8/31/16 US WC Qualifiers Fri 3:30 pm, Tues 8 pm, Indy 11 @ Cosmos Wed 7:30, Champions League Predictions, CHS Boys-Fri 7 pm Free Admission CDC/CFC Players  

Anyone feel like grabbing a late lunch for the US game Friday 3:30 pm?  I was thinking Stacked Pickle on 96th or Chattam Tap in Fishers.

The US National Team has some HUGE Qualifiers this Friday 3:30 pm at St Vincent on beIN Sport and Tues 9/6 in Jax vs Trinidad and Tobago at  8 pm on Fox Sports 1.  What’s at stake – well currently the US is 2nd behind T&T in our group – 2 wins are a necessity to win the Group and guarantee ourselves the top slot moving into the next round (the HEX).  Win both games without our leading scoring Clint Dempsey (who is still having irregular heartbeat tests done) and we advance to the HEX and get to host Mexico on Nov 11 most probably at Columbus. Lose one or lose and tie and qualifying could be in question with Guatamala just 1 pt back in 3rd place.

Locally the Indy 11 travel to league leader NY Cosmos for a midweek game featured on MyIndyTV 23 locally on Wednesday night at 7:30 pm.  The 11 sit just 3 pts back in 3rd place overall and will return for a home game at the MIKE on Saturday, Sept 3rd vs the Tampa Bay Rowdies at 7:30 pm.  Tix just $11.  This Fri, Sept 2   CHS boys host  7:30 pm  PACK THE HOUSE/MAKE GOOD DECISIONS NIGHT with FREE ADMISSION for CDC + CFC players in uniform

So I tried watching some Bundesliga this weekend with the new season opening and lets be real there are more American US National team players playing in Germany than England these days with (D) John Brooks, (M) Fabian Johnson, (F) Bobby Wood, (F) Aron Johannsson, (M) Christian Pulisec (if he plays) and more.  So I watched 2 or 3 games- first time watching entire German league games.  What I saw was interesting – good solid technical soccer – more than EPL, less that La Liga, Huge Stadiums – 75K plus for many of the games – with load boisterous flag waving fans.  In all, while I don’t recognize a lot of the players like I do having watched the EPL for many seasons, it is good soccer.  I think I will start watching the teams with US based players and Bayern Munich of course – seeing as we have what all of 2 American’s in the EPL right now?  So go Champs League squad Bourusia Monchenglab (Fabian Johnson), and Hertha (John Brooks – he was dominant Sun), and newly promoted Hamburg (Bobby wood scored a wonder goal) and Dortmund of course (come on coach give the 17 yo American Pulisec a chance), and Aron Johannsson started for Werder Bremen. I’ll be tuning in 2 weeks when league play resumes after this International Break weekend.

CHS_Pack the House Night Poster

GAMES OF THE WEEK 

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Wed, Aug 31                                        

7:30 pm My Indy TV 23                 NY Cosmos vs Indy 11  Big game for Indy as they chase down NY in standings

Fri, Sept 2 

3:30 pm beIN sport     WCQ – US @ St. Vincent + Grenadines –US needs to seal top spot with wins

Sat, Sept 3                                              *International Break *

7:30 pm Ch 8/ESPN3                       Indy 11 vs TB Rowdies

Sun, Sept 4 

12 pm Fox Sports ? ESPN3           Slovakia vs England

Tues, Sept 6 

8 pm Fox Sport 1         WCQ – US vs Trinadad and Tobago  US needs to seal top spot with wins

8:15 pm beIN Sport                                                  Brazil vs Colombia  -Brazil in danger of missing WC2018

Sat, Sept 10

7 am FS1                                                   Celtic vs Rangers – Ireland’s top Rivalry!

11 am NBCSN                       Man United vs Man City –Manchester Darby between the new mega star coaches

 LOCAL High School

Fri, Sept 2   CHS boys host      7:30 pm  PACK THE HOUSE/MAKE GOOD DECISIONS NITE with FREE ADMISSION for CDC + CFC players in uniform

Sat, Sept 3 Guerin boys        5 pm at Indy 11 – The Mike – Guerin plays Bishop Chatard downtown at the Mike before the 7 pm Indy 11 game.

 U.S. Men

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC), 
Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)

Defenders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)

Midfielders: Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)

Why the US Needs to Win

Who Should Start Where with Dempsey and Bradley out?  Stars and Stripes

US Returns to Regulars for Friday Qualifier

Klinnsy calls on Core for Qualifiers – Straus – SI

Sacha Kljestan replaces injured John Brooks on Roster

Did Klinsy Get it Right on Rosters?  Stars and Stripes

Klinsmann Calls in Safe Squad for Qualifiers  TV

Forward Bobby Wood scores First Bundesliga Goal for Hamburg

American’s Abroad this Week

We Should Appreciate What US Men have done

Dempsey Duece – Out with Irregular Heartbeat

Hope Solo Suspension Seems Hollow – Graham Hayes ESPNW

Hope Solo’s Rant after her Suspension

INDY 11

Indy vs NY Cosmos Preview

Indy 11 3 Things in Tie with Ottawa

Playoff Tickets for Purchase

Tickets for Sat Sept 3 Game vs Tampa Bay just $11

Champions League

Group A  1. Paris Saint-Germain 2. Arsenal 3. FC Basel 4. Ludogorets Razgrad

Group B  1. Benfica 2. Napoli 3. Dynamo Kiev 4. Besiktas

Group C  1. Barcelona, 2. Manchester City 3. Borussia Monchengladbach 4. Celtic

Group D  1. Atletico Madrid 2. Bayern Munich 3. PSV Eindhoven 4. Rostov

Group E   1. Tottenham 2. Bayer Leverkusen 3. Monaco 4. CSKA Moscow

Group F  – 1. Real Madrid 2. Borussia Dortmund  3. Sporting Lisbon 4. Legia Warsaw

Group G –  1. Porto 2. Leicester City 3. Copenhagen 4.Brugge

Group H –  1. Juventus 2. Lyon 3. Sevilla 4. Dinamo Zagreb

Key Early Games Tues Sept 13

Arsenal @ PSG

Celtic @ Barcelona

Sept 14

Monico @ Tottenham

Sevilla @ Juve

Sept 27

Man City @ Celtic

Bayern Munich @ Athletico Madrid

Sept 28

Real Madrid @ Dortmund

Porto @ Leicester City

Marcotti – Why UCL changed the #s

UCL losing the Romance Jon Wilson SI

Predictions Ben Lyttleton SI

Man City Looks good in Group C

Athletico has Tough Draw

Juve should run away with Group H

Europa League Match-up Set

Europa League Draw Results

GOALKEEPERS

Arsenal Keeper Petre Cech – Interview

Top EPL Saves of Week 3

MLS Save of Week 24

Vote Save of Week 25

 More GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Wed, Aug 31                                        

7:30 pm CBS Sports Network     Ft. Lauderdale vs Minn. 

7:30 pm My Indy TV                                                NY Cosmos vs Indy 11

Fri, Sept 2 

3:30 pm beIN sport     WCQ – US @ St. Vincent + Grenadines

5 pm beIN Sport                                 Honduras vs Canada

8 pm beIN Sport                                 Haiti vs Costa Rica

10 pm beIN Sport                              Mexico vs El Salvador

Sat, Sept 3                                              *International Break *

7:30 pm Ch 8 ESPN3                                                Indy 11 vs TB Rowdies

Sun, Sept 4 

12 pm Fox Sports 2                           Denmark vs Armenia

12 pm Fox Sports ? ESPN3           Slovakia vs England

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Norway vs Germany

Mon, Sept 5 

12 pm Fox Sports 1                           Spain vs Leichenstein

Tues, Sept 6 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                                               Belarus vs France

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Switzerland vs Portugal

8 pm Fox Sport 1         WCQ – US vs Trinadad and Tobago

8:15 pm beIN Sport                                                  Brazil vs Colombia

Fri, Sept 9                                                 

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 04

Sat, Sept 10

7 am FS1                                                   Celtic vs Rangers – Ireland

11 am NBCSN                       Man United vs Man City

9:30 am fox Sports 1                                                Bayer Leverkusen s Hamburg SV

10 am NBCSN                                        Arsenal vs Southampton, Stoke City vs Tottenham, West Ham vs Watford

12:30 pm FS 2                                       RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund

12:30 pm NBCSN                                Liverpool s Leicester City

7:30 pm YES                                           New England vs NYCFC

7:30 pm beIN Sports   Ft. Lauderdale vs Indy 11

9 pm beIN Sport                                 Futsal World Cup – Colombia vs Portugal

Sun, Sept 11

9:30 am FS1                                            Werder Bremen vs Augsburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Swansea vs Chelsea 

11:30 am FS 1                                       Mainz 05 vs Hoffenhiem

7 pm FS 1                                                                         LA Galaxy vs Orlando City

9:30 pm FS 1                                         Women -Portland Thorns vs NY Flash

Mon, Sept 12

3 pm NBCSN                                           Sunderland vs Everton

Tues, Wed Sept 13/14                   Champions League Group Stage Starts 

Tues -Arsenal @ PSG + Celtic @ Barcelona

Wed- Monico @ Tottenham + Sevilla @ Juve

Sept 27

Man City @ Celtic

Bayern Munich @ Athletico Madrid

Sept 28

Real Madrid @ Dortmund

Porto @ Leicester City

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

 PREVIEW: INDY ELEVEN AT NEW YORK COSMOS

Indiana’s Team faces the Cosmos for the second time in 2016

Last Time Out – Ottawa Fury FC 1 : 1 Indy Eleven

Indy faced game #2 of 3 on the road last Sunday against Fury FC in Ottawa, coming away with a deserved point after 90 minutes that featured almost as many rain delays as goals. After a scoreless first half that featured limited chances for both sides, second half substitute Thomas Stewart opened the scoring in the 56th minute following a set piece by Fury FC midfielder Ryan Williams. Ottawa’s No.7 struck the ball hard and over the wall towards Eleven ‘keeper Jon Busch, and the MLS veteran was only able to punch it straight into the air where it then fell into the path of Stewart who made no mistake heading home from close range.However, in the 64th minute Indy earned a set piece of their own on the right hand side. As midfielder Nicki Paterson swung his cross into the center of the box, forward Eamon Zayed headed it backwards in the direction of midfielder Brad Ring, and the American lashed home an effort that struck the underside of the bar and in. Despite a number of substitutes and a delay for lightning, the final 25 minutes saw both teams come close only once, but finish the match with a point a piece – a justfiable scoreline.

Last Time Out – New York Cosmos 6 : 1 Carolina Railhawks FC

Last weekend at Shuart Stadium, the New York Cosmos asserted their dominance against Railhawks FC in a 6-1 thrashing that featured braces by Juan Arango and Jairo Arrieta, and a goal a piece by Andres Flores and Sebastian Guenzatti.Carolina got off to a fast start in the sixth minute when forward Matt Fondy found the back of the net off a pass by Nazmi Albadawi, but it took New York just two minutes to level the score as Arango bagged his first from a Flores assist. As both sides settled into the match, chances would come but none were converted as halftime saw things tied at 1-1.Just inside the hour mark though, the tide began to overwhelmingly turn in New York’s favor as Juan Arango scored his second goal of the match on a skillful solo effort. Four minutes later, Jairo Arrieta brought down a pass from Andres Flores and put New York 3-1 up with thirty minutes to play. After a break in scoring, things resumed in the 79th minute with a goal by Andres Flores this time off a ball by Jairo Arrieta, and three minutes later it was Arrieta again on the scoresheet as substitute David Diosa bagged his only assist of the match to make it 5-1. Putting the finishing touch on the game, Sebastian Guenzatti scored in the third minute of stoppage off a Flores pass, who tallied three assists on the night, to end Carolina’s misery. The 6-1 score shot Cosmos to the top of the table ahead of Wednesday’s clash.

“Climbing the Mountain”

Before Indy challenge New York for the top spot in the table, we throw it back to a phrase used by Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson before the Jacksonville Armada FC game in May – “climbing the mountain.” At that point in time, “Coach Hank” was using the phrase to describe Indy’s Spring Season title challenge and how, as a group, they were looking to climb the mountain and finish the job.Now, Indy is climbing a different mountain – one that requires a much longer trek – the challenge that is the Fall Season. Sitting third in the fall standings, Indy could vault to the top with a win featuring a three-goal margin of victory, but it will take a great deal of effort by the “Boys in Blue” still facing injury trouble among other concerns. While the Cosmos are pacing the league with four wins in their last five games, they will be without a number of players due to international call-ups and injury trouble of their own, meaning Indy needs to throw their all into this fixture if they hope to scrape out their first road win of the Fall Season.

Placing Your Weight

On the other side of the coin, though, is the idea that Indiana’s Team needs to place distribute their weight evenly with a match against Tampa Bay Rowdies looming on Saturday.August was a mixed month for the opponents from the Sunshine State with two wins and three losses, though it’s worth noting the losses were to quality opposition in New York, Minnesota United FC, and FC Edmonton. Former England international Joe Cole helped rescue the three points in their last match against Rayo OKC after finding the back of the net twice and remains the biggest threat ahead of that match, but the point remains that Indy has enough on their plate with three games in the next 11 days.While a win over New York would very much keep Indy in the running for the Fall Season championship, a loss would place them six points off the top of the charts and damage their title hopes. The two Tim’s Hankinson and Regan are now tasked with figuring out how much weight to place both Wednesday and Saturday as the chase continues.

Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: FW Eamon Zayed

In the spotlight once again is forward Eamon Zayed, who still sits just one goal off the top of the league scoring charts and will look to continue his form against the Cosmos after his brace in the spring.Zayed has performed well in the fall, often scoring in spurts. Without a goal in the first two games, he would go onto score in three of the next five games with goals against Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and a hat-trick at home against Jacksonville Armada FC. After missing out on scoring against Ottawa and Rayo OKC, he returned to form with a penalty against Carolina. With Wednesday’s match carrying major weight in the fall standings, the Irishman is due for another big performance and has found his stage. Will he deliver?

Who to Watch, New York Cosmos edition: MF Juan Arango

Leading the team in goals (9) and second in assists (4) midfielder Juan Arango is growing as one of the biggest midfield threats on any team in the league.The Venezuelan international nabbed a brace in the Cosmos’ 6-1 win over Carolina and has helped lead the team in their three-game win streak, continuing to push forward and assist the attack on a regular basis. Without Andres Flores, who has been called up to his national team squad, Arango will have to put in an extra shift if the Cosmos are to ruffle Indy’s feathers defensively.

Match-up to Mark: GK Jon Busch vs. FW Jairo Arrieta

Jon Busch won’t forgive himself for the goal Ottawa scored on Sunday, despite the tricky free kick from Fury FC midfielder Ryan Williams being difficult to handle. However, Buschy is looking at a much bigger task on Wednesday in New York – stifling an impressive Cosmos attack that has scored 15 goals in their last five matches.Jairo Arrieta, who also bagged a brace against Carolina, will help spearhead that attack alongside Sebastian Guenzatti, who also scored against Railhawks FC. If the Cosmos are to continue their pattern of dominance at home, making a statement with a win over the Spring Season champions Indy Eleven will likely involve impact by Arrieta.

US MEN – SEMIFINAL ROUND SITUATION: TWO TO GO, AND ALL TO PLAY FOR

Aug 28, 2016

Going into the final two matches of the Semifinal Round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, there is still a lot very much up in the air. Sitting in second place with seven points, the USA’s place in the final round still must be secured. Should the MNT advance, the blue print for the Hexagonal has already been set, and it could start off in massive fashion. Below is an explanation of where we are, where we can go, and what happens after.

CONCACAF Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying – Group C
Team GP W L D Pts. GF GA GD
Trinidad & Tobago 4 3 0 1 10 11 3 +8
USA 4 2 1 1 7 10 3 +7
Guatemala 4 2 2 0 6 7 6 +1
St. Vincent and the Grenadines 4 0 4 0 0 3 19 -16

The top two teams from the group will move on to the “Hex” that begins in November. In looking at the table, three of the four countries are still alive: Trinidad & Tobago, the USA and Guatemala.  As a reminder the tiebreakers are as follows:  Goal Differential  // Goals For

Here is the remaining schedule:

Sept. 2, 2016 St. Vincent & The Grenadines vs. United States
  Trinidad & Tobago vs. Guatemala
Sept. 6, 2016 United States vs. Trinidad & Tobago
  Guatemala vs. St. Vincent & The Grenadines

What to watch for on Sept. 2

If the United States beats St. Vincent AND Trinidad beats Guatemala on Matchday Five, then both will have qualified. T&T needs only a point from their home match to secure advancement. Any other combination of results would leave the future unsettled for all three teams until the final day.Now, if the MNT and T&T both win and are through to the Hexagonal, the next fight is for first place in the group. Why does that matter? We’ll get to that.If those results happen, Trinidad will be in first with 13 points and the United States in second with 10 points. This would mean that only a U.S. victory on Matchday Six at home would give it a chance to take top spot in the group. As you see above, Trinidad also currently holds the advantage in goal differential (+1) and goals scored (+1). So, keep an eye on not only the results but the scorelines!If the U.S. beats St. Vincent and Trinidad ties Guatemala on Sept. 2, a USA victory at home against T&T would guarantee the MNT first place. If the U.S. beats St. Vincent and Guatemala beats Trinidad, that would leave both T&T and the USA with 10 points and Guatemala with nine. In that case, things get really, really interesting…

What to watch for on Sept. 6

Obviously it all depends on the results from MatchDay Five. For the Guatemalans, a victory away in Port of Spain is vital to substantially keeping their hopes alive, especially with their final match at home against St. Vincent. Two wins in two games gets the job done.

Same goes for the United States. Two wins equals advancement. If the USA beats St. Vincent and ties Trinidad, it can finish no less than tied on points for second place, which then triggers the tie breakers.Regardless of the specific circumstance, the game in Jacksonville will be – how do you say … HUGE!

Let’s get back to why. The schedule matrix for the six teams competing in the Hex has already been established. The random draw took place July 8 in Miami. If the MNT finishes in first place in the group, they enter the final round as C1. And wouldn’t you know which team C1 hosts in the opening game? Think #DosaCero. That’s right – the United States would host Mexico on Nov. 11 at a stadium to be … ahem … determined. Just as intriguing, with Costa Rica in pole position in Group B, the second match for Team 1 would most likely be away to Los Ticos four days later. As it turns out, it doesn’t snow in Costa Rica in November (or any time, for that matter).  Should the U.S. finish in second place, they become C2 and would still be at home. And here comes that Costa Rica game again! The other intriguing part of the C2 schedule is back-to-back home games for Matchdays 3-4, and back-to-back away games for Matchdays 5-6 and 8-9.   So you see, where you finish in the semifinal round matters a great deal on the roadmap to Russia. But to be there, you’ve got to get there, making these next two matches absolutely critical. While it may have seemed September was a sleepy time, the MNT needs your support now more than ever.

Jurgen Klinsmann takes no chances with U.S. squad for crucial WCQs

With a qualifying spot in the next round of World Cup qualifying at stake, U.S. men’s national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has opted for a veteran roster before games against St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, and Trinidad & Tobago four days later.All told, 26 players have been called in. The group includes Toronto FC striker Jozy Altidore but the Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey has been left off due to an irregular heartbeat that was announced by his club on Friday. No timetable has been given for his return. LA Galaxy midfielder Gyasi Zardes was also left off the roster due to an undisclosed injury he sustained in Saturday night’s 0-0 draw with the Vancouver Whitecaps.Altidore has been plagued by hamstring issues for much of 2016 — one such injury caused him to miss the Copa America earlier this summer. But since returning to his club on July 23, Altidore has scored five goals and added one assist in eight appearances, three of them starts. It is expected that he will be relied on heavily to pick up the slack created by Dempsey’s absence, and forward Bobby Wood (fresh off scoring on his Bundesliga debut for his new club Hamburg) will also play a big role. Opportunity will also beckon for Dempsey’s club teammate, Jordan Morris, and FC Utrecht’s Rubio Rubin, with San Jose Earthquake mainstay Chris Wondolowski rounding out the group of forwards.Beyond that, the roster looks very similar to the one that saw the U.S. reach the semifinals of the Copa, with 19 of the 23 players on that roster getting recalls.”We definitely think that the group that got fourth in the Copa America deserves a certain 
priority going on to the next World Cup qualifiers because they did tremendously well [in that competition],” Klinsmann said. “It was an exciting tournament with great games. The whole group learned a lot, playing teams like Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. This is a big stage, and they deserve to come back and confirm what they did in the tournament in these upcoming, very important World Cup qualifiers.”That list includes captain Michael Bradley, who will serve a one-game suspension against SVG for yellow card accumulation. Michael Orozco is also suspended due to the red card he incurred late in the Copa America third-place match against Colombia.Colorado Rapids midfielder Jermaine Jones has been called in despite not playing for almost two months due to a lingering knee problem. It is expected that he will be checked out by the U.S. medical staff and the hope is that he will be ready if needed. That said, it seems unlikely that he will play in either match.Jones’ injury and Bradley’s suspension mean that Klinsmann will rely heavily on Kyle Beckerman to man the center of midfield against the Vincy Heat. It could also mean that one of Christian Pulisic or Darlington Nagbe will get extended minutes.With regard to the defense, the group that performed so well at the Copa (including Geoff Cameron, John Brooks, DeAndre Yedlin, and Fabian Johnson) are on the roster. Omar Gonzalez is back in the frame after missing out on the Copa while FC Dallas defender Kellyn Acosta is expected to provide valuable depth at both full-back positions.In terms of unexpected call-ups, both Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola and Caleb Stanko of FC Vaduz are on the roster.The U.S. currently lies in second place in Group C with seven points, three points behind T&T but just one point ahead of Guatemala. A win against the Vincy Heat, combined with a T&T win against Guatemala, would see the U.S. clinch a spot in the final hexagonal round, due to begin in November. Given the edge that the U.S. has over Guatemala in goal difference — currently, plus-six — a win in St. Vincent combined with a draw between T&T and Guatemala would all but guarantee that the U.S. would advance. Should Guatemala prevail over T&T, determining who will advance will come down to the final day.”We are preparing for these two games very seriously with a lot of urgency because we want to finish off our group in first place if possible, and this group of players gets the chance to do that,” said Klinsmann.The U.S. team will be expected to log plenty of air miles over the next week. Because St. Vincent’s airport can’t accommodate jets, the team will stop over in Barbados, where it will take a series of 19-passenger planes — including one just for the team’s gear — to make the final journey to St. Vincent.

U.S. Roster by position

Goalkeepers: Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC), 
Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)

Defenders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha BSC), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Monchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)

Midfielders: Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV)Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC 

Klinsmann turns to USA’s Copa core, recalls Morris for World Cup qualifiers

QUICKLY – Of the USA’s 23-man Copa America roster, 19 are part of the squad for September’s World Cup qualifiers, though a handful will miss he first match vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines. BRIAN STRAUSSunday August 28th, 2016

It’s been two months since the U.S. national team finished fourth at the Copa América Centenario, but time hasn’t dimmed the accomplishment for coach Jurgen Klinsmann. On Sunday afternoon he named 19 of the 23 men who participated in that competition to the squad that will close out CONCACAF’s semifinal round of World Cup qualifying, and he would have invited more if possible.This year’s leading international goal scorer (and last year’s), Clint Dempsey, will miss out while being evaluated by doctors following the diagnosis of an irregular heartbeat. The 33-year-old forward will be out of action for both the U.S. and the Seattle Sounders for an undetermined period. He’ll be joined on the qualifying sidelines by LA Galaxy attacker Gyasi Zardes, who was a late scratch after leaving Saturday night’s MLS game against Vancouver. Zardes had taken a hard, sliding tackle from the Whitecaps’ Kendall Waston midway through the second half and is being evaluated by Galaxy staff.Otherwise, apart from a few younger players Klinsmann would like to get a look at during this international window, the team aiming to clinch a spot in the Hexagonal is the team that took the field this summer. Midfielder Perry Kitchen and defender Edgar Castillo, neither of whom saw action at the Copa, are the only others excluded.“We definitely think that the group that got fourth in the Copa América deserves a certain priority going on to the next World Cup qualifiers because they did tremendously well,” Klinsmann said. “This is a big stage, and they deserve to come back and confirm what they did in the tournament in these upcoming, very important World Cup qualifiers. We are preparing for these two games very seriously, with a lot of urgency because we want to finish off our group in first place if possible, and this group of players gets the chance to do that.”The U.S. (2-1-1) will gather in Jacksonville on Sunday and Monday and then head to Kingstown, the capital of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, for Friday’s game against the 0-4-0 Vincy Heat. The Americans then will head back to Jacksonville, where they’ll play Trinidad & Tobago (3-0-1) on Sept. 6. Klinsmann’s team is in good shape to finish in the top half of the four-team group, but unless both the U.S. and Trinidad win on Friday, the Americans will head into the finale needing the right result to cement its place in CONCACAF’s final qualifying round.So Klinsmann is taking no chances, and even has called in key players facing suspension (Michael Bradley) or still recovering from an injury (Jermaine Jones). The opposition might not be formidable, but the stakes are enormous.“Our message for players coming into this camp for the two World Cup qualifiers is very clear: approach it with a lot of urgency,” he said. Klinsmann named 26 players on Sunday but said he will take only 23 to St. Vincent. Bradley (yellow card accumulation) and defender Michael Orozco (ejected during Copa bronze medal game) are both suspended for Friday’s match and will be among those left behind. If passage to the Hex is secured in St. Vincent, the manager may send a few players home. The slightly larger squad gives him a bit of leeway for what could be a tense and unpredictable finale.Here’s a look at Klinsmann’s qualifying team:

Goalkeepers

Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough), Ethan Horvath (Molde FC), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)

Guzan, the Copa América starter, appears to have maintained a claim on the No. 1 shirt after three consecutive starts for Middlesbrough, his new club. Playing time wasn’t guaranteed with former Barcelona netminder Víctor Valdés and incumbent Dimi Konstantopoulos in the fold. But an injury to the former helped open the door and Guzan has had the opportunity to shake off the summer rust. He shut out West Bromwich Albion on Sunday.

Howard has started just twice for the U.S. this year, but he’s been good for the Colorado Rapids and showed what he still can do with Friday’s spectacular penalty kick save on Real Salt Lake’s Javier Morales. Horvath continues to hold off MLS stalwarts like Nick Rimando, David Bingham and Bill Hamid for the third spot.

Defenders

Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)

Arguably the most surprising omission from the Copa roster, Liga MX champion Gonzalez has returned and very well could push Cameron for a starting spot alongside the imperious Brooks. Besler and Birnbaum provide reliable depth, while Johnson and Yedlin have established themselves as the clear choices at outside back—a position where there was considerable uncertainty last year.

Johnson still may be a better midfielder, but the U.S. has more depth further up the field.  He came on as a substitute in Gladbach’s season opening 2-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Midfielders

Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (Colorado Rapids), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Caleb Stanko (FC Vaduz), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Klinsmann has a couple interesting choices to make assuming Jones (knee) isn’t ready to play on Friday. The veteran has been out of the Colorado Rapids’ lineup since early July. His inclusion is testament both to the importance of these upcoming games and to Klinsmann’s faith in the 34-year-old midfield powerhouse.“We will take it one day at a time with him,” Klinsmann said.eckerman may be part of the player pool forever, and he’ll likely be deployed to do Beckerman-type things, giving Klinsmann’s creative players a bit more leeway to push forward. In Bedoya and Nagbe, the U.S. has the talent to carve open the likes of St. Vincent and Trinidad, while Pulisic’s promise is such that Klinsmann has brought him in despite rumors that the 17-year-old could be on the move from Dortmund.The manager addressed that issue on Sunday.“Every time you go into a national team qualifying window in early September is a bit tricky because FIFA has that rule to close the transfer window on August 31st,” he said. “Players who are not transferred before August 31st, or maybe are in jeopardy on not knowing where to go, bring that kind of atmosphere into the national team environment. So this is not ideal. We had this in the past where we had transfers done at the last moment and it was real difficult for players to focus on what is really important, meaning the game. So hopefully our players will be all set as quickly as possible over the next couple of days, knowing where their future takes them, we can focus fully on the World Cup qualifiers.”He obviously has faith confidence in the teenager, who’s been far from overawed in either a U.S. shirt or at the Westfalenstadion.Stanko, 23, is a relatively new name on the senior national team list (he went unused in the pre-Copa friendly vs. Puerto Rico) and will be brought in for evaluation. The defensive midfielder is unlikely to play. The Michigan native moved for Germany’s SC Freiburg in 2011 and now is on loan to Liechtenstein’s FC Vaduz, which plays across the border in the Swiss Super League.

Forwards

Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Rubio Rubin (FC Utrecht), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburger SV)

Dempsey will be missed, certainly, but there are goals to be found among the available forwards. “Clint Dempsey has been back scoring and we wanted to have him here, but of course his health comes first,” Klinsmann said. “We’re thinking of Clint and hoping that he will be okay. With our other forwards, Jozy is back scoring. Jordan Morris is doing really well. Then we’ve had the European-based players Bobby Wood and Rubio Rubin starting their season right now. It looks good. Wondolowski is scoring as well … so that’s a good thing for us. We know our strikers are hungry for goals, and hopefully they can start with that right away in St. Vincent.”Wood started off with his new club, HSV, where he left off in the spring, scoring in Bundesliga debut on Saturday. His rise to international starter status represents Klinsmann’s greatest post-World Cup personnel success.

Altidore, who’s been tormented by hamstring injuries at the worst moments, has been strong for TFC in recent weeks and has four goals in his past five games. They may be less inclined than Dempsey to drop into midfield and look to create or facilitate, but that shouldn’t be much of a handicap against opposition that likely will play lower and more compact.

Morris has had a good rookie season and should be up to the challenge, and Wondolowski’s veteran influence ensures he remains in the picture. He has nine goals and two assists for San Jose this season.

3 thoughts on the USMNT’s World Cup qualifying roster

By Rob Usry  @RobUsry Aug 28, 2016, 12:38p  Stars and Stripes

On Sunday, Jurgen Klinsmann named a very interesting 26-man roster for the final two World Cup qualifiers in the semifinal round of CONCACAF. In all honesty, no matter what roster was called up, the United States men’s national team should be heavily favored in both of these upcoming qualifiers.On paper, the U.S. should steamroll St. Vincent and the Grenadines away from home and then should be able to handle Trinidad and Tobago to finish off Group C as the top dogs.However, as we know, in CONCACAF “on paper” rarely means anything. The improbable usually becomes possible in the wacky land of North and Central America.Here are a few thoughts on Klinsmann’s selections:

The Deuce is Lost

The most notable thing when you look at the roster is the lack of Clint Dempsey. As you likely know by now, he has been sidelined with an irregular heart. This means that the onus on finding the back of the net when it matters most will fall on the other strikers. Thankfully the U.S. crop of goal scorers are in rare form with Jozy Altidore at the top of his game at the club level. Then you have Bobby Wood scoring a great goal on his Hamburg debut.Those two will likely be called upon to be the team’s main goal threats. Hopefully they can both translate their recent club success to the national team and continue to bang in the goals. If they do that, there shouldn’t be a problem.Gyasi Zardes is also out with an injury, giving fringe guys like Paul Arriola and Rubio Rubin a chance. While it’s not expected that they’ll play much, it’s good to see them getting the opportunity to shine in training in front of Klinsmann.

Why Wondo Why?

I mean, I get that there are injuries, but why? Why always him? To be fair, Wondolowski has made his national team resume on facing minnows of CONCACAF. Perhaps he’ll be the guy who can slay the mighty Vinny Heat at their place. Sort of like the Alan Gordon of this cycle.

Have you seen Danny Williams?

Seriously, where the heck is he? Caleb Stanko gets a call-up but not him? Jemaine Jones, who has been injured for a month, get a call-up but not him? Kyle Beckerman gets — you get it. I’m thoroughly confused by his consistent omission from rosters. He seems like the perfect two-way midfielder to add depth to the squad. Why is he completely out of the picture? I guess we’ll just add it to the other mysterious Klinsmann roster decisions over the past six years.All-in-all I like the mix of veterans and young guys. It should be more than enough to get a spot in the Hex. I’ll refrain from fully judging the roster and philosophy until the Hex is clinched. Once that’s done, I’d really really like to see him get over the veterans like Wondo, Beckerman, and Michael Orozco. It’s time to find some new squad players who can contribute. October’s friendlies are the perfect opportunity to find some new blood.

US Forward Bobby Wood: Draw spoils joy of first Bundesliga goal with Hamburg

U.S. international Bobby Wood said he would have preferred Hamburg had beaten Ingolstadt after scoring his first goal for the club in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.The 23-year-old hit the back of the net only 30 minutes into his Bundesliga debut for Hamburg following his €3.5m summer transfer from second-tier club Union Berlin.The forward picked up a long ball by Hamburg keeper Rene Adler and scored with a strong finish from inside the box, but he was left with mixed emotions with the draw.”Sure, I am pleased with the goal, but I would have preferred to pick up three points,” Wood said. “I am annoyed, it’s just stupid how we conceded that goal. I don’t know what happened to us in the second half.”Wood’s goal was not enough to secure Hamburg three points on the opening day of the league. With only 11 minutes left, HSV defender Cleber failed to clear an Ingolstadt cross and rather set up Lukas Hinterseer for the equaliser. abbadia said that Wood’s goal was part of the club’s expectations.”We bought him just for that. He’s got pace, and he knows how to use his body,” Labbadia told reporters after the match.On Sunday, Wood left Hamburg and flew to Jacksonville, Florida, where he met up with his U.S. teammates. The U.S. play a crucial 2018 World Cup qualifier away at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2, followed by another at home to Trinidad & Tobago four days later.

Tab Ramos urges cautious approach with Christian Pulisic

U.S. fans didn’t see much of 17-year-old midfielder Christian Pulisic during June’s Copa America Centenario, but U.S. U20 coach Tab Ramos sure did. Ramos, who for the past five years has served as one of Jurgen Klinsmann’s assistants with the senior squad, got to see the Borussia Dortmund midfielder in training on a daily basis for more than a month, en route to the Americans’ fourth-place finish.”I have to tell you, you would have never known that he’s a 17-year-old kid in practice,” Ramos told insider during a recent chat. “He played like a man. He made plays like a man.”I think it was tough for Jurgen to decide how much pressure to put on him,” Ramos added. “Almost every team we played was a little bit ahead of us, so if you’re asking a 17-year-old not only to play in but to win games like that, that’s a lot to ask. You have to bring him along little by little. That’s the only reason he didn’t play more. He could’ve started every game. I think we’ve made mistakes in the past with young players, and I think we have to take a little bit of time with this one. He’s special.”Unfortunately for Ramos, that’s part of the reason Pulisic isn’t likely to play for the U.S. U20s when it attempts, beginning in February, to qualify for next summer’s FIFA under-20 World Cup in South Korea. The U20s last got together earlier this month, a camp limited mostly to college players and development academy standouts as MLS enters the final stretch of its regular season. And overall, Ramos — the U.S. Soccer Hall of Famer who guided the 2015 squad to a quarterfinal finish at the last U20 World Cup — came away impressed by the country’s deepening player pool.”This is my third cycle as head coach, and every camp it gets a little tougher to decide on players when we put the depth chart together to decide who’s ahead of who,” Ramos said. “It’s getting more competitive. Everybody pushes each other. They’re all getting better.”The list of names unavailable to Ramos for that July 31-Aug. 8 camp in New Jersey is long. Missing were 18-year old Cameron Carter-Vickers, who cracked Tottenham Hotspur’s first-team squad for the new Premier League season, and fellow center backs Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Erik Palmer-Brown (Porto, on loan from Sporting Kansas City) and Tommy Redding(Orlando City). Pulisic and Gedion Zelalem stayed with Dortmund and Arsenal respectively, while other eligible foreign-based midfielders like Brooks Lennon (Liverpool), Sebastian Saucedo (Veracruz), Kyle Scott(Chelsea) and forward Mukwelle Akale, who recently made his first-team debut for Spanish side Villarreal, were absent, too. This isn’t anything new for Ramos. The U20s have been shorthanded at every camp he’s hosted over the past year. The team has performed consistently nonetheless, as others seized the opportunity to demonstrate their potential.”Miles Robinson of Syracuse has done well every single camp I’ve had him in,” Ramos said. “He’s becoming one of the leaders of the team at the center back position.”In midfield, Eryk Williamson [Maryland] is taking the leadership-by-example role on the team,” Ramos continued. “He controls the temperament of the team, which is amazing for a player who hasn’t had much international experience.” This last camp also featured 11 newcomers to the U20 squad. Of those, Ramos said Indiana defender/midfielder Jeremiah Gutjahr and Akron forward Jonathan Lewis stood out .Identifying new talent and learning to play without its most experienced professionals is vital for Ramos’ team. European clubs will be midway through their seasons in February, when the CONCACAF U20 championship that doubles as World Cup qualifying takes place in Costa Rica, meaning that Carter-Vickers, Pulisic and Zelalem are unlikely to participate. Ramos has even received pushback from MLS clubs in the past.”Two cycles ago in World Cup qualifying, in the final against Mexico, I think I had only 13 players because teams had already called their players back,” Ramos said, noting that unlike MLS, Liga MX requires its clubs to release players to Mexico’s youth national teams. “Even in the preseason, obviously every MLS coach would like to have their young players participate. There’s not much I can do about that.”The U20s will next assemble in Europe for training and games during October’s FIFA window, and, with MLS on its winter hiatus, host one camp in December and two more in January.”We have to have a fitness camp mostly for MLS players and college players, which will be 90 percent what this team is made up of in February,” Ramos said. “We sort of have to become their club, which is not a good scenario for us because we’ll be playing against countries whose domestic leagues are in season.”Should the Americans successfully reach their third straight World Cup, Ramos is hoping he’ll have his best team available next summer.”I look back three years ago and Paul Pogba was starting for Juventus and he played in the U20 World Cup,” Ramos said. “If France does it, Argentina does it, why wouldn’t we? I think at the World Cup we need to represent ourselves well.”Deciding who goes and who doesn’t will be harder than ever. But as far as Ramos is concerned, that’s a good problem to have.”What’s different about this group than previous cycles is there are three or four guys who can win a game on their own,” Ramos said. “We haven’t had an abundance of those over the years, so I think that’s a good sign for us. And that’s without counting the obvious ones, like Pulisic.”

NOTES

  • Before the transfer window closes on Wednesday, Ramos would like to see the 19-year-old Zelalem, who made 29 appearances (22 starts) for Scottish club Rangers in 2015-16. He was farmed out again rather than remain with the Gunners, where minutes will be hard to come by. “Like any young player, at this point the best-case scenario for Gedion would probably be a loan somewhere,” he said. “I’m hopeful he goes to a good place where he’s playing.”One player not in contention for a spot on the U20 squad — at least right now — is Schalke forward Haji Wright. “He’s someone we’re trying to bring along through our U19s,” Ramos said of the 18-year-old Los Angeles native. “He’s gone through some ups and downs, and it’s difficult to break into the first group.”But I think Haji has a lot of potential for the future,” Ramos said. “He’s got size, speed, all those things. The national team is how well you are doing today, and I have to balance throughout the year the guys who I can project long-term to maybe be on the [senior] team. Maybe Haji Wright can be one of those. As we get closer to qualifying I have to decide who’s going to be good for us now. The sooner Haji is ready, the earlier we’ll call him in.”Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC.

5 big things from Americans abroad this week

Bobby Wood makes his Bundesliga debut in style.By Roderick MacNeil  @rodmacneil Aug 30, 2016, 10:00a

Nordic Wall Restored

Ethan Horvath may have had a fine experience this summer at Copa America. Being named as the USMNT’s third keeper for the tournament was a significant step in his young career. Both his club, Molde FK, and Horvath had enjoyed strong starts to the 2016 Tippeligaen season before the June break. By the time he returned to club action, however, the form of both had suffered as Molde struggled through a six-game winless skid.The month of August has seen a rapid turn for the better. On Saturday, Horvath turned away a whopping 8 shots in a 2-0 win at Stromsgodset. Molde has suddenly won four straight, with Horvath posting clean sheets in two of the last three. The club finds itself back in the thick of the race for Europa League positions, currently in 5th place, yet only 1 point behind 2nd place Odd BK. Horvath now has 4 clean sheets in 17 starts this season. Jurgen Klinsmann noticed, and has rewarded him with yet another call-up for the September World Cup Qualifiers.

AronJo Returns

One could be forgiven for wondering if Aron Johannsson might ever return to the field. His latest injury setback was a frustrating one, dealing with chronic hip issues and associated nerve pain for the better part of a year. In recent weeks, things were finally looking up for Johannsson, returning to full training and seeing some limited preseason minutes.On Friday, Johannsson was, somewhat surprisingly, in the starting lineup for Werder Bremen on opening day in the Bundesliga. After 11 months on the shelf, reclaiming his starting striker role was certainly a moment of great personal satisfaction. Unfortunately, the opposition for the day was mighty Bayern Munich, who were in no mood to be gracious hosts. Bayern would roll 6-0 behind a Robert Lewandowski hat trick. Johannsson would put in a full 90 minutes in a losing effort.But Aron’s back, finally, to full health, and that’s the best news of all.

Wooten Back on the Scoresheet

Remember Andrew Wooten? We last saw him with the USMNT in the fall of 2015, earning a call to Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad after a blistering start to the 2.Bundesliga season. Scoring 5 goals in his club’s first 4 games, and 6 goals overall, Wooten was in sizzling form. Yet mysteriously, after returning from international duty, the well went dry, and he didn’t score again the rest of the season. On Friday, that goal-scoring drought would come to an end:  After nearly an entire calendar year, Wooten, with the help of some sloppy defending, found the back of the net. His 76th minute strike was his first goal for SV Sandhausen since September 11, 2015. The goal trimmed SVS’s deficit to 2-1 vs. VfB Stuttgart, but that’s how it would end.Wooten’s club has its work cut out with a slow start, earning just 1 point in three games, and sits 17th on the 18-team 2.Bundesliga table.

Yedlin’s a Magpie

DeAndre Yedlin is now a former Tottenham Hotspur player. He’s also a former Sunderland player. Last week we finally learned where Yedlin will play his club minutes this season, and it’s on the other side of the Tyne-Wear Derby. On Wednesday came the announcement of a permanent transfer to Newcastle United, now of The English Championship, for a reported fee of about £5 million.While taking a step down from the Premier League has to be viewed as a modest disappointment, it’s a move that can play out well for Yedlin in the long run. Firstly, the Magpies will clearly be a favorite to earn promotion back to the EPL. There’s also the opportunity for starting minutes under the watchful eye of managerial legend Rafa Benitez.Yedlin didn’t have opportunity to train much, if at all, prior to Newcastle’s Saturday clash vs. Brighton Hove & Albion. He did make the bench and made a 3-minute cameo appearance in front of his new home fans. Meawhile, Newcastle showed its excitement over their new acquisition by placing him on the cover of the game day program:

Bobby Wood!

Welcome to the Bundesliga, Bobby Wood!  If you were wondering if Wood’s goal-scoring prowess in Germany’s second division would translate to the top flight, you found out in a hurry. Just over 30 minutes into his Bundesliga debut with Hamburger SV, Wood treated us all to yet another highlight goal:That’s a goalkeeper assist, and a stellar individual effort from Bobby Wood to do the rest. After bringing the long ball down and fighting his way through two defenders, Wood unleashed a rocket with his second touch to give HSV the early lead. A crowd favorite in the making? To be determined, but it’s certainly an ideal way to make your introduction.A late defensive error would cost Hamburg a chance at three points on opening day. It ended in a 1-1 draw against Alfredo Morales’ FC Ingolstadt. Up next: USMNT duty. With Clint Dempsey out, it’s as sure a lock as any that Bobby Wood will be in the XI on Friday vs. St. Vincent & The Grenadines. Right now that’s a scary proposition for any opposing defense.

Wiebe: Seattle Sounders, US must step up in wake of Clint Dempsey news

August26, 20164:57PM EDTAndrew WiebeSenior Editor  Here’s what we know: Clint Dempsey is undergoing medical evaluations for an irregular heartbeat. The Seattle and US national team star will miss Sunday’s rivalry match in Portland between the Sounders and Timbers as well as the US national team’s World Cup qualifiers in September. No additional details are available at this time, and there is no public timetable for his return.In situations like this, what we don’t know is just as, if not more, important than what we do know. “Irregular heartbeat” sounds serious, scary even, but Dempsey – and the rest of us – can do nothing but allow the medical process play out at its own pace.For the time being, it’s time for perspective. We may support different clubs and different national teams, but we’re all members of the North American soccer family.Of course, while Dempsey and his family navigate a trying time, the games will go on. The Sounders will travel to Portland for a massive match against the Timbers, and then proceed with their remaining schedule. The USMNT will gather next week to resume their quest to qualify for an eighth straight World Cup.What role Dempsey will play in either campaign is yet to be seen, but there’s no doubt any prolonged absence will have a very real effect on both squads.After spending much of the first half of 2016 adjusting to the preseason departure of strike partnerObafemi Martins, Dempsey seemed to be reinvigorated by the arrival of Nicolas Lodeiro. He scored a hat trick in the Uruguayan’s first match then added two more goals against Portland last Sunday to bring his season tally to eight.Deuce – and his swagger – was back.Suddenly a playoff spot that seemed close to inconceivable a month ago wasn’t just possible but increasingly likely. With Lodeiro pulling the strings and Jordan Morris bullying opposing defenders with his strength and speed, Dempsey appeared poised to do what he’s done throughout his entire career: deliver in big moments.

Then Friday’s news hit and the future – Dempsey’s and the Sounders’ – became murky.For the time being, Dempsey’s teammates have no choice but to do something Dempsey has done more than once in his career: step up. Lodeiro must shoulder the expectations that’ve come with two goals and four assists in his first four games. Morris will have to become a more reliable finisher. Herculez Gomez and Nelson Valdez can’t let a bone-dry 25 matches color their final nine.

For the USMNT, Jurgen Klinsmann will need to find another option as reliable and consistent at putting the ball in the back of the next as Dempsey has been for his country. After all, despite his age, Dempsey is the USMNT’s leading scorer over the last three years.Who’s the US alpha dog now? Who will score the goals they need against St. Vincent and the Grenadines to avoid a nervy final matchday? Will it be Jozy Altidore, healthy and productive again after another hamstring injury rule him out of this summer’s Copa America Centenario? Perhaps Bobby Wood, who’s shown so much promise in the past year?For both the US and the Sounders, there’s an inevitable domino effect that comes with a certain level of reliance on one player. If not Dempsey, then who?We’ll find out the answer to that question this weekend in Portland, and on Sept. 2 and 6 in Kingstown, St. Vincent, and Jacksonville, Florida.In the meantime, get well, Deuce. Your health is more important than a game.

Why UEFA will guarantee Champions League places to the top leagues

UEFA has approved structural changes to the Champions League, with the biggest move being automatic group stage qualification for the top four teams from the top four leagues, beginning in the 2018-19 season. Gab Marcotti looks at how this came about. 

Q: So all has been revealed. Europe’s rich get richer. The top four leagues will all have four guaranteed spots in the Champions League group stage. It’s official now, right?

A: This pretty much confirms what some of us had previously reported. There are still some very minor details to work through, but UEFA interim general secretary Theo Theodoridis says it’s done, and he would know. It’s a brave new world.

Q: So did UEFA just lie down for the big clubs?

A: They would say they haven’t. They had to strike a balance between the big boys, who make the Champions League more attractive to the guys who pay the bills — broadcasters and sponsors mostly — and the small and midsized associations.

“We had one target: Keeping the dream alive,” Theodoridis said. “[That means] Allowing all countries to have access to our competitions and maintaining the champions path [to qualification.]. There is an impact [on smaller and midsized associations], I agree. But we minimized it.”

Q: It’s almost as if he’s suggesting it could have been worse.

A: “Worse” depends on your point of view. Some of the things that were discussed at the request of the clubs would have made the Champions League an even more lucrative competition.

We’re talking about wild-card entries for historically big clubs who fail to qualify; this year, for example, think Milan, Manchester United and Liverpool, who have 15 European Cups between them.

Or playing games on weekends, when they can reach a far greater global audience; Asia is asleep and North and South America are at work or school during Champions League games. Or, heck, playing games in other continents.

None of these things will come to pass at least until 2021, as Theodoridis noted. Nor will clubs be boycotting the Champions League or setting up their own competition.

Q: How real was that threat of clubs pulling out of the Champions League?

A: Theodoridis suggests it wasn’t much more than a negotiating ploy. Others with knowledge of the talks said it was real enough to prompt this compromise.

Q: So I guess the big winners are the top four nations? That’s Spain, Germany, England and, especially, Italy.

A: Yes, provided they stay in the top four. Italy’s case is pretty telling. Right now, they have two guaranteed places, plus another in the playoffs for the third-place team in Serie A. But that side has been knocked out in the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. So, effectively, they’re doubling their presence.

Q: But if the Italian teams aren’t that good and can’t make it past the playoffs, why should they be in the competition?

A: Great question. Because, I think, merit matters less here than money. Italy has the second-biggest Champions League contract, after England. Obviously broadcasters and sponsors will pay more if they know clubs are guaranteed a spot, rather than running the risk of getting knocked out in the playoffs.

Q: Sounds like an unfair system.

A: In some ways it is. But UEFA are also hoping folks will look at it a different way. Having more clubs from big leagues in the competition means the overall revenue will be higher; much higher, they hope. And that means there’s more money to redistribute to clubs.

Q: Didn’t you write last time that 35 percent of the revenue is distributed via that “market pool,” whereby teams from countries with bigger TV contracts get a bigger share?

A: I did. And that’s one thing that has changed. Only 15 percent of revenue will be allocated via the market pool. The other 85 percent will be distributed in prize money, including some 25 percent to be shared equally by all clubs who qualify. So that means teams from midsized leagues that do well in the competition will earn more in two ways: The overall revenues will, UEFA hope, be higher, and teams will get a bigger slice of the pie.

Q: That sounds more fair.

A: It is, although, again, the devil is in the detail. Part of that merit payment will be awarded based on a new coefficient system that will also track historical performance. Which means that, say, Ajax with their four European Cups will get more points than Leicester. It will be weighted and the details, which have not been fully defined, are set to be very complicated.

Q: What else have they come up with?

A: The other big change is that a new company is being set up, half-owned by UEFA and half-owned by the European Clubs Association (ECA), to run the European competitions. So rather than being indirectly represented via their national associations, clubs will effectively be in business with UEFA. (They sort of were before, of course, but now it’s formalized.)

Q: Aren’t UEFA having elections in a few weeks? Couldn’t they wait until they have a new president before they take such a drastic step?

A: Indeed, they’ll be electing a new president on Sept. 14 but, as Theodoridis said, they had been working on this for six months. And, he said, they had to go to market and pitch sponsors and broadcasters. The 2018-19 season is less than two years away and they had to get contracts tied up.

Besides, of the three guys running for president, Holland’s Michael van Praag and Spain’s Angel Maria Villar Llona sit on UEFA’s Executive Committee, so you assume they have signed off on this. And the third candidate, Slovenia’s Aleksandar Ceferin, is supposedly also on board.

Q: So that’s that, then. I guess it at least means we won’t have a breakaway European Super League.

A: At least until 2021, anyway. The hope, I think, is that these changes will boost revenue so much that everyone — primarily the big clubs — will benefit and be happy to the point that they’ll forget about breaking away.

Q: Is that likely?

A: As the saying goes, you can never be too rich or too thin. I think history shows that when clubs get more money, they tend to spend it on wages and transfer fees. And because everybody is spending more, there will be some, even among the big clubs, who will be left behind. And that in turn means they’ll grumble. And we may end up going through this whole thing all over again.  Gabriele Marcotti is a columnist for ESPN FC, 

Champions League draw yields great matchups, top-heavy groups

QUICKLYThursday’s Champions League draw pits powers together, while first-timer Leicester drew a favorable path. None of the recent European powers should have much to fear, though. BEN LYTTLETONThursday August 25th, SI

This was the second year that the Champions League group stage draw put reigning champions in Pot 1, and if the day began with everyone wondering who surprise Premier League champion Leicester City would draw, it ended with some mouth-watering ties to look forward to in the opening round of the tournament.Among them, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City was drawn against his former club Barcelona, while holder Real Madrid faces its 2013 semifinal conqueror, Borussia Dortmund. There were no glaring groups of death to emanate from the bowls in Monaco, and the majority of the groups are rather top-heavy, but there will still be some memorable matches on the way.Here is a breakdown of each group, along with picks for the top two spots and who will advance to the knockout stage:

Group A 

PSG, Arsenal, FC Basel, Ludogorets

Overview: Top seed Paris Saint-Germain sacked coach Laurent Blanc as a result of his side’s toothless quarterfinal defeat to Manchester City. In his place has come back-to-back Europa League winner Unai Emery, and already the difference is apparent. PSG now plays a faster, more direct, and riskier brand of attacking football. With Ligue 1 as good as in the bag, Europe is once again the priority for PSG. The French champion now seems closer to winning this trophy than Arsenal, which is in the group stage for a 19th straight season. FC Basel, whose former players Granit Xhaka and Mohamed Elneny are now Gunners (Xhaka’s brother, Taulant, is still there), could prove to be a dangerous Pot 3 side and may push for a knockout berth.

Match to watch: PSG vs. Arsenal, Sept. 13

The group kicks off with a familiar trip for coach Arsene Wenger, who has turned down offers to coach the French capital side on more than one occasion. The French side will be favored, but Wenger will want to cause an upset.Tipped to progress: PSG, Arsenal

Group B 

Benfica, Napoli, Dynamo Kiev, Besiktas

Overview: One of the most open groups to come out of the draw, with top seed Benfica stumbling early in the league and fourth seed Besiktas among the strongest out of the pot. It will mark an early return for Anderson Talisca, on loan to Besiktas from Benfica.Napoli’s challenge will be to make the next round, with Polish pair Arkadiusz Milik and Piotr Zelinski likely to play important roles. Napoli is also trying to sign Eliaquim Mangala on loan from Manchester City. Dynamo Kiev has sold Miguel Veloso and Aleksandr Dragovic but kept onto Andriy Yarmolenko and has won its first five games of the season. Could it be a surprise contender for the next round?  

Match to watch: Napoli vs. Benfica, Sept. 28

Maurizio Sarri has worked wonders as Napoli boss, but how he copes with the Champions League remains an intriguing proposition. The home tie against top seed Benfica could be decisive, and Napoli should have enough to get out of the group.Tipped to progress: Napoli, Dynamo Kiev  

Group C

Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, Celtic

Overview: Is this the hardest group of the lot? If not, it might be the most passionate, save for City fans whose relationship with this competition, and UEFA in general, remains muted. Barcelona is one of the favorites to win the trophy, deservedly so if it strengthens its squad with the likely signing of Paco Alcacer this week to lighten the load of its three-man, Messi-Neymar-Suarez machine.Monchengladbach is a dangerous dark horse, having coasted through its qualifier against Young Boys, courtesy of Thorgan Hazard and Raffael hat tricks, and the matchups pose a second straight year of challenges–Gladbach drew Man City, Juventus and Sevilla last season. From Pot 4, Celtic and coach Brendan Rodgers will have a tough task.

Match to watch: Barcelona vs. Manchester City, Oct. 19

This marks a return to Barcelona for Pep Guardiola, new goalkeeper Claudio Bravo and City executives Ferran Soriano and Txiki Begiristain. Barcelona beat City comfortably last season, but this will be a fine opportunity to see how far the English side has progressed under its Catalan coach.Tipped to progress: Barcelona, Manchester City

Group D 

Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, PSV Eindhoven, Rostov  

Overview: Atletico beat Bayern in last season’s semifinal, and this group pits two genuine title hopefuls against each other. Both sides have bought smartly in the summer, with Renato Sanches and Mats Hummels now at Bayern–coached by European Cup specialist Carlo Ancelotti–while Atletico has brought in Kevin Gamiero and Nico Gaitan, among others.Dutch champion PSV has not had its normal summer fire sale but is unlikely to repeat last season’s European heroics, while tournament debutant FC Rostov, which beat Ajax in qualifying, could make it into the Europa League spots.

Match to watch: Bayern Munich vs Atletico Madrid, Dec. 6

It figures to be a straight shootout between these two powerhouses for the top spot in the group, and it could well come down to the final matchday. The winner should get the easier draw in the knockout round.Tipped to progress: Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid

Group E 

CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham, Monaco

Overview: How could we forget the craziness of last season’s European ties involving Bayer Leverkusen? It beat BATE 4-1, drew 4-4 with Roma and in the return game lost it 3-2. And it managed to draw with Barcelona along the way. Expect more goals and drama from Roger Schmidt’s highly entertaining side, who could progress from a group that contains one of the weaker Pot 1 sides in CSKA Moscow. Spurs, playing group matches at Wembley Stadium, will fancy itself to qualify, while Monaco will be happy to use this stage to showcase the talents of tomorrow’s stars like Thomas Lemar and Kevin Mbappe. 

Match to watch: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Tottenham, Oct. 18

Schmidt against Mauricio Pochettino: the chances are that in three or four years, these two men could be leading Bayern and Barcelona. This might show why: they both demand high-tempo and attacking football. It will be great to watch, unless you’re a defender.Tipped to progress: Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham

Group F 

Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon, Legia Warsaw

Overview: This is not an easy group for the reigning champion, which faces a highly motivated and well-organized Dortmund side looking to make a big impact under Thomas Tuchel, and a Sporting side that is a much tougher proposition with the charismatic Jorge Jesus at the helm. Madrid might drop points along the way, and Dortmund could push it close for top spot–and might even take it–too.

Match to watch: Sporting vs. Real Madrid, Nov. 22

This will be all about Cristiano Ronaldo, back at the club where he began his career. He may not celebrate when he scores, but then again…  Tipped to progress: Borussia Dortmund, Real Madrid

Group G

Leicester, FC Porto, Club Brugge, FC Copenhagen

Overview: No one said Leicester was lucky to win the Premier League but given the caliber of teams the English champion avoided in this draw, fate was on its side in Monaco. It drew arguably the weakest sides from Pots 2 and 3 and has every chance of making it to the next round. As for who might join it, FC Porto, who destroyed Roma 3-0 in qualifying away from home this week, will consider this a great chance to top the group. Brugge and Copenhagen will be fighting it out for third and a place in the Europa League knockout stage. 

Match to watch: Leicester vs. FC Porto, Sept. 27

With no marquee European name in Leicester’s group, this will be the biggest team to grace the King Power Stadium in the group stage. The normally raucous arena will be in full voice for the Portuguese visitors. The Leicester faithful may not get the result they want, but their side should still go through.  Tipped to progress: FC Porto, Leicester City

Group H 

Juventus, Sevilla, Lyon, Dinamo Zagreb

Overview: This is the season that five-time reigning Italian champion has gone all in to win the Champions League. It has spent the money it earned from the Paul Pogba sale to sign Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic, and maintained the back four that was so impenetrable last season. Its biggest challenge will come from three-time reigning Europa League champion Sevilla, a hugely watchable side under ex-Chile boss Jorge Sampaoli. Sevilla could go deep in this competition if it clicks.Lyon has so far held on to most of its star assets this summer, but the next seven days could determine its level in this group. Dinamo is often the afterthought, but the revenue from qualification at least will keep it dominant in Croatia.

Match to watch: Juventus vs. Sevilla, Sept. 14

This is the real test for Sampaoli–and it comes immediately–to work out a way of beating one of Europe’s strongest sides. Sevilla’s individual components are not as strong as Juventus’s, but Sampaoli is expert at making teams greater than the sum of their parts. Let the games begin!  Tipped to progress: Juventus, Sevilla

 PSG to fend off Arsenal for top spot in Champions League Group A

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group A. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

  1. Paris Saint-Germain
    Arsenal
    3. FC Basel
    4. Ludogorets Razgrad

Paris Saint-Germain

Laurent Blanc was unseated as PSG manager last season despite winning Ligue 1 by 31 points. It all came down to losing 3-2 on aggregate to Manchester City in the Champions League quarterfinals, and now the pressure will be on new manager Unai Emery to go at least one better than that.Emery’s European pedigree is rich, having led Sevilla to three Europa League titles in a row. The additions of Grzegorz Krychowiak from his old club and Jese Rodriguez from Real Madrid represent a change in focus, as PSG get used to life without Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who departed for Manchester United this summer.

Arsenal

The Champions League has caused Arsenal sincere pain over the years, yet they also boast the proud record of having made it past the group stage in every season since 2000-01. Finishing second in the Premier League in 2015-16 made them automatic qualifiers, though a lack of squad strengthening beyond the additions of midfielder Granit Xhaka and fledgling defender Rob Holding has many fans exasperated and concerned.Wenger is surely nearing the end of his tenure in North London, though a closing date is not yet set on a term that pushes past 20 years next month. The closest the manager has come to lifting the trophy was losing 2-1 to Barcelona in the 2006 final in Paris.

FC Basel

Utterly dominant in Swiss football after seven consecutive title wins and a slippery proposition over the years for teams from bigger leagues having beaten Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester United within the last five years. Last season, they failed to reach the Champions League and were beaten in the Europa League by eventual winners Sevilla.

Ludogorets Razgrad

Two seasons ago, they were a fairy tale story when centre-back Cosmin Moti saved two penalties in a shootout and scored his own to qualify them for the group stage after goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov had been sent off. They competed admirably with Real Madrid, Liverpool and Basel.Moti and Stoyanov remain, while coach Georgi Dermendziev has returned. Seeing off Viktoria Plzen in the qualifying round made them the first Bulgarian team to advance to the group stage twice.

Game of the group:

PSG vs. Arsenal — There have been times when it was suggested that Wenger might be tempted back to France, but London is his home now. He is a welcome face in Paris, though, and has made Arsenal hugely popular in France. Emery gets the chance to pit himself against the one who got away.

