7/27/16 MLS ALL-STAR Game vs Arsenal Thur Night 7:30 ESPN, Carmel FC New DOC Named, Indy 11 Back on Top, Carmel High Soccer Camp 8/4

So we lead off with MLS this week as the Annual MLS All-Star game vs Arsenal live from San Jose will be played tomorrow night 7:30 pm on ESPN.  The top players in MLS will battle with EPL 2nd place finishers Arsenal in the match which should include young US prospect Gedion Zelalem.  Excited to watch on Thursday night and see how both teams look.  So my favorite boys in Green the Seattle Sounders have parted ways with coach Sigi Schmid – sorry to see it happen but the handwriting was on the wall for this one.  Seattle being at the bottom of the West with all the resources and fan support they have is just not acceptable.  This is like Chelsea being mid to lower table – with the money Seattle has that just can’t happen even without top player Martins.  One of my favorite MLS Players Nat Borchers (THE BEARD) at Portland tore his achilles heel Sat vs LA and is lost for the season – get well Timbers Nat!

The Olympic Soccer run for a 4th straight Gold Medal starts for the US Ladies next Wednesday night 6 pm on NBCSN – the full soccer schedule can be seen below.  Also the ICC with European teams across the US gets hot and heavy on ESPN starting tonite on ESPN2 at 7:30  Real Madrid vs PSG, 9:30 pm Bayern Munich vs AC Milan and 11:30 on ESPN – Liverpool vs Chelsea.  (see the complete schedule below)

The Indy 11 were back in the win column Sat night at the Mike – a 1-0 win over Edmonton pushing them back into 1st place overall as they stand tied with the NY Cosmos.  They travel to Miami this Saturday night, 8 pm on beIN Sports before returning for an important 3 game home stretch of games on Wed, Aug 3, Sat Aug 6 + 17 all at the Mike.  The Wed night match will have no TV – so plan to get out to the Mike to see in person.

Proud to announce that Carmel FC has named a new Director of Coaching Matt Coyer.  Coyer will begin Aug 8 and has more than 17 years of coaching experience.  Coyer is returning home as he was a former Carmel Dad’s club player and member of the Carmel High School State Champ teams in 1985 and 1987 before playing at IU.  Good luck to all those players trying out for Carmel High Soccer both boys and girls – next week and of course at the private schools around as well!  Finally –Carmel FC – Summer CFC Technical Training continues this week.  If you are a goalkeeper – I am continuing my personal Monday night GK trainings July 25, Aug 1 if interested RE: or email shanebestsoccer@gmail.com

Locally they are still taking signups for the 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  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.


 Wed, July 27

7:30 p.m. (ESPN2        ICC Real Madrid vs. Paris Saint-Germain, Columbus, OH
9:30 p.m. (ESPN2,       ICC Bayern Munich vs. AC Milan, Chicago Soldier Field
11:30 p.m. (ESPN,       ICC Liverpool vs. Chelsea, Rose Bowl

Thur, July 28                 

7:30 a.m. ESPN3          ICC Borussia Dortmund vs Man City

(ESPN, UniMás) MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal 7:30 p.m.

Sat, July 30

1:00 p.m. ESPN            ICC Barcelona vs. Celtic,
3:00 p.m. ESPN            ICC Chelsea vs. Real Madrid – Mich Stadium
5:00 p.m. (ESPNews                          ICC Bayern Munich vs. Inter Milan,
10:00 p.m. ESPN2, ESPN Deportes) Liverpool vs. AC Milan,
(11:30 p.m., ESPN       ICC Paris Saint-Germain vs. Leicester City,

Indy 11@ Miami – 8 pm BeIn sports

Sun, July 31

1:00 p.m. Fox, Sporting Kansas City vs. Portland Timbers,
4:00 p.m. ESPN Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles Galaxy,

Wed, Aug 3

ICC Barcelona vs. Leicester City, ICC 2:00 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
United States women vs. New Zealand, Olympics group stage, 6:00 p.m. (NBCSN)
Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, International Champions Cup 7:30 p.m. (ESPN2
Chelsea vs. AC Milan, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
Portland Timbers vs. CD Dragon, CONCACAF Champions League  10:00 p.m. (TV TBD)

Sat, Aug 6

12 noon ESPN                ICC Liverpool vs Barcelona – Wembley

United States women vs. France women, Olympics group stage, 4:00 p.m. (NBCSN)

Sun, Aug 7

11 am ???                        Community Shield Leicester City vs Man United

Tues, Aug 9

United States women vs. Columbia, Olympics group stage, 6:00 p.m. (NBCSN)

Sat, Aug 13                      EPL Season Starts

7:30 a.m., CNBC:         Hull City vs. Leicester City 
10:00 a.m. NBCSN    Everton vs. Tottenham, Middlesbrough vs. Stoke, Southampton vs. Watford
12:30 p.m., CNBC:     Manchester City vs. Sunderland

Sun, Aug 14

8:30 a.m., NBCSN:      Bournemouth vs. Manchester United
11:00 a.m., NBCSN:
   Arsenal vs. Liverpool

Full Olympic Men’s and Women’s Soccer Schedule Announced by NBC

International Champions Cup – TV Schedule in July

MLS TV Schedule ‘ They Are Back

Indy 11 Schedule

EPL TV Schedule

carmel soccer camp (1)

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.


Allstar Preview MLS vs Arsenal

USMNT youngster Zelalem in Arsenal squad for MLS Allstar Game

Arsenal Keeper Cech out to stop former Teammate Drogba

What to Know about Arsenal

Allstar Game Should keep the same format – Doug Mcintyre ESPNFC

Allstar Game needs a New Look – Jason Davis ESPN FC

Seattle Coach Sigi Schmid is Out – Matt Doyle MLS.com

MLS Power Rankings

NYCY Vieira slams Red Bulls Coach Jesse Marsch

Is Seattle Coach Sigi Schmidt in Trouble?  Video

Saves of the Week – MLS

NWSL Save of Week

NWSL Goalie Scores Game Winning Header 


3 things FCE

Indy 1 FCE 0 Game Recap

NASL Roundup – Indy 11 take 1st

Tix on sale for 8/3 Wed game vs Jax and 8/6 vs OTT and 8/13 vs OKC

Networking Night 8/3 5:30 till 7:15 pm


Soccer Schedule Announced by NBC

US Ladies Christen Press in ESPN Body Issue

US ladies cruise past Costa Rica 4-0

US Rookie Olympians ready for Golden Chance

US reveals New Olympic Jerseys

What happens to US Yedlin with Moyes in Charge at Sunderland?

