5/13/16 Europe Leagues Wrap up, Europa Final 5/18, CFC night at Indy 11, Games of Week on TV

Wow so what a celebration at Leicester on Saturday as the Foxes won their first EPL title in 193 yrs – still plenty to play for in the EPL as Man United and Man City are battling for that 4th spot to qualify for Champions League.  Can you imagine how uncomfortable incoming wonder coach Pep Guardiola is right now – with Man City on the edge of NOT being in Champions League during the same season when they advanced to the UCL Final 4 for the first time in their history?  It makes for intrigue down the stretch, as do the battles for 5th and 6th (Europa League Qualification) and of course Relegation at the bottom of the standings was quite dramatic this week as well.  Sunderland won in dramatic come from behind fasion Sunday as former Toronto FC man Jermaine Defoe scored off US defender Deandre Yedlin’s cross to put the black cats 1 pt above Newcastle and then a 3-0 stomping of Howard less Everton mean Sunderland stays in the Premier League next season while New Castle and Norwich are heading down to the 2nd division with Aston Villa and US keeper Brad Guzan.  This weekend all the EPL games are on Sunday at 10 am across the NBC network of channels – with Swansea hosting Man City on NBC, Man U home to Bournemouth on NBCSN (Man City is 4th with a win or tie), Leicester City travels to Chelsea on CNBC, Southampton is home looking to make up 2 pts on West Ham for a Europa League qualifying 6th place – who travels to Stoke City and US Defender Geoff Cameron on Bravo.  Sat Night the Indy 11 (the only NASL team with no loss 2-3-0) – currently standing tied for 4th overall travel to Ft. Lauderdale on ESPN3 at 7 pm.

So it comes down to the final games on Sat 11 am on beIN Sport as Barcelona holds a slim 1 pt lead on Real Madrid for the La Liga Championship.  Barca play hapless Grenada while Real Madrid travels to Deportivo needing a win and a Barca tie or loss to snag away the title. In France League 2 US Manager Bob Bradley needs a Metz loss and a win by his Le Havre to complete a move to the top French division. (Not likely to happen – but he would become the 1st US Manager in Europes 1st Division if so).

Of course Juergan Klopp’s Liverpool looks for a Europa League Championship Cup, immortality and a Champions League Spot next year as they face 3 time finalist Spain’s Sevilla in the Europa League Final Wednesday at 2:45 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Join us at the Brockway Pub off old Meridan behind Meyer as the Indy Liverpool fans unite to root their team on!!

Great Story on Player Development – What your Soccer Coach Won’t Tell the Parents –Renegades Soccer

Pictures Carmel FC night at the May 7 Indy 11 game 

CFC_indy11_tunnel
Carmel FC players form the tunnel for the Indy 11 players to run thru Sat Night.

I forgot the U9 Red Lion Champions in last weeks email – sorry folks –

CFC_U9G_RedLion

U9 Girls Red Lion Champions – coach left Bill McGee, and Betty Shepherd (right)

cfc_U9boys_RedLion_MarkFlanders

U 9 Boys Red Lion Champions – Coach Mark Flanders

Carmel FC is looking for a new DOC  

GAMES ON TV THIS WEEK

Sat, May 14 (final day in Germany+Italy+Spain)

9:30 am Fox                   Bayern Munich vs Hannover 96

9:30 am Fox Sports 2 Live whip-around coverage all German games
9:30 am Fox Soccer+ Werder Bremen vs. Eintracht Frankfurt
9:30 am GolTV              Bayer Leverkusen vs. Ingolstadt
11 am beIn Sport       Deportivo vs Real Madrid

2:45 pm beIn Sport Milan vs Roma

7 pm ESPN3                    Ft Lauderdale Strikers vs Indy 11

8 pm beIn Sports        Min United vs Jacksonville Armada

Sunday, May 15 (final day in EPL)

10 a.m., NBC                  Swansea vs. Manchester City
10 a.m., NBCSN            Manchester United vs. Bournemouth
10 a.m., USA                  Newcastle United vs. Tottenham Hotspur
10 a.m., CNBC:             Chelsea vs. Leicester City
10 a.m., MSNBC           West Bromwich Albion vs. Liverpool
10:am Syfy:                     Arsenal vs. Aston Villa
10 a.m., Bravo:             Stoke City vs. West Ham United
10 a.m., E!:                     Southampton vs. Crystal Palace
10 a.m  Esquire            Everton vs. Norwich City
10 a.m   Oxyge             Watford vs. Sunderland

Wed, May 18

2:30 pm Fox Sp 1        Liverpool vs Sevilla (Europa League Final)

Sat, May 21

12 noon Fox                   FA (England) Cup Final – Crystal Palace vs Man United

1:45 pm ESPN 2??      German Cup Final – Bayern Munich vs Borussia Dortmund

2:45 pm ??                      Italian Cup Final – Milan vs Juve

3 pm beIn Sport          French Cup Final – Maseille vs PSG 

2:30 pm Fox                   NYC FC vs NY Red Bulls

8 pm Ch 8                        Indy 11 vs Min United

Sun, May 22

12:00 p.m. Fox Sports 1 Puerto Rico vs. United States men, international friendly
4:30 p.m. ESPN            Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps, 
7 p.m. Fox Sports 1   Los Angeles Galaxy vs. San Jose Earthquakes,
Wed, May 25

8 pm ESPN2                    United States men vs. Ecuador, international friendly

Sat, May 28

TBD FS1                             United States men vs. Bolivia, international friendly

2:45 pm                            Champions League Final REAL MADRID vs ATLETICO MADRID

Sun, May 29

4 pm ESPN                       NYCFC vs Orlando City

Thurs, June 2

9 pm FS 1                         US Ladies vs Japan

Fri, June 3  COPA AMERICA 100

9:30 pm Fox Sports1                        USA vs Columbia

Sun, June 5

12:30 pm ESPN2         US Ladies vs Japan

5 pm Fox                          COPA – Jamaica vs Venezuela

7 pm Fox Sports 1      COPA- Mexico vs Uruguay

Tues, June 7

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

Fri, June 10 European Cup

3 pm ESPN                       France vs Romania

MLS TV Schedule 

European Championships This Summer on ESPN

Copa America Centario Schedule   TV Schedule

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

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

 

