1/27/16 Copa America Tix on sale Jan 28, USMNT plays Sun 3:45 pm, Champ League Feb 16/17

Don’t miss this summer’s biggest soccer event! Copa America – Tix Are Available Pre-Sale Now until Tuesday !! 
This Thursday, you will have the opportunity to purchase tickets to the Copa América Centenario prior to the general public!  See soccer’s biggest stars in action across the U.S. this summer as 16 nations battle to become champion of the Americas.  A once in a lifetime event, 100 years in the making. First phase Copa Venue Pass purchasers will be entered into a lottery for the opportunity to purchase tickets to the highly anticipated Copa América Centenario Final at MetLife Stadium on June 26.

Pricing is out – COPA AMERICA TICKETS

Soldier Field  Chicago Venue Passes –
1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605

Seating charts reflect the general layout for the venue at this time.

Level 1 seats – 103  10 rows up $565 +$20 = $585 per ticket 4 games  = $145/game

Level 2 seats – 8 together – Sec 230 row 12  $435  = $455  $115/game

Level 2 in corner endzones – Sec 256 Row 7 8 tix — $390 each $102/game

Level 2 mid endzones – Sec 252  Row 11 8 tix – $345  $365 $91/game

Level 4 429 – row 11 8 tix — $280  – $300    $75/game

GAMES IN CHICAGO

Sun -June 5, Tues June 7 (USA vs ??), Friday, June 10 Argentina vs ?

Wed, June 22  Semi Finals – Argentina vs Brazil maybe? 

If interested in planning a trip over – reach out to me (shanebestsoccer@gmail.com)

Learn more about the Copa Venue Pass and other ticket options.

So its official the pricing is out for Copa America and the 4 games in Chicago are on pre-sale now. I see this as a once in a lifetime chance to see some of the best players in the world – with Argentina based in Chicago with a game on June 10 and the US coming on June 7th and of course the SEMI FINALS (read Final 4) on June 22 Argentina vs Brazil maybe – I am excited to make the trek over a few time in Early June.  You have to buy all 4 games but seats are in the $75 to $140 range per game – really good for the SEMIS.  Can buy up to 8 together.  If interested in planning a trip over – reach out to me (shanebestsoccer@gmail.com).

The US will wrap up the Winter Camp for MLS players with the Sunday match 3:45 pm on ESPN2 vs an improving Iceland team.  I always like to see what young players will emerge – last year was Zardes.  This year?  Nagbe maybe, Finlay or Morris?  Should be fun to watch during this important year of Copa America and WC Qualifying.  (Don’t forget the US hosts Guatemala on March 28 in Columbus – will let you know when tix go on sale)

This weekend is FA Cup action on the Fox Sports Networks so no EPL. Liverpool vs West Ham on Sat 12:30 looks ok Fox Sports 2. Great to see US defender Matt Miazga headed to Chelsea from NY Red Bulls – would be great to have another US player in the EPL.  The Game of the weekend is La Liga Spanish leaders Athletico Madrid facing Barcelona at 10 am on Sat on beIn Sport.  Enjoy and keep on Kicking – The Ole Ballcoach

US

Tim Howard Headed to MLS – Colorado Rapids in May source says – NBCSports.com

Portland’s Darlington Nagbe, Wil Trapp Drive to catch Klinsmanns eye on Sunday

Nagbe, Finlay, Nguyen looks to make move for US – EPSN FC – Jeff Carlisle

US top 25 Players – ESPN FC Doug McIntyre

Nagbe, Altidore Getting Up to Speed at US Camp – Mcintyre – ESPN FC

3 Players to Keep an Eye On vs Iceland Sunday – Brian Straus – SI

Grant Wahl – SI – Matt Maizga to Chelsea, Tim Howard coming Home and Barcelona vs Athletico

5 Players with Most to Gain in Next 2 US Games

Former US Coach Bob Bradley Climbs the Global Coaching Ladder despite being American–NY times

US Players Overseas Roundup

US Goalies in Camp

Fantasy Girls Camp with US Women’s Team Mar 6 in Nashville, TN just $3,400 per player 

EPL + World

Weekend Roundup Overseas NY Times

Understanding Financial Fair Play in Europe’s Soccer Leagues

City Advances to Finals in League Cup over my Toffees

Everton Blames Missed Call on Last Goal

Liverpool Awaits City in Final

Champions League Returns Feb 16/17 on Fox Sports

Champ League Records Renaldo and Messi Haven’t Broken EUFA

The Legacy of the Finals Venue – Italy’s San Siro

CONCACAF’s Stars in Champions League All Time

Zidane Takes Over as Real Madrid Visit Roma

Bayern have History on Side in showdown with Juventus

Man City Should Advance vs Dynamo of the Ukraine

GAMES OF THE WEEK

Fri, Jan 29

2:55 pm  Fox Sports 1                       Derby County vs Man U.

 Sat, Jan 30

9:30 am fox Sports 2                             Dortmund vs Ingolstadt

10 am beIn Sports                                Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid

10 am, Fox Sports 1                              FA Cup – Arsenal s Burnley

10 am Fox Soccer plus                         FA Cup Nottinghams Forest vs Watford

12:30 pm Fox sports 2                          FA Cup – Liverpool vs West Ham United

 Sun, Jan 31

6:30 am beIn Sport                                Chievo vs Juventus

8:30 am Fox Sports 2                            Everton vs Carlisle United

11 am Fox sports 1                               Milton Keynes Dons vs Chelsea

11:30 am Fox soccer plus?                    Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim                                            2:45 pm beIn Sport                                AC Milan vs Inter

3:45 pm ESPN2                                  US Men vs Iceland

 Tues Feb 2

EPL

Weds Feb 3

2:45 pm  NBCsN                                    Everton vs Newcastle                                                       

Fri, Feb 5

10:15 pm  Fox Sports 1                       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)

MLS TV Schedule for 2016

http://www.1070thefan.com/blogs/soccer-saturday

 USA vs. Iceland: Three players to watch as USMNT kicks off 2016

BY BRIAN STRAUSTwitter EmailPosted: Thu Jan. 28, 2016

The U.S. national team is nearly three weeks into a January camp that appears to be the most low-key gathering of Jurgen Klinsmann’s tenure. Time, plus four points from a pair of November World Cup qualifiers, have eased a significant portion of the pressure that built up through a frustrating summer and fall.The games that matter are two months away, and Klinsmann’s decision to split the camp between senior players and members of the U-23 team aiming to qualify for this summer’s Olympics removes a bit of tactical intrigue. Some partnerships or chemistry may take root out at StubHub Center, but for the most part, this month is about personal form and development. It’s about helping players through the long MLS offseason (most will go around four months without competitive games) and giving them a jump-start on the year ahead.It’s been relatively quiet so far. Most of the recent news has concerned players who left early (Matt Miazga)arrived late (Jordan Morris) or weren’t invited at all (Benny Feilhaber). Some, like Clint Dempsey, were given the option of skipping camp altogether—an approach that might have created external controversy or internal consternation in years past. And Klinsmann has eased his foot off the gas pedal, giving his players far more freedom than usual.

He told ESPN that locals like Gyasi Zardes and Jermaine Jones have the option to stay at home while out-of-towners can bring in their families or opt for a different hotel.”They already have the schedule for the month, but we just confirm it day by day,” Klinsmann said. “The rest is, ‘You are your own boss. You’re driving it. If you want more treatment here, stay longer here. If you want to run out and do something else, it’s fine. It’s your camp. It’s for you.’ I think that helped a lot. It keeps camp really, really light and positive.”BIRD: How Iceland’s rise is a result of calculated growth, development

Camp will conclude with home friendlies against an Iceland squad playing without many of the stars who helped seal European Championship qualification (Sunday, 3:45 p.m. ET; ESPN2, UniMas) and Canada (Feb. 5, 10:15 p.m. ET; FS1, UniMas). Klinsmann always prefers a positive result, but the nature of his roster, which now features nine U-23 players, means he also may prioritize fielding partnerships or combinations of players he’ll want to use when the games matter in late March.For example, it may make sense to pair U-23 forwards Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter up top. They may be a few years away from starting together for the senior team, but the challenge presented by Colombia in the upcoming home-and-home Olympic qualifying playoff is more pressing than winning a low-profile friendly.Advancing to Rio is important, but Klinsmann ultimately will be judged by the success or failure of the senior squad. A pair of World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in late March and then the Copa América Centenario in June will indicate whether 2015 was a hiccup or the start of a more troubling trend. And there are several men now training out in Southern California whose 2016 form will play a significant role in determining that course. For them, the pressure and opportunity is a bit greater.

Here’s a look at three such players:

Defender Matt Besler

January camp was a bit more demanding one year ago, and Klinsmann’s public complaints about the offseason fitness of several unnamed players received return fire from Besler and his Sporting Kansas City coach, Peter Vermes. Besler, a World Cup starter, wasn’t in Klinsmann’s first 11 for another eight months.Klinsmann’s reliance on Ventura Alvarado and John Brooks at the Gold Cup proved to be the manager’s biggest misstep of 2015, and Besler’s strong season in MLS paved the way for a return. He started the Confederations Cup playoff loss to Mexico in October and then the ensuing qualifiers. Now, the 28-year-old is back in camp and in position to get a head start on establishing himself as an anchor in a unit that’s seen far too much upheaval in recent months.Geoff Cameron is nursing an ankle injury back with Stoke City, Omar Gonzalez (who hasn’t played for the U.S. in nearly five months) has started well with Pachuca while Brooks, Alvarado, Miazga, Michael Orozco and others knock on the door.Where Besler may have been fatigued or even defiant one year ago, he now seems eager to assume a leadership role“You come in for your first January camp and there’s a lot of focus around yourself,” he told U.S. Soccer. “One you’ve been around for a few years, I think there’s different responsibilities. One of those responsibilities is helping others. This is a great opportunity to be a leader in this camp—me specifically. There’s a ton of young defenders here. [I’m going to] just try to help get everybody on the same page as quickly as possible and help them have an enjoyable experience.”Getting everyone on the same page is what good center backs do, and in this January camp Besler now has the opportunity to make a different sort of lasting impression on Klinsmann.Photo: Jeff Roberson/AP

Midfielder Darlington Nagbe

The national team’s lack of a bona fide midfield playmaker has had a significant domino effect. It’s forced an enormous amount onto Michael Bradley’s plate, isolated Jozy Altidore and left the Americans struggling to hold the ball, dictate terms or play the proactive, attacking soccer Klinsmann advocated.Nagbe’s much-discussed shift inside during the Portland Timbers’ stretch run has thrust him into that conversation.The 25-year-old, who was born in Liberia and moved to Ohio when he was 11, is quick, creative and deft on the dribble. His impact was obvious as the Timbers surged toward their first league championship and resulted in his first two caps in November. If he gets comfortable in a central role for the U.S., it would allow Bradley to focus on organization and tempo or to return to his original position as a defensive midfielder.Either way, Nagbe’s potential emergence would add an element the Americans have been missing while helping to define roles more clearly throughout the rest of the side.It also would require a significant shift in tactics and chemistry in a short period of time. If Klinsmann is going to try it in the qualifiers or Copa América, there needs to be hints that it’s working during the upcoming friendlies.“I think Darlington, especially in the attacking third, can really make a difference because he’s calm on the ball. He has great vision. He sees runs of players, and he knows how to connect all the way around. [He’s] very complete in what he’s doing,” the coach told reporters.

Forward Jozy Altidore

The past two years have been a tough stretch for Altidore, who’s not young anymore. At 26, he’s closing in on 100 caps (89) and now is embarking on his 10th year as a senior international. It’s no longer about potential for the Toronto FC striker. It’s about performance.And Altidore seems to know it. After enduring injury-plagued years that saw him miss most of the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Gold Cup and included a brutal stretch at Sunderland and a season of transition at TFC, he was eager to get started this winter. So he arrived in California a week early to commence training. “I just wanted to come in and start moving a little bit early…getting ready for the year thinking about all the competitions coming up, the MLS season and some fine games that you circle on the calendar,” Altidore told U.S. Soccer. “The last couple of years have been rough, so I just want to stay healthy, stay fit and try to help my team the best that I can.”He managed six goals in 13 U.S. appearances last year, including a pair in the November qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and scored 13 times in 26 MLS appearances for Toronto. He’s looking for more this year. Dempsey hopes to stick around long enough to play in the Copa América and break Landon Donovan’s scoring record (Deuce is nine goals behind), while Morris, Bobby Wood and others remain prospects.The mantle of ‘go-to’ finisher is Altidore’s to seize.“He has big goals,” Klinsmann said. “He’s dreaming about the next World Cup. He’s dreaming about the Copa América. .He’s dreaming about winning the MLS Cup with Toronto. He wants to put his stamp on the national team program. And so over the years in his maturing process. He’s gathered all that information from the other older players, and now he becomes one of those as well. So he now wants to make sure that he makes the right decisions. So we see a Jozy now coming in prepared. He’s eager to take advantage of every training session, not wasting a minute on the field, preparing himself the best way possible for the next day.”

Nagbe, Finlay, Nguyen, Diskerud looking to make move at U.S. camp

CARSON, California — The annual January camp for the U.S. national team has long been a vehicle for catapulting players into bigger roles.The list of performers who have taken advantage includes World Cup veterans Matt Besler and Geoff Cameron. Last year it was Gyasi Zardes, who went on to make a whopping 19 appearances for the U.S. in 2015.In the current incarnation, opportunity is beckoning once again, even as manager Jurgen Klinsmann hints that the concept of the January camp is nearing the end of its shelf life.One question that has plagued the U.S. team in the past year is where the next wave of creative players is going to come from. Landon Donovan has retired. Klinsmann indicated last week that Clint Dempsey is still in his plans, but at age 32, it’s fair to wonder for how long.The CONCACAF Cup defeat to Mexico, as well as the friendly loss to Brazil, stand out as games in which the U.S. struggled to impose itself offensively. For all the talk about forwards like Bobby Wood and Jordan Morris, getting them the ball in good positions remains a significant area of need.So for the likes of Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe, Columbus Crew winger Ethan Finlay, New York City FC midfielder Mix Diskerud and New England Revolution attacker Lee Nguyen, the camp and subsequent games against Iceland this Sunday and Canada five days later amount to an opening that is there to be exploited.The aforementioned players each offer something different. Nguyen is the conventional No. 10, Finlay provides more of a classic wing presence, Nagbe is more of a two-way player — although his strengths lie more on the offensive side of the ball — and Diskerud is a crafty, attacking player.”You always hope for the next player around the block to bring this piece of being a difference-maker,” Klinsmann said in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC. “So if you come in, I think Lee [Nguyen] could be a player that brings a lot of vision on the field. Darlington [Nagbe] has this natural gift to keep things flowing.”Nagbe has moved up the depth chart in the past few months after receiving his U.S. citizenship back in September. He appeared as a substitute in two World Cup qualifiers in November, and looks to have the inside track to take on more responsibility.At club level, a move late in the season to more of a central-attacking role alongside Diego Valeri proved to be a boon for Nagbe, culminating in an MLS Cup triumph with Portland. The move allowed him to get on the ball more and bring both composure and chaos to the game. Under Klinsmann, Nagbe has been placed in a wide midfield role, but with a brief to use his playmaking ability in central positions.”My mentality here is the same as it is with the Timbers: Be patient and wait for the opportunity to show what you can do,” Nagbe said. “Keep it simple, make sure you’re clean with your touches, and then when you do get gaps and opportunities you try to take them.”Nguyen has been on the fringes of the U.S. team for much of the past year. He made three appearances, but all of them were off the bench and amounted to just 78 minutes. Nguyen’s previous appearances in national team camps giv him a good idea of what Klinsmann wants. Now it’s a question of impressing under game conditions.”The coaching staff, they have high demands and they’ve been watching us during the season, so they know what to expect,” Nguyen said. “This camp is to push ourselves not only fitness-wise but to get to that higher level. For me, it’s always an honor to be here, no matter what. Whatever piece I have to play, I’m grateful. But you always want to push for more. That’s what these camps are for, to keep pushing and make a statement.”Diskerud remains something of an enigma. He’s a player who has had his opportunities, including as a member of the 2014 World Cup squad, yet he remains a man in search of a dedicated midfield position. Is he better off starting out wide and then tucking inside when the opportunity allows? Is he a deep-lying playmaker or better off further up field? Diskerud’s strength appears to lie further up field, but he appears to have been passed up by others.As for Finlay, this is his first foray into the international game. By his own admission, his game “is not super elaborate” but he can threaten both with his crossing ability and his penchant for cutting inside and striking at goal.”Off-the-ball movement remains extremely important in my game, and then when I get the ball, be dynamic,” Finlay said. “I think when you get in the final third, whether you’re playing for your national team or you’re playing for your club team, try to make something happen and make an impact on the game. Those are two things I look to hopefully bring to the squad.It is now up to Klinsmann to see to what extent these attacking pieces can be fused into the lineup alongside mainstays like Michael Bradley, and it’s up to the players to take advantage. There always seems to be one who does, and the ensuing months will reveal precisely who will take that next step.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Fabian Johnson and Michael Bradley top the list of the U.S.’s best 25 players

Ranking the 25 best U.S. players is a quick way to get called stupid. As we acknowledged at about this time last year, there’s never going to be consensus on the proper pecking order at a particular moment.That also goes for people who get paid to know: coaches, former pros and other close followers of American players around the world. Once again, we picked their brains. And once again, their opinions on certain players varied greatly. All of their points were valid, though, as was whatever criteria they used to arrive at their conclusions.After all, ranking players is often completely subjective. Don’t believe it? AskBenny Feilhaber, who won 38 caps under former U.S. coach Bob Bradley but couldn’t get a sniff last season from current coach Jurgen Klinsmann in the best period of his career. The hard truth is that Feilhaber doesn’t fit as far as Klinsmann sees things, just as it is fair to wonder if Kyle Beckerman, whom Bradley never seemed completely sold on, would have gone to the 2014 World Cup (where he was among the better American performers) had Klinsmann not been appointed selector-in-chief.And that’s OK. Different people like different players. It’s part of what makes this subject endlessly intriguing. So, after careful consideration and much deliberation, here’s a snapshot of where we think the United States’ talent pool stands.

  1. D/M Fabian Johnson, 28, Borussia Monchengladbach (Germany)

The quiet German-American has come into his own this season, starring for the Foals in the UEFA Champions League. It’s a far cry from how 2014-15 started for Johnson, who initially rode the bench following his summer transfer from Hoffenheim. The big difference now is he’s settled. “I’m very comfortable at ‘Gladbach,” Johnson told ESPN FC in November. “I like the club, my teammates, everything.”Monchengladbach didn’t qualify for the competition’s knockout stage, but Johnson credits the Champions League experience for helping improve his game. “I think it does,” he said. “Everything goes quicker; the players you play against are stronger. Their touches are better.” Right now, no American is better than Johnson.Fabian Johnson has established himself as one of the Bundesliga’s top midfielders this season.

 2 M Michael Bradley, 28, Toronto FC (Canada)

Because he has served as the national team’s heart and soul for so long, it’s easy to forget that Bradley — who was named U.S. Soccer’s top player in 2015 — has barely entered the prime of his career. He’s in his first full year as U.S. captain and despite more than 100 caps for his country, he insists he has room to improve.

 3 D/M Geoff Cameron, 30, Stoke City (England)

The only American outfield player who is a regular starter in the English Premier League, the versatile Cameron was playing some of the best soccer of his life before suffering an ankle injury against Liverpool on Jan. 5. He was also the national team’s best defender at the end of last year.

 

  1. F Clint Dempsey, 32, Seattle Sounders (United States)

Simply put, Dempsey remains America’s best pure goal scorer. One could even argue that the Texan — with nine goals in 10 international appearances in 2015 — deserves to be in our top three overall. But Dempsey did start to show signs of slowing down a little last season, with nagging injuries limiting his production in MLS play for the Sounders.

 

  1. M Alejandro Bedoya, 28, Nantes (France)

The South Florida native is approaching the height of his powers in Ligue 1. He’s consistent, he’s a leader and he’ll be counted on heavily in qualifying and at the Copa America Centenario, although whether he’ll play on the wing or behind the forward(s) remains unclear.

  1. G Tim Howard, 36, Everton (England)

Howard has been criticized for making mistakes at times this season, but he’s still more than capable of stealing games at the highest level. He’s also well positioned to win his starting job back for the U.S. after Brad Guzan lost his place at Aston Villa.

  1. D John Brooks, 23, Hertha Berlin (Germany)

The imposing young centre-back is maturing rapidly; this is his third season in the Bundesliga, and it has been his best. A Berlin native, Brooks has his hometown club on pace for a Champions League berth next season.

  1. M Jermaine Jones, 34, unattached

Just because Jones remains a free agent doesn’t mean he can’t still play. The German-American was excellent against Trinidad and Tobago in November in the Americans’ most recent World Cup qualifier, and he figures to play a key role at this summer’s Copa America if he’s employed and stays healthy.

  1. G Brad Guzan, 31, Aston Villa (England)

It has been a brutal year for everyone at Villa, but especially so for Guzan, who recently lost his starting role to understudy Mark Bunn. But the benching doesn’t undo Guzan’s previous 3½ seasons at the club, where he proved himself a reliable Premier League starter.

  1. F Jozy Altidore, 26, Toronto FC (Canada)

Still the top U.S. forward, Altidore managed a respectable 13 goals in 25 games in his first season back in MLS after bouncing around Europe the previous six years. The former teenage phenomenon also has matured off the field after a decade spent in the spotlight.

  1. M Darlington Nagbe, 25, Portland Timbers (United States)

The technical, slick-passing playmaker made his international debut in November, less than a month before he helped Portland win the MLS Cup. If he claims a starting U.S. spot in 2016, his stature will continue to grow.

  1. D/M DeAndre Yedlin, 22, Sunderland (England)

The Seattle-born speedster has acquired valuable top-end experience this season on loan from Tottenham to Premier League struggler Sunderland, where he has started 10 games (eight in the Prem).DeAndre Yedlin has picked up plenty of Premier League experience on loan at Sunderland this season.

  1. M Kyle Beckerman, 33, Real Salt Lake (United States)

The dreadlocked destroyer is in the twilight of his career, and his national team future is uncertain. But even as he celebrates his 34th birthday in April, Beckerman still is perhaps the top dedicated defensive midfielder in the American player pool.

 

  1. D Matt Besler, 28, Sporting Kansas City (United States)

The Kansas native struggled mightily in the year following the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, where he started all four games for the United States. But he won back his starting spot in central defense by the end of 2015.

 

  1. D Omar Gonzalez, 27, Pachuca (Mexico)

Moving to Mexico in December has rejuvenated the longtime Galaxy centre-back, who badly needed a change of scenery after six seasons (and three MLS Cups) in Los Angeles. Gonzalez has been superb in his three games withLos Tuzos.

 

  1. F Aron Johannsson, 25, Werder Bremen (Germany)

Nobody doubts Johannsson’s talent or potential. But in his two-plus years with the national team, the Icelandic-American — whose first Bundesliga season has been beset by injuries — seems no closer to winning a full-time job with the U.S.

 

  1. F Gyasi Zardes, 24, LA Galaxy (United States)

The hard-running Zardes got more comfortable in each of the 19 international games — more than any national team rookie in 21 years — he played in 2015.

 

  1. F Bobby Wood, 23, Union Berlin (Germany)

The Hawaiian striker’s confidence grew during a breakout year for the U.S. After scoring important goals off the bench against Mexico, Germany and the Netherlands in 2015, he’ll now vie for a bigger role.

 

  1. D DaMarcus Beasley, 33, Houston Dynamo (United States)

The four-time World Cup veteran’s experience is unmatched in the U.S. player pool. Whether his national team days are over — he came out of international retirement at Klinsmann’s request in 2015 — Beasley is still playing at a high level in Houston.

