So wow Your Indy 11 – with a huge 4-1 home win over Carolina coupled with a NY Cosmos Tie – snatched the Spring League Title with 18 points and Zero losses on the spring season. The only team in the league with NO losses – they needed to score 4 goals in the final to catch NY on Goal Differential and that’s just what they did !! That means YOUR Indy 11 are NASL FALL LEAGUE CHAMPIONS and have already secured a spot in the Playoffs at the end of the Fall Season. Now its on to the US Open Cup tonight at 8:30 pm in Chicago vs the MLS Squad Chicago Fire. Watch it LIVE ONLINE HERE
The US reached the Quarterfinals with a huge game on Thursday night vs Ecuador – a winnable game by my account. Will be great to see the US crowd at Seattle – the best soccer fans in the US – hopefully they will let the fans sing the national anthem – like every friggin one in Europe does. A win here could set up a huge match with Argentina and the world’s greatest player (besides Buffon) Lionel Messi. I am still bumming I missed the Messi 3 goal explosion in Chicago – but I will be there for the COPA Semi-Finals in Chicago next week either way. I really think the COPA games have been more exciting that the group stages of the European Cup so far – but hey you have to love this Summer of Soccer with Euro games on all day and COPA on all night. Friday night has the allstar doubleheader of Argentina vs surprising Venezuela at 7 pm on FX, followed by Mexico vs Chile (defending champs) at 10 pm again on FX – not Fox Sports1.
ALL GAMES ON TV
Thursday, June 16
England vs. Wales — Lens (3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET, ESPN)
Ukraine vs. Northern Ireland — Lyon (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Germany vs. Poland — Saint-Denis (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Copa aMerica Peru vs Columbia – 8 pm Fox Sports 1
Copa America USA vs. Ecuador Seattle, WA 9:30 p.m. FOX Sports 1
Friday, June 17
Italy vs. Sweden — Toulouse (3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET, ESPN)
Czech Rep vs. Croatia — Saint-Etienne (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Spain vs. Turkey — Nice (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Copa America Argentina vs. Venezuela – Foxborough, MA 7 p.m. FX
Copa American Mexico vs. Chile Santa Clara, CA 10 p.m. FX
Saturday, June 18
Belgium vs. Rep of Ireland — Bordeaux (3 p.m. CET/9 a.m. ET, ESPN)
Iceland vs. Hungary — Marseille (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Portugal vs. Austria — Paris (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Copa America 1D vs. 2C Foxborough, MA 7 p.m. FXCopa America 1C vs. 2D anta Clara, CA 10 p.m. FX
Sunday, June 19
Switzerland vs. France — Lille (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Romania vs. Albania — Lyon (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)\
Monday, June 20
Slovakia vs. England — Saint-Etienne (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Russia vs. Wales — Toulouse (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Tuesday, June 21
Northern Ireland vs. Germany — Paris (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Ukraine vs. Poland — Marseille (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Croatia vs. Spain — Bordeaux (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Czech Rep vs. Turkey — Lens (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Copa America W25 vs. W27 Houston, TX 9 p.m. FOX Sports 1
Wednesday, June 22
Hungary vs. Portugal — Lyon (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Iceland vs. Austria — Saint-Denis (6 p.m. CET/12 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Italy vs. Rep of Ireland — Lille (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)
Sweden vs. Belgium — Nice (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)
Copa America W26 vs. W28 Chicago, IL 8 p.m. FOX Sports 1
Euro Round of 16 Starts Saturday, June 25
Copa America L29 vs. L30 Glendale, AZ 8 p.m. FX
Copa America final East Rutherford, NJ 8 p.m. FOX Sports 1
USA + COPA
MLS TV Schedule ‘ On Break June 3-June 17 for COPA
COPA AMERICA 100 –GAMES IN CHICAGO – still seats left for 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
INDY ELEVEN WINS NASL SPRING SEASON CHAMPIONSHIP
First Title in Club’s Three-Year History Comes with Home Match in Semifinal Round of The Championship in November
INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, June 12, 2016) – A day after a thrilling 4-1 home victory over Carolina vaulted Indy Eleven to the top of the North American Soccer League’s Spring Season standings, “Indiana’s Team” can now officially celebrate the first title in club history thanks to today’s FC Edmonton win over Fort Lauderdale.“The incredible effort every player and staff member has put in over the last three years culminated with a display last night worthy of a championship,” said Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir. “Everyone associated with Indy Eleven – players, coaches, staff, sponsors and especially the best fans in the sport – helped us achieve this Spring Season Championship. We’re honored to win this for the State of Indiana.” To start its third season of play, Indy Eleven finished the 10-game Spring Season undefeated (4W-6D-0L), square with the New York Cosmos on 18 points and also even in the league’s first two tiebreakers, goal differential (+7) and goal scored (15). The third and decisive tiebreaker, head-to-head results, went Indy Eleven’s way thanks to its dramatic 2-1 comeback win over the Cosmos at Carroll Stadium back on April 16.“The club couldn’t be any prouder to bring a trophy to the outstanding supporters of Indy Eleven, whose energy we fed off all Spring Season to make this happen,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “The building of this team since December and the way these players have come together is a testament to what can happen when you fight for and believe in each other. The entire Spring campaign, but specifically last night’s perormance, showed the tremendous passion, character and talent of our roster, which is looking forward to even more success through the Fall Season and into The Championship.”Along with the Spring championship comes an automatic berth into The Championship, the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament. As the Spring champ, Indy Eleven has earned the right to host a Semifinal Round game during the first weekend of November at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium (no date has yet been finalized). The Semifinal winner with the most points will earn hosting rights for The Championship Final the following weekend.Indy Eleven will next turn its attention to its continuing run in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup, which continues this Wednesday, June 15, with a Fourth Round affair against Major League Soccer side Chicago Fire SC. Kickoff on Wednesday night from Toyota Park in suburban Bridgeview, Ill., is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.Indy Eleven will next return home to Carroll Stadium on Sunday, June 26, for an exhibition match pitting champion against champion with Liga MX Clausura Season winner C.F. Pachuca coming to “The Mike” for a 1:00 p.m. ET kickoff. Tickets for that match – which will feature the debut of new Indy Eleven midfielder and Mexican National Team legend Gerardo Torrado – are available starting at just $11; for full ticket details, visit www.IndyEleven.com/Pachuca.
Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven at Chicago Fire
Wednesday, June 15, 2016 – 8:30 p.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. CT
Toyota Park – Chicago Fire
- Indy Eleven: 4W-6D-0L, 18 pts, 1st in NASL Spring/Overall Season
- Chicago Fire: 2W-5D-5L, 11 pts, 10th in MLS Eastern Conference
- Local: None
- National: None
- Online: www.Chicago-Fire.com
- In-game updates: Follow @IndyElevenLive on Twitter, and Indy Eleven on Facebook
- Live stats: Visit the NASL.com MatchCenter for in-depth Opta statistics
- Vote for the Indy Eleven “Man of the Match” on the @IndyEleven Twitter feed immediately following the match
Last Time Out – Indy Eleven 4 : 1 Carolina Railhawks
There are not a lot of dramatic three-goal wins in soccer annals, but Saturday night’s 4-1 win over Railhawks FC fell in that select category as it crowned “Indiana’s Team” the 2016 NASL Spring Season champions. A hat-trick from Eamon Zayed and the third goal of the season for Justin Braun gave the “Boys in Blue” the three standings points, four goals and three-goal winning margin they needed to surpass the New York Cosmos for first place at the end of the 10-game Spring sprint. Zayed opened the scoring in the 16th minute following a cross from left-back Nemanja Vukovic to get the party started, but the Railhawks fought back in the 29th minute when Nazmi Albadawi countered with a strike from just outside the area to square the match at one-all. Just before halftime, the momentum swung back in Indy’s favor as Braun tapped in another ball from “Vuko” to restore the lead.Right out of the break, “Indiana’s Team” went all-out for the two goals it needed, but found little in the way of a scoring chance until the 65th minute. Again the Irishman Zayed was at the heart of the play as Jamaican winger Omar Gordon found his teammate on an aerial ball in the center of the box, which the forward headed hard and low to beat Railhawks FC ‘keeper Akira Fitzgerald. Needing one more goal and being willed on by the 9,341 fans in attendance, Indy Eleven pressed on and eventually found the magical fourth goal with little time to spare. In the 85th minute, beautiful team play resulted in Duke Lacroix corkscrewing a low ball towards the far post where Zayed was waiting to tap home, putting the finishing touches on the 4-1 victory.Thus the Spring Season title was capped off with an undefeated record (4W-6D-0L), making Indy just the second club to do so after the New York Cosmos achieved the same feat last season. For the full IndyEleven.com recap, click here.
Last Time Out – Chicago Fire 1 : 1 Portland Timbers
Having not played a competitive match in over two weeks, the Chicago Fire last took to the pitch in a 1-1 draw with defending MLS Cup champion Portland Timbers at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Ill. Both goals came in the opening twenty minutes of the match, and the Timbers got on the scoresheet first in the 18th minute when Diego Valeri took down a miscued clearance from a Fire defender, dangled his way towards the byline, and fired a low effort past Fire ‘keeper Sean Johnson. However, just two minutes later Chicago found an equalizer through the feet of forward David Accam. Fire midfielder Joao Meira lifted a pass across the back line of the Timbers to the feet of other forward Kennedy Igboananike, and the latter whipped in a low cross that Accam tapped home past Timbers ‘netminder Jack Gleeson.Though the Fire outshot their opposition 17-8 total (6-2 on goal), they were only able to salvage a point at home and remain at the foot of the MLS Eastern Conference standings in 10th place. For a full match recap, click here.-> TICKETS | Indy Eleven vs. C.F. Pachuca <-
Fourth Round History
Wednesday will mark Indy Eleven’s second Fourth Round Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup in three tries, previously reaching the round during its inaugural season in 2014. That year, the “Boys in Blue” defeated the Dayton Dutch Lions 5-2 at home in the Third Round, setting up a meeting with MLS’ Columbus Crew in Akron, Ohio, that resulted in a heartbreaking 2-1 defeat in added extra time.Former midfielder Blake Smith was on the scoresheet that night for Indy Eleven in the 62nd minute to balance out former Crew forward Bernardo Anor’s fourth minute strike as the match went to extra time level at one a piece. The Crew, who were down to ten men for the final hour of the match, went down to nine in the 110th minute when Daniel Paladini was shown a straight red for an errant elbow. However, now-Cosmos forward Jairo Arrieta buried a penalty in the 114th minute to put the hosts in front down the stretch in front of a crowd just shy of 2,000 on the University of Akron campus.Combined with last year’s Third Round loss to USL side Louisville City FC (0-2, a.e.t) and a 2-1 win over the same squad in the same round just two weeks ago on June 1, Indy Eleven carries a 2W-0D-2L all-time USOC record into Wednesday night’s match-up against the four-time Open Cup champion Fire SC.
