06/29/16 US Finishes 4th in COPA, Messi Retires after loss to Chile in COPA Final, EUROs Elite 8, INDY 11 Beat Mexican Champ Pachuca

US Finishes 4th in COPA, Messi Retires after loss to Chile in COPA Final, EUROs Elite 8, INDY 11 Beat Mexican Champ Pachuca

So lets start with the huge news that Lionel Messi has said he’s hanging up his cleats for Argentina.  The first half was contentious with tons of yellow cards, lots of fouls and 2 players sent off.  The 2nd half well an MLS game broke out as both teams played in the center of the pitch and very few good shots were taken despite Argentina outshooting them pretty overall.  But overtime man was that thrilling.  The 30 minutes of overtime were enthralling as both teams tried to attack and tried to win this COPA Centario Final before going to shootout.  Messi tried again and again – taking on 3 and 4 players at a time to will his team to victory, but it was not to be.  The shootout – well who thought Messi would miss his first ever PK in a Argentina jersey?  Heartbreak City  – I have to admit while I love the way Chile plays, always swarming the ball and playing at the highest level, I was rooting hard for Messi and Argentina to finally lift a Trophy.  Oh well – hopefully Messi changes his mind and returns to his national team someday.

Now for the US

Honestly the US finally played another really good game – we outshot the #3 team in the world overall.  We just couldn’t finish around the net.  (see my player grades below for the entire tourney) I sure would have liked to see more of Pulisic and Nagbe but I think they have cemented their spots on the squad now.  As for Klinsy – I gotta give the German credit for getting to the COPA Final 4 – and beating a top 10 team in Ecuador along the way – he did finally find a line-up and stick with it.  Amazing the hard head is learning.  And the Colombia match was much better the 2nd time around as we honestly played toe to toe with the #3 ranked team in the world.  Would anyone really cry however if he took that EPL-Southampton job this summer and left the reigns to Assistant Tab Ramos?  Remember it took the German leaving Germany and handing over the team to a master tactician in Lowe for Germany to win its 1st World Cup in 25 years.   Klinsy does a good job of bringing in new young talent – but his tactical preparation and personnel decisions are horrific at times.  (Read leaving Donovan off WC team for Wondo).  While the US did about what I hoped they would do this tourney – (except playing dead vs Argentina) I for one would welcome seeing what life is like post Jurgen –the German – Klinsmann.

On to the Euros – Elite 8 Style –

Normally you sit back and allow Spain 70% possession but Italy was DEADLY on the counter attack time and time again.  They dominated the 1st 35 minutes with like 5 shots on goal – Man U GK David De Gea saved his but off or it would have been 3-0 at the half at least.  The 1 goal lead held up but Spain had a dead on header for the equalizer in the 89th minute from 3 feet out. But the legendary 38 year old GK Italy’s captain Gigi Buffon did the spectacular again and parried away.  He almost matched De Gea’s fantastic saves in the 1st half with some lightening quick responses in the 2nd.  It was really a goalkeeper’s dream kind of game- fantastic save after fantastic save .  Italy finally put away in the 90th minute.  Spectacular futbol all around for Italy.  Viva la pasta, the rigatoni, y lasagna – vive Italia!   Of course what can you say about England’s debacle but man I am glad I am not English this morning.  Iceland honestly beat them straight up 2-0  – it wasn’t even close.  How a nation with 330,000 people (10% of them at the games in France) can beat the nation with the best Professional league who actually Invented the Game of Soccer is beyond me.   It sets up a mix of Cinderallas amongst the Giants as Iceland will face host nation France on Sunday 3 pm ESPN.  Poland faces Renaldo and Portugal Thurs 3 pm ESPN 2, Wales and Bale taking on Belgium Friday 3 pm on ESPN2, while WC Champ Germany takes on Italy Sat at 3 pm on ESPN2.  See the Previews Below

INDY 11

Finally how about our Indy 11 – first they sign former Mexican Superstar Torrado and then he helps them step up and beat the Best Team in Mexico Pachuca in a friendly at home. Wow!  I can’t wait for the Fall Season to kick off this weekend – at new team Puerto Rico Sat night 8 pm on WISH TV8 and the home starter July 9 vs Minn.  Make plans to get to the MIKE next Weekend or Wed night July 13 vs Ft. Lauderdale.

CARMEL FC

Carmel FC Uniform and spirit wear orders are due on June 29th!  You can click straight to our UNIFORM or APPAREL  ordering sites.  Carmel FC will again this year March in the July 4th CarmelFest Parade – check with your team managers and coaches for details.  Also summer optional training begins on the turf fields next week –Click here for details: Summer Training.

GAMES ON TV

Euro Quarterfinals

Thursday, June 30 – Match 45
Poland vs. Portugal — Marseille (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Friday, July 1 – Match 46
Wales vs  Belgium — Lille (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Saturday, July 2 – Match 47
Germany vs. Italy  — Bordeaux (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Indy 11 @ Puerto Rico 7:30 pm  TV 8

Sunday, July 3 – Match 48
France vs Iceland — Saint-Denis (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)

New York City FC vs. NY Red Bulls, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew, 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes)

USA

Bobby Wood Emerges at Copa ESPNFC

Klinnsman hails wonderful Copa America – Jeff Carlisle ESPN FC

US Improves but still settles for 4th

Evaluating the US Now – ESPNFC Video

US Player Ratings MLS.com

Player Ratings Stars and Stripes

US Doesn’t Capitalize on Chances for Columbia – Carlisle ESPNFC

IS this really Progress?  MLS.com

US Needs to Win vs World Powers Sometimes – MLS.com

I hate Juergan Klinsmann and so can you – Stars and Stripes

US Learns its Place During COPAs – SI Struas

Grading the US at Copa Goal.com

 COPA

Is this Really it for Messi?  

Chile can Challenge for a World Cup now

Not surprised by Messi’s Decision – Video ESPN FC

Copa loss rocks Messi SI

Don’t Give Up Messi – says Teacher in Argentina

 EUROS

Quarterfinal Schedule

Quarters Preview

The Tourneys Rile up the Emotion –Marcotti

Strengths and Weaknesses of the Final 8

The Welch can topple Belgium – Marcotti

 Italy DeRossi out

Poland Big #9 must Score

Klinsy for England coach>?

England new coach – Klinsmann?

Indy 11

Indy 11 Secure Spring 2016 NASL Championship

3 Things Win vs Pachuca

Indy 11 beat Mexican Champ Pachuca 1-0

http://www.indyeleven.com/kids-club-promo

Indy 11 Craft Beer Night July 9th

Indy 11 Win – Indy Star

MLS

Jordan Morris – Bring on the Hype

Tim Howard Can’t Wait to Get Started for Colorado

US Open Cup Draw – NY Cosmos and Ft Lauderdale qualify from NASL with MLS squads

GAMES ON TV

Euro Quarterfinals

Thursday, June 30 – Match 45
Poland vs. Portugal — Marseille (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Friday, July 1 – Match 46
Wales vs  Belgium — Lille (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Saturday, July 2 – Match 47
Germany vs. Italy  — Bordeaux (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN2)

Indy 11 @ Puerto Rico 7:30 pm  TV 8

Sunday, July 3 – Match 48
France vs Iceland — Saint-Denis (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)

New York City FC vs. NY Red Bulls, 12:00 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Sporting Kansas City vs. Columbus Crew, 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes)

Semifinals

–Wednesday, July 6
W Poland/Portugal vs W Wales/Belgium– Lyon (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Thursday, July 7
W Germany/Italy vs. W France/Iceland — Marseille (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Saturday, July 9: 

United States women vs. South Africa, international friendly, 1:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1)
Seattle vs. Los Angeles Galaxy, 3:00 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)

Indy 11 vs Minn @ the Jake 7:30 pm TV 8, BeIn Sports

Final

Sunday, July 10
EUROPEAN CUP W49 vs. W50 — Saint-Denis (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)

New York Red Bulls vs. Portland Timbers, 6:00 p.m. (ESPN2, tape-delayed on ESPN Deportes)
Sporting Kansas City vs. New York City FC, 8:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes)

Wednesday, July 13

Indy 11 vs Ft Lauderdale – @ H The Jake – 7:30 pm Wish TV 8, BeIn Sports

Saturday, July 16

Indy 11 @ Minn – 8 pm BeIn Sports

Sunday, July 17:

Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders, 2:30 p.m. (Fox, Fox Deportes)
Montréal Impact vs. New York City FC, 5:00 p.m. (ESPN, ESPN Deportes)
Philadelphia Union vs. New York Red Bulls, 7:00 p.m. (Fox Sports 1, Fox Deportes)

Sat, July 23

Indy 11 vs Edmonton – @ H The Jake – 7:30 pm Wish TV 8

Sat, July 30

Indy 11@ Miami – 8 pm BeIn sports

MLS TV Schedule ‘ They Are Back

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

 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

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

Carmel High Boys – Youth Soccer Camp –2nd to 6th Graders only

Run by CHS Boys team players – Thurs, Aug 4 (9:30 am till 12 noon) – CHS Practice Fields River Road and 126th . 2nd to 6th Graders only – Cost $35 to CHS –- First 100 players to sign up.  Sign Up Here https://www.ticketracker.com/store/item?catalogItemId=8741   Email Shari if you have questions indyabbotts@hotmail.com.

