2/25/16 Fifa Vote, Games of Wk, Champ League Results

So on this day of the Vote for a New FIFA President we have a new guy in charge – Gianni Infantino, a former EUFA League VP wins it. Now the hard work begins. Check out ESPN and Fox as both will have coverage throughout the day on this monumental vote without Sepp Blatter involved.

So Champions League play was again spectacular on Super Tues – as the world’s best player – Messi again worked his magic at Arsenal and Barcelona again left with a 2-0 lead. Italy’s defending finalist Juventus got down 2-0 to Bayern at home only to come rallying back in the final minutes to pull out a spectacular tie 2-2 vs the German champions. On Wednesday the Man City looks assured of a trip to the quarterfinals for the 1st time after after Ya Ya Tourey, Aguero and company made waste of Dynamo Kiev 3-1.  Champions League play is back with the return legs in the 2 game playoffs on March 8/9 + 15/16.  While the best in Europe took the headlines – MLS was facing some of the best in Mexico in Concacaff Champions League action.  Seattle, the LA Galaxy and Real Salt Lake all have chances to advance while the other MLS teams didn’t fare to well – those return legs are next Tues/Wed. on Fox Sports.

This weekend we have the Madrid Classico with Real hosting Athletico Sat 10 am on beIn Sport, while Man U and Arsenal battle at Old Trafford at 9 am Sunday on NBCSN before the Capital One Cup Final between Liverpool and Man City at 11:30 am on beIn Sport.

Games of the Week

Sat, Feb 27

10 am beIn Sport –     Madrid Classico – Real Madrid vs Athletico Madrid – Battle for Madrid as both teams still in top 4 in Spain

Sunday, Feb 28

9 am NBCSN –          Man U vs Arsenal  – Always a big game despite Man U’s struggles – Gunners need win to stay in EPL contention for title

11:30 am                   Capital 1 Cup Finals – Liverpool vs Man City – Can Klopp help Liverpool win a trophy? 

2:45 pm  bein Sport     Juventus vs Inter – top 4 battle in the Italian League

Wed, March 2

2:30 pm Gol TV         Inter vs Juve – Coppa Italia  

3 pm NBCSN             Liverpool vs Man City

CONCACAF Champions League (Quarterfinal second legs)

8:00 p.m Fox Sports:                 Club América vs. Seattle Sounders

Champions League

Champions League Tues Wrap up Barco 2-0, Bayern-Juve 2-2 SI

Arsenal have no answer for Messi and Barca-ESPN FC

Barca vs Arsenal Player Ratings Messi a 9 ESPN FC

Arsenal Striker Giroud rues Header vs Barca saved by Ter Stegan

Juve’s Pogba unleashes the Batsignal in 2-2 draw with Bayern

How Juve came back to tie Bayern

Man City 3-1 at Dynamo Kyve looks to have them thru for 1st time Ever

PSV and Athletico Tie at 0-0

Both PSV and Athletico ok with Tie

Last week’s first legs
Gent 2-3 Wolfsburg — RECAP
AS Roma 0-2 Real Madrid — RECAP
Paris Saint-Germain 2-1 Chelsea — RECAP
Benfica 1-0 Zenit St. Petersburg — RECAP

Europa Cup – Man U, Liverpool, Spurs all Advance

 MLS

Dempsey with a Beautiful Free kick in 2-2 tie with Club America in CCL Tues Night

Top 10 MLS Storyline Fans should be following in 2016

MLS- Champions League Results are Not Kind

Galaxy Tie while Real Salt Lake lose UCCL

NYCFC Mix Diskarud to Rapids for Tim Howard makes Sense

MLS Defending Champ Portland Timbers Season Preview

LA Galaxy Season Preview

EPL + World

Messi Gives real Jersey to Plastic Bag Kid in Afganastan

EPL Weekend Predictions

EPL Top 5 Stories

Football Daily news

With 12 Games left where does EPL Stand

Tim Howard US GK -loses Starting spot at Everton

Report has Antonio Conte – Italy’s National Team Coach taking Chelsea Job after Euros

Goalie Scores Tying Goal on drop kick in Injury Time

USA

US Women Have Sights on World Cup/Olympic Double

US Women beat Canada to win Concacaff

Which Demoted Keeper Should Klinsmann play?

