4/29/16 Champ + Europa Semis, Carmel FC nite at Indy 11 May 7, Games of Wk on TV

So interesting 1st legs in the Champions League Semi-Finals as Athletico takes a 1-0 lead back to Germany Tues 2:45 pm.  Unbelievable move by Bayern coach Pep G not starting forward Thomas Mueller in the game – sounds like Pep was way too clever for his shoes on this night.  Meanwhile the Caulderon (Athletico home stadium) was rocking at the egging from head coach Diego Simeon as he once again outmaneuvered his counterpart.   Atleti’s sit back and counterattack approach which stymied defending champs Barcelona in the last round worked once again.  Huge pressure on Pep heading back home for next week’s home stand down 1-0.

In England – Man City escaped with a 0-0 tie as their Goalie Joe Hart stood on his head to preserve the shutout with multiple point blank saves against a Real Madrid team missing Renaldo and Benzema.  It should make for an exciting visit to Real Madrid on Wed 2:45 pm Fox Sports 1.  Remember the games are being repeated on both Fox Sports 1, 2 and Fox Soccer as well as the 30 minute hi-lights show each night.  Heartbreak city for Liverpool Thurs as they played Villarreal to a 0-0 tie for 93 min on the road in Europa Cup action before conceding a goal with 1 minute left, while Sevilla tied Shakhtar Donetsk on the road 2-2.  Liverpool return home next  Thurs 3pm FS1 looking for a couple of goals to advance to the finals.  (A few of us headed to Stacked Pickle on 96th St for Real Madrid vs Man City game Wed 2:45 if want to join in.  Thurs Liverpool game @ Brockway Pub 3 pm off Old Meridian)

So with Tottenham’s choke and tie last Monday Leicester City now has to win just 1 of its last 3 games to secure the EPL title for the 5000-1 long shot.  The Foxes can secure the title this weekend in the Big Game at Old Trattford vs Manchester United on Sunday at 9 am.  A quick glance at the EPL table has Man City and Arsenal tied for 3rd with 64 pts while Man U is just 5 pts back of at 59 with West Ham and Liverpool battling for the final Europa League spot at 56/55 points respectively.  In the relegation zone – (yes if you stink in Europe the bottom 3 -you move back a division) Norwich @ Arsenal NBC 12:30, Sunderland @Stoke City 10 am NBCSN, and New Castle hosting Palace USA 10 am. Totteham plays the darby @ Chelsea Mon 2:45 pm NBCSN.  Spain’s La Liga has just 1 pt separating Barcelona, Atletico and Real Madrid and they all play back to back starting at 10 am on beIn Sports.  Back in the US – defending Champs Portland host eastern division leaders Toronto FC and US stalwarts Michael Bradley and Jose Altidore at 3 pm on ESPN, while our 4th place Indy 11 travel to Oklahoma Saturday night for an 8 pm battle on beIN Sports.

GAMES on TV this WEEK

Saturday, April 30

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2       Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus: Borussia Dortmund vs. VfL Woflsburg
9:30 a.m., Fox Deportes:    Darmstadt vs. Eintracht Frankfurt

10:00 a.m., NBCSN               Stoke City vs. Sunderland
10:00 a.m., USA                    Newcastle United vs. Crystal Palace
10:00 a.m., Extra Time:       Everton vs. Bournemouth, Watford vs. Aston Villa

10 am beIn Sports                Real Sociadad vs Real Madrid

12:15 pm beIn Sports         Athletico vs Raya Vallencano
12:30 p.m., NBC                  Arsenal vs. Norwich City

2 pm ESPN 3                          Ottowa vs Miami

2:30 pm beIn Sports            Real Betis vs Barcelona

8 pm  beIn Sports                 Rayo OKC vs Indy 11

Sunday, May 1

6:30 am  beIn Sports           Juve vs Carpi

7:00 a.m., NBCSN                 Swansea City vs. Liverpool
9:05 a.m., NBCSN                Manchester United vs. Leicester City
11:30 a.m., NBCSN               Southampton vs. Manchester City

12:30 p.m., Fox Sports 1     Bayer Leverkusen vs. Hertha Berlin

3:30 PM espn                       Portland Timbers vs. Toronto FC
8 pm FS1                                Sporting Kansas City vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Monday May 2

2:15 p.m., Fox Sorts 1         Werder Bremen vs. VfB Stuttgart

3:00 p.m., NBCSN               Chelsea vs. Tottenham Hotspur

Tues, May 3 (CHAMPS LEAGUE)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1           Bayern Munich vs Athletico Madrid

Weds, May 4 (CHAMPS LEAGUE)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1            Real Madrid vs Man City

Thursday, May 5

UEFA Europa League (Semifinal first leg)

3:00 p.m., Fox Sports 1:    Liverpool vs. Villarreal
3:00 p.m., Fox Sports 2:    Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Saturday, May 7

7:45 am NBCSN                    Norwich vs Man United

10 am NBCSN                        Sunderland vs Chelsea

10 am ET                                Crystal Palace vs Stoke City, Villa vs Newcastle

Sunday, May 8

8:30 am                                 Tottenham vs Southampton

11 am NBCSN                        Man City vs Arsenal

3:30 pm ESPN                       LA Galaxy vs New England Revs

7:30 pm fox Sports 1           DC United vs NY City FC

Tues, May 10

2:45 pm NBCSN                    West Ham vs Man United

Wed, May 11

3 pm NBCSN                          Liverpool vs Chelsea

Sat, May 21

12 noon Fox                          FA Cup Final

2:30 pm Fox                          NYC FC vs NY Red Bulls

Wed, May 25

8 pm                                                            United States men vs. Ecuador, international friendly

Sat, May 28

FS1                                                                United States men vs. Bolivia, international friendly

Fri, June 3  COPA AMERICA 100

9:30 pm Fox Sports1                                                USA vs Columbia

Tues, June 7

8 pm  Fox Sports 1                             USA vs Costa Rica – Solider Field – Tix Available!

Fri, June 10 European Cup

3 pm ESPN                                               France vs Romania

MLS TV Schedule

European Championships This Summer on ESPN

Copa America Centario Schedule   TV Schedule

COPA AMERICA 100 –GAMES IN CHICAGOstill seats left for USA Game , Argentina game and Semi-Finals.

International Champions Cup – ICC – @ Chicago – Bayern Munich vs AC Milan Soldier Field Wed 7/27 @ 8 pm Tix still available  $35 to $135

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Carmel FC Night @ Indy 11 Game May 7 –7:30 pm vs Edmonton

Ask your manager about discount tickets in our group – our just show up and come find us in the stands!

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Champions League + Europa

GK Joe Hart saves Man City vs Real

City and Real Tie 0-0 at City as Renaldo does not play ESPNFC

Hart the Hero for Man City – Player Ratings

Was City approach correct? EPSNFC

Mueller not happy with Coming off Bench in Loss  ESPNFC

Questions for Bayern’s Pep in Defeat

Talking Points Athletico vs Bayern – Eufa

·         Bayern v Atlético facts

·         Real Madrid v City facts

·         Simeone, Guardiola hail Saúl

Alicia Keys Will Perform at the UCL Final in Milan as over 350 million watch

Liverpool Collapses Late to give up 1-0 loss at Villarreal

Klopp explains why Daniel Sturridge didn’t play in loss to Villareal

USA

US Players updates from the club teams

Predicting the US Roster for Copa America Part 2 Mat Doyle MLS.com

US Youth U18 Kyle Scott request transfer from Chelsea

Brad Friedel lead US U19s advance to Slovakia Cup Finals

US 17 Year Old Dortmund Mid Christian Pulisic youngest Bundesliga player to Score Twice 

See Pulisic Score again for Dortmund

Pulisic impresses Klinsmann

Morris Scores Again for Seattle

Klinsmann admits youngsters are pushing to make Copa Roster

Europe + EPL

Power Rankings of European Teams –Shaka Hislop

Trending – ESPNFC

What’s Trending – Wenger blames pundits

Leicester City on Bring of EPL Glory

Top Moments in Leicester City’s Run SI

EPL Predictions

 INDY 11 + MLS

Mr Hat Trick – Eamon Zayed making friends in Indy –Indy Star Kevin Johnson

How the 11 are Shaping Up

MLS Expansion for Indy 11 not likely

MLS Expansion Cities – who’s Next – SI

Zayeds Game winner is Play of the Week

NASL Saves of the Week

Permanent Relegation podcast welcomes Indy 11 Eamon Zayed

Permanent Relegation Indy 11 Justin Braun and Jon Busch

Indy 11 Newcomer Eamon Zayed on TV 8 Interview

Furballs and Football – May 7 Indy 11 vs Edmonton FC 7:30 pm Also Carmel FC Night!

MLS Power Rankings

MLS Road Warriors – TFC – pretty cool video

Altidore Adjusting to playing with Gionvincho at Toronto

 

Soccer Camps – Boys and Girls -Ages 6 – 14

Ok so its almost Summer Camp time – below are some nice options for Soccer Camps this summer

Post2Post GOALKEEPER – Soccer Camp – May 31-June 3 –  9 am till 3 pm

CFC and Carmel High Coach Carla Baker – former National Team Goalie for Canada will run her annual GK camp June 1-4 9 am to 3 pm $195 each @ Badger Field

Indy 11 Soccer Camp June 20-23 — 9 am till 12 noon Ages 5-14 $135 @ Badger Fields

Goal2Gol Soccer Camp
CHS Men’s Head Coach Shane Schmidt, a former U-20 US National Team player, runs his annual camp from 9 am to 2 pm July 11-16. $150 before 6/30 @ River Road Fields.

Post2Post Soccer Camp
Former Pittsburgh Head Coach Sue-Moy Chin and Former Iowa Coach Carla Baker run their annual field player camp for players of all abilities July 25-28 — 9 am to 3 pm $195 each @ Badger

MLS team in Indy? Probably not in near future

Phil Friend, phillip.friend@indystar.com5:13 p.m. EDT April 22, 2016

Whenever the discussion of Major League Soccer expansion comes up, Indianapolis soccer fans’ ears perk up.But rarely is Indianapolis at the top of the list – or even on the list at all.On Thursday, MLS Commissioner Don Garber rattled off a group of cities in consideration for expansion. Speaking at a meeting with the Associated Press Sports Editors, Garber said of Sacramento and St. Louis, “It’s fair to say they’re front-runners.”Other candidates, in order of priority he said, were Detroit, San Diego, San Antonio, Austin and Cincinnati.No Indianapolis.Indianapolis already has a professional soccer team, the Indy Eleven, which plays in the North American Soccer League, the U.S’s official second division. The Eleven recently began their third season and have led the league in attendance each of their first two campaigns in the NASL. Both home games this season have brought in more than 9.000 fans each.MLS is currently at 20 teams and will increase to 24 when Atlanta, a second Los Angeles team, Minnesota and Miami are expected to join by 2018. Garber has stated his goal is to eventually reach 28 teams.Contacted by IndyStar on Thursday, an Indy Eleven spokesperson said the club is happy with its situation in the NASL.”Indy Eleven continues to work toward first division standards in every facet of the organization, both on and off the field, and we look forward to continue doing that as a member of the NASL. We believe in the NASL’s business model and are pleased with the direction and growth of the league and look forward to help continuing that growth in the years to come.”Just how large the team can grow could coincide with attempts to secure a new soccer-specific stadium. The Eleven struck out the past two years with stadium proposals, including an $82-million stadium deal, though they still hold out hopes for securing a new home.”We look forward to continuing to work with local and state officials to establish details for a stadium proposal that will be responsible to the taxpayers of Indiana and result in a positive outcome during this legislative session,” the team said in a January statement.When the Eleven franchise came into existence, former team President Peter Wilt said the goal was to eventually reach MLS. He re-emphasized that in an article on ESPN.com last May when mentioning the efforts for a new stadium, stating:”I think it sets the table for Indy Eleven being a first-division team,” Wilt said. “Whether that’s with the NASL or another league is to be determined.” Joshua Mason, president of Indy Eleven’s support group, The Brickyard Battalion, stressed they won’t push the club to move to MLS.”We are here for this club in our city. Our goal is not to be MLS,” Mason wrote in an email to IndyStar. “Our goal is to make professional soccer sustainable in Indiana, and that we have a team to support every week. This culture will only grow, and the Eleven will be as recognizable as the Colts and Pacers are to Indiana throughout the world.”It’s no coincidence the new proposed stadium seats 18,000 – the minimum required for entrance into MLS. Having deep-pocketed owners and an established youth academy would also be necessary. But at this point, it looks like an MLS-Indy marriage is a long shot.

Manuel Pellegrini’s pragmatic approach the right call for Manchester City

Managers often say that if a team cannot win a game, they have to make sure that they don’t lose it. That was ultimately the feeling among Manchester City fans as they left the Etihad following Tuesday’s 0-0 draw with Real Madrid after it was clear that the home side were the less adventurous of the two teams.

Supporters were hardly disappointed with the result and the display was rightly cautious. City managed just one shot on target in the entire match, though manager Manuel Pellegrini probably won’t be too upset because the ultimate aim of the evening was to make sure Madrid didn’t beat goalkeeper Joe Hart.

The Chilean sacrificed attacking flair and threat for defensive organisation and, while his side didn’t play badly, they certainly played well within what they were capable of and it was a deliberate move to stifle the Spanish side.That was an understandable approach from Pellegrini and one that demonstrates an element of pragmatism that he’s perhaps not shown in the past. For the first time ever, City are now preparing for the second leg of a Champions League tie that is still winnable following a first leg in Manchester.

Lessons have clearly been learned about being too open and too offensive against the competition’s elite when playing at home first. The only other times City have opened a knockout tie at the Etihad, Barcelona each time pretty much made sure they were through with 2-0 and 2-1 wins. Pellegrini learned the hard way that conceding away goals cheaply can leave a mountain to climb and the best European sides defend well, especially at home.As a result, he’s transformed a team that couldn’t keep a clean sheet in Europe into one that defends quite resolutely. Before the knockout phase of this season’s competition, it was four shutouts in 34 attempts. In the five games since, City have added three more and all of them have been at the Etihad, in 0-0 draws with Dynamo Kiev and Real Madrid, and a 1-0 win over PSG.The goalless stalemate at the midpoint of this semifinal tie leaves City in a strong-ish position. They can’t now go out on the away goals rule, but they can still advance because of it, and a single goal at the Bernabeu in a 1-1 draw, especially one to open the scoring, could really swing the second leg in their favour.Yet with all that in mind, there’s a nagging doubt that Tuesday’s bore draw was a missed opportunity. It seems increasingly likely that Real will be able to field a fully fit Cristiano Ronaldo in the away leg on Wednesday, while below par performances from the likes of Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema and some good stops from Hart won’t come along each week.Gael Clichy and Manchester City heeded the words of manager Manuel Pellegrini to keep Real Madrid scoreless on Tuesday.

When it comes to the reverse fixture, both sides will perhaps be backing themselves to score and will fancy their chances of progressing. Madrid have home advantage, while City know that anything they can get into Keylor Navas’s net will be boosted by the lack of away goals for Zinedine Zidane’s team. It’s quite finely poised.However, it’s likely to be City that comes under the most pressure — Madrid are yet to concede at the Bernabeu in the Champions League this season and have netted themselves 18 times there in five games.As a result, Zidane’s team were equally as cautious as Pellegrini’s for the opening hour and criticism of City’s attack has to be tempered by Madrid’s equally stoic set-up.Above all, though, there’s an element of trust about the club’s recent performances in the Champions League that hasn’t been there for some time. Many winced when they saw the starting line-up for the eventual 2-1 defeat to Barcelona in the round of 16 last season because Pellegrini had opted for a 4-4-2 system, leaving gaps in an attempt to impose his style on the match.You wouldn’t catch him doing something that naive now. These days, the manager accepts that he A goalless draw with Real Madrid isn’t the perfect way for City’s chances, but they are still in a strong position — and a position that shows the continuation of the club growing up in the Champions League.David Mooney is a writer and a radio journalist based in Manchester.  

Pep Guardiola changes the game to leave Bayern boss open to question

RAPHAEL HONIGSTEIN-ESPN FC =-n many ways, Bayern Munich’s 1-0 first-leg defeat to Atletico Madrid in the Champions League on Wednesday panned out just as the visitors had feared.They dominated possession and probed at the Vicente Calderon, but the Spaniards got on the score sheet with one devastating attack from Saul Niguez.Bayern’s 1-0 defeat at Atleti’s neighbours, Real Madrid, two years ago followed a similar pattern. That night, Pep Guardiola’s men hardly troubled the Spanish goal despite all their passing brilliance, and although the manager kept praising his team for creating “so many” openings against Diego Simeone’s notoriously battle-hardened side, in truth only a couple of them amounted to clear-cut opportunities from inside the box.Bayern left Madrid saying all the things they had to say about making amends — the way they did after their 3-1 defeat at Porto in the round of 16 last season, for example — but they knew they had failed in their two key objectives, pointed out by executive chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge: “We want to score a goal and not lose the game.”At this level in the competition, you don’t just lose games — the opposition make you lose them. The more that your opponent is able to implement its game plan, the more your own game falters. Neutrals would have noted that Atleti made Bayern give the ball away in the opening exchanges with high pressing and superb positioning.Later, as the Bavarians exerted pressure, the home side defended with a calmness and precision that is simply unmatched in Europe. Bayern hardly talked about that after the final whistle, however, because to do so would have threatened to plant more doubts into their minds.Guardiola was the one member of the travelling party to admit the 1-0 score line presented a “complicated result,” whereas the players preferred to look at the positives.”We created more chances than we thought we would,” said Philipp Lahm, while David Alaba added: “There’s a second game, everything’s possible.”Manuel Neuer said: “We weren’t brave and aggressive enough at the start,” and Xabi Alonso agreed: “We didn’t play well in the beginning.”Bayern are still in charge of their destiny, despite Atleti’s achieving a near-perfect result in the first leg. It could have easily been perfect, too. Fernando Torres came tantalisingly close to killing off the tie with his shot against the post in the second half. Considering the quality of the opportunities both teams created, Bayern weren’t unlucky to lose 1-0; they were fortunate. That realisation was too damaging psychologically to be given voice in Madrid.The public postmortem in Munich immediately concentrated on the non-inclusion of Thomas Muller, Bayern’s talisman, in the starting lineup.Guardiola explained that he wanted “more control” in midfield, by virtue of an additional midfielder. The idea was to withstand early pressure from the home side, Lahm revealed. Leaving out Muller made theoretical sense in that respect, and Guardiola’s decision-making process would have been helped by the fact that the 26-year-old hasn’t been playing all that well recently.Muller, a second-half substitute with limited impact, took his omission with a shrug. “I have to be professional about it,” he said.”I’m not happy, but it’s important to realise what’s important for the team. If everybody who’s not playing goes crazy, we can forget about the whole season.”In light of Bayern’s futility in the opposition box, blaming it all on the surprise absence of Muller (and Franck Ribery) was easy to do. It’s been a feature of Guardiola’s reign at the Allianz Arena that many supporters and most media outlets have readily found fault with his lineups and tactics in the handful of big defeats his team have suffered.In the past, when far fewer conceptual managers were in charge, the players would cop most of the criticism after big disappointments in the Champions League. The way people look at the game has changed in Munich, though. Guardiola has transformed football into a manager’s game, with all the pitfalls that entails. He knew he’d be personally blamed for a bad result, just as he was at Barcelona. Muller and Ribery will be two sticks to beat him with should Bayern fail to qualify for the final next week. There’s no way around it; that’s how it works.As far as an analysis of the team’s problems on Wednesday goes, however, focussing on one or two players who weren’t on the pitch is a distraction. The German champions-elect had bigger issues, and not for the first time. Firstly, their buildup play was far too easily interrupted in the opening stages, when the hosts pressed them high. Despite fielding a central midfield triangle of Alonso, Arturo Vidal and Thiago Alcantara, Bayern’s pressing resistance was poor, and they had to resort to long balls that were easily intercepted. This flaw has been in evidence throughout the season, to varying degrees, and it will have to be addressed, both tactically and in terms of personnel.The second, most important cause for their underperformance might be harder to fix in the next five days. Too many players are short of their best form at the moment. Robert Lewandowski, Douglas Costa, Muller … the list goes on. Only Vidal has been playing at a level approaching full capacity. On top of that, left-back Juan Bernat was well below the required standard at the Calderon, Kingsley Coman’s poor choices betrayed his inexperience and Alcantara merely floated through the match, uninvolved and ethereal. You don’t tend to win the Champions League that way.Next week, Jerome Boateng’s possible return promises to bring more stability, without the ball as well as with it. His long-range passes have been sorely missed in recent weeks. Muller and Ribery should be back from the start as well, against an Atletico side that will defend even deeper than before.It’s not a lost cause, this Bavarian remontada, but it will need a strong performance over the whole 90 minutes.And that’s precisely the worry. For all their squad depth and tactical sophistication under Guardiola, Bayern haven’t mustered one of those in the Champions League knockout rounds this season.Raphael Honigstein is ESPN FC’s German football expert and a regular guet on ESPN FC TV. He also writes for the Guardian. Twitter: @honigstein.

Atlético v Bayern: key talking points

Published: Thursday 28 April 2016, 0.58CET

Augusto Fernández looks a shrewd January buy, Bayern and Josep Guardiola must be sick of playing in Spain, and is Saúl Ñíguez an option for Spain’s UEFA EURO 2016 tilt?

by Joseph Walker

Augusto the great
Since joining Atlético in January, Argentinian international Augusto Fernández has made a name for himself as a tough-tackling, no-nonsense midfielder alongside skipper Gabi. If it took him a few games to develop an understanding with his team-mates, he has now become a fixture in the middle of the park – and this was his best display yet for the Rojiblancos.

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The 30-year-old covered every blade of grass, charging down shots, breaking up play and getting in the right place at the right time. His efforts helped subdue an opposition midfield containing Arturo Vidal, Xabi Alonso and Thiago Alcántara – no mean feat. It was a world-class performance on the biggest stage.

Bayern’s unhappy hunting ground
This is the third season running that Josep Guardiola’s Bayern side have been drawn to face a Spanish team in the semi-finals, with the first leg away on each occasion. The German champions lost 1-0 across town at Real Madrid in 2014, then 12 months ago were blown away 3-0 by Barcelona. This year it was Atlético’s turn.With Guardiola promising that his charges would chase an away goal, Diego Simeone played the Bavarians at their own game, attacking early on and taking the initiative – and then the lead. Bayern huffed and puffed, but could not blow the house down. Yet again, the precious away goal they so desperately sought proved elusive.

Home comfort for German side?
With the visitors unable to find the away goal, the emphasis is very much on Bayern to come out and attack in next Tuesday’s return match. Tonight was only the fourth time in 23 UEFA Champions League outings they have failed to score and they have managed 74 in the Bundesliga already this term – cause for hope. So too is the spirit they showed against Juventus in the last 16.

Weighing against that, however, is the knowledge that at this point in the past two campaigns they could not overturn a first-leg defeat in Spain. In fact, their rivals went on to lift the trophy both times, which is ominous indeed. Then there is Jan Oblak and Europe’s meanest defence: Atlético having shipped just 16 goals in 35 Liga games this season.

Saúl Ñíguez making EURO 2016 case
The Spain Under-21 man has enjoyed a stellar campaign in the capital, netting nine times in 42 appearances in all competitions. Calls are growing for Vicente del Bosque to include the right-sided midfielder in his UEFA EURO 2016 squad, despite the 21-year-old being untested at senior international level.

He described his latest Vicente Calderón strike as “the most important goal of my career and the best too”, yet that was merely one part of an impressive all-round contribution. Guardiola says “Spanish football has a great new talent” and it is impossible to disagree. Worryingly for Bayern, Simeone reckons there is much more to come.

Armchair Analyst: Predicting the USMNT Copa América roster, Part 1

April 27, 201610:37 PM EDTMatthew DoyleMLSsoccer.com

Jurgen Klinsmann has called this summer’s upcoming Copa América Centenario “the biggest men’s soccer tournament in the US since the 1994 World Cup.” For once, Jurgen and I have found common ground.This is the real deal, quite literally a once-in-a-century opportunity. The US can use a great performance, as in 1995’s trip to the Copa, to launch into a new era of competitiveness on the global stage, building an identity and blooding a new group of stars. A bad performance, however, would solidify the downward trend of Klinsmann’s years — a program getting lapped by Mexico in CONCACAF, being passed by Costa Rica and caught by the likes of Jamaica and Honduras; and a program that’s not competitive globally outside of friendlies.A team that fails to make it to the final of the Gold Cup, and doesn’t qualify for the Confederations Cup despite multiple chances. A team that loses winnable games at home. A team that plays like minnows — something the US haven’t been since 1990.So there is a lot riding on this summer’s performance, especially in light of the Olympic and Confeds Cup failures.Here is Part 1 of a three-part series predicting Klinsmann’s 40-man preliminary roster (these aren’t my picks — these are the guys I think Jurgen will go with).We’ll start with the goalkeepers and defenders, move to the midfielders tomorrow and the forwards on Friday.

(4) GoalkeepersTim Howard, Brad Guzan, David Bingham, Ethan Horvath

Howard and Guzan are still Nos. 1 & 2 in some order. Bingham took advantage of the opportunity he earned this winter in Bill Hamid‘s absence, and he’s strengthened his situation with a strong start to the season for San Jose. Horvath, a 20-year-old who starts for Molde in Norway and already has Champions League experience, gets the final spot for this camp.Yes, that leaves Rimando on the outside looking in. I’m not going to stake my life on this decision, and I think he can still play at the international level. But he’s caught up in the numbers game here, and the potential/production combo of Bingham & Horvath pushes him out of the mix.

(8) FullbacksDeAndre YedlinBrek Shea, Edgar Castillo, Timmy Chandler, Brandon VincentTim ReamKellyn Acosta, Desevio Payne

Can we finally list DeAndre Yedlin as a fullback now? Or will Klinsmann insist upon deploying him primarily as a winger? Given his play for Sunderland, this shouldn’t even be a question… yet it is.You can see that while Yedlin is the obvious answer at right back, there are more questions at left back. Castillo got the most recent starts, but he’s been inconsistent-to-poor for the US; Chandler is a Jurgen favorite, but he also regularly haunts the inconsistent-to-poor spectrum (and is a natural RB anyway); Shea is still learning the position; Ream is more of a center back; Acosta is definitely not a fullback of any stripe despite the insistence of the US U-20 and U-23 coaches to the contrary.I think those guys all get the call, as does Vincent. Klinsmann hasn’t really shown any interest in Villafana despite his form over the last 12 months — ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ — and Beasley seems retired for real this time. Vincent’s previous camps, then, give him the leg up and into the mix, even if he’s adjusted quite slowly to MLS thus far.

(7) Central DefendersGeoff Cameron, John Brooks, Matt MiazgaOmar GonzalezMatt Besler,Steve Birnbaum, Michael Orozco

This should be easy. Cameron’s a proven commodity for club and country who’s in the prime of his career; the same can be said for Brooks. Besler and Gonzalez are there as well, and Birnbaum has been effective in his brief USMNT run so far.That leaves two spots for Miazga, who’s the most promising young defender in the pool, and Orozco, who’s been a security blanket for Klinsmann since Day 1. Given reports that Alvarado didn’t train well at the last camp and the fact that both Parker and Redding still need more experience, those three cuts are pretty easy to make.I think, anyway. It’s Klinsmann, after all — he may go in an entirely different direction on a whim.

Armchair Analyst: Predicting the USMNT Copa America roster, Part 2

April 28, 20164:22 PM EDTMatthew DoyleMLSsoccer.com

Yesterday’s Part 1 looked at the goalkeepers and defenders I think will be called into the 40-man USMNT roster for this summer’s Copa America Centenario, which will be announced at halftime ofSunday’s match between Sporting KC and LA Galaxy (8 pm ET; FS1).

Today we will look at the midfield. Tomorrow we will look at the forwards.And here is where it gets interesting, because I have to merge how I see “midfield” with how Jurgen Klinsmann sees “midfield,” and how different formations — the 4-3-3, the flat 4-4-2, the 4-4-2 diamond — force different roles onto different players.There is, for example, no purely defensive midfielder in a flat 4-4-2, but there will be guys who are listed purely as d-mids on the below list. That doesn’t mean they won’t play in a 4-4-2, it just means that they probably shouldn’t.Wide players are even trickier. In a 4-3-3 they’re wingers, and have an offensive/possession/re-pressing workload more akin to that of a second forward than that of a midfielder. But in a 4-4-2, they’re almost — to a man — more likely to be deployed wide in the midfield, asking for a different application of their respective mental and physical skillsets. Formations are not everything in our game, but they’re significant. Bear that in mind when looking at the list below, and bear in mind that Klinsmann has used four different formations (4-3-3, 4-4-2 flat, 4-4-2 box, 4-4-2 diamond) in the last five US games. The team as he’s built it has no repeatable style or tactical approach, so it’s hard to say “Piece A fits into Slot B” with any sort of confidence. It would take a fool to try to predict what he’ll do next.And thus, here I go…

(3) Defensive midfielders: Kyle Beckerman, Danny Williams, Perry Kitchen

This is “specialist alley.” None of the guys listed here should ever play anything outside of a traditional No. 6 role for the US, and I say that in spite of the fact that Kitchen and Alashe have both played primarily box-to-box roles in their respective careers.Beckerman is a lock for this tournament for all the obvious reasons, and Williams — despite his recent suspension — should be as well. I think Kitchen gets the final spot ahead of Trapp, who’s struggled so far in MLS and was poor for the U-23s in the Olympic qualifying failure. I can’t claim to have seen Kitchen since his move to Hearts, but he’s won a starting job as their No. 6 and they’ve just qualified for next year’s Europa League. That’s the kind of career move Klinsmann applauds, so I think Kitchen gets rewarded here.Worth noting that I included FC Dallas’s Kellyn Acosta as a fullback, since that’s where Klinsmann & the rest of the US soccer coaches prefer to play him, even though he’s pretty clearly a d-mid (or perhaps a box-to-box mid). Also worth noting that the two best d-mids in MLS this year have been the guy who heads the next list, and another FC Dallas Homegrown kid, Victor Ulloa.Ulloa’s never gotten a look by the US at any level, so I’m not holding my breath.

(7) Central MidfieldersMichael BradleyJermaine Jones, Alejandro Bedoya, Lee Nguyen, Alfredo Morales, Emerson Hyndman, Mix Diskerud

I have to admit that I’m kind of dying to see a classic 4-3-3 with Williams at the base of the midfield triangle, then Bradley and Jones given free rein ahead of him. This would be the pregame tactical talk:Bradley as a No. 6 had me worried for TFC at the start of the year, but he’s been really responsible and really, really good. So while I’m kind of dying to see the above, I’m really dying to see Bradley given a shot in the role Beckerman has so often played over the last six years. This is another “but I’m not holding my breath” situation, unfortunately.The rest of this midfield group fills itself out pretty comfortably. Nguyen is the only specialist, coming in exclusively as a No. 10. Diskerud, who hasn’t been playing all that well, gets the last spot over Gil, who hasn’t been playing at all.For what it’s worth I really think Sacha Kljestan should be here. And Benny Feilhaber, but — well, you know.

(5) Wide Midfielders/Wingers: Fabian Johnson, Darlington NagbeGraham Zusi, Christian Pulisic, Ethan Finlay

  • Alternates: Joe Corona, Miguel Ibarra, Jerome Kiesewetter

Repeat after me: Fabian Johnson is a winger. Fabian Johnson is a winger. Fabian Johnson is a winger. Fabian Johnson is a winger. Just keep saying it until we’ve removed all temptation of playing him at fullback. Johnson’s played only two games on the backline all year in Germany, and has been a Champions League-quality winger for the other 24.After him we get to have some fun. Nagbe’s clearly at his best as a central midfielder, but in his brief USMNT run, Klinsmann has preferred to use him out wide — so that’s where he’s listed. There’s been a metric ton written about why Christian Pulisic should start as a No. 10, but… nah. Kid’s been a legit two-way force on the wings for Borussia Dortmund, so let’s keep him in his current comfort zone (heh).That leaves Zusi the reliable and Finlay the specialist. Zusi is the best defensive player of the bunch and is an absolute grinder made for games like Costa Rica and Paraguay, while Finlay exists to stretch the field and brings little value in possession. Both are easy calls over Corona, Ibarra and Kiesewetter — none of whom has actually played much this season, and all three of whom are probably on the move this summer.

Leicester on brink of fitting Premier League glory at Manchester United

Premier League Spotlight previews the weekend’s fixtures and highlights five key points to keep an eye on.

  1. Will Leicester seal glory at the home of England’s most dominant club?

Leicester City are so close to glory that they have the sweet scent of it in their nostrils. Win at Manchester United on Sunday and the 2015-16 Premier League title is theirs. No matter how many times you hear that, Leicester’s feat still has a feeling of the surreal. But this is where we find ourselves after the Foxes’ 4-0 thumping of Swansea City was followed by Tottenham’s 1-1 draw at home to West Brom on Monday night. The result against Swansea was yet another example of manager Claudio Ranieri calmly guiding his team through supposedly troubled waters. Jamie Vardy’s suspension was anything but the disaster it was anticipated to be.Vardy, scorer of 22 league goals this season, will again be missing for the trip to Old Trafford. It was he who opened the scoring in November’s 1-1 draw between Leicester and United. A repeat of that stalemate could still be enough for the Foxes, if Tottenham fail to win at Chelsea on Monday. Perhaps in this fixture Ranieri will feel Vardy’s absence, because as the away side their counter-attacking game will be more relied upon. Yet, considering how the season has gone, it would be of little surprise if Ranieri still found a way to defeat Louis van Gaal’s side, who themselves need a win to keep their top-four hopes alive. Whatever the means, this has the makings of quite the moment as Leicester gear up to realise their dream at the home of a club who have lifted 13 Premier League titles.

  1. Did Tottenham really choke in the title race?

You could not move for schadenfreude in the wake of Tottenham’s 1-1 draw against West Brom on Monday night. Spurs had, apparently, bottled it and gifted the title to Leicester. Granted, this was a must-win game, but the circumstances were a side running out of steam, not a weak and late capitulation. There must also come a point when Leicester’s impending success is put down to their excellence rather than the shortcomings of Spurs. For Tottenham not to be able to compete with a team who have lost three times all season and have won seven of their last nine is hardly embarrassing. Perhaps those pointing and guffawing might want to consider whether their club have at least pushed the leaders up until matchday 36. Tottenham are a club going places, boasting a young and talented squad overseen by an exciting and inspiring 44-year-old manager in Mauricio Pochettino.

  1. How will Arsenal cope amid a toxic Emirates Stadium atmosphere?

To say the natives at Arsenal are restless would be a significant understatement. A growing number are spitting bile. Indeed, a coordinated protest is planned in Saturday’s match against Norwich, and, as the face of the club for 20 years, manager Arsene Wenger can be expected to bear the brunt of the toxicity. The club can finish on no more than 73 points this season, if they win their remaining three matches, and that total would see them two points worse off than last campaign. There is the cold evidence of the Gunners going backwards, rather than standing still as has been their usual, frustrating way. For now, Wenger’s focus will be securing Champions League football for next season, before a significant postmortem in the summer. To get back on track they must display more fight than what was on show in the 1-1 draw at Sunderland.

Predict the outcome in our polls.

