7/5/16 European Cup Semi Finals Wed/Thur 3 pm ESPN, Indy 11 return home Sat to get Champ Trophy, US Ladies at Chicago Sun

So we are down to the final 4 in the European Cup – as 2 of the games were blowouts and 2 came down to PKs in Extra Time.  Sad to see Iceland’s miracle run come to an end but we knew the home French would just be too strong, especially with the home crowd behind them.  My Italy and GK Gigi Buffon lost on PKs in heartbreaking fashion to Germany as it went to 9PKs.  Germany were the better squad on the day but not by much. I am looking forward to the Germany vs France A list game on Thursday 3 pm on ESPN  – a battle of true heavyweights of European soccer.  Wales vs Portugal Wed 3 pm is also intriguing – though I think the winner of France and defending World Champs Germany will lift the trophy on Sunday afternoon.

So our Indy 11 return home this Saturday night at 7:30 pm at the MIKE and on Wish TV 8 vs Minnesota United.  The 11 will receive their 2016 Spring League Championship Trophy before the game – so arrive early to take in all the festivities.  The 11 came from behind once again this past Sat night at NASL league newcomer Puerto Rico as new player Souleymane Youla scored in extra time to secure the 1-1 tie and keep the Indy 11 as still the Only NASL undefeated team in 2016.

For those of you with daughter’s its not too late to get tickets and check out the US Women’s National Team as they prepare for the Olympics with a game this Sunday USA vs South Africa at Chicago’s Soldier Field.  The game is also on TV 1 pm Fox Sports 1.

Finally, another fun day at the July 4th CarmelFest Parade as Carmel FC had a parade float and lots of folks walking See the pics below – thanks to all who organized and helped!  Also don’t forget summer CFC Technical Training has begun.

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Carmel FC players Prepare for the July 4th parade! 
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The Martins helped decorate and prepare the float along with lots of other volunteers. 

EUROPEAN CUP SEMI-FINALS 

Top 10 Goals of Euros

Top 10 Saves Euros

Who will win the Golden Boot?

Predicting Who will Advance to Euro finals – ESPNFC

Euro Semis – Who will Advance

SPI Predicts France vs Portugal Final

Yellow Card Suspensions Are Cruel Punishment for Stars –Marcotti – ESPNFC

Why Wales are in the Finals –

How can Wales Deal without suspended Aaron Ramsey and others?  

Wales not worrying about Renaldo – eSPNFC

Renaldo – last Real Good Chance to Win one?

Muller Not Worried about Goal Drought  

 Klinnsman not the Right Guy for England – ESPN FC Noah Davis

Why are England the laughing stock>  Ian Darke – ESPNFC

Wenger Better off at Arsenal than England – ESPNFC

Spain Coach Del Bosque Steps down

Iceland return to Hero’s Welcome

Renaldo – hurts to see Messi in Tears

 Top 10 Saves Copa America

 INDY 11

Indy 11 to Receive Spring Season Trophy at Sat Nights Game!

Indy 11 3 Things in Indy’s 91st Min Goal saving Tie @ Puerto Rico

Indy 11 – Review PR1 Indy 1

Bloody Shambles Review of 1-1 game @ Puerto Rico

Zayed Wins NASL Player of Month Award

Indy 11 July 9 game – Bring School Supplies to Donate

Permanent Relegation @prpodcastshow

Tonight-Tues 7/5- Make your way to @FishersChatham and join us as we welcome @SUbiparipovic28 & Vuko to the show! Starts at 7pm!

USA

US Ladies name 24 woman roster for South Africa game at Chicago

Tickets Still Available for Soldier Field Game

MLS

Tim Howard Opens for league leader Colorado Rapids with a Clean Sheet in Win

Power Rankings NYFC Move up

NYFC Finally break the Trend vs NY Red Bulls in NY Darby

MLS – Not the Same as when Howard left it –EPSN FC Jason Davis

America’s Champions League – Midfield Press

 GAMES ON TV

Euro Semifinals

Wednesday, July 6
Portugal vs  Wales- Lyon (9 p.m. CET/3 p.m. ET, ESPN)

Thursday, July 7
Germany vs. France — 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) in Chicago
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

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 11-15. $175 @ 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

GOLDEN BOOT LEADERS

Antoine Griezmann leads the way in the race to win the adidas Golden Boot at UEFA EURO 2016.France forward Griezmann moved onto four goals after scoring in the first half of Sunday’s 5-2 quarter-final victory against Iceland. He also provided two assists, one of which was for Dimitri Payet, who went level with Gareth Bale and Álvaro Morata on three goals when he struck Les Bleus’ third. Olivier Giroud, who had broken the deadlock at the Stade de France, joined that trio on three goals by heading in the hosts’ fifth of the night. He also chalked up an assist to climb ahead of Payet and Bale and ensure a French 1-2-3 in the chart going into the semi-finals.
Assists are used to separate players on the same number of strikes, before minutes played are then taken into consideration.

Golden Boot leaders *
Antoine Griezmann, France: 4 goals (2 assists, 345 minutes)
Olivier Giroud, France: 3 goals (2 assists, 300 minutes)
3 Dimitri Payet, France: 3 goals (2 assists, 377 minutes)
4 Gareth Bale, Wales: 3 goals (1 assist, 443 minutes)
Álvaro Morata, Spain: 3 goals (0 assists, 289 minutes)
Cristiano Ronaldo, Portugal: 2 goals (2 assists, 510 minutes)
NB: Only goals scored in normal or extra time count towards a player’s tournament haul – penalties in a shoot-out do not. 

Portugal, Wales, Germany and France are a step away from Euro 2016 final

Host France will try to march on when they take on world champion Germany while Portugal look to end Wales’ dream run in Euro 2016.