ATP_Gen_350x250

 Earn Your Accredited College Degree at ½ the Cost and Time of Traditional Schools www.achievetestprep.com/shane

Lionel Messi’s pain, Argentina woe show power of international football

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey — Has an era ended with a penalty that Lionel Messi sent high over a New Jersey crossbar?Many Argentina fans had an air of resignation as they came away from MetLife Stadium, but there were stronger emotions boiling over in the dressing room. Anger, revolt, disbelief and profound sadness must have been more prevalent. How much of this can the players take? Messi announced his retirement from international football

after the game. Others might follow, or they might rethink. It is still too early to tell. After last year’s defeat, Javier Mascherano (who had just lost his fourth final) was said to be contemplating international retirement. But it proved to be a five-minute storm — until now, a fifth failure at the final hurdle.It will be interesting to see how this develops. Messi has just turned 29, a year older than Sergio Aguero, Angel Di Maria and Gonzalo Higuain. On the one hand, Messi is clearly fed up with the Argentine FA

, and on Friday, he promised to discuss this matter in the future. Why bother playing for them?On the other, there will surely be changes within the AFA, and moreover, Messi has little time left to win a title with his country. The cold light of day might be painful, but it could cause him to reflect that trying to win the 2018 World Cup and the following year’s Copa could be preferable to an old age spent regretting his absence from the international arena.Argentina, of course, have lost three finals in three years: two on penalty shootouts and one by a single goal. All went to extra time. The striking thing is that a generation that stands out for its attacking brilliance has failed to score a single goal in six hours of cup final football. How can this be explained. Especially the previous two years, Argentina have been victims of end-of-season tiredness. This time around, the problem seemed more psychological. From the moment Higuain rolled his early chance wide after a mistake by Gary Medel, a feeling of “here we go again” appeared to take hold of the players, who snatched at every second-half opportunity and wasted some good situations.Lionel Messi can make good on his threat to stop playing for Argentina, and his place in the pantheon of the greats will be untouched. He has scored more goals than anyone else for his national team. Moreover, in the UEFA Champions League, which these days displays a higher standard of play than the national team, he has been magnificent in season after season. At club level, he has won all that there is to be won.Yet he sent that penalty high into the New Jersey air. How to explain this miss? How different would the shootout have been had he scored? The pressure would have been on Chile. Instead, the pressure got to Messi.In a way, this is a tribute to international football. It might have lost plenty of ground to European club football. But it still has an unrivaled power to make people feel represented. On Sunday, the pressure of that power proved too much for Messi.

Euro quarterfinals: Germany, France favourites as we hit the business end

PARIS — And then there were eight.It doesn’t matter if, like Germany or France, you expected to reach the Euro quarterfinals. Or if, like Portugal, with zero wins in 90 minutes, you’re not quite sure how you got here except sheer bloody-mindedness. Or if, like Belgium, you lost your footing early and then recovered. Or if, like Iceland, Hollywood scriptwriters are knocking on your door wanting to chronicle the greatest upset since … well, since Leicester City won the Premier League this season.Three games separate these eight teams from being crowned champions of Europe. Here’s how the matchups break down.

Poland vs. Portugal, Marseille
Thursday

The subtext is Robert Lewandowski vs. Cristiano Ronaldo, though, in fact, neither has had the happiest of tournaments. Ronaldo missed a penalty against Austria and has flashed only intermittently; Lewandowski has sacrificed himself doing grunt work and hasn’t looked like the scoring machine we see at Bayern.Poland has reaped huge dividends from a well-marshaled back four and a stubborn midfield led by Grzegorz Krychowiak. With Portugal, it’s more a case of the front three needing to finish, rather than produce. Take the wild 3-3 draw with Hungary out of the mix and you have a team that failed to score in 90 minutes on three separate occasions.Both these teams can go to the next level — it’s just that Portugal’s ceiling is higher. The question is to what degree they can break down the Polish defense and whether Lewandowski suddenly comes alive as an attacking threat.

Wales vs. Belgium, Lille
Friday

Were it not for Iceland, Wales would be the Cinderella story here. There’s more to the Welsh than Gareth Bale, of course, but he has shown a knack for making those around him better. Belgium recovered from the shock opening day defeat to Italy to win the next three games, including a 4-0 pounding of Hungary, but they still feel less than the sum of their parts.That’s fine, though, because their individual parts already add up to quite a bit. They can beat you many different ways and have a shutdown goalkeeper in Thibaut Courtois. That said, Belgium can suffer against tactically sophisticated sides and the quality, versatility and unpredictability of Bale can create serious problems. Equally, Wales play a back three and Belgium boss Marc Wilmots really struggled to wrap his head around Italy’s three-man defence.Belgium are favorites simply because they have, top to bottom, better players and the Kevin De Bruyne-Eden Hazard combination seems to be hitting form. But the Bale factor, both in what he can do personally and what he can make his teammates do, is not to be underestimated.

Germany vs. Italy, Bordeaux
Saturday

Germany have been getting stronger as the tournament progresses, which is bad news for everybody else. Manager Joachim Low has an array of options in his front six and he has shown he’s not afraid to tweak when required. Meanwhile, keeper Manuel Neuer and his defence have yet to concede a goal.Italy are all about system over individuals, mainly because, as coach Antonio Conte himself said, “we don’t have great individual players [in midfield and attack].” That system was devastating against Belgium and Spain, but Low, simply put, is a far tougher tactical nut to crack. Italy create plenty, but that’s also because they need multiple chances to score.That said, Gigi Buffon also has yet to concede in goal (and he has faced tougher strikers than Neuer has). Plus, if you’re superstitious, Germany have never actually beaten Italy in a competitive match. Though, as they’ll tell you — very rationally — records exist to be broken.

France vs. Iceland, Saint-Denis
Sunday

Polar opposites here. The uber-talented host nation against the guys many expected to be nothing more than the answer to a trivia question. Iceland’s performances have been otherworldly thus far. If you don’t believe they’re channeling some kind mystic Viking spirit, you’d have to assume that all that running and exertion will catch up with them sooner rather than later. (Then again, that may be what England thought as well and we saw how that turned out.)Les Bleus will be without the suspended Adil Rami, which might not seem like a huge loss until you realize Eliaquim Mangala could be the man to replace him. Defence is not the French strong suit, though it has arguably performed better than their attack, where Olivier Giroud has fired too many blanks, and midfield, where Didier Deschamps’ incessant tinkering is doing him no favors.Could the host nation stumble against Iceland? Probably not. There are too many weapons in the French arsenal, from Dimitri Payet to Antoine Griezmann to Paul Pogba, and, as they showed against Ireland, they’re resilient too.Gabriele Marcotti is a columnist for ESPN 

Grading the USA at Copa America Centenario

Goal.com 6 hours ago 

The 2016 Copa America will long be remembered for Lionel Messi’s surprising international swan song and Chile’s successful defense of its title, but when the dust eventually settled from Sunday’s final, it was time to reflect on just what the tournament meant for the U.S. national team.A fourth-place finish certainly sounds like an accomplishment in a tournament with so many quality participants, but there was still a sense of a missed opportunity by the Americans. A chance to show it had really made progress under Jurgen Klinsmann came and went, and while there were victories to hang Klinsmann’s hat on, none were of the type that could really suggest the U.S. has made a jump into a new class under Klinsmann.How you evaluate the U.S. team’s Copa America depends very much much what you were hoping to see from this team. If you were a realist and were simply looking for the team to show some stability after two largely forgettable post-World Cup years, then this tournament provided that. A first-place finish in the tournament’s toughest group — and a resounding 4-0 victory against a tough CONCACAF rival — were enough to call this Copa America a success, even with the multiple losses to Colombia and beatdown by Argentina.Now, if you went into this Copa America wanting to see a team that was clearly stronger than the one Klinsmann inherited five years ago, there was much less supporting evidence. The Americans beat the teams they were supposed to beat, particularly at home, and they lost all three matches against highly-ranked competition. Even though 4-0 rout of Costa Rica was a bit flattering because Costa Rica dominated possession and created more chances, but the Americans enjoyed their only day of clinical finishing in the match you could argue was the most important of the tournament for them.Make no mistake, beating a creditable opponent in Ecuador in a knockout round game was a admirable feat, but not one that really confirms true growth as a national team. Not in the way beating Mexico in the 2002 World Cup signaled a new level, and the 2009 Confederations Cup win against eventual World Cup winner Spain injected belief into the U.S. program (before tragedy and injury to took away two key pieces of that promising team: Charlie Davies and Oguchi Onyewu).Beating Argentina absolutely would have been that kind of victory, but Argentina is at a different level and the U.S. wasn’t nearly as equipped to pull off the upset as the 2009 U.S. team was equipped to beat Spain. The third-place loss to Colombia was an improved effort on the tournament-opening loss, but even though they were better, the Americans still didn’t do what it took to win.Klinsmann will understandably try to paint this Copa America as evidence of a team that is growing, but we aren’t going to really find that out for another two years. The Hexagonal Round of World Cup qualifying should be as tough as it as ever been, but there will be no Confederations Cup for the U.S. before the 2018 World Cup for the U.S. to test itself against the world’s best.Klinsmann did enough to buy himself the remaining two years before the World Cup. As for his players, some enjoyed outstanding tournaments, while others probably played their final matches for the U.S. There will be a changing of the guard once World Cup qualifying resumes in September, only it probably won’t be nearly as dramatic a changing as some would have hoped for.Here is a closer look at how the U.S. players fared at the 2016 Copa America Centenario:

 

BRAD GUZAN (B)  Shanes Grade B – I too hoped Guzan would distinguish himself this tourney and he did until Argentina.

This was Guzan’s tournament to put a hammerlock on the starting goalkeeper spot for the U.S. and he did just that right up until the semifinal loss to Argentina, when he had some shaky moments that left an unfortunately negative tinge on an otherwise strong tournament. He did enough to justify Klinsmann’s trust and should remain the number one heading into World Cup qualifying.

 

 

TIM HOWARD (B-)  Shanes Grade B

 

 

Only played in the third-place match, but Howard made the most of it, turning in a strong outing in what might be his final start for the U.S. Commanded the penalty area and read threats well, serving as a calming influence. He showed enough to suggest he should remain Guzan’s backup until one of the younger options is truly ready to replace him, which still may be some time from now.

DEANDRE YEDLIN (D)  Grade C

This Copa America set up to be a big one for Yedlin, what with his successful stint at Sunderland and a summer of potential transfer opportunities looming. Unfortunately, he showed his youth and naivete far too often, and his Copa America had the kind of mixed bag no defender wants. A handball for a penalty, a red card early in the second half of a tight game, and a blown assignment on the lone goal in the third-place match.

Despite all that, Yedlin is still the future of the position, but he will need to tighten up his defending if right back is going to return to being a strength for the U.S. like it was when Steve Cherundolo patrolled the position.  (YES YEDLIN WAS EXPOSED THIS TOURNEY – HE HAS A LOT OF LEARNING TO DO STILL)

GEOFF CAMERON (A-)  Shanes Grade A   – covered the overman Yedlin time and time again – his only mistake the miss mark in 1st game.