MAN UNITED: All eyes are on Old Trafford this weekend to see if the Premier League title will be won, but unlike so many other years, it’s not United in the running. Leicester proved against Swansea in their 4-0 win that they aren’t a one man team, impressing in Jamie Vardy’s absence. But they still might struggle on Sunday. United have the best record in the league at home and there are lots of players eager to prove to Louis van Gaal they should start in the FA Cup final.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Leicester — Scott Patterson

LEICESTER: This is the biggest game in Leicester’s history. Fans will be pinching themselves at the prospect of winning the title at Old Trafford, a particularly poignant place of potential glory for Kasper Schmeichel, son of United legend Peter. The Foxes could win the title even with a loss, if Spurs fail to beat Chelsea on Monday. Claiming the three points they need to secure the league is a big ask without Vardy, but a draw wouldn’t be a bad result at all.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Leicester — Ben Jacobs

CHELSEA: Chelsea and their fans would like nothing more than to be the team that definitively ended Tottenham’s title challenge, though to do so they will have to show greater organisation and defensive commitment than they have of late. Tottenham’s confidence will have suffered a setback following the surprise home draw with West Brom, and the absence of Dele Alli through suspension could damage their prospects further.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Tottenham — Phil Lythell

TOTTENHAM: Spurs have acquired the useful knack this season of coming back strongly after a poor performance, but Monday’s game will be a tough test. Chelsea players will need no extra motivation to win this from their outgoing manager, Guus Hiddink. The visitors have a terrible record at Stamford Bridge and it is hard to see them getting more than a point.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Tottenham — John Crace

‘Mr. Hat Trick’ making new friends in Indy

Kevin Johnston, IndyStar correspondent8:51 a.m. EDT April 29, 2016  Indy Eleven at Rayo OKC, 8 p.m., Saturday, BeIN Sports

He’s Irish-born, represented Libya’s national team and has played in leagues as far away as Norway, Iran and Malaysia.So how did Eamon Zayed wind up in Indianapolis scoring goals for Indy Eleven?Simple: Tim Hankinson.The Eleven’s new manager tried to lure Zayed to the U.S. in 2012 at a previous coaching stop in San Antonio, but was unable to land the striker because he was still under contract.”At the time, I was in Iran. I was in contract, and there was no way of me getting out of it,” Zayed said.While in Iran, Zayed received the nickname “Mr. Hat Trick” – a flattering name for any striker. In 2012, he scored a hat trick off the bench in front of 80,000 fans in the Tehran derby – a heated in-town rivalry. Adding to the legend, his team was losing 2-0 at the time and down a man from a red card.“That’s where I got the name ‘10-10-3’ which means 10 minutes, 10 men, three goals. And then ‘Mr. Hat Trick’ came a month later,” Zayed said. “We had another game, my first Asian Champions League game, and I scored three again. A few weeks later, I played a league game and I scored three again. So it was three hat tricks there in like 2-3 months.”When Hankinson, who also has a well-traveled resume, got the Eleven job in December, he wanted to add punch to Indy’s offensive attack. So he dipped into his contacts list.”The reason I’m, here is because of coach Hankinson,” Zayed said. “I’m delighted to work with him and I think we have a good relationship. I just want to repay his faith that he’s shown in me.”Zayed did just that April 16 against the New York Cosmos. He scored the game-tying goal in the final minute of regular time and added the game-winner in stoppage time in front of the Eleven’s supporters group, The Brickyard Battalion, setting off bedlam in the west end of Carroll Stadium.“It was 10,000 people, but it still felt like it was packed,” Zayed said. “The Brickyard Battalion was an unbelievable atmosphere behind the goal. It reminded me slightly of (my hat trick in the Tehran derby). “It brought back a few memories because it was quite similar the way the game ended. It was beautiful. The fans were brilliant. And the celebrations – I’m sure you’ve seen it – the celebrations with a lot of players jumping into the fans. It was a great moment.”Added Hankinson: “For him to climb up into the Brickyard Battalion after scoring the eventual winner and share that moment with the fans, that capped a great night both for Eamon and for the team.”Following its dramatic win over the Cosmos, Indy (1-0-2) enjoyed a week off, allowing for a few players to nurse injuries. The Eleven return to action Saturday at 8 p.m. on the road against NASL expansion franchise Rayo OKC in Oklahoma City. Zayed’s performance against the Cosmos not only gave the Eleven their first win of the young season, but also earned him North American Soccer League Goal of the Week and Player of the Week honors.The well-traveled 32-year-old was an academy product for unlikely English Premier League leaders Leicester City from 2000-02 and shared a microphone with Cameroonian soccer star Samuel Eto’o as part of FIFA’s Fair Play initiative prior to Libya falling one game short of qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. He has played at corners across the globe, but is settling into his new Indianapolis surroundings.”The people are very friendly. I don’t know if it’s a Midwest thing,” Zayed said. “I’ve traveled to New York before, Las Vegas, Florida, and the people are friendly enough, but here, I definitely notice the difference in terms of the people and how friendly they are.”If Zayed keeps scoring, he’ll find Indy increasingly friendly. And if you see him on the street, his name is pronounced AYE-mon ZYED (rhymes with dyed). Or you can just call him “Mr. Hat Trick.”

Indy 11 bY THE NUMBERS: WEEK FOUR

A statistical look at how “Indiana’s Team” is shaping up  Apr 27, 2016

Now four weeks into the NASL Spring Season, Indy Eleven sit 4th in the table with a game in hand having enjoyed its bye week during Round 4. The opening three performances have given fans of the “Boys in Blue” a little bit of everything – a look at the team’s defensive ability in the opening 0-0 draw with Tampa Bay, the scratch-and-claw nature of the 1-1 draw with Ottawa in 30-ish degree temps, and the total team fightback in the 2-1 win over the Cosmos most recently at Carroll Stadium. IndyEleven.com breaks down the individual and collective numbers so far …

Both individually and as a team, the numbers for “Indiana’s Team” are shaping out nicely. Eamon Zayed sits T-4 in the NASL with two goals, just one off the pace of the league’s leading trio of Dario Cvitanich (MIA), Austin Da Luz (CAR), and Christian Ramirez (MNU).In the midfield, Nicki Paterson sits in the top 15 in total crosses (11) and is part of a midfield that is trending upwards in distribution having completed over 75% of their passes against the Cosmos, the highest team total to date.And in defense, Jon Busch and the rest of the back line are responsible for the team’s two total goals conceded, the team’s corresponding 0.67 goals against average placing only behind Minnesota United FC’s 0.50 conceded rate. Since the start of his tenure, coach Tim Hankinson has billed his side as one who seeks to control possession and tempo, and that work-in-progress style has indeed seen some progression. In the season opener at Tampa Bay, the Eleven had just 40.7% possession despite registering a league-high 22 interceptions in the 0-0 draw.Against Ottawa in the home opener, possession climbed to 43.5% in the near-freezing temperatures of Indianapolis. Fury FC did their best to break up passing lanes and forced the Eleven to a last-gasp 1-1 draw, but the real progress came about in Week 3 against New York. In the 2-1 home win, the Eleven enjoyed a deceptive 45.8% possession while completing 75.3% of their passes. It was their best two combined halves by far, going to prove Hankinson’s repeated point leading up to the season that, while the preseason results were less than the club desired, the work they were putting in would soon pay dividends.And let’s be clear – coach Hankinson fully expects this improvement to continue. Through changes in formation, personnel, and a slight modification in attacking approach, team possession is on the rise. It’s not the only thing, either.The attack has steadily risen since the season opened at Tampa Bay, with shot count, percentage on target, and goals scored all trending upward. In the first game, the “Boys in Blue” registered just seven shots, two of which were blocked, with one on target. The very next week, the shot count rose to 11 total, two of which were blocked, with three on target and one Nemanja Vukovic effort on the scoresheet. Finally, it all came together against New York, where they fired 12 total shots, one of which was blocked, with four on target. This includes two very important looks that found their way in the back of the net.True, one of these was a penalty, which is about as clear-cut a chance as an attacker can be presented. And yes, the second goal was a tap-in from four yards out (be it a rebound off an excellent strike by Dylan Mares). What still stands out here is the overall push in attack that has grown week-by-week as the spring season continues.Defensively, the Eleven have been as strong as any unit in the league thus far, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. “Indiana’s Team” is flying into challenges and winning the ball consistently, winning an average of just under 77% of their tackles. Continuing, after leading the league in interceptions in week one with 22 total, the “Boys in Blue” have kept up that pace to register 35 more over two weeks, bringing that number to a peak of 57 through the three games.In the spring sprint, with just ten total matches it’s imperative to maintain a sort of consistency in team performances, even if different individuals stand out in different matches. For example, the back five (including Busch in goal) has been unchanged in the opening three weeks. Consistency. But as far as individual performances, Greg Janicki was one of the stars of the Eleven in the opening match, repelling the whole of the Rowdies attack in a stalemate. However, Nemanja Vuković’s effort in that game earned him a NASL Team of the Week nod, and his goal-scoring effort a week later against Ottawa allowed him to double up that plaudit. Two solid showings from two individuals as part of a successful collective team performance.Even if a Spring Season title isn’t in the cards, Indy Eleven will need to keep up the results in the first third of the 2016 slate if it wants to challenge for a spot in The Championship at season’s end. Consistency in style and play, sprinkled with individual displays of excellence, can provide a roadmap of sorts as.

MLS expansion to 28: Pecking order for potential next cities in line

After losing Rams, St. Louis is ready for MLS –Grant Wahl talks with MLS coaches and executives about which cities they feel are right for expansion.

BY BRIAN STRAUS

ADD FAVORITETwitter EmailPosted: Wed Apr. 20, 2016Updated: Tue Apr. 26, 2016

Get all of Brian Straus’s columns as soon as they’re published. Download the new Sports Illustrated app (iOS or Android) and personalize your experience by following your favorite teams and SI writers.Last week, the city of Sacramento shut down a section of L Street just off the Capitol grounds and hosted a mid-day block party for a few thousand soccer fans. They ate, drank, watched the UEFA Europa League on a big screen and welcomed MLS commissioner Don Garber for a rally designed to demonstrate the city’s support for an expansion team. The Republic, now entering its third season in USL, has won a championship, attracted record crowds and established a youth academy. And now it wants to make the leap.While in California’s capital, Garber met with city and business leaders, toured Republic’s stadium site at the Sacramento Railyards and answered questions from fans and media. He confirmed the league’s intention to expand to 28 clubs after Atlanta United FC, Los Angeles FC, Minnesota and Miami come aboard and even mentioned several additional candidates. MLS intends to convene an expansion committee of four-to-six owners who will assess the options this year and make recommendations concerning when and how to proceed. MORE: Atlanta United FC to build $60 million training complex

None of those candidates is as far along as Sacramento but as the Republic have demonstrated, the expansion landscape is volatile. They were nowhere close to the conversation three years ago. Now, Sactown practically is a shoo-in. We can only assess the race as it stands now, however, so here’s a breakdown of where potential expansion cities stand following Garber’s visit to California. And we have little choice but to place the markets he mentioned in the lead.

Nearly a done deal

Sacramento

The club and city have checked every box, and last week Garber himself said, “We hope and really we expect Sacramento will be one of the next four [additions].” Now it’s just a matter of when Republic gets the green light. While it waits, it’s continuing to move ahead on its plan to construct a stadium at the Railyards. The facility, which will seat up to 25,000, will anchor a $226 million public-private partnership that’s already been approved by Sacramento’s city council.Just about every concern the league once had about this unexpected expansion candidate has been resolved. Fan interest isn’t an issue. The robust ownership group led by pharmaceutical investor Kevin Nagle features local real estate executives and representatives from the Sacramento Kings and San Francisco 49ers, among others. And politicians appear to be just as unified.Although no Fortune 500 companies are headquartered in the city, there’s sufficient corporate presence and support thanks to its role as the state capital. “I’m actually very encouraged, having sat with some corporate leaders,” Garber told The Sacramento Bee. And for a league eager to expand its TV presence, Sacramento’s place as the country’s 20th-largest media market should be more than adequate for a circuit comprising 24-28 teams. STRAUS: Drogba makes impact felt on Sacramento training stint

Republic obviously would like to come in as soon as possible, but there’s almost no chance MLS will permit it to do so while still playing at 11,400-seat Bonney Field. The Railyards stadium should be ready to go by 2019. PODCAST: Quakes’ Wondolowski on his latest goal-scoring spree

The best bet for team No. 26

St. Louis

MLS wants to be in St. Louis, and when MLS wants to be in a market, it finds ways to get it done. The city’s long-term love affair with soccer is well known, and the league took note of the 43,000-plus who showed up for the U.S. national team’s World Cup qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines last November. St. Louis FC of the USL sold out its home opener in suburban Fenton on Saturday.In 2008, a bid led by Jeff Cooper and anchored by a potential stadium in Collinsville, Illinois, lost out to the Philadelphia Union. Interest in other markets was increasing as well, and Cooper’s timing and location weren’t exactly right. The city fell off the radar for a bit and focus eventually turned to keeping the NFL’s Rams in town. Ultimately, $400 million in public funding for a downtown stadium, plus a naming rights deal, weren’t enough to keep the team from leaving for LA. But that doesn’t mean the effort was a failure. It demonstrated that the city and local business leaders could get things done, and it certainly captured the eyes of MLS.People gradually are moving to downtown St. Louis again, and there’s land about a half dozen blocks north of the Arch and a short walk from the riverfront that’s earmarked for a stadium. In February, local sports and business executives formed a task force that could work with the league, politicians and potential investors. It includes the presidents of the Blues and Cardinals, the owner of St. Louis FC and the chairman of the St. Louis Sports Commission, among others.Plenty still needs to happen. But where there’s a will on both sides, there’s likely a way.

Best of the rest

Detroit

Size does matter, especially when it comes to TV markets. MLS’s bid to compete worldwide depends on an increase in TV revenue, and that depends partly on appealing to more homes in bigger cities. And once Atlanta enters the league, the largest media markets without a team will be Tampa-St. Petersburg, Phoenix and Detroit. Tampa has the NASL’s Rowdies and is quite close to Orlando, while whatever interest there may be from the USL’s Arizona United is very preliminary.

That leaves the Motor City, an established sports town with a downtown that’s returning to life. It’s the largest market Garber mentioned last week. MLS has had conversations with potential owners in Detroit, although they remain unidentified. It also just so happens that Mayor Mike Duggan has a brother in the business. Dan Duggan owns the two-time PDL champion Michigan Bucks, who play in nearby Pontiac.[UPDATE: MLS has confirmed Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert and Detroit Pistons owner Tom Gores are teaming on a bid for an MLS team in Detroit.]The city’s soccer fans have made news recently for their support of the NPSL club Detroit City FC, which raised some $740,000 recently to fund renovation of a 6,000-seat stadium in Hamtramck. DCFC’s games draw crowds in the thousands, but it remains to be seen whether those fans will support an MLS effort or stick with their current team.

San Antonio

There’s no question San Antonio wants to be part of MLS—the city expressed interest five years ago—and there’s now an ownership group with the sports smarts to get them there. The dissolution of the NASL’s Scorpions and the sale of Toyota Field paved the way for the Spurs, arguably the NBA’s best-run franchise, to get into the soccer business. The Spurs are leasing and managing the stadium. They launched a USL team, hired veteran administrator Tim Holt away from Orlando City to run the show and committed to paying a $5 million penalty to the city and county if they don’t own an MLS club within 10 years.There are two significant issues with San Antonio, however. One is that it’s only the 32nd-largest media market in the U.S. The other is that Toyota Field isn’t the sort of stadium MLS is looking for. Now that it can afford to be a bit more choosey, the league likely is imagining playing a few minutes from the River Walk and the Alamo, not 12 miles north in the suburbs.

Further down the list

San Diego

The gorgeous weather and potential stadium construction shuffle involving the Chargers, San Diego State and the University of San Diego is appealing. But there are questions about whether the 28th-largest media market, which is sandwiched between soccer hotbeds in L.A. and Tijuana, has the wherewithal to support an MLS club. The league is keeping tabs, however, and Garber told SI.com in January that there have been conversations with interested parties. Those are preliminary, however, and there’s plenty to sort out with San Diego’s existing teams before an MLS bid can take shape.

Former Padres owner John Moores saw his bid to buy into Everton thwarted in February. He had expressed interest in perhaps launching an MLS club that might partner with a Premier League outfit, according to The San Diego Union-Tribune, and his real estate company remains a factor as the city, Chargers and universities ponder their futures.

Austin

The Texas capital would be the smallest market in MLS. It ranks 39th overall, just below Greenville, S.C., and West Palm Beach, Fla. Its USL team, the Aztex, is taking the season off after its House Park stadium was damaged by floods last year. There’s political interest but no potential ownership, at least publicly. Nevertheless, Garber mentioned Austin last week, so it’s mentioned here as well. Institutions like the University of Texas and SXSW certainly boost the city’s profile, and the fact that it’s less than two hours from San Antonio might leave some hoping it’s a viable south Texas option. But Austin is the least likely expansion site among the cities Garber referenced.

Unmentioned, but worth watching

As Sacramento has shown, and Orlando before it, sometimes a city or team can rise quickly as an expansion candidate. Although Garber didn’t mention these cities, they’re worth keeping an eye on. In alphabetical order:

Charlotte – At No. 22, Charlotte boasts a market size and a potential base of corporate support that should appeal to MLS. The USL’s Independence launched last year and already is talking to city officials about the possible renovation of Memorial Stadium, an 80-year-old facility on the western edge of downtown. Owner Jim McPhilliamy, a former Hornets executive, has been in touch with MLS and there’s a lot of empty space on the league map between D.C. and Atlanta.

Cincinnati – USL expansion team FC Cincinnati drew a league-record 20,497 fans to Nippert Stadium on Saturday night, a figure that dropped jaws around the American soccer community. It’s early days, of course, but sustaining that sort of support will go a long way toward establishing some MLS traction. Club executives have said they’re interested in pursuing MLS, and coach John Harkes and MLS veterans like Austin Berry, Omar Cummings and Antoine Hoppenot lend additional legitimacy. Owner Carl Lindner III comes from a family worth billions and is co-CEO of investment and insurance giant American Financial Group.

Indianapolis – Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir has met with Garber and MLS executives, but there’s no indication he’s considering taking his club out of the NASL. The Eleven led the league in attendance each of the past two years but it’s been unsuccessful securing land for a downtown stadium. Former club president Peter Wilt has returned to Chicago, where he helped launch the Fire, to lead the city’s NASL expansion effort.

Las Vegas – A bid to bring MLS to Sin City was rebuffed early last year when uncertainty over the timing and funding for a publicly-subsidized stadium in the downtown Symphony Park district prompted the league to look elsewhere. MLS said that it wouldn’t consider Vegas for the current round of expansion, leaving the possibility of a post-2020 return possible—at least rhetorically. Considering the potential competition, MLS may have moved on permanently from the country’s 40th-largest media market. But then again, publicly funded stadiums can prove very persuasive.

Phoenix – Arizona United owner Kyle Eng said in February that he’d like to take his USL team to MLS by 2020 and he told KPNX he has investors lined up. Hiring coach Frank Yallop looks good, but playing in suburban Peoria won’t cut it. If the land and funding come together, however, you can bet MLS will pay attention. Phoenix anchors the country’s 12th-largest media market.

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4/25/16 Champions League Final 4 Tues/Wed + Europa Semis Thur

Anyone want to gather this week to watch games – late lunch 2:45?

GAMES of the WEEK

 

Mon, Apr 25 

3:00 p.m., NBCSN       Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion

Tues, Apr 26 (CHAMPS LEAGUE Final 4)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                        Man City vs Real Madrid   A huge home game for City looking for Champs League home Glory vs UCL stalwart Real

Weds, Apr 27 (CHAMPS LEAGUE Final 4)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                        Athletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich – Can Atletico pull the upset again at home vs Pep G in his last Champ League with Bayern?

Thurs, Apr 28 (Europa League-Semis)

3 pm FS1                          Villareal vs Liverpool  – Klopp looks to bring a trophy to Anfield in his first few months  – this on the road

3 pm FS2                          Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sevilla FC  – Can Spain put another team into the Finals?

Champions League Semi’s Tues/Wed 2:45 pm FS1

Champions League Predictions

Champions League W2W4

Fitness a concern for Ronaldo and Benzama who both sat this weekend head of Semi’s

 

USA

US 17 Year Old Dortmund Mid Christian Pulisic youngest Bundesliga player to hit Brace

See Pulisic Score a Brace for Dortmund

Morris Scores Again for Seattle

Klinsmann admits youngsters are pushing to make Copa Roster

Bayern face Atletico battle, Cristiano Ronaldo questions as Madrid face City

The Champions League has reached the semifinal stage, with four clubs just one step away from the final.

Can Atletico Madrid’s defence shut down Bayern Munich’s high-octane attack? And can Manchester City capitalise on any lingering fitness issues Cristiano Ronaldo may face with Real Madrid?The Champions League semifinal first legs take centre stage for Europe’s heavyweights — predict the outcome in our match polls …

ATLETICO MADRID: After taking down Barcelona in the Champions League and chasing them down in the La Liga title race, Atletico go into this game riding the crest of a wave and will be full of confidence when the Bavarians come to town. Fernando Torres has eight goals in his last 14 appearances, while Antoine Griezmann has been the matchwinner in a number of big games of late. Going forward, Los Rojiblancos are a side who can just manage to conjure up a goal out of nothing, and in front of what is bound to be a raucous Calderon they will feel they can once again upset the odds.The watertight backline will note Diego Godin’s absence, but the return of Jose Maria Gimenez could not be better timed. The young Uruguayan, along with 20-year-old Lucas Hernandez, will be faced with the biggest battle of their short careers against Robert Lewandowski and co. They have both risen to all the challenges put before them and Diego Simeone will have every confidence they can do so again this time round.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Bayern Munich — Joe Walker

 

BAYERN MUNICH:  Whisper it quietly but Bayern would probably much rather have played Real Madrid than their “noisy neighbours” Atletico. Simeone’s tenacious, defensively-sound side love a scrap and were hardly the plumb draw in the last four. Bayern expect the sternest challenge against opposition dubbed “a passionate monster” by director of football Matthias Sammer. Pep Guardiola will have to ensure his treble-seeking side are up for a real dogfight in the Vicente Calderon in what he describes as “the best atmosphere in Europe.”The Bavarians must improve on a woeful record on Spanish soil against La Liga sides, winning only two of 12 previous clashes and suffering a whopping eight defeats, including successive semifinal first leg losses against Real (1-0) and Barcelona (3-0) in the past two seasons. Guardiola will hope to avoid an unwanted hat trick in his final crack at the Champions League with Bayern.The opening joust in Madrid is likely to be a cagey affair. A 0-0 draw is not beyond the realms of possibility, which would be a much healthier result for the Rojiblancos, who’ll be content to sit back, defend deep and strike on the counter. Guardiola’s side must take advantage of Godin’s probable absence at the heart of the Atletico defence and strive for a crucial away goal to take back to Munich. Atletico Madrid 0-1 Bayern Munich — Mark Lovell

 

REAL MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo trained with the squad on Sunday and should be fit to play but Karim Benzema is doubtful after limping off against Rayo on Saturday. Gareth Bale rescued Madrid with a virtuoso performance and appears to have found devastating form at just the right moment. Lucas Vazquez also excelled and if Benzema is ruled out, the former canterano should get the nod to start as his willingness to hassle defenders and direct running on the ball can unsettle City at the back.Casemiro will be reinstated and charged with the onerous task of shackling Kevin De Bruyne, but the Brazilian’s presence allows Luka Modric and Toni Kroos to get forward in support of the front three. Sergio Ramos and Pepe are likely to start at the back to keep an eye on Sergio Aguero, who is worth a goal a game in the Premier League but hasn’t replicated that form in Europe this season, scoring just twice. This is City’s debut semifinal, and Real’s sixth in a row. The visitors’ greater experience will tip the balance of the tie, particularly if City concede first on Tuesday and are forced to chase a result at home.Manchester City 1-2 Real Madrid — Rob Train

 

MAN CITY: City’s form in the league has picked up markedly over the last three weeks and they reach this unprecedented milestone in their history in good shape, with confidence growing. They have reserved all their best performances for the Champions League this season and in opponents Real Madrid they have the best suited opposition of those left in the tournament. Real will leave spaces at the back which Aguero, De Bruyne and David Silva will be able to exploit if they can all find their very best form.The likes of Borussia Monchengladbach, Sevilla and Dynamo Kiev will testify to the fact that City in full flow are a real handful, capable of inflicting damage away as well as at home with a coruscating ability to counter attack with speed and numbers. The steep Champions League learning curve is gradually being tamed by Manuel Pellegrini’s side. However, a big question mark must be placed alongside City’s ability to withstand the nerves such an occasion automatically brings. The club has never reached such exalted heights before, while their regal opponents stand tall in the semifinals for the 27th time.Will experience hold out or can the novices rock the boat? Manchester City 2-2 Real Madrid — Simon Curtis

 

Champions League, Europa League W2W4: Real’s hopes rest on Ronaldo

With the Champions League and Europa League semifinal second legs this week, Miguel Delaney recaps the storylines worth watching.

 

How important is Cristiano Ronaldo to Real Madrid’s chance of progress?

The big storyline ahead of Real Madrid’s trip to Manchester City on Tuesday is Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness

, but it leads to an even bigger question about the Spanish team, and one that could decide the entire Champions League season itself. Do Zinedine Zidane’s team have any chance without the Portuguese even at his best? He’s been that good again, that dominant. Ronaldo’s recurring injury problems and flatter performances had actually led to a growing suspicion he could be definitively past his peak. Certainly, when Lionel Messi recaptured the Ballon d’Or in January, it didn’t feel like the Real striker would ever be getting it back. That could change, because Ronaldo has changed the tone of this season.

While Messi’s Barcelona are now out of the Champions League, his great rival ensured the same fate did not befall Real by scoring a brilliant hat trick to beat Wolfsburg 3-2 on aggregate, again canceling out his team’s problems on his own. It symbolised a comeback in so many ways, and only followed his fine first-leg goal against Roma in the round of 16. It also felt like he was on something of a one-man mission, but that is possibly because he knows so much of this will decide one man’s legacy. Because, for all the goals that Ronaldo has hit in his seven years in Madrid, he has only really won two major trophies: one league and one Champions League.It is oddly underwhelming given his personal contribution, but another European Cup — and second in three years — would clearly overrule that. If he is not even fully fit, however, he will have to depend on his teammates to temporarily step up. That is because, so far in this knockout stage, Real’s games have come down to a balance between the team’s problems and Ronaldo’s prolific strike rate.

Can Manuel Pellegrini claim revenge and redemption by readjusting?

So much of Manchester City’s run to a first Champions League semifinal has been framed around what might unexpectedly be the ultimate happy ending for manager Manuel Pellegrini before he leaves in the summer — but even that has taken on a deeper dimension. The Chilean could yet win the competition by eliminating the last team that sacked him in Real Madrid, and then his successor, if Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich get past Atletico. It would be some redemption tour.To get that far, though, Pellegrini is probably going to have to come up with something rather different. Most of his management — and particularly his respectable time at Real in 1999-00 — has been characterised by getting an array of attacking players into a workable and attractive system. If he leans on that against the current Real, though, City are likely to be torn apart on the break. So, he has to innovate a bit, and probably defensively. There were signs of it in the second half of the quarterfinal against Paris Saint-Germain, when City’s defence held firm. They will have to get even tighter here. Pellegrini is likely going to have to show Real something they didn’t see during his time there. It could yet see him into the final.

Can Pep Guardiola figure out how to successfully attack Atletico Madrid?

As he seeks to finally win what would be a career-defining Champions League with Bayern Munich, Pep Guardiola fittingly faces a legacy-defining challenge. The Catalan probably would have been the first manager to retain the trophy since Arrigo Sacchi had it not been for the intense defending of Jose Mourinho’s Inter Milan in the 2009-10 semifinals, in what was the ultimate clash of opposing philosophies.Guardiola now comes up against a side that might actually be an upgrade on that Serie A defence, and are certainly the closest to them in style. It was actually the attacking style the Catalan himself instilled at Barcelona that initiated a new era in Champions League football, influencing goal averages to shoot up. The newly open football of the competition seemed to favour attacking teams — until Diego Simeone started shutting them down.The modern game hasn’t seen locked-down defending like it for some time, and it is as if they’ve given modern attacks problems they’ve forgotten how to solve. The new Barca certainly found that in the quarterfinals, as not even Messi could get past Atletico’s supreme defence. Guardiola is now going to have to figure out how. It represents possibly the most intriguing tactical duel the competition has seen in half a decade, and is a challenge so fitting of this stage. If Guardiola gets through this, he will really have earned this Champions League.

Will Antoine Griezmann go from a productive player to properly dominant one?

Atletico aren’t all about brilliant defending, and neither was their win over Barcelona. It was settled by the growing star that gives that defending the ultimate outlet: Antoine Griezmann’s burning pace. Barca couldn’t handle it, and it has even been a factor in releasing Fernando Torres to return to levels more like his old self. It is little wonder Chelsea and Manchester United are now chasing the French star, as are so many trailing defenders.He is so promising. He now just needs to properly fulfil that promise, by producing even bigger moments. Beating Barcelona should be the start. He now needs to make it even more consistent against the top sides, although Bayern could suit him in that regard. Guardiola’s high line could be especially susceptible to his speed. Atletico need him to fly. The only possible criticism you could have of Simeone’s side is that they are too dependent on narrow wins, that there is always a danger the 1-0s could become 0-0s, and they aren’t quite cutting enough. If anyone can change that, an evolving Griezmann can.

Can Liverpool continue a special campaign to split the Spanish?

After Liverpool’s sensational comeback against Borussia Dortmund, it seemed like their Europa League campaign enjoyed another boost, as they avoided competition specialists Sevilla. That could be a dangerous line of thought, because it’s possible Villarreal are a bigger threat than anyone. Sevilla may be aiming for a third successive Europa League, but they are three Liga places below Marcelino’s side, who have arguably put in better performances this season than Dortmund.Villarreal have beaten both Real and Atletico — who they are unbeaten against in the league — and also claimed a draw off Barcelona. If they replicate those performances, it will likely be too much for Liverpool, who made need another epic response. Either way, it sets up a tie that could yet, somehow, be as entertaining as the quarterfinal.Miguel Delaney is a London-based correspondent for ESPN FC and also writes for the Irish Examiner and others. Follow him on Twitter@MiguelDelaney.

Cristiano Ronaldo fitness a key point in Manchester City vs. Real Madrid semi

Manchester City face Real Madrid for a place in the Champions League final.

A place in the Champions League final is at stake. Who will make it to the San Siro — semifinal debutants Manchester City or 10-time winners Real Madrid?

David Mooney (City) and Ed Alvarez (Madrid) debate the last four showdown.

Who has the edge ahead of this one?

David Mooney: Manchester City have never really got going throughout the Premier League 2015-16 but Manuel Pellegrini’s side have really excelled in Europe. It feels like their breakthrough season in the competition.

Ed Alvarez: The semifinals couldn’t have arrived at a better moment for Real Madrid. Since Zinedine Zidane’s team won at the Camp Nou three weeks ago, they have finally started to play at the level that was expected from such a talented squad. The French coach has found a solid lineup and has also instilled a sizeable dose of motivation into the side. The positive results have fuelled a great atmosphere.

How key is Cristiano Ronaldo’s fitness?

DM: This could be a crucial factor in the tie. Madrid could be without one of their most influential players and missing Ronaldo would be huge. He was the man who turned the tie at the Bernabeu in 2012 when City lost 3-2 and he’s got more goals than he’s made appearances for the Spanish side. With City’s struggling defence, it’d be a relief to see him miss out.

EA: Two stats show how instrumental Ronaldo is for Real Madrid, as well as how the team fare without him. In the last seven seasons, Real have scored 2.95 goals per match when he played and 2.47 when he was absent. As David mentioned, Ronaldo scores more than one goal per match, so numbers say the team only picks up half of that when he is not available. On top of his scoring, the Portuguese has recovered his ability to tear teams apart on the left flank. Although Real Madrid’s bench is strong, Ronaldo is irreplaceable.

Who would make for a better finalist?

DM: This is new ground for City and it would be fresh for the competition to see them go all the way to the final. Whether or not it’s romantic that Pellegrini’s side are progressing is a different matter, especially given the money that’s needed to be spent to do it, but it would be a fairytale ending for the season, especially with it being the manager’s last year in charge. What better legacy could he leave than overcoming the odds and getting past his old team to win the competition?

EA: Real Madrid have played 13 Champions League or European Cup finals, winning 10 of them. In terms of credentials to play a final of the tournament, those are second to none. In addition to that, making the final with the scorer of that stunning winning goal back in 2002 in the dugout and the competition’s top scorer ever on the pitch — Ronaldo has scored 93 times in this competition — and a whopping 16 this season — seems fair.

Has Pellegrini been unfairly treated at both clubs?

DM: For his time at City, the answer is both yes and no. In his first season, he didn’t get the credit he deserved for turning around a divided dressing room and pulling the squad together to win the club’s first league and cup double. However, since then, he’s underwhelmed. City shouldn’t be scrambling to make the top four and they shouldn’t be out of the title race by February.

EA: In Madrid, absolutely yes. In his first and only season with Real Madrid, he took the team to 96 points in La Liga. In the history of the league, only Jose Mourinho’s side two years later and two Barcelona teams have earned more points. That Pellegrini squad also scored more than 100 goals in La Liga for the first time since 1990. He paid the price for a shocking Copa del Rey elimination to Alcorcon, at that point in the Spanish equivalent to the third division, which prompted a sector of the media to go after him mercilessly.

Let’s also remember that Pellegrini competed with the best Barcelona side in history. Many still wonder what would have happened had he kept his job for one more season.

Who needs a place in the final more — Pellegrini or Zidane?

DM: This has to be Pellegrini. Zidane is still in the infancy of his managerial career and building a great reputation, having turned around Madrid’s fortunes. Pellegrini, meanwhile, has been going downhill at City for two of his three seasons. The Chilean needs to make the final to protect his legacy with his club.

EA: I agree with David. Zidane has already shown enough promise to keep his job next season. However, Pellegrini’s unclear future at this point would become less daunting if he takes City to the Champions League final. He would leave on a very high note.

Prediction

DM: 1-1. It won’t be an easy match for City and they might struggle if they concede an away goal.

EA: 2-2. Both teams have average defences. The match should become a frantic, two-way contest, with plenty of scoring chances and a great watch for the neutrals.

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4/22/16 Carmel FC DOC leaving, FA Cup, EPL + Spain Title Races Heat Up, Indy 11 beat NY Cosmos, Champ League Semi’s next wk

Sad to announce that Carmel FC DOC Paul Telfer will step down as Director of Coaching at the end of the season in June.  He’ll be returning to his native home in the UK. “Paul has been instrumental in raising the level of training and credibility of the Carmel FC Program,” says Carmel FC Commissioner Jeremy Slivinski.  “The groundwork he has laid in less than two years as our DOC was expected to take closer to five years.  He will be greatly missed by our coaches and players.  It is important to note that Paul’s departure will not stop the club’s commitment to continuing our progress and growth. We are excited that a new DOC will be joining us as we open our training office at Shelborne Fields which will support new training opportunities for all of our players and coaches.” Telfer’s thoughts on the club when sharing news of his departure. “This club is special.  The volunteer coaches have a level of commitment that you don’t normally see in paid coaches with the same experience and background.  The commitment by Carmel Dads Club to see this program grow is exceptional.  Whoever is hired as the next Director of Coaching is stepping into a fantastic opportunity.  I will keep tabs on the club from back home.  My family and I will miss all the friends we have made and thank you for the welcome you have provided us in the community during our time here.”

Now on to our Indy 11 – wow what a ballgame on Saturday night at the Mike – the Indy 11 – came from behind in dramatic fashion to pull of a 2-1 victory over the defending NASL Champion New York Cosmos with new signee and NASL player of the week forward Eamon Zayed scoring the game winner in extra time.  Perhaps this team is turning the corner – you can certainly see we have better players this season, the defense is much more stout and the offense is coming along.  See video here of the excitement from the BrickYard Briggade. Carmel FC’ers don’t forget its Carmel FC Night at the next home Indy 11 game – on 7:30 pm May 7 vs Edmonton – ask your team manager about discount tickets to sit in our section.

Not a ton of huge games this weekend or week – FA Cup Semi’s on Sat 11 am on Fox Sports 2 with Everton facing Man United, and Sun 11 am again on FS2 with Crystal Palace facing Watford. The EPL title race continues of course with Leicester City 5 pts ahead now without their star Vardee who’s out at least 1 game on suspension after his controversial Red Card for “Diving” in last week’s thrilling come from behind 2-2 tie by the Foxes.  Leicester hosts Swansea on Sunday at 11 on NBCSN, while Tottenham host West Brom on Monday at 3 pm on NBCSN.   In Spain’s La Liga – Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are tied with 79 pts, while Real Madrid are just 1 pt back with 4 games left in the season.  Champions League Final 4 – resumes the next 2 weeks with Man City vs Real Madrid Tues at 2:45 on Fox Sports 1, and Athletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich on Wed same time and channel.

Europa league Semi-Finals has Liverpool vs Villareal, and Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sevilla FC 3 pm Thurs on Fox Sports 1 + 2.

Shout out to former Carmel High and Carmel Dad’s Club star Matt Hedges, Defender and Captain for FC Dallas – as he recovers from a meniscus injury in his left knee-he’s expected to be out 4-6 weeks.

I saw this quote from Megan Rapinoe this weekend and thought I should share with everyone. Quote from Megan Rapinoe US Women’s National Team Star

What did you do at a younger age, like at age 12 (like me) to be able to play on the U.S. Women’s National Team. – Erica

Listen, Erica: I’m going to tell you something you probably don’t hear enough … HAVE FUN! Don’t just concentrate on soccer. Play all kinds of sports. It will help you be more well-rounded athletically and help you have a more well-rounded life. I was lucky from a young age to have coaches who valued creativity on the field and who let me make mistakes. Don’t worry about being perfect out there. Use your imagination. Be creative with the ball. Can I tell you a secret? My teams lost all the time when I was growing up. Don’t worry too much about winning yet. My teams didn’t start winning until I was midway through high school. Oh yeah, and watch a ton of soccer on TV.  Listen, Erica’s parents: People are starting to take youth soccer way too seriously. Don’t have your kids play year-round. They need a break. In reality, 99 percent of kids aren’t going to make it to the pros. But there’s a misconception out there that you can plot your kid’s road to stardom. I sympathize with parents, because I think they’re sold this idea: If you do this, this and this … if you have your child join this club, then do this camp, then meet this coach, then they will be on the path. The only true path is this: Give your child the freedom to have fun and be a kid and see what happens. See Full Story Here

 

GAMES of the WEEK

Sat, Apr 23

7:45 a.m., NBCSN       Manchester City vs. Stoke City – Man U continues push for Final 4 Champions League Spot

9:30 am Fox Sports 2 Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich – Can US defender John Brooks help Hertha win at home vs German League leaders?
FA Cup (Semifinal)

12 pm Fox Sports 2   Everton vs. Manchester United – Can Van Gaal bring home a FA Cup Trophy to help save his job?

 Sun, Apr 24

9:05 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs. Arsenal

FA Cup (Semifinal)

11 am Fox Sports 2   Crystal Palace vs Watford
11:15 am NBCSN:        Leicester City vs. Swansea City

2:45 pm beIn Sport   Fiorentina vs Juventus
3:30 pm ESPN3             San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City 3:30 p.m.   US stars Matt Beasler and Zuzi look to stay near top in the West.

Mon, Apr25 

3:00 p.m., NBCSN       Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion

Tues, Apr 26 (CHAMPS LEAGUE Final 4)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                        Man City vs Real Madrid   A huge home game for City looking for Champs League home Glory vs UCL stalwart Real

Weds, Apr 27 (CHAMPS LEAGUE Final 4)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                        Athletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich – Can Atletico pull the upset again at home vs Pep G in his last Champ League with Bayern?