US 17 year old US Midfielder starts for Bundesliga Giant Borrussia Dortmund

US to vote for Prince Ali for FIFA President Friday

Copa Draw Grant Wahl SI

Indy 11

Bloody Shambles NASL Volume 2 – Aaron Gunyon Includes interview with Coach Hankinson 2/21

Bloody Shambles Preview show with Caleb Ramp

Indy 11 Preseason Notebook this week

New Roster

Minnesota United Major League Stadium

2016 SEASON TICKETS: Support your “Boys in Blue” for as little as $10 a game!

UPCOMING GAMES

 Sat, February 27

7:45 am  NBCSN        West Ham vs Sunderland

9;30 am Fox Sports 2 Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

10 am beIn Sport –     Madrid Classico – Real Madrid vs Athletico Madrid

10 am NBCSN           Leicester City vs Norwich

12:30 pm NBC           West Brom vs Crystal Palace

 Sunday, February 28

9 am NBCSN –          Man U vs Arsenal

11:30 am beIn sports  Capital 1 Cup Finals – Liverpool vs Man City

2:45 pm  bein Sport     Juventus vs Inter

 Tuesday, March 1

2:45 pm NBCSN         Leicester City vs West Brom

2:45 pm ET                Norwich vs Chelsea, Villa vs Everton, Sunderland vs CP

CONCACAF Champions League (Quarterfinal second legs)

8:00 p.m., FS 1 or 2   D.C. United vs. Querétaro
10:00 p.m., FS1 or 2:                 Santos Laguna vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

 Wednesday, March 2, 2016

2:30 pm Gol TV         Inter vs Juve – Coppa Italia

3 pm NBCSN             Liverpool vs Man City

CONCACAF Champions League (Quarterfinal second legs)

8:00 p.m., TV TBD:    Club América vs. Seattle Sounders
10:00 p.m., TV TBD:  Real Salt Lake vs. Tigres UANL

Thursday, March3

7:30 pm Fox Sport  1 US Women vs England

Sun, March 6: MLS Opening Weekend

8:30 am NBCSN         Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

11 am NBCSN           West Brom vs Man U

4:30 pm ESPN           Portland Timbers vs. Columbus Crew

7 pm Fox Sports 1      Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting Kansas City

 Wednesday, March 9

7:30 pm ESPN?         US Women vs Germany (Boca, FL)

 Sunday, March 13: 

5:00 p.m. (ESPN2,)   New York City FC vs. Toronto FC

7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers,

Friday, March 25: 

4:30 pm TBD          US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff

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

Tuesday, March 28:

7 pm (ESPN2)        United States men vs. Guatemala, WC qualifier-Columbus, OH

 Wednesday, March 29

9:30 pm ESPN2     US U23 Men @ Columbia Olympic Qualify Playoff Texas

Copa America –Chicago Full Venue Passes

Sun, June 5 – C3 vs. C4
Tues Eve, June 7 – United States vs. A3
Fri Eve, June 10 – Argentina vs. D3
Wed Eve, June 22 – Semifinal (read Argentina vs Brazil) Maybe

Copa Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

How Juventus came off the ropes to match Bayern

Published: Wednesday 24 February 2016, 8.59CETy Paolo Menicuccifrom Juventus Stadium

 Who would have believed Juventus could make it back from 2-0 down to earn a draw with Bayern? UEFA.com’s Paolo Menicucci on how the Bianconeri can never be written off.Seemingly all at sea after going 2-0 down at home to Bayern early in the second half, who would have thought there was any way back for Juventus? Unbeaten in 16 European home games since a 2-0 loss to Bayern in 2013, the Bianconeri once more demonstrated their stubborn refusal to be go down, salvaging a 2-2 draw.Forced by injury to field full-back David Alaba and midfielder Joshua Kimmich in the heart of the defence, Josep Guardiola’s side came out fighting. Bayern dominated possession, with Arjen Robben and Douglas Costa rampant on the flanks. So how exactly did Juventus manage to lever them out of a winning position?