 EPL and World Leagues

Power Rankings – ESPN FC – Shaka Hislop

EPL Round Up- Leicester Stars Reach Hero Status – Ian Macintosh – ESPN FC

Battle for Champions League and Europa League Spots Rages on in EPL

Martinez Out at Everton  ESPN FC

John Terry’s red card a sad final act to his storied Chelsea career

EPL Table

Atletico Crashes out of  Spain’s Title Race while Barca and Real win

La Liga comes down to final day

Messi vs Renaldo

Messi Interview

Messi s brilliant Free Kick

US

US American’s Abroad Season in Review

US ladies Take a Stand on Pay Equity LA Times

Grant Wahl SI – Mailbag – Video

Decisions Ahead for Copa

American Owners in the EPL

MLS

Around the MLS

Kei Kamara controversy in Columbus –US Soccer Players

Seattle Rookie and US Forward Morris ties rookie mark with 4 goals in 4 games

John Terry must lower demands to sign with MLS Club

LA’s Gerrard eyes Liverpool Return

Addition of Jones has Colorado Rapids in 1st before Tim Howard even arrives

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview for Ft. Lauderdale Game

Disappointing Draw for Indy 11 – Permanent Relagation – Aaron Gunyon

Champions League Finals (Sat -May 28 -Fox) 

Real Wins

Atletico Holds on to Oust Bayern

Liverpool could find unlikely hero in Europa League Final

Americans Abroad season in review: U.S. options emerge overseas

BY BRIAN STRAUSADD FAVORITE Posted: Wed May. 11, 2016

The trend already seemed to be gaining momentum as the U.S. national team headed to Brazil for the 2014 World Cup.For nearly three years, coach Jurgen Klinsmann had been urging American players to step outside their comfort zones and test themselves in the planet’s top leagues. But the perception that opportunities were limited abroad, plus Major League Soccer’s increasing spending power, combined to create more of an influx than an exodus. Bigger paydays attracted some, and the opportunity to be the cornerstone of a franchise lured others.Klinsmann’s 23-man World Cup team included 10 MLS players, an increase of six from 2010. And within a few months, the likes of DaMarcus Beasley, Mix Diskerud, Jermaine Jones, Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea and Jozy Altidore were heading back to the U.S. or Canada as well.MLS hasn’t given up on trying to lure U.S. internationals. Tim Howard is joining the Colorado Rapids this summer, and Alejandro Bedoya was tempted before deciding to stay in Nantes.But as next month’s Copa América Centenario draws near, Americans have re-established their presence in Europe and Mexico. Thanks to the departure of a handful of players and the emergence of several more who went abroad some time ago, Klinsmann now could field a pretty competitive team comprised entirely of men earning their living outside MLS. Among the 40 named to the Copa América preliminary roster, 21 play abroad. And several have made an impression.As European campaigns comes to a close, the Liga MX playoffs kick off and the May 20 23-man Copa roster deadline approaches, Planet Fútbol stakes stock of the season for Americans playing abroad and who’s now in frame for the Copa and this fall’s World Cup qualifiers. Reasonable people can debate the performance and progress of the teams Klinsmann has put on the field, but present and future player pool looks to be as deep as ever.

England

For so long the home of America’s great goalkeepers, the Premier League has been a frustrating place for Klinsmann’s top two this season. Tim Howard, 37, was phased out by under-fire Everton coach Roberto Martinez at the end of January while Brad Guzan, 31, has faced relentless pressure playing behind a miserable Aston Villa squad that’s headed for the Championship. While Howard has been given the opportunity to start the Toffees’ final two home games, Guzan has sat out the past two matches following a 4-2 home loss to Southampton on April 23.With neither in form, the Copa starter likely will be determined during the camp that commences Monday. The U.S. will play friendlies against Puerto Rico (May 22), Ecuador (May 25) and Bolivia (May 28) before the tournament. Guzan has started 28 of Villa’s 37 EPL games, yielding a league-high 58 goals, while Howard started 24 times for Everton and was beaten 35 times.U.S. U-23 goalie Cody Cropper joined Milton Keynes Dons last summer and appeared 12 times for the Championship club, which will play in England’s third tier next season.PODCAST: Revisiting our atrocious Premier League predictions

 

The picture is more promising a few yards forward, where Geoff Cameron andDeAndre Yedlin have solidified their spots at Stoke City and Sunderland, respectively.They’re the only American field players starting regularly in the Premier League. Cameron, who signed a new deal last year and now is tied to Stoke until the summer of 2018, has played center back, right back and defensive midfield for the Potters this season but usually anchors the back four. Only five clubs have yielded more league goals than Stoke’s 54. Cameron is expected to play in the middle for Klinsmann but could fill in on the flank in a pinch.However, Yedlin’s improvement should mean Cameron can stay central. The 22-year old’s speed and ability to get forward and create never were questioned, but his defensive stability and positioning were issues when he signed with Tottenham Hotspur two years ago. Yedlin struggled in London, but a loan move north has helped him find the focus and playing time he’s needed. The former Seattle Sounder has started 20 EPL games entering the season finale—he reclaimed the role in February after two months on the sidelines—and helped set up Sunderland’s massive game-winning goal last weekend against Chelsea.He should have the right back spot close to locked down for the U.S. Yedlin still isn’t a finished product but could be a sought-after transfer this summer.

Tim Howard: Jurgen Klinsmann is the man to take USMNT forward

USMNT goalkeeper Tim Howard explains why the calls for Jurgen Klinsmann’s job does not affect the team.There’s defensive depth in England as well. Eric LichajJonathan Spector andTim Ream continue to gut it out in the second-tier Championship and all can be said to be on Klinsmann’s radar now that Lichaj has pushed his way onto the 40-man Copa roster.Lichaj, 27, has been a Nottingham Forest regular for three years and started an impressive 43 games this season. Klinsmann has preferred Yedlin, Cameron, Fabian Johnson, Timmy Chandler or Brad Evans at right back but finally will get a close look at the Chicagoland product this month.Ream, 28, started 29 times in his first season at Fulham, during which the Cottagers were threatened with relegation. Ream is comfortable both in the middle and at left back—versatility which may help as Klinsmann pares down his roster. Spector, 30, last played for the U.S. in an October friendly against Costa Rica. The Birmingham City veteran, who plays in the middle or on the right, had 25 starts this season but has been a first choice only four times in 2016.First-year Chelsea defender Matt Miazga earned 136 minutes of Premier League playing time across two matches in early April and will be in camp with Klinsmann. U.S. U-23 center back Cameron Carter-Vickers is at Tottenham, where he dressed for several Europa League games this season. The 18-year-old Spurs academy product is the London-born son of an American father.Four years ago, it appeared that German-born defensive midfielder Danny Williams was on the cusp of becoming a U.S. regular. But he was capped only twice in 2013-14 as he transitioned from TSG Hoffenheim to Reading. He played for the U.S. six times in 2015 and had a 2015-16 good season for his Championship club, establishing himself as more of a box-to-box presence and scoring a career-high six goals. Although his spring was tarnished by a three-game April suspension that followed an on-field confrontation with Reading captain Paul McShane, his overall performance leaves him firmly back in the U.S. picture.U.S. U-20 and U-23 linchpin Emerson Hyndman, a Dallas product who joined Fulham’s academy in 2011, has had a frustrating campaign.Despite his skill, vision and obvious upside, the 20-year-old failed to find consistent playing time as Fulham fired its coach, used another two on an interim basis and then hired Slaviša Jokanović in December.Hyndman could be on his way out of Craven Cottage this summer after starting nine games and scoring one goal (a stoppage-time game-winner against Cardiff City) this season.

