9/30/16 Champions League Match-Day 2, Indy 11 on Road after NY Cosmos Thrashing, Local High School Sectionals next week

So huge news this week with some fantastic Champion League games during match day  2, the Firing of the English Manager, and the Indy 11 with a huge home win over NASL League leader the NY Cosmos, but the biggest thing I saw was the young American 18 year-old sensation Christian Pulisic for Dortmund –come on and provide the game tying assist for the German side vs the defending Champions Real Madrid.  Yes he came on in the 73rd minute down 2-1 and immediately ran at Real, streaking by Daniello to blast a shot in the 83rd minute.  Then in the 86th minute again breaking the back line of Real and serving a perfect ball across that was wonderfully hit by Schurrle for a dramatic tying goal in front of the home Dortmund crowd of over 86,000.  It was a wall of Yellow and excitement for all in the best Champions League game thus far.  Ok maybe I was wrong – Celtics amazing 3-3 home tie with Man City might have been the best – the Bayern/Athetico 1-0 thriller was also fantastic!

Locally the Indy 11 have a Sunday match this weekend @ Edmonton 4 pm on ESPN3, after their huge win over the NY Cosmos moved them into 2nd place in the league.

The EPL has a battle of top 2 teams with unbeaten Tottenham hosting #1 Man City at home Sunday at 9:15 on NBCSN.  Good to see former US Coach Bob Bradley in consideration for the Swansea GM job as they host Liverpool Sat at 7:30 am on NBCSN, meanwhile Bayer Leverkusen and Mexican star Chichirito host Borussia Dortmund and US starlet Christian Pulisic Sat 12:30 on Fox Sports 2.  US Internationals Bobby Wood for Hamburg and John Brooks for Hertha Berlin will face off Sun at 9:30 am on Fox Soccer.   World Cup Qualifying starts next Thurs so no league games – the USA will travel to Cuba on Friday night for a friendly at 4 pm on ESPN2, and they will host New Zealand Tues Night, Oct 11 at 8 pm on ESPN.

High school sectionals begin next week with the #3 Ranked Carmel ladies facing Westfield Thurs Oct 6th @ 5 pm followed by Guerin Catholic and #6 Zionsville.  The winners meet @ Westfield Sat @ 2 pm.  On the boys side 8th ranked Carmel and 18th ranked Guerin Catholic will each be playing in Zionsville Wednesday, Oct 5 with GC facing Westfield at 5 pm and Carmel facing Zionsville at 7.  Winners match up Sat at 7 pm.  Good luck to all our current and former Carmel FC players playing high school soccer this season!

gcboys

Guerin Catholic will honor Seniors and former Carmel FC players from left, Julian T, Matt Quinn, Logan Bedford, Cooper Fetters, 2 from right PJ Grocki, and  far right Scott Corman at 3:30 pm before their 4 pm Senior Day Kickoff vs Cardinal Ritter Sat at Guerin High School.

Champions League Match Day 2

US youngster Christian Pulisic Provides Assist on Dortmunds 2-2 tie with Real Madrid

Champions League Wrap

Champions League Match Day 2 Recap – SI

Leicester City Wins 2nd UCL with home 1-0 winner over Porto

Son saves Point for Tottenham in Moscow

Juve Rolls 4-0

Barcelona survives scare with Mgladbach

Bayern loses to Atletico

Celtic Use Home Crowd to Draw with Man City

Power Rankings Teams in Europe

WORLD

England Coach Sam Allardyce Ousted as England coach after Sting

England laughing stock of the Soccer World

Marcotti – FA Ineptness

EPL

Former US coach Bob Bradley meets with Swansea over possible Mgr Position

Weekend Predictions

Man City Travels to White Hart Lane in 1 v 2 Battle

MLS

Dempsey to miss rest of 2016 Seattle Season

Seattle Sounders Surging to Playoffs – MLS Rankings

MLS Playoff Picture Rounding out

Atlanta Signs former Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino

LA Dos Santos Returns to Mexico National Team

USA

What to Expect in upcoming US Friendlies

Lynden Gooch 20, Living out Dream for Sunderlund

Carters-Vicker 18 Signs new deal with Tottenham

Wisconsin College Defender to face USA and Mexico in Oct

GOALKEEPING

Great Saves in Europe – August

MLS Save of the Week

Top Saves in NWSL this week

New US Women’s Goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris and some great saves

Top Saves Champions League last season

Indy 11

Indy 11 vs Edmonton Preview

Indy 11 thrash Cosmos at the Mike

Get your Indy 11 Playoff Tickets now

Tifo Time – the  BYB

More GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

 Fri, Sept 30

2:45 pm NBCSN                                   Crystal Palace vs Everton

Sat, Oct 1 

7:30 am NBCSN                   Swansea @ Liverpool

9 am Fox Sports 1                              U-17 Women’s World Cup – Nigeria vs Brazil

9:30 am Fox Sports2                                                 Bayern Munich vs Koln

9:30 am Fox Soccer?                        Hertha vs Hamburger

10 am NBCSN                                         Hull City vs Chelsea, Sunderland vs West Brom,

11 am         beIn Sport                       PSG vs Bordoeaux

12 noon Fox Soccer +                     USA vs Paraguay – US Women’s U17 World Cup

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2       Bayern Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund

7:30 pm Gol TV                                   Tampa Bay Rowdies vs Miami

Sun, Oct 2 

7 am NBCSN                                            Man United vs Stoke City

9:30 am Fox Sports2                                                 Bayern Munich vs Koln

9:30 am Fox Soccer?                        Hertha vs Hamburger

9:15 am NBCSN                   Tottenham vs Man City

10:15 am                          beIn Sport                       Real Madrid vs Eibar

1 pm ESPN                                               Orlando vs Montreal Impact

4 pm TV 8?                            Edmonton vs Indy 11

5 pm Fox Sports 1                              NWSL – Portland Thorns vs NY Flash

8 pm Fox Sports                                  Vancouver vs Seattle Sounders

Tue, Oct 4

9 am Fox Sports 2                              U17 Women’s World Cup – USA vs Ghana

12 noon Fox Sports 2                                               U1 WWC – Brazil vs Korea

 

Thurs, Oct 6  – World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                                               Italy vs Spain

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Austria vs Wales

5 pm beIN sports                                Ecuador vs Chile

7 pm beIN sports                                Uraguay vs Venezuela

8:45 pm beIN sports                                                Brazil vs Bolivia

10:15 pm beIN sports                     Peru vs Argentina

Fri, Oct 7  – World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                                               Netherland vs Belarus

2:45 pm ESPN 2 or 3?                     France vs Bulgaria

4 pm ESPN 2                         Cuba vs United States Men (friendly)

 Sat Oct 8  – World Cup Qualifying

9 am  Fox Sports 1                             U17 WWC – Brazil vs England

12 noon Fox Sports 1                      U17 WWC – Japan vs USA

12 noon ESPN 3                                   England vs Malta

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Germany vs Czech Republic

7 pm  TV 8                             Indy 11 vs Jacksonville

Sun, Oct 9  – World Cup Qualifying

12 noon Fox Sports 1                                               Wales vs Georgia

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Albania vs Spain

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Macedonia vs Italy

2:45 pm ESPN 3                                   Iceland vs Turkey

5 pm Fox Sports 1                              NWSL – Championship FINAL

6 pm SEC Network                             Florida vs Ole Miss

Mon, Oct 10  – World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Netherlands vs France

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Sweden vs Bulgaria

Tues, Oct 11  – World Cup Qualifying

12 noon Fox Sports 2                      Kazakhastan vs Romania

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Poland vs Armenia

2:45 pm ESPN 2?                                Slovenia vs England

4 pm beIN Sport                                 Columbia vs Uraguay

7:30 pm beIN Sport                                                 Chile vs Peru

8 pm ESPN                            USA (Men) vs New Zealand (friendly)

8:30 pm beIN Sport                                                 Brazil vs Venezuela

Weds, Oct 12 – U17-WWC

9 am Fox Sports 2                               WWC Quarter Final 1

12 noon Fox Sports 2                                               WWC Quarter Final 2

Thurs, Oct 13 – U17-WWC

9 am Fox Sports 2                               WWC Quarter Final 3

12 noon Fox Sports 2                                               WWC Quarter Final 4

Fri, Oct 14

2:30 pm  Fox Sports 2?                  Dortmund vs Hertha  – US Christian Pulisic vs US Defender John Brooks

Sat, Oct 15  

7:30 am NBCSN                   Chelsea vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sports2                                                 B M’Gladbach vs Hamburger

9:30 am Fox Soccer?                        Hertha vs Hamburger

10 am NBCSN                                         Man City vs Everton,  Arsenal vs Swansea

12:30 pm                         NBCSN                                West Brom vs Tottenham

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2       Werder Bremen vs Bayern Leverkusen

7:30 TV 8                               Indy 11 vs Carolina 

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV       

 USMNT Pulisic on assist vs. Real Madrid: “There’s no better feeling”

Leave a commentBy Joe Prince-WrightSep 28, 2016, 8:58 AM EDT

Christian Pulisic continued his fairytale rise up through the ranks of the soccer world on Tuesday as the 18-year-old jumped off the bench and notched a crucial assist as Borussia Dortmund scored a late equalizer in the UEFA Champions League against Real Madrid.[ MORE: UCL  roundup ]

Trailing the reigning European champions heading into the final few minutes at home in their Group F game, Pulisic picked up the ball on the right flank (see video below) and drove towards Real’s defense. He then clipped a dangerous ball to the back post which eventually found Andre Schurrle who rifled home. Dortmund’s fans went nuts and so did Pulisic.The U.S. national team attacker has now made five appearances in all competitions for Dortmund this season, scoring once, and the Hershey, Pennsylvania native revealed what it felt like to play against Real in a huge UCL game at the Westfalenstadion.Speaking to TV cameras after the game, Pulisic was still on a high from his game-changing assist in just his second Champions League appearance.

“It was an amazing game to come into, especially because the level was so high. It was an intense game, so I was just excited to get in there and show what I could do and try to help the team,” Pulisic. “Yeah [the goal] was amazing, I mean what a goal to score in that moment in that in front of the home fans. It was amazing for both of us, for everyone.”

Pulisic also revealed his pride as his stellar start to the new season continues.“There’s no better feeling. Playing in the Champions League is a whole other sense of pride and it is amazing,” Pulisic said. “You always watch it as a kid and coming on in such a big game, it is incredible. I can’t describe it.”

✔@FOXSoccer

Wonderful work from Pulisic to set up Schurrle’s unstoppable equalizer for Dortmund. #UCLonFOX

4:33 PM – 27 Sep 2016

The rising star of U.S. Soccer did describe what it was like to be playing and making an impact at the elite level in Europe and he hopes to stay there for a very long time.“That’s the goal when you want to play professional soccer, you want to get to the highest level you can and that’s how you get better,” Pulisic said. “At such a young age I want to keep playing at the highest level so I can improve more and more and become the best player I can be.”Ahead of the USA’s friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand coming up, Pulisic’s star continues to rise and there’s no doubt that when the Hexagonal round of 2018 World Cup qualifying kicks off in November that he’ll be a crucial part of Jurgen Klinsmann’s plans.Safe to say that will likely be the case for many years to come as we simply have never seen a young U.S. player making such a significant impact on such a big stage at such a tender age.

Champions League wrap: Spurs, Foxes collect wins; Juve wins big in Croatia

2 CommentsBy Nicholas MendolaSep 27, 2016, 4:57 PM EDT

The UEFA Champions League’s group stage hits its second round of matches Tuesday, with two Premier League teams in play and a bevy of big names from outside England.Leicester won again, meaning the unlikely Premier League champions could all-but-clinch a spot in the knockout rounds if they beat Copenhagen in October. Spurs also won to help make amends for losing at home to start the group stage while — surprise, surprise — USMNT star Christian Pulisic again was the super sub for Borussia Dortmund, making a big difference in a draw with Real Madrid.Standings at bottom.

CSKA Moscow 0-1 Tottenham Hotspur

There’s no shame in picking up a point so far from home, but a loss in the group stage opener but a little more weight on Spurs.Mauricio Pochettino‘s side bossed the play, but found themselves closed down atop the 18 by a stingy and aggressive CSKA Moscow side.Erik Lamela and Son Heung-min were active, and it was the South Korean who found a break through in the 71st minute.Played through on goal, Igor Akinfeev got a piece of Son’s right-footed rip only to see the ball crawl across the line. 1-0.

Dinamo Zagreb 0-4 Juventus

Gonzalo Higuain and Miralem Pjanic scored first half goals for The Old Lady, who has had little trouble establishing itself in UCL this year. Paulo Dybala made it 3-0 in the 57th minute, as we had cruise control in Croatia.

Monaco 1-1 Bayer Leverkusen

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez reportedly cost Bayer Leverkusen less than $10 million, and he’s been an absolute steal. Whatever was missing from his game at Manchester United and Real Madrid has been on full display for Bayer. Hernandez busted the match open with his sixth UCL goal in 11 appearances for the German side. Unfortunately for his side, Kamil Glik leveled things deep into stoppage time.

Leicester City 1-0 Porto

The chemistry between Algeria and now Leicester City teammates Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani is very real.The former fed the latter for an opening goal on Tuesday in UEFA Champions League play at King Power Stadium, as the Foxes have opened up a 1-0 lead on Porto.You can imagine the visitors aren’t too pleased with having to meet up with Slimani, who they just managed to see out of their league only to watch him arrive in their UCL group.And how about the mad dabbing kid shown just after Slimani’s celebration? Wild nights in Leicester, as the Foxes held up to Porto’s second half pressure and went 2-for-2 in the group stage.

Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Real Madrid

Cristiano Ronaldo got on the scoresheet, though the hosts have been by far the more dangerous side. USMNT teenager Christian Pulisic is on the bench for BVB.Thomas Tuchel’s side threatened to score through a Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang rocketed a shot just over the frame, and the Gabonese man made it 1-1 soon after when Keylor Navas punched Raphael Guerriero’s free kick off Raphael Varane. Aubameyang touched it over the line for an academic marker.Varane, however, looked to have had the last laugh, poking in a go-ahead goal. That’s when USMNT star Christian Pulisic subbed on for Borussia Dortmund with 17 minutes to go and forced Navas into a save. Emre Mor then did the same.Then, Pulisic beat his man on the right wing, sending a cross through traffic that Andre Schurrle collected and belted by Navas. 2-2.

Elsewhere

Sevilla 1-0 Lyon
Copenhagen 4-0 Club Brugge
Sporting CP 2-0 Legia Warsaw

Lynden Gooch is living the American dream, at Sunderland

1 CommentBy Joe Prince-WrightSep 29, 2016, 1:12 PM EDT

SUNDERLAND — Lynden Gooch is living his dream in the Premier League.From Santa Cruz, California, Gooch left home at the age of 16 in 2012 to join Sunderland’s academy and pursue his dream of becoming a Premier League player.So far, so good.Gooch, 20, made his Premier League debut for Sunderland away at Manchester City on the opening day of the season back on Aug. 13 and from an early age he’s been driven to chase his ultimate dream in England.The confident yet softly spoken American midfielder has an English father and an Irish mother, something which helped open his eyes to opportunities across the pond, and Gooch began training with Sunderland every summer from the age of 10.Speaking exclusively to ProSoccerTalk, Gooch revealed that after watching the Premier League throughout his childhood in California, he had to make the move.