X Factor

Is this finally the year that Arsenal fall at the hurdle of the group stage? Pulling Ludogorets and Basel might make that seem unlikely but both proved problematic for Liverpool when they faced them in the 2014-15 competition. Arsenal cannot afford to start like last season, when they lost their first three matches and needed to rescue themselves.John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter@JohnBrewinESPN

Can Leicester’s title-winning tactics survive UCL Group B challenge?

Take an in-depth look at the UCL draw and see how each of the teams will line up in this year’s competition.Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group G. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

  1. Porto
    Leicester City
    3. Copenhagen
    4.Brugge

Bottom of Form

Leicester City

Can the romance and storytelling of last season’s amazing Premier League title win be sustained in the club’s first ever venture into this competition? Manager Claudio Ranieri, who took Chelsea to the 2004 semifinals, has held onto his stars of last season, aside from N’Golo Kante, who departed for Stamford Bridge. Flying forwards Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez remain, and Leicester’s style of play — which eschews long periods of possession to hit opponents on the break, after defending deep and in numbers — might just cause as much trouble for continental opposition as it did last season in England.

Porto

Porto are inn the middle of what is for them a terrible title drought, having not won the Primeira Liga in the last three seasons; the last time they went longer than that without a domestic championship was in the early-1980s. They have a new manager in former Valencia boss Nuno, but their Champions League prospects might depend on keeping hold of key players like Yacine Brahimi.

Club Brugge

Brugge were runaway Belgian champions last season, winning both the regular season and championship playoffs that take place in the Jupiler Pro League, and are coached by goalkeeping legend Michel Preud’homme. Young defender Bjorn Engels looks to be the latest off Belgium’s production line of talent and refused the chance to join Arsenal in the summer.

FC Copenhagen

Overcoming what was looking like a hex for Danish teams against APOEL Nicosia (it was fourth time lucky in the qualifying rounds), FC Copenhagen made it into the Champions League proper by beating the Cypriots with a late Federico Santander goal. Stale Solbakken remains in charge, and they’ll be looking to repeat the 2010-11 competition when they surprisingly qualified from the group, thanks partly to a draw with Barcelona.

Game of the group: Porto vs. Leicester

Foxes fans did not quite get the glamorous trips to the likes of Paris, Munich or Barcelona they might have liked, but a trip to Europe’s Atlantic coast is not to be sniffed at. Porto, a club with ever-changing personnel, due to their policy on cashing in on talent to survive, have proved themselves tricky, canny opposition down the Champions League years. Escape from there with a point, then Ranieri’s team may be set up for further adventures.

X Factor

Can Leicester be as effective in Europe as they were for the entire nine months of the Premier League last season? Might referees disapprove of the strong-arm defending that is often employed by centre-backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth? Or will Ranieri return to his old tinkering ways, and mess with a previously successful formula? It is certain that their three opponents have real physical tests to pass in playing them.

Pep Guardiola’s return to Barcelona the highlight of Group C

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group C. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

  1. Barcelona
    2. Manchester City
    3. Borussia Monchengladbach
    4. Celtic

Barcelona

Last season was a disappointment for Barca, as they became the latest team to fail to retain the Champions League trophy. If anyone looked capable of breaking the hoodoo that has tripped up defending champions since AC Milan in 1990, it was them, but they came up against Atletico Madrid, and were mugged by Diego Simeone’s team in the quarterfinals. The star names remain, aside from Dani Alves, who has joined Juventus. Headline additions of the summer are defender Samuel Umtiti, signed from Lyon, and Villarreal winger Denis Suarez. As ever, Barcelona will look to Lionel Messi to win their sixth European title.

Manchester City

If Pep Guardiola was brought to Manchester to achieve anything, it was to finally establish the club as a European powerhouse. Manuel Pellegrini reached the semifinals last year, yet the meek manner of defeat to Real Madrid suggested a club still struggling in such rarefied air. Not that Guardiola does not have anything to prove. Losing in the semis three years in a row at Bayern Munich represented a failure to meet expectations, having been European champion at Barcelona in 2009 and 2011. City have splashed out over £180 million on new talent for Guardiola to hone and the pressure to deliver is on.

Borussia Monchengladbach

Andre Schubert did a mightily impressive job last season to secure a fourth-place domestic finish, after Lucien Favre had shocked the club by resigning in September, in reaction to a poor start to the season. Schubert couldn’t do much about their European campaign, the whipping boys of a tough group featuring Manchester City and Real Madrid, but they should be in a more secure position this time.

Celtic

Former Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers is back in the Champions League group stage, as are Celtic, who have been in exile since the 2013-14 season, having suffered failures in the qualifying rounds.This time around was a close-run thing, with Hapoel Be’er Sheva taking Rodgers’ team to the wire, as Celtic escaped Israel with a narrow 5-4 aggregate scoreline. Striker Moussa Dembele was the summer’s flagship signing from Fulham, and all-out attack looks the strategy so far for Rodgers.

Game of the group

Barcelona vs. Manchester City — No questions here. The return of Guardiola to Barcelona’s Camp Nou is undoubtedly the headline event of this group. City’s Abu Dhabi owners were admirers of Barcelona from that 2008-09 season when Guardiola’s team sw

difficult than it should be.John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter@JohnBrewinESPN.

Atletico Madrid out to upset Bayern Munich again in UCL Group D

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group D. Who do you think will go through?

ept all before them, just as they were setting up their project in east Manchester. Now, after a long wait, they have their man, as he returns to the region of his birth.

X factor

Guardiola — City are on a steep learning curve with Guardiola, with new players coming in and previous mainstays like Joe Hart and Yaya Toure on their way out. At both Bayern and Barcelona, there was a habit of his teams struggling away from home. Might that let in either Monchengladbach or Celtic? Unlikely, but it could make the group stage more

Predicted finish

  1. Atletico Madrid
    2. Bayern Munich
    3. PSV Eindhoven
    4. Rostov

Who will win Group D?

Top of Form

BAYERN MUNICH

ATLETICO MADRID

PSV EINDHOVEN

ROSTOV

Bayern Munich

Bayern have now reached such a point where winning the Bundesliga is the bare minimum expected, and victory in the Champions League is now the primary aim for the Bavarian behemoths. While any debate over whether Pep Guardiola was a success or failure at Bayern, because he didn’t win the Champions League, is surely too binary; the team brass clearly had Europe in mind when they appointed his replacement. Carlo Ancelotti is one of two managers (along with Bob Paisley) to win the tournament three times, but if he manages what his predecessor couldn’t, then he’ll be the first to win it with three different clubs. And all in the Champions League era too.

Atletico Madrid

Usually you might expect Atletico Madrid to be upset at being drawn with Bayern, but Diego Simeone seems like a manager who likes things to be difficult. He has managed to crack the great Spanish duopoly and nearly won a remarkable second Liga title last season, as well as coming within a penalty shootout of victory in this tournament, which would have been even more extraordinary. This summer they have managed to avoid selling their best players, and in Antoine Griezmann they have a forward who looks like he’s about to make the step up to the “Ronaldo-Messi-Suarez-Bale” level of quality. Even with just about the toughest draw they could have been given, don’t bet against them.

PSV Eindhoven

Eredivisie winners by virtue of Ajax fluffing their lines on the last day of the season, to make it two consecutive championships. Coach Phillip Cocu is developing a fine reputation, with May’s triumph achieved having sold previous stars Memphis Depay and Georginio Wijnaldum. A predominantly Dutch group of players will aim to match or better last season, when they lost on penalties in the round of 16 to eventual finalists Atletico, having eliminated Manchester United in the group stage.

Rostov

On Wednesday, they positively humiliated four-time winners Ajax with a 4-1 final qualifying round second-leg thrashing. A club with no permanent manager — Dmitri Kirichenko is the current caretaker — enjoyed the most glorious night in their history on the Don River delta. Kurban Berdyev, who guided Rostov to a highest ever league position of second last season, quit on Aug. 6.

Game of the group

Atletico vs. Bayern. The all-conquering Bavarians will expect to clean up, and probably should do given their resources, but Atleti have made embarrassing teams like that their business in recent years. Don’t be surprised if Simeone’s men top the group by beating Bayern.

X Factor

Kingsley Coman. Bayern have an incredible range of options in the attacking third, to the point that some of the most decorated and talented players in the world cannot consider themselves automatic selections for the first team. But Coman, still just 20, looks like something else, and could well take another step forward this season.

Harry Kane can inspire Spurs in Champions League Group E

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group E. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

  1. Tottenham
    Bayer Leverkusen
    3. Monaco
    4. CSKA Moscow

Tottenham

Back in the competition after a break of five seasons, and automatic qualifiers having finished third in last season’s Premier League, Mauricio Pochettino’s young team has the potential to cause a few ripples among the continent’s established forces.

Striker Harry Kane is the leading man, and will attempt to put his own and England’s troubles at Euro 2016 behind him. Spurs, on their day, can swarm all over their opponents, a little like Borussia Dortmund under Jurgen Klopp and also like Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid. However, a small squad may find itself stretched by trying to meet the tough discipline of playing midweek in the Champions League and then at weekends in the Premier League.

Bayer Leverkusen

The “best of the rest” in the Bundesliga behind the big two of Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund, Bayer Leverkusen have been one of the most consistent sides in Germany in recent years. The last time they finished lower than fifth was 2009, but despite being regular qualifiers from the Champions League group stage, they haven’t gone beyond the round of 16 since reaching the final against Real Madrid in 2002. Javier Hernandez missed the start of the season after breaking his hand falling down some stairs, so hopefully their luck will improve

Monaco

Beyond all-conquering Paris Saint-Germain, Monaco look the second-best team in France and once again feature Colombian striker Radamel Falcao in their lineup, after two seasons of anonymous misadventure with Manchester United and Chelsea. Coach Leonardo Jardim is a canny campaigner, and the Stade Louis II Stadium is a tricky away trip for any opposition.

CSKA Moscow

Leonid Slutsky has won the Russian title in three out of the past four seasons but struggled in charge of Russia at Euro 2016, failing to get out of the group stage. Slutsky’s side haven’t managed to reach the knockout round in the past three Champions League campaigns and will have to do without last season’s top scorer Ahmed Musa, sold to Leicester, although Alan Dzagoev and Aleksandr Golovin will be key in midfield.

Game of the group

Bayer Leverkusen vs. Tottenham — This is not a group granted much in the way of glamour ties, though it looks as if it could be quite even between all four teams. However, a battle of the third-best teams from the Bundesliga and the Premier League last season, with highly regarded coaches in Roger Schmidt and Pochettino taking each other on, may serve as an indicator of the respective strength of each country’s league.

X factor

Wembley — Spurs will be playing their home matches at Wembley this season, as White Hart Lane is being renovated, and the change in atmosphere that brings could be a factor. Five years ago, while Gareth Bale tormented Inter Milan, the Lane rocked. When neighbours and rivals Arsenal tried to use Wembley in the late 1990s in this competition, they twice failed to get past the knockout rounds.John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC.

 Group F: Real Madrid go in search of historic Champions League triumph

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group F. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

  1. Real Madrid
    2. Borussia Dortmund
    3. Sporting Lisbon
    4. Legia Warsaw

Real Madrid

The defending champions and colossus that always sits astride the Champions League, Real will be gunning for their 12th success in the competition, and to be the first team to retain the trophy since the switch in format in 1992. They’ve been unusually quiet in the transfer market this summer, but that may well be because they already have a pretty stacked squad: Alvaro Morata might make a few more starts up front, but this will largely be the side that Zinedine Zidane guided to success last season. A ticklish draw will at least keep them honest in the group stage, but this is less a football club more a Champions League-winning machine, and success for the second year in a row might be their greatest achievement.

Borussia Dortmund

Another summer, another departure of a key player to a big rival. Mats Hummels was the latest to defect to Bayern Munich, but while they might therefore be concerned about their defence, their forward line looks pretty decent. Marco Reus is joined by Mario Gotze and Andre Schurrle, playing behind Pierre Emerick Aubameyang with the hugely promising Ousmane Dembele waiting in the wings. As curious as it sounds, they probably have a better chance of winning Champions League than they do their domestic competition. At home they face an immovable object in Bayern, who will almost certainly prevail during a long season, but in Europe most things are possible.

Sporting Lisbon

Without domestic success in 14 years, even after poaching Jorge Jesus from Benfica, they haven’t had too much luck in Europe either, since making the semifinals of the Europa League in 2012. Sporting have gathered a squad featuring several Premier League outcasts, including Alberto Aquilani, Bryan Ruiz, Sebastian Coates and Joel Campbell.

Legia Warsaw

Poland’s champions were pushed all the way by Ireland’s Dundalk in the final qualifying round on Tuesday. Down to 10 men, a late goal from Michal Kucharczyk in Warsaw made it secure at 3-1 and eventually returned Legia to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 1995-96 season. This looks a very high step for them to make.

Game of the group

Borussia Dortmund vs. Real Madrid — In the wider scheme of things this match might not actually matter too much, as they should both qualify. But this is why we watch the Champions League, two of the finest teams in Europe slugging it out, and the atmosphere at either ground should be sensational.

X factor

Gareth Bale — Whether Cristiano Ronaldo really is on the wane is open to debate, but if he does slip at all this season then at least Real Madrid have someone already in their ranks to step forward. After such an exhilarating summer with Wales at Euro 2016, Bale has returned to Spain looking sharp and dangerous. This could be his year.

Can Leicester’s title-winning tactics survive UCL Group G challenge?

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group G. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

  1. Porto
    2. Leicester City
    3. Copenhagen
    4.Brugge

Bottom of Form

Leicester City

Can the romance and storytelling of last season’s amazing Premier League title win be sustained in the club’s first ever venture into this competition? Manager Claudio Ranieri, who took Chelsea to the 2004 semifinals, has held onto his stars of last season, aside from N’Golo Kante, who departed for Stamford Bridge. Flying forwards Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez remain, and Leicester’s style of play — which eschews long periods of possession to hit opponents on the break, after defending deep and in numbers — might just cause as much trouble for continental opposition as it did last season in England.

Porto

Porto are inn the middle of what is for them a terrible title drought, having not won the Primeira Liga in the last three seasons; the last time they went longer than that without a domestic championship was in the early-1980s. They have a new manager in former Valencia boss Nuno, but their Champions League prospects might depend on keeping hold of key players like Yacine Brahimi.

Club Brugge

Brugge were runaway Belgian champions last season, winning both the regular season and championship playoffs that take place in the Jupiler Pro League, and are coached by goalkeeping legend Michel Preud’homme. Young defender Bjorn Engels looks to be the latest off Belgium’s production line of talent and refused the chance to join Arsenal in the summer.

FC Copenhagen

Overcoming what was looking like a hex for Danish teams against APOEL Nicosia (it was fourth time lucky in the qualifying rounds), FC Copenhagen made it into the Champions League proper by beating the Cypriots with a late Federico Santander goal. Stale Solbakken remains in charge, and they’ll be looking to repeat the 2010-11 competition when they surprisingly qualified from the group, thanks partly to a draw with Barcelona.

Game of the group: Porto vs. Leicester

Foxes fans did not quite get the glamorous trips to the likes of Paris, Munich or Barcelona they might have liked, but a trip to Europe’s Atlantic coast is not to be sniffed at. Porto, a club with ever-changing personnel, due to their policy on cashing in on talent to survive, have proved themselves tricky, canny opposition down the Champions League years. Escape from there with a point, then Ranieri’s team may be set up for further adventures.

X Factor

Can Leicester be as effective in Europe as they were for the entire nine months of the Premier League last season? Might referees disapprove of the strong-arm defending that is often employed by centre-backs Wes Morgan and Robert Huth? Or will Ranieri return to his old tinkering ways, and mess with a previously successful formula? It is certain that their three opponents have real physical tests to pass in playing them.  John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC.

 Group H: Juventus plot Champions League glory with Higuain and Pjanic

Now that the Champions League draw has been completed, here’s a preview for Group H. Who do you think will go through?

Predicted finish

  1. Juventus
    2. Lyon
    3. Sevilla
    4. Dinamo Zagreb

Bottom of Form

Juventus

Overwhelming favourites in Serie A, the Champions League is surely Juve’s main priority this season. The purchase of Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic could well have simply looked like bullying their only real domestic rivals, but it also sees them armed with a formidable squad to take a shot at the biggest prize, one they haven’t won since 1996. Two decades is a yawning chasm of time for club of their size to go without success in Europe, even considering the few years when their role in the Calciopoli scandal put them out of continental action. Coach Massimiliano Allegri proved the doubters wrong at home, but the real test for him is now in the Champions League.

Lyon

There are signs of revival in a club that seemed a permanent fixture in the knockout rounds of this competition a decade ago or so. Last season, they finished second in Ligue 1, just as they had the previous campaign, and though that was 31 points behind Paris Saint-Germain, coach Bruno Genesio had taken over from Hubert Fournier in December to rescue the campaign. Whether striker Alexandre Lacazette will be available to Genesio or sold before the transfer window closes is a leading question against them.

Sevilla

It has been all change in southern Spain, as the heart of a team that won three Europa League titles in a row was finally ripped out. Crucially, coach Unai Emery has gone to Paris Saint-Germain and the loss of Ever Banega, Coke, Kevin Gameiro and Grzegorz Krychowiak would be felt by any team. Jorge Sampaoli is in charge now, with Brazilian Ganso perhaps their headline signing. Another drop down to play in the competition they pretty much own may again be in order.

Dinamo Zagreb

After squeezing through their playoff with an extra-time win over Red Bull Salzburg, Dinamo Zagreb might just be happy to be in the Champions League this season. Manager Zlatko Kranjcar is back at the club for his third spell as manager (his fourth in total and he also played for them for six years), after a short spell in Qatar. Dinamo is the seventh club he’s managed since leaving the national team job in 2006.

Game of the group

Sevilla vs. Lyon — The winners of Group H should be relatively obvious, so attention turns to who joins Juventus in the next phase. Sevilla of course have European pedigree, but Lyon are a little more stable, and the two fixtures between these two clubs could go a long way to determining who qualifies.

X Factor

Jorge Sampaoli — Sevilla seem to be one of those clubs that barely needs a head coach because they’re so well organised. They’re certainly one of the best equipped to deal with upheaval, but Sampaoli is something of a wild card. Whether they progress in this tournament or drop back into the comfort zone of the Europa League may well depend on how their new man slots in.

As Champions League evolves more for the elite and rich, it loses its appeal, romance

QUICKLY -Only eight clubs have made the Champions League semifinals in the last five years, leaving the tournament without much appeal until the quarterfinals.

JONATHAN WILSONTuesday August 23rd, 2016 SPORTS ILLUSTRATED

Real Madrid and Bayern Munich have reached the last four of the Champions League in each of the past five seasons. Barcelona has gotten to that stage three times in that time and Chelsea and Atletico Madrid twice. In the last five years, only eight different sides have reached the semifinal. Three of them are Spanish, two German, two English and one Italian. If it has come to feel that the early rounds of the Champions League lack appeal, that is why.Of course there are intriguing new themes. How will Leicester City fare in its first Champions League campaign? Can Pep Guardiola energize Manchester City into being the power it surely ought to be in Europe (and overcome its fans seeming diffident about the competition)?And then there are reworkings of old themes. Can Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain transform domestic dominance into European success? Can Real Madrid become the first side successfully to defend the Champions League title? Can Borussia Dortmund’s idiosyncratic style thrive outside the Bundesliga?But these are essentially minor variations on well-worn tropes. Familiarity has bred contempt. For the next seven months, there’ll be some vague sparring. Perhaps a giant will fall. Arsenal will almost certainly face some sort of crisis. Leicester’s presence as a top seed may shake up some of the familiar patterns. But the reality is the competition won’t really get going until the quarterfinals in March.UEFA has pulled off a remarkable feat over the past decade, ruining its two flagship tournaments in completely opposing ways. The European Championship has been rendered tedious by the dilution of quality an expansion from 16 to 24 teams entailed, something some have sought to justify by empty calls to some vague doctrine of inclusivity.The success of Wales and Iceland was held up as evidence the bloated new format of Euro 2016 had worked when the fact is that both would have qualified in a 16-team system. Take the best 16 sides in qualifying and compare them to the sides that reached the last 16 of the tournament and 14 were the same; we spent two weeks and 36 games swapping Ireland and Hungary for Austria and the Czech Republic.The Champions League also drags and also feels as though it is overlong. The problem in the club competition, though, is not dilution of quality so much as over-concentration of quality at the top end. A Ludogorets Razgrad or an APOEL simply cannot compete with Bayern or Madrid. It’s been seven years since a team from outside the big four leagues of Spain, Germany, England and Italy so much as reached the semifinal.When European football began, it had the feel of a quest. That’s why the likes of Jock Stein, Matt Busby and Brian Clough developed an obsession with the European Cup. It was difficult. It was hard to get into and once you were there, winning it involved difficult and occasionally dangerous trips to lands that felt very foreign, taking on talented sides that might play in ways with which you were not familiar.Globalization has destroyed that–and probably raised the level at the very top end. It would be absurd now to go back to a structure of one club per country. Nor is anybody suggesting a return to the sort of intimidation and chicanery that was so prevalent in the 1960s and 70s. But at the same time, much of the romance has been lost. European football was supposed to be exotic, not the same old battles between the same old giants.Eight semifinalists over a five-year period is the least diverse the competition has ever been. Between 1982-83 and 1986-87 there were 18 semifinalists. But the problem is not simply that of the Champions League: it’s the problem of all top-level club football in Europe outside the Premier League. It will be a major shock if Bayern Munich fails to win the Bundesliga. It will be a major shock if Juventus fails to win Serie A. It will be a major shock if Paris Saint-Germain fails to win Ligue 1. They are so much richer than their closest rivals that it would take grotesque mismanagement to come second. In Spain, barring another Atletico miracle, Real Madrid or Barcelona will win the league. Those top sides need Europe for affirmation–and revenue.Only the Premier League is genuinely competitive, and, while its level has dipped in European terms, domestic revenues have increased nonetheless. Real Madrid took £81 million for winning the Champions League last season; 10 clubs took more than that in Premier League prize money. This season it’s estimated that even the bottom club will win £97 million. In direct financial terms, football has reached a point where it would make sense for Premier League clubs to prioritize domestic competition.Of course there are indirect benefits to success in the Champions League and still a sense that that’s where the real glory is to be found. But at the same time, Europe’s super clubs are becoming increasingly envious of the Premier League’s wealth, which in part lies behind the proposed changes to the structure of the Champions League from 2018-19 onwards.At the moment that amounts to no more than guaranteeing that the big four leagues will each have four slots in the group stage–a relatively minor adjustment that would continue the process of enriching the rich and stabilizing the status quo.That will not rekindle the romance of the Champions League. On the contrary, it will reduce even further the opportunities for sides from beyond Spain, Germany, England and Italy. There’s no obvious solution: this is the natural outcome of the economic policies football adopted when the Champions League was established in 1992. The paradox is that the more successful it has become, the more parochial it has become, and that, ultimately, may be its undoing.

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8/25/16 Brazil Neymar Wins Gold, US Suspend Hope Solo, Renaldo POY – Champions League Set, Germany + Spain Start Seasons, #1 CHS Girls host weekend Tourney

I know it was a full week ago now – but wow what an ending in Brazil for the Olympics as the home standing Brazilians went to penalty kicks vs Germany in a drama filled intense affair.  Congrats to Brazilians and Barcelona star forward Neymar as he slotted home the winner after a brilliant save by the Brazilian Goalkeeper on the 5th penalty.  The atmosphere was spectacular and I was glad to see Brazil restore some of their national pride in their soccer team.

A job well done by US Soccer for suspending US Women’s controversial goalkeeper Hope Solo for 6 months and cancelling her national team contract – while excessive perhaps for this one offense – lets be real – this is like strike #4 or #5 for Solo. When is enough, enough?  I stand by what I said 2 weeks ago when Hope said what she said. So disappointed in Hope Solo and her comments – seriously I try to coach Goalkeepers and get young girls excited about one of the toughest positions in soccer by giving them role models – but Hope Solo is an embarrassment to her team, The US national program, the sport of soccer and the entire country. Honestly how do her coaches even let her speak to the media.  She’s 35, we don’t play another major competition for 3 years – I think its past time she not be allowed to represent our country anymore!  Lets hope Jill Ellis and the US women’s soccer team can find a goalkeeper in the group who represents the US the way almost every other player on the team does with class!!  Next Friday Sept 2/Tues Sept 6 the US men return to World Cup Qualifying with games @ St. Vincent and vs Trinidad & Tabago and the entire world league play will take an international break.

In Europe the Champions League Group Stage is set and it has some great match-ups with Man City and Barcelona in the same group as well as Arsenal again in with PSG (see complete list below).  Congrats to Real Madrid’s Renaldo for winning the Player of the Year Award !!  Both the German Bundesliga and the Spanish La Liga season’s kick off this weekend as 4 time defending champs Bayern Munich start play Friday vs Werder Bremen on Fox Sports 1 at 2:30 pm.  Saturday features a huge game on FOX at 12:30 pm as US international Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengladbach host Mexican star forward Chicerito Hernandez and Bayer Leverkusen.  The EPL has a Sat 7:30 am NBCSN match-up featuring Tottenham vs Liverpool, while a pair of 2-0 squads square off as regulation Cinderella Hull City hosts Manchester United at 12:30 on NBCSN.

Stateside MLS has a solid Sunday doubleheader this week on ESPN as the New York Red Bulls host New England at 2:30 pm followed by My Seattle Sounder’s, on a 4 game winning streak since changing coaches, traveling to defending champs Portland in the Cascadia Cup showdown #2 on Sunday at 5 pm.   The Indy 11 fell to 3rd after their loss on the road last weekend as they travel to Ottawa for a Sunday match up at 2 pm on ESPN3 before returning Labor Day Sat for a 7:30 match up with Tampa Bay at the Mike.

Locally – High School soccer is underway and the Carmel Girls are back on top at #1 in the state after impressive early season victories, this week they host the Carmel Invitational at Murray Stadium with top 10 ranked foes Cathedral (9 am- Sat) and Fishers (7 pm Sat) coming to town (tix just $5) before traveling to Zionsville next weekend for match-ups against #2 Ranked Brebeuf, and Sacred Heart.  The Guerin Varsity boys got 2 goals from Carmel FC U18 forward Julian Tessarzyk but fell in a heartbreaker at #6 ranked Lafayette Harrison 5-3.  They return home vs Lawrence North 6 pm on Monday.  The Carmel boys have opened with 3 straight ties – and will face Zionsville at home Sat at 2:30 pm. Next Friday – Sept 2 – the CHS boys host PACK THE HOUSE/MAKE GOOD DECISIONS NITE with FREE ADMISSION for CFC players in uniform.   Finally Carmel FC had some great results at both the PikeFest and Westside Tournaments the past 2 weekends – with Academy Winners 07 Boys Blue, 09 Boys White, and 09 Girls Blue along with Championship winners 06 Gold Girls, 06 Girls Blue, and 05 Girls Gold.  04 and 03 Girls Gold finished 2nd in their divisions (pics below).

GAMES OF THE WEEK ON TV

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Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga + Spain La Liga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 AM NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Liverpool

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea vs Burnley, Everton vs Stoke

12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Sun, Aug 28

2 pm ESPN3                                           Ottawa vs Indy 11

5 pm  ESPN                                              Portland host Seattle Sounders – CASCADIA CUP 2!

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                               Orlando City vs NYCFC

Wed, Aug 31                                        

7:30 pm My Indy TV                                                NY Cosmos vs Indy 11

Fri, Sept 2 

3:30 pm beIN sport     WCQ – US @ St. Vincent + Grenadines

WORLD

Renaldo is Player of the Year

Brazil Wins First Gold Medal

European League – Over/Under – SI – Ben Lyttleton

Spanish La LIGA Season Preview

Bale nets Brace as Real Madrid start La Liga with Win without Renaldo

Germany Bundesliga Season Preview-Video 

Can Dortmund knock Bayern off the Bundeliga Perch?  ESPNFC

Chicharito Hernandez looks for steller Season with Bayern Leverkusen

Juve’s Higuain’s Instant Impact – Marcotti – ESPNFC Video

GK Jasper Cillessen moves from Ajax to Barcelona to be #2 GK

 English Premier League

Man City Sign GK Claudio Bravo from Barca

EPL Investments paying off for Rich Clubs  SI

Sterling and Zlatan Star in Manchester ahead of Manchester Darby next

Man City Already looks Impressive  – David Mooney ESPNFC

Arsenal Still missing Physicality and Personality –

 USA

Hope Solo banned for 6 months by US Soccer

US Soccer Comes Down Hard on Solo – Grant Wahl SI

Solo’s Response is Typical

USA Today – Solo US Career Over?

Who Replaces Hope Solo for US Ladies?

Competition Brews for US Men Keepers

US Hot List – Altidore and Dempsey are Hot

Yedlin to New Castle United?  

Great Column Talking to US Players with WTF – Eric Wynalda

 MLS

Weekend update – NYC Dazzle over LA, Seattle Wins Again

Another MLS Weekend Update

Sigi simply wasn’t working in Seattle anymore

MLS – GOALKEEPER WEEK Just Wrapped Up

Favorite for Goalkeeper of the Year in MLS

Why are Goalkeepers So Crazy

Nick Rimando voted best MLS Keeper ever – 1 of the Best PK Savers ever  

GK FullBracket

Best Saves for American Goalie Andre Blake for Philly Union

What Happens when you put a field player in goal

Long List of American Goalkeepers in EPL – you will notice Carmel’s own Juergen Sommer on this list

 INDY 11

3 Facts ahead of Ottowa

Playoff Tickets go on sale Aug 29th

3 Things Carolina Loss

Champions League

Champions League Draw has some Great Matchups

2006 Gold

2006 Girls Gold – Pike Fest Champions

Blue team

2006 Girls Blue — Pike Fest Champions

 More GAMES ON TV

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Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga + Spain La Liga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 AM NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2:                 Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus:         Hamburg SV vs. Ingolstadt

10 am NBCSN                                        Chelsea vs Burnley, Everton vs Stoke, Leciester vs Swansea, Southhampton vs Sunderland

12 pm beIN Sport                              Lazio vs Juventus

12:30 pm  NBC                                     Hull City vs Man United
12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

2 pm beIN Sport                                 Real Madrid vs Celta De Vigo

8 pm beIN Sport, ESPN3                Miami vs Min United

Sun, Aug 28

9:30 a.m Fox Sport1                         Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs West Ham

2 pm ESPN3 ?                                        Ottawa vs Indy 11

2:30 pm ESPN                                        NY Red Bulls vs New England

5 pm  ESPN                                              Portland host Seattle Sounders – CASCADIA CUP 2!

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                               Orlando City vs NYCFC

Wed, Aug 31                                        

7:30 pm CBS Sports Network     Ft. Lauderdale vs Minn. 

7:30 pm ??                                              NY Cosmos vs Indy 11

Fri, Sept 2 

3:30 pm beIN sport     WCQ – US @ St. Vincent + Grenadines

5 pm beIN Sport                                 Honduras vs Canada

8 pm beIN Sport                                 Haiti vs Costa Rica

10 pm beIN Sport                              Mexico vs El Salvador

Sat, Sept 3                                              *International Break *

7:30 pm Ch 8 ESPN3                                                Indy 11 vs TB Rowdies

Sun, Sept 4 

12 pm Fox Sports 2                           Denmark vs Armenia

12 pm Fox Sports ? ESPN3           Slovakia vs England

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Norway vs Germany

Mon, Sept 5 

12 pm Fox Sports 1                           Spain vs Leichenstein

Tues, Sept 6 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                                               Belarus vs France

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Switzerland vs Portugal

8 pm Fox Sport 1         WCQ – US vs Trinadad and Tobago

8:15 pm beIN Sport                                                  Brazil vs Colombia

Fri, Sept 9                                                 

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 04

Sat, Sept 10

7 am FS1                                                   Celtic vs Rangers – Ireland

11 am NBCSN                       Man United vs Man City

9:30 am fox Sports 1                                                Bayer Leverkusen s Hamburg SV

10 am NBCSN                                        Arsenal vs Southampton, Stoke City vs Tottenham, West Ham vs Watford

12:30 pm FS 2                                       RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund

12:30 pm NBCSN                                Liverpool s Leicester City

7:30 pm YES                                           New England vs NYCFC

7:30 pm beIN Sports   Ft. Lauderdale vs Indy 11

9 pm beIN Sport                                 Futsal World Cup – Colombia vs Portugal

Sun, Sept 11

9:30 am FS1                                            Werder Bremen vs Augsburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Swansea vs Chelsea 

11:30 am FS 1                                       Mainz 05 vs Hoffenhiem

7 pm FS 1                                                                         LA Galaxy vs Orlando City

9:30 pm FS 1                                         Women -Portland Thorns vs NY Flash

Mon, Sept 12

3 pm NBCSN                                           Sunderland vs Everton

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV 

Neymar, Brazil finally win gold as program tries to reclaim glory

“Brazilian soccer is not dead.” Neymar’s penalty kick gave Brazil its first men’s soccer gold medal and sent the Maracanã into a long-awaited frenzy.  GRANT WAHLSunday August 21st, 2016 Sports Illustrated

RIO DE JANEIRO — “Brazilian soccer is not dead.”It may not be a statement you’d put on a bumper sticker, but the words of Rogério Micale, Brazil’s men’s Olympic soccer coach, were exactly what this country was looking for from the nation’s first soccer gold medal in its history. Plenty of too-cool-for-school soccer observers will be quick to deride Brazil’s historic Olympic triumph—achieved on penalties against Germany—for what it isn’t instead of for what it is.

Here is what it is not:

  • Revenge forthe 7–1 loss to Germany in the World Cup. (That trauma will never go away, and men’s Olympic soccer is an age-restricted tournament anyway.)
  • Evidence that Brazil’s soccer structure has been fixed. (Even Brazilian federation insiders admit otherwise.)
  • Reason to think Brazil will be a favorite to win World Cup 2018. (With the senior team currently in sixth place in South American World Cup qualifying, Brazil is hoping just tomake itto Russia.)But anyone focusing on those things is missing the point. Brazil’s stirring victory in a sold-out Maracanã Stadium on Saturday, featuring a glorious free kick goal and a game-clinching penalty by superstar Neymar, was pure theater, a chance with the world watching for Brazilians to finally start feeling some pride again in a national institution.At a time when Brazil has been taking hits for its political and economic shambles, for the Zika virus and Rio’s safety issues, for that awful 7–1, the chance to end nearly a century of Olympic soccer failures was something thatmattered here. No Olympic gold medal mattered to Brazilians more, in fact, than this one. Will the 2020 men’s Olympic soccer tournament mean much to Brazilians? Probably not. But this one certainly did.“I’m sure this will give reason for pride and confidence for the Brazilian people and the national team,” said Micale, the mild-mannered coach who brought the team back from two scoreless draws against South Africa and Iraq to start the tournament. “We know the huge responsibility on the shoulders of the Olympic team. After all, soccer is the No. 1 sport in Brazil. But this [post-World Cup recriminations] phase now is passed. We can look toward the future of Brazilian soccer more confident, more proud and, once and for all, Brazilian soccer is not dead.”The 24-year-old Neymar, in particular, lived a real-life Brazilian novela in this Olympic tournament. He is Brazil’s biggest sports star, and he was put on this Olympic team for two reasons: 1) Brazil had never won Olympic soccer gold before, and 2) It couldn’t afford an embarrassment on home soil. And so Neymar skipped June’s Copa América with the senior team and missed the start of the Spanish season for Barcelona to be here over the past three weeks.And it got off to a nightmare start for him. Brazil’s inability to score over 180 minutes against two lightly regarded Under-23 teams set off alarms all over Brazil. Fans started scratching out Neymar’s name on Brazil jerseys with magic markers and booing him from the stands. The Brazilian press was merciless too, and after the Iraq game Neymar refused to speak to the media in the postgame mixed zone and press conference. That would continue for the rest of the tournament, even after his moment of glory in the final.So be it. That’s his call. But whether he was talking or not, Neymar’s semifinal and final performances were electric. He scored just 14 seconds into the 6–0 semifinal win against Honduras and added a second on a penalty just before the end. Then in the final, Neymar’s gorgeous free kick goal grazed the underside of the crossbar and gave Brazil a 1–0 lead that threatened to send the Maracanã into orbit.Neymar tired as the night went on and Germany equalized as the game headed into extra time. He was visibly limping, at some moment barely able to move. But he had one more moment of magic left. During the penalties, which were taken well by both teams, Neymar had been given the No. 5 slot by Micale. It was actually bad strategy, since you never usually want your best penalty-taker to go fifth, for fear that he’ll never get the chance if his teammates miss.But from a dramatic perspective it was fantastic. In the fifth round, with penalties tied at 4–4, Germany’s Nils Petersen had his kick saved by Brazilian goalkeeper Weverton (one of the few Brazilian top-level players who comes from the Amazon). Neymar walked slowly to the spot with the Olympic gold on the line. “The only thing on my mind was I had to do this,” he told a TV reporter on the field.And so he did. Pandemonium in the Maracanã. “It gives us huge pride to share the gold medal with Neymar,” said Micale afterward. “We know he’s a reference for Brazilian soccer, but just as Neymar was brilliant scoring the fifth goal in the shootout, Weverton the goalkeeper made a special defense. We knew when we called him up that he might be called on to do exactly that. And he didn’t let us down.”The Maracanã rejoiced, and Rio rejoiced, and the medal that Brazil had to win was won.There are a lot of things that this gold medal is not. But it still matters. Brazilian soccer is not dead.

Barcelona to face Man City, Arsenal draw PSG in Champions League draw

Pep Guardiola will return to the Camp Nou after Manchester City and Barcelona were drawn together in the Champions League group stage on Thursday.  Guardiola spent the majority of his playing career with Barcelona and led them to two European titles as manager in 2009 and 2011.  And now in his first season as City boss, he will face off against his former club in Group C, along with Borussia Monchengladbach and Celtic, when the group stage begins next month.The Spanish champions beat City in the round of 16 in both 2014 and 2015, and the teams completed a transfer of goalkeeper Claudio Bravo to City just hours before the draw.The draw featured some other blockbuster matchups, as defending champions Real Madrid play Borussia Dortmund in Group F, Paris Saint-Germain face Arsenal in Group A, and Bayern Munich will meet last year’s runners-up Atletico Madrid in Group D.vThere were more favourable draws for the other two English clubs.vDebutants Leicester City were drawn with Porto, Club Brugge and FC Copenhagen in Group G, while Tottenham must play CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen and Monaco in Group E.

 Group A
Paris Saint-Germain
Arsenal
FC Basel
Ludogorets Razgrad

 Group B
Benfica
Napoli
Dynamo Kiev
Besiktas

 Group C
Barcelona
Manchester City
Borussia Monchengladbach
Celtic

 Group D
Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid
PSV Eindhoven
Rostov

 Group E
CSKA Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen
Tottenham Hotspur
Monaco

 Group F
Real Madrid
Borussia Dortmund
Sporting
Legia Warsaw

 Group G
Leicester City
Porto
Club Brugge
FC Copenhagen

 Group H
Juventus
Sevilla
Lyon
Dinamo Zagreb

 Group-stage matchdays

Sept. 13, 14
Sept. 27, 28
Oct. 18, 19
Nov. 1, 2
Nov. 22, 23
Dec. 6, 7

Round-of-16 draw: Monday, Dec. 12.

 U.S. Soccer calls Hope Solo comments at Rio Games ‘unacceptable’

Aug 25, 2016

Goalkeeper Hope Solo has been suspended six months from the national team for what U.S. Soccer called “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.” After the United States was eliminated from the Rio Olympics earlier this month in a penalty shootout, the 35-year-old Solo criticized the winning Sweden team, calling it “a bunch of cowards.” “The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our National Team players,” U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said in a statement Wednesday. “Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions.”Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. National Team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”The suspension is effective immediately. Solo was previously suspended for 30 days early in 2015 for conduct related to an incident at the team’s training camp.”For 17 years, I dedicated my life to the U.S. Women’s National Team and did the job of a pro athlete the only way I knew how — with passion, tenacity, an unrelenting commitment to be the best goalkeeper in the world, not just for my country but to elevate the sport for the next generation of female athletes,” Solo said in a statement. “In those commitments, I have never wavered. And with so much more to give, I am saddened by the Federation’s decision to terminate my contract.”I could not be the player I am without being the person I am, even when I haven’t made the best choices or said the right things. My entire career, I have only wanted the best for this team, for the players and the women’s game, and I will continue to pursue these causes with the same unrelenting passion with which I play the game.”Richard Nichols, the executive director of the USWNT Players Association, said the union will file an appeal on Solo’s behalf. “Given the cited conduct and alleged policy violation, we believe the proposed discipline to be excessive, unprecedented, disproportionate and a violation of Ms. Solo’s First Amendment rights,” Nichols said. “We also question whether this action would ever have been taken against a male player or coach, who, in the heated moments after a frustrating defeat, questioned the tactics of the opposing team. Needless to say, we will file an appeal on Ms. Solo’s behalf.”The U.S. Olympic team dominated possession against Sweden in the quarterfinal match in Rio and finished with 27 shots, but Sweden scored on a counterattack in regulation — one of only two shots on goal it had in the game. After playing to a 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes, Sweden edged the U.S. 4-3 in the shootout.Solo didn’t hold back in her comments afterward. “I thought that we played a courageous game,” Solo said. “I thought that we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down. I’m very proud of this team.”I also think we played a bunch of cowards. But, you know, the best team did not win today. I strongly, firmly believe that. I think you saw America’s heart. You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately, the better team didn’t win.”Sweden coach Pia Sundhage, who coached the U.S. team to gold medals during the Beijing and London games, replied by stating: “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”Solo was a lightning rod during the Olympic tournament, irking fans in Brazil when she posted a photo of herself covered with mosquito netting and armed with insect repellent on social media. Fans booed her mercilessly and hollered “Zika!” each time she kicked downfield. Then she caused a stir with her “cowards” comment.She has been making headlines throughout her career. She has vocally advocated for women’s rights. Solo was among the U.S. players who filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission for wage discrimination, saying the men’s national team players have been paid much more than many on the women’s team, which for years has outperformed the U.S. men on the international stage.More recently, she has called for better conditions for players in the National Women’s Soccer League.She has also been trying to avoid a trial on misdemeanor domestic violence charges after a 2014 incident at her sister’s home, when the goalkeeper was accused of being intoxicated and assaulting her sister and 17-year-old nephew. Solo said she was a victim in the altercation.Earlier this year, an appeals court in Washington state rejected Solo’s request to avoid trial.Solo currently is playing for the Seattle Reign of the National Women’s Soccer League. They resume their season Saturday. Alyssa Naeher is the only other goalie currently on the USWNT roster.

U.S. Soccer suspends goalkeeper Hope Solo for six months for Olympics remarks

The U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper called Sweden “cowards” for assuming defensive tactics in an Olympic quarterfinal upset of the Americans.  GRANT WAHLWednesday August 24th, 2016

U.S. Soccer has suspended goalkeeper Hope Solo for six months after her controversial comments at the Olympics and terminated her national team contract, the federation announced Wednesday. U.S. women’s coach Jill Ellis and U.S. Soccer general secretary Dan Flynn met with Solo, 35, in Seattle on Wednesday afternoon and gave her the news. The move follows Solo’s comments at the Olympics when she called the Swedish players “cowards” for their defensive style in eliminating the U.S. in the quarterfinals. Solo, who received public criticism from teammate Megan Rapinoe and U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati for her comments, did not apologize for them.“The comments by Hope Solo after the match against Sweden during the 2016 Olympics were unacceptable and do not meet the standard of conduct we require from our national team players,” Gulati said in a press release. “Beyond the athletic arena, and beyond the results, the Olympics celebrate and represent the ideals of fair play and respect. We expect all of our representatives to honor those principles, with no exceptions.”Gulati continued: “Taking into consideration the past incidents involving Hope, as well as the private conversations we’ve had requiring her to conduct herself in a manner befitting a U.S. national team member, U.S. Soccer determined this is the appropriate disciplinary action.”Solo and U.S. women’s national team player representative Rich Nichols gave their responses to SI:

View image on Twitter

Grant Wahl 

✔@GrantWahl

Hope Solo’s response to SI on her suspension.

Grant Wahl 

✔@GrantWahl

Solo, the most dominant goalkeeper in women’s soccer history, has won one World Cup title and two Olympic gold medals in a U.S. career that has included 202 national team appearances and 102 clean sheets. Both are the most ever internationally for a goalkeeper, male or female. Solo has been involved in controversy as well. At the 2007 World Cup, U.S. coach Greg Ryan benched her for the semifinal against Brazil after she had started every game. Solo lashed out publicly after the U.S.’s 4-0 loss and was shunned by her teammates, but ultimately Ryan lost his job and Solo was welcomed back to the U.S. team under coach Pia Sundhage and won agold medal in 2008. As coincidence would have it, Solo’s controversial remarks at this Olympics were about Sundhage’s Sweden team.After Solo’s standout performance at the 2011 World Cup, where the U.S. finished second, she became a breakout personality and ended up on Dancing With The Stars. But in 2014 she was accused of a fourth-degree domestic violence offense in an incident involving her nephew and half-sister. That case has yet to be resolved. In early 2015, Solo was suspended for 30 days by U.S. Soccer after she and her husband, Jerramy Stevens, were stopped in a U.S. team van that Stevens was driving in Los Angeles. He was charged with DUI and served three days in jail.Solo was part of an impressive U.S. defensive display in winning the 2015 World Cup, but her performance in the 2016 Olympics was mixed. She made some huge saves in the U.S.’s 1-0 group-stage victory against France, but Solo’s howler against Colombia cost the U.S. two points in a 2-2 tie.Solo will still play for her NWSL club team, the Seattle Reign.

WHO REPLACES HOPE SOLO FOR THE US?

By: Laken Litman | August 25, 2016 12:02 pm  

U.S. Soccer has terminated Hope Solo’s contract and suspended the record-setting goalkeeper from the U.S. Women’s National Team for six months for “conduct that is counter to the organization’s principles.” After the U.S. lost to Sweden in the Olympic quarterfinal, she called her opponent “cowards.” So if she’s not eligible for national team selection until Feb. 2017, who will replace her? Right now, coach Jill Ellis has two main options at goalkeeper: Alyssa Naeher, who was Solo’s backup at the Olympics, and Ashlyn Harris, Solo’s backup at the World Cup last year and an alternate in Rio. Neither has the experience, caps or accolades as Solo, but they’ll have to step up and earn a starting job. Because what if Solo’s career is finished? It realistically could be at this point. Solo, who has been the USWNT’s starting goalkeeper since 2005, is 35 now, which mean’s she’ll be 38 at the 2018 World Cup and 39 at the next Olympics. She had an overall disappointing performance in Brazil, even letting the ball slip between her legs against Colombia. Not to mention the other headaches she’s caused U.S. Soccer.

If she doesn’t return, these are the two most obvious choices:

Alyssa Naeher, 28 (caps: 7)

Naeher has been part of the USWNT for the last year, including the Rio Olympics, 2015 World Cup, and 2015 Algarve Cup. She played as a substitute for a few victory tour matches following the World Cup. She earned her first cap in a shutout victory against Argentina in 2014. She was the third string goalkeeper during the Olympics, but moved ahead of Ashlyn Harris for the No. 2 spot during the Olympics.  Plays professionally for the Chicago Red Stars.

Ashlyn Harris, 30 (caps: 8)

Solo’s backup at the 2015 World Cup, she didn’t start any matches in Canada, but did during the Victory Tour. Has had several injuries hamper her college and professional career, and was demoted to alternate (third string) for the Rio Olympics behind Naeher. She plays professionally for the Orlando Pride.  The USWNT is back on the field twice next month in a pair of friendlies against Thailand (Sept. 15) and the Netherlands (Sept. 18).

U.S. Hot List: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey finding form at the right time

unday is when the United States national team roster for next month’s World Cup qualifying matches, at St. Vincent and the Grenadines and in Jacksonville, Fla., against Trinidad and Tobago, is expected to be announced.And at this late stage, Jurgen Klinsmann has more likely than not already made his picks.But while a number of the 11 names below will surely be included on the squad list — one that could be larger than usual if the coach is considering releasing players to their clubs should the Americans secure a place in the final “hexagonal” round of CONCACAF qualifying after the first game — a few others are here more because of recent developments and their long-term prospects within the U.S. program.Here’s who is trending up (and down) in the U.S. team this week:

Warming up

Jozy Altidore, FW, Toronto FC

Why he’s here: Now with four goals in his last five appearances — his last this powerful solo effort in TFC’s 3-1 win at Philadelphia on Saturday night — Altidore is playing his best soccer since 2012-13, when he scored 31 goals in all competitions for Dutch club AZ Alkmaar.

What this means: Altidore’s recent strike rate has been off the charts, averaging a goal every 60.5 minutes since July 31. He has yet to play 90 minutes for the Reds since returning from a hamstring problem last month and so Klinsmann may still want to ease him in slowly but the 26-year-old, who has three strikes in four U.S. games in 2016, is making a strong case to start both qualifiers.

Matt Besler, DF, Sporting Kansas City

Why he’s here: A knee injury forced him to miss five weeks plus last month’s MLS All-Star game, but Besler returned to the SKC lineup on Saturday and helped his team pitch a clean sheet against the Vancouver Whitecaps.

What this means: A healthy Besler is good news for club and country, no doubt. But his extended absence — the 29-year-old was last seen for Sporting way back on July 13 — means it wouldn’t be a shock if Klinsmann leaves him home this time.

Clint Dempsey, FW, Seattle Sounders

Why he’s here: As with Altidore, his timing couldn’t be better. Dempsey added two more goals in Sunday’s 3-1 win against the Portland Timbers, giving him five (and one assist) in his last three games.

What this means: With Bobby Wood having just made his preseason debut for Bundesliga side Hamburg on Monday, don’t be shocked if Dempsey and Altidore, whose spot Wood filled admirably at Copa America, resume their partnership up top next month.

Brad Guzan, GK, Middlesbrough

Why he’s here: Guzan made his first start in Boro’s second game of the Premier League season on Sunday, leading his new employer to a 2-1 win at Sunderland.

What this means: Guzan got the nod after ex-Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes was injured in training and played well overall. He should keep his place at least for Middlesbrough’s next match, Wednesday’s League Cup tilt vs. Fulham. That should assuage any concerns about the 31-year-old’s match fitness heading into the international break.

Lynden Gooch, MF, Sunderland

Why he’s here: The 20-year-old made his second straight start for Sunderland and went 90 minutes in the loss to Guzan and Co. He was involved throughout, too, mostly on the left wing and was named the Black Cats’ man of the match.

What this means: The sudden emergence of Gooch is exciting for the national team. But the former U.S. under-20 is still more likely to get his maiden senior invite in October, when the Americans play friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand, than before two important World Cup qualifiers. Besides, staying in England this time around might keep him in rhythm and help him hold onto his place under David Moyes.

Josh Gatt, MF, Molde FK

Why he’s here: Gatt didn’t even feature in Sunday’s 4-2 win against Odds BK in the Norwegian Tippeligaen, but the 24-year-old winger, who won the last of his two U.S. caps in early 2013, deserves a mention for making manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s 18-man squad after missing most of the last three years because of knee injuries.

What this means: It’s way too early to talk about Gatt in the context of a national team return, but credit to the Michigan native — once one of America’s hottest prospects — for making it back.

Julian Green, MF, Bayern Munich

Why he’s here: Green, 21, played the final 24 minutes of Bayern’s 5-0 German Cup rout of lower division Carl Zeiss Jena last Friday.

What this means: It’s a promising sign than Green will get at least some time off the bench for Carlo Ancelotti’s side this season, if he’s not sold or loaned before the Aug. 31 deadline.

Cooling down

Geoff Cameron, DF, Stoke City

Why he’s here: The center-back dressed but didn’t play in either of Stoke’s first two Premier League games.

What this means: The 31-year-old joined up late for preseason after his stellar run for the U.S. at Copa, then took ill on the eve of the new season. But as long as Cameron sees minutes either in the midweek cup game against Stevenage or Saturday’s Premier League match at Everton, Klinsmann won’t be overly concerned.

Fabian Johnson, DF, Borussia Monchengladbach

Why he’s here: The versatile German-American played a combined nine substitute minutes in Gladbach’s two most recent matches.

What this means: We’ll have a better sense of where Johnson stands in manager Andre Schubert’s pecking order this time next week; the club plays a Champions League playoff-round match against Switzerland’s Young Boys before opening Bundesliga play against Bayern Leverkusen on Saturday. Either way, only injury will prevent him from lining up at left-back for the U.S. next month.

Darlington Nagbe, MF, Portland Timbers

Why he’s here: Since returning from Copa America duty, Nagbe has no goals and two assists in 12 games for the Timbers. The MLS champions have gone 3-6-3 during that span.What this means: To be fair, Portland’s recent struggles aren’t all down to Nagbe. But there’s still a sense that the midfielder could do more to impose himself during games, both at the club level and with the national team.

Christian Pulisic, MF, Borussia Dortmund

Why he’s here: The 17-year-old was left out of Dortmund’s squad for last week’s German Super Cup loss to Bayern and, while he made the roster for Monday’s cup match against Eintracht Trier in place of injured Mario Gotze, he didn’t see the field.What this means: In terms of his long-term prospects? Nothing. Those remain sky-high. But in the short term and as a practical matter, the attacking players BVB signed this summer — specifically Gotze, Ousmane Dembele and Andre Schurrle — appear to have impacted the youngster’s minutes already.So, if he’s not going to go on loan, it may be difficult for Pulisic, who made nine Bundesliga appearances (four starts) and scored two goals in the second half of the 2015-16 season, to play on a regular basis early on.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

Christian Pulisic in Borussia Dortmund cup squad due to Mario Gotze injury

Dortmund play fourth-tier side Eintracht Trier in the first round of the DFB Pokal on Monday and coach Thomas Tuchel said Pulisic would fill in for summer signing Gotze, who has problems in the thigh/adductor region.”We will rest Mario Gotze as a precautionary measure, and we’ve decided Christian Pulisic will be named in the squad in his stead,” Tuchel told reporters. Pulisic, 17, was reported to be unhappy after he was not selected for Dortmund’s 2-0 Super Cup defeat against Bayern Munich and there had been speculation he would seek a temporary move to secure more regular game time this season.However, his father subsequently denied those claims and Pulisic himself vowed to fight for his place, saying: “I want to play as much as I can.” Tuchel also confirmed that 2014 World Cup winner Roman Weidenfeller, 36, will be his first-choice goalkeeper for all DFB Pokal matches.He said: “Roman Weidenfeller will play in goal in the cup matches, and Roman Burki will start in the other two competitions.”Stephan Uersfeld is the Germany correspondent 

U.S. Hot List: Competition brews as Howard heats up and Guzan sits out

With less than two weeks to go until the U.S. national team’s roster for the World Cup qualifying matches against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago is revealed, which players are putting themselves in position to participate?Attackers are leading the way once again, although at least two of them are probably best considered long-term projects rather than locks for coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad next month.The situation in goal is almost equally as interesting, with an open competition brewing between two of the program’s most decorated veterans. Injuries are again a factor, as is always the case, with time quickly running out for one regular starter in the midfield.It’s all below in this week’s U.S. Hot List.

Warming up

Jozy Altidore, F, Toronto FC (MLS)

Why he’s here: Altidore was in Toronto’s lineup for the first time in three months against the Houston Dynamo on Sunday and scored a beauty of an equalizer in the 1-1 away tie. The veteran striker, who had come off the bench in the Reds’ previous three matches following a hamstring injury, now has three goals in his last 186 minutes of action.What this means: He’s sharp and noticeably svelte but still not fit for a full 90 minutes (Altidore was substituted midway through the second half against the Dynamo). TFC play three more times before the Americans convene in Florida ahead of their trip to the Caribbean, though, so the 26-year-old should at least be ready for a role off the bench for his country next month.

Steve Birnbaum, D, D.C. United (MLS)

Why he’s here: The central defender’s goal against the Portland Timbers on Saturday was his second in as many weeks; the 25-year-old also scored a94th-minute equalizer against the Philadelphia Union on Aug. 6.What this means: Birnbaum’s knack for finding the net — he had the game-winner for the Americans in a January friendly versus Iceland — is one of the reasons he’s been a regular for the U.S. this year. It’s also why he’s expected to move overseas at the end of the current MLS season.

Ethan Finlay, M/F, Columbus Crew (MLS)

Why he’s here: On Saturday, Finlay scored twice late in Columbus’ 3-3 tieagainst New York City FC — his first start for the Crew in a month.What this means: Finlay, 26, got off to a slow start this season after making his U.S. debut in January and didn’t crack the Copa America roster. Needless to say, Saturday’s performance comes at a good time.

Lynden Gooch, M/F, Sunderland (England)

Why he’s here: The 20-year-old Californian was a surprise starter in the Black Cats’ Premier League season opening loss to mighty Manchester City on Saturday, going 64 minutes on the left wing.What this means: It’s just one game, and next month’s international matches will probably come too soon for the former U.S. under-20 player, but Gooch’s speed, versatility and pedigree will probably be irresistible to Klinsmann later this year if he continues to earn minutes from manager David Moyes.

Tim Howard, G, Colorado Rapids (MLS)

Why he’s here: Howard stood on his head against the LA Galaxy on Saturday, making five saves — including three spectacular stops — in a 1-1 draw.What this means: The 37-year-old was Brad Guzan’s deputy at Copa America, but so far the pair have split the Americans’ four qualifying games of the 2018 cycle. With Guzan idle in England, expect Howard to get at least one of these two upcoming tilts, too.

Aron Johannsson, F, Werder Bremen (Germany)

Why he’s here: The oft-injured striker saw the field for the first time in nearly a year following hip surgery, appearing in Werder’s two most recent preseason matches.What this means: Even if Johannsson isn’t fully ready by the time the Bundesliga season begins (against Bayern Munich on Aug. 26) or for the September qualifiers, his return is great big-picture news for both the 2014 World Cup vet and the U.S., which is quietly building considerable forward depth heading into the Hexagonal.

Jordan Morris, F, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Why he’s here: A week after running Orlando City SC’s back line ragged and setting up two Clint Dempsey strikes, Morris scored his team-high eighth goal of the season in Sunday’s 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake.What this means: Morris’ progress with the Sounders has been fun to watch this season. He has struggled at times, as expected, during his first professional season, but the 21-year-old Seattle native has also responded to the inevitable adversity with aplomb and is deserving of his first senior team invite of 2016.

Gyasi Zardes, M/F, LA Galaxy (MLS)

Why he’s here: Zardes came back from a two-game injury layoff in Wednesday’s U.S. Open Cup loss to FC Dallas, then started and went the distance against Colorado three days later, getting robbed by a point-blank Howard stop along the way.What this means: Given the amount of minutes the hard-running 24-year-old has played for the U.S. since making his international debut in 2015 — more than anyone besides Michael Bradley — having him healthy and available next month is hugely important for the team.

Cooling down

Brad Guzan, G, Middlesbrough (England)

Why he’s here: Guzan watched from the bench as former Barcelona keeper Victor Valdes manned the net for Boro in Saturday’s 1-1 draw with Stoke City.What this means: The decision wasn’t unexpected, as the job is considered Valdes’ to lose. But while the 34-year-old played well enough against Stoke, it was only Valdes’ eighth first-team appearance since leaving Barca two years ago (he made two for Manchester United in 2014-15 and five on loan to Belgium’s Standard Liege last season). The Spaniard is also mistake-prone at times. So while Guzan will have to wait for his chance, it figures to present itself at some point.

Jermaine Jones, M, Colorado Rapids (MLS)

Why he’s here: He was listed as questionable before the game in LA, but Jones (knee injury) ended up missing his sixth consecutive match.What this means: It’s looking less and less likely that Jones, 34, will be able to play any role for the U.S. next month.

Gregory Garza, D, Club Tijuana (Mexico)

Why he’s here: Garza was not in the Xolos‘ 18-man roster for Friday’s 2-0 victory over Leon.

What this means: Garza, 25, started the first two games of the season under former Mexico national team coach Miguel Herrera, but he could be falling victim to the Liga MX’s new 10/8 rule. Despite the fact that he holds Mexican citizenship through his father, the Texas-born left-back is no longer counted as a domestic player south of the border. If that’s the reason he didn’t dress, it’s a worrying development. He was on the bench the last two matches following a concussion scare.

Edgar Castillo, D, Monterrey (Mexico)

Why he’s here: The little full-back is out for two months with a knee injury, sidelining him for the U.S. games in September and October.What this means: While it’s true that Castillo is mostly a squad player for the Americans — he was added to the Copa roster only after Bundesliga-based German-American Timmy Chandler was forced to withdraw because of injury — his absence robs the U.S. of some badly needed depth at left-back.ESPN FC’s Tom Marshall contributed reporting from Mexico.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN. 

Over/Under: European club, season predictions for 2016-17

How many trophies will the elite clubs net in 2016-17? We predict that and more, taking a look at the major European leagues and seasons ahead.

BEN LYTTLETON Thursday August 18th, 2016 SI

With the new top-flight seasons set to kick off in Italy and Spain this weekend–and Germany one week later–and the Premier League just underway, there are lots of predictions to be made and questions to be answered. Will the competitive imbalance in France, Germany and Italy continue to be a problem? Will we see a surprise winner in any league? Will there be an outsider who cracks the Champions League elite? And just who will Jose Mourinho fall out with next?