Run of Form
After winning the 2016 Spring Season undefeated, “Indiana’s Team” has stretched its unbeaten run to, ironically, 11 games in all competitions (10 NASL, 1 USOC), the longest in club history. Facing an MLS side for the second time in three years, Indy looks to take that run to 12 games at Toyota Park on Wednesday night.Four wins and six draws in league play brought the “Boys in Blue” to first in the league table, and a U.S. Open Cup win in the Third Round over Louisville City FC propelled them to the next round of the competition. If the Eleven are to pull off a big win following its exhausting “Miracle at the Mike,” it will need all hands on deck just as it did against Louisville two weeks ago.
Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: GK Jon Busch / Keith Cardona
It’s unclear who will be between the posts when Indy Eleven battles Chicago on Wednesday night, but either way both ‘keepers on the roster have something to play for in this Fourth Round tie. For Jon Busch, a trip to Chicago signals a return to his twice former club. Named the 2007 MLS Goalkeeper of the Year during his first tenure with the Fire, Busch left in 2010 for San Jose only to return in 2015 after five seasons out west. Signing as a free agent with Indy Eleven, Busch has made a massive impact so far as both one of the best ‘keepers in the league and the club’s goalkeeping coach. Busch currently sits third in the NASL with a 0.80 goals against average, consistent with his output in his last three matches in which he’s stopped eight of 10 shots faced.Contribute to Jon Busch’s “Saves for SEALs” charitable program today!
For Keith Cardona, Wednesday night would be another opportunity to show why working with Busch has only helped him improve since the veteran signed in January. Cardona started all 10 matches he appeared in for Indy last season behind Kristian Nicht, but has only made one such start this season – in the squad’s 2-1 win over Louisville City FC in the Third Round of the U.S. Open Cup at “The Mike.” Cardona was impressive in the midweek win, conceding just the one goal – which came isolated against then-USL leading scorer Chandler Hoffman – in 90 minutes of action. Regardless of who is in goal, the U.S. Open Cup tie will be a test for either ‘keeper as the Eleven seek their first-ever way out of the Fourth Round. While the Fire’s attack has scored multiple times just once in its 11 MLS games thus far – its season-opening 4-3 loss to NYCFC – the “Men in Red” will be well-rested and have fresh memories of its more potent attack the last time out against Portland.
Who to Watch, Chicago Fire edition: MF Arturo Alvarez
Having tallied three assists while notching a goal in his 11 starts of the 2016 season, Arturo Alvarez is one of the biggest threats the Fire can employ in the midfield. After leaving MLS play in 2011 after a year with Real Salt Lake, Alvarez had a two year stint in Hungary and a three year stop in Portugal before returning to the United States to sign with Chicago. Since his return, the Salvadoran international has made waves in the Windy City to lead the team in assists through the early part of the MLS season. The Houston native will be one to mark for Indy’s midfield as his right-foot has proven deadly for setups on multiple occassions.
Match-up to Mark: Indy Eleven attack vs. Chicago Fire defense
Perhaps the biggest thing to watch hot off the heels of putting four past Carolina is the Eleven attack against the Fire defense. Zayed’s hat trick heroics on Saturday pushed him into the top of the NASL’s scoring charts with six tallies (not counting his USOC game-winner against Louisville two weeks ago), while Braun has collected all three of his goals and his assist in 2016 play in the squad’s last four NASL outings. While Chicago’s offense has been sputtering its defender has been on point, allowing just two goals in their last three matches while taking four points from those encounters.