“I’ve always wanted to be a Premier League player and I’ve always wanted to play in England. I’m English, you know? I’m Irish as well. I’ve got so many family members over here and it has always been a dream to play in this league,” Gooch said. “It is an amazing place to play. To be here for four years and to be here for another three, it is amazing.”

After being handed a surprise debut by new Sunderland manager David Moyes, Gooch has made six starts so far this season for the Black Cats in all competitions. He admitted in a Facebook live chat with ProSoccerTalk on Thursday, see below, that Sunderland’s passionate fans generate the “best atmosphere in the Premier League” and he is striving to do whatever he can to help the team he supports recover from a poor start to the season which has seen them fail to win any of their opening six games in the PL. Sunderland square off against West Bromwich Albion this Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBC Sports) in what is being billed a must-win game to kick-start their season.  Gooch said that after making his initial breakthrough into the first team in both central midfield and out wide, he aims for consistency to help his team get back to winning ways. What does he see himself adding to Sunderland’s midfield?“Getting the ball, giving it and getting it back, committing a player and dribbling past someone. I like to create things. I like to hit long balls. I like to switch the play. I think I’ve got a bit of everything,” Gooch said. “I’ve got that long ball in me and I can play the simple pass but I can dribble past someone and I’ve got a bit of pace. I just try to give as much as I can and be creative and add some flair. I just want to be a positive player and make sure I can make an impact going forward.”As we chat in the players lounge at Sunderland’s Academy of Light training ground, with a strong breeze whipping up outside the window as trees creaked in England’s north east, there are pictures on the wall behind us of scholars who have made the grade at Sunderland. Jordan HendersonJack Colback and Jordan Pickford are among them and there was Gooch, signing on with former manager Martin O’Neil smiling widely. Gooch had a huge grin on his face too. “That was one of the best days of my life,” said the self-confessed Mackem.The debate about innate ability vs. learned ability arose. Gooch grew up in a soccer mad family in Santa Cruz and played for PDA center of excellence which went to Sunderland when he was 10. On that tour of England he played in a trial game against Sunderland’s academy and scored a hat trick in the first half. The Black Cats kept tabs on him ever since and he trained with the club each summer until he signed a two-year scholar deal in 2012 and then a new three-year pro deal in April.  Can you teach how to ghost past defenders and pick out passes?  “Players just have that. You either see it or you don’t,” Gooch said. “I think I’ve had that since I was a kid and I’ve always been brought up by my dad to play with both feet. I’m very strong with both feet and always have been. I think that is really important, to be able to go either side of where a defender is or play a pass. You have to be able to do that if you want to play in this league.”When you watch him play, Gooch reminds you of a certain U.S. national team legend.With his ease on the ball, ability to dribble and penchant for scoring and creating goals (that helped him win the Premier League U-21 Player of the Month last September) you can see a similarity to Landon Donovan. That’s probably because Gooch grew up idolizing him when Donovan played for the San Jose Earthquakes in Major League Soccer.“I was at Spartans Stadium every week watching him play,” Gooch said of Donovan. “He was my idol as a kid, as much as probably every American kid who was playing. It’s amazing to see him come back and continue playing and score a goal against Kansas City. He has definitely been a role model. I actually got to meet him last year in Manchester which was really nice. It was good. He is a nice guy and nice to meet him but I was a bit starstruck. It was amazing to meet him.”There’s another goalscoring hero who is an idol of the Californian’s too.

“I’ve always looked up to Wayne Rooney,” Gooch said, nodding his head. “I think I was watching the game when he scored against Arsenal for Everton, his first goal, and now I am working with the same manager [David Moyes] so it is funny how things work out like that. I see a lot of myself in Wayne. Obviously he is in a different league with the career he’s had but in terms of strength and being able to play in so many different positions, I’ve always looked at him as a role model and to try and be like him.”

Tales of Gooch’s rise is music to the ears of U.S. national team fans as many salivate over the prospect of a USMNT young talent playing regularly in the Premier League. Jurgen Klinsmann has already reacted positively to Gooch becoming a starter at Sunderland and it would not be surprising to see him play for the full U.S. national team in the coming months.He admits that he wants to play for the USA, despite qualifying for both the English national team and Republic of Ireland, but being left out of the U.S. U-20 World Cup squad in 2015 by Tab Ramos was not only a tough pill to swallow but something which spurred him on.“That really hit me quite hard,” Gooch said. “I thought that without a doubt I deserved to be in that squad. I’d been in every single squad up until that point. That was very hard to take but it definitely made me want to prove them wrong even more and show them that they made a mistake.”On the U.S. front, Gooch is one of a number of promising attack-minded midfielders coming up through the ranks. Christian Pulisic has stolen most of the headlines at Borussia Dortmund with his stunning breakthrough, and that success is spurring Gooch on to reach new heights.“I played against him [Pulisic] in preseason when we played Dortmund but obviously I’ve heard and I’ve seen him play. Even here people are talking about him in the dressing room so everyone can see how good he is and what he brings,” Gooch revealed. “Being so young, he just turned 18 years old, he is doing fantastic and it will be great to play with him as well.”That burning desire to push on to bigger things with Sunderland and the U.S. national team drives Gooch on. Even if many still question his decision to leave the sun-kissed beaches of Santa Cruz behind to pursue his dream in the chilly, windswept city of Sunderland in the far north east of England. He lives with his girlfriend and her family (who Gooch says he owes so much too for taking him in over 5,000 miles from his home) and he and Talia are moving in together for the first time in November.Even with his entire family now back in Santa Cruz (including his brother who is, of course, a professional surfer), life is good for Gooch.“People still ask me ‘why have you come to Sunderland from California!?’ Well, I wanted to be successful. I wanted to be a professional footballer. I wanted to play in the Premier League and I want to play for this football club. Hopefully I can do that for a long time,” Gooch said, proudly. “Some people are still surprised at how far I’ve come. It was a no-brainer for me. As soon as I could’ve come to this club. I would’ve come early at aged 14, or 12, whenever… I would’ve came.”Is he surprised how fast all this has happened?

“The start of the season has been surprising not only for me but for everyone around the world, in the States and here at the club as well. It came as a shock to start the first game and to continue playing. I’ve started six games so that’s been amazing so far. It is something I didn’t see coming but I’ve worked really hard to get this opportunity.”

18-year-old American Carter-Vickers signs new Tottenham contract

Leave a commentBy Andy EdwardsSep 29, 2016, 12:07 PM EDT

It’s been a decent eight days for Cameron Carter-Vickers, to say the least.Just last Wednesday, the 18-year-old United States and England dual international made his first-team debut for Tottenham Hotspurin the club’s rout of League One side Gillingham in the third round of the 2016-17 EFL Cup.Barely a week later, it was announced by the club that Carter-Vickers had put pen to paper on a brand new contract that will keep him at Tottenham until the summer of 2019.Carter-Vickers, who is yet to make his Premier League debut for Spurs, has been a part of the club’s youth academy for eight years now, progressing through the ranks and arriving onto the periphery of the first-team squad this season. Available off the bench for just about every game Spurs have played this season, the Essex-born youngster has seemingly surpassed 23-year-old Austrian international Kevin Wimmer along Mauricio Pochettino‘s pecking order.The son of an American father, former professional basketball player Howard Carter, CCV is eligible for both the English and U.S. national teams. With his rise to the Spurs first team, rumors have begun to circulate that England would come calling soon, though SI.com reported on Wednesday that he is “all USA” regarding his international allegiance.CCV spoke exclusively and extensively to PST’s Joe Prince-Wright last September. You can read JPW’s feature about the then-17-year-old, right here.

 

Barcelona on top of Power Rankings; Atletico also up as Bayern drop

‘s all change at the top of Shaka Hislop’s Power Rankings as a pair of Spanish giants make a move up the chart.

  1. Barcelona(+1)

No Lionel Messi, no problem — last week, at least! Barca swept to a 5-0 win at Sporting Gijon before getting more of a test in the Champions League at Borussia Monchengladbach. They passed it, though, thanks to unlikely scorers Arda Turan and Gerard Pique.

  1. Atletico Madrid(+4)

I’ve probably said it before, but it bears repeating: Is there any other side in Europe that is tougher to play against? Diego Simeone’s men have conceded just two goals in eight games this season and continue to employ an utterly relentless playing style.

  1. Borussia Dortmund(+1)

Did this young BVB side come of age on Tuesday against Real Madrid? Granted, they trailed on two occasions, but think of the belief that equalising twice will give them. Thomas Tuchel has a pretty special team on his hands.

  1. Bayern Munich(-3)

Bayern drop out of the top spot after needing a late goal to win at lowly Hamburg and then, just as they did in last season’s semifinal, losing to Atletico Madrid. There’s no reason to panic for Carlo Ancelotti, but this was not a great week for Bayern.

  1. Real Madrid(-2)

Real Madrid had a frustrating week, in which they twice drew games after leading.

After winning 16 straight games, Madrid have now drawn three in a row. Like Bayern, there’s no cause to fret, but the fact they have conceded late equalisers in their past two games will be a source of frustration to Zinedine Zidane.

  1. Manchester City(-4)

Hands up who predicted Celtic would be the first team to deny Man City a victory this season? Having beaten Swansea at the weekend, Pep Guardiola’s side were given all they could handle by the Scottish champions and only managed to come away with a 3-3 draw.

  1. Juventus(+1)

An own goal gave them victory at Palermo, but Juventus were much more impressive in the Champions League on Tuesday. A 4-0 win at Dinamo Zagreb featured a star turn by Miralem Pjanic and another goal for Gonzalo Higuain.

  1. Napoli(+1)

Equally good in European competition were Higuain’s old club, with Napoli winning 4-2 vs. Benfica. Dries Mertens was the main man with two goals. Having beaten Chievo at the weekend, Napoli remain undefeated this season.

  1. Tottenham(new)

Two tricky away trips were successfully negotiated as Tottenham won at Middlesbrough and CSKA Moscow. The hero on both occasions was Son Heung-Min, who netted all three of his side’s goals. Lucky they didn’t sell him in the summer!

  1. Arsenal(new)

Arsenal destroyed Chelsea with a relentless, first-half attacking performance. Add a midweek win over Basel, and it’ll be a happy 20th anniversary for Arsene Wenger.

 

Unbeaten Tottenham and Manchester City in Premier League showdown

Tottenham face Manchester City on Sunday as the remaining two unbeaten sides in the Premier League go head-to-head.Elsewhere, resurgent Arsenal face a trip to Burnley while Manchester United host Stoke, Liverpool travel to Swansea and troubled Chelsea are at Hull. Predict the results of all the weekend’s matches by voting in our match polls.

TOTTENHAM: Manchester City have won all six of their Premier League games so far and they are the highest scorers in the top flight with 18 goals. But Spurs have the best defensive record, home advantage and an extra day’s rest after their European exploits. They also did the double over City last season but all these factors may cancel each other out, with both sides retaining their unbeaten records.
Prediction: Tottenham 1-1 Manchester City — Ben Pearce

MAN CITY: The midweek 3-3 draw with Celtic in the Champions League was the first game City have failed to win this season. It was an exhausting match for Pep Guardiola’s side. That makes the trip to in-form Tottenham a difficult follow-up. Mauricio Pochettino’s team have shown intelligence in their play this season, so it could be a tough afternoon.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-2 Manchester City — David Mooney

 

BURNLEY: Although the Clarets have suffered a couple of heavy defeats away from home, they have been strong at Turf Moor, but their run of seven points from three home games will be tested by an in-form Arsenal side. Burnley memorably beat Arsenal in the League Cup here a few years ago; a repeat performance feels unlikely but Sean Dyche’s men will push the Gunners hard.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Arsenal  Jamie Smith

ARSENAL: Arsene Wenger’s men are on a roll and have the chance here to set the seal on a solid opening portion of the season. With Alexis Sanchez and Theo Walcott beginning to combine brilliantly in attack, the Gunners ought to have too much for Dyche’s men.
Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Arsenal — James McNicholas

 

MAN UNITED: Stoke, once renowned for their resilient league form, have had a disastrous start to the season, conceding goals freely — while their hosts, Manchester United, are fresh from their best performance of the season so far in last Saturday’s 4-1 win over Leicester and Jose Mourinho may slowly be discovering his best team.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-0 Stoke — Musa Okwonga

STOKE: The Potters haven’t won at Old Trafford for over 40 years and given this is their worst start to a Premier League season it is unlikely they will buck that trend on Sunday. A goal for new boy Wilfried Bony would be a bonus, as would any points on the day ahead of a run of more winnable games.
Prediction: Manchester United 3-1 Stoke — James Whittaker

 

SWANSEA: Liverpool are second only to Manchester City in terms of goals and style this season. Swansea did better against City last Saturday than the 3-1 scoreline suggested, but it’s hard to see an end to the Swans’ struggles just yet.
Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Liverpool — Max Hicks

LIVERPOOL: One team struggling against another full of confidence leads to one obvious conclusion. Liverpool thrashed Hull 5-1 and perhaps ended their peculiar hoodoo against the so-called lesser sides. They don’t have too good a record at the Liberty Stadium, so it’s time to put that right too.
Prediction: Swansea 1-3 Liverpool — Steven Kelly

 

HULL CITY: It’s hard to know if this is a good or bad time to be hosting Chelsea. For all the talk of a crisis at Stamford Bridge, they’ll face Hull City with a point to prove. It’s another free hit for Mike Phelan’s side after facing Arsenal and Liverpool but it’s still going to take something special to avoid a third straight loss.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Chelsea — Phil Buckingham

CHELSEA: A crushing 3-0 defeat to Arsenal has Antonio Conte scrambling, but the Blues travel to Hull, who suffered an even worse hammering. Diego Costa was kept quiet at Arsenal last time out but if Chelsea can play to his strengths they should have enough firepower to see off the Tigers.
Prediction: Hull 1-2 Chelsea — ESPN staff

 

LEICESTER: The champions will be confident of continuing their strong home record against Southampton, especially after the tremendous win over Porto in the Champions League. If City are to contend for a top-half finish or better they must win at the King Power since their away form has been shaky thus far. Saints are capable of goals so it may be a case of which Leicester defence turns up: the one who beat Porto or conceded four against Manchester United last weekend. If it’s a tight game, it’s one City should win.
Prediction: Leicester 1-0 Southampton — Ben Jacobs

SOUTHAMPTON: Energetic Leicester are the last side Southampton would want to face after a tiring 4,600-mile round trip to Israel in the Europa League on Thursday. Claude Puel left big-hitters Charlie Austin, Ryan Bertrand, Steven Davis and Jose Fonte at home and will be hoping his side benefit from their fresh legs
Prediction: Leicester 1-1 Southampton — Alex Crook

 

EVERTON: Yannick Bolasie will want to impress but former club Crystal Palace are not ideal opponents as Everton try to bounce back after losing to Norwich and Bournemouth in successive matches. Alan Pardew’s team are unbeaten in three trips to Goodison and have lost just once in the last six meetings.
Prediction: Everton 1-1 Crystal Palace  Luke O’Farrell

CRYSTAL PALACE: The Eagles have previously toiled against Romelu Lukaku — the striker has scored in three of the last four encounters against them — and the added threat of former favourite Bolasie means Palace will have their hands full. Reverting to counterattacking football might be the most successful approach to getting points from the game.  Prediction: Everton 2-2 Crystal Palace — Rob Sutherland

 

Swansea City meet with former U.S. coach Bob Bradley – reports

ormer United States coach Bob Bradley has met with Swansea City chairman Huw Jenkins about a potential head coaching job, according to multiple reports.Current Swansea boss Francesco Guidolin has been under increasing pressure after earning just four points from the first six games of the Premier League season.Should Guidolin be sacked, former Manchester United winger Ryan Giggs remains the favourite for the job, according to The Sun.But Bradley, now the manager of French Ligue 2 club Le Havre, is also a candidate for the position after meeting with Jenkins recently at Bristol Airport, the BBC reported.In July, an American consortium led by Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien bought a controlling stake in the Welsh club. Landon Donovan, a former U.S. star during Bradley’s tenure, is also a shareholder.  Bradley, 58, wa s in charge of the U.S. national team from 2006-2011, including the 2010 World Cup, before being replaced by Jurgen Klinsmann.He then managed the Egypt national team and enjoyed a successful spell with Stabaek, helping the Norwegian club qualify for the Europa League for the first time.He joined Le Havre last November and just missed out on promotion to Ligue 1 in May.

