3/11/16 MLS wk2, Champ League, Games of Wk

So I love this time of Year – Champions League and Europa down to the Sweet 16 – 2nd legs, MLS Season Opening, and the League Races in Europe heating up – especially in the EPL. So lets start with US Major League soccer- MLS got off to a great start this past weekend with Portland outlasting Columbus 2-1 after raising the MLS Champions Banner – check out this National Anthem done the right way.  Seattle and Sporting KC was also a great game a 1-0 KC win as close to 45K looked on in Seattle.  This weekend has NYCFC as Lampard, Pirlo, Diskarud and David Villa host Toronto FC and Bradley, Altidore and Giovincho at Yankee Stadium on ESPN2 at 5pm.  San Jose shows off the Superbowl Stadium as they host the defending Champs Portland.  All 4 teams opened with victories.

Champions League was equally intriguing this mid week as Portugal’s Benefica advances to the Elite 8 for the first time ever, while Real Madrid advance and PSG and Ibra outlasted Chelsea at home 2-0 to advance 4-2 on aggregate.  This week has Arsenal down 2-0 trying to stave off elimination at Barcelona on Wed, while Bayern Munich and Juventus battle in Germany tied at 2-2.  Both games on Fox Sports Wednesday at 2:45 pm.  Tues 2:45 on Fox Sports – Man City will look to move to their first ever Quarterfinals up 3-1 over Kiev, while Athletico Madrid host Dutch power PSV Eindhoven tied at 0-0.  Remember if you miss the games – they are usually played over on Fox Sports 2 and Fox Soccer all night with 30 minute highlight show on Fox Sports 1 between 12:30 and 2 am so set those DVRs.  Europa League Action saw Liverpool beat Man U at home, while Dortmund blasted Tottenham in Germany, return legs are next Thursday on Fox Sports and ESPN3.

Congrats to the USWNT – with big wins over 3 of the top 4 teams in the World in the She Believe’s Cup – a Nice warm-up for the Olympics this summer. The US Men return to World Cup Qualifying next Friday on the road at Guatamala 10 pm on beIn Sports and NBC Universal, while the U-23 Men start their 2 game playoff with Columbia at 4:30 pm Fri on Fox Sports 1.

Champions League

Europa League Wrap-up – Liverpool beat Man U and Dortmund Crushes Tottehnam

Who has edge Bayern vs Juve tied at 2 going to Bayern.

Barca’s Iniesta pinpoints Arsenal’s Danger Man

Champions League Goalkeeper Watch Wed as Barcelona’s Ter Stegan faces Arsenal’s Petre Cech, and Juve’s Buffon vs Bayern’s Manual Nuer on Fox Sports 2:45 pm.

Look at Ter Stegan’s Saves Last Week Barcelona vs Arsenal

Europa League Wrap-up – Liverpool beat Man U and Dortmund Crushes Tottehnam

The Hazard Shirt Swap with Di Maria at Half Time?

Zlatan Provides Answers as PSG outlast Chelsea at home

Renaldo easier to guard than Messi – says Chiellini

Barca looking for Treble back to back

Ibra – Champions League is Special

Ibra Goal King of UCL-

Real lacks consistency Admits Ronaldo

Could Premier League lose a Champ League spot to Italy?

MLS –

Giovincho

MLS off to Great Start

MLS Ambition Rankings – Grant Wahl SI

Power Rankings Wk1 EPSN FC

Power Rankings After Week 1

Podcast with US Forward Herculez Gomez on how far MLS has come

Columbus Higuain Spectacular Bicycle Kick in 2-1 loss at Portland 

MLs Goal of week voting – in a Week with lots of Goals!

Orlando’s 60K fans is 5th largest in the World this weekend scores 2 in ET to tie 

Has MLS Exodus of players hurt the league?  Carlisle ESPN FC

GOAL’s MLS Preview

Soccer Superstar Andrea Pirlo loves wondering NY City without the Fanfare NY Times

 GAMES THIS WEEK

Sat, March 12: 

7:45 am NBCSN         Norwich vs Man City  

10 am NBCSN           Stoke vs Southampton

10 am USA                Bournemouth vs Swansea

12:30 pm Fox Sprts 2  Everton vs Chelsea – FA Cup Quarters

Sun, March 13: 