With all of those questions–and more!–in mind, we take a look at the European club landscape in the over/under prism to provide as much clarity as possible entering a nine-month quest for trophies and championships:

Over/Under 2.5: Trophies for…

Bayern Munich

Carlo Ancelotti has already won his first trophy at Bayern, last weekend’s Super Cup win over Dortmund, getting him and his new club off to a winning start. But there was a clear difference in approach: Bayern had 45% possession and was happy to play on the break; it’s not quite the Pep Guardiola way, but it’s effective. With Dortmund recruiting smartly in summer, the question is whether it can push Bayern off the top spot in the Bundesliga. Ancelotti is a cup specialist, and the German Cup and Champions League might be where he sets his sights. Bayern will not find things as easy as this season.

Prediction: Under

Barcelona

The Spanish Super Cup is won, after Wednesday’s victory against Sevilla. Now all Luis Enrique needs to do is have his team defend its La Liga crown and win the Champions League or Spanish Cup (that’s all!). While the first XI may not change too much this season–with Marc-Andre ter Stegen likely to replace Claudo Bravo (who appears bound for Manchester City) as the first-choice La Liga goalkeeper, and Sergi Roberto replacing Dani Alves at right back, the supporting cast is stronger than ever. Midfield schemer Andre Gomes has joined from Valencia, Denis Suarez is back where he started and Samuel Umtiti and Lucas Digne improve the defensive depth.

Prediction: Over

Manchester United

Like Ancelotti, Mourinho got off to a winning start at Manchester United, winning the Community Shield as his first piece of silverware at Old Trafford. Next up? The Premier League title, which he says others are too scared to admit they are targeting. The signs were encouraging after the opening game at Bournemouth, and that’s before Paul Pogba has even started playing. Pogba could be a difference-maker, but depending on where he plays, he could also make threaten the place of Wayne Rooney. Mourinho will target cup runs too–including the Europa League–but might fall just short this time around.

Prediction: Under

Paris Saint-Germain

Another big club, another new coach and this time Unai Emery has already won over his players and the fans at PSG. “We are working better tactically,” said Thiago Silva of Laurent Blanc’s replacement. Fans have also enjoyed Emery’s personal website launch, in which they are invited to pick their PSG team and see how it compares to his. PSG’s 4-1 rout over Lyon was a sign of where this season could go with Emery at the helm of a team that has won consecutive domestic trebles.

Prediction: Over

Over/Under 1.5: Trophies for…

Manchester City

It’s still early days for Guardiola, but the first week of the season has been encouraging, even if the team was helped by some generous defending from Sunderland and, particularly, Steaua Bucharest. The attacking potential of Sergio Aguero and his back-up cast is frightening, though if the Argentine is injured at the business end of the season, things could get tricky. The Premier League is the prime target for Guardiola, while a return to the Champions League semifinals (where Guardiola has never fallen short of reaching but has been eliminated in four straight seasons) is a possibility, too. Add a domestic cup to the mix, and the Pep project could be off to a flying start.

Prediction: Over

Real Madrid

Real Madrid has now gone five seasons without winning La Liga, and this summer’s low-key transfer moves suggest an end to that run is not in the offing. The reigning Champions League holder will have its work cut out defending that crown, just as Cristiano Ronaldo, chasing a sixth straight season in which he scores at least 50 goals, might find Father Time catching up with him. It’s already won the UEFA Super Cup, besting Sevilla, so that leaves one of the league, Champions League, Copa del Rey and Club World Cup titles to take it over 1.5. Of the bunch, the Club World Cup (where UEFA entrants have won eight of the 12 titles) is the likeliest prize.

Prediction: Over

Over/Under 9: Points by which Juventus wins Serie A

  1. 17. 17. 9. 4. That’s how many points by which Juventus has won the last five Serie A titles. It looks locked-in for a sixth in a row after signing its rivals’ best players–Miralem Pjanic from Roma and Gonzalo Higuain from Napoli–but it could be derailed if, as it clearly hopes, it goes deep in the Champions League and its focus is split. After reaching the final in 2015, the aim is to go one better this year.

Prediction: Over

Over/Under 20.5: Goals scored by new Napoli’s Higuain replacement, Milik

Higuain scored more than a goal per game in Serie A last season (36 goals in 35 matches) and his replacement, Poland’s Arkadiusz Milik, will need to hit the ground running. Milik cost £34 million, after scoring 21 goals in the Dutch league last season. It’s a big purchase for Napoli, which will hope it pays off, but scoring in the Eredivisie and scoring in Serie A are two entirely different tasks. 

Over/Under 1.5: Ligue 1 games PSG loses this season

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Where do you go after winning the league four times in a row with barely a challenge? Last season PSG wanted to go unbeaten, and for 27 games, it looked possible. Then came a 2-1 loss at Lyon, and PSG’s version of the Invincibles was over. It lost at home to Monaco three weeks later. Can it come close again? With Hatem Ben Arfa, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Jese and Thomas Meunier among the new arrivals and Emery winning friends as coach, the question is when and not if PSG will win the league, even after Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s departure. The real challenge is taking the next step in the Champions League and conquering Europe.

Prediction: Under

Over/Under 9.5: Leicester City’s final Premier League position

Last season’s surprise Premier League champion had a nasty wake-up call with its opening-day defeat at newly-promoted and written-off Hull City. But off the pitch it has sealed two big wins, with Jamie Vardy and, on Wednesday, Riyad Mahrez, signing new deals–so the attacking stars of 2015-16 will stay (at least until January offers roll in). Coach Claudio Ranieri says survival is the target, but regardless of European distractions, this squad is good enough to finish top half in the table. Expect the Foxes to regain their bite–maybe not against Arsenal on Saturday, but in the coming weeks.

Prediction: Over (top-half of the table)

Over/Under 3.5: Players Manchester City will be able to sell before the summer window shuts

It’s early days in the Pep-olution at the Etihad, but a few truths have already emerged after the first game of the season. Guardiola does not rate Joe Hart; there is no space for Yaya Toure in the squad; and Wilfried Bony, Eliaquim Mangala, Samir Nasri and Jesus Navas are all available if someone is prepared to take on their salaries. There is some talent in that group, but Guardiola will want to trim down his squad, and the focus for the City board next week will be selling rather than buying.

Prediction: Under

Over/Under 2.5: Number of Spanish players to make over 20 starts for Real Madrid this season

Zinedine Zidane has made his point as Real Madrid coach, as this is one of those rare summers during which the club has not made a big-money signing. Instead it has welcomed back two players, Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio, from successful loan spells. Zidane has won the power battle with Florentino Perez, for now, but will his Spanish contingent get much game time? Sergio Ramos will play if fit, and the same might go for Dani Carvajal, but what of Morata, Asensio and Lucas Vasquez, the winger who excelled last season and scored a penalty in the Champions League final shootout win? If Isco lasts the month, does he have a role to play, too?

Prediction: Over

Over/Under 3.5Managers Mourinho will attack in the press

It’s been a relatively quiet start to the season for Mourinho, with only a mild poke at Jurgen Klopp and Arsene Wenger for their clubs not being big enough to sign Pogba. It was his early foray in the siege mentality/belligerent wind-ups in which he likes to engage. But there is plenty of time to go, and it promises to be interesting to see him lock horns with his bête noire Guardiola, as well as Wenger (again), Klopp (whose Dortmund beat his Real Madrid in the 2013 Champions League semifinal), and, of course, Ranieri, who was often on the receiving-end of his barbs when they were both coaching in Italy. The lower this number, the better United will be doing. Mourinho tends to pick fights when the pressure is greatest.

Prediction: Over

Over/Under 75.5: Combined La Liga goals scored by Messi, Suarez, Neymar

This is a generous estimate considering last season’s total scored between the three of them was 90 (out of 112 in total, so 80% of the team’s tally). But this is factoring in the potential of injuries and, given that Barcelona is looking to finally sign a fourth striker to give each of them some chance of a break, less playing time. Because all three are South American, holidays come in short supply: this summer they were with their countries for either Copa America or the Olympics, and the toll of traveling for international breaks and World Cup qualifying could start to add up–especially now that Messi has un-retired from international football.

Prediction: Over

Over/Under 3.5: Bundesliga coaches linked with jobs in England

It used to be Frenchmen, then Italians and very briefly Spaniards, but Liverpool’s feel-good factor under Jurgen Klopp will be noted by Premier League chairmen who have the likes of Thomas Tuchel (Borussia Dortmund) and Roger Schmidt (Leverkusen) on their radars. Also look out for Martin Schmidt (Mainz), Markus Wienzierl (Schalke) and Pal Dardai (Hertha Berlin).

Prediction: Under

Over/Under €49.5 million: Amount at which point Lyon will consider selling Alexandre Lacazette

We’ve been here before; 12 months ago, in fact, when Lyon’s tough negotiator and president Jean-Michel Aulas rejected bids for Lacazette and upset the player as well. This time around, Lacazette is playing it smarter. He scored a hat trick on Ligue 1’s opening day against Nancy, smiled when asked about his future and said, “Ask the president.” If someone bids €50 million for him, then Lyon will sell. Arsenal bid €35 million last month and might go up a level in the next two weeks.

Prediction: Over

La Liga 2016-17 preview: Barca and Real to contest the title, Atletico to slip

I think it was Confucius who once wisely said, “There are Five Things about everything.” How right he was — and here are mine as far as Spain’s new La Liga season goes.

1. A two-horse race for the title

Usain Bolt has turned the Olympic 100-meter final into a one-horse race for eight long years now. Still, the world devours it, loves it and venerates him. In the U.S. alone, 35 million people tuned in to watch the Jamaican sprint, have a cigar, chat to some competitors, grin for the cameras, make a cup of tea and meander home for gold. Again.But when people like me admit that this year’s Spanish title is a two-horse race, there’s usually a wailing and a gnashing of teeth, an end-of-times condemnation of everything in Spanish football from the TV money to the exquisite fine art they’ve developed here of making it as hard and confusing as possible to actually watch the thing. What makes me sadder now is that previously the thoroughbred stallions, Barcelona and Real Madrid, cut through the field not because the other competitors were poor, but because the two of them were utterly elite.Right now, however, when you look at the runners and riders it’s reasonable to fear that there has been an equine decline. And yes, I’m sorry, Atleti fans. They won’t — in fact, they can’t — win the league title.When Diego Simeone’s vastly impressive, vastly likeable group of players became champions in 2014, the two thoroughbreds were a touch lame. But right now, Madrid are a well-equipped squad (not by any means perfect in certain positions, mostly the back four) and also imbued with a confidence, a fighting spirit and a sense of mission which makes them good competitors. Conquering Europe will never, ever be made to look like a “second best” option for them, but the fact that they’ve won one Spanish title since 2008 means that La Liga will actually be their top priority.As much as I wanted Zinedine Zidane to isolate Madrid’s wrong-headed president, Florentino Perez, and make him change his ways by not accepting the job, he has been an absolutely wonderful addition to the racecourse here. Impishly happy in his work, elegant, tough, increasingly smart in his decision-making, full of leadership qualities and committed to attractive (read: winning) football, he has galvanised his club and it’s just terrific to watch.Then there’s Luis Enrique and his champions. Despite the adrenaline injection from a phalanx of young, hungry and technically able footballers like Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes and Denis Suarez, the absolute key factors are these: the front trident (Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez) is sublime and the key members of the squad are, somehow, managing to fight the psychological rust that usually ends winning eras.The transfer market hasn’t closed yet, so wild things could still happen, but look at it this way. Madrid lost the first Clasico 4-0 at home, dropped points stodgily until Rafa Benitez was sacked and coped with two-thirds of the “BBC” (namely Karim Benzema and Gareth Bale) starting just 21 and 26 league games respectively but still had the title in their sights until the final matchday. Throw in Alvaro Morata and Marco Asensio (recalled to HQ after time at Juventus and Espanyol) and Barcelona have a rival on their hands.So what’s wrong with Atleti? Like Barcelona, we have to admire how they keep a fire raging in their bellies. Not just when they hear the roar of the crowd and the scent of win bonuses on game night. No: This is a club, a coach and a group of athletes who go to war every single day. They’ll be capable of winning the Copa and even the Champions League, but do they have the excellence, the “special” players, to dig out exceptional results in extremis?I’m not convinced.If Atleti are sitting top with a couple of games to go then, don’t worry: You won’t have to go to your bookmarks and use this to mock me. I’ll be happily patting them on the back and celebrating the two-steed race seeing a dark horse edging in front down the stand side. For now, I’m just happy to be working in a league that has two Usain Bolt-esque teams fighting to go higher, faster and stronger.

2. The next-tier contenders all have major flaws

I’d like to be more positive and more optimistic about the supporting cast. Football often benefits from change, innovation and problem-solving results. But no matter how you package it, Sevilla and Villarreal have lost two intelligent, successful, driven and high-quality coaches in Unai Emery and Marcelino. How they cope with that will be a test. Interesting and quite possibly fun, too.At Sevilla, it’s going to be fascinating to discover how well Ganso and Wissam Ben Yedder can add the kind of élan, chutzpah and Toreador instincts that the crowd love down there. Jorge Sampaoli will have his team well-drilled, full of hard work and raucous to play against, but is there a cutting edge?Valencia: I know them well and just think Pako Ayesteran is the bees knees. Bright, diligent, head over heels in love with football, blessed with a winning etiquette and endlessly hard working. One smart dude. But the squad lacks quality and they’re shedding too much of the talent they did possess. Storm clouds there, sadly.I admit I’ve high hopes for Fran Escriba but before September comes, Villarreal’s exceptional recruitment department needs to add more goals: either those who make them or take them.

3. Why you should watch out for Espanyol, Real Betis

I’m hugely intrigued and excited about two teams in particular as La Liga restarts. Quique Sanchez Flores is not only a coach of proven talent but he’s also Spanish football royalty: a title winner as a player, the godson of Alfredo Di Stefano, a man from an artistic family who’ve been beloved in this country for decades.And now there’s a “Dirty Dozen’ or “Kelly’s Heroes” feel about his Espanyol squad. The old soldiers accepting one big and thrilling last mission include Martin Demichelis and Jose Antonio Reyes, each of whom has supped the nectar at football’s top table in the past. Pablo Piatti and Leo Baptistao add the impish, lovable “Peter Pan” feel to the project: they’re awfully full of talent but too preoccupied with being cool to show it all the time.If they focus and get inspired by Sergeant Major Snchez Flores, then who knows? The mission might yield some laughs and some victories. No negative waves either.Nor will many of those be allowed at Betis. Gus Poyet is a phenomenon — misinterpreted, I think, because of his love of a laugh and some chatter. He has an impish sense of humour, a voracious hunger for life. The fact that he gobbled up finals and trophies wherever he went as a player indicates the truth: he’s intense, hard working, dedicated to winning. A stern rival.It’s true that Betis have a lot of workday players — not Charly Musonda (on loan from Chelsea), Matis Nahuel (borrowed from Villarreal) or Ruben Castro, mind you — but when Gus says he wants his team to play with character, attacking attractively and using the ball intelligently, he means it.It’s worth watching these two teams this season, I’d say.

4. Look out for Athletic, too!

I guess it went under most people’s radar that Athletic Club played 24 matches over and above their Liga campaign last season. Some achievement: they won a trophy, their first since the beginning of the 1980s, thanks to a Supercopa thrashing of Barcelona, they eliminated both Valencia and Marseille from Europe and experienced a valiant quarterfinal Copa defeat to the eventual winners, Barcelona.I think that speaks volumes about the quality, spirit and attitude at the club — particularly as they qualified for Europe again by finishing fifth. Hats off.You’re right about the question marks, though. Another year older for the dazzlingly special Aritz Aduriz, not far removed from Raul Garcia’s health scare, and Aymeric Laporte is still recovering both form and fitness after his broken fibula. But it’s worth keeping your eye on the exhilirating Iñaki Williams and watching how Guillermo and Oscar Gil develop.If Luis Enrique doesn’t renew his contract with Barcelona, then it’ll be third or fourth time lucky for Ernesto Valverde at the Camp Nou, I’d guess. There is still time for him to win a knockout trophy with Athletic just in case this does prove to be his last season at the mighty San Mames.

5. Must-see TV in Granada

Paco Jemez is a true managerial enigma: good enough to coach Rayo to more Primera Liga permanence than anyone outside that rock n’ roll club thought possible. Good enough to make Carlo Ancelotti ask him whether he could come and study training. At the same time, he’s either unwilling or unable to coach a team to defend.I know some Rayo players who’ll tell you he just doesn’t bother with anything other than “attack is the only form of defence.” Also, they’ll note that Jemez is a high maintenance guy who’ll have his work cut out to survive at a club which isn’t the hand-in-glove “fit” he had with Rayo.Now, he’s at Granada. New, demanding owners… same old demanding Los Carmones crowd but no Youssef El Arabi or Adalberto Peñaranda up front.For better or worse, there will be fireworks down in Granada over the coming months. Stay tuned. Oh, and welcome back.Graham Hunter covers Spain for ESPN FC and Sky Sports.  

Season preview: Dortmund’s chance to knock Bayern off Bundesliga perch

A spending spree of €110 million on eight new players. The capture of two German internationals from two Bundesliga rivals. A disciplined, tactics-obsessed coach who will soon attract plenty of interest from the Premier League. Hold on a minute: Have Borussia Dortmund turned into the new Bayern Munich?BVB supporters and neutrals alike will hope that the 2016-17 will bring Thomas Tuchel’s men and the four-in-a-row champions from Bavaria much closer together, even to the point of the table(s) being turned. It’s certainly a compelling matchup: a new, completely reconstructed, hungry but necessarily unfinished Dortmund side versus the post-Pep Bayern of Carlo Ancelotti, a Champions League specialist who rarely delivers championships.The Italian’s remarkably modest record of three league titles in 20 years hints at the closest title race in years. But the sheer amount of talented players and smart coaches plying their trade in the 54th Bundesliga season should offer plenty of excitement beyond the Red vs. Black and Yellows tussle, with real quality football from top to bottom.

Three big storylines

Tuchel’s revolution and Ancelotti’s first year at Sabener Strasse aside, one of the biggest stories will be RB Leipzig’s hostile reception in their debut season in the top flight. The Red Bull-controlled and sponsored side are facing calls of stadium boycotts by opposing fans. They’ll be considered public enemy No. 1 by traditionalists who dislike a corporation gaming the system the way Red Bull have — legitimately — by taking over a fifth division side and rising through the leagues.Sporting success for RB will turn up the volume of dissent but could also inspire others to follow suit. The wider point is whether the league will allow more direct investment in the face of new money, mostly from China, flooding football elsewhere.Bayer 04 Leverkusen were tipped as champions by Hertha BSC coach Pal Dardai. That might be overly optimistic, but it isn’t altogether outlandish. Roger Schmidt didn’t lose any key players and gained German international Kevin Volland in attack. Overall, the team is good enough to consolidate in third place. Leverkusen’s relatively small stature and following, however, will see the bigger, more strategically important battle to become the third true force in the league continue.Schalke 04, under new manager Markus Weinzierl, and the reliably well-run Borussia Monchengladbach are well-placed to break up the Bayern vs. Dortmund duopoly, but strong competition will make that hard, as Hamburger SV and Wolfsburg harbour ambitions to make it into the Champions League too.This season will also see the momentous, historic introduction of live video evidence — kind of. The Bundesliga will trial the use of video referees by having officials watch three matches each week and take notes, for research purposes only. If that first run of tests proves positive, actual video referees could come in at the start of the next season.

Marquee signings

World Cup winners Mats Hummels (Dortmund to Bayern), Mario Gotze (Bayern to Dortmund) and Andre Schurrle (Wolfsburg to Dortmund) were the biggest names to sign on the dotted line.Hummels has moved back to Bayern, where he started as a player, in order to win trophies, but his Germany teammates Gotze and Schurrle need to first find themselves again and fulfill their huge potential in the wake of false dawns.It’s a similar story with Mario Gomez (Fiorentina to Wolfsburg), while Portuguese teenage midfielder Renato Sanches (Benfica to Bayern) and Swiss talent Breel Embolo (Basel to Schalke) will aim to add to their burgeoning reputation.

Big departures

The class of BVB duo Ilkay Gundogan (Man City) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (Manchester United) will be missed — and not just by fans of Tuchel’s team.The loss of the prodigious German international Leroy Sane to Man City also hurts both Schalke and the league, even if the blow was cushioned by a transfer fee so inflated that Schalke 04 couldn’t possibly refuse to sell.

Who will win the league?

Dortmund’s typically smart acquisition of future stars (left-back Raphael Guerreiro, winger Ousmane Dembele and attacking midfielder Emre Mor) and underrated performers (Sebastian Rode and Marc Bartra) will enable Tuchel to rotate more, introduce even more tactical flexibility and speed BVB’s game up even further.The number of changes to the side will take some time to be implemented properly, and it’s hard to see Bayern drop too many points with the superlative squad at Ancelotti’s disposal. But if Dortmund manage to stay the course until the latter part of the season, when Bayern’s focus might well shift to the Champions League, a first title for the Black and Yellows since 2012 appears feasible.

Battle at the bottom

As much as underfunded Darmstadt admirably beat the odds to stay up last season, it’s difficult to see them repeat that feat, now that manager Dirk Schuster has moved on to FC Augsburg and Norbert Meier has taken over.In terms of individual potential, the Lilies simply can’t hold a candle to their opponents. Although many have tipped Werder Bremen to follow VfB Stuttgart down to Bundesliga 2 in May, the Northerner’s squad is good enough to stay up in relative safety, provided the club realise that Viktor Skripnik needs replacing.SC Freiburg will almost certainly keep the faith with Christian Streich, come what may, but their outlook is bleak. Like Darmstadt, Ingolstadt could suffer from “second season syndrome,” which is just a fancy phrase for the lack of quality catching up with you eventually. 

EPL Notes: Investments paying off for Premier League’s wealthiest clubs

QUICKLY -Wealthy powers Manchester United, Chelsea and Manchester City are gaining immediate returns for their expensive investments.PETER BERLINSunday August 21st, 2016  SI

Two weeks into the new Premier League season, a glance at the standings suggests a return to big business as usual. Only four clubs have won their first two matches. Three of them are the trio of oligarchs who had won 11 straight league titles before Leicester so rudely interrupted last season.All three are under new management, having hired the most prestigious coaches on the market. The fourth pacesetter, Hull, does not have a manager at all. In the transfer market, the two Manchester clubs have attempted to crush the competition under sacks of money. Net spending for both clubs is close to $200 million. Chelsea has spent half that amount, although that was on only two players, and, because of the sales of Mohamed Salah and Papy Djilobodji, is fourth in net outlay behind Arsenal (a stat which may surprise the Emirates Wenger haters). Hull has bought one player, Mohamed Diamé, for $7 million, but more on Hull later.So far, results suggest the wealthy threesome are all gaining immediate returns for their investments. On Friday, United beat Southampton 2-0. On Saturday, City won 4-1 at Stoke and Chelsea fought back to win 2-1 at Watford.

United already looks like a José Mourinho team: big, hard working, organized and ruthless in exploiting errors.The new manager has supervised a high-priced spine transplant. The early evidence is that the operation has been a success.At the heart of the defense, Eric Bailly is quick, tough and skillful. Ahead of him Paul Pogba, the luxury import from Italy, is flashier than a pimped-up Ferrari: powerful and fast and determined to show his value with every ostentatious touch. On Friday, his attacking intent repeatedly drove United forward. Southampton tacklers just bounced off. Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored both goals. His movement, positioning and control are already shaping the way the team attacks. His finishing is breeding confidence in teammates who know if they create chances, Zlatan will score.Yet there is always a perverse side to Mourinho and his teams. This was his first home match as United manager. In the last 20 minutes, against an overmatched opponent, United could have gone for the throat. Instead, it parked the bus. Yet the home team had done enough to ensure that the demanding Old Trafford crowd went home justifiably happy.City is still a long way from a Pep Guardiola team, even if the final score at Stoke had a Barcelona look to it.For the second straight league match, City took the lead with a Sergio Agüero penalty (he also missed two the spot kicks in a 5-0 victory in Bucharest in the Champions League on Tuesday). The final score flattered City. In the last four minutes, as Stoke pressed, Nolito, a summer buy who was on for just 20 minutes, scored twice on the breakaway. Of the 10 players City bought in the summer only John Stones has so far made a league start. He already looks like an upgrade in central defense, which was not a big ask.Unlike Mourinho, Guardiola works in the long-term. He wore a broad and mischievous smile as he said: “I am a little bit surprised, in the short time, with the level we played here and in Bucharest.”Antonio Conte at Chelsea has only two new players, so far. At Watford, N’Golo Kanté, ran around industriously as Chelsea chased shadows. Michy Batshuayi came on in the 73rdminute. Just seven minutes later (and 12 minutes into his Premier League career), he received a gift that will make him feel at home, poking a rebound into an empty net.That goal and Chelsea’s late winner were both set up by Cesc Fàbregas. In just 12 as a sub he gave his best Chelsea display in more than a year. That might have something to do with the arrival of Conte, or it might say more about how Mourinho managed the Spanish midfielder.Chelsea was largely outplayed but still won. That’s a trick Conte’s Italy team managed against Spain and almost pulled off against Germany in the Euros this summer.Mourinho is winning well. Guardiola and Conte are winning.

Crazy Costa—Once again, Chelsea won with a late goal by Diego Costa. Once again, the striker probably should not have been on the field.There is a theory that Costa is a cunning provocateur who knows just how far he can go. Yet in the first two matches he has misbehaved in pretty much every possible way. Both at West Ham and at Watford he received a first yellow card for the pointless offense of dissent. At West Ham, he might then have been sent off for kicking goalie Adrian, at Watford he escaped punishment for a dive that would have scored 9.5 in Rio.Maybe referees simply cannot believe what they are seeing. Maybe Costa isn’t that dumb. If referees won’t punish him, he can keep being naughty.

Possession is not eight tenths of the result—On Friday at Old Trafford, Southampton had almost 60 percent of the ball and never looked like winning. On Saturday at Burnley the numbers were even more one-sided.Liverpool enjoyed more than 80 percent of possession and completed some 760 passes in 90 minutes. The Reds set all sorts of records for statistical domination – while losing a match.Burnley deservedly won, 2-0. It completed fewer than 130 passes. It only had two shots on target, but they were good ones. Liverpool had 26 shots, but 17 were from outside the box, and only five were on target.”We have never been bogged down with all the stats about possession,” Sean Dyche, the Burnley manager told the BBC.

To Hull and Back—For the first 104 years of Hull City’s history its only claim to fame was that it represented the largest city in England never to have had a top-division soccer club.The Tigers are starting their fourth Premier League season in eight years. This was one was widely expected to end the same way as two of the previous three, in relegation. That was before manager Steve Bruce quit on the eve of the season because the club was dormant on the transfer market. That inactivity looked particularly damaging because the squad that squeaked out of the Championship has been crippled with long-term injuries.The club is surrounded by confusion. The owner, Assem Allam, who has been feuding with fans, reportedly wants to sell and is also reportedly ill.Yet Hull might have got lucky. Bruce is a specialist in taking teams up to the Premier League but not at keeping them there. Mike Phelan, the deputy who has taken his place for now, was an assistant at United for 14 years while that club won 13 trophies.Phelan insists his club has only 13 fit senior fit players. So far he has used just 12 as Hull has won its first two games. On Saturday, a week after beating the champion, Leicester, Hull went toe-to-toe with Swansea and won, 2-0. The solitary replacement, Shaun Maloney, scored the first, six minutes after coming on. It is difficult to imagine Hull emulating Leicester over 38 matches. Yet the Tigers are showing they aren’t as badly wounded as they would like their foes to believe and that their claws are sharp.Anyone inclined to believe him might have wanted to tune in to West Ham’s first Premier League game at its new home on Sunday.The Hammers eked out a 1-0 victory with a late goal after Bournemouth was reduced to 10 men.The home team desperately missed Dimitri Payet, who has still to start a game this season. It won only because referee Craig Pawson, having shown Harry Arter a yellow card for the fashionable offense of dissent, was then prepared to show the Bournemouth player another yellow, for yanking back Cheikhou Kouyaté in the 77th minute.It was a dreary first league game in an arena fans of other clubs (except, perhaps, Manchester City) call “Taxpayer Stadium”. Until the naming rights are sold, its official name is The London Stadium or the Stadium at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. It was built for the 2012 Games and has been pretty much given to West Ham rather than allow it to rust with disuse.In theory it holds 60,000 for soccer, 70 percent more than Upton Park. If West Ham can keep filling it once the novelty wears off, it will give the club financial muscle to compete at a higher level. Atmosphere could be an issue. The stadium will continue to be used for track and field to fulfill the promises London made to win the right to host the game. Part of that space has been used to make the field 4 meters wider and 5 meters longer than the Boleyn Ground. That should lead to more goals, though there was precious little evidence of that on Sunday.Despite retractable seating, a huge green carpet surrounds the field. Visiting teams will welcome the vast expanse of green carpet between the field and the passionate West Ham fans. Because those passionate fans stood throughout an exhibition game and a Europa League match safety cut capacity by 3,000 for Sunday.The 57,000 who were allowed in were present at a memorable occasion and an utterly forgettable match.

MLS Villa’s NYCFC dazzle, Dempsey boosts Seattle, Chicago snaps away woes

Week 26 of the Major League Soccer season saw New York City FC seal a 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy and a handful of away wins in an entertaining round of matches.

NYCFC shows its credentials

From the outset of Saturday’s clash between New York City FC and the LA Galaxy at Yankee Stadium, the visitors were obviously uncomfortable. A team who is at their best when utilizing every inch of a large field back in Carson simply did not have the space to impose themselves on their hosts. And while NYCFC has not always thrived when playing on their home patch — jammed as it is into the confines of a baseball venue — they instituted a tactical tweak to challenge of the Galaxy that worked wonders.Patrick Vieira’s team used Ronald Matarrita’s ability to get up and down the left flank, shifting the rest of the backline around to cover for his forays. Early in the match, Matarrita ripped a shot that deflected off of Galaxy goalkeeper Clement Diop and into the path of Villa. The Spaniard was offside when the shot was taken but nonetheless guided the aerial deflection into the net. The flag stayed down and the goal proved the difference in the game.Is NYCFC a legitimate MLS Cup contender? Even if it’s hard to know if that’s true, this win is additional evidence that Vieira’s side has progressed over the course of 2016. Early in the season, it had trouble slowing down anyone, much less a team with as much attacking talent on the field as LA.NYCFC is now unbeaten in four, with the two wins in that stretch coming at home against Western Conference playoff contenders. Forming a habit of taking victories against teams in what is usually considered the tougher conference can’t hurt down the stretch of the season, especially as it’s helping NYCFC creep up the Supporters’ Shield standings.The winning goal was also Villa’s 16th of the year, putting the Spaniard in the driver’s seat for MVP. If NYCFC finishes out their campaign with a top seed in the East, he’ll deserve it.

Seattle’s surge

The Seattle Sounders have now won three straight after taking care of the Portland Timbers at CenturyLink Field by a 3-1 scoreline on Sunday night. Those nine points have the Sounders just two points back of the Timbers for the sixth playoff spot in the Western Conference, with two fewer games played. The Seattle revival shows no signs of abating and what looked like it might be a lost season has some hope.Sunday’s clash between the Cascadia clubs can be summed up by the divergent performances by players on each side. The winning Sounders got an immense night out of young midfielder Cristian Roldan. The University of Washington product cleaned up in the center of the field, drew the penalty that led to Clint Dempsey’s first goal, and then helped himself to a goal of his own, to cap off a good night. On the other side, Portland striker Jack McInerney — starting in place of Fanendo Adi for reasons that weren’t clear — missed several excellent chances that could have staked the Timbers to a lead and potentially changed the outcome.Seattle and Portland will do it again next Sunday — live on ESPN — after the Sounders make a midweek trip to Houston. While Portland is still winless at CenturyLink Field in the regular season, Seattle has a couple of wins to their name down the road at Providence Park. The match will feel even bigger than the usual Portland-Seattle clash considering the stakes might be a spot in the playoff places.

Going Away

It was a weekend of surprising away wins for a number of teams. Houston won on the road for the first time all year, as did Columbus. And Chicago, a club that hadn’t won a match away from Toyota Park for more than two years, broke that ignominious streak with a 3-0 thumping of the Impact in Montreal.Houston got a goal from Ricardo Clark and a second on a set piece from David Horst to claim a 2-1 win over San Jose at Avaya Stadium. The Dynamo might not have much of a chance of making a run to the playoffs in the West, but Wade Barrett has shown during his stint as interim head coach that he can get strong performances from a team that looked poor under Owen Coyle.Unlike Houston, Crew SC is suffering through a season that is not just bad, but painfully below expectations. Gregg Berhalter’s team isn’t quite out of it yet, but the pressure to get the move up the standings underway is rising. A win on the road in New England helps, especially since it takes points off of a team that is also in the mix for a postseason berth in the Eastern Conference. The Revs’ continuing defensive woes fed into Crew SC’s desperation.Of all of the places for Chicago’s losing away record to end, Montreal was from the most likely. The Impact had lost just twice in 2016 at Stade Saputo, while the Fire’s sputtering attack made a win there unlikely. But a goal from new acquisition Luis Solignac via a counterattack set Chicago up to control the game by absorbing Montreal’s pressure.

Finishing touches

A few quick thoughts on the rest of the happenings around the league:

Villa may have the edge at the moment, but Sebastian Giovinco isn’t going to relinquish his MVP title willingly. The Italian’s first touch on his goal in a 3-1 win vs. Philadelphia was truly special.D.C. United’s 2-2 draw with the Red Bulls at RFK Stadium was the type of game that leaves everyone unhappy. New York jumped out to a two-goal lead, only to have United execute a comeback and keep the Red Bulls to a single point. United can take some solace from their fight, but know that home games have to be wins at this point in the season.

Vancouver’s collapse — the Whitecaps have lost four in a row — couldn’t have come at a worse time. Carl Robinson’s team has a tough week ahead with a Champions League match against Sporting Kansas City on Tuesday night and a date against the Galaxy in LA on the weekend.

Indy 11 -tHREE FACTS AHEAD OF #OTTVIND

Three points before Sunday’s Fall Season battle  Aug 25, 2016

1 – NUMBER OF WINS IN MEETINGS THIS YEAR

The lone win for Indy against Ottawa Fury FC is still at the forefront of most people’s minds having come just three weeks back in the middle of a three-game homestand at Carroll Stadium.Scoreless through the 90 minutes and into stoppage time, a late free kick was taken quickly by midfielders Brad Ring and Dylan Mares, and the latter swung in a deep cross that was met by Don Smart at the back post. Connecting all three of the Indiana OG’s, Smart somehow sent a ball hurdling towards goal that Ottawa ‘keeper Romuald Peiser could not keep out, instead punching it into the roof of his own net to give the “Boys in Blue” an extremely late lead.Indy held on through the final minute stoppage time to extend their home win streak one more game and knock off a Fury FC side that had won three straight games going into that night.

2 – TOTAL NUMBER OF MEETINGS THIS YEAR

It was cold, it was wet, and it was brutal – but the 2016 home opener back in April saw Indy Eleven draw one-all with Fury FC thanks to a late goal from left-back Nemanja Vukovic. Both sides lined up fairly different on that occasion than they do now, as Ottawa deployed a four man backline to their usual three man line now, and Indy head coach Tim Hankinson was still experimenting with the 4-2-3-1, a formation we never saw again after that night. However, the “Boys in Blue” would battle the conditions and fight all the way until the final whistle as the beginnings of their ‘never say die’ attitude shown through. After a spell of heavy pressure in the 89th minute, Don Smart lifted a cross into the area that defender Greg Janicki flicked on towards goal. Fury FC ‘netminder Peiser was in the way of the initial effort, but the ball trickled its way into the path of Nemanja Vukovic, and the Montenegrin opened his Indy Eleven account in dramatic fashion to secure the first point at home in 2016. With near stoppage time drama clearly a theme, expect the two sides to keep up the show this Sunday at TD Place.

3 – NUMBER OF FORMER FURY FC PLAYERS NOW IN INDY

Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Nicki Paterson and Colin Falvey all made the move from Indy to Ottawa in the 2016 offseason, and all three players have played a role in keeping the Circle City side near or at the top of the table at each point this season.For Ubiparipovic, despite his limited role thus far in the 2016 season, the No.10 has featured in seven games in both the Spring and Fall Seasons, starting five and contributing a crucial assist – Jair Reinoso’s opening tally against Rayo OKC back in April. The Serbian midfielder possesses a certain magic on the ball, with his quick touch, excellent vision, and mastery distribution all crucial elements of his game. Though we haven’t seen much of him in the fall, expect Ubi’s efforts both on the pitch and on the training ground to continue to influence Indy’s play.Scotish midfielder Nicki Paterson is the second addition of three, and controls the midfield with poise and energy when charged with holding down the center of the park. Appearing in 19 matches with 14 starts, Paterson has a trio of assists and one goal – his stunning free kick against MNU in the spring – on the statsheet and plays an integral part of Coach Hankinson’s side as an excellent variable whether starting or coming off the bench.Lastly, he’s the captain and his influence is well-known, and well heard, on Indy Eleven’s success in 2016. Colin Falvey made the switch from the 2014 Fall Champions to the 2016 Spring Champions in the offseason, and has started in all 13 appearances for the club. Had he not suffered a knock that kept him out for around six weeks, he would likely lead the team in appearances alongside “Iron Man” left-back Nemanja Vukovic, though the defender admits the time off allowed his body to fully recover to leave him ready for whatever comes next. Scoring one goal on the year – the winner against Rayo OKC – and assisting in keeping multiple clean sheets, Falvey is one of the many leaders Indy had been searching for heading into the year and remains that voice leading through the rest of the fall and into the playoffs.

THREE THINGS: #CAR win over INDy11

Our takeaways from a tough loss in Carolina  -Aug 22, 2016

ROUGH ROAD

Road games in 2016 have not been kind to Indy Eleven. In the spring, the team captured just seven points in their five games away from Carroll Stadium, and won just one of those – their second test of the year in OKC. In the fall, the results have been even worse with a draw to Puerto Rico FC and losses at Minnesota United, and Miami FC now compounded by their third straight defeat in as many road games – Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to Railhawks FC at WakeMed Soccer Park. Heading into the weekend, Indy head coach Tim Hankinson emphasized on multiple occasions that teams at the top needn’t worry about their home matches as those were seemingly easy points in the bag, using the home records of FC Edmonton, the New York Cosmos, and Indiana’s Team as a reference point. Coach Hankinson pointed to the results on the road as the determining factor in the Fall Season title race, the only problem being that both FCE and NYC took care of business where his side did not.The Eddies took to the road against the Tampa Bay Rowdies and grinded out a 1-0 win in the “Sunshine State” thanks to a Daryl Fordyce penalty in the 76th minute, while the Cosmos traveled south to Puerto Rico FC and took home all three points due to a 91st minute stunner from midfielder Andres Flores. Meanwhile, a late-minute handball whistled on Indy midfielder Brad Ring gifted Carolina a stoppage time penalty, which Omar Bravo buried past Eleven ‘keeper Jon Busch to keep the three points in Carolina.It’s a long road to the Fall Season with plenty of ground left to cover, but if road results are to truly be the difference in the title race, then Coach Hankinson & co., need to pick up every point on the road they can, with chances against Ottawa Fury FC and the New York Cosmos in the next ten days.

LATE DRAMA NOT ALWAYS FAVORABLE

Indy’s success at the end of matches has been well documented this season, with last-gasp winners, stoppage time drama, and goals in the last quarter of an hour somehow always going the way of the “Boys in Blue.”Their fortune changed Saturday night.After twice taking the lead in the first half, the Bravo penalty in the fifth minute of stoppage that secured the win for Railhawks FC was the first time in league play that a late goal went against Indy to decide a win. In Miami a few weeks back, the South Beach side scored relatively late but had already built a 1-0 lead that was extended by a second goal in addition to Zayed’s late tally to pull one back. This time, however, it was the difference between stealing a point on the road and coming home empty-handed, with the latter being the unforunate result of this trip.It was inevitable that at some point, in some way, fortune had to favor the opposition at the end of a match. Now Indiana’s Team must hope this is one of just a few occasions.
WHAT NEXT?

With Indy now sitting third in the Fall Season table (19 pts) behind the New York Cosmos (20) and FC Edmonton (22), who also have a game in hand, each match means that much more.Fortunately, road contests against both the Cosmos and the Eddies present the opportunity for the Eleven to steal some points back and prove their strength away from home. Indy travel to New York next Wednesday (8/31) and will face FC Edmonton the first Sunday in October (10/2) with the title hopefully still in reach. Despite securing an automatic slot in the 2016 Championship playoffs, Indy is adamant about securing both titles after locking up the Spring Season in June, but have plenty of work ahead in doing so. The road continues this Sunday (8/28) in Ottawa against Fury FC.

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Catch the Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com –  Proud Member of the Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.com , Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com  , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

8/19/16  Brazil vs Germany in Gold Medal Game Sat 4;30 NBCSN, EPL Season Shane’s Picks, Indy 11 Stay on Top,

So fun opening weekend of EPL –so do I really have to pick my top 4 now?  Ouch – maybe its time I admit my sentimental favorite Leicester City (the defending champs) don’t have the depth to make a serious run at the title.  That being said I have to go with my heart and still put them in the top 4 along with Man U, Man City, and either Arsenal or Liverpool.   Yes I do think the new coaches will help put the Manchesters into the top 4.  Looking ahead to this weekend we see if American Geoff Cameron works his way into the lineup for Stoke City hosting Man City Sat at 7:30 am on NBCSN while Leicster City will hope a return to the King Power stadium can help them against Arsene Wenger and Arsenal on CNBC at 12:30 pm.  The Italian, Spanish and French Leagues all get underway this weekend and can be seen on beIN Sport.

What has happened to Juega Bonita? 

So hoping the Brazilian ladies would win the hearts of Brazil by winning Gold this season after the US was eliminated –I watched with great interest the Semi’s as Sweden once again won in a shootout after 123 minutes of goaless soccer over the homestanding Brazilians cementing Swedish Goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl as THE BEST Goalkeeper in the World.  (sorry Solo).  The Swedes oncea again parked the bus with 5 and 6 in the box frustrating the more technical Brazalians over and over again with Lindahl making a number of fine saves.  Once again the Swedes showed their mettle in the shootout as just like vs the US  – Lindahl made the crucial save at just the right time.  So is this the future of soccer?  First Athletico got all the way to the Champ League final using the parked bus counter attack approach perfected by Jose Mourinho before losing to Real Madrid.  Then in the Euros it was Portugal using a staunch defense lead by Pepe and Renaldo on the counter.  Finally here’s Sweden in the Gold Medal final using lets just say not futbal Juega Bonita?  Too bad – would have been great to see the Beautiful game of Brazil vs Canada as the final, instead we get Sweden vs Germany  this Friday 4:30 pm on NBCSN.  Sat the men will feature a Gold Medal showdown between Brazil and Germany as the homestanding Brazil lead by Neymar will try to avenge last year’s 7-1 loss at the hands of the World Cup winning Germans that game 4:30 pm on NBCSN.

Stateside MLS has a dosey on Sat 3:30 pm on ESPN as the East leading NY City FC hosts the LA Galaxy,  My Seattle Sounder’s, on a 3 game winning streak since changing coaches, will host defending champs Portland in the Cascadia Cup showdown #2 on Sunday at 9:30 pm on Fox Sports1.  The Indy 11 remain atop the NASL as they travel to Carolina Sat for 7:30 pm game that can be seen on beIN Sport.

Must See GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Fri, Aug 19                                               

12 noon MSNBC                                   Women’s Olympics 3rd place Brazil vs Canada

2:30 pm USA Net                                Man United vs Southhampton

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Women’s Olympics Gold Medal Sweden vs Germany

Sat, Aug 20                                             (La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 starts)

7:30 a.m., NBCSN                                Stoke City vs. Man City 
10:00 a.m., NBC Live Extra           Tottenham vs Crystal Palace
12 noon NBCSN                                    men’s Olympics 3rd place game

12:15 pm  beIN sports                    Barcelona vs Real Betis

12:30 p.m., CNBC:                             Leciester City vs Arsenal

2:45 pm beIn sport                           Juventus vs Fiorentina

3 pm ESPN                                               NY City FC vs LA Galaxy

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Men’s Olympics Gold Medal German vs Brazil

7:30 pm beIn Sport            Indy 11 @ Carolina

Sun, Aug 21

8:30 a.m., NBCSN:                              Sunderland vs Middlesborough
11:00 a.m., CNBC
                               West Ham vs Bournemouth

9:30 pm  Fox Sport 1                       Seattle Sounders host Portland – CASCADIA CUP 2!

Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 AM NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2:                 Borussia Dortmund vs. Mai nz
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus:         Hamburg SV vs. Ingolstadt

12:30 pm  NBC                                     Hull City vs Man United
12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Sun, Aug 28

11 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs West Ham

2 pm ???                                                   Ottawa vs Indy 11

2:30 pm ESPN                                        NY Red Bulls vs New England

5 pm  ESPN                                              Portland host Seattle Sounders – CASCADIA CUP 2!

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                               Orlando City vs NYCFC

USA

Grant Wahl – SI – Whats Next for US Women?

3 things the US Learned in Olympic loss to Sweden – Stars and Stripes

Why the Shocking Exit Might be What the US Needed

People, Analyst rake Hope Solo over the Coals after comment -GOOD

21-yo US Youth makes surprise start for Sunderland 

EPL + World

Marcotti Musings ESPNFC – Opening Weekend Thoughts

What’s Trending – EPL

Heros and Villians of Openning Weekend – Ian Mcintsoh -eSPNFC

Man U optimism is back 

Zlatan – I brought back Pogba

Buck stops with Arsene Wenger

Man City close to Deal with Claudio Bravo from Barca – Joe Hart out

Man City and Pep pass 1  st test – barely-MacIntosh

Pep’s Shaky start as own goal gives City the Win

EPL passing Arsenal by?  Nick Miller ESPNFC

Champions League to Give top 4 leagues 4 automatic Spots

MLS

Minn United as Next MLS Team to start with Atlanta in 2017

More GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Fri, Aug 19                                               

12 noon MSNBC                                   Women’s Olympics 3rd place game

2:30 pm USA Net                                Man United vs Southhampton

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Women’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

Sat, Aug 20                                             (La Liga, Serie A, Ligue 1 starts)

7:30 a.m., NBCSN                                Stoke City vs. Man City 
10:00 a.m., NBC Live Extra           Tottenham vs Crystal Palace, Burnley vs Liverpool, Chelsea vs. Watford
12 noon NBCSN                                    men’s Olympics 3rd place game

12:15 pm  beIN sports                    Barcelona vs Real Betis

12:30 p.m., CNBC:                             Leciester City vs Arsenal

2:45 pm beIn sport                           Juventus vs Fiorentina

3 pm ESPN                                               NY City FC vs LA Galaxy

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Men’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

7:30 pm beIn Sport            Indy 11 @ Carolina

Sun, Aug 21

8:30 a.m., NBCSN:                              Sunderland vs Middlesborough
11:00 a.m., CNBC
                               West Ham vs Bournemouth

12 noon  beIN Sport                                                AC Milan vs Torino

2:15 pm beIN Sport                                                  Real Soiciedad vs Real Madrid

9:30 pm  Fox Sport 1                       Seattle Sounders host Portland – CASCADIA CUP 2!

Tues, Aug 23                                         

2:45 pm Fox Sport2??                     UCL – Roma vs Porto

2:45 pm beIN Sports                                                Burton Albion vs Liverpool – Cap 1 Cup

Wed, Aug 24                                        

2:45 pm Fox Sport2??                     UCL – Man City vs Steaua Buceresti

Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 AM NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2:                 Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus:         Hamburg SV vs. Ingolstadt

12:30 pm  NBC                                     Hull City vs Man United
12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Sun, Aug 28

9:30 a.m Fox Sport1                         Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs West Ham

2 pm ???                                                   Ottawa vs Indy 11

2:30 pm ESPN                                        NY Red Bulls vs New England

5 pm  ESPN                                              Portland host Seattle Sounders – CASCADIA CUP 2!

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                               Orlando City vs NYCFC

Wed, Aug 31                                        

7:30 pm CBS Sports Network     Ft. Lauderdale vs Minn. 

7:30 pm ??                                              NY Cosmos vs Indy 11

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

Arsenal nearly got away with it vs. Liverpool, Pep Guardiola rings changes

We’re getting that usual sense of deja vu at the Emirates. Arsenal lose their home opener, as they’ve done in three of the past four seasons, and Arsene Wenger is back under the spotlight. It’s the usual story: Arsenal are flush with cash, he chooses not to spend it and the team as a result aren’t as good as they could (should) be.But there’s probably more to it than that after the Gunners’ 4-3 home defeat against Liverpool.For a start, the Arsenal side that went out there may not look much like the Arsenal side that will play most of the season. Wenger’s top three central defenders (Laurent Koscielny, Per Mertesacker and Gabriel) were all out. So too was his most creative (and, arguably, his best) player, Mesut Ozil. As well as his top goalscorer from last season, Olivier Giroud, and the guy who, in Wenger’s mind, is his first-choice back-up at center-forward, Danny Welbeck. His big summer signing was in the squad, albeit on the bench — though, to be fair, when Granit Xhaka did come on, he was far from impressive.You can make the point that Wenger should have planned better and have more depth in his squad, and we’ll get that in a minute. But it’s tough to spot that much quality to the opposition and get away with it.The other aspect is that it was an odd game which Arsenal dominated the first half. But for breaks that didn’t go their way, namely Theo Walcott missing a penalty and Philippe Coutinho turning a soft foul into a magisterial free kick goal, they could have been leading 2-0 at half-time. And we might be having a wholly different conversation right now.Of course, Liverpool came out at halftime like a bat out of hell, scored some tremendous goals and went up 4-1 and at that point, the damage was done. Those late goals from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Calum Chambers did little to alleviate the Arsenal fans’ disappointment. But the fact remains that for 45 minutes, plus the stint at the end when they scored twice, Wenger’s side looked good, despite all the absences and despite that makeshift Chambers-Rob Holding centre-back partnership.That doesn’t exonerate Wenger from blame, but it does suggest that even with second stringers in the lineup, Arsenal aren’t the horrendous sinking ship some people think they are.That still leaves the question of why you go into the season the way you did. Wenger knew that Koscielny would be coming back late from the Euros and that it would affect his preparation. He knew in early August that Mertesacker would be out for a while. And he knew a week ago, when Gabriel suffered his ankle sprain, that the Brazilian would reportedly be out until late September.Should he have signed that additional centre-back the minute the extent of Gabriel’s injury became clear? Social media is full of folks calling Wenger a fool for not immediately pulling the trigger on Valencia’s German international Shkodran Mustafi, but you can also see the counterargument for not doing so.Wenger is the type of guy who tends to be loyal to his players, believing that they can come good even if they go through a rough patch. Sometimes he’s vindicated (think Nacho Monreal and Aaron Ramsey), sometimes less so (Jack Wilshere and Walcott come to mind). But that’s just the sort of manager he is. Signing Mustafi, for a reported fee north of $30 million, would have pushed Mertesacker and Gabriel down the depth chart. And it would have left Holding to play in the League Cup and lay out the cones in training.The benefit of hindsight says Wenger got this one wrong; he may panic buy and yet pick up Mustafi. But there was a logic to his thought process and in a game of slim margins, he nearly got away with it.This is how he operates. This is what he does. And he’s honest about it. If he’s still there, it’s because his employers are evidently OK with it. And if that’s the case and you’re unhappy with it, rather than hammering Wenger and expecting him, in his late sixties, to turn into somebody else, take it up with the owner instead.But remember what happened the last time fans tried to stage a public protest against Wenger. Those who held up the white “Time for Change” signs were drowned out by those who sang Wenger’s name. Until you get some consensus, you won’t stand a chance at pushing the owner’s buttons.

Guardiola rings the changes at Man City

Pep Guardiola certainly offered up a host of talking points in his first “real” game as Manchester City boss. The overall result — a 2-1 victory over Sunderland, marked by a late winner — is less important than the performance and Guardiola’s choices.Two moves stand out. The defensive organization was something we simply haven’t seen in England. Nicolas Otamendi was on the bench and Aleksandar Kolarov (usually a left-back and more of a ball-player than a speedster) partnered newcomer John Stones at centre-back. Bacary Sagna and Gael Clichy were at full-back while Fernandinho shielded the back four. But that was out-of-possession: When City got the ball, Sagna and Clichy effectively advanced into central midfield while Fernandinho dropped between the centre-backs. This meant the two French full-backs were tasked with all sorts of playmaking duties, with decidedly mixed results.You wonder if it’s sustainable: It’s one thing to ask Dani Alves to do that, quite another to push Sagna (who turns 34 in February) in that role. As for Kolarov, he’s obviously much better on the ball than Otamendi, but again, there’s a reason he hasn’t played in central defence before this season.Guardiola’s other big call was dropping Joe Hart for Willy Caballero. Guardiola simply said that “Caballero had a very good preseason.” He’s not that naive; he’ll need to offer a better justification than that. The theory doing the rounds was that Guardiola’s system requires a keeper who is comfortable on the ball and can do the “sweeper-keeper” thing, which is hardly Hart’s strength. Caballero isn’t exactly the second coming of Manuel Neuer, but he’s better at it than Hart.If that’s the case, though, you wonder why this is only happening now, in mid-August. Surely it didn’t take that long for the club to figure out what Hart could and could not do? At this stage, securing another keeper won’t be easy and you’ll pay through the nose. Given his wages, finding Hart a home won’t be straightforward either; it means that if he’s dropped, he’s facing time on the bench which, politically, isn’t great for a new manager.Guardiola has achieved more than enough for City fans and the critics to trust his judgement. At the very least, he’s shown that he’s confident and unafraid when it comes to following his philosophy. To paraphrase Billy Joel, if he keeps this up, he’ll walk away a fool or a king.

Barca win but Sevilla full of intrigue

Barcelona beat Sevilla 2-0 in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup, which suggests Luis Enrique’s eighth trophy (counting the piddling ones) is just around the corner. Without Neymar (who is busy with Olympic pursuits) and newcomers Samuel Umtiti and Andre Gomes on the bench, Barca showed a bit of ring rust in the first half, but it’s nothing to really worry about. Playing against a Jorge Sampaoli team can be a shock to the system and, indeed, by halftime possession was roughly even, which doesn’t usually happen when Barcelona are on the pitch.The problem with Sampaoli’s brand of football is that all that running and high press can sometimes rob you of lucidity in the final third. And when you lose the ball, a good passing side can cut you open with two or three passes, which is what ultimately happened as Luis Suarez and Munir struck twice in the second half.We’ll get a better sense of Barcelona and how Luis Enrique integrates the newcomers in the next few weeks. But, in the meantime, Sevilla under Sampaoli promise to be one of the most interesting and entertaining stories in Europe this season. Watch this space.

Mourinho gets off to a winning start

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got out of the blocks with a win, Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored on his Premier League debut (just as he had done on his La Liga, Serie A and Ligue 1 debuts), whatever tension there might have been with Juan Mata was either overblown or forgotten, and Bournemouth were never a threat in a 3-1 away victory.Bournemouth were awful, but it’s encouraging to see United play with the sort of bravado and confidence that was often missing last year. Seeing Wayne Rooney operating closer to Ibrahimovic — it often was effectively a 4-4-2 — was a good alternative solution and you wonder if it might be something we’ll see more often when the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Paul Pogba start getting into the lineup. Rooney will continue to divide opinion in some quarters, but he’s more useful up the pitch than in a central position where he can clog the playmaking channels.That’s just one of many solutions available to Mourinho. At some point, he’ll need to figure out how all his pieces fit together and it may not be as simple as some expect. What’s unlikely is that we’ll see what we saw in the Louis van Gaal era: a constantly changing lineup. Once Mourinho finds what he likes, he tends to stick to it.

Don’t read much into Bayern vs. Dortmund

Bayern Munich won the German Super Cup with a 2-0 win over Borussia Dortmund in what was the first look at Carlo Ancelotti’s team in a (somewhat) competitive game. You have to call it that because neither team looks up to scratch in terms of fitness at this stage. And while Ancelotti played something close to what you’d expect his first XI to be (minus Douglas Costa, Jerome Boateng and Arjen Robben), Thomas Tuchel left out everyone who was involved in the Euros this past summer. Raphael Guerreiro, Lukas Pisczek, Julian Weigl, Andre Schurrle and the injured Marco Reus all missed out.That’s why you don’t read too much into it. But what we saw was a Dortmund side that was all over Bayern in the first half and could have scored several times. Then, when Tuchel’s crew began to understandably run out of steam, Bayern put the game away with Arturo Vidal and Thomas Mueller.Still, I can’t wait to see these two line up again at full fitness and with everyone back — particularly Dortmund. Not many sides in Europe are as packed with young talent as Tuchel’s crew.Gabriele Marcotti is a columnist for ESPN FC, The Times and Corriere dello Sport. Follow him on Twitter @Marcotti.

Liverpool and Hull earn contrasting wins; Arsenal and Leicester slump

HEROES

Even though you’d imagine that at least 10 percent of Liverpool‘s supporters are still hiding behind the sofa, for this was not a particularly relaxing way to start to the season, what an opening day win it was to triumph 4-3 at Arsenal. There is plenty for Jurgen Klopp to work on, particularly at left-back (see below), but four goals at the Emirates Stadium indicates that, whatever the new campaign brings, it certainly won’t be boring. This was also further proof that, as long as Philippe Coutinho is in the team, there’s always a way out of any crisis.Where on earth did that come from? Relegation favourites Hull City couldn’t have had a worse preparation for the season had they accidentally sold half their squad on eBay. They’ve only got 13 fit senior players and there they were beating the champions on the first day of the season. Exceptional performances from the likes of Sam Clucas and Curtis Davies were enough to secure a genuinely astonishing 2-1 result. A few more afternoons like that and they might even survive. In fact, given that Leicester were relegation favourites at this time last year, perhaps…Pep Guardiola praised all of his Manchester City players after their victory over Sunderland, but he kept singling out Fernandinho and it was easy to see why. The Brazilian midfielder had a duel role, working in the middle of the pitch on the odd occasion that City were out of possession, dropping back between — and sometimes behind — the centre-backs when possession was regained. He was calm, composed and tireless. Or in other words, exactly what his new manager required of him.Okay, it’s only Bournemouth, no-one expects much of them and they conceded a whopping 67 goals last season, but you can’t turn your nose up at a thumping opening day win. It has been a good start for Jose Mourinho at Manchester United. In a short space of time, he has made the team quicker, harder and, oddly given his reputation, considerably more attractive to watch. Goals for Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney and Juan Mata, secured a very encouraging result and settled a few nerves at the same time.So much has changed over the summer and so many new faces have arrived in the Premier League. And yet some things will always remain the same:Tony Pulis continues to grind out results against the run of play. The West Bromwich Albion manager might face an uncertain future with new owners in place, but there’s no-one quite like him in the country, no-one who can seemingly guarantee safety, whatever the odds. Crystal Palace dominated possession. The Baggies dominated the scoreline. Meet the new Premier League. Same as the old Premier League.

VILLAINS

It was all going so well! After 44 minutes, Arsenal had a deserved lead over a Liverpool side that looked horribly out of sorts. Three points were in the bag, the bag was tied up tightly and a private security firm was carrying it to the safe. And then everything fell apart like, well, Arsenal. Granted, the Gunners have had a series of unfortunate injuries and absences that left them with two inexperienced centre-backs, but this was a horrible capitulation. Day two of the new season and already the pressure is on Arsene Wenger.You might have thought that the Europa League Final would have been the last game of Alberto Moreno‘s Liverpool career, such was the cataclysmic display he offered up, but no. The new season began and there he was, still leaving Liverpool’s left flank completely exposed. Theo Walcott must have felt like a small boy on Christmas morning as he was presented with one chance after another. The Arsenal winger missed the penalty that Moreno conceded but didn’t mess around when the hapless left-back left him clear on goal 69 seconds later. Note to Klopp: The transfer window is still open for another couple of weeks yet.Jamie Vardy‘s only achievement of note on the opening day of the Premier League came when he punched himself in the face, thus cutting out the middle man. Last season’s top goalscorer air-kicked one chance and walloped another over the bar before vanishing without trace at some point in the second half. Everyone expected Leicester to regress a little this season, but no-one really expected them to lose to newly-promoted Hull. Claudio Ranieri’s decision to alter the balance of the team, particularly up front where Shinji Okazaki was missed, may have been an error.Vardy, it must be said, was only one culprit among many on Saturday. The season is long and much may change, but this was a profoundly disappointing result for Leicester. Captain Wes Morgan was honest enough to admit afterwards that his team were “second best” and deserved to lose. The only question is how long it will take his team to recover from such a shock to the system. Leicester celebrated last season’s triumph long and hard, as they should have done, but it means nothing now. They cannot put in another performance like Saturday’s or the doom-monger predictions will turn out to be true.Crystal Palace have won just two league games in 2016 and you wonder when the pressure is going to build on Alan Pardew. In his defence, this has been a very difficult summer. With players like Yannick Bolasie locked in drawn-out negotiations to leave, he finds himself simultaneously without star players and a transfer fee with which to replace them. But he has to hope that issues resolve themselves soon. Palace have a run of winnable games coming up after next week’s trip to Tottenham. He can’t afford to lose them.Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.                          