 

Galaxy, Timbers plummet as Sounders soar in MLS Power Rankings

LA went 1-0 up early, but Seattle stormed back, with Jordan Morris nabbing a brace, and claiming the comeback win.

Toronto FC held on to the top spot in this week’s Major League Soccer Power Rankings despite being without Sebastian Giovinco again, while the Seattle Sounders, D.C. United and Columbus Crew SC continue their climbs.

  1. Toronto FC(no change)
    Giovinco, who was expected to play barring a setback, did not feature on Saturday against the Philadelphia Union. This isn’t good news for Toronto, but give the Reds credit for fighting back to draw 1-1 at home.
  2. FC Dallas(no change)
    No goals for FC Dallas in a 0-0 draw on the road against Real Salt Lake, but the schedule has to be weighing on the Supporters’ Shield leaders. The point will do as they continue their chase.
  3. New York Red Bulls(no change)
    Daniel Royer’s first MLS goal, which clinched a 1-0 win over host Montreal, put the Red Bulls into the playoffs for the seventh consecutive year and pulled them into a dead heat for first in the Eastern Conference.
  4. Colorado Rapids(no change)
    After months of struggling to score, the Rapids got a three-goal outburst vs. Vancouver only to see their defense fail them in a 3-3 draw. Is it a blip or the start of a trend?
  5. New York City FC(+2)
    David Villa boosted his MVP chances with a brace in NYCFC’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Fire. More importantly, he helped his team secure a playoff berth.
  6. Philadelphia Union(+2)
    The Union didn’t sign Alejandro Bedoya to score goals, but the midfielder’s first in MLS for his new team was a big one as Philly grabbed a point in Toronto.
  7. Seattle Sounders(+3)
    Did Jordan Morris storm to the lead in the Rookie of the Year race with his two-goal performance in a 4-2 victory over the LA Galaxy? His goals could be big in getting Seattle to the playoffs.
  8. Real Salt Lake(+1)
    Jeff Cassar’s team fought to a good draw against league leaders FCD, but there is a troubling lack of goals; RSL have now gone three games without scoring.
  9. Sporting Kansas City(+2)
    Dom Dwyer’s third goal in as many games helped his team to a2-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes on the road. He is tied for fifth in scoring (15) with Ola Kamara and Fanendo Adi.
  10. LA Galaxy(-5)
    The first home loss of the year for the Galaxy represented a different type of performance for Bruce Arena’s team with lots of shots and poor defending. Back to the drawing board.
  11. Portland Timbers(-5)
    It’s hard to imagine Caleb Porter prioritizing his club’s trip to face Dragon of El Salvador in the CONCACAF Champions League this week with its playoff place under threat after a 3-1 loss to the Houston Dynamo.

 

MLS Playoff Picture: LA, Philly, 4 others can clinch berths this weekend

Leave a commentBy Andy EdwardsSep 29, 2016, 11:38 AM EDT

By 3 p.m. ET on Sunday, the race for MLS Cup Playoffs places in the Eastern Conference could be 100 percent complete, with only (lots and lots of) questions over seeding for the postseason left to be worked out over the season’s final two games.In the Western Conference, as many as four playoff places could be claimed by weekend’s end, with three teams left to battle it out for the final two spots over the final month of the 2016 regular season.

Eastern Conference

Already clinched

Toronto FC, New York Red Bulls, New York City FC

Can clinch this weekend

Philadelphia Union  With a win over New York Red Bulls (7 p.m. ET, Saturday), and a New England Revolution draw or loss to Sporting Kansas City (7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday), would clinch a playoff place; would also clinch a playoff place with a win over Red Bulls, and a Revolution loss to Sporting KC, and an Orlando City SC draw or loss to Montreal Impact (1 p.m. ET, Sunday).

Montreal Impact — With a win over Orlando City SC, and a Revolution draw or loss to Sporting KC, would clinch a playoff place.

D.C. United — With a win over Toronto FC (7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday), and a Revolution loss to Sporting KC, would clinch a playoff place.

Game to watch

Toronto FC vs. D.C. United (7:30 p.m. ET, Saturday) — Massive implications at the top of the East, and at the bottom of the playoff places. TFC need a win to stay at least one point clear of the duo from New York, while DCU would just about lock up a spot of their own with the three points. Fourth place, thus hosting the knockout round game, is still in play for United.

Western Conference

Already clinched

FC Dallas

Can clinch this weekend

Colorado Rapids — With a win or draw against Portland Timbers (9 p.m. ET, Saturday), would clinch a playoff place.

LA Galaxy — With a win over FC Dallas (9 p.m. ET, Saturday), would clinch a playoff place; would also clinch a playoff place with a draw against FC Dallas, and a Timbers draw or loss against Rapids; would also clinch a playoff place with a loss to FC Dallas and a Timbers loss to Rapids.

Real Salt Lake — With a win over San Jose Earthquakes (10:30 p.m. ET, Saturday), and a Timbers loss to Rapids, would clinch a playoff place.

Game to watch

FC Dallas vs. LA Galaxy (9 p.m. ET, Saturday) — With the Rapids just five points back and holding two games in hand, the Supporters’ Shield is far from locked up for FCD. Winless in their last three, they’ve only themselves to blame for Colorado being back in it.

Indy Eleven Gets Revenge against First-place New York in 3-0 Win

“Boys in Blue” Stay Hot at Carroll Stadium, Pushing Home Unbeaten Streak to 16 Games;Eamon Zayed, Justin Braun & Dylan Mares Each Notch Goal & Assist in Impressive Team Effor

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, September 24, 2016) – Indy Eleven got revenge for its worst loss of the season in impressive fashion, downing the New York Cosmos 3-0 in a dominant performance in front of 9,157 fans at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium. Eamon Zayed, Justin Braun and Dylan Mares all notched a goal and assist in the victory for the “Boys in Blue,” which canceled out a loss via a similar scoreline at the Cosmos three-and-half weeks ago.Indy Eleven reinserted itself in the Fall Season race with the win, getting to within four points of the front-running Cosmos with six games remaining for each squad and passing The Miami FC and FC Edmonton to claim second place. The victory also pushed Indy Eleven’s home unbeaten streak to 16 games dating back to last October, drawing even with the Cosmos for the longest such active streak in the NASL.

PHOTOS: Click to download pictures from #INDvNYC from the NASL’s FTP site

STATS: Get detailed Opta statistics from #INDvNYC via the NASL MatchCenter

“New York is a great team, but tonight was a complete effort and shows that if we can have complete efforts on both sides of the game, we can beat the best in the league,” said Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson. “I think part of tonight involved us having a better understanding of how to defend them, and I thought we communicated well. I think we were a step faster than them in dealing with problems, whereas in New York [three weeks ago] we were still trying to figure (things) out and were always a step behind. Big credit to the guys for that.” The early energy from both squads was fitting for a game ripe with postseason implications, but it was Indy’s direct play and high pressure that would start to take over the proceedings shortly into the contest. Indiana’s Team had the first good chance just five minutes in, when a quick counter ended with Sinisa Ubiparipovic’s low effort bouncing just wide of the left post. Don Smart’s sidewinding effort was blocked out for a corner in the 9th minute, and the ensuing set piece saw Cory Miller get a strong header on goal, continuing the home side’s effort to strike for an early, game-changing goal.Zayed – Indy’s hero in its first meeting at Carroll Stadium against New York back in April – nearly got the opener at the half hour mark, but his shot from 20 yards drifted just high. However, the Irishman contributed to the opening tally just two minutes later, nodding Smart’s cross from the right endline across the face of goal for Braun to finish up, giving the Eleven a hard-earned 1-0 lead.That would be the last dangerous chance of a first half that saw Indy Eleven outshoot the Cosmos 7-1, but the home side’s efficiency would pick up – and put the game away – in the opening minutes of the second half.Mares would first play provider in the 48th minute, sending a low ball through the six that Zayed pounded home from the doorstep to double the advantage and tally his 13th goal of the season. Just three minutes later Mares would get one of his own, accepting Braun’s square ball from the left on a counter before blasting a low shot just inside the right post from 20 yards out, all but putting things out of reach with 40 minutes to play.Indy’s constant pressure resulted in very few chances of any note from the run of play for New York, but it also resulted in more fouls – and more set pieces. The first shot on goal for the Cosmos came in the 57thminute when Juan Arango’s well-driven free kick from 35 yards out snuck through traffic, but Indy netminder Jon Busch read it all the way and pounced on the ball for his first save of the evening.With the “Boys in Blue” able to effectively kill the game from there on out Busch would only be tested once more on the evening, stepping off his line quickly to bat away substitute Jairo Arrieta’s header in the 87thminute. The shutout was the eighth this season for Busch and Indy Eleven, and the first in eight games dating back to a 1-0 win over Ottawa on Aug. 6.Indy Eleven has away affairs each of the next two weekends, starting with its longest road trip of the season to FC Edmonton next Sunday, October 2, with a matinee kickoff set for 4:00 p.m. ET (live on ESPN3.com). Following its Oct. 8 contest at Jacksonville Armada FC, Indy Eleven will return home on Saturday, Oct. 15, when it hosts Carolina RailHawks FC on “College Night” at Carroll Stadium (7:30 p.m., live on WISH-TV & beIN SPORTS en Español).Tickets for that Oct. 15 game – featuring the matchup of former Mexican National Team legends Gerardo Torrado and Omar Bravo – remain available and can be purchased online at IndyEleven.com or by calling 317-685-1100 during regular business hours.

NASL Fall Season
Indy Eleven  3 : 0  New York Cosmos   Saturday, September 24, 2016
Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN   Attendance: 9,157

Indy Eleven:
Fall Season: 8W-3D-5L, 27 pts., 2nd place
Overall Season: 12W-9D-5L, 42 pts., 2nd place
New York Cosmos:
Fall Season: 9W-4D-3L, 31 pts., 1st place
Overall Season: 15W-4D-7L, 49 pts., 1st place

Scoring Summary:
IND – Justin Braun (Eamon Zayed) 32’
IND – Eamon Zayed (Dylan Mares) 48’
IND – Dylan Mares (Justin Braun) 51’

Discipline Summary:
None

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković, Cory Miller, Colin Falvey (capt), Marco Franco; Dylan Mares, Gerardo Torrado, Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Brad Ring 61’), Don Smart (Nicki Paterson 81’); Eamon Zayed, (Duke Lacroix 85’) Justin Braunndy Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Lovel Palmer, Daniel Keller, Omar Gordon
New York Cosmos (4-1-4-1): Jimmy Maurer; Ayoze, Carlos Mendes (capt), David Ochieng, Jimmy Mulligan; Danny Szetela (Adam Moffat 54’); David Diosa, Ruben Bover, Juan Arango (Jairo Arrieta 72’), Sebastian Guenzatti (Andres Flores 65’); Lucky MkosanaCosmos bench: Brian Holt (GK); Ryan Richter, Yohandry Orozco, Jimmy Ockford

FOLLOW: #FCEVIND

  • Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview   Indy Eleven at FC Edmonton
    Sunday, October 2, 2016 – 2:00 p.m. ET  Clarke Field – Edmonton, Alberta, CAN  National TV: None  Streaming Video: ESPN3.com
  • Last Time Out – Indy Eleven 3 : 0 New York Cosmos

The “Boys in Blue” took full revenge on their NASL foes the New York Cosmos last Saturday in a thrilling 3-0 victory at Carroll Stadium.With Fall Season momentum hanging in the balance, Indy went full throttle from the opening whistle. Both teams would have a number of chances in the opening half hour, but it would not take Indy longer than that to break the deadlock. Defender Cory Miller pinged a beautiful ball across the field that midfielder Don Smart did well to bring down, take to the end line and whip in a well served ball. From there, forward Eamon Zayed headed down across goal for strike partner Justin Braun, and the American struck in from close range. Bouncing back, the Cosmos would threaten Indy ‘keeper Jon Busch’s goal a couple of times, but the 1-0 score would hold through the halftime break.The second half started with a bang for Indy as coach Tim Hankinson’s side scored in the opening three minutes following a set piece. After the Cosmos cleared an Eleven corner, midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic brought down the rebound and showed his patience in finding Dylan Mares again on the far side. The South Bend native took down Ubi’s ball and rolled it across the middle where this time it was Eamon Zayed waiting to pounce, adding a goal to his assist on the evening. In a one-two punch, the third and final goal came just three minutes later as Dylan Mares and Justin Braun combined on a counter-attack that slipped the former in one goal, where a distance finish by the midfielder gave him his fourth goal of the regular season. The win moved Indy back in contention for the Fall and Combined Season title hunt, placing them now seven points back in both tables.
Last Time Out – Jacksonville Armada FC 0 : 0 FC Edmonton

In their last outing, FC Edmonton traveled to Jacksonville to face Jax Armada FC in a nil-nil draw at Community First Park. A statistically even match in attack, both sides registered over ten shots but it was the hosts Jacksonville who came closest, firing on target five times to the Eddies’ two. The visitors had a chance inside the opening three minutes but could not find the goal, while Eddies ‘keeper Matt VanOekel made two saves in two minutes to keep the match level. In the first half, Jacksonville would come close four times compared to just two for the Canadian side.The second half brought an equal number of opportunities for both teams. FC Edmonton nearly opened the scoring in the 75th minute, but Shawn Nicklaw’s effort on Miguel Gallardo’s goal produced a great save from the Armada FC ‘keeper. Meanwhile, Jacksonville came closest through defender Matt Bahner right at the death, but he could not convert in front of goal. The draw dropped FC Edmonton to fourth place in the Fall Season table and third place in the Combined Season.
On the Road Again?