Bayern’s Green happy with Growth in the US of soccer

US Players Yedlin and Vickers Play well for Tottenham in ICC

Dempsey Proud of US Effort in the COPA America


Aug. 3, 2016 7 p.m. local / 6 p.m. ET New Zealand NBCSN, Soccer Specialty Channel, NBC Universo, NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports App
Aug. 6, 2016 5 p.m. local / 4 p.m. ET France NBCSN, Soccer Specialty Channel, NBC Universo, NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports App
Aug. 9, 2016 6 p.m. local / 6 p.m. ET Colombia NBCSN, Soccer Specialty Channel, NBC Universo, NBCOlympics.com, NBC Sports App

 World Leagues

What’s Trending in Europe

Man U put players on Chopping Block

Sunderland hire David Moyes to replace new England Manager Allardyce

Soccer Camps – Boys and Girls -Ages 6 – 14

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.


If you are a goalkeeper – I am doing my personal Monday night GK trainings July 11, 18 + 25  + Aug 1.

U-9-U12 6 till 7 pm

U13 and above 7:00 – 8:15 pm

if interested RE: or email shanebestsoccer@gmail.com


Earn Your Accredited College Degree at ½ the Cost and Time of Traditional Schools

MLS All-Stars vs. Arsenal FC | 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game Match Preview

July 28, 2016 • Avaya Stadium, San Jose, Calif.
7:30 pm ET (ESPN, UniMás, TSN, RDS)

The 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star Game will pit the best of Major League Soccer against English Premier League giants Arsenal. The English club, participating in the MLS All-Star Game for the first time, will face off against the All-Stars at the home of the San Jose Earthquakes, Avaya Stadium, which opened in 2015.

Youthful All-Star Lineup

Sure, there are plenty of big, veteran names on the All-Star roster, but what marks this group may be the youth. With two young goalkeepers in Quakes stopper David Bingham and Philadelphia’s Andre Blake, and two rookie defenders in Blake’s Philadelphia teammate Keegan Rosenberry and Chicago’s Brandon Vincent, there are some up-and-comers getting a chance to shine, right now. Add in the likes of Columbus midfielder Wil Trapp and Orlando City striker Cyle Larin, and there is certainly an infusion of youth in this year’s group of MLS All-Stars.

Arsenal preparing for upcoming season

The North London side, which surged to a second-place finish in the Premier League last season, will certainly be in the reckoning for silverware again in 2016-17, between the league, the UEFA Champions League, where Arsenal routinely reach the knockout rounds, and the domestic cups, including the FA Cup, which they last won in 2014-15. With Arsene Wenger the club’s longest-tenured manager, at the helm for another season, and a group of talented players returning, the club will look to continue preparations for the season ahead with a clash against the MLS All-Stars.

Can the winning streak continue?

Given the parameters in play, with a group of players from various teams coming together for a couple days at most, it can be tough for the MLS All-Stars to get results against their visitors. But in fact, the MLS All-Stars have won the last two editions of the midseason classic, 2-1 to Arsenal’s biggest rivals Tottenham Hotspur last year, and 2-1 to German giants Bayern Munichin 2014. Can the MLS team make it three years in a row?


2016 AT&T MLS All-Stars:

Goalkeepers (2)David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Andre Blake (Philadelphia Union)

Defenders (7)Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Laurent Ciman (Montreal Impact), Andrew Farrell(New England Revolution), Liam Ridgewell (Portland Timbers), Keegan Rosenberry(Philadelphia Union), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire), Kendall Waston (Vancouver Whitecaps)

Midfielders (9)Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Mauro Diaz (FC Dallas), Giovani dos Santos(LA Galaxy), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Kaká (Orlando City), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Andrea Pirlo (New York City FC), Wil Trapp(Columbus Crew SC)

Forwards (7)Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Didier Drogba (Montreal Impact), Sebastian Giovinco (Toronto FC), Cyle Larin (Orlando City), Ignacio Piatti (Montreal Impact), David Villa(New York City FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

 Arsenal FC:

Goalkeepers (3): Petr Cech, Emiliano Martinez, David Ospina

Defenders (7): Hector Bellerin, Krystian Bielik, Calum Chambers, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Rob Holding, Nacho Monreal

Midfielders (9): Santi Cazorla, Francis Coquelin, Mohamed Elneny, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jeff Reine-Adelaide, Chris Willock, Jack Wilshere, Granit Xhaka, Gedion Zelalem

Forwards (4): huba Akpom, Joel Campbell, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott

 USMNT youngster Zelalem in Arsenal squad for US tour

Gedion Zelalem, 19, is heading to the United States of America with Arsenal.On Monday Arsene Wenger and his squad — he named 23 players to the roster which included teenager Zelalem — flew to the U.S. ahead of their game against the MLS All-Stars in San Jose, Calif. on Wednesday.The Gunners will also play Chivas Guadalajara at StubHub Center, Carson, Calif. on Sunday to round off their two-game tour of the U.S.Wenger has named a strong squad for the tour, with the full list below.The only major absentees are players who made a deep run in major tournaments with their countries this summer.Arsenal’s French contingent who reached the final of EURO 2016 — Laurent Koscielnyand Olivier Giroud — aren’t in the squad, while Alexis Sanchez is omitted after winning Copa America Centenario with Chile and suffering an ankle injury plus Aaron Ramseyhasn’t been named in the squad after reaching the semifinals of the European Championships with Wales.

Mesut Ozil is also left out after reaching the final four of EURO 2016 with Germany but the likes of Jack WilshereGranit XhakaSanti CazorlaPetr CechTheo WalcottAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Santi Cazorla all make the trip.As for Zelalem, Arsenal boss Wenger thinks highly of the youngster who was born in Germany but spent his formative years in Maryland, hence why he was able to obtain U.S. citizenship and play for the U.S. national team. The fluid two-way midfielder has silky skills on the ball but is still young and his body is yet to develop into a powerful unit.That perhaps explains why Zelalem is yet to make his debut for Jurgen Klinsmann’s full national team but he did play a starring role in Tab Ramos’ U-20 side during the World Cup in 2015. His progress with the U-23 side has somewhat stalled in recent months after Zelalem was loaned out to Glasgow Rangers in the Scottish second-tier last season. After a good start to the campaign with Rangers he found minutes hard to come by in the second half of last season.ProSoccerTalk spoke to Wenger about Zelalem in the summer of 2015 and he said he will always give him, and other youngsters, a chance to impress in preseason before either including him in the first team squad of loaning him out.With Wilshere, Ramsey, Cazorla, Francis CoquelinMohamed Elneny and Xhaka in front of him in the pecking order for a midfield spot, it seems likely that the young U.S. national team prospect will again spend time away from the Emirates Stadium in the upcoming season.A few strong performances in preseason could change that though.