Germany

Fabian Johnson can make a strong case as the most outstanding American abroad thanks to his prolific season with Borussia Mönchengladbach. The winger has been a mainstay for the club, starting 32 games and scoring eight goals. Five of those starts and two of those goals came in the Champions League as Gladbach finished 1-3-2 in a brutal group that included Manchester City, Juventus and Sevilla.The two questions facing Johnson, 28, are whether Klinsmann will have to deploy him at left back despite the player’s preference and performance in midfield, and whether he’ll be properly recovered from the groin injury that’s kept him out of Gladbach’s past two games.Two other potential Copa starters are defender John Brooks and, surprisingly, playmaker Christian Pulisic. No one doubted the Borussia Dortmund teenager’s potential, but his quick comfort in the first team had Klinsmann believing the 17-year-old was ready for a World Cup qualifier in March.Pulisic has played 12 times for Dortmund’s senior squad, starting on four occasions and scoring twice.Brooks, 23, left his poor 2015 Gold Cup in the rear-view mirror with a strong season for Hertha Berlin. He battled through a couple injuries to start 22 times this season and in January, he signed a new contract lasting through 2018-19. Both Brooks and Hertha have struggled recently, however. The player missed time with a knee issue before returning last weekend and the club has lost four straight, leaving its European fate in doubt heading into Saturday’s finale at Mainz.Although he plays in the second division, Bobby Wood’s breakout 17-goal season at Union Berlin has validated Klinsmann’s patience with the Hawaiian striker and drawn the attention of Bundesliga clubs. Wood, 23, has an excellent chance to make the final Copa roster.The mercurial Timmy Chandler is on the 40-man team after recovering from an August 2015 knee injury and earning four starts at Eintracht Frankfurt in March and April. The 26-year-old right back suffered a muscle injury last month, however, and is only now returning to the field.Elsewhere in Germany, Alfredo Morales, who’s had trouble breaking through the U.S. midfield logjam, lost his starting spot at FC Ingolstadt in early February then suffered a groin injury. He’s earned a few minutes as a reserve over the past couple weeks. World Cup forward Aron Jóhannsson was lost for the remainder of Werder Bremen’s season following an October hip injury. And round-of-16 scorerJulian Green has fallen from that perch, netting 10 goals for Bayern Munich’s reserve team, which competes in Germany’s fourth tier.

Elsewhere in Europe

He was talking transfer with the Philadelphia Union last year but Alejandro Bedoya now is one of the most successful and consistent Yanks abroad, perhaps surpassed this season only by Johnson. The 29-year-old has spent his entire pro career in Europe, going from Sweden to Scotland back to Sweden and then to France’s FC Nantes, where he’s tallied five goals in 30 appearances this season. Bedoya scored again in Saturday’s loss to Caen. He’s tied to Nantes until the summer of 2019 and his play should make the club reluctant to see him leave, or at least increase his transfer value.  Bedoya excels for Nantes playing just behind the forwards. It remains to be seen whether Klinsmann will get the most out Bedoya in the wider role he often plays for the U.S.WATCH: Bedoya scores, leads “I believe!” chant in Nantes finale

Since leaving D.C. United in March, Perry Kitchen has established himself quickly at Scotland’s Hearth of Midlothian. He’s got a lot of competition in the U.S. midfield, but Kitchen’s move and subsequent progress are exactly the sort of things Klinsmann wants to see. Kitchen, 24, already has started seven games for Hearts and is set for Europa League football next season. Also in Scotland, Arsenal loanee Gedion Zelalem, 19, has played 21 games and started 15 for second-tier champion Rangers.

Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath earned a call-up to the 40-man squad after a strong season at Norway’s Molde FK. The Colorado product, 20, was a regular in net for both domestic and European matches. Molde fell in Champions League qualifying last year before going on a Europa League run that ended with a round-of-32 loss to two-time defending champion and 2016 finalist Sevilla. Horvath, who’s one of several potential heirs to Howard and Guzan, may just squeak past Nick Rimando and David Bingham and seize the third goalkeeper spot on the Copa roster.

Other players to keep an eye on post-Copa America are forward Rubio Rubin, 20, who’s appeared three times for Klinsmann but missed most of FC Utrecht’s season with a leg injury; defender Erik Palmer-Browna 19-year-old on loan from Sporting Kansas City who’s been starting for the FC Porto reserve squad that won the Portuguese second division; and Josh Gatt, 24, the hard-luck winger who’s undergone three knee surgeries and his hoping to return to the field with Molde this summer.

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Bob Bradley, the pioneering coach who took over at French club Le Havre in November. The second-division club has gone 11-6-6 under his watch, but remains three points out of the final promotion spot with just one game remaining. Le Havre’s goal-differential deficit of six makes it unlikely to secure a promotion miracle in its finale.

Mexico

The eight clubs qualified for the Liga MX playoffs kicking off Wednesday feature a combined three players called up to the 40-man roster and several more who will be contending for places after Copa América.Defender Omar Gonzalez needed a change of scenery after seven seasons in Los Angeles and found it at Pachuca, the storied Mexican club that finished second in the Clausura standings and tied for the league lead in goals allowed. The 27-year-old center back adjusted quickly, scored a goal in February and was an every-game starter before missing last weekend’s regular season finale. He’s been less consistent with the U.S in recent months.