In the past, Indy Eleven has not gotten the results they want away from Carroll Stadium. This week, skipper Colin Falvey believes that will change.As Indiana’s Team heads to the home of FC Edmonton, they are coming off of two momentous performances against Miami FC and the New York Cosmos that re-instilled a sense of belief that they may have lost their way on in a grueling September stretch. The first of six games in October, Indy needs to keep the focus on getting every point possible if they are to continue chasing both the Fall and Combined Season titles ahead of a semi-final matchup in the first weekend of November.Last time Indy faced FC Edmonton, they were 1-0 victors in July with a Greg Janicki header separating the two sides. With Janicki still nursing an injury, the goals will now have to come from elsewhere for the “Boys in Blue” to lockdown the three points.
Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: MF Sinisa Ubiparipovic

Working his way back into the starting XI after an extended absence, midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic has proved influential in Indy’s last two games – both wins – back in a No.10 role that he will likely continue in on Sunday barring any further changes from head coach Tim Hankinson.Earning himself a hockey assist against the Cosmos, Ubiparipovic completed 21/28 passes and created one chance in his 61 minutes of action, while also winning a combined two-thirds of his tackles and duels. After the match, Ubiparipovic spoke to IndyEleven.com’s Scott Stewart, saying that while it was good to get another hour under his belt after the same amount of minutes against Miami FC, he’s looking forward to extended action as the Fall Season continues while stressing the importance of three points over individual goals.If Ubi is to retain his spot at the top of a diamond in midfield, he will have a tough task ahead of him in breaking down an FC Edmonton defense that has allowed just one goal in their last four matches.
Who to Watch, FC Edmonton edition: FW Daryl Fordyce

With just two changes to the starting line-up between Saturday’s 1-0 loss to Carolina and the midweek draw in Jacksonville on Wednesday, forward Daryl Fordyce kept his place in both matches. Despite being unable to get on the scoresheet, the native of Ireland still registered eight shots in two matches – two on target – while also creating two chances.There’s no question FC Edmonton are known for their strength as a defensive unit, but players like Fordyce have the ability to contribute on both sides of the ball, making him especially dangerous to Indy. With six goals and three assists on the year in 25 league appearances, the forward leads his side in scoring and is second in the assist column.Though forward Tomi Ameobi will likely be the front man when the two meet on Sunday, look for Fordyce to drive forward play from the center of the park in a unique 4-5-1 system.
Match-up to Mark: FW Eamon Zayed vs. GK Matt VanOekel

As Eamon Zayed’s chase for the Golden Boot continues, a match against FC Edmonton gives him the perfect chance to show that once again he can score against the toughest of opposition. Matt VanOekel and co. have allowed just eight goals thus far in the Fall Season, including once against Indy in their only meeting of the fall, leaving it all to do for Zayed this Sunday at Clarke Field. VanOekel currently leads the NASL in GAA (0.58), saves (90), and shutouts (14), and is a sure candidate for the Golden Glove at the end of the year. However, Indy has found a way to break past VanOekel for three points once, and with Zayed and Braun up top and firing, the tandem will do everything in their power to go ahead in full force.Zayed sits at second in the league scoring chart with 13 goals behind Minnesota United FC forward Christian Ramirez (13), and has just six regular season games to reach the top. As his head coach Tim Hankinson allures to, it’s all about the climb to reach the peak.

 

 

 

Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

 

 

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9/23/16 Indy 11 Home vs NY Cosmos Sat 8 pm, CHS Girls Pack the House Night, Sat Eve 7 pm, Champions League Match-Day 2 Tues/Wed

As the Playoffs loom just over 1 month away – your Indy 11 host a huge match vs the league leading NY Cosmos in Saturday night at the Mike at 7:30 pm (TV 8).  The 11 have a 17-game home unbeaten streak dating back to last October on the line in this battle of top 4 NASL teams.  So make your way out to the Mike and Support the 11 – limited tickets still available!

In World League Play –Man United host Leicester City in a huge match for both clubs 7:30 am on Sat NBCSN while Arsenal hosts Chelsea at the Emirates in the London Derby at 12:30 on NBC.  Also Sat 10 AM on NBCSN Man City puts its 10 game win streak on the line under Pep as they travel to Swansea.  Tuesday/Wed of next week brings us matchday 2 with some intriguing matchups in Champions League.  These are some of the top teams in Europe in the group stages working down to a Sweet 16 in the new year. It will be interesting to see if US forward/mid Christian Pulisic gets any time as Dortmund host Champions Real Madrid with Renaldo, Bale and James coming to town Tuesday at 2:45 pm on FS1.  Leicester City will host their first Champions League Leg when they face Porto on FS regional channel (Indiana) while Tottenham will travel to CSKA Moscow on FS2.  Wednesday has Borussia Mochengladbach and US mid Fabian Johnson hosting Barcelona without Messi on FS1 at 2:45 pm, while Man City travels to Celtic on FS2, Arsenal host Basel on FS Indiana and Atletico host Bayern Munich on ESPN2.  As always the games will be replayed on the Fox Sports channels all night long with the 1 hour long Champions League Hi-Lights Show Must see TV (well must DVR TV as it comes on really late most nights).  ANYONE INTERESTED IN CATCHING CHAMPIONS LEAGUE NEXT WEEK TUES OR WED?

The #2 Ranked Carmel Girls host Pack the House/D Wayne Akin Night vs #6 Zionsville this Saturday night at 7 pm – at Murray Stadium – all CFC and CDC kids get in FREE With Uniforms on!!

MUST SEE GAMES ON TV

 Sat, Sept 24

7:30 am NBCSN                   Man United vs Leicester City – Man U battling for relevance Leicester trying to recapture last season’s magic.

9:30 am Fox Sports2                                                 Hamburger vs Bayern Munich   – US forward Bobby Wood faces Germany’s top team.

12:30 pm NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Chelsea               – Wenger tries to defend home turf vs the Blues

8 pm  TV 8, ESPN3     Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos – must win game at home for Indy 11

Sun, Sept 25

4 pm ESPN             LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders  – Seattle desperate for wins to qualify for playoffs while LA trying to move up from 2 to 1 in West

 Tues, Sept 27                           UEFA Champions League (Group stage)

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1             Dortmund vs Real Madrid       – Defending Champs travel to Dortmund for HUGE match-up. Will Bale or CR 7 play?

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      CSKA Moscow vs Tottenham      – more of a must win now for Tottenham after losing game 1 at home.

2:45 pm Fox Sport State               Leicester City vs Porto       – 1st home UCL match for City Fans.

Wed, Sept 28

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      B Moncengladbach vs Barcelona  – Can US Johnson help Gladbach shock the world at home?

2:45 pm Fox Sports IND                 Arsenal vs Basel                                   – Arsenal at home after tying PSG in game 1

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Atletico vs Bayern Munich          –Huge Match-up of top 4 maybe top 6 teams. 

More GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

 

Tues, Sept 27                           UEFA Champions League (Group Matchday 2)

2:30 pm Fox Sports 1             Dortmund vs Real Madrid

2:30 pm Fox Sports 2                      CSKA Moscow vs Tottenham

2:30 pm Fox Sport State               Leicester City vs Porto

2:35 pm ESPN2                                    AS Monaco vs Bayer Leverkusen

2:35 pm ESPN3                                    Dinamo Zagreb vs Juventus, Sevilla vs Lyon

Wed, Sept 28

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      B Moncengladbach vs Barcelona 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                                               Celtic vs Man City

2:45 pm Fox Sports IND                 Arsenal vs Basel

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Atletico vs Bayern Munich

2:45 pm ESPN3                                    Lidgorets vs PSG, Napoli vs Benfica

2:45 pm Fox Sports +                      Whip Around Coverage both days

Thur, Sept 29

1 pm Fox Sports 1, ESPN3             Inter vs Sparta Praha

3:05 pm fox sports 1                                                Man U vs Zorya

Fri, Sept 30

2:45 pm NBCSN                                   Crystal Palace vs Everton

Sat, Oct 1  

7:30 am NBCSN                   Swansea @ Liverpool

9:30 am Fox Sports2                                                 Bayern Munich vs Koln

9:30 am Fox Soccer?                        Hertha vs Hamburger

10 am NBCSN                                         Hull City vs Chelsea, Sunderland vs West Brom,

11 am         beIn Sport                       PSG vs Bordoeaux

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2                    Bayern Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund

 Sun, Oct 2  

7 am NBCSN                                            Man United vs Stoke

9:30 am Fox Sports2                                                 Bayern Munich vs Koln

9:30 am Fox Soccer?                        Hertha vs Hamburger

9:15 am NBCSN                   Tottenham vs Man City

10:15 am                          beIn Sport                       Real Madrid vs Eibar

12:30 pm Fox Sports 2       Bayern Leverkusen vs Borussia Dortmund

1 pm ESPN                                               Orlando vs Montreal Impact

4 pm TV 8?                            Edmonton vs Indy 11

8 pm Fox Sports                                  Vancouver vs Seattle Sounders

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

indy11_nyc

 Indy 11

Gameday Preview vs #1 NY Cosmos

NASL in Financial Trouble? SI Brian Struas

Future of Strikers, NASL in Question?

Indy 11 Need the Points to Catch up to Cosmos

Inside the #s

Hispanic Heritage night this Sat Night

Get your Indy 11 Playoff Tickets now

US

US Ladies Beat Netherlands 3-1 on Lloyd Goal

Sunderland’s Lynden Gooch Talks about USMNT Decision

Big Things from US Players abroad – Stars and Stripes

Is it Fair to Compare Christian Pulisic to Landon Donovan – Stars and Stripes

Johnson scores for Gladbach

 MLS

Landon Donovan Scores 1st Goal after returning from Retirement

Now that Donovan is back would he ever play for US Again?

Jose Altidore scores Magic Free Kick Goal for East Leaders Toronto

Top Under 24 players in MLS

MLS Save of the Week

MLS Table

EPL

Harry Kane is Out What now?

EPL Weekend Predictions

Top games in the EPL SI

Which Team will stand Strong in the LONDON DERBY

EPL top 20 players today

Leciester’s Drinkwater could return to Man United

EPL Rankings

World

Messi to miss 3 weeks with Groin Tear

Leicester City Keeper on Champions League

 

 

 

SATURDAY’S  Indy 11 vs. NY COSMOS –

FEATURES ANNUAL HISPANIC HERITAGE NIGHT Celebration Presented by Indiana Donor Network & Financial Center

There will be all sorts of postseason implications on the line when Indy Eleven plays host to the New York Cosmos this Saturday night in what could be the most important game yet on the 2016 calendar!  In addition to a hotly-contested game on the field between your Spring Season champion and the current Fall Season leader, the evening at “The Mike” will also include Indy Eleven’s Third Annual Hispanic Heritage Night celebration, presented by Indiana Donor Network & Financial Center and featuring an expanded Honda Fun Zone highlighting Latino cultures and the recognition of 11 “Campeones de la Comunidad” who have made a positive impact on Central Indiana.To get the most out of the evening, grab some friends and get the “Gerardo Torrado 4-Pack”that includes four tickets, a poster featuring the legendary Mexican international and access to an exclusive post-game meet-and-greet opportunity with the three-time FIFA World Cup participant … secure your package by heading to Torrado.IndyEleven.com!

DON’T MISS HISTORY! NOVEMBER 5th SEMIFINAL SINGLE-GAME SEATS ON SALE

Indy Eleven’s NASL postseason debut in November will be here before you know it! Save your spot at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium NOW with a special 2-game playoff ticket package that includes a potential The Championship Final at “The Mike” on November 13 … or go ahead and secure single-game tickets for The Championship Semifinal match on Saturday, November 5 (3:00 p.m. kickoff).

Visit www.indyeleven.com/playoff-tickets for all the ticketing options available and championship.indyeleven.com for general details surrounding Indy Eleven’s historic first postseason appearance. 

PREVIEW: #INDVNYC

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs New York Cosmos
Saturday, September 24, 2016 – 7:30 p.m. ET
IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN

Local TV: MyINDY

Team Records  Indy Eleven:Fall Season: 7W-3D-5L, 24 pts, 4th place  New York Cosmos: Fall Season: 9W-4D-2L, 31 pts, 1st place

Last Time Out – Indy Eleven 2 : 1 Miami FC

Indiana’s Team took care of business in orderly fashion last Saturday with a 2-1 win over the Miami FC snapping a five-game winless streak.During the middle of the week, Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson stressed the importance of the team “finding themselves” again as the chase for the fall championship continues. In doing so, Hankinson re-introduced midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic into the fold, and the Bosnian earned his first start since the Spring Season on Saturday.The first half began with both sides easing into the match, but a 25th minute strike by Dylan Mares cannoned momentum in Indy’s favor. Miami FC ‘keeper Daniel Vega was clearing his lines off a restart, but his pass found the chest of Indy forward Justin Braun who laid it off for Mares, the latter doing the rest for the goal. Heading into the break up 1-0, Indy began to flex their muscle in the beginnings of the second half.Just before the hour mark, Don Smart doubled Indy’s lead after Eamon Zayed headed on a cross by Nemanja Vukovic, and the second of three “Indiana Originals” was on the scoresheet after beating the ball past Vega for the second time. Ten minutes later, Miami FC would make things interesting with a goal off a corner kick by forward Vincenzo Rennella, but Indy would repel further efforts to secure the three points. Keeping their unbeaten streak alive at Carroll Stadium, Indy Eleven extended the run to 17 games total but remain in 4th place in the Fall Season standings despite winning the top four clash.

Last Time Out – New York Cosmos 0 : 0 FC Edmonton

The New York Cosmos also successfully defended their home turf last Saturday against second place FC Edmonton in an eventful nil-nil draw.Despite out-shooting the opposition 20-10 total and 4-1 on target, New York was unable to find the back of the net with chances for starters Sebastian Guenzatti and Juan Arango and substitute David Diosa all being saved by Eddies ‘keeper Matt VanOekel. In addition, the Cosmos held a 72-28% lead in possession while completing 81.8% of their 477 passes (compared to 55.8% of 181 passes for FCE), and also held an 11-2 advantage on corners.Though unable to break down FC Edmonton in front of a crowd just shy of 3750 at Shuart Stadium, the Cosmos retain their place at first in the Fall and Combined Season standings.
  Unbeaten Again?

Indy Eleven is riding a major streak at Carroll Stadium – 17 games unbeaten – which spans all the way back to almost a calendar year ago when a win over Minnesota United in October kicked things off. On Saturday night against New York, they have the chance to extend the streak to 18, which would tie a joint all-time NASL record set by the Carolina Railhawks and the New York Cosmos in separate seasons.The run has produced moments of frustration – draws that could have been wins and nights that the ball just wouldn’t find the back of the net – but more importantly, moments of magic – the 4-2 win over Minnesota in May, the 4-1 win over Carolina that clinched the Spring Season championship, the 5-2 thrashing of Jacksonville Armada FC that exerted Indy’s dominance in August, and of course, the 2-1 win over New York that propelled the team forward in April.In order to keep the magic alive, the “Boys in Blue” are looking at perhaps their toughest test yet in this Cosmos team – a team which beat them 3-0 less than a month ago in the Big Apple – but are relishing the opportunity for revenge.

Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: MF Gerardo Torrado

After the loss in New York in August, midfielder Gerardo Torrado knew there was work to be done. Compounded by a 1-1 draw away to Ottawa and a heartbreaking 3-2 defeat in Carolina just a week earlier, the defeat sent Indy back to the Circle City with a determination to get things right and fight back off the break.In New York, Torrado had a good showing after completing 34/48 passes, winning 5/10 duels, collecting 5 interceptions and creating one chance. On Saturday, he will likely be in a similar defensive mindset in front of a sturdy backline charged with neutralizing a hot Cosmos attack.Torrado has shown his ability to adapt in different roles in the Eleven midfield playing with attacking, defensive, and a more neutral mindset on more than one occasion, and he must do a little of all three on Saturday if Indy is to get a good result.