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech: I don’t want Drogba to score fr MLS All-Stars

Arsenal goalkeeper Petr Cech wants to make sure his old Chelsea teammate Didier Drogba doesn’t take the bragging rights when the Gunners take on the MLS All-Stars this week.Cech and Drogba, who both joined Chelsea in 2004 and won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and one Champions League trophy together before the Ivory Coast striker ended his first stint with the club in 2012, will be reunited on opposite sides of the pitch for Thursday night’s game in San Jose, California.Drogba, 38, is now playing for the Montreal Impact, while Cech joined Arsenal last summer after losing his starting spot at Stamford Bridge to Thibaut Courtois.The pair remain good friends and Cech said he has extra incentive to keep a clean sheet in the game.”Obviously I hope that he [Drogba] doesn’t score because then for a whole year he would text me a picture of the goal,” Cech joked at a news conference.However, Drogba does have a great scoring record against Arsenal and has netted 15 goals in his first 15 appearances against the Gunners.Cech, who also played against Drogba when Galatasaray faced Chelsea in the Champions League in 2014, said he will enjoy another reunion.”I’m looking forward to playing against him here,” he added. “It’s been a very long time when I didn’t have this opportunity.”

Why the MLS All-Star Game format should remain unchanged

Every year around this time, as MLS’s annual All-Star Game approaches, out come the articles questioning whether the match needs a reboot, or if it is still worth playing at all.We get it. For a league that continues to insist that it must play on the same dates as some World Cup qualifiers because the calendar is just too crowded, scheduling a midseason exhibition match against an undermanned European squad preparing for its own campaign seems like an odd priority.Coaches certainly don’t love it.”We maybe have a different view from players,” admitted Seattle Sounders coach Sigi Schmid, who’ll be without Clint Dempsey in training this week because of Dempsey’s involvement in Thursday’s All-Star tilt against Arsenal (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN).”Players appreciate the All-Star game because they get bonus money and an opportunity to play against a big-name club. But for a team like us that has had three midweek games in a row, to have an important guy play in another one seems sort of terrifying.”It’s a valid beef, and it’s not the only one dissenters have. Here’s the thing, though: Despite being a glorified friendly match, MLS’s midsummer classic still matters on a number of levels.Mainly, there’s the exposure. Thursday’s match will be broadcast live in 166 countries, and playing Arsenal, which has been one of the world’s most popular clubs over the last two decades, guarantees that the MLS product will reach fans that normally wouldn’t give it a second look.All-Star week has also become a celebration of the growing North American game, and doubles as the de facto American soccer convention since MLS Cup stopped being held at a neutral site following the 2011 season. On the business and marketing side, it is can’t-miss, one-stop shopping for league and team executives, media and sponsors. More than anything else, though, the All-Star game matters because players on both sides actually try.Unlike the farcical Eastern Conference versus Western Conference games of the league’s early days — the six East-West contests between 1996 and 2004 averaged nine goals scored — the MLS-against-decorated-guest format has produced compelling, hard-fought soccer more often than not. When one thinks back to then-Bayern Munich manager Pep Guardiola refusing to shake hands with MLS boss Caleb Porter after the home side’s 2-1 win two years ago, it’s hard to argue with commissioner Don Garber’s oft-repeated claim that his league boasts “the most competitive All-Star Game in all of sports.”The win against Bayern wasn’t the league’s only success, either. The MLS All-Stars have also beaten Chelsea twice, including just months after the Blues won the 2012 Champions League title. Last year, goals from Kaka and David Villa were enough for MLS to defeat Tottenham Hotspur, whose lone strike came from Harry Kane, a team that went on to finish third in the Premier League.Those victories certainly don’t hurt the league’s credibility at home or abroad. And while there’s always a risk of embarrassment when a hodge-podge All-Star squad faces one of the planet’s richest and deepest clubs — Manchester United out-scored MLS 9-2 in back-to-back wins in 2010 and ’11 — it’s a gamble worth continuing.There’s also the novelty of it. Seeing a Thierry Henry turn back the clock against former France teammate Franck Ribery in 2014 was flat-out cool. So was watching Landon Donovan score against Manuel Neuer, or DeAndre Yedlin shut down fellow U.S. prospect Julian Green — his roommate at the World Cup in Brazil — in that game in Portland.Other U.S. national teamers, including ex-MLSers Yedlin, Carlos Bocanegra, Michael Bradley, Tim Howard and Brian McBride have all played for foreign teams against the hosts.”It’s something I always looked forward to as a fan,” said Philadelphia Union defender Keegan Rosenberry, who at 22 is the second youngest player on the MLS roster after Orlando City striker Cyle Larin.Now Rosenberry is looking forward to making a mark alongside living legends and fellow first-time All-Stars like Didier Drogba and Andrea Pirlo against an opponent he couldn’t have imagined facing this time last year, when he was still a college student.”It’s an honor for me, my family and my club to be part of it,” Philly keeper Andre Blake, another first-timer, told ESPN. “It’s an All-Star game, but it’s still something that at the end of the day you want to go and showcase what you can do.”If Garber gets his wish, and MLS one day becomes capable of competing for the sport’s best players while they are still in their primes, the All-Star game might become unnecessary. For now, though, it’s an entertaining diversion that participants take seriously and supporters enjoy.Long may it continue.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

Major League Soccer’s All-Star Game needs a new look

That Arsenal’s squad for this week’s MLS All-Star game is missing a host of key players gives further credence to the idea that, after 20 years, the league’s showpiece summer occasion has become little more than a distraction right in the middle of what is supposed to be the ramp-up to the most competitive portion of the season.A shift in format 11 years ago has robbed the game of any legitimate sort of competition, leaving behind nothing but a friendly featuring a visiting foreign club and there are multiple problems with the current MLS All-Stars vs. preseason mode European squad format.The first is the name power of the opposing squad; while this year it is Arsenal and its famous brand taking on the MLS team in San Jose on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN and WatchESPN), in years past the game has featured such “powerhouses” as Celtic, Fulham, and Everton. But even when some of the European continent’s bigger teams make the transatlantic voyage, their squads are often dominated by reserves, unknown youngsters and faded stars. That’s exactly the case this year with the Gunners.After a busy international summer, the list of players manager Arsene Wenger has at his disposal is woefully bereft of the team’s most famous names. Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny have all been rested, while Per Mertesacker pulled out on Monday with an injury.No offense to David Ospina, who was excellent in net for Colombia at Copa America Centenario, but it’s a commentary on the state of the Arsenal team for the All-Star Game when his name is highlighted in an MLS press release. Ospina isn’t even Arsenal’s first-choice keeper; that role is filled by Petr Cech (the first name mentioned in the release, and though he’s a big name, he’s still a goalkeeper).Other notable names listed for effect were the now-injured Mertesacker, as well as Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Theo Walcott and Gedion Zelalem, the last of whom makes the cut because he’s a young American prospect. None, though, can measure up to those who are missing. Indeed, none of the English players are even regular starters for Arsenal.There are two debates to be had around the All-Star Game: One is whether it should be played at all and the second concerns what format it should take.If the game is still needed to help boost the league’s profile, it might be time to take a hard look at the way it’s presented. Not only are visiting foreign teams often lacking their stars, but it is worth wondering if it’s wise for MLS to continue to set up its players as second billing in its own event.Fixing that particular problem wouldn’t be difficult. MLS could simply go back to the original format, pitting the Eastern Conference’s best against the best from the Western Conference. Such a game would put more of the growing talent of the league on display, even if it wouldn’t grab the attention of some Euro-focused American soccer fans.Alternatively, a previously used format could be also brought back, with a team of Americans facing off against a select side of foreign players.