The element of chants
“We could have come away with more today,” Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer admitted after the game, giving the Juventus crowd full credit. “All the chaos in the stadium caused us to lose our composure a bit.”When Robben scored Bayern’s second, the only noise was coming from the visiting fans, but their celebrations did not last long. Paulo Dybala quickly halved the deficit and the Juventus fans’ sensed there was more to come. The chants came out: “Chi non salta, non ci crede” (whoever doesn’t jump, doesn’t believe) and “Noi vogliamo undici leoni” (we want eleven lions). The eleven lions went close soon after through Juan Cuadrado and finally equalised via Stefano Sturaro.

Reserves of strength
Massimiliano Allegri’s substitutions in the second half helped turn the tide after a disappointing opening period. Making only his sixth appearance in all competitions since the end of October, Hernanes deputised ably in midfield after replacing the injured Claudio Marchisio at the break, while fellow incomers Álvaro Morata and Sturaro combined for the equaliser. “This is the highest point in my short career,” the 22-year-old midfielder said. “I hope I will have a few more nights like this. Bayern are strong but we did great to come back.”

Dybala’s perfect timing
Already a Juventus favourite, the 22-year-old Dybala picked a great time to end his search for his first UEFA Champions League goal, his strike completely revitalising his side. “We put our hearts into it,” the Argentinian forward said. “We knew that Bayern were really strong but in the second half we managed to put more pressure on them. We are now going to a stadium where not many teams win, but I think we can if we play as we did in the second half.”

An indomitable spirit
Juve’s never-say-die attitude is nothing new. Remember how they wiped out Real Madrid’s away-goal advantage at the Santiago Bernabéu in last season’s semi-final? Or how they recovered from a terrible start in the final before eventually succumbing to Barcelona? Not to mention how they just reclaimed top spot in Serie A with a 15th straight league win following their worst-ever start to a season. ‘Fino alla fine’ (until the end) is one of their club mottos for a reason.

Can they do it again?
Bayern’s overall performance was impressive, and the German champions can be devastating at home, but they will know not to take anything for granted against this Juve side. “I expect them to be even more aggressive in Munich,” Guardiola said after the game, mindful no doubt that his next UEFA Champions League game with Bayern could be his last.

Lionel Messi gets 9/10 as Barcelona beat Arsenal 2-0 in UCL last-16 first leg

An average performance on the whole from Barcelona, but Messi’s magic lifted his teammates.

Lionel Messi double stuns Arsenal

A cold-hearted Lionel Messi double secured Barca’s 2-0 victory against Arsenal in the first leg of the Champions League last 16. The Catalans didn’t dominate the game in their typical manner but did enjoy 68 percent of possession, created 15 goal-scoring chances and attempted eight shots, four of them on target and one to the post.Spurred by their relentless home crowd, Arsenal piled on the pressure from the kick-off. With the Blaugranas unable to impose their usually fluid rhythm, the Gunners grew in confidence as the game developed and deservedly created the better chances in the first half.Fortunately, Barça took a step forward after the break and piled up continuous pressure in the hosts’ defensive third. Despite Arsenal’s determined defending, a moment of brilliance from their world-class attacking front-line unbalanced a game that had been far too close to call until that point. With the hosts chasing a much-needed equaliser, a clumsy challenge in the hosts’ penalty area enabled Messi to score a crucial second goal that leaves Arsene Wenger’s side with a mountain to climb in the second leg.Barça didn’t deliver a vintage performance by any means but the effectiveness of their world-class attacking trident was enough to extend their unbeaten run to a record 33 matches. It also meant that they are the clear favorites to secure a place in the quarter-finals.

