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
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
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
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
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
3:30 pm ESPN Orlando City vs. New England Revolution
7:00 p.m Fox Sports1 FC Dallas vs. Sporting Kansas City
3 pm NBCSN Stoke City vs Tottenham
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
2:45 pm NBCSN Arsenal vs West Brom
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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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.
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.
“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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.”
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.
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 email@example.com.
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).
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
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).
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
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.
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.
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?