Portugal, Wales, Germany and France are just one step away from the Euro 2016 final. Who will make the showdown in Paris?Predict the semifinals by voting in our match polls …

PORTUGAL: If you had told any Portugal fan before the tournament started that Wales would be standing between them and the final, they would not have believed you. Even less so if you added that they had reached the last four without winning a single game in 90 minutes and generally playing less-than-inspiring football. Yet you won’t find anyone complaining in Portugal.Ever since the swashbuckling football played by Luis Figo, Rui Costa and co. announced the country as contenders to be taken seriously at major tournaments with a run to the semis at Euro 2000, the team has made a habit of losing gloriously and/or unluckily. As coach Fernando Santos says: “I prefer to win ugly and still be here rather than play pretty and be at home.”What Portugal have lacked in cohesive football they have made up for in heart and commitment. In each of their last three matches — against Hungary, Croatia and Poland — there were times when they were teetering on the verge of elimination but each time they found a way to win.This is Portugal’s fifth semifinal at a major tournament since the turn of the century. They have won only one of the previous four, but it is that new-found, never-say-die attitude as much as their superior technical proficiency to Wales that will take Cristiano Ronaldo and his teammates to the final in Paris.Portugal 2-1 Wales — Tom Kundert

WALES: “Don’t be afraid to dream … don’t be scared of failure,” were Chris Coleman’s words following the 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Belgium, and of the four teams remaining at Euro 2016, Wales are the only team the words can really apply to. Having gone beyond expectations and hope, this team truly has nothing left to fear.But while fans dream, there is still reality to contend with. For the first time since easing Joe Ledley into the tournament, Coleman is without a full complement of players, with Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davies suspended. Ramsey’s loss is a significant blow — especially given that he gave arguably his best ever Wales display against Belgium — and will prompt a tactical shuffle in midfield with Jonny Williams likely to get the nod for his propensity to win free kicks in Gareth Bale territory.Davies’ absence will get less column inches, but its impact could be just as severe. The Tottenham defender has been one of Wales’ most consistent performers in France and will be a hard act to follow for either James Collins or Jazz Richards.Despite largely misfiring throughout the tournament, Portugal will undoubtedly be favourites, especially as Wales are forced to make changes. The doggedness of the Portuguese thus far suggests they will win out. All dreams have to end at some point.

Portugal 2-1 Wales — Glen Wilson

GERMANY: The penalty shootout drama was costly for Germany — Mats Hummels picked up his second yellow card and will sit out the France match, Mario Gomez’s wonderful comeback ended with a muscle tear and holding midfielders Bastian Schweinsteiger and Sami Khedira are major doubts for the last four meeting with the hosts.Germany’s squad still oozes with talent, and with Joshua Kimmich already in the starting XI, Liverpool’s Emre Can or Dortmund’s Julian Weigl could be thrown in, as could Schalke youngster Leroy Sane. None of them have played a minute at the tournament, but have constantly been praised by Joachim Low for working hard in training.However, as Low might consider going back to a classic 4-2-3-1 system, there could be as many as four changes, and Germany will play a rampant France side, with the hosts storming past Iceland in the quarterfinals.Whereas Italy based their game on defending and waiting for their chance, France will attack the Nationalmannschaft with all of the country backing the hosts to reach the final in Paris. This was always going to be a tournament in a transition period for the world champions, but their road looks likely to end in Marseille on Thursday.Germany 1-2 France   Stephan Uersfeld

FRANCE: Hosts France finally delivered the sort of performance in their 5-2 win over Iceland that many have expected of them since the start of Euro 2016. Now into the semifinals and brimming with confidence, they are faced with reigning world champions Germany.Didier Deschamps’ men were lethal in attack against the spent Icelanders and Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann and Dimitri Payet all featured prominently. The Germans will be a much tougher proposition than Lars Lagerback and Heimir Hallgrimsson’s side, though, so Les Bleus must tighten up at the back.Although they will be missing a number of regulars, Joachim Low will still be able to align a starting XI of the highest quality and the French will need to raise their game another notch or two to advance. Adil Rami and N’Golo Kante will return from suspension in Marseille but Deschamps should consider keeping more or less the same starting XI that he fielded against Iceland.

France 2-1 Germany (after extra time) — Jonathan Johnson

France and Portugal projected by SPI to make Euro 2016 final

The Euro 2016 semifinals begin on Wednesday. Below is a look at both of the matchups, including the Soccer Power Index (SPI) projection. (Note: SPI does not account for injuries or suspensions).Entering the tournament, the two teams most likely to make the semifinals and win the tournament according to SPI were the two teams facing off in Marseille on Thursday: France and Germany.France, currently the No. 2 team in SPI, is still the favorite to win it all thanks in large part to home field advantage. With that, France is projected to make the final 66 percent of the time, according to SPI.Had this match been played at a neutral site, it would be about as close as can be, and France would be a 52 percent favorite over No. 4 Germany according to SPI.This is Germany‘s sixth consecutive semifinal at a major tournament dating back to the 2006 World Cup — the only European country ever to reach that many consecutive semifinals. France is making its first semifinal appearance at a major tournament since reaching the final at the 2006 World Cup.France has scored 11 goals, most of any team in the tournament, and is the first team to have three different scorers with three or more goals in the same tournament: Antoine Griezmann (4), Dimitri Payet (3), Olivier Giroud (3). Scoring will be a bit tougher against Germany, as it has conceded one goal this tournament, the fewest of any team, and that came from the penalty spot.Home advantage has helped France in major tournaments, it is unbeaten in its last 17 major tournament home games, dating back to Euro 1984 (15-2-0). France’s last major tournament loss at home was at Euro 1960, the first edition of the tournament, when it lost the third-place match to Czechoslovakia.Germany, however, has advanced in seven straight major-tournament knockout games against host nations, including 7-1 over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup semis. The last host nation to eliminate Germany in a major-tournament knockout game was England in the 1966 World Cup final.

France and Portugal are favoured to advance.

