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



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?



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


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


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.


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


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 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 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.


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.


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

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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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