Thurs, Apr 28 (Europa League-Semis)

3 pm FS1                          Villareal vs Liverpool  – Klopp looks to bring a trophy to Anfield in his first few months  – this on the road

3 pm FS2                          Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sevilla FC  – Can Spain put another team into the Finals?

 FULL – GAMES THIS WEEK ON TV –

 

Sat, Apr 23

7:45 a.m., NBCSN       Manchester City vs. Stoke City

9:30 am Fox Sports 2 Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich
10:00 a.m., NBCSN     Liverpool vs. Newcastle United
10:00 a.m., USA          Bournemouth vs. Chelsea
10:00 a.m., ET:             Aston Villa vs. Southampton

10 am beIn Sport        Rayo Vallencano vs Real Madrid

FA Cup (Semifinal)

12 pm Fox Sports 2   Everton vs. Manchester United

12:30 p.m., Fox??      Schalke 04 vs. Bayer Leverkusen

2:45 pm beIn Sport   PSG vs Lille – League Cup

7 pm ESPN 3                   Ft Lauderdale Strikers vs Jacksonville (NASL)

7:30 pm  beIn Sport Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Carolina (NASL)

8 pm EPSN3                    Minn vs NY Cosmos

Sun, Apr 24

9:05 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs. Arsenal

FA Cup (Semifinal)

11 am Fox Sports 2   Crystal Palace vs Watford
11:15 am NBCSN:        Leicester City vs. Swansea City

2:45 pm beIn Sport   Fiorentina vs Juventus
3:30 pm ESPN3             San Jose Earthquakes vs. Sporting Kansas City 3:30 p.m.   (US stars
7:30 pm FS1                   New York Red Bulls vs. Orlando City, 7:30 p.m.

Mon, Apr 25 

3:00 p.m., NBCSN       Tottenham Hotspur vs. West Bromwich Albion

Tues, Apr 26 (CHAMPS LEAGUE)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                        Man City vs Real Madrid

Weds, Apr 27 (CHAMPS LEAGUE)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                        Athletico Madrid vs Bayern Munich

Thurs, Apr 28 (Europa League)

3 pm FS1                          Villareal vs Liverpool

3 pm FS2                          Shakhtar Donetsk vs Sevilla FC

Sun, May 1

3:30 PM espn                Portland Timbers vs. Toronto FC
8 pm FS1                         Sporting Kansas City vs. Los Angeles Galaxy

Tues, May 3 (CHAMPS LEAGUE)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                        Bayern Munich vs Athletico Madrid

Weds, May 4 (CHAMPS LEAGUE)

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                         Real Madrid vs Man City

Wed, May 25

8 pm                                    United States men vs. Ecuador, international friendly

Sat, May 28

FS1                                        United States men vs. Bolivia, international friendly

MLS TV Schedule

European Championships This Summer on ESPN

Copa America Centario Schedule

COPA AMERICA 100 –GAMES IN CHICAGOstill seats left for USA Game , Argentina game and Semi-Finals.

NASL

Zayed’s Game Winner is Play of the Week

Andrew Luck was at the Game

This Team Defeats NYC – Permanent Relegation Aaron Gunyon

Indy 11 Recap – win vs NY

3 Things Indy vs NY

Talking Tactics – Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos –  BYB – CFC Coach Josh Mason

Eamon Zayed from PR

Furballs and Futbol Nite May 7

Indy 11 Stands in 4th place

USA

US 17 yr old Christian Pulisic scores 1st goal for Dortmund in 90 minute display

US Hot List – Watch the Video here on Christian Pulisic and the Great Yellow Wall of Dortmund

US Soccer Perception Problem

US Ladies Get Path During Olympics  France/Columbia/New Zealand

US Leads in 2026 Bidding for World Cup –Grant Wahl SI

Klinsmann deny’s interest in Everton Job

Fulham’s US youngster Emerson Hyndman just needs more Time

Man U excited with young US teen Matt Olosunde

US Carli Lloyd – A Day in the Life Of – the Goal Keeper Jon Tannenwald

NWSL Starts Season as the US Ladies Shine

Champions League  

European Clean Sweep for England or Spain?

Are Bayern and Real Madrid Big 2 Now?

Real vs Man City

Real Madrid favorites vs Man City – ESPN FC

Athletico vs Bayern Munich

EPL + World Leagues

Whats Trending

When can Leicester City Foxes Win the Title

Leicesters Vardy Faces Suspension of 1 to 3 games?

Foxes Rely on the Longball

How SPURS Manager Pochettino transformed Tottenham into Contender

EPL Table

La Liga Surprising Title Race

Barcelona Still Slipping

Who will Win Goal Race Messi or Renaldo?

Atletico full of confidence in title Race

La Liga Table

MLS

MLS Review Week 7

FC Dallas Captain Matt Hedges (former Carmel High School and Carmel Dad’s Club Player out 4-6 weeks with knee – MLS.com

MLS not a Retirement League Says Tim Howard

Jordon Morris Scores his first Pro goal for Seattle

Orlando’s Keeper Bendik raises status with strong play – MLS.com

David Bingham wins Save of Week 6

Atlanta promises 1st Class Facility

Former US Soccer striker Charlie Davies – Recovery from Deadly Car Crash – Unrelenting  Video

Wondo back at the top of the MLS scoring chart

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Carmel FC Night @ Indy 11 Game May 7 7:30 pm vs Edmonton

Ask your manager about discount tickets in our group – our just show up and come find us in the stands!   +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

The Scene from the Mike – Sat Night – BYB style at the Indy 11 game

Soccer Camps – Boys and Girls -Ages 6 – 14

Ok so its almost Summer Camp time – below are some nice options for Soccer Camps this summer

Post2Post GOALKEEPER – Soccer Camp – May 31-June 3 –  9 am till 3 pm

CFC and Carmel High Coach Carla Baker – former National Team Goalie for Canada will run her annual GK camp June 1-4 9 am to 3 pm $195 each @ Badger Field

Indy 11 Soccer Camp June 20-23 — 9 am till 12 noon Ages 5-14 $135 @ Badger Fields

Post2Post Soccer Camp
Former Pittsburgh Head Coach Sue-Moy Chin and Former Iowa Coach Carla Baker run their annual field player camp for players of all abilities July 25-28 — 9 am to 3 pm $195 each @ Badger

Goal2Gol Soccer Camp
CHS Men’s Head Coach Shane Schmidt, a former U-20 US National Team player, runs his annual camp from 9 am to 2 pm July 11-16. $150 before 6/30 @ River Road Fields.

THREE THINGS – INDY VS NEW YORK

Three things from three points at home v. Cosmos

Apr 18, 2016

Following every game in 2016, IndyEleven.com will give each game a little time to breathe before going back for one last look at the proceedings, extracting three takeaways to walk away with before taking a look ahead.In this week’s edition of “Three Things,” we praise “Coach Hank’s” switch to the 4-4-2, Eamon Zayed’s total show, and the team composition to overcome a 1-0 deficit to take all three points.

1) Coach Hank throws two up top in formation switch

Despite what we wrote last week about Hankinson’s love affair with the 4-2-3-1, his clear switch to the 4-4-2 brought both Eamon Zayed and Justin Braun to the apex of the attack – and it worked.The distribution of personnel saw Indy Eleven complete over 75.7% of their passes, their highest total through three games, and swing in more crosses (20) than The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception during mass. Brad Ring and Nicki Paterson were at the heart of the midfield line of four and were especially influential in the successful distribution, completing a combined 78/94 (82.9%) of their passes.Despite the Eleven largely playing out of the back in the first two games, this week’s midfield domination saw top passing combinations go to Dylan Mares, Brad Ring, and Nicki Paterson, as the team charged through the center often – and successfully.

Ring, Mares, Paterson chart

Up top, Eamon Zayed and Justin Braun played tight as a tandem and hardly drifted from each other. Braun will be disappointed not to have opened his Indy Eleven account after having a goal called back on a close offside call (and just missing a potential game-winner on a diving header), but his flick forward sent Dylan Mares in on goal in the 95th minute. Mares rifled the shot at Cosmos ‘keeper Kyle Zobeck who saved well, but Zayed was there to tap in the rebound and put the “Boys in Blue” in front with seconds to spare.

2) Eamon Zayed’s total show

Speaking of the Irishman, Zayed showed two facets of a good striker with his composed penalty finish and quick thinking in front of goal to complete his two-goal performance. In the 88th minute, Cosmos defender Hunter Freeman fouled Eleven defender Greg Janicki in the area following an excellent delivery from Don Smart on a rushed corner. This allowed Zayed to step up to the spot with a dream chance to equalize against Zobeck, and the No. 9 would bury it to his right, despite the fact the regular Cosmos backup netminder correctly guessed his decision.

How the winner unfolded

Just a few minutes later, Braun started the afore mentioned bang-bang turn of events inside the area that ended with Zayed sweeping up Zobeck’s spilled save of Mares’ shot on the doorstep, causing madness to ensue yards away in the West Stand.The pair of goals were the new man’s first in an Eleven kit, but if he continues to work for his chances like he did on Saturday, they surely won’t be his last.

3) The fight back continues

Coming back from a deficit is ideal for no one, but it’s also something that “Indiana’s Team” is familiar with. It was a theme in the preseason on separate occasions, it happened during the home opener against Ottawa, and the opportunity to fight back once again presented itself on Saturday against New York.After the offside flag went up against Justin Braun in the 49th minute, New York countered on the other side like lightning. Juan Arango dashed out on the wing and swung in a cross towards Sebastian Guenzatti, but before the attacker could reach the cross Greg Janicki’s sliding challenge drew a whistle from the head official – penalty to New York. At that point, it was new Cosmos midfielder and Croatian international Niko Kranjcar with the chance to put the visitors in front, and he did so beating Jon Busch to his right with a fine spot-kick.The fight was on. Coach Tim Hankinson examined the circumstances and decided to bring on Don Smart to replace Duke Lacroix in an adjustment on the wings. After nine more scoreless minutes, the Eleven were forced into their second substitution of the night as Nemanja Vukovic went down with an injury allowing Marco Franco into the match. Three minutes later, the final substitution was made as midfielder Nicki Paterson made way for forward Wojciech Wojcik in an all-out-attack move by the veteran coach. The fact that Hankinson did not wait until late to fill out all three of his substitute cards – all subs were used by the 76th minute – smacked of a coach willing to force good things happen rather than wait for them to do so.Like last week against Ottawa, the Eleven left it late as Zayed notched his brace. All in dramatic fashion, it appeared the “Boys in Blue” had swept the rug from under the Cosmos’ feet to send them home empty-handed.

Zayed Heat Map

The three points were extremely valuable for Indy Eleven as the sprint through the spring season advances. The win puts “Indiana’s Team” in fourth place through three games with five points, just behind Minnesota United FC and the New York Cosmos (6 pts) and four off the leaders, the Carolina Railhawks (9 pts).Having staked their claim to what was perhaps the biggest “statement win” to date in franchise history, the Eleven will use their Spring Season bye and root for favorable results across the league this weekend before heading west to the Sooner State to face new franchise Rayo OKC in Yukon, Oklahoma.

RECAP – IND 2 : 1 NYC

Eleven knock off Cosmos thanks to late brace from Zayed

Apr 16, 2016

Indy Eleven Collects First Win in Comeback Fashion over New York

Eamon Zayed’s Pair of Stoppage Time Goals Lifts “Boys in Blue” to 2-1 Win over First-Place Cosmos

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, April 16, 2016) – Indy Eleven turned a potentially disappointing defeat into a breath-taking victory during second half stoppage time against the New York Cosmos, as Eamon Zayed’s late brace gave the home side a 2-1 comeback win in front of 9,067 fans at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium.Indy Eleven looked poised to end its six-game draw streak against the Cosmos with a loss after going down on Nico Kranjcar’s 51st minute penalty kick, but it instead snapped the run with a victory thanks to Zayed’s late-game dramatics.Neither side could break through during a stingy first 45 minutes of play. Indy Eleven had some early joy in attack through wide play and the crosses that came from it, but only one opportunity – Nemanja Vuković’s sidewinder off a Brad Ring service that bounced just wide in the 31st minute – would result in any danger.  New York’s four shots in the half would all come from distance, with Sebastian Guenzatti’s 33rd minute effort from 20 yards out that missed high looking the most threatening.Indy Eleven’s Dylan Mares would have the best chance of the stanza in stoppage time when he turned inside on his defender and fired a left-footed blast from 15 yards that forced Cosmos netminder Kyle Zobeck into a two-handed parry over for a corner.The home side looked to get the go-ahead goal in the 49th minute when Justin Braun nodded home another Ring cross at the top of the six, but the offside flag came up on a bang-bang call. That wave-off would loom large just a minute later, as New York countered on the other end to set up the game’s first tally. Guenzatti’s lunge for Juan Arango’s cross inside the six was judged to be altered by the sliding tackle of Greg Janicki, which drew a penalty kick for the visitors that Kranjcar slammed past the right of Indy goalkeeper John Busch to put New York up 1-0.While Indy would push numbers forward for an equalizer, it was New York that would get the better chances on the counter up through the end of the regulation 90 minutes. Jairo Arrieta would get a good look in the 56th minute, but Busch did well to cut off the angle and force the shot to be pushed into the outside netting. Lucky Mkosana almost made an immediate impact following his insertion for Arrieta in the 81st minute, as he slipped through the Indy center backs and fired off a shot from 20 yards out that missed just wide of the right post.The home side would enter the five minutes of injury time by taking its own trip to the penalty spot, ironically with Janicki being fouled by New York defender Hunter Freeman as he tried to track a looping corner that was sent into the heart of the area by Don Smart. While Zobeck would correctly guess to his left on the PK, Zayed placed it just out of reach and inside the right post to even the proceedings at 1-1.Indy fans might have thought the seventh straight draw between the two sides was meant to be after Justin Braun’s diving header off of Smart’s exquisite first-time cross four minutes into stoppage flashed just wide left. However, the home side’s push wasn’t over, as on the game’s final attack Mares’ sent a shot that Zobeck did well to block, but the rebound fell right to Zayed, who swept home from the doorstep to give Indy Eleven its first win of the Tim Hankinson era.Indy Eleven will enjoy its Spring Season bye week next weekend before getting back to action on Saturday, April 30, when “Indiana’s Team” will travel to Oklahoma for its first meeting with Rayo OKC (8:00 p.m. ET, live on beIN Sports). The squad will return home to Carroll Stadium on Saturday, May 7, to take on FC Edmonton; tickets for the match are available starting at $11 in the Brickyard Battalion and East Goal Top sections atwww.IndyEleven.com or over the phone at 317-685-1100 (Mon.-Fri., 9:00a.m.-5:00 p.m.).
NASL Spring Season
Indy Eleven  2 : 1  New York Cosmos
Saturday, April 16, 2016  Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN   Attendance: 9,037

Indy Eleven: 
Spring Season: 1W-2D-0L (5 pts.)

New York Cosmos:
Spring Season: 2W-0D-1L (6 pts.)

Scoring Summary:
NYC – Nico Kranjcar (penalty kick) 51’
IND – Eamon Zayed (penalty kick) 90’
IND – Eamon Zayed (unassisted) 90+5’

Discipline Summary:
IND – Nemanja Vuković (caution) 50’
IND – Justin Braun (caution) 57’
IND – Greg Janicki (caution) 65’
IND – Hunter Freeman (caution) 89’
IND – Brad Ring (caution) 90+5’

OPTA STATS: See the full array of statistics available at the Opta MatchCenter

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković (Marco Franco 73’), Greg Janicki, Colin Falvey (capt), Lovel Palmer; Duke Lacroix (Don Smart 63’), Nicki Paterson (Nicki Paterson 76’), Brad Ring, Dylan Mares; Justin Braun, Eamon Zayed

Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Cory Miller, Neil Shaffer, Daniel Keller

New York Cosmos (4-2-3-1):  Kyle Zobeck; Ayoze, Carlos Mendes (capt) (Gabriel Farfan 86’), Jimmy Ockford, Hunter Freeman; Michael Lahoud, Adam Moffat; Niko Kranjcar (Andres Flores 70’), Juan Arango, Sebastian Guenzatti; Jairo Arrieta (Lucky Mkosana 81’)

Cosmos bench: Brian Holt (GK), David Ochieng, Yohandry Orozco, David Diosa

Talking Tactics: Indy Eleven v New York Cosmos

Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: This is a tactics blog on a fan site. The writing, in spite of the writer’s personal affinity for a particular team, aims to be objective and even handed. The numbers are the numbers and they don’t change even if the writer is pulling for a certain team. To indulge in an over used and tired phrase, it is what it is. That said, Saturday’s match against the Cosmos was something to behold. Has Indy ever earned a more delicious three points? It’s a rhetorical question, but the answer is no.Now that that is out of the way…

Credit the Tims

Making a philosophical shift in the way your team approaches a match is a tough thing to do if you’re a coach and said shifts usually only happen after a series of dire results. With only two matches out of the way in the spring season and a point to show in each match prior to the Cosmos tilt, an unchanged approach would have been understandable. Tim Hankinson took the reigns of the Eleven committed to a 4-2-3-1 formation and assembled a squad with that shape in mind.Tim Regan, in his time as the head coach, most often deployed a 4-4-2 with a midfield diamond, but he didn’t have the players available to him that Hankinson does. I don’t know what the conversations were between the Tims following the Ottawa match, but it was clearly not lost on them that the Eleven looked better, more dangerous, and more composed with two forwards in advance of the midfield. With arguably the best team in the NASL coming to town in only your third match of the season, it takes a little sand to scrap the formation you’ve sold to the club owner and fans as the best way forward and go with something completely different, but that’s exactly what they did and Eleven supporters will be basking in the wisdom of that decision through next week’s bye.

A Closer Look

Following Saturday’s dramatic 2-1 win, Éamon Zayed said he had many more touches in a two front system than he’d had in the previous two matches as a lone striker. However, looking at the numbers, Zayed had 23, 21, and 28 touches against Tampa Bay, Ottawa, and New York, respectively. Yes, he had more touches, but not that many more. Why then did Indy look so much more dynamic and dangerous against the Cosmos than they did against Tampa Bay and most of the match against Ottawa?

The answer lies in where those touches were had. Consider the heat maps below. In each of the previous two matches as the lone focal point of the Eleven attack, Zayed was often starved for service and, when he did receive the ball, he had no one with whom to connect.

Zayed against Tampa Bay.

Against Tampa Bay, Zayed was forced to drop deep to receive the ball at his feet, but struggled to find anyone with whom to combine. the result was that the focal point of the Eleven attack had difficulty doing anything of substance in the final third.

Zayed against Ottawa.

Zayed found better balance against Ottawa and had more of a presence in the final third, but remember that a significant portion of the second half was played with two strikers in a 4-4-2 and then a 3-5-2. Now look at the heat map for Zayed and Braun in a two front system.

Zayed and Braun versus New York Cosmos.

It may seem like apples to oranges including two players instead of just one, but it isn’t given that those two players served as joint targets for the Eleven moving forward when in the previous matches there was just Zayed – we’re comparing attack to attack. Zayed’s passing statistics reflect the improvement. Against Tampa Bay, Zayed was 6/12 passing. Against Ottawa, he was 7/12 passing. Against New York, Zayed was 13/17 passing. His ability to receive the ball in more dangerous areas and then combine with another Eleven player, more than anything, led to the Eleven’s increased dynamism in attack.As a whole, the team received the ball and combined in more advanced areas. In both the Tampa Bay and Ottawa matches, Indy’s top passing combinations all originated with a defender and often times ended with a defender. Against Tampa Bay, the top combinations were Colin Falvey to Lovel Palmer, Colin Falvey to Nicki Paterson, and Nemanja Vukovic to Greg Janicki. Against Ottawa, they were Janicki to Vukovic, Ring to Janicki, and Falvey to Janicki. However, against New York, with two front runners stretching the field vertically and creating space, the combinations were created in more advanced areas – Mares to Ring, Paterson to Palmer, and Ring to Vukovic. This may seem like a small distinction, but receiving and creating combinations in the middle third rather than the defensive third has huge consequences with concern to a team’s ability to create chances and get forward.Comparing the two matches in which Indy played exclusively in a 4-2-3-1 and exclusively in a two front system (against Tampa Bay and New York, respectively) Indy had 7shots to 13 shots; 1 on target to 4 on target; 4 inside the box to 9 inside the box. Long story short, they were on the ball more in more dangerous positions with two front runners as compared to a lone striker.To beat a dead horse, check out the two images below comparing attacking play in the New York and Tampa Bay matches. Attempted crosses from open play, both successful and unsuccessful, key passes, shots, and successful dribbles are included.

Attacking play versus New York.

 

Ditto Tampa Bay:

Attacking play versus Tampa Bay.

The takeaway here is not so much in the end result as it is in where passes, shots, and crosses originated and the volume of said actions.

Chemistry

Lastly, I think it’s worth touching briefly on the intangibles of a team’s performance. There aren’t numbers to back up these kinds of observations, but in a flow based sport like soccer the intangibles can sometimes provide the small percentages between getting a result and failing. When the Indy players celebrated Zayed’s first goal on the sideline with Jair Reinoso’s jersey I think everyone got a sense of the team ethos with which this iteration of the Eleven plays.Having been lucky enough to spend some time around the team last season, I can say it isn’t that the team in the last two seasons was dysfunctional or that they didn’t fight for one another, but that they were a team starving for the majority veteran influence that dictates what professionalism and “playing for the shirt” looks like. That sounds sappy and those sorts of observations will not be the norm for the tactics blog, but after a signature win like that which occurred on Saturday night, I think it’s worth noting. There is a significant amount of young talent still on the Eleven – Wojcik, Mares, Lacroix, Cardona, Franco, Miller, Smart (not young, but a young pro) – and having veterans like Falvey, Janicki, Ring, Zayed, Busch, Paterson, Palmer, Ubiparipović, and Larrea to guide the team will pay dividends for them moving forward.

Amid complex times and growth, U.S. Soccer faces perception problem

Tension between USMNT, USWNT reaches highest level in long time

SI senior writer Grant Wahl looks at how the rising tension within US Soccer could affect the women’s national team’s wage discrimination complaint.

BY BRIAN STRAUSADD FAVORITETwitter EmailPosted: Wed Apr. 6, 2016Updated: Fri Apr. 8, 2016

Get all of Brian Straus’s columns as soon as they’re published. Download the new Sports Illustrated app (iOS or Android) and personalize your experience by following your favorite teams and SI writers.

Anyone wondering whether all publicity really is good publicity might want to check in on the folks at the U.S. Soccer Federation. They administer and govern a sport that doesn’t hit the pop culture mainstream too frequently, and they’d normally be thrilled with hearing their name and seeing their new logo on a program like The Daily Show. Tuesday’s segment, however, was meant to skewer rather than celebrate. And host Trevor Noah dispensed with the nuance and went for the jugular.  “Even those children that make iPhones are like, ‘Wow, that’s unfair,’” Noah said while discussing the wage discrimination complaint filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by the U.S. women’s national team. “Not only have the U.S. women’s soccer team proven that they’re the best in the world, they’ve made America feel like they’re the best in the world. I know you can’t put a price on winning and national pride, but maybe you should try.”The federation and its all-conquering women already were engaged in a legal battle over the existence and duration of their collective bargaining agreement. And they’d jousted over equal treatment and field conditions, culminating in the team’s refusal to play a scheduled December friendly on a substandard surface in Honolulu. Then came the EEOC complaint, which pitted the talented and telegenic world champions against their corporate overlords. “I don’t want to use the word ‘deserve’ in any of this,” U.S. Soccer president and Columbia University economics lecturer Sunil Galati said about the women’s national team’s pursuit of equal pay. “I’d reverse the question. Do you think revenue should matter at all in determination of compensation in a market economy? If we look at the track record of teams, a lot of different things go into the compensation for the players. Part of it is based on revenue. Part of it is based on revenues that accrue from international competitions. Part of it is based on incentives and the performance of the teams.”  PODCAST: U.S. men’s mixed World Cup, Olympic qualifiers

Well, that sounded pretty corporate. And whether it’s correct or fair or not, the public doesn’t want to hear about “compensation in a market economy” when it comes to treatment of their heroes. Spreadsheets are boring. What we know is that the men just lost to Guatemala while the women earned a ticker tape parade and still get a per diem that’s somehow 20% less. And that makes it easy for The Daily Show to compare U.S. Soccer with the managers of a Chinese sweatshop, even if the federation spends more on the women’s game than anyone else in the world.But Noah let the federation off lightly compared to Paul Gardner, the Soccer America curmudgeon-in-residence who’s the country’s longest serving active soccer writer. On Monday, he penned a shocking column comparing U.S. Soccer’s tagline, “One Nation. One Team,” with a popular slogan that emerged in 1930s Germany: “Ein Volk, ein Reich, ein Führer”.Gardner called for a change and wrote, “I have total faith in the slogan-makers ability to quickly conjure up alternative banalities.”But should he? While there’s no chance that anyone affiliated with the USSF or Nike intended to link American soccer to 20th-century fascists, the derivative slogan does fail to reflect the fractured state of the domestic game. In 2016, it’s anything but harmonious.How did U.S. Soccer, a non-profit organization established to grow and govern the game in the 50 states, reach the point where it’s being mentioned—even in lazy and absurd satire—alongside child laborers and Nazis?The answer certainly may lie between a misstep or two, but it’s more likely simply an uncomfortable symptom of soccer’s growth.For so many decades it was a foreign game, popular only in specific regions or ethnic enclaves located a million miles from the mainstream. But its rise over the past quarter century has been meteoric, fueled by the youth soccer boom, globalization, cable and satellite TV, video games, viable and expanding professional leagues, a men’s national team that’s been to seven straight World Cups and a women’s juggernaut that’s won three.There’s now money to be made in soccer, and money made inevitably leads to competing claims. American soccer’s fiefdoms, especially at the youth level, no longer have the autonomy they once enjoyed. Well-funded by TV networks and sponsors, the USSF has become more professionalized while bringing an increasing number of facets of the sport under its control.When there’s growth, and that growth rubs up against old boundaries and spheres of influence, friction inevitably ensues. On one level, those are good problems to have. Being an American soccer fan, player, administrator or coach (or journalist) is far more fruitful today than it was 30 years ago. But with prosperity comes increased visibility, higher stakes and deeper scrutiny. More people are interested and more people want a say. Accelerated growth can be painfully awkward. Anyone who knows a middle schooler can tell you that.So, pick your controversy or source of frustration. We can start with the women. They may have a strong case for more compensation and better working conditions, but they’ve made a few unflattering headlines as well. Goalkeeper Hope Solo’s legal issues are well documented. Recently retired forward Abby Wambach, the national team’s all-time leading scorer, was arrested for DUII in Oregon last weekend and admitted in court documents to using cocaine and marijuana earlier in her career. One of her sponsors, Mini USA, has pulled ads featuring the former star.Meanwhile, the men have struggled recently. Jurgen Klinsmann is being paid more than $3 million per year and was promoted to technical director in 2013, but his team has failed to demonstrate much progress.The senior squad finished fourth at the 2015 Gold Cup, it’s worst showing in 15 years, then lost to Mexico in a match that sent the winner to the 2017 Confederations Cup. Last week, it faced a do-or-die World Cup qualifier against Guatemala, its fate hanging in the balance more than two years before the tournament kicks off. But while Klinsmann’s team was trouncingLos Chapines, the U-23 side was losing its Olympic qualifying playoff to Colombia.The American men will miss the Olympics for a second straight time. And neither the U-23, U-20 nor U-17 team even reached the final of its most recent CONCACAF championship.Once considered a savior, or at least a breath of fresh air, Klinsmann now is the subject of frequent analysis and criticism. He’s blamed his own players, referees or MLS for some of the national team’s misfortunes and has questioned U.S. fans’ soccer knowledge—none of which went over well. His methods remain confusing and opaque, and perception of the team hasn’t been good.Friction between the national team coach and the country’s most prominent league may not be ideal, but the relationship between his employer and MLS on a corporate level also rubs many the wrong way. SUM, which is MLS’s marketing and promotions arm, works closely with the federation and handles many of its sponsorship, promotional and broadcast rights.

The league and federation are intertwined, and that gives Gulati, who’s run unopposed in the two most recent USSF presidential elections, and MLS commissioner Don Garber an enormous amount of influence. They’ve grown the game considerably, but that sort of concentration of power makes some uncomfortable. The second-tier NASL, for example, has threatened legal action over the possible implementation of rising league standards that would make it harder to achieve first-division sanctioning. The perception that the USSF is protecting MLS from competition because of their financial relationship is not the best look.All of that leads to the scandals and indictments that have wracked FIFA and CONCACAF over the past year. While the USSF remains unblemished, its relationship with indicted and convicted executives like Chuck Blazer is unfortunate. The scandals drew the interest of the U.S. Senate, which, like The Daily Show, doesn’t typically pay attention to soccer. It held a hearing last summer that touched on corruption, the Qatar World Cup and pay inequity, among other troubles facing the sport.USSF CEO Dan Flynn testified and admitted to a “level of discomfort” when working with some of soccer’s more unsavory characters. Meanwhile, Gulati has been successfully swimming with sharks. He’s emerged as a key player in FIFA politics—look no further than his effective work lobbying for eventual winner Gianni Infantino in last month’s presidential election. Naturally, Infantino wound up defending himself this week when he was linked to contracts signed by UEFA and indicted Argentine promoters.The grass roots are just as volatile. The USSF’s effort to improve player development naturally has ruffled feathers throughout the youth soccer community. Whether it’s varying standards across the Development Academy and its prohibition of high school soccer, controversial new age and birth-year mandates, issues over heading and concussions or more potential legal action over U.S. Soccer/MLS’s withholding of solidarity payments and training compensation to youth clubs that produce pros, there’s plenty of drama and disagreement that might be further from the headlines but still is vital to the future of the sport. It all may be necessary, but that doesn’t make it comfortable.Shortly after news of Wambach’s arrest broke, U.S. midfielder Alejandro Bedoya and forward Jozy Altidore took to Twitter. They did not offer their support. But wait, aren’t they One Nation, One Team? Bedoya, the son of Colombian immigrants, didn’t think so. He referenced comments Wambach made in December, when she called for Klinsmann’s dismissal and said, “The way that he has brought in a bunch of these foreign guys is not something I believe in wholeheartedly … It seems to me there are too many egos in our men’s program right now, and the bigger ego of all of them is the one who is leading the charge.”Altidore, the son of Haitian immigrants, responded with a joke about the incident in January 2015 when Solo’s husband was arrested for DUI while driving a USSF van during a women’s national team camp. The goalie, who was a passenger, was suspended.Perhaps those tweets reveal something akin to sibling rivalry. Or perhaps it’s time for a new slogan.At the 2014 World Cup, Nike sold T-shirts in Brazil’s yellow and green reading “One Nation. One Soul. One Team.” During last year’s Rugby World Cup, the #OneNationOneTeam hashtag was used by Namibia. Apparently the Toronto Blue Jays think they’re Canada’s de facto national baseball team. You can buy “One Nation. One Team. TOgether” apparel at MLB’s official shop.  Gardner was right about one thing. U.S. Soccer is trying to put its best foot forward by relying relentlessly on a “fatuous catchphrase.” It’s marketing speak conjured by MBAs and not something that accurately reflects this juncture of American soccer history. The U.S. is comprised of many soccer nations, many teams and many interests, and those entities are coming into conflict.The USSF, along with MLS and the other pro leagues, should be proud of its trajectory. American soccer is unrecognizable compared to what it was just a few years ago, and that’s exciting, compelling and fun. It can’t be easy to manage, and there’s nothing wrong with benefit of the doubt. After all, if there’s fighting over money, that means there’s money to fight over. That’s preferable to the alternative.But recent months illustrate the dark side of prosperity. If “One Nation. One Team,” isn’t an authentic representation of the current state of affairs, maybe it’s an ideal—a goal. And if that’s the case, then there’s a lot of work still to do.

Christian Pulisic scores first goal for Dortmund in win vs. Hamburg

MF Christian Pulisic, 9 — Pulisic introduced the “Dab” dance to the Bundesliga after scoring his very first goal for the club, making him the fourth youngest goalscorer in Germany’s top flight (and Youngest Non-German) — the category is still led by teammatei Sahin. It was Pulisic’s first home start and the first time he played the full 90 minutes. But his cracking goal, that served as a can opener for his team, wasn’t the only highlight of his performance, as he was a handful for Hamburg’s defense all game long.

Borussia Dortmund played themselves into a better place for Wednesday’s cup semifinal against Hertha BSC in a dominant 3-0 home win over their bogey side HSV Hamburg following Thursday’s devastating loss to Liverpool.As has been the case in recent weeks, Thomas Tuchel rotated heavily, making eight changes from Thursday’s Europa League starting XI. Both 17-year-old youngsters Christian Pulisic and Felix Passlack were awarded a start, while Marco Reus and Henrikh Mkhitaryan didn’t even make the squad.Yet, Tuchel’s lineup was still far from being experimental. Both Pulisic and Passlack proved that they were rightfully picked by their coach, turning in mature and reliable performances.The match started out as a stale affair, with Dortmund not asking many questions of Hamburg’s defence. It was newly minted United States international Pulisic who paved the way for an easy victory by scoring the opener in the 38th minute.There is no doubt that the Americany will see more playing time under Jurgen Klinsmann in the national team very soon.Hamburg’s goalkeeper Rene Adler got sent off on 51 minutes for bringing down Shinji Kagawa on the outside of the box. A debatable call, as there were still two HSV defenders in range to stop the Japanese from scoring, but it meant that the guests had no measures to put BVB under pressure from that moment on.Hamburg were forced to finish the final 12 minutes with only nine players on the pitch as Albin Ekdal picked up an injury after HSV coach Bruno Labbadia had already made three substitutions.In the end, the comfortable win was just what the doctor ordered after Thursday’s collapse at Anfield.

U.S. Hot List: Christian Pulisic, Jordan Morris lead the way; Gonzalez down

Listen to what Christian Pulisic and others have to say about what makes Borussia Dortmund’s ‘Yellow Wall’ one of the most unique fan bases in football.Don’t look now, but the striker competition within the United States national team is beginning to get interesting. Assuming coach Jurgen Klinsmann selects the usual four forwards to the 23-man roster he’ll name next month ahead of June’s Copa America Centenario, two of the following players — Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, Jordan Morris, Bobby Wood, Chris Wondolowski and Gyasi Zardes — won’t be on the squad.Granted, one should never assume anything when it comes to Klinsmann, even if Altidore, Dempsey and Wood look like no-brainers. After all, the unconventional coach picked five frontrunners — all of the above except Morris — for last month’s World Cup qualifying home-and-home against Guatemala. He’s also used Zardes, who was listed as a forward in March, on the wings more often than not.Still, it’s hard to see all six surviving Klinsmann’s final cut. That could leave ballyhooed MLS rookie Morris battling against domestic league lifer Wondolowski for the final spot over the next four weeks, an intriguing competition to be sure.Both players are coming off notable games last weekend. They aren’t alone. Youngster Christian Pulisic continues to make headlines in Germany, with his stature growing by the day. And a number of U.S. regulars returned to action last weekend after significant layoffs. Others, meanwhile, are down on their luck at the worst possible time. The biggest movers on either side of the divide make up our latest Hot List.

Warming up

John Brooks, D, Hertha Berlin (Germany)

Why he’s here: The sore knee that sidelined him last month healed enough for the 23-year-old to start and go 90 minutes in Friday’s 2-1 loss to Hoffenheim, Brooks’ first match since Mar. 19. What this means: Provided he’s healthy — injuries have cost Brooks caps on several other occasions, too — the imposing German-American is a first choice center back for Klinsmann.

Alejandro Bedoya, Nantes (France)

Why he’s here: The U.S. vet had been out since sustaining an ankle injury in Guatemala City last month, but Bedoya returned to action for his Ligue 1 club in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Montpellier.What this means: It’s the second time the 28-year-old’s career season has been interrupted after returning from international duty (an illness forced him to miss all of October), but that actually could benefit the U.S. if the hard-running Bedoya’s legs are fresher than normal heading into the summer.

Matt Besler, D, Sporting Kansas City (MLS)

Why he’s here: The concussion he sustained just before the first of last month’s two qualifiers forced Besler to miss both matches and the first three games in April for his club. But the 29-year-old was back in the heart of SKC’s defense for Sunday’s 2-1 loss at FC Dallas.

What this means: Recovering from a concussion can be tricky, so seeing Besler — a 2014 World Cup starter who is slated to back up Brooks this June — on the field again is a big relief for the U.S.

Jermaine Jones, M, Colorado Rapids (MLS)

Why he’s here: In his first game back following a six-match suspension for shoving an official during last year’s MLS playoffs, when he was a member of the New England Revolution, Jones led the Rapids to a 2-1 win over the New York Red Bulls in his debut for the club.

What this means: Now that he’s playing again, there is no reason to think that Jones, now 34, won’t man his usual central midfield spot for the U.S. during the tournament.

Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Why he’s here: The highly-touted rookie scored his first professional goal in his sixth MLS game (eight in all competitions) in Saturday’s 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Union.What this means: Morris remains in a dogfight to make the Copa roster and probably needs to add to his tally to stay in the hunt. That said, the 21-year-old should be more relaxed in front of goal after opening his account in Seattle.Jordan Morris’ goal vs. Philadelphia helped Seattle extend their unbeaten streak to three games.

Christian Pulisic, M, Borussia Dortmund (Germany)

Why he’s here: The 17-year-old made his second consecutive Bundesliga start and became the fourth-youngest scorer in the history of Germany’s top flight when he got BVB off the mark in Sunday’s 3-0 over Hamburg.What this means: With 10 appearances in all competitions since making his pro debut Jan. 30, Pulisic has gone from Copa America roster long shot to possible U.S. starter — IF he keeps playing for Dortmund. Now that the club is eliminated from the Europa League, it will be interesting to see if Pulisic keeps his place for Wednesday’s DFB Cup semifinal versus Hertha.

