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


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


Alejandro Bedoya leaves Nantes for MLS Philly Union

US Player Danny Williams eyes EPL Shot

Chelsea to Send US Matt Miazga on Loan? 


MLS Weekend Preview


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.”

USWNT blanks New Zealand to kick off Rio play

U.S. women set sights on fourth straight gold

Wunderkind Pugh graduates to Rio Games

Can Marta seize moment in Rio Games?

How Christen Press got that body

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 


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.


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.


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.


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


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

ty Images

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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