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

Scoring two goals against Indy in their 3-0 win has Arango hungry to repeat the feat at Carroll Stadium. With 11 goals in 24 matches, Arango is just one shy of the Eleven’s leading scorer Eamon Zayed (12) in one less game, and his four assists also have him level with the other two of the top three in the league scoring charts.Arango showed his cool from the penalty spot for his first against Indy and put his second in a position where Eleven ‘netminder Jon Busch just couldn’t reach it, but will have to be equally as clever when the pair meet again. The Venezuelan forward has not scored in three full matches as New York has collected five points from their last three total, but still remains the biggest threat to Indy’s success this weekend.

Match-up to Mark: FW Justin Braun vs. GK Jimmy Maurer

All eyes might be on Eamon Zayed this weekend as the foward aims to continue racking up goals in his quest for the NASL Golden Boot, but the match-up to mark involves his striking partner Justin Braun and opposition ‘keeper Jimmy Maurer. Braun made his full return to fitness in a 2-1 loss away to Fort Lauderdale two weeks ago and marked his return with a late goal that nearly helped Indy pull back a point in the Sunshine State. Fast forward to last Saturday’s 2-1 win over Miami FC and again Braun was at the heart of things, getting the assist on Indy’s first goal via Dylan Mares. Now Braun faces one of the statistically best ‘netminders in the league in Cosmos’ Jimmy Maurer, who has kept four straight clean sheets.With Zayed likely attracting plenty of attention on Saturday, the opportunity is there for Braun, who will attract plenty of attention on his own, to sneak in behind the defense with darting runs that put him through on goal. On the attacking end, Indy’s gain continues to be Justin Braun’s return. 

BY THE NUMBERS: STREAKING AT CARROLL STADIUM

A closer look at Indy Eleven’s incredible home unbeaten streak  Sep 21, 2016

 

19- It’s been quite the ride for the “Boys in Blue” at Carroll Stadium in both the 2016 Spring and Fall campaigns, winning the former and staying tight in the race for the latter, and home results have played a major factor in their success. Looking all the way back to the second-to-last home game of October 2015, Indy has kept its home pitch an impenetrable surface that visiting opposition have failed to gain ground on … and here’s some numbers breaking down the nearly year-long stretch:
15 – Unbeaten Streak at Home in NASL play

Two games to round out the home slate in 2015 – wins on October 17 and 24 against Minnesota United FC (3-1) and the Fort Lauderdale Strikers (2-1) – and all 13 regular season games on the IUPUI campus to this point in 2016 make up the impressive run … and that’s not counting June’s U.S. Open Cup clash against Louisville (a 2-1 win) and another victory in friendly play against Liga MX champion Pachuca (1-0) in August.
12 – Wins during the streak

It’s one thing to go undefeated for awhile, but it’s another thing to do it mostly with wins rather than draws, which is exactly what the Boys in Blue have been doing. Indy Eleven has collected a 12W-3D-0L record during the 11 month (and change) stretch, which includes a 10W-3D-0L record in 2016 that has allowed Indy to collect 33 of a possible 39 points in the friendly confines of Carroll Stadium.
347 (and counting) – Days since last home loss

The last loss suffered on home turf came back on October 10, 2015, via a 1-2 defeat to San Antonio, which was followed by the wins over Minnesota and Fort Lauderdale to start the stretch. Why is that date meaningful? Well, a win or loss over the Cosmos this Saturday (on the 350th day since its last home setback) guarantees Indy Eleven will go a full calendar year without tasting defeat at home, as the squad’s next home match comes on Oct. 15 versus Carolina.
9/10 – Possible teams defeated during streak 

So far in 2016, Indy has picked up home wins over every opponent it has faced with the exception of one – the Tampa Bay Rowdies, who drew 1-1 in their only visit to the Circle City earlier this month.New York, Minnesota, Carolina, Minnesota (again), Fort Lauderdale, FC Edmonton, Jacksonville, Ottawa Fury FC, Rayo OKC and Miami FC (in that order) all have suffered losses at “The Mike” this season. Only one new team is able to be added to that list, as Puerto Rico FC will make its lone visit to “The Mike” for the season on Oct. 22 for Indy’s regular season home finale (although it won’t be the last home game in 2016).
18 – NASL’s record home unbeaten streak 

This weekend’s opponent knows something about going undefeated at home for awhile, as the New York Cosmos (August 6, 2014-September 22, 2015) are tied with Carolina RailHawks FC (September 22, 2012-July 12, 2014) for the longest such run in the league’s modern era at 18 games. While Indy Eleven’s current streak is impressive, it still isn’t even the longest active streak, as a win or draw on Saturday will pull Indiana’s Team even with the Cosmos on 16 games unbeaten at home.

As it turns out, if both teams keep their current runs going through the end of the regular season, their streaks will both reach, you guessed it, 18 games, tying the all-time record heading into the 2017 campaign.

35 – Number of Goals Scored 

During this incredible run of form, Indy Eleven has scored 33 goals in 15 games, including three occasions of four or more in one game (MNU – 4, CAR – 4, JAX – 5).No one has enjoyed playing in front of the Brickyard Battalion more than forward Eamon Zayed, who has tallied 10 of his 12 goals (2nd most in the NASL) at Carroll, including the first two hat tricks in league play in team history. Next on the list is midfielder Dylan Mares with four, and behind the Indiana native is a host of players who have contributed three goals in that run.

See the full list below:

Eamon Zayed – 10 (NYC x2, MNU, CAR x3, FTL, JAX x3)

Dylan Mares – 4 (MNU ’15, MNU, OKC, MIA)

Justin Braun – 3 (MNU, CAR, JAX)

Omar Gordon – 3 (MNU, TBR)

Don Smart – 3 (FTL ’15, OTT, MIA)

Greg Janicki – 3 (FCE, FTL, FCE)

Nemanja Vukovic – 2 (OTT, JAX)

Duke Lacroix – 1 (FTL

Colin Falvey – 1 (OKC)

Nicki Paterson – 1 (MNU)

Brad Ring – 1 (MNU ’15)

14 – Number of Goals Against

In the 15 games unbeaten thus far, Indy Eleven has also only conceded 13 goals while letting in more than two goals in one match just three times.The addition of veteran ‘keeper Jon Busch and a host of other leaders in the backline only further bolstered the talent Indy carried over from 2015, and Busch & co. have kept three clean sheets while relenting just 11 goals in their 13 matches in 2016.
6 – Number of Late Goals Earning Results

Nemanja Vukovic after 89′ vs. Fury FC
Eamon Zayed after 90′ & 95 vs. New York
Don Smart after 90’+2 vs. Fury FC
Colin Falvey after 84′ vs. Rayo OKC

Sensing a pattern here? These four games were all decided in the final minutes of the match by a different goalscorer – and all handed Indy Eleven wins.And that list doesn’t include a goal with a game well in hand but a title still up in the air – Zayed’s 85th minute strike in June against Carolina Railhawks FC, one that completed his hat-trick and catapulted Indy back to the top of the table and (eventually) to the Spring Season title, a moment that Carroll Stadium will always hold high.

NASL faces major shakeup, potential demise, amid impending exits, financial distress

BRIAN STRAUSWednesday September 21st, 2016  SI

Significant shifts in the pro soccer landscape across the USA and Canada are underway that will result in the overhaul, or perhaps the eventual demise, of the North American Soccer League.Sources have told SI.com that the NASL’s Ottawa Fury will depart for the United Soccer League and that the Tampa Bay Rowdies likely will follow. With the Fort Lauderdale Strikers and Rayo OKC in financial distress—Raleigh, North Carolina’s WRAL reported Wednesday morning that Strikers’ ownership has ceased funding the club—and Minnesota United leaving for MLS, the six-year-old NASL faces a period of unprecedented adversity. And it will need to keep core clubs like the New York Cosmos, Jacksonville Armada, Miami FC and Indy Eleven on board, and then expand, if it’s going to survive.The NASL operates as the independent second tier of the pro game in the USA and Canada. The USL, which traces its roots back to the early 1990s, sits at the third tier and includes both independent clubs and MLS reserve teams. Both leagues have applied to the U.S. Soccer Federation for an upgrade in sanctioning (NASL to first division and USL to second) and the USSF board is expected to consider those requests at its meeting in New York City this Friday. However it’s unlikely, according to sources, that U.S. Soccer will sanction two leagues at the same tier.The NASL has more immediate concerns. League-wide average attendance has fallen more than 18 percent from 2015 and despite increased TV exposure on CBS Sports Network and BeIN Sports, it’s trajectory has been troubling. Minnesota, which leads the league at 8,545 fans per game, pushed for entry into MLS in large part to fend off a charge from the NFL’s Vikings. The Atlanta Silverbacks dropped into amateur soccer this season and the summer addition of Carmelo Anthony’s Puerto Rico FC hasn’t really moved the needle.The Cosmos, the NASL’s reigning champion and flagship club, have seen crowds at Hofstra University plunge to under 4,000 per game. As its Belmont Park stadium project seems increasingly unlikely to happen, New York faces an uncertain future. It may spend next season at a minor league baseball stadium in Coney Island.The NASL has argued that being labeled ‘second division’ has hampered its ability to attract fans, sponsors and the political support required for venue upgrades. It threatened antitrust litigation last year, but in an interview this week NASL commissioner Bill Peterson told SI.com that the league no longer is considering legal action.“We took a decision over the winter that we wanted to step back and try to re-engage with U.S. Soccer and discuss the [sanctioning] standards and where we fit in and our feelings about them … in a more productive manner than pulling the trigger on any sort of legal activities. And that’s what we’ve been doing,” Peterson said. “It’s incredibly important that the Federation and the NASL have a positive relationship because there are so many different aspects and facets to the game. It doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything, but it does mean we have a partnership … [A lawsuit is] not looming there as a threat, and it’s not something we want to do.” U.S. Soccer doesn’t benefit if a league struggles or folds. It doesn’t reflect well on the sport. That being said, USL certainly won’t complain if the second tier opens up. The three pro leagues are both colleagues and rivals, and Major League Soccer’s entry into Minnesota and Atlanta, along with the USL’s rapid expansion (from 14 teams in 2014 to 29 this season) certainly left many wondering if the two were trying to squeeze out the NASL.Peterson said he did not think there was a focused effort to undercut NASL, but he did say that American soccer’s fractured and evolving structure fostered counterproductive competition.“I think you have a unique relationship here. You have soccer companies that aren’t necessarily all aligned for the same reasons under the [U.S. Soccer] Federation,” Peterson said. “If you look at the federation and the pro game in another country, everyone basically has aligned themselves to focus on the same type of development, success, things like that. Here, you’ve got three soccer companies that are making decisions for the best interests of the company. And that’s a unique situation.”There have been no claims, accusations or indications that the USL is pursuing or poaching NASL clubs, but the third-tier circuit obviously is aware that its growth and relative stability could be attractive to NASL teams anxious about the future. The USL’s “third division” designation doesn’t seem to be a hindrance at the moment. Rather, it would be a safe place to land. Ottawa eventually may target a proposed Canadian league, but it prefers USL for the time being.Tampa Bay may be eyeing MLS, so a USL entry would make sense. Carolina’s new owner, medical software entrepreneur Stephen Malik, has put money into the club and seen attendance grow. If the NASL isn’t growing along with him, he then may have a choice to make about his team’s future. And he’d have natural USL rivals in Charlotte and Richmond. Carolina’s long-term future in NASL is far from guaranteed.

Meanwhile, Fort Lauderdale needs a new owner and stadium, and it would be a shock if Rayo is around in 2017. The first-year team’s local investor group has fractured and its Spanish backer, Rayo Vallecano, was relegated from La Liga.Isolated, second-place FC Edmonton is performing well on the field but faces prohibitive travel costs and average crowds of just over 2,100, the second lowest in the league. The San Francisco Deltas are on board as a 2017 expansion team and will play at venerable Kezar Stadium. But there’s so much volatility elsewhere in the NASL that it’s tough to imagine the new club strengthening the circuit significantly in 2017.One source told SI.com that as of last week, at least four NASL clubs (including Ottawa) had yet to post their bond to ensure participation next season. If four or five teams depart, Peterson and the remaining owners will have to attract new investors to survive past 2017. It’s believed that the NASL’s expansion fee is under $5 million.“We’ve never had more serious conversations happening than we do right now, in more cities than we do right now,” Peterson said regarding expansion. “We’ve probably been in a process with maybe 40 groups. These are all people that have the wherewithal to do it. You start down through the process, depending on the group, depending on the city, can take as little as three to four months or as long as 18 months to complete.”He continued, “We’re talking to potential owners on the west coast—three different cities. Some are more advanced than others. All of them have a chance of getting admitted. We still have two conversations on the East Coast—they’re not in Florida—which if they make sense you would want to do it.”Chicago, led by former MLS and NASL executive Peter Wilt, and Baltimore are among the markets pursuing an NASL team.“We had three new teams start this year. I don’t know if we’ll have new teams [beyond San Francisco] start next year, and the clock’s ticking. But we’ll have ownership groups added to the league. I’m very confident of that. And it could be three or four,” Peterson said. “I think our league, I hope it’s beyond the point of anybody doubting if it’s going to be in existence. I think the model’s demonstrated that it can be successful if you work hard at it, passionate and in the right cities.”

MLS’s model certainly took time to gain traction. At the end of its sixth season, the Tampa Bay Mutiny and Miami Fusion folded and the league likely would have died if not for Phil Anschutz and Lamar Hunt. In 2005, its 10th season, MLS finally returned to 12 teams with the additions of Real Salt Lake and Chivas USA, each of which paid all of $7.5 million to get in. Next year, it’ll add Atlanta (team No. 21) and Minnesota (No. 22), who each paid an expansion fee of more than $100 million. The NASL can only hope that it weathers its seventh-season storm in similar fashion.The Fury didn’t respond to an email from SI.com requesting comment and the Rowdies declined to comment. Peterson was unavailable Wednesday to respond directly to the situations in Ottawa and Tampa Bay. USL president Jake Edwards also was unavailable.