The other semifinal features No. 14 Portugal, which SPI gave the fifth-best chance to make the semifinals and win the title prior to the tournament, and Wales.Wales was ranked No. 49 in SPI entering the tournament, the third-lowest among the teams in the field (No. 54 Albania, No. 59 Hungary). As a result, SPI gave Wales a 3.5 percent chance to make the semifinal and 0.2 percent chance to win the title before the tournament started, the third-lowest of any team.Since then, Wales has jumped to No. 20, and though it is still an underdog, SPI gives Wales a 41 percent chance to reach the final.Portugal and Wales will be meeting for the fourth time in their history, and the first time in a competitive match. It is only the second meeting between these two countries in the last 65 years (Portugal won a friendly match in 2000.)This will feature a matchup of Real Madrid club teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale. These two have faced each other before, but not since the 2008-09 season when Ronaldo’s Manchester United beat Bale’s Tottenham in all three meetings, including the League Cup Final on penalties.For Portugal, it is playing in its fifth Euro semifinal, the most of any team to never win a European Championship title. Portugal is led by Ronaldo, who has taken 38 shots, 16 more than any other player at the tournament. Of those 38 shots, 10 have been on target, tied for second-most, trailing only Bale (13).Wales enters the semifinals having scored 10 goals, second-most in the tournament and most ever by a country in its Euro debut. Though scoring may prove a bit more difficult without the suspended Aaron Ramsey, who leads Wales in touches, passes completed and chances created in the tournament.

Euro 2016 semis: Will Portugal show up? Are France ready for revenge?

Euro 2016 has reached the semifinal stage, with Portugal facing Wales on Wednesday and Germany taking on France the following days. Here is one big question for each of the final four.

Will Portugal finally come to play now that the focus is on them?

Much has been made of Portugal’s becoming the first team to reach four European Championship semifinals since 2000. But that mark comes with another, much less-desired record: Portugal are also the first team to reach a European Championship semifinal since the competition’s 1996 expansion while only managing to win one game (the victory over Poland in penalties is officially a draw). Moreover, their 1-0 victory over Croatia didn’t even come in regular time; Ricardo Quaresma’s 117th-minute goal sealed the deal.What’s more, Portugal have only been in a winning position for a total of 22 minutes during Euro 2016 so far. This can perhaps be credited to an overly defensive approach, one that doesn’t necessarily suit the technical abilities of so many promising young players.Regardless, there has been an odd sense of caution about Portugal in virtually all of their games, bar the 1-1 draw with Iceland and the 3-3 with Hungary, where they knew they needed to score. That adventure was a consequence of desperation rather than design.Now, for the first time in the knockout stages, Portugal will face a side just as willing to sit back as they are. Will it cause a change in the approach of Fernando Sanches’ men, or will it bring the worst stalemate yet? If Portugal are to finally win this competition after coming close on multiple occasions, it does feel like they will need to put in one flourishing performance. Will this be it?

Can Wales maintain their brilliant momentum without Ramsey?

That Wales advanced to the semifinals is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself. One of the glories of their quarterfinal win against Belgium was how brilliantly and assertively they imposed their gameplan. This was not a calculated counterattack against a superior side with Wales holding tight and riding their luck. This was a team with the assurance to stand up to a stellar attack.The ultimate proof can be found in how proactively Wales came back from behind. Similar teams in their situation would have most likely buckled, but Wales hit back with a physical force greater than Radja Nainggolan’s 13th-minute opener. There was a sweeping and unhesitatingly adventurous quality to their three goals, especially Hal Robson-Kanu’s turn for the second and Sam Vokes’ emphatic header for the third, which sealed the deal.That kind of courage and fully-committed play should give Wales the confidence to take on anyone, but there is a catch: Aaron Ramsey is suspended after two yellow-card bookings, and his absence could affect Wales’ style of play. The Arsenal midfielder is so crucial due to his ability to brilliantly link breaks with his natural running game.He is the perfect player to connect the two different parts of the Welsh team: that sturdy defence and the world-class power of Gareth Bale. Chris Coleman said that Ramsey’s performances have been “off the chart” — so the manager might now have to plot a slightly different way to play. It could mean Wales have to be more cautious than they have been in any game other than their loss vs. England.

Will absent players do more damage to Germany than their fired-up opposition?

On the face of it, some of Germany’s feats at Euro 2016 should boost their confidence to a level where they feel they can get through anything. They offered the attacking performance that everyone had been waiting for in their 3-0 round-of-16 win over Slovakia and broke a huge psychological and historic barrier by eliminating Italy from a international tournament for the first time ever.Can Germany physically hold up when their team has effectively been stripped of its spine, though? Main centre-back Mats Hummels is suspended, Mario Gomez will miss the rest of the tournament and there are major doubts over midfielders Sami Khedira and Bastian Schweinsteiger.Germany could probably weather one or two of those changes with relative ease, but more than that? Will too big of a reconfiguration be needed from Joachim Low, and in turn upset Germany’s balance? Will they remove the fluency that the team is belatedly discovering?

Not to mention the fact that a makeshift lineup will be facing a French side fired up to avenge historic barriers of their own. The hosts have lost their last three competitive knockout games to Germany: the 2014 World Cup quarterfinal, the 1986 World Cup semifinal and the 1982 World Cup semifinal. It’s a lot for Low to consider.

Are Deschamps and France ready for revenge?

Get ready for a lot of references to Toni Schumacher over the next few days. Schumacher was the goalkeeper who arguably should have been sent off for his collision with Patrick Battiston in the semifinals of the 1982 World Cup, which ended a 3-3 draw before West Germany beat France 5-4 on penalties. It’s a controversy that has never completely gone away, partly because France have since failed to beat Germany. The onus will be on Didier Deschamps’ side to finally win now that they’re in form — and at home. And while that might add to the pressure, it could also take some focus off of the huge tactical decisions that the French manager will be forced to make ahead of the match.

Does Deschamps continue with the new, fluid attacking formation that he’s stumbled upon at risk of being too open?