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

 GK Marc Andre Ter Stegen, 8 — Despite being far more involved than usual, the German secured the crucial clean sheet after making a mere three saves. The Gunners clearly lacked the necessary composure in front of goal to put away their chances but it’s also true that the German goalkeeper responded remarkably when challenged.

DF Dani Alves, 7 — Constantly galloping forward and admirably disciplined when tracking back, the 32-year-old Brazilian delivered one of his most complete performances in recent memory.

DF Javier Mascherano, 8 — Incredibly focused throughout, the Argentine international looked unbeatable defensively and faultless on the ball. As usual, the astute No.14 read the game impeccably and always managed to find himself in the right place at the right time.

DF Gerard Pique, 8 — His awareness enabled him to pick up the pieces whenever his defensive teammates were beaten. Earned a late booking, which means he will miss the return leg at the Camp Nou.

DF Jordi Alba, 7 — Forced to focus on his defensive duties far more often than usual, Alba had his work cut out throughout the whole game. Battled ferociously for every loose ball and did not hesitate to use his enviable speed to overcome the many challenges he faced.

Lionel Messi’s two late goals have put Barcelona on track for a spot in the UCL quarterfinals.

MF Sergio Busquets, 7 — Recovered nine balls in the centre of the park, which enabled the visitors to dominate possession for the bulk of the game. Connected well with the many creative teammates around him to ensure the ball kept moving quickly enough and the Gunners kept chasing shadows.

MF Andres Iniesta, 7 — In his 578th game for Barça, the captain was the crucial link who ensured his front three was constantly provided with quality passes and found in advantageous positions. His dribbling, decision-making skills and admirable perseverance were key to unlocking Wenger’s robust back-line.

MF Ivan Rakitic, 7 — The Catalans’ workaholic was instrumental at both ends of the pitch. While the Croatian international didn’t contribute many moments for the highlight reel, his work rate and selfless attitude were major factors in Tuesday’s vital victory.

FW Neymar, 7 — Provided Messi with a superb assist for the visitors’ opener after a lightning-fast counter-attacking run. However, the Brazilian star was far quieter than usual until that point and largely unable to beat former La Masia prospect Hector Bellerin down the left flank. Rarely getting behind the Arsenal back-line, and wasteful infront of goal whenever he did, it would be fair to say Neymar wasn’t as consistent as Cules are used to.

FW Luis Suarez, 7 — Should have scored the opener in the last minute of the first half but his clear header went inexplicably wide. Disappointingly, Suarez also failed to find the net after the break, hitting the woodwork with what was his best chance of game. Despite his lack of fortune in front of goal, the Uruguayan’s physicality and ambitious nature were vital to create space for others to exploit.

FW Lionel Messi, 9 — Burst into life in the later stages of the first half and didn’t look back until the final whistle. The best footballer on the planet scored the priceless away goal with a cold-hearted finish that changed the game. Used his enviable pace to get ahead of Mathieu Flamini to earn the penalty which he then converted. Until Tuesday, Messi had failed to score a single goal against Petr Cech despite having faced him six times — another day, another stat broken for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

What’s Going On In The NASL vol. 2

By: Aaron Gunyon

We are now just 38 days away from opening day in the NASL. The off-season continues as we thought it might as teams are preparing for training camps and begin preseason training. It’s time to check in and see how everyone is doing up to this point. The silly season breeds silly articles and this will be no different.

Note: Roster counts will be taken from team websites. While every attempt has been made to ensure accuracy, some players haven’t been re-signed and some will still have options declined.  

NASL

The league is already minus two teams in an expansion year.  Not a solid start.  Rayo OKC and Miami FC will bump that number back up to a total of 11 once the Spring Season kicks off in April and Puerto Rico FC will make 12 competing clubs in the Fall Season. The departing teams were the weakest ownership groups which is why this grade isn’t lower.