Tim Ream, D, Fulham (England)

Why he’s here: The slick-passing lefty, who lost his place with the Cottagers following the late December arrival of new manager Slavisa Jokanovic, has gone the distance in each of Fulham’s past four league games.

What this means: Fulham were routed 5-0 by Brighton in Ream’s most recent start, and the American was involved in two of the goals against. But if Ream keeps his lineup spot in West London, he could still warrant a first-hand look from Klinsmann before the May 20 roster deadline.

Chris Wondolowski, F, San Jose Earthquakes (MLS)

Why he’s here: Wondolowski has started yet another MLS season on fire, with a league-topping six goals from his first seven games in 2016.

What this means: The 33-year-old is making a serious case for inclusion, and Klinsmann adores his attitude and work ethic. Bet against Wondo at your peril.

Cooling down

Timmy Chandler, D, Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)

Why he’s here: With U.S. technical advisor Berti Vogts watching from the stands, Chandler had a rough outing in Eintracht’s 3-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen, picking up a second-half yellow card and getting beaten on two of the host’s goals.

What this means: Poor form hasn’t kept Klinsmann from calling in Chandler and others before, so don’t be surprised if the 26-year-old gets an in-person audition when the European-based players report to Miami the week before the coach’s final cut.

 Omar Gonzalez, D, Pachuca (Mexico)

Why he’s here: The 27-year-old sustained an undisclosed injury and was substituted in the second half of Saturday’s 1-0 win versus Morelia.

What this means: The former L.A .Galaxy star has been terrific in Liga MX since joining the Tuzos in January, but Gonzalez’s international future is unclear after he marked his U.S. return with a subpar showing in Guatemala. Getting hurt now won’t help.

Omar Gonzalez has enjoyed a stellar first season in Liga MX, but an injury sustained over the weekend could complicate his national team summer.

 Alfredo Morales, M, Ingolstadt (Germany)

Why he’s here: Morales was ever present for the Bundesliga club until he lost his place in early February, and then got hurt. He’s now gone more than two months since his last start for Ingolstadt, and hasn’t come off the bench since mid-March.

What this means: Playing in one of the world’s elite leagues was supposed to make Morales into a U.S. regular, but it hasn’t worked out that way. “We’re still waiting for Alfredo,” Klinsmann said recently. Unless things change soon, the wait figures to continue.

 Danny Williams, M, Reading (England)

Why he’s here: Williams was already out of favor with Klinsmann, who left the German-American defensive midfielder off of his past two full-strength rosters dating to last November. Now Williams is serving a three-match ban for scuffling with a teammate during last week’s loss to Middlesbrough.What this means: With mainstays Jones and Kyle Beckerman aging but still serviceable, the odds of Williams making the Copa squad were slim to begin with. Now they’ve slimmer, even if Williams will be available for the Royals’ last two games of 2015-16.ESPNFC’s Tom Marshall contributed reporting.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

 Fulham’s Emerson Hyndman praised after American scores winner

Fulham manager Slavisa Jokanovic said Emerson Hyndman is worthy of more playing time after the U.S. international scored a late winner on his birthday against Cardiff on Saturday.Deep into stoppage time, Cardiff failed to clear the ball following a corner kick and Hyndman finished off a scramble in the visitors’ penalty area as Fulham won 2-1.The goal was Hyndman’s first of the season in just his seventh start, and Jokanovic said he regretted not getting Hyndman into more games.”Today is his birthday. It’s a great present for himself and for all of us in the last moment of the game,” the manager said of the American.”He’s probably one of the more talented players. I am little bit disappointed with myself that I haven’t found more minutes for him this season.”He probably needs to be a little bit stronger for the Championship. But he’s a young guy and he will be a very good footballer for us.”Hyndman, who turned 20 on Saturday, was the U.S. captain at the Under-20 World Cup last year and also featured for the under-23 team that failed to qualify for the Olympics last month.He made his only appearance for the U.S. senior team in 2014.

Barcelona’s slide has opened Spain’s title race for Atletico, Real Madrid

ESPN FC’s And so it comes to this: three teams, three and a half weeks and a five-match dash for the finish line. Barcelona, Atletico, Madrid. “The team that wins the league will be the best over 38 games, not five,” Barcelona manager Luis Enrique insisted on Tuesday, but that’s not really true anymore. Whatever happened then happened; what matters is what happens next, and it all starts in A Coruña on Wednesday night.They line up alongside each other, no tactics, no doubts: flat out to the finish, no room for error, a single slip and it’s over; five games to play, five games to win.The obstacles they face are uneven and the start is staggered, sure, but barely: The gaps between them now are so small that they’re only really there as tiebreakers. Barcelona have 76 points, Atlético 76 and Madrid 75. When it comes to head-to-head, Atletico beat Madrid, and Barcelona beat them both. Asked whether his team would have to win every match to take the title and whether they could do exactly that, Enrique answered, “yes and yes.”None of them ever truly expected to be in this position. At the end of Week 29, just four matchdays ago, Barcelona had a 12-point lead over Real Madrid and an eight-point lead over Atletico. Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane had already admitted it was over after defeat in the Madrid derby. When Gerard Pique headed the opening goal in the clasico in Week 31, it put Barcelona 13 points ahead of Madrid and nine above Atletico. But Madrid came back. They both did. Barcelona allowed them to, picking up just one of the last 12 points on offer. So now, here they are.How it happened has occupied everyone’s thoughts: How did Barcelona invite their rivals to run? Maybe one of the reasons it’s not over is precisely because they thought it was over; maybe they didn’t win because, deep down, they knew they didn’t have to. Maybe they should ignore advice from The Jackson Five and blame it on the good times? Or maybe it’s the inability to step up again afterward. If you conserve energy, do you lose the ability to draw upon it?Maybe it’s simpler, maybe it’s fatigue; just don’t tell Enrique that. “What’s your surname?” he asked of the last journalist to ask. “Malo [Bad],” came the reply. “Correct, next question,” he said.Maybe it’s psychological: Valencia manager Pako Ayestaran talked of Barcelona’s “anxiety” on Sunday. Maybe it’s the short squad and the lack of variety: Against Valencia, Luis Enrique didn’t even send anyone out to warm up. There was no point. Maybe it’s the calendar: The timing hasn’t been on Barcelona’s side, and these small details perhaps make a big difference. Maybe it’s trans-Atlantic travel before the clasico. Maybe it’s tactical: Atletico manager Diego Simeone admitted earlier in the season that “we tried to annoy [Sergio] Busquets” — now they’re all doing it. Maybe it’s bad luck, bad finishing, bad football.”It’s incredible that the stars have aligned against us like this,” Pique said. And if anyone in football believes in the stars, it is Simeone, the manager who admits he checks the zodiac before signing a player. His team have a chance now. So do Zidane’s.Maybe it’s all of that or none of it. Maybe. But how they got here doesn’t matter much now; what matters is how they’re going to get there, and what condition they’re in to run. Given how they got here, Barcelona’s obligation is everyone else’s opportunity, but this new situation, and this sprint that is about to begin, may have turned that back into an opportunity again.Enrique says that he is convinced that they will win the league “or else I wouldn’t be sitting here,” he said at the pre-match news conference. It’s a familiar phrase; it’s also false, of course, and it is impossible for there not to be doubts.Neymar’s form has dropped. Luis Suarez is missing chances. Lionel Messi just scored his 500th career goal, but getting there took longer than anyone imagined. They have racked up no wins in four league games and just one win in six in all competitions — an ultimately worthless one, at that. Meanwhile, Real Madrid have won seven in a row in La Liga, Atletico seven of the last eight. Madrid look fit and are gathering momentum, resurrected.Atletico are not just winning, either; they are dominating. They’re scoring goals and lots of them. Fernando Torres has not been in scoring form this good since he was Liverpool’s No. 9. Enrique made no changes at the weekend; against Eibar, Madrid made eight and still hammered them while against Getafe, their “subs” James and Isco both scored. No one has gotten as many goals off the bench as Atlético.It’s in Barcelona’s hands, but that hasn’t been a great place to be of late. And if it is said that not playing in Europe could help them, thereby giving them seven days to prepare for each game, that’s not actually true.The sprint starts in midweek, three days on from their latest defeat; for Barcelona, it would be the second of three games in six days. There will be only two league games that they can prepare with a week’s work when Atletico and Madrid cannot: away at Betis and at home to Espanyol. And besides, Madrid are in a five-match run of games in the city, not needing to travel.Barcelona open Week 34 at Deportivo. Then they face Sporting (H), Betis (A), Espanyol (H) and Granada (H). Atletico go to Athletic and then play Malaga (H), (Bayern), Rayo (H), (Bayern), Levante (A) and Celta. Madrid are up against Villarreal at the Bernabeu, then they go to Rayo (A) before playing Manchester City, Real Sociedad (A), (City), Valencia (H) and Deportivo (A).Not so long ago, Barcelona’s official Twitter account said that it appeared that they had the “easiest” run in. Quite apart from being a rather daft thing to say, or a red rag to temptation, it’s not so easy to judge. Not least because of injuries, morale and shifting objectives. A team that’s safe is not the same as one that’s fighting for survival; a team with European ambitions is not the same as one without them. And that changes as weeks pass.

There may be something in that Camp Nou hope, though: Barcelona’s five opponents are 18th, 17th, 15th, 14th and 13th in the table, respectively. Yet one of them is a local rival, while Sporting and Granada are fighting for their lives. Real Madrid face fourth, 10th, 12th, 13th and 16th. Atletico go to fifth tomorrow and also face sixth, eighth, 16th and 19th. Celta and Athletic are competing for fourth and Levante are battling relegation but may not be by then. Atletico do, though, have more home games than the other two.

According to Sport, if the remaining fixtures went the way they did in the first half of the season (where all the home games were away and the away games home), Atletico would finish at the top. If they went the way they did last season, Barcelona would win the league. And if they went the way they have historically, Barcelona would win the league, too. But only just.

Only just. Whatever happens, it is likely to be only just. “We will have to fight until the last minute,” Zidane said. And that might not even be enough: Zidane added that he can see both Atletico and Barcelona winning all five games. Simeone, by contrast, said that it is “in our hands … we depend on ourselves,” suggesting perhaps that he thinks Barcelona will slip up and that his players will be given the chance to climb above them.

And so the race starts with what may be the most interesting Jornada of them all, the one round of games when all three teams have potentially difficult games, the one where change appears the most likely and which may, a priori, end with someone else on top for the first time in 11 weeks. Barcelona (without Pique) at Depor, Atlético at Athletic and Madrid against Villarreal. But if this season has taught anybody anything it is that you never know; nothing is done until it’s done, even when it appears done. Especially when it appears done.”Who is the favourite?” Zidane was asked. “No one,” he said. All those weeks, all those games and it’s come to this. All those certainties have gone to leave just one certainty. No one expected it, but that’s how it is. For all the combinations, permutations, figures and fears, the ambiguity has been stripped away to leave something seemingly simple. Beautifully, dramatically simple: a start line, a finish line and three teams with no second chances, just a single, shared objective: win every game or it’s over. And if they all do? Well, then, for two of them it will be over anyway.”It’s extremely difficult, but I am such a d— that I like adversity. I’m from Gijon; I love this dance,” Enrique said. “And if we win every game, we’re going to throw some party …”And if not? “If not, we’ll congratulate the champion.”Sid Lowe is a Spain-based columnist and journalist who writes for ESPN FC, the Guardian, FourFourTwo and World Soccer

How Mauricio Pochettino transformed Tottenham into true title contenders

ottenham Hotspur’s 4-0 thrashing of Stoke City on Monday evening was among the most overwhelmingly one-sided Premier League games of the season. It was a victory so comfortable that Tottenham managed to hit the bar and miss an open goal, yet still triumph easily.Identifying a single man of the match was difficult: there were simply too many options. You could say something similar about Spurs’ Player of the Year, too: as many as five players could deservedly take that award. In situations like this, it’s obvious that the man who deserves most praise is, in fact, the manager.Tottenham’s success has been built not upon individual brilliance (although Harry Kane provided some last night) but upon collective organisation from a truly excellent young coach. Mauricio Pochettino’s organisation has been impressive all season, but there’s been a positive shift in recent weeks. Spurs are improving, mainly in an attacking sense.This season, Pochettino’s players have primarily impressed with their efficiency in regaining possession, pressing intensely and cohesiveness. Opponents haven’t been allowed to settle into a possession thanks to a combination of Spurs’ limitless energy and solid structure.In some matches, Spurs’ dominance of midfield has been truly remarkable — their first-half performance in the 1-1 draw at Arsenal in October showcased organisation that would be the envy of any club in Europe. But they tired and Arsenal eventually equalised. On that occasion, Spurs’ weakness was arguably their attacking play: they’d dominated with their ball-winning, but hadn’t created enough to finish the contest.In recent weeks, Spurs have created more. Two months ago they had the Premier League’s best defence but only its third-best attack; now Pochettino has created the best side in both respects and again, it’s been about organisation.heir individuals have been performing the same jobs: Kane banging in the goals, Dele Alli showing tremendous intelligence and technical quality, Christian Eriksen drifting inside dangerously and Erik Lamela pressing quickly and passing efficiently. But their combination play has improved dramatically, particularly in terms of movement, with Stoke City ripped apart continually by a succession of relatively simple passes that were ony possible because Spurs were dragging opponents out of position and creating space so consistently.The movement started from the defence. Eric Dier has spent most of the season dropping back between Spurs’ centre-backs but on occasion at the Britannia, his midfield colleague Mousa Dembele followed suit: the duo both dropped back when Spurs had goal kicks. This meant Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld could push even wider, the full-backs could advance higher and the central midfielders moved inside.Central midfielders at centre-back, full-backs in wide midfield and wide midfielders in central midfield. Tottenham were using their starting system, simply with three pairs of players in entirely different roles, and that’s a perfect demonstration of movement: retaining your shape despite everyone being on the move. It’s trickier than it sounds, and it’s unusual to see a side implement this so successfully. The Villarreal team of 2010-11 did something similar; it’s not unreasonable to think that Pochettino, then managing Espanyol, was inspired by his La Liga rivals.Pochettino’s integrated movement works so effectively in part because so many of his players are accustomed to playing different roles. This is particularly evident along the spine: Dier is comfortable in defence because he’s played frequently at centre-back, Alli plays as a No. 10 but has also been deployed deeper, Kane can come short because he’s a natural No. 10 rather than a number nine. They all like coming short, with the full-backs providing reverse movement by bombing forward. Even by their standards, Danny Rose and Kyle Walker were terrifyingly direct last night.The ease with which Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld can play in wide positions helps Tottenham’s organisation.Pochettino is also lucky that Belgium have regularly fielded Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen in wider roles over recent years owing to their lack of natural full-backs, something that helps Tottenham “split” their centre-backs comfortably. No other Premier League side has two centre-backs so comfortable outside the width of the penalty box or so comfortable in possession.With the centre-backs wide, the full-backs playing as wingers and Kane continually making runs into the channels on the outside of the centre-backs, Pochettino’s “real” wide players had license to drift inside. As a result, the three attacking midfielders in Spurs’ 4-2-3-1 system combine regularly to put Tottenham into goalscoring positions.This is a proper 4-2-3-1 system featuring three attacking midfielders buzzing around behind a lone striker. Pretty much everything is termed a 4-2-3-1 these days even if it’s essentially a 4-4-2, albeit with one deep-lying striker. But Eriksen, Alli and Lamela rotate and combine effectively, playing as a unit rather than three individuals.On Monday night, three of Tottenham’s most penetrative passing moves featured those three exchanging passes, usually when located close to one another. In the first half, Lamela’s neat through-ball found Alli just outside the box and his backheeled pass to Eriksen prompted the Dane to smash the ball against the crossbar. The trio weren’t filling more than 10 metres of width but with Kane wide on the right and Rose charging down the left, there was no danger of being too narrow.Tottenham’s second goal again featured those three: Lamela gained possession of the ball, an attempted back-heel broke loose to Eriksen and he immediately chipped over the Stoke defence for Alli, who strode onto the ball and dinked it past Shay Given. Their third goal featured Eriksen in a deep position feeding Alli, who transferred the ball onto Lamela: two forward passes in the inside-left channel. Once through on goal, Lamela selflessly squared it for Kane, who converted into an empty net.Spurs were attacking with great purpose, and in great numbers, for the majority of the campaign, but this level of cohesion in possession is a relatively recent development. It owes much to natural progression as Pochettino works with his team on the training ground more, but it’s also about the Tottenham coach being able to name a consistent starting XI.The fluent movement and free-roaming roles of Erik Lamela, Dele Alli and Harry Kane also help Spurs overwhelm opponents.Pochettino has managed to creative an impressive defensive unit despite being forced to rotate regularly while Spurs were battling for the Europa League. But now that he’s capable of fielding his best side every week and the players are fresher as a result, the attacking quality is at another level.Over the past six games, Pochettino has deviated only from his favoured starting XI in two ways: first when Kevin Wimmer performed admirably in place of the injured Vertonghen, and second when Son Heung-min played at Anfield to allow Lamela a rest. Otherwise, the XI has been almost as consistent as Leicester City’s. From these six matches, Spurs have recorded four victories, each of them convincing, with two draws in impressive performances against Arsenal and Liverpool.Everything has slowly come together in brilliant fashion over the course of the season. We started to see partnerships in “natural” positions: Alderweireld and Vertonghen, Dier and Dembele. Then we saw less obvious partnerships: Alderweireld and Alli, Kane and Alli, Lamela and Eriksen. Now players have productive relationships with multiple teammates, and there are effective trios and a settled back four, maximising individual ability and making Spurs better with each passing match.Maybe the best is yet to come: Pochettino should be around for a while, and the age of Spurs’ key players suggests they’ll improve too. But the last six performances have been superb, and that level of defensive solidity and attacking ruthlessness should, over the course of a whole season, be enough to win the Premier League.Michael Cox is the editor of Zonal Marking and a contributor to ESPN FC. Follow him on

MLS not a retirement league – U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard

United States goalkeeper Tim Howard told NBC Sports that he expects to play in a much-improved league when he leaves Everton and returns to Major League Soccer on July 8 after 13 years in the Premier League.Howard, 37, who was under contract with the Toffees until 2018, was cleared by Everton to move to Colorado for a transfer fee of about $600,000,sources told ESPN.He began his career in 1998 with the MetroStars — now the New York Red Bulls — and on Monday was part of an NBC sideline analysis team for Tottenham’s 4-0 win over Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium.Howard is already shifting his focus to Denver, where he will make his home after representing his country in the Copa America Centenario, and insisted that the MLS is no place for old men.I think the quality of play has gotten better. The fan-base has grown and is more knowledgeable,” Howard told NBC Sports. “Some of the players that have gone back over, this ain’t a retirement league. Now you have players going over like [Sebastian] Giovinco, he is incredible.”Giovani dos Santos, probably one of the top Mexican players of all time who is playing there in his prime. That’s exciting because for me, when I was a 21-year-old in MLS, that wasn’t the case.”Howard last played in MLS in 2003 before moving to Manchester United. He started at Old Trafford until the club bought Edwin van der Sar in 2005, and United loaned him to Everton the following year.He completed a permanent deal to Everton in 2007 and started there for nearly a decade until this February, when a brief knee injury allowed Joel Robles to replace him. And he acknowledged that the summer will be busy.”It is one thing after another,” he said. “I finish here, then go to training camp with the national team and obviously we have a huge tournament which is important for us. When that finishes I will go out to Denver and start life.”The Americans, one of four seeded teams as host of the June competition that marks the 100th anniversary of South America’s championship — the world’s oldest international football tournament — will open the event with their first Group A match against Colombia on June 3 in Santa Clara, California. (Argentina, Brazil and Mexico are the other seeds.)Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad then travels to Chicago to face CONCACAF rival Costa Rica on June 7, before concluding its first-round slate June 11 against Paraguay in Philadelphia.

Carli Lloyd: ‘I think we’ve proven our worth over the years’

Updated: APRIL 13, 2016 by Jonathan Tannenwald, STAFF WRITER  @thegoalkeeper

If you were driving on Route 70 on your way into work Wednesday morning, you wouldn’t have known that Carli Lloyd was working out just down the road.While South Jersey’s highways were a cacophony of noise, the Marlton Memorial Park was quiet and still. You might not even have known that Lloyd was on the property if you were walking your dog on the sun-splashed playground nearby.But if you happened to be near the indoor recreation center when the side door opened, you would have heard the rhythmic thumping of a soccer ball repeatedly hitting a foot, then a hard floor, then a foot again, then the floor again…And if you took a moment to look at the roof of the building, and the doors, and the color of the paint on the inside walls, you’d have no doubt about where you were.Lots of people in South Jersey know about the famed “Blue Barn,” of course especially within the local soccer community. There’s a banner above one of the three basketball courts under the giant vaulted roof that reads: “Carli Lloyd Court / 2015 World Champion.”But if you’re an outsider, you might be surprised at just how simple the building is that Lloyd so often credits as the place where it all started.(And if you, like me, spend most of your life on the other side of the Delaware River, you’re an outsider. My colleague Kate Harman could probably drive to the place off muscle memory; I almost missed a few turns after crossing the Ben Franklin Bridge, even though my phone gave me step-by-step instructions.)I got there just after 8 a.m., and was one of five people in the building. Lloyd and Galanis were joined by Wayne Coffey, a former New York Daily News sportswriter who’s ghostwriting Lloyd’s forthcoming autobiography; and his daughter Samantha.That was the entire crowd for most of the morning, until a janitor showed up to clean the other courts that weren’t in use. I wouldn’t have seen him had if not for his bright yellow vest. Otherwise, the place was vacant.Samantha’s presence wasn’t just a matter of personal courtesy. She’s a serious soccer prospect in her own right, and was just invited to join the U.S. under-18 girls’ national team at an upcoming training camp in southern California.The drills were low-key, and understandably so. Lloyd was fresh off playing two games for the U.S. women’s national team, and was soon to leave for Houston to begin the National Women’s Soccer League Season with the Dash.So there was some dribbling, some shooting, some practicing of first-touch passes and harder hits at targets. Everything that Lloyd did, Coffey did too. Not always as precisely, but Galanis’ point was clear: the fine-tuning you need to do in order to become an elite soccer player is mental as much as it is physical.And even though none of the drills was out of the ordinary, you could tell when the person performing them was the reigning FIFA Women’s Player of the Year.You may have heard that Lloyd’s autobiography will be called “When Nobody Is Watching.” That title wasn’t chosen only because it sounds catchy.At one point, Lloyd embarked on a drill of dribbling the ball up and down the court in a zig-zag form. Her eyes were constantly focused on the ball. Something in that look caused my mind to flash back to that epic night in Montréal last summer when Lloyd stared at the Olympic Stadium penalty spot for almost a full minute before scoring thegoal that put the U.S. ahead of Germany.Later, Galanis ran a routine where he played low, rolling passes for Lloyd and Coffey to hit first time into a retractable curtain that separated this court from the next one over.When Galanis started to deliver the ball, Lloyd crouched slightly in anticipation. I watched her laser-focused eyes again. It was as if she was trying to use the Force to compel the ball to move according to her will.As far as I know, Lloyd isn’t related to Daisy Ridley, Mark Hamill or Sir Alec Guinness. But I’ve seen Lloyd (and some of her teammates) do things on soccer fields that resemble Jedi mind tricks. So I’m not ruling anything out.The training session wrapped up after about two hours of work. Lloyd and Galanis had a short conversation at mid-court, then Galanis pulled Coffey aside to offer a few points of advice.Once everyone had cooled down and all the equipment was packed up, I got to chat with Lloyd for a while.For once, there were no minders, agents, PR flacks or other people around to hang over anyone’s shoulders. Getting that kind of access to U.S. women’s national team stars is increasingly harder to do – and for good reason, because they’ve become just as high-profile as professional athletes in other sports.(Though not as well-paid for their labor, and we’ll get to that in a minute.)But so many players on the national team, even its biggest names, remain the same down-to-earth people they were before they became famous. That includes Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Megan Rapinoe and so many others.You could have come to the rec center just like anyone else on Wednesday, because it’s a publicly-owned facility. Of course, Lloyd and Galanis knew that 8 a.m. was the only time they could get the place to themselves, but there weren’t any gates or security guards keeping people out.And if you were outside the Blue Barn just after 10 a.m., you’d have seen Lloyd carry the bag of practice balls out to the adjacent parking lot herself.When she came back inside, she was ready to talk for a while. Our conversation covered a wide range of subjects on and off the field. Here’s a transcript, lightly edited for clarity.

So the reigning FIFA Women’s Player of the Year carries the bag of balls to her own car at the end of a practice session?

Ha. I shag balls, I carry the balls, I do it all. Yeah. It’s part of the job, part of the responsibility. Nobody is going to come here and do it. We arrive here on the side of the Barn and walk to the front, open the door, and then open the side door. That’s just really what it’s about.

What does it mean to you to be able to come back here still, and be able to train in some amount of anonymity?

It’s honestly priceless to be home. People may not realize and really grasp the full effect of why I need to be home, but when I’m home, James makes adjustments. If I’m not shooting properly, he makes one minor adjustment in training and then it’s fixed.

It’s where I get my reps, it’s where I get my touches, where I get my confidence. It’s really everything. It’s a huge part of my game. When I’m here training on a daily basis – then I go away, I’m sharp, fit, and I’m ready to go. But it’s just so important to put in the work behind the scenes.

When you look up on the wall in here and there’s that banner with your name on it, what’s that like for you?

This Barn has been really special to me. This journey that James and I have been a part of. It’s been a livesaver here, with the surface, getting the right touches, using the walls. James is able to design so many different things that we can use, whether it’s knocking the ball off the wall and practicing side volleys, shooting, we just basically do it all in here. It’s really helped my touch and my game so much.

You’re heading down to Houston on Thursday to get the NWSL season started with the Dash. What are your expectations for the league as it begins its historic fourth year?

I think it’s going to be good. The league is definitely growing. With the national team and the whole equal pay [discussion], everything is really at the forefront right now. I’m curious to see how ticket sales are going to be this year. I’m wondering if they’re going to be any better. Hopefully they are.

But overall, I’m looking forward to the season kicking off. I know we’ll probably be around for nine or 10 game [before the Olympics], and we’ll have four more games with the national team. That’s 14 games before Rio, and every game is very important.

After the Olympics end, people are going to start looking at the league to see which other players could be worthy of national team consideration for the 2019 World Cup.

The Dash have a few players who could make that leap: Kealia Ohai, a 24-year-old forward who was a star on the U.S. under-20 team that won the 2012 World U-20 World Cup; and Amber Brooks, a 25-year-old midfielder whose lone career cap to date came in 2013. What do you think of them as prospects?

Kealia is the type of player who is raw. You don’t know what she’s going to do. She’s got really great pace up top. She’s done well, and I think the more that she can focus and keep on doing what she needs to do, the more goals she’s going to score. I know that’s her goal this year. She’s definitely a threat up there. We have a good front six going on right now. We’ve got Amber Brooks coming in, Morgan Brian is there, myself, [Brazilian midfielder] Andressa…

With Amber, we’ll see how it goes. The tricky thing is, can these players do it consistently? That’s the biggest thing, I think, when you get in the national team. And I think that’s the biggest thing that people don’t realize. They see some of these players in the league doing well. Maybe they come in for a national team camp or two, do well, but the overall consistency of being able to grind it out, day in and day out, that’s where people don’t quite understand that’s what it takes.

Even now, it seems that Jill Ellis has worked to expand the senior women’s national team player pool. And I say that knowing there are collective bargaining ramifications to the ways in which players get called in to the national team, because of the salaries and benefits that the U.S. Soccer Federation pays, and that can restrict the size of the pool. Maybe that changes in the new CBA. But for the moment, as I said, it does seem that Ellis has become more flexible with who she calls in.

Yeah. I think it’s great. When Jill took over after Tom [Sermanni], she had a short window to get everybody ready [for the 2015 World Cup]. We hadn’t won a World Cup in 16 years. It would have been very tough for her to just start all of a sudden ripping the team to shreds and experimenting. It would have been really tough.

I give her a lot of credit, because she knew what this team was about for so many years, and she made do with what she had. And we won, and we did well. With players retiring, now there’s a new influx and wave of players, and that’s the most important thing: preparing for 2019.

You brought up the equal pay thing before I could. Let’s get into that. Obviously, the public relations aspect of the campaign has been a huge boost to you and your fellow players, starting with the big announcement on the Today Show when the Equal Opportunity Commission complaint was filed. But did you think it would catch fire to as much of a degree as it has?

It was a pretty historic moment. It all kind of happened very quickly. We were in Orlando, and we had a few discussions with our attorney, Rich Nichols. Getting up really early for the Today Show – what was it going to be like? And it just was absolutely huge. With Equal Pay Day being [Tuesday], and everything.

The amount of support that we have received has been just unbelievable. That’s why, in my New York Times essay as well, there were some things that needed to be clarified. Because this isn’t a lawsuit, this is a complaint, and this isn’t beef with the men’s national team – we respect them. And I think people need to understand that yes, we did do our CBA –

A long time ago, though.

Yes. But I even felt back then that it wasn’t good enough. It’s hard to kind of change things when your whole team is not united, and this was the right timing for everything. So it was good.

Did Jeffrey Kessler, the high-powered sports attorney who’s now part of your campaign, come to you? Or did you go to him?

When Rich Nicholls came on board, he sought out a team. He’s good friends with Jeff, and we’ve got a bunch of great attorneys on our side working for us.

I don’t want to make you betray too many private conversations, but it seemed from afar that you all felt like it was time to take things from a different direction than the one that your previous union attorney – Philadelphia-based John Langel of Ballard Spahr – had gone in.

Absolutely. I think Rich isn’t here to be buddy-buddy with Sunil [Gulati, U.S. Soccer’s president] or Dan [Flynn, U.S. Soccer’s CEO], or anybody at U.S. Soccer. He’s here to do a job, and that’s to get the best CBA that we can for us players. He’s working for us very diligently. He’s very smart, concise with what we deserve to get.

That’s what it’s really all about. I think our team has finally realized the disparity between the men’s and the women’s contracts, and it’s gut-wrenching to see that. We didn’t get a hold of their contract and the figures five or six years ago. We had no idea. So when you have nothing to compare it to, and you don’t know, I think it really opened up a lot of people’s eyes – especially on our team. And I think our team finally realizes that we can fight for a lot more.

There have been some notable incidents in the last few weeks of men’s and women’s national team players getting into public disagreements with each other. Do you think the men’s player’s union is on your side in your quest for better pay?

I think the overall support is great. We respect the men’s team, I respect the men’s team and what they’re doing. They’ve been bringing in revenue. They’ve been really helping us as well. I think it’s a “One nation, one team” kind of a thing, and I think we’ve proven our worth over the years. We’ve won championships, multiple championships. It’s just only fitting to keep fighting for the next step.

This question stems, admittedly, from my own perspective having covered the various people involved in the wage dispute for a while. I find it a bit hard to believe that anyone at U.S. Soccer sat there and said that the federation would intentionally pay the women less because they are women.

Instead, there’s a kind of unintentional sexism that leads to what we see in other industries where men are more likely to consider men for higher salaries, bonuses, promotions and so forth – and they just don’t see the ramifications of the bigger picture until someone calls them out on it. Is that fair to say in this case, or do you see things differently?

Hmm. Well, it’s tricky. Where we started [compared to the men’s national team] is totally different. In 2005, when I first came on to the team, there were no health benefits, which are provided by the U.S. Olympic Committee. There were no salaries. [Players] were basically getting paid per-game.

The women then fought to have guaranteed salaries, so they could not have to rely on anything else [for income], because some years there weren’t many games being played by the national team. I thought that was a great step. Each CBA, we just increased it a little bit more.

But there’s no marketing deal. The CBA has never been signed by a [player] representative. There are so many missing parts to this contract.

So you’re saying that John Langel signed that 2005 through 2012 CBA on the players’ behalf, but no players put their signatures on it? Or do you mean the memorandum of understanding that was meant to cover 2013 through 2016?

The CBA has not been signed by any representative on our team… I believe you need a representative from the team as well.

[At the time of the posting of this story, I was not able to independently verify either Lloyd’s claim about a lack of player signatures, nor whether such signatures are required. A copy of the 2005-12 CBA was included in documents filed in the lawsuit over whether that CBA is still valid. Some pages contained the signatures of Langel and Flynn; others contained no signatures, which traditionally means they are not scanned copies of the original documents. Lloyd may be right, but I feel a need to put this disclaimer out there,]

They’ve said that the MOU – that’s when Langel went and said in his deposition that the MOU is valid. But as far as the CBA goes, it’s really not a CBA. It’s really not signed. There’s no marketing deal. There’s so many things that are just left out on the table. I don’t know if they purposely did it, but I just think that we didn’t have somebody like Rich who was going for the throat.

Let’s get back to on-field matters. Do you think Megan Rapinoe will be back on the field in time for the Olympics?

I’ve talked to her. She said she’s doing well. She’s running. It’s a tough one. You just don’t know. I really am a big believer that injuries take a year for you to be fully, fully back from. With an 18-player roster, it’s a tough call. I’m not sure.

What has it been like integrating Lindsey Horan into the midfield triangle alongside yourself and Morgan Brian, who you know so well from playing together both for the national team and the Dash?

Lindsey has done well. I really enjoy playing with three in the midfield. I thought it was effective. I felt like I was involved, on the ball. I think the next step, though, is being able to split passes, being able to not always play the ball backwards, get somewhere with a purpose. If we can split lines and move the ball, I think that’s where we’re going to be effective. Lindsey has come on, she’s done well.

Allie Long showed well. I enjoy playing with her. I think Sam Mewis has been doing well too. So it’s going to be an interesting battle. Obviously, not all of us can be part of the Olympics. Jill’s going to have to make some decisions. I like what I see with Lindsey, I’ve enjoyed playing with her, and I think that she can continue to get better.

It sounded from Jill Ellis’ various remarks this past weekend that when the national team gathers for the two June friendlies against Japan, she’ll start turning the focus towards honing the lineup for the Olympics instead of trying the new things. Do you also get that impression?

Yeah. I think that Jill has done a great job of managing everybody so far. She has tried to give equal playing time – I’ve come off, Becky [Sauerbrunn] has come off, Hope [Solo] hasn’t played in a game [specifically, this past Sunday against Colombia in Chester]. So I think she’s doing a really good job of managing everybody, and putting players in positions where it’s time for them to shine, time for them to show what they can bring.

But I would agree, as we get closer and closer to those two Japan games, and then we’ve got two more. So there’s really not a whole lot of time to prepare for the Olympics. Those games would be a perfect point to start focusing on that.

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4/15 Indy 11 host NY Cosmos, UCL Final 4, TV Games of Wk, #bebraveBrooks event


So as the Travel and Rec Soccer Season’s Kick into full gear – its time to bring you up to date on happens around the World of Soccer. After some exhilarating games last week we are down to the Final 4 – the Semi-Finals of the best Club teams in the world.  Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Athletico Madrid and Manchester City (yes that’s not a misprint there is an EPL team in the final 4 and for the 1st time ever its Man City.  Of course last season’s Champion Barcelona were eliminated by fellow La Liga side Athletico on a controversial no hand call in the box in the last 5 minutes of play.  (Man I wish they could figure out Re-Play in Soccer somehow – I’m still hoping MLS tests that soon).  Anyway the final pairings have Man City facing Real Madrid (Hat Trick Man Renaldo) and Athletico hosting Bayern Munich to start the first legs Apr 26/2, the Final is May 28 in Milan, Italy. Europa Cup action had Liverpool fans jumping as they scored 3 huge goals in the last 15 minutes to upset Dortmund and advance to the Semi-Finals.

The Leagues In Europe are wrapping up their seasons with PSG and Juventus running away with the French League 1, and Italian Serie A respectively. Bayern Munich holds a 7 pt lead on Dortmund in the German Bundesliga.  It’s the EPL and Spain’s La Liga where things are heating up- Barcelona’s lead has slipped to just 1 game and 3 pts over Athletico and 4 over Real Madrid.  Meanwhile, the GREATEST UPSET IN SPORTS IN THE LAST 50 YEARS Maybe – In the English Premier League – little Leicester City holds a 7 pt (that’s over 2 games) lead over Tottenham, Arsenal (59), Man City (57) hold a slim lead over Man United (53), West Ham (52), Southhampton (50) and Liverpool (48) for Champions League (top 4) and Europa League (top 6) spots.

Closer to home MLS, is just a few weeks in, and of course our Indy 11 are on to week 3 of the season and haven’t lost a game yet.  The 1-1 tie on the road at Tampa Bay was followed by a last second goal saving tie 1-1 last weekend in the home opener.  We should know more about this Indy 11 team after Saturday night’s battle with NASL defending champs NY Cosmos.  I plan to be on hand in the BYB section making noise – tickets still available.  Speaking of Indy 11 don’t forget Carmel FC night on May 7, 7:30 pm for Indy 11 vs Edmonton –ask your manager about group discount tickets in the special Carmel FC Section.