 Lynden Gooch makes first Premier League appearance for Sunderland

By Brendan Joseph  @brendan_joe on Aug 13, 2016, 11:28a 3 

United States youth international Lynden Gooch made his Premier League debut in Sunderland’s 2-1 loss to Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.Gooch put in a solid, blue collar 65-minute performance on the left side of the 4-2-3-1. He was involved in the attack and didn’t look out place, playing several dangerous crosses and displaying a willingness to dribble at defenders. His only true blemish was a first half yellow card, which he earned after pulling down Raheem Sterling. A “glass half full” observer would claim that the caution demonstrates his willingness to track back on defense and get stuck in.It’s difficult to judge whether the 20-year old midfielder was a tactical fit, as one cannot be sure what David Moyes’ game plan was against the clearly superior opponent. Gooch tended to hang back unless it was one of the few times that Sunderland established possession, not pressing the back line or rushing into the attack.It was a solid first appearance that was somewhat unexpected. Gooch impressed at the youth levels and during brief loan appearances with Doncaster Rovers and Gateshead, but his true status with the Black Cats was never clear. He always seemed to be bubbling under the radar, stuck in the reserve team and loan limbo from which many players never escape.Perhaps his debut shouldn’t be considered such a surprise. Despite a lack of playing time with the senior team, the 2015-2016 season was a productive one for the debutante. Gooch was named the Barclays U-21 Premier League Player of the Month in September and signed a three-year contract extension in April.Starting the first match of the season and not making any catastrophic mistakes under a newly appointed manager certainly bodes well for his future. He may be relegated to the bench once reinforcements arrive, but it appears that he’s solidly in the club’s plans for this season.Naturally, now that he’s made a single appearance in the Premier League, the national team conversation begins. Gooch made four appearances with the U-20s in the 2015 CONCACAF Championship, but didn’t make the squad for the U-20 World Cup. It remains to be seen if he’s already forced himself into Jurgen Klinsmann’s squad for September’s World Cup Qualifiers or if he’ll be waiting a little longer.

After stunning Olympic loss to Sweden, what comes next for USWNT?

GRANT WAHLSaturday August 13th, 2016

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — There will be 34 long months until the start of the next Women’s World Cup in France in 2019. If you’re a women’s soccer fan, that gives you plenty of time to focus on the NWSL—and, one hopes, a proposed FIFA Women’s Club World Cup, which is starting to gain global momentum as an idea.But what comes next for the U.S. women’s national team after Friday’s stunning Olympic quarterfinal exit against Sweden? After winning last year’s World Cup, coach Jill Ellis has a long-term contract and figures to still be in place once 2019 rolls around. Ellis has already said that the transition on the team this year has taken place with one eye on 2019.As we’ve seen with the U.S.’s numerous changes since last year’s World Cup, chances are there will be more turnover over the next three years than you’re expecting right now. That’s good in some ways. If you’re Ellis, you hope one or two teenagers emerge in the next couple years to make an impact the way 18-year-old Mallory Pugh has done in 2016.Stylistically, Ellis tried to turn the U.S. over the past year into a team that plays better soccer, keeping the ball on the ground, and with fullbacks who push forward, speedy wingers and a lone centerforward in Alex Morgan. But in the Olympics the U.S. struggled to create much in the central midfield, no matter whether the opponent played the U.S. straight up (like France) or parked the bus (like Sweden).Some of the U.S.’s best attacking moments in the second half against Sweden came when Pugh and Crystal Dunn cut inside from their wide positions and took players on one-on-one with the ball. Pugh’s composure on the ball in the center was enough to make you wonder: If she’s 21 at the next World Cup, might she be able to handle the pressure of being the U.S.’s central attacking midfielder?I think the answer is yes.Morgan, for her part, scored two goals in three-and-a-half games here, a solid strike-rate for her position. But she said she doesn’t always feel comfortable as a lone centerforward, which makes me wonder if a 4–1–3–2 formation might be a better U.S. option than the 4–3–3 we saw here. If you were to take the players from this 18-player Olympic roster, my lineup for the start of World Cup 2019 would be:Hope Solo; Kelley O’Hara, Julie Johnston, Becky Sauerbrunn, Meghan Klingenberg; Morgan Brian; Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh, Tobin Heath; Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan.I’d continue asking the fullbacks to get forward and the wide players (Dunn and Heath) to cut inside and take players on with the ball. I’d also go ahead and make Lloyd an out-and-out striker. She has a terrific nose for the goal and sense of the game, and I think Morgan would be more comfortable working off a partner up top. As a Plan B, you could always go 4–1–4–1 and drop Lloyd into the midfield but not ask her to be the sole focus there.Would Brian be enough defensive midfield protection against counter-attacks from teams like France and Germany? That’s a good question, but it would be one worth trying to answer over the next three years. As for the ages of the regular U.S. Olympic players at the start of the next World Cup, here they are:

Hope Solo: 37

Kelley O’Hara: 30

Julie Johnston: 27

Becky Sauerbrunn: 33

Meghan Klingenberg: 30

Allie Long: 31

Morgan Brian: 26

Carli Lloyd: 36

Tobin Heath: 31

Alex Morgan: 29

Mallory Pugh: 21

Crystal Dunn: 26

Megan Rapinoe: 33

Christen Press: 30

Lindsey Horan: 25

(Sydney Leroux*: 29)

I’m probably being conservative by picking a lineup in which six of the 11 players will be in their 30s. The biggest question marks age-wise will be around Solo (37), Lloyd (36), Rapinoe (33), Klingenberg (30) and O’Hara (30), the last two because their fullback positions require so much running. I don’t include Sauerbrunn at 33 because her game is built more on positioning than speed.Still, not a single player should assume she has a secure spot for 2019. Lloyd spoke several times about the 2019 World Cup and 2020 Olympics as her targets to end her career. Lloyd’s work habits are legendary, and she’ll need those to continue being fit enough to excel at the next Olympics at age 38.s for Solo, the main question will be: is she good enough? Her Olympic performances were mixed, ranging from game-saving plays against France to a howler against Colombia that cost the U.S. two points. Current backup Alyssa Naeher has been as good or better than Solo in the NWSL this season, and club performance should be part of Ellis’s consideration moving forward.lenty of goalkeepers have played at a high level through their late 30s, and Solo could surely be one of them. It also remains to be seen whether Ellis takes into consideration the off-the-field attention that Solo brings more than any other player with some of her comments and actions.Other significant developments are also on the horizon. The U.S. players’ collective bargaining agreement concludes at the end of this calendar year. And while larger-than-expected Olympic TV audiences no doubt helped the players in CBA negotiations, the earliest-ever USWNT exit from a major tournament did not. A gold medal in Rio would have focused even more attention on the players’ push for equal pay to the U.S. men’s team. Now that’s an opportunity missed.17-year-old Mallory Pugh scores on her debut, helping cap a 5-0 win for the USA to open the year. Carli Lloyd led the way with a hat trick, and Alex Morgan scored as well in San Diego.As for the NWSL, it has already achieved one milestone by surviving into its fourth season, which neither of its two predecessor leagues, the WUSA and WPS, had done. But the league needs to raise its professionalism and find ways to increase sponsorships and improve TV deals. Some U.S. players are also considering moving to European clubs, which could add even more complications to the CBA negotiations with U.S. Soccer (which pays the national team players for their NWSL work).When I asked a few U.S. players here what they think are the most important things for the NWSL to do moving forward, there was a common response. The two U.S. co-captains, Lloyd and Sauerbrunn,  said they would like to see more MLS teams start or take over NWSL teams in the way that we’ve already seen in Houston, Orlando and Portland.It makes sense. If you have training and stadium facilities already, why not support the women’s game as well? This U.S. team has shown that if you invest in it, you can also make money off it. And with MLS looking for $200 million up front from new expansion teams, adding a requirement that they start an NWSL team would be a good way to go.

Hope Solo ‘Unlikely’ to Face Censure for Calling Sweden ‘Cowards’: IOC Spokesman

Eliana Dockterman,Time Sat, Aug 13 1:36 PM PDT

The International Olympic Committee is none too happy with U.S. soccer goalie Hope Solo. Solo called Sweden’s soccer team “a bunch of cowards” after Sweden upset the U.S. team during the Friday quarterfinals of the Rio Olympics.IOC spokesman Mark Adams described Solo’s outburst as “disappointing” during a Saturday briefing in Rio de Janeiro. However, Adams said Solo is “unlikely” to be censured by the committee. “People are free to say those things. We wouldn’t stop their right to express themselves, within boundaries, obviously,” Adams said.Solo said she was upset by Sweden’s strategy during the game, holding back and letting the U.S. set the pace. A tied score of 1-1 at the end of overtime led to a shoot-out, andSweden stole the game from the heavily-favored Americans. “The best team did not win today,’’ Solo said after the game. “I strongly and firmly believe that.’’The loss is a devastating one for a team whose World Cup win last year earned them a ticker tape parade in New York City. The U.S. Women’s team also won three gold medals in the last three Olympic Games and was expected to take gold, or at least medal, this year.Sweden Coach Pia Sundhage, who coached the American team to gold in both 2008 and 2012, had stronger words for her former player. “I don’t give a crap,” she said, according to Sports Illustrated. “I’m going to Rio. She’s going home.”Some on social media have also criticized Solo for making such statements.This isn’t the first time Hope Solo has fired off insults to her detriment. Throughout the Olympics, crowds in Brazil booed her because of several posts she made to social media about Zika.She’s even gotten into hot water for criticizing her own teammates. During the 2007 World Cup, Solo was benched in favor of veteran Brianna Scurry even though Solo had goaltended three consecutive shutouts. Brazil beat the U.S. 4-0 in that game. Afterwards, Solo told the press: “There’s no doubt in my mind I would have made those saves … It doesn’t matter what somebody did in an Olympic gold-medal game in the Olympics three years ago.”olo later told reporters that those comments came at a time when she was coping with the recent death of her father. Still, she was banned from the U.S. third-place game against Norway and had to fly home on a separate plane.When her Friday comments went viral, Hope Solo took to Twitter to offer context. She also admitted that she’s “bad at” losing.

Why its shocking exit in Rio might be what the USWNT needed

By Megan Armstrong  |  Last updated 8/15/16

The U.S. Women’s National Team were shocked on Friday afternoon in a dramatic 4-3 penalty kick shootout loss against Sweden, which resulted in the U.S. missing out on (at least) the semifinals of the Olympic Games for the first time in history. Before diving into what went wrong or what is potentially wrong with the team in the bigger picture, it’s important to contextualize and avoid overreaction. For one, according to U.S. Soccer, the USWNT have scored 58 goals in 2016, while allowing only seven goals against them, which is to say that just because the team won’t defend its three-time Olympic gold streak, its dominance overall is still unquestionable. And more importantly, the Swedish national team is coached by Pia Sundhage, who coached the USWNT from 2008-12. Since becoming the boss in her native country, Sundhage has played the U.S. four times—the U.S. have not won any of these match-ups, tying three and losing one. So while a premature loss on the international stage is rare and unexpected, what happened on Friday can be rationally explained. Sundhage is the one woman in the world who has been consistently building toward finally taking down the USWNT, and the one woman in the world who knows the U.S. Women as well as they know themselves. That being said, instead of dwelling on this quarterfinals loss we should be looking at it as a piece in a much larger puzzle. Since their 2015 World Cup victory, the U.S. Women have been running themselves into the ground, and to an extent, that is their job. But in all reality, it is naive to think that constantly fighting for equal pay or adequate field conditions on top of jetting around the country on a World Cup victory tour during which key players (Carli Lloyd, Megan Rapinoe) suffered injuries wouldn’t eventually take some kind of toll. Lloyd was asked to play 120 minutes on Friday afternoon, after just coming back full-time from a knee injury. Rapinoe was brought in as the U.S.’s final substitute after a very recent return from a complete ACL tear. Questions flurried: Why not bring on Crystal Dunn instead of Rapinoe? Why didn’t head coach Jill Ellis start Dunn? Dunn, who had been a fireplug at these Olympics–scoring a goal against Colombia on August 9 and creating opportunities in an attack that lacked creativity on Friday.And speaking of puzzles, there were a notable amount of fresh pieces in the U.S.’s. Mallory Pugh is 18 years old, and this was her first time playing on a big stage with the team. Dunn, too. Defender Allie Long was a fresh face in the lineup who was not present during the 2015 World Cup. Same goes for Whitney Engen or Lindsay Horan. Not to mention the faces missing in Rio: recently retired Abby Wambach and currently pregnant Sydney Leroux.But take yourself back to a similar situation we find ourselves in now. Go to July 2011 in Germany, where Japan conquered the U.S. in the World Cup final. The USWNT returned home and were welcomed as if they were the world champions instead of runners-up. They were on talk shows. They were bombarded lovingly by fans on the streets everywhere they went. It didn’t matter that they came in second. What mattered to fans was the fashion in which they finished second—the dramatic Abby Wambach-headed goal in the 122nd minute against Brazil was the lasting image, not the silver medal.
The lasting image until the 2019 World Cup or the 2020 Olympics will be Christen Press and Alex Morgan botching their penalty kicks, and the shocked emotional faces on the field afterward. The lasting sound will echo as U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo’s bitter words after the loss: calling Sweden a bunch of cowards instead of gracefully acknowledging their smart strategy. Sundhage responded to Solo’s comments in the best way possible, stating, “I don’t give a crap. I’m going to Rio, she’s going home.” This type of drama, this display of parity and backs-to-the-wall competition, sets the stage for what happened in Canada at the 2015 World Cup. Remember July 5, 2015, in Vancouver, Canada? Beating Japan 5-2 in the World Cup final? Scoring four of those goals in the first 16 minutes of the match? That type of dominating defeat the U.S. dealt to Japan is not what was dealt to the U.S. by Sweden on Friday afternoon. It took 120 minutes of play and five penalty kicks for Sweden to beat the U.S. But the loss meant an early exit from the Olympics. The loss highlighted the pitfalls of being so great for so long and being expected to maintain that greatness forever at all costs.The bottom line is simple, though. The USWNT have earned the benefit of the doubt that they will be back, and they will be golden.

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8/11/16 US Ladies lose in Olympic Quarterfinals, Matt Coyer new Carmel FC DOC, EPL Season Kicks-Off, Indy 11 host OKC Sat

Matt Coyer Introduced as new Carmel FC DOC

Matt_Coyer_DOC New Carmel FC Director of Coaching Matthew Coyer is now on the job.  Coyer has more than 20 years of experience coaching youth players from the Academy to High School level.  Coyer started right here in Carmel at Carmel Dad’s club as a 7 year old where he played rec soccer until moving to the first travel club in Carmel 3 years later.  He played Indiana ODP and served some youth US National team duty.  He was a starter on the 1985 and 1987 Carmel High School State Championship teams as both a goalkeeper and a #9 (Forward), Indiana University 1991 and 1992 Big Ten Championship and Final 4 teams, where he was the first INDIANA kid to start and play for 4 years, and as a US National “B” Team player in 1992.  He also played 4 seasons professionally, 2 for the Indiana Twisters.  Coyer holds a number of national soccer certifications including a NSCAA Director of Coaching diploma, USSF National Youth License, USSF E License, Rene Meulensteen 100 and 200 level Diplomas, and a NSCAA Goalkeeping Level 1 Diploma.  Matt is thrilled to return to his “home” club and preaches an approach that is player centric.  “We want to coach our players to play soccer the right way and make a positive impact in our players lives first and foremost,” says Coyer.  “And we want to do this with class from our coaches, our parents, our players and our administration.”  Welcome aboard Matt – can’t wait to see the continued growth of this club many of us love so much!

USA LADIES LOSE IN OLYMPIC QUARTERFINALS TO SWEDEN 

What can I say but wow – disappointment city for the US in Brazil as they bow out in the Elite 8 – the earliest a US women’s team has ever loss in a World Cup or Olympics.  Give Sweden and former US coach Pia Sundhage credit – the US has never beaten her team they have tied but never beaten their former head coach.  Honestly I thought when Megan Rapino was inserted in the 65 th minute that the game changed and the US quickly took control and started peppering shots toward the Swedish goal – Morgan’s tying goal was inevitable and it looked like time and time again the US would finally take the lead.  But the Swedish keeper made some saves, got lucky a few times and the US – despite some solid offensive subs late – could not finish them off.  I have to give the US coach credit though – she had 4 forwards on down the stretch but they just couldn’t find the go ahead. When it went to PKs I had a bad feeling – of course who would have guessed Alex Morgan botches her first shot and Christen’s Press’s shot was well the Game Loser.  I thought Hope Solo played fine – I think she could have come off her line on the first goal but I understand why she didn’t with her defender Johnson closing hard.  But her comments after the game were CLASSLESS!  I am done defending her – yes the US outplayed and outshot Sweden but they are not Cowards.  You can take the girl out of the trailer park but you can’t take the Trailer Park out of the Girl I guess.  Huge disappointment for the US ladies – but unlike the men at least they got there.  Will be interesting to see how many fans show up now for the ah non victory tour now.  I am hoping Brazil can make a finals run and maybe Marta can lift a trophy for her home fans now.  Wow that Brazil vs USA game would have been really cool next week.  Oh well.

So disappointed in Hope Solo and her comments – seriously I try to coach Goalkeepers and get young girls excited about one of the toughest positions in soccer by giving them role models – but Hope Solo is an embarrassment to her team, The US national program, the sport of soccer and the entire country. Honestly how do her coaches even let her speak to the media.  She’s 35, we don’t play another major competition for 3 years – I think its past time she not be allowed to represent our country anymore !

Sweden ousts U.S. women in penalty shootout

US Women Lose in Shootout Loss

Sweden’s Sundhage hands US Women earliest Olympics Ouster Ever – Grant Wahl SI

Foudy: Solo's comments are classless

Sundhage on Hope solo comments- I’m going to Rio – She’s Going Home! 

Holden: Failure for new era of USWNT

Full Hope Solo quote on Sweden after US was eliminated from the Olympics today.

Women’s Quarterfinals schedule

USA vs. Sweden — Friday, noon ET  NBCSN
China vs. Germany — Friday, 3 p.m. ET MSNBC
Canada vs. France — Friday, 6 p.m. ET CNBC
Brazil vs. Australia — Friday, 9 p.m. ET NBCSN

English Premier League Kickoff Sat

I can’t wait for the EPL season to kick of this weekend with 6 or 7 legit contenders – Leceister City, Tottenham, Aresenal, Man City, Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea – new coaches in Conte, Mournho, Pep, Klopp – and all the new signings – this squares up to be one of the most competitive EPL season in years. (check the full previews and predictions below -I will save my official predictions till after week 1).  Games start Sat with Leciester traveling to Hull City at 7:30 am on CNBC – come on FOXES and Man City hosting Sunderland at 12:30 on CNBC.  Sunday has Arsenal vs Liverpool at 11 am on NBCSN and the German supercup Bayern vs Dortmund at 2:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Indy 11

Our League leading Indy 11 host first year club Oklahoma FC this Sat night at 7:30 pm at the JAKE– and on TV8. Enjoy the $15 Craft Brew Corner special – gets you a ticket in the Brickyard Battalion section (general admission) and vouchers for two 16 oz. craft beers, which can be redeemed for selections by People’s Brewing, Urban Chestnut and other great brewers at the special stand in the NW corner of the stadium. Please note that YOU MUST PURCHASE THE CRAFT BREW CORNER OFFER IN ADVANCE ONLINE! 

Congrats to former Carmel High – now Dallas FC star defender Matt Hedges scoring in overtime last night vs the LA Galaxy to advance to the US Open Cup Final.  Seattle hosts Real Salt Lake on Sun eve Fox Sports 1 at 7 pm fresh off 2 straight wins and a Dempsey hat trick. I always love watching the home crowd of 40K+ at the Emerald City – and I certainly hope one of my favorite teams makes a move off the bottom of the table.

GAMES of the Week TV

Fri, Aug 12         Quarterfinals Olympic Women

12 pm NBCSN                         USA vs. Sweden — Friday, noon ET

3 pm  MSNBC                                         2F vs 2F  China vs. Germany

6 pm CNBC                                              1F vs 2G Canada vs. France

9 pm NBCSN                                           1 E vs 3F Brazil vs. Australia                                

Sat, Aug 13                                              EPL Season Starts

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

2 pm  ESPN2       ICC             Inter Milan vs Celtic

Quarterfinals Olympic men

12 pm NBCSN                        Portugal vs Germany

3 pm NBCSN                           Nigeria vs Denmark

6 pm NBC Olympics.com   Korea vs Honduras

9 pm NBCSN                           Brazil vs Colombia

7:30 pm Tv8 + ESPN3         Indy 11 vs OKC

Sun, Aug 14

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

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup -Will US Christian Pulisic feature?

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                              Seattle Sounders host Real Salt Lake

Tues, Aug 16 

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Women (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals Women (final 4) US/Brazil?

Weds, Aug 17 

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Man (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals men (final 4)

Fri, Aug 19                                               

12 noon MSNBC                                   Women’s Olympics 3rd place game

2:30 pm USA Net                                Man United vs Southhampton

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Women’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

Sat, Aug 20                                            

7:30 a.m., NBCSN                                Stoke City vs. Man City 
10:00 a.m., NBC Live Extra           Tottenham vs Crystal Palace, Burnley vs Liverpool, Chelsea vs. Watford
12 noon NBCSN                                    men’s Olympics 3rd place game

12:30 p.m., CNBC:                             Leciester City vs Arsenal

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Men’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

7:30 pm ESPN3                    Indy 11 @ Carolina

US Ladies and Olympics

US follow Calm leadership of Carli, Becky

US Alex Morgan finding fun at Rio

Hope Solo Struggles as US ties Colombia 2-2 ESPNW

Solo’s error leads to Colombia draw with U.S.

After Rare off game – Solo looks to Regroup after loss – SI Grant Wahl

US Ladies Shocked by Colombia in 90th minute –SI Grant Wahl

Ladies Soccer Round-up

Repinoe Wish She Knew Earlier

 Brazil’s Neymar not right to be captain – ESPNFC

Hard for Concacaf to win both men’s and women’s with Mexico out

 Women’s Quarterfinals schedule

USA vs. Sweden — Friday, noon ET
China vs. Germany — Friday, 3 p.m. ET
Canada vs. France — Friday, 6 p.m. ET
Brazil vs. Australia — Friday, 9 p.m. ET

 Indy 11

2 Craft Beers and Ticket for $15 for this weekend’s game

Vote for Indy 11 player of the Week

3 things Indy 11 win over Ott

3 Players make NASL Team of the Week

Zayed player of the week vs Jax

EPL and WORLD

EPL Predictions by ESPN FC

Premier League Previews – ESPNFC

New Managers bring intrigue to EPL – ESPNFC Marcotti 

EPL Power Rankings SI

Mapping out the EPL Teams

The other new Managers in the EPL

Mahrez to Stay at Leciester City?

Arsenal to add a Defender?

Liverpool Preview

Chelsea Preview

Tottenham Hotspur Preview

All about Middlesborough – Guzans new Stomping Ground

US Players in Europe Who to Watch Where

MLS

US Open Cup – FC Dallas beats LA Galaxy, NE Revs Win

See Carmel’s Matt Hedges Goal in Extra Time to Tie LA in US Open Cup

How NOT to Cover a Back Post on a Corner!!

Is Bodoya and recent US Players move to MLS worth it?  – Jeff Carlisle EspnFC

MLS Power Rankings

More GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 12                                               France Legue 1 starts

2 pm beIn Sports                                Bastia vs PSG

Quarterfinals Olympic Women

12 pm NBCSN             USA vs. Sweden — Friday, noon ET

3 pm  MSNBC                                         2F vs 2F  China vs. Germany

6 pm CNBC                                              1F vs 2G Canada vs. France

9 pm NBCSN                                           1 E vs 3F Brazil vs. Australia

Sat, Aug 13                                              EPL Season Starts

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

Quarterfinals Olympic men        12, 3, 6, 9

7:30 pm Tv8+ESPN3           Indy 11 vs OKC

Sun, Aug 14

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

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                              Seattle Sounders hosts Real Salt Lake

Tues, Aug 16 

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Women (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals Women (final 4)

Weds, Aug 17 

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Man (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals men (final 4)

Fri, Aug 19                                               

12 noon MSNBC                                   Women’s Olympics 3rd place game

2:30 pm USA Net                                Man United vs Southhampton

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Women’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

Sat, Aug 20                                            

7:30 a.m., NBCSN                                Stoke City vs. Man City 
10:00 a.m., NBC Live Extra           Tottenham vs Crystal Palace, Burnley vs Liverpool, Chelsea vs. Watford
12 noon NBCSN                                    men’s Olympics 3rd place game

12:30 p.m., CNBC:                             Leciester City vs Arsenal

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Men’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

7:30 pm ESPN3                    Indy 11 @ Carolina

Sun, Aug 21

8:30 a.m., NBCSN:                              Sunderland vs Middlesborough
11:00 a.m., CNBC
                               West Ham vs Bournemouth

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

9:30 pm  Fox Sport 1                       Seattle Sounders host Portland – CASCADIA CUP 2!

Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 AM NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2:                 Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus:         Hamburg SV vs. Ingolstadt

12:30 pm  NBC                                     Hull City vs Man United
12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Sun, Aug 28

9:30 a.m Fox Sport1                         Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs West Ham

2 pm ???                                                   Ottawa vs Indy 11

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                               Orlando City vs NYCFC

Soccer Olympics Schedule

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV 

U.S. women’s soccer team out of Olympics after shootout loss

5:24 PM ETESPN.com news services

Alex Morgan and Christen Press missed penalties in a shootout and the United States women’s soccer team crashed out of the Olympics without a medal after losing to Sweden in the quarterfinals on Friday.Morgan’s 77th-minute goal had canceled out Stina Blackstenius’ opener for Sweden before the game went to penalties at 1-1, where Sweden won 4-3 and eliminated the three-time defending gold medalists.After the U.S. failed to medal for the first time since women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996, goalkeeper Hope Solo criticized Sweden’s defensive style of play.”I thought that we played a courageous game,” Solo said. “I thought that we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down, I’m very proud of this team.”I also think we played a bunch of cowards. But, you know, the best team did not win today; I strongly, firmly believe that. I think you saw America’s heart. You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately the better team didn’t win.”Told about Solo’s comments, Sweden coach Pia Sundhage said: “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”The U.S. threatened three minutes into the game when Morgan’s header was cleared off the line, and Morgan Brian’s follow-up attempt was tipped over the bar by Sweden keeper Hedvig Lindahl.Morgan started another U.S. charge in the 27th minute when she carried the ball wide of the goal then cut back for Carli Lloyd, whose first-time shot was saved.The Americans’ best chance in the first half came just before the break when Mallory Pugh played through Lloyd, but Lindahl came off her line to make a good save.Lloyd came close again as the second half began, but her free kick sailed over the bar.Sweden, led by former U.S. Sundhage, took the lead in the 61st minute when Lisa Dahlkvist split the U.S. center-backs with a long through ball from within her own half. Substitute Blackstenius ran onto the ball, took one touch and sent a low shot past Solo inside the far post.The U.S. pushed for an equalizer and came close 10 minutes later when substitute Crystal Dunn squared the ball to a sliding Morgan, who could not keep a shot on target, and Lloyd’s follow-up went wide.With Sweden packing defenders into the box, Pugh’s shot went high, before Brian’s header drifted wide of the post.But the U.S. were back level in the 77th minute when Dunn flicked on a long pass with a header that caromed off the face of Sweden’s Jessica Samuelsson and fell to Morgan, who slotted home with her first touch from 10 yards.Lloyd nearly found a winner moments later, but her shot from just inside the box was sent wide with the slightest of deflections from a defender.With the game still level at the end of 90 minutes, the game went to extra time, where in the 101st minute Morgan tried to round the keeper, but again Lindahl was there to save a shot from a tight angle.Lloyd thought she had scored a winner in the closing stages, but her goal was ruled out for a foul before her header.And moments later the U.S. was lucky not be behind as Lotta Schelin’s goal for Sweden was controversially ruled offside after the U.S. defenders failed to clear a cross.The U.S. controlled the large majority of possession for the rest of the extra 30 minutes but could not find a winner, and the game went to penalties for the first time in Olympic history.Morgan opened the shootout but saw her penalty saved by a diving Lindahl, and Sweden was ahead until Solo tipped Linda Sembrant’s attempt over the bar in the third round.But Press fired her shot in the fifth and final round over the bar, and Dahlkvist fired past Solo as Sweden, ranked sixth in the world, advanced to the semifinals for the first time in its history.

Germany 1, China 0

Melanie Behringer scored to help Germany reach the semifinals with a tight win over China.China’s Wang Shanshan came on as a half-time substitute but was sent off for a second yellow card 12 minutes later, before Behringer hit a bouncing ball into the back of the net from 25 yards for the only goal in the 76th minute.China had a chance to level the score when Leonie Maier brought down Wang Shuang in the 83rd minute, but the striker hit the resulting penalty off the post.

Sweden moves on to semis after ousting U.S. women in penalty shootout

By Graham Hays | Aug 12, 2016espnW.com

BRASILIA, Brazil — The tour of Brazil is over. And Rio de Janeiro didn’t make the itinerary.For the first time since women’s soccer was added to the Olympics 20 years ago, the United States won’t play for a gold medal. It won’t play for any medal. The Americans are instead headed home after losing to Sweden after coming out on the wrong end of the first penalty shootout (4-3 in penalties) in Olympic women’s soccer history. That followed a 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes against the resilient Swedes and former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage.Alex Morgan scored the goal that brought the United States level late in the second half, but her penalty kick to open the shootout was saved by Hedvig Lindahl, and U.S. teammate Christen Press put her attempt over the bar in the fifth round. After a lengthy delay before the final kick as goalkeeper Hope Solo changed her gloves, Sweden’s Lisa Dahlkvist went left when Solo guessed right. So ended the bid for a fourth consecutive gold medal by the United States.Perhaps Sweden is too experienced an international side — and Sundhage too good a coach — to call the result in Brasilia a stunning upset, but it is nonetheless shocking to see the reigning World Cup and Olympic champions, unbeaten in 2016, out before medals are at stake.More to come from Brasilia, but here are three observations at the final whistle.

1. Year of the counter

We saw it from Leicester City when that team stunned the soccer world by winning not a sprint of a tournament but the long marathon of the English Premier League season. We saw it from the Icelandic men’s team in the Euros. And we saw it with little more than an hour elapsed in Brasilia. If a team is organized, committed and precise, it doesn’t need much of the ball to win the game. It just needs to make the most of a chance. So while there will be plenty to dissect in the autopsy of a defeat, first give Sweden all the credit it is due.The plan was no surprise. U.S. coach Jill Ellis talked about it the day before the game. Sundhage made no secret of it, either. But whether level early, ahead or holding on for dear life and penalties late, Sweden looked nothing like the team that was outclassed earlier in this tournament.A lot of teams park the bus against the United States. Few do it so courageously.

2. For the love of technology

Two wrongs don’t make a right, but they can produce a penalty shootout. In quick succession in the waning minutes of overtime, both the United States and Sweden had goals waved off — incorrectly by every available replay — as a result of offside calls.Neither call looked close, the flag on the ball that sneaked between two U.S. defenders to Lotta Schelin particularly egregious. If the quality of officiating remains a question mark for the sport, and it does by most accounts, then wouldn’t it be a perfect place to welcome technology?

3. No chance to peak at the right time

The United States wasn’t exceptionally unlucky when it came to injuries during and leading up to the Olympics. It had its share of issues, but so does every team in a tournament like this.At the same time, it seemed obvious Friday that the slow trickle of issues it did have took a toll. The U.S. women weren’t sharp on set pieces for much of the game, making it easy to wonder what might have been different with a healthy Megan Rapinoe. Beaten on the run that produced the goal, Julie Johnston looked rusty at times after sitting out the past two games with a groin injury.It isn’t an excuse. The United States had chance after chance to win this game with the players it had on the field. But it also wasn’t a team peaking at the right time.Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

Sundhage’s Sweden hands USWNT earliest Olympics ouster ever

GRANT WAHL  SI

BRASÍLIA, Brazil — The United States, the reigning Women’s World Cup champion and three-time defending Olympic gold medalist, was eliminated from the 2016 Olympics on Friday by Sweden in a tense penalty-kick shootout that Sweden won 4-3 in the fifth and final round following a 1-1 draw. The U.S.’s Christen Press launched her spot kick, and the USA’s fifth, over the bar, and Lisa Dahlkvist converted hers to finish the monster upset. Swedish goalkeeper Hedvig Lindahl had saved Alex Morgan’s kick to open the shootout, while Hope Solo had done the same to Linda Sembrant on Sweden’s third try.The U.S. dominated possession in the game but failed to create many good scoring chances, and Sweden went up 1-0 on a brilliantly executed counter finished by Stina Blackstenius in the 61st minute. But Morgan equalized for the U.S. in the 76th, running onto a ball that had bounced off the head of Jessica Samuelsson into her path.The shocking finish sends the U.S. home in the quarterfinals, the earliest U.S. exit in women’s Olympic soccer history. The U.S. had had won four of the five Olympic gold medals and had never failed to reach the final.Here are three thoughts on the game:

Give Sweden and coach Pia Sundhage credit

The Swedes had played poorly in this Olympic tournament, losing 5-1 against Brazil and looking mediocre against China and South Africa. But the Swedes always seem to raise their game against the U.S., and the same was true again here. They defended deep and tried to strike on the counter, which worked for the go-ahead goal, and then Sweden kept its cool when the U.S. regained momentum with the equalizer.Sundhage’s squad simply had more composure than the U.S. in the penalty round, and it was somewhat surprising that the U.S. misses came from Morgan and Press, two forwards who usually are more precise with their shooting. (Press’s confidence has always been a concern, though.) Sundhage is a great coach, and in a tight game she made the better calls against her counterpart and former assistant Jill Ellis on Friday.

Not starting Crystal Dunn is a head-scratcher

If you know that your opponent is going to sit deep for the entire game, as everyone knew Sweden would do, then it makes little sense not to start Dunn instead of Allie Long. Dunn could play in the 3-person midfield with Carli Lloyd and Morgan Brian in those situations. Dunn did come on for Long in the 65th minute after Sweden had scored, and she made an instant impact, beating defenders on the dribble and creating problems for the Swedes.Long makes more sense as a starter against teams that won’t sit deep, as would’ve been likely for the rest of the Olympics, but starting her against Sweden was an awfully conservative move.Both the U.S. and Sweden had goals wrongly disallowed in extra time by New Zealand referee Anna-Marie Keighley and her sideline assistants. First, Lloyd had a header–reminiscent of her opening goal of the tournament against New Zealand–whistled off for an apparent offside call. Moments later on the other end, Lotta Schelin had a ball squeeze through the U.S. defense into her path from close range and she scored the would-be winner, only to be wrongly called for offside as well.In a sense the bad calls offset each other, but you can’t have that happen in the decisive moments of a major tournament knockout game.

Hope Solo: ‘The best team did not win today’

By Graham Hays | Aug 12, 2016ESPN Staff Writer

BRASILIA, Brazil — Hope Solo didn’t hold back in her criticism of the Swedish team that eliminated the United States from the Olympic women’s soccer tournament in a penalty shootout Friday.”I thought that we played a courageous game,” Solo said. “I thought that we had many opportunities on goal. I think we showed a lot of heart. We came back from a goal down; I’m very proud of this team.”I also think we played a bunch of cowards. But, you know, the best team did not win today; I strongly, firmly believe that. I think you saw America’s heart. You saw us give everything that we had today. Unfortunately the better team didn’t win.” As expected, the Swedish team that had finished third in its group during the tournament’s initial phase adopted a defensive strategy against the United States, which had won its group.The United States dominated possession and finished with 27 shots, but Sweden scored on a counterattack in regulation — one of only two shots on goal it had in the game.After playing to a 1-1 stalemate over 120 minutes, Sweden edged the U.S. 4-3 in the shootout.Asked to elaborate on what she meant by cowards, Solo referenced Pia Sundhage, the Swedish coach who formerly coached the United States and won two Olympic gold medals.”Sweden dropped off, didn’t want to open play,” Solo said. “They didn’t want to pass the ball around. They didn’t want to play great soccer, entertaining soccer. It was a combative game, a physical game. Exactly what they wanted and exactly what their game plan was. They dropped into a 50. They didn’t try and press, they didn’t want to open the game and they tried to counter with long balls. We had that style of play when Pia was our coach.”I don’t think they’re going to make it far in the tournament. I think it was very cowardly. But they won. They’re moving on, and we’re going home.”Told of Solo’s criticism and asked whether she felt her strategy was justified, Sundhage said only that she was content with it, and she did not address Solo specifically.undhage also said, “It’s OK to be a coward if you win.”Former USWNT star and current ESPN analyst Julie Foudy questioned Solo’s comments.”To call them cowards for playing a tactically smart game is ridiculous and classless and it really doesn’t represent the house that we built in the U.S. team,” she said.Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

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Despite 2-2 draw, U.S. women win Group G, advance to quarters

By Graham Hays | Aug 9, 2016espnW.com

MANAUS, Brazil — The United States played Germany and Japan en route to a World Cup title a year ago. It played France a few days ago in this tournament. But it was Colombia that handed the Americans their first deficit in a major tournament since a 2012 Olympic semifinal.The same Colombia that hadn’t scored a goal in any previous meeting with the United States.It wasn’t the likeliest opponent to force the United States to chase a game.It might have been the unlikeliest opponent to chase back after the Americans regained control. But chase back the Colombians did. A set piece goal in the 90th minute from Catalina Usme, her second of the game, earned the South American underdogs a stunning 2-2 draw against the reigning champions.

The United States controlled the game, both in possession and chances created. It won Group G despite the draw, while Colombia was eliminated despite the same. But this was Colombia’s night, a result in many ways as impressive as its shocking win against France in the World Cup. The United States won’t know its quarterfinal opponent until after Sweden and China play in Tuesday’s late round of games. The opponent in Brasilia could be whichever of those two teams finishes third in Group E (assuming Brazil finishes first), or Australia, the third-place finisher in Group F that clinched advancement with a win earlier Tuesday. Here are three more observations from Tuesday’s draw:

1. Credit the Colombians

Perhaps rare for a South American rival, Colombia had the full backing of the large crowd on hand to watch host Brazil play later in the evening. And while much of the talk entering the game was about a Colombian team in disarray — its coach said players like Lady Andrade wouldn’t even play Tuesday, only to reverse course and start her — it played a spirited, if imperfect, game throughout, and Usme made the most of two set pieces.There are vast swaths of the globe that women’s soccer needs to grow more competitive, but South America is clearly chief among them. This was a night the Colombians will remember.

2. Hope Solo again in the spotlight

The crowd in Manaus, which was considerably larger even at the start of the night’s first game than either of the crowds the United States played in front of for its first two games, didn’t even wait for Hope Solo to touch the ball to continue the taunts that began in Belo Horizonte. As Solo jogged to her position on the field before kickoff, the crowd launched into the now familiar “Zika” chants. Later, they added a new twist on a familiar chant that became “Ole, Ole, Ole, Zi-ka, Zi-ka.”  It appears the chants will follow her wherever the United States travels in this tournament.

Solo heard the heckling in the game against France and turned in a quintessentially stellar performance in a game with enormous stakes. And while she generally draws rapturous cheers when playing for the national team in her own country, it’s not as if she is unfamiliar with hostile fans in other international and club settings. So let’s not get carried away in connecting dots to link the heckling on this night and the admittedly glaring error that allowed Usme’s free kick to slip under Solo and into the net. Solo has heard a lot of boos in her life; she hasn’t let in a lot of goals like that. It was undeniably a gaffe. It is debatable if it was crowd-aided.

3. Rapinoe’s return overshadowed

The unexpected scoreboard drama took precedence over the story that appeared likely to dominate the night beforehand. For the first time since last October, and the first time since suffering a torn ACL in December, Megan Rapinoe took the field as a starter for the United States. The midfielder played just 30 minutes, although her first-half substitution had every appearance of a planned change rather than any kind of forced move.It took Rapinoe only 90 seconds to put a cross into dangerous space in Colombia’s box. Perhaps as important, it took her only four minutes to go crashing to the turf after being fouled — and get back up to continue playing. And it took her not that much longer to wave her hand at the referee in frustration with a foul call (one that set up Colombia’s goal).She looked, in other words, like herself. And as long as her exit really was part of the plan, her short cameo all but justifies the decision to bring her to this tournament.

Long finally finds right fit with U.S. national team

Resilient U.S. women hold off France again

Solo keeps shining despite being constant lightning rod

U.S. women set sights on fourth straight gold

Wunderkind Pugh graduates to Rio Games

Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

 U.S. soccer draws with Colombia, still makes Olympic quarters

playESPN.com news services

With time running out, Catalina Usme beat Hope Solo with a free kick from a tight angle to give Colombia a 2-2 draw against the United States on Tuesday at the Olympics.Usme also scored in the 26th minute, booting a free kick that went between Solo’s legs, to give the Colombians an early 1-0 lead. It was the team’s first-ever Olympic goal and first-ever goal against the United States.Despite the draw, the top-ranked Americans still finished atop Group F.Teenager Mallory Pugh became the youngest player to score for the United States in an Olympics with her goal in the 59th minute, giving the Americans a 2-1 lead. Crystal Dunn also scored for the defending champions.The U.S. women’s team, the reigning World Cup champions, is vying for its fourth straight Olympic gold medal.Pugh, just 18, came into the game as a first-half substitute for midfielder Megan Rapinoe, who played in her first match since having ACL surgery in December.In addition to Rapinoe, United States coach Jill Ellis made several other changes to her starting lineup, sitting regular starters Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Meghan Klingenberg. Julie Johnston, who sat out the second game with groin injury, was also on the bench.Morgan came in after the half for Carli Lloyd. Pugh, who hurt her ankle in the 2-0 opening win against New Zealand, went in when Rapinoe was pulled in the 33rd miute as temperatures hovered in the upper 80s.The match in Brazil’s Amazon rainforest was an announced sellout, with many fans awaiting the late game between host Brazil and South Africa. The crowd was on the side of the underdogs from the start and cheered wildly when Usme scored her first goal. The free kick bounced between Solo’s legs. The fans also taunted Solo by chanting “Zika! Zika!”The jeers have accompanied the U.S. goalkeeper throughout the Olympic tournament because of posts she made on social media about the virus that is spread by mosquitoes. It was just the fifth goal that Solo has allowed this year. The veteran goalkeeper has a record 102 shutouts in international play.Solo told NBC after the game that she would be able to move past Tuesday’s performance before the quarterfinals.”I personally gave up a goal I wish I could take back, but I’ve been around long enough to know these things happen,” Solo said. “So I’m going to choose to have short-term memory and move forward.”Dunn, playing in her first Olympics with the national team, tied the match with a rebound after Lloyd’s shot bounced back off the crossbar in the 41st minute. Pugh’s goal slid between numerous Colombia players before finding the back of the net in the second half.Colombia had already been eliminated with losses in its first two matches.On Monday, coach Fabian Taborda said Usme had an injured left knee, while Lady Andrade and Carolina Arias were suffering from “exhaustion.” But all three started. Colombia is considered one of South America’s top teams, along with neighboring Brazil. Las Cafeteras, as they’re known, surprised many when they advanced to the knockout round in the World Cup last year.

France 3, New Zealand 0

France finished second behind the U.S. in Group G to advance with a straightforward victory and set up a matchup with Canada in the quarterfinals.Eugenie Le Sommer put Les Bleues ahead in the first half before Louisa Cadamuro added a second goal with a header and a third from a penalty in the second half.New Zealand finished third in the group and were eliminated from the tournament. France will take on Canada in the quarterfinals.

Canada 2, Germany 1

Melissa Tancredi scored twice, and Canada completed a perfect run through Group F.The Germans took the lead in the 13th minute after Allysha Chapman brought down Mandy Islacker in the box, and Melanie Behringer converted the penalty.But Canada, the bronze medalists four years ago, equalized in the 25th minute when Germany gave the ball away deep in the own zone. Tancredi gathered the loose ball and beat German keeper Almuth Schult from the top of the box.And Tancredi put Canada ahead on the hour mark by heading home Rebecca Quinn’s cross from a set piece.Germany also advanced to the quarterfinals despite the defeat, though that was not certain until Australia’s result against Zimbabwe was confirmed.

Australia 6, Zimbabwe 1

Australia will face a mammoth quarterfinal showdown with Brazil after securing their pathway out of the Olympic group stages.The Matildas led 6-0 in the 66th minute and needed only to hit the back of the net once more to avoid a meeting with world No. 8 Brazil, which beat them 3-1 in a pre-Games friendly.Lisa De Vanna, Clare Polkinghorne and Alanna Kennedy all found the net for Australia in the first half, before Kyah Simon and substitute Michelle Heyman (two goals) extended their lead after the break.But a 91st-minute strike from Zimbabwe’s Emmaculate Msipa means Australia will go through as one of the top two third-place teams across the three groups and tread the more difficult road.

China 0, Sweden 0

China and Sweden both ensured their passage through to the quarterfinals with a 0-0 draw.Both nations had chances to win the match, with Linda Sembrant almost conceding an own goal in the first half.Sweden will face reigning champions the U.S. on Friday, while China will go head-to-head with Germany.

Brazil 0, South Africa 0

South Africa fought hard in front of a sellout crowd to hold hosts Brazil to a goalless draw in Manaus in the last match in Group E.Five-time FIFA Women’s World Player of the Year Marta began the match as a substitute, and was brought on at halftime to try and break the deadlock, but could not find the back of the net.South Africa exit the tournament with the lone point, while Brazil will face Australia in the quarterfinals.

After rare game to forget, Hope Solo aiming to put mistakes behind her

  • Hope Solo was uncharacteristically bad against Colombia. For the USWNT to progress through the knockout rounds, it’s vital that she have a short memory. GRANT WAHLWednesday August 10th, 2016

MANAUS, Brazil — She is the best women’s goalkeeper in the world, a change agent who regularly influences the outcomes of games. Just last Saturday, Hope Solo had made the difference in the U.S.’s 1–0 victory against France, denying a point-blank shot by Marie-Laure Delie. With jeers raining down on Solo from the Brazilian fans all tournament, the result of a Zika-related social media post, it seemed like Solo was completely ignoring the catcalls.And so it was stunning to see Solo commit an outright howler on Tuesday against Colombia, letting Catalina Usme’s first-half free kick go through her hands and her legs on its way to the net. Usme scored on another free kick in the 90th minute, and while the late equalizer was hardly another howler by Solo, she could have done better on that play, too.• USWNT gets Olympic wake-up call in disappointing draw against Colombia

But give Solo some credit. The two-time Olympic gold medalist didn’t hide from the media after the game. Not at all, in fact. And she didn’t try to provide any spin or excuses, because she said there weren’t any.“It’s part of the position, and I don’t wish it on anybody,” Solo said in the mixed zone after the 2–2 tie, which still clinched first place in the group for the U.S. team. “Being a goalkeeper is extremely difficult mentally. But I’ve been around long enough to know that these things do happen. They’ve happened to me before. You just hope they happen few and far between.”The last time Solo had a significant gaffe in a major tournament was in the opening game of the 2007 World Cup, when she let a routine North Korean shot go through her hands and into the goal. That was nine years ago. Her mistakes in a U.S. uniform are so rare that when they do happen, you want to pinch yourself to make sure you’re not imagining things.“I have learned to have a short-term memory,” Solo said on Tuesday, “so I’m just going to put this game behind me and move on. Because I think there’s going to be some great football in the coming games, and I’m going to have to come up big and keep our team in it.”There’s a reason goalkeepers are different from the rest of us. The mental pressure they deal with is extraordinary. Howlers get no easier when you’re 35 than when you were 22. “It always stings,” Solo said. “Honestly, if I ever have kids they will not become a goalkeeper, I assure you that. I don’t wish it on anybody. I think it is the most unforgiving position in all of sports.”Soccer is a game of fine margins. On Saturday, Solo made the split-second save that gave the U.S. a chance to win a 1–0 game. There was a margin for error on Tuesday night, a margin that Solo helped earn. But now that the U.S. is in the knockout rounds—it will face Sweden and former U.S. coach Pia Sundhage in Brasília on Friday—there is no margin for error.When asked what she’ll say to Solo after Tuesday’s game, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said: “Respectfully, kind of: Crap happens. Move on. Sometimes when a field player makes a mistake it’s not going to cost you. But she’s so solid, she’s had a great tournament to date. I just think mentally she’s got to put it behind her and focus on the next game. Knowing Hope and her mental strength, I think she’ll return fine from that.”Sweden is an intriguing opponent. On the one hand, the Swedes have been less than impressive in this tournament and in last year’s World Cup. On the other hand, Sweden has given the U.S. fits in major tournaments, including a tie in last year’s World Cup and a Sweden win at World Cup 2011. If any opposing coach knows the U.S. well, it’s Sundhage.The U.S. players weren’t all gloom and doom after Tuesday’s tie, either. They knew the lineup had been shuffled, that players had been rested and that they will enter Friday’s quarterfinal with no suspensions and all 18 players available.“I would rather this happen now to maybe light some fire under us and motivate us even more,” said co-captain Carli Lloyd. “Every tournament is a different journey. In the World Cup we tied Sweden. In the 2008 Olympics we lost our first match. I’m not worried. I still think we’re going in the right direction.”“In every tournament I’ve played in, nothing has gone perfect,” said Solo. “In last year’s World cup, we won but we weren’t playing great every single game. In my first major tournament, the ball went through my hands. It happens. These things happen. And you have to get through them in order to hopefully stand on top of the podium.”

USWNT draws to win Olympic group but gets wake-up call from Colombia

The USWNT was given a scare in Manaus and settled for a draw after a pair of Hope Solo gaffes, but it managed to win its Olympic group anyway.

GRANT WAHLWednesday August 10th, 2016

MANAUS, Brazil — The U.S. women’s soccer team finished Olympic group play with a disappointing 2-2 tie against Colombia that featured two mistakes by the usually reliable Hope Solo in goal. But the point still gave the U.S. first place in Group G as the Americans advanced to the quarterfinals.Colombia’s Catalina Usme scored her second free kick of the night in the 90th minute to equalize when Solo tried to punch the left-footed blast and missed. It was the second mistake of the night by Solo, who let Usme’s 26th-minute free kick go between her hands and legs into the net..The U.S. had equalized 1-1 on Crystal Dunn’s 41st-minute follow on a rebound of Carli Lloyd’s shot. And the Americans thought they had sealed it when 18-year-old Mallory Pugh had put them ahead 2-1 in the 59th minute.The U.S. will play Sweden–coached by former U.S. manager Pia Sundhage–in the quarterfinals in Brasília on Friday at noon ET.Here are three thoughts on Tuesday’s game:

This was a strange game

Coach Jill Ellis left several prominent players on the bench to start—Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath, Meghan Klingenberg and Pugh—and the U.S. still dominated possession. But there weren’t enough golden scoring chances given that dominance. Christen Press failed to convert two of the best opportunities, including a two-on-one break in which she and Pugh were alone on goal. Instead of shooting, Press tried to pass it to Pugh, who was offside.That allowed the U.S. to let an overmatched Colombia team that had lost its first two games hang around in the game. The U.S. will need to sharpen up things once the opponents get better in the knockout rounds.

Gut-check time for Solo

After two sterling performances in this tournament, especially against France, Solo had a night to forget in goal. The last time Solo had committed a howler on such a stage for the U.S. came in the 2007 World Cup opener against North Korea, which shows you how rare it is for her to make a big mistake. But Solo was at fault on both Colombia free-kick goals on Tuesday.

She wasn’t the only one: The U.S. committed bad fouls in the first place that led to those free kicks. But this U.S. team has to know moving forward that it can’t give away cheap set-piece opportunities, because that’s how superior teams can end up losing games. Until now, it didn’t seem like the jeering from Brazilian fans had affected Solo. Things seemed different in this game.

 

Mixed results in Rapinoe’s first action

Playing in her first game since tearing an ACL last December, Rapinoe got the start and lasted 33 minutes before coming off for Pugh (as planned by Ellis).Rapinoe had some decent crosss, but she also committed a bad foul that gave Colombia the free kick on which it scored.It remains to be seen whether Ellis will consider using Rapinoe as a starter in the knockout rounds, but it seems unlikely with Tobin Heath and either Pugh or Dunn ready to start on the wings. Most likely, Rapinoe will be a super-sub the rest of the way.

ESPN FC’s predicted Premier League table and writers’ picks

Our predicted Premier League table for the coming season.

ESPN FC’s editorial desk has made its choice for the 2016-17 season, with Manchester City our choice to top in the Premier League.But who do our writers think will win the title? Who will finish in the coveted Champions League spots? Who are the three clubs who will go down at the end of the season? And which players will finish as top scorer and Player of the Year, respectively?

Gab Marcotti:

Top four: 1. Arsenal 2. Manchester United 3. Chelsea 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Hull, Burnley, Crystal Palace
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Mesut Ozil

Iain Macintosh:

Top four: 1. Manchester United 2. Manchester City 3. Arsenal 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Hull, Burnley, Bournemouth
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Paul Pogba

Nick Miller

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Manchester United 3. Tottenham 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Hull, Swansea, Burnley
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne

Tony Evans

Top four: 1. Tottenham 2. Manchester City 3. Arsenal 4. Manchester United
Relegated: Hull, Burnley, Swansea
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Dele Alli

John Brewin

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Manchester United 3. Liverpool 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Hull, Sunderland, Middlesbrough
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Paul Pogba

Nick Ames

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Manchester United 3. Chelsea 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Swansea, Hull, Burnley
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Michael Cox

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Tottenham 3. Arsenal 4. Manchester United
Relegated: Hull, Burnley, Watford
Top scorer: Alexis Sanchez
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne

Miguel Delaney

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Manchester United 3. Chelsea, 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Sunderland, Burnley, Hull
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne

Richard Jolly

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Chelsea 3. Manchester United 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Bournemouth, Burnley, Hull
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne

Raphael Honigstein

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Manchester United 3. Chelsea 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Hull, Burnley, Sunderland
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Sergio Aguero

Julien Laurens

Top four: 1. Manchester United 2. Manchester City 3. Chelsea 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Hull, Sunderland, Watford
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne

Mattias Karen

Top four: 1. Manchester United 2. Manchester City 3. Arsenal 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Hull, Swansea, Burnley
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne

Jonathan Smith

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Manchester United 3. Chelsea 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Hull, Bournemouth, Swansea
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne

Arindam Rej

Top four: 1. Manchester United 2. Manchester City 3. Chelsea 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Watford, Burnley, Hull
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Liam Twomey

Top four: 1. Manchester United 2. Manchester City 3. Chelsea 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Hull, Swansea, Burnley
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero
Player of the Year: Eden Hazard

Glenn Price

Top four: 1. Manchester City 2. Chelsea 3. Manchester United 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Hull, Sunderland, Burnley
Top scorer: Harry Kane
Player of the Year: Alexis Sanchez

Dan Kilpatrick

Top four: 1. Tottenham 2. Manchester United 3. Chelsea 4. Manchester City
Relegated: Swansea, Burnley, Hull
Top scorer: Harry Kane
Player of the Year: Erik Lamela

Have your say in the comments section below and join the debate on ESPN FC.

The Premier League has never seen managerial talent like this before

Is it talent or is it scheme? Is winning simply a function of having better players than your opponent or does a great coach genuinely add value? It’s the perpetual debate in any team sport and odds are, you stake a position somewhere on that continuum between talent and coaching.The 2016-17 Premier League season may be remembered as the one where the biggest clubs decisively decided to throw their resources at the coaching end of the spectrum. In fact, the men managing England’s six biggest clubs are arguably as good as any half-dozen ever assembled in any single league at any point in history.Five of the six have won multiple league titles in major European leagues. (The one who hasn’t, Tottenham’s Mauricio Pochettino, finished second in the Premier League last year.) Four of the six have reached the Champions League final and, of course, Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, who coach Manchester City and Manchester United respectively, have both won the biggest prize in club football more than once.That will likely be one of the defining qualities of the 2016-17 season: outsized personalities and storylines on the bench often eclipsing the guys who are actually on the pitch. In many ways, it’s the reverse of what has happened of late at Barcelona and Real Madrid, where the narrative focuses on the superstars.Guardiola, whose arrival in England was as telegraphed and as eagerly anticipated as any manager’s, outshines both his incumbent stars (Kevin De Bruyne, Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany) and his bright young signings (Leroy Sane and John Stones above all). Across town, the same is true of Jose Mourinho even after the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba.Arsene Wenger, the ageless redwood in the North London forest, continues to dominate every sinew at Arsenal in part because his biggest stars (from Mesut Ozil to Alexis Sanchez) are more of the low-key variety. The same could be said in Liverpool: A club defined by outsized icons like Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Luis Suarez is now epitomized by Jurgen Klopp, the gangly, bespectacled coach, more than the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Sadio Mane.After their limp season last year, Chelsea’s Eden Hazard and Cesc Fabregas are edged out of the spotlight by their new, combustible drill sergeant, Antonio Conte. And at White Hart Lane, Dele Alli does have the stuff of superstars — maybe more so than the understated Harry Kane — but he doesn’t even turn 21 until April. So, for now, it really is all about Pochettino, the man who pulls the strings, Poch.It’s not just the big personalities on the bench. It’s the commitment they’ve received from the clubs and the expectations it has generated.Manchester United’s net spend in this transfer window is almost equal to what was spent under Louis Van Gaal (who wasn’t exactly thrifty) in the previous four. (It will come down, of course, provided the club can shift some assets as Mourinho hopes but it’s still a massive and necessary commitment.) The Special One said he wanted four signings and he got them: A one-man wrecking crew (Ibrahimovic), a subtle creator (Henrikh Mkhitaryan), an imposing center-back (Eric Bailly) and the world’s most expensive player (Pogba).City, having already been hard at work Guardiola-izing the club for the past few seasons, have spent more in net terms thus far this summer than ever before. With Stones on board, he has the ball-playing center-back his system demands while Ilkay Gundogan is the creative brain of the operation. Nolito is the unsung hero who gets Pep’s system; Sane and the South American boys (Gabriel Jesus and Marlos Moreno, who’ll start the year elsewhere but can be recalled) are the ones for the future.Liverpool’s net spend is in line with previous seasons but the big difference is the faith shown in Klopp, who was given a monster extension through 2022 less than eight months after arriving at Anfield. Critics point out that Liverpool will once again be too reliant on Daniel Sturrridge’s fitness, which has let him down time and again. But this is where you need the leap of faith. This is the team Klopp wants and these are the players he wants. And if he thinks that a raft of tricky midfielder-forward hybrids (Roberto Firmino, Coutinho, Mane) are what he needs as an alternative to Sturridge, you tend to believe him. At least, the club did with their six years extension.Chelsea’s net spend with Conte at the helm is roughly equal to what they spent in net terms over three seasons with Mourinho. N’Golo Kante stiffens up the midfield, Michy Bathshuayi is an exciting up-and-comer and you get a sense that their transfer business isn’t quite over: there’s a lot of ground to make up after the club’s worst league finish in 20 years.Tottenham are also ahead of previous campaigns in net spending. Pochettino got the dynamic midfielder he wanted (Victor Wanyama) and the legit center-forward to help out Kane (Vincent Janssen). And he got the peace of mind that comes with the huge extension through 2021 he signed in May.At Arsenal, Wenger again marches to the beat of his own drummer. Like last season, his business was both early and minimalist: he’s signed just one significant newcomer but like Petr Cech a year ago, it is a cast-iron starter in Granit Xhaka. That’s how he rolls and he usually finishes above most, though crucially not all, of his high-end peers. Even after two decades and with a one-year contract, you sometimes feel he’s more secure than any of his Premier League colleagues.What all this points to is a greater number of proven, hugely respected and sometimes hero-worshipped managers being given more of the tools to strut their stuff than at any point in recent history. We get to see some of the sharpest minds in the game bring their vision to life. And that’s new and different and to a certain type of fan, it’s more exciting.In some ways, all of this is curious. Because you look back just three months to last season and the team lifting the Premier League trophy, Leicester City, featured a manager who few would describe as visionary, fewer still would see as a long-term choice and possibly nobody at all would call “exciting.” And yet Claudio Ranieri tiptoed into the Leicester job, tweaked a few roles, kept everyone grounded and together and finished ahead of everyone, pulling off perhaps the greatest upset in the history of team sports.But hey, that was just a blip, a quirk of history, Richard III’s body under the parking lot and other supernatural hoodoo, right?Because titles are won, above all, by genius managers with clearly defined philosophies, plenty of “attention to detail” — quick thought: find me a top coach who isn’t described as “detail-oriented” in those familiar, fawning profiles — tons of charisma and, of course, that intangible quality we like to call “a winning mentality.” At least, that’s the thinking in the Premier League this season.We’ve got more of those than ever before. And it’s going to be one heck of a ride, the kind that might well bruise egos and burst reputations.Enjoy every minute.Gabriele Marcotti is a columnist for ESPN FC,  

Riyad Mahrez to stay at Leicester but no contract agreement yet – sources

Leicester City have ruled out selling Riyad Mahrez this month but the Algeria international is yet to commit to a new contract, sources close to the club have told ESPN FC.Mahrez’s future at Leicester has been the subject of speculation this summer with the likes of Arsenal and Chelsea linked with a move for last season’s PFA Player of the Year.Sources have told ESPN FC that Mahrez was open to a move away from Leicester this summer, but the club will not allow him to follow N’Golo Kante in leaving this summer.Foxes boss Claudio Ranieri told Sky Sports News on Wednesday: “Kante had a clause and Chelsea paid it, but Riyad does not have the clause and he will stay with us.”Mahrez has been offered a new long-term deal but the player has so far rejected the club’s advances, although the offer of a new four-year contract remains on the table.A source close to the player told ESPN FC that the 25-year-old attacker, who joined Leicester from Le Havre in 2014, could ask for a release clause to be inserted into his new contract if he is to put pen to paper.Mahrez is set to be in the starting lineup for Leicester’s opening game of the new Premier League season against Hull City this weekend. 

Liverpool look to Coutinho, Sturridge, Firmino and Mane for inspiration

Jurgen Klopp replaced Brendan Rodgers last October and led Liverpool to the League Cup and Europa League final. However, Liverpool’s domestic form suffered, the club finishing a disappointing eighth. With no European football at Anfield, Klopp has fewer distractions this season. Here’s a look ahead to 2016-17.