9:30 am FS1              Arsenal vs Watford – FA Cup Quarters

9:30 am FS2              Man U vs West Ham – FA Cup Quarters

10 am NBCSN           Liverpool vs Chelsea

12 noon NBCSN         Aston Villa vs Tottenham

12:30 pm Fox Sp2      Dortmund vs Mainz

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

7 pm Fox Sports 1      San Jose Earthquakes vs. Portland Timbers,

Mon, March 14: 

4 pm NBCSN             Leicester City vs New Castle (Tim Howard +Arlo White)

Tues, Mar 15  –Champions League

2:45 pm Fox Sport1    Man City vs Dynamo Kiev  3-1

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2  Athletico vs PSV Eindhoven 0-0

Wed, Mar 16  –Champions League

2:45 pm Fox Sport1    Barcelona vs Arsenal  2-0

2:45 pm Fox Sport1    Bayern Munich vs Juventus 2-2 

Thurs, Mar 17 – UEFA Europa League (Rd of 16 2nd legs)

1:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Villarreal
1:30 p.m., Fox Sports 2: Valencia vs. Athletic Bilbao

4 p.m., Fox Sports 1: Manchester United vs. Liverpool
4 p.m., Fox Sports 2: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Borussia Dortmund
4 p.m., ESPN 3 Lazio vs. Sparta Prague, Anderlecht vs. Shakhtar Donetsk, Sevilla vs. Basel, Braga vs. Fenerbahçe

Fri, 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 29:

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

Wednesday, March 30

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

US

US Ladies beat France – 5 things we learned

US Ladies Beat Germany win She Believes Cup

US Perry Kitchen moves from DC United to Scottish Club Hearts

How US Players Did

EPL

Is the EPL Title Race Over?

Title Race has Twists and Turns Coming – ESPNFC

EPL Run Down the End

Trending in the EPL

Man City Still hopes for title Run

 

Juve’s GK Buffon sets record for Shutout 836 minutes – 100 minutes to go to break Serie A record.

Indy 11

Interview with former Indy 11 Keeper Kristian Nicht (das Boot) now at Minn. United.

Desert Diary –

11 falls to OC Blues in Arizona Preseason game

Single Game Seats on Sale – as low as $11

Stay Tuned as Carmel FC – plans to have a Group Night at a game this summer –more details to come.

 

 

 

 

Portland stays on top, Dallas makes early move, D.C. tumbles

While there was no change at the top, several teams moved places in the rankings after a wild opening day of the season.

  1. Portland Timbers(no change)

The champs began 2016 the way they closed out 2015 — with a 2-1 win over Columbus Crew SC. Fanendo Adi’s excellent form has carried over to the new campaign, which is a very good sign for the Timbers.

  1. FC Dallas(+2)

The 2-0 win over Philadelphia was soured by Fabian Castillo being stretchered off in the closing moments, but the Texan side showed every bit of the quality that has made them MLS Cup favorites this year.

  1. Columbus Crew SC(-1)

Columbus put up a fight on the road in Portland and got an incredible overhead effort from Federico Higuain for the goal in a losing cause. They’ll feel down about the loss, but Crew SC will again be a power to be reckoned with this year.

  1. New York Red Bulls(-1)

A 2-0 loss to Toronto at home was not the way Jesse Marsch wanted to start the defense of the Supporters Shield, but it’s not like the Red Bulls didn’t create chances. This was a hiccup and nothing more.

  1. LA Galaxy(+1)

The star of the Galaxy’s emphatic 4-1 win over D.C. United was Mike Magee. Back in LA after signing as a free agent, he made a massive difference with two goals and a penalty drawn in a second half that finally showed what this Galaxy team can do — minus Giovani Dos Santos.

  1. Montreal Impact(+2)

No, Didier Drogba didn’t play and, no, it didn’t wreck everything for the Impact on the road in Vancouver. Ignacio Piatti capably picked up the slack, scoring twice as Montreal began with a win. In 2015, they didn’t win until their sixth game.

  1. Vancouver Whitecaps(-2)

No team in MLS has more confounding home form than the Whitecaps. Their 2015 struggles have carried over, at least to start. Carl Robinson needs to find a fix if Vancouver is going to meet its goals this season.

  1. Toronto FC(+4)

A Sebastian Giovinco penalty and a well-finished counter-attacking goal was all TFC needed to get an important Week 1 win away at Red Bull Arena. The Reds defense also held up well, despite having much less of the ball than New York.