Grade: C-

San Antonio Scorpions

You are gone but not forgotten. Kindof. The NASL web admin has done their best to scrub you from our memories, but you will live on. Kindof. Your players and coaches will all be on other teams, but we will never let go. Have fun in the USL.

Grade: Withdrawal

Miami – Roster Count: 21

Miami has every intention of packing the house for opening day, but season tickets start at $242. Ouch! Pablo Campos didn’t fit with the new look in Minnesota, but a lot of older people head to Florida this time of year. I’ll call them snowbirds for now, but they will be tough out of the gate.

Grade: B+

Minnesota United – Roster Count: 20

Defense much? Minnesota United FC has been so busy trying to protect their name that they have seemingly forgotten to protect the defensive third. There is certainly something in the works, but the Loons only have 4 true defenders on the roster. It looks like they are planning on outscoring everyone and using the checkers defense…never moving their back row.

Grade: B-

Rayo OKC – Roster Count: 10 (rayookc.com) 16 (nasl.com/transactions)


It’s definitely still early buy Rayo leads the league in the “Pull yourself together” category. The NASL.com is not really known for the best and most up-to-date statistics and the team from OKC is worse. Interesting naming your 9 trialists in camp.  I don’t hate it, but other teams keep that info private when they think that the players are any good. Its been 10 days since the last player announcement for an expansion team.

Grade: D

Ottawa Fury – Roster Count: 20

There were 9 championship defectors the last time I counted.  9 players that took the field for last season’s Soccer Bowl are no longer with the team. Three such players have joined the Indy Eleven. I have no idea what’s going on in Ottawa, but Marc Dos Santos’ departure really destabilized a rock solid fall team. Defense wins championships and so does money. Pay up, Fury.

Grade: F (current winner of The Bloody Shambles Award of Shambolitry)

New York Cosmos – Roster Count: 23

The Cosmos are getting ready lead the league again, but without mega-star signings on their roster.  What’s up with that? Cosmos fans still believe they are the only team worth watching, but that doesn’t explain their middling and declining attendance numbers. Cosmos are also probably the only team that isn’t excited about a potential TV deal with CBS. “We really like our relationship with One World Sports.”

Grade: A

Jacksonville Armada
 – Roster Count: 25!

Finding game time for this swollen roster might be a tough task for first time head coach Tony Meola. Team owner Mark Frisch just ousted Team President Steve Livingstone and absorbed his responsibilities.  Perhaps he was trying to find money for more players yet to be announced. Frisch’s family business is frozen fish manufacturing and distribution so day-to-day operations is really just a plug and play scenario here.

Grade: A

Carolina Railhawaks – Roster Count: 19

Well, Dumbnames. Your preseason started yesterday so the boys definitely have work to do before they play host to Toluca FC in a little over a month. *All games and field location at WakeMed Soccer Park are subject to change so be careful when ordering the “Toluca Two Pack”

Grade: C+

Atlanta Silverbacks
 – Roster Count: NA

Atlanta is the feel bad/feel good story of the offseason. They are also not playing in the NASL, but they deserve a ton of R.E.S.P.E.C.T. for fighting to keep the dream alive. ATL will be in NPSL. Take care, TCB

Grade: Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me, Sock it to me.

Indy Eleven – Roster Count: 23

The Eleven have signed their fourth Jamaican for the upcoming season so there is going to be some serious bobsledding going on in 2016. It’s not that weird because the head coach just came back from Montego Bay with a deeper appreciation for Rasta culture. Seven different Reggae Boyz have suited up for Indy since the inaugural season.

Grade: Redemption Song

Tampa Bay Rowdies – Roster Count: Freddy Adu

I have 3 obsessions in the NASL. I have already covered Indy Eleven and the Travishmamockery that is Ottawa.  It’s all you need to know. I only mention Freddy because more people will read this if I tag him in this post.