Or does he go back to a more conservative midfield and potentially remove his side’s impetus? There is also the question of whether to include N’Golo Kante; the midfielder has been one of the best in Europe this year, but it did not seem a coincidence that his suspension against Iceland made France better going forwardsCan Deschamps really consider leaving out such a brilliant protective midfielder against an attack as good as Germany’s? It may be required in order for France to take the game into their own hands, go at the world champions and seize a chance at history. Miguel Delaney 

 Suspending players like Aaron Ramsey for yellow cards is cruel punishment

PARIS — We call it cruel, because it is. A player picks up a second yellow card in a tournament and he’s gone, forced to sit out while his teammates do battle.

And so, both Portugal (William Carvalho) and Wales (Ben Davies, Aaron Ramsey) will be short-handed when they square off in Lyon on Wednesday. Similarly, Germany will be without the services of Mats Hummels against France on Thursday.

UEFA’s tournament regulations stipulate that, up until the semifinal, if you get two yellow cards in separate games you are banned for the next one. It doesn’t matter how you get them or when you get them: it could easily be the opener and the quarterfinal, some three and a half weeks apart. After the quarters, the slate is wiped clean: the only way you miss the final is if you get sent off in the semis.In the past, we’ve seen plenty of high profile players missed out on finals. Roy Keane and Pavel Nedved were banned for the Champions League final in 1998-99 and 2002-03, respectively, and Michael Ballack famously was suspended for the 2002 World Cup final against Brazil. That’s part of the reason why the protocol was changed before the 2010 World Cup.The question is whether it ought to be changed further. If you’re Davies, Ramsey, Hummels or Carvalho, you would say yes. Why not wipe the slate clean earlier? Say, if you get two yellows in the group stage, you miss the Round of 16, but if you only get one, the clock resets in the knockout phase?The problem with that approach is that it would not have made any difference to Ramsey, Hummels or Carvalho, all of whom got their bookings in consecutive matches after the group stage. In fact, unless you do away with suspensions entirely, it’s not easy to find a formula that works.The obvious solution would appear to be lifting the threshold to three yellows before the ban kicks in. That’s how they do it in the Champions League, with an additional ban coming at every odd-numbered (fifth, seventh, etc.) card after that. Indeed, domestic leagues go even further, with bans being applied only after the fourth or fifth (depending on the competition) caution.The argument against this, though, is that those are simply longer tournaments and it’s a question of frequency. One way to look at it is how many cautions you can get in a tournament without getting a ban. If you bump it to three games in the Euros, then a player could theoretically accumulate yellows in four of seven games (two up to and including the semifinal and then the semifinal and final) without ever getting suspended. In the Champions League, that ratio is 5 in 17 and in domestic leagues, while it varies by country, it will usually be something like four or five in 38.In other words, in a shorter tournament the impact of every disciplinary decision is magnified. And what you want to avoid is a situation where a player gets a “free hit” and cards don’t have consequences.This is all part of the officiating conundrum. In a perfect word, referees would get every decision correct and deal with infractions, wherever possible, with a stern, Mark Clattenburg-style lecture. Broadly speaking, this has been the officiating trend from both FIFA and UEFA over the past few years: referees are encouraged to let play run more and to defuse situations without resorting to cards wherever possible.But when players are booked, it has to have consequences that go beyond the possibility of a sending off: and that means suspending players. Otherwise, you’re offering up the proverbial “freebie” foul.It goes beyond that. Referees are generally praised when they manage games in such a way that nobody needs to be sent off. That results in officials being very aware of who has already been booked and, sometimes, a yellow card becomes a license to get away with more because referees are reluctant to show a second caution. (The extreme example of this is cautions for time-wasting. Few referees have the guts to give a second yellow for time-wasting, so it’s often guys who have already been booked who look to eat up the clock.)So bans for accumulated cards are, in a sense, a way of spreading responsibility for punishment from the individual referee to the collective. Yet there’s another, fundamental problem at work here and it has to do with basic principles of crime and punishment.When we commit a crime in real life, the sentence has three functions. It acts as a deterrent, it’s punitive and it offers compensation to the victim. Yellow cards, and bans for yellows, fulfill the first two criteria, but not the third. The fact that, for example, Davies and Ramsey will miss Wales’ next game offers no redress whatsoever to their “victims” (I’m using the term loosely here) who suffered from their actions, Belgium. Instead, it gives an advantage to their next opponent, Portugal.We’re so used to it that we don’t really think about it, but Portugal’s chances of winning the Euros are increased by some percentage simply because they are facing a Wales team without two regulars, one of whom, Ramsey, is arguably their second-best player. And this happens every time a player is suspended: there’s a third-party beneficiary here.Is there a better solution? I don’t know. I’m not a fan of sin-bins — temporary red cards — but there’s an argument to be made that if Ramsey or Davies had been punished for their second tournament bookings against Belgium with, say, 10 minutes off the pitch it might have been a fairer solution than making them miss the semifinal.

Of course, then you’d consider the fact that the only reason they would have been sin-binned is for cautions they committed in earlier games which had nothing to do with Belgium. And so you end up tying yourself in knots, asking yourself the same question: Why should Belgium benefit from the fact that Davies and Ramsey committed an infraction against previous opponents?The bottom line here is that this accumulated bookings system is a tough racket. There’s no perfect or even good way of handling this. It’s tough on those who miss out — though less tough than if they were missing a final — but ultimately the rules were clear before the tournament began.Gabriele Marcotti is a columnist for ESPN FC, The Times and Corriere dello Sport. Follow him on Twitter @Marcotti. 