Match Preview | Chicago Fire Set to Begin U.S Open Cup Play
More than two weeks since the club’s last competitive match, the Chicago Fire are set to return to action and make their entrance into the 2016 Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup Wednesday night when they host North American Soccer League (NASL) side Indy Eleven. Kickoff at Toyota Park is set for 7:30 p.m. CT with a live video stream available on Chicago-Fire.com, with Dan Kelly and Frank Klopas on the call. The Fire returned to training last Monday after a week-long hiatus in accordance with the MLS break for Copa America Centenario. Focus began with a fitness assessment before shifting gears into preparation for a return to competitive play. “Everyone has looked sharp fitness-wise with getting touches on the ball and making sure that when Wednesday comes we’re sharp and ready to go,” Fire midfielder Arturo Alvarez said. “I don’t think we can look back and look for any excuses. It’s time to get going again.”The Fire rank as one of only two MLS sides to have claimed four U.S. Open Cup trophies, raising the historic silverware in the club’s inaugural 1998 season and again in 2000, 2003 and 2006. A year ago, Chicago advanced to the tournament’s semifinals for the 11th time in club history and for the third straight season, along the way improving to 39-13-4 all-time in Open Cup competition. The Fire are a stellar 26-1-1 all-time in matches played in the state of Illinois.This year’s tournament began with 91 teams and has been whittled to 32, welcoming in the 17 U.S.-based MLS clubs for the Fourth Round. With a large number of new faces on the 2016 Fire roster, the historical context of the U.S. Open Cup tournament has been an emphasis in the team’s build up to Wednesday night’s match. Assistant coach and Fire all-time U.S. Open Cup appearance leader Logan Pause spoke pointedly to the team about his experiences in the tournament and the thrill of lifting the trophy in 2003 and again in 2006.“He gave a speech to our guys where he involved all the rest of the guys who played and won,” Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic said. “Michael Harrington here in MLS (2012 with Sporting KC) and Johan Kappelhof who won with Groningen the Cup competition in Holland. There was very, very good feedback from the locker room, from the group, and Logan is the best guy to talk about this competition and explain how important it is for the history of our club and also for our fans.”
on Monday expressed a desire to devote every available resource to Wednesday and future U.S. Open Cup matches. The Fire will be without midfielders John Goossens and Collin Fernandez, both still recovering from injury, while forward Michael de Leeuwawaits the July 4 window for his playing eligibility and striker Gilberto remains unavailable for selection. Otherwise, Paunovic has a full choice of players from which to field his lineup.”This kind of competition gives us the opportunity to manage and have more players involved in competition,” Paunovic told reporters. “The level is very good, which is also why we want to win every single game, so we can keep the competitiveness in the team and competitiveness for each spot. As I’ve said many times before, that’s very important for us. What we are going to do for sure is we will play with the best possible team in order to win. There will be some changes, but we believe that all of those changes will be very competitive and helpful to win the game.”
WEDNESDAY’S OPPONENT: INDY ELEVEN
- Indy Eleven, which debuted in NASL in the spring of 2014, will arrive in Bridgeview for its first competitive match against the Fire riding high after clinching a first-place finish in the NASL spring season thanks to an unbeaten 4-0-6 mark. The spring championship, which Indy Eleven claimed thanks to a head-to-head tiebreaker with the New York Cosmos, provides the club an automatic berth in The Championship, the NASL’s four-team postseason tournament in November.• Head coach Tim Hankinson also guided his side to a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Louisville City FC in the U.S. Open Cup Third Round, securing a place in tonight’s match. Éamon Zayed, who leads the club with six goals this spring, provided the game-winning goal to help Indy Eleven avenge an Open Cup loss to the Louisville-based club last season.
- Indy Eleven’s roster features two names familiar to Chicago Fire supporters in veteran goalkeeperJon Busch(10 starts in 2016) and defender Lovel Palmer (seven starts). Busch made 90 appearances in two stints for the Men In Red while Palmer appeared in 56 matches during the 2014 and 2015 seasons. Marco Franco, a 2014 first-round SuperDraft pick of the Fire, also now calls Indy home.”We know that they have a lot of experienced guys who’ve played in MLS,” Paunovic said of Wednesday night’s opponent. “They’re doing very good and their performance in NASL is great. We know that we are going to have a tough game but also we give a lot of importance to this competition. We want to win. It’s going to be a hard game for us but we expect that our fans will give us the support in that game.”