Ventura Alvarado, 23, was anointed by Klinsmann as a starting center back for last year’s Gold Cup but struggled alongside Brooks. Meanwhile, his position at star-studded Club América has been even harder to maintain. He did contribute to Los Aguilas’ CONCACAF Champions League title with a good performance at right back in the first leg of the finals but he’s started only five games in the Clausura.  STRAUS: Alvarado balances prestige vs. playing time at Club America

Edgar Castillo started both World Cup qualifiers against Guatemala in March. They were his first U.S. appearances in two years. Although the  has looked a bit overwhelmed against top international opposition, he plays a position of need—left back—and Klinsmann couldn’t ignore his Liga MX campaign. Castillo, 29, was a regular starter for first-place Monterrey before suffering an injury last month but should be back for the liguilla.Monterrey will face arch-rival and reigning champ Tigres UANL in the quarterfinals. Once favored by Klinsmann, Tigres midfielder Jose Torres now is out of the U.S. picture. The 28-year-old, who left Texas for Mexico as a teenager, has started only one Clausura contest.Club Tijuana’s 14th-place finish knocked several Americans out of championship contention. Michael Orozco, who’s on Klinsmann’s 40-man roster, has started three straight games after missing the first chunk of Xolos’ season. Klinsmann frequently counts on the 30-year-old. U.S. junior internationals Paul Arriola,Alejandro Guido, John Requejo and Amando Moreno also saw their seasons conclude. Defender Greg Garza has missed the entire 2015-16 year with a hip injury.Plenty of fans were hoping to see 2015 MLS Cup champion Jorge Villafana make Klinsmann’s list. The 26-year-old left back settled in well at Santos Laguna following his departure from Portland and started 13 of 17 Clausura matches. Santos finished seventh and will face Pachuca in the quarterfinals. Elsewhere, 2010 World Cup defender Jonathan Bornstein remains a frequent starter for Querétaro, who fell in this season’s CCL quarterfinals. Former Real Salt Lake playmaker Luis Gil played nine times this spring for Los Gallos Blancos.Miguel Ibarra, who starred for Minnesota United and earned three caps under Klinsmann, didn’t make the 40-man preliminary roster and has seen his minutes dwindle at Club León. He was limited this season to appearances in Copa MX. Midfielder Joe Corona spent the spring with Dorados Sinaloa, for which he’s started twice.

Americans Abroad Starting XI

Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan

Defenders: Tim Ream, John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, DeAndre Yedlin

Midfielders: Fabian Johnson, Danny Williams, Perry Kitchen, Alejandro Bedoya

Forward: Christian Pulisic, Bobby Wood

Leicester and Ranieri confirm heroes status, John Terry tops the villains list

 

Heroes

Just for a moment, let’s forget that Leicester received the trophy on Saturday. Let’s forget the talk of impossible dreams and miracles. Let’s just focus on the way that they tore Everton apart at the King Power stadium. From the first whistle, they were magnificent. Aside from everything else they have achieved this season, Leicester are fun to watch. They make things happen, they fight for everything and they look like they’re enjoying themselves. And they didn’t even need to win. They were only playing for pride! Perhaps Everton should have tried that…And let’s remember it all again! Let’s remember how everyone, this column included, tipped Leicester to go down. Let’s remember how we all reacted when Claudio Ranieri was appointed in the summer. And let’s never forget how that affable Italian galvanised a squad of never-had-beens, took them to the summit of English football and kept them there, grinning away and cracking jokes as the pressure mounted. But the pressure never took its toll. We all thought that the Premier League title was a private party for the super rich. Ranieri begged to differ.And if Everton’s travelling supporters resented having to sit through someone else’s party on Saturday, they might want to pass on the midweek trip to Sunderland. Sam Allardyce’s side have left it late, even by Black Cats’ standards, but a win over Everton this week will guarantee Premier League survival while simultaneously relegating bitter rivals Newcastle. That’s the stuff dreams are made of. Once again, Sunderland had Jermain Defoe to thank for a winning goal, his strike securing victory over the now former-champions Chelsea. They’re almost safe.It wasn’t a particularly impressive performance, but it’s all starting to look a little rosier for Arsenal after their 2-2 draw at the Etihad. Not only can they secure their favoured fourth position slot with a single point at home to Aston Villa, not only can they guarantee third and a place in the Champions League group stages with a win at home to Villa, but the tantalising prospect of finishing above Tottenham in second has suddenly emerged. If there is one thing that might redeem the beleaguered Arsene Wenger in the eyes of his critics, it’s a surprise St Totteringham’s Day.It’s odd that a goalless draw at home to the team in 18th place can be considered a success, but it’s been that sort of season for Aston Villa. Congratulations though to Eric Black, the club’s caretaker manager, who avoided a 12th successive defeat with what looked suspiciously like a team putting in a decent day’s work. It also spared the fans one last humiliation. Having mercilessly mocked the Newcastle supporters in 2009 when the Magpies were last relegated, karma threatened an appearance. Instead, it seems that Villa have taken Newcastle into a grisly embrace and they’ve both fallen into the shadows.The best you can say for John Terry is at least his challenge was evidence of some kind of desire. There hasn’t been much of that at Chelsea this season. But what a thing for an experienced defender to do in injury time. And what a price he has had to pay for his mistake. There will be no final farewell for him in a Chelsea shirt, no last opportunity to savour the atmosphere at Stamford Bridge. Whatever you think of the man, this is no way to bring down the curtain on his career. Terry is here in the villains section, but the only person he’s robbed is himself.No one is trying to say that Manchester City have had a good season. No one is trying to say that Manuel Pellegrini wouldn’t have been sacked already had it not been for Pep Guardiola’s remaining Bavarian commitments. But surely he deserved a better send-off than to wander around an emptying stadium as only just enough people lifted a suspiciously corporate-looking banner in his honour. It feels like a long time ago now, but he did win the league with City, you know. And the hair. Surely you’d stick around for one last look at that magnificent hair?You cannot say that Newcastle haven’t had their chances to escape the drop. A trip to Villa Park is as close as you can get to a guaranteed three points these days, but where was the desire? Where was the intensity? It’s baffling that this team starts so slowly, as if they need to be reminded of their plight by Rafa Benitez in every half-time break. As if they all slap their foreheads and cry, “Oh yeah! We’re in the relegation zone!” There’s absolutely no sympathy here if they do go down this week. They deserve it.When Norwich beat Newcastle, they must have thought that they were going to survive. It was, after all, their second win on the spin. But since that day, they’ve played four games, they’ve lost them all and they haven’t even scored a goal. Alex Neil was visibly frustrated, and you can certainly understand why. The Canaries keep making the same silly errors. But money was spent in the winter transfer window, serious money, and they still don’t have a regular goalscorer. Without one of those, there’s very little chance of survival.In one of the shortest news conferences of the season, Roberto Martineztold reporters that there were no positives whatsoever for Everton after their 3-1 defeat in Leicester. That wasn’t strictly true. The fact that they got away without shipping the five or six they should have shipped was a positive of sorts. We like Martinez here, as a man and as a manager, but there’s no question that it’s all gone horribly and irreparably wrong for him. The kindest thing to do now would be to settle his contract and spare him what would be a toxic Goodison Park on Sunday.Iain Macintosh is a writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter

The Premier League’s battle for Champions League, Europa League

FC’s Gab Marcotti discusses the race for fourth in the Premier League and gives his pick for the winner of the last UCL spot.

The Premier League gets four places in the Champions League, with the top three going direct to the group stage and fourth entering in the final qualifying round.There are also three places available in the Europa League — going to fifth in the league plus the winners of the FA Cup and the Capital One Cup. As Manchester City won the latter and certain of finishing no lower than sixth, that place will transfer to the league.

So, fifth in the league (and the FA Cup winners) will go direct to the group stage, with sixth entering in the third qualifying round. If Man United win the FA Cup and finish in the top six, then seventh will qualify for the Europa League at the third qualifying round instead.

So far this season, 

Leicester City, for the first time, and Tottenham Hotspur, for the second time, have secured their place at the top table. Leicester will be one of the seeds along with the champions of six other leagues, as well as the holders. Here are the other English clubs still in contention to qualify for next season’s competition.

Arsenal (3rd; 68 points)
Remaining game: Aston Villa (h)
SPI odds to finish in the top four: 98.3 percent

Goal difference means Arsenal essentially need a point at home to Aston Villa to secure a place in the Champions League, though they need a victory to be sure of third and an automatic place in the group stage.

The only way the Gunners can miss out is if they lose to Villa, Man United win both their games and Man City win at Swansea.

Arsenal also have half an eye on finishing second above Spurs, and for that to happen they must beat Villa and, due to goal difference, hope Spurs lose to Newcastle.

Manchester City (4th; 65 points)
Remaining games: Swansea (a)
SPI odds to finish in the top four: 77.6 percent

Man City’s European future is no longer in their own hands. If Man United win both their remaining games, and Arsenal beat Villa, then City can finish no higher than fifth and face life in the Europa League.

City will be supporting West Ham against United on Tuesday which is going to be huge.

Manchester United (5th; 63 points)
Remaining games: West Ham (a), Bournemouth (h), Crystal Palace (n; FA Cup final)
SPI odds to finish in the top four: 23.8 percent

It seems highly likely that United will have to win both their remaining games to reach the Champions League, having failed to get out of its group stage this season. And they know now that will guarantee another season back among Europe’s elite.

The big game comes next at West Ham, the final match at Upton Park. The Hammers will want to leave their home on a high, but United need the three points to pressure Man City. They then host Bournemouth on the final day.

Southampton (6th; 60 points)
Remaining game: Crystal Palace (h)

Southampton cannot qualify for the Champions League, but they are still very much in the hunt for a place in the Europa League. Victory at Tottenham lifted the Saints above West Ham into sixth, but as the Hammers have a game in hand their fate is not in their own hands.

If Man United win the FA Cup then seventh will go into the Europa third qualifying round, so Southampton do have something of a safety net.

Palace will surely go to St Mary’s resting players ahead of the FA Cup final against Man United, and that gives Southampton a chance of holding onto sixth.

West Ham United (7th; 59 points)
Remaining games: Man United (h), Stoke (a)
SPI odds to finish in the top four: 0.0 percent

The shock home defeat to Swansea means the Hammers’ Champions League hopes are all but over. They would need to win their remaining games, and hope Man City lose both of theirs while Man United do not beat Bournemouth. And they would need to overturn a huge goal difference deficit to City.

They must now concentrate on securing a place in the Europa League, and they need to win both of their remaining games to make sure they get ahead, and stay ahead, of Southampton.

Liverpool (8th; 55 points)
Remaining games: Chelsea (h), West Brom (a), Sevilla (n; Europa League final)

Liverpool no longer have a mathematical chance of the Champions League, able to finish no higher than fifth. So Liverpool will have to win the Europa League to earn a return to the Champions League.

Otherwise, they will have to fight their way back into the top seven or they will miss out on European football completely. That is very much alive after their win over Watford, sitting a point behind West Ham and two behind Southampton (who they have a game in hand on).  

Crystal Palace (16th, 39 points)
Remaining game: Man United (n; FA Cup final)

Their route into the Europe is via the FA Cup, which they would have to win to go to the Europa League group stage. There is no longer a place for domestic cup runners-up if the winners qualify via another route.

Real Madrid leapfrog Atletico Madrid, Barcelona move above Bayern Munich

Former Real Madrid striker Raul believes the all-Spanish UEFA Champions League final will be a party for Spanish football.

We have a new leader! As the European season reaches its climax, Madrid’s big two swap places in Shaka Hislop’s Power Rankings.

  1. Real Madrid(+1)

Zinedine Zidane’s side still have a chance of winning La Liga, though they need some help from Granada this weekend if they are to overtake Barcelona. The real focus is the Champions League final and, between now and then, the fitness of key men such as Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will be heavily scrutinised.

  1. Atletico

Madrid

 (-1)

Of course, Real are not the only Madrid-based side with eyes directed toward Milan on May 28. Atletico will be able to rest players in La Liga this weekend, after their title chase ended with a shock 2-1 defeat at Levante. Diego Simeone now has almost three weeks to mastermind a game plan to claim Atletico’s first European Cup win.

  1. Barcelona(+1)

Is a league and cup double “enough?” The disappointment at missing out on the Champions League will remain but two trophies, even by Barcelona’s high standards, represents a fine campaign. They can win the first of those — La Liga — this weekend with victory against Granada. The Copa del Rey final against Sevilla follows on May 22.

  1. Bayern Munich(-1)

Similarly, is dominating domestically sufficient for Bayern? In contrast to Barcelona, who at least won the Champions League last year, Bayern have come up short in Europe in each of Pep Guardiola’s three seasons in charge. With that in mind, they began retooling their squad this week, with the signings of Mats Hummels and Renato Sanches.