At a glance

Improvement must be measured by the Reds’ league points total after two seasons of inadvertent focus on cup competitions.

Quick predictions

Premier League: 6th
FA Cup: Fifth round
League Cup: Quarterfinals

Transfer business

Klopp has brought in quite a lot of players and his public utterances certainly portray a man happy with the resources placed at his disposal. Injuries may affect that before Aug. 31, however.Big money has been spent on attack-minded players, an area where Liverpool seemed largely comfortable last season. Their Achilles’ Heel, defence, has been largely ignored and haggling over a quality left-back seems like a false economy.Supporters may feel slightly underwhelmed so far but there are three weeks left in this transfer window to change that. A small net spend in a time of plenty has antagonised some, especially when you see what some of the other clubs are doing and realise how far Liverpool have fallen behind them.A smaller squad for a smaller workload seems to be the club motto, ignoring all the injuries that have hampered Liverpool in recent seasons and those that have already disrupted their preseason plans. Fans still have faith in Klopp’s ability to make a little go a long way but perhaps feel the club might have gone a little stronger in adding quality despite the obvious cost.

Key questions

The physical effort that will be needed to fully implement Klopp’s infamous “gegenpress” is bound to have some physical impact on some of the players. While the reduction in workload that goes with a failure to qualify for Europe will certainly help, it seems as though a consistent first-choice eleven is not even remotely within Klopp’s reach yet.Flexibility is one thing; confusion and not knowing one’s own mind is quite another.There is little doubt about how good some of these players can be because they’ve shown their potential on numerous occasions. Consistency will be key. Too many of them are errant in their passing and also tend to disappear when the going gets tough.Players like Philippe Coutinho, Daniel Sturridge, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane can be lethal on their day and if they can be given the right platform, they can perform to an extremely high standard. The everyday tasks of hard work, defensive organisation and solidity must come from the training ground and may be more indicative of how far Klopp has progressed.Fans will tend to be patient and accepting of tangible improvement. It’s important the team learns to walk before it can run and ill-considered ruminations on Liverpool’s part in the title race will only end in disappointment for those who indulge in them.

Potential pitfalls

Liverpool can be very good — as the 4-0 win against Barcelona amply demonstrated — but they can also be very poor. Consistency will be the main problem.Injury to key players, like the notoriously fragile Sturridge, might hamper any attempt to get a run of decent results going.Liverpool have another potentially sticky start to the season and dropping too many points early on will hamper their season overall, as it has done so many times before.Confusion over formation and where various attack-minded players will fit into it may result in Klopp trying too many things at once to stop any rot that sets in after poor results.Accepting your team probably won’t win the league is one thing. If they couldn’t even get over the lower bar they’ve been set then a refusal to fully invest in the squad will be raked over again and cause further consternation in the ranks.

One to watch

Emre Can has spoken about “leadership” on the pitch and at the beginning of his third season at Anfield many will want to see a promising talent deliver with actions rather than words.He’s been very flattering towards the manager and on how much he personally is learning but with Liverpool having so many attacking players the burden of midfield work rate will fall on him and perhaps Jordan Henderson.He was given a place in Germany’s Euro 2016 semifinal team against France but was disappointing and removed from the field after an hour. It was a sign of his potential that he was trusted with such a key role but that confidence wasn’t vindicated.If Klopp intends to place further responsibility on his countryman at club level it’s vital that Can meets the challenge. After selling Joe Allen and with rumours of Lucas Leiva leaving too, there aren’t many other options left.Steven Kelly is one of ESPN FC’s Liverpool bloggers. Follow him on Twitter@SteKelly198586.

Antonio Conte must restore Chelsea to Champions League after dire

Chelsea’s title defence in 2015-16 was the worst in Premier League history, the Blues eventually finishing 10th following a wretched season.Antonio Conte has been charged with getting them back on track. Here’s a look ahead to Chelsea’s 2016-17 campaign.

At a glance

Another season, another high-flying manager in the Stamford Bridge hot-seat trying to satisfy Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich’s unquenchable thirst for silverware.

Quick predictions

Premier League: 3rd
FA Cup: Winners
League Cup: Quarterfinals

Transfer business

The swift signing of Leicester City midfield dynamo N’Golo Kante for £30 million is one of the best pieces of transfer business done by any Premier League club this summer, but Chelsea’s failure to bolster their defence in time for the start of the new campaign could be a problem as Conte is forced to rely on a backline which underperformed badly last season.Since the Italian was appointed in April, there has been plenty of speculation specifically regarding centre-backs, but with long-term target John Stones signing for Manchester City and little progress made elsewhere, the Chelsea board’s hit-and-miss negotiating skills for targets are hamstringing their lofty ambitions.Further evidence of haphazardness and the Blues’ glaring inability to prioritise player requirements has come this summer in the form of comparatively unknown striker Michy Batshuayi. Spending £33m seemed a lot of money to pay for the 22-year-old Belgium international, who will be vying for a place up front with Diego Costa and Bertrand Traore. Of course, should he fire Chelsea to glory then Batshuayi could prove to be a shrewd acquisition, but there’s no guarantee — which goes some way to explaining the club’s ongoing pursuit of Romelu Lukaku.Lukaku’s return to the Bridge for an astronomical fee likely to be more than double the £28m received from Everton for his services two years ago would see critics pour scorn on the club’s transfer strategy (if indeed there is one) particularly if they fail to bring in a much-needed world class defender and Chelsea suffer as a result.

Key questions

The Premier League has never been as competitive. Last season, Leicester City and Tottenham broke the traditional top four mould which regularly comprised Chelsea, Manchester United, Manchester City and Arsenal. The Blues finished a calamitous 10th, and the key question is whether Conte can propel the club back up the table.Without hesitation the answer has to be yes — for the sake of job security he has to — but how far, and what is deemed acceptable, is open to conjecture. Champions League qualification as a minimum will be the primary objective, but it won’t be easy.The pressure to succeed will be intense. The Italian is clearly a passionate man with a temperament that could combust in the heat of the moment. Questionable refereeing decisions, a dressing room with a reputation for stroppiness when things aren’t going right and the close scrutiny of Abramovich could make for an incandescent cocktail — how will Conte cope with these potential challenges?The first three months of the season are going to be critical. A decent start will breed confidence and belief that Conte can restore Chelsea’s fortunes. Abramovich is clearly prepared to back his new manager in the transfer market, but time is getting tight before the summer window closes.At present, there is the real possibility the Blues will commence the campaign with the same backline of Cesar Azpilicueta, Branislav Ivanovic, John Terry and Gary Cahill that was exposed time and again at the start of last season. How will they fare this time around? With quality defensive reinforcements nowhere in sight, it has to be a worry.

Potential pitfalls

The main obstacle Chelsea face is the same every season. Abramovich’s unbridled impatience and expectation of success has ensured the procession of managers he has hired since he bought the club in 2003 have had little time to get things right. If Conte endures a poor start, his reign as boss could be over in the blink of an eye.A lack of European competition could prove problematic. Historically, the group stage games have provided an even mix of feeble opposition, thereby providing the opportunity for the manager to rotate lineups and interchange tactics. Kurt Zouma is the primary recent example of a squad player whose path to Chelsea’s first team was expedited via sterling performances in the Champions League.

One to watch

Will 2016/17 finally be the campaign when a product of Chelsea’s academy breaks through to provide the first established, regular homegrown player since John Terry imposed himself on the first team? Earlier this year, opportunities came the way of midfielder Ruben Loftus-Cheek and striker Bertrand Traore and both players featured regularly in Conte’s early preseason lineups.With the Italian seemingly looking to convert Loftus-Cheek into a forward, the 20-year old will be in competition not only with Traore, also 20, but big money summer acquisition Batshuayi and possibly Diego Costa should he remain at the Bridge or indeed Lukaku should he return.Even playing with two up front, with a lack of European competition, game-time for the youngsters is likely to be limited, meaning the academy players’ dreams will remain frustratingly unfulfilled.Batshuayi, whose 17 Ligue 1 goals for Marseille last season propelled him into the limelight, has a couple of years’ experience over Loftus-Cheek and Traore and will undoubtedly benefit from playing in front of international teammate Eden Hazard.If Chelsea make a positive start to the campaign and Batshuayi finds the net regularly, it’s hard to see Conte chopping and changing his team — with the exception of injuries, there would be no reason to do so. It’s a fantastic opportunity for the Belgian, who appears to have settled in well and looks ideally suited both in temperament and physique to cope with the rigours of the Premier League.Mark Worrall is one of ESPN FC’s 

Tottenham must balance Premier League with European commitments

It was a sour end to last season for Tottenham. A 5-1 humiliation at relegated Newcastle meant Spurs were overtaken for second by arch rivals Arsenal, but with a new season comes renewed optimism.It’s the final campaign at White Hart Lane and with Champions League football on the agenda, boss Mauricio Pochettino will have to balance matters in Europe with his side’s exploits in the Premier League.Here’s a look ahead to Spurs’ 2016-17 …

At a glance

Tottenham are back in the Champions League but must also aim to finish in the top four of the Premier League again to keep their seat at Europe’s top table — competition will be fierce.

Premier League: 4th
FA Cup: Fifth round
League Cup: Quarterfinals
Champions League: Quarterfinals

Transfer business

Sensible business has been done so far. The priority has been to strengthen the squad, securing quality cover for Harry Kane and Eric Dier and closing the gap between Tottenham’s strongest line-up and second-string side. Vincent Janssen and Victor Wanyama tick the boxes and have already shown enticing glimpses of what they can offer.The powerful Wanyama strode forward to win the ball in opposition territory and set up a goal for Erik Lamela in the friendly against Juventus, while Janssen found the net while also setting up Dele Alli’s strike in the 6-1 victory over Inter Milan.Spurs seemed set to complete a deal for Marseille winger Georges-Kevin N’Koudou too, but that is on hold and it is unclear whether he would be much better than last summer’s recruit Clinton Njie.Mauricio Pochettino has stated he does not intend to replace the experienced but pedestrian centre-back Federico Fazio and while some may wonder what Alex Pritchard could have offered if he had ever been given a real chance before his move to Norwich, Tottenham have nonetheless banked £8 million for one of their academy products.

Key questions

Can Spurs maintain their progress in the Premier League and even replicate last season’s title challenge and also make the most of their Champions League adventure? Meanwhile, it also remains to be seen how much importance Pochettino will attach to the domestic cup competitions, which remain the club’s best chances of winning a trophy.How will their internationals react to what was, with the exception of Wales’ Ben Davies, a generally disappointing and even, in some cases, a painful Euro 2016? The answer looked positive in the 6-1 victory over Inter, when Kane struck twice and Alli was also on target.Squad rotation will also be more important than ever, and Spurs’ reserves — including some of last season’s signings — will need to consistently step up to the plate and prove they belong at a club with Tottenham’s status and ambitions.Can Son Heung-Min and Kieran Trippier be fully trusted and what can Njie offer? Can Ryan Mason silence his critics and does Tom Carroll have a part to play? Will there be a chance for more academy players to step up to the first team this season and, if so, who will be chosen?

Potential pitfalls

Last season, Tottenham took advantage of the fact that most of their Premier League rivals slipped up at the same time and endured disappointing campaigns. If they all get their acts together this time, Spurs’ task will be much tougher.The north Londoners must also start without the influential Mousa Dembele, who will miss the first four domestic games due a ban carried over from the end of last term; the Belgian has not played at all during preseason, either, so might be lacking match practise when he returns.Meanwhile, after waiting for five-and-a-half years to get back into the Champions League, Tottenham will play home games at Wembley instead of White Hart Lane, which may negate some of the benefits of “home” advantage. It would certainly be a shame if that factor undermines their ability to produce their best form and progress in the competition.Spurs now have cover for Kane and so are less reliant on him than they were last season, but the Golden Boot winner last season is still a key man and he has not had a full summer off for two years. He looked tired at Euro 2016 and fatigue may become a factor.

One to watch

Cameron Carter-Vickers was the only academy player to start the final preseason friendly against Inter and it seems the 18-year-old centre-back may get the chance to be Toby Alderweireld’s understudy. His first start could come in the third round of the League Cup in September.Meanwhile, Josh Onomah will hope for further opportunities after making 19 first-team appearances last season, while Harry Winks looks ready for a step up to senior level. There is a lot of excitement about 17-year-old attacking midfielder Marcus Edwards and 19-year-old striker Shayon Harrison scored against Inter just after coming on. 

USMNT PLAYERS IN EUROPE 2016-17

AUGUST 8, 2016 By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Aug 8, 2016) US Soccer Players – It’s time for the seasons to start in Europe. In the coming weeks, all of the major leagues return to action. In the mix in England and Germany are several high-profile American players. Coming off of the Copa Centenario run earlier this summer, some of those players are looking for time. Some are in new situations. All are looking to grab headlines over the next nine months. Whether it’s playing for silverware or avoiding relegation, there are opportunities for American soccer players.The number of Americans playing in the Premier League has fallen in recent years. Players opt to return or stay in Major League Soccer. The appeal of seasons under the glare of the EPL isn’t what it was. Credit the growth of MLS, the rise in salaries, and wanting to play in front of American fans. The choice is tougher now than it was for players with options. Meanwhile, the Bundesliga has turned into a major source of talent for the USMNT.With the start of another European club season upon us, here are five Americans to keep an eye on:

Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough – Premier League)

Aston Villa now plays in the Championship. Their goalkeeper for the last eight seasons isn’t making the drop with them. Guzan moved on. The 31-year-old goalkeeper was the US’s starter at the Copa Centenario. He had a phenomenal tournament, helping lead the Americans to a fourth-place finish.This season, Guzan gets a new start, but he’s not the starter. He’ll have to show manager Aitor Karanka that he’s the one who should get the job against real competition. Goalkeeper is a position where Middlesbrough has a lot of depth. Guzan will have to compete with former Barcelona ‘keeper Victor Valdes, last season’s starter Dimi Konstantopoulos, and Tomas Mejias.Middlesbrough loaded up on goalkeepers for their promotion season. They’ll spend the next few months trying to show the difference between fighting off relegation and slotting comfortably into the middle of the table.

John Brooks (Hertha BSC – Bundesliga)

The towering defender was a big reason why the US backline was so stingy at the recent Copa Centenario. He’s developed into one of the Bundesliga’s top defenders at 6-foot-4 also one of its more imposing. Last season, the center back played in 23 league games, scoring one goal.It’s easy to forget that Brooks is only 23. He’s proven that he can handle the pressure of big international tournaments, but he still needs to show that he can make an impact at the club level.  Brooks’ Copa performance has drawn interest from other clubs. Hertha’s recent preliminary-round Europa League elimination is fueling speculation Brooks may get a transfer deal.

Matt Miazga (Chelsea – Premier League)

The former New York Red Bulls defender will play his first full season at Chelsea. His move to the London club last January was a sign that Major League Soccer is developing elite talent. While Chelsea had its troubles last season, the 21-year-old Miazga was able to play in two games under interim coach Guus Hiddink.This season, Chelsea has a new manager in Antonio Conte. Miazga will need to show him that he belongs on the roster. While Conte continues to assess which players he will start or bench, the former Italy coach has hinted that Miazga could be sent out on loan this season.

Julian Green (Bayern Munich – Bundesliga)

Once praised as the next American superstar, Greene, at 21, remains a work in progress. He is a member of Bayern Munich but has never played for them in a Bundesliga match. Instead, he has spent his time since 2014 either on loan with Hamburger SV or with Bayern’s second team.While Green regularly trains with the first team, he will need to get playing time if he wants to advance his career. His recent hat trick in the International Champions Cup against Inter Milan showed that Green can shine when he needs to. After all, he did score a goal for the United States at the 2014 World Cup against Belgium. Only time will tell if the promising striker gets some real minutes at Bayern or somewhere else this season.

Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund – Bundesliga)

Another highly touted American prospect, Pulisic is even younger than Green. Last season, Pulisic joined Dortmund’s first team. He scored two twice in nine games. His first goal came against Bayer Leverkusen (at age 17 and 212 days), making him the youngest non-German to score a Bundesliga goal.Pulisic has done a great job taking advantage of the players surrounding him. The midfielder earned a call-up to the USA’s Copa America roster, something that certainly helped him grow as a player. He also scored against Manchester City in the recent International Champions Cup. His hope is to be a bigger part of a bulked-up Dortmund team that wants to compete with Bayern Munich for the league title.Based in New York City, Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players.

 Is Alejandro Bedoya “worth it?” Recent U.S. players’ moves to MLS suggest so

When Alejandro Bedoya signed with the Philadelphia Union last week, the reaction to the financial details was wide-ranging. Some viewed the $1 million transfer fee and $1 million annual salary as a steal for a two-way player who has become a U.S. national team mainstay. Others thought Philadelphia (and, by extension, the league) had paid too much for a 29-year-old midfielder who hasn’t been a prolific goal scorer during his career.Such difference of opinion is usually an indication that the deal was fair, but it also made for an interesting comparison to other U.S. internationals who have come to MLS after spending considerable time in Europe.Over the past three years, some of the biggest names on the U.S. national team have made precisely that move. Clint Dempsey opened the tap back in 2013 when he moved from Tottenham Hotspur to the Seattle Sounders. Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard have since signed with MLS teams, as have others. Along the way, MLS has shelled out some hefty sums for these players either in transfer fees, salaries or both.Back in 2013, the Dempsey deal involved a reported $9 million transfer fee, and while the salary numbers published by the MLS Players Union have some wiggle room, they do show that Dempsey has so far averaged over $5.2 million in annual compensation. Bradley has earned $6.5 million per year while garnering a transfer fee of $10m for his 2014 transfer from AS Roma.Lately, the cost required to bring U.S. players to MLS seems to be lessening, though each deal has its own unique set of circumstances, and those moving parts impact any assessment of value both on and off the field. There’s the age of the player and his position on the field, of course, as well as his off-field impact in terms of marketing, jersey sales and more. And does one consider just the player’s salary cap hit of $457,500 for Designated Players, or the total cash outlay instead?Out of the U.S. internationals to move to MLS in the past three years, Dempsey has provided the highest level of return. While the Sounders have failed to win an MLS Cup, they have claimed two trophies during his time there. And while reports surfaced that Dempsey had fallen out with now-former manager Sigi Schmid, the forward has done his part on the field, scoring 35 goals in 74 league and playoff appearances. He has also been at or near the top in terms of jersey sales for the past three seasons, thus adding to the club’s bottom line.A case can be made that Jones has provided good value as well, especially after seeing his salary reduced from $3.05m in 2015 to $650,000 this year. Though injuries have limited his playing time over nearly three MLS seasons, his presence on the field has proved immense; his teams have gone a combined 24-7-11 during that span.Jones’ Colorado teammate, Tim Howard, has been mostly impressive since arriving in July, but it’s still too early to tell if he’ll be able to justify his $2.57m salary. That said, his signing helped drive a three-year extension of Colorado’s jersey sponsorship agreement with Transamerica.Altidore, meanwhile, has yet to fully justify the cost of his 2015 transfer from Sunderland. Hamstring injuries have limited his time on the field, though he’s actually logged more minutes over the last two seasons than Jones. The difference is that Jones arrived on a free transfer while Altidore cost around $10m in a cash-plus-swap deal for Jermain Defoe. That said, when he’s been on the field, Altidore has been effective, tallying 15 goals in 37 appearances. His holdup play this year has been impressive as well. If Altidore can stay healthy, he may yet fulfill the high expectations that accompanied his move.Bradley’s value might be the toughest to quantify. Toronto FC have without question been better since his arrival, though Sebastian Giovinco’s presence has been a bigger factor. Bradley has also been more effective since adopting more of a deep-lying role earlier this year. But is $6.5m per year really what should be spent on a holding midfielder?The amount seems steep, though timing did play a part in the outlay; MLS had to overpay in order to entice him and Dempsey to return to North America. If TFC can make a deep playoff run with Bradley orchestrating things from deep, it’s doubtful any Toronto fans will begrudge him for his salary.That still leaves Dempsey atop the “value-meter” of returning U.S. internationals, yet there is an unheralded player, relatively speaking, who is challenging his position: New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan.When the former Anderlecht midfielder arrived prior to the 2015 campaign, he was looked upon as nothing more than a solid addition, even as his national team prospects evaporated. But Kljestan is in the midst of his second straight impressive season with the Red Bulls, with his five goals and a league-leading 13 assists seeing him creep into MVP conversations. Such performances stand in stark contrast to another midfielder playing in New York, NYC FC’s Mix Diskerud, whose career looks to be in limbo due in no small part to his annual salary of just over $750,000.While Kljestan’s transfer fee to Anderlecht remains undisclosed, his salary is costing the Red Bulls a relatively modest $687,500 per year. That counts as a fine bit of business by GM Ali Curtis.As for Bedoya, it remains to be seen precisely what role he’ll play in manager Jim Curtin’s lineup. But Union fans will gladly take anything approaching Kljestan’s numbers. If that’s the case, there will be no argument as to whether Bedoya has been worth the money.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

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8/8/16 US Ladies Win + Advance Tues vs Col 6 pm NBCSN, Brazil must win Wed 9 pm, Indy 11 win moves to NASL Top, EPL kicks off Sat., EUFA Supercup Real Madrid vs Sevilla Tues 2:45 pm, TV games

The US Ladies and midfielder Carli Lloyd did it again as she Tobin Heath and the US Ladies as they squeezed past France 1-0 in their second group G stage game and secured advancement to the next round.  GK Hope Solo however was really the story of the day as she faced a barrage of boos, Zica Calls, and of shots especially in the 1st half as she made more than 3 incredible saves in the game – securing the US advancement.  Look for the US to get some new players on the field in their 3rd and final group stage match Tuesday night at 6 pm on NBCSN vs Columbia, including probably the coming off injury Midfielder Megan Rapino, as they have already secured 1st place in the group.  (See complete stories and Group Standings below). Quarterfinals start with US Friday at Noon on NBCSN.   Hard to believe how bad the Brazilian men are playing with 2 0-0 ties in their first 2 games against not very good teams.  Its do or die vs Denmark on Wed night 9 pm for Brazil on NBCSN before the Quarters this Sat.

The Indy 11 continue to find ways to win games late this time a Don Smart goal in the 93rd minute at home at the Jake on Saturday night as over 7K looked on.  The exciting 1-0 win over Ottowa swings the Eleven back to first overall in the NASL Standings.  This Sat night the 11 host OKC at the Mike at 7:30 pm and TV8 – come on out for $11 tickets and Indy’s top team!!

The EPL got off to a roaring start with a great match between Man U and last season’s miracle winners Leciester City in the Community Shield Match Sun at Wembley.  I thought both teams showed positives in what was a very even match.  Leciester showed they probably aren’t going to be a 1 season wonder and Man U – showed they need a little more (see Pogba) but that they are going to make a legit run for the top 4.  Can’t wait for the season to kick of this weekend with 6 or 7 legit contenders – Leceister City, Tottenham, Aresenal, Man City, Man U, Liverpool, Chelsea – new coaches in Conte, Mournho, Pep, Klopp – and all the new signings – this squares up to be one of the most competitive EPL season in years.  Games start Sat with Leciester traveling to Hull City at 7:30 am on CNBC and Man City hosting Sunderland at 12:30 on CNBC.  Sunday has Arsenal vs Liverpool at 11 am on NBCSN and the German supercup Bayern vs Dortmund at 2:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.

GAMES of the Week TV

See the Complete TV Schedule online www.theoleballcoach.com

Tues Aug 9 Olympic Soccer – Women 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1             Real Madrid vs Sevilla UEFA Supercup 

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra        Germany vs Canada

6 pm NBCSN                         Colombia vs USA Women

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                   China vs Sweden

Wed Aug 10 Olympic Soccer – Men 

12 pm Telemundo                            Argentina vs Honduras

9 pm NBCSN                                          Denmark vs Brazil

Fri, Aug 12                                              

Quarterfinals Olympic Women

12 pm NBCSN             1G vs  3E   USA vs ???

3 pm  MSNBC                                         2F vs 2F

6 pm CNBC                                              1F vs 2G

9 pm NBCSN                                           1 E vs 3F    Brazil vs?                                                  

Sat, Aug 13                                              EPL Season Starts

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

Quarterfinals Olympic men         12, 3, 6, 9

Sun, Aug 14

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

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

See the Complete TV Schedule online www.theoleballcoach.com

USA

US Ladies squeeze by France 1-0

Fans chant “Zika” at Hope Solo again, but Solo gets last word in shutout

US Lloyd Strikes Again – Solo taunted as US beats France

US Seizes Control of Group G with 1-0 win over France

US and Brazil advance with victories

Tobinya –is Tobin Heath really Brazilian?

Tobin Heath a Gif machine

Tobin on YouTube      Again some Tobinya

Ladies Group Tables

Men’s Wrap-up

Group Tables – MEN

Nigeria writes Olympic Tale to Remember – SI – Grant Wahl

US probably will play Friday at 12 noon – on NBCSN.

INDY 11

3 things Indy 11 win over Ott

Indy 11 win 1-0

Indy 11  back on top of NASL with last second winner – full Recap of weekend

NASL Full Standings

EPL and WORLD

Premier League Previews – ESPN FC  (see more EPL previews in last week’s write-up)

Trending World

Ibra Helps Man U earn Community Shield late

Community Shield no predictor of League Success- Gab Marcotti ESPNF

Pogba Arrives to Man U Finally

Man U needs Pogba – Ian Macintosh

Leciester Impress despite close loss

Pep faces biggest Challenge at Man City

Man city not Ready under Pep

Juve will be Fine without Pogba

UEFA Snubs Messi and Suarez for Player of Year Award

MLS

Dempsey turns hat trick in win at Orlando

Best of the Week MLS Week 22

Week 22 Hi Lights

GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Tues Aug 9 Olympic Soccer – Women 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Real Madrid vs Sevilla UEFA Supercup

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra        Germany vs Canada

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra         Australia vs Zimbabwe

6 pm NBCSN                         Colombia vs USA

6 pm                                                            New Zealand vs France

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                   South Africa vs Brazil

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                   China vs Sweden

Wed Aug 10 Olympic Soccer – Men 

12 pm NBC Sports Extra                 Algeria vs Portugal

12 pm Telemundo                            Argentina vs Honduras

3 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Germany vs Fiji

3 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Korea Republic vs Mexico

6 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Japan vs Sweden

6 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Colombia vs Nigeria

9 pm NBCSN                                          Denmark vs Brazil

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                    South Africa vs Iraq

Fri, Aug 12                                               France Legue 1 starts

2 pm beIn Sports                                Bastia vs PSG

Quarterfinals Olympic Women

12 pm NBCSN                                        1G vs  3E  USA?? 

3 pm  MSNBC                                         2F vs 2F

6 pm CNBC                                              1F vs 2G

9 pm NBCSN                                           1 E vs 3F

Sat, Aug 13                                              EPL Season Starts

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

Quarterfinals Olympic men        12, 3, 6, 9

7:30 pm Tv8+ESPN3           Indy 11 vs OKC

Sun, Aug 14

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

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                              Seattle Sounders hosts Real Salt Lake

Tues, Aug 16 

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Women (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals Women (final 4)

Weds, Aug 17 

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Man (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals men (final 4)

Fri, Aug 19                                               

12 noon MSNBC                                   Women’s Olympics 3rd place game

2:30 pm USA Net                                Man United vs Southhampton

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Women’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

Sat, Aug 20                                            

7:30 a.m., NBCSN                                Stoke City vs. Man City 
10:00 a.m., NBC Live Extra           Tottenham vs Crystal Palace, Burnley vs Liverpool, Chelsea vs. Watford
12 noon NBCSN                                    men’s Olympics 3rd place game

12:30 p.m., CNBC:                             Leciester City vs Arsenal

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Men’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

7:30 pm ESPN3                    Indy 11 @ Carolina

Sun, Aug 21

8:30 a.m., NBCSN:                              Sunderland vs Middlesborough
11:00 a.m., CNBC
                               West Ham vs Bournemouth

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

9:30 pm  Fox Sport 1                       Seattle Sounders host Portland – CASCADIA CUP 2!

Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 AM NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2:                 Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus:         Hamburg SV vs. Ingolstadt

12:30 pm  NBC                                     Hull City vs Man United
12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Sun, Aug 28

9:30 a.m Fox Sport1                         Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs West Ham

2 pm ???                                                   Ottawa vs Indy 11

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                               Orlando City vs NYCFC

Soccer Olympics Schedule

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

Lloyd strikes again, Solo taunted again as U.S. advances to knockout round

joelagoyahoo Sat, Aug 6 3:20 PM PDT

RIO DE JANEIRO — Hope Solo keeps getting taunted by loud choruses of “Zika!” by grudge-holding Brazilians, Carli Lloyd can’t stop scoring and the United States Women’s National Team keeps winning soccer games.That familiar tale pretty much told the story of the top-ranked Americans’ 1-0 victory over No. 3 France in Saturday’s showdown at the Rio Olympics.The U.S. needed Lloyd’s 63rd-minute winner and Solo’s clutch goalkeeping for her 102nd career shutout to take over the top spot of Group G and lock up a spot in the knockout stage of the 12-team tournament by virtue of New Zealand’s 1-0 triumph over Colombia. The world champion Americans are now 16-0-1 on the year.Solo, making her 200th appearance in the U.S. national team shirt., was berated again and again by fans at Estadio Mineirao in Belo Horizonte, Brazil, for tweeting pictures of her bug repellent arsenal to remain Zika-free. But the 35-year-old star goalie did not let the Zika chants get to her, recording six saves including some big stops late as the French pushed for the tying goal.The U.S. plays Colombia in its final group game on Tuesday in Manaus, the same Amazonian city where the American men faced Portugal in a 2-2 draw during the 2014 World Cup group stage. American coach Jill Ellis will have the luxury of resting some players with her team facing its third game in nine days.Lloyd, the reigning Ballon d’Or winner as the best player in the women’s game, deservedly continues to get plenty of credit for the U.S.’s success. She scored again for her 11th goal of the season after getting the opener in a 2-0 win over New Zealand on Wednesday. But Lloyd has Tobin Heath to thank for the match winner.Heath blasted a shot at goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, who pushed the ball away but had it ricochet off the near post and right to Lloyd for the 1-0 USA lead.The U.S. boasted 52 percent of the possession at halftime, but the shots tally was a better indication of how the first half went. The French outshot the Americans 8-1, putting three on goal to the U.S.’s zero. Solo had three saves, the most important coming in the 41st minute.Marie-Laure Delie had Solo one-on-one after being played into the right side of the penalty area. However, Solo stopped the point-blank attempt by Delie to keep the game scoreless.olo was also lucky. In the 73rd minute, a ball into the box just missed defender Wendie Renard for a flick header and bounded dangerously past the far post. Then in the 78th, Delie had space to unleash a right-footed blast that Solo had trouble corralling. But no French player was close enough to pounce on the rebound.

Like many things, chants get better with practice. Especially coordinated chants. And, apparently, especially Brazilian chants taunting U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo.Brazilian fans booed Solo and hurled “Zika!” chants at her during the Americans’ opener against New Zealand. Those chants were amplified, more in tune and more consistent in the U.S. Women’s National Team’s second group game against France, a 1-0 win.  Solo, who was making her 200th appearance for the U.S., had the last laugh though. She made multiple crucial saves in the U.S.’s 1-0 victory over France. The best came right before halftime, with the game at 0-0 and the French putting real pressure on the U.S.  Even as she repelled shot after shot on Saturday, the chants continued, and were more noticeable than they were Wednesday. Every time Solo had time with the ball, or set up to take a goal kick, the fans began a crescendoing chorus of whistles and roars. And then at the exact moment Solo sent the ball upfield… “ZIIIIKAAAA!”The “Zika” chants take after a global soccer tradition of fans yelling insults at goalkeepers as they prepare to take goal kicks. Many Mexican fans, and other fans of Central and South American teams, infamously yell a gay slur, despite repeated calls for them to stop.These “Zika” chants seem a little more lighthearted. Solo is taking them in the right way too. ”I’m glad the fans had fun,” Solo said Thursday. ”And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them.”

Tobin Heath, USA’s GIF machine, is winning fans in soccer-mad Brazil

She hasn’t scored for USA yet, but Tobin Heath is gaining fans with her Olympic play reminiscent of Brazilian soccer legend Ronaldinho.

GRANT WAHLSunday August 7th, 2016

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — She is the most GIF-able player in U.S. women’s soccer history, and now her beloved second country, Brazil, is catching on. A revealing thing happened on Saturday as midfielder Tobin Heath did “Tobin Heath Things” during the second half of the U.S.’s 1–0 win over France.  According to GoogleTrends, searches in Brazil for “Tobin Heath” spiked to 10 times their previous level after Heath put on a show starting in the 63rd minute.Not only did Heath break through to fire the shot that bounced off the post and led to Carli Lloyd’s game-winning goal, but the player whose teammates call her “Tobinha” also brought a little samba to the Estádio Mineirão turf in the final minutes of the victory.Deep in the corner and with two defenders advancing on her, Heath turned on the GIF machine, moving one way before flicking the ball behind her in the opposite direction and then dinking the ball back in the original direction over the defenders to teammate Meghan Klingenberg. It was a classic game of Brazilian keep-away, and it ran some time off the clock, too.

The Brazilian crowd roared in delight. And as Brazilians at home typed into their search engines, the local journalists here were smitten. In the press conference afterward, a reporter from Globo Esportes said to U.S. coach Jill Ellis: “I want you to talk a little about Tobin Heath. Her way of play, it’s very similar to Brazilian players.”Ellis smiled. “I think Tobin has a desire to be a Brazilian,” she said. “I think she’s always loved this country, been infatuated with it. I remember as a young player she came down here, and I always remember her wearing Brazilian flip-flops when she was a youth player. She loves the ball, and she’s very talented on it as you saw tonight.”There was something appropriate about Heath’s exploits taking place at the Mineirão. Her favorite Brazilian player of all time, Ronaldinho, led Atlético Mineiro to its greatest moment in club history on this field on a night like this one almost exactly three years ago. Ronaldinho won the Copa Libertadores that night with his team, and Heath flashed a grin when told about it by a Brazilian journalist.“I was always inspired by Brazilian football growing up,” Heath said. “Those huge Nike campaigns, the Jogo Bonito campaigns that had Ronaldinho, that’s the beauty of the game that I love.”Growing up in Basking Ridge, N.J., Heath would always be noodling by herself on moves with the ball, in the same way that a promising guitarist would work on perfecting guitar licks. One of them was Ronaldinho’s famous elástico, which Heath turned into her own GIF on an assist against Mexico last year.“Ronaldinho is the best,” Heath said when asked by the Brazilian media on Saturday. “I just like the joy and the love he has when he plays, it just shines for everyone else to see. He always does something nobody expects him to do. I think that’s really cool, that creativity you don’t find anywhere else. I think he inspired not just me but your country as well and the style that you guys want to play. That’s why he’s my favorite.”There were plenty of reasons the U.S. turned things around in the second half on Saturday and overcame a French team that had dominated the first half. Goalkeeper Hope Solo made the most of her 200th cap and stonewalled Marie-Laure Delie when Delie was in alone on Solo late in the first half. Lloyd knew exactly where to be to score her second goal in as many games in this tournament. And Whitney Engen, who learned a few hours before gametime that she’d be making her first start in a major tournament, filled in admirably for the injured Julie Johnston.But Heath is the U.S. player who’s breaking out more than any other in these Olympics. She was terrific in the opener too, a 2–0 win over New Zealand, providing the assist on Lloyd’s goal in that game. To hear Heath say it, she feels extremely comfortable with the changes that have been made to the U.S. attack in the past year.“I’m enjoying playing with the team in the style that we’re playing,” said Heath, 28. “As I’ve gotten older, I’ve been given more responsibility. I think I’ve grown into that. Also I like the players I’m playing around. We’ve got a good connection and understanding. The philosophy of this team has changed a little bit too in the style of play that we’re trying to do. So now I think it suits me.”Now what would be really cool is if Heath got to meet up with Ronaldinho at some point during the Olympics. Who knows? He might have been one of all those Brazilians Googling her on Saturday night.

Lloyd, Marta lead USA, Brazil into last eight in Rio

Kieran Canning,AFP Sat, Aug 6 9:42 PM PDT United States kept their quest for fourth straight women’s football gold firmly on track when captain Carli Lloyd ensured a 1-0 victory over France to qualify for the quarter-finals.Brazil are also into the last eight as, inspired by a near 60,000 capacity crowd at the Rio Olympic Stadium and two goals from five-time world player of the year Marta, they thrashed Sweden 5-1.The United States are now unbeaten in 13 Olympic matches and, a year on from scoring a hat-trick in the World Cup final, Lloyd has once again been the United States’ inspiration in Brazil.After netting the US opener in a 2-0 win against New Zealand on Wednesday, she slotted home the only goal in Belo Horizonte after Tobin Heath’s initial effort came back off the post.The US team are assured of their place in the knockout rounds as at least one of the two best third-placed sides, but can secure top spot in Group H with just a point against Colombia on Tuesday.France had impressed in thrashing Colombia 4-0 in their opening game and had the better of the first 45 minutes.However, American keeper Hope Solo made a huge save to deny Marie Laure Delie on her 200th international appearance.The world champions improved after the break and were rewarded when Lloyd was characteristically in the right place at the right time to score her 90th international goal.New Zealand beat Colombia 1-0 in the other game in the Group to move level with France on three points.In contrast to their male counterparts, who stumbled 0-0 against South Africa under the pressure to deliver Brazil’s first Olympic football gold, the hosts’ women have been the most impressive side in the tournament.”Initially the pressure was all about performing well and promoting women’s football,” said Brazil coach Vadao.”Now we have played so well the pressure changes because people’s expectations rise, so we will face a different pressure now.”Fresh from brushing off China 3-0 in their opener, Brazil tore Sweden apart to go in 3-0 up at the break.Beatriz nipped in ahead of Sweden ‘keeper Hadvig Lindahl for the opener, before Cristiane extended her record as all-time top scorer in the Olympics with her 14th goal in her fourth Games.Marta played against the country where she has played club football for the past four years, just 24 hours after carrying the Olympic flag into the Maracana during the opening ceremony.However, she looked far from jaded as she converted Brazil’s third from the penalty spot before doubling her tally with a fantastic finish 10 minutes from time.Beatriz curled home her second six minutes later before Lotta Schelin netted a consolation goal for Sweden.  Tan Ruyin scored with a sensational dipping drive from over 40 yards out as China moved into second in Group E with a 2-0 win over South Africa.  Canada are also through to the knockout stages after sealing their second win in as many games against tournament debutants Zimbabwe 3-1 in Sao Paulo.Janine Beckie scored twice, whilst veteran striker Christine Sinclair scored her 163rd international goal from the penalty spot.Two-time world champions Germany came back from 2-0 down against Australia to move into second in Group F.The Matildas looked set to bounce back from their opening 2-0 defeat to Canada thanks to first-half goals from Samantha Kerr and Caitlin Foord.However, Sara Daebritz pulled a goal back immediately and Saskia Bartusiak snatched a point two minutes from time.

USA SEIZES CONTROL OF GROUP G WITH 1-0 WIN VS. FRANCE AT 2016 OLYMPICS

LLOYD SCORES 63RD MINUTE GAME-WINNER AS USA POSTS SECOND STRAIGHT OLYMPIC CLEAN SHEET; USA FINISHES GROUP G PLAY AT 2016 OLYMPICS ON AUG. 9 VS. COLOMBIA IN MANAUS WNT Aug 6, 2016

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil (Aug. 6, 2016) – The U.S. Women’s National Team took control of Group G with a 1-0 defeat of France thanks to Carli Lloyd’s 63rd minute game-winning goal and another strong defensive performance at Mineirão Stadium in its second match of the 2016 Olympic Games. In a battle between the two favorites to advance from Group G, the USA edged France on Lloyd’s opportunistic goal that was a product of a nice bit of offensive play from the U.S. that culminated in Tobin Heath’s shot being saved and then rebounding off the left post into Lloyd’s path and the FIFA World Player of the Year made no mistake in putting the chance away to give the USA an important three points.  Defensively, the USA was solid again as Whitney Engen made her Olympic debut in place of the injured Julie Johnston who was held out to protect a sore groin. Engen and the defense kept France from creating much from the run of play, but when Les Bleues did break through, U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, who earned her 200th cap today, was on hand to make a range of crucial saves throughout the match. The USA now leads Group G (2-0-0; 6pts) with France (1-1-0; 3pts) in second place, although, New Zealand (0-1-0; 0pts) and Colombia (0-1-0; 0pts) play later tonight. The USA could qualify for the tournament Quarterfinals depending on the result of the day’s later game between New Zealand and Colombia. A New Zealand win or draw between the Football Ferns and Colombia would send the U.S. through to the next round. The U.S. will finish group play vs. Colombia on Tuesday at Amazônia Arena in Manaus (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBC Universo).

Goal Scoring Rundown: 
USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath), 63rd minute: 
Kelley O’Hara sent a long ball into the heart of the France defense that fell to the feet of Morgan Brian at the top of the penalty area. As defenders closed in, Brian passed to Heath who was making a run into the left side of the box. Heath’s initial left-footed shot from eight yards out was pushed onto the post by France goalkeeper Sarah Bouhaddi, but the ball rebounded off the left post across the front of the unprotected goal, setting up perfectly for U.S. captain Carli Lloyd to tap the ball across the line for the game-winner. USA 1, FRA 0 (SEE GOAL) FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops: 
USA – Hope Solo, 16th minute: 
France won a free kick on the right wing 35 yards from goal that Louisa Cadamuro swung into the penalty area for France captain Wendie Renard to head a powerful shot on goal. The ball looked to be headed just beneath the woodwork until Solo tipped the shot onto the crossbar with a strong left handed save.

FRA – Sarah Bouhaddi, 30th minute: Carli Lloyd won the USA a free kick in excellent attacking position just outside the center of the France penalty area. Heath stepped up and curled the free kick over the France wall and toward the center of goal, but Bouhaddi made a leaping save to tip the shot over the bar and deny Heath.

USA – Hope Solo, 40th minute: Amedine Henry won the ball near the center stripe and charged into the USA’s defensive third, drawing defenders before playing a through ball to Marie Laure Delie, who held off her defender and snapped a shot on goal. However, Solo had read the play and charged out to cut down the angle and smother the shot from close range.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. WNT finishes Group G play at the 2016 Olympic Games against Colombia at Amazônia Arena in Manaus on Aug. 9 (6 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBC Universo).

Additional Notes:

  • The USA improves to 16-0-1 in 2016. The team has scored 55 goals and tallied 15 shutouts while allowing just four goals.
  • The WNT is 17-1-2 all-time against France, outscoring Les Bleues 52-14 in 20 matches.
  • This is the second consecutive Olympics in which the U.S. and France have met with the USA winning the only previous Olympic meeting between the two nations 4-2 at London 2012.
  • Carli Lloyd’s goal was the 90th of her career and eighth Olympic goal for the USA, pushing her to second all-time behind Abby Wambach’s 10 Olympic tallies.
  • Lloyd has now hit double-figures in goals scored in 2016 (10 goals); it is the fourth calendar year – and third in a row – that she’s recorded 10 or more goals (2012, 2014, 2015 and 2016)
  • Hope Solo continued to earn accolades, making her 200th career international appearance for the USA. She is the only goalkeeper to ever reach that appearance mark in international play.
  • The game marks the first Olympic start for Crystal Dunn and Whitney Engen as well as their first at a senior level world championship tournament.
  • The defense of Solo, Kelley O’Hara, Becky Sauerbrunn, Engen and Meghan Klingenberg started together for the first time in 2016.
  • The USA has now kept a clean sheet in its first two Olympic matches for the third time in team history. It also did so at the 2000 and 2012 Olympic Games.
  • Lloyd earned her 226th cap and 14th in the Olympics, tied with Solo for the most Olympic appearances on the team. She is the most-capped player at the 2016 Olympic Football tournament.
  • Malory Pugh and Julie Johnston were held out of the match due to injury concerns; Pugh sustained a knock to her ankle in the USA’s match vs. Australia, while Johnston’s exclusion was precautionary due to groin soreness.

– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –

Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. France
Date: Aug. 6, 2016
Competition: 2016 Olympic Games; Group G
Venue: Mineirao; Belo Horizonte, Brazil
Kickoff: 4 p.m. ET (5 p.m. local)
Attendance: 11,782
Weather: 85 degrees, clear

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA                        0 1 1
FRA                        0 0 0

USA – Carli Lloyd (Tobin Heath) 63rd minute

Lineups:
USA: 1-Hope Solo; 5-Kelley O’Hara, 6-Whitney Engen, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 7-Meghan Klingenberg (12-Christen Press, 90); 3-Allie Long, 14-Morgan Brian, 10-Carli Lloyd (capt.) (9-Lindsey Horan, 82); 16-Crystal Dunn (11-Ali Krieger, 70), 13-Alex Morgan, 17-Tobin Heath
Subs not used: 2-Mallory Pugh, 8-Julie Johnston, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 18-Alyssa Naeher
Head Coach: Jill Ellis

FRA: 16-Sarah Bouhaddi; 8-Jessica Houara, 3-Wendie Renard (capt.), 2-Griedge Mbock Bathy, 7-Amel Majri; 10-Camille Abily (17-Kheira Hamraoui, 83), 6-Amandine Henry, 15-Elise Bussaglia; 13-Kadidiatou Diani, 18-Marie-Laure Delie (11-Claire Lavogez, 86), 14-Louisa Cadamuro (12-Elodie Thomis, 70)
Subs not used: 1-Meline Gerard, 4-Sakina Karchaoui, 5-Sabrina Delannoy, 9-Eugenie Le Sommer
Head Coach: Philippe Bergeroo

Stats Summary: USA / FRA
Shots: 7 / 14
Shots on Goal: 3 / 5
Saves: 5 / 2
Corner Kicks: 3 / 8
Fouls: 8 / 18
Offside: 4 / 4

Misconduct Summary:
USA – Crystal Dunn (caution) 68th minute
FRA – Griedge Mbock Bathy (caution) 82

Officials: 
Referee: Claudia Umpierrez (URU)
Assistant Referee 1: Loreta Toloza(CHI)
Assistant Referee 2: Neuza Back (BRA)
Fourth Official: Maria Carvajal (CHI)

Budweiser Woman of the Match: Allie Long   (SERIOUSLY – IT HAS TO BE HOPE SOLO!!)

TOBINHA-U.S. WNT MIDFIELDER TOBIN HEATH WASN’T BORN IN BRAZIL, BUT PART OF HER SOCCER SOUL RESIDES HERE.  WNT Aug 5, 2016

‘Tobin Heath is secretly Brazilian.’ That’s what a hand-made poster, held high outside the team hotel in Belo Horizonte said.  Amusing, yes, but if “being Brazilian” in the soccer world is generally defined as being remarkable with the ball at your feet, then perhaps the meaning was right on, if not the nationality.Heath is a huge fan of Brazilian soccer so it’s not so surprising that the way she plays the game and her relationship with the ball have often been compared to that of Brazilian legend Ronaldinho, whose incredible abilities have made him both a crowd-pleaser and a dangerous attacking weapon on the field.“Brazil is one of my favorite countries and a huge inspiration to me being a football player,” Heath said. “I drew so much from learning about the game from this country and from the players of this country. For me, this is a special place and I feel really lucky to have the Games here because Brazil is all about this sport. For us, it’s the Olympic Games but for soccer it’s huge to be in this country playing on this stage.”Heath has long dazzled fans with her incisive passing and dynamic dribbling, which at times has included a nutmeg or two (in fact, her second touch as a member of the full WNT was a nutmeg), and she creates excitement on whichever flank she happens to be patrolling. Rare is the player who is equally effective from both wings, but the left-footed Heath is one of them. She has caused many a nightmare for opposing defenders with her combination of speed, fitness, soccer savvy and sublime skill.With the Olympic tournaments being held in six cities across Brazil, a country that breathes and lives the game, Heath is in her element.“Obviously Ronaldinho was a huge icon during the time that I was growing up and Nike Football had promoted him in the Jogo Bonitostories and I loved watching all of his videos,” Heath said. “I would go on YouTube and I would watch everything about him. You just could see his passion for football was huge because he always played with a smile on his face and did the craziest things on the field. Every time he got the ball you’d never know what he would do because he was so unpredictable. The way he played football was so cool and made me say, ‘that’s the way I want to play football.’ For me he was a huge inspiration and even today I follow him and think he’s the best ever.”In the 2-0 win against New Zealand to open Olympic play on Aug. 3, Heath was a commanding presence in the midfield. In classic Heath fashion, she assisted on the USA’s first goal of the night, freezing several defenders with a nifty bit of skill before serving a perfect cross to Carli Lloyd for a head goal. It was Heath’s fifth assist of the year and her 120th appearance for the USA.At only 28 years old, Heath is playing in her third Olympic Games and fifth major senior level world championship. Since making her debut with the National Team in 2008, her role and impact on the U.S. team has only increased. She has matured on and off the field as her creativity has become increasingly magnified and important and her game-clinching goal in the 2015 Women’s World Cup Final will go down as one of the most memorable in U.S. history.In 2008, Heath was the youngest player on the 2008 Olympics gold medal team, seeing action in three games off the bench. Eight years later, her dribbling and jaw-dropping moves continue to captivate viewers and lovers of the beautiful game, while her calming and veteran presence on the pitch is something head coach Jill Ellis values.“Her individual play to break players down, her ability to combine with others, she just gives us such an attacking weapon,” said Ellis. “Her work rate is exceptional and I don’t think she gets enough credit for that. She’s a box-to-box wide player. She’s a threat with her passing game and individually. With Tobin, we get a player that’s been there before and can calm us down in the storm.”Heath’s abilities have certainly earned her many fans in the USA and around the world, and even in the workrooms of EA Sports. Just last year, Heath became one of two women, Brazil’s Marta being the other, to receive five-star skill moves in the popular videogame FIFA 16, a trait that allows access to all skills moves available in the game. She was the only American player, man or woman, to earn that recognition.Among some of the notable men that are five-star skillers? Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, and Brazil’s Neymar and Pelé, who was born in the city of Três Corações in the state of Minas Gerais – about 180 miles from Belo Horizonte, home of the WNT’s first two Olympics group games.A deep love for the game and a sincere appreciation for the Brazilian style of soccer make this trip a dream come true for Heath.“Each Olympics is different for me,” Heath said. “But being here in Brazil, I think it’s very special to play as a football player, and it’s really cool to be somewhere that has inspired me so much as a kid. Not much compares to this experience.”

THREE THINGS: #INDVOTT

Analysis of Indy’s late 1-0 win over Fury FCAug 8, 2016

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After every Indy Eleven game, IndyEleven.com’s Scott Stewart will give his three takeaways from the performance of the “Boys in Blue.” This week’s edition comes after Indiana’s Team beat Ottawa Fury FC 1-0 thanks to a late Don Smart goal.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE – ELEVEN LEAVE IT LATE

Anyone who has seen the Eleven perform this season should know one thing above all – they have a knack for late goals, and they aren’t picky about them. They have scored late consolation goals, like in Miami in a 2-1 loss, and late equalizers, like against Puerto Rico FC at the start of the Fall Season and against Fury FC in the Spring Season home opener. But most importantly, they score late winners… A lot of late winners.A pair of late goals sealed victory over the New York Cosmos in the spring, and the same happened against against Rayo OKC in the same half of the season. Last Saturday night, again the “Boys in Blue” pulled out all the stops as Don Smart got a late touch on a ball floating in to the back post to secure a stoppage time winner in a thriller at Carroll Stadium.However, this time there was a feeling in the air, an inkling that the match may play out level as both teams struggled to create quality opportunities in front of goal. Different, too, from the atmosphere against New York in the spring for example, in the sense that belief may have left some of the home support. Fitting then that one of the Indy Eleven OG‘s Don Smart was the one to find the winner and keep the spirit of victory alive inside “The Mike,” where the Eleven’s home unbeaten streak is extended for another week.RECAP | Indy Eleven 1 : 0 Ottawa Fury FC
FIRST LEAGUE START FOR YOULA

Souleymane Youla made his first league start under head coach Tim Hankinson and worked well alongside Eamon Zayed before being substituted in the 64th minute for winger-go-forward Omar Gordon. Though the striker only had 23 touches on the ball, he did not see as much of the ball as, say, Justin Braun likely would have in the same amount of minutes, but he did manage enough to warrant the selection. Completing 13/17 passes, Youla created two chances – both for Zayed – in his hour-plus start, and was clearly sharp enough to start over Jair Reinoso and his substitute Gordon in the eyes of Coach Hank. It’s unclear how long Youla will be in the starting line-up as Braun works his way back to 100% fitness, but at the very least the Guinean showed that he will make the most of the minutes he gets after netting one against Puerto Rico FC in the fall opener.TICKETS | Last chance to see Indiana’s Team in August
CLEAN SHEET NO. 4 OF THE FALL

As noteworthy as the attack has been compared to years past, the defense deserves a solid shout as well after keeping their fourth clean sheet of the fall on Saturday.Blanking Minnesota United FC, Fort Lauderdale, and FC Edmonton – all at home – Carroll Stadium has become a fortress for a defense often led by Colin Falvey and Greg Janicki, though Saturday saw the latter replaced by Cory Miller due to suspension. Credit also goes to fullbacks Nemanja Vukovic, Marco Franco, and Lovel Palmer, all of whom have stepped in and bolstered both attack and defense since the last half of the year began on July 2.In goal, Jon Busch has made ten saves in those four clean sheets, bringing his fall tally up to 20 total while conceding just four goals in the seven matches played as ‘keeper Keith Cardona featured against Miami FC. Busch, who has become a leader amongst a number of solid offseason additions, continues to display his class and ability week-in and week-out and will be crucial going into the final three months of the year.

AFTER THE WHISTLE | INDY PROVIDES LATE DRAMA ONCE MORE TO STAY ATOP FALL STANDINGS

FC Edmonton and Miami FC earned important road wins in Week 6  Matthew Levine (@NASLInsider} | Aug 8, 2016

Indy Eleven remained as the Fall Season leader (on goal differential over FC Edmonton), using another late goal to record a 1-0 win. The Eddies also secured an important road victory, while Miami FC sent notice to the rest of the league with a huge win in Minnesota.

Here are the key storylines from Week 6:

Indy Continues Late Show: Indy Eleven (5W-1D-2L, 16 points) scored a goal in the final 15 minutes plus stoppage time for the 10th time in 2016 on Saturday night. The result was a 1-0 win over Ottawa Fury FC, snapping Ottawa’s three-game winning streak and keeping the Boys in Blue atop the Fall Season Standings. Don Smart used a one-touch finish to beat Ottawa (3-04, 9) goalkeeper Romuald Peiser after Dylan Mares whipped a cross towards the back post. It was Smart’s first goal of the year.

Rolling On The Road: Teams playing away from home had plenty of success in Week 6. FC Edmonton (5-1-1, 16) used a Tomi Ameobi header to hand Puerto Rico FC (1-3-4, 6) its first home loss and keep pace with Indy on points (16) as the pacesetters in the Fall Season. Rayo OKC (3-4-1, 11), in Gerard Nus’ coaching debut ended the New York Cosmos’ 10-game winning streak with a 1-1 draw. Georgios Samaras scored his second goal of the year, both coming against the Cosmos. The Carolina RailHawks (2-2-3, 8) also earned a point on the road with Omar Bravo scoring his second goal of the year in a 2-2 draw with Jacksonville Armada FC (1-2-5, 5).

Perhaps the most surprising result of the weekend was Miami FC (3-2-1, 11) quieting the Minnesota crowd in rapid-fire fashion. Miami scored three times in the opening half hour to send the Loons (3-2-2, 11) to their second home loss in 2016. Jonny Steele opened the scoring in the ninth minute and it was followed up by goals from Ariel Martinez and Kwadwo Poku to take a 3-0 lead into halftime. Aaron Dennis, who scored his first professional goal, completed the dominance at NSC Stadium to earn a 4-0 win for the visitors.

Cole Powers Rowdies Past Rival: English star Joe Cole has been a force in the Tampa Bay Rowdies’ midfield since his arrival and that continued against the club’s longstanding rival. Cole assisted Keith Savage’s opener, on the night Savage’s 100th appearance for the club was being celebrated, when he lofted a ball to the back post. Savage slammed the ball past Fort Lauderdale Strikers (1-1-5, 4) goalkeeper Bruno. Cole then scored a goal of his own, which stood up as the game-winner after the Strikers mounted a late comeback. Rowdies shot-stopper Matt Pickens made two key saves, one on Adrianinho’s penalty kick and then on Jose Angulo’s acrobatic effort with time running out.

Fondy Finds Target In Jacksonville As Foe: Forward Matt Fondy spent the 2016 Spring Season with the Armada FC, but he was unable to find the back of the net in eight appearances with the club. On his first trip back to Community First Park, Fondy needed just seven minutes to score his third goal for the RailHawks. Drew Beckie played a square pass, leaving Fondy 1-v-1 with Jacksonville ‘keeper Sean Lewis before coolly placing his shot into the net.

Trending: Paul Pogba to have Man United medical, Mancini leaves Inter

Paul Pogba is close to returning to Manchester United, with a medical reportedly taking place.

Here are the latest stories from Monday.

MAN UNITEDJuventus star Paul Pogba has been given permissionto have a medical with Manchester United, both clubs have confirmed. The midfielder has arrived to complete his £89 million move.

– United manager Jose Mourinho says his team still needs to adapt to get the best out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic. He also said that it is “amazing” that Paul Pogba is set to return to United, but added that the midfielder needs to work hard to come into the team.

– Manchester United should be proud they are going to break the world transfer record fee by signing Pogba, Mourinho added.

– Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs has reiterated his desire to break into management and have his “own team,” but will not entertain thoughts of replacing Chris Coleman as Wales national team boss for now.

INTER MILAN: Frank de Boer is set to be named the new coach of Inter Milan after Roberto Mancini’s departure was confirmed on Monday morning.

JUVENTUS: Former Juventus defender Angelo Ogbonna has said he believes “not much will change” for the club without Pogba. Ogbonna, who now plays for West Ham, was a teammate of France international Pogba at Juventus for two seasons from summer 2013.

PSG: Paris Saint-Germain have completed their fifth summer signing with Real Madrid winger Jese Rodriguez the latest player to arrive at Parc des Princes. The 23-year-old has signed a five-year contract with the French champions and joins for a fee reported to be around €25 million.

ARSENAL: Arsene Wenger says Gabriel Paulista is likely to miss the Premier League opener against Liverpool with an ankle sprain, leaving him “very short” on centre-backs for the start of the season.

– Arsenal forward Theo Walcott has said he will “definitely” be back on top form this season as he said he would be willing to accept a place on the right wing.

– Kelechi Iheanacho’s former boss claims he stopped the Nigeria striker from joining Arsenal and told him to join Manchester City instead.

LEICESTER CITY: Claudio Ranieri has insisted that Leicester City’s primary target is to reach 40 points in the 2016-17 Premier League season after losing to Manchester United in the Community Shield on Sunday.

MAN CITY: Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta says new manager Pep Guardiola has assured him of his place in the squad for next season, ending speculation about a possible move away from the Etihad.

– Pep Guardiola has cast doubt over the futures of Wilfried Bony and Eliaquim Mangala after saying they remain Manchester City players “at the moment.”

LIVERPOOL: Georginio Wijnaldum says the Liverpool squad have learn to deal with the expectations placed upon them ahead of the start of the Premier League season.

– Jurgen Klopp has said he is unsure whether striker Daniel Sturridge will be available for Sunday’s Premier League opener at Arsenal.

WEST HAM: West Ham have completed the signing of Olympiakos left-back Arthur Masuaku. Masuaku, 22, has signed a four-year deal, the Hammers confirmed in a statement.

REAL MADRID: Real Madrid’s 20-man squad for the European Super Cup final against Sevilla includes Zinedine Zidane’s son Luca. The 18-year-old goalkeeper is named in place of the injured Keylor Navas, but Kiko Casilla is likely to start.

BAYERN MUNICH: Bayern Munich CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge has said the club paid less than the reported €38 million fee for Borussia Dortmund defender Mats Hummels.

– Kingsley Coman has expressed a desire to turn his loan at Bayern Munich into a full-time move. Coman, 20, signed for Bayern from Juventus on a two-year loan deal last summer, and the Bundesliga champions have the option to make the move permanent.

DORTMUNDBorussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has reiterated his desire to stay at the club. Aubameyang told a news conference: “I will definitely stay with BVB, and I won’t answer this question again.”

NIGERIA: After failing to land Paul Le Guen, the Nigerian Football Federation have chosen Gernot Rohr to take charge as manager of the senior men’s national team.

MEXICO: Star striker Oribe Peralta and promising youngster Rodolfo Pizarro will return to Mexico after picking up injuries on Sunday in El Tri’s 5-1 victory over Fiji in the second round of games in Group C of the Olympic men’s football tournament.

MLS: Former Newcastle defender Steven Taylor had a tough start to life in the United States, enduring a challenging debut for Portland Timbers reserves.