 

  1. D Tim Ream, 28, Fulham (England)

After being overlooked during most of the Klinsmann era, Ream started the first two qualifiers of the 2018 cycle as the coach’s first-choice left-back.

 

  1. D Brad Evans, 30, Seattle Sounders

Evans isn’t a world-beater in terms of talent, but he’s proven to be a serviceable international player who rarely makes mistakes — no small thing for a defender at the top level.

 

  1. M Alfredo Morales, 25, Ingolstadt (Germany)

The tri-national (American-German-Peruvian) is leading all Bundesliga-based U.S. players in minutes played in 2015-16.

 

  1. M Eric Lichaj, 27, Nottingham Forest (England)

Lichaj has made just two substitute appearances (both in 2013) in Klinsmann’s four years in charge, but the Illinois-born full-back is quietly having a career season in the English second tier.

 

  1. D Jorge Villafana, 26, Santos Laguna (Mexico)

Villafana was the best left-back in MLS last season, helping Portland hoist the hardware in December before heading to Liga MX.

 

  1. F Jordan Morris, 21, Seattle Sounders (United States)

As an established international player, the former Stanford University standout will be expected to produce immediately in his maiden season as a pro.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

Darlington Nagbe getting up to speed for U.S., Jozy Altidore early for camp

CARSON, Calif. — For many U.S. fans, Darlington Nagbe’s November debut with Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad in a pair of World Cup qualifying games provided a badly needed bright spot at the end of a mostly disappointing 2015 for the national team.The Liberia-born Portland Timbers midfielder had recently become an American citizen. At 25, he was still three or so years from entering his prime. And in his two brief substitute appearances, against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, he showed off the Velcro-like touch on the ball that he has displayed since arriving in MLS in 2011.The expectations on Nagbe only grew when he led the Timbers to the league title in December, to the point where it’s easy to forget he’s currently participating in only the second U.S. camp of his career.”I’m still trying to figure it out,” Nagbe told reporters before the U.S. trained Thursday, three days before Sunday’s friendly here against Iceland (3:45 p.m. ET, ESPN2/WatchESPN). “But I feel confident being here. It’s a lot of good players and hopefully I can show what I can do.”So far, circumstances haven’t made putting his best foot forward easy. Nagbe joined the group late, following the birth of his second child. The demands are different this month than in shorter get-togethers, with fitness the primary focus. Practices are fast and grueling and it’s still unclear exactly where Nagbe’s best spot on the field with the Americans might be. That question isn’t likely to be resolved before the full contingent of European-based players return for a pair of qualifiers against Guatemala in March.Which is why U.S. captain Michael Bradley, for one, would like to see the hype surrounding Nagbe toned down just a bit”I think everyone needs to be a little bit careful in terms of trying to put too much on his plate too soon,” Bradley said of Nagbe, who has been deployed at the tip of a midfield diamond as well as on the wing this week. “He’s still young — certainly young in terms of the national team. He will start to get his chance now o come into the group and see where it all fits in.”He has natural ability, for sure. But again, I think for any new player who comes into the group, you want to be careful not to expect too much.”U.S. fans would be wise to listen.

U.S. camp notes

– Despite two fast-approaching friendlies (after Iceland, the U.S. plays Canada at StubHub Center on Feb. 5), the American players are still very much in preseason mode. Overall, though, Bradley is pleased with how 2016 has started.”It’s been a good few weeks,” he said. “I think the mix in the group has been good. The younger guys are excited and motivated and certainly see their two [Olympic] qualifiers with Colombia right on the horizon. The older guys are committed to leading and showing them, as much as possible, the right way on a daily basis. Guys have come in every day ready to train and compete.”What they’re not doing, however, is spending a lot of time dwelling on last year. Not that they haven’t talked about it some. “We’re certainly very aware that we let ourselves down in big moments last year. That’s sports,” Klinsmann said. “You play big games, you play in big moments where everything is on the line, and one team has to lose. That’s reality. We’ve looked back at things. We’ve thought about things. The way we played in certain moments weren’t good enough.”[But] It’s the start of a new year, a lot of big things ahead of us: qualifying, Copa America. We’re excited.”- After being plagued by hamstring issues in recent years — injuries that prevented him from completing Gold Cups in 2011 and 2015, as well as the 2014 World Cup in Brazil — Jozy Altidore has made some adjustments to his lifestyle. “I’ve definitely changed my diet, sleep habits, little things like that to try to adjust,” he said Thursday. “I’m trying to keep myself as lean as possible. [The hamstring problems] have been unfortunate for me but it’s something I’m looking at this year to try to take away.”Part of that process included arriving in Carson a week early, on his own dime, to train ahead of his teammates. “I think I needed to just come in a little bit and get myself moving and get going.”I’m feeling good. I’m excited. I’m just trying to get myself fit and excited for what looks to be a long, long year.”- U.S. U-23 coach Andi Herzog doesn’t have all his players available this month, and lost another when defender Matt Miazga left camp Tuesday to complete his reported transfer to Premier League champions Chelsea.”Obviously we’re missing some from Europe, but we have 10 or 11 players here, which is really good for me,” Herzog said. “So at least they’ve started. They’re in OK shape right now. We train real hard, so their [fitness] is getting better and better.”So what does he make of Miazga’s move?”It’s not easy to get the starting job there, but it’s huge for him,” Herzog said, adding that he expected Miazga to be available for his team in March. “It’s good for U.S. Soccer that a young player gets the opportunity and signs with one of the best clubs in Europe. It will be a huge adventure for him, because everything will be new. He trains and plays with the best players in Europe. It’s amazing.”Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN 

Here is the updated USMNT camp roster by position (all US Based Players in Camp): Game on Sunday 3:45 pm vs Iceland 

GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls) 

DEFENDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire) 

MIDFIELDERS (8): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (unattached), Perry Kitchen (unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC) 

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (unattached), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

5 USMNT players with the most to gain in upcoming friendlies

The U.S. national team’s January camp is all about opportunity — opportunity to get your foot in the door; opportunity opportunity to be seen by USMNT manager Jurgen Klinsmann; opportunity to adapt to the USMNT program; opportunity to establish yourself as a regular on subsequent 23-man rosters; opportunity to audition for a job, for those currently without a club team.This year’s January camp consists of 26 players (25, now that Matt Miazga has departed to reportedly to complete his transfer to Chelsea), all of whom with something to prove in a Copa America and World Cup qualifying year, no matter their previous standing (or lack thereof) with the USMNT.Five players with the most to gain (or lose) from a strong (or weak) showing in this year’s January camp and friendlies against Iceland (Sunday) and Canada (Friday, Feb. 5)…

  1. Jozy Altidore, forward (Toronto FC) — Altidore has competition for minutes now, perhaps for the first time in his career; Jordan Morris and Bobby Wood are (in the eyes of Klinsmann) hot on his heels, and that pesky, young prospect Alan Gordon just won’t go away. Seriously, though, Altidore is the epitome of a “confidence player,” and 2016 is a big year for the USMNT, as well as TFC. A striker who’s full of goals has the ability to mask so many other flaws within a squad, so no pressure, Jozy, but you’re 26 now and everyone’s kind of counting on you. [ MORE: Zardes, Parker talk youth-heavy January camp]
  2. Ethan Finlay, midfielder (Columbus Crew SC) — Finlay is the type of player the USMNT doesn’t currently have, and has needed for quite some time — he’s not really a midfielder, he’s not really a forward, and he’s definitely not a winger; he’s a guy that plays between the opposition’s midfield and defense, and wreaks havoc with very good movement, vision and delivery of the final ball in a number of different scenarios. The three USMNT players starting behind the center forward on a given night is anyone’s guess these days, so Finlay’s got as much a case as anyone at this point.

[ MORE: Tim Howard “highly likely” to make move back to MLS this year ]

  1. Perry Kitchen, midfielder (free agent) — Kitchen is currently without a club job after his contract with D.C. United expired last year and the two sides have reportedly moved on from negotiations to re-sign the 23-year-old. That’s not Kitchen’s only incentive; there’s also a massive void at defensive midfield with Kyle Beckerman about to turn 34 and seemingly on his way out of the picture. Positive buzz from the friendlies -> getting signed by a peripheral European club -> his stock rises in Klinsmann’s eyes -> the USMNT’s no. 6 for a decade. You see how these things go hand in hand?

[ MORE: Critical stretch arrives for Bradley’s Le Havre in promotion bid ]

  1. Jermaine Jones, midfielder (free agent) — This camp’s elder statesman (he turned 34 in November) needs work. After letting his contract with the New England Revolution expire in 2015, Jones is free to sign with any club anywhere in the world. Just one problem: they’re scared off by the six-game suspensionhanging over his head. Beyond his uncertain club situation, Jones needs to prove he’s still got something tangible to give to the USMNT (i.e. gas left in the tank). Sidebar: remember this time last year when Jones was being groomed as USMNT center backof the (near) future? Those sure were fun times. [ MORE: Schalke in transfer negotiations for USMNT’s John Brooks ]
  2. Darlington Nagbe, midfielder (Portland Timbers) — Nagbe made “the jump” in 2015, from promising prospect to actually delivering two-plus months of the kind of game-changing, dominant performances we’ve been crying out for for years. With that leap forward comes the expectations of reaching yet another level in 2016. There’s a massive opportunity for someone — anyone— with a creative bone in their body to take ownership of the central midfield spot just ahead of Bradley and a more stationary no. 6 sitting in behind. Is 2016 the year of Darlington? It could be, with a strong showing in January camp and a pair of dynamic displays against Iceland and Canada.

Crucial stretch arrives for Bob Bradley, Le Havre in Ligue 1 promotion fight

2 CommentsBy Joe Prince-WrightJan 26, 2016, 7:43 AM EST

Bob Bradley’s French adventure with Le Havre has so far flown under the radar. Now, things are starting to heat up.Le Havre AC — proud to be France’s, and continental Europe’s, oldest team after being founded way back in 1872 — currently sit fifth in Ligue 2 and are embroiled in an all-out battle to gain promotion to France’s top-flight.[ MORE: Bradley new Le Havre coach ]

The top three teams in France’s second-tier are automatically promoted to Ligue 1 and a pivotal stretch has now arrived for Bradley, 57, and his players.Speaking to ProSoccerTalk last week before a disappointing defeat to fellow promotion hopefuls Clermont on Monday, Bradley knows a crucial time in the season is coming up as they face rivals Lens, Auxerre, Dijon and Metz in their next five games. Just five points separates Auxerre in ninth and Clermont who occupy third place and that all-important final promotion spot.

“The fight for the top three spots at the moment is very tight,” Bradly said. “We have a very important stretch coming up. This next stretch is very important. As a team, the way I try to do these things is establish some ideas on the structure of the team so that we have got a solid way of moving and staying as a unit but then how do we start to build up the football ideas within the structure, how do we start to find the right ways to move the ball. Can we play forward? How do we create chances? A lot of the football stuff but just as important is creating an identity as a team, that we are going to be a team that works hard, play with passion and energy and that there’s a real enjoyment as a team when we show up here every day. There is going to be a real push to create a football environment that can be successful.”

The former head coach of multiple MLS franchises (Chicago Fire, the MetroStars and Chivas USA), the U.S. national team, Egypt and most recently Stabaek in Norway’s top-flight, Bradley took charge of Le Havre on Nov. 10 and since then has had three wins, three draws and two defeats in league play.So, how has he settled into life in the second-largest port in France?“It’s been so busy, long days, and Lindsay and I are still in the hotel but we found an apartment we will get into next month. The apartment is in Le Havre and as much as there are nice options outside we thought it was important to live in Le Havre and that is always the way we tried to do things,” Bradley explained. “The owner Vincent Volpe [an American businessman from Texas], for him this has always been a socio-economic project. He was running Dresser-Rand operations out of Le Havre for many years and this is where he met his wife.“When the team ran into some difficulties Vince quietly came into the picture and his interest now is that this club Le HAC as they call it, is very important to the city. Obviously Stade Oceane is a fantastic stadium, a couple of years old. For me to come and start to settle into Le Havre, get to know the supporters, the different coaches in the academy and start to share new ideas and get a feel for how everything works. This is all part of the work in addition to the focus of the first team and how we can improve ourselves.”[ VIDEO: USMNT man Bedoya scores again for Nantes ] 

The challenge of getting to know a new league in a new country isn’t something that’s new to Bradley, but coming in midway through a campaign provides plenty of challenges. He’s following the same formula which has led him to success throughout his career and most recently in Norway where he took newly-promoted Stabaek to a second-place finish and Europa League qualification in just two years before leaving for Le Havre.

“When you come in during the middle of the season it makes the challenge even greater,” Bradley said. “Philippe (Bizeul), Francois (Seguin) and Christophe (Revault) had been here from the start this year so hearing their thoughts and discussing things with them, Oswald (Tanchot) had worked with a club he bought from the fifth league to the fourth league to the third league, so he has very good knowledge, along with Philippe, of Ligue 2. I remember, it was the same in Norway, you get there and you try to get a good as feel for every team and different players so that every week you make sure your team is ready. That part, so far has gone well. I’ve done that in enough different places that the way you do that never changes.”

One thing Le Havre has always been know for is its youth program. Its famed academy is one of the best in France and is highly regarded throughout Europe.

Riyad Mahrez, Paul Pogba and Lassana Diarra are just some of the star names to be nurtured in Upper Normandy and with Bradley’s experienced of working closely with young players during his days at Princeton, then in MLS, plus with the U.S. and Egypt and more recently with a youthful squad at Stabaek, he seems like a good fit to make the most out of Le Havre’s historically excellent academy.Has he seen any news stars coming through right now?

“There are some great names that have come through the academy. I think the pure ability in the academy, in terms of the recruiting top talent has been challenged a little bit when the club as a while isn’t quite as strong. Qe are all trying to make sure that we are keeping that part going,” Bradley said. “For me I have gotten to know the director of the academy, Johann Louvel, and he also coaches the second team which is the same setup as we had at Stabaek. A lot of the academy coaches have now started to come out and watch our training so they start to get a feel for things that we believe are important. At first it is everybody getting to know each other and sharing ideas. It would be early for me to say ‘the next Paul Pogba here or the next Mahrez is here’ look, let’s wait and see. But certainly, some great players have come through the academy and hopefully we can make sure that good work continues and plays a big role in the success of the first team.”

Source: Chelsea will not loan Matt Miazga upon transfer from Red Bulls

GRANT WAHLTwitter EmailPosted: Wed Jan. 27, 2016

When ESPN.com reported on Wednesday that New York Red Bulls defender Matt Miazga was soon to be sold to Chelsea, the first reaction of most in the U.S. soccer community was: Surely Miazga won’t play for Chelsea but rather be sent out immediately on loan like so many other players owned by the Blues.Not so fast, SI.com has learned. A source close to the Miazga deal tells SI.com that if the deal goes through, Chelsea would keep Miazga with its senior team for the remaining four months of this season and then evaluate his performance this summer.At that point, Chelsea would decide either to keep Miazga or loan him out to another team. That would give Miazga at least four months to train (and perhaps play) with Chelsea’s first team and make his case for inclusion moving forward.Miazga, 20, is set to move for around $5 million to Chelsea. He had a promising season with the Red Bulls last year and made his U.S. senior debut in November. Miazga turned down a contract extension from New York at the end of last season and would have been entering the final year of his MLS deal. When that contract refusal happened, the chances increased that New York would sell Miazga to avoid letting him go on a free transfer at the end of the 2016 season.Because Miazga owns a Polish passport, he wouldn’t need a U.K. work permit.

Source: Tim Howard “highly likely” for Colorado Rapids, MLS move in May

2 CommentsBy Joe Prince-WrightJan 26, 2016, 5:40 PM EST  NBCSports.com

A few days ago the rumor mill was suggesting that Everton and USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard could be heading back to Major League Soccer with the Colorado Rapids.The rumor had died down for a few days but just got very interesting as a source has told ProSoccerTalk that Howard has held “serious talks” with Colorado and after 10 years at Goodison Park he looks highly likely to sign for the Rapids and supposedly wants a return to the U.S.If all goes to plan in negotiations between Everton and MLS then Howard could sign this month but would only move to Colorado in May following the conclusion of the 2015-16 Premier League season.[ MORE: LVG’s time at United up? ]

Veteran U.S. international Howard, 36, has recently put in a string of fine displays for the Toffees but throughout this campaign he has also been criticized by some sections of the Everton support, especially following a 2-1 defeat at Arsenal earlier in the season. An up and down season for Howard has also seen him criticized for giving away a penalty kick in the 2-1 home defeat to Swansea on Sunday, plus his role in Diego Costa‘s goal inEverton’s 3-3 draw at Chelsea last weekend.

Further reinforcing the notion that Howard could be on the brink of a surprising potential move back to MLS — especially to a Rapids franchise who finished rock bottom of the Western Conference in 2015 — last Monday the Rapids announced they had traded starting goalkeeper Clint Irwin to Toronto FC for targeted allocation money, their highest natural third round selection in this year’s MLS SuperDraft and a conditional first round selection in the 2017 MLS SuperDraft. Plus Colorado currently holds the number one allocation ranking in MLS after making a trade with the Chicago Fire for that position less than two weeks ago.That means any current U.S. national team player looking to sign with the league will be offered to them first and Colorado’s VP of soccer operations, Paul Bravo, has been quoted as saying that the move up to No. 1 in the allocation order is “the most significant deal we’ve done in this club’s history.” That says it allHoward’s boss at Everton, Roberto Martinez, was asked by the media following Sunday’s defeat to Swansea if the Rapids had been in contact with Everton: “At the moment there is nothing” was his response. Now, it seems like things are moving forward.Losing their long-time starting goalkeeper would not be ideal for the Toffees but given Howard’s commitment to the Merseyside outfit for over a decade, you get the sense that Everton wouldn’t stand in his way and would be unlikely to demand too high of a transfer fee from MLS to complicate negotiations.In a 0-0 draw at Manchester City on Jan. 13, Howard pulled off probably his best performance since his World Cups heroics for the U.S. against Belgium in the last 16 of the 2014 tournament, and he still has plenty to offer at the top level. With his young family based Stateside, Howard took a self-imposed sabbatical from the USMNT from Sept. 2014 until Sept. 2015 and even though he has a contract at Everton until the summer of 2018, getting to spend extra time with his kids and returning to the U.S. after 13 years abroad will play a huge factor in his potential move.With Joel Robles pushing him all the way for a starting spot at Goodison Park, is this the right time for Howard to return to MLS and play out the remaining years of his career? We shall see…

Howard, a New Jersey native, made his name in MLS for the MetroStars from 1999-2003 but was transferred to Manchester United where he spent three years before signing for Everton permanently in 2007 after a successful loan spell during the 2006-07 campaign.It seems as though one of the greatest goalkeepers the U.S. has ever produced is closer than ever to returning home.

UPDATE: Jeff Carlisle of ESPN is reporting that there would likely be no transfer fee paid by MLS to Everton for Howard and he would become the highest paid goalkeeper in the league, earning between $2-3 million per season. 

Bob Bradley Climbs the Global Soccer Ladder With an Impediment: He’s American

By JAMES MONTAGUEJAN. 24, 2016

LE HAVRE, France — In the conference room of a smart hotel in the center of this port city, four Frenchmen were talking loudly over one another and gesticulating toward a flip chart in front of a row of empty chairs.Bob Bradley, the recently appointed coach of the city’s second-tier soccer team, Havre A.C. — more commonly known as Le HAC — sat nearby. Bradley was awaiting the arrival of his players for a team meeting before that evening’s league match against Paris F.C., the French capital’s second team.As the voices of his four assistant coaches rose, Bradley drew half a soccer field onto the flip chart — free hand, but with perfectly straight lines — before writing the names and numbers of his players and their possible opponents in different colored pens. He quietly checked the names and spellings with a translator.  At the top of the flip chart, he carefully wrote the words “Corners Defensifs” before sitting down and waiting with restrained impatience as the Gallic-style argument among his coaches continued.  At last, Bradley had heard enough.  “Look,” he said loudly and suddenly, stopping the argument in its tracks. With a few swipes and arrows drawn with his pen, he issued instructions as to how his players should defend corner kicks when the match began in two hours. “It’s football,” he said finally. The coaches nodded in agreement.  Bradley does not speak French. At least not yet. But then, language has not been much of a barrier to his success.  After he was fired as coach of the United States national soccer team in 2011, Bradley guided Egypt’s national team to within a game of the World Cup and led the small Norwegian club Stabaek into the Europa League. Now he has landed at Le Havre, France’s oldest soccer club but one that has been generally absent from the country’s top tier in recent years.It is here on France’s north coast that Bradley has come to teach a new group of players, and to continue the pursuit of the kind of job — the bigjob — that he really wants, the one that some suggest his résumé has earned.“I’ve accepted challenges to prove myself,” Bradley said of his recently meandering coaching path.Referring to a riot in 2012 that killed more than 70 people after a match between two Egyptian clubs, Bradley said, “When I was in Egypt, after Port Said, people asked me: ‘Why are you still here? Why didn’t you leave?’ Then I went to Norway, to this small team, and people would say, ‘Why did you come?’ ”It is a question, Bradley conceded, that he hears regularly.“What it amounts to is, this part of you — on the inside — wants to show people what you can do,” he said. “You want to prove yourself. You want a chance.”A native of New Jersey, Bradley, 57, spent the first three decades of his coaching career in the United States, in college, in M.L.S. and, finally, with the national team. In 2011, after a disheartening loss to Mexico cost him his job, Bradley and his wife, Lindsay, moved to Cairo before the January 25 Revolution and before the riot in Port Said, one the worst soccer stadium disasters in history.His Egypt team lost just once on the long road to the 2014 World Cup, but that was enough to spoil its dreams of qualifying. “It was a disappointment,” Bradley said, that “sticks with you forever.”A few months later, he arrived in Norway to take charge of Stabaek, a small, recently promoted club that was only just emerging from a financial meltdown. Bradley spent two years there, taking the team to a cup semifinal, a third-place finish in the league and, with it, a qualification spot for next season’s Europa League.Yet despite Bradley’s successes, he faced an employment landscape that offered few opportunities for him in top European leagues. “In England, they talk about having Premier League experience,” Bradley said, “and, to be fair, I don’t have it.”His assistant Pierre Barrieu puts it more plainly. “I am 100 percent convinced if he wasn’t American he would have got a big job somewhere,” he said. “There is this U.S. tag on his back.”Lacking a direct path to a job in a top league, Bradley concluded that Le Havre offered just what he needed: the chance to earn one through promotion. Last year, Le Havre had been acquired by the American businessman Vincent Volpe, who was on the lookout for a new coach when Bradley’s agent contacted the club.“My first thought was, I think our search is over,” Volpe said.  Three days later, Bradley arrived to discuss the position. “The only reticence was how would he do with the language,” Volpe said. “But we thought about the fact that he did a great job in Norway, and a great job in Egypt. It clearly wasn’t an issue.”Shortly before leaving for the match against Paris F.C. on Jan. 15, the Havre players filled the empty seats in the hotel conference room as Bradley gave his team talk. He spoke to them through Barrieu, an assistant during Bradley’s United States national team days who has rejoined him in France.“Be proud of the colors and the club,” Bradley told the team. “Show no fear. Play the game. Enjoy it.”fterward, the players filed out quietly, onto a bus that would take them to the match.At Stade Océane, a modern facility wrapped in a translucent blue shell reminiscent of Munich’s Allianz Arena, Havre supporters were still surprised to have a coach who has led a team at a World Cup finals.“We have never known such a good coach in Le Havre,” Yann Simon, 39, said in the supporters’ bar under the stadium. “But we don’t know if he’s a good guy for Le Havre. We will know at the end of the season.”Promotion is the aim. That would be a rare foray into France’s elite for Le Havre, but it would also deliver the coaching job in a top European division that Bradley has coveted. Both goals are within reach: Le Havre beat last-place Paris F.C., 2-1, to temporarily move into third place in the league — and into one of Ligue 2’s three automatic promotion spots.Early the next morning, he would be off to Oslo to sort out the last paperwork he needs to complete qualification for his UEFA pro license, which is now a prerequisite for any top job in Europe. If the season ends as well as it has begun, he will need it.“I am the same with every job: I put my heart and soul into it and show what I am all about,” Bradley said, adding, “If you keep working, someone, somewhere along the line will work it out.”