CFC_bebravebrooks

A great night to be part of Carmel FC soccer club as Coach Mark Stumpf helped set up a ‪#‎bebraveBrooks Fundraiser to help raise money for Brooks Blackmore, a 6 yr old Carmel boy who is fighting for his life right now against cancer!!  The U 11 and U12 Girls players, coaches, and families came out in support of the event -8 teams & 4 games = Total amount raised: $1826.04!!!!  Special thanks to Dynamo FC, for putting in a team – Coach Tom’s U11 Girls -They not only helped us get a 4th game in, but also raised $251 on their own!!  Special thanks to Mark, the parents who helped volunteer, Lisa Martin for setting things up on the U12 side and all the parents and kids who donated.   ‪#‎bebraveBrooks   https://www.facebook.com/BeBraveBrooks/?fref=nf

 Buy One/Get One Free This Saturday at Chipotle Mexican Grills Nationwide – Just wear your Soccer Uniform in Sat, Apr 16 (Kids 14 and Younger only)

GAMES THIS WEEK ON TV                                                                                                                 Sat, Apr 16

7:30 am NBCSN            Norwich vs Sunderland

9:30 am Fox Sp 2        Leverkusen vs Frankfurt

10:00 a.m., NBCSN     Manchester United vs. Aston Villa
10:00 a.m., USA            Everton vs. Southampton
10:00 a.m., Live Extra: Newcastle United vs. Swansea City, West Bromwich Albion vs. Watford
12:30 p.m., NBC          Chelsea vs. Manchester City (Arlo White/Robbie Mustoe)

12:30 pm Fox                Bayern Munich vs Schalke 04

7:30 pm  YES                  Columbus Crew vs NYCFC

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos

Sun, Apr 17

8:30 a.m., NBCSN       Leicester City vs. West Ham United (Arlo White and Robbie Earle)
8:30 a.m Live Extra:  Bournemouth vs. Liverpool

9:30 am fox Sp 1         Dortmund vs Hamburg
11:00 a.m., NBCSN    Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace
3:30 pm ESPN               Orlando City vs. New England Revolution

7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City

Mon, Apr 18

3 pm NBCSN                   Stoke City vs Tottenham

Tues, Apr 19

2:45 pm NBCSN            Newcastle vs Man City

Wed , Apr 20

2:45 pm NBCSN            Liverpool vs Everton

3 pm NBCSN Extra      Man U vs Crystal Palace 

Thur, Apr 21

2:45 pm NBCSN            Arsenal vs West Brom

MLS TV Schedule ‘

European Championships This Summer on ESPN

Copa America Centario Schedule

COPA AMERICA 100 –GAMES IN CHICAGO

INDY 11

Matchday Preview vs NY Cosmos

Indy Star Preview

Indy 11 BYB- Indy 11 – Talking Tactics with Carmel FC Coach Josh Mason

Indy 11 Ads Jamaican Striker

This 89th minute goal Salvages Tie for Indy 11 in home opener

11 Survive the Cold in Home Opener for Tie vs Last Season runner Up-Bloody Shambles

Indy 11 Salvage Point from Home Opener Indy sports Report

3 Take Aways Ottawa vs Indy 11 – home Opener – Midfield Press

Indy 11 Draw 1-1 in Season Opener – Kevin Johnston Indystar

Indy 11 Recap 1-1

Kicking it With the BYB from Indy Star Sat

Indy 11 to train at Grand Park

Wine and Cheese Night, Bring a Used Soccer Ball to donate to Sat Night Game

Champions League + Europa

Champ League Predictions

Man City offer Discount on UCL tickets after backlash

Man Cities Road to 1st ever Semi Finals

DeBruynes tally leads Man City to Victory

Renaldo Hat Trick Leads to Real Comeback Win

Zidane claims Renaldo is the Best in the World

Athletico knock out Barcelona espn fc

Barcelona Season Might End Incomplete

Athletico knocks out Champs

Greizmann leads Athletico

Bayern Munich tie Benefica to squeek thru to Semis on Aggregate

Bayern Advances

Renaldo Dah Wins Player of the Week

Around the World in Soccer –

Liverpools Miracle at Anfield

Crowd Carriers Reds Thru

Liverpools draws Seinna

CR 7 is Magistarial in Hat Trick Magical Win + Advance to Semi’s

Pretty Cool Trailer before the game

EPL

Leicester City Claudio Renieri First hand account of Season of Dreams – ThePlayersTribune.com

How Tottenham could spoil Leicester’s Quest SI

Man City must bring focus back to EPL Spot

Weekend EPL News

Everton in Peril

Leicester City the Dream Continues =- Grant Wahl

MLS

Vicious Nigel DeJong Tackle may put US and Portland Midfielder out for months?

Darlington Nagbe Injury and its impact on MLS

Kaka Player of the Week

MLS Power Rankings, De Jong Suspension – SI

Columbus Crew host NYCFC on YES Sat 7:30 pm

USA

Wood’s Scores, Pulisic Starts for Dortmund

What is Klinsmann thinking – US Soccer Players

Playing the Attendance Game with Pro Soccer in the USA

Kickin’ It With The BYB: Eleven, Cosmos quite the draw

 IndyStar Sports, sports@indystar.com1:12 p.m. EDT April 15, 2016

Two games into the season, and the Indy Eleven have two draws in the ledger.f history is any indicator, expect a draw again Saturday when the Eleven welcome the New York Cosmos to Carroll Stadium at 7:30 p.m. New York and Indy have faced off six times. And all six games have ended in a draw.The Cosmos are atop the North American Soccer League standings with two wins in two games. Scorers of five goals already, New York will test Indy’s newly-steeled defense. Here are three things to know courtesy of the Eleven’s supporters group, The Brickyard Battalion:

COSMOS STILL HAVE NAME RECOGNITION.

The Cosmos are one of the most historic teams not only in the NASL, but all of North America. While the current version of the Cosmos is a far cry from the 1970s club that featured soccer royalty Pele, Franz Beckenbauer and Giorgio Chinaglia, the Cosmos still trot out some of the league’s most recognizable names.”The talent on this team is always top notch, accented by Nico Kranjcar and Jairo Arrieta,” said BYB president Joshua Mason. “But the man to watch based on current form is Juan Arango. Already with two goals and one assist in the first two games, the former Venezuelan national team captain, who also played in Spain and Mexico’s top leagues, still knows how to find the back of the net at 35 years old.”

WHAT’S NEW?

How about some defense?During the Eleven’s inaugural 2014 season, a leaky D allowed 46 goals in 27 regular season matches. In 2015, the club gave up 48 goals in 30 games.So far, through two matches under new manager Tim Hankinson, the Eleven have only conceded once. Not bad for a team with basically an entirely revamped starting lineup.”Generally we defend pretty well,” Hankinson said. “That’s going to keep us in games in most cases.”Last week, midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic limped off with a hamstring injury midway through the second half and was replaced by former Indiana University standout Dylan Mares. Mares will likely slide into Ubiparipovic’s attacking midfield role in Saturday’s starting lineup.”Dylan held his own last week really pressing forward, and is not new to starting for the Eleven,” Mason said. “It also demonstrates how much deeper this bench is versus previous years, as coach wants a strong, healthy level of competition.”Mares, a Zionsville grad who led the Eleven with five goals a season ago, is one of only three players remaining from Indy’s 2014 opening day roster.Earlier this week, the Eleven, in search of more offensive firepower, added Jamaican forward Omar Gordon on loan from Montego Bay United in Jamaica. The 24-year-old led the Jamaican Red Stripe Premier League in scoring a season ago with 18 goals.

THE WEATHER WILL BE FANTASTIC. 

Despite 30-degree temperatures and flirting with snow, the Eleven drew more than 9,000 fans to last week’s home opener. With Saturday’s forecast of mid-70s temperatures, The BYB expects a sell out and people lining the roof of the parking garage across the street. To those who arrive early to tailgate, The BYB will introduce a new game to the masses: Futpong. What is Futpong? Imagine ping pong and soccer, played with a size one ball and hitting it over a small net.”This week you really have no excuse not to fill the stands, and its wine and cheese night,” Mason said. “So go get your finest red and blue ascot, smoking jacket, and GET TO THE GAME!”

CHARITY PARTICIPATION:  Slaughterhouse-19, one of the BYB affiliate groups will be collecting gently used purses and toiletries for a non-profit called “Project Purse.” These purses are then filled with toiletries and are given to women in need. These will be collected at the BYB tailgate area.IndyStar correspondent Kevin Johnston contributed to this story.For more on The Brickyard Battalion visit the group’s website and follow them on Twitter: @The_BYB.

 

GAMEDAY PREVIEW: #INDVNYC

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview  Indy Eleven vs. New York Cosmos
Saturday, April 16, 2016 – 7:30 p.m. ET  Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indy Eleven

MEDIA GAME NOTES:

TICKETS:

  • Seats as low as $11 still available – CLICK HERE
  • $22 Wine & Cheese package, featuring ISU Networking Night – CLICK HERE

WATCH LIVE:

  • Local TV: WISH-TV 8
  • National TV: ONE World Sports
  • Online: www.ONEWorldSports.com
  • Watch Parties: Union Jack Pub, Chatham Tap, St. Joseph’s Brewery

LISTEN LIVE:

“Death. Taxes. Draw the Cosmos.”

As Monday’s tax deadline and Saturday’s first meeting of 2016 between Indy Eleven and New York approaches, that phrase adopted by the Indy faithful couldn’t be any timelier. The two sides have vast differences in many metrics, but when it comes to the results on the field it’s been split right down the middle every time, with all six prior meetings ending in ties, including a trio of 1-1 affairs last season.Both teams will look to break that mold when the first of their three match-ups in 2016 occurs at “The Mike” on Saturday. While there are no “must-win” games in Week 3 of a season, if Indy Eleven is to seriously contend for the Spring Season title at will at the very least need another draw against the front-running Cosmos. However, a breakthrough win would not only keep “Indiana’s Team” within distance of New York and the co-leading Carolina RailHawks – both on a maximum six points from their first two games – but it would also count as a “statement win” the side has long been looking for.
Last Time Out – Indy 1 : 1 Ottawa

In their first home match of the season, the “Boys in Blue” fought out to a draw with Ottawa Fury FC in chilly conditions at Carroll Stadium. After a scoreless opening first 45 minutes, the second half saw both goals as Fury FC found the back of the net first. Just over ten minutes in from the break, the deadlock was broken by Israeli striker Idan Vered.  The Red Star Belgrade signing broke through the center of the defense to get on the end of a great service from Jonny Steele on the heels of a counter-attack to put the visitors one-up. As the pressure mounted on Ottawa’s goal, the Eleven maintained their press and pushed the Fury defense further and further into their own territory. In the 89th minute, left back Nemanja Vuković found his way towards the near post and stuck a foot on the end of a bouncing ball, which came about when Ottawa ‘keeper Romuald Peiser’s made a low save of Greg Janicki’s header inside the six.
Continuity in Question

Through two games this season, Indy Eleven has allowed just a single goal with the same eleven on the pitch to start both matches. However, against Fury FC, Sinisa Ubiparipovic limped off with a hamstring injury, making it likely there will be at least one fresh face in the first XI to kick things off when the league leaders visit the Circle City on Saturday.
Defense Rules the Day

What remains constant is the effort from the Indy Eleven back five, including ‘keeper Jon Busch, as they are one of just four teams to have let in a goal or less in the opening 180 minutes. The resulting 0.50 goals allowed clip is tied with Tampa Bay for second in the NASL through Week 2 – behind only this weekend’s opposition, with the Cosmos posting clean sheets in each of their first two affairs. Indy’s defensive moxie will be put to the test against the high-flying Cosmos, whose attack led by Jairo Arrieta has put up a league-best five goals through two rounds.
Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: FW Eamon Zayed

In Indy Eleven’s first two games, Zayed has gone hungry up top, getting just 23 and 21 touches against Tampa Bay and Ottawa, respectively. There is no one culprit on the “Boys in Blue” responsible for feeding the big Irishman at the point of the team’s 4-2-3-1 attack – only one player (Justin Braun in the opener) has completed more than one pass to Zayed in a match – so it will take a collective effort to get the job done. It will be interesting to see, should the trend continue early on, if he’ll drop deeper and deeper to get into the game or if he’ll remain higher up the field to keep the Cosmos center backs honest.
Who to Watch, New York Cosmos edition: MF Juan Arango

While names like Nico Kranjcar and Jairo Arrieta might be more familiar to American fans of the beautiful game, perhaps the biggest threat among the Cosmos newcomers this offseason is Arango. Boasting two goals and one assist in two games, the former Venezuelan National Team captain and performer with Spanish La Liga side Mallorca and Liga MX’s Xolos de Tijuana still very clearly packs a punch at 35 years of age.A true attacking threat, Arango is known more for his ability to get forward than his distribution but has the ability to produce a peach of a pass at the drop of a hat. His two goals have him level for second in the league with teammate Adam Moffat and just behind Railhawks midfielder Austin da Luz, who leads the league with three.Look for Arango to try and exploit the space in front of the Eleven defense, leaving the task of marking him to midfielders Brad Ring and Nicki Paterson, who have impressed in their own right so far.
Match-up to Mark: Indy GK Jon Busch v. New York Attackers

Jon Busch arrived in Indianapolis just ahead of the 2016 season after 14 years in MLS, but had just one thing on his mind – winning a trophy. So far, Busch has been huge for “Indiana’s Team,” making three saves and numerous other massive plays on the ball in the season opener against Tampa Bay and doing his part in last week’s home opener against Ottawa.Now stands his biggest NASL test so far – facing the attack-laden lineup of Cosmos looking to continue their scoring ways. Speaking highly of the defense in front of him this week, Busch knows that he’ll get a good amount of help – but even the best defense can’t totally clamp down on New York for 90 minutes, so he’ll need to come up big on some occasions keep Indy Eleven’s stout defensive numbers intact for another week.
2015 Overview vs. New York Cosmos: 0W-3D-0L

IND 1 : 1 NYC – April 11, 2015 – Indy Eleven opened up the 2015 home slate at Carroll Stadium against the New York Cosmos in the first of three one-all stalemates that year. After drawing even with the Atlanta Silverbacks a week prior, the focus shifted to securing three points at home – and things looked bright early. Brian Brown opened the scoring in the 12th minute when Cosmos ‘keeper Jimmy Maurer took one too many steps away from home while clearing his lines, and the ball found its way to the feet of the Jamaican, who took a touch before lobbing an effort inside the right post from 30 yards out. However, in the 65th minute, the legend known as “Raúl” fired home a header from close range to bring the tally to 1-1. A brief chance in the 78th minute came towards striker Charlie Rugg, but his contested effort sailed over the crossbar and the match ended even. Theme continued.

NYC 1 : 1 IND – July 5, 2015 – An early July encounter on Long Island to open the Fall Season, the Cosmos and “Boys in Blue” again couldn’t find a winner in the fifth tie in as many meetings. Again “Indiana’s Team” went ahead first as Wojciech Wojcik put a stronghold on the match after collecting a forced clearance and flushing on a volley from 12 yards out. The unwritten rule of a one-goal limit was nearly broken by the Eleven just a few minutes later when midfielder Dylan Mares popped a free kick across to the far post, but Duke Lacroix could only force a fantastic save out of netminder Jimmy Maurer, who forced the effort over the top of the bar.The Cosmos’ equalizer would come from Walter Restrepo in the 78th minute when he absorbed a through pass on the right side of the pitch to rifle an effort at Nicht. The big German would get a strong hand on it, but the rebound ricocheted back off Restrepo’s head and into the back of the net to level the score. Then came New York’s opportunity to break the deadlock in the 88th minute when Sebastián Guenzatti stuck out a leg to finish a cross from Marcos Senna, but after consulting the linesman the head official called the goal back and ruled Guenzatti as offside. After a tense five minutes of stoppage – played without the late-ejected Indy interim skipper Tim Regan on the bench – the full-time whistle blew and the pair once again settled for a point apiece. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

IND 1 : 1 NYC – July 25, 2015 – It was less than three weeks later that the two would meet, this time back in the Hoosier State at Michael A. Carroll Stadium. As over 10K packed into “The Mike” once more, a set of two goals separated by a couple minutes of first half stoppage time would settle the match. The Cosmos capitalized first as Raul played through Walter Restrepo, and the Colombian picked up his second goal of the year against “Indiana’s Team” having placed an effort between Nicht and the far post. On the ensuing kickoff, momentum would swing back in favor of the “Boys in Blue” when Dylan Mares took a streamlined pass from Dragan Stojkov down in the area and fired low into the right side netting with his left boot. Both sides would have chances in the second half that did not come to fruition. The final 45 minutes weren’t without excitement though as both Erick Norales and Sebastian Guenzatti saw red for trading blows, and the 1-1 score that held at full-time would be the third of the 2015 season. Same old, same old … a familiar result.

Talking Tactics: Indy Eleven v Ottawa Fury FC

Doug Starnes dissects Saturday’s draw against Ottawa Fury FC. As always, you can follow Doug and/or shake your fist at him on Twitter at @GrassInTheSky1.

If you braved the weather Saturday to support Indy Eleven at The Mike, good on you. I’m sure a win would have warmed your bones a little more than did the draw, but imagine how cold you would have felt had Nemanja Vukovic not smashed home that equalizer? Hoth cold, that’s how cold.The match was interesting in that it forced Indy to chase a goal by changing their formation and tactics. In so doing, Hankinson may have discovered some useful alternatives to the way the team has thus far been set up to begin matches. I’m not suggesting that the 4-2-3-1 will suddenly be scrapped in favor of a more attacking formation, but their were a number of adjustments to the side in the second half Saturday – in role, personnel, and formation – that jump started the Eleven’s attack and led to the late goal.

4-2-3-1 Status Report

I imagine not a small number of Eleven supporters are unconvinced that this formation is the best way forward (pun intended). Through two-and-a-half matches, the 4-2-3-1 (with an unchanged lineup) has not produced much of substance in attack. It’s been difficult for the team to combine with Éamon Zayed and much of the team’s attacking play has centered around playing Duke Lacroix in down the flank and then trying to catch up. With Brad Ring and Nicki Paterson playing as dual pivots, the numbers getting into the attacking third in a timely manner are somewhat limited. On Saturday, Paterson seemed to have a little more license to get forward – he was even the Eleven player closest to the goal in the 18th minute when Braun’s header led to a half chance inside the Ottawa six-yard box – but that amount of box-to-box running is tough to maintain and can lead to dangerous counterattacking moments if your team is not especially adept at maintaining possession in transition.The real problem for Indy in the current 4-2-3-1 is that they cannot bring their front four players into the match in any meaningful or consistent way. With limited options going forward, opponents can sit in their defensive shape and let Indy give them back the ball with forced passes or long balls.

Long story short, I’d expect the 4-2-3-1, or at least its current iteration, to be on a fairly short leash.

Ottawa Goal

Expanding on my previous point regarding Nicki Paterson getting forward more in Saturday’s match, it’s a bit of a double-edged sword. In the Tampa Bay match, with Paterson and Ring sitting behind the front four as dedicated numbers six, it’s much easier for the two of them to balance one another and keep the game in front of them. With Paterson playing more like a number eight on Saturday, Ring had a more complicated job with concern to balancing Paterson, especially in transition moments.On Ottawa’s goal, as Julian de Guzman switched fields from Indy’s right to left with a square pass to Rafael Alves, Ring made a bending run through the center circle from right to left as he started to follow the next ball from Alves to Idan Vered. In the Tampa Bay match, with Ring and Paterson playing as dual sixes, one could reasonably expect Paterson to be sitting behind Ring in a more central position. On Saturday, as Ring started to make his recovery run, he realized too late that Paterson was in fact just as high as he was and well to the Indy’s left. Because of this, Vered was able to play Gerardo Bruna, who had ghosted into the space behind Ring and Paterson, with the killer pass of the move.

Pardon my weak Photoshop game, but bear with me. The arrow line marks Rings recovery run and the “X” represents Paterson.

So far, the 4-2-3-1 has been tough to break down, but if the answer is to allow Paterson license to play box-to-box, Indy will be perhaps more prone to exposure in transition moments than they might otherwise be with a tweak of formation or the roles of the front four players.

Dylan Mares? Or Two Strikers?

Ubiparipović’s completed passes and key passes.

It’s unfortunate that Siniša Ubiparipović picked up a hamstring injury and had to leave the match at the beginning of the second half, but Dylan Mares stepped in and arguably became the most influential player in the match. If you compare Ubiparipović’s statistics to those of Mares, the difference is interesting.

Ubiparipović:

51 minutes played

22 touches

9/11 passing

1 Chance created

Pass direction – 18.2% forward, 36.4% left, 36.4% right, 9.1% backwards

Mares:

Mares’s completed passes and key passes.

39 minutes played

28 touches

14/18 passing

1 chance created

Pass direction – 38.9% forward, 11.1% left, 22.2% right, 27.8 backwards

I’ve bolded what I believe to be the really important statistic here, but there are others that are certainly worth noting. The fact that Mares had more touches and was on the ball more than Ubiparipović in fairly significantly fewer minutes is interesting.Before you get all “Team Ubi” or “Team Mares” on me, let’s talk about what those statistics actually reflect. I don’t believe it’s that Mares is a more dynamic attacking player than is Ubiparipović. They’re both good, but they bring different skills and abilities to the match.If you look closely at Mares’s statistics, he didn’t really start to catch fire until around the 70th minute. Prior to that, Mares was a straight swap for Ubiparipović in the 4-2-3-1 and he didn’t do much. In the 63rd minute, Jair Reinoso came on for Justin Braun and things started to get interesting. This, however, was not a straight swap. Indy shifted their formation to accommodate Reinoso as a second striker and moved into a 4-4-2 with Mares playing on the right side of a midfield diamond that included Brad Ring at the base, Nicki Paterson at the point, and Duke Lacroix on the left. Suddenly there were options forward and Indy started to look more dangerous.In the 74th minute, Don Smart came on for Duke Lacroix and another formation shift followed. Vukovic and Smart became left and right wing backs, respectively, and Mares was moved to a number ten role behind Reinoso and Zayed. In this role, he staked a legitimate claim to player of the game. I think Ubiparipović would have as well.

Average starting positions for Indy Eleven prior to any change.

Average starting positions of the substitutes compared to the starting Eleven.

The shift worth noting – and I think what Hankinson will be mulling over moving forward – was the addition of a second striker. Whether in a 4-4-2 or a 3-5-2, a second threat playing off of Zayed opened up many more options in advance of the midfield that simply were not there in the Tampa Bay match and much of the game versus Ottawa.

Takeaways

This is a work in progress, but I’m sure Hankinson took some valuable lessons from Saturday’s match with concern to Indy’s attacking play. It’s likely too early in the season to completely scrap some form of the 4-2-3-1, but the danger Indy presented once they shifted to a two forward system cannot be denied. If the team continues to struggle to create chances in the 4-2-3-1 with which they’ve started the first two matches of the season, the systems deployed at the end of Saturday’s match will likely inform any changes that are made.

Eleven survive, don’t thrive, on cold night against Ottawa. Indy Eleven V Ottawa Fury Review (4/09/16)

By: Caleb Ramp – Bloody Shambles

“Not the three points we were after, but it’s good to see our team not [lie] down and keep the fight to the end.”
Coach Hankinson’s post-game comments epitomize the mixed emotion of Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Ottawa Fury. The opportunity for a statement victory may not have been realized, but a statement was still made: a statement that this team, while still a work in progress, is resilient.2014 and 2015 Indy Eleven don’t draw that game. When Ottawa — who were kept in relative check by Indy’s stout defense — open the scoring in the second half, previous iterations of this squad crumble.his team didn’t.
That Nemanja Vukovic — the man who lost his mark at the back post on Ottawa’s goal (and admitted as much after the game) — was the same who brought the Eleven level, is a poetic microcosm of the side’s ability to overcome adversity: an important trait if they’re to make a legitimate playoff push.Among the positive takeaways, Jair Reinoso continues to impress. His technical proficiency and comfort on the ball were evident again after coming on for a less-than-impressive Justin Braun in the 63rd minute. Once fully fit, it’s hard to imagine the Colombian isn’t a staple starter.
Dylan Mares also stepped in admirably for Indy maestro Sinisa Ubiparipovic. Indy’s #10 exited in the 51st minute with a hamstring injury, and will be evaluated during the week to determine his availability for this week’s match against the Cosmos. I was critical of Dylan during the preseason: he was taking too many touches and ignoring the easy pass. He would dribble into opponents and summarily be dispossessed. Saturday he showed flashes of the player which led the team in assists in 2015. He needed a few minutes to get settled (earning a deserved yellow card almost instantly), but Vukovic’s equalizer wouldn’t have been possible without an intelligent pass which split two defenders and put Don Smart in a position to swing the deciding ball into the box.
Consistent possession continues to be a struggle, however. “Players are standing and not taking good care of the ball,” Hankinson said after the game. “When you do that, you’re going to give the ball away often enough where all you can do is defend.”Indy finished with less than 50% of possession for the second time in as many games.

Random Thoughts and Opinions:

 

  • Miscommunication continued on crosses and angled balls into the box. There were multiple occasions when an excellent ball was played toward the back post, but the attacking player had made an ill-advised cut to the inside (into traffic).
  • Width is still an issue. Zayed was left on an island several times and was forced to take the ball outside himself and attempt  to put a dangerous ball in the box.  He should be on the end of these, not trying to generate them. Statistically, he finished with three crosses, while starting outside attacking midfielders Justin Braun and Duke LaCroix both finished without even one.

 

James Cormack’s Take:

We seem to be having a real problem with transition between defense and attack. We are still defending very well indeed, but even more so this week the ball is not coming out of the back well.

We are sitting way to deep for long periods in the game, Hankinson likes players to drop back and cover rather than chase and get tired, but I think on evidence of the first two games we are now perhaps over indulging in this tactic.Towards the end of the first half we are defending corners with 11 players. Zayed is having to try and make a break from 15 to 20 yards inside our own half with nobody in front of him. Ubiparipović again is way too far back to help build a meaningful attack.The 4-2-3-1 is good in theory, but our players don’t seem to be understanding it so far, we are not using the corners or getting crosses in nor are we stretching the other team with this formation so far. We get very few crosses in and when we do there are not enough players on the end to make a difference. All I see from this setup and the way we are playing it so far is we don’t let a lot of goals in. That’s it.As most people know, the longer you go without scoring the higher the chance is the other team will score first. We have to be that team that scores first and not put ourselves in a position to require two goals for a win. We gave Ottawa too much respect, they were okay but not fantastic, we made them look better.We pulled it back, this will be a huge point looking back on it. It should not have come to that but it would have been very disappointing to lose this game. It is early enough in the season where we can recover from things like this. The most positive thing for me in the game was Coach Hankinson’s willingness to change the tactics and formation not once but twice during the game. Switching to a 4-4-2 and then moving to a back three and pushing Vukovic forward showed both he and the team would not give up. This is something we have completely lacked in previous years. Historically we have never had a clue how to adapt during a game, this is very encouraging to me. Hankinson is also highly active during games and very animated, I also like that!Very impressed with our defense again, Falvey and Janicki were superb. We seem to have that part of our game under control. I admired Lacroix for probably being the most aggressive player in the first half and Mares and Reinoso for showing the same aggression in the second. Reinoso looks like a real handful, I think he will be starting games real soon.Keep up to date with all things Shambles at BloodyShambles.Com, you can follow us on twitter@Bloody_Shambles

 

INDY ELEVEN TAKE A POINT FROM HOME OPENER

Mark D. Anderson | April 10, 2016 | Indy Eleven | No Comments

INDIANAPOLIS- The “Boys in Blue” played a thriller in front of over 9,000 fans at Michael A. Carroll stadium on a brisk Saturday night.  Ottawa Fury scored in the 56′ off an Idan Vered run.  Thirty more minutes of tense play with numerous opportunities for the Eleven finally sawNemanja Vuković net Indy’s first goal of the year.  The draw gives Indy two points out of two games.  Their next game is also at home next Saturday to the dreaded New York Cosmos.

Vuković Giveth and Vuković Taketh Away
Nemanja has had an eventful season with the Eleven so far.  He was second only to central midfielder Nicki Paterson in touches against Ottawa with 59.  His strong, physical presence has augmented Indy’s back four, making their defense one of the best in the league to date.  Vered scored for Ottawa while Vuković was caught ballwatching and beaten on the backside, but Vuković’s perseverance forward and dedication to following the play helped the team build pressure and resulted in a dramatic goal in the 89′ after a cross from super-sub Don Smart.

Eamon on an Island
Indy played a 4-2-3-1 with Eamon Zayed the lone striker.  Zayed does well in his movement and played in a dangerous cross nearly resulting in a Duke LaCroix goal on a back-post run early in the first half, but often he looks to be alone up top.  Either he needs to be stronger in holding up the ball, more decisive on when to attack, or the midfield needs to be more patient in distributing to him when he’s in need of support.

Captain Falvey and Unstoppable Paterson
Colin Falvey wore the captain’s band for the Eleven on Saturday; a well-deserved honor for the center back.  Nicki Paterson showed his work-ethic being seemingly everywhere on the field.  He led the team with 64 touches on the ball and nearly equalized with a shot in the second half.

Noteworthy
Jair Reinoso came on in the 63′ minute and provided positive minutes for the second straight game.  The Colombian striker, signed last week, has shown more poise in the final third than anyone on the team.  Coach Hankinson will need to weigh whether the offensive capabilities of Reinoso are valued over the defensive and aerial abilities of Justin Braun.

Siniša Ubiparipović went off with a hamstring injury in the 51′.  His injury will be re-evaluated Monday.  Eleven fans hope to see their most creative player back on the field soon.

Indy Eleven: 3 Take Aways from Ottawa

ByLogan David AyersonApril 10, 2016

On a fantastically cold spring night at the “Mike” The Indy Eleven took on 2015 NASL Fall Champions in week 2 of the NASL Spring Season.  The match was built up to be a closer one with the Eleven coming in off a 0-0 draw to the Tampa Bay Rowdies, and the Fury coming off a devastating loss to the Champions New York Cosmos away last week. The Eleven would improve with 2 points following the 1-1 draw setting them up for a fantastic show down with the New York Cosmos at Michael A. Carroll Stadium, under the lights next Saturday at 7:30 PM ET. Here are a few take aways from the match from our editors.

  1. The Brickyard Battalion’s tifo game is on point:

The Brickyard Battalion show cased an awesome tifo last night depicting the Indianapolis Flag with banners saying “Back Home Again” paying homage to the famous Hoosier Classic “Back Home Again in Indiana” composed by Ballard MacDonald and James F. Hanley. The song is most famously played at the Indianapolis 500 every year before the race. Jim Nabors made the song famous beginning in the 1970’s.  (Listen to Jim Nabors’ version of the song here)

  1. Possession Possession Possession 

Possession was key to the success in this match which made it go both sides in the first half alone there was 8 shots from both sides of the ball. In the 59th Minute Idan Vered scored for Ottawa assisted by Jonny Steele making the Eleven struggle until the final 20 minutes when Nemanja Vuković would equalize giving the Eleven the draw.

  1. Offsides killed the Eleven 

Multiple offsides calls were made against the Eleven in this match. Many times the Club would attack the flanks to get the ball into the box to attack on goal. This of course is a good strategy but it can hurt the team with offsides calls, giving the opposing team a chance to begin a new attack. Sometimes when the Club scores it can not be counted due to offsides calls. Of course if this was the case otherwise the Eleven would have won the match 2-1.

Contributor’s Thoughts: 

I believe the Eleven has done fairly well thus far in their 2016 Spring Season Campaign. The Club’s overhaul is definitely showing it’s worth and Tim Hankinson is definitely proving to be the figure the Eleven needs to be successful this season. When it comes to the last few matches it’s important to remember we are facing the 2015 “Big 3” with Tampa Bay, Ottawa (2015 NASL Runner Ups), and the New York Cosmos (2015 NASL Champions).  2 Draws is definitely a good start to the Club’s Campaign and a win against the Cosmos would be HUGE for the club. Tim Hankinson said in the post match press conference “In order to be the Champions we must beat the Champions” Which should add a little fuel to the fire as the Eleven prepares to host the New York Cosmos next week. At the end of it all the Fans also had a major victory last night with 9,000+ Fans in attendance along with a fantastic tifo presentation by the Brickyard Battalion it will only get better from here.

Match Notes: (Courtesy of Indy Eleven) 

Scoring Summary:
OTT – Idan Vered (Jonny Steele) 56’
IND – Nemanja Vuković (unassisted) 89’

Discipline Summary:
OTT – Jonny Steele (caution) 18’
IND – Dylan Mares (caution) 55’
IND – Nicki Paterson (caution) 66’
OTT – Gerardo Bruna (caution) 83’
OTT – Dennis Chin (caution) 84’
Line ups: (including substitutions) 

Indy Eleven line-up (4-2-3-1, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković, Greg Janicki, Colin Falvey (capt), Lovel Palmer; Nicki Paterson, Brad Ring; Duke Lacroix (Don Smart 74’), Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Dylan Mares 51’), Justin Braun (Jair Reinoso 63’); Eamon Zayed

Eleven Substitutes: Keith Cardona (GK), Marco Franco, Cory Miller, Gorka Larrea

Ottawa Fury FC line up (4-3-3): Romuald Peiser; Marcel de Jong, Timbo, Rafael Alves, Kyle Porter; Jonny Steele (Lance Rozeboom 79’), Julian de Guzman (capt) (Mauro Eustaquio 84’), James Bailey; Paulo Junior, Gerardo Bruna, Idan Vered (Dennis Chin 71’)

Ottawa Substitutes: Andrew MacRae (GK), Mozzi Gyorio, Carl Haworth, Bryan Olivera

Next week the Indy Eleven will take on defending NASL champion New York Cosmos at “The Mike” for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff (live on WISH-TV, ONE World Sports and http://www.ONEWorldSports.com).

Indy Eleven open home season with 1-1 draw

Kevin Johnston, IndyStar correspondent9:06 a.m. EDT April 10, 2016

The Indy Eleven opened their 2016 North American Soccer League home slate Saturday night with a 1-1 draw against Ottawa Fury FC on an unseasonably chilly evening at Michael A. Carroll Stadium.First-year manager Tim Hankinson trotted out the same starting 11 that he used in the season opener — in his trusted 4-2-3-1 formation. In the first half, the Fury got the better of the run of play, out-possessing Indy 63 percent to 37 percent, but the Eleven generated the more dangerous scoring opportunities. Hankinson’s characterization of the first half wasn’t exactly glowing.“It just seems like players are standing and not taking good care of the ball, and when you do that you’re going to give the ball away often enough that all you can do is defend,” he said. “And we found ourselves defending a lot in the last part of the first half.“Obviously the possession has got to be better. There was a period of about 20 minutes in the first half when (midfielder) Sinisa (Ubiparipovic) never saw the ball,” he added.Ottawa opened the scoring in the 56th minute when forward Idan Vered collected a pass from midfielder Jonny Steele and buried the ball in the bottom right corner past Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch. Indy immediately cranked up the pressure in the attacking third and showed a sense of urgency to equalize.The hosts nearly did so in the 78th minute when midfielder Nicki Paterson fired a right-footed shot toward goal, but it sailed just over the crossbar. Finally, the Eleven tied the match 1-1 in the 89th minute when defender Nemanja Vukovic put away a rebound after a shot on goal by fellow defender Greg Janicki.The Eleven defense again turned in a sharp performance with 13 interceptions after producing a clean sheet and an NASL-leading 23 interceptions in the season opener against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Indy defender and captain Colin Falvey, who played for Ottawa last season, described the importance of having cohesion on defense.“If you want to get clean sheets and be defensively solid, I think it comes from your shape and your structure, and the way that you’re going to play,” he said. “I think our system and some of the personnel that we have is going to help us be very, very competitive and very compact and making sure we’re in games.”On the injury front, Ubiparipovic was replaced by Dylan Mares in the 51st minute due to a hamstring injury. He will be re-evaluated by the club Monday. Hankinson confirmed that Mares is in contention to start in the central attacking midfield spot if Ubiparipovic is unable to go next weekend.“(Mares) did a good job tonight so he’ll be in strong consideration,” Hankinson said.Despite the less-than-ideal weather, the home opener produced a solid turnout with an announced attendance of 9,104. The Eleven will look to nab their first win when they return to Carroll Stadium on Saturday to host the defending NASL champion New York Cosmos.

Nemanja Vukovic’s Late Goal Gives Indy Eleven Draw with Ottawa

89th Minute Equalizer Brings “Class of ‘14” Reunion with Fury FC to 1-1 Conclusion in Home Opener  INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, April 9, 2016) – Ottawa Fury FC looked destined to spoil Indy Eleven’s home opener by taking the full three points out of IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, but Indy defender Nemanja Vukovic’s 89th minute rebound goal forced a share of the spoils from a 1-1 draw in front of 9,104 fans in downtown Indianapolis. Ottawa forward Idan Vered opened his Fury FC account in the 56th minute to put the visitors ahead – and nearly for good, until Vukovic’s late tally evened the “Class of 2014” reunion.Indy Eleven would come out the aggressor in its home debut, pushing forward well in the opening 20 minutes. The best look for the “Boys in Blue” would come in the 19th minute when winger Justin Braun nodded Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s cross to the back post, the shot bouncing just wide left.Ottawa would work its way into attack as the half progressed, but the Canadian club’s shots would come mostly from distance and be blocked before they could challenge Indy goalkeeper Jon Busch. In fact, neither he nor his opposite number, Romuald Peiser, would be forced into a save on any of the teams’ eight combined shots in the first 45 minutes.The second half would open up with an early injury to Indy Eleven midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic, the #10 forced to leave due to a hamstring injury just six minutes into the stanza. Ottawa would go ahead in the 56thminute through Vered on a play that began with nice hold up work by Gerardo Bruna. His post up at the top of the area allowed Jonny Steele to streak into the left side of the area, accepting Bruna’s pass with a first time cross inside the six where Vered was able to redirect home to take the lead.Vuković pressed Peiser into action with a looping ball from the left that forced the Ottawa netminder into a safety-first tip over his bar in the 66th minute, which seemed to spark the Indy attack into life. Nicki Paterson made the home crowd gasp in the 78th minute, when he first-timed a laid off ball at the top of the area, his dipping shot skimming off the top of the crossbar.The pressure would mount on the home side until the release came in front of the Brickyard Battalion a minute from time. The scoring play started when Don Smart’s cross from the left was nodded down by defender Greg Janicki, forcing Peiser into a reaction save. The ball would fall straight to Vuković, who made no mistake with a shot from eight yards out that gave the Eleven their first goal of the season and a hard earned point.he result didn’t allow Indy Eleven (0W-2D-0L, 2 pts.) to notch its first home win against Ottawa (0W-1D-1L, 1 pt.)  in now its fourth try, but it did stop Indy’s three-game losing streak to its expansion mate, which spanned the 2015 season.Indy Eleven will stay in the Circle City for its Spring Season Week 3 affair next Saturday, April 16, when it welcomes the defending NASL champion New York Cosmos to“The Mike” for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff (live on WISH-TV, ONE World Sports and www.ONEWorldSports.com).