A proposed starting XI of U.S. players for the 2016 All-Star Game.A proposed starting XI of foreign players for the 2016 All-Star Game.

Another possible wrinkle would be the “fantasy/playground” concept, where the captains or honorary coaches of each team pick a side from a group of selected all-stars. The NWSL has adopted the idea, after both the NHL and NFL chose to spice up their respective all-star contests with this intriguing process.As MLS continues to grow and improve, the juice of the All-Star Game in its current format becomes less and less worth the squeeze. Players no doubt appreciate the recognition, and many have contract bonuses based on their selection, but playing for pride against a famous club like Arsenal, no matter who lines up wearing their jersey, still fits the narrative of MLS as an up-and-coming league with something to prove.The negatives are getting ever closer to outweighing the positives. MLS coaches don’t like sending their best players away to play in a game that doesn’t matter, especially since it risks their health. If the league is going to let the All-Star Game undermine its competition, it at least needs to make it worth the effort.Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.

Arsene and his men: 10 things to know about 2016 AT&T MLS All-Star opponents Arsenal

February 11, 201612:59PM ESTArielle CastilloSenior Editor

California will be teeming with Gooners come this summer.But what is it about Arsenal Football Club that has seen club win over legions of Gooner supporters around the globe? Here’s a short list of only some of those things with which all Arsenal fans identify.

1. It starts on the field

Take this Barclays Premier League season, for example, which has seen North London-based Arsenal bouncing around the top reaches of the table, sometimes in first place, sometimes in fourth. But they’re doing it in Gunner fashion … with style.And fan favorite Mesut Ozil, a German national team member and 2014 World Cup winner, has a lot to do with it. The latest in a long line of world-class players to don an Arsenal shirt, at the time of publishing he’s already racked up 16 assists this season in Premier League alone, a category in which the club leads the league.Ozil’s popularity has inspired this song among fans. (Yes, the tune may or may not have appeared previously among West Ham supporters, but before that, it was a thing among various other teams, going back to Celtic, too.)Anyways, Ozil’s he’s serving up all these assists to whom, exactly? Most of the time, it’s striker Olivier Giroud, known to some as “French Jesus.”It’s this combination that has Arsenal fans dreaming big for the stretch run in the race for the EPL title, and perhaps even in the UEFA Champions League where they face mighty FC Barcelona in the Round of 16.

2. Cannons, Gunners, and Gooners

Arsenal’s club crest famously features a cannon, which first appeared there in 1888. The back story? In a nutshell, the club, founded in 1886, was originally based in the borough of Woolwich, which had a strong military influence. Even when the club moved to Highbury, London, in 1913, they kept it.That’s where the team gets its nickname, the “Gunners.” Fans, meanwhile, go by a derivative of that—”Gooners.”

3. Gunnersaurus

All that explains the name of the team’s official mascot since 1994, Gunnersaurus. He’s an extremely tall green dinosaur with a penchant for pre-match handshakes.He’s got a cute back story, too. During the 1993-1994 season, the club ran a youth contest asking kids to design a new mascot. The winner? Young fan Peter Lovell, who submitted “Gunnersaurus Rex.” Vice Sports recently did this great interview with him about the genesis of Gunnersaurus.

4. Diverse from the early days

Not only is Arsenal friendly to oversize green reptiles, but it has welcomed a diverse cast of players and fans from the early days

Integration came late to the English top flight, with some teams not debuting their first black players until the 1980s. Arsenal was among the earlier teams to integrate, with Brendan Batson’s 1971 first-team debut.The club’s location in Highbury, meanwhile, borders on several neighborhoods of varying social class, making the team’s fan base one of the most diverse in the Premier League, too.

5. Media Firsts

Arsenal has made history a few times in popular culture, too. They and Sheffield United became the first English League teams to be broadcast live on the radio for their game on January 22, 1927. Then, on September 16, 1937, a friendly between Arsenal’s first and reserve team becamethe first soccer match in the world to be televised live.

6. St. Totteringham’s Day

Arsenal fans generally healthily distrust other London teams, like Premier League clubs Chelsea FC and West Ham United, as well as Championship club Fulham. But their absolute fiercest rivalry is with the other Premier League team in North London—Tottenham Hotspur. (Yup, they were the visiting opponents for the 2015 AT&T MLS All-Star Game.)The matches between the two are known as the North London Derby—but fans have invented a celebration that goes beyond that: St. Totteringham’s Day. Supporters first invented it on independent website Arseweb in 2002; the day falls on the first in which Arsenal have officially gathered enough points to finish ahead of Tottenham in the league table.

7. Wenger for the Win

In a high-pressure league that leaves little room for failure, Arsenal’s head coach, Arsene Wenger, stands out for pure longevity—he’s been the club’s gaffer since 1996. It was he who led the team’s so-called “Invicibles,” a star-studded lineup that took the team to a league triumph for the 2003-2004 season, without a single defeat.Off the field, Wenger’s also known for being ridiculously, ridiculously suave and cool. Just check this recent model-esque fashion photo shoot he did for French magazine L’Equipe Sport & Style. He even offered some meaningful words upon the passing of David Bowie. What a guy.

8. Celebrity Fans

Just like the everyday fan base, Arsenal’s celebrity supporters span a pretty wide range of professions and sensibilities. Media tycoon Piers Morgan is famous online for his impassioned Twitter play by plays, while sex symbol Idris Elba is also a longtime home supporter.So is author Nick Hornby, whose book Fever Pitch became an American movie about baseball, but actually centered around Arsenal fandom.Stateside, famous Gooners include Mr. Beyonce himself—titan Jay-Z. (For real—he said he was first taken by Thierry Henry.)That’s all just to name a tiny few, of course.

9. The Gooner Diaspora

Arsenal boasts one of the largest global fan bases worldwide, with an especially healthy and well-connected fan community in the US. Arsenal America, the official US supporters’ umbrella organization, currently lists some 66 regional clubs on its web site, from Ann Arbor, Michigan to Winston-Salem, North Carolina. There are so many American Gooners, in fact, that they recently celebrated Gooner Gras, an unofficial annual gathering of hundreds of fans in New Orleans.Back in the UK, Arsenal are also one of the few teams to boast a truly internet-infamous supporters’ rock band, the Away Boyz. Their thing is tongue-in-cheek, Arsenal-themed parodies of ska, punk, and pop songs.