How Wales can cope vs. Portugal without the suspended Aaron Ramsey

UEFA’s harsh disciplinary rules for Euro 2016 were always likely to claim unfortunate victims, and it’s particularly disappointing one of those suffering this week will be Wales’ Aaron Ramsey.The Arsenal man is a hard-working, talented midfielder for the competition’s only remaining underdogs. He had lit up the competition with some decisive contributions in the final third, recording a goal and four assists in his five appearances so far, and is precisely the type of player you want to watch in a major semifinal. Alas, he’ll be watching from the stands.Aside from Gareth Bale, likely to be the main focus because of his clash with Real Madrid teammate and rival Cristiano Ronaldo, Ramsey is the worst player Wales could have lost.After impressive displays in his first four games, Ramsey’s performance in the 3-1 quarterfinal victory over Belgium was truly exceptional. Manager Chris Coleman has used Ramsey in two separate roles in the past couple of years, either as a deep midfielder in a 3-5-1-1 system or in a No. 10 role alongside Bale, which makes the system more 3-4-2-1.Against Belgium, however, it was difficult to tell which role Ramsey was playing, because he was everywhere: deep when Wales were without possession, and between the lines when Wales had the ball. He continually made dangerous runs into the right-hand channel, partly benefiting from all the attention was on Bale. He created three chances in open play from that right flank, including the pass for Hal Robson-Kanu’s superb goal, and three chances from set pieces, including the out-swinging corner that Ashley Williams powered home.Replacing Ramsey won’t be easy. In fact, it’s fair to say Wales don’t have anyone who can adequately fill that gap in the side, no one who possesses the stamina to play a box-to-box role and support both phases of play so effectively. Coleman’s obvious solution, however, will be turning to Jonny Williams.Williams will, in all probability, never start a game of this enormity ever again. A hugely likeable, creative attacking midfielder, he’s (only slightly) ironically dubbed “Joniesta” by fans of his club side, Crystal Palace, because of his low centre of gravity, his ability to slalom past opposition challenges and his penchant for a through-ball.

In truth, he has struggled to make an impact in the Premier League, playing just 12 times in three seasons in the top-flight with Palace, partly because of injury problems. He spent most of last season out on loan to Championship clubs, Nottingham Forest and MK Dons, the latter suffering relegation to England’s third tier.Williams is, however, a wonderfully gifted footballer — the type who probably belongs outside British football, in a league where the tempo is slower and the fondness for creative midfielders is significantly greater.In that sense, he shares qualities with England’s Adam Lallana and Ireland’s Wes Hoolahan, who both excelled at times in this competition, despite frustrating seasons at club level. Euro 2016 matches have generally been slow, with compact defensive blocks requiring talented creators to pick them apart. Williams could be that man on Wednesday in Lyon, France, especially as Portugal aren’t likely to know much about him — and it’s not often you say that ahead of a European Championship semifinal.Williams was impressive when starting in Wales’ opening group game, accelerating the play with quick bursts past opponents. Slovakia’s inability to halt his mazy dribbles fairly meant Williams was fouled four times, including for the free kick that resulted in the opener — a trademark swerving Bale free kick. With two free-kick goals in the tournament so far, Bale has managed two more than Ronaldo has in seven international tournaments combined. Don’t underestimate the importance of a player like Williams being capable of winning those free kicks in dangerous positions.Portugal’s system could play into Williams’ hands too, especially as their primary holding midfielder, William Carvalho, is another who is ruled out after having collected two bookings. In Portugal’s quarterfinal match against Poland, which Portugal won on penalties, manager Fernando Santos used a peculiar 4-1-3-2 formation that allowed Joao Mario, Adrien Silva and Renato Sanches to dovetail behind Nani and Ronaldo, but left Carvalho somewhat exposed ahead of the defence. If Santos lines up that way once again, Bale will surely be watched carefully by Portugal’s stand-in holding midfielder, probably Danilo, which would open up space for Williams.Wales must also cope without the suspended left-sided centre-back Ben Davies, who Coleman has described as Wales’ best defender in the competition so far. He would have been particularly useful, as a natural left-back, because he would have been up against makeshift centre-forward Nani, a natural right-winger. Instead, Coleman is likely to turn to James Collins, an entirely different type of centre-back who is formidable in the air but somewhat slow on the turn. Wales have backup players capable of coming into the side and doing a job, but both Davies and Ramsey lack proper replacements in their unusual roles.Wales need to forget about that, however, and ensure the stand-ins are able to play to their strengths. Collins will need to be supported closely by left-wing-back Neil Taylor playing a deeper role than against Belgium, while Williams can be fed in tighter situations than Ramsey, who likes galloping into space.It’s difficult to imagine the disappointment Ramsey and Davies must be feeling, forced to sit out the biggest game in Welsh football history. They’ll desperately hope, of course, that Wales will have an even bigger game on Sunday.Michael Cox is the editor of Zonal Marking and a contributor to ESPN FC

 Bale, Coleman and the other reasons why Wales are in the Euro 2016 semis

Wednesday’s Euro 2016 semifinal will be the fourth in five tournaments for Portugal but there are several reasons why Wales have nothing to fear.

Bale has been brilliant

While other Euro 2016 managers have struggled to get the best out of star men like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo, Chris Coleman has found a formula for Gareth Bale.He hasn’t quite been the free-flowing wizard of the dribble seen at his Tottenham and Real Madrid peak; the forceful defending allowed by somewhat lax refereeing in France has seen to that. Instead, Bale has made use of another side of his game: his supreme physique which, he says, has been achieved despite the fact that he doesn’t like going to the gym.As a lone striker he took a battering against Slovakia in Wales’ opener, but being partnered since — be it by Vokes or Robson-Kanu — has allowed Bale a little more space. He scored from open play against Russia, having previously netted free kicks against Slovakia and England.Beyond that, Bale is prepared to work just as hard as the more prosaic talents around him.