  1. Juventus(no change)

And while we’re discussing doubles, Italian champions Juventus are focusing on the Coppa Italia final against Milan on May 21. The Old Lady received a boost this week when legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon signed a new contract that will keep him at the club until the age of 40. Andrea Barzagli also put pen to paper on a new deal.

  1. Paris Saint-Germain(no change)

PSG have already won Ligue 1 and the Coupe de la Ligue and only a shock Marseille win would see them denied back-to-back French trebles. Between now and then is the final league game of the season against Nantes. PSG need to score twice to hit 100 goals for the season, while Zlatan Ibrahimovic is four goals away from 50 in all competitions.

  1. Leicester(no change)

Sometimes a title party can impact the way champions play but that certainly was not the case with Leicester. Granted, Everton were their opponents pretty much in name alone, but the Foxes’ resounding 3-1 win showed just why they have won the Premier League. Claudio Ranieri and his players deserve all the plaudits that have come their way.

  1. Benfica(new)

With one round of games remaining in Portugal, Benfica are on the brink of their third straight league title and 35th overall. Rui Vitoria’s side lead Sporting by two points ahead of the final weekend, having won 11 consecutive league games. Midtable Nacional are all that stand between Benfica and another trophy.

  1. Liverpool(-1)

Most people expected him to revitalise the club but Jurgen Klopp’s effect on Liverpool has been truly remarkable. Anfield is, once again, a fortress where the home side expect to win every time and previously inconsistent players have reached new levels under the German. A Europa League win next week would be the icing on Liverpool’s cake.

  1. Sevilla(new)

Standing in Liverpool’s way next Wednesday in Basel are a side who know what it takes to win the Europa League. Sevilla are chasing their third straight win in the competition and fifth overall. They might be just seventh in La Liga but they know how to win big games, having beaten Barcelona and Real Madrid this season.  Dropping out Manchester City, Borussia Dortmund. 

LA Galaxy unstoppable? Kamara rages, Morris and Jones continue to shine

ESPN FC’s Taylor Twellman berates Columbus Crew stars Federico Higuain and Kei Kamara after they argued over who would take a penalty kick.

An eventful weekend in MLS gave us more than a few things to talk about, including disharmony in Columbus, LA’s attacking output and Jordan Morris’ excellent form.

Kei Kamara vs. Federico Higuain

Teams, even the successful ones, are not always perfect in their internal camaraderie. The best teams can feature some pretty noxious relationships — internal competition is fierce among individuals conditioned to fight and scrap for every bit of success — but the truth is that teammates need not be friends to play well together.

Overcoming dressing-room discord is usually just a matter of winning. Winning covers all types of ills, including players whose personalities clash. Bad teams have bad chemistry because they’re bad; good teams appear to have good chemistry because they win. If the winning stops, any issues behind the scenes are bound to float to the surface.

Which brings us to Columbus Crew SC. Despite scoring four goals at home on Sunday, Columbus couldn’t hang on for a much-needed win against the visiting Montreal Impact. What should have been three points turned into one with a 4-4 draw, leading to some postmatch venting on the part of star striker Kei Kamara.

Kamara called teammate Federico Higuain “selfish” for taking a penalty in the 53rd minute that would have given Kamara a hat trick had he scored. He then doubled down on the criticism by pointing out that he doesn’t need Higuain to score goals, and that the pair don’t have much chemistry on the field.

Columbus’ troubles run deep, and we can now add public animosity between two designated players to the growing list of potentially season-destroying problems.

A galaxy of weapons

All-action striker Robbie Keane returned to the LA Galaxy lineup on Sunday after missing nearly two months with a knee injury and scored twice in a 4-2 win over the New England Revolution. But with questions swirling as to how the LA lineup could accommodate Keane and Giovani dos Santos, the Mexican star continued his blistering form with a contender for goal of the year. Steven Gerrard has also faced questions over whether he would ever show enough flashes of his old self to justify the hefty contract handed to him by the Galaxy, but he came on a substitute to score on a clever chip and seal the game.

All of that, and we haven’t even talked about Gyasi Zardes’ contributions (two assists).

It wasn’t as easy as it might sound for LA, however. The Revolution came storming back in the second half and came within the woodwork of bringing the game level on a number of occasions. Galaxy boss Bruce Arena still has plenty to work out when it comes to the balance of his team, because while throwing on a host of top-tier attacking players looks good on paper and makes sense when the goals are coming, good teams will find ways to exploit the gaps left at the back and punish LA through the midfield.

For now, though, with its full complement of talent available, LA looks nearly unstoppable.

Morris breaks the fourth wall

Remember when the Seattle Sounders’ Jordan Morris was a first-year pro struggling to live up to lofty expectations placed on him by fans, the media and Jurgen Klinsmann? Remember when coach Sigi Schmid suggested Morris needed a breather to give him a chance to adjust to the responsibilities placed on him by a team working through its own adjustment period?If it doesn’t seem like all that long ago, that’s because it wasn’t. The furor over Morris’ inability to score on MLS defenses popped up a month into the season, then carried through most of April.Here we are in May, and things are quite a bit different. After scoring an insurance goal in Seattle’s 2-0 win over the Earthquakes on Saturday, Morris has put the ball in the net in four consecutive games, a streak that ties him for the best scoring streak by a rookie in MLS history.More importantly for the Sounders, Morris is clearly playing with confidence. With his considerable talents, that confidence has been enough to help him adjust and find his scoring stride just when Seattle needed it most.

Cubo unleashed

Grasping for answers during a disastrous six-game winless streak, Dynamo head coach Owen Coyle finally broke the glass and gave Erick “Cubo” Torres his first start of the season. The Mexican international rewarded his boss’ newfound faith with an assist for what proved to be Giles Barnes’ winning goal.Does this mean we’ll see more of Torres at the top of the Dynamo lineup? Coyle has preferred Will Bruin in that spot and brought on Bruin to replace Torres 12 minutes into the second half, but perhaps we’ll finally get to see what Torres can do in Houston.

Keeping up with Jones

Colorado beat Real Salt Lake on Saturday to stay atop the Western Conference standings and did it on the back of yet another Jermaine Jones goal. Jones now has three goals for the Rapids since debuting after a six-game suspension to start the season, each of those goals sending his team to a big victory.What Jones is doing in Colorado is remarkable and only underscores his unique ability to individually affect a team. Jones’s scoring exploits even prompted a joke (we think) from USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann.The Rapids looked much-improved before Jones arrived in the team, but with him patrolling the midfield, they look like a very real contender for honours in 2016.