Cameron went into Copa America considered the team’s best defender, and while John Brooks may have outplayed him, Cameron put together the type of tournament that should keep him in the heart of the U.S. defense for a good while. Overcame his blown assignment on the opening goal of the tournament, and was a rock for much of the rest of the competition.What may have been most impressive about Cameron’s Copa America was his confidence on the ball. He completed the second-most passes of any U.S. player in the tournament, and also had the second-most successful dribbles.

JOHN BROOKS (A)  Shanes Grade A

No American player saw their stock rise further during Copa America than Brooks, who was an absolute wall in the back for most of the tournament. He dominated in the air, and also picked out threats on the ground as well. He showed real confidence in possession, completing a gaudy 87 percent of his passes (the best rate of any U.S. starter) and his ability to clean up all aerial threats led him to 34 clearances, the best total in the entire tournament.

And the negatives? It’s tough to point to any, though you would have liked to have seen him be involved more offensively on set pieces, but that’s nitpicking a tournament that was one of the best ever played by an American defender.

FABIAN JOHNSON (B+)  B+  I concure

Johnson is a tough one to grade because you have to take into account he wound up having to play a position that is probably the one he is least comfortable playing among the many he can play, and because of the extremely tough assignments he wound up drawing, starting with Colombia’s Juan Cuadrado and ending with Lionel Messi.

Johnson held his own as best he could against those sharks, but his grade gets a major boost for his excellent job shutting down Jefferson Montero in the big quarterfinal win against Ecuador. That game, which saw him switch to right back, and the Costa Rica game, which required him to handle Joel Campbell, were some of the best of the tournament for the U.S.

MATT BESLER (B-)  Shanes Grade B

alled on to play left back in the quarterfinal clash against Ecuador, Besler stepped in and didn’t miss a beat, helping shut down Antonio Valencia on the way to helping the U.S. squeeze out a 2-1 victory. Didn’t fair quite as well in the third-place match when slotted into his natural center back role, but didn’t exactly look bad there either. Should remain a fixture on the squad when qualifying resumes.

MICHAEL OROZCO (C)  Shanes Grade B-  HIS RED CARD HORRIFIC – and would have brought his grade down to C- if not in 89th minute

Orozco deserves credit for stepping into a crazy quarterfinal against Ecuador with his team being down a man. He did his job to help the Americans hold on for the win. His showing in his lone start — in the third place match against Colombia — was thoroughly forgettable. He looked about as shaky as you would have expected, and earned two yellow cards along the way for his trouble.

STEVE BIRNBAUM (INC)

Played just 31 total minutes in the tournament, which was as much more about how well Brooks and Cameron played than it was about Klinsmann not trusting Birnbaum. The D.C. United defender will have stiff competition for his place on the team when World Cup qualifying resumes, but Klinsmann definitely rates him highly.

MICHAEL BRADLEY (C+)  Shane D+ – this was the worse 2 weeks of Bradley’s career – and serious consideration needs to be given to replacing the captain with Someone, anyone who can complete a pass under pressure.  I don’t believe he completed more than 30% of his passes in the big games against real teams.  I have always been a Bradley fan as his work ethic is 2nd to none.  But he was HORRIBLE in this tourney – not sure if playing in MLS is doing this too him or he was hurt?  But this guy didn’t play like a starter much less a captain in this tourney.  He’ll never do it but Nagbe or Kitchen need to be given a run in the middle #6 slot just to see what happens. 

Let’s call Bradley a victim of his own high standard. If you listen to some accounts, Bradley just had a nightmare of a tournament. It can definitely be called one of his worst, but he still remained a very influential figure on the team. He was rightly roasted for being terrible against Argentina, and his showing in the opening loss to Colombia was forgettable as well. Along the way though, Bradley was a key force in the Costa Rica win, and turned in respectable efforts against Paraguay and Ecuador.

Where Bradley really struggled was in the turnover department. As the American player who spends the most time on the ball, he is always going to lose the ball at times, but the frequency with which he turned the ball over in bad spots was very alarming at times. What often gets overlooked is how hard he works to win the ball back, which he often does, but on too many occasions he tried forcing passes that wound up leading to dangerous counterattacks for the opposition. Suggestions that he should no longer start are pretty absurd, but he does need to clean up the passing, which could also be helped once some more technical midfield options emerge to play around him.

JERMAINE JONES (B-)  B+ if he doesn’t get the Stupid Red Card.  Love his grit though – might need to replace Bradley as #6 while Nagbe takes the #10  role. 

People will continue harping on about Jones’ age, but in this Copa America the veteran midfielder showed that he can still make big plays when needed. His bite and fearlessness were sorely missed against Argentina, and his Man of the Match showing against Costa Rica should not be forgotten. One of the biggest benefactors of the switch to the 4-4-2, Jones helped set up goals in the attack while also doing a ton of defensive work.

After his efforts at the 2014 World Cup, and now his showing at Copa America, Jones has cemented himself as a player who shines on the big stage. While he may be 36 at the next World Cup, he is still playing like someone who could be a part of that team.

ALEJANDRO BEDOYA (B-)  Shane – B+ – would have been interesting to see him against Argentina – I think he would have made a difference.

Every team needs a player like Bedoya, who serves as the glue to the squad, both offensively and defensively. His tireless work off the ball often goes overlooked, but Bedoya was an indispensable part of the team’s success at this Copa America. Could he have played better in the opening match against Colombia? Definitely, but the rest of the tournament he brought all the qualities Klinsmann wanted from him. His passing, his pressure, his movement, and his poise, all of which could have been used against Argentina, the match he missed because of yellow cards.

Bedoya’s role going forward will be an interesting one. He remains one of the few Americans playing at high level in Europe, but younger options are looming, and he could be in for a real fight as the Hex comes around.

GYASI ZARDES (B)    Shane B+  This guy is 1 season from needing a move to Europe to take him to the next level.

While he can still frustrate you with his uncertain touches and inability to read the game at a high level, what we saw from Zardes at this tournament was a player who wasn’t afraid of the big stage, and a player who is very much a useful contributor. Arguably the lone bright spot in the Argentina match, Zardes was one of the few to actually go at the Copa finalists, and while none of his forays resulted in a goal, he still made an impression.

Zardes had other strong outings as well, such as the Ecuador win and the Costa Rica win. Overall, Zardes boosted his stock at Copa America, and is in good position to remain a starter when qualifying resumes in September.

GRAHAM ZUSI (C+)    Shane C+  – just another average player for me – time to phase him out with youth.

Used quite a bit as a sub through the tournament, Zusi had his bright moments, and his invisible ones. The most important moment was the goal he scored against Costa Rica, which seemed meaningless at the time, but which wound up helping securing first place in Group A for the Americans.

Did Zusi do enough to remain in the national team picture after Copa America? The jury is definitely out, and the more likely scenario will be seeing Zusi fade out of the picture once the Hex rolls around.

KYLE BECKERMAN (C)  Shane C-  I love the Hair but its time for him to retire from the National Team – he’s simply over his head and we need the other guys to step in.  Sure do wish the German would have had him man mark Messi – stupid German.

Another veteran player who played sparingly, Beckerman had his chance to shine against Argentina, but was clearly in over his head. The same could be said for the rest of the U.S. team, so it’s not like you can single him out, but it’s tough to see Beckerman playing a part for the national team beyond Copa America. He’s 34 now, and with Jones already serving as the team’s elder statesman in midfield, it’s time to give players like Perry Kitchen and Danny Williams a longer look in defensive midfield.

CHRISTIAN PULISIC (INC)  Shane B – yes Christian should have gotten more time and the start vs Columbia – he’s startin for 1 of the top 10 clubs in the world – if that continues – the meteor will rise. 

Played just 85 minutes at Copa America, a number sure to infuriate U.S. fans who thought he deserved more, and thought he looked very promising in those limited minutes. He showed flashes when given the chance, but with Klinsmann stating he didn’t want to rush the Borussia Dortmund midfielder, perhaps this shouldn’t be too surprising. He certainly showed enough to merit a longer look when qualifying resumes.

DARLINGTON NAGBE (INC)  Shane – B  – I thought he got pushed off the ball a little but his late sub chances were too little too late – should have started Columbia game – then we would know more about what his potential is. 

Played just 47 minutes, not nearly enough time to really make an impact or an impression, which is disappointing because there were certainly games where he is poise in possession and ability to move the ball around could have been used. A larger role should come his way in the fall.

CLINT DEMPSEY (A)   Shane A+  What can you say about Duece – he’s the Best American player to ever play the game and he better be there for 2018 or we may no score. 

Joins Brooks as one of the two best Americans at Copa America. The best attacking threat by a country mile, Dempsey reminded us all that he thrives in the big moments, and he can bring something special that there just isn’t an abundance of in the U.S. player pool at the moment. Whether it was his nose for goal, dangerous free kicks or movement on the counterattack, Dempsey showed of plenty to lead us to believe he can still be a fixture on the team come 2018.

BOBBY WOOD (B+)   Shane A – Bobby was the revelation of this tourney – Jozy look out – Wood just took your spot.  Without him we had NO Offense. 

If Brooks was the defensive revelation of this Copa America, then Wood was the attacking revelation. He played with real confidence and looked every bit like the type of target striker the U.S. needs. He makes good runs, shows a tireless work rate to contribute defensively and he can finish chances. For the first time in recent memory, there is a clear option other than Jozy Altidore at striker for the U.S., which may have been the best news of the tournament for the Americans.

CHRIS WONDOLOWSKI (INC)  –  Shane F – the Worse Soccer Player to EVER Don a US Jersey.  I love his hustle in MLS – but he SUCKS as a Forward at the International Level.  Too bad – he’s a nice guy – but HE’s Horrible.  Sorry

It may have been easy to give Wondolowski an F for his terrible half against Argentina, but the reality is he didn’t play enough to merit a grade. He was bad in his one start, no doubt, but the blame for him being on the field belongs to someone else.