10. Trophies

None of this would matter if the team didn’t actually take home some silverware. Luckily, their trophy case is pretty full. In the last 30 years alone, domestically they’ve racked up five Premier League titles, seven FA Community Shield titles and seven FA Cup titles. In fact, they hold a record for most FA Cup wins ever, with 12 total, starting with their first in 1930.

Armchair Analyst: The bell tolls for Sigi Schmid as Sounders make a move

July 26, 20165:27PM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Editor

Sigi Schmid did not get the Seattle Sounders to the promised land. He just took them everywhere else.Schmid’s tenure as head coach in Seattle came to a not unexpected end on Tuesday when the Sounders announced, via press release, that the club and the only man who’d guided it during the MLS era were parting ways. During Schmid’s tenure the Sounders won four US Open Cups and a Supporters’ Shield, competed in the CONCACAF Champions League multiple times, and sold players to teams in some of the biggest leagues in Europe.The one thing they did not do, however, was win MLS Cup. And as much as anything else, that’s why — for the first time in a decade — he’s looking for a job today.Schmid knows it, and didn’t shy away from it.”I’m proud of the success we’ve achieved in winning five major trophies in Seattle, qualifying for the postseason for seven straight seasons,” he said in a statement released by the team. “My only disappointment is that we were unable to bring home an MLS Cup to our tremendous fans, who have always been supportive through good times and bad.”The failure to win MLS Cup was the subtext of every story about the Sounders since roughly the middle of 2013, when they went from “consistent winner with big ambitions” to “high-spending SuperClub with guys like Clint Dempsey and Obafemi Martins on the roster.” A team that spends big should, it was reasoned, win big. And to be fair to both Schmid and the Sounders, they came oh-so-close to one of the best seasons in league history in 2014, when they won the Shield/USOC double, and nearly knocked out perpetual nemesis LA Galaxy in the Western Conference championship.It wasn’t to be, of course. And though 2015 started off well — few seem to remember how good the Sounders were in the spring before losing about half the team to international duty and injury — the regular season ended miserably. That misery has carried on and intensified in 2016, then came to a head this past weekend in alistless 3-0 loss at Sporting KC, a game in which they managed just one shot (which was off target, and in the 88th minute, and sounded like this).The biggest criticism of Schmid over the years, including at previous stops in Columbus and LA — he won a Shield/MLS Cup double in both spots, by the way — was that his teams were always too reliant upon their best player, and lacked a Plan B. It was Carlos Ruiz or bust in LA, and thenGuillermo Barros Schelotto or bust in Columbus. I don’t totally buy into that, but I don’t totally notbuy into that.However, it’d be unfair to reduce his Seattle tenure to that, since there were two distinctly successful runs under his guidance: One centered around Fredy Montero in the pre-Martins days, and then one centered around Dempsey and Martins starting in 2013.”Their gameplan,” one Western Conference front office-type said to me late last season, “is to just get the ball to those guys and let them do [expletive] that no one else in the league can do. When that happens, they’re good. If you can stop them from doing that, they’re not.”Thus, when Martins was sold to a team in the Chinese SuperLeague this offseason, the result was predictable:

Sounders with and without Martins starting 2013-16

With/Without Goals/Game Shots/Game Points/Game Win %
With 1.8 9.5 1.9 59.1%
Without .9 8.7 1.1 30.6%
2016 1.0 12.75 1.0 30.0%

The arrival of Jordan Morris has cushioned the blow only marginally, as he’s bagged seven goals. But Morris and Dempsey have the on-field chemistry of two cats meeting each other for the first time, which means those thrilling 2-vs-5 forays that defined the Sounders from 2013 through 2015 are no longer part of the equation. Nor has there been any subsequent injection of creativity from the midfield (yet), which has stunted the team’s ability to turn possession into penetration.While “Plan B” and “tactics” are usually the first things mentioned by Schimd’s detractors, they must come to terms with this: The raft of new, veteran signings added last summer have proved to be more of a hindrance than a help. Roman Torres got hurt and has yet to play this season;Andreas Ivanschitz is a part-time starter who serves a nice dead ball, but has been a liability from open play; and while Nelson Valdez is by all accounts a great locker room presence for a team that needs much, much more of that, the 32-year-old DP forward has 1 goal and 1 assist in just over 1000 regular season minutes.Those guys were supposed to keep the window of opportunity open for the Dempsey/Martins core at least through 2015, a roll of the dice to give an aging core one last shot at glory. Instead, they helped slam 2016’s window shut before the season ever really got started.Schmid paid the price.

A few more scattered thoughts:

  • Seattle were lucky to have Sigi— stability in the world of sports is a gift, especially for expansion teams. Given Schmid’s ties to LA, I’m going to assume LAFC will be thinking about that very thing. And given Schmid’s ties toCarlos Bocanegra, who’s the technical director at Atlanta United and who played for Schmid at UCLA… well, I don’t think Sigi will be out of a job for long.He may not be the sexiest hire to make, but expansion teams need stability above all.
  • It’s never been clear to me who made the pushto sign Valdez, Ivanschitz and Torres last summer. Perhaps it was Schmid, or perhaps it was GM Garth Lagerwey, or perhaps even owner Adrian Hanauer. Seattle’s front office has always presented a united front on those types of moves.
  • You could make a decent argument that Schmid, at the very least, deserved a month or two of coaching imminent arrival Nicolas Lodeiro before making a final judgement on his continued employment:

I’ve maintained that Seattle are more “talented team missing one or two crucial creative pieces” than “bad team, no hope.” Lodeiro should provide a lot of answers for this team over the next half-decade no matter who’s coaching him.