Grade: B
Ft Lauderdale Strikers – Roster Count: 24

Have fun taking your Brazilian team to China. The real competition will be just a few miles south.  2016 opens with south Florida Derby on April 2 and the Strikers are serious about being serious about soccer. Let’s hope they aren’t trying too hard and they don’t burn themselves out by the time the fall season comes around. Strikers will start off hot.

Grade: A-

FC Edmonton – Roster Count: 23

I would be pleased if I were an Edmonton fan.  Few have the pleasure of cheering for an Eddie named Eddie Edward. And to be real, I think it’s fantastic that the organization has kept so much of last season’s roster in tact. Eddie’s Eddies will have many challenges this year though as many teams took this offseason to upgrade. Edmonton didn’t. Wouldn’t want to. What would you change?

Grade: A+

As always you can follow us on Twitter @Bloody_Shambles, Aaron Gunyon is @agunyon and James Cormack can be found at @BShambles_JC.

 

The 10 MLS storylines U.S. national team fans should be following in 2016

Although it seems only recently that the Portland Timbers went into Columbus’ MAPFRE Stadium and scored two goals in the first seven minutes to win the 2015 MLS Cup, the domestic league begins anew in just two weeks.Soccer never stops, does it?

The 2016 season brings new faces on new teams — now with free agency! — as well as old stalwarts holding down familiar spots. It also brings a host of questions related to the United States national team, so here are 10 MLS storylines national team fans should be following as MLS First Kick draws closer.

Can the ice between MLS and Jurgen Klinsmann thaw?

Before we focus on specific players, let’s take a moment to pull back a bit. The best thing for the future fortunes of the U.S. national team is a vibrant, productive MLS. But right now, MLS remains in a growth mode, and it might stay that way for many years to come, which means what’s best for the league and what’s best for the red, white, and blue don’t always mesh.This, in turn, leads to some predictable and understandable tension between the respective leaders. But the sniping needs to stop. Both Don Garber and Jurgen Klinsmann have made their points — repeatedly. An occasional disagreement is fine, but the public PR battle is tiresome and counterproductive.

Will Jermaine Jones play again?

When we most recently saw the U.S. central midfielder on an MLS field, he was pushing referee Mark Geiger during a first-round playoff loss to D.C. United. The incident earned Jones a six-game suspension that begins when he signs with a club. The New England Revolution offered Jones a contract he called a “joke,” and the 34-year-old remains in limbo.

Moving to another MLS team would require a trade, which seems unlikely. A move abroad would still be subject to the six-game ban. The Revs are stronger with Jones on the field, but the suspension and his numerous injuries make handing Jones the millions of dollars he wants a significant risk in frugal MLS. Jones will see the field in 2016 — he’s too important to Klinsmann’s squad, despite arguments to the contrary — but when he does is anyone’s guess.

How will Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley fare in Year 2 at Toronto FC?

Although TFC reached the playoffs for the first time in club history in 2015, the season was far from a success for the squad with the highest payroll in the league. Still, the attack led by the two U.S. veterans along with league MVP Sebastian Giovinco produced 58 goals, and that’s good enough to tie for second in MLS.

Newcomer Altidore posted 13 in 25 regular-season appearances, a respectable — though not spectacular — figure, while Bradley added five goals and six assists. The duo, who’ve been playing together for their country since 2003, started only 17 games together the past season. More reps in 2016 will reap benefits in MLS and for the U.S.

How much will Jordan Morris play in Seattle?

A lot more now that Obafemi Martins left for riches in China, that’s for sure. In January, Morris spurned the Bundesliga’s Werder Bremen for his hometown team, a move that was nothing less than a coup for MLS. The 21-year-old forward should feature frequently on a front line that includes American teammate Clint Dempsey and Paraguayan Designated Player Nelson Valdez.