Steven Gerrard eyes Liverpool return from LA ‘sooner rather than later’

Major League Soccer: Steven Gerrard (90′ + 3) LA Galaxy 4-2 New England Revolution

LA Galaxy midfielder Steven Gerrard says he is enjoying going “unnoticed” in Los Angeles but plans to return to Liverpool “sooner rather than later.”Gerrard, 35, joined LA Galaxy last year after a distinguished 17-year career with hometown club Liverpool, where he achieved Champions League glory in 2005.The former England captain said he and his family were happy living in California, but admitted he missed friends and family in the UK as well as attending games at Anfield.Speaking at a fans’ question and answer session at LA Galaxy’s StubHub Center, he said: “I will be going home at some point.”I don’t want to start any unnecessary rumours. I’m really happy where I am at the moment. But I’m sure somewhere down the line I will represent Liverpool Football Club.”I miss my friends and my family. I miss a bit of cold weather.”I miss going to the games. I spent 35 years in Liverpool. Liverpool’s my home, it always will be. This is my second home for a short period of time.”Sooner rather than later I will return to where I’m comfortable with my people — and that’s Liverpool.”Gerrard, who came on as a substitute and scored the Galaxy’s final goal in their 4-2 win over New England Revolution on Sunday, said his wife Alex and daughters, Lilly-Ella, Lexie and Lourdes, were “enjoying a different life experience” in LA.”Obviously the city’s a fantastic city for myself and my family, the climate, there’s plenty to do. I’m pretty much unnoticed as well, which is a bonus,” he added.”I’m getting on a little bit now so eventually we’ll move back and settle in Liverpool.”

Indy Eleven at Fort Lauderdale Strikers
Saturday, May 14, 2016 – 7:00 p.m. ET Lockhart Stadium – Ft. L

TEAM RECORDS:
Indy Eleven – 2W-3D-0L, 9 pts., 4th place in NASL Spring standings
Fort Lauderdale – 1W-2D-2L, 5 pts., 9th place in NASL Spring standings
Click here for the complete NASL Spring Season standings

 WATCH LIVE:

 FOLLOW LIVE:

 MEDIA GAME NOTES:

 Last Time Out – Indy 1 : 1 FC Edmonton

Last Saturday, “Indiana’s Team” could not produce a late winner similar to weeks past as a one-all stalemate left the Eleven with just one point taken at home. However, the draw also left Indy as the only unbeaten team in the NASL, a quality worthy of mentioning when speaking of title-winning resumes.Two first half goals is all “The Mike” would see as Eleven centerback Greg Janicki netted his first of the year, getting a slight touch on Nicki Paterson’s free kick delivery in the 22nd minute. Just a few moments later, Justin Braun nearly made it two-nil to the good but was unable to make Edmonton ‘keeper Matt VanOekel pay for his poor distribution.The visitors managed to tie things up in the 37th minute as Sainey Nyassi pushed in a cross from the right flank that found teammate Jake Keegan near the penalty spot. Keegan would beat Janicki to the looping ball and nudged a header that went just over the reach of Eleven netminder Jon Busch as the reset button was hit at Carroll Stadium.The second half was devoid of any major chances for the most part as both sides struggled to break through the other’s midfield. Sinisa Ubiparipovic had an attempt blocked in the 58th minute, and FC Edmonton missed the best chance of the night with two minutes to go as they streaked with numbers down the right flank but could not beat an onrushing Busch, who corralled a low cross in.Though Coach Tim Hankinson rued the missed opportunity to climb further up the standings, he was impressed with his side’s grit to keep at least a point from the proceedings.

 Unpredictability at Hand

After kicking their way through a 1-1 draw at home against FC Edmonton, Indy Eleven now hits the road to the “Sunshine State” for the second time in the 2016 Spring Season, this time to face the Fort Lauderdale Strikers.Last week’s results leave Indy Eleven square in fourth place with a game in hand, just three points off the co-leading New York Cosmos and Carolina RailHawks (NYC currently has the goal differential tiebreaker). Heading into this week, the Cosmos face a Sunday trip to the Eleven’s recent opposition, FC Edmonton, while Carolina hosts Miami FC. Also in front of Indy Eleven – and, like Indy, with a game in hand on the leaders – is Minnesota United FC, who will welcome Jacksonville Armada FC.This weekend’s final scores could help shake out who is really in the hunt at the top of the table, and Coach Hankinson is insistent on his “Boys in Blue” escaping Florida with all three points.  

 Midfield in Question

With Brad Ring questionable for this Saturday, “Coach Hank” has a few things to ponder in regards to his starting XI. If Ring is unable to, does Hankinson stick to his recently-favored 4-4-2 with a flat line in midfield? Ubiparipovic could stay in the middle with Nicki Paterson, but given the nature of the two’s playing styles, would it make more sense for Hankinson to move towards a diamond in midfield with Ubiparipović in the No.10 role and Paterson as a deep-lying playmaker?Out wide, Omar Gordon is set to keep his place in the team following his debut against Rayo OKC and home debut against FC Edmonton, but if Ubiparipovic is shifted back centrally then a spot opens up on either flank – enter Duke Lacroix and Dylan Mares. Hankinson has repeatedly mentioned his belief in rotating players into positions to keep guys fresh and keep the talent continuous, and with Lacroix earning starts in Indy’s first three matches (and playing much of the next when Ring went out injured at Rayo OKC), his return to the XI would not be considered a shake-up by any means.Meanwhile, Dylan Mares has a strong case having impressed both in the starting lineup and as an impact substitution when called upon. However, Mares could also enter the match as a straight swap in the center of the pitch if Ubiparipović works just as well out wide. While the backline is likely to remain as steady as it’s been across the first five contests, the Busch-Vuković-Janicki-Falvey-Palmer line having started every match thus far, it is the midfield and attackers that will have Coach Hankinson keeping people guessing come Saturday night.