  • Speaking of, Sounders assistant Brian Schmetzerwill be Schmid’s interim replacement.Schmetzer’s been a major presence in Seattle soccer for nearly four decades, and the team will be in good hands with the former USL coach of the year. Folks connected to the club, however, don’t expect him to become the fulltime boss.
  • Who, then, is on the shortlist for replacements?I can only offer rank speculation, so here goes:
  • You’d have to assume that Toronto FC assistant and former Chivas RIP head coachRobin Fraser will receive one of Lagerwey’s first calls
  • Former Red Bulls head coachMike Petke should put his name into the hat
  • Rio Grande Valley (USL) head coach Wilmer Cabrera, who also coached Chivas and spent time as an assistant underOscar Pareja in Colorado, is a name that will come up
  • Ezra Hendrickson, head coach of Seattle’s own USL team, deserves a look
  • Jeremy Gunn at Stanford could be an interesting darkhorse candidate, though his teams are a little too direct for my taste
  • My personal favorite is current New York Cosmos head coachGiovanni Savarese. He’s handled big stars and big egos, and also helped guide a nascent academy and shown confidence in younger players
  • Schelotto would be the perfect candidate if he wasn’t already at Boca Juniors, which is the best job in the Americas and a launching pad toward worldwide managerial superstardom

That said… this is Seattle, and it wouldn’t shock me if they still wanted to do something high profile. Marc Connolly, take it away…

he other option in the “high profile” category? USWNT head coach Jill Ellis, assuming her squad wins Olympic gold next month in Rio. At that point she’ll have won back-to-back World Cup/Gold, and there’s not much left to prove once you put those two together. There’s also no reason to think she couldn’t make a fair go of it in MLS.4


Three takeaways as the “Boys in Blue” take three points vs FCEJul 25, 2016

In our latest “Three Things,” the importance of bounce back ability, winning sloppy, and why next week’s match is more than just a building block for the rest of the Fall Season.


Like in last week’s match against Minnesota United FC, the early goal set the tone for the hosts in Indy Eleven’s 1-0 win over FC Edmonton. Unlike the home side last week, however, the Eleven were unable to put a second on the board inside the opening quarter of an hour to put the match a little further out of reach for the Eddies.Perhaps the most important takeaway once the whistle blew after a hot and heavy 90 minutes is the bounce back ability this team showed. Riding a 12-game unbeaten streak that was snapped in the grasp of MNU on the road, it would have been easy for the team to return to Indianapolis with low spirits, or to build up a false sense of confidence and go into the match with big chests but not in the right mindset. Instead, head coach Tim Hankinson took the route of resilience, pushing his team back towards their focus.“We talked during the week about the old sports expression from hero to goat and back again. It’s a saga we live by in sports to get back on top. The most important word I have in my life as a sportsman and in my life is resilience. The ability to get knocked down and fight your way back into it. If you can apply resiliency it will go a long way for this team to getting back on top again,” said Coach Hank.The job is not done, though. Indy Eleven head to Miami FC next Saturday night, a match that did not do them any favors last time around in the Spring Season. The battle continues.

In the midst of 90+ degree heat, no amount of water breaks, respite, or breathers could have injected more energy into the match.

As the match wore on, passes were played into the wrong channels, to the wrong feet, and marking became an afterthought as Jon Busch was forced into making two of his three saves in the second half, and was saved by a last-gasp clearance by Brad Ring on opposition ‘keeper Matt Van Oekel’s header near the end of the match.Ring, who was a key central figure in the match, is a perfect example of a tale of two halves. Below is his first half passing hart – 19/24 – a pretty solid set of numbers.

The second half? A little different, with just a slight uptick in red.

Regardless, the three points shot Indy Eleven back to the top of both the Fall Season table and the combined table, a familiar site for the “Boys in Blue” in 2016.


The Sunshine State has not been kind to Indy Eleven this year. In the Spring Season, four trips south resulted in Coach Hankinson & co. returning with just four points. But the fall can be different, and this Saturday’s match may be the most important so far.Miami FC are a completely different side – a lot has changed for them already – but held Indy Eleven scoreless in the June 4 clash at FIU Stadium. This week has to be different for Indy.“Indiana’s Team” is embarking on their last match of July before the dog days of August see them play seven (!) games in 32 days, three consecutive at home before three straight on the road, the last of which is a trip to New York to face current holders of the second place spot, the Cosmos. Therefore, as Miami attempts to climb the table and take points at home, Indy will have to be on their toes and braced for the heat as this stretch is the longest of the year.

Indy Eleven Returns to Win Column, Top of NASL Standings

1-0 Victory over FC Edmonton Gives Indiana’s Team Leads on Fall, Combined Season TablesINDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, July 23, 2016)  In a clash of two of the NASL’s top teams, Indy Eleven emerged the winner from a hard fought 1-0 result over FC Edmonton in front of 8,119 fans at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium. With its return to the win column following its first loss of 2016 a week prior, Indy Eleven also returned to the top of the NASL standings both for the Fall and Combined Seasons.“We talked during the week about the old sports expression ‘from hero to goat and back again,’” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “The most important word I have in my life as a sportsman and in my life is resilience – the ability to get knocked down and fight your way back into it. If you can apply resiliency it will go a long way for this team to getting back on top again.”WATCH: “After the Whistle” reaction from Hankinson, Greg Janikci & Gerardo Torrado

After being victimized by two early goals last weekend in Minnesota, Indy Eleven (3W-1D-1L, 10 pts. in Fall Season; 7W-7D-1L, 28 pts. in Combined Season) came out and flipped the script via defender Greg Janicki’s third tally of the season just 13 minutes in. The chance was created when defender Nemanja Vukovic was tripped up 30 yards from goal to set up Dylan Mares’ perfect free kick service to Janicki, who headed home from eight yards to move the scoreboard for the home side.Edmonton striker Jake Keegan was unlucky not to even things up in the 22nd minute as he ran onto a free ball just 10 yards from goal, but his rising shot just missed the upper right corner. Two minutes later Indy ‘keeper Jon Busch spilled Adam Eckersley’s well-served cross from the left side, and while Daryl Fordyce was there to pounce on the loose ball he couldn’t turn to shoot and the danger was eventually cleared by the Eleven backline.Mares almost played provider once again before the half hour mark when he gathered a turnover on the right flank and fired a far-post cross for Eamon Zayed, but Matt VanOekel came off his line and just got a piece of the service to stop a certain second for the “Boys in Blue.”Indy Eleven had two more chances to push the lead at the end of the first half, first on a long-distance chance by Zayed that VanOekel got two hands to and steered just wide. On the ensuing corner it was Vukovic steering a header on frame, but it fell right to a waiting VanOekel on his line.The first quality look of the second half came at the stroke of the 58th minute when Eamon Zayed was played behind the backline, but VanOekel cut off the angle well at his left post, going low to block the shot wide. One minute later, the first starting appearance in NASL play for Indy Eleven midfielder Gerardo Torrado would come to a finish, the famed Mexican international exiting his central midfield spot for Nicki Paterson.A nice run to the endline by Edmonton striker Tomi Ameobi caused panic in the Indy six-yard box in the 62ndminute, but his cutback pass would be overrun by a trio of Eleven defenders in addition to its intended target, winger Dustin Correa. The end-to-end action would continue with two more chances for the Eleven in quick succession, but forward Justin Braun’s open header off a Vukovic cross was sent right to VanOekel, who moments later got just enough of Mares’ far post shot to push it wide for a corner.Indy Eleven looked like it padded its lead in the 75th minute when substitute Don Smart’s diagonal through ball sprung Braun behind the backline. While Braun’s square ball was finished off by Zayed into an open net, the offside flag went up to keep the visitors within striking distance. Two minutes from time it was Smart almost helping Indy find paydirt again when he sent a pinpoint cross to Zayed, whose header had VanOekel beat but fell just wide of the right post.Edmonton had two chances deep into stoppage time, first when Daryl Fordyce’s header at the near post was deflected out by Brad Ring for a corner. VanOekel would venture forward and get on the end of the ensuing set piece, but his header from 10 yards was also cleared out by Ring inside the six, securing the return to the win column for Indiana’s Team.Indy Eleven will return to action next Saturday, July 30, when it heads back to South Florida for a second meeting of the season against the Miami FC. Kickoff from Ocean Bank Field is set for 8:00 p.m. ET for a match that can be viewed live on beIN SPORTS and beIN SPORTS en Espanol in addition to the channel’s online component, beIN SPORTS CONNECT.Indy Eleven will then return home for a three-game homestand that will start on Wednesday, August 3, against Jacksonville Armada FC. The 7:30 p.m. match will mark the first Indy Eleven broadcast on CBS Sports Network, and the match can also be heard live on Exitos Radio 1590 AM and www.Exitos1590.com(Spanish). Tickets for the contest are available starting at just $11 and can be purchased online atIndyEleven.com or over the phone at 317-685-1100 weekdays from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.
NASL Fall Season
Indy Eleven  1 : 0  FC Edmonton
Saturday, July 23, 2016  Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN  Attendance: 8,119