  1. Sporting Kansas City(no change)

All the breaks went Sporting’s way in Seattle. That was a good thing, since Peter Vermes’ side was without its most important player, Benny Feilhaber. No matter the soft goal, that’s a confidence-building win to start the year.

  1. New England Revolution(no change)

Don’t forget that Diego Fagundez only just turned 21 in February. His goal — and what a goal it was — and two assists in Houston led the way for the Revs in an end-to-end 3-3 draw.

  1. Orlando City(+2)

As comebacks go, scoring twice in two injury-time minutes was pretty stunning in front of 60,000+ at the Citrus Bowl. Enthusiasm remains high in Central Florida and it should — players like Cyle Larin are worth the price of admission.

  1. Seattle Sounders(-5)

It couldn’t really have gone worse for the Sounders on opening day. A red card put them down a man for a full half, Stefan Frei was beaten for a soft goal and Brad Evans might be out with a shoulder injury for the foreseeable future.

  1. New York City FC(+3)

It might take Patrick Vieira a little time to figure out this MLS thing, but as long as NYCFC’s new boss is playing the kids and letting them attack, his team will be fun to watch.

  1. San Jose Earthquakes(no change)

For what seems like the 73rd year in a row, the Quakes will be led by Chris Wondolowski’s goal-scoring exploits. Wondo has 109 career goals and, with a good 2016, would enter next year with a chance at Landon Donovan’s league record.

  1. Houston Dynamo(no change)

Houston’s new attacking talent, including former Philadelphia men Cristian Maidana and Andrew Wenger, are already making a difference for the Dynamo. Now to fix the defending, which was exposed by New England.

  1. Real Salt Lake(+1)

RSL had a victory snatched away from them on the road in Orlando. On one hand, they were in position, in added time, to win. On the other, the failure of concentration from 2-0 up doesn’t augur well for the season.

  1. D.C. United(-6)

Lamar Neagle needed only five minutes to get settled into the United attack with a goal, but Ben Olsen’s team was taken apart by the Galaxy in the second half. Looking down the bench, there might not be much to help if things go south.

  1. Philadelphia Union(no change)

It’s a good thing the Union have finally settled on a goalkeeper of the present and future in Andre Blake, because it appears they’ll need his services quite a bit over the course of 2016.

  1. Chicago Fire(no change)

Without the discipline and understanding to make it work, a pressing game is nothing more than an invitation for opponents to pick you apart. The Fire provided the latter on Sunday, giving Veljko Paunovic plenty to think about.

  1. Colorado Rapids(no change)

The Rapids picked up right where they left off in 2016, on the losing end of match. But there were signs of life from Colorado’s new group, so perhaps a change in direction is in the offing.Jason Davis 

Record-setting Buffon keeps Juve on title track

Terry Daley,AFP 16 hours ago

 