United States wary of talented Ecuador in Copa America quarters – Klinsmann
SEATTLE – The United States may have avoided five-time World Cup champion Brazil in the quarterfinals of the Copa America Centenario, but coach Jurgen Klinsmann isn’t taking the opponent they did get in Ecuador lightly.”They have some special players in that side,” Klinsmann said of FIFA’s 13-ranked team before rattling off the names of some of Ecuador’s stars, including English Premier League trio Antonio Valencia of Manchester United, Enner Valencia of West Ham and Swansea City’s Jefferson Montero.”It’s a good team,” added the U.S. coach.Yet Klinsmann still likes his squad’s chances of advancing at CenturyLink Field in front of the Seattle Sounders’ boisterous supporters-even if he thinks the outcome could go either way for the No. 31 Americans.”To play this game in front of the Seattle crowd is huge for us,” he said. “It’s a 50-50 game. Anything can happen in that game, and every little small piece can make the difference.”Klinsmann went with the same lineup in all three of the tournament hosts three group stage games, marking the first time since 1930 that the U.S. has gone with the same starting 11 in back-to-back-to back matches.Despite losing the tourney opener to Colombia on June 3, the Americans finished atop Group A after beating Costa Rica and Paraguay. As a result, the U.S. ducked a date with the top team in Group B. That turned out to be Peru, which eliminated Brazil on Sunday night in a hugely controversial upset determined by a blatant handball that was somehow missed by officials.Klinsmann will have to make at least one change against Ecuador. Defender DeAndre Yedlin, a Seattle native and former Sounder, is suspended for the match after picking up two yellow cards early in the second half of Saturday’s 1-0 over the Paraguayans in Philadelphia.”It’s a bummer that DeAndre cannot play, but I’m not worried because I know whoever plays instead of him will get his job done, will give everything he has,” Klinsmann said.The coach wouldn’t let on who Yedlin’s replacement might be.”No, I’m not going into details about that, if you don’t mind,” he said, eliciting laughter from reporters. “We’re working on it.”Still, veteran defender Michael Orozco is the clear favorite to fill Yedlin’s role at right back. Orozco manned the spot for the final 40 minutes in Philly, helping the shorthanded Yanks keep the clean sheet.”If I get the chance to play I’m going to do as best as I can,” Orozco said.Whoever gets the nod in Yedlin’s place, Klinsmann said all of his players must be ready to perform in the high-profile, do-or-die match.”I think the players realizing that there’s everything to play for,” he said. “This is the stage you want to be at as a player. This is where you define your value in the global soccer community. This is where you’re getting watched — if you want to get watched — from the top clubs in the world. They’re going to watch and analyze every game at the Euros and they’re going to watch and analyze every game at the Copa America.Klinsmann added: “So this is the platform for a player that you want to be at, so take that opportunity. This is what I’ll tell them.”Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.
What the United States can expect from Ecuador in Copa quarterfinal
Ecuador arrived to the United States for the Copa America Centenario as joint-leaders of 2018 CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying. Their strong start to that campaign included victories away to Argentina and at home to Uruguay, and they have continued that form into the Copa by progressing from the group stage of the competition for the first time since 1997 with draws versus Brazil and Peru and a victory over Haiti.Head coach Gustavo Quinteros’ side will be the next opponents for the United States in Thursday’s quarterfinal in Seattle. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann has made it clear that he expects a tough game against a team coached by a man he came up against on U.S. soil as a player during Germany’s 1-0 win over Bolivia at the 1994 World Cup, and Ecuador certainly possess sufficient thrust and quality to suggest that is exactly what his side will get.
Style of Play
Ecuador usually line up in a 4-4-2 formation, with two mobile forwards and two out-and-out wingers in the form of Antonio Valencia and Jefferson Montero. They are a very athletic team and play an energetic style of football based around organised pressure on the ball and swift and direct counter-attacks once possession is won. Quinteros always asks his teams to play with a lot of intensity and his Ecuador side are no different in that regard.
Christian Noboa holds Ecuador together with his excellent passing range from the centre of midfield. He regularly receives the ball from the defence before moving it on swiftly and accurately out to the flanks or forward into the feet of the strikers. It is a key role and Ecuador can often struggle to function effectively as a team when the 31-year-old isn’t on his game.Noboa has also contributed strongly when given license to move forward into the final third. He chested down and finished emphatically from inside the area for the third goal in the 4-0 win over Haiti, having previously assisted the first with a well-weighted ball in behind to Enner Valencia. His superb outside-of-the-boot return pass to Montero released the Swansea man to square for Miller Bolanos to equalise in the 2-2 draw with Peru.
Ecuador possess pace aplenty, especially in forward areas. The direct and incisive dribbling of the two wingers regularly advances them into the final third, while Enner Valencia’s tireless movement into the channels provides another valuable outlet. They are regularly able to get themselves into good positions in and around the penalty area.With the likes of Bolanos, Noboa and Walter Ayovi, they have players capable of striking good efforts on goal from medium-to-long-range positions.Ecuador are a strong and physical side and are capable of putting good pressure on the ball when they press together as a unit high up the pitch. At their best, they are unrelenting, consistently winning possession and then moving forward with speed down the flanks to put crosses into the area or win themselves set pieces in advanced areas.
The problem for Ecuador often comes in turning potentially dangerous positions into good-quality opportunities. There can be a marked lack of precision to their play in the final third, with a mix of underwhelming deliveries into the area and uncertain finishing sometimes preventing them from making the most of these situations.They can also be quite ragged in their defending at times. Sharp combination play, such as that exhibited by Peru in the first half of their 2-2 draw, can drag their proactively minded central defenders out of position and create space in and around the area. Their desire to push forward can sometimes leave them vulnerable to the counter-attack.When Noboa is pressed heavily, as he was in the first half against Peru, Ecuador lack a similarly gifted distributor to take over and provide a quality supply to those upfield.
Darlington Nagbe scored in the final minute of play to secure the United States a 1-0 victory when these sides met in Texas last month in a pre-tournament friendly. Both sides put out strong starting XIs in a tight match that featured just three shots on target.In that respect, it was typical of encounters between these sides. Of the six meetings since the turn of the century, only two have seen more than one goal. The United States has recorded three victories to Ecuador’s one in that time, while the two sides have shared a draw and a win apiece in their three encounters during Klinsmann’s reign as national team head coach.