Soccer: Lloyd scores her 94th international goal, U.S. beats Netherlands

THE ASSOCIATED PRESSFirst Published Sep 18 2016 08:36PM    •    Last Updated Sep 18 2016 08:36 pm

Atlanta • Carli Lloyd scored her 94th international goal, Megan Rapinoe knelt again during the national anthem and the U.S. women’s national team beat the Netherlands 3-1 on Sunday night.Rapinoe, who entered as a substitute in the 64th minute, took a knee during the anthem for the second straight national team match and fourth game overall. She has said she wanted to express solidarity with San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who is attempting to bring attention to racial inequality.Lloyd tied it at 1 in the 35th minute. Tobin Heath ran in open space down the right sideline and found a trailing Lloyd near the penalty spot. Lloyd, who was coming off a hat trick against Thailand on Thursday, scored her 15th goal of the year.The U.S. took a 2-1 lead in the 50th on an own goal after it appeared Netherlands defender Mandy van den Berg was tripped into the ball in front of the net.Allie Long made it 3-1 in the 78th. Rapinoe chipped it into the 6-yard box, Alex Morgan headed it back across goal and Long knocked it in.It was the team’s second game since goalkeeper Hope Solo was suspended for six months. Ashlyn Harris started in the United States’ 9-0 victory over Thailand and Alyssa Naeher got the nod against the Netherlands.Naeher didn’t face much pressure after the opening five minutes and finished with four saves.The Netherlands opened the scoring in the second minute when Shanice van de Sanden finished on a breakaway. She raced to a glancing defensive header and finished on a breakaway by powering it past Naeher. Van de Sanden had an open shot knocked wide by Naeher in the 79th.Lieke Martens tried to chip Naeher in the fourth minute but it went over the crossbar.The U.S. had two shots hit off the post in the second half. Ali Krieger sent in a cross in the 49th minute but Morgan Brian’s one-touch deflected off the post and Morgan’s rebound attempt was blocked. Christen Press had an open shot hit the post in the 53rd.

Sunderland’s Lynden Gooch talks about USMNT decision

Leave a commentBy Joe Prince-WrightSep 21, 2016, 11:07 AM EDT

From Santa Cruz, California, Lynden Goochis making his way in the Premier League with Sunderland.The 20-year-old midfielder has burst onto the scene at the start of this season, starting four of Sunderland’s first five games in the PL as he made his debut away at Manchester City in the opening game of the season.That success has caught the eye of U.S. national team head coach Jurgen Klinsmann and with Gooch previously part of the U.S. U20 setup, he’s obviously a player the USMNT is keeping a close eye on. As for Gooch, well, he’s keeping his options up for now.In an interview with the Guardian in the UK, Gooch revealed he has yet to decide if he will represent the U.S. at the international level as he also qualifies for England and the Republic of Ireland.

“I qualify for England and Ireland as well, so there’s always stuff that can happen,” he says. “But I would love to play for the US again. I had a lot of pride putting on that shirt coming from California. I played a lot of football in California and I owe a lot to the country. The door is wide open at the minute.”

Gooch’s rise has been a pleasant surprise for the USMNT and it will be intiguing to see if Klinsmann calls him up to his squad for the friendly games against Cuba and New Zealand in October.While some may be surprised about Gooch’s remarkable rise from joining the Black Cats as a 16-year-old in their academy four years ago to now being a first team regular, the California native isn’t.“I knew I was good enough from a young age,” Gooch said. “I was really confident. I had no doubts, without even training at Sunderland or knowing anyone. I think that’s a big part of it. If you have the confidence in your ability, anything can happen.”Right now, just at the start of his senior career in the Premier League, it seems like the U.S. should make a big push to get Gooch on board as quickly as possible.

5 big things from Americans abroad this week (9/12-9/18)6Christian Pulisic stars in a big week for Americans in Germany

By Roderick MacNeil  @rodmacneil Sep 20, 2016, 9:27a

1. Pulisic Shines

Let us take a few moments to reflect on the week Christian Pulisic had for Borussia Dortmund.On Wednesday, Pulisic was in the XI for a potentially tricky away match in Warsaw, becoming the youngest player ever to start in Champions League for the club. Per usual, he was far from out of place. Dortmund would dominate from start to finish, with Pulisic playing a major role throughout. After making numerous key passes, he’d cap the day with an assist on BVB’s 5th goal, en route to a decisive 6-0 win.Three days later, Pulisic would get the call again on short rest. On the day before his 18th birthday, the Hershey Kid would take over the game in the second half. His first goal of the season in the 54th minute gave Dortmund a 3-0 lead. Assists in the 78th and 88th minutes would pile on for a familiar 6-0 score line vs. Darmstadt.Perhaps unsurprisingly, Pulisic’s final stat line was impressive as well, earning him a spot in the Bundesliga’s official Fantasy Team of the Week: has Pulisic at the #10 Slot.

The recognition wouldn’t stop there. On Monday, Pulisic was voted Bundesliga MVP for Match Day 3. We’re not talking Man of the Match. More like Man of the League. With a crowded schedule continuing in the coming weeks for Dortmund, combined with the quality of these performances, we’re certain see much more of Christian Pulisic. Exciting times.

2. Johnson Down, Then Up

It was a mixed week for Fabian Johnson and Borussia Monchengladbach. Things didn’t go so well in a midweek Champions League match at Manchester City. With Johnson in the starting lineup, the Fohlenelf fell hard, losing by a 4-0 margin. The goal differential will hurt most, making Gladbach already a huge underdog to advance to the knockout rounds. Advancement now will likely require a similar margin of victory in the return match, or an upset win against mighty Barcelona. Either task is daunting.Back in league play on the weekend, it was a sunnier result. Gladbach got the early lead, thanks to an 11th minute assist from Johnson on Thorgan Hazard’s goal (skip to 0:53 of the video):The home side would coast to a 4-1 victory over hapless Aron Johannsson’s Werder Bremen(more on him in a moment.) Gladbach creeps back up to 6th place on the Bundesliga table ahead of Wednesday’s clash against surprising 2nd-place RB Leipzig.

3. Jóhannsson Up, Then Down

As mentioned above, the other side of the Gladbach-Bremen clash featured USMNT forward Aron Johannsson. AronJo began this one on the bench, but entered after halftime with his club already trailing 4-0.Johannsson would help trim the margin in the 73rd minute with a perfect touch on a chip pass to Serge Gnabry, who volleyed it home with a glorious finish:The good feelings for Johannsson wouldn’t last long. Believing he’d been fouled in the 81st minute, he chased the referee toward midfield, pleading his case and gesticulating his displeasure. Whatever came out of Johannsson’s mouth, the official didn’t like, as he quickly stopped play and issued a straight red card. Johannsson would later claim his words were misunderstood, but he’ll be serving a two-game suspension nonetheless.The ban comes at perhaps an inopportune moment for the U.S. striker. Following Sunday’s dismal defeat, manager Viktor Skripnik was relieved of his duties. Through 3 games, Werder Bremen is bottom of the table, earning zero points with a -10 goal differential. Interim manager Alexander Nouri will have to make his changes with Johannsson unavailable. It’ll be on Johannsson to assure there’s still a place for him in the lineup when he returns.

4. Future Bundesliga Gaines?

The Bundesliga has become the league to watch when it comes to the USMNT’s attacking talent. There just might be another young American joining their ranks sooner than later. U.S. U18 forward McKinze Gaines is off to a flying start with VfL Wolfsburg’s U19 side. With 2 goals and an assist this week, Gaines is turning heads. Through his first five games, he’s racked up 5 goals and 3 assists.Speculation on a promotion to the senior team is probably getting way ahead of things. But if Gaines can sustain anything resembling that sort of production, an opportunity just may come way ahead of schedule.

5. Boyd Returns

Another milestone along the long comeback road for Terrence Boyd was reached this week. Boyd made his return to competitive play after nearly two years out of action. He started twice in the past week for RB Leipzig’s reserves, even going the full 90 minutes midweek in a 1-1 draw:

With RB Leipzig off to an impressive 3-0 start in its Bundesliga debut season, cracking the senior team lineup will prove challenging. However, earning extended injury-free minutes with the U23s isn’t a bad place to start.Germany’s top division is well-stocked with American attacking talent. Already, nearly every game in the league has a USMNT flavor; having Boyd back in the mix only enhances our viewing menu.

Is it fair to compare Christian Pulisic to Landon Donovan?

-Ed. Note: This is a guest post by Josh Hall. He is a writer for SB Nation’s Borussia Dortmund blog, Fear The Wall.

As fan of Borussia Dortmund and the U.S. national team, I have observed Christian Pulisic’s rise with great interest even before the hype started to build. One thing I find odd is while many people are quick to speculate that Pulisic could become the greatest U.S. player of all time, there have been scant comparisons to arguably the greatest player the U.S. has had: Landon Donovan. The only times I hear the two mentioned in the same sentence are throw-away references to Donovan being the last world-class American player. I suspect this lack of comparison is due to the polarizing nature of Donovan within the U.S. soccer community.This unfortunate reality demonstrates the level of emotional stock we American fans placed in him, and how so many of us felt let down by what we saw as unfulfilled potential. Perhaps most American fans are hesitant then to compare Pulisic with Donovan because we felt we have been burned many times before. The wreckage of promising American careers that tells the cautionary tale of teenage hype is so well documented it would be superfluous to mention in this forum. What separated Donovan from that ignominious long line and what currently separates Pulisic is the inarguable product on the pitch; the delight that watching those two ply their trade on the largest stages in the world brings to American fans. So why not compare the two?Technically speaking, I haven’t seen a player as poised and positive as Pulisic in U.S. colors since the Landon Donovan era. Every time he receives the ball, there is this palpable tension, an almost physical bating of breath as you expect something remarkable to happen. And when he plays that curled, inch perfect ball threaded between the goalkeeper and outstretched legs of the defense, or takes that silky-smooth first touch to tee up a perfect finish, that tension explodes orgasmic like in heretofore unexperienced emotive bliss for deprived American fans.While certainly he does not possess the same kind of magic that only a Messi can produce, the sight of watching an American fearlessly receive the ball, turn into space, and rampage vertically down the field with a conviction and self-confidence born of experiential performance is something that, let’s face it, is largely foreign to us. Pulisic’s ability to pass, dribble, tackle, and his first touch is pretty much on par with Donovan in his prime.Tactically, Pulisic is eons beyond kids his age. He shows the tactical flexibility that Donovan had as well. Equally comfortable on the wing as in the center of the field as a number 10, the comparisons between the two are apt (although Donovan was far more effective on the wing and Pulisic has yet to be used by his club or country in the middle). Physically, both are relatively small and rely on their superior technical ability rather than the brute physicality, speed, and/or raw athleticism that American fans are used to seeing in their DeAndre Yedlins, Jozy Altidores, and Brian McBrides, all great players, but all only capable of just so much on the international level. When viewed from a technical and tactical perspective the comparisons are completely justified.The one area that completely separates the two and the factor that has me so hopeful is that of the psychological. Here is where Donovan becomes polarizing. No one ever questioned his ability on the field, but when it came to the decisions he made in his career, or the consistency of his performances (eg. 2006 World Cup), he has been subjected to more scrutiny than I think he could bear. He has been very forthright in his battles with his mental health and has highlighted an area in which most professional athletes likely struggle. He has spoken out on his bouts of depression and how the decision to stay at home to play where his mental well-being was assured was the right one for him.I completely respect that and am grateful to him for bringing attention to such an emotionally uncomfortable subject in the high-stress world of professional team sports. But an unimpassioned observer would be intellectually dishonest to say that he truly reached the dizzying heights of his sporting potential with his decision to forgo a career in Europe. Of course it could be argued that had he made a career in Europe he could have failed due to his emotional and mental framework, and who are we to cast aspersion on a man whose natural and genetic makeup has a predisposition to a delicate emotional health state? These are the types of questions that a figure even more polarizing, Jürgen Klinsmann, has asked further dividing American passions and opinions on the soft-spoken Californian midfielder.Landon Donovan’s mental makeup, without judgement or aspersion, is the only thing that separates Christian Pulisic from him, and is the reason why I am so hopeful for the future. With Pulisic, the one thing that has impressed me far beyond his technical and tactical prowess has been his ability to psychologically handle the transition of playing in a development program in the U.S. to becoming a full time professional footballer in Germany… at the age of 17.He has not just adapted and survived in this environment, but has thrived within a top-ten club team in the world, fought for places through their U17, U19, and U23 sides, and has bashed down the wall to the senior team as an American teenager. He has learned to speak German competently enough to give very coherent interviews. He has learned to deal with the pressure and hype associated with his rapid ascent. He has learned to give the correct, nuanced, and politically astute answers to prying and delicate questions from reporters asking about transfer rumors. Succinctly, he has become a complete professional in a world class league. And he is only 17.Pulisic is an American prodigy who has taken the difficult, but necessary route; one that is not unique in America but unique in a youngster as talented as he. And it is the route that is normal and understood for players like Antoine Griezmann, who left his home of France for opportunities abroad in the Basque region of Spain, of Lionel Messi who departed Argentina at a very young age for a new life at La Masia, and many other youths who have left their comforts in pursuit of professional football. There seems to be nothing stopping him except perhaps a string of poor performances and a falling off the depth chart at Dortmund, but for such a professionally minded player, whose only youthful indiscretion consists of a questionable taste for the music of Justin Bieber, even a footballing setback like that could be quickly overcome.Is it fair to compare the two? I say it is.

Premier League Power Rankings: So. Much. Movement.

12 (3) Man United: A poor week for Jose Mourinho as he lost three on the spin, Rooney is struggling and so too are Pogba and Fellaini in midfield. Needs a big win against Leicester on Saturday to shut up the “Einsteins” out there.
11 (2) Chelsea: Not a great week for Chelsea who drew at Swansea and thenlost at home to Liverpool in a poor display. Conte’s boys beat Leicester in the EFL Cup but plenty of work to do. Arsenal away next up. Huge challenge.
10 (18) Southampton: What a difference a week makes. Claude Puel’s side won three on the spin with victories in the Europa League, PL and EFL Cup and they kept three clean sheets. Charlie Austin is on fire as they head to West Ham.
9 (17) West Brom: Much-needed win for Tony Pulis‘ side against West Hamand Pulis will celebrate his 1000th game as a manager against Stoke. Baggies suddenly seem like scoring goals. 
8 (13) Leicester City: Much better from Claudio Ranieri‘s side who beat Club Brugge in the Champions League and then beat Burnley comfortably in the PL. Slimani is the new hero at the KP.
7 (8) Crystal Palace: Two wins on the spin in the PL for Pardew’s side as their offensive masterplan is clicking into place. They’ll be confident heading to Sunderland this weekend.
6 (9) Watford: The Hornets will be confident too. Two wins on the spin and afirst league win vs. Man United since 1986 has Mazzarri’s boys flying high. Tricky test at Burnley awaits.
5 (5) Tottenham: Pochettino’s side fluffed their lines at Wembley in the UCL but remain unbeaten in the PL as Alli, Eriksen & Rose signed new deals.Kane’s injury a real worry though. 
4 (6) Arsenal: As Wenger celebrated 20 years at Arsenal, his side have clicked through the gears. Three wins in a row has the Gunners pushing in the right direction ahead of a big London derby vs. Chelsea.
3 (4) Everton: Ronald Koeman has sprinkled the magic dust over the Toffees who remain unbeaten and have 4 wins from 5 in their best-ever start to a PL season. Keeping Lukaku fit is key.
2 (7) Liverpool: Well, well, well, Jurgen Klopp’s side is rampant right now with Mane, Lallana, Henderson et al. flying. Big wins vs. Leicester and at Chelsea. Now, can they keep it up against Hull?
1 (1)

 

Premier League player Power Rankings: The top 20 players, right now

Leave a commentBy Joe Prince-WrightSep 20, 2016, 1:40 PM EDT

For the first time this season we are going to select the top 20 players in the Premier League, right here, right now.Remember, Power Rankings are based purely on the output of players at this moment in time. Reputations mean nothing. This list is all about results.So, without further delay here’s a look at ProSoccerTalk’s Premier League Player Power Rankings (try and say that 10 times fast) so you can chuck a handful of these in your fantasy teams, settle some arguments with friends or watch some of these smaller named players a lot closer in the weeks to come.Let us know if you agree in the comments section below.