Rome (AFP) – Juventus stayed on course for a fifth straight Serie A title by maintaining their three-point lead with a 2-0 win at Atalanta on Sunday that saw Gianluigi Buffon reach 836 minutes without conceding a goal, a record in the three-points-for-a-win era. Juve responded to Napoli drawing level at the top on Saturday with a 3-1 win over Chievo by taking their league unbeaten run to 17 wins in 18 and moving up to 64 points in Bergamo.Andrea Barzagli’s 24th minute tap in and a superb solo effort from youngster Mario Lemina were enough to beat a tough but blunt home side.”There’s still a long way to go because second and third are in touching distance. Last year we had a 14-point advantage but this year it’s only three,” said an unsatisfied coach Massimiliano Allegri to Mediaset.Captain Buffon had to deal with very little at Atalanta and now is third in the all-time clean sheet list.Against Sassuolo on Friday he can overtake Dino Zoff, who went 903 minutes without conceding for Juventus in 1972/73.Buffon is also now within touching distance of the all-time record of 929 minutes established by AC Milan keeper Sebastiano Rossi in 1993/94.”We’re not even thinking about his record. What matters is making sure that we finish a point ahead of everyone else,” insisted Allegri.Inter Milan kept pace with the pack in the race for Champions League qualification after easily seeing off flatlining Palermo 3-1 to win for just the fourth time in 2016.Adem Ljajic’s low 11th minute strike, Mauro Icardi’s deft 12th of the season 12 minutes later and a diving header from Ivan Perisic nine minutes after the break see Inter stay fifth on 51 points.They are two behind Fiorentina and five behind third-placed Roma, who walloped Paulo Sousa’s Viola 4-1 on Friday.Palermo reacted well to going two down so early and pulled a goal back through a sliding Franco Vazquez finish on the stroke of half-time.But Giuseppe Iachini’s side haven’t won in seven and are now just a point above the relegation zone following Sunday’s defeat and third-from-bottom Frosinone’s 2-0 win over Udinese earlier in the day.”We deserved to be three up at half-time, but made a silly mistake to let them back into the game. We have to improve on that,” said Inter coach Roberto Mancini.The win for Inter also sees them extend their lead on AC Milan to four points after their local rivals’ own Champions League chances took a huge hit at Sassuolo.Sinisa Mihajlovic’s side fell 2-0 thanks to Alfred Duncan’s first half piledriver and Nicola Sansone’s well-worked fifth of the season 18 minutes before the end.”We dominated the first half-hour, but as often happens we failed to turn that pressure into a goal,” said Mihajlovic, who was sent off for dissent when referee Piero Giacomelli didn’t stop the play when Andrea Bertolacci went down in the built up to Sansone’s winner.”We cannot keep creating four or five scoring opportunities only to concede the first shot on goal.”Genoa move level on 31 points with city rivals Sampdoria, who eased their own relegation fears with a 3-0 hammering of rock-bottom Verona on Saturday, while Carpi are six points from safety after their own goalless draw at Bologna.Ciro Immobile missed a first half penalty as mid-table Torino drew 1-1 with Lazio in Sunday’s early game.Andrea Belotti had already opened the scoring for the home side with a 12th minute tap-in when Italy hopeful Immobile blasted over nine minutes later, and Lucas Biglia punished that miss with a spot-kick of his own in the 78th minute.

5 Things we Learned in US Win over France Sunday

Here are five things we learned from the U.S. women’s soccer team’s 1-0 win over France at Nissan Stadium on Sunday:

Pugh is the real deal. Forward Mallory Pugh, 17, looks like a star in the making for the U.S. women. The 5-foot-4 forward, who will attend UCLA in the fall, last month became the youngest player in U.S. women’s team history to play in an Olympic qualifying game.On Sunday, Pugh showcased her speed and her skills, assisting on the only goal of the game. She started her fifth straight national game, meaning her chances of making this summer’s U.S. Olympic squad are looking better and better.“I’m really pleased with where she’s come in the tournament,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “I think it’s not just the mental piece, but also the physical dimension of these games. It’s brand new to her at this level and she’s handled it masterfully.”

he soccer support was superb. The crowd of 25,363 that watched the U.S. beat France was not only the biggest crowd to watch women’s soccer in Tennessee, but was also the biggest crowd the U.S. women had played in front of in their last eight contests.In the opening night of this SheBelieves Cup last week in Tampa, Fla., the crowd was 13,027. Remember, too, that the U.S. men’s soccer team drew 44,835 here for a game against Guatemala last year, smashing the record for a men’s game in Tennessee“You come in and it’s electric,” Ellis said of the environment. “These fans are phenomenal and this team thrives on that environment.”

 

Solo stands out. In many games, the U.S. women’s team is so dominant that goalie Hope Solo hardly touches the ball. But in Sunday’s closely contested game, Solo offered another good example of why she’s considered the world’s best netminder.When the Americans were on their heels in the first half, Solo came up with some crucial saves — tipping one shot over the crossbar, stopping another point-blank attempt and then smothering a dangerous corner kick right near the goal line.“Such is goalkeeping,” Solo said. “You never know what is going to happen in any game.”

It’s a team in transition. The Americans did earn the victory, but didn’t look like their familiar well-oiled machine in the first half. One of the significant reasons for that was the opponent, an excellent French team. But the U.S. team is also doing some adjusting to new personnel and a new style after a handful of departures from last year’s World Cup-winning squad.One area of change is in the midfield, where Megan Rapinoe (injury) and Lauren Holiday (retirement) are missing and players including Morgan Brian and Lindsey Horan are getting more responsibility.“We just have to ride the wave a little bit,” U.S. midfielder Carli Lloyd said. “We just have to go through those growing pains and be patient, really.”