AMERICANS OVERSEAS = US SOCCER

NEWS Jan 25, 2016 0

While a mostly domestic-based group continues to train ahead of the U.S. MNT’s first friendly of 2016 next week against Iceland, a number of Americans plying their trade abroad were active for their clubs this weekend.

In France, midfielder Alejandro Bedoya capped a fantastic week for himself with FC Nantes. On Wednesday, the veteran attacker had barely gotten on the field before running on to a header and tallying the only goal in extra time of Nantes’ 1-0 victory at Mantois 78 in the Coupe de France (WATCH). With the win, Nantes setup a Round of 16 clash away to Bordeaux. Bedoya and Nantes then got a preview of Les Girondins in Ligue 1 action on Saturday, and the U.S. international bagged his second goal of the week in the 30th minute. Already with a 1-0 lead thanks to Kolbbein Sigþórsson’s first half effort, teammate Ermir Lenjani beat his man on the left before sending a cross to the back post where Bedoya was unmarked and able to head past Bordeaux ‘keeper Cedric Carrasco to take the score to 2-0 (WATCH). Bedoya went 90 minutes in the match, but Bordeaux poured on the pressure late, getting two goals back inside the final six minutes to force a 2-2 draw.

In Mexico, a pair of U.S. MNT center backs faced off as Omar Gonzalez’s Pachuca ran out of Estadio Azteca with a 4-1 win against Ventura Alvarado’s Club America. Both defenders went the full 90 minutes for their sides, with Alvarado conceding an own goal in the 19th minute while Gonzalez was part of a back line that never looked too bothered in the victory. Since transferring to Pachuca from the LA Galaxy just before the new year, Gonzalez has appeared in all three of Los Tuzos matches, helping the side to a 2-0-1 start to the 2016 Liga MX Clausura campaign.

In Guanajuato, goalkeeper William Yarbrough and Club León remained perfect in the Liga MX Clausura as Club Leon downed Cruz Azul 3-2 on Saturday.

In Germany, a number of U.S. internationals returned from the Bundesliga’s winter break on Saturday. Center back John Brooks anchored the back line for third-place Hertha Berlin in their 0-0 home draw with Augsburg, marking the fourth straight match across all competitions that he’s played and helped the side to a clean sheet.

Fabian Johnson played the full 90 minutes for Borussia Moenchengladbach as they began the second half of the season with a tough 3-1 home defeat to second-place Borussia Dortmund. Notably, 17-year-old U.S. youth international Christian Pulisic, who featured in first team matches during Dortmund’s winter break, made the game day 18 for the side, but did not appear in the match.  Alfredo Morales started and went 68 minutes in midfield during Ingolstadt’s 1-0 victory against Mainz.  

In the English Premiership, goalkeeper Tim Howard and Everton were undone by Gilfy Sigurðsson’s 17th minute penalty kick and Andre Ayew’s 34th minute winner as the Toffees felt 2-1 to Swansea City on Saturday.

In the English Championship, Danny Williams went 90 minutes in midfield as Reading drew 1-1 at home with Sheffield Wednesday. Tim Ream started and went the distance while midfielder Emerson Hyndman entered in the 7th minute as Fulham fell 1-0 to Hull City at Craven Cottage.

US MLS Goalies in Camp

The framework of this January camp built by U.S. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann is “identification and development,” and that theme plays through the list of goalkeepers. While the coach has made it clear that the three ‘keepers who represented the team at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil – Brad Guzan, Tim Howard and Nick Rimando – remain at the top of the pecking order, he has an opportunity to look towards the future with this group in Carson. Fortunately, the U.S. has a long history of producing international-level goalkeepers. Here’s a snapshot of the guys getting a look this month:

Luis Robles – New York Red Bulls

Robles was named 2015 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year and earned 2015 MLS Best XI honors. The Fort Huachuca, Arizona, native last appeared for the MNT in 2009 as the third goalkeeper during the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup in South Africa, followed by his lone MNT appearance in a 2-2 draw with Haiti on July 11 in the 2009 CONCACAF Gold Cup in Foxboro, Massachusetts.

Sean Johnson – Chicago Fire

The 26-year-old has earned five career caps since his MNT debut on Jan. 22, 2011 against Chile. He most recently stopped five shots on goal in 45 minutes of action, completing a 2-0 shutout against Panama at StubHub Center on Feb. 8, 2015. The Lilburn, Georgia, native is entering his seventh season with the Chicago Fire.

 David Bingham – San Jose Earthquakes 

The 26-year-old, sixth-year pro is making his first appearance at a MNT camp. In 2015, he started all 34 matches and tied the San Jose Earthquakes’ club record with 12 clean sheets.

Chelsea Capitalizes on Red Card and Drops Arsenal to Third

By THE ASSOCIATED PRESSJAN. 24, 2016

Chelsea remained unbeaten in the Premier League under Guus Hiddink a month into his tenure as interim manager, winning at Arsenal, 1-0, on Sunday.Arsenal, which had been unbeaten at home in league play since opening day, was undone by a five-minute spell in the first half. Per Mertesacker was sent off for tripping Diego Costa, and Costa then scored the game’s only goal in the 23rd minute.“He got Mertesacker sent off,” Arsenal Manager Arsène Wenger said of Costa. “A fact is a fact. I do not accuse him of anything; it’s just what happened.”Arsenal dropped from first to third place over the weekend, behind Leicester, the leader, and Manchester City. Chelsea, despite three wins and four draws under Hiddink, is in 13th place, and the fourth Champions League place — occupied by Tottenham, 14 points away — looks unobtainable.Wenger was jeered by Arsenal fans for replacing striker Olivier Giroud with defender Gabriel after losing Mertesacker.“You want to make a poll for every decision to see who does what?” Wenger told reporters. “I made the decision, and for me it was quite normal. We had to go for long distances, and we needed pace to go from one goal to the other. We knew we had to drop deeper and use pace to get forward.”Arsenal has not beaten Chelsea since November 2011.In Sunday’s other Premier League game, Everton lost to visiting Swansea, 2-1, leaving the team a point and a place ahead of Chelsea.Gylfi Sigurdsson put Swansea in front from the penalty spot in the 17th minute. An own goal by Jack Cork tied the game, but Andre Ayew scored before halftime to give Francesco Guidolin a winning start as Swansea’s coach.Swansea is now 4 points above the relegation zone.“I dreamed of working in Premier League, but I didn’t dream of winning the first match,” said Guidolin, formerly the coach at the Italian club Udinese.

DISAPPOINTMENT IN MADRID Real Madrid drew at Real Betis, 1-1, dropping its first points under Coach Zinedine Zidane, and a scoreless tie at home against 10-man Sevilla kept Atlético Madrid from regaining the lead in the Spanish league from Barcelona.Real Madrid mustered only a second-half goal by Karim Benzema, which canceled out a stunner by Álvaro Cejudo.Atlético Madrid and Barcelona each have 48 points, but Barcelona is ahead on goal difference thanks to Saturday’s 2-1 win at Málaga.Zidane had overseen two lopsided Real Madrid wins at home since taking over from the maligned Rafael Benítez. But the team’s setback in Seville showed that it will take more than a change of coach to remedy Real Madrid’s ills on the road, where it has won just four of 10 league games this season.

RACE IN ITALY REMAINS TIGHT Juventus secured an 11th successive Italian league win as it beat visiting Roma, 1-0, to keep the pressure on Napoli, which won at 10-man Sampdoria, 4-2.  Gonzalo Higuaín, the league leader in goals, scored again for first-place Napoli, which leads Juventus by 2 points.Inter Milan trails by 6 points, having drawn, 1-1, at home against 10-man Carpi, which got a last-minute equalizer. Fiorentina moved above Inter on goal difference with a 2-0 home win over Torino.Juventus needs just two more victories to match the club record for consecutive league wins.

MONACO STRENGTHENS GRIP With Paris St.-Germain 21 points ahead in a lopsided race in the French league, Monaco solidified its hold on second place with a 4-0 home win against struggling Toulouse. Monaco, which got off to a stuttering start this season, is 3 points ahead of third-place Nice.

SHOCKING DEFEATS IN GERMANY Eintracht Frankfurt’s captain, Alexander Meier, scored three goals against visiting Wolfsburg in a 3-2 victory, one of two surprising results in the Bundesliga. In the other stunner, Schalke lost, 3-1, at home against relegation-threatened Werder Bremen despite taking a fourth-minute lead. (AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)

DEFENDER IS SIDELINED Bayern Munich said defender Jérôme Boateng, who injured his groin Friday against Hamburger S.V., needed “a long break.” (AP)

DROGBA SENDS SIGNAL Didier Drogba indicated he would be returning to the Montreal Impact of Major League Soccer, effectively ending speculation that he could be joining the coaching staff of Chelsea, his former club. Drogba wrote on Twitter that he was “on way to Qatar to do some preparation work for pre-season”; the M.L.S. season starts in March. (REUTERS)

COACH’S AGENT REJECTS REPORT José Mourinho’s agent dismissed as “absolutely ridiculous and totally absurd” a report in The Independent, a British newspaper, that Mourinho wrote a “love letter” to Manchester United to trumpet his case to be the team’s next manager.(REUTERS)

Champions League

Records Ronaldo and Messi have not broken (yet)

Published: Tuesday 19 January 2016, 10.40CET

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are great but – in some respects – Alfrédo Di Stéfano, Bafétimbi Gomis and Radamel Falcao are greater, as UEFA.com discovers.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s ongoing battle to be the top goalscorer in European football remains perhaps the sport’s greatest drama of our age, but both need to raise their game considerably if they are to scoop the following European Champion Clubs’ Cup and UEFA Champions League records.

RELATED ITEMS

Final goals
Most goals in European Cup finals: 7 – Alfrédo Di Stéfano, Ferenc Puskás (both Real Madrid)
Goals in most European Cup finals: 5 – Alfrédo Di Stefano (Real Madrid, 1956, 1957, 1958. 1959, 1960)
Most goals in a single European Cup final: 4 – Ferenc Puskás (Real Madrid, 1960)
Most goals in a single UEFA Champions League final: 2 – Daniele Massaro (AC Milan, 1994), Karl-Heinz Riedle (Borussia Dortmund, 1997), Hernán Crespo (Milan, 2005), Filippo Inzaghi (Milan, 2007), Diego Milito (Internazionale Milano, 2010)

With two finals goals each – and only one in any single final (Messi in 2009 and 2011, Ronaldo in 2008 and 2014) – Ronaldo and Messi both have a way to go to emulate the all-time final star strikers. Two other players have also scored in two UEFA Champions League finals: Raúl González (Real Madrid, 2000, 2002) and Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona, 2006, 2009).

Goals in European Cup/UEFA Champions League stages
Most UEFA Champions League group stage goals: Raúl González (53)
Most European Cup/UEFA Champions League quarter-final goals: Alfrédo Di Stéfano (14)
Most European Cup/UEFA Champions League semi-final goals: Alfrédo Di Stéfano (11)

Raúl’s twin records as the leading UEFA Champions League and UEFA club competition goalscorer have been surpassed by Ronaldo (who now holds both) and Messi, but the ex-Madrid ace retains his status as the all-time top marksman in the UEFA Champions League group stage; Messi on 47 and Ronaldo on 49 may surpass that mark yet.

Di Stéfano remains king in terms of quarter-final and semi-final goals, though his throne appears increasingly vulnerable. Ronaldo has registered 12 in the quarters and eight in the semis; Messi has notched 10 and four respectively at those stages.

Success with different sides
Final wins with the most teams in the UEFA Champions League: 3 – Clarence Seedorf (Ajax 1995, Real Madrid 1998, Milan 2003, 2007)
Highest number of teams scored for in the UEFA Champions League: 6 – Zlatan Ibrahimović (Ajax, Juventus, Internazionale, Barcelona, Milan, Paris Saint-Germain)

Cristiano Ronaldo is unique in having scored in UEFA Champions League finals for two different winning sides – Manchester United in 2008 and Madrid in 2014. The luckless Velibor Vasović is the only other player to net in European Cup finals for two clubs, as a loser with Partizan in 1966 and Ajax in 1969. Ronaldo will require a transfer if he is to match Clarence Seedorf’s unique achievement of winning the competition with three separate teams.

Ibrahimović’s record looks even safer from Messi and Ronaldo, who would have to start moving clubs regularly – while still scoring – to make it to six. All of Messi’s goals to date have come for Barcelona, while Ronaldo has only found the target for United and Madrid in the UEFA Champions League.

Oldest goalscorer
UEFA Champions League final: Paolo Maldini (36 years 333 days) Milan v Liverpool (25/05/2005)
UEFA Champions League, group stage to final: Francesco Totti (38 years 59 days)
CSKA Moskva v Roma (25/11/2014)
European Cup: Manfred Burgsmüller (38 years 293 days)
Werder Bremen v Dynamo Berlin (11/10/1988)

Totti’s landmark goal and more

If our dynamic duo are to eclipse Maldini’s record as the oldest final scorer, they will have to be patient. Ronaldo’s first chance will be in the 2021/22 final, while Messi will not be in line until the 2023/24 showpiece – and only then provided it does not take place before 23 May, in which case he would have to wait another year.

To overtake the UEFA Champions League oldest scorer mark, Ronaldo will need to register in the competition, group stage to final, after 1 April 2023, and Messi after 22 August 2025. To become the European Cup’s all-time oldest scorer, Ronaldo will have to hit the target after 22 November 2023, and Messi after 13 April 2026.

Fastest goals
Fastest UEFA Champions League goal: Roy Makaay (10.12 seconds)
Bayern München v Real Madrid (07/03/2007)
Fastest UEFA Champions League final goal: Paolo Maldini (53 seconds) Milan v Liverpool (25/05/2005)

Fastest Champions League goals

Roy Makaay has established a somewhat daunting target with his strike pretty much straight from the kick-off against Madrid. Ronaldo and Messi’s earliest UEFA Champions League efforts both came in the fourth minute – Ronaldo for Madrid against Juventus in October 2013, andMessi

against FC Basel 1893 in October 2008

.

Paolo Maldini’s quickfire final goal versus Liverpool is also a mark neither Ronaldo nor Messi have come close to achieving; both of Messi’s final goals were in the second half, with the earliest of Ronaldo’s two coming 26 minutes into the 2008 decider with Chelsea in Moscow.

Hat-tricks
Fastest UEFA Champions League hat-trick: Bafétimbi Gomis (8 mins)
Dinamo Zagreb v Olympique Lyonnais, 07/12/2011
Hat-tricks in consecutive UEFA Champions League games: Luiz Adriano (2)
FC BATE Borisov v Shakhtar Donetsk (21/10/14) & Shakhtar Donetsk v FC BATE Borisov (05/11/14)

Messi and Ronaldo now share the record for UEFA Champions League hat-tricks – five each – though neither has outstripped Bafétimbi Gomis’s lightning-quick treble against Dinamo. The swiftest of Messi’s hat-tricks – his first – took 22 minutes (v Arsenal FC, 06/04/10), though a mere 16 minutes separated his second and fourth strikes in his five-goal salvo against Bayer 04 Leverkusen on 7 March 2012. Ronaldo’s 12-minute treble against Malmö on matchday six is his fastest to date.

Luiz Adriano broke new ground by scoring back-to-back UEFA Champions League trios against BATE last term – five goals in the first group meeting and three in the second.

Long-distance records
Goals in most successive UEFA Champions League seasons: Raúl González (14)
Goals in most UEFA Champions League seasons: Ryan Giggs (16)

Sporting CP did not get through qualifying in Ronaldo’s only attempt with the club, and the forward then failed to net in his first two UEFA Champions League seasons with United. However, he has registered in the last ten campaigns – and ten  in all – meaning he must keep playing and scoring for five more seasons to catch Raúl. To replicate Giggs’s total he may – like the Welshman – need to play on until he is over 40.

There were no false starts for Messi, who has now scored in 11 UEFA Champions League campaigns, but he will be well into his 30s before he can trouble Raúl or Giggs in this respect.

Single-season total
Most goals in a single European season: Radamel Falcao (18), Porto 2010/11

Falcao’s glorious exploits in the 2010/11 UEFA Europa League set a mark that Messi and Ronaldo have been unable to emulate. The Colombian’s haul included one goal in qualifying and 17 in the competition proper. Messi’s best year came in 2011/12 when he ended the European season with 14 strikes, while Ronaldo set a new European Cup/UEFA Champions League record with 17 in 2013/14.

Goalscoring consistency
Goals in most consecutive appearances:Ruud van Nistelrooy (9), Manchester United, 2002/03
Best goals per game average in European Cup/UEFA Champions League: 0.97 – Gerd Müller (Bayern)
Best goals per game average in UEFA club competition*: 0.90 – Radamel Falcao (Porto, Club Atlético de Madrid)

Ruud van Nistelrooy did not figure in all United’s games in the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League but managed to score in nine straight appearances in that campaign – ten if you include his goal in qualifying. Ronaldo has come the closest to bettering that mark, with strikes in eight successive 2013/14 outings.

However, when it comes to goals per match, Ronaldo cannot compete with the all-time record holders. His UEFA Champions League record stands at 0.71 a game – 89 goals in 125 games – and it is 0.71 in all UEFA club competitions – 91 in 128. Messi has registered more consistently (0.78 in the UEFA Champions League – 80 goals in 102 games; 0.78 in all UEFA competitions – 83 in 106). While Falcao’s awesome total may yet come down if he returns to regular European action, Gerd Müller’s European Cup ratio still seems unbeatable.

Champions League final venue: San Siro’s legacy

Published: Wednesday 20 January 2016, 10.30CET

The San Siro will witness Europe’s champions crowned for the fourth time in its history this season. We look back at the previous finals that have graced the iconic stadium..  The San Siro hosts the showpiece of Europe’s premier club competition for the fourth time this season, giving us the opportunity to look back and discover the stadium’s finals legacy.

Inter 1-0 Benfica
27/05/1965, European Cup final
The Nerazzurri became the third side to win successive European titles, seeing off two-time champions Benfica on home soil as they adapted better to the muddy and waterlogged conditions. The Portuguese club – led by Eusébio – had blown away Real Madrid and Hungary’s Vasas in the previous two rounds, but the heavens opened to stymie their passing game. A Catenaccio-drilled Inter took advantage, with Brazilian Jair scoring two minutes before the interval to give ‘La Grande Inter’ a second crown.

Feyenoord 2-1 Celtic (aet)
06/05/1970 European Cup final
The great Ajax team of the early 1970s put Dutch soccer on the map with a trio of consecutive titles from 1971, yet it was their rivals from Rotterdam who beat them to the trophy by a year. Under the guidance of famed Austrian coach Ernst Happel, Rinus Israel equalised two minutes after Tommy Gemmel’s opener for 1967 winners Celtic. Prolific Swede Ole Kindvall struck with three minutes of extra time left to kick the door open for Dutch supremacy.

Highlights: 2001 Milan showdown

Bayern 1-1 Valencia (Bayern win 5-4 on pens)
23/05/2001 UEFA Champions League final
Bayern ended 25 years of waiting for their fourth European title as penalties dominated the day. Gaizka Mendieta and Stefan Effenberg traded regulation-time spot kicks and the game went to a shoot-out, clinched when Oliver Kahn denied Mauricio Pellegrino as the Spaniards lost the final for the second year running. “I remember that Santiago Cañizares, the Valencia goalkeeper, lay down on the goal line and started to cry. I felt for him,” said match winner Kahn, who had endured similar pain in 1999.

There have also been four UEFA Cup final legs played at the San Siro …

Inter 2-0 Roma
08/05/1991 UEFA Cup final first leg
Lothar Matthäus’s penalty and Nicola Berti’s 67th-minute strike established a first-leg lead which Roma could only halve with a 1-0 success in the return match.

Inter 1-0 Salzburg
11/05/1994 UEFA Cup final second leg
After Berti again scored in the first leg to give Inter a 1-0 victory in Austria, Dutch midfielder Wim Jonk sealed the trophy triumph with the only goal of the second leg in Milan.

©Getty Images

Juventus 1-1 Parma
17/05/95 UEFA Cup final second leg
Following a 1-0 defeat in Parma, Juve had to play their home leg in Milan and despite going ahead through Gianluca Vialli were pegged back by Dino Baggio’s second goal of the tie, which earned a draw and the trophy for Parma.

Inter 1-0 Schalke
21/05/97 UEFA Cup final second leg
Iván Zamorano decided the second leg for Inter six minutes from time to herald the lottery of penalties; however, the Chilean forward missed in the shoot-out along with Aron Winter, allowing Schalke to land the prize.

Márquez, Chicarito, Sánchez: CONCACAF’s European stars

Published: Wednesday 20 January 2016, 15.00CET

Six CONCACAF-registered players are still in with a shout of winning this season’s UEFA Champions League; UEFA.com records North and Central America’s high scores.