A band of brothers

Bale is a globally recognised face and a star for Real Madrid but, when on Wales duty, he is just one of the lads and among friends who have known him for a decade; the likes of Chris Gunter, Sam Vokes, Andy King, Joe Allen and Neil Taylor were contemporaries at youth level.Meanwhile, Joe Ledley has become an internet sensation for his post-match dance routines but almost didn’t make the squad after suffering a broken leg at Crystal Palace. However, manager Coleman has said repeatedly that he would have taken Ledley to France come what may, such is the importance of his personality to the squad’s mentality.This group is easy in its own company, with players adept at soaking up their colleagues’ pressures while history is made.

Coleman the unlikely tactician

Prior to taking the national team job in 2012, indifferent spells in club management at Fulham, Real Sociedad (where he left following an incidentinvolving a washing machine and a night club), Coventry and Larissa provided no silverware. Having succeeded the late Gary Speed, Coleman subsequently lost his first five matches and was the target of fans’ criticism.And yet, four years later and having led Wales to their first major tournament since 1958, Coleman has outwitted opposing coaches, aside from his team defending far too deep and inviting England on in an eventual 2-1 group-stage loss.Playing five at the back and putting both Neil Taylor and Ben Davies into his team looked like an attempt to accommodate his best players, yet it has been hugely effective, especially in beating Russia 3-0 in Toulouse and then in pulling apart Marc Wilmots’ admittedly loose plans for Belgium in a 3-1 quarterfinal win.

Wales have been underestimated

They were seen as Bale plus 10 others, but four teams have now paid the price of underestimating Wales, with Belgium’s collapse being the most recent example. Beyond Bale and the excellent Aaron Ramsey, whose loss through suspension will be keenly felt on Wednesday, the rest have risen to the occasion.Joe Allen has taken on a midfield responsibility rarely handed him by Liverpool, while James Chester, often a reserve at West Brom or played out of position at full-back, has been strong as part of a three-man central defensive line.Robson-Kanu scored the goal of a lifetime in the quarterfinal with a Cruyff turn that fooled three Belgians and then Vokes scored an expertly guided header to make it 3-1. Euro 2016 has given such players the chance to show off their talents.

A mission of passion

Were Wales to have exited from the group stage, they would still have been history makers. Instead, they have grasped the nettle with passion and determination and, in reaching a semifinal, have matched England’s best achievements of the last 50 years.It has helped to have such fervent support behind them and the relationship between players and fans is strong. They are on this ride “together, stronger”, to use the motto that, in an era of empty corporate cliches, works and embodies the collective message perfectly. Success has become a shared emotion.At the squad’s HQ at Dinard, Brittany, it has been all but open house and Bale, notoriously reticent in the past, has done five media appearances and marked himself out as very quotable.”I think we’ve got a lot more passion and pride about us than them,” he saidabout England’s players ahead of the teams’ meeting on 16. Wales may have lost that game but further events in France have proved him wholly correct on that assertion. John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC.

 Why are England, home of the Premier League, now a laughing stock?

Despite England’s early lead, their defensive frailties were exposed by a resilient Iceland.

Ian Darke, -ESPNFC –Fifty years of hurt and counting. Where do the England football team go from here?It is a question we ask every two years as another tournament ends in tears. But this was different, even worse than the World Cup in Brazil. At least there, Roy Hodgson’s team lost to two highly ranked teams in Italy and Uruguay before taking an early plane home.This time they melted down against Iceland, a country with more volcanoes than footballers.Take nothing away from the underdogs. They carried out their plans to perfection against opponents who simply unraveled at the first sign of trouble.Here was humiliation on a grand scale, arguably the worst night in England’s 144-year football history.Why is it always like this for the nation which invented the game? How did the country with the richest league in the world become serial flops and, let’s be brutally honest, a laughing stock? England have never won an away knockout game at the European Championship, and they haven’t reached any tournament semifinal for 20 years.At the heart of the debate is a mentality among some English fans which says the Premier League is all that matters. The league will kick off again on Aug. 13, and it may even seem as if the Euro debacle never happened as domestic dramas take over.That mindset is dangerous. English football needs a strong England team. It can’t go on like this, stumbling from failure to failure.The new manager needs to have a bigger talent pool to pick from. Brexit may make it easier to introduce a quota system dictating that every Premier League club has to field, say, five English players.Time, too, to stop talking about a mid-winter break and actually introducing it. The unrelenting schedule demanded of Tottenham’s players in particular left some looking jaded in France. Harry Kane was especially flat and unable to live up to the hype. A two- or three-week January break might make a difference.Then there is the key question of who should be manager. Roy Hodgson, preferred to fan favourite Harry Redknapp, always looked an uninspiring safe choice. You sense this very decent man was selected more for his ability to fit in with FA culture than a real belief that he could lift a major trophy. Falling on his sword in Nice was the only realistic option after such a calamitous and clueless exit from the Euros.It was hard to detect a Plan A, let alone a Plan B.Yet the squad does have talent, albeit the defence and now keeper positions are a real concern.What is required is a man who knows international tournament football and its subtle sub-plots. That rules out Eddie Howe (too young) and Alan Pardew (only club pedigree). Sam Allardyce, who is smarter than many give him credit for, might be a shrewd gamble given the limited field. He would be sound and pragmatic, and knows how to win when it matters. Just a hunch, but Big Sam might be surprisingly good and would jump at the chance.But my top choice would be to re-appoint Glenn Hoddle, who produced one of England’s most tactically astute displays of the modern era in Italy to qualify for the 1998 World Cup, at which the team were so unlucky to lose to Argentina on penalties. Hoddle lost the job for articulating some controversial religious views, and his man management back then needed some work. But now older and wiser yet still with a forensic mind on players and strategies, he has plenty of appeal.Besides, the FA are auditioning for a football coach, not the Archbishop of Canterbury. Knowing Glenn a little, whether he would want to give up a successful media career and have all the hassle is open to question. One thing is for certain: High-level action is needed to produce a united effort to prioritise a better England team.That means the Premier League and FA forgetting differences for a common goal. Otherwise the so-called “most exciting league in the world” will look like a competition for foreign mercenaries that just happens to take place in a land that used to be good at football and is in danger of becoming internationally irrelevant. Ian Darke, who called games for the network during the 2010 and 2014 World Cups, is ESPN’s lead soccer voice in the U.S. Reach him on Twitter 