After winning Copa group, USA has chance to prove knockout chops
The USA defeated Paraguay in its third game of Copa America on a Clint Dempsey goal in the 27th minute.
PHILADELPHIA — Now a new Copa América begins for the United States. The U.S. has persevered through the group stage, shaking off an opening loss to Colombia and winning twice against Costa Rica and Paraguay to reach the knockout rounds of another major tournament, even winning the group with a late helping hand from Los Ticos.But the lingering memory of the last truly major U.S. knockout-round game (Gold Cup excluded)—a 2-1 extra-time loss to Belgium at World Cup 2014—is of the Americans being so outplayed by Belgium that they needed a superhuman performance by goalkeeper Tim Howard to stay in the match.If the U.S. is going to show growth and have any chance of reaching coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s goal of making the World Cup 2018 semifinals, it needs to take the next step. It needs to start playing good teams toe-to-toe again in the knockout rounds of major tournaments—just like the U.S. did at World Cup 2002 against Mexico and at the 2009 Confederations Cup to beat Spain. “The whole old story is the underdog story, and I cannot hear that story anymore,” Klinsmann said after the U.S.’s 1-0 victory against Paraguay on Saturday. “I want to see them risk things. Let’s go for it. Because if you’re not going for it, sooner or later they’re going to break you down.” “The knockout stage is very mentally driven,” he continued. “It’s an absolute mental game. It’s when you step on the field and you see certain jerseys. It’s kind of sniffing at each other and saying, ‘I’m ready for you.’ This is all about the moment. This is what they need to believe in … It’s kind of easy to say, but now it’s becoming a mental learning curve, the upcoming game. This is what we hopefully improve on now.”The U.S. knows it will be playing its quarterfinal in Seattle on Thursday against the second-place team from Group B. But it won’t find out the opponent—Brazil, Ecuador or Peru—until after Sunday’s games. All three would provide a significant challenge, but the team with the mystique, obviously, is Brazil.If that ends up being the opponent, Klinsmann said, he wants the U.S. to focus not on the famous yellow jersey but instead on going after top teams and not playing for the counterattack. He wants to see the U.S. back line, which has been terrific in this tournament behind John Brooks and Geoff Cameron, keep playing a high line and resist the urge to drop back. “It’s a wonderful opportunity for our team to play these types of games,” said Klinsmann. “We have nothing to lose. If it’s Brazil, they are the big-time favorites, five-time world champions. We love them. But why not go at them? Why not be courageous? Why not put pressure on them and give them a game? This is what we’ll prepare for. Every team has weaknesses.”Major-tournament knockout games are one of the primary reasons Klinsmann was hired back in 2011. If knockout-game performances are about mentality, Klinsmann has a giant presence the second he walks into a room as a World Cup-winning player.(It’s also why I think he should wear a World Cup championship ring, even if World Cup championship rings aren’t a thing.)Every U.S. team in every major tournament has an identity, and this one has more of a swagger than some. You get that from Clint Dempsey and Jermaine Jones and now, finally, from a fearsome center back tandem in Brooks and Cameron. When Brooks raced back to save a goal in the first half against Paraguay, his fist pump after making the play was an image no U.S. fan will soon forget. That was the moment that the 23-year-old Brooks realized in a U.S. uniform for the first time: I own these guys.That’s swagger.ages“We seemed to rise to the occasion [the last two games],” Cameron said. “We showed our grit, our hard mentality and our teamwork. When teams come together and have that special cohesiveness and that team environment, I think you can go a long way. I’ve been fortunate enough to player here right now and feel that, and you feel something special happening.”Now, too, there’s a chance for this U.S. team to hit mainstream sports fans and rally the American public. The NBA Finals may end on Monday. The Stanley Cup final will be over by Wednesday at the latest. The biggest sporting event in the U.S. on Thursday could very well be the U.S. Copa América quarterfinal.And this U.S. team wants to show them something.
USA fends off Paraguay, reaches Copa America quarterfinals
The USA defeated Paraguay in its third game of Copa America on a Clint Dempsey goal in the 27th minute.