Indy Eleven:
Fall Season: 3W-1D-1L, 10 pts.
Overall Season: 7W-7D-1L, 28 pts.

FC Edmonton:
Fall Season: 2W-1D-1L, 7 pts.
Overall Season: 7W-3D-4L, 24 pts.
Scoring Summary:
IND – Greg Janicki (Dylan Mares) 13’

Discipline Summary:
IND – Brad Ring (caution) 59’
FCE – Nik Ledgerwood (caution) 78’
Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković, Greg Janicki (capt), Cory Miller, Marco Franco; Omar Gordon (Don Smart 68’), Gerardo Torrado (Nicki Paterson 60’), Brad Ring, Dylan Mares (Lovel Palmer 82’); Eamon Zayed, Justin BraunIndy Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Daniel Keller, Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Souleymane Youla

FC Edmonton (4-2-3-1): Matt VanOekel; Adamn Eckersley, Karsten Smith, Shawn Nicklaw, Allan Zebie (Johann Smith 80’); Nik Ledgerwood (capt), Shamit Stone; Jake Keegan (Gustavo Salgueiro 76’), Daryl Fordyce, Dustin Correa (Sainey Nyassi 71’); Tomi Ameobi United FC bench: Tyson Farago (GK)

Clint Dempsey satisfied with U.S. performance at Copa America

Clint Dempsey called the performance of the United States at last month’s Copa America Centenario “a great experience, something I’ll be able to tell my kids and grandkids about.”The U.S. reached the semifinals of the tournament before falling in the third-place game against Colombia 1-0.Prior to that, the U.S. won its group thanks to wins over Costa Rica and Paraguay, and defeated Ecuador in the quarterfinals before being soundly beaten 4-0 by Argentina in the semifinals.That Argentina match notwithstanding, Dempsey thought there were positives to be taken away from the Copa.”I thought it was a good tournament for us, to progress to the semifinals of a major competition,” Dempsey said in an exclusive interview ahead of the MLS All-Star Game on Thursday (7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).”Copa America is always important. I’m happy with that. But still, after the tournament, we were left wanting a little bit more.”Maybe you think you could have gotten third place in that last game against Colombia. You would have liked to have gotten third and hang your hat on that, but [I’m] proud of the performance of the team. I thought we did well.”After the U.S. fell to Colombia 2-0 in the opening game of the tournament, the hosts’ disappointing display resulted in some calls for Dempsey to be removed from the lineup. But the U.S. forward answered with a team-high three goals, scoring in each of the U.S. victories.Dempsey said the calls for him to sit were simply part of the life of being a professional soccer player. “I think you’re always under fire, whether it’s from the media or from the coaches,” he said. “You always have to perform, and if you don’t perform you’re out. You always have to have that kind of mentality being in the hot seat and trying to keep pushing.”Sometimes you’re able to figure things out, and sometimes you maybe struggle a little bit, but you’ve got to keep pushing, keep fighting. I’ve always had that mentality.”The U.S. now must find a way to carry that momentum into the last two games of the semifinal round of World Cup qualifying, but Dempsey says the national team’s sole focus is on the upcoming games against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, as well as and Tobago four days later.”We’ve got to look at these next two games,” he said. “You have to get results in these next two games. You can’t look past it. We have to get the right results against St. Vincent, against Trinidad if you we want to get to the hex. September is what it’s all about.”Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team 

USWNT cruises past Costa Rica in final pre-Olympic warm up

Matt ReedJul 22, 2016, 11:08 PM EDT

The U.S. Women’s National Team wasn’t really lacking confidence heading into Friday night’s clash with Costa Rica, but the squad’s utter dominance certainly didn’t hurt things as Jill Ellis’ group gets ready to head to Brazil for next month’s Olympic Games.The USWNT captured a 4-0 win against Costa Rica in the side’s final send-off match before the Olympics, extending the no. 1 ranked team in the world’s unbeaten streak to 15 matches.It only took a quarter of an hour the USWNT to find the lead, but it always looked like it was coming for Jill Ellis’ group. Meghan Klingenburg made a great run deep into the Costa Rica area, and played a perfect square pass across the face of goal for Crystal Dunn to give the U.S. the lead in the 15th minute.Mallory Pugh got her name on the scoreboard in the 22nd minute after making a brilliant darting run forward and beating the Costa Rican goalkeeper at the near post.The U.S. pushed their advantage to 3-0 on the stroke of halftime when Becky Sauerbrunn’s free kick was headed home by Carli Lloyd in first-half stoppage time.With a number of chances in the second half that didn’t take the right bounce for the USWNT, Christen Press made no mistake from close range in the 79th minute and gave the home nation a four-goal lead.Dunn continues to impress on the international stage, and nearly gave the U.S. an advantage after just seven minutes. The 24-year-old gathered the ball inside the penalty box before unleashing a strong effort that struck the crossbar and stayed out.The U.S. found another dangerous opportunity three minutes later, when Carli Lloyd was brought down from behind on the edge of the penalty area. Costa Rica defender Katherine Alvarado was shown a yellow card for the rash tackle, but the USWNT couldn’t make anything of the ensuing free kick.While Costa Rica put in a valiant effort against their competition, the Ticas were no match for the Americans, and failed to muster up any shots on target throughout the night. The 29th ranked team in the FIFA World Rankings struggled to move the ball past midfield for most of the outing largely due to the USWNT’s constant press.