INDY ELEVEN TO RECEIVE SPRING SEASON TROPHY JULY 9TH

Indy Eleven to Receive NASL Spring Season Championship Trophy Prior to July 9 Kickoff vs. Minnesota

NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson to Hand Off Trophy During Pre-game Ceremonies Next Saturday Night at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium

INDIANAPOLIS (Friday, July 1, 2016) – Indy Eleven will not have to wait much longer to receive the first piece of hardware for its trophy case, as NASL Commissioner Bill Peterson will be in attendance at IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium next Saturday, July 9, to present the undefeated “Boys in Blue” with their NASL Spring Season trophy.The presentation will take place during the pre-game ceremonies of Indy Eleven’s  NASL Fall Season home debut against Minnesota United FC, set to kickoff at 7:30 p.m. ET.Tickets for the match – which could feature the official NASL debut of new Indy Eleven midfielder and Mexican National Team legend Gerardo Torrado – and passes for the club’s third annual Indiana Craft Beer Festival, presented by Union Jack Pub & Murello’s Uptown Bail Bonds, are available at IndyEleven.com or over the phone at 317-685-1100 (weekdays, 9am-5pm, closed on July 4th holiday).“Indy Eleven fans have proven they are the best in the NASL over the last three seasons.  We cannot wait to lift the trophy in their honor and the team’s honor on July 9th,” said Indy Eleven president Jeff Belskus. “Every Indy Eleven supporter should look forward to being a part of this evening and join the club in thanking our very special collection of players and coaches.”As has been tradition since the NASL began its split-season format in 2013, Commissioner Peterson will hand the trophy off to the captain of the respective season’s victor, with Indy Eleven defender Colin Falvey set to take the handoff on Saturday evening in the minutes leading up to kickoff.  Details regarding opportunities for fans to take photos with the first trophy in team history will be unveiled on IndyEleven.com and the team’s social media channels early next week.Indy Eleven (4W-6D-0L) will begin its 22-game Fall Season – and quest for a second piece of hardware in 2016 – tomorrow, Saturday, July 2, when it travels to the Caribbean to serve as the opposition in Puerto Rico FC’s Inaugural Game. Fans can watch the 7:30 p.m. ET kickoff from the Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel in Bayamon live on WISH-TV and online via ESPN3.com.

RECAP – PUERTO RICO 1 : 1 INDY

Youla’s header at the death keeps Eleven undefeated, spoils PRFC party

Jul 2, 2016

Late Goal Keeps Indy Eleven Undefeated, Brings Puerto Rico’s Inaugural Game to 1-1 Finish

Newcomer Souleymane Youla Debuts with 92nd Minute Header to Share the Spoils  

BAYAMON, Puerto Rico (Saturday, July 2, 2016) – The season may have transferred from Spring to Fall, but Indy Eleven’s ability to score pivotal late goals transferred well, forward Souleymane Youla’s 92nd minute goal bringing Puerto Rico FC’s Inaugural Game to a 1-1 draw. The goal by the Guinean international Youla, making his NASL debut on the evening, offset a 74th minute goal by Hector Ramos that had the 6,474 fans in attendance at the Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel ready to go home as winners following their own team’s NASL debut.It was a quick start for the home side, as Puerto Rico forward Joseph Marrero put Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch to the test just 20 seconds in from 20 yards out, but the veteran netminder was alert to steer to low shot wide of his right post and out for a corner.From there the game devolved quickly into a physical affair for the first 15 minutes, with Puerto Rico trying to assert itself through a serious of physical challenges, one of which left Indy’s Justin Braun bloodied and off to the sideline for treatment for several minutes. Just after Braun re-entered in the 9th minute it looked as if Indy got on the board first when Nemanja Vukovic headed home a Nicki Paterson free kick from 35 yards out, but the goal was nullified after the offside flag went up.Puerto Rico FC would deal with an injury blow just before the half hour mark when forward Oliver pulled up without suffering contact, the Brazilian being subbed out for Kyle Culbertson in the 29th minute.NASL June Player of the Month Eamon Zayed had his first good look of the match for the visitors in the 33rdminute when he got on the end of Omar Gordon’s low cross, but the Irishman’s redirect from eight yards skipped just wide of the near left post.Both sides would get a quality look in the final moments of the first half, starting with Paterson pushing a 20-yard free kick just past the far right post.  A minute later it was Hector Ramos almost getting to a loose ball inside the six, but Eleven defender Cory Miller slid in to take the ball off the PRFC attacker’s foot at the last moment.Puerto Rico come out more composed in the second half, and it was Ramos nearly starting the stanza well in the 49th minute but he couldn’t quite reach Culbertson’s well-struck square ball across the six yard box. Three minutes later Marrero got to the endline and cut a ball back into the heart of the area for an onrushing Sidney Rivera, but his shot in plenty of space was skied over goal.The game would lull for a bit, but Vukovic jolted it back to life in the 65th minute when he stepped past a defender and unleashed a 25-yard yard shot that took a deflection and whistled a foot past the left post. It was Vukovic playing provider to his former Sacramento teammate Braun five minutes later with a perfectly-weighted far post chip, but Braun’s knick flashed just wide of the right post. A minute later captain Greg Janicki came up for a dead ball chance and saw his header also take a deflection, and Indy seemed to have the momentum going its way for the final 20 minutes.But Puerto Rico would go ahead against the run of play, and with a little bit of controversy in the 74th minute.  After Brad Ring looked to have taken an elbow in the center circle play was allowed to continue on, and Puerto Rico pushed into the final third despite the Indy midfielder staying on the ground behind the play. The advantage worked for the home side as Culbertson’s well-placed cross from the left found a streaking Ramos, who touched past Miller then slammed home on the line to set up a potential dream start to Puerto Rico’s campaign.Indiana’s Team had other ideas though, and it would keep the pressure up in the final 10 minutes through a series of seemingly endless set pieces. Vukovic’s short ball to Zayed nearly paid dividends in the 87th minute, but the Irishman’s sliding shot missed wide. A minute later substitute defender Lovel Palmer crashed the six to get a head on a Vukovic corner that PRFC goalkeeper David Meves smothered on his line.Puerto Rico would commit one too many fouls in a dangerous position, setting up one last Vukovic service that deservedly paid off. The left back’s free kick from five yards outside the corner of the area was placed perfectly to the six, where the substitute Youla headed home with authority to bring things all square and keep Indy undefeated with five wins and six draws in NASL action.Indy Eleven returns home to Carroll Stadium next Saturday, July 9, to face off against Minnesota United FC (7:30 p.m. ET, live on WISH-TV), with the game being preceded by the trophy presentation honoring the club’s Spring Season championship. Tickets for the 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.).
NASL Fall Season   Puerto Rico FC  1 : 1  Indy Eleven
Saturday, July 2, 2016
    Estadio Juan Ramon Loubriel – Bayamon, Puerto Rico   Attendance:  6,474