  1. Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)
  2. Diego Costa (Chelsea)
  3. Raheem Sterling (Man City)
  4. Idrissa Gueye (Everton)
  5. Kelechi Iheanacho (Man City)
  6. Sadio Mane (Liverpool)
  7. Romelu Lukaku (Everton)
  8. Alexis Sanchez (Arsenal)
  9. Michail Antonio (West Ham United)
  10. Nicolas Otamendi (Man City)
  11. Riyad Mahrez (Leicester City)
  12. Etienne Capoue (Watford)
  13. Georginio Wijnaldum (Liverpool)
  14. Marcus Rashford (Man United)
  15. Fernandinho (Man City)
  16. Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace)
  17. Islam Slimani (Leicester City)
  18. Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur)
  19. Heung-Min Son (Tottenham Hotspur)
  20. Virgil Van Dijk (Southampton)
  1. Man City: These guys are legit.Despite his very public spat with Yaya Toure’s agentPep Guardiola has 8 wins from 8 as City’s boss. Top of the league and full of goals, De Bruyne is running the show. Hand them the title already…!?

Arsenal face Chelsea, champs Leicester’s trip to Manchester United

Chelsea will look to hit back after last week’s 2-1 defeat at home to Liverpool when they travel to bitter rivals Arsenal on Saturday evening. Manchester United, meanwhile, are stuck in a rut. Yes, they won against League One Northampton in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, but it’s two defeats in a row in the league ahead of the visit of champions Leicester.Elsewhere, Manchester City have a 100 percent record under Pep Guardiola, and the latest team to try and stop them, Swansea, lost 2-1 to Saturday’s opponents in the EFL Cup, too.Can the Swans win at the second attempt? Vote on their result and the rest of the action in our match polls.ARSENAL: The Gunners have responded well to the 4-3 opening weekend defeat to Liverpool, but Chelsea provide the sternest test yet. Arsene Wenger’s men do have some momentum, and the midweek win over Nottingham Forest showed they have depth and quality to call on if needed. It’s imperative they don’t capitulate in familiar fashion to traditionally tricky opposition. It’s a test of Arsenal’s Premier League mettle, but one they should feel pretty confident about.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-1 Chelsea — Andrew Mangan

CHELSEA: Recent results between Arsenal and Chelsea will give the Blues a psychological edge going into the game — but will it be enough this time? Both defences have a suspect element to them which has typically been countered by attacking prowess. This means a boring 0-0 encounter is unlikely. With so much at stake and avoiding defeat a priority for both managers, a high scoring draw is a distinct possibility. Prediction: Arsenal 3-3 Chelsea — Mark Worrall

MAN UNITED: Leicester City have had uneven form in recent weeks, succumbing 4-1 to Liverpool in between two wins, while United have lost their past two in the league. These two teams with wounded pride and porous defences seem set for a draw.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-2 Leicester — Musa Okwonga

LEICESTER: The last time Leicester travelled to Old Trafford they got a vital point and days later they were Premier League champions. This time City face an out-of-sorts United side with a point to prove. It should be an intriguing encounter, especially with Claudio Ranieri up against former foe Jose Mourinho. The last time the pair met, Leicester beat Chelsea 2-1 and Mourinho was sacked shortly after. Expect a cagey encounter. Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Leicester — Ben Jacobs

SWANSEA: Having lost the “battle of the B-teams” in the EFL Cup on Wednesday night, Swansea will be looking to avenge themselves in league play against a full-strength Manchester City on Saturday. Francesco Guidolin lately has favoured unduly cautious football, but the last time City failed to score in a league game was way back in March.
Prediction: Swansea 1-4 Manchester City — Max Hicks

MAN CITY: City return to Swansea’s Liberty Stadium three days after winning there in the EFL Cup and must try not to let Vincent Kompany’s injury scare them or the next round match against Manchester United take their minds off the big task: Turning nine wins out of nine into 10 wins out of 10.
Prediction: Swansea 0-2 Manchester City — Simon Curtis

LIVERPOOL: In form Liverpool have shown they can overcome the Premier League’s top sides and now they need to prove they can also beat the teams they are expected to beat. Having lost already this season to a newly promoted club, Jurgen Klopp’s men will be anxious to make sure there is no repeat when they face Hull City at Anfield, and they won’t make the same mistakes they did against Burnley.
Prediction: Liverpool 4-0 Hull City — David Usher

HULL CITY: A trip to Anfield looks to be among the toughest assignments the Premier League has to offer on current form. Hull City will set up to be hard to break down, just as they did against Manchester United and Arsenal, but Liverpool have the attacking quality to hurt Mike Phelan’s men. Hard to make a case for anything but a home win.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 Hull City — Phil Buckingham

MIDDLESBROUGH: Boro will aim to regroup after two defeats on the trot as they continue their quest to prevent slack defensive displays from letting them down. Goalkeeper Victor Valdes will have to be at his very best to help the team come anywhere close to a clean sheet, and fans will hope to see midfield stalwart Adam Clayton back from injury. Tottenham’s attacking efforts may be somewhat hampered by injuries, particularly to star striker Harry Kane.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 0-2 Tottenham— Catherine Wilson

TOTTENHAM: While Tottenham are now missing Harry Kane, they have a number of attacking midfielders in good form — Christian Eriksen, Erik Lamela and Son Heung-Min have all shone this week — so they should get chances. Meanwhile, Middlesbrough have lost their past two Premier League matches and their last home game was a 2-1 defeat to Crystal Palace. Spurs can match that.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Tottenham — Ben Pearce

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9/16/16 Liverpool vs Chelsea today 3 pm, Indy 11 Host Miami Sat TV 8, Carmel MLS Star Matt Hedges wins US Open Cup, Games of the Week  

Huge congrats to former Carmel High School star and current Dallas FC defender and Captain Matt Hedges who scored the winning goal vs NE in the US Open Cup Final on Tuesday night.  Dallas who leads the MLS Western Division won their first US Open Cup before traveling to play NYCFC in Yankee Stadium Sat night at 7:30 pm on YES network.   Sunday we have a battle of the top 2 teams in the East as #1 Toronto and Michael Bradley/Jose Altidore/Sebastion Giovinco face Sacha Kljestan and the NY Red Bulls at 5 pm on Fox, right after Landon Donovan returns to LA as they host Sporting KC at 2 pm on Fox.

Champions League had some intriguing matches Tues/Wed – great to have the Group Stages back this time on Fox Sports and ESPN.  US young rising star Christian Pulisic became the youngest Dortmund player ever to have an assist in Champions League as he started in the 7-1 win.  Defending Champs Real Madrid needed 2 late goals including a beat by the just returned Renaldo to hold beat Sporting Lisbon 2-1, Juve was stunned with a 0-0 tie at home, while my Foxes of Leicester City got a 3-0 win on the road, Man City rolled at home, Arsenal survived a 1-1 tie with PSG and Tottenham lost at Wembley in their return to UCL.  Match-day Two returns Sept 27/28 with Bayern Munich traveling to Atletico Madrid, Real @ Dortmund and Leicester City hosting Porto.

In World League Play – Liverpool @ Chelsea is the best EPL game on Friday on NBCSN at 3 pm, while Everton hosts Middlesborough at 12:30 on NBC Sat.  Inter hosts Italian League Champion Juve Sunday on beIN Sports at noon. Locally the Indy 11 host Miami at 7:30 pm Sat night – game on TV 8 looking for their first win in over a month.  The 11 will host Octoberfest with beer specials before and during the game.   Nice Story on Soccer Coaching.

cfcu12bg_champs

Carmel FC 05 Boys Gold wins Championship Game verse CESC Orange at Fall Classic 1-0. Two years in a row. Congrats Coaches Doug Latham and Commish Jeremy Slivinski

GAMES OF THE WEEK 

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 Fri, Sept 16                                              

3 pm NBCSN         Chelsea vs Liverpool   – weird to have this huge game on a Friday with  no decent games on the weekend – tape it to watch Sat.

Sat, Sept 17

7:30 am NBCSN         Hull City vs Arsenal

12:30 pm NBC                                      Everton vs Middlesborough  – wow this is the best the EPL can give us on NBC?
7:30 pm YES                                           NYCFC vs Dallas   battle of top teams can NYCFC defend Yankee Stadium?

7:30 pm TV 8, GolTV   Indy 11 host Miami

Sun, Sat 18

7 am CNBC                                               Watford vs Man United

9:15 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Stoke City – US defender Geoff Cameron @ CP

12 noon beIN Sports                                                Inter vs Juventus        – Inter hosts the Champions        

2 pm Fox                                                   LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC – Landon Donovan’s return home vs KC.

5 pm Fox                                                                          Toronto vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm FS 1                              US Women vs Netherlands

Tues, Sept 20

2:45 pm beIN Sports                        LEAGUE CUP – Leicester City vs Chelsea

Sat, Sept 24

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Man United vs Leicester City

12:30 pm                                                                         Arsenal vs Chelsea 

INDY 11

OctoberFest Celebration for Sat Night home Game

Indy 11 vs Miami preview

Loss to Ft. Lauderdale 2-1

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

The Wrap-up of Champions League Day 1 (second day)

Champions League Match Day 1 Wrap Up – NBC Soccertalk

US Pulisic becomes youngest Dortmund player with a Champions League Assist

Leicester City Have Dream UCL Debut in 3-0 Road Win

UCL Team of the Week

Dortmund Hi-Lights 6-0 – Christian Pulisic starts and has assist

Real Madrid Score Twice Late to Survive vs Sporting CP

EPL Champ Leicester City crush Brugge 3-0 in first UCL Game

Tottenham loses at Wimbley to Monaco

EPL and World

EPL Predictions

Marcotti’s Musings-  Around the World of Soccer –  ESPN FC

Pep’s Early Tactics Were the Difference in the Manchester Derby  – Joe Prince Wright – NBC Soccer  Video

USA

Heather ORiely, Megan Rapino share the spotlight in Rout

US Ladies Heather ORiely Retiring Thurs Night

Clint Dempsey returns to Training after Heart Scare

US Hot List

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/soccer-insider/wp/2016/09/11/four-american-goal-scorers-in-europe-this-weekend

Things Looking Up for USA – ESPN FC

Pulisic to Receive new contract offer from Dortmund

MLS

Former Carmel High now Dallas Defender Matt Hedges Scores Winning Goal vs NE

Youthful Dallas FC wins US Open Cup

Donovan’s Return Shows lack of Stars in MLS

Will Canadian Team’s pull out of MLS?

Toronto FC can Grab Playoff Spot this Weekend

Stevie Nicols New Book

Goalkeeper Matt Lampson Lives his Dream after Cancer Battle

Pirlo’s Best Assists for NYCFC

MLS Table

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More GAMES ON TV

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Fri, Sept 16                                              

3 pm NBCSN                                           Chelsea vs Liverpool

Sat, Sept 17

7 am beIn Sports                                 Barcelona vs Leganes

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Hull City vs Arsenal

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                       Buyern Munich vs Ingolstadt

9:30 am Fox Sports 2                       Dortmund vs Darmdstadt

10 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs Bournemouth, Leceister City vs Burnley,

12:30 pm NBC                                      Everton vs Middlesborough

12:30 pm Fox Soccer +                  Borussia Mgladbach vs Werder Bremen                                                    

7:30 pm YES                                           NYCFC vs Dallas

7:30 pm TV 8, GolTV   Indy 11 host Miami

Sun, Sat 18

7 am CNBC                                               Watford vs Man United

9:15 am CNBC                                       Crystal Palace vs Stoke City

9:30 am FS1                                            Augsburg vs Mainz

9:30 am Fox Soccer Plus                Ingolstadt vs Hertha BSC

9:30 am Fox Sports 2                                               Freiburg vs Borussia M’Gladbach

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Tottenham vs Sunderland

12 noon beIN Sports                                                Inter vs Juventus                                 

11:30 am FS 2                                       Hertha vs Schalke 

2 pm FS 1                                                                         LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC

2:45 pm beIN Sport                                                  Espanyol vs Real Madrid

5 pm FS 2                                                                         Toronto vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm FS 1                              US Women vs Netherlands

 Tues, Sept 20

2:45 pm beIN Sports                        LEAGUE CUP – Leicester City vs Chelsea

 Sat, Sept 24

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Man United vs Leicester City

10 am NBCSN                                         Liverpool vs Hull City, Bournemouth vs Everton, Swansea vs Man City

12:30 pm                                                                         Arsenal vs Chelsea

Sun, Sept 25

11 am NBCSN                                        West Ham United vs Southampton

5 pm? ESPN                                             LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

7 pm Fox Sports 1                              Columbus vs NE Revs

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1                                               Houston Dash vs Seattle Reign

 Sept 27

Man City @ Celtic

Bayern Munich @ Athletico Madrid

Sept 28

Real Madrid @ Dortmund

Porto @ Leicester City

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

Report: Dortmund to give US youngster Pulisic new contract; Liverpool still pursuing

Leave a commentBy Andy EdwardsSep 15, 2016, 12:09 PM EDT

It sure is nice to be wanted, isn’t it?  Christian Pulisic is a wanted (young) man with the soccer world at his feet. After starring for the U.S. national team in a pair of World Cup qualifiers during the most recent international break, Pulisic made his UEFA Champions League debut for his club team, Borussia Dortmund, on Thursday, and provided the assist on the fifth goal of a 6-0 blowout over Legia Warsaw, the reigning Polish champions.Pulisic, who’ll turn 18 on Saturday, broke into the Dortmund first team during the second half of last season, which resulted in the hot pursuit of a pair of Premier League clubs — Liverpool and Stoke City — this summer. Despite a wealth of other young attacking talent, much of which was signed this summer, Dortmund rejected all suitors.Those bids, coupled with his standout showings for the USMNT and BVB, have the Hershey, Penn., native reportedly set to be offered a new, improved contract to keep him in Germany for the foreseeable future. Not exactly the worst coming-of-legal-age birthday present.While playing as much first-team soccer as possible is important, Pulisic seems to be at the perfect club for a young attacker to develop, whether he’s an everyday starter or not. Of course, Klopp wouldn’t be the worst manager in the world to play for, though the we want results, and we want them now now now nature of the PL would likely lead to a full-time substitute’s role with older, more experienced players preferred to the teenager.At Dortmund, a club lauded for its development of young players, he’ll get just enough game time and still be forced to show every time out that he’s cut out for the Bundesliga and CL levels.

Liverpool’s test at Chelsea, Manchester United need derby response

Liverpool have won 4-3 at Arsenal and thrashed champions Leicester 4-1 so far this season. Friday night’s trip to resurgent Chelsea represents the latest test to their upward trajectory.

Elsewhere, Manchester United need a response to their 2-1 derby defeat at home to Manchester City as Jose Mourinho’s men travel to Watford on Sunday, while Pep Guardiola’s side are at home to Bournemouth.

Predict the results of every match in our polls.