JURGEN KLINSMANN (C+)  Shane’s Grade –  C+ -gotta give the German credit for getting to the Final 4 – and beating a top 10 team in Ecuador along the way – he did finally find a line-up and stick with it.  Amazing the hard head is learning.  Would anyone really cry however if he took that EPL job this summer and left the reigns to Assistant Tab Ramos?  Remember it took the German leaving Germany and handing over the team to a master tactician in Lowe to win Germany its 1st World Cup in 25 years.   Klinsy does a good job of bringing in new young talent – but his tactical preparation and personnel decisions are horrific at times.  (Read leaving Donovan off WC team for Wondo).  While the US did about what I hoped they would do this tourney – (except playing dead vs Argentina) I for one would welcome seeing what life is like post Jurgen –the German – Klinsmann.

Yes, he helped the U.S. reach the semifinals, and grab fourth place in the Copa America, but Klinsmann doesn’t merit a higher grade. Many times it felt like he didn’t get the most out of this team, and didn’t make the right decisions with personnel. The Wondolowski move was a clear failure, which he seemed to acknowledge with the halftime hook, but he also probably cost the U.S. a chance of winning the opener by starting out in a 4-3-3 rather than a 4-4-2. Beating Costa Rica bumps his grade up, but going much higher than a C+ is tough considering the Americans didn’t beat any of the top teams they faced.

Jurgen Klinsmann: United States players ‘deserve a huge, huge compliment’

GLENDALE, Ariz. — The United States fell 1-0 to Colombia in the third-place match of the Copa America Centenario, but that didn’t stop manager Jurgen Klinsmann from hailing his team’s performance in this game and the tournament.The Americans looked much improved from their opening match of the Copa America Centenario, when they fell to Colombia 2-0. The U.S. attack looked much more fluid from the run of play, while the defense — playing without injured starters Fabian Johnson and John Brooks — bent but was breached only once.”I gave the whole team a huge compliment in the locker room,” Klinsmann said. “After six weeks being on the road, to pull out a performance like that in a meaningless third-place game in a certain way, I think they deserve a huge, huge compliment.”Every one of them, the whole team over this entire stretch of time, has kind of grown together, has given each other so much support. It’s really fun to watch this team grow. Did we want to win this game? Yes, absolutely, but I think the performance was a wonderful performance.”I think throughout the tournament, you saw so many good pieces, so many things that make us optimistic looking forward with this group. The back line today, whoever stepped in — Matt Besler, Michael Orozco — was outstanding.”I don’t think Geoff Cameron can play much better. DeAndre Yedlin going up and down. You can go through area by area, I think we gave Colombia a really good game, and even Jose Pekerman said after the game, ‘Wow, you guys are growing. You guys are getting really stronger.'”The best chance for the U.S. came in the 51st minute, but Clint Dempsey’s free kick was superbly saved by Colombia keeper David Ospina. Bobby Wood later hit the post with another drive, but otherwise, the U.S. forced Ospina to make only one other save.Colombia created its share of chances, with Carlos Bacca’s 31st-minute tally enough to separate the two sides.”Ultimately, because they were clinical with their one chance in the first half and we were not that clinical, we hit the post or kind of had a couple of missteps right in front of goal,” Klinsmann said. “But there were enough chances there to put one in, and the players know that.”Prior to the start of the tournament, Klinsmann said the team’s goal was reaching the semifinals. That seemed overly ambitious, especially after the group stage loss to Colombia. The U.S. then recorded wins over Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador.The U.S. were ousted by a clearly superior Argentina side in the semifinals, but Klinsmann said that what pleased him most was the way some players on the roster grew as the tournament progressed.”Every day you learn,” he said. “You learn about every individual, about your group, about the chemistry, about so many little pieces. Every day is fascinating in our little world.”Definitely you see players coming through start to bloom. If it’s a Bobby Wood, a Yedlin, a John Brooks and others becoming stronger. It’s fun to watch some older ones hanging in there like a Clint and Jermaine Jones battling there and having a real impact on these teams still.”You learn about every individual. You feel for the ones that didn’t get that many minutes in the tournament. But they know we are with them, and we help them wherever we can.”As for Saturday’s game, Klinsmann said he was pleased with the commitment, aggressiveness, awareness on the field, tactical awareness and discipline “to be very compact and out of that compactness, then play their game going forward.”These are the concepts he has been trying to instill the past five years, and if they continue to develop in these areas, then the U.S. players “know that they can compete with these guys.”Now Klinsmann hopes his team gets another chance to play in this tournament again.”For us, it was a huge opportunity, and I think we took it really well,” he said. “The final four is a big deal, but there is a lot still to learn, and hopefully we can do that in every Copa America from now on.”Cameron echoed his manager’s sentiments, pointing toward periods of play in which the U.S. laid siege to the Colombian goal.”We didn’t get played off the pitch tonight,” the defender said. “If anything, I thought we dominated the game. I thought we had a lot of chances that we just didn’t put in.”Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team 

Bobby Wood emerges as a Copa America positive for the U.S.

GLENDALE, Ariz. — As the U.S. players navigated their way through the postmatch mixed zone Saturday night, the mood was upbeat. Granted, the team had been beaten 1-0 by Colombia for the second time this tournament, forcing the Americans to settle for a fourth-place finish in the Copa America Centenario. But the talk among them was almost universally positive.”You can see that we can battle with almost everybody,” said midfielder Jermaine Jones.”I think there’s a lot of positive that you can take out of it,” added Geoff Cameron. “Guys got a lot of experience. We grew as a group from the amount of friendlies that we played before, to building up to the tournament, and showing what we did.”The lone exception was forward Bobby Wood, who had a look on his face as if he wanted to play the just-concluded game all over again.Perhaps he was still thinking of his shot in the 62nd minute that rattled off the Colombian post and bounced out. Wood had a couple of other half chances that either missed the target or were thwarted by the Colombian defense. But when asked about the team’s overall performance, it was clear he wasn’t satisfied.”Before coming into the tournament, I think making it to the semis, we would have been really proud,” said Wood. “But after the way we played leading up to the semis, I think a lot of us felt like there was more in there to gain.”All three players are right: The U.S. did have some good moments and Jurgen Klinsmann’s pre-tournament goal of reaching the semis was achieved. Along the way, some personnel questions were answered in the affirmative thanks to some strong individual performances.Wood is included in that group. He tallied just once, scoring the third goal in the 4-0 group-stage wipeout of Costa Rica. But he showed other attributes, including a willingness to do the dirty work and aggressive running that opened up space for others, most notably Clint Dempsey.Wood’s efforts were especially notable against Ecuador in the quarterfinal, when he consistently bent the opposition’s back line out of shape. So it was almost refreshing in a way to see him ticked at the results from the past two games, one of which — the semifinal vs. Argentina — he missed because of a suspension.”It’s disappointing that we were missing players against Argentina and then today I think we were just unlucky that we didn’t score because I thought we dominated,” he said. “It’s a learning lesson and we’ve got to move on and look forward.”To that end, the next test on the international calendar is a pair of World Cup qualifiers in September: An away trip at St. Vincent and the Grenadines followed by a home tilt against Trinidad & Tobago.Barring injury, Wood is a near certainty to be involved in both matches, thanks to his play immediately before and during the Copa. Think of it this way: The loss of Jozy Altidore to injury hardly came up at all over the past month. That is not to say that Altidore’s international career is finished; far from it. But his absence is no longer the tactical backbreaker that it used to be.Wood has shown he can be an excellent foil for Dempsey, and has proved at the club level that he’s capable of playing as a lone striker as well. Once Altidore heals up from his latest hamstring injury, it will be interesting to see them battle it out for playing time, or perhaps even partner up front when the situation allows.Wood will also need to make the most of his summer move to Bundesliga side Hamburg. The step up from the 2. Bundesliga will no doubt be difficult, and he’ll need to adapt quickly. But for now, Wood can look at his Copa America experience with some contentment for a job well done, as well as hunger for the future.”I’m lucky that Jurgen and my teammates gave me a lot of trust, and helped me develop into this squad as a player,” he said. “I’m just trying to pay them back.”So far, Wood is doing just that.

US Player Ratings: A frustrating Copa America finale

June 26, 20161:47 AM EDTGreg SeltzerContributor

There won’t be many smiles caused by the report cards after the US national team’s incredibly frustrating 1-0 defeat to Colombia in the Copa America Centenario third-place game on Saturday night.Due to long stretches of poor attack spacing, the hosts were often impatient with the ball and ended being shut out for the third time during the tournament. Defensively, they frequently gifted Colombia room to run and every member of the back line played a role in allowing the lone goal of the match. Put it all together and it gets hard for this space to be excited as one might have expected by the team’s fourth place finish in the tournament.

Starting XI

GK Tim Howard (7)

Though he seemed bamboozled by the Juan Cuadrado chip that hit the woodwork, the US result could have been worse were it not for Howard. The soon-to-be Rapids backstop made a pair of good saves and some helpful rushes off his line.

D DeAndre Yedlin (5.5)

It was a hot-and-cold showing from the Spurs right back, who was late in covering the back-post runner on the lone goal of the game and also pulled himself out of position on a couple occasions. On the plus side, Yedlin pitched in with a few dangerous forays into attack and three tackles.

D Geoff Cameron (5.5)

The Stoke City defender was largely solid, providing several passes into attacking zones and seven total defensive stops around the US area. However, Cameron also was caught watching the knock-down assist on Colombia’s winner.

D Matt Besler (5)

After an early area shot-block, Besler struggled through the rest of the first half. Like his central partner, the Sporting KC was a spectator on Colombia’s set-up pass across the US goalmouth. He improved after the break, providing a couple of strong line holds to catch the visitors offside.

D Michael Orozco (4.5)

The Tijuana man had his hands full on the left side of defense and didn’t always do the job. He was also among the culpable on the goal leak, granting too much space for the initial cross that set up the sequence. Then, in stoppage time, he cost the team a man and a couple of minutes of rally time with an incredibly foolish face slap for his second yellow card of the game.

MF Michael Bradley (4)

It is impossible not to notice that something is quite off with Bradley’s game. He has become far too easy to surpass in midfield, his defensive challenges have lost their zest and in this game he did not even ship a single lead pass to the flanks. It’s quite telling when the captain is removed with the team chasing the game.

MF Jermaine Jones (5)

The Colorado ace started off well, but had little positive impact over the final half-hour of the opening frame. Jones really needed to do better on his partially-whiffed volley in the 37th minute. He got better after intermission, but still was unable to come up with one of the big plays he’s known for in USMNT competitive matches.