This tournament is critical. The Americans blew through their regional Olympic qualifying last month, winning five games by a combined score of 23-0. But the U.S. wasn’t facing the kind of quality teams it will see in Brazil at this summer’s Olympics.That’s one reason why this SheBelieves Cup is so critical, as it gives the Americans some very competitive games against three of the top five teams in the world. The U.S. has won its first two games by 1-0 scores.“France is a fantastic team and they really push you to the limit,” Ellis said. “But this is exactly why I wanted these games before the Olympics, so we can test ourselves.”Reach John Glennon at 615-259-8262 and on Twitter @glennonsports.

The Premier League title run-in is sure to have twists and turns

Given the week-by-week reaction to the big moments that have defined this most unpredictable of Premier League seasons, it’s worth remembering that we’re not yet near the end of the title race.Last weekend, after Riyad Mahrez scored against Watford to put Leicester City five points clear of Tottenham and eight ahead of Arsenal, Foxes striker Jamie Vardy naturally described the 1-0 win as “massive.”It certainly felt like a huge step but, in fact, things are just getting started. March is around the stage of the season that Sir Alex Ferguson’s infamous “squeaky-bum time” phrase is revived and, repetitive as it may have become, there’s a reason for it.No one in the history of English football knew better what it took to win a title, and the 13-time champion understood that things can change at this time of year. Every game has a psychological significance beyond any that has come before associated with it; every step feels longer than the last.Deeper qualities start to tell, from experience to freshness, and it’s a dynamic that is seen every season, regardless of the details of the race in question. This campaign, for example, has been commonly painted as unique because of Leicester’s incredible rise but how does it compare to the past 20 years?What is the leaders’ pace?Since 1994-95, based on the records of the leaders and eventual champions after 29 games, Leicester’s 60 points ranks them joint 17th out of 25 and ahead of just five teams.That is quite low, but the identity of some of the teams they are ahead of is interesting, in that at least three are among the most admired in Premier League history, thus suggesting Leicester’s record far from poor.Man United in 1995-96 (58 points) and 1996-97 (57), Arsenal in 1997-98 (57) and Man United in 1997-98 (59) and 2002-03 (58 points) all had fewer points at this stage, while Leicester also have the same record as Man United’s Treble-winning side of 1998-99 (both P29, W17, D9, L3.)How tight is the race itself?Out of 21 title races since 1995-96, Leicester have the 10th-best lead over second place, at five points. They also have the 10th-best lead over third, at eight, but just the joint 12th-highest over fourth: 10. Given that, it is reasonable to surmise that Manchester City are probably just about still in the race — especially as they have a game in hand — although history suggests it is unlikely.How often has a lead been overturned with just nine games to go?

 

In the past 21 seasons, a leader after 29 games has been overtaken on just four occasions:

1995-96: Newcastle were three clear of Man United and had a game in hand. Man United won the league by four points.

1997-98: Man United were 11 clear of Arsenal, who had three games in hand and eventually won the league by one point.

2002-03: Arsenal were five clear of Man United, who eventually won the league by five points.

2011-12: Man United were one point clear of Man City — and would extend that to an eight-point gap with five games to go — but City won the title on goal difference. That should give all the chasers some hope, but is of course dependent on Leicester City dropping points.

 

How often have first-time challengers won the league?One theory is that, in order to finally lift a trophy, you have to go close at least once in order to “learn” how to win it. Is that true?Of 23 Premier League title winners since 1992-93, 19 were either champions or finished runners-up the previous season. The remaining four had all finished third and only Manchester City in 2011-12 had no recent experience of a race’s intensity. Every other outside challenger, such as Norwich in 1992-93, Newcastle in 1995-96 and Ipswich in 2000-01, has fallen away.You actually have to go back to 1980-81, when Aston Villa went from seventh place to win the title, for anything even close to what Leicester are currently doing. The same applies to Tottenham; both would have to break the mould were they to finish the season on top.What is a champions’ run-in?Historically, what has been the required points return of a champion in the run-in?The nine-game average during the past 20 years has been 20 points, which requires at least six wins. By contrast, some teams have won just four of their past nine but each — Man United in 2000-01, Arsenal in 2003-04 and Man United in 2012-13 — already had a big lead over their closest challengers.Two sides — Man United in 1999-2000 and Arsenal in 2001-02 — have won all of their remaining games. If the Gunners, or Man City, are to prevail this season they will probably have to go on a similar run, especially if Leicester maintain their current form.Miguel Delaney is 

 

On New York’s Bustling Streets, a Soccer Megastar Roams Freely

By JEFF OLOIZIAFEB. 29, 2016

He can’t make a move in Italy without attracting fans, but in New York, Andrea Pirlo is just a regular guy.