 Who to Watch, Indy Eleven Edition: FW Justin Braun

Away games require players to have a little higher-revving engine to make things happen, and that’s where Braun can be a game-changer. In his return to the starting lineup last weekend, Braun was buzzing all over the field – and found himself in the right place to almost put things away on the heels of Janicki’s opening salvo, only to see how best look at a first goal in checkers be thwarted.Can he use that as motivation to put one away on the road? Can he do the dirty work that the players around him can feed off of? Can that help grind out three important points on the road? We’ll see what Coach Hankinson has in store line-up wise, but it could be a game that’s tailor-made for the Salt Lake City native.

 Who to Watch, Fort Lauderdale Edition: MF Ramon Nunez

American soccer watchers may recognize the talented Nunez from his early-career days with FC Dallas, but are more than likely to have seen him in the blue-and-white of the Honduran National Team. The 2010 World Cup vet was late to the party for Fort Lauderdale having just been added on April 19, but if his two-assist performance in last Saturday’s surprise 3-1 win at league-leading Carolina is any indication, the diminutive playmaker is starting to find his footing.

 Match-up to Mark: D Nana Attakora vs. D Nemanja Vukovic

It’s a match-up of attack-friendly wide backs this week … the two-time goal scorer Vuković versus the reigning NASL Player of the Week Attakora. Their side of the field will be active all night long as neither defender is shy about getting forward to support in possession, so don’t be surprised if a pivotal moment comes from one of these two.

THREE THINGS: #INDVFCE

Our weekly ‘Three Things’ from Saturday’s match  May 9, 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 our latest “Three Things,” we look at the effects of centrality, the scoring balance, and the impact of Saturday’s substitutions in the 1-1 draw with FC Edmonton …

MATCH CENTER | INDY ELEVEN vs. FC EDMONTON

 1) Taking Center Stage
Saturday’s 4-4-2 formation saw Coach Tim Hankinson deploy Omar Gordon and Siniša Ubiparipović on the right and left flanks while fixing Nicki Paterson and Brad Ring in the middle as the center two … to no surprise, as this was the quartet that lined up similarly at Rayo OKC the weekend before. However, as the match progressed both Ubiparipovic and Gordon filed in towards the middle of the pitch to allow Nemanja Vuković and Lovel Palmer space moving ahead on the flanks.The pros of this? Both Gordon and Ubiparipović worked to take advantage of the central space, often working in behind the striking pair of Justin Braun and Eamon Zayed to create attacking opportunities. However, there are shortcomings to the move – including the possibility of getting caught in numbers when the Eddies broke on a counter and increasing difficulty in feeding the forwards with enough space for them to generate chances, especially with thre FCE players patrolling the central midfield area. 

 When Gorka Larrea and Dylan Mares were introduced in the 62nd minute as part of a straight swap for Nicki Paterson and Brad Ring, the midfield looked a little clearer as Mares dropped slightly deeper than Larrea as the tandem worked below Gordon and Ubiparipović. Then in the 74th minute, when “Ubi” made way for Jair Reinoso, the Eleven switched to what looked a 4-3-3 with Braun, Zayed, and Reinoso up top and a trio of Gordon, Mares, and Larrea scattered across the midfield.Though the 4-4-2 appears to be the preferred formation going forward for Coach Hank and Co., the tendencies of Omar Gordon and Siniša Ubiparipović to drift more towards the middle will continue to impact how the Eleven attack as the Spring progresses.

 2) Scoring in Defense and Attack
Through the midpoint of the Spring Season, Indy Eleven have scored six goals. Three of those goals have been scored by forwards Eamon Zayed (2) and Jair Reinoso (1), while the other three have come from defenders Nemanja Vuković (2) and Greg Janicki (1). While the “Boys in Blue” remain the only undefeated team in the NASL, this is an area of concern for Coach Hankinson.

After Saturday’s draw when asked about whether his team could pull off a Spring Season title, Hankinson said, “when your defenders are outscoring the strikers, then I would worry about that statement a little bit.

 “In order to win the league, you have to have an outstanding defense, but you also have to know that you can get two or three goals from time to time and making sure that the strike force is doing what they’re paid to do.”In full context, Hankinson feels as if the team has the ingredients and tools to win the league, but that they need to find the right way to feed the attackers going forward as all three of Zayed, Braun, and Reinoso are starving for touches in the opposition area. Goals from defenders are rarely a bad thing, but when they begin to outweigh the tally from your striking pair there may be a tweak or two ahead.

RECAP | Eleven draw even with FC Edmonton

 3) The Impact of Saturday’s Subs
Coach Hankinson was impressed with his trio of substitutions and their ability to control the game in the final half hour. Mares and Larrea were charged with marshalling the midfield and continuing to link the defense with attack. The Indiana Universityproduct Mares stepped in and made an immediate contribution as he linked with Greg Janicki as the top passing combo from defense to midfield.

 

 “I thought tonight we were more threatening than we had been in previous games. Some of that is the addition of Omar, some of that is Jair coming in with Dylan and Gorka and really starting to control the midfield … we have to get a lineup that settles in.”Reinoso also played a key role in the final 15 minutes as his replacing Siniša Ubiparipović allowed “Indiana’s Team” to stretch the attack wider with three up front. Though the Colombian went without a chance in the opposition third, he will continue to provide Hankinson flexibility as either an impact substitute or starter for the final five spring games – a quad injury suffered last weekend at Rayo OKC limited his training this past week, which limited his chances of being included in the first XI on Saturday.

HIGHLIGHTS | IND 1:1 FCE

 3.5) Two Points Lost … Or a Point Gained … or Both?

We’ll throw a bonus “Half-Thing” at you this edition to commemorate hitting the halfway point of the Spring Season. Overall, the point earned against FC Edmonton might not have been what Indy Eleven wanted, but it was indeed important as the team’s pursuit of a Spring title remains a distinct possibility.On one hand, Hankinson and his team saw Saturday as a missed opportunity for three points at “The Mike,” as “win your home games” is a familiar mantra when it comes to competing for trophies. However, after seeing then second-place Minnesota United FC drop points late via its 2-2 draw with Ottawa Fury FC, followed by the then-league leader Carolina Railhawks falling in surprise fashion to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at home, the night turned into a net-positive for the “Boys in Blue.” Indy Eleven remains in fourth place, but its nine points now has it within three points of first-place sharers Carolina and New York. 

 The good news is the Eleven are in position to control their destiny, as Indy has a game in hand on both teams currently on top and have a home meeting with MNU, which sits just a point ahead in third. A road contest at the Strikers awaits this coming Saturday before that home clash with Minnesota on May 21, a game that could ultimately determine whether or not a Spring title is still on the cards for “Indiana’s Team.”

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