Community Shield is no predictor of league success, Pogba’s cost, more

The Community Shield occupies a strange berth in English football. When it’s convenient, we pretend it’s a trophy and a competitive match. When it’s not, we call it a glorified friendly.I’m tempted to lean towards the latter. Competitive games don’t feature 12 substitutions (six per team). Nor do they involve one manager — Claudio Ranieri, in this case — leaving out all his summer signings because he wanted to reward the guys who won him the title last season.All of this led to a pretty disjointed (albeit entertaining at times) affair that likely tells you little about how these two clubs will play this season. But if we’re only marginally wiser about what Leicester City and Manchester United will look like as a unit, we do have clues about individuals.Start with Zlatan Ibrahimovic. It will take a little time for him to find the measure of his United teammates and for Jose Mourinho to get the best out of him. But even the Ibrahimovic seen yesterday, often not getting great service and being stuck between two guys his own size, can be deadly even at half-throttle. His winner was vintage Zlatan, finding the half-space away from his marker and powering the ball into the far corner. And while he missed an earlier opportunity with a tame and likely mistimed finish, the fact that he was in the right place to shoot is significant. For the first time in a while, United have a center-forward whose natural habitat is the penalty area.Wayne Rooney ran plenty but produced less than expected: That’s a conundrum Mourinho will need to solve. The Michael Carrick-Marouane Fellaini partnership in front of the back four doesn’t seem sustainable (not least because you can’t expect Carrick to play every game) and is painfully slow. (If only United were on the verge of signing a dynamic superstar to help out in that role…) You’d expect that when we see the “real” United Mourinho has drawn up in his head, there will be room for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and, when he’s fit again, Chris Smalling.Luke Shaw’s return to full fitness reminds you just how much United missed him when he was injured. Eric Bailly is a work-in-progress, but hugely promising and ready to play. And Jesse Lingard is greater than the sum of his parts. Most of all, though, there is a lot of truth in Mourinho’s words when he said he’s only had a month to change from Van Gaal’s philosophy to his way of playing. It’s not that Van Gaal’s approach was wrong; it’s just that it was different. It’s not quite like getting an aircraft carrier to do a U-turn, but it’s not entirely far off.For Leicester, the way Lingard rumbled through the middle of the park in the build-up to his goal reminded you that N’Golo Kante is no longer there. And that in a real game, he’d be stopped by fair means or foul. Jamie Vardy looked to have picked up where he left off last year and of the newcomers who are likely to see much playing time for the Foxes, you’d imagine Ahmed Musa might settle quicker than Nampalys Mendy, who seems more of a playmaker type than a Kante-style Energizer Bunny.Ranieri said that Leicester are at 60 percent right now. United probably are too. It makes far more sense to check in on these sides in a few weeks, when they’ll be closer to the real deal.

How much will Paul Pogba actually cost?

You will see a whole range of different numbers relating to how much Paul Pogba will cost Manchester United once he signs. Some will be as low as £89 million (€105m/$116m). Others will be as high as £123m (€145m/$160.7m).What gives? Why can’t we have a hard and fast number?If you’re into this sort of thing, read on. If you’re not, skip to the next item.There is a hard and fast number and that number exists in the FIFA TMS system. That number is the number that exists on the contract to transfer Pogba from Juventus to Manchester United. It includes both the money that shifts from one club to the other and the commissions paid to agents (Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola is the most notable but he’s not the only one involved) as part of the deal.For a player to be transferred, both clubs have to upload their versions of the contracts plus the transfer fee, agent commissions and other fees into the FIFA TMS system. Those numbers have to match otherwise the deal does not go through.The problem is simple: Nobody, apart from a handful of people associated with Juve and United, Raiola and maybe a couple agents and the good folks at FIFA TMS, has actually seen the number. Throw in clubs’ penchant for making themselves look clever or thrifty by giving you only part of the picture and it becomes tough to truly compare apples with apples.he most widely quoted figure — and my own reporting makes me pretty confident it’s accurate, albeit incomplete — is that Juventus will receive £93.3m (€110m/$121.9m) from United. However, that figure is gross and part of that amount, £4.25m (€5m/$5.5m), will go to pay various associated fees and commissions, including part of those owed to Raiola. So Juventus would end up banking around $89m, which may explain the genesis of that number.(The good news here is that Juventus is a publicly traded company. At some point, they’ll publish their accounts and the financial eggheads will tell us whether they did in factreceive €110m from United, just as they were able to verify similar large transfer amounts in the past.)Of course, that number doesn’t include commission or fees that the club paid on its end. And if you’re a United fan or a Glazer you might want to know how much the deal actually cost you all-in since you’ve probably heard all the rumors about Raiola somehow demanding 20 percent of the transfer fee.Now, I personally doubt that even Raiola could get away with demanding such a massive cut. And, contrary to what you might have read, he never had a legally binding entitlement to 20 percent of the transfer fee. Not only have multiple sources denied its existence, but it would be illegal under FIFA’s statutes governing third-party investment. Of course, that doesn’t mean that Raiola didn’t ask for 20 percent of the deal, as he’s entitled to do. Or that once Raiola’s cut was agreed (however much it was), part of the reason this move took so long is that Juventus and United had to agree who would pay which parts of his commission.What we do know is that Raiola got some level of commission paid to him by both clubs and that the amount ought to be added to the cost of the deal.I know what you’re thinking: That number is in the transfer contract and has been uploaded to FIFA TMS, right?The answer is… maybe. Once the Pogba deal goes through, Raiola will have three important clients at United, the other two being Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Henrik Mkhitaryan. Juventus are currently linked with another Raiola client, Blaise Matuidi. If there’s more commission to be paid, there’s nothing stopping them from spreading it over other deals for other players.Bottom line? Jose Mourinho was probably telling the truth when he said he “didn’t know” how much this deal was costing Manchester United. Most people, even those involved in the deal, probably don’t know. Very few people do.What we can all be sure of, though, is that it’s a world record. And what I am pretty sure of is that it was a good piece of business for the club.

Inter continue to make bad choices

Details are hazy for now but it appears that Roberto Mancini’s time as Inter manager is at an end, with Frank De Boer set to take over. We’ll get into this more once we know more, but there are two obvious immediate reactions.The first is that changing managers in August is simply grotesque. Inter were obviously preoccupied with the ownership transition as the Chinese group Suning acquired just over two-thirds of the club, but it doesn’t mean they couldn’t walk and chew gum at the same time. Besides, Suning came in on June 6. They had two whole months to figure out what to do with Mancini and, clearly, they misread the situation entirely. In fact, they reportedly went so far as to offer him a contract extension.The other is that everything filtering out from Inter suggests some folks still don’t get it. This is a club operating under the restrictions of a settlement for breaching UEFA’s Financial Fair Play. They spent big last year mortgaging the future and this summer, Mancini’s targets included Yaya Toure and Thomas Vermaelen. Because those are exactly the sort of cheap, huge upside, long-term players you try to sign when you’re working on a shoestring.(Mancini’s other target was apparently Marco Reus – nothing wrong with him other than the fact that he’d cost an absolute fortune.)This club needs a serious wake-up call but right now, the fear is that we’ll get another wasted season instead.

Emery era at PSG begins in style

If Saturday night was a sign of things to come in the post-Zlatan era, things bode rather well for Paris St. Germain. Without Edison Cavani, Grzegorz Krychowiak, Blaise Matuidi, Marquinhos and Thiago Silva and with Marco Verratti still only half-fit, they demolished Lyon 4-1 on Saturday night in the French Super Cup.In many ways, it makes the transition more straightforward for new boss Unai Emery. Taking over with Ibrahimovic still around would likely have been trickier. Hitting the ground running in this way, without so many veteran stars, only makes things easier.

Don’t read into Guardiola’s tinkering

Last season, owing to injuries elsewhere, Pep Guardiola turned Joshua Kimmich and David Alaba into a viable center-back partnership for Bayern, even though one was a rookie midfielder and the other a left-back/occasional midfielder. That was in his third season with the Bavarians — when the rest of the side had metabolized his concepts — and even then it only lasted until Jerome Boateng’s return to full fitness.Guardiola may be daring and outside-the-box in his approach but we probably shouldn’t consider the Aleksandar Kolarov-Fernando center-back pairing, seen in Sunday’s friendly against Arsenal, as a sign of things to come. Manchester City obviously have specialist center backs due to return and, you’d expect, they’ll take another run at John Stones or a similar ball-playing central defender.Gabriele Marcotti is a columnist for ESPN FC, 

Ibrahimovic earns Community Shield glory for Man United vs. Leicester

LONDON — Three thoughts on Manchester United’s 2-1 win vs. Leicester City in the FA Community Shield.

  1. Ibrahimovic announces himself for Man United

He was never going to arrive quietly. Until the 83rd minute, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had been virtually anonymous by his standards, shackled effectively by Leicester’s Wes Morgan and struggling to find space to exert his usual influence.But given his appetite for theatre, it was no huge surprise that the Swedish striker settled a tight, often scrappy Community Shield after Jesse Lingard and Jamie Vardy had traded goals. Manchester United will hope it provides some sort of springboard for brighter times over the next nine months.When the decisive moment arrived, it was straightforward enough. Antonio Valencia’s cross, stood up to the far post, brought about another of the contests Ibrahimovic had been losing for most of the afternoon. But this time, he won the header against Morgan and — with the Leicester captain possibly getting the final touch — nodded across Kasper Schmeichel and in off the far post.Lingard’s opener seemed a long time ago, but it was worth committing to memory. The 23-year-old has taken a liking to Wembley. It was his excellent FA Cup final winner against Crystal Palace that brought United to this game and within 32 minutes he had produced another moment of magic, albeit different in nature.United certainly needed something; they had laboured for the most part but, after Andy King had dived into and missed a tackle 10 yards inside the Leicester half, Lingard found himself in space. Past one challenge he went, then past another from a rash Morgan, and the winger found himself one-on-one with Schmeichel. He finished coolly and sparked a game that had badly needed such a show of initiative.It should have been the foundation for United to kick on and set down a marker. Instead, Marouane Fellaini provided an apt reminder of existing failings seven minutes after the break.The midfielder did well enough to track back and intercept a ball toward Vardy from substitute Ahmed Musa, but Fellaini’s subsequent contribution was to sell David De Gea short with a hopelessly underhit backpass, allowing Vardy to steal in and slot in the equaliser from an angle.It was Ibrahimovic who had the final say, though, as United stepped up the pressure late on. They have won the first silverware of the 2016-17 season, although this was not a curtain raiser to live particularly long in the memory.

  1. United show why Pogba is needed

Watching this game, you could only think that Paul Pogba cannot arrive quickly enough. The midfielder only has to pass a medical for his drawn-out transfer to Man United finally to be confirmed and such was the lack of cohesion in his new club’s engine room that there is any number of jobs he could perform.United lined up at Wembley with Wayne Rooney in the No. 10 position Mourinho appears to have earmarked for him, plus Michael Carrick and Fellaini sitting behind in a 4-2-3-1 formation.The balance never looked right; Rooney, starved of meaningful possession early on despite a dominant start from United, found himself pulled backwards as the first half progressed, with King and Danny Drinkwater dominating in the centre for Leicester.There were no indications of a burgeoning relationship with Ibrahimovic, who was peripheral until his winner, and the only sign of any forward thrust from the middle came when Lingard, a wide player, foraged inside to such tremendous effect for his goal.It was sluggish, one-paced fare and a reminder of Mourinho’s pre-match concern that it will take time to evolve United’s game from the safe, possession-based approach of Louis van Gaal to one that seeks quick penetration between the lines.Henrikh Mkhitaryan, seen only in added time here, should also change that if used centrally and, as United probed with little direct threat, the abiding sense was that the midfielders Mourinho inherited have neither the speed of foot or thought to harbour hopes of a long-term future at Old Trafford.Rooney must be included in their number. He plugged away, slashing wildly over after Vardy’s equaliser and shooting at Schmeichel following a rare link-up with Ibrahimovic, but it is difficult to see where he is going to fit in unless Pogba’s power can somehow be used to spark him.Juan Mata might feel similarly. The Spaniard, introduced in the 63rd minute, was the man withdrawn for Mkhitaryan and must wonder about his own future. It was another reminder that, even if Pogba is almost back on English shores, there remain many issues to deal with at Old Trafford.

  1. Leicester lose but can be pleased

Leicester can approach the new campaign with a sense of reassurance, regardless of their late disappointment here. There had been mild cause for preseason concern when they shipped eight goals against Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain, but the opposition had to be taken into account and they bore a decent resemblance to last season’s selves at Wembley.Lingard’s goal was cruelly timed; Claudio Ranieri’s side had wrestled control of the game after a cagey first 15 minutes and had almost taken the lead when Shinji Okazaki, having seen a shot deflected just wide, hit the crossbar with a header from the resulting corner.The one nagging doubt came in the build-up to United’s opener. The missed tackle from King that opened the door for Lingard summed up Leicester’s typically committed approach but it was impossible to swat away the thought that N’Golo Kante, whose place King he had taken, would have won the ball.Somehow, Kante’s contribution needs to be mitigated. Ranieri said before the game that they will “have to think different and close space quicker — but it will need to happen in more disciplined fashion than this if Leicester are not to appear loose. An encouraging performance from substitute Nampalys Mendy assuaged a few of those concerns.The speed of substitutes Musa and Demarai Gray, who almost equalised at the death, troubled United in the second half and Leicester will certainly have more strings to their attacking bow than last season. That extra depth will be crucial, as will quick elimination of the soft defending that led to both goals here.Any recriminations, though, will be few. “Champions of England, we know what we are,” was the Leicester fans’ refrain throughout the afternoon. They will be for a good few months yet, and there remains no good reason not to bask in the fact.Nick Ames is a football j

Premier League previews for 2016-17

The 2016-17 Premier League season is nearly upon us. Lots has happened already this summer, so our ESPN FC bloggers take a look at how their team will fare in the coming campaign.

RELEGATION CANDIDATES

BOURNEMOUTH: Bournemouth’s first ever appearance in the Premier League ended well, with the club finishing a respectable 16th in the table in 2015-16. The key now is to build on that. Read >> — Will Kent

BURNLEY: Burnley are back. Sean Dyche masterminded a quick return to the Premier League following relegation in 2014-15 but the Championship winners do not look equipped for Premier League survival without major investment. Read >> — Jamie Smith

CRYSTAL PALACE: Crystal Palace were challenging the top four in December last year but fell away in 2016 to eventually finish a disappointing 15th. A top half finish and another cup run would do the trick. Maybe even win it this time. Read >> — Jim Daly

HULL CITY: Hull City bounced back to the Premier League following victory over Sheffield Wednesday in the Championship playoff final. But can they stay there? Read >> — Philip Buckingham

MIDDLESBROUGH: Aitor Karanka has masterminded Boro’s return to the big time after seven seasons in the Football League, but now he must keep them there. All eyes will be on a rejuvenated team who make their return to the Premier League looking much more primed for action than their promoted counterparts. Read >> — Catherine Wilson

SUNDERLAND: Sunderland staged another escape act last season, as they once again managed to survive in the Premier League. The challenge now is for new boss David Moyes to develop the club so late-season scrapes are a thing of the past. Read >> — Colin Randall

MID-TABLE FINISHERS

EVERTON: Coming Aug. 9. — Luke O’Farrell

SWANSEA: Coming Aug. 9. — Max Hicks

WATFORD: Coming Aug. 9. — Michael Moruzzi

WEST BROM: Coming Aug. 9. — Matthew Evans

RACE FOR EUROPE

STOKE: Coming Aug. 10. — James Whittaker

SOUTHAMPTON: Coming Aug. 10. — Alex Crook.

WEST HAM: Coming Aug. 10. — Peter Thorne

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE CHASERS

CHELSEA: Coming Aug. 11. — Mark Worrall

LIVERPOOL: Coming Aug. 11. — Steven Kelly

TOTTENHAM: Coming Aug. 11. — Ben Pearce

TITLE CHALLENGERS

ARSENAL: Coming Aug. 12. — Tom Adams

LEICESTER: Coming Aug. 12 — Ben Jacobs

MAN CITY: Coming Aug. 12. — Simon Curtis

MAN UNITED: Coming Aug. 12. — Scott Patterson

LA Galaxy mount late comeback vs. NY Red Bulls while Giovinco nets hat trick

Week 22 of the Major League Soccer season saw a referee take the spotlight while Steven Gerrard’s LA Galaxy mounted a late comeback to draw 2-2 against the New York Red Bulls.As for in-form players in the MLS, Toronto FC’s Sebastian Giovinco and Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey are right up there with the best.

The Toledo Show

At the final whistle in Portland, the scoreline read 3-0, giving the impression that the Timbers had dominated against visiting Sporting Kansas City. And yes, Caleb Porter’s team did grab the game by throat in the last half hour, putting away three excellent chances while smothering Sporting’s attack.But the star of the show wasn’t any of the goal scorers — Diego Valeri, Jack Jewsbury or Fanendo Adi. The man at the center of the events at Providence Park was referee Baldomero Toledo. Toledo heavily altered the proceedings by handing out two red cards in the first half that put each team down to 10 men for the majority of the match.It looked dire for the home team when Toledo dismissed midfield stalwart Diego Chara for putting his hands in the face of Benny Feilhaber behind the ball. Feilhaber sold the foul with additional theatrics, but Chara should know better than to give the ref an excuse to pull out a red card.With a pair of understudies at center-back, Portland dug in and kept the game scoreless long enough for Toledo to bring balance back into the game when he sent off Sporting midfielder Soni Mustivar in the 39th minute. Was Mustivar’s foul worthy of an ejection? The call was questionable at best, and leaves open the possibility that Toledo was looking for a way to level the numbers.Take nothing away from the Timbers on a day when a home win was important to staying in the conversation for the playoffs in the Western Conference. Valeri’s goal was stellar, and Darlington Nagbe’s assist for the second was a work of art. But as is too often the case in Major League Soccer, the referee took center stage and directly impacted the outcome of a game with doubt about the decisions made.

Seattle Surge

Whether fair or not, the revival of the Seattle Sounders looks to have come as a result of the firing of Sigi Schmid. Since the long-time manager’s dismissal after nearly eight years at the helm, the Sounders have taken a marked step forward in the level of their play. Last week against LA Galaxy, the team played well under interim boss Brian Schmetzer, but couldn’t finish enough of their excellent chances to secure three points.On Sunday evening, Seattle had no such trouble against Orlando City on the road in Florida. Jordan Morris starred as the provider, setting up two of Clint Dempsey’s hat trick of goals with perfectly timed runs and smart passes. Nicolas Lodeiro was good again in his second appearance with his new team. The defense held firm against the Lions after giving up an early goal.In general terms, so much about the Sounders was better than it had been for months that it’s difficult to pin down the cause. Maybe Schmid’s influence on the team had turned negative, or perhaps Sounders’ players were simply invigorated by the fresh start that his departure represented.Before the switch and the four points they earned over the last two weeks, Seattle was verging on becoming an afterthought in the Western Conference. The club’s long streak of playoff appearances — the Sounders have made the postseason every year of their MLS existence — remains in jeopardy, but it is still a bit premature to suggest that there’s no chance they can rise up the table and get themselves into one of the final spots.Lodeiro’s influence is key. The Argentine brings a creative edge Seattle lacked before, and he is already developing excellent chemistry with Morris.

Hairston Rising

This is MLS. With the restrictions on spending and level of difficulty for clubs to add players that can make a difference midseason, getting a boost from players who emerge from the reserves to make big contributions is a crucial in turning a good start into a good season.The Colorado Rapids have used a strong defensive posture and the influence of a few big time players to carve out a strong position near the top of the Western Conference standings. Keeping that momentum going was never a given, and with the club’s significant investment in Jermaine Jones and Tim Howard, finding a way to inject new energy into the team wasn’t going to be easy. At the close of the transfer window, the Rapids found a way to grab an experienced attacker in Sebastian LeToux via trade, and thanks to the emergence of 22-year old Marlon Hairston, there might be enough in the tank to carry them through the schedule.Hairston put in another excellent performance on Saturday in the Rapids’ 2-0 home win over Vancouver. The winger scored and collected an assist, adding a goal to a run that has seen him scored in three of Colorado’s last four games. Hairston is establishing himself as a first choice player in a team that hasn’t always presented much danger on the attacking end. The University of Louisville product’s speed and incisive runs are making a difference for Pablo Mastroeni’s team.

Lil Sebastian Rides Again

probably won’t replicate his astonishing 2015 output this season. Even so, he remains on the verge of another historic campaign in the league.On Sunday, Giovinco scored three times as Toronto FC romped past the Revolution at BMO Field. Giovinco was at his shooting best, scoring twice with incredible strikes and hitting the bar on two other occasions. Toronto is a better team than they were last year, and Giovinco is suddenly white hot. Pushing into the playoffs and getting beyond the opening round suddenly seems like a much better possibility.

Chaos in Carson

There’s no way to sum up the Galaxy’s 2-2 draw with the Red Bulls at the Stub Hub Center on Sunday night that will do the game justice.New York was forced to use all three of their substitution in the first 50 minutes thanks to injuries that could have big ramifications on their immediate future. Despite those setbacks, they got goals from Gonzalo Veron and Sean Davis to take a two-goal lead. The Galaxy sleep-walked through the first 80 minutes, only to turn it on with just enough time to make a comeback. In the process, goalkeeper Brian Rowe got away with what looked to be two stone-cold penalty fouls. Arguing the calls got Jesse Marsch sent off, and in the end, no one can be overly excited about the result.In other words, it was a perfect end to an insane MLS weekend..Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer

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8/5/16 Olympics US Women Face France Sat 4pm, Indy 11 Back on Top vs OTT on Sat 7:30 pm, EPL Community Shield Sun 10 am, EPL Season Previews 

So the Olympics are underway and the US Ladies looked fine in their initial 2-0 win with goals from veterans Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan and some pretty spectacular play from Tobin Heath and Julie Johnson.  Interesting the Brazilians – all 1500 that were actually at the 45,000 seat arena booing Hope Solo after her comments on the Zica virus.  The booing was ok but yelling Zica every time she kicked the ball? Classy those few Bralians who could actually afford the tickets.  Now the big test for the US as they face top 5 foe France – a team many consider the top in Europe on Saturday at 4 pm on NBCSN.  Not sure why this game isn’t on NBC but what the heck. On the men’s side Brazil was literally booed off the field after they settled for a 0-0 tie after South Africa went down a man early in the 2nd half.  It will be interesting to see if Brazil can recover to get to the finals this summer?

So the Indy 11 were back in the win column Wed night at the Mike – an impressive 5-0 stomping of Jacksonville pushing them back into 1st place overall as they stand tied with the NY Cosmos.  They host Ottawa this Saturday night, 8 pm at the MIKE – tickets just $11 or watch on TV8.

The EPL kicks off the season with the Community Shield match between last season’s Champions Leicester City and FA Cup Winners Man United on Sunday 10 am on FS1. The full season kicks off next weekend on NBCSN see season previews below.  Tuesday 2:45 pm on FS1 has the EUFA Supercup as Champions League Winners Real Madrid (without the injured Renaldo) face EUFA Cup Winners and fellow La Liga side Sevilla.  Locally congrats to all those players making their high school teams this past week as we prepare for both the high school and the Club season’s to kick-off soon, I know we had a number freshman boys and boatload of girls make the CHS teams including all 3 of our goalies and of course we have players from 9th grade to varsity at Guerin, University and Westfield.  Congrats to all and good luck this fall season!!  Carmel High School Girls Soccer has a car wash tomorrow at Valero Gas Station 116 + Rangeline Varsity 9-11 am, JV blue 11-1 pm, JV Gold (9th grade) 1-3 pm. 

GAMES of the Week TV

See the Complete TV Schedule online www.theoleballcoach.com

Sat, Aug 6

12 noon ESPN                                        ICC Liverpool vs Barcelona – Wembley

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

5pm NBC Sports Live Extra          Germany vs Australia

7:30 pm Tv8+ESPN3           Indy 11 vs Ottawa

9pm NBC Sports Live Extra           Brazil vs Sweden women

Sun, Aug 7

10 am Foxsports 1                              Community Shield Leicester City vs Man United

4pm ESPN                                                Portland Timbers vs Sporting KC MLS

7pm Fox sports 1                                Orlando City vs Seattle – battle of new coaches

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1                      LA vs NY Red Bulls

Tues Aug 9 Olympic Soccer – Women 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Real Madrid vs Sevilla UEFA Supercup

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra        Germany vs Canada

6 pm NBCSN                         Colombia vs USA Women

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                   China vs Sweden

Wed Aug 10 Olympic Soccer – Men 

12 pm Telemundo                            Argentina vs Honduras

9 pm NBCSN                                          Denmark vs Brazil

Fri, Aug 12                                              

Quarterfinals Olympic Women

12 pm NBCSN                                        1G vs  3E

3 pm  MSNBC                                         2F vs 2F

6 pm CNBC                                              1F vs 2G

9 pm NBCSN                                           1 E vs 3F

Sat, Aug 13                                              EPL Season Starts

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

Quarterfinals Olympic men         12, 3, 6, 9

Sun, Aug 14

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

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

See the Complete TV Schedule online www.theoleballcoach.com

 US Women

US Wins 2-0 over New Zealand

US Impressive in Win – Hays ESPNW

US Veterans spark US Victory – SI – Grant Wahl

Tobin Heath helps US to victory – Hays ESPNW

Hope Solo brushes off Boos and Zica Chants

Olympic Round Up

Getting to Know the US Women Defenders –Stars and Stripes

Getting to Know the US Forwards

the US midfielders

Brazil Men Tie 1st Game get booed off

Men’s Olympic Soccer Preview – Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Germany ? 

Olympics TV Schedule for Soccer

  US LADIES GROUP STAGE GAMES

August 3rd, 2016 – Olympics: WNT vs. New Zealand (Brazil), 6pm ET on NBCSN  W 2-0

Sat Aug 6th, 2016 – Olympics: WNT vs. France (Brazil), 4pm ET on NBCSN

Tues Aug  9th, 2016 – Olympics: WNT vs. Colombia (Brazil), 6pm ET on NBCSN

Indy 11

5 Goals for 5 Years ! Bloody Shambles

Indy 11 win 5-2

NASL Weekend Preview

Tix on sale for 8/6 vs OTT and 8/13 vs OKC

EPL & World

Leicester City vs Man U Preview

Rooney says old Man U is back with Mourinho in charge

Seedings for Champions League Announced

Season Preview Arsenal – NBC Sports

Season Preview Liverpool – NBC Sports

Preview – Leicester City – NBC Sports

Preview Man United – NBC Sports

Preview Man City – NBC Sports

Preview Tottenham Hotspur – NBC Sports

Season Preview Chelsea –US Matt Miazga – NBC Sports

Season Preview Stoke City (US Geoff Cameron– NBC Sports

Season Preview Sunderland – US Yedlin??

Season Preview – Southhampton

Preview Everton – NBC Sports

Preivew Crystal Palace – NBC Sports

Preview Bournmouth

US MEN

Alejandro Bedoya leaves Nantes for MLS Philly Union

US Player Danny Williams eyes EPL Shot

Chelsea to Send US Matt Miazga on Loan? 

MLS

MLS Weekend Preview

 GAMES ON TV

Sat, Aug 6

7:30 am Fox Soccer+                       Rangers vs Hamilton Academical – Scotland PL

12 noon ESPN                                        ICC Liverpool vs Barcelona – Wembley

2:45 pm beIn Sport                          PSG vs Olympique Lyonnais –France Super Cup

Olympic Soccer – Women 

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

5pm NBC Sports Live Extra          Germany vs Australia

6pm NBC Sports Live Extra           South Africa vs China

7pm NBC Sports Live Extra          Colombia vs New Zealand

7:30 pm Tv8+ESPN3           Indy 11 vs Ottowa

7:30 pm  beIN Sport                                                Ft Lauderdale vs Tampa Bay Rowdies NASL

9pm NBC Sports Live Extra           Brazil vs Sweden women

Sun, Aug 7

9 am CBS Sports Network             Werder Bremen vs Chelsea (friendly)

10 am Foxsports 1                              Community Shield Leicester City vs Man United

4pm ESPN                                                Portland Timbers vs Sporting KC MLS

7pm Fox sports 1                                Orlando City vs Seattle – battle of new coaches

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1                      LA vs NY Red Bulls

Olympic Soccer – Men 

12 pm  NBC Sports Live Extra    Fiji vs Mexico

2 pm  NBC Sports Live Extra       Honduras vs Portugal

3 pm  NBCSN                                         Germany vs Korea Republic

5 pm  NBC Sports Live Extra       Argentina vs Algeria

6 pm NBC Sports Live Extra        Sweden vs Nigeria

6 pm NBC Sports Live Extra         Denmark vs South Africa

9 pm NBC Sports Live Extra         Japan vs Colombia

9 pm NBCSN                                           Brazil vs Iraq

Tues Aug 9 Olympic Soccer – Women 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Real Madrid vs Sevilla UEFA Supercup

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra        Germany vs Canada

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra         Australia vs Zimbabwe

6 pm NBCSN                         Colombia vs USA

6 pm                                                            New Zealand vs France

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                   South Africa vs Brazil

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                   China vs Sweden

Wed Aug 10 Olympic Soccer – Men 

12 pm NBC Sports Extra                 Algeria vs Portugal

12 pm Telemundo                            Argentina vs Honduras

3 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Germany vs Fiji

3 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Korea Republic vs Mexico

6 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Japan vs Sweden

6 pm NBC Sports Extra                    Colombia vs Nigeria

9 pm NBCSN                                          Denmark vs Brazil

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                    South Africa vs Iraq

Fri, Aug 12                                               France Legue 1 starts

2 pm beIn Sports                                Bastia vs PSG

Quarterfinals Olympic Women

12 pm NBCSN                                        1G vs  3E

3 pm  MSNBC                                         2F vs 2F

6 pm CNBC                                              1F vs 2G

9 pm NBCSN                                           1 E vs 3F

Sat, Aug 13                                              EPL Season Starts

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

Quarterfinals Olympic men        12, 3, 6, 9

7:30 pm Tv8+ESPN3           Indy 11 vs OKC

Sun, Aug 14

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

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                              Seattle Sounders hosts Real Salt Lake

Tues, Aug 16  

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Women (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals Women (final 4)

Weds, Aug 17  

12 pm NBCSN                                        Semi-Finals Man (final 4)

3 pm NBCSN                                           Semi-Finals men (final 4)

Fri, Aug 19                                               

12 noon MSNBC                                   Women’s Olympics 3rd place game

2:30 pm USA Net                                Man United vs Southhampton

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Women’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

Sat, Aug 20                                            

7:30 a.m., NBCSN                                Stoke City vs. Man City 
10:00 a.m., NBC Live Extra           Tottenham vs Crystal Palace, Burnley vs Liverpool, Chelsea vs. Watford
12 noon NBCSN                                    men’s Olympics 3rd place game

12:30 p.m., CNBC:                             Leciester City vs Arsenal

4:30 pm NBCSN                                    Men’s Olympics Gold Medal Game

7:30 pm ESPN3                    Indy 11 @ Carolina

Sun, Aug 21

8:30 a.m., NBCSN:                              Sunderland vs Middlesborough
11:00 a.m., CNBC
                               West Ham vs Bournemouth

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

9:30 pm  Fox Sport 1                       Seattle Sounders host Portland – CASCADIA CUP 2!

Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

Sat, Aug 27

7:30 AM NBCSN                                   Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2:                 Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus:         Hamburg SV vs. Ingolstadt

12:30 pm  NBC                                     Hull City vs Man United
12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Sun, Aug 28

9:30 a.m Fox Sport1                         Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs West Ham

2 pm ???                                                   Ottawa vs Indy 11

7 pm  Fox Sport 1                               Orlando City vs NYCFC

Soccer Olympics Schedule

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

Veteran stars spark U.S. women in Olympics-opening win over New Zealand

Grant Wahl,Sports Illustrated 14 hours ago

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — The U.S. women’s soccer team used goals from its two biggest stars, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan, to beat New Zealand 2-0 in their Olympic opener on Wednesday at the Estádio Mineirão.Seeking to become the first reigning Women’s World Cup champion to win the Olympic gold medal, the U.S. overcame a gritty New Zealand effort that made the Kiwis hard to play against, though they created few scoring chances in the U.S. end.The win means the Americans will have the maximum three points when they meet gold medal contender France in their second group stage game on Saturday here.

Here are my three thoughts on the game:

Lloyd and Morgan acted like they’ve been here before

The two big U.S. stars did what was necessary, getting on the scoresheet and preventing any drama, even though neither one had a truly standout game. It made me think of what Lloyd had said in an SI.com story earlier in the day: That the U.S.’s big-tournament mentality is a boost for the Americans and a hindrance for their opponents.

“I got this” is one of the main phrases that sticks out when you listen to the U.S. veterans and watch how they perform in environments like this one. This victory was more clinical than overpowering, but three points is three points. It’s worth noting that the U.S. back line has been here before, too, and posted another clean sheet.

Heath was the U.S.’s most unpredictable threat

Tobin Heath’s terrific technical and dribbling skills kept New Zealand unbalanced, causing the Kiwis to nearly cross the line on multiple occasions to scythe down Heath with dangerous tackles. Making her first U.S. start since June due to injury, Heath created the space for her cross to Lloyd for the first U.S. goal and beat her defenders several times on the ball.With Megan Rapinoe still getting back to 100% physically, Heath is the U.S. player most able to unbalance defenses with her unpredictability—and that matters in the big moments. Also, Ukrainian referee Kateryna Monzul should have protected Heath more on some of the New Zealand’s heaviest tackles. (She did hand out two yellow cards for them, but there should have been more.)Solo booed regularly by the Brazilian crowdWhen the stadium boos first started for Hope Solo, I thought the fans were just unhappy about a couple U.S. backpasses to the goalkeeper instead of pushing the ball up-field. But the more the boos got louder whenever Solo touched the ball, the more it became clear that the Brazilians were unhappy with Solo’s pre-tournament Twitter post of herself in an elaborate mosquito-net headgear to combat the Zika virus. (They even chanted “Zika” on her goal kicks late in the game.)Solo did apologize a few days ago, noting that mosquitoes had not been a problem at all here, but my guess is the boos will become a pattern during the tournament. In any case, it should stoke the U.S.-Brazil rivalry if the two teams wind up meeting at these Olympics.

Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan lead U.S. women in Olymcics opener

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — The final score might not have been historic, but it was sufficiently satisfying for a team trying to take the first step toward a historic gold medal in women’s soccer.The Americans beat New Zealand 2-0 on Wednesday. Carli Lloyd scored the opening goal in the ninth minute, while Alex Morgan added the second in the opening minute of the second half.There were uneven moments and lulls that left a crowd to figure out the minimum attendance required to successfully pull off the wave (when it wasn’t booing U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo with increasing delight every time she touched the ball). But in its sixth Olympics, the United States opened with a win for the fifth time.The United States remains in Belo Horizonte to play France on Saturday, a matchup of medal favorites and two of the top three teams in the world.More to come, but here are three observations from the Group G opener.

1. Injury questions answered

Well, mostly answered. Some deft juggling at halftime marked Megan Rapinoe’s only appearance on the field once the game began. U.S. coach Jill Ellis elected not to give the veteran her first minutes since suffering a torn ACL in Hawaii in December.But it didn’t take long to get a feel for the status of Morgan Brian and Tobin Heath, the other two health concerns entering the tournament. Both were in the starting lineup for the first time since June. And both, as Ellis suggested beforehand, looked ready for duty. That was particularly true of Heath, so easily overlooked but such a dynamic presence in wide spaces and on set-piece deliveries. She set up Lloyd’s opening goal and created several other chances.Squad rotation will be a common phrase here, but Heath looked indispensable enough to likely squeeze minutes from Crystal Dunn, Mallory Pugh or both.

2. Midfield questions remain

There is a difference between a problem and a question. And after one game, the composition of the midfield behind Lloyd remains squarely in the camp of the latter. But there are questions as to how things best fit together after Ellis elected to pair Morgan Brian and Allie Long in the starting lineup for just the third time. That arrangement pushes up Brian to the No. 8 role, while Long fills the No. 6 role that Brian played through much of the World Cup (although rarely ever before that). And the arrangement pushes Lindsey Horan to the bench.Brian was able to slip in the ball that Morgan converted for the second goal, although Brian wasn’t always a noticeable presence as the U.S. women went wide.Given that Ellis probably never intended to play Brian 90 minutes in her first start back, it made for an easy swap when Horan came on midway through the second half. And with the condensed schedule of this tournament, all three are going to play. Still, it leaves open the question of what happens against France? Ellis was pleased with the way her team played when those teams met earlier this year, and that was with Brian and Horan paired together to deny French possession.

3. Carli Lloyd is ageless

Lloyd is effectively the same age in this tournament as Abby Wambach was when the World Cup began a year ago. That was a farewell tour, a role and minutes that had to be delicately managed. Lloyd at 34? Just put her out there for 90 minutes and let her score. She might have more memorable highlights than a looping header to the opposite post, but she put the ball in the net for the fifth game in a row at a major tournament.Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

Tobin Heath sparks U.S. women to 2-0 opening victory

By Graham Hays | Aug 3, 2016espnW.com  Alex Morgan puts USA up 2-0

BELO HORIZONTE, Brazil — Tobin Heath was going to be healthy by Aug. 3.Fortunately, when the calendar reached the aforementioned date, it just so happened that she was healthy.When it comes to the Olympics, those two sentences don’t mean the same thing.Slowed by a hamstring injury in the build-up to the Rio Games, Heath knew she would be healthy enoughto play on Aug. 3, no matter what her hamstring suggested, because the U.S. women’s national team took the field for the first time on that date. But in this particular instance, it didn’t have to be a case of mind over matter. Her hamstring actually healed.”Fortunately for me, I do feel fully healthy,” Heath said the day before the game. “But I do think in terms of tournament modes, you always just want to feel good enough.”She was as good as her word. She was very good. Not coincidentally, the United States was good enough for a 2-0 win over New Zealand and a clean start in Group G ahead of Saturday’s high-stakes second game against fellow gold-medal hopeful France (4 p.m. ET).It was a night when the small crowd in Belo Horizonte took increasing delight heckling U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo, the consensus among local media and native Portuguese speakers being that what began as chants of a slur often directed at goalkeepers upon kicking the ball soon morphed into similar-sounding chants of “Zika” in response to Solo’s publicly expressed concerns about the virus.After the game, Solo played down the reception. If fans had fun at her expense, she suggested, so be it.Nor was it all that malicious in the scheme of things — if the interpretation of the changing chants was correct, the first should be far more troublesome than the second that merely needled a well-known player for public comments and social media posts. But in some sense it’s a shame that the whole audible sideshow took any focus off a player whose style should endear her to Brazilian soccer fans — a player for whom Brazil is practically a pilgrimage.”I think it’s a very speial place to play, as a football player,” Heath said of an Olympic career that has also taken her to some of the great soccer temples of English football.

She’s a phenomenal player. She’s soaring with confidence and a super, super important piece to this team.Carli Lloyd on U.S. teammate Tobin Heath

Asked about the chants, U.S. coach Jill Ellis said she hoped her team played a style the Brazilian fans could embrace.They do that better with Heath on the field than not.Consider the goal that put the Americans ahead in the ninth minute. Heath started the game on the left side, familiar space to her but also the real estate in which teenager Mallory Pugh has so often dazzled this year. On this sequence, Heath could have made a run for the end line to set up a cross. Instead, she cut back, avoided defenders and served a perfect cross toward the head of Carli Lloyd (or to improve the odds still more, Allie Long’s nearby head).Lloyd sent a header back to where the service came from and found an empty net.”It’s really my job to get in the box and get on the end of crosses,” Lloyd said. “There is really no excuse. I’ve been working on it. I can outleap people. It’s one of those things where, it’s kind of been the next step for me, just getting on the end of crosses. I knew she was going to whip in a good ball and had to somehow get up there, leap up there and find the back of the net.”The opening goal came quickly enough, but only after Heath had already served notice of her presence on the field with a free kick that gave Alex Morgan a clean header in front of the goal.Inside of 10 minutes, Heath set up the two players this team most needs to feed.As often as not, as in this instance, at least one of them is going to score.”I think that was the best way we could have started,” Heath said of Lloyd’s goal. “Obviously we came out with a lot of energy, with a lot of determination. I think in that regard, we kind of put our best foot forward and got that goal, and I think that helped propel us throughout the game.”Morgan scored the insurance goal early in the second half.It was yet another goal in a major tournament for Lloyd, who has scored in five such games in a row. The co-captain became one of 15 American women to play in at least three Olympics. It is her team now, and it is increasingly clear it follows her lead. But the list of players with at least three Olympics also now includes the player who set her up for the goal. Always popular but never quite one of the faces of the team, Heath has amassed 120 caps well before her 30th birthday. She has taken the field in the U.S. uniform more times than anyone on the active Olympic roster save Lloyd and Solo.”I think Tobin has grown so much as a player,” Lloyd said. “She has become such a two-way midfielder. Not to say that she didn’t work hard when she was a younger player, but I think she’s now got the discipline to track back and win balls, win second balls, tackle. She’s a phenomenal player. She’s soaring with confidence and a super, super important piece to this team.”

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Ellis singled out many of those same traits — Heath’s value as an attacking player, the ability to take on opponents one-on-one and her ability to put the ball on the foot of teammates. She talked, too, about the work rate, the one that forced New Zealand player after New Zealand player to bring her to the ground, either in pursuit or after turning over the ball. Sure, Heath knows how to make the most of that contact, earning a sarcastic pat on the shoulder from Ria Percival after the latter received a yellow card for a tangling of feet. Great players do.But there is more that Heath offers, traits that Pugh, who left her Olympic debut with a minor right ankle issue, and Crystal Dunn don’t have at such early stages of such astoundingly promising careers.”The other thing we get with Tobin is a player that’s been there and someone who can calm us in the storm,” Ellis said. “There were moments in that game when momentum was building for them. And having players like this that are very comfortable on the ball helps take the steam out of your opponent.”If not the steam out of the crowd.Solo was the lightning rod this night, but as she so often does, Heath sparked a team to life.Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

USWNT’s Hope Solo brushes off boos, Zika chants from Brazilian fans

Leave a commentBy Joe Prince-WrightAug 4, 2016, 1:20 PM EDT

Hope Solo isn’t bothered by Brazilian booing.U.S. women’s national team goalkeeper Solo, 35, was booed heavily on Wednesday by local fans in Belo Horizonte.Every time the veteran USWNT goalkeeper touched the ball in their Rio 2016 opener she was heckled as chants of “ole, ole, ole, ole, Zika, Zika” were also directed at her from the fans in the stands.You can watch it all take place, here.Ahead of the USA’s opening game at the Rio 2016 Olympics — a 2-0 victory over New Zealand to open group play — Solo sent out a number of tweets regarding the current outbreak of the Zika virus in the nation.In the months leading up to the games she had also revealed her concerns about participating but the Associated Press has the following comment from Solo after the game.  “I’m glad the fans had fun,” Solo said. “And if they had fun at my expense, more power to them.”

Solo had earlier apologized to the Brazilian public, some of whom were offended by messages she sent out on Twitter which showed her wearing a hat with mosquito netting and having copious amounts of insect repellent in her room at the Olympic village.The USWNT’s head coach, Jill Ellis, also brushed off the heckling.“That’s something hopefully they will put behind them and realize that Hope has apologized to the Brazilian people,” Ellis said. “Sometimes mistakes are made. We are used to getting booed in other countries, so that part of it is not foreign. I hope the Brazilian people appreciate what we are trying to do with the ball and move past that.”Solo and the USWNT are back in action this Saturday against France in Belo Horizonte in a mouth-watering match.Let’s see what kind of reception Solo and the rest of the U.S. squad get this weekend. I’m guessing it will be pretty similar.

Five Goals for Five Years! – Indy Eleven V Jacksonville Armada (8/3/2016)

Bloody Shambles — By: James Cormack

The Brickyard Battalion celebrated their fifth anniversary since the initial conception of the supporters group by singing the national anthem from the West End, and the players gave the fans the perfect birthday gift by notching a goal in the game for each of those years.amon Zayed scored his second hat-trick for Indy Eleven with three goals bringing his total goal tally for the club in competitive play to 12 goals, 11 of those scored in the NASL and now sits one goal behind Cristian Ramirez in the race for the golden boot.It did not take long for Indy to further increase the managerial headache currently being suffered by Tony Meola. Just Braun ended his goal scoring drought by opening the scoring for Indy Eleven in the 13th minute with his first league goal since the 4-2 win over Minnesota United earlier in Spring. It took Indy Eleven on three more minutes to double their lead, Éamon Zayed gathered a perfectly weighted cross from Don Smart on Indy’s right, controlled and drilled the ball home from about 16 yards out from goal. It was a well made goal, notable for the fact that Zayed actually started the move himself by robbing Jackonville’s Jérôme on the half way allowing Smart to pick up the ball.

Armada pulled one goal back through Alhassane Keita to give Jacksonville some hope in the 33rd minute, but those hopes faded fast as Nemanja Vukovic stepped up to score his third goal in an Indy Eleven shirt. An attack started by Don Smart on the right found the head of Zayed in the box who nodded down but Armada cleared but only to Nemanja some 25yrds out, Vukovic brought the ball down and drove a low curling shot into the right side of the Armada goal. Indy went into the break with a 3-1 lead.Jacksonville can consider themselves a little fortunate that Indy did not break any records last night. The scoring in both halves could have been much higher. The second half saw two more goals from Indy and a consolation for Jacksonville unfortunately scored by returning captain Colin Falvey.Zayed scored his second and third goals in the 58th and 65th minute. A ripping shot from Dylan Mares that cannoned off the post then deflected off of Justin Braun fell neatly to Zayed who poked home from close range to put Indy 4-1 up. Éamon has a knack of being in the right place at the right time, he also pounced on his third goal from close range after a ripping shot from Justin Braun was parried by Armada keeper Sean Lewis.Indy finished up the game 5-2, a late own goal from Colin Falvey was small consolation for what was a very bad night for them. Indy don’t let in too many goals and arguably the two we conceded were just unfortunate. Falvey did the right thing staying in front of the attacker in an attempt to clear the cross whipped in from Armada he just caught the ball late and it went in off his toe, outside of this Falvey was a rock at the back and as good as ever after returning from injury. Jacksonville’s first goal had a little luck in it to, an attempt to press the attacker from Don Smart led to the ball deflecting off of him and into the path of Keita. An unfortunate event late in the game saw the sending off of Greg Janicki and Alhassane Keita. Greg had been tracking Keita going towards our goal and had gained possession of the ball but Keita was pushing and pulling at Janicki’s back and was promptly dumped out of the playing area by Janicki, he pretty much deserved it. Keita spent some time rolling around on the turf pretending his face was hurt for some reason, just blatant acting and a lack of professionalism. The end result was both players being red carded. The timing of the return of Colin Falvey is fortunate and we will likely see him partner Cory Miller on Saturday against Ottawa.

It was a great performance and one that we should see more often, we can play like this against any team, the fact that Jacksonville are struggling this year does not detract from how well we played.Don Smart was a big difference maker, I have been calling for him to start for two weeks now. He gives so much to our game from the wing that we don’t normally have, he had some kind of involvement in almost every attack of the game, whether making an early touch in a buildup or supplying the final pass in front of goal. Smart connected with 26 of 33 passes, had a 100% success rate on crosses and on tackles and duels. AND he got to play for 90 minutes.Don proved against Edmonton and Miami that he can be more influential than most in a short space of time, it was fitting he was rewarded with a start and proved without doubt he can provide the same vision, intelligence and creativity across 90 minutes. His head is always up, he is always looking for the killer pass and if he has one weakness at times it might be unselfishness, there are always those one or two times you just want to see him crack a shot at goal when the opportunity presents itself.

As well as the return of Colin Falvey who led the back line well, Jon Busch also returned and made several critical saves during the game to deny Jacksonville any further goals, not least his stop in the 2nd minute of the game to prevent Armada from opening the scoring. Jérôme unleashed a blistering shot from a free kick some 40 yards from goal which Busch parried out for a throw in. (see video below).The overall team performance and work ethic was outstanding, our forward line was hungry and clinical, our creativity from the width was ample enough to create more than enough goal scoring chances, hopefully Indy can bring this momentum forward into the next two home games and secure another six points. The three goal deficit from this game was enough to lift Indy Eleven back into the number one spot in the fall standings.

 

As always Bloody Shambles and Permanent Relegation are supporting Playworks Indiana children’s charity with our #EamonZayedRule initiative. We are donating money for every goal Éamon Zayed scores this year and you can choose to play along or just make a one off donation to help us reach our target of $2000. Click Here for More Information.Éamon’s 12 goals this year have now raised $402 from pledges alone. Well done Éamon!Also if you enjoy our #NASLMap catch up with @SoccerBits latest update of the standings across North America – CLICK HERE TO READ 

RECAP – INDY ELEVEN 5 : 2 JACKSONSVILLE

Records fall at The Mike, paced by another Zayed hat trick

Records Fall in Indy Eleven’s 5-2 Win over Jacksonville Armada FC

Eamon Zayed Tallies Hat Trick to Claim Club’s Single-season and Career Goal Scoring Marks;Five-goal Outburst Marks Highest Output by “Boys in Blue” in NASL Regular Season Play
INDIANAPOLIS (Wednesday, August 3, 2016)  Indy Eleven scored early and often in a thorough 5-2 victory over Jackonsville Armada FC in front of 8,017 fans tonight at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, setting a club record for the most goals scored in an NASL regular season game in the process.That wasn’t the only record that fell on the evening as forward Eamon Zayed’s second hat trick of the season marked his ninth, tenth and eleventh goals in league play, breaking both the single-season and career goal-scoring records, previously held alongside Kleberson. The Brazilian World Cup champion initially claimed both records by scoring all eight of his goals in checkers during the club’s inaugural 2014 season.“The big discussion all week was not coming out of the locker room with a true commitment to engage in battle from the opening whistle [in previous games],” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “So, we felt this was something we had to prove to ourselves tonight and come out and go straight to high pressure as a wakeup call and get on top of Jacksonville, and it worked out.”A rough opening 10 minutes for both sides was highlighted by Mechack Jerome’s rocketed free kick from 35 yards out in the third minute that was punched away by Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch. Indy Eleven’s sharpness would start to develop soon thereafter, and it showed in the 13th minute when Justin Braun accepted Dylan Mares’ cutback pass from the endline, took a touch and shrugged off a tackle before slotting home from eight yards out to start the scoring onslaught.Three minutes later it was Zayed scoring his first of the night. After starting the play with a tackle in midfield, Zayed was rewarded for making a run on the counter when Don Smart whipped in an early cross that the Irishman finished 1-v-1 on Jacksonville ‘keeper Sean Lewis to double the early Indy lead.Jacksonville showed signs of life in attack after Indy’s second, but it was a gift by the Eleven backline on a failed clearance attempt that allowed Alhassane Keita to open the visitors’ account in the 33rd minute. After collecting the ball just outside the area, the Guinean attacker was able to dribble inside and unleash a shot that beat Busch to the upper left corner, breathing life back into a match that was becoming one-sided.But the reprieve would be temporary, as a failed clearance of Armada FC’s would bite them just three minutes later. This time it was Indy Eleven left back Nemanja Vukovic doing the punishing, as the Montenegrin collected the ball 25 yards out and bounced a far post shot past Lewis to push things to 3-1, where  the score would stay entering the halftime break.It was Zayed doing the goal-scoring damage for the home side in the second half, but he had plenty of help from his fellow Boys in Blue, starting in the 58th minute when Mares’ shot to the near post beat Lewis but rang off the woodwork. A deflection off of Braun took the ball into the path of Zayed, who swept home from the doorstep for his 10th of the season and a 4-1 advantage for the Eleven. It would take only seven more minutes for Zayed to finish his hat trick, this time bagging Braun’s rebounded shot to give “Indiana’s Team” a new high-water mark in regards to scoring in league affairs.“It was great, a whole team performance,” Zayed said of the win. “Especially after the Miami game, we wanted to go out and make a statement and we’ve done that tonight. It was emphatic. We’ll look forward to now Saturday’s game with confidence.”Zayed had two more golden chances for his fourth off cross by Smart in the second half, but the only other goal would be credited to the Armada, although it would be scored by in the 80th minute on an own goal by Colin Falvey. The Indy captain, making his first start of the Fall Season after coming back from a right hamstring injury, accidently knocked in Matt Bahner’s cross from the left flank at the near post while sliding in to fight off Keita.Keita was also in the heart of the only other excitement down the stretch, a 89th minute scuffle with Indy center back Greg Janicki that saw both players red carded – and both teams get involved in some pushing and shoving, although only Beto Navarro of Armada FC would be shown any further discipline by being cautioned.With the three points, Indy Eleven jumped back into first place on both the Combined Season (31 points, even with New York but ahead on goal differential) and the Fall Season (13 points, even with New York & FC Edmonton but, again, ahead in goal differntial) standings.The Eleven will not have long to celebrate the win, as the squad will return to action in the middle match of a three-game homestand this Saturday, Aug. 6, when it plays host to “Class of 2014” mate Ottawa Fury FC. Kickoff at Carroll Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on IndyFringe Night at “The Mike,” and tickets starting at just $11 can be purchased online at IndyEleven.com or over the phone at 317-685-1100 weekdays from 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. Fans that can’t make the match can watch live locally on WISH-TV or online via ESPN3.com and listen in on Exitos Radio 1590 AM and www.Exitos1590.com (Spanish).

NASL Fall Season
Indy Eleven  5 : 2  Jacksonville Armada FC
    Wednesday, August 3, 2016
Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN
   Attendance: 8,017

Indy Eleven:
Fall Season: 4W-1D-2L, 13 pts.
Overall Season: 8W-7D-2L, 31 pts.

Jacksonville Armada FC:
Fall Season: 1W-1D-5L, 4 pts.
Overall Season: 2W-5D-10L, 11 pts.

Scoring Summary:
IND – Justin Braun (Dylan Mares) 13’
IND – Eamon Zayed (Don Smart) 16’
JAX – Alhassane Keita (unassisted) 33’
IND – Nemanja Vukovic (unassisted) 36’
IND – Eamon Zayed (Justin Braun) 58’
IND – Eamon Zayed (unassisted) 65’
JAX – own goal (Colin Falvey) 80’

Discipline Summary:
IND – Colin Falvey (caution) 2’
JAX –Lucas Scaglia (caution) 40’
JAX – Alhassane Keita (ejection) 88’
IND – Greg Janicki (ejection) 89’
JAX – Beto Navarro (caution) 90’

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković, Greg Janicki, Colin Falvey (capt), Lovel Palmer (Marco Franco 62’); Dylan Mares, Nicki Paterson, Brad Ring (Gerardo Torrado 63’), Don Smart; Eamon Zayed, Justin Braun (Souleymane Youla 69’)Indy Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Cory Miller, Duke Lacroix, Omar Gordon

Jacksonville Armada FC (3-5-2): Sean Lewis; Karl Ouimette, Beto Navarro, Tyler Ruthven (capt); Matt Bahner, Nicklas Maripuu, Lucas Scaglia (Danny Barrow 58’), Mechack Jerome, Jemal Johnson (Zach Steinberger 45’); Alexander Andersson (Charles Eloundou 65’), Alhassane Keita  Armada FC bench: Miguel Gallardo, Anthony Wallace, Kevan George, Patrick Otte

Community Shield preview: Leicester City vs. Man United

By Joe Prince-WrightAug 5, 2016, 1:01 PM EDT

The curtain-raiser for the 2016-17 English domestic season takes place on Sunday as Premier League champs Leicester City face FA Cup holders Manchester United in the FA Community Shield.A showpiece event which dishes out the first-pierce of silverware of the season, many often overlook the importance of this game at Wembley Stadium.Not this year.With Leicester looking to somehow repeat their incredible title-winning season, Claudio Ranieri‘s side will be up against it as they also prepare to play in the UEFA Champions League for the first-time ever this season.For Manchester United, a new era has begun under Jose Mourinho as three new players have arrived (Eric BaillyHenrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic) and Paul Pogba’s world-record transfer is edging closer. The Red Devils are doing everything they can to be back among England and Europe’s elite after finishing fifth in the PL last season under former boss Louis Van Gaal.This game will be an intriguing clash to see where each side is at one week before the PL campaign kicks off. Leicester have taken some beatings against the likes of PSG and Barcelona during preseason, while United flew all the way to China for one game after the pitch debacle in Beijing.In team news Jamie Vardy should feature for Leicester who are at full strength, while United have no fresh injury concerns.ProSoccerTalk will have live coverage from Wembley Stadium on Sunday (kick off is 11 a.m. ET) plus reaction and analysis post-game.

Key stats (via Opta)

  • None of the last five Community Shield winners have gone on to win the Premier League title that season – the last team to do this were Manchester United in 2010/11
  • Manchester United have lost just one of their last 15 games in all competitions against Leicester, though this was a memorable 5-3 victory in September 2014 (W11 D3)
  • This will be Manchester United’s 30th appearance in the Community Shield. They’ve won the trophy on 20 previous occasions, a record figure (16 outright wins and four shared titles)
  • The only Wembley match between Leicester and Manchester United previously was the FA Cup Final in 1963, in which the Red Devils ran out 3-1 winners
  • This is Leicester City’s first appearance in the Community Shield since 1971/72, in which they beat Liverpool 1-0 at Filbert Street. The Foxes were winners of the second division the season before

What they’re saying

Ranieri on playing at Wembley: “All managers and players want to play at Wembley Stadium. It’s one of the most famous stadiums in the world. This is not a friendly. We will give the maximum and also Manchester United will too. Both teams want to win it.”Mourinho on United’s preseason: “The week of no work in China was really bad for us. So we need to train, we need to play, we need minutes for the players. Now we have no chance to train against other teams. We have Leicester before the Premier League and it is not a training session – it is a game.

Prediction

Both teams will take this seriously and will want the razzmatazz of winning a trophy at Wembley a few days before the PL season has begun. United, on paper, has the stronger squad but as Mourinho mentioned, they are struggling to get everyone up to speed. Leicester has been all over the planet during preseason and the Foxes have looked uncharacteristically ragged in defense. United to win, 2-1.

 

Get to know the 2016 USWNT Olympic roster: goalkeepers and defenders

By Stephanie YangCharles Olney, and Jessica Fletcher on Jul 18, 2016, 8:15a 

Your guide to the USWNT Olympic squad, position by position

This is your guide to the USWNT 2016 Olympic roster, position by position. We’ll be posting this guide in parts all week so you can prepare yourself for kickoff on August 3.

GOALKEEPERS

Hope Solo
Age: 34 (35 by the time the tournament starts)
Height: 5’9″
Club: Seattle Reign
Caps: 197
First cap: April 5, 2000 | USA vs Iceland
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup, 2012 Olympics, 2011 World Cup, 2008 Olympics, 2007 World Cup

Considered an automatic selection at this point, Hope Solo enters Rio as the most decorated goalkeeper in US Soccer history. A two-time World Cup Golden Glove recipient, Solo is looking to do something that no goalkeeper in US history has done: win an Olympic gold medal the year after winning the World Cup. Having earned her 100th shutout in a match against South Africa, the milestone chase is out of the way right in time for Rio.Obviously known for her dynamic shot stopping and positioning, it will be Solo’s distribution and communication with her back line that will make a difference in Rio. Look for Solo to use her pinpoint drop kicks and quick roll outs to launch counter attacks and catch the opposing team off guard. If she is able to do this consistently, that’ll be a key to victory throughout the tournament.

Alyssa Naeher
Age: 28
Height: 5’9″
Club: Chicago Red Stars
Caps: 6
First cap: December 18, 2014 | USA vs Argentina
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 Women’s World Cup

Alyssa Naeher has quietly worked her way up to become the WNT’s second goalkeeper. She, like her counterpart Ashlyn Harris, has spent years chugging away for clubs across Women’s Professional Soccer and the National Women’s Soccer League, with a stint overseas in Europe. Unlike Harris, Naeher spent a couple of seasons being one of the few points of light for her club team with the Boston Breakers. But if Naeher was forced to face significantly more shots than other NWSL goalkeepers, that meant she also made significantly more saves, highlighting both her shotstopping and her positioning in the box at the expense of the Breakers’ standings. Despite Boston’s struggles, Naeher was named NWSL’s 2014 Goalkeeper of the Year.Combine this with Harris needing knee surgery in 2015, and Naeher was able to put some distance between herself and her closest competition for the #2 spot. She still hasn’t gotten much time to really prove herself for the WNT, but she remains a steady presence for her current club, the Chicago Red Stars. If history is any indication Solo will play every minute of every game in the Olympics, but Naeher is certainly a more-than-solid choice as a backup should it come to that.

DEFENDERS

Kelley O’Hara
Age: 27
Height: 5’5″
Club: Sky Blue FC
Caps: 81
First cap: March 28, 2010 | USA vs Mexico
Goals/assists: 2 goals/10 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup, 2012 Olympics, 2011 World Cup

Kelley O’Hara has followed a somewhat meandering path to her current position as the starting right back for the WNT. She was originally a forward, then converted to a defender by former head coach Pia Sundhage. It turned out to be a pretty brilliant stroke from Sundhage, whose experiments didn’t always turn out so hot. O’Hara is known for her endurance and speed, both qualities crucial to the style of wingback play desired from her. She just needed to strengthen herself on the defensive side of the ball – “just,” as though being a good defender isn’t as much about positioning and cerebral anticipation as it is about raw athleticism. O’Hara still isn’t quite as defensively sound as her predecessor, Ali Krieger; Ellis is hoping the tradeoff in offensive capability will make up for that.O’Hara will be expected to get deep and whip in some crosses, or possibly cut in herself from time to time. She’s also capable of being put in almost anywhere on the field; that versatility is a huge part of why Ellis included her on the roster. O’Hara can switch from right to left back, or she can go in at forward, or even midfield at a pinch.