MF Gyasi Zardes (4.5)

Zardes came up with some good link plays during the first half, but repeatedly faltered when put in good attack positions after the interval.

MF Alejandro Bedoya (5)

The Nantes attacker came up with a couple nice moments at both ends of the field, but needed to have more impact. Bedoya was not as helpful tracking back as he usually is and simply needed to assert himself more in this contest.

F Clint Dempsey (6.5)

Despite not quite summoning his usual magic, the Sounders star was the lone bright spot among US field players. He dropped back to aid possession, played a couple of nifty passes near the Colombia box and was robbed of an equalizer on a terrific free kick attempt from nearly 30 yards.

F Bobby Wood (5.5)

The fresh Hamburg recruit was decent enough at holding up the ball and finding seams to run into, but was an inch here and second there away from changing the game offensively. Though able to wiggle into the area dangerously a couple times, he struck the post once and waited a little too long to fire on other occasions.

Coach Jurgen Klinsmann (4)

The manager’s modus operandi has become incredibly frustrating to watch and discuss. Klinsmann went with a very similar game plan and personnel set that he used in the team’s group stage-opening loss to Colombia, albeit minus two of his better players. There was never any real adjustment to the team’s often disconnected shape, which had them punting long balls or stuck in neutral for much of the night. Because of this, his continued refusal to stock a true playmaker stood out like a sore thumb yet again. It just seems like the boss has run out of ideas. What’s more, the fire in the belly often seen during USMNT rally situations was nowhere to be seen.

Subs

Christian Pulisic (6)

The teenager came on late to provide a few strong attack passes and force what could have been a key turnover with pressure.

Darlington Nagbe (5.5)

Despite the weak free kick shot, Nagbe did what he could to push the team into rally position during his too-brief shift.

STARS AND STRIPES

United States men’s national team fell to Colombia, 1-0, in the third-place match at the 2016 Copa America Centenario. It was their second loss to the No. 3 ranked team in the world in this tournament. In each match the U.S. held their own but were unable to find the back of the net.There were several good individual performances in the loss. After calculating your post-match ratings, we have a clear winner.

Man of the Match: Bobby Wood

Bobby Wood received the best rating from the community with Tim Howard coming a close second. Wood came the closest to scoring on the night. He saw an open shot bang off the post mid-way through the second half. He also had a few other good chances after finding space in the box. Unfortunately he was unable to capitalize and the Colombian’s lone goal stood up.

Final Player Ratings:

GK: Tim Howard – 6.95

RB: DeAndre Yedlin – 6.25

CB: Geoff Cameron – 6.86

CB: Matt Besler – 5.75

LB: Michael Orozco – 3.98

CM: Michael Bradley – 4.60

CM: Jermaine Jones – 6.56

CM: Alejandro Bedoya – 6.03

RW: Gyasi Zardes – 5.77

ST: Clint Dempsey – 6.35

LW: Bobby Wood – 7.05

SUB: Christian Pulisic – 6.63

SUB: Darlington Nagbe – 6.10

U.S. doesn’t capitalize on goal-scoring opportunities in defeat to Colombia

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Colombia defeated the U.S. 1-0 in the third-place game of the Copa America Centenario. Carlos Bacca’s first-half goal proved to be the difference and forced the U.S. to settle for fourth place.Here are three thoughts from the match.

  1. U.S. looks better, but Colombia’s cutting edge makes the difference

U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann said he wanted to see some improvement since these two teams met in the group stage, when Los Cafeteros recorded a 2-0 victory. Certainly, when it came to the Americans’ attack, the U.S. looked sharper and was more creative from the run of play.But too often, the final killer pass — or shot — was missing, and a combination of last-ditch defending by Colombia and poor finishing meant the U.S. rarely tested Colombia keeper David Ospina.Colombia’s edge in this area was clear and the difference in the game. Los Cafeteros‘ attacking intentions were evident from the opening whistle. With Fabian Johnson and John Brooks not starting because of injuries (groin and knee inflammation respectively), Klinsmann was forced to mine deep into his defensive reserves, opting for Michael Orozco at left-back and Matt Besler at center-back.Colombia continually sought to overload Orozco’s side, with James Rodriguez linking up with Juan Cuadrado and Santiago Arias.It was that trio of players who created Colombia’s opener in the 31st minute. Cuadrado played the ball square to Rodriguez, whose perfectly weighted, looping pass found Arias in stride. Arias’ header across the face of goal looked as though it were going in on its own, but Bacca made sure by getting the slightest of touches, and Colombia was 1-0 up.Cuadrado later hit the post with an audacious chip, but Colombia was unable to add to its lead.As was the case in the first encounter, set pieces proved to be a threatening avenue for the U.S., and Ospina delivered a fabulous save in the 51st minute, when he clawed away Clint Dempsey’s free kick. As in the first encounter, the U.S. used that as a platform to up the pressure in the second half but again couldn’t find a way through.Bobby Wood had what looked to be a good chance in the 62nd minute, but he could hit only the post with his attempt. Dempsey fired wide from a good position in the 66th minute. The last good chance for the U.S. came in the 83rd minute, when Wood fanned on his attempt after good work from DeAndre Yedlin.On a day when the U.S. hoped to finish in third place — and collect an additional $500,000 in prize money — it had to make do with fourth.

  1. U.S takes away positives but disappointment too

The fourth-placed finish by the U.S. tied the 1995 squad for the best by the country at a Copa America. A team doesn’t get to that point without carving out some decent results. The quarterfinal win over Ecuador was the best of the bunch, given the quality of that team’s players and its current second-place standing in South American World Cup qualifying. But once again, against one of the top sides in the world, the U.S. came up short.Ultimately, the U.S. will take away both positive memories and disappointment. The inability to make more headway against the likes of Colombia and in particular Argentina will stick in the memory, even though the U.S. looked more cohesive in Saturday’s match.But one could argue that purely in terms of this tournament, the scale tilts more in a positive direction. The defense looks more solid with the emergence of Brooks. Wood has all the makings of a highly effective forward. For all the jokes about Gyasi Zardes’ touch, he put in some very effective performances in this tournament.There are still questions about the midfield, but all told, this team looks better equipped to handle the ups and downs of World Cup qualifying than it did even a few months ago.

  1. Why not play the reserves?

For all the talk about how third-place games don’t mean anything, both teams made their intentions clear by fielding as close to full-strength lineups as possible. But it won’t be long before the U.S. has bigger aims ahead, with World Cup qualifying resuming this September.For that reason, Saturday’s match feels like a missed opportunity in some ways, in that players such as Darlington Nagbe and Christian Pulisic didn’t see the field until less than 20 minutes remained.Klinsmann explained his thinking at Friday’s pregame news conference and said he felt that a bench role was all those two players could handle at the moment. He also expressed concern about fielding Pulisic against physical South American sides such as Colombia.Even so, at some point, the U.S. will need to find some creative alternatives in midfield. Players such as Dempsey and Jermaine Jones will be forced to move on at some point.Saturday seemed a perfect time to get some more information about what players such as Nagbe and Pulisic are capable of. Instead, the question of where the creativity will come from will have to wait.

Armchair Analyst: Progress? Unsure it’s in the numbers for US national team

June 26, 20163:16 AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Editor

The US played better in Saturday’s third-place game, which first presented and then crystalized as a 1-0 loss to Colombia, than they did in the tournament-opening 2-0 loss. And they certainly played better than in the 4-0 semifinal humiliation at the feet of Argentina, which was the most comprehensive beat-down I’ve ever seen the US take in an official competition.In between there were three other games: A 4-0 demolition of Costa Rica; a 1-0 win over Paraguay; and an engaging, hard-fought and gratifying 2-1 win over a very good Ecuador team. By any measure, I really do think that this was the finest month of Jurgen Klinsmann’s nearly five-year tenure — memories of last summer’s failure at the Gold Cup, and the subsequent 3-2 loss to Mexico in the CONCACAF Cup are long gone for most fans.The US squad, which played a flat 4-4-2 against Colombia in this one, no longer seems like it’s on the verge of collapsing in upon itself as they did last summer, and as they did in March at Guatemala in a World Cup qualifier. At the same time, however, this tournament only reaffirmed the gap between the US and the world’s best teams, rather than going any distance toward closing it.To that point: Under Klinsmann the US are now 0-5-1 in official competitions (non-friendlies) against teams ranked in the top 10 of the Elo Ratings. Under the previous three coaches combined, the US were 5-15-2, including wins over the likes of Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Spain and Portugal.Given the sample sizes, this could be just a run of bad luck. But I don’t think it is, and the underlying numbers explain why:

That translates to holding the lead for nine minutes of action, which came from minutes 81-90 in the World Cup group stage against Portugal. Since that game — which ended in a 2-2 draw — the US have scored one goal (Julian Green’s volley) in 480 minutes of action against Elo top 10 squads.

So it’s not just that they’re getting beat, it’s that they’re not as competitive as they used to be.It extends out past the Elo top 10 to the Elo top 20 as well. Sampson took nine of the 33 points available to his team against top 20 squads in official competitions; Arena 17 of 45; Bradley 10 of 36. Klinsmann is now at 8 out of 30 points, which is the lowest percentage of the group despite fully 60% of his team’s games against Elo top 20 squads coming at home — most out of any coach in modern US history.The good news? Six of Klinsmann’s eight points vs. top 20 teams came in this tournament when they smashed Costa Rica (ranked 20th at the time, now 33rd), and then the win over Ecuador (14th, now 15th). By any measure, those were good wins. Performances and results like what the US got in those two games will be enough to get them into the 2018 World Cup.But it’s fair to question whether the US have gained any ground against Klinsmann’s stated goal: Making the group compete “eye to eye” with the world’s elite.Under each of the previous three coaches, doing so was a regular occurrence. For the current regime, it seems only like a talking point.

