 Championship 
Live 6:00pm Third Place:CONCACAF Women U20 Championship Fox Sports 2 USAFox Sports GO
Live 9:00pm Final:CONCACAF Women U20 Championship Fox Sports 2 USAFox Sports GO

Champions League: How teams can qualify from each group

GROUP A

Real Madrid: Have qualified as group winners.

Paris Saint-Germain: Have qualified as group runners-up.

Shakhtar Donetsk: Will qualify for the Europa League if they at least match Malmo’s result. They go to PSG on the final matchday.

Malmo: Must better Shakhtar’s result to qualify for the Europa League. They are away to Real Madrid.

GROUP B

Wolfsburg: Need a point at home to Manchester United to qualify. Will also go through with a loss against United if PSV fail to beat CSKA.

Manchester United: Must win at Wolfsburg to guarantee their place. If United draw with Wolfsburg, then they will be eliminated if PSV beat CSKA. If United lose to Wolfsburg, they will be eliminated if PSV get a point against CSKA.

PSV Eindhoven: Guaranteed to progress if they win at home to CSKA Moscow, at the expense of either Wolfsburg or Man United. They can also go through with a draw on head to head if Man United lose to Wolfsburg,

CSKA Moscow: Will qualify for the Europa League on head to head if they beat PSV.

GROUP C

Benfica: Have qualified, and will finish top of the group if they at least draw at home to Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid: Have qualified, and will finish top of the group if they win at Benfica.

Galatasaray: Need a draw at home to Astana to qualify for the Europa League.

Astana: Must win at Galatasaray to qualify for the Europa League.

GROUP D

Juventus: Have qualified and need a point at Sevilla to top the group.

Manchester City: Have qualified and must win at home to Borussia Monchengladbach and hope Juve lose to top the group.

Borussia Monchengladbach: Must win at Man City to be guaranteed a place in the Europa League.

Sevilla: Must win at home to Juventus and hope Gladbach fail to beat Man City to qualify for the Europa League. If Sevilla and Gladbach finish level on points, then Sevilla hold the head to head.

GROUP E

Barcelona: Qualified as group winners.

AS Roma: Will qualify with a win at home to BATE as they hold the head to head over Bayer Leverkusen. A draw will also be enough if Leverkusen fail to win.

Bayer Leverkusen: Must win at home to Barcelona to stand any hope of qualifying. If they do win, they have to hope Roma fail to win at home to BATE.

BATE Borisov: Must win at Roma and hope Leverkusen fail to beat Barcelona.

GROUP F

Bayern Munich: Qualified as group winners.

Olympiakos: Need a point at home to Arsenal to qualify. A defeat of 1-0 or 2-1 would also see them finish ahead of the Gunners on head to head away goals.

Arsenal: Must win at Olympiakos. Arsenal would need to win by two goals, or a one-goal victory margin of 4-3 or higher, to climb above the Greek club on head to head points. If Arsenal were to win 3-2, then head to head would be level and it would go down to overall group goal difference — which is guaranteed to send the Gunners through.

Arsenal will need to:
– Beat Olympiakos by two or more goals
– Or by a one-goal margin of 3-2 or higher

Dinamo Zagreb: Have been eliminated from the competition completely.

GROUP G

Each team has quite a simple task, although the explanation is quite complicated. We’ll go in reverse for this group as Dynamo Kiev are key here to there being three teams level on points.

What is important to note is that if more than two teams are level on points there is no consideration given to 1 vs. 1 results. A head to head mini-league is created using only the results involving those three sides. And as Maccabi would have lost all their games, the group will come down purely to goal difference in games involving Dynamo Kiev, Chelsea and Porto.

– Chelsea need a draw to qualify
– Porto must win at Chelsea to definitely qualify, a draw is not enough if Dynamo win
– Dynamo are guaranteed to qualify by beating Maccabi

Dynamo Kiev: Victory at home to Maccabi Tel-Aviv will guarantee their qualification, which will be as group winners if there is no winner in Chelsea vs. Porto. The two-goal win over Porto has been key. With all three teams on 11 points, Dynamo have a goal difference of +1.

Chelsea: Only need a point at home to Porto, and will also qualify if Dynamo fail to beat Maccabi. With all three teams on 11 points, Chelsea have a goal difference of 0.

Porto: Must win at Chelsea, or hope Dynamo fail to beat Maccabi. No other result will do. With all three teams on 11 points, Porto have a goal difference of -1.

If all three teams finish on 11 points, the head to head minileague is guaranteed to finish as:
1 – Dynamo Kiev, 5pts, GD: +1
2 – Chelsea, 5pts, GD: =
3 – FC Porto, 5pts, GD: -1

GROUP H

Zenit St Petersburg: Qualified as group winners.

Gent: A victory at home to Zenit will guarantee their place. They would also be guaranteed to qualify if Valenica fail to beat Lyon, as they hold the head to head over Valencia on away goals.

Valencia: Must win at home to Lyon and hope Gent fail to beat Zenit.

Lyon: Have been eliminated from the competition completely.