 

CONCACAF nationals in the 2015/16 UEFA Champions League round of 16 squads
Joel Campbell (CRC – Arsenal)
Julian Green (USA – Bayern München)
Andrés Guardado (MEX – PSV Eindhoven)
Raúl Jiménez (MEX – Benfica)
Héctor Moreno (MEX – PSV Eindhoven)
Keylor Navas (CRC – Real Madrid)

RELATED ITEMS

Most appearances by a CONCACAF national player in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup/UEFA Champions League (including qualifying)
46: Rafael Márquez (MEX – Monaco, Barcelona)
40: Javier Hernandez (MEX – Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen)
30: Emilio Izaguirre (HON – Celtic)
27: DaMarcus Beasley (USA – PSV Eindhoven, Rangers)
27: Jermaine Jones (USA – Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke)
27: Hugo Sánchez (MEX – Real Madrid)
25: Carlos Vela (MEX – Arsenal, Real Sociedad)
22: Christián Bolaños (CRC – København)
21: Atiba Hutchinson (CAN – København, Beşiktaş)
21: Carlos Salcido (MEX – PSV Eindhoven)

Top-scoring CONCACAF national players in the European Champion Clubs’ Cup/UEFA Champions League (including qualifying)
17: Hugo Sánchez (MEX – Real Madrid)
13: Javier Hernandez (MEX – Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen)
11: Dwight Yorke (TRI – Manchester United)
6: DaMarcus Beasley (USA – PSV Eindhoven, Rangers)
6: Nery Castillo (MEX – Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk)
5: Tomasz Radzinski (CAN – Anderlecht)
5: Carlos Vela (MEX – Arsenal, Real Sociedad)
4: Hector Herrera (MEX – Porto)
3: Christián Bolaños (CRC – København)
3: Sacha Kljestan (USA – Anderlecht)

Most appearances by CONCACAF national players in UEFA club competition*
85: Atiba Hutchinson (CAN – København, PSV Eindhoven, Beşiktaş)
56: Rafael Márquez (MEX – Monaco, Barcelona)
51: Dwight Yorke (TRI – Aston Villa, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers)
45: Hugo Sánchez (MEX – Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid)
43: Javier Hernandez (MEX – Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen)
41: Emilio Izaguirre (HON – Celtic)
40: Brad Friedel (USA – Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur)
40: Tim Howard (USA – Manchester United, Everton)
39: Christián Bolaños (CRC – Odense, København)
39: Jermaine Jones (USA – Bayer Leverkusen, Schalke)

Top-scoring CONCACAF national players in UEFA club competition*
24: Hugo Sánchez (MEX – Atlético Madrid, Real Madrid)
17: Julio Dely Valdés (PAN – Cagliari, Paris Saint-Germain, Málaga)
16: Tomasz Radzinski (CAN – Germinal Beerschot, Anderlecht)
15: Javier Hernandez (MEX – Manchester United, Real Madrid, Bayer Leverkusen)
13: Dwight Yorke (TRI – Aston Villa, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers)
7: Clint Dempsey (USA – Fulham, Tottenham Hotspur)
7: Giovani dos Santos (MEX – Barcelona, Tottenham Hotspur, Galatasaray, Villarreal)
7: Bryan Ruiz (CRC – Gent, Twente, Sporting CP)
6: Michael Barrantes (CRC – Aalesund)
6: DaMarcus Beasley (USA – PSV Eindhoven, Rangers)
6: Nery Castillo (MEX – Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Aris Thessaloniki)

First CONCACAF national to win a UEFA club competition
Hugo Sánchez (Real Madrid 5-3agg Köln, 1985/86 UEFA Cup)

Only CONCACAF national to have won the UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup
Julio Dely Valdés (Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 Rapid Wien, 1995/96)

CONCACAF nationals who have won the European Champion Clubs’ Cup/UEFA Champions League
Dwight Yorke (Manchester United 2-1 Bayern München, 1998/99)
Rafael Márquez (Barcelona 2-1 Arsenal, 2005/06)

CONCACAF nationals who have been European Champion Clubs’ Cup/UEFA Champions League runners-up
Javier Hernández (Barcelona 3-1 Manchester United, 2010/11)

CONCACAF nationals who have been UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League runners-up
Clint Dempsey (Atlético Madrid 2-1aet Fulham, 2010/11)

Nation-by-nation: Most appearances by CONCACAF nationals in UEFA club competition*
ANGUILLA: none
ANTIGUA AND BARBUDA: none
ARUBA: none
BARBADOS: 5 – Emmerson Boyce (Wigan)
BAHAMAS: none
BELIZE: none
BERMUDA: none
BRITISH VIRGIN ISLANDS: none
CANADA: 85 – Atiba Hutchinson (København, PSV Eindhoven, Beşiktaş)
CAYMAN ISLANDA: none
COSTA RICA: 39 – (Odense, København)
CUBA: 2 – Alain García (Nõmme Kalju)
CURAÇAO: none
DOMINICA: none
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC: none
EL SALVADOR: 7 – Didier Ovono (Dinamo Tbilisi)
GRENADA: 12 – Brendon Batson (West Brom)
GUATEMALA: 8 – Carlos Ruiz (Aris Thessaloniki)
GUYANA: none
HAITI: 28 – Kim Jaggy (Grasshopper Club)
HONDURAS: 41 – Emilio Izaguirre (Celtic)
JAMAICA: 12 – Frank Sinclair (Chelsea, Leicester)
MEXICO: 56 – Rafael Márquez (Monaco, Barcelona)
MONTSERRAT: none
NICARAGUA: 2 – Juan Barrera (Altach)
PANAMA: 38 – Julio Dely Valdés (Cagliari, Paris Saint-Germain, Málaga)
PUERTO RICO: none
SAINT KITTS AND NEVIS: none
SAINT LUCIA: none
SAINT VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES: none
SURINAM: none
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO: 51 – Dwight Yorke (Aston Villa, Manchester United, Blackburn Rovers)
TURKS AND CAICOS ISLANDS: none
UNITED STATES: 40 – Brad Friedel (Liverpool, Blackburn Rovers, Aston Villa, Tottenham Hotspur)
US VIRGIN ISLANDS: none

*UEFA club competitions means European Champion Clubs’ Cup/UEFA Champions League, UEFA Cup/UEFA Europa League, European/South American Cup, UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup, UEFA Super Cup and UEFA Intertoto Cup

Financial fair play: all you need to know

Published: Tuesday 30 18.12CET

What is financial fair play? How does it work? What is it trying to achieve and why does UEFA believe it will improve the overall financial health of European club football? Find out here.

Q&A: Financial fair play explained

1) How do you explain financial fair play in one sentence?

Financial fair play is about improving the overall financial health of European club football.

2) When did financial fair play start?

Financial fair play was approved in 2010 and the first assessments kicked off in 2011. Since then clubs that have qualified for UEFA competitions have to prove they do not have overdue payables towards other clubs, their players and social/tax authorities throughout the season. In other words, they have to prove they have paid their bills.

Since 2013, clubs have also been assessed against break-even requirements, which require clubs to balance their spending with their revenues and restricts clubs from accumulating debt. In assessing this, the independent Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) analyses each season three years’ worth of club financial figures, for all clubs in UEFA competitions, The first sanctions and conditions for clubs not fulfilling the break-even requirement were set following this first assessment in May 2014. The conditions relating to non-compliance with break-even requirements were effective for the 2014/15 campaign.

From June 2015, UEFA updated its regulations (as it does from time to time for all regulations) to address some specific circumstances with the aim to encourage more sustainable investment while maintaining control on overspending. Situations addressed include clubs requiring business restructuring, clubs facing sudden economic shocks and clubs operating with severe market structural deficiencies in their operating region. For the first time the work of the CFCB is potentially expanded to include clubs not yet qualified for UEFA competitions but who anticipate and want to participate at some stage in the future.

3) Are clubs no longer allowed to have losses?

To be exact, clubs can spend up to €5million more than they earn per assessment period (three years). However it can exceed this level to a certain limit, if it is entirely covered by a direct contribution/payment from the club owner(s) or a related party. This prevents the build-up of unsustainable debt.

The limits are:
• €45m for assessment periods 2013/14 and 2014/15
• €30m for assessment periods 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18

In order to promote investment in stadiums, training facilities, youth development and women’s football (from 2015), all such costs are excluded from the break-even calculation.

4) Are clubs automatically excluded if they are not in line with FFP? 

If a club is not in line with the regulations, it will be UEFA’s Club Financial Control Body that decides on measures and sanctions.

Non-compliance with the regulations does not mean that a club will be excluded automatically, but there will be no exceptions. Depending on various factors (e.g. the trend of the break-even result) different disciplinary measures may be imposed against a club. There is a catalogue of measures:
a) warning
b) reprimand
c) fine
d) deduction of points
e) withholding of revenues from a UEFA competition
f) prohibition on registering new players in UEFA competitions
g) restriction on the number of players that a club may register for participation in UEFA competitions, including a financial limit on the overall aggregate cost of the employee benefits expenses of players registered on the A-list for the purposes of UEFA club competitions
h) disqualification from competitions in progress and/or exclusion from future competitions
i) withdrawal of a title or award

In addition the CFCB have decided in numerous cases that the objectives of FFP can be best achieved by taking a rehabilitative approach rather than a punitive approach. This has led to the conclusion of settlement agreements between a club and the CFCB, combining certain financial contributions with numerous restrictive conditions, which provide a roadmap for clubs to reach break-even in the foreseeable future (see further detail in points 11–16).

5) Are owners allowed to inject money into their club as they like or through sponsorship?

If a club’s owner injects money into the club through a sponsorship deal with a company to which he is related, then UEFA’s competent bodies will investigate and, if necessary, adapt the calculations of the break-even result for the sponsorship revenues to the level which is appropriate (‘fair value’) according to market prices.

Under the updated regulations, any entity that, alone or in aggregate together with other entities which are linked to the same owner or government, represent more than 30% of the club’s total revenues is automatically considered a related party.

6) Who grants a licence to clubs to compete in a UEFA competition?

Every club that has qualified for the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League needs a licence, which is granted to a club by the national associations (or sometimes leagues). This is based on the UEFA Club Licensing and Financial Fair Play Regulations. UEFA then verifies documents and figures from all clubs which have been registered for one of the UEFA competitions.

7) Some clubs have enormous debts or do not pay their debts. Can those clubs still comply with financial fair play?

A certain level of debt is part of a normal financing approach for any business. However the build-up of net debt is restricted by the break-even rules, which require owners or investors to recapitalise and cover any losses. In addition, in the future any investors looking to conclude a voluntary agreement with the CFCB will be expected to commit funds in advance, ex ante rather than ex post. Finally certain debts with added importance, such as debts to players or key staff, social/tax authorities and other clubs are monitored on a regular basis by the CFCB.

8) Has it happened that a club has been denied access to UEFA competitions because of FFP?

The UEFA club licensing system was introduced in the 2003/04 season. Since then 53 clubs on 57 separate occasions, which have directly sportingly qualified for either the UEFA Champions League or UEFA Europa League were not admitted because they did not fulfil the licensing or financial fair play criteria. Financial fair play has been introduced and added to the licensing criteria in 2011. Since then six clubs have been denied access to the UEFA competitions because they have not paid wages to players or fees to other clubs for transfers and one club has been excluded from UEFA competitions due to a failure to comply with break-even requirements.

9) Is FFP in line with European law?

UEFA has been in permanent dialogue with the European Commission about financial fair play and has received continued support for this initiative. There is also a joint statement from the UEFA President and the EU commissioner for competition, emphasising the consistency between the rules and objectives of financial fair play and the policy aims of the EU commission in the field of state aid.

10) Will financial fair play make it impossible for smaller clubs to overcome bigger clubs in financial terms?

There are large differences between the wealth of different clubs and countries, which predate and are irrespective of financial fair play. The aim of financial fair play is not to make all clubs equal in size and wealth, but to encourage clubs to build for success rather than continually seeking a ‘quick fix’. Football clubs need an improved environment where investing in the future is better rewarded so that more clubs can be credible long-term investment prospects.

By favouring investments in youth and stadium infrastructure and by setting the acceptable deficits in absolute million € terms and not relative percentage terms, the break-even assessment has been structured to be less restrictive to smaller and medium-sized clubs. In time, more smaller and medium-sized clubs will have potential to grow.

11) Why has the UEFA Club Financial Control Body reached settlement agreements with clubs?

The CFCB’s investigatory chamber can offer clubs settlement agreements, a common instrument for financial regulators to help facilitate compliance. Article 15 of the Procedural rules governing the UEFA Club Financial Control Body states that “settlement agreements may set out the obligation(s) to be fulfilled by the defendant, including the possible application of disciplinary measures and, where necessary, a specific timeframe. The CFCB chief investigator monitors the proper and timely implementation of the settlement agreement. If a defendant fails to comply with the terms of a settlement agreement, the CFCB chief investigator shall refer the case to the adjudicatory chamber.”

12) Can you explain the financial measures handed out and how the figures were determined?

Financial measures are linked to each club’s earnings from their participation in European competition during the assessment period.

13) What are the player registration restrictions and how they are determined?

The Club Financial Control Body felt that it was imperative that clubs face sporting restrictions as well as financial measures as a result of non-compliance with the break-even requirement. The restriction on the number of players to be registered on the A list serves the dual purpose of limiting the on-field benefits arising from non-compliance while also assisting in achieving the overall objectives of the break-even requirement. The A list restriction is further supported by the restriction on the number of new registrations that clubs can add to the A list and on limits on their net transfer spend.

14) What is the appeal process for other clubs?

Any decision of the CFCB chief investigator to conclude a settlement agreement or to apply disciplinary measures may be reviewed by the adjudicatory chamber at the request of a directly affected party within ten days from the date of publication of the decision.

15) How are clubs that have contravened financial fair play being incentivised to become break-even compliant?

Settlements require the clubs to become compliant with financial fair play within a short period of time. Failure to meet settlement terms will lead to the club being automatically referred to the adjudicatory chamber.

Conversely if a club fulfils each individual requirement of the settlement, it may be released from the limitation on the number of players for UEFA competitions for the following season. If a club becomes break-even compliant during the course of the settlement, all sanctions shall cease to apply for the following season, with the exception of the non-conditional element of the financial measure.

16) Where does the money from the financial measures go?

UEFA will not keep any of the money. UEFA will distribute money from financial contributions by making solidarity payments to other European clubs according to an agreed formula. The exact details for redistribution of funds will be decided by UEFA and its Executive Committee in due course.

17) How does financial fair play deal with debt?

Manageable debt geared towards the long-term development (stadium, academy, infrastructure etc) of the club is efficient for financial planning and is standard practice in most industries. Debt taken on board, including the monetisation of future income, to fund day-to-day operating activity such as wages and transfer fees or to fund short-term cash flow shortfalls can create problems and must be managed effectively.

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

The Old Ballcoach  – Coach Shane Best

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Jan 22, 2016 Morris Signs with Seattle, Indy 11 Sign Veterans, US Women play Sun 5 pm, Arsenal Chelsea Sun

So the big news in US Soccer this week is the return of the prodigal son – Young Forward Jordan Morris – everyone’s favorite College Player turning pro this winter.  After training with German side Werder Bremen for 15 days (at the request of that German US Coach Klinsmann) – Morris has turned down their contract offer and elected to return home to Seattle to turn pro with the Sounders.  He claimed he just felt comfortable turning pro and returning to the club where he grew up, where his dad is still the team doctor and where he could become the highest ever paid US Home Grown Prospect in MLS.  I love the plan, I think he needs to make sure he has an out clause in say 2 years where he can escape to a European Club without hefty penalty – but I think this is the right time for him to turn pro after his Junior Year a year where he led Stanford to a NCAA Title.  I think with the age of Dempsey and Martins, he will definitely get playing time up front for the sounders – hopefully without the pressure to be the NEXT Great US Striker and without the uncertainly that playing overseas when you aren’t proven as a Pro quite yet.

So interesting the continued battle “the German” Read Klinsmann is having with MLS over young players going to Europe to cut their teeth.  Listen I understand that in the National Team the coach wants his players playing in the most competitive situation and honestly that is often in the big 5 leagues in Europe.  Now I think MLS should be where younger players (home grown especially) make their debuts before heading over after proving themselves in MLS – (see McBride, Bocenegra, Dempsey, Howard, Freidle, Keller) heck I can’t think of any really good US born players who didn’t get over to Europe that way).  Now the contracts with MLS have to be conducive to them going over say 1 to 2 to 3 years after they start MLS – but I still think that is the way it should work.

So the Indy 11 have been busy making some moves for more Veteran players – on the surface I like the signings – interesting move to bring in an experienced goalkeeper who can also mentor perhaps the younger keepers.  Busch is a longtime MLS veteran Goalie who will also serve as a “player coach” it appears.

Anyway on to this week’s games – the big matchup in the EPL is Arsenal battling Chelsea on Sunday at 11 am on NBCSN right after Timmy Howard and Everton host Swansea at 8:30 am.  Arsenal stands atop the table tied with Leicester City and 1 pt up on Man City, while Chelsea continue their climb up from 14th overall.  Huge game for both teams to hold serve.  Leicester City battles top 7 Stoke City and US defender Geoff Cameron Sat at 10 am, while Man U faces Southampton at 12:30 on NBC with revenge on their mind after losing at home for the first time in 20 years last season.  Sunday on beIn Sport Italy’s Juventus and Roma meet in a battle of top 5 clubs in the Serie A.  Finally the US Women will face off against Ireland Sunday on Fox Sports 1. Be Like Carli

This is pretty cool

You Never Know Who’s Juggling that Ball

US MensSoccer – MLS Players in Camp Right Now

This year’s edition of the US camp runs until Feb. 6 and features a mix of senior and Under-23 internationals. It will culminate with friendlies at the StubHub Center against Iceland on Jan. 31 on ESPN 2 at 5 pm and Canada on Feb. 5 Fox Sports 1 at 10:15 pm

Here is the updated USMNT camp roster by position (all US Based Players in Camp):

GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Sean Johnson (Chicago Fire), Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls)

DEFENDERS (8): Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Brad Evans (Seattle Sounders), Matt Miazga (New York Red Bulls), Eric Miller (Montreal Impact), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Mix Diskerud (New York City FC), Jermaine Jones (unattached), Perry Kitchen (unattached), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Lee Nguyen (New England Revolution), Tony Tchani (Columbus Crew SC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC)

FORWARDS (6): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Ethan Finlay (Columbus Crew SC), Jerome Kiesewetter (VfB Stuttgart), Jordan Morris (unattached), Khiry Shelton (New York City FC), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)

USA Soccer

Jordan Morris Chooses MLS and the Seattle Sounders– Wahl SI

Morris Decision – Brian Straus SI

Jordan Morris Comes Home to Seattle – Now What – Armchair Analyst Matthew Doyle MLS.com

Just How Big Could Copa America Be in the US this Summer  I plan to go to Chicago’s games at least  (join me)

MF Benny Feilhaber Speaks Out on National Team Exile

Seattles Brad Evans Added to US Roster for Jan Camp

US U17 star mid Christian Pulisic is now on First Team at Dortmund  Luvi Bird – SI

US Ladies play Ireland on Sunday at 5 pm

MLS and NASL

Klinsmann says MLS Owners Don’t See the World Picture ESPN FC

Colorado Rapids Making Push for Timmy Howards Return to MLS

Former USMNT Star Earnie Stewart has big plans for Philly Union

Dempsey on Morris Joining Seattle

INDY 11

Veteran MLS Goalie Jon Busch Joins the 11

Duo from San Antonio Joins 11

Defender Falvey from Fury FC joins 11

EPL and WORLD

EPL Predictions for the Weekend

Arsenal and Chelsea primed for Battle Sunday  Tom Adams and Phil Lythell ESPN FC

Man U’s Winning Streak comes With Caveats EPSN FC

Man U  Denies meeting with PEP – ESPN FC

http://www.espnfc.us/barclays-premier-league/23/table

GAMES THIS WEEK

 Sat, Jan 23

7:45 am NBCSN                                     Norwich vs Liverpool

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                            Hoffenhiem vs Bayern Leverkusen

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

10 am, beIn Sport (Spain)                     Malaga vs Barcelona

12:30 NBC                                              West Ham vs Man City

12:30 Fox Sports 2 (germ)                    Borussia M’Gladbach vs Dortmund

5 pm Fox Sports 1                               USWNT vs Ireland

 Sun, Jan 24

8:30 am NBCSN                                     Everton vs Swansea

9:30 am  Fox Sports 1 (Germ)              E. Frankfurt vs Wolfsburg

11 am NCBSN                                        Arsenal vs Chelsea

11:30 am Fox Sports 1 (Germ)             Schalke vs Werder Bremen

2:45 pm, beIn Sports (Italy)                 Juventus vs Roma

 Sat, Jan 30

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                            Bayern Leverkusen vs Hannover 96

10 am beIn Sports                                Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid

10 am,??                                                 FA Cup – Arsenal s Burnley

10 am                                                      FA Cup- Crystal Palace vs Stoke City

Sun, Jan 31

3:45 pm ESPN2                                   US Men vs Iceland

Fri, Feb 5

10:15 pm  Fox Sports 1                       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)

MLS TV Schedule for 2016

http://www.1070thefan.com/blogs/soccer-saturday

Jurgen Klinsmann: MLS owners have ‘misconception’ about ‘global picture’

United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann says MLS club owners’ “misconception” about his goals for the national team has led to the perception that he is at odds with the league.Klinsmann and Major League Soccer have always had a frosty relationship, with tempers coming to a head in October 2014 as the U.S. coach suggested star players needed to prove themselves after returning to MLS.MLS commissioner Don Garber called those remarks “detrimental,” “wrong,” and “personally infuriating,” and said several MLS owners indicated their displeasure with Klinsmann.But Klinsmann told ESPN FC this week that he would welcome the opportunity to sit down and explain his position.”I think it’s great if people have their opinion out there, that they express that opinion,” Klinsmann said in a wide-ranging interview. “But I think before they express their opinion they should give me a call and ask what is really going on. Because a lot of people mention their thoughts without even knowing what is really going on.”For example, there is the feeling out there that MLS owners are not really on board, but it’s because I was never given the opportunity to speak in front of them and explain the technical side of what we’re doing with the national teams.”So there’s maybe a misconception with some people because I was never given the opportunity to explain, this, this, and this. There are very few people that can explain to you different levels of leagues, different levels of environments, different levels of continents.”Klinsmann suggested MLS owners’ limited perspective may be behind their differences.”Our picture is the global picture,” he said. “We need to know what England, Germany, and Spain are doing in Europe, and then Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay are doing in South America. But our benchmarks are internationally.”So for a lot of people they define their world domestically, which is totally cool. They should think maybe a little bit more before saying things from the outside about the national team program.”Klinsmann also pointed to his inclusion of MLS players, who made up more than half the U.S. squad at the World Cup, as proof that he has players’ best interests in mind, no matter where they play.”We see a lot more than the result. We see the development of players at a specific point in time in their careers. Our job is to help them to build,” Klinsmann said. “We never give up on players because they have a couple of bad months, a couple of bad games. We help them through those phases. No matter where they are in their club environments.”That’s another point with MLS. I always say, ‘We are here for the players, to play at the highest level possible.’ If that highest level is MLS, we are here to help. Why am I here at this camp? Why did I take 13 players from MLS to Brazil, and keep on helping, helping, helping?”

Jordan Morris’s future in fine shape despite passing on Werder Bremen

BY BRIAN STRAUSTwitter

EmailPosted: Tue Jan. 19, 2016Updated: Thu Jan. 21, 2016

Werder Bremen general manager Thomas Eichin could have said anything (or nothing) in Tuesday’s release regarding Jordan Morris, the Stanford University junior and U.S. national team rising star who has rejected the German club’s contract offer. And Eichin chose to say this:“We’re in a situation now where we need players who fully identify with Werder and the way things are done here, in order for them to focus properly on the task ahead.”Indeed, the 116-year-old club, which has spent only one season in Germany’s second tier, faces a challenge requiring proper focus. Werder (4-10-3) entered the Bundesliga’s winter break on a five-game winless streak that dragged it into the relegation zone. Only one league rival has scored fewer goals this season and only one has yielded more.It’s understandable why Werder, already the home of injured U.S. forward Aron Jóhannsson, would find Morris appealing. He’s a powerful, efficient and confident striker who appeared at ease playing (and scoring) against Mexico before 64,000 fans only a few days after Stanford’s spring scrimmage against Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. He came recommended by U.S. national team coach Jurgen Klinsmann and assistant Andreas Herzog, a Werder alumnus, and assisted on the only goal in last week’s 1-0 exhibition win over Azerbaijan’s Inter Baku. And as a free-agent American, Morris wouldn’t be cost prohibitive.

But the 21-year-old is a free agent in name only. Morris’s heart remains in his hometown of Seattle, where he’s expected to kick off his pro career. The Sounders literally are family—Morris’s father, Michael, is the club’s medical director—and they remained confident they’d get their man even as Klinsmann and Herzog helped open doors in Germany. Morris spent a year in the Sounders’ youth academy, played for the club’s U-23 team and was offered the richest homegrown player contract in MLS history. Werder could offer more, but this decision wasn’t about the money. It was about where Morris wants to play.Morris won’t miss out on a pro environment in Seattle. It may not be the Bundesliga, but it’s a massive step up from Stanford. He’ll have plenty to figure out. The Sounders attract big crowds and have experienced stars from whom Morris can learn. And playing time isn’t guaranteed on a team featuring the likes of Clint Dempsey, Obafemi Martins and Nelson Valdez. But careful attention to Morris’s development is. The Sounders have a vested interest in his success—one that goes beyond the dollars. Morris’s progress will be scrutinized and may influence decisions made by prized U.S. prospects down the road. PODCAST: What did college soccer do for Jordan Morris (32:00)?

Those who would argue that Morris is hampering his personal development, and perhaps that of the national team, by choosing Seattle don’t give the player much credit. If his commitment, professionalism and will to improve are high enough, then he’ll adapt, flourish and earn additional opportunities. Perhaps he’ll join DeAndre Yedlin and Fredy Montero as former Sounders now making their way in Europe.MORE: Timbers owner Paulson blasts “anti-MLS” Klinsmann

 

Armchair Analyst: Jordan Morris comes home, and now what?