Sunil Gulati says US needs to win games against world powers after loss

June 26, 201612:29 AM EDTJose RomeroContributor

GLENDALE, Ariz. – After a hard-fought, hard-luck end to their Copa America Centenario run on Saturday, there was much to be positive about for the US national team.The Americans had plenty of chances to draw even during the 1-0 loss to Colombia. They showed they’d learned from the first match with Los Cafeteros earlier this month and at times looked like the better team on the pitch. Players like Tim Howard, Matt Besler and Michael Orozco, who got their chances to start, performed ably in the lost.But in the aftermath, a solid truth remained: the USMNT is still looking up at the world’s best teams after going 0-3 against top-five sides in Copa America.Two losses to FIFA No. 3 Colombia and one to top-ranked Argentina made up the three defeats the US suffered this month. And while few expected a win or even gave the home team much of a chance, the talk coming out of the US camp was confident yet in acknowledgement of the need to beat the best.“We got to the semifinals which is good. A game that was pretty rough [Argentina], and today was a game that could have gone either way. A lot of emotion,” said US Soccer president Sunil Gulati, who attended Saturday’s match. “But do you take a step back? It’s a tough tournament. We didn’t lose to anybody in the tournament that’s ranked outside the top five in the world. But we need to win some of those games, obviously.”US head coach Jurgen Klinsmann expressed pride in his team’s effort throughout the tournament and optimism for the future.“If they raise the level of awareness and commitment on the field, if they go the tempo with these teams, if also they have the tactical awareness and the discipline to be very compact… all these topics that we’ve tried to improve in the last five years, if they do that then they know they can compete with these guys,” Klinsmann said.Some players chose to focus on making the semifinals of Copa America and finishing in the top four and looking ahead to World Cup qualifiers. Others looked at what the US needs to do against world powers.“Colombia was a good measuring stick because we played them twice,” Howard said. “We felt hard done in the Argentina game, and it’s OK to lose games, that’s part of sports. But I think we weren’t at it. We want to get in people’s faces and one of our strengths is our physicality.”As for Klinsmann and his performance, a meeting with Gulati and the US Soccer brass is soon to come, as is standard after a big tournament.“Getting to the semifinals is very good, but I never said he wasn’t on solid ground or was on solid ground or anything else,” Gulati said. “A lot of stuff gets written. Next week we’ll sit down, we’ll talk with Jurgen and assess everything.”

How I learned to stop worrying and hate Jurgen Klinsmann-stars and stripes

By Adam Whittaker Snavely  @Snaves on Jun 27, 2016, 7:32a St

The United States finished fourth in the Copa America Centenario, and even if the tournament may or may not have been a cash-swapping bribery extravaganza, that accomplishment is a very good one for a team that couldn’t even muster a third-place finish at last year’s Gold Cup. For many, that’s the end of the story, just as an extra-time, nail-biting loss to Belgium in the Round of 16 was the end of the story. On the brightest stages, Jurgen Klinsmann delivered results that were at or even above the level expected of the United States. These guys were never going to be good enough to compete with Argentina or Colombia or Belgium anyway. The fact that a couple of those games were close is a minor miracle as it is, right? We can’t expect to really challenge those teams until we have our own superstar players in Europe, obviously.Yes. But also, no.It took me a long time to realize I held hate in my body for Jurgen Klinsmann. It’s probably not hate at all; it’s somewhere between petty annoyance and righteous indignation, but the more he coaches the United States, the more I understand the confusion surrounding his reign at the helm with Germany and the ignominy of his Bayern Munich tenure. His teams aren’t good in long stretches, and frequently drop results to teams that are far beneath them. In between those doldrums, though, Klinsmann gets some brilliant freakin’ results. Even when the performance doesn’t look great, his teams have proven capable of achieving results that seem beyond them when their previous form is taken into discussion. No one thought that ’06 Germany team was actually capable of the semis. No one was expecting the U.S. team that lost to Jamaica, Panama, and Guatemala in competition to then go and beat Costa RicaParaguay, andEcuador in succession.Jurgen Klinsmann gets unsustainable results. With the United States, they’ve been unsustainable because of his inability to articulate any sort of criteria for lineup selection that he can consistently follow or maintain a formation that allows the lineup to gel or form any sort of cohesion. And just when it seemed like we were just going to be getting non-stop lineup changes with no real meaningful core of players in defense or midfield, Klinsmann fed us four straight lineups with no changes outside of switches due to suspension. That was exciting, but only as exciting as a lineup that features only two to four (depending on who you ask) players outside of their best position can be. And when the crucial moment came, the moment when the U.S. needed to be at its absolute best from coach to player to equipment manager, Klinsmann trotted out Chris Wondolowski in a 4-4-2 and the U.S. took zero shots in a 4-0 comprehensive beatdown against Argentina.Maybe I’m foolish or just a whiner for complaining like this. I’m splitting hairs, right? I want a consistent lineup and then when I get it I’m still not satisfied? I want positive results but I’m somehow mad about a fourth place finish in the Copa America?! Yep. I’m upset Chris Wondolowski is still playing in any U.S. games. I’m upset that Klinsmann seems completely unable to trust Darlington Nagbe, his best midfielder on the ball, in the name of “bringing him along slowly” and making sure he’s adjusted to the “pace” of the game (the same game he’s starting Chris Wondolowski and Gyasi Zardes in, well known for their measure of the “pace” of top international talent), while watching him come into games and not struggle with the pace of the game nearly as much as some of his midfield counterparts. I’m upset at how he continues to experiment with players mid-game, and I’m upset that somehow subbing in Steve Birnbaum at 3-0 down was a correct choice to make. I’m upset about many other things involving Jurgen Klinsmann as well, but here’s a nice itemized list instead:

All of these things are true. But again, he’s managed some good results, and there were genuine positives from the Copa as well. That lineup really showed signs of cohesion against Ecuador and then again against Colombia in the third-place game. A definite backline and centerback pairing were formed. There was some tactical understanding of when to move from a 4-3-3 to a 4-5-1 to a 4-4-2 against Ecuador, and it resulted in a pretty dominant performance for 60 minutes or so. So there’s no way I can just point at all the bad of Klinsmann’s job performance without looking at the good; I can’t simply point at the bleak disparity in shots and expected goals between Klinsmann’s U.S. and all of their opponents over the last couple years and deny a fourth place finish at the Copa America and surviving a very talented group at the 2014 World Cup to advance ahead ofGhana and Portugal. So any performance or player gripes I have with Klinsmann aren’t totally backed up purely by statistics or numbers, and I’m ok with recognizing that.Because the man is either insufferably arrogant or just plain vapid, and I’m really not sure which.Klinsmann’s public repertoire is full of cliché, bland soccer talk, and a condescension for any person that might criticize him. He continually avoids any sort of responsibility for losses while preaching accountability for players and leagues, and the closest he comes to tactical analysis is frequently comments like how the U.S. didn’t “step on Argentina’stoes.” He is on record saying formations don’t really matter. And he just keeps on smiling, talking about how the public needs to be educated in soccer more.Here’s something the public doesn’t need to be educated on: 4-0 losses in which your team takes no shots is a complete and utter failure from play on the field to coaching, and no amount of empty platitudes or coaching clichés changes that.If Klinsmann showed any amount of responsibility for owning up to some mistakes he made, or took more responsibility in educating us poor Americans in this sport with something other than vague nonalysis, I might be more forgiving here. But he just doesn’t. He keeps explaining all about how none of us understand while never really proving that he understands, either. Because he doesn’t understand, at least not the soccer public that is questioning him and growing louder and louder. He doesn’t understand that we’re not as angry with him because of this team’s play as we are with just him and how he chooses to condescend rather than dialogue.Klinsmann has had carte blanche from USSF from day one, and he will continue to have that until 2018 at the earliest. Why? Because even if USSF secretly agreed with everything I believe about Jurgen Klinsmann, firing him before Russia 2018 (provided the U.S. qualifies) would be a public admission of wrongdoing, and coming from the federation so willing to suffer public embarrassment instead of paying their women’s team a bit more in order to prove through legislation that they are in the right, that’s just not going to happen.So buckle up for the rest of qualifying. It’s sure to be interesting with Klinsmann at the helm, and should the U.S. qualify for Russia, there’s really no telling what the USMNT’s fortunes could look like two years from now. I pretend to be cynically aloof to the almost-inevitably poor performances to come, but in reality I probably care too much. What I have stopped worrying about is our coaching situation. I’m not going to like it. I know I won’t like it, no matter what he does in the next two years. Because I hate Jurgen Klinsmann.

U.S. finishes fourth at Copa America after 1-0 loss to Colombia

Colombia defeated the United States 1-0 to take third place at Copa America, while the U.S. finished fourth in its highest placing since 1995.

BY GRANT WAHLADD FAVORITETwitter EmailPosted: Sat Jun. 25, 2016

The U.S. lost to Colombia 1-0 in the third-place game of the Copa América Centenario in Glendale, Arizona, on Saturday, settling for fourth place at a summer tournament for the second straight year after doing so at the 2015 Gold Cup as well.Carlos Bacca scored for Colombia in the 32nd minute after a nice ball over the top of the U.S. defense from James Rodríguez, and Colombia held on despite a U.S. rally to beat the Americans for the second time in the competition and earn its best finish at a Copa America in 15 years.Here are three thoughts on the game (keeping in mind that, since this was the third-place game, all these hot takes are actually mild takes):

The decisive moment was similar to the one against Argentina

The U.S. performed better overall than it did in the 4-0 loss to Argentina, but the Colombian goal was eerily similar to the first one scored by the Argentines. James lobbed the U.S. defense just as Lionel Messi had done on Tuesday to Ezequiel Lavezzi, and while there was one more pass this time, Colombia sealed the deal for an advantage it wouldn’t relinquish.WATCH: Full highlights from Colombia’s 1-0 win over USA  Both teams hit the woodwork—Juan Cuadrado for Colombia, Bobby Wood for the U.S.—but the decisive piece of quality came from a megastar (James) who was able to take a breath and figure out the best way to unlock the U.S. defense. In time, the U.S. will have players like that. As of now they aren’t around.