We Do Not Dream

CLAUDIO RANIERIMANAGER / LEICESTER CITY

I remember my first meeting with the chairman when I arrived at Leicester City this summer. He sat down with me and said, “Claudio, this is a very important year for the club. It is very important for us to stay in the Premier League. We have to stay safe.”My reply was, “Okay, sure. We’ll work hard on the training ground and try to achieve this.”Forty points. That was the goal. That was the total we needed to stay in the first division, to give our fans another season of Premier League football.Back then, I did not dream that I would open the paper on April 4 and see Leicester City at the top of the table with 69 points. Last year on this same day, the club was at the bottom of the table.Unbelievable.I am 64 years old, so I do not go out much. My wife has been with me for 40 years, so on my off days, I try to stay close to her. We go out to the lake by our house or maybe if we are feeling adventurous we watch a movie. But lately, I have indeed been hearing the noise from all over the world. It is impossible to ignore. I have heard we even have some new supporters in America following us.To you, I say: Welcome to the club. We are happy to have you. I want you to love the way we play football, and I want you to love my players, because their journey is unbelievable.Perhaps you have heard their names now. Players who were considered too small or too slow for other big clubs. N’Golo Kanté. Jamie Vardy. Wes Morgan. Danny Drinkwater. Riyad Mahrez. When I arrived my first day of training and I saw the quality of these players, I knew how good they could be.Well, I knew we had a chance to survive in the Premier League.This player Kanté, he was running so hard that I thought he must have a pack full of batteries hidden in his shorts. He never stopped running in training.I had to tell him, “Hey, N’Golo, slow down. Slow down. Don’t run after the ball every time, okay?”He says to me, “Yes, boss. Yes. Okay.”Ten seconds later, I look over and he’s running again.He’s unbelievable, but he is not the only key. There are too many keys to name in this incredible season.Jamie Vardy, for example. This is not a footballer. This is a fantastic horse. He has a need to be free out there on the pitch. I say to him, “You are free to move however you want, but you must help us when we lose the ball. That’s all I ask of you. If you start to press the opposition, all of your teammates will follow you.”Before we played our first match of the season, I told the players, “I want you to play for your teammates. We are a little team, so we have to fight with all our heart, with all our soul. I don’t care the name of the opponent. All I want is for you to fight. If they are better than us, Okay, congratulations. But they have to show us they are better.”There was a fantastic electricity in Leicester from the very first day. It starts from the chairman and goes to the players, the staff, the fans. It was unbelievable what I felt. In the King Power Stadium, there was a terrific energy.Do the fans sing only when we have the ball? Oh, no, no, no. When we are under pressure, the fans understand our pain and they sing their hearts out. They understand the complexity of the game, and when the players are suffering. They are very, very close to us. We started the season very well. But our goal, I repeat, was to save the club from relegation. The first nine games, we were winning, but we were giving up many goals. We had to score two or three goals to win every game. It concerned me very much.Before every game, I said, “Come on boys, come on. Clean sheet today.”No clean sheet. I tried every motivation.So finally, before the game against Crystal Palace, I said, “Come on boys, come on. I offer you a pizza if you get a clean sheet.”Of course, my players made a clean sheet against Crystal Palace. One-nil.So I stood by our deal and took my players to Peter Pizzeria in Leicester City Square. But I had a surprise for them when we got there. I said, “You have to work for everything. You work for your pizza, too. We will make our own.”So we went into the kitchen with the dough and the cheese and the sauce. We tossed our own pies. It was very good, too. I enjoyed many slices. What can I say? I’m an Italian man. I love my pizza and my pasta.Now, we make a lot of clean sheets. A dozen clean sheets after the pizza, in fact. I think this is no coincidence.We have six games remaining, and we must continue fighting with our heart and our soul. This is a small club that is showing the world what can be achieved through spirit and determination. Twenty-six players. Twenty-six different brains. But one heart.There was a fantastic electricity in Leicester from the very first day. It was unbelievable what I felt.Just a few years ago, many of my players were in the lower leagues. Vardy was working in a factory. Kanté was in the third tier of the French league. Mahrez was in the French fourth division.Now, we are fighting for a title. The Leicester fans I meet in the street tell me they are dreaming. But I say to them, “Okay, you dream for us. We do not dream. We simply work hard.”No matter what happens to end this season, I think our story is important for all football fans around the world. It gives hope to all the young players out there who have been told they are not good enough.RIFFITHS/GETTY IMAGES

They can say to themselves, “How do I arrive at the top level? If Vardy can do this, if Kanté can do this, maybe I can too.”What do you need to arrive?A big name? No.A big contract? No.You just need to keep an open mind, an open heart, a full battery, and run free.Who knows, maybe at the end of the season, we will have two pizza parties.

CLAUDIO RANIERI- Manager leicester city -CONTRIBUTOR

 

USMNT: What Klinsmann is thinking about… as far as we know

Posted on April 7, 2016 | By Charles Boehm

By Charles Boehm – WASHINGTON, DC (Apr 7, 2016) US Soccer Players – With disaster averted in last week’s World Cup qualifying home win over Guatemala, theUSMNT has returned to club duty until preparations for Copa America begin in late May.The USMNT news cycle, however, has effectively reached 24/7 status, or something close to it, with millions of fans thirsty for content to consume. So the next few weeks of coverage will be marked by running evaluations of the fitness and club form of next month’s most likely call-ups, and speculation about who’s on Jurgen Klinsmann‘s mind and in his plans.How do we know? Because he told us so.Dispensing with the media conference calls of past USMNT regimes (and occasionally, the current USWNT technical staff), US Soccer has made a custom of interviewing Klinsmann with their own list of questions and topics, then distributing the video clips to their media list via email.

Other than attributing the video to USSF’s in-house production company, outlets are free to use it. Writers and analysts can digest the substantial bank of quotes from the head coach as they formulate their columns and news articles. The clips normally end up on the federation’s website for fans to consume directly.This week’s edition of Klinsmann soundbites revolved around the recent performances of leading US soccer players:

  • Fabian Johnson’s return from injury: “It was great to see him being back in his club side … he had a very good game against Hertha Berlin”
  • John Brooks’ injury status: “He was still not 100 percent … hopefully we see him back next weekend”
  • Timmy Chandler has “a shot, maybe, at Copa America” thanks to his improved club form, while “we’re still waiting for” Alfredo Morales
  • Mexico-based players: “We’ve got to be patient” with those not getting regular playing time, though William Yarbrough “is doing really well at Club Leon”
  • Clint Dempsey’s strong displays for Seattle: “You want your players to stand out, to make their mark”
  • Jordan Morris’ rocky start at the professional level: “It’s important that we are patient … over time he will settle”
  • Brek Shea’s “up and downs” for Orlando vs Portland, as he scored “a beautiful goal” but also earned a yellow card for a brutal tackle that subsequently drew a one-game suspension
  • His England-based contingent: “It’s great to see Geoff Cameron starting for Stoke,” DeAndre Yedlin is “trying everything to keep Sunderland up” while Brad Guzan and relegation-bound Aston Villa are in “a very, very tough situation right now,” and Matt Miazga’s “huge milestone” in making his debut for “such a prestigious club as Chelsea” after Olympic playoff disappointment
  • His revelation that U-23 players like Miazga, Ethan Horvath, Kellyn Acosta, and Morris are “legitimate” candidates for his Copa America squad because of the failure to qualify for the Olympics

Like so many aspects of the federation’s current modus operandi, the wisdom of this approach is in the eye of the beholder. As you can see, Klinsmann is sharing timely information here. If we assume he’s speaking sincerely, the coach is dropping potentially significant hints about his future selections. It’s hard to beat the convenience this format offers for time-pressed, overworked journalists. And it’s certainly much better than nothing.This system also suits Klinsmann personally. He speaks often of the importance of educating US fans, but isn’t the type to slog through lengthy, inconvenient media availabilities – and that’s understandable, given some of the dreary and/or bewilderingly useless questions that have at times been posed to him in press conferences. He does also post regularly from his personal Twitter account, and takes time to connect with fans via Facebook Q&As with the help of the federation’s communications staff, both admirably progressive entries into social media.But something is missing in this formula. Even if the questions raised in Klinsmann’s distributed clips largely overlap with what reporters would ask him, the format removes any trace of surprise or spontaneity.The topics – and depth of their treatment – are pre-selected. Klinsmann is able to rehearse his answers if he so desires and the federation maintains full control of the proceedings at all times. No one intrudes with less-savory subjects. Nobody gets to ask about FIFA and CONCACAF corruption, or how the technical staff’s accountability for the program’s second consecutive failure to qualify for the Olympics. Though fuller access occasionally happens via roundtables or conference calls, usually only a tight group of veteran journalists representing a small number of media outlets receive an invite.Control: It’s been a recurring theme around the USSF lately. Consider the Women’s National Team’s increasingly bitter struggle for a collective-bargaining breakthrough. Or, the fed’s ongoing power play in the youth realm, where they have asserted their organizational and financial muscle with a my-way-or-the-highway approach to player development in recent years.On the latter front, frustrations have elevated to the point that in February a broad-based group of leading youth organizations took the unusual step of publicly calling USSF to task for its failure to connect, collaborate or even notify them in advance onseveral hugely important policy decisions. They requested a “formal, institutionalized communications process to ensure that an ongoing dialogue is established.”Control has been a priority for most of Klinsmann’s tenure, especially in the wake of the 2013 Sporting News article that highlighted the confusion and discontent behind the scenes during 2014 World Cup qualifying. Like most top-level coaches, he holds strong convictions and does not hesitate to take an active role in his players’ lives, whether it’s during USMNT camps or beyond. He’s committed to his methods and conclusions, and expects those around him to follow suit.That’s all quite understandable. Still, in rocky times like the present, the overall impression is of Klinsmann as a carefully guarded celebrity coach, not the change agent and beacon of reform. Remember what Klinsmann represented when he took the job.In the 1960s, political scientist Bernard Cohen helped build the theory of agenda-setting, noting that the media “may not be successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful in telling its readers what to think about.”His words prophesied the influence and ubiquity of modern journalism, and provide us with a fitting reminder at this juncture in Klinsmann’s tenure: The USMNT’s coach doesn’t expect everyone to agree with him, but he’s not interested in having a discussion on anyone else’s terms, either.Charles Boehm is a Washington, DC-based writer and the editor of The Soccer Wire. Contact him at:cboehm@thesoccerwire.com. Follow him on Twitter at:http://twitter.com/cboehm.

 

US Players – More goals for Bobby Wood and a start for Pulisic

Posted on April 11, 2016 | By US Soccer Players

We start the weekend roundup for USMNT players in Europe and Mexico with Bobby Wood scoring again in the 2.Bundesliga. At this point, it’s safe to assume that if Union Berlin is playing, Wood is probably scoring. He bagged two goals in the 4-0 win at Paderborn on Friday night, opening the scoring in the 7th minute and finding the back of the net again in the 13th. Damir Kreilach made it 3-0 in the 21st with Toni Leistner finishing off the scoring in the 36th. Union Berlin is 7th in the 2.Bundesliga table, tied on points with 8th-place Greuther Furth.

A league, up, Christian Pulisic started for Borussia Dortmund in their 2-2 draw with Schalke in the Revierderby on Sunday. For Americans not up on their German geography, which in fairness is most of us, Schalke’s home town of Gelsenkirchen and Dortmund are about half an hour from each other. Thus the local rivalry for a game where Dortmund took the lead through Shinji Kagawa in the 49th minute. Schalke equalized two minutes later. Matthias Ginter had Dortmund up in the 56th minute with Schalke equalizing from the penalty spot in the 66th. Pulisic subbed out in the 73rd minute. Here he is talking about the game courtesy of Bundesliga.com.

Also in the Bundesliga, Timmy Chandler and Eintracht lost 2-0 to Hoffenheim. Fabian Johnson subbed out in the 78th minute for Gladbach‘s 1-0 loss at Ingolstadt.

Moving to the Premier League, it was another loss for Aston Villa as relegation seems a foregone conclusion. Brad Guzan was in goal for the 2-1 loss to Bournemouth at Villa Park. Trailing 2-0 from the 74th minute, Jordan Ayew pulled a goal back for Villa in the 85th. Matt Miazga played the first-half for Chelsea in their 1-0 loss at Swansea City.DeAndre Yedlin and Sunderland lost 2-0 at home to Leicester City. After making it 1-1 with an equalizer form Bojan in the 22nd minute, Geoff Cameron and Stoke City lost 4-1 to Liverpool at Anfield.

In the Championship, Emerson Hyndman scored in Fulham’s 2-1 win over Cardiff City at Craven Cottage. Trailing from the 41st minute, Scott Parker equalized in the 46th. Hyndman won the game three minutes into stoppage time. Danny Williams and Reading lost 2-0 to Birmingham City. Cody Cropper was in goal for MK Dons’ 4-0 loss to Rotherham. On Monday, Eric Lichaj and Nottingham Forest lost 2-1 to Brighton. Dexter Blackstock equalized for Forest in the 50th minute but Brighton scored in stoppage time.

Perry Kitchen and Hearts beat Aberdeen 2-1 in the Scottish Premier League. Falling behind at home in the 4th minute, Juanma equalized for Hearts in the 33rd and won the game in the 61st. Hearts are 3rd in the table, nine points behind Aberdeen.

Liga MX, and Omar Gonzalez and Pachuca beat Tigres 2-1 at home after trailing from the 7th minute. Franco Jara equalized in the 74th and Gustavo Ramirez scored in the 86th minute. William Yarbrough was in goal for Leon’s 2-1 win at UNAM Pumas. Hernan Burbano put Leon up in the 10th minute and Maxi Morales scored in the 34th. Pumas pulled a goal back in the 44th minute.

Did Not Play: Alfredo Morales (Ingolstadt 1- Gladbach 0), Jerome Kiesewetter (Stuttgart II 1- Aalen 1), Tim Howard (Everton 1 – Watford 1), Jonathan Spector (Birmingham City 2 – Reading 0), Tim Ream (Fulham 2 – Cardiff City 1), Rubio Rubin (Utrecht 3 – NEC 1), Jose Torres (Tigres 1 – Pachuca 2), Michael Orozco and Greg Garza (Tijuana 1 – Club America 6), Miguel Ibarra (Leon 2 – Pumas 1), Edgar Castillo (Monterrey 6 – Chiapas 0), Jonathan Bornstein (Queretaro 0 – Toluca 0)

Injured: John Brooks (Hertha BSC 2 – Hannover 2), Aron Johannsson (Werder Bremen 1 – Augsburg 2), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes 1 – Reims 2), Josh Gatt (Molde 1 – Start 1)

 

Playing the attendance game in American soccer

Posted on April 13, 2016 | By Jason Davis

By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Apr 13, 2016) US Soccer Players – Simply stated, there are two easy ways to judge the interest in soccer in the United States of America, a country that spent more than a few decades sticking its fingers in its ears and pretending like the sport didn’t exist at all: attendance and TV ratings.Both are fraught with problems as decent measures of soccer’s engagement of a fickle sports-watching public. TV ratings have been notoriously unreliable for years, even before things like streaming and DVRs completely complicated viewing habits. When it comes to soccer, certain games prompt communal viewing, parties that help fans share in the experience of watching games on television from long distances away. Whether or not the TV ratings company can accurately gauge the audience for any given game is at the very least suspect.Attendance might be even stickier. At least with TV ratings, all of the interested parties (programming producers, networks, and advertisers) have agreed to accept the ratings despite their imperfections. There is one standard, no matter how poor that standard might possibly be. A shared acceptance of the numbers allows for something approaching a fair market for TV rights and ad time, pushing along an industry that is simultaneously wrestling with paradigm-shifting technology.That’s not the case for counting the people that show up to watch pro soccer. If we see people filling all the available seats, it’s easy. In others cases, reported attendance numbers are a complete a fabrication, as make-believe as King Friday and his subjects. Teams don’t typically report the number of human bodies through the turnstiles, but rather the number of tickets distributed. While that practice isn’t unique to soccer, it’s impact on how we view the popularity of the sport in America is immense.The key word when it comes to attendance numbers reported is “distributed”, which includes, but is not exclusive to, the number of tickets sold. Sports attendances defy the word “attendance” more often than not because they aren’t attendances at all. Instead, they represent the number of tickets sold, comped, or flat out given away. When perception of your club operations (and further, your league) can turn on attendance numbers reported the next day, there’s pressure to put people in the stands by whatever means necessary. In perfect world, every ticket sells at face value and every fan shows up to use his or her purchased tickets. In the real world, even “sell outs” come with caveats and all games feature no-shows.With that situation firmly in mind, the numbers already look promising for the lower divisions in North American soccer. Just this past weekend, Miami FC got over 10,000 for their home opener. San Antonio FC set a Toyota Field record by drawing 8400 in the team’s USL debut. FC Cincinnati, a first-year USL club in a town with no recent professional soccer history, attracted over 14k. Sacramento Republic has continued to be a lower division juggernaut, bringing in the usual (for them) crowd of over 11k.On the surface, those attendance numbers seem to indicate a robust American soccer scene, even at the third division level. They’re not MLS-caliber numbers, but neither are they the attendance numbers of old, when hitting mid-five figures was something of a coup for anyone outside of the top league. Attendance numbers that flirt with or fly past five figures make clubs look good, they make markets look good, and they signal to the mainstream soccer public that professional soccer’s future goes well beyond the biggest cities in the country.Attendance numbers like that are the surest sign of a market’s potential. Big crowds make the push for MLS easier. Big crowds help sell any league to new investors.Still, knowing what we do about reporting standards, how much stock to put in attendance numbers is it’s own question. The eyeball test says Miami FC and FC Cincinnati had large crowds, but without an excruciating and frankly impossible headcount, there’s no way to know if the crowds they disclosed were the crowds they got, or how many of the people who showed up actually paid something for their ticket. At some point the numbers don’t matter as much, but when the question is just how popular soccer is across the country, and whether the cities in question can support teams who don’t get on TV or attract big name stars, these sort of details matter.American soccer clubs, from USL all the way up to MLS, are fighting a war for respect. All is fair in love and war, so the need to be spot-on with reported attendance is secondary to putting forward a vision of strength.The odd thing is that there’s plenty of gray area between “soccer teams are exaggerating their attendances” and “wow, look at those huge crowds” as signals of what’s happening at various levels of American soccer. The game is growing in America, and more fans are (probably) attending games than ever before. But it’s also probably not as good as the numbers might indicate. When it comes to filling seats, the truth is in the eye of the beholder.Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and the host of Soccer Morning. Contact him: matchfitusa@gmail.com. Follow him on

 

 

4/6/16 Indy 11 Home Opener Sat, Champ League, TV Games

Our Indy 11 embarks on season #3 with its first home game of the Spring Season this Sat, 7:30 pm at the Mike and on Ch 8 locally and ESPN3 Nationwide.  Lots of changes including more money spent on players and a new Head Coach in charge – Tim Hankinson.  It will be interesting to see if the changes lead to more wins, especially home wins, and perhaps a visit to the playoffs.  Also interesting to watch will be does attendance hold up if the team is not doing well?  On the surface it appears the Eleven have shored up the D a little, and picked up a proven striker in Eamon Zayed.  I will miss saying DAS BOOT – on goalkicks – but honestly I think we’ll see better play with Jon Busch between the posts overall this season.  The 11 kept most games close last season so anything they can do to find just 1 goal more per game could well make the difference between a playoff team and not.  I for one plan to be there in the BYB when I can – as the Flex Pack of 11 vouchers for games is too good to pass up.

So Champions League has had a twist here in the Round of 8 – as Wolfsburg shocked Real Madrid – 2-0 in Germany just days after Real beat Barcelona in El Classico 2-1 at Camp Nuo.  In Paris – Man City took it to the homeside PSG as Joe Hart saved a Zlatan PK to preserve a 2-2 draw scoring 2 huge away goals with a trip back home next Tuesday on Fox Sports 1 2:45 pm.  Bayern and Barca both won their games and return to play Wed at 2:45 with the semi-finals within reach.

Tickets on Sale for ICC Bayern vs AC Milan in Chicago & PSG vs Real in Columbus

INDY 11

Indy 11 Bring Back the Tie with Tampa Bay

Indy 11 Tie Rowdies on Road – Tampa Paper

Talking Tactics with BYB and Carmel FC coach -Josh Mason

Bi-Centenial Picnic Pack – Features ticket and Hooiser Picnic meal for the 1st home Game Sat for Just $20

Indy 11 – Free Popcorn – when you download the Indy 11 App

Indy 11 – 11 game Ticket Pack – way to go!

Indy 11 player named to NASL Team of the Week

New Look Indy 11 Raises Expectations –Indy Star

Indy 11 Full Roster

NASL Preview Show – Bloody Shambles  True Indy 11 Fans will love this site!

Wish TV to cover more Games this Season

After the Whistle Week 1 NASL

Players to Watch this season in NASL

BYB Site

Ready For NASL Prime Time ON TV : The first of 34 NASL matches – Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami FC – was carried by beIN SPORTS on Saturday, marking a new era and new opportunity as the league embarks on its sixth season. The beIN partnership is only one of the spokes in the NASL’s TV strategy that now encompasses ESPN3.com, ONE World Sports (which does a “Game of the Week” and weekly highlight show), the Fall Season debut of the league on CBS Sports Network and the myriad local deals of each team. In fact, Miami FC matches will be carried in more than 100 countries. Whether it is via cable TV or streaming to a tablet or smartphone, all NASL games are ready for prime time.

Champions League

PSG leaves too many chances at home in 2-2 tie with Man City

Real Madrid collapses at Wolfsburg Stunned 2-0

Suarez leads Barca to 2-1 win over Athletico

Vidal lifts Bayern over Pesky Benefica 1-0 at home

Joe Hart saves PK vs Zlatan – turns tide for City

EPL and World

US 20 yr old Matt Miazga starts for Chelsea

History says Spurs and Gunners still have a chance

Leicester goes 7 clear in title race

Clásico: How Real Madrid beat Barcelona

GAMES of the Week

Thurs, Apr 7

Europa Cup

3:00 p.m., FS1?            Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund – Will Anfield help vs German Powerhouse?

Sat, Apr 9

7:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Arsenal  -West Ham looks to break into the top 4

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs Ottawa (Home Opener) –make plans now to get out to the Jake

Sun, Apr 10

7:30 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs Leciester City – Can Leciester continue magical run at a team fighting relegation?

11 am NCBCN                Tottenham vs Man United –  Can Spurs keep pressure on Leciester and knock Man U out of top 4? 

11 am Extra                    Liverpool vs Stoke City – 2 teams locked In battle for Europa League Top 6 finish

2 pm ESPN                      US Women vs Columbia

4:00 p.m ESPN              Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders Can Seattle stop 0-3 Start?

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers –Playoff Contenders in Early battle

Tues, Apr 12

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m FoxSport1  Man City vs PSG

Wed, Apr 13

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid

Sat, Apr 16

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos (H)

GAMES THIS WEEK ON TV

Thurs, Apr 7

Europa Cup

3:00 p.m., FS1?            Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund

3:00 p.m., FS2?            Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao

3:00 p.m., TV TBD:     Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Braga

3:00 p.m., TV TBD:     Sparta Prague vs. Villarreal

Sat, Apr 9

7:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Arsenal

9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Schalke vs Dortmund

11:30 am                          FS2                Koln vs Bayer Leverkusen

12:30 pm NBC              Man City vs West Brom

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs Ottawa (Home Opener)

Sun, Apr 10

7:30 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs Leciester City

11 am NCBCN                Tottenham vs Man United

11 am Extra                    Liverpool vs Stoke City

2 pm ESPN                      US Women vs Columbia

4:00 p.m ESPN              Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders

7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers

Tues, Apr 12

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m FoxSport1  Man City vs PSG

2:45 p.m., TV TBD:     Real Madrid vs. VfL Wolfsburg

Wed, Apr 13

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid

2:45 pm, TV TBD:        Benfica vs. Bayern Munich

Thursday, April 14

UEFA Europa League (Quarterfinal second legs)

3:00 p.m., Fox Sports Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund
3:00 p.m., TV TBD: Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao
3:00 p.m., TV TBD: Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Braga
3:00 p.m., TV TBD: Sparta Prague vs. Villarreal

Sat, Apr 16

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos

Sun, Apr 17

3:30 pm ESPN                Orlando City vs. New England Revolution

7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City

Mon, Apr 18

3 pm NBCSN                   Stoke City vs Tottenham

Tues, Apr 19

2:45 pm NBCSN            Newcastle vs Man City

Wed , Apr 20

2:45 pm NBCSN            Liverpool vs Everton

3 pm NBCSN Extra      Man U vs Crystal Palace

Thur, Apr 21

2:45 pm NBCSN            Arsenal vs West Brom

MLS TV Schedule ‘

European Championships This Summer on ESPN

Copa America Centario Schedule

COPA AMERICA 100 –GAMES IN CHICAGO

Sun -June 5 4 pm Jamaica vs Venezuela, Tues June 7 – 7 pm (USA vs Costa Rica), Friday, June 10 Argentina vs Panama 8:30 pm.

Wed, June 22  Semi Finals – 7 pm – Argentina vs Brazil maybe? 

Soldier Field  Chicago Venue Passes – If interested in planning a trip over – reach out to me (shanebestsoccer@gmail.com)

RECAP – TAMPA BAY 0 : 0 INDY ELEVEN

Busch’s three saves, stout defending help Indy to road point in season openerApr 2, 2016

Indy Eleven Earn Gritty Road Point in Season Opening Stalemate at Tampa Bay

Goalkeeper Jon Busch’s Three Saves, Steady Defensive Effort Help “Boys in Blue” to 0-0 Draw, Clean Sheet to Open 2016 Season

  1. PETERSBURG, Fla. (Saturday, April 2, 2016) –For the third season opener in as many years, Indy Eleven would earn a point from its NASL season opener, this time securing a road point from a 0-0 draw with the Tampa Bay Rowdies at Al Lang Stadium. The new look Eleven squad featured ten “Boys in Blue” making their Indy debut, including goalkeeper Jon Busch, who made three saves in securing the clean sheet.“There’s no question that defensively we’re a very solid unit. I feel like in all games this year we’ll be able to defense well and stay in games until the very end certainly,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “Certainly the possession tonight was a lot better than we’ve seen in our preseason games, so I’m pleased with that, and the patience we showed was very solid. That’s the way you have to play on the road, so the point tonight was a very well taken point.”The first half was dominated by the defenses as just one of the teams’ five combined shots would force a save, Busch doing the deed five minutes in with an easy grab of Tamika Mkandawire’s header 10 yards straight out from goal. That’s not to say Busch wasn’t active, as he darted off his line on several occasions to frustrate the Rowdies attack, most notably sliding in to thwart a couple of through balls intended for runs by new Tampa Bay striker Tommy Heinemann.The sides finally traded solid chances early in the second half, Busch going low to stop Heinemann’s shot from space in the 52ndminute and Indy midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic seeing his dipping effort from 25 yards miss just high four minutes later.The visitors looked more and more content to secure their road point as the half continued, but a flurry in the 78th minute would almost see the Eleven sneak into the lead. However, Rowdies goalkeeper Matt Pickens came up big, first steering aside a corner kick that somehow got through traffic in the six yard box before making his only save of the night on Indy forward Eamon Zayed’s volley from the right side of the area.The physicality of the Eleven defense would pay off time after time, as solid challenges and timely slide tackles throughout the evening helped keep Tampa off the board. However, Busch was called into service one last time in the 92nd minute when Eric Avila’s sidewinding shot from outside the area was hit with pace, but right at the Indy netminder in the center of goal.Indy Eleven (0W-1D-0L, 1 pt.) will take the road point back to the Hoosier State and prepare for its home opener next Saturday, April 9, against Ottawa Fury FC (0-0-0). Kickoff from Michael A. Carroll Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and tickets remain available for Bicentennial Celebration night at “The Mike” starting at just $11 at www.IndyEleven.com. In addition, a $20 Bicentennial Picnic Pack featuring a ticket to the match and a meal full of Indiana favorites are on sale at bicentennial.indyeleven.com.

NASL Spring Season
Tampa Bay Rowdies  0 : 0  Indy Eleven
Saturday, April 2, 2016
Al Lang Stadium – St. Petersburg, FL
Attendance: 5,740

Indy Eleven: 
Spring Season: 0W-1D-0L (1 pt.)

Tampa Bay Rowdies:
Spring Season: 0W-1D-0L (1 pt.)

Scoring Summary:
None

Discipline Summary:
TBR – Neill Collins (caution) 40’
TBR – Darnell King (caution) 43’
IND – Brad Ring (caution) 53’
IND – Gorka Larrea (caution) 87’
TBR – Zac Portillos (caution) 87’
Indy Eleven line-up (4-2-3-1, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vukovic, Greg Janicki, Colin Falvey (capt), Lovel Palmer (Marco Franco 82’); Nicki Paterson (Gorka Larrea 63’), Brad Ring; Duke Lacroix (Jair Reinoso 73’), Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Justin Braun; Eamon Zayed  Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Cory Miller, Dylan Mares, Don Smart

Tampa Bay Rowdies (4-2-3-1): Matt Pickens; Zac Portillos, Neill Collins, Tamika Mkandawire (capt), Darnell King; Justin Chavez, Michael Nanchoff; Kalif Alhassan (Darwin Espinal 67’), Junior Burgos (Georgi Hristov 73’), Eric Avila; Tommy Heinemann  Rowdies bench: Michael Langer (GK), Jeremy Hall, Ben Sweat, Juan Guerra, Danny Mwanga

Rowdies open NASL season with 0-0 draw

  • By Darek Sharp, Times CorrespondentSaturday, April 2, 2016 10:38pm
  1. PETERSBURG — The Rowdies dominated possession the entire second half on Saturday but could not solve Indy Eleven, settling for a scoreless draw in their NASL season opener before 5,740 at Al Lang Stadium.Tampa Bay ended with a 12-6 shot advantage, nine coming in the second half.”Honestly, the last pass killed us,” midfielder Eric Avila said of Tampa Bay’s inability to finish after steady buildups.The last pass was actually perfect in the 52nd minute but Indy’s goalkeeper, Jon Busch, was there to stop the Rowdies’ most dangerous chance. Kalif Alhassan’s feed to Tommy Heinemann was perfectly crafted but Busch dove to stop it. Alhassan continued to serve as main creator along with Avila, and had another in-close setup for Junior Burgos six minutes later.All four are new to the roster. Avila posed a threat several times in the second half, but Indy’s defense proved sturdy. He had a shot from 20 yards in stoppage time but it went right to Busch.”Frustrated we didn’t get three points. We didn’t turn our dominance into goals,” Rowdies coach Stuart Campbell said.Several players more familiar to Rowdies fans either came on late, like Georgi Hristov in the final 20 minutes, or didn’t even make the list of eligible subs — namely Freddy Adu and defender Stefan Antonijevic, who started every game on defense when not injured last season.Indy’s best threat came in the 78th minute on a corner kick but Rowdies captain Tam Mkandawire came up with a necessary clearance.”We didn’t give up a lot of chances … we’ll take that. Of course you want to win every game but in reality that’s not going to happen,” Rowdies keeper Matt Pckens said.There was one shot on target combined in the first half and that was five minutes in. Mkandawire’s header off Michael Nanchoff’s corner kick was saved.In the 39th minute Heinemann one-timed a pass from Alhassan but it was blocked away.”We were a little nervous, little jittery early on,” Avila said.The field was in excellent condition despite heavy rain early in the day, the new tarp at Al Lang coming in quite handy.

New faces, same challenge

With many unfamiliar faces on the 2016 roster, “Indiana’s Team” takes on a fresh look under new head coach Tim Hankinson. Aware of the challenges ahead, Hankinson & Co. feel that the team they have assembled are more than capable of challenging for a place in the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament.Under the leadership of players brought from all realms of North American soccer – from MLS to the NASL to the USL – this year’s squad faces high expectations under Hankinson, who won the NASL’s regular season title with the San Antonio Scorpions during their 2012 expansion season. Bottom line, Hankinson knows how to get things going, and quickly, and nothing less will be expected.

Preseason difficulties stay in the preseason

After battling what seemed to be an abundance of preseason injuries, the Eleven are almost completely healed of their wounds from February and March.Going 2W-4D-3L during their nine game preseason slate, Coach Hankinson emphasized that the concepts sinking into his players’ brains take more time than just a month or two to settle, and that with an entire new group comes a gelling period that isn’t easily put on a timetable. Momentum is on their side, however, after a 1-0 win over Butler University compounded a 0-0 draw with the University of Louisville to cap off a defensively staunch early era. If the need is to grind out results until the goals come, the fact that the “Boys in Blue” let in more than a goal just once in those nine preseason exhibitions is a great sign.

Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: MF Nicki Paterson

Paterson comes to the Circle City as one of three to convert from expansion mate Ottawa Fury FC to the Eleven in the offseason. A human metronome, Paterson will bring a stability to the center of the park that will be necessary in the possession style Hankinson wants his charges to evolve towards.Though Paterson was one of many fighting a nagging injury, the now fully healthy Scotsman is relishing the opportunity to fight in Indianapolis and to earn a consistent place in Hankinson’s starting XI. Starting seven of nine games for the Fury while tacking on two goals, Paterson’s 2015 was brought to an early end by a knee injury. Now the true No. 8 has the perfect chance to prove why all his rehabilitation to return was worth it. While his possession game is key, it might be his tenacity on the defensive side of the ball against a dangerous Rowdies midfield that will be more important on Saturday night.

Match-up to Mark: Indy F Eamon Zayed

Indy’s new target man and true No. 9, Eamon Zayed’s early reputation has been as much about the Irish accent as it has the goal scoring, though there has been plenty of both. Zayed poked home three goals during the preseason slate to back up his reputation as a true goalscorer, and Coach Hankinson is ecstatic about the possibilities for the Irishman as he embarks on his 2016 campaign. With an eye for goal and ability in space, Zayed is a tough task to mark when in and around the area.

Talking Tactics: Tampa Bay Rowdies v Indy Eleven

by  Joshua Mason  Updated: April 6, 2016  http://brickyardbattalion.com/talking-tactics

Doug Starnes will be popping in this season for a weekly tactical discussion of the weekend’s match. You may recognize him from his previous work at Eleventh Heaven. Doug is an assistant coach with DePauw Women’s Soccer, Goalkeeper Coordinator for the Indiana Olympic Development Program, and volunteered his time scouting NASL opposition for the Indy Eleven coaching staff last season. You can follow Doug on Twitter at @GrassInTheSky1. Welcome, Doug!

New look Indy Eleven now have a match in the books under Tim Hankinson, and while the 0-0 draw may not have set the world on fire, it does give us a very good look at how this side will be set up and where Hankinson will likely be focusing his efforts to further develop what the team did well Saturday night while also improving in areas that fell a bit flat.

The 4-2-3-1

Hankinson made no secret of the fact that he wanted to play in a 4-2-3-1 system as soon as he arrived in Indianapolis and he proved true to his word when Indy took the field against Tampa Bay Saturday night. Brad Ring and Nicki Paterson were named to the two holding midfield berths (or double pivot or double six…semantics) with Duke Lacroix playing left midfield, Sinša Ubiparivović filling the number ten role underneath Éamon Zayed, and Justin Braun set up as a right-sided midfielder.What you need to know about this system if you’re not terribly familiar with it is that it provides lots of protection for the back four and, ideally, makes it difficult for the opposition to find space centrally in attack. The two sixes provide a shield in front of the back four that limits penetrating passes and space between the midfield and back line. It can, however, be exploited by teams with pacey and creative wide players (coincidentally, not unlike Tampa Bay) and it can sputter a touch in transition moments from defense to attack as the two holding midfielders are often unable to join the attack quickly enough.Interestingly, Tampa Bay countered Indy’s 4-2-3-1 with nearly the same system. Kalif Alhassan and Eric Avila , left and right midfielders respectively, were forced to take up positions significantly narrower than perhaps they – or at least Alhassan- would have liked. With Avila narrow, Darnell King had space to run in to, but he also had to worry about Lacroix’s pace behind him and the two somewhat canceled one another out. The end result of all of this was a match with limited opportunities for both sides and a very crowded midfield third.

Note the six players all with an average starting position inside the center circle. #Crowded

A Blunt Spear

As the match developed, it became increasingly clear that both teams were going to have issues transitioning to meaningful attacking moments. For much of the first half, Indy possessed the ball in the back, built forward, stalled, and then won the ball back immediately after Tampa Bay cleared their lines. The positive to take from this is that the Eleven looked more composed, organized, and confident across the back line than they have since the club became a club. The acquisition of veteran leaders like Colin Falvey and Jon Busch undoubtedly has much to do with this. As Chris Anderson and David Sally point out in their book The Numbers Game, when it comes down to it – at least statistically speaking – the goals you don’t concede are worth much more at the end of the season than the goals you score. But no one’s heart bursts for 0-0 draws either, and building meaningful attacks is something Hankinson will likely be working on in the coming weeks.