Becky Sauerbrunn
Age: 31
Height: 5’7’
Club: FC Kansas City
Caps: 108
First cap: January 16, 2008 | USA vs Canada
Goals/assists: 0 goals/3 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup, 2012 Olympics, 2011 World Cup

While often passed over for the major awards at the international level, many regard Becky Sauerbrunn as perhaps the best defender in world soccer today. After a number of years playing primarily as a reserve, she cemented her status as first-choice center back after the 2012 Olympics. In the World Cup last summer, she was the rock around which the defense was organized, and helped lead the US to victory. She has since been named co-captain of the team, along with Carli Lloyd.Her style of play isn’t flashy, but is grounded in relentless and precise application of the fundamentals. Where other center backs make highlight reels with desperate last-second clearances, the trademark Sauerbrunn move is a simple tackle which squelches a dangerous move long before it can manifest. Her positioning is pinpoint and her ability to read the game is second to none. Those qualities have earned her three consecutive Defender of the Year Awards in the NWSL, where she has captaining FC Kansas to consecutive titles, and are crucial to the US chances for winning Gold in Rio this summer. On a squad with many stars, there is arguably no single player more important to the team’s chances this summer than Sauerbrunn.

Julie Johnston
Age: 24
Height: 5’7″
Club: Chicago Red Stars
Caps: 38
First cap: February 9, 2013 | USA vs Scotland
Goals/assists: 8 goals/2 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup

Julie Johnston is one summer removed from her veritable skyrocket to stardom. A year and a half ago she was left off the World Cup qualifying roster and although she was later added after an injury, she did not see a minute in the tournament. After working with Carli Lloyd and her trainer, James Galanis, and a few key USWNT defensive injuries, Johnston suddenly solidified her role as preferred center back partner for Becky Sauerbrunn. A series of commanding performances in the World Cup made Johnston a household name.One year later Johnston’s World Cup performance can be put in perspective and in doing so it becomes clear she’s still got a lot to prove. If not for Hope Solo’s doctorate in mind games, we might be looking at Johnston’s conceded penalty in the semi-final as the straw that broke the camel’s back. Similarly if Carli Lloyd hadn’t ascended to another plane of existence during the final, we might remember that Johnston conceded an own goal during that match. Known for her crunching tackles and dangerous near post run on set pieces, Johnston will need to limit the crucial mistakes to capitalize on her effectiveness in the Olympics.

Meghan Klingenberg
Age: 27
Height: 5’2″
Club: Portland Thorns
Caps: 64
First cap: January 23, 2011 | USA vs Canada
Goals/assists: 3 goals/4 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup

Klingenberg’s ascendance to her starting spot on the left seems to have happened fairly quickly. She went from two caps in 2011, none in 2012, and four in 2013, to 18 in 2014. She played in every single WNT match in 2015 and was an integral part of that solid core of defenders in the World Cup that kept the United States in it through group stage. Some of that was the team transitioning from its previous left-sided fullback, Steph Cox, who had a natural left foot. Part of it was also that Crystal Dunn was still being tested as a defender a few years ago. Now that things have settled down a bit, Klingenberg is the designated left back, pushing as high as she can go along the flank to deliver service into the box. Sometimes that can mean she meanders a little bit, but she’s been getting better about learning to go or stay and not getting caught out too high. Plus, her strong connection to Tobin Heath, developed through club play in Portland, is a vital offensive tool on the left side of the field.

Whitney Engen 
Age: 29
Height: 5’8″
Club: Boston Breakers
Caps: 36
First cap: March 4, 2011 | USA vs Norway
Goals/assists: 4 goals/1 assist
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup

Whitney Engen saw her minutes peak in 2014 and then gradually taper off through 2015. As third center back, Engen might have one of the most thankless jobs on a squad that will almost certainly field Becky Sauerbrunn and Julie Johnston for the great majority of the Olympics, if not all of it. Engen is expected to act as a reserve in case either Sauerbrunn or Johnston is unavailable or needs to be moved in the formation, and she must fit in as seamlessly as possible with a defense she rarely plays with outside of practice. Still, Engen has enough caps not to come undone in a big tournament, and should she be required to step in, will probably be a fairly steady presence.

Ali Krieger
Age: 31
Height: 5’6″
Club: Washington Spirit
Caps: 90
First cap: January 16, 2008 | USA vs Canada
Goals/assists: 1 goal/8 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup, 2011 World Cup

Krieger was, for a very long time, the acknowledged starting right back for the WNT. She was derailed before the 2012 Olympics with an ACL injury during qualifying, but worked her way back to full healthiness and returned to her starting spot with a minor adjustment period. In 2015, she was an absolutely crucial part of the back line at the World Cup and seemed to be a lock to once again start in the Olympics, but as Jill Ellis looks for more attacking from her fullbacks, she’s placed Krieger on the sub list.Krieger is more defensive-minded than her counterpart Kelley O’Hara but she does her fair share of overlapping runs as well, and is certainly capable of quick interchange to move the ball into the attacking third, where she can whip in a cross. Krieger is too valuable not to see some time during the Olympics and may even see a start here or there, especially as the high-energy game demanded of O’Hara will certainly require squad rotation.

USWNT 2016 Olympic roster guide: forwards

By Stephanie YangCharles Olney, and Jessica Fletcher on Jul 26, 2016, 11:00a 5 

Four of the best forwards in the world and a lot of expectations

Our guide to the 2016 USWNT Olympic roster continues with the forwards.  You catch up on goalkeepers and defenders here and the midfielders here.

Crystal Dunn
Age: 24
Height: 5’1″
Club: Washington Spirit
Caps: 33
First cap: February 13, 2013 | USA vs Scotland
Goals/assists: 13 goals/7 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: none

Crystal Dunn turned the ultimate heartbreak of being the last player left off of the 2015 World Cup roster into the best statistical season of her professional career. After being left off it’s like Dunn made it her personal mission to show Jill Ellis exactly what she was missing out on by leaving her at home. Ultimately the United States and Crystal Dunn were winners last summer as her Golden-Boot-winning NWSL season led to her recall to the national team. Since being brought back into the fold, Dunn hasn’t relinquished her hold on a roster spot.While last season she was more of a center forward for the Washington Spirit, she’s more likely to play as a wide attacking midfielder for the national team. Known for her speed and confidence to dribble and take on defenders, she’ll be expected to score goals cutting in from out wide as well as setting up goals for her teammates. It should also be a comfort to Ellis to know that Dunn is comfortable playing any field position which gives her extra flexibility to make tactical changes without burning subs. Dunn will be looking to prove that leaving her off of the roster last summer was a mistake so look for her to score goals this tournament when she’s given playing time.

Christen Press
Age: 27
Height: 5’7
Club: Chicago Red Stars
Caps: 68
First cap: February 9, 2013 | USA vs Scotland
Goals/assists: 33 goals/12 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup

Mercurial, inventive, and absolutely deadly in front of goal, Christen Press is one of the preeminent strikers in the game today. Since joining the national team in 2013, she has been a prolific goal-scorer (notching a tally just about once per 90 minutes), but nevertheless been followed by a tinge of disappointment. For all Press’s obvious talents, Jill Ellis has struggled to find a stable place for her in the team, often deploying her on the wings where she finds it difficult to assert herself. More recently, Press has been given some chances to play centrally as a withdrawn striker or attacking midfielder. It’s a position she’s also taken more regularly with her club team this year, to varying degrees of success.The common refrain about Press is ‘why can’t she replicate her club form?’ While her work with the national team hasn’t been terrible by any stretch, it is clearly true that she has had more success as the focal point of an attack.  The problem is that her greatest strengths are her unconventionality and her creativity; she will make runs no one else would even consider, employ a Cruyff turn where anyone else would pass backward, and unleash shots from impossible angles. As the primary striking option, given space and attention in the center of the pitch, these qualities are a recipe for game-winning goals and flustered defenses.But pushed out to the wings, or dropped further back, Press’s best qualities are at least partially muted. It may be that the best usage of all the team’s resources demands playing her out of position in this way (and she is a surprisingly solid defender – a useful skill for a team that’s often susceptible to attacking fullbacks). That’s a topic that Jill Ellis will certainly be pondering a great deal over the next few weeks.

Mallory Pugh
Age: 18
Height: 5’4
Club: UCLA / Real Colorado
Caps: 13
First cap: January 23, 2016 | USA vs Ireland
Goals/assists: 2 goals/7 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: none

The youngest player in the squad, by a country mile, Mallory Pugh has burst onto the national team in 2016, moving from ‘experiment’ to ‘lock’ in the course of just a few months. This is the first of many tournaments at which she’ll be wearing the stars and stripes.

With pace to burn and a silky smooth touch, she has been one of the most effective offensive forces for the team this year, scoring a pair of goals and assisting on seven more.  Her skill on the ball and passing ability probably means she’s destined for the #10 role eventually, but this summer at least she is far more likely to play on the sides, either as a winger or as a flanking striker. That position allows her to capitalize on that pace—running onto balls over the top or through balls down the lines, and quickly outflanking her opposition. It also helps to minimize her greatest weakness: an underdeveloped sense of defensive positioning. On the wings, her attacking prowess itself becomes a defensive asset, pinning opposing backs deep in their own territory to minimize the danger of being caught out.Pugh has started more than half of the US games so far this year, but the return of Megan Rapinoe might change that calculation. It’s clear that Jill Ellis trusts Pugh enormously, but it remains to be seen whether she’ll want to bench the likes of Dunn or Press in order to get Pugh on the pitch. It’s also worth noting that Pugh has shown a slight tendency to drift out of games a bit, when she’s been asked to go the full 90. Her best usage might then be as an impact sub, capable of ripping apart tired defenses and breaking open games on the counterattack.

Alex Morgan
Age: 27
Height: 5’7″
Club: Orlando Pride
Caps: 111
First cap: March 31, 2010 | USA vs Mexico
Goals/assists: 67 goals/35 assists
Previous major tourneys with WNT: 2015 World Cup, 2012 Olympics, 2011 World Cup

It’s been a long time since Alex Morgan was the “baby horse” on the team, the young prodigy banging in goal after goal. She’s a veteran now and very much a leader and will be expected to headline this corps of forwards. But after a banner 2012, when she broke into the 20/20 club (over 20 goals/20 assists in one calendar year; she had 28 goals and 21 assists) she also began struggling with some long-term injuries that just would. not. go. away. Coming back from those injuries was a laborious process that had some people questioning whether she’d simply peaked already.Perhaps she has peaked. Perhaps not, though years like her 2012 don’t come around very often. But as we’ve seen of late, Alex Morgan on the gentle downslope of her career is still a better forward than a hell of lot of others out there, and someone almost any national team would be glad to have on their roster. She still has speed to burn and the ability to split defenders. She can still pull defenders’ attention, opening up the field for a threat like Christen Press or Crystal Dunn. And she has an underrated first touch in front of goal, the kind of calm savvy born of experience and confidence that keeps her from panicking and helps her get off clean shots. She’ll most definitely be in some, if not all starting XIs this August, either as a lone striker in perhaps a 4-2-3-1 or paired up with someone like Press and asked to fluidly interchange as necessary.

Antonio Conte hints at loan for Chelsea defender Matt Miazga

Antonio Conte has hinted that defender Matt Miazga could leave Chelsea this summer in search of first-team football to aid his development.Miazga, 21, faces competition from John Terry, Gary Cahill, Kurt Zouma and Branislav Ivanovic for a place in the centre of Chelsea’s defence.Conte has said he is pleased with the U.S. international’s potential but suggested he could be set to leave the Blues on loan.”I think in this moment it is good if he plays to improve, to go and get experience to improve,” the Italian said. “You can improve only if you play.”You play every game or a lot of games during the season. But he is a good guy and I am very happy about him.”Miazga is a young player, he has a good technique and I think that he is working very well under the physical aspect, but the tactical aspect he can improve a lot and I think that he is improving with the work.”After joining from the New York Red Bulls for £3.5 million in January, Miazga has played twice in the Premier League.

Wayne Rooney says “old Manchester United” is back under Mourinho

1 CommentBy Joe Prince-WrightAug 1, 2016, 8:55 AM EDT

Wayne Rooney is a little bit excited about the Jose Mourinho era at Manchester United.Rooney, 30, scored twice in United’s 5-2 friendly win against Galatasaray in Sweden on Saturday and with new signings settling in and Paul Pogba reportedly on his way, optimism levels at Old Trafford are rising ahead of the 2016-17 Premier League campaign.This week is a big one for Rooney as Old Trafford hosts his testimonial on Wednesday against his former club Everton.United’s captain will then lead his team out at Wembley Stadium as they face reigning Premier League champions Leicester City in the Community Shield, the traditional curtain-raiser of English soccer’s domestic season, this Sunday.Speaking to the Daily Mail, Rooney believes this particular season promises plenty.

“We’re in a very good spot now, we think we can challenge for the Premier League,” Rooney said. “I think the players feel this is more like the old Manchester United.”

Rooney — who Mourinho claims will play up front instead of in midfield like he did in the latter stages of last season and during EURO 2016 — went on to reveal the kind of mentality Mourinho has brought with him through the door.“The way he speaks to individuals, the way he talks to the group, the way he makes players feel so confident. I’ve heard him talk to players, and you know that player will now be feeling on top of the world,” Rooney said. “He’s done it with me, he’s done it with all of us — that is one of his qualities. You know he will leave messages for you with the press — messages for other managers — he’s very clever with his words.”The Mourinho factor has taken a while to kick in but these kind of quotes from senior figures of United’s squad explain why United were so keen to get rid of Louis Van Gaal and replace him with “The Special One” as soon as they could.Mourinho, 53, is a born winner and multiple reports claim he’s already forced plenty of international players to train with the reserves ahead of a massive cull of players in the next months.Without a PL title since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013, United have spent big withDavid Moyes and LVG in charge but all they have to show for it are seventh, fourth and fifth place finishes in the PL plus an FA Cup trophy last season. Mourinho will be aiming to make the Red Devils competitive at the top of the table next season and he’s already said “he wants it all” and isn’t shying away from that.Zlatan Ibrahimovic, soon Pogba, and the likes of Henrik Mkhitaryan point to a new brash era beginning for England’s most successful ever club on the domestic scene with 20 league titles.He’s ruthless but as Rooney’s comments suggest, Mourinho is willing to do whatever it takes to make United successful again.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Arsenal

Leave a commentBy Joe Prince-WrightAug 1, 2016, 10:42 AM EDT

In the eyes of Arsenal’s fans the 13-time champions of England have had a rough stretch the past decade, failing to add to the three Premier League titles Arsene Wengerdelivered in his first eight years in charge of the Gunners.One of the best supported teams in England, and worldwide, their glistening Emirates Stadium is a beacon of all that’s right about modern day soccer.Hampered with the cost of that stadium for so long, Arsenal were unable to give Wenger significant transfer funds and he had to sell key players over the past decade. That time has now passed with the likes of Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez and now Granit Xhaka arriving for big money but with more money spent comes bigger expectations and Arsenal’s fans are perhaps the most expectant fans in the land.Anything other than a title this season will be seen as a disappointment as their failure to overtake surprise champs Leicester City last season led to protests from fans against Wenger and the board even though they finished in second place and qualified for the UEFA Champions League for the 19th-straight season. In the offseason Arsenal’s chief executive Ivan Gazidis has reaffirmed the Gunners’ stance that they will not spend vasts sums of money to take on their PL rivals. That’s not what Arsenal’s fans will want to hear.

Why Arsenal will sweep all before them and win a first PL title since 2004: If Ozil runs the show and the likes of Olivier Giroud, Sanchez, Danny WelbeckTheo Walcott andAlex Oxlade-Chamberlain all stay fit then the Gunners can have a real go. They’ll also need Petr Cech to have the season of his life in goal and Laurent Koscielny to dominate the defense with Per Mertesacker out injured. Too much to ask?

But they’ll probably just finish fourth by the skin of their teeth: Because, well, this is Arsenal, and this is the most likely outcome. Most likely we will see a misfiring Giroud, then Sanchez will do down injured and their defense will fall apart away from home. We’ve been here so many times before. Kudos to Wenger for delivering top four finishes for 20-straight seasons but in all honesty finishing in the top four this campaign would be a huge achievement. Revamped Man City, Manchester United, Chelsea and Liverpool will all push them hard.

Best possible XI

—– Cech —–

— Bellerin — Mertesacker — Koscielny — Monreal —

—- Wilshere — Xhaka —-

— Ozil — Ramsey — Sanchez —

—– Giroud —–

Transfers In: Granit Xhaka ($39.5 million, Borussia Monchengladbach), Rob Holding ($2.6 million, Bolton Wanderers), Takuma Asano (Undisclosed, Sanfreece Hiroshima)

Transfers OutMikel ArtetaMathieu FlaminiTomas Rosicky (All released), Issac Hayden ($3.1 million, Newcastle United), Wellington Silva (Undisclosed, Fluminense)

Last season: The Gunners did their usual. They looked capable of winning the title up until February but then crumbled before recovering to finish second behind Leicester.

Star player: Mesut Ozil – He tore apart the PL at times with 19 assists last season and after a good rest this summer he’ll aim to do the same. Penny has finally dropped for the playmaker in England. If it clicks again with Sanchez and Ramsey, those three could be devastating.

Coaches’ Corner: Arsene Wenger is still around but the longest-serving manager in the Premier League could be facing one of his toughest seasons to date. Fan unrest towards the end of the 2015-16 campaign proved he’s on a short leash and with just one year left on his contract the 66-year-old will have to exceed expectations this season (never easy at Arsenal) to get a bumper new deal. Sure, he will probably decide when he will leave Arsenal which is what upsets fans most, but just look at what’s happened to Manchester United and Chelsea in recent years with the constant chopping and changing of bosses. Be careful what you wish for, Arsenal fans.

PST predicts: A top four finish for Arsenal and they will be in the hunt for the title. The experience of last season will hold them in good stead and if Xhaka hits the ground running they finally have a midfield enforcer who can protect their back four and allow their silky playmakers to pour forward. Getting in a world-class striker remains the difference between Arsenal finishing in the top four and being clear favorites to win the title.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Liverpool

Leave a commentBy Joe Prince-WrightAug 3, 2016, 9:00 AM EDT

Liverpool’s new era officially starts now and anything other than a top four finish in the Premier League will be seen as a failure.oming in midway through last season to rescue a rudderless ship left behind byBrendan Rodgers, it has taken new bossJurgen Klopp quite some time to make this “his team” but the signs in preseason are promising.Klopp has even said it himself and says that this team is his. The charismatic German coach has shipped out 11 players and the additions of Sadio Mane and Georginio Wijnaldum will add pace and power to their attacking midfield unit. After reaching the finals of both the Capital One Cup and Europa League last season, Klopp proved he can get his team to play as a unit and deliver his famous “full throttle” style of play.Now it’s all about delivering that consistently and having an entire preseason, plus time on the training ground during the season with just the PL games and domestic cups to worry about, means Klopp will be fully judged on this season.

Without European soccer, Liverpool will challenge for the title: This assertion is being made due to Liverpool making a title run the last time they were without the rigors of either the UEFA Europa League or Champions League. With so many teams in transition (Chelsea, Manchester City, Manchester United) Klopp actually has a head-start on all of the new managers arriving this summer.

Most likely it’ll be a top six finish and a slight push for the top four: Liverpool have a very, very tough start to the season. They face Arsenal, Leicester, Tottenham, Chelsea and Manchester United in their first eight games. If they get off to a poor start, pressure will be on. New goalkeeper Loris Karius broke his hand in preseason, plus defensive issues haven’t really been addressed in the offseason which remains the biggest concern.

Best Possible XI

—– Mignolet —–

— Clyne — Lovren — Sakho — Moreno —

—– Henderson —–

Mane — Coutinho — Wijnaldum — Firmino

—– Sturridge —–

Transfers in: Sadio Mane ($45 million, Southampton), Georginio Wijnaldum ($30 million, Newcastle United), Joel Matip (Free, Schalke 04), Ragnar Klavan ($5.6 million, Augsburg), Loris Karius ($6.2 million, Mainz 05), Alex Manninger (Free, Augsburg)

Transfers outJordan Rossiter ($333,000, Glasgow Rangers), Kolo Toure (Free, Glasgow Celtic), Jose Enrqiue, Samed Yesil (Both released), Joao Carlos Teixeira ($330,000, FC Porto), Jerome Sinclair ($6 million, Watford), Jordon Ibe ($20 million, Bournemouth), Brad Smith ($8 million, Bournemouth), Martin Skrtel ($6.6 million, Fenerbache), Joe Allen($17.3 million, Stoke City), Sergi Canos ($3.3 million, Norwich City)

Last season: An eighth-place finish was disappointing but Liverpool did flirt, albeit briefly, with a top four finish. Klopp’s side lost in both the Europa League and Capital One Cup final but too many defensive mistakes cost them any chance of salvaging their season after Rodgers was fired in October. Liverpool were not boring to watch as they poured forward in search of goals but left plenty of space in defense.

Star playerDaniel Sturridge – When he’s fit and on his game there’s no other Liverpool player who possesses the same individual quality as Sturridge. A lethal finisher who comes up with big goals in big games, Sturridge must stay healthy if Liverpool are to challenge for a place in the top four this season. The England international has a huge role to play and is now entering his prime. The entire Liverpool team is set up to get the best out of him. This is his team.

Coach’s corner: Klopp’s project is ticking along nicely but he’s not entering a pivotal period in his tenure at Anfield. An expectant crowd gave him a pass for last season. He arrived in October and without being able to bring in his own players or barely having any time to work with the team on the training ground to implement his new methods, progress was slow. Handed a new long-term contract this summer, the Fenway Sports Group obviously believe in his abilities. He has galvanized the fans and players together and he brings the whole package as a media presence and a master tactician. Now he must deliver success where it matters most: on the pitch.

PST predicts: Without European soccer, Liverpool could push for the top four. If you look at the teams who finished above them last season, the likes of Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham will all be there or there abouts again. Leicester City, West Ham, Southampton all finished above Liverpool but could slip below them and then you have Chelsea, who surely won’t be as bad this season under Antonio Conte. Simply put: plenty of things will have to go right for Liverpool to finish in the top four and although they have the attacking players capable of achieving it, defensive frailties mean a top six finish is much more likely.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Leicester City

By Kyle BonnAug 2, 2016, 7:36 PM EDT

The dust has settled. Last season’s fairytale is now for the history books. It’s time to move on.Leicester City now faces a battle on multiple fronts, one that won’t be easy. With Champions League play to contend with, plus higher expectations for the Cup competitions, there will be many new challenges to face.In addition, the Foxes will be without their most important player from last year, N’Golo Kante, who made the choice to move to Stamford Bridge. Jamie Vardy, however, decided not to leave, a major boost to the squad. It remains to be seen what Riyad Mahrezchooses, caught between Leicester and the pull of Arsenal.They say lightning doesn’t strike twice, but this year, it’s Claudio Raneiri’s job to make sure it does. Chances are they won’t win the title again, but supporters are moreso looking for steady growth and a strengthening of the club’s position in the long term. That’s most certainly in play for the Foxes.

Leicester City can remain among the Premier League powers if…the new signings prove to be adequate fill-ins. Nampalys Mendy will have the world’s weight on his shoulders looking to replace N’Golo Kante, and without him, the system will fall apart.Ahmed Musa will be vital, as failure to produce will put more shoulders on an otherwise thin and aging strike group split across four competitions. If the two – plus any additional talent brought in before the window closes – can produce, they can help turn this squad from Cinderella to perennial Premier League power, the next step in this club’s meteoric growth.

However, more likely Foxes will return to Earth. It’s pretty clear that Kante is somewhat irreplaceable to this squad, and his loss will show. In addition, Leicester probably could use a few more players to come in. Ranieri is big on squad cohesion, and will likely wish not to disrupt the chemistry too much with additional bodies, but another midfielder would be vital to stretch the club across all the fronts they’ll do battle. It might be too much to handle, especially at how they were hammered by PSG in preseason, although it’s hard to see them falling too drastically flat.

Best Possible XI

—– Schmeichel —–

— Simpson — Morgan — Huth — Fuchs —

Mahrez — Mendy — Drinkwater — Albrighton

— Vardy — Musa —

Transfers In: Ahmed Musa ($22m, CSKA Moscow), Nampalys Mendy ($17.5m, Nice),Ron-Robert Zieler ($4m, Hannover), Luis Hernandez (Free, Sporting Gijon).

Transfers Out: N’Golo Kante ($40m, Chelsea), Andrej Kramaric ($11m, Hoffenheim),Paul Konchesky (Free, Gillingham).

Last Season: You know all about last season. Leicester City was nearly relegated two seasons ago, some time passed, yada yada yada, they won the title. Yawn. Ok fine, it was awesome. A club that had fallen to League One not five years prior lifted the Premier League trophy. A fairytale story like none other, Leicester City will be remembered for a long time as soccer’s Little Engine That Could.

Star Player: Riyad Mahrez – The Algerian is still being wooed by Arsenal, but with every passing day it seems more and more likely he will stay. Should he remain at King Power Stadium, the Foxes will have much of the same firepower they did last year. Jamie Vardy is right there with him, but Mahrez is the magic man. The 25-year-old was an absolute workhorse, one of just 15 midfielders to top 3,000 minutes last season, and he missed just a single league match all year. To show for it, he pumped out 17 goals and 10 assists, a number which seems likely to be repeated.

Coach’s Corner: Claudio Ranieri was considered one of the better coaches in Europe never to win a trophy, and that came crashing down last season. He consistently kept his players grounded and focused during the midst of an improbable run, an incredibly difficult task with so much attention on the club. There’s no question that once Ranieri feels his work at Leicester City is complete, he will have plenty of offers coming his way. However, that does not seem to be anytime soon, and he will keep dreaming with the city of Leicester.

PST Predicts: People have been doubting this team for long enough that the noise about a one-hit-wonder won’t bother them. Unfortunately, that’s the realistic scenario here. European fixture congestion has taken down too many middle-tier teams to ignore. Last season, an unusually impeccable bill of health kept a thin squad from showing weaknesses in the depth department. This season, that won’t be the case. This club is too talented to be in the relegation picture, but a bottom half finish is likely, somewhere in the 10th-12th range.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Manchester United

9 CommentsBy Andy EdwardsAug 3, 2016, 3:04 PM EDT

First and foremost, there’s Wayne Rooney. The question: where does Mourinho play the 12-year servant and captain of Manchester United? The question to ask regarding Rooney isn’t “what’s his best position,” but instead “at what position is he actually Man United’s best player?” It’s not striker, where Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the man; it’s not in the hole just behind Zlatan, because Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a pure no. 10; it’s not wide left, because Rooney has never thrived in a wide role, and Anthony Martial is a burgeoning superstar on the left. It might just be in Mourinho’s best interest to drop Rooney to the bench. Mourinho has never been afraid to make the riskiest political move.Secondly, can Mourinho, long hailed a tactical genius for the way he organizes defenses, find the right formula among a central-defending quartet of Chris SmallingPhil Jones,Daley BlindMarcos Rojo and Eric Bailly? Too many times last season, Louis Van Gaalwas forced to play with two dedicated defensive midfielders in order to protect the mistake-prone carousel of characters, which only left the attacking stars disconnected and stranded without service. Outside of Bailly, a $40-million signing from Villarreal, Mourinho and Co. have done little to address the unit transfer-wise.United can improve four places from last season, and win the league, because…There’s practically nothing to separate the top five or six sides heading into the season. If one or two results go their way early on, they’ll be great front-runners under Mourinho.

Actually, United could miss out on Champions league qualification altogether, because… There’s practically nothing to separate the top five or six sides heading into the season. If one or two results go against them early on, they’ll be terrible chasers under Mourinho.

Best Possible XI

—– De Gea —–

— Darmian — Smalling — Jones — Shaw —

—– Schneiderlin — Herrera ——

— Mata — Mkhitaryan — Martial —

—– Ibrahimovic —–

Transfers in: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (free, Paris Saint-Germain), Henrikh Mkhitaryan ($34 million, Borussia Dortmund), Eric Bailly ($40 million, Villarreal)

Transfers out: Victor Valdes (released, Middlesbrough), Guillermo Varela (loan, Eintracht Frankfurt), Nick Powell (released, Wigan Athletic)

Last season: Van Gaal’s final season at the club saw the Red Devils finish fifth in the PL; crash out of the Champions League group stage, only to be knocked out of the Europa League by their rivals Liverpool; and cap off the roller-coaster ride by lifting the FA Cup. It was bad enough to see Van Gaal fired, paving the way for the inevitable: Mourinho at Old Trafford.

Star player: Zlatan Ibrahimovic — Finally the big Swede has made his way to the Premier League. Now comes what should be the easy part (for him, at least): delivering on the massive expectations he’ll face at Old Trafford. With any level of competent service, Zlatan will score anywhere between 14-18 goals this season, with a haul of 20 not out of reach if he remains healthy throughout and starts 35 league games. He turns 35 in October, which means his body could break down at any moment, but he showed few signs of slowing down last season, when he made 51 appearances for PSG, scoring 50 goals in the process.

Coach’s corner: Mourinho is the story of United’s season, which is the only way he’d have it. If United are successful, it will all be down to Mourinho’s genius. If they falter and miss out on Champions League qualification again, it’ll be because Mourinho ostracized the wrong players and lost the dressing room, as he infamously did at Real Madrid and Chelsea.

PST predicts: There’s enough attacking talent in this squad for the Red Devils to lead the league in goals scored, but it might all go to waste with Mourinho as manager. Where they’re (still) lacking, though, is in capable central defenders. In theory, Mourinho should aim at a thrilling attacking side that regularly outscores opponents 3-2; it’s what his team is best constructed to do. In practice, he’ll play for 1-0 victories, handicapping their ability to chase the game once they’ve conceded a silly goal, and end up finishing fifth for the second straight season.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Manchester City

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Pep time has arriveduardiola is deemed to be the final piece in the jigsaw for Sheikh Mansour’s grand project at Manchester City. Regarded as the best coach in the world, Guardiola has succeeded at Barcelona and Bayern Munich, winning 21 trophies over seven seasons as a manager.The legendary Spanish coach will lock horns with Jose Mourinho in Manchester as their mouth-watering rivalry continues. Guardiola will have to adapt to English soccer but he’s already been given big money to spend this summer and his new-look City side is starting to gel. His main aim will be to succeed in Europe but he will also be tasked with bringing another PL title to the Etihad. Basically, City has to play in a stylish way and win every single trophy out there. No pressure, Pep…With Leroy Sane arriving and John Stones reportedly on the way, City will have a much younger feel to their team this season and Guardiola has already singled out individuals in preseason for not being fit enough as well as banning pizza and having everyone on a strict diet. He’s not messing around and his strict rules aren’t for everyone but it certainly gets results.

City will sweep all before them and win the title at a canter because… This is Guardiola and City will spend whatever to make sure he’s a success. They may not clean up this season but over the next few years Guardiola has the chance to build a dynasty at the Etihad. He’s a tremendous coach with a superb record of making young players better.

Actually, City will just struggle to finish in top four: It could take Guardiola some time to get used to the pace and power of the PL week in, week out. This will be a new challenge for him so let’s see how quickly the players take to his methods. This may be more difficult than most people think.

Best Possible XI

—– Hart —–

— Sagna — Kompany — Stones (?) — Clichy —

—– Fernandinho — Gundogan ——

— Sane — Silva — De Bruyne —

—– Aguero —–

Transfers in: Leroy Sane ($49 million, Schalke 04), Nolito ($18.4 million, Celta Vigo), Ilkay Gundogan ($26.7  million, Borussia Dortmund), Aaron Mooy (Free, Melbourne City FC),Oleksandr Zinchenko ($2.2 million, FC Ufa)

Transfers out: Martin Demichelis, Richard Wright (Both released)

Last season: City faded badly and finished in fourth place last season, just securing a spot in the UEFA Champions League playof round ahead of Manchester United. Manuel Pellegrini announced he was leaving in January and Guardiola’s appointment was also announced to add a sense of transition over the second half of the campaign. City still won the Capital One Cup and reached the UCL semifinals for the first-time in their history (losing to eventual winners Real Madrid 1-0 on aggregate) as Pellegrini left with his head held high.

Star player: Sergio Aguero – He is the main jewel in City’s glittering crown. Aguero has scored 102 PL goals in 150 PL games for City since arriving in 2012. The Argentina is a predator and with Kevin De Bruyne, Sane and David Silva feeding him chances, there’s every chance he will break through the 30-goal mark in the PL. At 28, he’s entering his prime. Now, he just needs a season without injuries to smash records.

Coach’s corner: Guardiola is the man who will take City to the next level. At least, that’s the plan. He has never finished outside of the top two of each domestic season he has managed and he has never not made at least the semifinals of the UCL. He has an imperious record at both Barca and Bayern but this is his biggest challenge yet. And he knows it. Guardiola’s fluid passing system and insistence on winning the ball back within six seconds from the opposition means this City squad must be fitter than any other team in the PL. That could take a while so patient will be needed from City’s loyal, but expectant, fans.

PST predicts: If John Stones arrives and Guardiola can mold him into the defensive lynchpin he’s had at previous clubs then that will make a huge difference for City. Going forward they have an embarrassment of riches and should score goals for fun. Question marks around Hart in goal and the fitness issues plaguing captain Vincent Kompany are the biggest concern for City but if Guardiola can get the balance right then there’s no reason why City can’t win the title. They have the players and now the manager to dominate the PL.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Hull City

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Leave a commentBy Kyle BonnAug 2, 2016, 3:21 PM EDT

It seems like years ago that Hull City won the playoff final at Wembley over Sheffield Wednesday.In the few months since that major victory, shooting the Tigers back into the Premier League after just a season in the Championship, things have spiraled down towards the ground like an out of control airplane.Manager Steve Bruce, with the club since 2012 and loved by the fans, quit after speculation for the England job seemed to unsettle him in his current position. Injuries have ravaged the squad before the season has even begun, with goalkeeper Allan McGregor and defenders Moses OdubajoAlex Bruce, and Michael Dawson have all been ruled out for months. Despite this, the new uncertainty at the managerial position means the club hasn’t signed a single reinforcement this summer. For a club that has only seen Premier League action since 2007 and has never finished higher than 16th in the top flight, it will be more than an uphill battle much of the season.

Hull City can stay up if…they find a quality manager and he pulls in signings. The Tigers relied on a solid defensive structure last season, and with so many injuries at the back to open the season, they risk putting themselves in an unrecoverable situation straight out of the gates. They need players, and they need them yesterday.

More than likely though, they’ll be headed back down. Like Burnley, this is a team that has bounced back and forth in recent years, and they look more unstable than ever before coming into this season. There is some experience in the squad between Tom HuddlestoneMohamed DiameRobert Snodgrass, and Abel Hernandez, but that alone won’t be able to keep the ship afloat.

Best Possible XI

—– Jakupovic —–

— Ivanovic — Dawson — Davies — Robertson —

— Diame — Huddlestone —

— Elmohamady — Livermore — Snodgrass —

— Hernandez —

Transfers In: Will Mannion (Undisclosed, AFC Wimbledon).

Transfers Out: Sone Aluko (Free, Fulham), Ryan Taylor (Free, Unattached).

Last Season: The Tigers made their way to the Premier League via the playoff, but they were solid for much of the year and put out balanced numbers. Their defensive record was worthy of a place at the top of the table allowing just four more goals than defensive stalwarts Middlesbrough, and they scored just three goals less than the league leaders. Unfortunately, while this team is built well for the slog of the Championship, they – like Burnley – have little star power and may struggle to find rewards for their hard work in the top flight.

Star Player: Robert Snodgrass – A classy player who has been hurt for much of his Hull career, Snodgrass shot onto the scene with Norwich City in 2013 – his first shot at the Premier League – and has backed up that production since. He’s a chance creator more than a finisher, but he’ll score the occasional goal as well. Abel Hernandez is the star finisher on the squad, with 20 Championship goals last season, but Snodgrass is the player opposing managers will be most concerned about when game-planning for Hull.

Coach’s Corner: Steve Bruce was meant to lead Hull into the Premier League for the second time in three years, but after receiving a shot at the England job that Sam Allardyceultimately won, things went sour. Bruce resigned, and suddenly the squad is left not only thing but without a leader. They wanted Welsh boss Chris Coleman, but were turned down. The vacant managerial position is something Hull will want to sort out quickly, or else they risk an untenable situation just weeks into the new season.

PST Predicts: At this point in time, there’s only one place anyone can realistically see Hull after the season, and that’s back in the Championship. Sure, it’s a long season, and with the transfer window not closed yet, things can turn around. But if things remain as they are, and a manager isn’t found until after Opening Day, it could get ugly quick. They have a more talented squad than Burnley, and therefore can weather time without reinforcements better than their counterparts from the Championship in a similar situation, but a thin squad is deadly.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Everton

Joe Prince-WrightAug 2, 2016, 1:10 PM EDT

The winds of change have blown into Goodison Park and excitement is in the air with a new owner, manager and plenty of changes in the playing staff for the nine-time champions of England.British-Iranian billionaire Farhad Moshiri has promised to splash the cash to bring top players to Everton and even though they’ve so far failed to spend big this summer, new manager Ronald Koeman will be able to attract top quality players to Goodison Park.Finishing in the top four is always the aim for Everton but over the past two seasons they regressed under Roberto Martinez before he was fired last season. They are a stylish attacking unit but Koeman should add more substance in his debut season in charge of the Toffees. Big things are expected but plenty of pressure comes with the lofty ambitions of Everton’s fans.

A fast start to the season sees Everton challenging for the top four: This could really happen. If you look at Everton’s first seven games, the only game you say they shouldn’t win is against Tottenham at home on the opening day. That means Koeman could get off to a flier and we all know how important it is to have a good start, especially when you’re a new manager coming in. With so many other big clubs in transition, perhaps Everton can shock a few people and push hard for at least a top six finish and maybe more?

Without Stones and Lukaku, Everton in the bottom half and Koeman under pressure: Now, of course this is all hypothetical but with Stones edging towards a move to Man City and Chelsea’s interest in Romelu Lukaku intensifying, who knows how hard that will hit Everton. They have a month to figure this out but if both leave during the transfer window and Koeman is priced out of other options on the market, could Everton be in an even worse position than last season? It’s certainly not inconceivable and the pressure will be on, especially if Moshiri spends plenty of money on new players late on in the window.

Best Possible XI

—– Robles —–

— Coleman — Williams (?) — Funes Mori — Baines —

— Gueye — McCarthy —

— Deulofeu — Barkley — Mirallas —

—– Lukaku —–

Transfers InMaarten Stekelenburg (Undisclosed, Fulham), Idrissa Gueye ($9.3 million, Aston Villa), Bassala Sambou (Free, Coventry City), Chris Renshaw (Free, Oldham Athletic), Joe Hilton (Free, Manchester City), Nathan Baxter (Free, Vitesse)

Transfers OutTim Howard (Free, Colorado Rapids), Aidan Graham, Tony Hibbert, Felipe Mattioni, Leon OsmanSteven PienaarJindrich Stanek, Jordan Thorniley (All released)

Last season: A pretty awful season for Everton. Martinez was fired as manager before the final game of the season as Everton finished in 11th place. That might not sound bad but with so many poor defensive performances at home and two-straight seasons of finishing outside the top 10 (okay, 2014-15 saw them focus more on the Europa League, which is understandable) something had to give. Everton did reach the FA Cup and League Cup semifinals but lost to eventual winners Manchester City and Manchester United in both competitions.

Star playerRoss Barkley – It is time for the Everton academy product to take hold of his team and under Koeman he will be given the chance to thrive. Despite some good numbers, Barkley’s career stalled a little last season but let’s not forget that he’s one of the brightest attacking talents in the PL under the age of 23. He has bags of experience under his belt already but now it’s time to turn that into goals and assists for Everton.

Coach’s Corner: Ronald Koeman – There is plenty of expectation on Koeman’s shoulders after the marvelous job he did at Southampton over the past two seasons. Many were surprised when he quit Saints for Everton but given the huge sums of money said to be on offer from new owner Moshiri, Koeman believes he can have the Toffees challenging for a top four finish. He has plenty of work to do but an easy fixture list to start the season with will certainly elongate his honeymoon period. His solid defensive work coupled with a philosophy to keep the ball should please Evertonians.

PST predicts: A season of improvement for Everton but it will be tough to break into the top six with so many powerhouses strengthening and having new, talented managers of their own. Koeman should be happy if he guides Everton to a top 10 finish and goes far in both cup competitions. Steady progress will be key but with Stones and Lukaku’s future uncertain, this prediction could change by the end of August if any money coming in isn’t spent wisely on new players.

Premier League 2016-17 season preview: Crystal Palace

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By Joe Prince-WrightAug 2, 2016, 9:42 AM EDT

The Eagles are on the rise but this season is huge in dictating how lofty their ascent will be in the next few years.Alan Pardew‘s side started off like an express train last season, hovering around the Premier League’s top six around the festive period but then dropping away drastically in the second half of the campaign as they became embroiled in a relegation battle. Granted, their run to the FA Cup final played a part in that, but there’s no doubting Palace need some reinforcements to turn them into a club challenging for a top six finish.With American investment providing funds to help renovate Selhurst Park, plus add more transfer funds to the kitty, Palace is entering a whole new era. Don’t forget, they were only promoted to the PL in 2013 but they’ve quickly cemented themselves as a solid PL outfit and are now looking to make that next step.

The Eagles will soar into the top six because… They have an experienced manager who knows the league inside out. Pardew sets his teams up to be difficult to beat and lets his wingers and full backs push on at every chance. If they can sort their home form out this season then Palace will threaten the big boys. There are few better atmospheres in the PL than the one generated down in south London.

Most likely they’ll sit in midtable and maybe push into the top 10: Our old friend pragmatism has arrived. With Connor Wickham and Fraizer Campbell around it is unlikely Palace will score loads of goals. Pardew needs a poacher and that was the main reason for Palace’s slump last season. In defense and in midfield he’s set. Palace are willing to spend big to get a 20-goal a season man. If they fail to find him then it’s a case of midtable mediocrity.

Best Possible XI

— Hennessey —

— Ward — Dann — Tomkins — Souare —

— Ledley — Cabaye —

—–  Zaha —– Bolasie —– Townsend

— Wickham —

Transfers In: Steve Mandanda ($2 million, Marseille), James Tomkins ($13 million, West Ham United), Andros Townsend ($18 million, Newcastle United)

Transfers Out: Emmanuel AdebayorReise Allassani, Andreas Breimyr, Marouane ChamakhConnor DymondBrede Hangeland, William Hoare, Chris KettingsAdrian Mariappa, Paddy McCarthy, Oliver Pain, Christian Scales (All released), Dwight Gayle($13 million, Newcastle United), David Gregory (Free, Cambridge United), Jake Gray (Free, Luton Town), Alex McCarthy (Undisclosed, Southampton), Jerome Binnom-Williams (Free, Peterborough United)

Last Season: After winning just two PL games in 2016 Palace’s season ended poorly and they finished in 15th place. Pardew’s side reached the FA Cup final where they eventually lost to Manchester United 2-1 after extra time despite leading 1-0 with 12 minutes to go. A certain premature victory dance from Mr. Pardew will live long in the memory…

Star Player: Andros Townsend – This man had a sensational finish to the season with Newcastle United and did everything to try and keep the Magpies up following his January move from Tottenham Hotspur. A pure out-and-out winger, Townsend will cut in from the flank and fire shots at goal. Has the potential to be Palace’s leading scorer and will push Bolasie and Zaha all the way in the fight for the three attacking midfield positions. Yohan Cabaye, technically, is Palace’s most gifted player but injury and a severe loss of form hampered his impact last season.

Coach’s Corner: Pardew is back at home at Palace and the former Eagles player is now entering his second full season in charge of the club. He has cut the deadwood from his squad and brought in three experienced campaigners so far with Townsend and James Tomkins having plenty of PL nous. You know what you will get with a Pardew team. They’ll be committed, dangerous from set pieces and tight defensively. Palace will scrap for every point but if the Eagles have another season of failing to crack the top 10 then it could be quite delicate for Pardew at the end of this campaign. He really needs to sign a top-class finisher this summer.

PST Predicts: Best case scenario for Palace is finishing in 8-10 place in the table. They won’t challenge the big boys who have spent big this summer but they will dish out plenty of shocks along the way. Expect another good cup run and a big push for a top 10 finish under Pardiola.

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8/2/16 US Women Start Olympic Quest 6 pm Wed, MLS Allstar Wrap-up, Indy 11 home Wed, Sat, Sat. ICC Wraps up Successful 2 Weeks

The US Women’s National Team takes center stage this week at the Olympics, the US starts Wed at 6 pm on NBCSN looking for their 4th straight Gold medal and looks to become the first team to win a World Cup and Olympic Gold back to back.  See below for stories and the complete Women’s and Men’s Soccer Schedule.

I thought the MLS All-Star game vs Arsenal was entertaining and solid soccer – I thought the All-Stars outplayed Arsenal and the Gunners were lucky to get out with the 2-1 win.  Obviously having the allstars play less than 30 minutes is frustrating for the fans – but honestly it keeps guys from getting hurt and I still think the format vs a recognizable team from overseas is better than east vs west and even the Foreign players vs US players that hockey does.  So one of my favorite MLS Players Nat Borchers (THE BEARD) at Portland tore his achilles heel last Sat vs LA and is lost for the season – get well Timbers Nat!  Portland hosts Sporting KC Sun 4 pm on ESPN as both fight for playoff spots, while Orlando hosts Seattle at 7 pm on FS1 in the battle of new coaches, and LA hosts NY Red Bulls in a battle of top 5 teams at 9:30 on FS1 and MLS Soccer Sunday.

Indy Eleven will return home for a three-game homestand that will start this 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 at IndyEleven.com.

Finally –Carmel FC – Summer CFC Technical Training continues this week.  Locally they are still taking signups for the Carmel High Boys – Youth Soccer Camp 2nd to 6th Graders only -GIRLS and BOYS- Run by CHS Boys team players – THIS 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.

 GAMES OF the Week TV

See the Complete TV Schedule online www.theoleballcoach.com

Wed, Aug 3

6:00 p.m. (TV NBCSN)        US  women vs. New Zealand  Olympics group stage, 
7:30 p.m. (ESPN2                                Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, International Champions Cup

Thurs, Aug 4  Olympics MEN

4pm USA Net                                         Mexico vs Germany

5 pm NBCSN                                           Argentina vs Portugal

Sat, Aug 6

12 noon ESPN                                        ICC Liverpool vs Barcelona – Wembley

7:30 pm Tv8+ESPN3           Indy 11 vs Ottowa

Sun, Aug 7

10 am Foxsports 1                              Community Shield Leicester City vs Man United

4pm ESPN                                                Portland Timbers vs Sporting KC MLS

4 p.m. (TV NBCSN)              United States women vs France, Olympics group stage, 
7pm Fox sports 1                                Orlando City vs Seattle – battle of new coaches

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1                      LA vs NY Red Bulls

USA 

Preview USA vs New Zealand

Olympics Soccer Preview – SI  Brian Straus

Stars and Stripes soccer Olympics Preview

Carli Lloyd US Team is more Sophisticated

Rapino on things US

Crystal Dunn – Ready to Score for US Ladies =Grant Wahl SI  

Breaking Down the US Squad – Straus SI

Kelly Ohare at home at Right Back

Rapino back with help – LA Times

Men’s Olympic Soccer Preview – Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Portugal, Germany ? 

 US LADIES GROUP STAGE GAMES

August 3rd, 2016 – Olympics: WNT vs. New Zealand (Brazil), 6pm ET on NBCSN

August 6th, 2016 – Olympics: WNT vs. France (Brazil), 4pm ET on NBCSN

August 9th, 2016 – Olympics: WNT vs. Colombia (Brazil), 6pm ET on NBCSN

 Guzan Signs with EPL newcomer Middlesborough Stars and Stripes

Is this a good move for Guzan to Boro?  SI – Avi Creditor

Expectations Not on Pulisic mind for Dortmund

American youngster Julian Green scores hat trick for Bayern in 1st half of ICC

Anceloti- US Mid Julian Green to Stay with 1st team at Bayern

Green Still has Work to do \

Olympics TV Schedule for Soccer

 Indy 11

3 Things loss to Miami

Indy 11 lose 2-1 to Miami drop to 5th

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

 MLS

MLS Audience on ESPN is up 32% in 2016

3 Thoughts on MLS All-Star Game

Lodeiro leaves mark in 1st game for Seattle and More MLS

Week 21 Round Up

Seattle Signs Uraguayan mid Nicolas Lodeiro to DP

Zlatan turned down Beckham in Miami to go to Man United

Las Dos Santos wants 2nd Chance on Mexican NT

Orlando’s KAKA – we can still make Playoffs

Chance for Jason Kraus to prove himself again at Orlando-SI

It was Time for Sigi to Leave Seattle

Top 10 Goals of the Season

Bendik Wins 2nd MLS Save of the Week

 World

Trending Around the World

How Mourinhos Man U tenure will unfold – Jon Wilson SI

How will Pep, Conte adapt to the EPL- Rich Jolly EPSNFC

5 things we learned from Arsenal Tour

Pep and City need to get a Move On

Klopp unsure of more Signings for Liverpool

5 things we learned from Leicester’s blowout loss to PSG 

GAMES ON TV

Wed, Aug 3

12:00 p.m. NBCSN                             Sweden women vs. South Africa women, Olympics group stage,

2:00 p.m. (ESPN2,                              ICC Barcelona vs. Leicester City, ICC

3:00 p.m. (USA Network                Brazil women vs. China women, Olympics group stage,
6:00 p.m. (TV NBCSN)        United States women vs. New Zealand women, Olympics group stage, 
7:30 p.m. (ESPN2                                Real Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, International Champions Cup

7:30 pm  CBS Sports Network  Indy 11 host Jacksonville Armada at the Jake

9:00 p.m. (NBCSN,                              France women vs. Colombia women, Olympics group stage,
Chelsea vs. AC Milan, 9:30 p.m. (ESPN2, ESPN Deportes)
Portland Timbers vs. CD Dragon, CONCACAF Champions League group stage, 10:00 p.m. (TV TBD)

Thurs, Aug 4  Olympics MEN

12 pm         NBCSN                                Iraq vs Denmark

2pm  USA Network                            Honduras vs Algeria

3 pm            NBCSN                                Brazil vs South Africa

4 pm            USA Network                 Mexico vs Germany

5 pm NBCSN                                           Portugal vs Argentina

6 pm USA Network                            Sweden vs Colombia

9 pm NBCSN                                           Nigeria vs Japan

 Sat, Aug 6

7:30 am Fox Soccer+                       Rangers vs Hamilton Academical – Scotland PL

12 noon ESPN                                        ICC Liverpool vs Barcelona – Wembley

2:45 pm beIn Sport                          PSG vs Olympique Lyonnais –France Super Cup

Olympic Soccer – Women 

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

5pm NBC Sports Live Extra          Germany vs Australia

6pm NBC Sports Live Extra           South Africa vs China

7pm NBC Sports Live Extra          Colombia vs New Zealand

7:30 pm Tv8+ESPN3           Indy 11 vs Ottowa

7:30 pm  beIN Sport                                                Ft Lauderdale vs Tampa Bay Rowdies NASL

9pm NBC Sports Live Extra           Brazil vs Sweden

Sun, Aug 7

10 am Foxsports 1                              Community Shield Leicester City vs Man United

4pm ESPN                                                Portland Timbers vs Sporting KC MLS

7pm Fox sports 1                                Orlando City vs Seattle – battle of new coaches

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1                      LA vs NY Red Bulls

Olympic Soccer – Men 

12 pm  NBC Sports Live Extra    Fiji vs Mexico

2 pm  NBC Sports Live Extra       Honduras vs Portugal

3 pm  NBCSN                                         Germany vs Korea Republic

5 pm  NBC Sports Live Extra       Argentina vs Algeria

6 pm NBC Sports Live Extra        Sweden vs Nigeria

6 pm NBC Sports Live Extra         Denmark vs South Africa

9 pm NBC Sports Live Extra         Japan vs Colombia

9 pm NBCSN                                           Brazil vs Iraq

Tues Aug 9 Olympic Soccer – Women 

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra   Germany vs Canada

3 pm NBC Sports Live Extra         Australia vs Zimbabwe

6 pm NBCSN                                                                   Colombia vs USA

6 pm                                                            New Zealand vs France

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                                           South Africa vs Brazil

9 pm NBC Sports Extra                   China vs Sweden

 Wed Aug 10 Olympic Soccer – Men 

12 pm NBC Sports Extra Algeria vs Portugal

12 pm Telemundo  Argentina vs Honduras

3 pm NBC Sports Extra Germany vs Fiji

3 pm NBC Sports Extra Korea Republic vs Mexico

6 pm NBC Sports Extra Japan vs Sweden

6 pm NBC Sports Extra Colombia vs Nigeria

9 pm NBCSN  Denmark vs Brazil

9 pm NBC Sports Extra South Africa vs Iraq

Fri, Aug 12                                               France Legue 1 starts

2 pm beIn Sports                                Bastia vs PSG

Quarterfinals Olympic Women

12 pm NBCSN                                        1G vs  3E

3 pm  MSNBC                                         2F vs 2F

6 pm CNBC                                              1F vs 2G

9 pm NBCSN                                           1 E vs 3F

Sat, Aug 13                                              EPL Season Starts

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

Quarterfinals Olympic men         12, 3, 6, 9

Sun, Aug 14

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

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Dortmund vs Bayern Munich –German Super Cup

 Fri, Aug 26                                              German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport1                          Bayern Munich vs. Werder Bremen

 Sat, Aug 27

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2:                 Borussia Dortmund vs. Mainz
9:30 a.m., Fox Soccer Plus:         Hamburg SV vs. Ingolstadt
12:30 p.m., Fox                                   Borussia Mönchengladbach vs. Bayer Leverkusen

Sun, Aug 28

9:30 a.m Fox Sport1                         Hertha Berlin vs. Freiburg

Soccer Olympics Schedule

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

Preview: USWNT opens 2016 Olympics with New Zealand

Leave a commentBy Kyle BonnAug 2, 2016, 10:17 PM EDT

As the United States women’s team opens its quest for a fifth Olympic gold medal when they take on New Zealand Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. ET.The team is fresh off a World Cup victory, and while the personnel is very similar to the squad that lifted the trophy, this team is still somehow very, very different. Arguably stronger.World Cup hero Carli Lloyd was a question mark a few weeks ago, but is now fully healthy. Alex Morgan is leading the front line along with Christen Press. And Hope Solo remains in goal.owever, there are some new additions, and some exciting ones at that. Young Mallory Pugh, just 18 years old, looks like a star in the making, and will be joining Morgan and Press up front looking to dazzle in Rio. Although not technically new to the national team fold, midfielder Allie Long joins from the Portland Thorns and is looking at a starting spot if Morgan Brian’s hamstrings continue to cause her problems.Gone are Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday and Shannon Boxx who all retired, opening places for younger newcomers. Also not present are Christie Rampone and Heather O’Reilly, with neither officially retired but having still succumbed to Father Time.It will be head coach Jill Ellis’s job to meld the old with the new, and with a solid warmup series in the books, Ellis hopes the opener against New Zealand will provide a launching pad for the gold medal favorites.Veteran striker Amber Hearn is the target up front, with 45 goals for her country, the most ever. She will be especially hungry after being held goalless at the most recent World Cup. Also featuring for New Zealand will be Hannah Wilkinson, a former Tennessee Volunteer who already has a whopping 73 caps for the national team at just 24 years old. Both those attackers scored in a 4-1 win over South Africa in their final tuneup at the end of July (their official website made sure to point out the US only beat South Africa 1-0 most recently), and an upset against the United States would be the perfect statement to start a tournament.The United States will have to be ready, and have to be together. It’s no surprise at all if Jill Ellis already has both boxes checked.

Women’s soccer preview: USA seeks unique World Cup-Olympic double

BRIAN STRAUSWednesday July 27th, 2016

The U.S. women’s national team won the trophy it really wanted last summer in Canada. This summer, the world champs will compete for a place in history.Since women’s soccer became an Olympic sport in 1996, no country has claimed the Women’s World Cup and Olympic gold medal in back-to-back years. The world champion Americans settled for silver in 2000, then rebounded from World Cup disappointment to claim gold in 2004, 2008 and 2012.ow a year removed from its triumph in Vancouver, the U.S. remains on a roll and is the prohibitive favorite to stand atop the podium in Rio de Janeiro. At only half the size (12 teams) of the Women’s World Cup and overshadowed by sports for which the Games are the biggest thing going, the Olympic soccer tournament has an anticlimactic feel. But it can provide consolation for countries that left Canada disappointed and for this U.S. team, it offers the chance to stake its claim as the best in the program’s illustrious history.U.S. coach Jill Ellis must balance the chase for gold with her plans for the 2019 World Cup cycle. Icons Abby Wambach and Shannon Boxx retired, Christie Rampone appears headed that way (at least internationally) and Heather O’Reilly failed to make the reduced 18-player roster (she is an injury alternate).In their places, up-and-coming stars like Crystal Dunn, Lindsey Horan and 18-year-old Mallory Pugh will get their first taste of the major tournament spotlight. “If we are about winning world championships, we can’t just have all our focus be on the Olympics. It has to be on looking at new players—looking at players to build for beyond,” Ellis said recently. “I think overall the team is excited to try to pursue something that has never been done. We have so many new faces. It’s a brand new feeling for them. That brings something special to the group.”Those new faes join team staples like Carli Lloyd, Alex Morgan, Hope Solo, Becky Sauerbrunn and a handful of others.Standing in the Americans’ way will be several teams that could pull off an upset. Brazil, an Olympic silver medalist in ’04 and ’08, will lean on supportive crowds and the offensive creativity of Marta and Christiane. The hosts never really have lived up to their potential—women’s soccer is far from a priority in Brazil—but they did beat the U.S. in Brasilia in a December 2014 friendly and earned a 1-1 draw last year in Seattle.Australia, which upset Brazil in the round-of-16 last summer, is considered a team on the rise. Meanwhile, France, which is anchored by players from the world’s best women’s club team, Olympique Lyon, is past due. Talented and dynamic, Les Bleues will be the Americans’ toughest group-stage foe (Aug. 6 in Belo Horizonte). France finished a disappointing fourth at the 2012 Olympics then fell to Germany on penalty kicks in last summer’s World Cup quarterfinals.Germany, the sport’s second-ranked team and a two-time world champion, has had rough luck against the U.S. over the past decade but remains formidable.  • RIO OLYMPICS PREVIEWS: Men’s soccer |

Two notable Olympic absences are England and Japan. England was a surprising third-place finisher at last year’s World Cup, which should have qualified them for Rio. But there is no English Olympic team—England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland compete together as Great Britain—so the Three Lionesses were ineligible. And Japan, the 2011 World Cup winner and ’15 runner-up, was a stunning failure to qualify.

Players to Watch

Carli Lloyd, USA: She rocketed to fame with a hat trick in last year’s Women’s World Cup final, but the versatile New Jersey native had been anchoring the U.S. midfield for years. At 34, Lloyd now has 224 senior international appearances and a FIFA World Player of the Year award to her credit. She also will command the sort of attention—from observers and the opposition—that fell to teammates in the past. This is now Lloyd’s team. She will have to respond with start-to-finish consistency and composure if the U.S. is to triumph in what could be her final major tournament.

Dzsenifer Marozsán, Germany: Born in Budapest, the 24-year-old Marozsán already has been a pro for nine years and she’s now the key cog in Germany’s attack. An ankle injury limited her at last year’s World Cup, ensuring her motivation will be high in Brazil. Germany’s World Cup success hasn’t translated to the Olympics, where it has won just three bronze medals. Comfortable as a playmaker or a finisher, Marozsán has 29 goals in 60 games for Germany.

Marta, Brazil: Arguably the most technically skillful athlete in women’s soccer history, Marta is a five-time world player of the year and at 30 years of age, she’ll be eager to lead Brazil to a gold medal on home soil. Although As Canarinhas haven’t won a major global tournament, they’ve played in three finals (two Olympics, one World Cup) and trounced the U.S. in the ’07 Women’s World Cup semifinal behind Marta’s two goals. She also scored all three in Brazil’s 3-0 win in 2014. On a given day, she’s capable of the spectacular.

Louisa Nécib, France: Each of France’s Olympique Lyon stars bears watching, and it remains vexing that Les Bleues have failed to medal at a World Cup, Olympics or European Championship. Camille Abily, Élodie Thomis, Marie-Laure Delie and Eugénie Le Sommer all are world class (as is new Portland Thorns signing Amandine Henry), but Nécib may be the most unique. The 29-year-old has outstanding touch and the sort of poise and vision that produces jaw-dropping passes. She can unlock a defense from just about anywhere and will be key to France’s quest for overdue honors.

Christine Sinclair, Canada: The under-appreciated British Columbian is the second-leading goal scorer in the history of women’s international soccer with 162 (she trails Wambach by 22) and at 33, she’s on the downslope of her international career, although she said recently that she has no plans to retire. Sinclair was the leading scorer at the 2012 Olympics and proved she could get it done against the U.S. with a hat trick in their epic overtime semifinal. Once again, Canada’s hopes will rest on the veteran striker’s ability to dominate the opposition penalty area.