The better question might be how quickly can Morris develop new skills? In his nine caps with the American team, he has shown world-class speed and a goal scorer’s knack for being in the right place at the right time. The next step, however, is to figure out what to do when defenses stop his go-to move. Having Dempsey as a mentor will help with his creativity.

Will any goalie step up?

While neither Tim Howard nor Brad Guzan are impressing on their clubs, Klinsmann should be concerned about the lack of a third option at goalkeeper. Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid, who will miss four to six months with another knee injury, haven’t developed consistency. Nick Rimando is on the wrong side of 35, and Luis Robles, 31, isn’t getting any younger, either. The San Jose Earthquakes’ David Bingham played well while posting a shutout against Canada in early February. Others such as Steve Clark and Clint Irwin could force their way into the conversation with strong MLS seasons. Even so, right now, you’d have to say the third-string shirt is up for grabs.

Can Mix Diskerud bring out his elbows?

The central midfielder with the flowing locks joined New York City FC with a great deal of fanfare but struggled to find his way in 2015, as he scored just three goals in 27 appearances. He spent time on the right side of the formation, pushed wide by Frank Lampard and a hair superior Andrea Pirlo, and the emergence of Kwadwo Poku means playing time will be harder to find in new coach Patrick Viera’s starting XI.

Klinsmann continues to call Diskerud into camps, but he wants to see him use his elbows, which is code for getting physical and playing with the edge he too often lacks. Although the 26-year-old brings a certain skill set to the field, he floats in and out of games. With Darlington Nagbe and Lee Nguyen making strong impressions in the January camp, Diskerud needs to step up or risk disappearing.

Is this the year Juan Agudelo reaches his potential?

First, a goal. That’s not the type of shot you attempt, much less score on, without a rather large amount of Kanye West-like belief in your own abilities. Agudelo lacks neither imagination nor skill, but he has been inconsistent. He is now 23 and settled with a team and a new family. He should be playing his best soccer. We’ll see if he gets there.

In April, he scored against Mexico in a tally that required a smart run, a brilliant first touch and a good deal of patience before he unleashed a shot. It was a mature goal. Being audacious can only carry a player for so long.

What is Kellyn Acosta’s ceiling?

Pretty quietly, the 20-year-old has become one of MLS’s best homegrown player success stories with FC Dallas. A key cog on recent American U17 and U20 squads, Acosta earned his first full national team cap in the 3-2 win over Iceland in January. He played left-back and impressed after a rocky first few minutes.Klinsmann believes Acosta can also play right-back, and Acosta worked his way into the FCD starting lineup as a defensive midfielder. That’s some impressive versatility. With the Americans weak at fullback, those positions will be his easiest route to more minutes, but we’ll see if playing a different position for club and country slows his progress.

Who is the next Matt Miazga?

In 2015, the New York Red Bulls Academy product surprised MLS by being one of the best center-backs in the league, which he parlayed into a multi-million dollar offseason transfer to Chelsea.  One young player potentially poised to mimic Miazga’s rapid rise is Real Salt Lake’s Justen Glad. The 18-year-old defender started five games the past season and looks set for more time in 2016. Two other players to watch are the LA Galaxy’s Jose Villarreal and the Revolution’s Kelyn Rowe. Both are speed attackers with a flair for finishing who could break out in big ways.

 Will Benny Feilhaber finally get a call to return to the U.S.?

No.   Noah Davis is a Brooklyn-based correspondent for ESPN FC 

You Guys, What if Tim Howard is just a Ruse?