The U.S.’s substitution patterns remain head-scratchers

Once again, U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann waited too long to make his substitutions—most notably Christian Pulisic and Darlington Nagbe, who have been underused the entire tournament.For a coach who constantly wants his players to “go for it,” there was precious little “going for it” when it came to his personnel decisions during the Copa América. Pulisic, in particular, has been in high-pressure situations before, such as playing in front of 80,000 fans for Borussia Dortmund and in rivalry games against Schalke this past season. Nagbe, too, is ready to play an important role in games like this one.All you can hope is that now that the Copa is done, Nagbe, Pulisic and others who will be important in 2018 will get real opportunities to play in games that matter.WATCH: Colombia announcer holds “gol!” call for 37 seconds straight

The U.S. had a pretty decent (but not great) tournament

In the end, finishing fourth was a heck of a lot better than the brutal fourth-place finish in last year’s Gold Cup. The U.S. won three games in this tournament on home soil against respectable opponents: Costa Rica, Paraguay and Ecuador. It lost three games against Argentina and Colombia (twice), teams that are appreciably better than Klinsmann’s team right now. Saturday’s U.S. performance against Colombia was better than the one in the first game of this tournament.Bottom line: The U.S. is what we thought it was. There’s a long ways to go if Klinsmann wants to achieve his goal of reaching the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup. But there are things to build on. Geoff Cameron and John Brooks are a reliable central defense pairing. Christian Pulisic could be a star. And Bobby Wood is going to be a good forward for this team.We’ll see where it goes from here.

Chile can challenge at the World Cup after back-to-back Copa America titles

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — With all the fallout surrounding Lionel Messi’s apparent retirement from the Argentina national team, it was easy to forget that Chile had just accomplished the formidable achievement of winning back-to-back Copa Americas.And while the decision by the most recognizable player on the planet — although Cristiano Ronaldo may dispute that — to retire from the Albicelesteis huge news, Chile’s victory should not be left to go quietly into the night.”I heard,” midfielder Arturo Vidal said after the game when asked about Messi’s decision. “I don’t want to talk about it. He will have had his reasons. I’m just thinking about enjoying [the Copa America win].”And rightly so. Sunday’s 4-2 penalty shootout win over Argentina at the MetLife Stadium, following a 0-0 stalemate after 120 minutes, was another monumental night for Chilean football.Midfielder Marcelo Diaz said before the final that for the first time in their history, Chile could compete on an equal footing with Argentina, Germany and Spain. He also said that the dream of Chilean football is to go beyond the Copa America and compete seriously for the World Cup, which is next held in Russia in two years’ time.The knockout stages of this tournament — held for the first time in the United States — proved that Diaz’s hopes are surely not hot air, with La Rojaemerging successful again less than a year after emerging victorious as the host nation. For the second consecutive year, penalty kicks were sufficient to overcome an Argentina side suffering from final-stage fright.This Chile team will go down in South American soccer folklore as one that were able to shed aside their underdog status and compete toe-to-toe with CONMEBOL giants like Argentina and Brazil. They are now officially Argentina’s nemesis, the team that has twice gone into a Copa America final against the Albiceleste as the outsider and twice overcome the odds. Not only that, Chile are — for now — the team that retired Messi.The label of “golden generation” is bandied around in international football all too frequently, but Chile have backed up that label and then some. Alexis Sanchez was named the best player of the tournament, Claudio Bravo the best goalkeeper and Eduardo Vargas finished as top goalscorer. Vidal, Gary Medel, Jean Beausejour, Mauricio Isla, Diaz and Charles Aranguiz also all deserve their share of the praise.Chile’s success can be attributed to its collective strength and philosophy — you can even see the belief and dedication when the players belt out the national anthem, all with their eyes closed.”The group has always been very ambitious, even after we won a difficult Copa [America last year],” Vidal said. “We always trusted that the group would keep achieving important things. We still have the amazing dream of the World Cup, of another Copa and we hope to be at the level.”Asked what the key was to Chile’s victory, Vidal’s answer was rapid and concise: “The union; always believing we were going to win and giving everything on the field.”But there was an individual hero on Sunday night in New Jersey: Barcelona goalkeeper Bravo.Bravo — criticized in the early games for mistakes, particular after being beaten at his near post in the 2-1 defeat to Argentina in the group-stage opener — came up with the save and perhaps the moment of this 100-year celebratory tournament in the 100th minute. Sergio Aguero launched what looked like an inch-perfect looping header under the crossbar, but Bravo set himself and sprung to force it over with the very end of his fingertips. Time seemed to come to a halt in the stadium.Then there was the save of Lucas Biglia’s penalty to set up Francisco Silva’s winning spot kick.The transition from head coach from Marcelo Bielsa, who took over with Chile in 2007, to Jorge Sampaoli in 2012 was relatively smooth. But current head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi’s early spell since taking the reins in January from Liga MX side Leon was fraught with concerns about whether he was the right appointment. One win in his first five games had the press and fans worried about how their team would fare in the the United States. The loss to Argentina in the first game and the late, late victory over Bolivia in the second only raised concerns.”All the players have known each other for a long time, we knew the change would be difficult,” Vidal admitted.But things clicked against Panama in the must-win final group game — Chile won 4-2 — and, from there, La Roja battered Mexico 7-0, overcame Colombia, third in the FIFA rankings, 2-0 and then stopped an Argentina side arguably in their best form in years.It’s in the defensive department that Pizzi deserves much praise. The change to a 4-3-3 formation from a back three often used by Bielsa and Sampaoli has added defensive stability to a side recognized primarily for its attacking prowess and high-intensity, pressing game. Not conceding a single goal in the last 315 minutes of the tournament certainly points to solidity.Back in 2010, Chile reached its first World Cup in 12 years under Bielsa and then won its first game at the tournament since 1962. It was the start of something and, since then, the team’s rise has been meteoric.The average age of the core of these players is close to 29, meaning that a new generation will be required to come through eventually. For at least the next couple of years, however, Chile have much to look forward to after claiming two continental titles. They can look forward to Russia 2018 with every reason to believe they will be fighting in the later stages of the tournament.Vidal and his teammates will celebrate long into the night, justifiably unconcerned about the ramifications of Messi’s retirement and all that will inevitably follow.

Clues to weary Lionel Messi’s international retirement

Rob Woollard,AFP Mon, Jun 27 4:35 AM PDT 

East Rutherford (United States) (AFP) – Lionel Messi’s retirement from international football may have come as a shock to his many admirers but in hindsight there were plenty of clues that the Argentina superstar might call time on his career with the “Albiceleste” sooner rather than later.The 29-year-old five-time FIFA world footballer of the year was left devastated on Sunday after suffering yet another traumatic near-miss with Argentina in the Copa America Centenario — his fourth defeat in a final since 2007.”For me the national team is over,” Messi said. “I’ve done all I can, I’ve been in four finals and it hurts not to be a champio

“It’s a hard moment for me and the team, and it’s difficult to say, but it’s over with the Argentina team.”While startling, the suddenness of Messi’s departure — assuming it is for good — begins to make sense when the context of his decision is taken into consideration.For most of the last decade, Messi has shouldered the burden of expectation from Argentinian fans craving a first major tournament success since 1993.The flipside is that when the disappointments come, he has often been the lightning rod for criticism.Though the majority of Argentinian fans remain squarely in Messi’s corner, his critics invariably contrast his success with Barcelona with his inability to lead Argentina to international glory.Messi had shown signs of growing increasingly weary of the criticism following Argentina’s defeat in the 2015 Copa America final, irritated by the suggestion that he was anything other than committed to the national cause.

– Feeling the shirt –

“I get annoyed when they tell us ‘Put in more effort, you don’t feel the shirt,” he told Argentine network TyC Sports last December. “We were lucky enough to get to the final of the World Cup and the Copa America and it seems like we didn’t do anything. We got to two finals. We didn’t win, what can you do? We got to the final, we didn’t lose in the last 16,” he said.”I get annoyed by the people who attack you without thinking. I won’t sing the national anthem on purpose. I don’t need to sing it to feel it. It reaches me, every person feels it in their own way,” added Messi, who once turned down an invitation to play for Spain, where he has lived since his schooldays after being spotted by Barcelona as a youth prodigy.Proof of Messi’s commitment to playing for Argentina, if it was needed, can be seen in his gruelling schedule over the past three years. He has played a major tournament during his off-season every summer since 2014.Last year he played in the Champions League final for Barcelona and a week later was playing in the Copa America in Chile.This year, he played in the final of Spain’s Copa Del Rey on May 22 and five days later was turning out for Argentina in a meaningless friendly against Honduras in the Argentinian town of San Juan.

– Seething –

For his troubles, he sustained a back injury after a heavy collision with a Honduras player.Messi then returned to Spain to give evidence in his tax fraud trial before hopping on a plane to California to join up with the Argentina squad at the Copa America Centenario.He missed the first game in Santa Clara, but sparkled with a 19-minute hat-trick against Panama in the group stage.Another goal against Venezuela saw him level Gabriel Batistuta’s all-time scoring record, with 54, before he surpassed that mark with a magical free-kick in a 4-0 romp over the United States in the semi-finals.Yet despite being all smiles on the pitch, off the pitch problems have bothered Messi, with the crisis-ridden Argentina Football Association the subject of his ire.He was left seething after a flight from Houston to New Jersey was held up, taking to social media to vent his frustration.”Once again waiting on a plane to leave for our destination,” Messi wrote. “What a disaster the AFA are. My god!”He was also the subject of more sniping from Argentina legend Diego Maradona “He’s a really good person, but he has no personality,” Maradona said bluntly in Paris. “He lacks (the) character to be a leader.”Maradona then followed that salvo with a blunt statement that Argentina’s players shouldn’t bother returning to their homeland if they failed to win Sunday’s final.Until Messi’s declaration in the depths of the MetLife Stadium on Sunday, he had been content to do most of his talking on pitch.Yet now it seems likely, barring a retirement U-turn, that Messi will never emulate Maradona’s success in leading Argentina to a World Cup title.

THREE THINGS: ELEVEN VS. PACHUCA

Takeaways from Sunday’s “Champion vs. Campeon” friendly win

1) GERARDO TORRADO’S SUCCESSFUL DEBUT

It’s been the talk of the squad for some time now as Gerardo Torrado completed his move to the Circle City earlier this month. “El Borrgeo” made his debut in checkers on Sunday – and we’ll gauge it as a successful one.During his hour-and-change on the pitch, Torrado showed his intelligence and ability to control the game in the center of the park alongside Scotsman Nicki Paterson. Having trained intensively leading up to the match, Torrado’s work ethic has been amongst the most talked about aspects of his character since the move stateside, and Sunday’s performance only confirmed that side of the veteran’s repertoire.Now Torrado faces a two-week wait for league action, as he is ineligible to play in an official NASL match until July 9 with the transfer window opening on July 4. However, the legendary Mexican international is adamant about continuing his routine while the team readies for the Fall opener this Saturday in Puerto Rico.