To many people around the world, Andrea Pirlo is a god. As a soccer player for some of the planet’s biggest clubs, he has two Champions League trophies and six league titles. In 2006, he won the World Cup with Italy, where he has three times been player of the year, and where his nicknames include ‘‘Mozart’’ and ‘‘The Professor.’’ His 2013 autobiography, ‘‘I Think Therefore I Play,’’ was a best seller in Italy. There are social media accounts devoted entirely to his beard. A quick Google search of his name returns results like ‘‘37 Reasons Why Andrea Pirlo Is the World’s Greatest Living Human Man.’’ He has met two popes.

But none of that matters in New York City, where Pirlo is standing on a street corner just a block from Herald Square in Manhattan. Last summer, he surprised fans the world over by signing a two-and-a-half-year contract with New York City FC, a first-year team in Major League Soccer. At 36, the Brescia native covers Vanity Fair and GQ in Italy, but today is his first solo magazine shoot in the U.S. Despite a steady drizzle that has interrupted nearly two weeks of mid-November sunshine, Pirlo shows up from training perfectly coiffed in a Massimo Piombo houndstooth blazer and a bright orange cardigan. A team of photographer’s assistants and stylists huddles around a laptop screen while their subject stands statuelike in the rain. Back home, such a happening would most likely devolve into a mob scene, but here most onlookers just file by — until a trio on holiday from Milan spots him. ‘‘Ciao, Andrea!’’ one of them shrieks. A few tourists also take notice, snapping photos on their phones. Pirlo gives a modest smile before returning to his pose.Pirlo’s American life couldn’t be more different than that of M.L.S.’s other most famous import, David Beckham. Whereas Beckham drove through Los Angeles in a customized Escalade with his jersey number emblazoned on the grille, Pirlo prefers getting around Manhattan by foot. In the evenings, he strolls along the High Line or goes golfing in the Bronx. In October, he took his girlfriend to an Alberto Burri exhibition at the Guggenheim, where they were free to explore, undisturbed. Occasionally, he’ll stop by Felidia, the homey Italian restaurant owned by a friend’s mother, for a glass of wine. ‘‘Just being able to go out to dinner at the trendiest restaurants — in Italy, I can’t do that,’’ says Pirlo. Anonymity is a delightful novelty for him, after years of contending with fanatical supporters and near-constant police escorts in Europe. ‘‘There were times we were kept in our dressing room until late at night because it wasn’t safe to go home,’’ he says. ‘‘Our bus would get attacked, the tires slit.’’ When his contract with Juventus, the Turin-based club owned by the Fiat scion Andrea Agnelli, expired last June, Pirlo began considering a move to America, where he’d be just another player. Never mind that he’d be giving up the chartered planes and five-star amenities of top-flight European football. Months later, he can hardly believe his luck. ‘‘I always wanted to come here to play,’’ he says, ‘‘but I never thought it would be so soon.’’Soccer fans in New York may be saying the same thing. In a city rich with superstar athletes — Alex Rodriguez, Eli Manning and Carmelo Anthony among them — Pirlo is arguably the most decorated (if under the radar). Despite arriving halfway through last season, he still finished third on his team in assists, and his ability to build play from his midfield position helped stabilize a roster long on raw talent. ‘‘He’s someone you watch growing up,’’ says Khiry Shelton, one of N.Y.C.F.C.’s most promising young players and, at 22, 14 years Pirlo’s junior. ‘‘To be able to play with him now is unreal.’’M.L.S., too, seems eager to capitalize on its good fortune. Don Garber, the league’s commissioner and a former N.F.L. executive, calls the impact of Pirlo’s arrival second only to Beckham’s. ‘‘I can’t tell you how many people peripherally connected to soccer emailed me and said, ‘Oh my God, I need to go to a New York City game,’ ’’ he says. That the Italian midfielder’s jersey is already the league’s fourth best seller is a hopeful sign that N.Y.C.F.C.’s hefty investment will pay off: At $2.3 million, Pirlo’s annual salary is nearly 46 times that of the league’s lowest-paid players, several of whom hold second jobs.For his part, Pirlo seems more concerned with the typical expat’s challenges and discoveries. Eight months in, he still orders his clothes from Italy. He’s been reading up on the rules of American football, which he has begun to watch regularly. As his English improves, he has set his sights on another kind of goal: seeing a Broadway show. In less than two years, his contract with N.Y.C.F.C. will be up. And then? ‘‘I don’t rule out the idea of staying here,’’ he says, smiling. ‘‘That could be something interesting.’’