January 21, 20169:31 PM ESTMatthew DoyleMLSsoccer.com

Jordan Morris has come home. The US international striker spurned an offer from German Bundesliga Werder Bremen to sign a Homegrown player contract with his hometown team, the Seattle Sounders. And in the Emerald City there was much rejoicing.The reason for celebration is obvious: Morris is an exceptional prospect, and as soon as he put pen to paper became the odds-on favorite to be the 2016 Rookie of the Year (though his former college and current US teammate Brandon Vincent is and shall remain my pick for the award). And as Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey said during the SuperDraft, it was essentially “Morris or bust.” While the Sounders have other talented kids in their academy, none of them are Morris, and none of them would have commanded the same kind of outlay of resources.”From a purely salary cap standpoint, either you get Jordan Morris or you don’t. There isn’t another Homegrown in our pipeline and in our group that we’re gonna give that money to,” Lagerwey explained on the draft webcast. “Either it will go unused, or it will go to Jordan.”So to make it clear: This was a zero-sum game for the Sounders, which is why the whole negotiation felt so urgent and why the signing was greeted with such relief. There was no other way to get this kind of talent into the roster:That’s obviously elite stuff, and I expect it to translate to MLS.The question now turns to how, exactly, Morris fits into a Seattle lineup that already has three DP forwards in Obafemi MartinsClint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez. This is where it gets tricky, because “fit” is often as important as — or more important than — raw talent.For those who don’t know, Morris played as a pure forward at Stanford in a pretty old-fashioned and uncomplicated 4-4-2 that often looked like a 4-2-2-2. This allowed him the freedom to move inside and out, check toward the ball or (much more often) play off the shoulder of the defenders to use his speed and absolutely devastating first touch. He’s mostly done the same thing for both the full USMNT and the US U-23s.That kind of game probably won’t be an option in Rave Green. Even if Seattle kept the 4-4-2, Morris isn’t going to unseat either Dempsey or Martins as a starter, and more to the point, it looks like the Sounders are going to move away from their “amoeba” to a 4-3-3 set.There are a number of reasons why I think this will work. First is that Dempsey can very easily play on the left side of that formation, offering everything Krisztian Nemeth brought to the table for Sporting KC last year and probably a little bit more.Second, new left back Joevin Jones offers both an overlapping threat and another support valve in possession. Third, is that Morris can play a simplified, direct version of “winger” in the way that Ethan Finlay does for Columbus. Finlay is really just a second forward whose starting points are wide rather than a winger who comes inside. He doesn’t need to do on-the-ball work in possession, he just needs to stretch the field vertically and horizontallyFinally, though, there is Oba. In order to get the best out of Morris, the Sounders need to be able to use his speed in behind defenses, and in Martins they have the league’s best passing No. 9. He is a through-ball artist:

That’s Oba, having dropped way off his line and away from pressure to pick up a pass and put Dempsey through. Now imagine this same type of play, except to A) a faster player, and B) with the run coming from outside-to-inside. That ball becomes a chance on goal.It’s not all going to be this easy, of course. Every team that plays a variation of the 4-3-3 has at least one guy who drops back off the frontline into midfield to regularly help out on both sides of the ball. Columbus task Justin Meram with that job, while for KC it’s Graham ZusiMike Grella and Lloyd Sam take turns for the Red Bulls, and for Portland down the stretch it was usually Fanendo Adi, with useful defensive cameos from Rodney Wallace. It’s a balance, and finding the right one week-to-week won’t happen overnight.Seattle also have to get Ozzie Alonso healthy and then convince him to be a pure No. 6 rather than a “run yourself ragged!” destroyer, and they have to make certain that the Erik Friberg/Andreas Ivanschitz presumptive central midfield balance works on both sides of the ball. They have to make sure Jones remembers to defend. They have to hope that Chad Marshall and Brad Evans both have another high-caliber year left in the tank, and they have to hope that Valdez is willing to accept what looks for the moment like a super-sub role.And they have to make sure that Morris et al don’t crack under pressure. I suggest that you click that link and read it, because it’s good stuff from the inimitable Steve Davis.This is all part of the journey, and it’s the right kind of stuff for Lagerwey, Schmid and the rest of the Seattle coaching staff to worry about now that the shopping is done. By getting Morris to put pen to paper, they aced the big offseason project.Now it’s time to make sure the regular season goes according to plan.

Sporting KC’s Benny Feilhaber speaks out on US national team exile: “I don’t think Klinsmann calls in the best players”

January 20, 201612:21 PM ESTScott FrenchMLSsoccer.com

MANHATTAN BEACH, Calif.—Sporting Kansas City midfielder Benny Feilhaber says he’s accepted that he will never get another opportunity with the US national team as long as Jurgen Klinsmann is running things. But he’s troubled by the German legend’s selections for his rosters, and that has nothing to do with his omissions.Coming off an outstanding 2015 campaign, the MLS Landon Donovan MVP finalist closed Tuesday’s MLS media roundtable in Southern California with an epic, nearly 10-minute dissection of what he believes is the biggest problem facing the national team under Klinsmann: That the best players, those who would make the team stronger and more competitive, aren’t getting the opportunities they deserve.“I don’t think Jurgen calls in the best players that are available to him,” said Feilhaber, who has made 41 international appearances and played under Bob Bradley at the 2010 World Cup, told a dozen journalists at the close of the 8 1/2-hour, 21-player session at the Manhattan Beach Marriott. “That, for me, is a problem. There’s players that are better than other players that don’t get an opportunity with the national team. That, for me, is a bigger deal than anything else.“Everybody points fingers at certain things, but, for me, that’s the most important thing.”

Feilhaber’s “long rant,” as he termed it when he finished, began almost as an afterthought. He’d answered questions about Sporting’s 2015 campaign and prospects for the coming season, MLS’s competitiveness, and Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and LA Galaxy’s Robbie Keane – the past two league MVPs. Then an “Any final questions?” request brought a query about the USMNT, which is stationed nearby for its annual January camp at StubHub Center.“I think I’ve accepted the fact that Jurgen’s not going to call me in,” said Feilhaber, who has made three US appearances under Klinsmann, the last during January camp in 2014. “I mean, if I play the year that I played this last year and I’m not getting a call, you know, I’m not going to get an opportunity under Jurgen. That’s something I just have to accept. I wouldn’t say [I’m] frustrated, just almost sad, kind of.“I feel like I’m playing the best soccer of my career, but I don’t get the opportunity to play for my country. It’s something I’ve kind of accepted. It is what it is. It’s not going to happen with Jurgen as coach.”That brought more questions, and Feilhaber was pointed in his responses, asserting that he believes Klinsmann doesn’t give MLS players a fair shake – and that some overseas players also haven’t been given opportunities when warranted.  He singled out several players who should have the chance, but haven’t, to win prominent roles with the national team.“Based on what I see, I think that Jurgen takes some players in MLS and uses the fact that they’re in MLS to maybe not call them up or whatever,” Feilhaber said. “You look at some of the top players that played this year, and you take a Sacha Kljestan, you take a Dax McCarty, you take aMatt Hedges, and I’m sure you can go on and on, and these guys aren’t getting an opportunity.“So it’s not just me. There’s certain people like that, but there’s people in Europe as well. I can’t name a lot of guys – I don’t know some of the younger guys – but an Eric Lichaj, for example, he’s been playing well in Europe for countless years, and he hasn’t been really given any opportunity either. So there’s guys in MLS, there’s guys in Europe who don’t get opportunities with Jurgen for whatever reason.”Feilhaber said Klinsmann “doesn’t do his job” in this respect.“I believe there’s, obviously, two duties [that a coach has],” Feilhaber said. “That’s 1) Making the best possible team you can possibly make with the players that are available to you, and 2) Try to continuously improve that team so that team doesn’t stall in any way and continues to improve. For me, Jurgen seems to try to do the second one without doing the first one.“He’d rather put young guys on the team who potentially could become someone important on the team, and he leaves out players that could make the team better right now,” Feilhaber added. “The No. 1 job of a coach is not to make the team as good as he could make it in five years, it’s to make it as good as he could make it now and continuously improve it for five years from now.”

U.S. Soccer records show Klinsmann made $3.2M in 2014 fiscal year

BY SI WIREEmailPosted: Wed Jan. 20, 2016

U.S. men’s national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann earned $3,207,110 in reportable compensation and another $25,371 in funds from the USSF and related groups from April 2014 to March 2015, according to records posted by the U.S. Soccer Federation on Wednesday.Klinsmann helped the United States reach the round of 16 at the FIFA World Cup in 2014. His contract runs through the 2018 World Cup in Russia.In the previous fiscal year, Klinsmann earned more than $2.5 million, the largest haul for a national team coach in USSF history.• The big picture: MLS vs. abroad   Last year, Klinsmann and the USMNT finished fourth in the CONCACAF Gold Cup and failed to qualify for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia.The USMNT has moved forward with World Cup qualifying as it defeated St. Vincent and the Grenadines 5–1 and pulled a 0–0 draw against Trinidad and Tobago.

U.S. prospect Christian Pulisic a fast-rising talent at Borussia Dortmund

BY LIVIU BIRDTwitter EmailPosted: Thu Jan. 21, 2016

When Borussia Dortmund kicks off the second half of the Bundesliga season on Saturday, it will do so with an American trying to break into the lineup. Christian Pulisic, the United States Under-17 international who impressed with his performance at the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, has been with the Dortmund first team since reconvening after winter break and is on the club’s official roster for the rest of the season.“It’s incredible, first of all. Just an honor to play with these players,” Pulisic​, 17, told SI.com via telephone from Germany. “They’re all helping me, and they want me to really be a part of the team. It’s just a great experience for me.”Despite his slight 5’8″ frame, Pulisic has quickly established himself as the most promising player coming through the U.S. youth ranks. His showing was a bright spot in an otherwise dismal U-17 World Cup for the U.S., and after winning a U-17 German championship with BVB, he scored four goals for Dortmund’s U-19s in the first half of this season.He and German U-17 captain Felix Passlack, a teammate at the U-17 and U-19 levels, have been touted as academy players who could make an impact on the first team in the immediate future.“It’s cool that we’re such close friends,” Pulisic said. “It’s always helpful to have a guy who you know, is your age and you can always rely on him and talk to him about stuff.”Both players’ opportunities with the first team have grown since Thomas Tuchel took over as the manager at the start of the year.“[Tuchel] is a great coach from the training perspective,” Pulisic said. “Getting to learn from him every day is really good, and it’s getting me a lot better. I know that for sure. I definitely need a coach like him, and I know he’s going to help me in my development.”After a 45-minute appearance against St. Pauli in a September friendly, Pulisic joined the first team for its midseason training camp in Dubai this month. He appeared in both matches there, scoring in stoppage time of a 4-1 win over South Korean top-flight leader Jeonbuk Motors on Jan. 15.Previous BVB manager Jurgen Klopp, now at Liverpool, also lauded the Hershey, Pennsylvania, native when he trained with the first team in 2015.“In a very intense training session with narrow spaces, he did not stand out in a negative way,” Klopp said at the time. “This is a real sign of quality.”Pulisic said Turkish international Nuri Şahin has been particularly welcoming as he takes his initial steps with the first team. Şahin followed a similar path to Dortmund, making his first-team debut at 16 years and 334 days to set the record for youngest player to play in the Bundesliga. He became the youngest to score in the league three months later.“Almost every training when I first came in, he’s the guy who would put his arm around me, help me out and tell me kind of how things work around here,” Pulisic said, “And he’s just always giving me advice on just simple stuff.”Pulisic has appeared primarily on either wing for BVB, though he​ played as the playmaking No. 10 for the U.S. at the World Cup. He turned heads with his fearless, repeated runs at opposing defenses, showing great technical ability and a cool head in deciphering the proper situation to dribble or pass.“It’s been great to see the success he’s had and how he’s developed,” former U.S. U-17 head coach and current Real Salt Lake assistant Richie Williams told SI.com. “[He’s] a very talented player, and he’s a good person as well. You’re always rooting for those players to continue to develop, to be successful.”Growing up, Pulisic could draw plenty of soccer inspiration from his parents, who both played for George Mason University. His father, Mark, also played for the Harrisburg Heat indoor team from 1991 to 1999.Christian Pulisic spent the majority of his youth playing days at Pennsylvania Classics, a U.S. Soccer Development Academy club, before joining the U.S. U-17 residency program. He also played for Michigan Rush when his father coached the Detroit Ignition of the Major Indoor Soccer League in 2006-07.PA Classics director Steve Klein said what struck him most besides Pulisic’s talent were his drive and humility.“That’s his best quality, so I think that’s what’s enabling him—plus, obviously, his talent—to keep things in perspective and keep climbing the ladder,” Klein told SI.com. “The thing that we always felt was going to help him through was he seemed to be very grounded and focused about his training and his goals.”Said Williams: “On top of all of those great qualities that he has, he’s a competitor. … He’s a smart kid, and he’s mature. He gets it, and he’s measured in what he says, and he thinks things through. That’s only going to help him continue to grow as a soccer player.” IBefore joining BVB’s academy in July 2014, Pulisic also completed various training stints in England, Spain, Portugal and the Netherlands. Having played alongside some of the world’s best players from such a young age, it’s no surprise Pulisic hardly thinks about the credentials of those with whom he shares the field anymore.“Some of these guys just won a World Cup, and you’re maybe a little star-struck at first,” he said, “and now they’re all my teammates. Of course, I have to give them that respect, but I’m also fighting for the same positions that they all are.”STRAUS: Morris’s decision and the big picture of MLS vs. abroad

The next step will be playing in competitive matches with those players. Tuchel tried Pulisic on both sides of midfield in the midseason training camp, and Jonas Hofmann’s departure to Borussia Monchengladbach on New Year’s Day leaves an opportunity out wide.“It’s definitely hard to say if I’m obviously going to be on the field playing in these Bundesliga matches, but that’s the goal for me,” Pulisic said. “Of course, there are always some injuries, and that could be an opportunity, but right now, I’m just doing everything that I can every day in training and trying to earn my spot on that team.”His former coaches don’t seem to doubt that his moment will come. However, Williams pointed out that Pulisic is still only 17, so his continued success might not be as rapid as his ascent so far.“He has all the tools to be successful, and I think the one thing we need to be is patient,” Williams said. “If you had to put money on it, you’d think he’s one of those players who would do well and would succeed.”

BUSCH BRINGS HIS VAST EXPERIENCE TO ELEVEN

Former MLS Goalkeeper of the Year to lead “Boys in Blue” from the back in 2016

Jan 22, 2016
INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, January 22, 2016) – Indy Eleven went one step further in its pursuit of veteran talent today with the signing of goalkeeper Jon Busch, who will also serve as the club’s Director of Goalkeeping. Per club policy, contract details will not be announced. Busch’s signing brings Indy Eleven’s 2016 roster to 19 players with the start of preseason training just under a month away.“Indy Eleven gains more than just a player by bringing Jon Busch on board,” said Indy Eleven general manager Peter Wilt. “Besides his proven ability as a top-level goalkeeper, Jon brings unparalleled experience, leadership, grit and character that the rest of the team will feed off of.”Since entering the professional ranks in 1997, Busch has made more than 450 starts in official competitions during a successful 19-year career. After beginning his playing days with five seasons in the A-League (second division) from 1997-2001, Busch spent the last 14 years climbing near the top of Major League Soccer’s charts in numerous categories during stints with the Columbus Crew (2002-06), Chicago Fire SC (2007-09, 2015) and the San Jose Earthquakes (2010-2014).“I brought Jon into training with the Tampa Bay Mutiny back in 1998, so I’ve been familiar with him for quite awhile,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “Throughout his career in Major League Soccer he overcame injuries and those who doubted his size, proving how good he was through his incredible work ethic and determination. He will be a leader, a voice and a player that brings nearly unmatched experience for a goalkeeper in the American game.”The 39-year-old Busch racked up a 113W-92D-101L record in MLS regular season play and ranks fourth in league history in goalkeeper games played (309), shutouts (83) and saves (1,151) and fifth in wins. The native of Queens, N.Y., helped Columbus (2004) and San Jose (2012) to MLS regular season Supporters Shield titles, won the 2002 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup with the Crew and earned the MLS Goalkeeper of the Year award and earned a spot on the MLS Best XI Team with the Earthquakes in 2008. After making a career-high 34 starts with San Jose in 2014, Busch returned for a second stint with Chicago last year, making 12 appearances with the Fire.“I’m very excited to join the Indy Eleven. It’s a great opportunity for me to play for a great organization and try to win a championship in the NASL,” said Busch, who played with new Eleven teammates Brad Ring and Lovel Palmer while in San Jose and Chicago, respectively. “At the same time this opportunity provides an avenue for me to start learning the goalkeeper coaching side of the game as well.”In addition to his anticipated service on the field, Busch will serve as the club’s Director of Goalkeeping, with duties to include first team coaching and scouting, serving as a guest coach with the Indy Eleven NPSL squad and assisting with the Indy Eleven Summer Soccer Clinic series.Busch will stay busy in the community as well with the continuation of his Saves for SEALs program. The charitable organization he founded in 2011 raises funds for the Navy SEAL Foundation to assist with family support services, educational programs and legacy activities for active and veteran U.S. Navy SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-craft Crewmen, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) support personnel, and their spouses and children. For more information, visit www.crowdrise.com/SAVESforSEALs.Keep visiting IndyEleven.com and the team’s social media channels to stay up to date on all things Indy Eleven heading into the team’s third NASL campaign.

ELEVEN ADDS EXPERIENCED DUO VIA TRANSFER FROM SACRAMENTO

MLS vets, USL champs Braun & Vukovic boost Indy roster to 18 … and counting

Jan 19, 2016

Indy Eleven Acquires Justin Braun & Nemanja Vuković via Transfer from USL’s Sacramento Republic FC

Forward Braun Served as SRFC Captain during Club’s First Two Seasons;

Vuković Earned 2014 USL Defender of the Year Award While Helping SRFC to USL Title
INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, January 19, 2016) – The building of Indy Eleven’s 2016 roster picked up more momentum today with the transfer acquisitions of forward Justin Braun and defender Nemanja Vuković from 2014 USL champion Sacramento Republic FC. Per club policy, details of the transfer agreements and player contracts will not be released.“Bringing players with championship and leadership experience like Justin Braun and Nemanja Vuković on board is further proof Indy Eleven is serious about building a team that will compete for The Championship in 2016,” said Indy Eleven general manager Peter Wilt. “Coming from Sacramento they are also used to playing in front of a sizeable fan base with tremendous passion, so they should feel right at home in Carroll Stadium.”Today’s announcement brings Indy Eleven’s roster up to 18 confirmed players in advance of the 2016 season, which will be augmented with more new veteran additions in the coming days. The addition of Vuković, a native of Montenegro, means four of the club’s seven international roster slots allotted by the NASL have been filled alongside Dragan Stojkov, Eamon Zayed and Colin Falvey. “Justin Braun is a striker that can serve as a target and bring our attacking midfielders forward. He’ll get his goals but is also capable of coming in from a wing position, so his versatility will be very valuable,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “I first saw Nemanja Vuković play for the Columbus Crew in MLS a few years ago, where he alternated from center back to an attacking left back. At 6’3” he brings great size and stature that will help strengthen the back line, and he also possesses great composure on the ball so his technical ability can help the team get forward.”Braun is entering the ninth season of his professional career, which kicked off in 2008 with a six-year run in Major League Soccer with Chivas USA, Montreal Impact, Real Salt Lake and Toronto FC. After notching 27 goals and 15 assists across 135 regular season and postseason games in MLS, the Salt Lake City native joined his former Chivas USA coach Preki in 2014 as one of the first signings with Sacramento Republic FC, and was named the budding USL powerhouse’s captain for both of its first two years. The 28-year-old striker scored 14 goals and tallied one assist during 49 appearances in official competitions with SRFC across 2014-15.“I am very excited to join Indy Eleven and play in front of the best fans in the NASL. I have heard so many good things about the club and city, and the supporters seem to be very passionate. As a player those are the type of fans you want to play for,” Braun stated. “From speaking with Peter Wilt I am very excited with the direction the club is going both on and off the field. He and Tim Hankinson are building a very good squad, and I look forward to being part of that and doing all I can to bring success to Indianapolis.”Like Braun, the 31-year-old Vuković was one of Sacramento Republic FC’s earliest signings leading up to their 2014 inaugural season and played in the squad’s USL PRO Championship triumph over Harrisburg City Islanders that fall. Vuković contributed five goals and three assists from the back line during his 65 games across all competitions with Sacramento and was named the 2014 USL PRO Defender of the Year and a 2014 All USL PRO First Team selection. Prior to joining SRFC, Vukovic spent part of the 2012 MLS season with Columbus but logged most of the first decade of his career from 2003-2013 between clubs in the Montenegrin First and Second Leagues (FK Kom, FC Budućnost Podgorica, OFK Grbalj  & Mladost Podgorica) and the Greek Super League (Panetolikos).”I am really excited about coming to Indy Eleven, especially alongside my friend and teammate in Justin. Indy Eleven is a very well organized club with big ambitions and goals, which is why I accepted the invitation to join the team. The club has a good coach and Justin and I hope we can help him and our teammates achieve a championship title and repeat the success we had in Sacramento,” said Vuković. “I also want to say a big thanks to all the people at Sacramento Republic FC and the club’s fans – especially the Tower Bridge Battalion – for their amazing support during a fantastic two years that I will never forget.”Visit the “Roster” page to more info on Braun and Vukovic and to keep track of the full listing of the “Boys in Blue” as the club’s roster continues to grow leading into preseason in February. Fans can also visit the team’s social media channels to keep up to date on all things Indy Eleven heading into the team’s third NASL campaign.