Groups

Group E: Brazil, China, Sweden, South Africa

Group F: Canada, Australia, Germany, Zimbabwe

Group G: USA, France, Colombia, New Zealand

Schedule

Group match days: Aug. 3, 6, 9

Quarterfinals: Aug. 12

Semifinals: Aug. 16

Bronze medal: Aug. 19 at Arena Corinthians, São Paulo

Gold medal: Aug. 19 at Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro

After World Cup snub, USA’s Crystal Dunn braced for major Olympic role

GRANT WAHLMonday July 25th, 2016

For six weeks, from the Olympics opening ceremonies to the Paralympics closing, men and women represent their country with one common goal in mind: Gold. She was the last cut. And so, by the thinnest of margins, Crystal Dunn missed out. She missed being on the field last July when the U.S. women won the World Cup final before a domestic TV audience of 27 million, a record for a soccer game. She missed the chance to bathe in national glory, to have her own SI cover, to be honored in a New York City ticker-tape parade. At age 23, with a history of struggling with confidence, Dunn faced what felt like an existential crisis.“I could have fallen off the face of the earth and sunk into a shell,” Dunn says at a pre-Olympic camp in Chicago. “It’s hard to love this sport when you feel like it’s crushed your soul and broken your heart into a million pieces. But you have to find the positive in every situation. It’s those disappointments that make you realize there are going to be some great moments ahead.”One of those moments came on the day of that World Cup final. Dunn, along with teammates from the NWSL’s Washington Spirit, was watching on TV at a packed sports bar in the nation’s capital. As the U.S. blew away Japan with four early goals in a 5–2 victory, Dunn felt profoundly mixed emotions—Wow, this is incredible! And I could have been there! But then, after the trophy ceremony, striker Abby Wambach began thanking her teammates on the Fox Sports broadcast, mentioning “the players that didn’t make the last cut, like Crystal Dunn.”Dunn had by then left the bar, but her Twitter mentions started blowing up and she quickly caught on.“At that moment,” says Dunn, “I stopped feeling sorry for myself.”What she did after that became one of the most impressive feats in NWSL history. Moving to a more attacking role with the Spirit in 2015, she scored a league-high 15 goals and won the MVP award.She worked to improve the tactical deficiencies that kept her off the World Cup team as a fullback and earned her way back onto the roster late last year as a dynamic midfielder and forward. When the U.S. starts its campaign on Aug. 3 to become the first reigning Women’s World Cup champion to win Olympic gold, Dunn—with nine international goals and four assists in ’16—will be one of the team’s most dangerous threats.“She’s got such quickness and athleticism, and her ability to separate is special,” says U.S. coach Jill Ellis. “When [opponents] are very structured defensively, you need players who can suddenly elude that first defender and create an advantage. She can get to balls and play a cross, and her service is really good eight times out of 10. Now the linchpin for her is her confidence.”Three years after making her U.S. debut, Dunn looks back and shakes her head.“I was so on edge,” she says. “For two years, you’d lose me for 10 minutes if I gave the ball away. You can’t be that way. Mistakes are going to happen. What’s changed my game is knowing that I’m going to try things that may not work, and I need to be O.K. with that.”But when those things work? Look out. The 5′ 1″ Dunn displays a swashbuckling verve in the box, using sharp cuts and sudden acceleration to make defenders look as if they’re moving at half-speed. What’s more, no American player is more versatile: She has played every position for the U.S. except defensive midfielder, center back and goalkeeper.“I keep telling [goalkeeper] Hope Solo I’m coming for her!” jokes the constantly smiling Dunn, who actually did play center back for Ellis at the 2010 Under-20 World Cup. (At North Carolina, where Dunn was the ’12 national player of the year, she also became the first woman to win both the ACC’s offensive and defensive player of the year awards.)For all of Dunn’s two-way abilities, however, teammates marvel most at how she rebounded from her World Cup setback.“She used it in the most positive way possible,” says U.S. defender Julie Johnston, Dunn’s closest friend on the team. “She pushed herself further than she probably thought she could go.”tty ImagesWhen Crystal Dunn was 2 years old, a fortuitous thing happened for her soccer career. Her parents, Vincent and Rhonda—lifelong New Yorkers—decided to move their family from Queens to Rockville Centre, a quiet Long Island suburb. The reasons were simple enough, Vincent says: better schools and a safer environment in which to raise Crystal and her older brother, Henry (who would go on to play baseball for two years in the Cleveland Indians’ organization).“We had no idea that Rockville Centre was a women’s soccer powerhouse,” says Vincent, who’s now a partner at a Manhattan law firm. “If we’d stayed in Queens, there’s a very good chance she never would have touched a soccer ball.”Newly relocated, Crystal started playing at age 4—“everyone was doing it,” she says, “so I thought I might as well”—and hasn’t stopped since. She was faster than anyone else, and she scored so many goals that coaches would sometimes pull her, lest they appear to be running up the score. Vincent remembers one time, even before his daughter’s South Side High team won three of four state titles, that a parent said of 10-year-old Crystal: “When she goes to the Olympics in 2020, don’t forget to send me some tickets!” “I ran into [that woman] at the supermarket three months ago,” says Vincent, smiling, “and I reminded her.”As Dunn has risen to the top of the NWSL over the past three years, she has become friends with another D.C.-area resident, Briana Scurry, the retired goalkeeper who won the World Cup with the U.S. in 1999. Now the Spirit’s honorary captain, Scurry watched with fist-pumping enthusiasm last season as Dunn tore up the league.“She was amazing,” says Scurry, 44. “And if you watch training sessions, you see how she interacts with teammates: She has a pure joy and a contagious personality.”Scurry says she also feels a kinship with Dunn because both are rare women of color capped by the U.S. The only non-white starter on the 1999 Cup team, Scurry says she never would have expected that a lack of diversity would persist in 2016. And while this U.S. Olympic team does have a few minority players—Dunn, Mallory Pugh, Christen Press—Scurry wonders why group-stage opponent France, for example, has a lot more than the Americans do. Like Dunn, Scurry started playing soccer only when her family moved to the suburbs of her city (Minneapolis), and here she points to the two biggest obstacles to diversity in the U.S. soccer community: accessibility and cost.• Check out the jerseys the U.S. women will be wearing in Rio

“There needs to be more exposure to soccer in inner-city areas; those kids need to know soccer is an option for them,” Scurry says. Further, she points to absurd travel-team expenses as a hindrance. “I have friends who pay $3,000 a year for their kid to play—and she’s 13. That’s ridiculous. Coaches need to get paid, but there’s no way my parents could have afforded that kind of money.” Doug Andreassen, the Seattle-based chair of U.S. Soccer’s diversity task force, is blunt about the pay-to-play system (average cost: $3,000 per year) that dominates the higher levels of youth soccer.“It really is working just for the white kids,” he says. “For people of color in any city in America, it’s not working.”Soccer, the most democratic and accessible sport outside the U.S., remains a largely white, suburban sport when it comes to the organized ranks stateside. While the Dunns were able to pay for Crystal’s travel-team expenses, Vincent says, “The amount of money people spend on soccer [does not fit within] the disposable income that a lot of African-Americans have.”Meanwhile, grassroot groups are trying to address the issue. Andreassen has praised the work of former San Antonio mayor Ed Garza, whose Urban Soccer Leadership Academy is organizing teams at low cost for young players, largely Latino and black, from low-income families. Dunn, Scurry and several members of the current national team have worked for the U.S. Soccer Foundation, a nonprofit organization that is “providing a quality soccer program at no charge to kids ages six to 12 in low-income communities,” explains president and CEO Ed Foster-Simeon. The foundation’s Soccer for Success program, Foster-Simeon says, has grown from serving 8,000 kids five years ago to 32,000 this year, with a three-year goal of tripling that number. The foundation doesn’t cover pay-to-play or higher-level training, though, and while scholarships can help in those areas, they aren’t enough.Ellis sees progress but wants to make clear: It takes time.“If you were to look at a lot of our youth national teams, you’d see more diversity than ever before, and that’s wonderful, because this is a sport for everybody,” Ellis says, “but it does take longer to [impact the senior squad] because we’re such a seasoned team.” Still, Ellis echoes others’ frustrations with the existing pay-to-play system. “It’s so darn expensive that it does restrict a lot of people,” she says. “Then you’re just targeting certain economic groups, and that’s problematic.”For Dunn, the notion of inspiring young minority girls who are hoping to play on the national team is a complex one. She embraces that role, of course: In February, on Twitter, she thanked a student who wrote a report about her for Black History Month. (“So happy I have inspired you in any way.”) Yet she doesn’t want her race to be the only characteristic that defines her.“It’s such a hard question: Do I think about the color of my skin?” she says. “Yes, occasionally. But it’s not like when I step on the field, I feel I have to do this for all the black girls out there. I’ve always been taught to represent yourself and your family and friends. I just try to be the best role model, whether my fans are black girls or white girls.”Dunn is doing just fine with that role model thing these days. Earlier this month she came home to soccer-mad Rockville Centre, where she was feted in recognition of her inclusion on the Olympic team roster. In some ways, one could see the parade as signifying that she’d come full circle after missing out on the World Cup. But to Dunn the trip back was also the start of a new—and potentially golden—soccer journey.

Megan Rapinoe: On her injury, Olympics, future in broadcasting

GRANT WAHLWednesday July 6th, 2016

U.S. soccer star Megan Rapinoe has been in a race against time to make the Olympic team, which is expected to be announced next week. She tore her right ACL in a U.S. training session in Hawaii last December and is in camp but won’t play in Saturday’s pre-Olympic friendly against South Africa in Chicago (1 p.m. ET, FS1). Rapinoe turned 31 on Tuesday and recently joined Manchester United’s Juan Mata as a global ambassador for StreetFootballWorld, a non-profit supporting social change through soccer. Rapinoe caught up with SI.com for a chat on a number of topics:

SI.com: Megan, you’ve been out with a knee injury since December. The Olympics start on August 3, and you are with the U.S. team in this current camp. Where are you in your recovery?

Rapinoe: Pretty close, actually. I’ve just gone back into training with my club team, the Seattle Reign. I’m basically doing everything except contact. People can’t tackle me, which is how I prefer it anyway (laughs). So I’m trying to work back in, and I feel pretty comfortable on the ball and moving around. I think I might actually be faster than I was before! I feel really good. I’m just at the tail end of the rehabilitation of feeling comfortable jumping in. I’m about seven months out, so kind of that time you start to ask yourself: Am I comfortable? Am I strong and confident? And then it’s about working yourself back in in the smartest and safest way possible.GALLERY: USWNT, USMNT in 2016 in photos

SI.com: What has U.S. coach Jill Ellis said to you about your chances of making this Olympic team and what it’s going to take?

Rapinoe: I think, bottom line, I have to be good enough to make the team. I have to bring something in and beat somebody else out, especially with a smaller roster for the Olympics. That’s the first thing. I think she understands I won’t be coming being the starter I was and being a 90-minute player. But if there’s some capacity I can come in off the bench and help that way and be fit and good for maybe 30 minutes or a half, I think she’s willing to work with me on that and be open to that. I have some skills that are unique to me that I think she rates, and she thinks if I’m at a certain level I can help the team in some capacity. It’s not just coming back for a friendly, it’s coming back for a major tournament.

SI.com: You hurt your knee last December on a practice field in Hawaii that several U.S. players found unacceptable. It was the same weekend as the friendly that was canceled over poor field conditions. Is there any bitterness or anger toward the federation over what happened?

Rapinoe: No. I don’t feel that. I think that maybe it made them think a little harder about where they put us. I think right when it happened the fact everyone asked me if I thought it was the turf or not—that’s unacceptable for that question to need to be asked. I think in a lot of ways, unfortunately, the lesson had to be learned at the expense of me. But there were a lot of lessons learned. It was an eye-opener for a lot of people.I’m not bitter. I can’t say it was the only reason it happened. Maybe if I was on a perfect field it would have happened also. But maybe it wouldn’t. And that’s something we need to address going forward, and hopefully we won’t have to ask that question again.

SI.com: You’ve had this injury before, unfortunately. Has that helped with your recovery in any way?

Rapinoe: Tremendously, actually. This is the third time. It was my left knee kind of back-to-back in college. It’s helped me tremendously to know what to expect, to know what’s normal, what kind of pain is normal and what isn’t. To know what it’s like to be close to being back. Even from a mindset standpoint, it’s long. It takes forever, even with good medicine these days. The surgeons are so light with their touch, after two months you’re back walking around. For me to have that knowledge and the process being familiar to me, it’s enabled me to approach it in a more healthy way and keep myself sane. I can do my rehab and do some other things, have some creative outlets and take advantage of that and still know what I needed to do.

SI.com: When you look at this U.S. women’s national team since the World Cup, what are your impressions of what has changed and what’s similar?

Rapinoe: A lot of new faces, which is pretty cool to see. Obviously a lot of not only great players but big personalities aren’t with the team right now. I’m injured, Abby [Wambach] retired, Christie Rampone has been injured and not in camp. Shannon Boxx [retired], Lauren Holiday [retired], Amy Rodriguez [new mother], Sydney Leroux [pregnant]: Those are not only great players but big personalities.So it’s been cool to see these last six to eight months the new players come in. And now you can see—I was in camp in Denver—they’re growing into their roles and taking on new responsibilities. Even the kind of “middle-aged” players on the team like Tobin [Heath] and Kelley [O’Hara] are taking on more responsibility, which has been pretty cool. And the team has been doing fantastic and playing well and starting to click in all facets of the game heading to Rio.

SI.com: There’s a crazy thing that no team that has ever won the Women’s World Cup has won the Olympic gold medal the following year. Do you have any idea why not? And do you think this U.S. team is capable of ending that streak?

Rapinoe: I think we are very capable of ending that streak. And I think it’s very understandable why it hasn’t happened. Because it’s really exhausting when you win the World Cup. There’s a lot that happens. A lot of good stuff, but sometimes you need to be in New York and you live in Seattle and you have to fly to the good stuff. Then you fly to the good stuff in L.A. And then there’s a photo shoot somewhere else (Editor’s note: like SI!). So it’s hard. There’s a lot of attention, there’s a lot more to do, a lot of appearances. Just emotionally, as amazing as it is to win the World Cup, it’s emotionally draining in many ways. But having so many new players, that’s probably good for us not just to have more youth but just actually energy that a lot of us have spent this past year.

SI.com: The labor situation with U.S. Soccer continues. The complaint filed with the EEOC about wage discrimination compared to the men’s team got a ton of attention. It’s transcended soccer and even sports. You were one of the five players on that complaint. Where are we on that?

Rapinoe: Still in the thick of it, really. The EEOC, in terms of the complaint they handle it. And our contract, which is up at the end of the year, that still needs to be ironed out. So this recent court finding [that the CBA runs through the end of the year] can’t impact the Olympics, but it’s over in December, so we have to get a deal done. Those negotiations are still happening. Hopefully we can reach a deal that acceptable on both sides. We’d like to have it done sooner than later. It’s not optimal to have your contract run out for either side. Ideally, it would be best if we could come to an agreement soon.MORE: Morgan says “slim to no chances” new CBA gets done before Rio

SI.com: One thing we’ve seen in the Copa América and Euro 2016 TV coverage is more women being involved in the broadcasting of men’s soccer events, whether it’s Aly Wagner for Fox Sports or Kate Markgraf, Abby Wambach and Julie Foudy for ESPN. Would you be interested in doing that at some point?

Rapinoe: Hell yeah! I’m totally interested in it. I’ve always got opinions on everything. I really am interested. I think it’s very difficult and people don’t give enough credit to how hard it is to do in-game commentary. I’d have a lot of work to do, but I’d definitely be interested. I’m always interested in breaking down the game, and I’d love to see more females doing it. It’s amazing to see more companies like ESPN and Fox step out and have smart women doing this who can bring a lot to it.

SI.com: So tell me more about your global ambassador position with StreetFootballWorld. What’s it about?

Rapinoe: It’s a really cool organization that I’m psyched to work with. They’re an organization that essentially aims to make the world a better place through football, which oftentimes seems simple but isn’t. It tends to be very difficult. The cool thing they do is they work as a tool with local organizations that are already on the ground and already have intimate knowledge of the needs of the community and what really needs to happen. It’s often hard to just throw money at a problem when you don’t really know what the problem is.So that was interesting for me. They work with all these local organizations that can actually effect change in those areas. I’m one of their ambassadors. Juan Mata is my male counterpart in this. Hopefully we can help bring them some big sponsorships to their programs and try to help them that way. Ideally, I’d like to bring the business that my sister and I have into it. We run our own clinics, but for us a big-picture goal would be to take it international and use our platform and message to team up with a local organization through StreetFootballWorld to do a clinic or series of clinics in South America or other places around the world.

Carli Lloyd: U.S. women’s soccer team is ‘more sophisticated’

Updated: JULY 29, 2016 — 3:08 PM EDTby Jonathan Tannenwald, STAFF WRITER  @jtannenwald

By now you’ve seen my story on Carli Lloyd previewing the Olympics that’s running in Sunday’s Inquirer.

There was a lot of good stuff from my conversation with Lloyd couldn’t fit into the print edition. Here’s the extended cut.We talked about the ramatic change in the U.S. women’s national team since last summer’s World Cup and previewed each of the Americans’ group stage opponents at the Olympics. Lloyd also reflected on how her life has changed now that she’s a superstar who transcends the soccer field.

On the U.S. women’s team’s infusion of new young talent:

They bring something unique. They’re great footballers – they’re good on the ball, they’re smart. They’ve been involved in the youth program with the national team. So they’re great in a sense that it’s good having good people around you that are good on the ball.The only thing that’s going to be a challenge, maybe, for them is not knowing what to expect. It’s a big tournament. There are some distractions that come along with the Olympics, but I think our team does a pretty good job of rallying around each other and helping one another out in order to be fully ready.I think it’s a good mix of veteran players – myself, Hope [Solo] and others who have been involved in an Olympics have to kind of set the tone and really encourage these players out on the field.

On the fast rise to prominence of 18-year-old midfielder Mallory Pugh:

She’s an interesting player. I’ve really gotten to know her and really respect her play and who she is on and off the field. She’s come in and done really well ever since Olympic qualifying.What’s crazy about what she’s done is she doesn’t seem to get rattled about anything. Nothing really stresses her out. She shows up to training every day, she works on getting better, she’s open to feedback. It’s great to have a player like that.It’s a very nerve-wracking environment to be in. It’s stressful. I deal with it on a daily basis even with over 200 caps. It’s crazy to me to look at her and think to myself that I don’t know if much rattles this player. It’s pretty crazy. But it’s something unique, and she’s definitely going to help us out on the pitch – and she has this year. She’s just got to keep going. She’s got a lot of talent.

On the inclusion of Megan Rapinoe in the Olympic squad even though she hasn’t fully recovered from the ACL tear in her right kne she suffered in December:

Pinoe’s just very positive and wasn’t stressing out. Of course she was very disappointed when she heard the news about tearing her ACL, but she just kept saying: “I’m going to work extra hard to get myself back in time.” She just didn’t seem really stressed out and believed she would make it back in time.And she’s a special player – there’s no player that’s like her. Of course, Jill [Ellis] said she’s not coming back to be a 90-minute player. But she has the opportunity to potentially come in and change the game. Whether she comes in and we get a couple of corner kicks and she’s doing her magic on that, there are so many different things that she can offer, which I think is great.

On Tobin Heath’s improvement since the World Cup, and how that has dovetailed with the overall improvement in the team’s playing style:

Tobin, I think has definitely been one of our top, consistent players over these last couple of years. She’s done really, really well and I think she’s just booming with confidence the more she plays.I’ve seen Tobin mature so much. I remember years ago, in prior events, we had to get on her about her defending and just being kind of diligent about that. She’s a workhorse. She gets up and down that flank, she helps out. It’s great to see.I think that like myself, the style of play has evolved. When I first got on the team with Greg Ryan, it was basically just long balls the whole time. There was no use of the center mids. Then when Pia [Sundhage] came on board, we started to use the center mids more, and started to play better soccer.I think with [Heath], it’s sort of the same thing. We used to just kind of get the ball out wide and whip it in for a cross, and Abby [Wambach] was there to meet it. Now we’re becoming more sophisticated. We’re combining on the flanks, we’re getting [to the] end line, all different things. I think it has helped evolve [Heath’s] game tremendously, and she’s going to be an important piece to winning this gold medal.

On the team’s evolution from a 4-4-2 formation to a 4-2-3-1, and whether the team knew when the big switch happened for the World Cup semifinal against Germany that it had the potential to be a defining moment:

Not really. I was just focused on myself and what I needed to do, focused on winning a World Cup. It’s hard to look to the future and start to focus on that.But I knew the moment that Jill gave me the freedom to do what I needed to do on the field [before the quarterfinal against China], James [Galanis] told me: “Make sure she doesn’t regret this move. If you go out there and you don’t do well, she’s going to in a heartbeat think about changing it again.” So that was my focus.I know that I’m a natural attacking player. I love to attack, I love to play freely, I love to combine and play through balls. That’s the nature of my game. So for me, I wanted to make sure that I showed Jill and everybody that I wasn’t going to let them down, and I was going to help in any way possible and come through.Now here we are, and Jill still fancies me in that number 10 role. If needed I can play the number 8 [in central midfield], no problem. If needed I can even play the number 6 [a more defensive role]. It’s good to be able to perform in any role that is possible.

On the recent experiment of Christen Press at the number 10 and its effect on how she plays and what it does to the rest of the midfield:

Honestly, that’s my natural position, really. You can look at it one of two ways. It’s basically a box-to-box midfielder, which I’ve been doing for 10-some years on the team. I can do it. I think that I may be needed and may be called upon to do it depending on how things are going.There’s two days of rest in between [each game]. I know Jill has mentioned that to me. I’m totally open with it and I think the only thing is when you play with essentially two [midfielders] behind me and me as the attacking mid, obviously there’s a little bit less defensive responsibility and I’m higher up in the attack.I think it’s just going to be a game-to-game basis to see how things are going. I’ll be in the 8, I’ll be in the 10, whatever is called upon I’ll be ready to do it. It’s definitely going to be one of those things where we have to see what’s going on and how players are playing and what’s needed of me.

On playing New Zealand in the group stage opener:

They’re tough, they’re gritty, they work extremely hard, they’re physical, and it’s going to be a battle. I think every game that we’re playing in our group stage is going to be a battle. We just have to continue to focus on us, and obviously not peak too early. We want to peak come the later stages. But it’s going to be a tough match.

On whether France has improved its mental fortitude, long considered a key weakness that has held back the team from winning despite having players with nearly-unequaled individual skill:

Yeah, I think so. Look, I mean, if you don’t have it upstairs in the mind, your chances of making it very far are very slim. Everybody in the group stages is fresh, is ready to go. But once those later-stage games come, there’s a lot riding on it. You have to be mentally tough, and nothing can stand in your way.I think that we as a team need to come out with that approach. Because there’s not too many other teams that have that. But, you know, France is a great team, and just because we beat them four years ago in the 2012 Olympics [group stage, 4-2] – they’re a totally different team. So we’ve got to look it that way.

On Colombia and the importance of star Yoreli Rincón’s absence due to a fractured fibula suffered in early July:

Well, I thought they had a really great World Cup. Obviously, when we played them just recently in the U.S. in April [winning 7-0 and 3-0], they were a different squad, facing some pay issues and everything. It probably took a lot out of them.But I’m sure they’re going to be fired up and ready to go, because they want to continue to fight, and in order to continue to fight and get paid, you have to do well. So I would imagine that they’re going to be going out there and playing really hard, as they usually do.It’s a big disappointment without Yoreli. I spoke to her the day that [the injury] happened, and she’s just devastated and can’t believe it. But it’s one of those things where it happened and she’s just got to bounce back even stronger from it.

On going to Manaus:

I’ve actually heard that it’s not your typical jungle that everybody thinks it is. It’s a nice little town, and obviously the stadium is a little bit out there, but I’ve heard it’s great and it’s fine. It should be a great venue to play in.

On what it means for women’s soccer to have games at the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro’s legendary Maracanã stadium:

It’s going to be amazing. We’ve sort of been spoiled, playing in some of these magnificent venues – the 2011 World Cup in Germany, the 2012 London Olympics. It’s just been awesome. Then to play in these stadiums [that hosted] the men’s World Cup [in 2014], now it’s just amazing. And it’s just creating memories for all of us, knowing that we’ve played in some big-time stadiums.

On becoming a star and a celebrity after wanting for so long to simply be the world’s greatest female soccer player:

Yeah, it’s been awesome. I think because I still have the approach of wanting to get better, and still remaining humble – I know how hard I’ve had to work to get to this point. I know that it hasn’t been an easy journey for me. I know that I want to continue to work hard for the rest of my career, and I have a lot of other things that I want to accomplish.But with all of that, it has been awesome. Everywhere I go, people recognize me. Big-time people are reaching out to me. Just the perks of everything – getting into free [events] here and there, getting hooked up with concert tickets or dinners. It’s awesome. But I never will take it for granted, because I know how hard I’ve had to work and I think that’s why I like to remain classy and humble about it.

On what it is about the national team that helps players so easily handle stardom, and on players’ increasing willingness to speak out about gender equity and other social issues:

I think it’s just the culture and demeanor of this team. There’s a respect factor that goes on in the culture of the women’s national team. It’s just been there for years, and the way that everyone has handled interviews and incidents, and just everything has been classy. I think that it’s just how it is.Men are very different than women, and tend to speak their minds and say whatever they want. Women are judged a little bit differently when they do that. I know Hope has been very outspoken on our team, but in all fairness, I think that without that, I’m not sure that we would have made so many strides.If you’re quiet and you don’t speak out, you’re never going to get anything accomplished. I think that has helped our team make some strides, and made more and more people feel comfortable about speaking up…The position that I’m in right now, if I speak up about these things [such as equal pay matters], I highly doubt that they would kick me off the team. So it’s just a matter of being in a position now to know that I’m in a comfortable situation to speak out, and as a veteran and co-captain of this team, it’s important for me to kind of help pay the way and help make others feel comfortable to speak out about these things.But the support has been great. It’s been overwhelming. And it’s just been, I think, awesome, the strides that we’re making and we continue to make. It’s going to be a tough battle to keep going, but we’re up for the challenge.

Morgan, Lloyd lead USA Olympic roster; Rapinoe makes final cut

AVI CREDITORTuesday July 12th, 2016

There was little surprise in the outcome after U.S. women’s national team manager Jill Ellis revealed the 18 players who will aim to win the USA’s fourth straight Olympic gold medal next month in Brazil.Veterans Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd and Hope Solo lead the charge, while impressive 18-year-old Mallory Pugh and NWSL standout Crystal Dunn lead the contingent of non-World Cup players to work their way into the squad. Megan Rapinoe, who has been recovering from a torn ACL, has made the cut, while veteran Heather O’Reilly, who won Olympic gold in 2004, 2008 and 2012, did not make the final roster in the one minor notable. Ellis’s squad features a balance of youth and veterans and a blend of experience and relative inexperience, but it surely enters Brazil as the favorite to win a fifth gold in six Olympic competitions.The U.S. will play New Zealand, France and Colombia in group play (on August, 3, 6, 9) with hopes of an extended stay in the host nation.

GOALKEEPERS: Hope Solo (Seattle Reign), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS: Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers)

MIDFIELDERS: Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns), Allie Long (Portland Thorns), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign)

FORWARDS: Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado/UCLA), Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit)

ALTERNATES: Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride)

Straightforward selection for Ellis

Remember when the Women’s World Cup ended last summer and we all wondered how difficult it’d be for Ellis to pare the player pool down to 18? Well. Abby Wambach, Lauren Holiday, Shannon Boxx and Lori Chalupny retired. Amy Rodriguez and Sydney Leroux got pregnant (congratulations to Rodriguez on the birth of her son Luke!). Suddenly, Ellis didn’t have a surplus of sure things; in fact, she needed to seek players to fill roles. Everything worked itself out over the course of the World Cup Victory Tour, SheBelieves Cup and friendlies that ensued, and what Ellis was left with was a pretty established 18-player core. Pugh and Dunn proved their worth time and again. Long and Horan offer value in need areas in the midfield. The goalkeeping and defensive unit that was so valuable at the World Cup remains.And with that, there’s the squad.Yes, there are “snubs” as there are with any tournament roster, and it’s unfortunate for some tried and tested veterans that their time appears up, but Ellis has not made any egregious choices. These 18 are deserving and more than capable of winning it all.

Rapinoe, the super sub?

Megan Rapinoe hasn’t played a minute since tearing her ACL prior to the USA’s canceled friendly in Hawaii in December. She was in camp to be evaluated before last weekend’s friendly vs. South Africa and clearly proved in training and in her talks with medical staff that she’s good to go. There’s no denying Rapinoe’s ability when fit, but even she admits that “I won’t be coming being the starter I was and being a 90-minute player,” as she said to SI’s Grant Wahl.Rapinoe just presents too much game-changing potential and boasts too much experience to be left behind, even at less than full strength. If the U.S. is in a pinch late in games and needs an attacking spark, Rapinoe, even in 20 minutes, can provide that punch. Her set piece and crossing proficiency make her an invaluable weapon, and she is no stranger to coming through in the clutch, whether it was her cross to Wambach against Brazil in the 2011 World Cup, her two goals in the opening win over Australia in the 2015 World Cup and the number of moments in between and before.Rapinoe is a luxury add for an 18-player squad that is blessed with good wide play options (Heath, Pugh among them), but Ellis wouldn’t have taken her if she didn’t think she could play a role.

No doubt for Dunn

Crystal Dunn’s omission from the World Cup roster was a tough pill to swallow, as she detailed recently in The Players’ Tribune, and for any player, a moment like presents a fork in a career: Either you choose to respond positively, or you crumble. For Dunn, it’s been the former. And how.She’s been a force in the attack and should start regularly in Belo Horizonte and Manaus. Her nine goals in 2016 are second only to Morgan’s 11, and her four assists trail only Pugh (seven) and Lloyd (five). Whereas Ellis had the option not to call on her for the trip to Canada last summer, there was no denying Dunn’s determination, dynamism and production in 2016.

AT HOME AT RIGHT BACK

KELLEY O’HARA BRINGS ONE THING TO BRAZIL THAT SHE DIDN’T HAVE WHEN WINNING A GOLD MEDAL IN 2012: EXPERIENCE.WNT Jul 31, 2016

It was a grand experiment.What happens when you take an immensely talented attacking player with unique athletic gifts, but one who has played forward all her life, then give her a crash course in the intricacies of “outside back” just a few months before throwing her onto the world’s stage?That was the experiment undertaken four years ago in England, and the laboratory was the Olympics. Kelley O’Hara, one of the greatest goal scorers in the history of the USA’s Youth National Teams (24 goals in 35 U-20 caps), a player who scored 57 goals with 32 assists at Stanford and who won the Hermann Trophy during her senior year in 2009 as college soccer’s best player while playing forward – would be starting at left back at the 2012 Olympics.We’re not sure how “fortune favors the bold” translates in Swedish, but no one ever accused former U.S. head coach Pia Sundhage of not taking risks. But with risk comes, well, risk, and it was not the easiest of transitions for O’Hara, who back in 2012 was just trying to find a way to work herself into an already stacked WNT lineup.The experiment began on Jan. 22, 2012, in a rout of Guatemala at the Olympic Qualifying tournament in Vancouver, Canada, when O’Hara played outside back for the first time in her life. At any level. Her attacking talents from the positon were immediately evident as she picked up three assists. She then got the start in the semifinal match against Costa Rica and had an excellent game as the USA qualified for the Olympics.“The most uncomfortable part was that I’d never been on that particular patch of grass before facing that direction,” said O’Hara about her defender debut. “Over my entire soccer career, I was always getting the ball near half field, back to goal or running onto the ball in the attacking third, but not once in my life had I stood in that spot on the field and received a pass with the intention of getting the ball forward. And then there was the defending part.” Yes, that defending part.One of the reasons O’Hara was such an attractive prospect at outside back was a combination of her fitness, her well-known attacking qualities and the ability to tackle with a force and bite way beyond her size.But she would need to learn how to function on a back line, and Olympic Qualifying was a good place to dip her toe in the murky waters of defense.  During that tournament, it did indeed seem like something special was brewing. She switched to left back in the 4-0 demolition of Canada in the championship game and her accelerated course load at Outside Back University was underway.O’Hara had an uncomfortable moment in the next game against New Zealand when a mistake led to a Kiwi goal, but it was all part of the learning process. Her confidence grew with every game. From there, with Amy LePeilbet staking a claim to the right back position (backed up by Heather Mitts), O’Hara made left back her own.She benefited from experiencing some top-class games at the Algarve Cup in Portugal, playing twice against Japan in Japan, another bout with the Japanese in a tournament in Sweden, as well as several pre-Olympic friendlies. Things started to click. When O’Hara – a quick study who graduated from Stanford with a degree in science, technology and society with a focus in environmental engineering – arrived at the Olympics, she was ready for her new role.It’s not like there weren’t a few bumps in the road during the Olympics, but O’Hara played spectacularly and was a massive factor in the USA’s Olympic success. She was on the field for every minute of all six wins as the USA earned the gold medal, even though she was the second youngest starter (behind Alex Morgan) after entering the Olympic games with just 19 caps. Fast forward to 2016 in Brazil, and the experience of four years ago has proven invaluable to her development as a world-class outside back. “I feel much different in 2016, and not just as an outside back, but also as a player on this team,” O’Hara said. “Right now I’m rooming with Mallory Pugh and she’s actually 10 years younger than me, which is hilarious but also awesome. Four years ago, I was very much in the mindset of ‘don’t mess it up for the older players’ and also it was focusing on myself and what I needed to do to make it through the tournament and help out the team. Now, I’m in a different position as far as leadership and helping out these younger players with advice or support or guidance if needed.” With four years and 57 caps under her belt since the end of the last Olympic games, not to mention an uber-dramatic and emotional first international goal against Germany in the semifinal of the 2015 Women’s World Cup, she’s excelling at her position on the right side with Meghan Klingenberg patrolling the left flank. And since she has played mostly in attacking roles in her professional club career, she’s still had the chance to enjoy some time in the final third, which is something she surely applies to her time as a defender for the WNT.In Brazil, she’ll be the only back line starter that returns from 2012, but she’s embracing a new and different role. “I did feel very comfortable going into the London Olympics because I felt we had a good understanding of each other on the back line, with Hope, Christie Rampone, Rachel Buehler and Amy LePeilbet,” said O’Hara. “It was a question of ‘am I ready?’ Now I have more caps and more experience and time with the team. After winning a gold and winning a World Cup, it’s quite a different place than going into your first Olympics.”O’Hara is not the first American attacking player to be the subject of a successful position switch experiment – see Rampone and Chastain – but she’s well on her way to being one of the best.

Men’s soccer preview: Neymar, host Brazil eye elusive gold medal

BRIAN STRAUSTuesday July 26th, 2016

Men’s Olympic soccer has always been played in a strange sort of sporting limbo. It’s usually the best-attended competition at a given Games, but it’s never quite established itself as a marquee event.Hindered by an amateurs-only policy at the beginning, Olympic soccer subsequently was overshadowed by the World Cup and then dominated for decades by state-sponsored players from Europe’s Eastern Bloc. In 1992 the men’s tournament became an age-restricted Under-23 event, and four years later in Atlanta, organizers agreed to add a bit of star power by inviting three older players per team.Olympic soccer affords fans outside the host city access to the Games, and it remains a great way to discover and celebrate new talent. But at the moment, an Olympic medal remains a secondary honor in the soccer world. Just ask Lionel Messi, who claimed gold with Argentina in 2008 but still felt as though he’d won nothing truly major for his country when he announced his international retirement following a loss in June’s Copa América Centenario final. Or ask Jurgen Klinsmann, the U.S. national team coach and technical director (and 1988 bronze medal winner) who kept his job after the Americans failed to even qualify for a second consecutive Olympiad.That being said, this summer’s tournament matters immensely to the hosts. For evidence, look no further than last month, when Brazil sacrificed any shot at the Copa América as part of its quest to win an Olympic title. At the senior level, Brazil is soccer’s most decorated nation. It has won the World Cup a record five times. But it still doesn’t have the full set. France is the only country that has won a World Cup, Confederations Cup, senior continental championship, Olympic gold medal, Under-20 World Cup and Under-17 World Cup. Brazil needs only the gold medal to join that exclusive club, and it’s so desperate to get it that officials left Neymar, the Barcelona forward who’s the country’s best player, off the Copa América team so he could fill one of the over-age spots on the Olympic squad.

PLANET FUTBOL

Brazil’s federation fosters unstable management, drop in world status

It’s practically unheard of t prioritize a U-23 event over a senior competition, but Brazil needs this. The humiliating 7-1 World Cup semifinal loss to Germany in Belo Horizonte still stings two years later (and will for years to come). Another home-soil failure may send a program that’s under considerable pressure (coach Dunga was fired following the Copa) into a tailspin. For Brazil, which lost the 2012 Olympic final to Mexico, these Games are serious business.The rest of the field is tough to handicap. Olympic tournaments often feature surprises, and countries that typically don’t challenge for World Cup honors—especially those from Africa and Asia—have fared far better at the U-23 level. Meanwhile, squads from Europe, home of the past three World Cup winners, have claimed only one of the last nine Olympic medals (Italy won bronze in ’04).There are few household names among the over-age players, thanks in part to this summer’s Copa América and European Championship tournaments and in part to the August kickoff to international club soccer’s preseason. A couple of exceptions will be playing for Mexico, which is taking its title defense seriously. Club América star Oribe Peralta, 33, will be leading the attack. He scored the gold medal-winning goal four years ago. He’ll be joined by UANL Tigres defender Jorge Torres Nilo, an El Tri mainstay.

Five players to watch

Julian Brandt, Germany: Next up on Germany’s turbo-powered talent conveyor belt is this 20-year-old attacker from Bayer Leverkusen, who’s already played once for the world champion senior side. Often deployed on the left flank, Brandt tallied 10 goals and three assists last season for Leverkusen, which finished an impressive third in the Bundesliga. He’ll be key to Germany’s hopes in its first Olympic appearance in 28 years.

Ángel Correa, Argentina: He scored four goals as Argentina claimed the South American youth championship last year then returned to Spain, where he made his senior debut with Atlético Madrid last August. He then parlayed his skill and nose for goal into eight goals during a 2015-16 campaign that included five Champions League appearances. Argentina advanced to the World Cup final in Brazil two years ago and is a threat once again thanks in part to Correa.

Gabriel Jesus, Brazil: Neymar is only 24 years old, but Gabriel Jesus already is the ‘New Neymar.’ The Palmeiras forward is coveted by several big European clubs and will hope to take some of the pressure off his famous and only slightly older countryman this summer. Gabriel Jesus, 19, was named the best newcomer in the Brazilian Serie A last year and helped Palmeiras to the Copa do Brasil title.

Neymar, Brazil: The Barcelona star will be the central figure at this Olympic tournament, seeing as how the pressure to win will be immense and he’s clearly the most capable player during this forlorn era of Brazilian soccer. Neymar was handling the spotlight well at the 2014 World Cup until he was injured in a brutal quarterfinal against Colombia, and he’ll have to do so again—but for longer—this time. He’s clearly capable. Neymar scored 31 goals for the Spanish champions last season.

Son Heung-min, South Korea: Korea’s senior team finished runner-up in last year’s Asian Cup and its Olympic team won bronze in 2012. There’s potential for a similar run in Brazil this summer if Son finds his form. The winger just turned 24, so he counts as an overage player, but he’s already accomplished quite a bit, including scoring 16 goals for the senior national team (including three at the Asian Cup) and becoming the most expensive Asian player ever when he transferred last summer from Leverkusen to Tottenham Hotspur for $34 million. Son scored eight times for Spurs last season.

Groups

Group A: Brazil, South Africa, Iraq, Denmark

Group B: Sweden, Colombia, Nigeria, Japan

Group C: Germany, Mexico, Fiji, South Korea

Group D: Portugal, Argentina, Honduras, Algeria

Schedule

Group match days: Aug. 4, 7, 10

Quarterfinals: Aug. 13

Semifinals: Aug. 17

Bronze medal: Aug. 20 at Mineirão, Belo Horizonte

Gold medal: Aug. 20 at Estádio do Maracanã, Rio de Janeiro

US GK Brad Guzan signs with Middlesbrough

By Rob Usry  @RobUsry on Jul 29, 2016, 5:50a 12 

st when you thought he was out, they pulled him back in. Brad Guzan is back in the Premier League just a few months after suffering relegation with Aston Villa. Newly-promoted club Middlesbrough announced today that they’ve completed the signing of the United States No. 1 goalkeeper.Guzan signed a two year deal with the club. While not disclosed, it’s expected he joined on a free transfer as Aston Villa were looking to unload his salary from their books and didn’t demand a transfer fee.Boro have already signed former Barcelona legend Victor Valdes earlier this summer, so playing time will be hard to come by for the USMNT veteran.It will be very interesting to see how this move affects Guzan’s standing with the national team. If he’s stuck behind Valdes and is limited to cup matches, will it hurt his chances at keeping his USMNT job?He didn’t exactly lock up the spot at the Copa America. With Tim Howard guaranteed playing time in MLS and the younger guys such as Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath, William Yarbrough, and even possibly Zack Steffen lurking behind, it’s a very unstable career move for him.

Good move? Pros and cons of Brad Guzan’s signing with Middlesbrough

AVI CREDITOR  SI Friday July 29th, 2016

U.S. men’s national team starting goalkeeper Brad Guzan is off to Middlesbrough, signing a two-year deal with the newly promoted Premier League club after a free transfer and bringing an end to an eight-year stay at Aston Villa.The 31-year-old Guzan endured a brutal season in 2015-16, with Aston Villa being relegated and Guzan himself being relegated to the bench. Villa’s defense did him no favors, with the unit conceding a Premier League-worst two goals per game (76 goals in 38 league matches), yet he persevered to remain the USA’s No. 1 option for Copa America, beating Tim Howard to the punch for the starting job under Jurgen Klinsmann. “Over the last two years, he’s been very solid, very consistent with us …. I know him pretty well since five years. I know who he is. I know kind of strengths, weaknesses, all that stuff. Brad right now looks very confident, very balanced, and it seems like he left that year behind him,” Klinsmann said prior to Copa America.ow, Guzan must leave that year at Villa and a fourth-place finish at Copa America behind him and take stock of his opportunity at a new club.What does this move mean for his prospects going forward? Here are the pros and cons of Guzan’s big change:

PROS

For starters, Guzan escapes the Aston Villa stench. There’s nothing good about the club right now as it wades through some tough times, and spending another season there while in England’s second division and not the guaranteed starter was never going to be a promising option. So he’s off to a new environment and a new challenge. For Guzan, who was locked in battles at Villa for the No. 1 job throughout his tenure there, he’ll welcome the task.“For me, my confidence, I don’t think it’s ever wavered,” Guzan told SI’s Brian Straus prior to Copa America in regards to bouncing back from adversity. “I know I have confidence in myself. I know I can do the job. I’ve been over [in England]. I’ve been through a difficult season before. I’ve come back from mistakes that I’ve made and have performed well. That’s part of being a goalkeeper. You have to have thick skin, a short memory and you have to be able to dust yourself off and pick yourself back up again.”Middlesbrough has been a busy player in the transfer market, luring the likes of Alvaro Negredo on loan for the season from Valencia, and shouldn’t be a pushover as a newly promoted side. Boro, in theory, is a decent landing spot for Guzan, and it’ll surely please Klinsmann that he’s sticking it out abroad and in one of the world’s best leagues instead of potentially coming back to MLS.

CONS

Staying in the Premier League is a plus, but Guzan will have a constant fight on his hands for playing time. Victor Valdes, a Champions League, World Cup and European Championship winner with Barcelona and Spain, also joined Boro this summer, and he’ll be playing for countryman Aitor Karanka. It’s expected that Valdes is the incumbent, even though he has hardly played over the last two seasons. And it’s not just Valdes with whom Guzan will have to battle. 37-year-old Greek veteran Dimi Konstantopoulous, who helped steer Boro to the Premier League as the starter last season, remains with the club (for now), as does 27-year-old backup and Real Madrid product Tomas Mejias. This is a club with options at goalkeeper, not one looking to plug a hole with its latest signing.With Tim Howard starting and regaining his regular rhythm with the Colorado Rapids and Ethan Horvath entrenched for another season as the starter for Molde, Guzan can’t afford to spend large chunks of the season not playing without it having consequences internationally. World Cup qualifying resumes in September, the CONCACAF hexagonal begins in November and the road to Russia will develop quite quickly after that. Simply put: If he’s not playing at Boro, Guzan can’t expect to keep his No. 1 shirt with the U.S.. Moving to Boro is a calculated risk. He needed a change of scenery, badly, and he wouldn’t have signed with the club without reassurances that he could at least contend to be the starter.Will that risk pay off or backfire? Only time can tell.

Expectations not on Christian Pulisic’s mind

By Adam Whittaker Snavely  @Snaves on Jul 30, 2016, 6:45a + 

When you have become the youngest ever foreigner to score in one of the top leagues in the world, not to mention the youngest scorer of multiple goals, for one of the most storied clubs ever, and make your full international debut (and score your first senior international goal, to boot) at the age of 17 years old, the hype might start to get to you. If you’re an American doing these things, you have an incredibly strange mix of rabid fanbase claiming you as their savior and media attention. These are the things Christian Pulisic has to deal with. Just don’t tell him that.In an interview with Ruhr Nachrichten, a German newspaper that commonly follows Dortmund, Pulisic reminisced on his stratospheric rise over the past twelve months, as well as the challenges that lay ahead with Dortmund. Throughout all, he remained cool, excited, and humble as a teenager can be when he suddenly finds out he could be a superstar in the making (via ESPN):

“The fact that I’m still very young caught the attention of many people. I am obviously aware of that. They put their hopes in me, but I also have high expectations. I’m not letting that get to my head or get carried away. I think that’s normal when a young player suddenly plays for the national team. I simply want to stay focused”

Just so we’re clear, here’s a list of all the things Pulisic is still legally not permitted to do:

  • Vote in the United States
  • Purchase cigarettes or lottery tickets in the United States
  • Purchase alcohol in the United States or Germany
  • Drive in Germany (seriously.His Dad still drives him to first team practice)
  • Serve in the military

All this to say: Christian Pulisic is still technically a child. He took a short break from the United States camp this summer to attend prom. Everyone would like to see him become a world-beating star, but all of that pressure can easily crush the livelihood of someone so young. As it stands, it seems Pulisic is handling all of this pressure admirably, and he credits his teammates, both within the USMNT and Borussia Dortmund’s first team, for supporting him.“Overall I’m very happy with my displays. I had to make great strides. But my teammates and coaches have supported me well and made it easy for me. Everyone had my back In Dortmund as well as in the national team”.  And it seems like he means it, too. He just got back from China with Dortmund’s first team, notching a goal against Pep Guardiola and Manchester City. He’s currently playing a starring role in Dortmund’s new youth movement; six (!) players who saw the field for Dortmund against Manchester United and/or Manchester City were teenagers: Pulisic, Felix Passlack (Germany), Ousmane Dembele (France), Emre Mor (Turkey), Jacob Bruun Larsen (Denmark), and Dzenis Burnic (Germany). Four of those players (Pulisic, Passlack, Dembele, and Mor) could quite conceivably play major roles for Dortmund this season, even with an attacking line of Marco Reus, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mario Gotze, Andre Schurrle, and Shinji Kagawa ahead of them. But don’t worry too much about Pulisic. He’s not letting it get to him.

Julian Green still has work to do to impress Carlo Ancelotti, Bayern Munich

By Phillip Quinn  @PhilMQuinn on Jul 31, 2016, 3:00p 3 

With only a year remaining on his contract, many Bayern Munich supporters expected that Julian Green would leave the club. With either a full transfer or a loan, Green would want playing time, and he wouldn’t get any in Munich. So, why wouldn’t he want to leave?When news came out that Green and Bayern had agreed that his time plodding away in the fourth division with Bayern Munich II had come to end, it was seen as both admirable or stupid, depending on who you asked.

He’s going to give it his all to play for Bayern Munich’s first team this season.

or

Is he just giving up on playing this season? He’ll never play with Bayern Munich’s first team.

There was also the more nuanced take on the situation. It could be both brave and stupid. Why would a player risk not playing at all in order to potentially get seemingly impossible minutes?With the Audi Summer Tour 2016 approaching and Bayern’s participation in the International Champions Cup, Green knew he had an opportunity. With Robert Lewandowski given an extended break due to his participation in Euro 2016, Green would be the only forward on the roster until Bayern returns to Germany. This was his opportunity to prove to Carlo Ancelotti that he is good enough to be a part of Bayern’s first team.Having turned 21 years old on June 6, Green looks to have finally matured physically to the point where he can compete with other grown men in battles on the field. He’s proven that. Still, his weaknesses — not the best first touch, great finishing — have been there, as well. Nobody would mistake Green for Lewandowski. That’s not fair.When people talk about Green being “Lewandowski’s backup” at forward, there seems to be confusion, and that confusion is that people think Lewandowski is replaceable. Quite simply, he’s not. There are few, if any, players in the world that are good enough to be a straight player-for-player swap with Lewandowski.Being Lewandowski’s backup, in the case of Green, is not to step on the field and replace him against the Madrids and Barcelonas of the world. If Lewandowski is out against those teams, Thomas Müller will play up top by himself. For Green, replacing Lewandowski consists of being able to take the field against the lower level teams in the Bundesliga to give Lewandowski time off.So, it must be said how wonderful his performance against Inter Milan was on Saturday. Green scored a hat trick in the first 35 minutes against Inter’s first choice defense and goalkeeper. This wasn’t a performance against a Regionalliga team. Inter finished fourth in Serie A last season and will take part in this season’s Europa League. Green, at least, sounds like he has his head on straight and is keeping perspective.”It’s always important for me to score, but it’s one game,” Green said after the Inter game. “I scored three goals today and I’m very happy about it. Tomorrow is another day.”At the end of the day, yes, these are just friendlies. In friendlies, what matters are the little things, not the big things. Winning isn’t paramount. Development is. It’s still the preseason, so nobody is expected to be in top form.Ancelotti is looking for those little things. “He played well, really well. He scored three goals, and was right in the box,” the new coach said after the game. “It was a really good performance. The team had some good offensive play, and Julian was ready to finish.”Even then, one great performance doesn’t make a career. For this season, the first game that truly matters — against Carl Zeiss Jena in the DFB Pokal — is still two weeks away. Green still has time to impress his new boss.

ESPN’s MLS TV audiences up 32 percent in 2016

Updated: JULY 26, 2016 — 3:26 PM EDT

Although the Seattle Sounders have struggled on the field this season, they’re still one of Major League Soccer’s biggest television draws.by Jonathan Tannenwald, STAFF WRITER  @jtannenwald

The American soccer community never runs out of things to complain about. Or at least that’s how it seems sometimes.One of the perennial favorites on the laundry list of grievances is often-underwhelming audiences for Major League Soccer’s national television broadcasts. Tuesday brought some news on that front, courtesy of ESPN:

Leading up to the 2016 MLS All-Star Game, this year’s Major League Soccer matches on ESPN and ESPN2 have delivered an average audience of 312,000 viewers (227,000 household impressions), an increase of 32 percent in viewers (235,000) and 44 percent in television homes (158,000) from the same period in 2015. On WatchESPN, the E1/E2 average minute audience to-date this season is 12,000, an increase of 127 percent increase over 5,000 in 2015.

ESPN Deportes is seeing a 44 percent audience increase with an average 46,000 Hispanic viewers year-to-date in 2016, compared to 32,000 in 2015. Spanish language telecasts on WatchESPN had an increase of 20 percent in average minute audience to-date this season vs 2015.

“As we enter the All Star break, we are delighted to see such substantial year over year gains in audience across ESPN platforms and in key demographics for Major League Soccer,” said Scott Guglielmino, ESPN Senior Vice President, Programming and Acquisitions. “We look forward to continue working with Major League Soccer to keep up the momentum as we enter a very busy Fall sports calendar.”

ESPN noted the following demographic trends specifically:

– Viewership among 18-to-34-year-old men is up 22 percent this year.

– Viewership among 18-to-49 year old men is up 13 percent, and viewership among 18-to-49-year-old viewers across the board is up 18 percent this year.

– Viewership within the Hispanic demographic for games on ESPN and ESPN2 is up 14 percent compared to this point in 2015.

– Viewership among 18-to-34-year-old Hispanics for games on ESPN and ESPN2 is up eight percent compared to this point in 2015.

ESPN’s top three MLS audiences this year so far have been:

  1. 616,000 for Seattle Sounders vs. New York City FC on June 25
    2.536,000 for Seattle Sounders vs. Los Angeles Galaxy on July 9
    3. 463,000 for Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Portland Timbers on May 22

Orlando’s hiring of Jason Kreis an odd but potentially rewarding decision

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Jason Kreis sat out the 2014 season, seemed mostly miserable in 2015 and has been out of a job since being fired by New York City FC last November. It shouldn’t come as a shock that he was eager to get back to work. The coach’s destination, however, seems slightly surprising at first glance.t was easier to imagine that Orlando City would look south or east for its new manager. The owner, CEO and captain are Brazilian, and the club has made several notable front office moves since joining MLS that indicate a preference for Portuguese. City’s lack of patience with former coach Adrian Heath (dismissed last week), along with its largesse (privately funded stadiums and Kaká don’t come cheap), ambition and foreign ownership suggest it has far more in common with NYCFC than Real Salt Lake, where Kreis made his managerial name.Yet there was Orlando owner Flávio Augusto da Silva in Tuesday’s press release announcingKreis’s hiring, referencing their meeting in Portugal and his belief that the 43-year-old American “can bring us to the next level of development as a club—a higher level.” Kreis is a good coach who simply had a bad year. Before taking a chance with an expansion team in New York, he guided modest RSL to an MLS title and then to within a whisker of a second. He nearly won the CONCACAF Champions League. There never was a question he’d get another job eventually.Still, Kreis and Orlando aren’t an obvious match. The former forward is a meticulous manager who desires considerable control. He’s about system and synergy, not star power. Coaches like Kreis need the promise of stability from those above and a rare combination of talent and deference from those below. Clearly that wasn’t available at Yankee Stadium. And before Tuesday, few would have gone searching for it in Central Florida.This is why, despite the potential pitfalls, Orlando makes sense for Kreis. As much as he must have wanted to return to the field, he easily could have prioritized his own security and waited for safer harbor. The Houston Dynamo haven’t appointed a permanent manager since Owen Coyle’s departure. Sigi Schmid may decide to head back to Los Angeles, either to coach or to retire, or the struggling Sounders may make the decision for him. That club is run by Kreis’s former RSL colleague and Duke University roommate, Garth Lagerwey. Philadelphia’s Jim Curtin and Colorado’s Pablo Mastroeni are safe for now, but churn in the coaching ranks is guaranteed. Five jobs have changed hands since the start of 2015.Instead, Kreis jumped at a risky yet potentially rewarding second chance. He’s nothing if not ambitious and has always yearned to reach the heights as a coach he failed to attain as a player (an MLS MVP who didn’t win a league title or play in a major tournament with the national team). Playing it safe will not help him get there. It would prove nothing. Orlando offers Kreis another chance to demonstrate that he can succeed in a pressure-packed environment. It offers an opportunity to answer any questions raised by his season at NYCFC.Upstairs, Kreis has a boss who wants to win now. Da Silva has global ambition and his own ideas about club identity. In the dressing room, Kreis will have to earn the respect of Kaká, Julio Baptista and the next big City signing. The team was the star in Salt Lake City, but that isn’t the case everywhere. Coaches who reach the pinnacle adapt to new cultures and strong personalities.“We are very excited that we have got our man. Jason is a progressive thinking and highly ambitious coach, who is very familiar with success in MLS,” Orlando City president Phil Rawlins said Tuesday. “Jason’s playing philosophy is the same attack-minded, possession-oriented style of soccer that we have built our club around. He is a winner who checks all the boxes for us.”Credit to Kreis for betting on himself in Orlando, and credit to the club for going with a coach who understands a league it has yet to master. Both sides have a lot riding on this decision. Kreis will be formally introduced at a Wednesday press conference. City (4-5-10), which is one point out of the sixth and last playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, visits the Columbus Crew on Saturday. Brian SI

THREE THINGS: #MIAVIND

Three things following Indy Eleven’s second loss of the 2016 season Aug 1, 2016

CONGRATULATIONS, EAMON ZAYED!

He’s a clever striker, the Irishman, and he’s used his skillset to rack up eight goals in an Indy Eleven shirt since joining the club in the offseason. After finding the back of the net at FIU Stadium on Saturday night, he is now the club’s all-time leading goalscorer, passing former Eleven midfielder Kleberson for the honor.His goals thus far for the club include:

  • Penalty and late winner vs. New York Cosmos (W 2-1 || 4.16.16) – 2
  • Opener vs. Minnesota United (W 4-2 || 5.21.16) – 3
  • Hat-trick vs. Carolina Railhawks to help seal spring title (W 4-1 || 6.11.16) – 6
  • Winner vs. Fort Lauderdale Strikers (W 3-0 || 7.13.16) – 7
  • Late goal at Miami FC (L 2-1 || 7.30.16) – 8

So, congratulations to Eamon Zayed. Less than one year in and he’s already setting club records. Long may his goalscoring form continue.

ON THE ROAD AHEAD

July was a difficult month for head coach Tim Hankinson’s side with six fixtures in 28 days, yet his side were able to rip away 10 points from those six games though only one of those points was earned on the road. After the team’s unbeaten streak ended with a 2-0 loss at Minnesota United, the “Boys in Blue” bounced back to grind out a 1-0 win over FC Edmonton at home. Then came Saturday night, a disappointing performance that saw the visitors concede in the opening five minutes yielding a deficit they could not overcome. Now is not the time to wade in defeat, however, as the month of August is just as difficult.It’s a quick turnaround for the Eleven as Wednesday night’s home match against Jacksonville Armada FC marks the beginning of three games in eleven days, all at Carroll Stadium, before hitting the road for three straight weeks. It is crucial to maintain the same attitude and energy that propelled them to a Spring Season title as they move full force into August.

KEEP FIGHTING FOR FIRST

To put a comparatively difficult month behind is easier said then done, but when examining the Fall Season table, the push for first place is still very much on the cards for “Indiana’s Team.”Saturday’s loss saw them drop to fifth in the fall table, behind NYC, FCE, OKC & MNU. However, after splitting one and one with Minnesota and winning the first of two contests against FC Edmonton, they now have five games against the four teams above them and the opportunity to swing up on any dropped points assuming they can avoid defeat.Saturday night was a wake-up call of sorts for Indy as they suffered their second straight road loss, but they should by no means feel discouraged as things stay tight at the top.

Indy Eleven Falls to Third in NASL Fall Season Standings  
2-1 Loss at Miami FC Sees “Indiana’s Team” Drop in Fall, Combined Standings
MIAMI (Saturday, July 30, 2016)  Indy Eleven fell to Miami FC on the road Saturday night after goals by Dario Cvitanich and substitute Ariel Pedro Martinez sealed a 2-1 win for the hosts.
The first half began with Argentine striker Cvitanich putting Miami FC in front after just four minutes following a headed pass by the defender Bernstein off a corner. Just six minutes later, the first chance of the game for the Eleven came after Marco Franco whipped in a cross towards winger Omar Gordon, who headed off the bar and saw a subsequent effort deflected and cleared off the line.
A second chance for Indy came when Nemanja Vukovic angled in a driven ball again towards the Jamaican Gordon, but the latter was unable to bring down his lobbed effort on goal. Perhaps the best chance of the first half came just after the half hour mark when again Nemanja Vukovic was again involved. The left-back marauded up the wing to swing in a lifted cross towards forward Justin Braun, but the American could not test opposition ‘keeper Vega with his header.Halftime saw Indy Eleven down 1-nil, but “Indiana’s Team” continued knocking on a door that just wouldn’t break. At the hour mark, the first substitution of the night saw head coach Tim Hankinson bring on midfielder Don Smart for Omar Gordon, and the former made an immediate impact winning multiple corners in successive minutes.n the 66th minute, Smart was on the end of a cross-come-shot by Nemanja Vukovic and chose to lift the ball over the top towards forward Eamon Zayed. Though in excellent position, the Irishman was unable to keep his header on frame as the match drew out. Fifteen minutes later, it was substitute Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s turn to test Miami FC ‘netminder Vega, but the opposition ‘keeper produced a great save that prevented the rebound from falling cleanly to forward Justin Braun.Not finished, the hosts would double their advantage in the 85th minute when substitute midfielder Ariel Martinez found the end of a Blake Smith pass to knock home past Eleven ‘keeper Keith Cardona. Despite the two goal deficit, Indy Eleven continued to push against the Miami FC defense and would eventually break through thanks to forward Eamon Zayed, who rifled home in the 89th minute to make the score 2-1.With seven minutes of added time, Nemanja Vukovic was in the middle of defense and attack as his sliding clearance prevented the hosts from going 3-1 up before sending a free kick just wide of Vega’s post on the other end of the pitch. In the end, Coach Hankinson’s side ultimately fell 2-1 despite a valiant effort at FIU Stadium. Indy Eleven will 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   Miami FC  2 : 1  Indy Eleven
Saturday, July 30, 2016     FIU Stadium – Miami, FL

Indy Eleven:
Fall Season: 3W-1D-2L, 10 pts.
Overall Season: 7W-7D-2L, 28 pts.

Miami FC:
Fall Season: 2W-2D-1L, 8 pts.
Overall Season: 3W-6D-6L, 15 pts.

Scoring Summary:
IND – Eamon Zayed – 90′
MIA – Dario Cvitanich – 4′, Ariel Martinez 85′

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Keith Cardona; Nemanja Vuković, Greg Janicki (capt), Cory Miller, Marco Franco; Omar Gordon (Don Smart 61′), Gerardo Torrado (Jair Reinoso 80′), Brad Ring (Sinisa Ubiparipovic 74′), Dylan Mares; Eamon Zayed, Justin Braun
Indy Eleven bench: Jon Busch (GK), Lovel Palmer, Colin Falvey, Nicki Paterson

Miami FC (4-4-2): Mario Daniel Vega; Gabriel Farfan (Blake Smith 76′), Mason Trafford, Rhett Bernstein, Jonathon Borrajo (capt); Jonny Steele, Kwadwo Poku (Pablo Campos 90+7′), Wilson Palacios, Michael Lahoud; Dario Cvitanich (Ariel Pedro Martinez 65′), Jaime Chavez
Miami FC bench: Lionel Brown (GK), Adailton, Hugo Leroux, Conner Rezende

 

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