The real issue Saturday is that the two sides’ systems of play mostly canceled one another out and the crowded midfield made it difficult for Indy to find passes to their attacking players. As the match wore on, this situation was exacerbated by Braun moving centrally and Ubiparipović dropping deeper to get on the ball. There were moments in the match when Ubiparipović was picking up the ball from the back four behind both Ring and Paterson. You can’t blame your number ten for wanting to get on the ball, but once he was on it, his options forward were too far away and too isolated to create much of substance. Even Zayed started to drop further to get on the ball as he became more and more isolated.

Consider this, for the whole match Ubiparipović combined with Zayed, ostensibly the focal point of the Eleven attack, only four times. Of those four times, only one started and was completed in the Tampa Bay half. Braun combined with Zayed only once and Lacroix didn’t combine with him at all. To show how isolated Zayed was during the match, he had only 20 touches on the ball in 90 minutes. The next lowest total belongs to Duke Lacroix, but he was subbed in the 74th minute for Jair Reinoso. Indy mustered only one shot on target on six total shots.

This heat map shows all Indy Eleven players with the team attacking right to left. No threat high enough centrally, either due to denied service or starting position, to connect with and very little flank play in the attacking third.Conversely, Indy’s top passing combinations were Falvey to Palmer, Falvey to Janicki, Vukovic to Janicki, and Janicki to Vukovic. Notice anything?The sky isn’t falling. Scoring goals is the hardest thing to do in the game, especially when only three of the starters on the field Saturday night were returning players, but Hankinson will be disappointed the team didn’t create more chances and maybe a little uneasy knowing that the lack of goal scoring has carried over from the preseason.

Round Plugs, Square Holes

It may have slipped under the radar for some Eleven supporters considering he never played an official match for the team, but the release of Stephen DeRoux was a pretty big deal. DeRoux played last season for San Antonio Scorpions as a very useful attacking left back. He was no Justin Davis, but he would have provided Indy with a legitimate attacking threat from the left side. As it is now, Nemanja Vukovic has been enlisted to fill the void, but one gets the sense that he’s really a center back playing on the left side with a defense first and last approach. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it certainly limits the number of potential opportunities going forward.

Another player seemingly playing out of his preferred position Saturday night was Justin Braun. His natural inclination was to move inside to find the ball and he clearly still has the pace to run the channels. He seemed less comfortable trying to find space wide and then attack inside or make runs down the flank to provide service. It would have been interesting to see what Don Smart could have done toward the end of the match if Zayed had made way and Braun had been moved centrally.

Takeaway

Firstly, this was the first match of a long, hard season. Rarely does a team look at this stage how they will look at the end of the season.Secondly, Indy’s composure defensively and ability to limit Tampa Bay’s chances was actually pretty awesome to watch. Tampa Bay spent big in the offseason and acquired three of the best attacking players in the league in Tom Heinemann, Junior Burgos, and Kalif Alhassan. All three of those guys gave Indy fits last season when they were with their old teams, so limiting their chances when they were playing together at home is something to put in the bank.Lastly, the veteran leadership Indy acquired in the offseason was much needed and will pay dividends as the season unfolds. It may have seemed like a little thing, or perhaps went totally unnoticed by many supporters watching the match, but late in the second half Colin Falvey absolutely lit in to Tom Heinemann when he dribbled the ball out of bounds rather than passing it back to Jon Busch after Indy had been in possession and played the ball out in order for a player to receive treatment for an injury. It was a suspect thing for Heinemann to do, although not strictly wrong. These guys were teammates just a few months ago, but Falvey didn’t hesitate to let him know exactly what he thought of the play. There weren’t a lot of guys on the team last season who had the professional confidence and/or willingness to make demands and give direction to their teammates let alone players wearing a different shirt. The thing about that kind of leadership is that it empowers younger pros to do the same things and creates a clear standard. You can build on that.

Indy Eleven overhauls lineup, raise expectations

Tom Moor, IndyStar correspondent7:59 p.m. EDT April 1, 2016

WESTFIELD – A lot has changed since the Indy Eleven last took the field in a regular-season game Oct. 30.The Eleven have a new training facility at Westfield’s Grand Park, new president, new coach and 11 newcomers on the roster.Yes, the Indy Eleven certainly have a new look this season — and raised expectations.Coach Tim Hankinson is hoping an overhauled lineup will lead to a better product on the field. Despite leading the North American Soccer League in attendance their first two years in the league, the Eleven haven’t produced the on-field results they’ve been seeking. But that could soon change.Hankinson essentially gutted the team. The result is the Eleven — who open their season Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies — have their most veteran and experienced team since debuting in Indianapolis in 2014. It’s a product Hankinson hopes will make the Eleven faithful proud.“Everywhere in soccer, there’s a lot of buzz about the Indy Eleven,” said Hankinson, a 36-year coaching veteran whose most recent stops include San Antonio and Jamaica. “We’re excited to come here and fight for a championship. There is great fan support here and an owner that is committed to winning.“Fans know the game and make it a great atmosphere. It’s great to have fans that truly love this.”The Eleven’s lineup features 11 new players, as well as 10 holdovers from last year’s team that finished 8-13-9 over the fall and spring seasons. Several of those players have Major League Soccer experience, and about five or six have served as captains on previous teams.The most notable, perhaps, is the signing of 39-year-old goalie Jon Busch, who spent 14 years in the MLS and was Goalkeeper of the Year in 2008.“The way things went last year with it being up and down, I think we brought in some stability and veteran leaders that will be good for the team,” said defender Greg Janicki, a returnee from last year’s squad. “Last year was my first year with the club, and I didn’t know what to expect. We had such a young team. We have more veteran leaders now, and we brought back a great group from last year.”Of the 21 players on the roster, 15 are at least 27 years old and several players are in their 30s — giving the Eleven a wealth of experience.Of the 11 newcomers, as many as eight could start Saturday. Hankinson has publicly stated that many of the holdovers would come off the bench because the quality of play last year wasn’t starting caliber.“I thought the first two years, the win column wasn’t strong enough for the fans who supported this team,” Hankinson said. “In many ways, I came in to replace the starting lineup with a better starting lineup.”Eleven public relations director John Koluder said the experience on this year’s team starts with players such as Busch, defender Lovel Palmer, midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic and forward Justin Braun — all of whom have considerable MLS experience. Players such as defender Colin Falvey, midfielder Gorka Larrea and forwards Eamon Zayed and Jair Reinoso have played for teams around the world.Many of the players also have the ability to play multiple positions, which gives the Eleven versatility.“The first two years (the Eleven) didn’t finish in the top four, but we expect to be in the top four this year, which means we’re a playoff team,” Hankinson said. “That can put yourself in position for the Cup. We really don’t have excuses. We’re not a developing team.”The Eleven received a setback when they lost defender Stephen DeRoux with a broken leg in a preseason game. That injury and inclement weather, Klouder said, may have played a role in finishing just 2-3-4 in the preseason.“The players are getting to know each other and their nuances,” Hankinson said. “They’ll get that figured out.”The Eleven host the Ottawa Fury FC in their home opener April 9 at Carroll Stadium at IUPUI.

INDY ELEVEN 2016 ROSTER
NUMBER NAME POS AGE PREVIOUS CLUB
1 KEITH CARDONA GK 23 FC LEIFERING (AUSTRIA)
2 Neil Shaffer D 27 Harrisburg (USL)
4 Brad Ring M 28 Portland (MLS)
5 Lovel Palmer D 31 Chicago (MLS)
6 Dylan Mares M 24 Indiana (NCAA)
7 Don Smart M 28 RVA FC (NPSL)
8 Nicki Paterson M 31 Ottawa (NASL)
9 Eamon Zayed F 32 Sabah FA (Malaysia)
10 Sinisa Ubiparipovic M 32 Ottawa (NASL)
12 Greg Janicki D 31 San Antonio (NASL)
14 Duke Lacroix F 22 Penn (NCAA)
15 Daniel Keller M 24 Chicago U-23 (PDL)
16 Cory Miller D 27 Orange County (USL)
18 Jon Busch GK 39 Chicago (MLS)
19 Wojciech Wojcik F 23 Ilves-Kissat (Finland)
20 Justin Braun F 29 Sacramento (USL)
23 Marco Franco D 24 Chicago (MLS)
24 Jair Reinoso F 30 Zhejiang Yiteng FC (China)
32 Colin Falvey D 30 Ottawa (NASL)
33 Gorka Larrea M 31 Montreal (MLS)
82 Nemanja Vukovic D 31 Sacramento (USL)

AFTER THE WHISTLE | WEEK 1 MOMENTS

A quick look back at some of the high points from last weekend’s action in the NASL’s 2016 Spring Season.Jack Bell (@JackBell} | Apr 4, 2016

Cosmos Hit The Ground Scoring: Same place. Same teams (with different players, of course). Way different result from The Championship Final last November.

New York, using a new cast of characters after the retirements of Spanish stars Raúl and Marcos Senna, plus other changes, played like a seven-time NASL Champion. A couple of early key saves by goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer led to some uncharacteristic miscues in the Ottawa end in New York’s convincing 3-0 victory in the final game of Week 1. Veteran midfielder Juan Arango, the career goalscoring leader for Venezuela’s national team, tallied first-half goals two minutes apart and the substitute Adam Moffat added one from distance (with Romuald Peiser way off his line).  With a solid back four and Niko Kranjčar coming off the bench for 13 classy minutes, the Cosmos served noticed that they have a deep squad that may be even better than the one that went unbeaten in the 2015 Spring Season, finished first in the Combined Standings and hoisted the Soccer Bowl Trophy.

Fast Times: Last year, Jemal Johnson scored 12 seconds

into expansion Jacksonville’s inaugural match, setting a Modern Era NASL record.

A forward for another expansion team – Dario Cvitanich of Miami FC – came close to matching Johnson’s feat when he came within inches of scoring only seconds into the club’s South Florida Derby match at Fort Lauderdale. The double debut – the first NASL game on the beIN SPORTS and the first league match in Miami FC history – ended in a 1-1 draw and Cvitanich will still go down as the first goalscorer in club history after he converted a penalty kick in the 12th minute.

There were also early fireworks in Cary, N.C., in the season’s curtain-raising game between the Carolina RailHawks and Minnesota United. Inside the first minute, Carolina’s Kareem Moses lofted a cross into the penalty area that was headed wide by Austin da Luz. Seconds later, the Loons’ Christian Ramirez scored a highlight-reel goal (that was No. 3 on the list of ESPN’s Top 10) on his first touch of the season.

Oklahoma Is OK: The stars seemed to be aligned during Rayo OKC’s debut in the NASL against visiting FC Edmonton on Saturday night.

A new, pristine playing surface at Miller Stadium in Yukon, Okla., with a packed house of more than 6,000 fans. Rayo OKC had a man advantage for 60 minutes, nearly 70 percent of possession and an astonishing 620 passes completed, but no goals to show for their efforts. Goalkeeper Matt VanOekel kept the Eddies in the match, saving a point late in the game when the substitute Georgios Samaras, Greek international, had his point-blank shot stopped.

Ready For Prime Time: The first of 34 NASL matches – Fort Lauderdale vs. Miami FC – was carried by beIN SPORTS on Saturday, marking a new era and new opportunity as the league embarks on its sixth season. The beIN partnership is only one of the spokes in the NASL’s TV strategy that now encompasses ESPN3.com, ONE World Sports (which does a “Game of the Week” and weekly highlight show), the Fall Season debut of the league on CBS Sports Network and the myriad local deals of each team. In fact, Miami FC matches will be carried in more than 100 countries. Whether it is via cable TV or streaming to a tablet or smartphone, all NASL games are ready for prime time.

We Got The Stats Right Here: Soccer has not been particularly known as a stat-heavy or dependent sport, unlike a slew of North American sports. After all, soccer is the simplest game. Opta has been out to change that and now with its new partnership with the NASL, the statmen cometh. Available on clicking on the match center tab for each match, the graphical representations and deep dive into the info enriches our understanding of games and is great fodder for discussion.

Chelsea: Guus Hiddink heaps praise on Matt Miazga following debut performance

By Arunava RayApril 4, 2016 14:58 BST

Chelsea manager Guus Hiddink is impressed with the way January signing Matt Miazga has carried himself against Aston Villa this weekend and believes that the 20-year-old will get a lot of opportunities to prove himself until the end of the season, with John Terry and Gary Cahill out through injury. The Blues signed Miazga in January from MLS franchisee New York Red Bulls andHiddink believes that he still has to attune himself to the rigours of the Premier League.

“To be honest this wasn’t the toughest game,” Hiddink said, as quoted by ESPN. “You have to consider also when a real good war is going on how you cope with that, but it’s a good first step up for him.”He’s coming from a league that is a bit naive compared to the Premier League, and he has to get used to a little more freedom given to the attackers by the referees, which I like. He has to cope with a little bit of a shuffle, of a push that in other leagues the referee would give free kicks for. That’s the naivety he has to leave as soon as possible but I didn’t see much of that [against Aston Villa].”The defending Champions made easy work of Aston Villa, beating them 4-0 with goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Alexandre Pato and a second-half brace from Pedro Rodriguez to close the gap on Liverpool, who drew against Tottenham. A top four finish looks off the table, with the Blues now 10 points behind fourth placed Manchester City, with only seven games left in the season. However, Hiddink believes it is a great time for him to bring in a few youngsters to the squad and experiment with them for next season, especially with their fate all but decided in the league.”This club has brilliant players — world-class, experienced players and also young and up-and-coming players like Ruben [Loftus-Cheek] and Jake [Clarke-Salter] that train with the first team,” Hiddink said. “The club’s in good hands so we’ve just got to work hard on the training pitch, focus on ourselves and contribute in any way we can.”I just control what I can control, which is to work hard in training and hopefully give the manager a decision to make. If I get chances, I’ll take them,” he added.

4/2/16 US Gets Must Win, Champion League back, Full TV Game Schedule

Champions League

Tuesday’s previews: Bayern v Benfica, Barcelona v Atlético
Wednesday’s fixtures: Paris v Manchester City, Wolfsburg v Real Madrid
Tuesday’s team news:
 Who is in, who is out and who is a doubt?
Clásico: How Real Madrid beat Barcelona

GAMES of the Week

Tues, Apr 5

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid – Classic Spanish Showdown

Wed, Apr 6

2:45 p.m FoxSport1  Man City vs PSG – Can City use Home Field to sneak up on Ibra and PSG?

7 pm Fox Sports 1      US Women vs Columbia – US ladies continue home Olympics Prep

Thurs, Apr 7

Europa Cup

3:00 p.m., FS1?            Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund – Will Anfield help vs German Powerhouse?

Sat, Apr 9

7:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Arsenal  -West Ham looks to break into the top 4

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs Ottawa (Home Opener) –make plans now to get out to the Jake

Sun, Apr 10

7:30 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs Leciester City – Can Leciester continue magical run at a team fighting relegation?

11 am NCBCN                Tottenham vs Man United –  Can Spurs keep pressure on Leciester and knock Man U out of top 4? 

11 am Extra                    Liverpool vs Stoke City – 2 teams locked In battle for Europa League Top 6 finish

2 pm ESPN                      US Women vs Columbia

4:00 p.m ESPN              Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders Can Seattle stop 0-3 Start?

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers –Playoff Contenders in Early battle

Tues, Apr 12

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m FoxSport1  Man City vs PSG

Wed, Apr 13

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid

Sat, Apr 16

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos (H)

GAMES THIS WEEK ON TV

Tues, Apr 5

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport 2 Bayern Munich vs. Benfica

Wed, Apr 6

2:45 p.m FoxSport1  Man City vs PSG

2:45 pm Fox Sport2  Real Madrid vs VFL Wolfsburg

7 pm Fox Sports 1      US Women vs Columbia

Thurs, Apr 7

Europa Cup

3:00 p.m., FS1?            Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund

3:00 p.m., FS2?            Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao

3:00 p.m., TV TBD:     Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Braga

3:00 p.m., TV TBD:     Sparta Prague vs. Villarreal

Sat, Apr 9

7:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Arsenal

9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Schalke vs Dortmund

11:30 am                          FS2                Koln vs Bayer Leverkusen

12:30 pm NBC              Man City vs West Brom

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs Ottawa (Home Opener)

Sun, Apr 10

7:30 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs Leciester City

11 am NCBCN                Tottenham vs Man United

11 am Extra                    Liverpool vs Stoke City

2 pm ESPN                      US Women vs Columbia

4:00 p.m ESPN              Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders

7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 New York City FC vs. Chicago Fire

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1 Los Angeles Galaxy vs. Portland Timbers

Tues, Apr 12

Champions League Elite 8

2:45 p.m FoxSport1  Man City vs PSG

2:45 p.m., TV TBD:     Real Madrid vs. VfL Wolfsburg

Wed, Apr 13

2:45 p.m., Fox Sport1 Barcelona vs. Atlético Madrid

2:45 pm, TV TBD:        Benfica vs. Bayern Munich

Thursday, April 14

UEFA Europa League (Quarterfinal second legs)

3:00 p.m., Fox Sports Liverpool vs. Borussia Dortmund
3:00 p.m., TV TBD: Sevilla vs. Athletic Bilbao
3:00 p.m., TV TBD: Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Braga
3:00 p.m., TV TBD: Sparta Prague vs. Villarreal

Sat, Apr 16

7:30 pm ESPN3 +Ch8 Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos

Sun, Apr 17

3:30 pm ESPN                Orlando City vs. New England Revolution

7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City

Mon, Apr 18

3 pm NBCSN                   Stoke City vs Tottenham

Tues, Apr 19

2:45 pm NBCSN            Newcastle vs Man City

Wed , Apr 20

2:45 pm NBCSN            Liverpool vs Everton

3 pm NBCSN Extra      Man U vs Crystal Palace

Thur, Apr 21

2:45 pm NBCSN            Arsenal vs West Brom

MLS TV Schedule ‘

European Championships This Summer on ESPN

Copa America Centario Schedule

COPA AMERICA 100 –GAMES IN CHICAGO

Sun -June 5 4 pm Jamaica vs Venezuela, Tues June 7 – 7 pm (USA vs Costa Rica), Friday, June 10 Argentina vs Panama 8:30 pm.

Wed, June 22  Semi Finals – 7 pm – Argentina vs Brazil maybe? 

Soldier Field  Chicago Venue Passes – If interested in planning a trip over – reach out to me (shanebestsoccer@gmail.com)

1410 S. Museum Campus Drive, Chicago, IL 60605   Seating charts reflect the general layout for the venue at this time these are general prizes based on the full venue packages – I’m sure they will be a little more but this gives you an idea. 

Level 1 seats – only things left are  front row $300+

Level 2 seats –   $115/game  upper corners Endzones, Level 2 sidelines – 

Level 2 sidelines– $200 each

Level 4 sidelines –  $115/game

 USA

US Is In Now – MLS.com

5 Issues Facing Klinnsmann ESPN FC McIntyer

US – Intangibles Won the Game – SI

US Veterans Come Thru – McIntyre ESPNFC

Consistency Not a Reality Klinsy says –

17 Year Old Christian Pulisic has Dream Debute

US Ladies Battle the Federation

US Ladies File Counter Suit vs US Soccer over lack of Pay –Grant Wahl SI

These U23s Didn’t Hurt their Reputations

US 23s Loss a Failure We Have Seen too many Times – ESPN FC

World Soccer

El Classico – Why BBC Trio is Curse for Madrid vs Barca

Messi vs Ronaldo – ESPNFC

Ronaldo Extends Lead over Messi

Iniesta Key to El Classico

Barca to Wear Special Badge to honor Dutch Legend Johan Cryuff

Spurs Fed up with Leicester FairyTail

 Indy 11

Indy 11 Coach -Versatility is Key for NASL Team

Indy 11 tie Louisvill 0-0 on last Preseason Road Game

Indy 11 beat Butler 1-0

MLS

Goals of Week

MLS Power Rankings

Early Table Glance

Ronaldino to MLS?

Seattle Will Figure it Out after 0-3 Start

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo: The fans’ view of the two star men

While the latest edition of El Clasico might not have direct title implications in La Liga, given Barcelona’s 10-point lead over Real Madrid, Saturday’s Camp Nou showdown does see Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo face each other once again.

Francesc Tomas (Barcelona) and Rob Train (Real Madrid) discuss their club’s star ahead of the latest meeting.

 

How have Messi and Ronaldo played this season?

Francesc Tomas: Messi has been Barca’s spiritual leader for the better part of the past decade, but his importance after the departure of Xavi and the arrival of Luis Suarez has reached new heights. No longer a promising youngster but an undisputed, inspirational leader, the No. 10 has an impressive 22 goals and 10 assists in his 25 appearances in La Liga this season. Most importantly, his increased maturity and generosity have played a vital role in the outcomes of others, particularly Suarez (already on 26 goals in the league) and Neymar (21).

Rob Train: The bulk of Ronaldo’s 28 league goals have been scored against second and third-tier sides: He has eight against Espanyol alone. When facing the more illustrious sides, though, he has been mostly anonymous. He disappeared in games against Atletico Madrid and Villarreal and managed just two shots in the last Clasico, against a season average of 6.3 per game. But talk of Ronaldo as a flat-track bully is inaccurate. He has done it in big games… just not recently.

What is the view of them among their own fans?

FT: Messi is Barca, it’s as simple as that. Whether you pop into a local market or sit down for a quick drink surrounded by tourists, the No. 10’s presence is never too far away. Cules‘ love for their world-class star is such that Messi shirts, figurines, sweets, bedding, bottle openers, scarves and even crisps are constantly flying off the shelves. Despite having enjoyed the brilliance of Ronaldinho, Johan Cruyff and even Diego Maradona at the peak of their careers, Catalans rightfully consider La Pulga the club’s best-ever player. He represents the essence of what La Masia and Barca’s philosophy is all about: talent, perseverance, endless creativity and winning.

RT: Ronaldo is a tricky one to pigeonhole. For all the “look-at-me” stuff, his off-pitch reputation is a lot better than some of his teammates, and he comes across as being generous with his time and his money. But the fans are divided, more so than with any other player. If he has a bad game, the whistles rain down. If he scores four, adulation pours. Recent commentsabout his teammates, whether misinterpreted or not, hardly helped his cause, and he will never be held in the collective heart like a Raul or Roberto Carlos. However, there is no doubt the majority of fans would rather have Ronaldo in their team than lining up against them.

What do Barca fans think of Ronaldo and Madrid of Messi?

FT: The Camp Nou faithful love to hate Ronaldo. His haughty attitude, tendency to prioritise individual to collective success and, perhaps more importantly, undeniable status as one of the world’s best-ever goal scorers make him the perfect target for Cules‘ jeering. The clear antithesis of Messi, the Portuguese’s attitude could not be further from what Catalans consider the model professional. Ronaldo’s insistence on shutting up the crowd whenever he scores a goal in the Catalan capital is a clear indication that the love between both sides is mutual, which comes as no surprise.

 

RT: Real fans can be exceptionally harsh toward their own but surprisingly gracious toward opposing players. Ronaldinho received an ovation at the Bernabeu in 2005, 22 years after Diego Maradona had the stadium on its feet. Andres Iniesta had a mixed reception in Barca’s 4-0 November victory. Will Messi ever be afforded the same affection? Probably, but only when he’s playing his last match at the Bernabeu. Until then, he’s too much of a thorn in the side to be lauded from the stands.

How have they played in past Clasicos?

FT: Having found Real Madrid’s net on 21 occasions, including a record two hat tricks, Messi is the all-time leading scorer of El Clasico. Having also contributed a remarkable 13 assists in his 31 appearances to date, it would be fair to say the pint-sized Argentine has been terrible news for Los Blancos for more than a decade. Since making his professional debut, Messi has won 15, drawn seven and lost only nine of the 31 matches he has played against Real.

RT: Since Ronaldo’s 2009 arrival at the Bernabeu, Real have won three, drawn two and lost six in the league against Barcelona. In the Copa del Rey since then, Real have won three, drawn two, lost one. Taking into consideration everything Barcelona have achieved in that time, the record isn’t too grim. Ronaldo has bagged 15 Clasico goals in all competitions, which is level with Raul. Only Messi (21) and Alfredo Di Stefano (18) have scored more.

What was their best Clasico moment?

FT: Fortunately, there have been many highlights to chose from, but one memory stands head and shoulders above the rest: 19-year-old Messi putting three goals past Iker Casillas in the 2007 Clasico. Messi’s passionate, magical hat trick will forever hold a special place in Barcelona hearts. It was the moment he stepped ahead of mentors Ronaldinho and Samuel Eto’o to take centre-stage in the biggest game in world football.

RT: Probably his towering header to win the 2011 Copa del Rey final, which was his first trophy success at Madrid. Ronaldo also scored the winner in an April 2012 game at Camp Nou, which was Real’s first victory at Barcelona in almost five years. The sides’ next meeting, in October of the same year, was arguably the only one that has yet lived up to the Ronaldo vs. Messi hype, as both players scored twice in a 2-2 draw.

Aside from Messi and Ronaldo, name one player who will be especially important on Saturday.

FT: Luis Suarez. Always ready for the physical battle and known to raise his level when under pressure, the Uruguayan will be relishing the chance to cause mayhem within Real Madrid’s backline. His relentless energy, dynamism and ability to connect with either Messi or Neymar, even when in tight spaces, could be the decisive factor to tip the balance in the Catalans’ favour. Having already found the net on 26 occasions in the league this season despite taking only 3.8 shots per game, Barca’s No. 9 will keep goalkeeper Keylor Navas busy.

RT: Keylor Navas. It is next to impossible to stop Barcelona from peppering your goal with shots. Villarreal tried it in a 2-2 draw recently, playing with two banks of four when not in possession. They made 20 tackles, racked up 17 fouls and incurred eight yellow cards, yet Barca still had 15 shots. Navas has been in excellent form this season and will need to be at the peak of his powers on Saturday.

What is your prediction for Saturday’s result?

FT: 3-0 to Barcelona.

RT: 2-1 to Barcelona.

Jurgen Klinsmann still has U.S. issues despite win over Guatemala

The U.S. men’s national team can breathe easier now.A World Cup qualifying campaign that was threatening to veer off course is now back on track, thanks to a 4-0 walloping of Guatemala. In fact, a U.S. win against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2 combined with a home win by Trinidad & Tobago over Guatemala could see the Americans wrap up progression to the Hexagonal with a game to spare.Such was the level of the Americans’ dominance on Tuesday that it’s a wonder just how they managed to lose to Los Chapines on Friday. But if these past two games have revealed anything about the U.S. it’s that there are still questions to be answered.This summer’s Copa America — with a minimum of three games against Colombia, Costa Rica and Paraguay — should provide some opportunity to resolve some of these issues, as will the last two World Cup qualifiers.Here are five pressing issues Klinsmann needs to sort out in the coming months.

  1. Identify and expand the core

With Klinsmann coming under fire for changing his lineups (80 different incarnations in 82 games, according to U.S. Soccer), the coach went on something of a counteroffensive following Tuesday’s match. It was pointed out that predecessor Bob Bradley used 77 different lineups in 80 games, with Bruce Arena utilizing 129 in 130 before that.The numbers obscure a deeper issue, however. It’s perhaps telling that Bradley’s core group, the players who were the backbone of his side, can be recalled without too much difficulty. Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra, Oguchi Onyewu, Steve Cherundolo, Michael Bradley, Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were constants during the 2010 cycle. Some combination of Brian Ching, Charlie Davies and Jozy Altidore logged considerable minutes up top.Klinsmann’s core group looks and feels much thinner. You have Bradley, Dempsey and now Geoff Cameron in the mainstay category, but caveats are attached to others. Fabian Johnson can be considered for membership, that is when he’s not injured or in Klinsmann’s doghouse. Jermaine Jones also qualifies, though his advancing age raises the question of for how much longer. Altidore has struggled to shake the injury bug as well. Gyasi Zardes has logged plenty of minutes, but still doesn’t seem like a long-term answer in midfield.Changes to the lineup are inevitable due to suspension, health and form. But the cohesiveness needed on the field requires a reliance on a group of players deemed essential to success.Klinsmann needs to accelerate the formation of that group.

  1. Find a consistent center-back pairing

Tuesday’s central duo of Cameron and Steve Birnbaum acquitted itself well. Both players were commanding in the back and efficient with their passing. But the match was also witness to a rather eyebrow-raising stat. Birnbaum is the fifth center-back that Klinsmann has used so far in just four World Cup qualifiers. He used three — Bocanegra, Clarence Goodson and Cameron — during the entire semifinal round four years ago.Granted, some of this is injury induced with Matt Besler being ruled out for both Guatemala games because of a concussion. But John Brooks, another injured center-back who Klinsmann said last week is his No. 1 choice at the position, has yet to make an appearance during this qualifying round, so injuries don’t entirely explain the turnover in the center of defense.On days when a team struggles, especially during road qualifiers, chemistry in the back can go a long way toward allowing a team to accumulate points when it otherwise shouldn’t. But Klinsmann seems a ways away from achieving that. If Brooks, when healthy, is filling one spot, who takes the other? Cameron would seem the logical choice, but the amount of time they’ve spent playing together seems minimal. It’s something Klinsmann should aim to rectify this summer.

  1. The midfield configuration

The U.S. once again benefited from having Kyle Beckerman in the lineup as a dedicated holding midfielder. He broke up plays, initiated attacks and generally provided a security blanket for both Bradley and Graham Zusi to push forward and press the Guatemalan midfielders.But what Klinsmann will do going forward in terms of his midfield alignment is anybody’s guess. Jones’ ongoing suspension will be well over by the time the Copa America comes around. He is a Klinsmann favorite so he could easily slide into Zusi’s spot.But against the better teams in CONCACAF and elsewhere, the U.S. has tended to play better with a two-forward system. What then? Earlier in qualifying, Bradley and Jones occupied the middle, but the question of which player occupies Beckerman’s role comes to the forefront in that neither player — Jones in particular — seems inclined to take it up.Klinsmann could play all three in a 4-4-2 as he did at the 2014 World Cup. Another mild wrinkle is Bradley’s upcoming suspension for the game against St. Vincent because of yellow card accumulation. But Klinsmann will need to at least identify a Plan A for how he wants his midfielders to be deployed.

  1. Maintain the aggressive mentality

The Guatemala game was noteworthy for the way the U.S. imposed itself from the outset, pressing the opponent high up the field and forcing a slew of wayward passes. It raises the question of why it took a backs-to-the-wall type of scenario to play with urgency and aggression.Granted, against the kind of highly skilled teams the U.S. will face this summer at the Copa America, it’s important to pick spots in terms of where and when to press. But the mentality that was evident on Tuesday needs to be present on a more consistent basis. It’s when the U.S. team plays its best. You would hope that will be the case when World Cup qualifying resumes in September.

  1. Resolve the goalkeeping situation

For the same reason that Klinsmann needs to settle on his center-back options, he needs to do the same with his goalkeeper. It helps develop familiarity in a critical part of the field.In terms of the competition between Howard and Brad Guzan, the latter came out of these two games in better shape, though to be fair, the U.S. played far better on Tuesday than it did in front of Howard on Friday. And with Guzan a far more likely bet than Howard to get playing time down the stretch at club level, it stands to reason he would take the lead in the race to be the starting goalkeeper.

Yet Klinsmann seems to have a greater amount of faith in Howard. Perhaps Howard’s exploits during the previous cycle and at the World Cup weigh heavier. So far in this round of qualifying, it is Howard who has been handed the tougher road assignments while Guzan has played in both home matches. Club form hasn’t seemed to matter.That could change, of course. Howard is practically guaranteed to get playing time when he completes his move to the Colorado Rapids, while Aston Villa’s looming relegation from the Premier League makes it unclear what lies in store for Guzan. Either way, the sooner Klinsmann makes a decision, the sooner some cohesion can be developed.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

 Jurgen Klinsmann says consistency not a reality for United States team

United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann has said he would love to have all his players at his disposal at all times, but added, “unfortunately, it’s not the reality.”Responding in part to questions about his propensity for tinkering — the U.S. has started 80 different lineups in 82 games under Klinsmann — the manager said injuries, form and availability makes consistency unrealistic.The U.S. coach spoke following his team’s crucial 4-0 CONCACAF World Cup qualifying win vs. Guatemala in Columbus, Ohio, on Tuesday.Klinsmann brought 2014 World Cup veterans Graham Zusi and Kyle Beckerman back into the starting XI for the win, while playing Geoff Cameron in the center-back position alongside Steve Birnbaum. Brad Guzan started in goal over Tim Howard, a move that was planned in advance.The moves worked to perfection for the most part, as the U.S. defense kept a clean sheet and the team earned a necessary three points following adisappointing 2-0 loss last Friday in Guatemala City.

“Every coach’s wish is always to be consistent with his players being available, everybody at your disposal,” Klinsmann said. “Unfortunately it’s not reality. Reality is we lost Matt Besler and John Brooks and Fabian Johnson in the days prior to the game in Guatemala.”Reality is [on Tuesday] Ale [Bedoya] couldn’t make it. So the reality is with the group of players that we have, we’re going to work things out. Here and there, things don’t work out the way you wanted.”The U.S. was on the front foot from the outset in Columbus, with Clint Dempsey putting the Americans ahead just 12 minutes into the match and Geoff Cameron doubling the lead from a set piece at the 35-minute mark.That was all part of the plan, according to Klinsmann.”Obviously, the clear message was we have to attack,” he said. “We have to go forward. We have to score goals and get the three points.”It’s important that we really found partnerships in that 4-3-3 formation. We knew they were going to clog the box in front of their goal, that’s what happened. So you need to find ways to come over the wings. We trained that way.”Klinsmann has been under fire in recent weeks and months for the performances of the U.S. team, especially the loss in Guatemala, a team the U.S. hadn’t lost to in World Cup qualifying since 1988.The criticisms, said the coach, are part of the job, but he did admit sometimes it can go a little too far.”I let people say whatever they would like to say. That’s all right with me,” Klinsmann said. “Here and there you wish maybe some comments would be a little bit more respectful. But it is what it is.”It’s an emotional game. As a coach you have to live with that. But I think this result tonight makes it clear. Now we can really plan for hopefully a very, very exciting Copa America.”The U.S. starts its Copa America Centenario campaign on June 3, against Colombia at Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, California. The team’s next World Cup qualifying match is Sept. 2, away to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.ESPN FC writer Doug McIntyre contributed to this story.

USA believes that intangibles, not tactics, fuel win over Guatemala

United States routs Guatemala in World Cup qualifier

The U.S. men’s national team relieved pressure and got its 2018 FIFA World Cup campaign back on track by defeating Guatemala 4-0 on Tuesday.

BY BRIAN STRAUS

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Posted: Wed Mar. 30, 2016

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COLUMBUS, Ohio — Asked to explain why the U.S. national team has been so dominant in Columbus, captain Michael Bradley paused and simply said, “There’s certain things that are hard to put a finger on.”

The meticulous midfielder then gave it a try, of course, and referenced the pro-U.S. support and the size of Mapfre Stadium, among other possibilities. But in the end, the reason for the Americans’ 8–0–3 record here—the reason they’ve secured the result they needed in so many must-win games—probably can’t be quantified. In soccer, where the margins are so small, intangibles can make a significant difference.

PLANET FUTBOL

Video

USA eases World Cup qualifying pressure as veterans come through

by Brian Straus

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann and the U.S. faced the unthinkable on Tuesday night. A loss to Guatemala would leave them all but eliminated from the 2018 World Cup more than two years before the quadrennial tournament kicks off in Russia. An ugly loss to Los Chapines on Friday in Guatemala City left the Americans at 1–1–1 in their four-team semifinal group. Defeat in Columbus would result in a practically insurmountable five-point deficit with only two matches left.

The World Cup, along with everything Klinsmann has been trying to build during his five-year tenure, was at stake.

“If you’re not qualifying for the World Cup, that’s a major step backwards,” Clint Dempsey said. “You’ve got to look within yourself, man—how bad you want it? How bad do you want to go to the World Cup? How bad do you want to continue progressing the game in the States? You’ve got to put that on your shoulders. You’ve got to represent your country with pride and I thought the boys did that tonight.”

PLANET FUTBOL

Video

2002 U.S. World Cup stars weigh in on state of Klinsmann, USMNT

by Grant Wahl

Dempsey’s “boys” ran over and through Guatemala, taking a lead on his eighth-minute goal, doubling it with a Geoff Cameron header about 20 minutes later and rolling to a 4–0 win that puts them on the threshold of the Hexagonal, the final round of CONCACAF’s World Cup qualifying competition. The performance and outcome made Friday’s 2–0 loss appear all the more vexing. Guatemala was a team that had won only three of 16 games last year. It was shut out by lightweights like Cuba and Antigua. It was ranked 95th in the world for a reason. Yet the U.S. deserved that defeat. The Americans’ focus was poor, their structure was wrong and their finishing was awful. On Tuesday, however, it all improved. Guatemala was put in its place, on the back foot and bunkering.

Klinsmann called it, “A very clear message that we are on top of the game and we are in the driver’s seat again.”

How did the U.S. get there? From the stands and the press box, it seemed obvious. Cameron, arguably the team’s top defender, returned to his preferred spot at center back and played a mistake-free game. He also contributed a goal and an assist. DeAndre Yedlin returned to right back, which he plays primarily at Sunderland, and was solid defensively while threatening the visitors on the flank. Kyle Beckerman, who remained on the bench in Guatemala, was an anchor in center midfield, plugging holes when the outside backs roamed forward and giving Bradley and Graham Zusi room to create. Gyasi Zardes and Bobby Wood stretched the Guatemalan defense and Dempsey, Zusi, Cameron and Jozy Altidore finished the chances that were missed on Friday.

Photo: Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

The lineup was practical, balanced and put several key players in position to do what they do best, something for which many fans have been clamoring. But when asked to assess the reasons for their win, the players pointed not to the stat sheet or the tactics, but to the intangibles. And Klinsmann, who’s been under pressure for fielding a variety of lineups in a variety of formations, said that sort of flux was inevitable for a national team coach. It was the approach, not the specifics, that define his team.