By Bulldog Ben  @thelosthooligan on Feb 25, 2016, 8:00a 17 

The world of Major League Soccer player transaction is nothing if not a complicated web of backroom transactions and intrigue. When you take out the chaos of the transfer market, where money is king, you create a kind of shadow economy, where different resources are worth different things.It occurred to me, “What is the Number One Allocation Spot worth?”What would it be worth to a team like NYCFC?It’s no secret Major League Soccer handles the bulk of contract negotiations with players coming back to the league. So when Pablo Mastroeni or Paul Bravo says that he doesn’t know anything about a Tim Howard deal, it may be because it’s Major League Soccer who is at the table doing the negotiating.We’ve exhausted the topic of the Howard move making no sense for Colorado Rapids. We have goalkeepers and the goalkeeper spot wasn’t one of need. What Colorado needed, and has needed, is to bulk up their attack–to make it more versatile and to have players who can keep possession and move the ball from back to front, as opposed to players who boot the ball forward for a lone guy to make something happen while everyone else plays defense (see, 2015).No matter how excited people get over the prospect of Tim Howard, the move makes absolutely zero sense from an on-field perspective. Sure there are intangibles, but look at it objectively: on the field, it makes no sense. Off the field? Sure. Ton of sense.But then I thought to myself: what if Colorado really isn’t that stupid at all?What if this is all just a ruse, and they already have a deal in mind to bring Tim Howard to Major League Soccer, though not to Colorado? What if Colorado is going to make a deal with another team for Tim Howard?And then it made sense.The Rapids ::must:: be making a move for Mix Diskerud.Hear me out on this one, because I thought it sounded crazy at first too.And for the love of God please leave out my relentless fanboying over Mix Diskerud. This is for real.”But Ben, NYCFC already HAVE three DPs!””Ah, my friend. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that MLS is nothing if not entirely flexible on its rules when it comes to teams that want to make big moves for big stars!”More than likely, there will be some rule in there where Tim Howard doesn’t quite count as a DP because he had to go through the Allocation Order and instead counts as a returning American player. I’m imagining something like that will be used as the justification for how this deal is even possible. It’s not a great or air tight explanation, but it’s how Major League Soccer does business. They act first and justify later. See also,Clint Dempsey.I believe Diskerud is a good player. Technically skilled. Intelligent passer of the ball. That’s Powers’ skill set as well, but Diskerud goes even further forward than Powers would in his most comfortable position. Rather than competing with Dillon Powers for midfield playing time, I can see a world in which Diskerud and Powers can play off of one another as a midfield fulcrum. Sort of like the midfield with Powers and Sturgis, though with a significant upgrade through Diskerud.If you think back to the Pareja days, the 3 in his midfield core were a gritty defensive mid (Hendry Thomas) a skilled attacking mid (Powers) and a utility box-to-box mid who kind of free floated to do intelligent off the ball movement and passing. Powers and Diskerud equally could fit into either role as box-to-box or attacking mid as part of a midfield “core” or “spine” regardless of whether you play a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1. If MLS teaches us nothing else, with the right midfield core combination you can tear up the league. You can surprise people.If New York want to use Mix as trade bait, the fans are have called  for him to be sold. They’ve called him “perfectly mediocre.”Ladies and Gentlemen, what do we want here at Colorado if not the perfectly mediocre.Nathan Sturgis was a perfectly mediocre player who turned into a very effective midfielder for Oscar Pareja. The entire 2010 Rapids team was full of perfectly mediocre players. And let’s not forget, Diskerud played a complicated role for a team that was absolutely terrible last season. And if he’s on the outs… the Rapids should be there to pick him up.He’s a National Team player, and a frequent call up by Jurgen Klinsmann. He was just in camp in February. No matter how maligned he may be, Klinsmann keeps giving him chances to prove himself. Not bad for mediocre.Coaching problems aside (and of course the Rapids will be terrible this year if something doesn’t improve in coaching and from watching pre-season line ups and play I have seen nothing to convince me that the Mastronaccio still isn’t king in Colorado), this would be a good move to make, and would be a sign that the Rapids are turning themselves in a more attacking direction.Everybody wins here. Rapids get an attacking player. NYCFC upgrade their goalkeeping. Howard goes to a marquee team close to home. And MLS gets to have another star added to its roster.Why not?

 

 

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