 

Indy Eleven Adds More Defensive Experience via Transfer Signing of Colin Falvey

Hard-nosed Center Back Becomes Indy Eleven’s Second Offseason Signing from 2015 NASL Finalist Ottawa Fury FC
INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, January 15, 2016) – Indy Eleven plucked a second experienced member away from last year’s NASL runner-up Ottawa Fury FC with today’s transfer signing of defender Colin Falvey. Per club policy, contract details will be not announced.Falvey joins his former Ottawa teammate midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic in jumping across the “NASL Class of 2014” lines to Indy Eleven this offseason. The native of Cork City, Ireland, will count as the squad’s third of seven allotted international signings and brings the current roster count to 16 players. “Colin Falvey brings great leadership and physicality to the roster,” said Indy Eleven general manager Peter Wilt. “With the additions of Colin, Lovel Palmer and Neil Shaffer our defensive corps will have much greater experience, and there is more to come in the next week. I am confident we will have the deepest defensive unit in the league this season.”VIDEO: Watch the best of Falvey’s 2015 contributions with Fury FC

The native of Ireland arrives after spending the 2015 season with Fury FC, where he started in all 32 appearances made for the Canadian club across all competitions. The hard-nosed center back recorded one assist from his spot on the backline in over 2,800 minutes en route to helping Ottawa secure the 2015 NASL Fall championship.“One thing every defense needs is a voice and an organizer, and we’ve recruited Colin for those qualities,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “He’ll be the glue that creates a defense that will be hard to break down this season.”Prior to his year north of the border, Falvey served as captain of the USL’s Charleston Battery during the latter portion of his five-season stint from 2010-14, and also suited up for the Wilmington Hammerheads in the USL Second Division in 2009. The 30-year-old began his professional career in his native Ireland in 2004 and has also plied his trade in New Zealand and India.“I’m very excited to be joining Indy Eleven and proud I get to call it home this season. Every player in the league always looks forward to the visit to Indianapolis because of the great atmosphere that’s been built,” said Falvey. “Coach Hankinson believes we can be successful, I believe we can be successful, and there is no doubt the fans think so as well as they have turned up in the thousands week after week. I’ll do everything I can to play a massive part in bringing success to the club and the city for those fans.”
#32 Colin Falvey
Position: 
Defender
Height: 6’1”
Weight: 185 lbs.
Born: June 20, 1985 (30) in Cork City, Ireland
Hometown: Cork City, Ireland
Nationality: Ireland
Last Club: Ottawa Fury FC (NASL)
Pronunciation: FAWL-veh
Twitter: @falvey32
Instagram: @falvey32
Previous Clubs: Ottawa Fury FC (NASL, 2015), Charleston Battery (USL, 2010-2014), Kerala Blasters [Indian Super League, 2014 (loan)], YoungHeart Manawatu (New Zealand ASB Youth League, 2009-2011), Wilmington Hammerheads (USL Second Division, 2009), Otago United (New Zealand ASB Premiership, 2008), Kilkenny City A.F.C. (League of Ireland, 2007-2008), Cobh Ramblers (League of Ireland, 2004-2007)

Earnie Stewart brings Moneyball to Philadelphia as the Union aim to punch above their weight | THE WORD

January 21, 201611:15 AM ESTDave ZeitlinMLSsoccer.com

CHESTER, Pa. – A couple of years ago, Ennis Stewart, the son of former US internationalEarnie Stewart, popped in a DVD and began watching one of the most memorable goals in American soccer history.With the wide-eyed exuberance and curiosity of an 11-year-old, he leaned in close to study the terrific buildup, from Thomas Dooley’s composed touch and turn in the middle of the field … to Eric Wynalda’s slicing run and pinpoint pass out wide … to Tab Ramos’ deft dribbles, defense-splitting vision and chip toward the box.Just then, the boy’s father flashed onto the screen, making a diagonal run between defenders to collect Ramos’ pass and dink the ball past the goalkeeper to score the game-winning goal in the US national team’s historic 2-1 upset of Colombia in the 1994 World Cup – the Americans’ first World Cup victory since 1950.Young Ennis, who was born shortly before Earnie played in his final World Cup in 2002, smiled. And noticing that his father had come into the room, he asked if they could watch together.Perhaps this could have been an opportune father-son moment, a chance for Earnie to sit Ennis on his lap and tell him about the spirit of underdogs, about how those 1994 and 2002 US teams shocked just about everyone to advance to the knockout round, about how anything is possible if you just put your mind to it.   Or …“I just walked by,” the elder Stewart remembers. The former US national team midfielder never misses a chance to bond with his children – Ennis is now 13 and his daughter, Quinty, is 16 – but that goal vs. Colombia, it turns out, is something that he doesn’t like to watch. In fact, he actively avoids it. Same goes for the ’02 World Cup or any of his other USMNT appearances in which he scored 17 times in a decorated international career from 1990 to 2004. Or, for that matter, anything that involved him as a player or an executive, a post he recently assumed on these shores after spending the last 10 years in his birthplace of the Netherlands.“I don’t like looking at myself,” he tells MLSsoccer.com in his office at Talen Energy Stadium (formerly PPL Park), a few days after he was officially introduced as the Philadelphia Union’s sporting director. “Once I see myself on TV, no matter it being an interview [or playing], I just don’t like it because I see all the negative things.

“I don’t want to call myself a perfectionist because it sounds so stupid. But I find it very, very difficult to find the positive things in myself and I always see the negative things. It bugs me.”There’s more to it than that, though. For the ambitious Stewart, it seems there’s no sense looking behind when there’s still so much to do in the future. And while the 46-year-old has often defied expectations, from leading the USMNT to two surprising World Cup runs to assembling strong teams with a limited budget as a savvy front-office executive, he’s never considered his success a surprise worthy of nostalgic remembrance.It’s just something he found a way to do. And there’s still more work to be done.“Having played as a professional or having made it to the national team or having played in the World Cup, you don’t do that if you think, ‘I’m the underdog and might lose this,’” says Mike Sorber, a Union assistant coach and a teammate of Stewart on the ’94 World Cup team. “You make it because you think, ‘It doesn’t matter what the challenge is. I’ll find a solution.’”Now comes the next big challenge: can Earnie Stewart help the Philadelphia Union build a foundation for future success after years of instability?

IF IT WERE UP TO Earnie Stewart Sr., his son would have played a different kind of football.Growing up in Texas, the elder Stewart was a high school football player in the (American) football-crazed state and a diehard Dallas Cowboys fan. (“I’m sick to death they’re not winning,” he says.) That never changed, even after he joined the U.S. Air Force at the age of 18 and was deployed to the Netherlands, where he married a Dutch woman, raised a family and has spent the majority of his time ever since.“To be truthful about everything, I love American football,” he says by phone from the Netherlands. “When Earnie was born, I always dreamed of him being a wide receiver or a quarterback.”It didn’t take long, though, for the elder Stewart to realize that his son had an affinity for Holland’s most popular sport – the other football. And he saw that he had the speed and determination to make it, too.“I remember a few times when the weather was bad, they’d call up and say, ‘Hey, the game’s been rained out. Nobody’s playing today,’” Earnie Stewart Sr. recalls. “But Earnie would get on his bike and ride down in the cold and try to find a pickup game.”According to his father, young Earnie was initially used as a defender in youth leagues. But when one coach moved him up top as an 11-year-old, he scored 10 goals in one game and “that was when he got rolling.”Stewart began his professional career as a teenager with VVV-Venlo, before later playing for Dutch clubs Willem II and NAC Breda, scoring 114 goals in 16 years between the three clubs.And he was only 21 years old when he first joined the US national team in 1990 – the ultimate dream for a kid who adapted to Dutch culture but always felt connected to his American roots as well.“All I wanted to do was play for a national team, not knowing which one that would be,” says Stewart, adding that he was first invited to a Netherlands camp but didn’t make the final cut. “The United States is such a big and powerful country that you felt a couple of feet taller when you played for the national team and got to wear that jersey.”Stewart would go on to be a stalwart for the US and was one of the team’s rocks during 2002 World Cup qualifying, during which he scored eight goals and wore the captain’s armband for several games. But it was that first World Cup in 1994 that was especially meaningful to Stewart’s father, who once imagined his own fate might include college football glory in the Rose Bowl.

Instead, he was in the stands to watch his son score the game-winning goal against Colombia in the historic California stadium.“I had always dreamed of coming out of the tunnel myself,” says the elder Stewart, who spent 21 years in the Air Force and now works as a manager in a Dutch store that sells goods to US serviceman. “But when I saw him coming out of the tunnel at the World Cup, I was so proud of him.”For the younger Stewart, the entire ’94 World Cup remains a blur – one that hasn’t come into any more focus in later years since he doesn’t watch the highlights. But his first World Cup was certainly special, and he does have at least one clear recollection from the goal that helped the Americans knock off heavily favored Colombia and move into the next round of the watershed tournament. “I remember there was a pile and I couldn’t get any air on the bottom of that pile and it was so tremendously hot,” he says. “And the day after I remember doing my laundry. That’s pretty much it.”

THERE’S A SCENE in the 2011 film Moneyball in which a group of scouts, stereotypical baseball old-timers, describe prospects in almost comically qualitative terms – “baseball bodies” and “eye-candy tests.”Billy Beane, the Oakland Athletic general manager for whom the movie and 2003 Michael Lewis book of the same name is based, responds with disgust, “You guys are sitting around talking the same old good-body nonsense like we’re selling jeans, like we’re looking for Fabio. We’ve got to think differently.”In other words, the A’s needed to stop looking at superficial attributes and find underappreciated and undervalued players in order to compete.It was in his last job as the director of football affairs at Dutch top-flight club AZ Alkmaar that Stewart took other members of his front office to see Moneyball, hoping to bring that general philosophy to a team that, like the A’s, didn’t have the same size budget as their domestic competitors.“You learn to be creative,” Stewart said in an ESPN.com feature from Jan. 2012 that first chronicled his affinity for Moneyball. But it took some time to build a new scouting database and get the right people on board to help with the Moneyball plan. Eventually, former Dutch Major Leaguer Robert Eenhoorn joined the club as general director in 2014, and Beane himself became an AZ Alkmaar advisor in March 2015.The hires – two baseball men breaking down barriers in the beautiful game – were unconventional, to say the least.“Soccer is a very conservative sport in Europe but we were known to be a club of innovation,” said Stewart, who played baseball while growing up in Holland before turning to soccer. “In the beginning, people were skeptical. They still are. But once you believe in something, you have to follow that path.”Stewart noted that translating Moneyball, which focuses on qualitative evaluation to minimize bias, from baseball to soccer wasn’t difficult because “numbers are numbers.” The key, like it was for the A’s, was simply focusing on certain statistics to uncover overlooked players and bridge the financial divide.And he, too, didn’t care about how those players looked in a pair of Levi’s.“A lot of times when you look at a player, you already have a clouded vision of him,” Stewart says. “You like him or you don’t like him because, I don’t know, he’s athletic or he’s not athletic. And you have to try to look past that when it comes to the scouting process. What numbers do and what analytics do is they don’t look at who the person is – if he’s athletic, what kind of ethnicity he is. It’s just the numbers. These are the facts.”It’s no secret this philosophy is one of the main reasons why Stewart was hired by the Union. Majority owner Jay Sugarman has spoken openly about exploiting different edges to get a leg up on the competition and when he saw Stewart had worked with Beane, he remembers thinking, “Ah, common soul.”What also set Stewart apart from other candidate in the club’s year-long search to find their first sporting director is his approach to player development, which will be central to his job as he also oversees the Union’s youth academy and USL affiliate, Bethlehem Steel FC.And that, Stewart said, “has nothing to do with analytics.” It’s simply about helping players grow by getting to know them, on and off the field.“First and foremost, there’s a mistake we make in soccer a lot of times,” Stewart says. “When we look at players, we look at them as only professionals, like they have no private lives at all. We never discuss that. We never talk about that. “It’s just getting to know players beyond the soccer player. What is his background? What drives him? What kind of ambition does he have? Together you can make a plan on going forward and getting the best out of this player. I truly believe there’s more to a player than having them come into practice and leaving after practice.”Player development has certainly been a challenge for the Union, who have had only one Homegrown signing – Zach Pfeffer, traded to the Colorado Rapids following last week’s SuperDraft – see significant playing time while others such as Jimmy McLaughlin and Cristhian Hernandez failed to crack the first team and were eventually waived. READ: Union laud Stewart as “critical piece of the puzzle”

And as the Union’s youth academy at YSC Sports continues to grow, Stewart understands the foundation has to come from Homegrown talent and that properly developing those players could at least partially cure the franchise’s costly roster turnover year after year.But in the short term, after the Union traded away or declined options on more than a dozen players following a disappointing 2015 campaign, there will be plenty of roster changes as the club has money, flexibility and an ever-improving scouting database to scour the globe for signings that can help the team win in 2016 and beyond.And Stewart knows there are potentially players to be found in every pocket of the world, perhaps ones that are sometimes forgotten, perhaps ones who can help the Union develop a new reputation.

EARNIE STEWART WAS ANGRY. It was Sept. 4, 2004, and D.C. United had just lost 3-1 to the Chicago Fire at Solider Field, dropping their record to 6-9-9 in what was shaping up to be a underachieving season.What was said in the D.C. United locker room that day in 2004 remains a mystery. Perhaps it’s not appropriate for print. Or perhaps the passing of time has dulled the memories of those involved.But this much we know: Stewart and teammate Ryan Nelsen gave a rousing speech. And from that point forward, D.C. United became a dominant force that went on to capture the 2004 MLS Cup.“I remember the tone of it and I remember after that we went on [a great run],” recalls Josh Gros, now the Union’s team coordinator and a rookie on the 2004 D.C. United team. “That was the turning point.”D.C. would go on to win eight of 10 on their way to MLS Cup glory, a regular season loss in Columbus and Eastern Conference Final decided by penalty kicks the only remaining blemishes on their record.By then, Stewart was a hardened veteran with weak knees. He didn’t score much during the 2003 and 2004 seasons with D.C. United – his only two in MLS – but he emerged a leader, counseling young players like Union midfielder Brian Carroll and Gros, who roomed with Stewart on his first West Coast trip.Gros, of course, idolized the three-time World Cup veteran and wasn’t surprised by Stewart’s effective midseason speech because “he was someone that had the respect of the entire team.” And despite his reluctance to revisit the past, Stewart still calls that locker-room talk a “defining moment.”“It was kind of like all of a sudden it was normal we became champions,” he says, “because of the thought that we had of who we were and what our goal was.”In many ways, puffing on victory cigars after D.C.’s 3-2 win over the Kansas City Wizards in the 2004 MLS Cup proved to be a fitting swan song to Stewart’s professional career and a perfect transition to the next phase of his life.He tried to keep his career going with his first club, VVV-Venlo, but the cartilage in his right knee gave out in 2005. Perhaps that was a blessing in disguise. Stewart was quickly named the club’s technical director instead of running their youth academy as initially planned.“Who knows? Maybe if I would have played on, I wouldn’t be sitting here,” he says. “I don’t know what life would have been like. Maybe I would have. But the opportunity arose right away to be a technical director in Holland so I count my blessings for that.”Stewart had immediate success in the front office, first at VVV and then at NAC Breda, stints that led to a job with AZ Alkmaar in 2010. It was there he really made his mark as the club rose up the Dutch Eredivisie table and became a fixture in the Europa League while simultaneously slashing its payroll.“I’ve never looked at it as I’ve been at clubs with a lesser budget,” says Stewart, who admitted in his first Union press conference that it was always his ambition to return to the United States. “Even if I had been at Ajax, PSV [Eindhoven] or Feyenoord, my budget would have been less than Chelsea. That’s not the drive that I have. To bring out the best in people, that is something I do have. And the budget really doesn’t make a difference in that.”That kind of thinking will certainly be beneficial as Stewart’s now in charge of a Union franchise that will not shell out the same kind of dollars as MLS’s biggest clubs. And Stewart admits that he and his staff – including two Philly natives, head coach Jim Curtin and technical director Chris Albright – are “not going to build Rome in a day” as they look to set a foundation for long-term success.Stewart began to lay the groundwork for that foundation last week in Baltimore, working the phones to end up with three of the top six SuperDraft picks, which Philly used to primarily bolster their leaky defense by nabbing Georgetown defenders Joshua Yaro andKeegan Rosenberry (just a day after they took a flyer on Brazilian second-divisioner Anderson Conceição, who Stewart described as a central defender with a “great left foot”). The Union also selected one of college’s premier goalscorers in Creighton’s Fabian Herbers, who could compete for time on the wing with two other offseason additions: former D.C. United stalwart Chris Pontius and New York Cosmos import Walter Restrepo.  The Union, of course, still have other offensive needs heading into training camp and could probably use a veteran presence on the backline if they move Maurice Edu into the midfield. But no matter the obstacles for the team (which has only made the playoffs once in six years) and for himself (he admittedly still has a lot to learn about MLS), Stewart will not go into the first game of the 2016 season this March feeling like an underdog.  No, he’ll have high expectations from the very beginning. Just like when he was on the US national team and he went toe-to-toe with world powers like Brazil. Just like when he decided one day that the 2004 D.C. United team was better than they had been playing. Just like when he put AZ Alkmaar in a position to beat Dutch powers Ajax, PSV and Feyenoord by being smart and innovative.  Just like always. “I never go in looking at it like we’re the underdog,” Stewart said. “I want to get the best out of players. I want to get the best out of my staff and the team we have and win games. It could be that you have less money. It could be that you have less this or less that.  “But if you keep looking at that and worrying about that, you’re never going to go anywhere.” Dave Zeitlin covers the Union for MLSsoccer.com. Email him at djzeitlin@gmail.com.

ARSENAL vs. CHELSEA

ARSENAL: This is a rare chance for Arsenal to inflict some pain on Chelsea. Their recent record against their London rivals is dismal but the Blues are at a low ebb and, yes, even fighting relegation. Oh, and Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are back.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea — Tom Adams

CHELSEA: Games against Arsenal are normally ones to look forward to, but with the midfield in such chaotic form and Diego Costa suffering from a shin injury, it is hard to be optimistic. Upbeat Arsenal will be desperate to beat their London rivals on Sunday as they dream of a rare title win. Sadly, it’s hard to see beyond a home victory for the Gunners.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Chelsea — Phil Lythell

MANCHESTER UNITED vs. SOUTHAMPTON

MAN UNITED: Louis van Gaal’s men have shown a little more resilience in the Premier League in recent weeks with two wins and two draws in their past four, but this could be a frustrating afternoon for the home side, who were beaten by Saints at Old Trafford last season.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Southampton — Musa Okwonga

SOUTHAMPTON: The rivalry between Southampton manager Ronald Koeman and fellow Dutchman Van Gaal adds extra spice to this fixture. Koeman got the better of his old adversary last season as the visitors won a league game at Old Trafford for the first time in more than 20 years.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Southampton — Alex Crook

LEICESTER vs. STOKE

LEICESTER: Having failed to beat Bournemouth (0-0) and Aston Villa (1-1) this is exactly the type of game Leicester must win if they are to remain in the chase for a Champions League spot. Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez have yet to score in 2016.
Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Stoke — Ben Jacobs

STOKE: Stoke’s defence has often struggled against pacy opposition and in that respect, the trip to Leicester will arguably be their biggest test of the season. A deeper back line and the return of Xherdan Shaqiri, though, will give the Potters hope of a positive result.
Prediction: Leicester 2-2 Stoke — James Whittaker

EVERTON vs. SWANSEA

EVERTON: One win and 11 points dropped from winning positions in the past nine matches has Roberto Martinez’s men buried in midtable. Swansea, winless in their 21 league meetings with the Blues, would appear ideal opponents for an Everton side needing to improve on three wins in 13 at Goodison Park.
Prediction: Everton 2-1 Swansea — Luke O’Farrell

SWANSEA: A rejuvenated Swansea are playing to impress new head coach Francesco Guidolin and face a free-scoring Everton side that have been struggling to find wins, if not goals, having not won a league match since Boxing Day. Everton have home advantage, but battling Swansea have four clean sheets in six games.
Prediction: Everton 1-2 Swansea — Max Hicks

NORWICH vs. LIVERPOOL

NORWICH: The Canaries have lost the past two but there is a buzz around the club after a double deal for Wolfsburg defender Timm Klose and Everton’s Steven Naismith. City are also unbeaten in five at home in the league. Liverpool will have to be at their best.
Prediction: Norwich 1-1 Liverpool — Paddy Davitt

LIVERPOOL: With just one point from the past available nine, Liverpool need to get back on track this Saturday at relegation-threatened Norwich. Goals are proving hard to come by, so a clean sheet would be most welcome for under-pressure goalkeeper Simon Mignolet, whose new five-year deal was not universally welcomed by supporters.
Prediction: Norwich 0-1 Liverpool — Dave Usher

SUNDERLAND vs. BOURNEMOUTH

SUNDERLAND: Sam Allardyce’s men follow most steps forward with at least one in reverse. The defence is so porous that Bournemouth could exploit any lapse in concentration, despite Callum Wilson’s continued absence. Jermain Defoe remains Sunderland’s best match-winning hope but it may be tight.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Bournemouth— Colin Randall

BOURNEMOUTH: The visitors are hoping to put some space between themselves and the drop zone. Eddie Howe’s team are full of confidence after thrashing Norwich 3-0 in their past game for their biggest Premier League win yet. Benik Afobe will be the main threat up front.
Prediction: Sunderland 0-1 Bournemouth — Steve Menary

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

The Old Ballcoach  – Coach Shane Best

 

Jan 15, 2016 Yr in Review 2, big EPL weekend, Carli Loyd POY

So A quick shot at The Year in Review.  Let’s Start with the huge news that Carli Loyd became just the 4th US player to be name Player of the Year, which after her spectacular World Cup Run in leading the US to the Crown, was to be expected.  Of course it came down to Renaldo and Messi again for The Player of the Year on the men’s side and the Barcelona man took home his 5th after losing out to Renaldo for the last two injury plagued seasons.

So what’s the biggest story in the EPL – is it Leicester City and their miracle run at the top of the Table, or is it the complete meltdown that is Chelsea and the firing of the Special One- Jose Mourino?  Chelsea’s meltdown to the bottom of the table has been amazing and it will be interesting to see if new manager Gus Hiddick can continue to right the ship and move them back into contention.  My biggest story goes to Leicester City, the Foxes continue their impressive run and remain in a tie for 1st place in the EPL with exciting come from behind victories, goal scoring and just an exciting brand of futbol.  Listen this is like the Tampa Bay Rays battling for the world series, they have among the lowest payrolls in the league and not one player that the average soccer fan would recognize before this season.  Tune in to NBC this Saturday at 12:30 to catch the story of the year as Leicester faces Aston Villa and US keeper Brad Guzan.  Meanwhile US keeper Tim Howard off one of his best games of the year in shutting out Man City on Wed and his Toffees of Everton will host Chelsea at 10 am on USA Network. Sunday it’s two of the biggest clubs on the planet facing off as new Liverpool manager Jeurgan Klopp welcomes Van Gaal and Manchester United at 9 am on NBCSN followed by the resurgent Potters of Stoke City and American defender Geoff Cameron hosting league leaders Arsenal at 11 am on NBCSN.  I’ll have more on the new GM of Indy 11 next week.  Sad to see Peter Wilt go.

 US

Carli Loyd is World Player of the Year SI

American Players Update –Washington Post

US Not Pushing Jordan Morris where he Should Sign –Jeff Carlisle

US Forward Jordan Morris fresh off winning title with Stanford will train with German Club Werder Bremen

MLS rumors– MLS.com Morris where to?  Brad Friedel to coach US Youth Teams

Copa America Schedule is Released – MLS.com– US to play in San Fran, Chicago, Philly

Copa America 101 – all you need to know

US U23 UFs Claire Falknor signs with Bayern Munich

WORLD AND EPL

Messi Wins Ballon d’Or (Player of Year) Again

Zidane faces Real Challenges at Real Madrid ESPN FC

Zidane takes over at Real under massive pressure ESPN FC –

5 Reasons Benetiz was sacked at Real – ESPN FC

Predictions for the EPL this Weekend

Man U vs Liverpool one of the best Rivalries in EPL

Chelsea looks to move up vs Everton this weekend

Pep wants to Coach in Premier League

Chelsea starting to turn around under Guss Hiddink  ESPNFC

Questions Remain over Van Gaal at United – ESPN FC

Mourinho Camp Frustrated Waiting for Man U job to open up  ESPN FC –

Leicester don’t need luck to finish Top 4

Liverpool Klopp Training leading to Hamstring Injuries for multiple players? ESPN FC

Llana –Training not to blame for Liverpool Injuries – just bad luck

Top Saves Week 21

MLS and Indy 11

IMS former Prez named new Indy 11 President while Wilt stays thru Spring

http://www.indyeleven.com/news/2016/01/14/2016-schedule

Where in the World is Asst Coach Tim Regan

MLS Superdraft

MLS considering Instant Replay

MLS TV Schedule for 2016

GAMES THIS WEEK

Saturday, January 16

7:45 a.m., NBCSN:                                     Tottenham Hotspur vs. Sunderland

10:00 a.m., NBCSN and NBC Universo:        Manchester City vs. Crystal Palace
10:00 a.m., USA Network:                           Chelsea vs. Everton

10:00 a.m., Exra Time:                                                Bournemouth vs. Norwich City, Newcastle  vs. West Ham , Southampton vs. West Brom
11 am , beIn Sports  (France)                       Toulouse vs PSG

12:30 p.m., NBC:                                       Aston Villa vs. Leicester City (Arlo White and Graeme Le Saux)

2:45 pm  beIn Sports   (Italy)                        Napoli vs Sassuolo

 Sunday, January 17

9 am,  beIn Sports (Italy)                             Udinese vs Juventus

9:05 a.m., NBCSN and Telemundo:               Liverpool vs. Manchester United
11:15 a.m., NBCSN                                    Stoke City vs. Arsenal

2:45 pm, beIn Sport                                    Barcelona vs Athletic Club

 Monday, January 18

3:00 p.m., NBCSN:                                 Swansea City vs. Watford

 Wednesday, January 20

3 pm  Fox Sports 1  FA CUP                       Liverpool vs. Exeter City
11:15 a.m., NBCSN                                    Stoke City vs. Arsenal

2:45 pm, beIn Sport                                    Barcelona vs Athletic Club

 Friday, January 22

2:30 pm  Fox Sports 1                                 Hamburger SV vs Bayern Munich

 Sat, Jan 23

7:45 am NBCSN                                     Norwich vs Liverpool

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                            Hoffenhiem vs Bayern Leverkusen

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

10 am, beIn Sport (Spain)                     Malaga vs Barcelona

12:30 NBC                                              West Ham vs Man City

12:30 Fox Sports 2 (germ)                    Borussia M’Gladbach vs Dortmund

5 pm espn2?                                         USWNT vs Ireland

 Sun, Jan 24

8:30 am NBCSN                                     Everton vs Swansea

9:30 am  Fox Sports 1 (Germ)              E. Frankfurt vs Wolfsburg

11 am NCBSN                                        Arsenal vs Chelsea

11:30 am Fox Sports 1 (Germ)             Schalke vs Werder Bremen

2:45 pm, beIn Sports (Italy)               Juventus vs Roma

 Sat, Jan 30

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                            Bayern Leverkusen vs Hannover 96

10 am beIn Sports                                Barcelona vs Athletico Madrid

10 am,??                                                 FA Cup – Arsenal s Burnley

10 am                                                      FA Cup- Crystal Palace vs Stoke City

Sun, Jan 31

3:45 pm NBCSN                                    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)

MLS TV Schedule for 2016

http://www.1070thefan.com/blogs/soccer-saturday

Carli Lloyd US and FIFA World Player of the Year

Lloyd scored 18 goals for the U.S. women’s national team in 2015, helping her win FIFA World Player of the Year as well as U.S. Soccer’s female player of the year honors. The 33-year-old turned in one of the finest individual performances ever in a World Cup final, men’s or women’s, scoring a hat trick in the first 16 minutes of the U.S. women’s national team’s victory over Japan on July 5. Her third and final goal of the match was a 50-yard strike from around midfield, one of 10 goals nominated for FIFA’s Goal of the Year. Lloyd’s was the only goal scored by a woman to be nominated. Lloyd captured the Women’s World Cup’s Golden Ball and Silver Boot awards after netting six goals in the tournament and becoming the first female player to score in four straight knockout round matches. Along with winning the World Cup, the United States went 20–4–2 in 2015, with its only losses coming in friendly matches.Lloyd also starred for the NWSL’s Houston Dash in 2015, scoring four goals—including three game-winners—in 12 matches.