2) EAMON ZAYED, GOAL SCORING HERO

With six league goals, one U.S. Open Cup tally, and one international friendly goal – eight in all competitions – Eamon Zayed is firing on all cylinders for “Indiana’s Team,” acting as the showstopper the 2016 season transitions from Spring to Fall.Scoring a hat-trick in his last league appearance, the 4-1 win over Railhawks FC that helped to secure the Spring Season title for the “Boys in Blue,” Zayed remained as hot as the weather on Sunday by notching the lone goal against los Tuzos. The towering Irishman could have had another as well, only to see his opportunistic chip off a Pachuca turnover miss just left 20 minutes following his 7th minute opener (and closer, as it turned out).During a June slate of six games across three different competitions, Zayed scored five of the team’s eight goals and left little doubt regarding his will and ability to put the ball in the back of the net. Now Zayed looks forward to the Fall Season as the league’s scoring leader and has an opportunity to eclipse World Cup winner Kleberson as both the leading single-season and career goalscorer during Indy Eleven’s brief three-year existence. In 2014, the Brazilian nabbed eight goals in 20 league appearances, whereas Indy’s Irish forward has six in ten league games already. Zayed has already passed last year’s leading goalscorers Brian Brown and Dylan Mares (5) heading into Saturday’s fall opener at expansion side Puerto Rico FC.By the end of the year, Eamon Zayed could have received enough bricks to build a house – something we’re sure both the forward and the Brickyard Battalion desire.

3) DEFENSIVE STRENGTHS SHOW AGAIN

Recent injuries to defensive stalwarts Colin Falvey and Nemanja Vukovic forced coach Tim Hankinson to field an unfamiliar backline on Sunday, but the defense nonetheless put in a solid performance in holding the Liga MX champions scoreless. Facing 16 shots and five on target, the back four of Daniel Keller (LB), captain-for-the-day Greg Janicki (LCB), Cory Miller (RCB), and Marco Franco (RB) helped keep ‘netminder Keith Cardona protected as the match wore on.Los Tuzos swapped the entire team out after the first half, but Cardona had to deal with Franco Jara and Jonathan Urretaviscaya before facing Wilson Morelo, Mateus Goncalves and Erick Sanchez in the final 45 minutes, and did well against anything Pachuca’s swarming attack threw at him. In just his second appearance of the year Cardona had a heck of a day himself, stopping all five shots faced, including a ridiculous kick save on Sanchez late in the match that seemed to seal the fate of the game.Out of position, Daniel Keller did well as a left-back while Janicki and Miller took the reins of physicality over with usual captain Colin Falvey unavailable for selection. On the right side, Marco Franco proved another competent selection as he repelled repeated attacks from the flanks despite the Mexican side deciding on a balanced attack in width.Overall, it was a complete performance from the back line, a fantastic sign for an Indy Eleven side that has prided itself both on its defensive prowess across the field and team depth. Both of those qualities will be tested across the four-month, 22-game gauntlet that is the NASL Fall Season starting Saturday in San Juan – which couldn’t possibly be any hotter than “The Mike” on Sunday.

RECAP – INDY 1 : 0 PACHUCA

“Boys in Blue” take Clash of Champions courtesy of Zayed’s early tally, staunch defense

Eamon Zayed’s Early Goal Stands Tall under Sweltering Conditions in International Exhibition at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium

INDIANAPOLIS (Sunday, June 26, 2016) – On a day that made conditions difficult for players and spectators alike, it was Indy Eleven that conquered the heat and visiting Mexican Liga MX champion C.F. Pachuca by posting a 1-0 victory in their international friendly at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium.While the 6,055 fans in attendance had to deal with temperatures hovering in the low 90’s, the players on the field had to deal with surface temps that peaked over 130 degrees. The game would get off to a hot start for the NASL Spring Season champs, with Indy Eleven getting on the board just seven minutes in thanks to some considerable help from a pair of Pachuca defenders who converged on a ball 30 yards from goal but had trouble corralling. The ball popped loose to an opportunistic Eamon Zayed, who easily collected and dribbled into the area before slotting low and left of Pachuca ‘keeper Alfonso Blanco to give the home side an early lead.While a 4-3-3 formation and a high-sitting back line allowed Pachuca to create repeated forays into the final third, the Mexican champion’s quality chances were few and far between. Los Tuzos created their best look of the half when Jonathan Urretaviscaya and Franco Jara combined to put the latter into the left side of the area in the 18th minute, but Ivan Ochoa would knick Jara’s near-post cross just over the crossbar to leave Pachuca wanting.Another defensive miscue, this time a lazy backpass by Jose Esquivel, put Zayed in alone again on Blanco in the 26th minute, but this time the Irishman rushed the chance and pushed his chip past the onrushing goalkeeper just wide left.A brand new eleven-man squad for Pachuca to start the second half had much the same effect as the starters, producing some fluid, attacking football out of the break. Los Tuzos began their assault on the Indy goal in earnest with a pair of Wilson Morelos headers in the 55th and 57th minutes, the first saved by Cardona coming across his goalline and the second flashing just wide left.One of the biggest cheers from the crowd for Indy during the second half came in the 62nd minute when midfielder Gerardo Torrado would finish his debut for the “Boys in Blue,” being replaced by Eleven original Brad Ring. Torrado, the second-most capped player in Mexican National Team history with 146 appearances, will look to make his first official start for the “Boys in Blue” on July 9 at home against Minnesota United, five days after the FIFA international transfer window opens.Indy’s best chances in the second half would come from a pair of crosses sent into Pachuca goalkeeper Jose Gonzalez’s six yard box, the first an offering off the foot of Justin Braun that Gonzalez smothered before it could reach the run of Souleymane Youla.  Braun was almost on the receiving end of the most dangerous chance of the day created by Indy in the 87th minute, but his sliding attempt to reach Duke Lacroix’s square ball on the doorstep went for naught.Pachuca had its chances to equalize down the stretch, with the most dangerous coming off a pair of looks by Erick Sanchez in the 82nd minute. The crafty attacker first challenged Cardona with a 15-yard shot only to be denied by a fine kick save, followed by a rebounded effort he headed just past the upper left corner of frame.One last chance would come in the final five minutes for the Mexican side, first in the 85th minute when Mateus Goncalves’ free kick smacked off the wall but still made it to the far post, only to have Jose Ramirez unable to put an open touch towards goal. A red card issued to Morelo for an elbow to the head of Cory Miller on a 50-50 ball in the final minute of regulation all but guaranteed the result for the home side, with the final whistle giving Indy Eleven another first during its increasingly historic 2016 season – a first win over international opposition.With a two-week “break” that included today’s friendly in addition to a Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup fixture in Chicago 10 days ago in the books, Indy Eleven (4W-6D-0L, 18 pts., 1st place overall in NASL) now gets to turn its focus back to NASL action. The “Boys in Blue” will kick off its 22-game Fall Season next Saturday, July 2, when it serves as the first-ever opponent for expansion side Puerto Rico FC at the Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in San Juan (7:30 p.m. ET, live on WISH-TV).The following Saturday, July 9, Indy Eleven returns home to Carroll Stadium to face off against Minnesota United FC (7:30 p.m. ET, live on WISH-TV). Tickets for the club’s popular Craft Beer Night at “The Mike” are available starting at $11 and can be purchased at www.IndyEleven.com, while passes for the two-hour craft beer tasting event can be secured with or without a game ticket at http://craftbrew16.indyeleven.com andhttp://craftbrewtaste16.indyeleven.com respectively. Call 317-685-1100 for more details (Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.).

QUOTE SHEET – INDY ELEVEN HEAD COACH TIM HANKINSON

On Indy Eleven’s performance in today’s match:
“It’s the little things that we have to be better at. We feel confident. In the defense, we’re heading and clearing with our heads. Our moves tonight were all about relieving players under hot conditions to avoid injury and more problems to get ready for Puerto Rico.”

On the debut of Gerardo Torrado:
“As he gets to know his teammates, their strengths and the qualities in their game, he’ll know how to gel even more. We’re very excited to have him.”
International Friendly
Indy Eleven  (NASL)  1 : 0  C.F. Pachuca (Liga MX)
Sunday, June 26, 2016   Michel A. Carroll Stadium– Indianapolis, IN

Scoring Summary:
IND – Eamon Zayed (unassisted) 7’

Discipline Summary:
PAC – Franco Jara (caution) 9’
IND – Daniel Keller (caution) 45+’
PAC – Oscar Torres (caution) 49’
IND – Cory Miller (caution) 84’
PAC – Wilon Morelo (ejection) 90’

Statistics            IND        PAC
Shots                   3            16
Shots on Goal       1             5
Saves                  5             0
Fouls                   6            12
Corners                1             4
Offside                 2             2

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Keith Cardona; Daniel Keller, Greg Janicki (capt) (Lovel Palmer 77’), Cory Miller, Marco Franco; Omar Gordon (Duke Lacroix 45’), Nicki Paterson, Gerardo Torrado (Brad Ring 62’), Dylan Mares (Nemanja Vukovic 60’); Eamon Zayed (Justin Braun 45’), Souleymane Youla (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 68’)

C.F. Pachuca (4-3-3): Alfonso Blanco (Jose Gonzalez 45’); Emmanuel Garcia (Andres Rodriguez 45’), Jose Esquivel (Oscar Torres 45’), 30-Omar Gonzalez (Francisco Santillan 45’), Jose Martinez (Hector Lopez 45’); Ivan Ochoa (Pablo Lopez 45’), Jorge Hernandez (Francisco Venegas 45’), Ruben Botta (Jose Ramirez 45’); Simon Almeida (Mateus Goncalves 45’), Franco Jara (Wilson Morelo 45’; RED CARD 90’), Jonathan Urretaviscaya (Erick Sanchez 45’)

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