US Womens Team


WNT Jul 25, 2016

When head coach Jill Ellis named her roster for the 2016 Olympic Games, there were many familiar names. The team assembled to travel to Brazil is an exciting mix of veterans and up-and-coming talents, but one roster note stands out: of the 18 players named to the team, 11 will be competing in their first Olympic Games.The group of Olympic rookies, featuring players with more than 50 caps down to those with just a few, includes: Morgan Brian, Crystal Dunn, Whitney Engen, Lindsey Horan, Julie Johnston, Meghan Klingenberg, Ali Krieger, Allie Long, Alyssa Naeher, Christen Press and Mallory Pugh.“Certainly going into the World Cup, we recognized we had more of a senior roster,” Ellis said in discussing the Olympic Team selection. “Now, it’s not just having your eye on the Olympics this summer, it’s having your eye on what’s beyond that. Getting younger players experience in this world event will help down the line. I think that’s part of what you have to do in this position is always plan to continue winning world championships. It’s a great infusion of new players – a slightly different style in terms of different players and pieces and putting it all together – and that’s actually been good. It’s refreshing, as a staff, to work with different faces and try to blend them.”Brian, Engen, Johnston, Klingenberg, Krieger, Naeher and Press were all part of the World Cup championship team in 2015, while Dunn, Horan, Long and Pugh will experience their first world championship at the senior level, although the quartet have each have represented the USA in a youth World Cup.“Myself and other older players do have some experience from last year’s World Cup, even if this is our first Olympic Games, so we can bring that to the table,” Naeher said. “Those that have been at the Olympics before will give support to us first timers and we can reciprocate by bringing what we learned during the World Cup experience to those who are experiencing their first world championship.”Krieger, who started every game at the 2015 Women’s World Cup at right back, was an alternate for the 2008 Olympic Team and was almost certain to make the 2012 squad when a devastating ACL injury dashed her dreams. Four years later, soon-to-be 32-year-old Krieger became the oldest first-time U.S. Women’s Soccer Olympian – a fact she embraces.“After three tries, it’s finally happened,” Krieger said. “I’ve waited for this my entire life and I’ve trained for it my entire life. You play to be able to compete at the highest level and you dream of this when you’re young, so making it a reality is amazing. Add to that, we are playing for ourselves and for Team USA so it’s inspiring to see so many athletes be a part of this. There’s extra motivation and extra support.”Four years ago, Klingenberg and Press were still trying to break into the team when they were named alternates for the 2012 Olympic squad. Klingenberg had just two caps at the time and Press had yet to debut.Now, after starting every match at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and playing the most minutes (384 out of 450) of any U.S. player in the Olympic Qualifying tournament, Klingenberg is a key cog on the back line. Press has an impressive strike rate, having scored 34 goals in 70 caps since debuting at the beginning of the 2013, including her first World Cup goal that came against Australia in the tournament opener last summer.“When Jill called me she said, ‘this call is a bit different than four years ago,’ and it was one of the best things,” Klingenberg said. “I was happy and proud in 2012 as an alternate but I wanted to be on the team and win a medal with my teammates and win a medal for the USA. So to be able to go to Brazil is special and I’m humbled and honored to represent it with this group of people. We have a great team with incredible people.”Dunn, who was among the final 25 players vying for 2015 Women’s World Cup spots before the roster was trimmed to the 23 that represented the USA in Canada, has become a valuable part of the U.S. attack, scoring 10 goals in 2016, behind only Alex Morgan’s 11. Horan, who came back to the U.S. this year after playing professional soccer in France with Paris Saint-Germain for more than three years, has developed into a strong presence as a holding midfielder, while her club teammate and fellow midfielder Allie Long made a return to the WNT scene in April and played her way into a spot on the Olympic Team.As for Pugh, the 18-year-old forward became the second youngest women’s soccer Olympian in U.S. history. She will be about a month older than Cindy Parlow was at the 1996 Atlanta Games. The selection put an exclamation point on an incredible debut year for Pugh, who has played in 14 of the USA’s 15 games so far in 2016 and has recorded seven assists, a team-leading mark, as well as scored three goals. “When [Jill Ellis] called, a bunch of emotions were going through my mind,” recalled Pugh, who is also the captain of the U.S. U-20 Women’s National Team that will compete in the U-20 Women’s World Cup in Papua New Guinea later this fall. “I was a bit in shock because I know I’ve worked hard and it’s because of my teammates on the National Team, on the U-20s and back at home that have pushed me. I appreciate that from them and I wouldn’t be in the position I am in today without them. I thought, did that really just happen? Am I going to go to the Olympics? I will not only be with amazing athletes on my team but also on Team USA. It will be so cool to see so many different athletes, find out their journeys and be inspired by them.”To win the gold, teams will have to slog through six games in 16 days, including three group games in the span of a week. Among several other strong contenders to win the tournament, the USA is poised to make a strong run, one in which several first-time Olympians will no doubt play major roles should the Americans once again step to the top of the podium.The U.S. WNT will kick off Group G play at the 2016 Olympic Games against New Zealand in Belo Horizonte on Aug. 3 (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBC Universo). The team then remains in Belo Horizonte to face France on Aug. 6 (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBC Universo) before taking off to Manaus for its final Group G game vs. Colombia (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBC Universo).

Bayern’s Julian Green encouraged by football’s growth in United States

Julian Green believes football is on the rise in the United States as he looks to raise the profile of the game even further while on tour there with Bayern Munich.Green, 21, is part of Bayern’s squad for a preseason tour of the U.S. and the USMNT international has said how impressed he is with how the sport is developing in his home country.”[It’s developing] very well indeed,” he said on Bayern’s official website. “Everyone saw the enthusiasm for soccer at the 2014 World Cup. It was unbelievable! And I have the impression it’s still developing.”The tour is certainly very special for me personally. I was born in the USA, my father lives here, and I play for the U.S. national team. The USA is my home, just as Germany is. I’m delighted to be here with Bayern.”Although the aim of the tour is to prepare Bayern for the 2016-17 season, Green expects to enjoy his time in familiar company. “The people are so relaxed,” he said.”They’re very warm and they’ll give us a tremendous reception. It’s easy to feel at home in the USA, and we’ll enjoy the next few days. We have a packed schedule but I think it’ll be a good tour. It’s a great country and we’re visiting fantastic cities. Everyone at Bayern can look forward to our stay here.”Being back in the United States will also give Green the chance to keep up with some of his other passions without having to stay up late.”I’m a big fan of Hockey in general and especially of my hometown team, Tampa Bay Lightning,” he said. “I try and watch as many of their games as possible, although the difference in time zones makes it difficult. I also follow the NBA and play a bit of basketball in my free time.”


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