U.S. Soccer not pushing Jordan Morris to play in Germany, says Don Garber

ALTIMORE — Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said he is convinced that no U.S. Soccer staff member is attempting to convince forward Jordan Morris to sign overseas instead of with MLS.Morris has long been a target of the Seattle Sounders, who have reportedly offered the former Stanford junior the richest homegrown contract in MLS history.”We very much want to sign Jordan,” Garber said. “I know that the Sounders are really focused on it. We’re very hopeful of bringing him into the league, and representing this new generation of great American players.”But Morris is currently on trial at Bundesliga side Werder Bremen, a stint that was arranged by U.S. national team assistant Andi Herzog.Herzog was quoted last week as saying that it was the goal of he and U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann to “get as many players to Europe as possible,” though he later told Fox Sports that he was misquoted.When asked if Herzog and Klinsmann were meddling with the process, Garber indicated he didn’t think this was the case. “It’s not really ‘meddling,'” Garber said. “Our federation has a responsibility to ensure that players that are part of their program understand what their opportunities are.”Garber added that he had spoken to U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gualti and that Gulati had spoken to both Herzog and Klinsmann about the situation, and that Herzog had clarified his remarks.”None of the federation staff is encouraging players to sign overseas and not with MLS,” said Garber. “I think Andi was very clear about that.”In the meantime, all Seattle can do is wait.”Jordan is just going to go through his process,” Seattle GM Garth Lagerwey told ESPN FC earlier this week. “He knows the extent of the opportunity that he has with us, and we hope that in the end he chooses to sign with the Seattle Sounders.”On the MLS SuperDraft broadcast on Thursday, Lagerwey told ESPN’s Taylor Twellman that there were no concerns that Morris would only come off the bench with the team already paying forwards Obafemi Martins, Clint Dempsey and Nelson Valdez.”If you recall, we had those guys miss I think 50 combined matches last year, in terms of injury, suspension, etc. And they’re obviously all over 30,”Lagerwey said.”So we expect big performances from those guys, hopefully they play every week. If it turns out they don’t, I think Jordan’s a guy who can help us and give us a little bit of cover.”

American soccer players abroad, weekend roundup

By Steven Goff –Washington Post — January 10 at 2:59 PM

A wrap-up of weekend performances by Americans playing in foreign leagues. Of note: Several players competing in lesser leagues or with reserve squads are not listed. Americans with dual nationalities representing other national teams have also been omitted.

ENGLAND

Premier League

Everton goalkeeper Tim Howard: in the 18 but did not play in 2-0 victory over fourth-tier Dagenham & Redbridge in FA Cup

Aston Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan: in the 18 but did not play in 1-1 draw at fourth-tier Wycombe Wanderers in FA Cup

Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron: not in the 18 for 2-1 victory at third-tier Doncaster Rovers

Sunderland defender DeAndre Yedlin, on loan from Tottenham Hotspur: played 90 minutes at right back in 3-1 defeat at Arsenal in FA Cup

Tottenham Hotspur defender Cameron Carter-Vickers: U21s vs. Chelsea on Monday

Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch: U21s did not play

Championship

Reading midfielder Danny Williams: played 90 minutes in 2-2 draw at Huddersfield Town in FA Cup

Fulham defender Tim Ream: entered in the 71st of 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in FA Cup

Fulham midfielder Emerson Hyndman: not in the 18 (injured) for 2-1 defeat at Sheffield Wednesday in FA Cup

Birmingham City defender Jonathan Spector: 90 in 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth

Nottingham Forest defender Eric Lichaj: entered in the 71st of 1-0 victory over Queens Park Rangers

Blackburn Rovers defender Adam Henley: FA Cup at Newport County postponed, waterlogged pitch

MK Dons goalkeeper Cody Cropper: played 90 in 2-2 draw at fourth-tier Northampton Town in FA Cup

Reading forward Andrija Novakovich: U21s vs. Manchester United on Monday

Fulham midfielder Luca De La Torre: U21s did not play

SCOTLAND

Championship

Rangers midfielder Gedion Zelalem, on loan from Arsenal: played 62 minutes (assist; video) in 5-1 victory over third-tier Cowdenbeath in Scottish Cup

GERMANY

Bundesliga Winter Break

FRANCE

Ligue 1

Nantes midfielder Alejandro Bedoya: entered in the 64th minute of 2-1 victory over Saint-Etienne

Reims forward Jordan Siebatcheu: entered in the 62nd of 3-1 defeat to Toulouse

NETHERLANDS

Eredivisie

Utrecht forward Rubio Rubin: winter break, at Groningen on Jan. 17

Groningen defender Desevio Payne: winter break, vs. Utrecht on Jan. 17

DENMARK

Superliga

Hobro defender Babajide Ogunbiyi: winter break, at Brondby on Feb. 28

NORWAY

Eliteserien

Molde goalkeeper Ethan Horvath: season complete, 6th place (17 matches, 15 starts)

Molde forward Josh Gatt: season complete, 6th place (1 match, knee injury)

Stabaek midfielder Cole Grossman: season complete, 3rd place, qualified for Europa League (28 matches, 28 starts, 4 goals)

Bodo/Glimt defender Zarek Valentin: season complete, 9th place (24 matches, 23 starts, 1 goal); signing with MLS

Bodo/Glimt midfielder Danny Cruz, on loan from Philadelphia Union: season complete, 9th place (15 matches, 8 starts, 2 goals)

Viking defender A.J. Soares: season complete, 5th place (20 matches, 19 starts)

Mjondalen defender Rhett Bernstein: season complete, 15th place, relegated (20 matches, 13 starts, 5 goals); signed with NASL’s Miami FC

Mjondalen forward Erik Hurtado, on loan from Vancouver Whitecaps: season complete, 15th place, relegated (11 matches, 6 starts, 1 goal); expected to return to Vancouver

Start defender Alex De John: season complete, 14th place, won promotion-relegation playoff (22 matches, 17 starts)

MEXICO

Liga MX

Pachuca defender Omar Gonzalez: played 90 (assist in 43rd) in 1-1 draw at Tijuana

Here is Omar Gonzalez’s flick which led to Pachuca’s goal ->https://t.co/QMBSS6QpQr

Club America defender Ventura Alvarado: played 90 in 0-0 draw with Puebla

Tijuana forward Paul Arriola: entered in the 66th in 1-1 draw with Pachuca

Tijuana defender Greg Garza: not in the 18 for 1-1 draw with Pachuca

Tijuana defender Michael Orozco: not in the 18 for 1-1 draw with Pachuca

Tijuana midfielder Alejandro Guido: not in the 18 for 1-1 draw with Pachuca

Tigres midfielder Jose Torres: in the 18 but did not play in 1-0 defeat at Toluca

Tigres forward Luis Silva: not in the 18 for 1-0 defeat at Toluca

Dorados midfielder Joe Corona, on loan from Tijuana: played 67 in 1-0 defeat at Chiapas

Leon goalkeeper William Yarbrough: played 90 in 2-0 victory over Santos Laguna

Leon forward Miguel Ibarra: in the 18 but did not play in 2-0 victory over Santos Laguna

Santos Laguna defender Jorge Villafaña: played 90 in 2-0 defeat at Leon

Queretaro defender Jonathan Bornstein: played 90 in 3-1 defeat to Atlas

Queretaro midfielder Luis Gil: not in the 18 for 3-1 defeat to Atlas

Monterrey defender Edgar Castillo: played 90 in 1-0 victory over Pumas

U.S. forward Jordan Morris set for training with Werder Bremen

Stanford beat Clemson 4-0 in the NCAA College Cup final to become 2015 champions for the first time.United States forward Jordan Morris will join Werder Bremen next week during their winter training camp, the Bundesliga club said on Tuesday.”It’s an opportunity for us to get to know the player better. Nothing more and nothing less,” club CEO Thomas Eichin said in a statement.Morris, who helped Stanford win the NCAA College Cup last month, has yet to announce whether he will turn professional or return for his senior year.The 21-year-old has already earned seven international caps for the U.S. and coach Jurgen

 

Klinsmann has said Morris “obviously has to” turn professional , while Goal.com reported this week that he was “in advanced negotiations” to join the Seattle Sounders.Morris has spent time with the Sounders’ youth programs and is eligible to join the team on a lucrative homegrown deal, thereby skipping the MLS SuperDraft.But the striker will first explore his options in Europe as he joins Werder Bremen for training on Monday in Belek, Turkey.His U.S. teammate Aron Johannsson is already a member of the Bremen squad but has been out since September with a hip injury.Morris is a key figure on the U.S. under-23 team that faces Colombia in March for a chance to qualify for the Olympics, and he’s also expected to join the senior national team for training camp later this month.Also on Tuesday, United States youth international Christian Pulisic was promoted to first team training at Borussia Dortmund.

Report: US youth international Christian Pulisic promoted to first-team training at Borussia Dortmund

January 5, 20164:25 PM ESTMLSsoccer staff

MLSsoccer.com

Although most eyes are currently on Jordan Morris’ upcoming trip to Germany, another young rising American soccer star is also making waves at a big Bundesliga club.According to reports, Christian Pulisic was promoted to first-team training at Borussia Dortmund on Monday and will travel with the club to their upcoming winter training camp in Dubai.  The 17-year-old attacking midfielder has played very well with Borussia Dortmund’s youth academy, logging four goals and three assists with their U-19 side since joining the club a year ago.The Hershey, Pa., native has been a mainstay on the US U-17 national team and showed promise at last October’s U-17 World Cup despite the Americans’ early exit.

Copa America Centenario 101: All you need to know about next summer’s big tournament

December 17, 20151:11 PM ESTSam StejskalMLSsoccer.com

The brightest stars in world soccer are headed to the US next summer, and they’ll be playing for keeps.The US will host the Copa America Centenario in June 2016, with 10 South American national teams joined by six CONCACAF countries – including the US and Mexico – for a 16-team tournament.Traditionally contested by the 10 CONMEBOL nations and two outside invitees, the 2016 Copa America will be hosted by US Soccer, CONMEBOL and CONCACAF as a one-off tournament in commemoration of the 100-year anniversary of South America’s most prestigious international competition. Some of the sport’s biggest names will be in the US for the tournament, with Lionel Messi likely to captain Argentina, Neymar a shoo-in for Brazil’s roster and James Rodriguez presumably set to lead Colombia.  Complete schedule, plus dates and venues for the 2016 Copa América Centenario

MLS should have a significant presence in the competition, with the league’s sizable US national team contingent likely joined by MLS players from Costa Rica, Jamaica and potentially Mexico, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago, the latter two of which still need to qualify for the tournament.

How is the Centenario different from Copa America?

As mentioned above, the Copa America is South America’s premier international tournament. The longest running international soccer tournament in the world, it’s the continent’s equivalent of the UEFA European Championship or the CONCACAF Gold Cup.The tournament has had many iterations in its 100-year history, with the current format coming into play in 2007. That was the year CONMEBOL shifted to holding the tournament once every four years, with all 10 members of the South American confederation joined by two other countries for a 12-team tournament.The 12 teams are divided into three groups of four, with the top two teams from each group and the best two third-place finishers advancing to an eight-team knockout round. Chile hosted the tournament in June 2015, with the hosts winning the title – their first – by beating Argentina in penalties in the final.Uruguay has won the most Copa America titles, taking home the trophy 15 times. Argentina is in second with 14 titles, and Brazil rounds out the top-three with eight championships. Ecuador and Venezuela are the only two CONMEBOL countries that have never won the tournament.The 2016 Centenario, of course, will be a little different. In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the tournament, CONMEBOL partnered with US Soccer and CONCACAF to stage a juiced-up version of the event in the States. The tournament, which has never before been hosted outside of South America, should captivate the attention of the entire Western Hemisphere, with big teams and big stars set to face off for the first trophy of its kind.

Which countries are participating?

Sixteen teams will compete in the Copa America Centenario, with all 10 CONMEBOL federations joined by six CONCACAF countries.The US and Mexico automatically qualified for the tournament, and Jamaica and Costa Rica are already in the field as winners of the 2014 Caribbean Cup and 2014 Copa Centroamericana, respectively.By virtue of their finishes at the 2015 CONCACAF Gold Cup, four teams – Cuba, Haiti, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago – all qualified for the Copa America Centenario qualifying playoffs. The teams were seeded based on their Gold Cup results, with top-seed Panama set to take on fourth-seeded Cuba and second-seed Trinidad and Tobago scheduled to battle Haiti in one-off matches for spots in the Centenario field. Both qualification matches will be held in Panama City, Panama on Jan. 8.

When, and where, will the tournament be played?

The Copa America Centenario will kick off on June 3 and will conclude with the final on June 26. A total of 10 stadiums were selected from of a group of 24 bidders to host tournament matches, with the minimum stadium capacity for the tournament set at 60,219.Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California will host the US national team in the opener on June 3. The final will be held at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey.Additionally, the USMNT will play group stage games at Soldier Field (June 7) and Lincoln Financial Field (June 11); Brazil, at the Rose Bowl (June 4), Citrus Bowl (June 8)and Gillette Stadium (June 12); Mexico, at University of Phoenix Stadium (June 5), the Rose Bowl (June 9) and NRG Stadium (June 13); and Argentina, at Levi’s Stadium (June 6), Soldier Field (June 10) and CenturyLink Field (June 14)

List of host stadiums:

CenturyLink Field – Seattle, Wash.

What’s the format?

The tournament format is relatively straightforward. The 16 teams will be drawn into four groups of four teams each, with each team set to play the other teams in their group once. The top two teams in each group will advance to the knockout round, with the eight remaining teams then playing a single-elimination, win or go home tournament culminating in the June 26 final.If tied at the end of regulation, group stage matches will end as a draw, while knockout round games will move to two 15-minute periods of extra time. If the teams are still tied after extra time, the game will be decided by a penalty kick shootout.Unlike other regional championships, the Copa America Centenario winner will not earn a berth to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup in Russia. CONCACAF and CONMEBOL have already determined their representatives for the Confederations Cup, with Mexico beating the US in the CONCACAF Cup in October to earn a spot in Russia and Chile qualifying for the tournament by virtue of their 2015 Copa America title.

Report: Several USMNT mainstays to miss winter camp; Luis Robles gets call-up

January 5, 20165:19 PM ESTMLSsoccer staffMLSsoccer.com

The US national team won’t announce the roster for their upcoming winter camp until later this week, but it appears that several veterans won’t be included.According to a report from Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, Clint Dempsey, Nick Rimando, Graham Zusi, Kyle Beckerman, Brad Evans, Chris Wondolowski and Omar Gonzalez all will not be in camp when it opens Monday due to a variety of factors.But those omissions will open the door for other players to get back into the picture, including Luis Robles, the New York Red Bulls goalkeeper whose only USMNT cap came in 2009. READ: Klinsmann discusses mixing veterans with U-23 players for January camp  Robles, the reigning Allstate Goalkeeper of the Year, will reportedly be joined by other new faces, including 20-year-old FC Dallas ‘keeper Jesse Gonzalez and Columbus Crew SC winger Ethan Finlay.Captain Michael Bradley will be on the 25-man roster, which is expected to include about a dozen U-23 players. The month-long camp culminates with friendlies against Iceland on Jan. 31 and Canada on Feb. 5.

Kick Off: New deal for Dax? | Where will F Jordan Morris sign? | Brad Friedel to coach US Youth Team

January 5, 201611:31 AM ESTJames Keep 

Here are the top 15 stories everyone’s talking about this morning:

  1. NEW COACHES, NEW THOUGHTS FOR US YOUTH

Former MLS players Brad Friedel and Omid Namazi have been named as the new head coaches of US youth national team programs, with Friedel set to take charge of the US U-19s and Namazi taking control of the US U-18s. John Hackworth, coach of the U-17 program, offered his thoughts on the current standard of youth development in the US and why the under-threat residency program in Bradenton, Florida remains useful.

  1. A NEW DEAL FOR DAX

The New York Red Bulls look to have made a hugely important move, with a report on Monday indicating the club has reached a new, four-year deal with captain Dax McCarty, keeping the midfielder away from free agency next offseason.

  1. MORRIS TAKING TO BREMEN?

Though Stanford star and US international Jordan Morris is reportedly  negotiating with his hometown Seattle Sounders, it appears Morris will head to Germany for a training stint with Werder Bremen.

  1. CLOSING IN ON COMBINE

The start of the MLS Combine is now only three days away and, with that in mind, here’severything you need to know and some questions we’re hoping to have answered. This is the best chance to impress MLS coaches for several young prospects, one of whom – Stanford co-captain and College Cup-winning left back Brandon Vincent – recently spoke to MLSsoccer.com.

  1. GERRARD’S LAST SEASON?

Could 2016 be Steven Gerrard’s final year as a professional soccer player? The LA Galaxy Designated Player has suggested in an interview that this season will probably be his last, with the former Liverpool midfielder already eyeing a career in coaching and a possible return to Anfield.

  1. BRUCE’S BITTERSWEET GOODBYES

The ExtraTime Radio crew returned to New York for a special show recapping all the holiday newsaround MLS. LA Galaxy coach Bruce Arena joined to give his take on recent transfers and what’s next for LA. Goal.com’s Ives Galarcep checked in to give the lowdown on the 2016 Generation adidas class, Jordan Morris and Dax McCarty.

  1. FRIENDS BECOME FOES

Former LA Galaxy stars Omar Gonzalez and Juninho could both be set to make their Liga MX debuts this Friday, with the ex-teammates potentially set to face off as Club Tijuana take on Pachuca in the opening game of the season.

(CR)7. RONALDO RUMOR RESURFACES

Player rumors continue to circle David Beckham’s potential Miami club, with the latest one again linking Cristiano Ronaldo with a move to the proposed MLS expansion side.

  1. NYCFC TARGET

Ronald Matarrita might indeed be on his way to New York City FC – Alajuelense club director Marco Vasquez recently said, “Ronald will play outside this country, either in New York or Europe.” One player who won’t be in New York this season is former NYCFC defender Shay Facey, who has joined Rotherham on loan.

  1. ATLANTA’S HUGE YEAR

This time next year, Atlanta United will be getting ready for their first season in MLS, which makes 2016 a very important year for the club as they look to establish a solid foundation, with some important hires still to be made.

  1. PLAYING FOR A PLACE

There are two Copa América Centenario play-in matches set to take place on Friday: as Trinidad & Tobago take on Haiti and Panama face off against Cuba for a chance to be part of this summer’s big event. Four current MLS players, as well as a handful of former league stars, are all set to play their part.

  1. TIMBERS STILL NEGOTIATING

The Portland Timbers are still locked in negotiations with two of their former players as theyattempt to retain the services of Rodney Wallace and Norberto Paparatto for the 2016 season.

  1. CREW CALL-UPS

While the full roster for the US national team’s January camp is yet to be revealed, it looks like a trio of Columbus Crew SC players will be on their way to California to take part, with a source confirming that Wil Trapp, Ethan Finlay and Tony Tchani have all been invited to attend.

  1. CAMERON FREE TO PLAY

Geoff Cameron could be back in action on Tuesday as Stoke City take on Liverpool in the first leg of England’s League Cup semifinal. The US international looked likely to miss the game after a dubious red card at the weekend, but it has since been overturned.

  1. SETBACK FOR HENRY

Although there were more promising signs for Canada with news of two more international commitments, it looks like bad news for one of their players, as Doneil Henry seems set to leave Blackburn Rovers and return to West Ham United, having failed to work his way into the team.

Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber open to instant replay

BALTIMORE — Major League Soccer commissioner Don Garber said the United Soccer League is looking to adopt instant replay for the 2016 season, and that if it proves successful, MLS may follow suit.Speaking to reporters at the MLS SuperDraft on Thursday, Garber said: “I’m a big believer in instant replay. It’s not because I believe our officials need it.”I think the PRO [Professional Referee Organization] program has achieved a lot more than most people give them credit for. … I’ve got a lot of time for Peter Walton. But as you read what’s going on in Europe, I think there’s a bit of a movement for instant replay.”The USL currently constitutes the third tier of the North American Soccer pyramid, and is comprised of 29 teams. It has a close relationship with MLS, in that every MLS team now either fields a reserve team in the USL, or has an affiliate there.Garber feels the USL makes for an ideal proving ground in terms of adding new elements to the game, though he was careful to note that a final decision on replay hadn’t been made.Garber added: “We’re leading the charge [on replay], we’ve put up our hand, and have said to those folks who are looking at it internationally, we’ll be happy to test it here, even in MLS games. It’s not going to happen in 2016, but we are pretty focused on ensuring we will have a test in the USL.”

As Messi wins another Ballon d’Or, his evolution as a superstar continues

Barcelona forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or award for the world’s best player for the fifth time.