BY GRANT WAHL
PHILADELPHIA — The U.S. overcame playing down a man for 42 minutes and rode Clint Dempsey’s 27th-minute goal to beat Paraguay 1-0 on Saturday and advance to the quarterfinals of the Copa América Centenario. The night got even better later on, when Costa Rica lent a hand by beating Colombia 3-2, giving the U.S. first place in Group A through the goal-differential tiebreaker. Dempsey’s goal, the 51st of his U.S. career, came on a decisive finish after Gyasi Zardes had done good work down the left in a 1-on-2 situation before sending a low cross to the East Texan.DeAndre Yedlin picked up two yellow cards in the span of a minute early in the second half—the second on a two-footed challenge that defied belief. He will be suspended for the quarterfinal. The game changed after Yedlin’s dismissal, with U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann going into retrenchment mode by sending on Michael Orozco as a right back and removing Dempsey.WATCH: All the key moments from USA’s 1-0 win over Paraguay
The U.S.’s quarterfinal opponent won’t be learned until Sunday.Here are three thoughts on the game:
Lineup consistency matters
Klinsmann picked the same starting lineup for the third straight game, the first time he has done so during his five-year tenure as the U.S. coach. And the regular choices have been key. These U.S. players showed a renewed familiarity with each other on Saturday, whether it was in the attacking third between Wood and Dempsey or in the central defense with the rampant Geoff Cameron and John Brooks. When the U.S. lost to Guatemala in a March World Cup qualifier, former U.S. players almost universally questioned why there weren’t more core players in Klinsmann’s U.S. group. Now there are more players, and it shows in the way this team is playing together.WAHL: Stable lineup calls important to BedoyaGive credit to Klinsmann, who could have benched Zardes for this game but stuck with him, only to see Zardes be part of the decisive goal against Paraguay. Dempsey, too, had been hearing calls for his benching earlier in the tournament, but he has responded with two goals in two games and showed that he continues to be the guy the U.S. relies on to score important goals.
This U.S. central defense was solid again
The Americans had their second straight clean sheet, which is a ticket to happiness in international soccer tournaments.Brooks and Cameron have provided the central-defense stability that was missing in last year’s Gold Cup, and the 23-year-old Brooks in particular was fantastic on Saturday, making a highlight-reel play to rush back and save a goal off the foot of Miguel Almirón in the first half.Then on a rare occasion when Paraguay got through the back line, goalkeeper Brad Guzan made a huge one-on-one save at the end of the first half on Darío Lezcano. There was one exception on the U.S. back line, though, because …
Yedlin made one of the rashest plays in recent U.S. history
You could certainly argue that Yedlin’s first yellow card wasn’t deserved, but there’s no way you could say that about his second yellow within a minute on a reckless two-footed challenge. It’s a shame: Yedlin had taken a real step forward in his game over the past two months, improving his defense, and it showed with the national team.The U.S. ended up overcoming Yedlin’s red on Saturday by going into “prevent defense” mode, but it’s going to continue hurting the U.S. in the quarterfinal with Yedlin serving a suspension. Orozco is a downgrade at right back. That said, for a U.S. team that lost its first game in this tournament, having the chance to play in a quarterfinal is nothing to complain about.Now a new tournament begins.
tates bench players play big role even if they don’t get on the field
. ATTLE — By now you might have heard how unusual it is for a U.S. national team coach, or any national team coach, for that matter, to use the same lineup in three consecutive matches. Bob Bradley never did it during his four years at the helm. Neither did Bruce Arena, Steve Sampson, Bora Milutinovic or Bob Gansler, the men who led the Americans at the six World Cups before Brazil 2014.In fact, before current boss Jurgen Klinsmann trotted out the same starting 11 for the Yanks’ three group stage games at the Copa America Centenario, the last time a U.S. team remained unchanged for three straight matches was at the inaugural global showpiece in Uruguay in 1930.Turnover is a fact of life in the international game. Outside of tournament play, national squads are rarely together for more than two matches. Form, injuries, club commitments, suspensions, coaching plans and formation changes all play a role in this lack of continuity.There’s no doubt that Klinsmann’s use of the same starters through the first round helped the U.S. find its feet after a Copa-opening loss to Colombia. But it also has resulted in a top-heavy distribution of minutes; heading into Thursday’s quarterfinal match against Ecuador, more than a quarter of the Americans 23-man squad have yet to play at all.When a team is confined in close quarters for six weeks, however, the role the reserves play becomes every bit as important to its fortunes.”A tournament is decided by the chemistry of a group, not necessarily by the best team,” Klinsmann said before the Americans trained on Tuesday at Seattle University. “It’s how a group grows together, how they support each other, how they stay in a good mood for a longer period of time, how they sense problems, how they solve problems.”Camaraderie has long been one of the American team’s core strengths. It’s one of the reasons — perhaps the main one — why the U.S. has punched above its weight against more talented foes for more than two decades.Don’t believe it? All anyone has to do is get on YouTube and search for video of Jermaine Jones’ equalizer against Portugal at the last World Cup. Check out how when Klinsmann’s reaction is shown, third-string goalkeeper Nick Rimando — the lone player with virtually no chance of playing a minute in the biggest event of his career — absolutely loses his mind on the bench behind the coach when Jones’ strike settled into the side netting.On the rare occasions when that togetherness wasn’t there, like at the 1998 World Cup in France — where the U.S. was eliminated after two games — the results have been disastrous.”Everybody wants to start, but there’s only 11 spots,” Kyle Beckerman, a starter in 2014 who has been limited to only two brief substitute appearances at the Copa so far, told ESPN FC on Tuesday.”It’s not going to go perfect for everyone. How do you react to that? Can you be a positive when things aren’t going your way? Jurgen is huge on making sure everybody’s important to this team, wanting the guys on the bench to have energy so the guys on the field can feel it, and being supportive any way we can.It’s not always an easy balance, though. While reserves have to be cheerleaders, they also have to prepare as if they are going to play and be ready at a moment’s notice.That was the case when DeAndre Yedlin, the starter at right-back, took two quick yellow cards in the second half of Saturday’s win against Paraguay and backup Michael Orozco suddenly found himself on the field defending against a desperate foe.”Obviously it’s hard going into a game that is very intense without getting a warm-up,” Orozco said.The second string will have to be prepared against Ecuador and possibly beyond. Seven Americans are carrying yellow cards into Thursday’s tilt. If any of them pick up another in helping the hosts advance, more changes will be necessary for the semis. Before the tourney started, Klinsmann noted that the lineup that starts a competition is rarely the one that finishes it. The coach has to believe that anyone on his roster can step in if called upon.”The spirit of the bench is there,” Klinsmann said. “Everybody feels appreciated in his own role right now, and this is what could make a tournament very successful.”Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.