Indy Eleven:
Fall Season: 0W-1D-0L, 1 pt.
Overall Season: 4W-7D-0L, 18 pts.

Puerto Rico FC:
Fall Season: 0W-1D-0L, 1 pt.
Overall Seaso: 0W-1D-0L, 1 pt.

Scoring Summary:
PRFC – Hector Ramos (Kyle Culbertson) 74’
IND – Souleymane Youla (Nemanja Vukovic) 92+’

Discipline Summary:
PRFC –Rudy Dawson (caution) 12’
PRFC –Ramon Martin Del Campo (caution) 46+’)
IND – Nicki Paterson (caution) 59’
PRFC – Kyle Culbertson (caution) 59’

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković, Greg Janicki (capt), Cory Miller, Marco Franco; Omar Gordon (Duke Lacroix 55’), Brad Ring, Nicki Paterson (Souleymane Youla 79’), Dylan Mares (Lovel Palmer 81’); Eamon Zayed, Justin BraunIndy Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Daniel Keller, Sinisa Ubiparipovic

Puerto Rico FC (4-3-3): David Meves; Ramon Soria, Cristiano Dias, Rudy Dawson, Ramon Matin Del Campo; Tyler Rudy, Chris Nurse, Oliver (Kyle Culbertson 29’); Joseph Marrero (Brian Bement 67’), Hector Ramos, Sidney Rivera (Pedro Mendes 79’)PRFC bench: Trevor Spangenberg (GK), Jorge Rivera, Camilo Botero, Paulo Mendes

ZAYED NAMED NASL’S BEST FOR JUNE

Irishman becomes first player in club history to earn monthly honor

Jun 30, 2016

Irishman’s Heroics Helped Indy Eleven Lift Spring Season Trophy

NEW YORK/INDIANAPOLIS (Thursday, June 30, 2016) – The month of June may have only had two league games on the schedule for Indy Eleven, but forward Eamon Zayed made quite an impact in that short period of time.The Irish veteran’s incredible hat trick against the Carolina RailHawks on June 11 helped the Boys in Blue bring home the North American Soccer League (NASL) Spring Season Championship in dramatic fashion. For his heroic efforts, Zayed was voted as NASL Payer of the Month, marking the first time in Indy Eleven’s two-and-a-half seasons of play a member of squad has earned the recognition.“Individual honors are extremely rewarding, so I’m delighted, but this Player of the Month award is a reflection of the hard work and teamwork put in by all the players and staff,” Zayed said. “This was Indy Eleven’s month, but it’s only the beginning. The real challenge starts now if we want to bring home the NASL Championship.”Indy Eleven entered its game against Carolina needing to score four goals and win by at least three, and it did just that with a 4-1 victory. Zayed found the net in the 16th, 65th, and 85th minutes to help the Boys in Blue clinch their first piece of NASL silverware and guarantee themselves a home semifinal game in The Championship, the league’s four-team postseason tournament, in November.Zayed, 32, enters the NASL Fall Season atop the scoring chart with six league goals – one above Minnesota United’s Christian Ramirez and Rayo OKC’s Michel. In addition to scoring Indy’s biggest goals of the Spring Season, the Irish forward, who represents Libya at the international level, tallied the game-winner in a 1-0 win over Liga Bancomer MX Champion CF Pachuca on June 26. Zayed led off the month with another game-winning goal on June 1, Indy’s second in a 2-1 comeback win over USL side Louisville City FC in the Third Round of the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup.“Down the stretch in important games leading up to the Spring Season Championship, Eamon put himself in a great spot to finish his chances and that certainly, along with our defense, was the difference maker in being able to win it,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “In a series of games like that, you have to have a striker that knows where to be, when to be there, and how to finish his chances. Eamon was crucial to our success in that area.”The 6-foot-2 forward joined the Boys in Blue prior to the 2016 Spring Season after spending last year in the Malaysian Premier League with Sabah. Prior to that stint, Zayed was a prolific goalscorer in the League of Ireland. The Dublin native starred for the likes of Bray Wanderers, Drogheda United, Sporting Fingal, and Derry City, among others. A Leicester City youth product, Zayed has also played at the professional level in England, Norway, and Iran.Zayed took home more individual league honors than any other NASL player over the course of the 10-game Spring Season, winning Player of the Week twice to go along with today’s Player of the Month award.Indy Eleven returns to action this Saturday, traveling to the Caribbean to take on Puerto Rico FC in its inaugural game at Juan Ramon Loubriel Stadium in Bayamon. Kickoff for the opening game of Indy’s 22-game NASL Fall Season is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the match can be seen live locally on WISH-TV and nationwide via streaming video on ESPN3.

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