BY BEN LYTTLETON  SI Posted: Mon Jan. 11, 2016

So the experts know their stuff after all. Lionel Messi polled 41% of all votes to win the FIFA Ballon d’Or for a record fifth time Monday in Zurich. In a democratic vote that considers every FIFA country’s national team coach, captain and one accredited journalist–a system that always throws up anomalies–Messi came out on top, as expected.The surprise was that he missed out on a historic player/goal double. He was nominated for the Puskas award for his fantastic strike against Athletic Bilbao, but little-known Brazilian Wendell Lira won it. When 2007 winner Kaká–the last non-Messi/Ronaldo winner–announced Messi’s name, there was no emphatic shout of “Siiiiiiiiiiiii!” as when Ronaldo won it last year; nor was there a sartorially brave suit choice, as Messi has donned in previous years (It was Neymar who took that accolade with his jauntily-angled trilby hat). Messi, playing it safe in a smart black tuxedo, straight-batted the usual press conference and ceremony questions about his own brilliance and thanked his teammates. “It’s an incredibly special moment for me to stand again on this stage, after being in the audience for the last couple of years watching Cristiano [win the trophy],” said Messi. “It’s more than anything I ever dreamed of when I was a kid. Without my teammates none of this would have been possible. Football has made me grow and learn every day. Thank you.”MORE: Messi, Ronaldo omit each other again from Ballon ballots

Also on the day in Zurich, USA standout Carli Lloyd won Women’s Player of the YearUSA’s Jill Ellis won Coach of the Year for Women’s Football and Barcelona’s Luis Enrique won Coach of the Year for Men’s Football. And while the day was about honoring all of world soccer’s best, the bulk of the spotlight belonged to Messi.  Messi now has five Ballon D’Or wins to Ronaldo’s three. This one was no surprise, given that Barcelona won the treble last season, and capped that with the Club World Cup victory in December. While the raw numbers of Messi’s goalscoring (and indeed Ronaldo, who outscored his rival last year) are mind-boggling, this time the judges–made up of national team coaches, captains and one accredited journalist from each FIFA nation–must have considered the aesthetic as well.

PLANET FUTBOLVideoWatch: Here’s why Lionel Messi won his fifth Ballon d’Or

​Messi has the same killer instinct as Ronaldo, but his goals are on a different level; the goal against Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey final was one thing, but what about the dizzying dribble in the Champions League semifinal that left Bayern Munich’s Jerome Boateng in a heap, followed by the delicate close-range chip that had Manuel Neuer and Rafinha lying on the goalline and unable to stop? Huge games, huge goals.“Does anyone really believe that the best wa to describe Leo is by talking about his numbers?” asked Martin Mazur in a passionate column in El Grafico. “It is an unfair reduction of the beauty of his game.”

You can have the goals, the vines, even the trophies. What Messi has provided this year are those jaw-droppng moments, those ‘I saw that live’ memories, a level of majesty that can reduce Pep Guardiola to open-mouthed wonder (as when he nut-megged two Manchester City players in a Champions League tie in February).It’s nine years since Messi first appeared on the Ballon D’Or podium, and he has not left it. At that time, we focused on his speed, his dribbling in tight spaces and his humility. As the seasons have gone by, he has responded to every criticism. He didn’t score enough headers, until he did just that in the 2009 Champions League final. He didn’t score enough free kicks, except he now does (19 in all, the same as Ronaldinho, including an in-off-the-crossbar beauty last week against Espanyol). He was not a leader, and too quiet in the dressing-room, which we now know is not true either, even if Javier Mascherano or someone else often does the talking for him.The expectation next year is that Neymar will step up and replace his Barcelona teammate. But don’t be too sure Messi is ready to give up just yet.“He is obsessed about winning a title with the Argentine national team, so I think he will keep this galactic level until the 2018 World Cup,” said Hernan Claus ofDiario Ole. “It’s up to him, but he is looking after his body better than ever.”

Experts in Brazil are not convinced that Neymar is ready to win it either.“I cannot picture Neymar becoming the next Ballon D’Or,” Silvio Nascimento, sports editor of Veja, told SI.com. “He is not mature enough yet. It will depend on how Messi and even Ronaldo keep playing, but also on himself. If you watch carefully, you will see Neymar still playing this Brazilian style of dribbling when sometimes it is not needed. Even if he did win the Ballon D’Or, I reckon he wouldn’t be able to dominate as Messi has, simply because both Messi and Ronaldo will still be there.”Even Pelé has spotted improvement areas in Neymar’s game.“He doesn’t know how to play backwards, he doesn’t know how to organize the game, he doesn’t know how to build-up. He has lots of deficits in his game,” Pelé said last year. “Neymar is a really good player but he’s not yet a complete one. Messi is definitely the best.”With the Olympics, Copa America Centenario and the European Championships coming up this summer, the field of contenders for next year’s title might not be limited just to this year’s podium players. How unlucky is Luis Suarez to miss out on the top three? Could Gareth Bale fulfill the ambitions of his president Florentino Perez? This could be the year of Paul Pogba or Antoine Griezmann, of Thomas Muller or Mesut Ozil. The favorite, though, has to be Messi again.In 2015, he made us reconsider his own brilliance. Even if he does not make it 10 years unbroken on the podium, we can surely now end the debate about who was the best ever.

 EPL BIG GAMES

anchester United’s trip to Liverpool is always one of the biggest matches of the season. The clash at Anfield is one of the highlights of a weekend that also includes a tricky encounter for Arsenal at Stoke.Each week, ESPN FC’s club bloggers will preview their match and give a prediction. Do you agree or disagree? Have your say below by voting in the match poll.

LIVERPOOL vs. MANCHESTER UNITED

LIVERPOOL: Louis van Gaal has suddenly discovered how to be entertaining after the 3-3 draw with Newcastle. Liverpool have few fit defenders and let Exeter pass them twice — so a goal-feast on Sunday, right? Wrong. Both sides will be so tense and anxious to avoid defeat it’ll be extremely tight and cautious.Prediction: Liverpool 0-0 Manchester United — Steven Kelly.

MAN UNITED: Judging from their 3-3 draws earlier this week, we could hope the clash at Anfield will involve lots of goals. Both teams showed encouraging signs going forward in midweek but were appalling in defence. Van Gaal figures to want to tighten things up and the price of not conceding is not scoring too many.Prediction: Liverpool 1-1 Manchester United — Scott Patterson.

STOKE vs. ARSENAL

STOKE: Stoke face old foes Arsenal, who will be looking to pass the Britannia test to further their title credentials. This could well be another game for the False No. 9 formation, with Bojan Krkic causing the Gunners all manner of problems in their last visit.Prediction: Stoke 2-0 Arsenal — James Whittaer.

ARSENAL: Failure to take all three points at Liverpool on Wednesday night is disappointing and frustrating. Arsene Wenger’s team must turn that into something positive at a ground that is traditionally difficult for them. They simply have to respond to show their title credentials and the return of Alexis Sanchez might help in that regard.
Prediction: Stoke 1-2 Arsenal — Andrew Mangan.

CHELSEA vs. EVERTON

CHELSEA: It’s a case of one step forward and one step back as highlighted by Wednesday’s 2-2 draw with West Brom. That said, Chelsea are certainly capable of raising themselves if needed and they will need to against an impressive Everton side. Former Blue Romelu Lukaku has been rampant in front of goal and will be eager to prove a point. Hopefully, Diego Costa will have a suitable response.Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Everton — Phil Lythell.

EVERTON: Defensive improvements continued in midweek as Everton became the first visiting team in almost a year to keep a clean sheet at Manchester City, but the Blues are winless in 20 league visits to Stamford Bridge and must rediscover their attacking edge. A third successive league draw this month seems more likely.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Everton — Luke O’Farrell.

MAN CITY vs. CRYSTAL PALACE

MAN CITY: Manuel Pellegrini’s side are in decent form, with only one loss in their last six — but only three wins in that time, too. However, the Eagles haven’t scored in the Premier League since mid-December (knowing City, there’s a fair chance that run might end Saturday).Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Crystal Palace — David Mooney.

CRYSTAL PALACE: If ever there was a time to put Manchester City defenders in your fantasy football team this is it. Crystal Palace haven’t scored in their last four Premier League games, look blunt going forward and have injuries to most of their attacking players.Prediction: Manchester City 2-0 Crystal Palace — Jim Daly.

 

Why Liverpool vs. Man United is one of football’s greatest grudge matches

The last thing Louis van Gaal needs is a Sunday afternoon at Anfield. The Manchester United manager’s position is precarious. The Dutchman might not survive a loss to Liverpool. Losing is one thing. Defeat to United’s hated rivals is quite another.Forget the Clasico. This is one of the greatest grudge matches in world football. It is a fixture as intense as any of the game’s big rivalries. Anfield is always at its most ferocious when United come to town — and Old Trafford provides reciprocal animosity when Liverpool visit.It is not about results or league positions. The enmity between the teams and the cities is more deep-seated than that. Its roots are cultural and historical and all the more satisfying for it.United’s badge is an affront to Merseyside. It features a three-masted sailing ship — as Manchester City’s does, too. Manchester is land-locked and 35 miles away from the coast. This inland mill town built a ship canal to circumvent the port of Liverpool. The ghost of economic conflict in the 19th century surfaces every time these teams play.There are fewer similarities than you might expect in two conurbations located so close to each other. The accents could not be more distinct. The humour is very different. There is a theatrical mistrust between the two communities. Gary Neville told a United fanzine a decade ago that he disliked Liverpool. “I can’t stand the people,” he said. “I can’t stand anything to do with them.” Sanctimonious commentators were appalled. Many Scousers recognized Neville’s honesty and appreciated it. They felt the same way about Mancunians.The cities, barely more than a day’s walking distance from each other, feel remarkably different. They judge their achievements — in music, fashion, politics, arts and literature — in comparison with those of their neighbours. Merseyside can take the upper hand in music, courtesy of the Beatles, and can claim to have invented terrace fashion. Manchester has produced better literature, was majoring in groundbreaking politics when Liverpool was still an establishment city and has a more vibrant artistic scene.Football, though, is the main battleground. The two dominant clubs in the north west have come to symbolize the aggressive pride of their respective home towns.Do modern players and managers understand the roots of the rivalry? Almost certainly not. However, the enduring antagonism is infused into the DNA of both clubs. Liverpool’s approach to the Luis Suarez-Patrice Evra racism incident almost certainly would have been different if any other team except United had been involved. Kenny Dalglish was fixated on not backing down before Sir Alex Ferguson and Old Trafford. Reactions become irrational when these sides face off, on or off the pitch.United became a global club earlier than Liverpool and can still boast a bigger fanbase. The Munich Air Disaster in 1958, when eight players and three staff members were killed in a plane crash along with 12 others, brought Old Trafford a worldwide wave of sympathy that transcended football. When Matt Busby, a former Liverpool captain, took the club from the ruins of Munich to win the European Cup a decade later, United were well established as the best-supported team in England. It was a remarkable achievement but Busby’s team stagnated quickly after that high point in 1968.The goodwill toward United remained even as the club went into deep decline in the early 1970s. They even spent a year in the second tier after they were relegated from the top flight in 1974.Liverpool’s rise was concurrent with Old Trafford’s fall from grace and resentment festered on both sides. At Anfield, they wondered why United received so much positive publicity when success eluded the Manchester side — they went 26 years without winning the title. United were media darlings even though Liverpool won 11 titles and four European Cups before their rivals won the league again.Everything changed in the 1990s. By then, Liverpool had been destabilized by their own tragedy, at Hillsborough in 1989. United were way ahead of their peers in exploiting financially their huge fan base and they became the dominant side in the newly founded Premier League after 1993.Under Ferguson, they ruled the domestic game. Yet they trumpeted their achievements in relation to their main rivals. “My greatest challenge was knocking Liverpool off their perch,” Ferguson said. The unedited quote contains a percussive and explosive obscenity that illustrates how bitterly the Scot felt toward Anfield. The deep, ingrained antagonism flared up anew as Liverpool embarked on their own 25-year title drought — one that is still racking up the years. In that time United have won the Premier League 13 times and added two Champions Leagues.The weight of history hangs over this match. It will be visible on Sunday. The tackling is more intense, the pace more frenzied and the disappointment of defeat more painful. Liverpool’s derby against Everton and United’s versus City are keenly fought but there is an extra edge to this game.Steven Gerrard’s sending off last season, less than a minute after being introduced as a substitute at half-time, typified the mood of the game. The Liverpool captain could have been sent off for a challenge on Juan Mata before he went on to earn his marching orders for a stamp on Anders Herrera in his 38 mad seconds on the pitch. Like Neville, Gerrard is a local boy infused with the history of the fixture. Neither player would give an inch in these games and both tended to go too far for a referee’s satisfaction in the heat of the moment. They were loved on the terraces for that quality.Perhaps the intensity will go out of the matchup as the balance of both clubs’ fanbase edges more toward global than local. It is the same on the pitch. United’s 3-1 win at Old Trafford in September was the first time in Premier League history when neither side had a Mancunian or Scouser in the team.It would be a shame, though, if the vendetta faded away. The rivalry brings out the best — and occasionally the worst — in both sides.On Sunday, there will be plenty at stake. But Van Gaal will merely be a footnote in the long tradition of this fixture. The three points are almost tangential. The pride of two cities is on the line, the mood of a region will depend on the result. The game is about more than football. That’s what makes it so important to both sets of fans.Tony Evans has been a sports journalist for more than 20 years. 

Chelsea sense chance vs. Everton to bounce back from West Brom draw

BY PHIL LYTHELLGiven the general positivity surrounding Everton’s season and the negative air that has enveloped Chelsea, it is surprising that a win for the Londoners in their clash on Saturday would leave them just one point behind the Merseysiders.A blend of youth and effective attacking football has seen Roberto Martinez’s side rightly lauded throughout the campaign and has supplied a glimpse of what is possible if a manager places his faith in his talented youngsters. And yet had Chelsea not yielded a late equaliser in Wednesday night’s 2-2 draw with West Brom, they would have had the opportunity to leapfrog Everton in the Premier League table with a victory.Such a situation suggests that perhaps their respective seasons should be compared more favourably, though a look at their midweek performances would show just why the general perception is the way it is.The West Brom game encapsulated the frustration that has been one of the hallmarks of the Blues’ campaign to date. It was a decent contest in which Chelsea always looked the more likely team to win but one they could never take total control of. The narrow advantage they established contrived to spread nervousness throughout the team in the closing stages, manifesting itself in some haphazard defending and the eventual equaliser.Meanwhile, Everton were impressive in holding Manchester City to a goalless draw at the Etihad. A team not necessarily noted for their defence held firm against the highest scorers in the division that had not drawn a blank at home all season.But while their respective moods might have differed on Wednesday night, Chelsea are still favourites with the bookmakers to emerge victorious when they meet on Saturday with the draw considered to be the second most likely outcome. Part of that is certainly to do with Everton’s poor track record at Stamford Bridge, a place where they haven’t won since 1994 when a Mark Stein brace was not enough to prevent the visitors claiming a 4-2 win. In the intervening period, Everton have won a FA Cup tie in West London in 2011 though that was on penalties after a Leighton Baines’ free kick made it 1-1 a minute from the end of extra time.That match was very much like Chelsea’s game against West Brom and many that have punctuated their season, in that the Blues were unable to put their opponents away and got duly punished for it. The concern is that similar profligacy against Everton will be dealt with even more harshly by a team bursting with goals. Ex-Chelsea starlet Romelu Lukaku has been rampant this term with his 15 league goals firing him to the top of the goalscoring charts alongside Leicester City hotshot Jamie Vardy. John Terry and Kurt Zouma will have their work cut out against a muscular and confident striker that will be keen to prove a point against his former employers.Elsewhere, the visitors can boast two players who share third place in the assists table in England international Ross Barkley and the effervescent Spaniard Gerard Deulofeu. They have seven assists apiece and will demand that Chelsea’s defensive concentration is up to scratch.On the flipside, Chelsea have begun to create more chances under Guus Hiddink with responsibility not solely confined to the usual suspects. The opening goal against West Brom saw Willian and Diego Costa involved in the build-up though it was eventually converted by Cesar Azpilicueta after latching on to an inch-perfect cross from fellow full back Branislav Ivanovic. The second was created by Willian though it was the presence of the direct and dynamic Kenedy that forced Gareth McAuley to deflect the ball into his own goal.Costa will remain the focus of Chelsea’s attack and it has been encouraging to see the striker return to the marauding figure of old. Although he might have been snarling and reactionary on Wednesday, he was also an effective spearhead in attack. He now looks like a goalscorer again and if he can maintain this momentum and drag some others along with him, the three points can be gained on Saturday.Phil is one of ESPN’s Chelsea bloggers and author of Chelsea-centric blogShoutyanSpitty.com

 Jose Mourinho camp ‘frustrated’ with Manchester Utd job situation – sources

Jose Mourinho’s camp are getting “frustrated” with the lack of movement regarding the Manchester United job, sources have told ESPN FC, and his representatives are beginning to investigate other options.Mourinho has long wanted the Old Trafford job and it had seemed the time was finally right for him to get it, with the Portuguese parting ways with Chelsea just at the time when it seemed that Louis van Gaal was set to suffer the same fate at United after an awful December.Sources say that Mourinho’s representatives got in touch with the Old Trafford hierarchy within 24 hours of his Chelsea dismissal, and have asked to be kept abreast of the situation ever since. They have now been made aware, however, that the preference of United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward is to stick with Van Gaal, and to give him time to turn the situation around.Many around the Old Trafford leadership had expected Van Gaal to be sacked around the 0-0 draw with Chelsea in Dec. 28, but Woodward has stayed resolute.That has meant there is still no opening for Mourinho, although sources say he has also been made aware that a number of figures among the United hierarchy still do not want him at the club.ESPN FC has been told that the former Chelsea manager also turned down an offer to return to Real Madrid, both because he didn’t like the idea of going back there midseason after leaving in 2013, and because he was holding out for United.Now, although he does not want to totally turn his back on the possibility of taking over at Old Trafford — and some at United have asked Mourinho to be kept aware of his movements — the Portuguese’s camp have reluctantly accepted that they may have to investigate other options, especially since he wants to get back to football as quickly as possible.His representatives already reached out to both Paris Saint-Germain and Internazionale as far back as October, when Chelsea’s poor season was getting particularly problematic. Sources say that, despite the widespread expectation that Mourinho would only take an elite job, he might yet surprise people by going a little lower.His No. 1 target remains the United job, though, and the situation is said to have frustrated the manager and all those around him.

 

 

 

JEFF BELSKUS NAMED INDY 11 PRESIDENT

Peter Wilt to Continue General Manager Duties as Consultant into Spring Season

Jan 11, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (Monday, January 11, 2016) – Indy Eleven Professional Soccer owner Ersal Ozdemir announced today that former Indianapolis Motor Speedway President and CEO Jeff Belskus has assumed the president’s role with the North American Soccer League club effective immediately.Founding Indy Eleven president Peter Wilt will continue his general managerial duties with the club on a consultant basis into the 2016 NASL Spring Season. Wilt will be transitioning into a role with sports consulting firm CLUB 9 SPORTS to pursue the creation of a North American Soccer League team in Chicago.Both Belskus and Wilt will be available to members of the media for one-on-one interviews during this evening’s Brickyard Battalion Post Holiday Party event at Flat 12 Bierwerks (414 Dorman Street on Indianapolis’ near east side) from 6:00-9:00 p.m. ET. “We are constantly looking for ways to strengthen the organization while continuing to make strides towards gaining a new home for Indy Eleven and winning championships,” said Ozdemir. “The addition of someone with Jeff Belskus’ background into our front office is an important part of that continued progress, and I am excited to welcome him on behalf of the Indy Eleven family.”“Peter Wilt has been an integral part of building and growing Indy Eleven from even before day one. His influence and passion will continue to be felt across the organization and the fan base he helped cultivate,” Ozdemir continued. “We look forward to continuing to work with Peter in the coming months.”While Belskus’ expansive executive resume includes experience in the worlds of banking, insurance, real estate, food and broadcasting, most of his time was spent during nearly three decades in motorsports and professional auto racing organizations connected with Hulman & Company. After a successful career, Belskus retired from the Hulman organization in early 2015; click here to read Belskus’ full bio.“I am very excited for the chance to add to the strong foundation Indy Eleven has built. I thank Ersal Ozdemir for this opportunity to help the club reach greater heights, and that includes building a permanent home for Indy Eleven and giving our tremendous fan base the trophies they deserve,” said Belskus. “I am particularly excited to engage with the Brickyard Battalion and find ways to make the NASL’s best support base even better. Peter Wilt will be an important part of that process, and I look forward to working with him during this transition period.”Wilt continues to work with the Indy Eleven coaching staff to finalize the team’s 2016 roster. To date, 14 players are on the roster and at least four more player signings are expected to be announced later this week.“I am grateful to Ersal Ozdemir, the Indy Eleven staff, team and fans for the opportunity to help build professional soccer in Indiana,” Wilt stated. “Everyone here, especially the Brickyard Battalion and the Indiana Soccer Association, has welcomed me and I will continue to embrace my adopted Hoosier status and remain a proud Indy Eleven season ticket holder.”

 

Tim REGAN ON THE ROAD

Assistant Coach Staying Busy with Three-Combine Trip to Florida Jan 7, 2016

People that know Indy Eleven assistant coach Tim Regan can tell you that he has a great sense of humor and a tremendous soccer brain. And they also know that he can’t stand the sun – which makes him unlike most Hoosier State citizens that escape to Florida to get away from the cold.Also unlike most northerners heading south at this time of year, rather than taking a vacation Regan is hard at work this week in the Sunshine State. Between both Naples and Ft. Lauderdale, he is fulfilling different duties at three player combines to follow up on the ample amount of scouting work the Indy Eleven technical staff has already done.In Naples, Coach Regan is assisting at the Info Sport Combine, a gathering of professional hopefuls now in its 15th year under the direction of Daryl Shore, the current goalkeeper coach for MLS’ Real Salt Lake who was also one of the assistant coaches hired by now Indy Eleven president/general manager Peter Wilt during his Chicago Fire days. With 200-plus hopeful players descending upon the combine, Regan is part of a crew of 16 experienced coaches trying to accomplish what they can in a 72-hour window to guide these hopeful players down the road to a potential professional contract.Regan stated, “Because the numbers are so large, the good players will stick out. In that way, there are some guys that we have tracked that are here – which is good – because you tracked them in college and now you get to see them in a different setting. But, (these guys) have to learn that this is a business. College is competitive, but what we do is a business.”After the three-day run at the Info Sport gathering ends on Thursday, Regan will trek east to Ft. Lauderdale, where he will be on two opposite sides of the scouting spectrum during the overlapping NPSL and MLS Combines. He’ll be joined for this stretch of the trip by new Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson, both of whom will be focused on plucking players for the future.The most difficult part of the gauntlet of scouting in Florida, Regan stressed, is getting to know participants in such a short amount of time in the middle of a packed schedule.“We’re on the field six to eight hours a day, plus meetings and analysis of players in between at Info Sport. But, at the combines in Ft. Lauderdale, the NPSL and MLS overlap. There is a training session on Friday evening with games on Saturday and Sunday, while the MLS plays on Friday, Sunday, and Tuesday. This presents different challenges.”Regan’s role will shift this weekend, as he’ll step in for Indy Eleven NPSL head coach John Simmonds as the coach of the Midwest squad at the NPSL Combine while taking the more usual route as an interested observer at the MLS Combine. As his role shifts, the former Chief Scout at Toronto FC has to then whittle down what he is looking for as players compete for slots at a higher level.“The other tough part is having to lock down who has the ‘intangibles’ – the personality, the work rate, etc. – and how to keep in touch with those players moving forward,” Regan added.Though there may not be any direct roster additions from these combines, Regan emphasized the importance of keeping in contact with players who may become available later down their paths to the prosForward Duke Lacroix and midfielder Daniel Keller serve as perfect examples of why the trip is worth the time, as both were part of the MLS Combine at this time last year. Lacroix would go undrafted by MLS teams after stating his intentions to finish his studies at the University of Pennsylvania, while Keller would fight for a roster spot on the defending MLS Champion LA Galaxy, only to miss the cut during preseasonThe work laid by the Indy Eleven staff in Florida last year helped bring those two talented youngsters into the fold, paying immediate dividends in 2015. Now they’re back in the Sunshine State once again in the hopes of finding the next diamond in the rough for the “Boys in Blue” in 2016.

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The Old Ballcoach  – Coach Shane Best