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 email@example.com.
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
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
Is this a good move for Guzan to Boro? SI – Avi Creditor
MLS Audience on ESPN is up 32% in 2016
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
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
Preview: USWNT opens 2016 Olympics with New Zealand
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.
Group E: Brazil, China, Sweden, South Africa
Group F: Canada, Australia, Germany, Zimbabwe
Group G: USA, France, Colombia, New Zealand
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.
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.
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
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
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:
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.
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
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
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.
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:
- 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
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
Fall Season: 3W-1D-2L, 10 pts.
Overall Season: 7W-7D-2L, 28 pts.
Fall Season: 2W-2D-1L, 8 pts.
Overall Season: 3W-6D-6L, 15 pts.
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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