RECAP – INDY ELEVEN 0 : 1 OC BLUES FC

Eleven ends Arizona stay with hard fought loss in physical affairMar 7, 2016

 

Indy Eleven Ends Arizona Stay with 0-1 Defeat to OC Blues FC

Physical Game Sees USL Side Score Lone Tally in First Half
CASA GRANDE, ARIZONA (Monday, March 7, 2016) – Indy Eleven pressed to recreate the second half scoring punch it enjoyed on Friday, but couldn’t find an equalizer against Orange County Blues FC in a 0-1 defeat at the Grande Sports World complex. The result ended an eight-day stay in Arizona for the “Boys in Blue,” who will head back to Indianapolis tomorrow to continue their preseason preparations.

A physical 90 minutes began with OC Blues having the better of the chances, although no shots would test Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch until he made a fine one-handed save at his right post in the 19th minute.

The USL side looked to employ long balls over the Indy backline on the windy evening, and the tactic worked in the 36th minute when a Blues FC attacker got goal side on an Eleven defender while chasing down a 60-yard ball from the back. With Busch forced to come off his line, the attacker chipped the ball over the onrushing ‘keeper and into the upper right corner to move the scoreboard for Orange County.

Indy Eleven’s best chance of the first half came four minutes later. Midfielder Don Smart whipped in a low cross from the right flank, but the pass skipped through the six-yard box and just past the runs of both midfielder Duke Lacroix and forward Wojciech Wojcik, the latter who got the start after his hat trick Friday versus Arizona United FC.

While the second half was controlled largely by the “Boys in Blue,” halftime substitute goalkeeper Keith Cardona would be pressed into action early in the 48th minute, first punching a drilled effort from the right side of the area into the ground before holding on to a hard shot from 20 yards out that followed.

Wojcik’s teammates would start to find him soon after, with guest midfielder Mike Klain supplying a pair of fine crosses from the right in the 52nd and 53rd minutes to create chances, the first missing just wide and the second forcing the Blues backstop into a save. In the 64th minute it was midfielder Dragan Stojkov providing a cutback cross from the left endline, but “Woj” would be robbed from the corner of the six by a leaping, one-handed stop.

The chances would dry up for both sides in the last 20 minutes, but Indy still managed to ask some questions of the Blues defense down the stretch. Upfield for a set piece, defender Greg Janicki nearly nodded home midfielder Dylan Mares’ free kick in the 72nd minute, while Lacroix’s near angle shot off Smart’s far post cross in the 84th minute would force one last save.

After returning home Tuesday, Indy Eleven will stay inside the Hoosier State for the remainder of its build up to its 2016 NASL season opener on Saturday, April 2, at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.  The squad will resume exhibition action this Saturday, March 12, in the Indianapolis area with a closed-door scrimmage against new USL side FC Cincinnati at 11:00 a.m. ET. The game will be closed to the public but open to members of the media, who are asked to email John@IndyEleven.com for more information.

Visit www.IndyEleven.com/preseason for the full details on Indy Eleven’s preseason itinerary leading up to the team’s third season of NASL play.
Scoring Summary:
OCB – goal 36’
Indy Eleven 1st Half XI (4-2-3-1, L -> R): Jon Busch; Marco Franco, Nemanja Vuković, Colin Falvey (Greg Janicki 35’), Lovel Palmer; Gorka Larrea, Brad Ring; Duke Lacroix, Siniša Ubiparipović (Eamon Zayed 30’), Don Smart; Wojciech Wojcik
Indy Eleven 2nd Half XI (4-2-3-1): Keith Cardona; Marco Franco, Greg Janicki, Cory Miller, Lovel Palmer (Don Smart 67’); Nemanja Vuković (Duke Lacroix 67’), Dylan Mares; Dragan Stojkov, Eamon Zayed, Mike Klain; Wojciech Wojcik

 

 

A Full House in Seattle for the Opener

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