Argentina, Mexico top Copa America Power Rankings as quarterfinals loom
The 2016 Copa America Centenario group stages are over. As the 16-team field has been trimmed to eight, Tim Vickery ranks the quarterfinalists on their journey to the final at MetLife Stadium on June 26.
- ARGENTINA (no change):The only team with a 100 percent record, the pre-tournament favourites have lived up to their billing so far. The defence still does not look entirely trustworthy and the injury to Angel Di Maria opened up the other worry, that the big stars might be exhausted after the club season. But coach Gerardo Martino has rationed his use of Lionel Messi and Sergio Aguero, who should have some gas left in the tank for the final straight.
- MEXICO (+1):Coach Juan Carlos Osorio is a good fit for Mexico. His emphasis on rapid transitions to wide areas can bring the best out of the country’s tricky wide players. They are virtually the home team in this competition, especially with a highly favourable itinerary that has cut down their travelling time. The doubt is that they make the pitch big, so will the best teams be able to exploit the space and threaten the team’s good defensive record?
- COLOMBIA (+3):Losing the last group game to Costa Rica when coach Jose Pekerman fielded an understrength team may have done Colombia a service, bringing them back down to earth after the euphoria of two wins. The James Rodriguez-Carlos Bacca link-up will worry any defence, and the pair are surrounded with other interesting attacking options. There is, though, a lack of authority in the central-midfield positions, and much might depend on the form of keeper David Ospina
- CHILE (+3):Do the reigning champions have their mojo back after the win over Panama? If Alexis Sanchez and Arturo Vidal combine as they did in that game then attacking swagger is guaranteed, with the team throwing men forward at pace. They always give the opponents a chance, though; open to the counterattack, defending badly and with keeper Claudio Bravo in poor form. The quarterfinal with Mexico should be one of the tournament highlights.
- UNITED STATES (no change):Losing the opening game has forced an “every match is a cup final” mentality that has brought the best out of Jurgen Klinsmann and co. They have now built up some momentum and have settled on an interesting identity with a strong spine of Brad Guzan, John Brooks, Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey plus two quick wide strikers. The big problem, though, is that if they get past Ecuador, the chances are that Argentina await.
- ECUADOR (+3):The pressure is off now that they have made it out of the group for the first time since 1997, and if the U.S. overreach then Ecuador will look to smoke them on the counterattack. The priority for coach Gustavo Quinteros will be to shore up a defensive unit that is both individually weak and prone to lapses in concentration. And if they get past the U.S., Quinteros will have cause to remind his men that in a recent World Cup qualifier they beat Argentina in Buenos Aires.
- PERU (+5):With an experimental squad, Peru have exceeded all expectations by making the quarterfinals, let alone by topping the group. A new generation — with the likes of Christian Cueva and Edison Flores — are reacting well to being handed responsibility, keeper Pedro Gallese has done well and the team are clearly growing in confidence. But they look outgunned by quarterfinal opponents Colombia.
- VENEZUELA (+6):The shock story of the Copa. Disastrously bottom of the table in World Cup qualification, here they have defended doggedly and got the most from the attacking surges of Josef Martinez and Alejandro Guerra and the strong centre-forward play of Salomon Rondon. If forced out, though, the defence will surely be exposed, and they cannot always rely on keeper Dani Hernandez stopping everything that is fired at him. They can trouble Argentina, but it is hard to see how they can cope with Messi and co.
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
Indy 11 Soccer Camp June 20-23 — 9 am till 12 noon Ages 5-14 $135 @ Badger Fields
Kick in the Grass – 3 v 3 Soccer Tour at Badger Field July 9th
Goal2Gol Soccer Camp
CHS Men’s Head Coach Shane Schmidt, a former U-20 US National Team player, runs his annual camp from 9 am to 2 pm July 11-16. $150 before 6/30 @ River Road Fields.
Post2Post Soccer Camp
Former Pittsburgh Head Coach Sue-Moy Chin and Former Iowa Coach Carla Baker run their annual field player camp for players of all abilities July 25-28 — 9 am to 3 pm $195 each @ Badger