“Every coach’s vision is always to be kind of consistent with his players being available and having everybody at your disposal and keeping them playing in the same direction,” Klinsmann said. “But unfortunately, it’s not reality. Reality is we lost Matt Besler and John Brooks and Fabian Johnson in the days prior to the game in Guatemala. Reality is tonight, Alejandro Bedoya couldn’t make it. So for us reality is, with the group of players that we have, we are going to work things out. I think we are doing a very decent job doing that. Here and there, things don’t work out the way you want it, like it happened there in the first 20 minutes in Guatemala City. I think it’s important that we all know that it’s difficult to go through those qualifiers to be on top of things.”

PLANET FUTBOL

Promises fall flat as USA U-23s miss out on Olympics again

by Liviu Bird

U.S. Soccer said that Klinsmann has used 80 different lineups in his 82 games in charge. That seems like a lot, until you look at the rest of the list. Bob Bradley used 77 lineups in 80 games and Bruce Arena employed 129 in 130 games, according to the federation. Form, injuries, consistency, club issues and travel all conspire to force a national team coach to get creative as he goes. Zusi, for example, was called in from Kansas City only Sunday. He then started Tuesday and scored.

“What I think you saw tonight is our MO,” Zusi said. “That’s the kind of soccer we like to play—aggressive mentality, always on the forefront, put them under enormous amounts of pressure and scoring goals.”

That doesn’t spring from a formation, Bradley said. It comes from some place deeper.

“It didn’t take much explaining to realize what was at stake,” he said. “I talked yesterday about the need for every guy to understand that at different times throughout these cycles you’re going to play a game where everything’s on the line—where if you lose you’re done. And that can’t scare you. You’ve got to have guys who embrace that challenge, who know when those moments come that’s what it’s all about. For tonight we dealt with it well. We had guys respond in a big way. Who knows, there might be another one soon.”

Dempsey concurred, saying, “You’ve just seen the heart everybody showed—the fight, the aggressiveness, the tackles, the second balls and the quality in front of goal. … Tonight we came out and showed our real quality, so I’m proud of the boys.”

Repeating his pre-game stand, Klinsmann said once again on Tuesday that he has “never put anybody out of his position.” He also said, “We really kind of found partnerships in the 4–3–3 formation.” But are those repeatable? Is Klinsmann’s group finally on its way to finding some of sort of predictable tactical structure that can withstand a national team’s revolving door? Recently, the U.S. has appeared to be a squad that’s constantly reinvented. But Klinsmann’s comments imply that such upheaval is par for the course. Players with different strengths will come and go. Opponents and scenarios will change. On Tuesday, with its World Cup hopes in the balance, the U.S. needed an emphatic response.

According to Klinsmann, they delivered.

“What the guys did tonight was outstanding,” he said. “A perfect way basically to respond to that disappointment a couple of days ago. It’s been a long couple of days, because of obviously analyzing it and correcting it. But a huge compliment to every one of them.” 

According to Beckerman, they delivered.

“We needed a big reaction and think everybody had that same mindset of a big reaction,” he said. “Aggressive, high intensity, get the ball moving fast, and I think that aggression led to everything else that went good for us.”

And that, Bradley said, is what was repeatable going forward toward this summer’s Copa América Centenario, the final semifinal round qualifiers in September and then the Hexagonal.

“What’s repeatable is the commitment, the mentality, the willingness of every guy who steps on the field, from the 11 starters to the three subs, to spill their guts on the field,” Bradley said. “That’s repeatable.”

Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic happy after U.S. senior team debut

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Christian Pulisic, the 17-year-old Borussia Dortmund midfielder, became the youngest American ever to appear in a World Cup qualifier when he came off the bench in the second half of Tuesday’s 4-0 U.S. win over Guatemala.Pulisic was supposed to join the American squad last week, but an illness delayed his arrival. The playmaker has made six appearances since January for the Bundesliga’s second-place team. He’s the eighth-youngest player ever to appear in Germany’s top-flight.”It’s been a dream of mine to play for the U.S. national team,” said the Hershey, Pennsylvania product, who was also eligible to play for Croatia but became cap-tied to the U.S. for the remainder of his career the second he entered the field. “It finally came true, so I’m thankful.”He said he was welcomed into the U.S. squad with open arms.”It’s amazing just to meet all these guys,” he said. “They took me in right away, and it felt good to be part of the team and to get on the field.”Pulisic also tweeted to his fans afterward.Pulisic played the final nine minutes Tuesday after replacing Graham Zusi. It was enough time to impress his teammates.”I thought he was great,” midfielder Kyle Beckerman said. “He was really comfortable already, especially for a 17-year-old. It’s pretty impressive. It seems like he has a really good head on his shoulders. He’s in a great place to keep learning and as you saw tonight, it looks like he’s been in a bunch of times.””He’s a great player,” added Clint Dempsey, who surpassed Landon Donovan on the all-time qualifying goals list when he scored the Americans’ opener Tuesday. “He showed his confidence getting on the ball tonight.”Pulisic said he spoke to U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann about potentially joining the U.S. U-23 squad for Tuesday’s ultimately unsuccessful Olympic qualifying match against Colombia.”We talked about it,” Pulisic said. “But we felt that it was the best time to come in with the men’s national team, and we decided to do it. It worked out.”Klinsmann tried to take the pressure off the youngster before inserting him.”We prepared Christian to do it just the way he does it in his club team: don’t over-think,” Klinsmann said. “He was very calm, he was very balanced. I told him just do it like you do at Dortmund, have the same approach. And that’s what he did.”Still, U.S. defender Geoff Cameron is among the many preaching patience despite Pulisic’s obviously ability.”He’s a young kid, so you guys don’t over-blow him up,” the Premier League veteran joked with reporters. “Just let him do what he does, and he’ll be a great talent for us.”

Which MLS players escaped U.S. Olympic failure with reputation intact?

This past year has been something of a chastening year for U.S. Soccer within its own geographic region. There were the Gold Cup losses to Jamaica and Panama, the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the MLS teams being uniformly eliminated by Mexican opposition in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League.And this last weekend offered further evidence that the U.S. in general still has a lot of work to do. Tuesday’s emphatic victory over Guatemala in Columbus might have suggested normal service being resumed, but the debacle in Guatemala City that preceded it will probably hold a more indelible place in the memory of U.S. fans increasingly less indulgent of Jurgen Klinsmann’s penchant for unfamiliar lineups.

And then there was the U-23s.

A credible draw in Colombia on Friday had briefly raised hopes that October’s CONCACAF Olympic qualifying loss to Honduras, on the day the senior team lost to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup, might not prove fatal after all. But on Tuesday, the team barely hung in with a rampant Colombian side, ending the game with nine men and much more comprehensively beaten than the 2-1 scoreline suggested.The U.S. looked outclassed all over the field, and now must endure both a postmortem on their collective performance and some hard individual assessments from Klinsmann and his coaches, as he considers who to salvage from the wreckage for future development and incorporation into the senior team between now and (hopefully) Russia 2018.But let’s focus in particular on the MLS contingent, the types of players for whom the Olympics would have represented a real chance to make a case for their future senior team roles, without pinning all their hopes on the lottery of a January team camp slot. Who did well? Who didn’t? And who (this may sound familiar) was not set up to succeed?

Good: Tim Parker | Center-back | Vancouver Whitecaps

Parker has been one of the pleasant surprises of the past year, as he has emerged as a central defensive starter for Vancouver Whitecaps, and now as a solid international prospect.Probably the most consistent presence for the U.S. over two legs, Parker was kept busy by the intricate approach play of the Colombians but stood his ground robustly. A little too robustly at times; he was perhaps lucky not to see red instead of yellow in the second leg after what looked like a clear stamp.That would perhaps have been an unduly harsh end to his personal Olympic campaign, however. Defensive partner Matt Miazga did see red, and the Chelsea player often looked every inch the benchwarmer he currently is, as he struggled to find the rhythm, timing and positioning that comes with match sharpness. There were times when a sprawling Miazga was grateful for the no-nonsense physical presence of Parker beside him.He’ll return to a steadying Vancouver Whitecaps team who actually secured their first clean sheet of the season without him last weekend, but who will doubtless continue to lean on the 6-foot-2 Long Islander as he builds on last year’s promising rookie season.

Indifferent: Jordan Morris | Forward | Seattle Sounders

The Seattle Sounders player started the year electing to remain in MLS to grow with his hometown team rather than take a professional contract with Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga. The learning curve in Seattle got steeper straight away, with the departure of Obafemi Martins putting an instant weight of expectation upon Morris’ shoulders.He’s started as slowly as you’d expect any new young professional to do, and while other young U.S. players who might have helped the U-23s — such as John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin — were deemed too important to the senior team to feature in the Olympic playoff roster, Morris was not called up to face Guatemala and instead helped lead the line against Colombia.He did OK. There was enough there to suggest that the intelligent running off the ball he’s been celebrated for could become a significant weapon for future U.S. teams, but there were also unfavorable comparisons to be made to some of his Colombian counterparts as a creative outlet.There was one moment in the first leg, where an instinctive first-time shot with the outside of Morris’ boot arced off the Colombian crossbar. Had it dropped, and had the U.S. had a bigger away-goals cushion, perhaps they could have organized to keep Colombia at bay in the second half and his contribution would have been the centerpiece of a famous victory.That’s a big perhaps, and perhaps, too, that would have obscured a sober analysis of Morris’ strengths and weaknesses. If he is to grow into the type of player his club and country hope he’s going to become, some sober analysis of his current ability is not the worst thing.

Bad: Kellyn Acosta | Left-back/midfielder | FC Dallas

This was a rough series for Acosta, though, let’s be very clear and very fair: the Dallas player fell short of a very high benchmark. More usually a defensive midfielder in an exciting young FC Dallas team, Acosta has been caught up in Klinsmann’s ongoing talent competition in which he searches for a viable long-term left-back amid a dearth of credible options.Thrown in to play as a full-back for the senior team during the January camp, Acosta was willing but predictably suspect on positioning at the international level, and the Colombia series represented a further schooling for him.The first leg in Barranquilla was particularly torrid for Acosta, who had already been turned several times before his most significant contribution of conceding the penalty that tied that game. To give credit to the player, by the end of the second leg he was adjusting to a difficult role, although once again he drew attention to himself for the wrong reasons when he headed wide of an open net late on.So yes, in falling short of international standard at an unfamiliar position, it was not a good series for Acosta. If it’s any consolation to him, there are more than a few players in the senior roster who know exactly how he feels.Perhaps there’s more good news for Acosta: If he can improve in the position Klinsmann and Andi Herzog seem to want him to grow into, he’ll be at the front of a virtually non-existent line, compared to the ones faced by some of his peers who did better in more-contested positions.Graham Parker writes for ESPN FC, Grantland, The Guardian US and Howler. He covers MLS and the U.S. national teams. Follow him on Twitter @KidWeil.

U.S. U-23s Olympic qualifying loss a failure seen too many times before

FRISCO, Texas — In 2012, the United States under-23 team failed to qualify for the London Olympics after a speculative, long-range effort from El Salvador’s Jaime Alas found its way past goalkeeper Sean Johnson in the 94th minute. The tally forced a 3-3 draw, giving the Americans a tepid third-place showing in their group.Four years later, Andi Herzog’s side couldn’t beat Colombia in a two-game playoff, and the U.S. will miss the Olympics for the second-straight time, an “accomplishment” it hasn’t achieved in 48 years. It’s another blow to the program under head coach and technical director Jurgen Klinsmann, another box on the checklist unchecked.It’s also a two-game series that followed the distressingly familiar pattern of other signature losses. Colombia outshot the Americans 41 to 10, and the U.S. scored two goals despite managing a single shot on goal across the 180 minutes. Los Cafeteros out-possessed the red, white and blue 66-34 while attempting nearly twice the number of passes and completing 83 percent to the U.S.’s 65.”The problem was that we weren’t able to create chances,” a dejected Herzog said in a postgame news conference. “We have to make quicker combinations on the ground but we just kick the ball in the air. That is not our style of game.”Kellyn Acosta, who struggled in an unfamiliar full-back role in both matches, agreed. “We need to match their intensity,” he said. “We came out kind of flat-footed, kind of slow. They kind of took the game to us. We need to battle. It was life or death, really. I think it shows. They outplayed us throughout the entire game.” That’s an honest, if brutal, assessment of the proceedings. It’s also something we hear too often. The U.S. comes out flat. It runs into trouble against physical opponents, whether it’s Colombia in Barranquilla and Frisco, Honduras during Olympic qualifying in October or even the senior side against Guatemala on Friday.The coaches talk a good game about possession, patience and passing, but the words fail to manifest themselves into action and reality on the field. The American team fails to be more than the sum of its parts.And now we have another generation of U.S. players missing the Olympics. Let’s be clear: it’s not the complete and utter disaster that failing to reach the World Cup would be. The soccer tournament at the Summer Games is a strange animal, a mostly under-23 event with three overage players designed to give the planet a fix of the up-and-coming stars of the world’s game but not compete with FIFA’s monopoly. Due to this summer’s Copa America Centenario, the field will be watered down even further.But the Olympics do represent a serious opportunity for younger players to experience high-quality matches in pressure situations. For a team like the U.S., which has a relatively easy road to World Cup qualification and whose continental championship lacks the rigors of the European Championship, three games or more at the Olympics create an excellent chance for players to develop and thrive. Consider how members of the 2008 team like Benny Feilhaber, Stuart Holden, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore used the tournament as a springboard to the 2010 World Cup roster.The flipside is that missing the Olympics has a negative effect on the players’ future. The 2012 squad that didn’t go to London hasn’t lived up to its potential. Of the 20 men on the roster, only Mix Diskerud can be considered a regular on the senior team. Bill Hamid and Sean Johnson can’t find consistency. Neither can Juan Agudelo, Brek Shea, Joe Corona or Teal Bunbury. Terrence Boyd and Joe Gyau can’t stay healthy. And those are the successful members of that group. hile failing to qualify for the Olympics isn’t the sole reason that group didn’t progress as Klinsmann and his staff hoped, it’s a factor. When asked what the Americans could do differently to qualify, Acosta had a simple answer. “[It’s the] little details, really, that can make everyone from good to great,” he said. Players have to learn how to take care of those little details, and the U.S. youth teams — and, to a lesser extent, the senior team as well — have largely been unsuccessful at doing so during the past half decade.It’s a self-perpetuating cycle: the team lacks the toughness and intensity to get a result in adverse situations, so it doesn’t qualify and it doesn’t get more opportunities to gain experience in adverse situations. It’s on the players to produce and the coaches to prepare them. For two Olympic cycles, we’ve seen nothing but failure.Life and soccer, of course, go on. Herzog, despite still processing the defeat, offered that three or four starters should come out of every four-year group. He didn’t think the last team hit that number, that very few were making an impact. “With this group, we’ll see,” he said of his disappointed team that was still changing in the Toyota Stadium dressing room.Starting center-back Matt Miazga should be one of those players. He already has one senior team cap to his name, a headline-grabbing transfer from the New York Red Bulls to Chelsea and limitless potential. He showed poorly against Colombia, misjudging balls and looking to be a quarter-step slow. A straight red card he picked up in the closing moments of the second match served as a fitting end for his effort and put a cap on the Americans’ performance. But he’s only 20 years old and he’ll play another day. So will his teammates.”A lot of the guys are really talented,” he said when asked about the future during a brief stop before being one of the last players to board the team bus. “Hopefully, we continue on the full national team.”Noah Davis is a Brooklyn-based correspondent for ESPN FC and deputy editor at American Soccer Now. Twitter: @Noahedavis.

USWNT stars accuse U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination in EEOC filing

SI senior writer Grant Wahl explains why the U.S. women’s national team has a strong argument in its wage discrimination case against U.S. Soccer.BY GRANT WAHLADD FAVORITETwitter EmailPosted: Thu Mar. 31, 2016

Get all of Grant Wahl’s columns as soon as they’re published. Download the new Sports Illustrated app (iOS or Android) and personalize your experience by following your favorite teams and SI writers.In the latest labor salvo between the World Cup-winning U.S. women’s national team players and the U.S. Soccer Federation, the five most prominent members of the USWNT have filed an action with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (a government agency) accusing U.S. Soccer of wage discrimination in relation to the money the federation pays to the U.S. men’s national team.In a press release announced Thursday morning, lawyers for the five U.S. players—Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Megan Rapinoe and Becky Sauerbrunn—argue that the USWNT is paid almost four times less than the USMNT, despite producing nearly $20 million in revenues for U.S. Soccer in 2015 (per U.S. Soccer’s recently released annual financial report).The U.S. Soccer pay figures for the men and women (numbers from documents obtained by SI.com are presented in the table below) were agreed to by the players as part of separate collective bargaining agreements, but the U.S. women’s team argues that its CBA has expired.

USWNT, USMNT pay gap

Payment situation USWNT
(2013-present)
USMNT
(2015-18)
Friendlies (per player, vs. teams not in FIFA’s top 25, excluding Mexico) $1,350 for a win $9,375 for a win;
$6,250 for a tie;
$5,000 for a loss 
Friendlies (per player, vs. teams ranked 11-25, excluding Mexico) $1,350 for a win $12,500 for a win;
$6,250 for a tie;
$5,000 for a loss
Friendlies (per player, vs. teams ranked 1-10 and Mexico) $1,350 for a win $17,625 for a win;
$8,125 for a tie;
$5,000 for a loss
World Cup roster bonus $15,000 per player WCQ match bonus;
$15,000 per player WC roster bonus
$68,750 per player
World Cup qualifiers N/A $12,500 per player per win; $6,000 per player per draw; $4,000 per player per loss
World Cup qualification N/A $2,500,000 split among team player pool
World Cup per game payment N/A $6,875 per player, regardless of result
World Cup first round points bonus N/A $218,750 to team player pool per point earned
World Cup second round advancement bonus N/A $4,500,000 split among team player pool
World Cup fourth place bonus $10,000/player N/A
World Cup third place bonus $20,000/player $1,250,000 to team player pool
World Cup second place bonus $32,500/player $6,250,000 to team player pool
World Cup champion bonus $75,000/player $9,375,000 to team player pool
Player in World Cup training camp, not game roster N/A $2,500
Per Diem $50/domestic venue; $60/international  $62.50 domestic;
$75 international
Sponsor appearance fee $3,000/appearance $3,750/appearance
Attendance ticket revenue bonus $1.20/ticket $1.50/ticket
Post-World Cup victory tour (number of games dependent on WC outcome; tour dependent on WC finish) $1.8M for team player pool for finishing first in World Cup;
$6,750 per player for finishing second;
$6,250 per player for finishing third
N/A

U.S. Soccer, for its part, has maintained that the CBA with the U.S. women’s players is still in effect through the end of 2016 due to a memorandum of understanding signed by the two sides in 2013. In an effort to get a court to decide if the CBA is still in place, U.S. Soccer filed its own separate action in February in Chicago. Discovery for that case was set to be completed on Thursday, with oral arguments on the motions set to take place before the Chicago court on May 25.The USWNT players are being represented by Jeffrey Kessler, one of the nation’s most prominent sports lawyers, who represented Tom Brady in his recent case against the NFL. Kessler told SI.com that the new players action had nothing to do with the Chicago case filed by U.S. Soccer.PODCAST: SI legal analyst McCann on USWNT vs. USSF“The reason the players have filed is because the USSF has made it clear that they will not consider equal pay [with the U.S. men] in the negotiations for a new agreement,” said Kessler. “So whether or not there’s an existing agreement, they won’t ever agree to make a change to give us the right salary. And the players have been very patient and have concluded now they have to bring a case.”U.S. Soccer responded Thursday morning with the following statement: “We understand the Women’s National Team Players Association is filing a charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against U.S. Soccer. While we have not seen this complaint and can’t comment on the specifics of it, we are disappointed about this action. We have been a world leader in women’s soccer and are proud of the commitment we have made to building the women’s game in the United States over the past 30 years.”The federation then added the following: 

One topic at issue is whether the U.S. women could initiate a work stoppage before the Olympics in August, which would give them much more leverage in negotiations for a new CBA.“I’m not going to make any comment about those issues right now,” Kessler said.In the press release, Kessler notes that the U.S. women’s players want “equal pay for equal work,” while Morgan adds that the team wants treatment equal to the U.S. men on playing surfaces and travel accommodations.The U.S. players say their goal is for the EEOC to conduct an independent investigation, issue its findings and seek relief on behalf of the players on the U.S. team.MORE: USWNT players livid after personal info published in documents

“These athletes have probably the strongest case for pay discrimination against women that I have ever seen,” Kessler argued. “Because you have a situation where not only are their work requirements identical to the men’s requirements—the same number of minimum friendlies they have to play, the same requirements to prepare for their World Cups—but they have outperformed the men both economically and on the playing field in every possible way the last two years. So this isn’t a case where someone can come in and say the reason the men are paid more is because they are more economically successful or the men outperform the women or they’re not comparable in the same way.”WAHL: USWNT eyes unprecedented World Cup/Olympics doubleThe U.S. women’s team is currently in camp ahead of friendlies on April 6 and 10 against Colombia. The Olympic women’s soccer tournament is set to begin on August 3.

Indy 11 VERSATILITY ON DISPLAY

“Coach Hank” on importance of roster rotation for 2016 season Mar 29, 2016

 It’s a word head coach Tim Hankinson knows well and uses often, particularly when discussing the 2016 edition of the “Boys in Blue” as their quest for an NASL championship begins on Saturday at the Tampa Bay Rowdies.In January, Hankinson spoke with IndyEleven.com about the squad coming into focus, and with the preseason coming to a close last weekend that focus is sharpening from top to bottom.

 GOALKEEPERS/DEFENSE

Beginning in goal, Jon Busch arrived in January from Chicago Fire SC as the most experienced goalkeeper currently plying his trade in the American game and with more clean sheets than your local laundryman. The 39-year-old Busch had “Coach Hank” singing praises of his work rate, determination, and his role in Keith Cardona’s growth.“I think Jon is going to be, and prove to be, the top ‘keeper in the league. He can see the situation and make corrections within the game,” said Hankinson. “That’s also for someone like Colin [Falvey], who is a very experienced defender and has a voice on the park. He helps us make corrections and communicate with the others. In a way there’s a communication strength in that partnership that I didn’t feel we had last year.”Defensively, the Eleven have returned a core of Greg Janicki, Cory Miller, and Marco Franco, while adding the afore-mentioned ex-Ottawa Fury FC centerback Falvey, as well as Lovel Palmer from the Fire, Nemanja Vuković from Sacramento Republic FC, and Neil Shaffer from the Harrisburg City Islanders.Hankinson wasn’t coy on his back four either, complimenting the experience of the group and their ability to gel together in a short period of time.“I feel defensively our back four can be one of the best in the league, and with their organizational skills it means we don’t have to wait until halftime to make corrections,” explained Hankinson. “They all have extensive experience in their respective spots and are versatile enough to play in a number of positions within that line.”

 MIDFIELDERS

Moving into the center of the park, Nicki Paterson, Gorka Larrea, and Siniša Ubiparipović are amongst the new names you will see accompanied by last year’s contingent of Brad Ring, Dylan Mares, and Daniel Keller. These sets of trios each bring their own strengths to the proposed three-man setup Hankinson will deploy up the spine of the team.“A triangle is interesting because you have players like Nicki and Brad, who are starting caliber, that kind of play more box-to-box – joining the attack, but then getting back defensively. Then you have players like Gorka and Keller, who are more sit-in, stay in front of the defense type holding midfielders, and Siniša and Dylan, who are more attacking and can create scoring chances.“You can play two holding (mids) and, one at the point, you can rotate it and play two attacking and one holding, or sometimes you play with one attacking, one holding, and one player who is free to build and possess to play where the ball is. I think the players we have give us all of those choices. Again, those are things that you can adjust in the game depending on the situation at hand. All of these guys are also versatile in their own manner.”

 FORWARDS/WINGERS

At the apex of the attack, wingers Duke Lacroix and Don Smart return alongside forward Wojciech Wojcik, while Justin Braun, Eamon Zayed and late addition Jair Reinoso are the new boys in town. To Hankinson, having the versatility to play goalscorers both on the wings and in the forward position can make a world of difference.“On the wing, I have selected players this year that also bring versatility in terms of goalscoring and where each player can play. Justin can play outside left or outside right even though he’s a natural right-footed player. The same goes with Duke where he can come from the right side.”Focusing on interchanging, the idea is to have the attack be free-flowing in order to find pockets of space on slanted runs. This will make it difficult for the defense to know exactly what is coming at them.“What an opposing defender wants is for the striker to stand right in front of him. So when a striker is mobile and interchanging positions, it forces defenders to make decisions – sometimes those decisions are right, sometimes they aren’t. We’re looking for ways to force defenders into making the wrong ones,” said Hankinson.Saturday’s season-opener for the Eleven is about all of these pieces joining together to form one solidified team with one goal in mind – getting three points at a time.

 Indy Eleven’s opener at the Rowdies on Saturday evening is scheduled for a 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff. The game will air nationwide on ONE World Sports and will be viewable for free on its website, OneWorldSports.com(unlike last season, no subscription/log-in will necessary to view the online stream). Fans are also encouraged to watch the game at one of several official Watch Parties being held across Central Indiana and beyond.

ELEVEN ADDS ATTACKER JAIR REINOSO

Roster transactions also see releases of Stojkov, DeRoux & Williams Mar 29, 2016

Club Releases Defender Stephen DeRoux, Midfielder Dragan Stojkov & Forward Dino Williams as Saturday’s Season Opener Approaches

With its third season in the North American Soccer League just days away, Indy Eleven made an addition to its attacking corps today with the signing of Colombian forward Jair Reinoso. Per club policy, contract details will not be released.Reinoso will be available for selection for “Indiana’s Team” pending receipt of his international transfer certificate (ITC), which is expected to come in advance of the team’s NASL Spring Season opener this Saturday, April 2, at the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Reinoso possesses a United States Green Card and will therefore not occupy one of the roster’s seven allotted international player spots.Indy Eleven today also announced the release of three players – defender Stephen DeRoux, midfielder Dragan Stojkov and forward Dino Williams. Today’s transactions puts Indy Eleven’s roster at 21 players in advance of Saturday’s season opener.“We are pleased to add a player of this caliber this close to the start of the season. Jair will add a new dimension to the squad, providing another attacking option that is stylistically quite different from what we currently have,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “His track record is that of a proper goal scorer who can isolate a defender one-on-one and use his technical ability to beat players and go to goal.”

Born in Cali, Colombia, Reinoso would begin his soccer tutelage in the youth system of his hometown team and then-powerhouse side America de Cali in the mid-90s before moving to Florida as a teenager. He would head back to South America to start his professional career, cutting his teeth in the reserve system of three Argentine clubs, including standout side River Plate, before making his first team debut with the most successful team in Bolivian soccer, Club Bolivar, in 2008.Since then, the 30-year-old striker has scored 79 goals in 185 games while representing clubs in South America and Asia, including another legendary Bolivian team, The Strongest; Colombian first division regulars Once Caldas and Cucuta Deportivo; and, most recently, Chinese League One squad Zhejiang Yiteng. Reinoso has contributed to a pair of title-winning sides, helping Club Bolivar and The Strongest to Apertura (Opening) Season victories in 2009 and 2013, respectively, and also tallied five times in 14 games during play in the prestigious Copa Libertadores and Copa Sudamericana international competitions.Stojkov was the only player of the three released today that suited up for Indy Eleven, notching two assists while starting 18 of his 21 appearances in NASL regular season play in 2015. DeRoux and Williams were both signed in February, but the former players at previous stops under Hankinson suffered injuries that will sideline both for significant time, putting their 2016 seasons in jeopardy“A roster is always a work in progress until you feel you have all the pieces that you need to win games, and parting ways with good players and teammates like Dragan Stojkov, Stephen DeRoux and Dino Williams is a part of that process,” Hankinson said. “Stephen and Dino were the unfortunate recipients of long-term injuries, forcing us to search for different options at their positions. In Dragan’s case, he’s a very solid professional that carries a lot of good attributes, but he also occupies an international slot. Having the flexibility to pick up an international player to improve the roster is crucial as we get into the season, and unfortunately it was Dragan that had to be sacrificed in this instance.Head  o www.IndyEleven.com/roster for the full 21-man roster that currently comprises the 2016 edition of the “Boys in Blue,” and visit the team’s social media channels and www.IndyEleven.com/preseason  to keep up to date on all things Indy Eleven heading into the team’s third NASL campaign.Indy Eleven begins its 2016 season on the road Saturday evening at the Tampa Bay Rowdies (7:30 p.m. ET, live on ONE World Sports & www.ONEWorldSports.com). “Indiana’s Team” then kicks off its home schedule at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium on Saturday, April 9, against the rival Ottawa Fury FC, followed a week later by a visit from the defending NASL Champion New York Cosmos. Fans looking for details on season ticket packages and other available seating options can visit the “Tickets” section of www.IndyEleven.com, call 317-685-1100 during regular business hours (9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. weekdays) or email tickets@indyeleven.com.

ECAP – ELEVEN 0 : 0 U OF L

“Boys in Blue” step up defensively to shutout Cardinals in preseason finale

Mar 25, 2016

Goalkeeper Keith Cardona Steps up with Three Saves to Post Clean Sheet in Finale

 LOUISVILLE (Friday, March 25, 2016) – Indy Eleven dueled the University of Louisville to a 0-0 draw in the squad’s 2016 preseason finale this evening at Cardinal Park on the UofL campus. Eleven goalkeeper Keith Cardona made three saves and other critical interventions to help the visitors post the clean sheet.While play would flow back and forth throughout the early stages, the game’s first real dangerous chance wouldn’t come until the 36th minute, when Indy Eleven guest player Aaron Horton’s run down the right flank was cut down by a Cardinal defender to set up a free kick. Midfielder Nicki Paterson swung a nice ball in towards the penalty spot where forward Wojciech Wojcik rose to meet it, but his header bounced down off the crossbar and was cleared from the area.Louisville had some good looks of their own in the final five minutes, but Cardona came up huge. The second year netminder first came off his line strong and went low to block away a 1-v-1 opportunity in the right side of the area in the 40th minute, followed by a back-peddling leap to stop a chipped effort from distance destined for the upper left corner that ended the first half.The home side had a couple of looks in the 54th minute when several Cards flooded Indy’s six-yard box, but a couple of pokes failed to make their way through heavy traffic at the left post and the danger was eventually cleared.The chances would dry up from there on out, but Louisville would ratchet up the pressure in the 82nd minute when an attacker cut inside from the right flank and unleashed a low shot from 20 yards out that forced Cardona into a smothering stop. Indy would push some numbers into the Cardinals area for some good-looking set piece opportunities of its own in the final two minutes, but Wojcik and defender Cory Miller saw their headed efforts deflected out for corners, keeping the match scoreless to the final whistle.Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson elected to leave the bulk of the “Boys in Blue” that played most or all of Wednesday’s match against Butler back in Indianapolis, giving five guest players the opportunity to see considerable minutes against the Cards. Three of those players – Vinnie Mitchell, Nago Mbengue and Thomas Schmitt – were earlier this week named to the roster that will compete for the Indy Eleven NPSL side beginning in May.With the six-week preseason now in the rearview mirror, Indy Eleven can turn its focus fully to its NASL season opener next Saturday, April 2, at the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Fans can watch the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff from Al Lang Stadium live on ONE World Sports and online at ONEWorldSports.com, and can also follow live updates via the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed and additional Indy Eleven social media outlets.  Indy Eleven kicks off its home slate at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium a week later on Saturday, April 9, against 2015 NASL Championship finalist Ottawa Fury FC. Season, single game and group tickets for the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff at “The Mike” can be purchased at IndyEleven.com or by phone at 317-685-1100 (Mon.-Fri., 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. ET).


Scoring Summary: None


Indy Eleven XI (4-2-3-1, L -> R): Keith Cardona; *Jeff McClure, Neil Shaffer, Cory Miller, Don Smart; Nicki Paterson (*Nago Mbengue 38’) (Marco Franco 75’), Brad Ring (*Thomas Schmitt 38’); Duke Lacroix (Aaron Horton 87’), Dylan Mares, *Vinnie Mitchell (^Aaron Horton 32’) (Vinnie Mitchell 67’); Wojciech Wojcik  * Indy Eleven NPSL player  ^ Guest player

RECAP – ELEVEN 1 : 0 BUTLER

Zayed’s third tally of preseason, stout defense help gain momentum in final preseason push

Mar 23, 2016

Forward Eamon Zayed’s 18th Minute Tally Stands Tall in Victory at Grand Park

 WESTFIELD (Wednesday, March 23, 2016) – Indy Eleven gained some momentum to start the final push of its 2016 preseason tonight against Butler University, using a goal from forward Eamon Zayed in the first half and a stout defensive effort throughout to post a 1-0 victory at Grand Park.The Bulldogs came out and stood toe-to-toe with Indy Eleven for about the first 10 minutes, including a pair of decent looks in the eighth minute that put the pro side on guard, before ceding the bulk of the possession and quality chances to the “Boys in Blue.”It was Zayed putting Indy on top in the 18th minute, the play starting with midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s through ball that split the Butler center backs. The Irish striker took it from there, pushing a low shot from 20 yards inside the left post to put the Eleven up early. Less than a minute, later trialist Jair Reinoso almost doubled the advantage after the ball worked its way around to him in the left side of the area, but the Bulldogs goalkeeper alertly cut down the angle early and blocked the Colombian’s shot out for a corner.Indy Eleven ‘keeper Jon Busch had some work of his own to do a little after the half-hour mark, first coming off his line in the 33rd minute to get a piece of a near-angle shot that defender Nemanja Vuković swept over to clear out of the six-yard box. Three minutes later, Busch shuffled over to his left post and leapt to grab a shot from distance that threatened his frame. In between, Vuković had a couple of chances himself, but both a free kick and shot from open play, each from roughly 30 yards out, were saved.Both teams were limited to shots from distance and half chances through the start of the second half, the first real look of any danger coming from Indy winger Justin Braun’s near-post effort from the left side of the area in the 71st minute.Substitute midfielder Duke Lacroix injected some life into the Indy Eleven attack across the final 15 minutes with a handful of lengthy forays into the final third, but he’d find his shots saved or passes for runners inside the area cleared away. Zayed had one last chance to find a second in stoppage time after again being slipped into space by Ubiparipović, and while his far post effort beat the goalkeeper it couldn’t stay inside the right post.A main area of focus for Indy Eleven, now 11 days out from its NASL Spring Season opener on April 2 at the Tampa Bay Rowdies, was getting players 90 minutes fit. Head coach Tim Hankinson was able to get the bulk of his charges just that, as eight of the 11 starters would go the distance on the windy evening in Westfield.Indy Eleven’s final preseason exhibition match comes in just two days’ time on Friday evening, when “Indiana’s Team” will head down I-65 and cross into Kentucky to square off against the University of Louisville Cardinals. Kickoff from Cardinal Park on the UofL campus is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and fans can follow live updates as they happen via the @IndyElevenLive Twitter feed and additional Indy Eleven social media outlets.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, beginning next weekend in the Sunshine State against the Rowdies (7:30 p.m. ET, live on ONE World Sports & ONEWorldSports.com). Indy Eleven kicks off its home slate at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium a week later on Saturday, April 9, against 2015 NASL Championship finalist Ottawa Fury FC. Season, single game and group tickets for the 7:30 p.m. kickoff at “The Mike” can be purchased atIndyEleven.com or by phone at 317-685-1100 (Mon.-Fri., 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. ET).

Scoring Summary: IND – Eamon Zayed (Siniša Ubiparipović) 18’

Indy Eleven XI (4-2-3-1, L -> R): Jon Busch; Marco Franco, Greg Janicki (Brad Ring 25’), Colin Falvey, Lovel Palmer; Nicki Paterson (Dylan Mares 73’), Nemanja Vuković; Justin Braun, Siniša Ubiparipović, Jair Reinoso (Duke Lacroix 58’); Eamon Zayed

Idle Sporting Kansas City remains at top of MLS Power Rankings over international break

There were just three games on the schedule last weekend, causing just a little movement in this week’s MLS Power Rankings.

  1. Sporting Kansas City(no change)

A week off means another week to get Benny Feilhaber back to fitness. The 2015 MVP finalist has yet to play in 2016, but his club still has nine points from three games.

  1. Portland Timbers(no change)

Like a host of teams across the league, Portland will spend the next two days hoping its internationals — there were six of them called up for this window — return completely healthy come Wednesday.

  1. FC Dallas(+2)

D.C.’s defense made it easy, but credit FC Dallas for putting the sword to United on the road in the first half-hour on the way to a 3-0 win. Michael Barrios is sometimes the forgotten man, but he showed his abilities on Saturday.

  1. Montreal Impact(-1)

The Impact go back to life without Didier Drogba when they head to Seattle to face the Sounders next weekend. Considering they lost the only game he has played in, it’s not really a problem.

  1. Toronto FC(-1)

The biggest issue facing Toronto FC heading into next weekend in Colorado is the psychological well-being of their American internationals, Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, after Friday night’s stunning defeat to Guatemala.

  1. New York Red Bulls(no change)

How much progress has Jesse Marsch made on fixing the Red Bulls’ disastrous defensive problems during the week off? Maybe just as importantly, are Gideon Baah and Ronald Zubar on track to play in New England on Friday?

  1. LA Galaxy(no change)

The Galaxy’s quiet week off mostly involved rumors about Steven Gerrard(par for the course), but one can’t help but wonder what Bruce Arena was thinking, watching the U.S. fall in Central America.

  1. Philadelphia Union(no change)

If anyoSg for their healthy return.