CHELSEA: An exciting, incident-packed encounter is in prospect as two lively attacks face up to two brittle defences. Diego Costa, at the peak of his goal-scoring powers for Chelsea, will no doubt be the focus of Liverpool’s wind-up merchants meaning referee Martin Atkinson is likely to be the busiest man on the pitch.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-1 Liverpool — Mark Worrall

LIVERPOOL: With strikers on both sides in fine form there should be goals in what is normally a tense, tight affair. The home side have the edge defensively but the Reds rarely disappoint in away games against the top sides, so both teams’ advantages should cancel themselves out.
Prediction: Chelsea 2-2 Liverpool — Steven Kelly

MAN CITY: Pep Guardiola’s men are in splendid form. They’ve won all seven of their opening matches of the new season and the new coach has got them playing beautiful, attacking football. Bournemouth won their last outing in the Premier League but are enduring a difficult second season so far. With City’s attack, this should be a formality.
Prediction: Manchester City 4-0 Bournemouth — David Mooney

BOURNEMOUTH: Last weekend’s 1-0 win over West Brom will fill Bournemouth with plenty of confidence heading into their next fixture against Manchester City. However, it’s still a colossal task for the Cherries to overturn Guardiola’s undefeated side. Eddie Howe’s team won’t go down without a fight, but they will lose.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Bournemouth — Will Kent

HULL CITY: You have to go back to 1915 for the last time Arsenal came to East Yorkshire and failed to leave with a victory but Mike Phelan’s side will fancy their chances of bucking the trend. Hull City are playing as well as their seven-point haul would suggest and showing no sign of trepidation against stronger opponents. That wasn’t quite enough against Manchester United three weeks ago but they are capable of exposing Arsenal’s frailties.
Prediction: Hull City 1-1 Arsenal — Phil Buckingham

ARSENAL: A long trip to Hull after a draining sojourn to Paris presents an early test of Arsenal’s mettle, but it is one they should pass. Class will prevail as Arsenal have too much talent, even if the two teams are locked together on seven points after four games of the season.
Prediction: Hull 0-2 Arsenal — Tom Adams

WATFORD: Walter Mazzarri’s men will be confident after a stunning comeback away at West Ham, but will be wary of a wounded Manchester United who will be looking to bounce back after their derby day defeat. The pressure is on Mourinho’s men, but the Hornets must avoid the slow starts that have plagued their season if they are to avoid defeat here.
Prediction: Watford 1-1 Manchester United — Mike Parkin

MAN UNITED: Watford have shown some strong form this season, providing a stern test for Chelsea and overwhelming West Ham. Manchester United, perhaps a little shaken their derby defeat, still have an attack that could punish the home defence, and should have enough for the win.
Prediction: Watford 1-2 Manchester United — Musa Okwonga

Leicester City:  The champions will be confident of rounding off a superb week at home to Burnley. After thrashing Club Brugge 3-0 on Wednesday night, the Foxes will expect another three points. Riyad Mahrez has found his goalscoring touch and his Algerian compatriot Islam Slimani will look to get off the mark. Leicester will get a huge ovation following their Champions League success and can win equally as handsomely as in Brugge.
Prediction: Leicester 3-0 Burnley — Ben Jacobs

BURNLEY: Leicester’s European exertions should give an advantage to the Clarets. They have had a full week to prepare for this game, rather than a couple of days, although a win against Club Brugge will be a lift to the Foxes. With both sides relying heavily on energy for their game, this could be a frantic match and Burnley can claim their first away point of the season.
Prediction: Leicester City 1-1 Burnley  Jamie Smith

TOTTENHAM: Spurs could not ask for a much easier fixture after Wednesday night’s disappointment in the Champions League. They have slipped up in such circumstances before of course and, like Monaco, Sunderland will probably set up to defend and frustrate — but Spurs’ squad is stronger than it was last season and they should come out on top.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-0 Sunderland — Ben Pearce

SUNDERLAND: David Moyes’ men have lost all three of their televised games this season and were thumped 4-1 in the corresponding fixture in February. Changes may be made at the back and there is a possibility Moyes may select three central defenders in a bid to stem the goals conceded while Victor Anichebe may add some much-needed muscle up front.
Prediction: Tottenham 2-1 Sunderland — Pete Sixsmith

WEST BROM: The Baggies need both a good performance and result at the Hawthorns against fellow early season strugglers West Ham to ease the pressure on head coach Tony Pulis. Brendan Galloway will need to improve on last week’s performance against Bournemouth if he wants to keep the in-form Michail Antonio quiet.
Prediction: West Brom 1-1 West Ham — Matthew Evans

WEST HAM: Pulis’ side have struggled this season so far but are on a high after beating Bournemouth. West Ham, meanwhile, are still stinging after huge criticism following last Saturday’s defensive nightmare against Watford. These are two early season crisis clubs and it’s hard to separate them.
Prediction:  West Brom 2-2 West Ham — Peter Thorne

EVERTON: Evergreen midfield mainstay Gareth Barry could make his 600th Premier League appearance, against Middlesbrough on Saturday. Alongside the equally impressive Idrissa Gueye, Barry has been the driving force behind a fine start that has the Blues chasing a fourth consecutive league win and third successive clean sheet.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Middlesbrough  Luke O’Farrell

MIDDLESBROUGH: Boro will be looking to bounce back from their first Premier League defeat of the season, at the hands of Crystal Palace. The Teessiders will be hoping to cut out the careless mistakes that let them down last week, but rallying against a buoyant Everton will be no mean feat. Centre-backs Ben Gibson and Daniel Ayala will be occupied with the unenviable task of keeping Blues’ striker Romelu Lukaku quiet, but it might be too much.
Prediction: Everton 2-0 Middlesbrough — Catherine Wilson

CRYSTAL PALACE: The Eagles appear to have found a spring in their step in recent weeks and with more confidence and a striker hungry for goals, Alan Pardew’s side look reinvigorated. It’s the perfect time to face a Stoke side struggling to find their stride.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 3-1 Stoke — Rob Sutherland

STOKE: Having overseen the club’s worst start in 110 years, Mark Hughes will be firmly under the microscope when he takes his rock-bottom Stoke side to Palace. Playing away from home could help them, but the thought of an in-form Wilfried Zaha running at the Potters’ porous defence is a frightening one.
Prediction: Crystal Palace 2-1 Stoke — James Whittaker

SOUTHAMPTON: The Premier League season may only be four matches old but this already looks like a pivotal game for Claude Puel against a Swansea side expected to struggle. The Frenchman is yet to taste victory in the league and is already coming under fire from fans over his tactics.
Prediction: Southampton 1-1 Swansea — Alex Crook

SWANSEA: Swansea’s unlikely 2-2 draw against Chelsea last Sunday should give Francesco Guidolin’s side some belief, and belief might be all that’s required to defeat the winless Saints. The Swans have beaten Southampton just once in the Premier League. Sunday presents a golden chance to make it twice.
Prediction: Southampton 1-2 Swansea — Max Hicks

To get you in the mood for the weekend’s action, read Richard Jolly on the issues facing Antonio Conte and Jurgen Klopp at their respective clubs, while Scott Patterson says Henrikh Mkhitaryan needs to be patient at Manchester United.Michael Cox, meanwhile, says Mourinho has a problem fitting in his playmakers at United. Can the Portuguese find the right mix at Vicarage Road this Sunday? Vote in the match poll and have your say in the comments.

Real Madrid get late win, Leicester and Manchester City win in UCL

Late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata earned Real Madrid a comeback 2-1 win against Sporting Lisbon at the Bernabeu.Bruno Cesar had put Sporting into a 48th-minute lead with a low curling effort but the holders left it late, first Ronaldo scoring a free kick in the final minute of normal time before Morata headed home in the fourth minute of added time to earn Los Blancos all three points.Leicester City began their debut Champions League campaign with a bang, running out 3-0 winners against Club Brugge in Group G.Marc Albrighton took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score from close range on five minutes and Riyad Mahrez doubled the Foxes’ advantage, in front of a below-capacity stadium, with a 28th-minute free kick.Mahrez added a third from the spot in the 61st-minute after Jamie Vardy was fouled by Brugge goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle.Manchester City kept up their perfect start to the season and began their Champions League campaign with a win, at the second attempt, by beatingBorussia Monchengladbach 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium courtesy of a Sergio Aguero hat trick.Aguero turned in a low cross from Aleksandar Kolarov after eight minutes, added a 28th-minute penalty when debutant Ilkay Gundogan was fouled, and completed his treble on 77 minutes when Raheem Sterling’s through-ball allowed him to round Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer and tap in.Kelechi Iheanacho came off the bench to add a late fourth. That result puts City second in Group C, behind Barcelona on goal difference.It wasn’t a good start for Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on their Champions League return, however, as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat againstAS Monaco.Bernardo Silva had the Ligue 1 side in front on 15 minutes before Thomas Lemar added a 31st-minute second. Toby Alderweireld pulled one back for Spurs on 45 minutes with a header from a cornerJuventus played out a frustrating 0-0 draw with Sevilla, Gonzalo Higuain’s second half header, which struck the crossbar, their best chance against the three time Europa League winners.Headers from Mario Gotze and Sokratis and a close range tap-in from Marc Bartra had a rampant Borussia Dortmund three goals ahead against Legia Warsaw inside 20 minutes as they ran out 6-0 winners in Poland. Raphael Guerreiro added a fourth early in the second half after Ousmane Dembele’s blocked shot fell kindly to him in front of goal before substitute Gonzalo Castro and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completed the rout late on.CSKA Moscow fought back from two goals down to earn an unlikely 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. The Bundesliga side controlled the opening exchanges, and took a two-goal lead through Admir Mehmedi and Hakan Calhanoglu inside the opening 15 minutes, but against the run of play Alan Dzagoev and Roman Eremenko pulled the Russian champions level and earned a point.In the other game in Leicester’s group, Porto were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man FC Copenhagen. Andreas Cornelius pulled Copenhagen level on 52 minutes after they had fallen behind to Otavio’s 13th-minute strike for Porto, before Jan Gregus was dismissed for a second bookable offence. That draw leaves Leicester top of Group G.Goals from Corentin Tolisso, Jordan Ferri and Maxwel Cornet gave Lyon a convincing 3-0 win against Dinamo Zagr 

Riyad Mahrez up and running as Leicester enjoy dream UCL debut

Leicester City put in a near-perfect performance to beat Club Brugge 3-0 in their Champions League debut on Wednesday night. The Foxes were ruthless and arguably still had a gear to go up. On this evidence they will have no problems getting out of Group G.

Positives

Riyad Mahrez’s brace could kickstart his season. The Algerian looked far more like his old self, even if he is yet to score from open play this term. It was also encouraging to see the Algerian link up effectively with international teammate Islam Slimani. The fact Porto were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Copenhagen was a welcome bonus, too.

Negatives

The game could have been different had Jose Izquierdo handed Brugge a 1-0 lead after just a few minutes. City must use that scare as a warning in order to stay grounded. There is no room for complacency in the Champions League even if City probably only need to win the return leg against Brugge plus one victory from the two games with Copenhagen to reach the round of 16.

Manager rating: 10

9 — Claudio Ranieri got his tactics spot on. He was forced to replace the injured Danny Simpson with Luis Hernandez and the latter used his long throw to set up Marc Albrighton for the opening goal — Leicester’s first in Europe since Muzzy Izzet scored against Red Star Belgrade in 2000.

The decision to keep Daniel Amartey in the starting XI instead of Andy King could have backfired, but the Ghanaian rewarded his manager’s faith. Ranieri also played a master stroke before a ball was even kicked, claiming it is “impossible” for Leicester to win the Champions League even though the Foxes are just 50-1 shots. Saying so alleviated any pressure on his squad.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Kasper Schmeichel, 7 — Barely had a save to make, although was a bit fortunate to keep a clean sheet after Izquierdo missed an early sitter and hit the post late on. Important not to concede after shipping four against Liverpool at the weekend.

DF Luis Hernandez, 8 — Replaced the injured Simpson and provided the assist for Albrighton’s opener courtesy of his trademark long throw. Pace of the game definitely suited the Spaniard.

DF Robert Huth, 8 — Never troubled at the back and unlucky not to score from a header in the second half.

DF Wes Morgan, 7 — Didn’t have much to do, but will go down in history as Leicester’s first ever captain to win a Champions League game.

DF Christian Fuchs, 7 — Flawless at the back and was given far more license to charge forwards than in the Premier League thus far.

MF Riyad Mahrez, 10 — Back to his very best. Totally controlled the game. Scored a wonderful free kick and finally converted from the penalty spot, too, after a series of woes from 12 yards.

MF Danny Drinkwater, 9 — Solid and at times a touch audacious. Hit the target with a long range free kick and saw a spectacular dipping volley fizz just over. Given a touch more freedom and proved he is far more than just a defensive midfielder.

MF Daniel Almartey, 7 — Responded well after a sluggish shift at Liverpool. If anything, he may prove more of a threat in the Champions League than the Premier League.

MF Marc Albrighton, 8 — Has the honour of scoring Leicester’s first ever Champions League goal after lingering in the area and taking a gamble at the back post.

FW Islam Slimani, 7 — Still finding his feet, but Leicester’s record signing showed flashes of flair and held the ball up well. Clearly has a strong understanding with Mahrez, who he set up for a curling shot that was deflected just wide. However, there remain question marks over his temperament, as illustrated by his needless shove on Bjorn Engels.

FW Jamie Vardy, 8 — His pace caused havoc against a slow Brugge backline. Won the penalty which Mahrez scored after being fouled when clean through. Now looks totally match fit.

Substitutes:

MF Demarai Gray, N/R — Great experience for the youngster to get a few minutes. Will only help with his development.

FW Ahmed Musa, N/R — Came on when the game was safe. Slimani’s arrival may mean he has to get used to cameos from the bench.

FW Leonardo Ulloa, 7 — Held up the ball well and shrewdly wound down the clock towards the end.

U.S. Hot List: Jozy Altidore in best form of his career, Julian Green cools down

There are several ways to figure out what Jurgen Klinsmann is thinking at any given time when it comes to the state of the national team player pool. The most telling is watching who the coach does (and does not) call in for games and how he uses players during international breaks. Actions speak louder than words, of course.But occasionally, the coach speaks and offers genuine insight into how he views his various options.That was the case on Monday afternoon, when Klinsmann conducted a live Facebook chat with U.S. fans. As is often the case, the supporters’ questions tended to concern individual players. “Here and there you can ask about different topics as well,” Klinsmann joked, but the answers to those others offered real clues about how the Americans will approach October’s exhibitions at Cuba and against New Zealand in Washington, D.C. — the last tune-up games before the final round of World Cup qualifying begins with a visit from archrival Mexico.”Going forward we’re trying to still integrate more talent into our pool, still see what youngsters are coming through to challenge the older ones,” Klinsmann said. “We have two friendlies coming up, big friendlies for us. It gives us a last opportunity to test things out before we hit Mexico on Nov. 11.”Based on his comments and their play with their clubs, here are 11 guys who may or may not be in the mix.

Warming up

Jozy Altidore, F, Toronto FC (MLS)

Why he’s here: With nine goals in his last 10 games for club and country, the 26-year-old is quite simply in the best form of his career right now.What this means: “Jozy, if he is healthy, if he is fit, if he has confidence, he’s a difference-maker,” Klinsmann said, adding that he’s confident that the hamstring injuries that have plagued Altidore in recent years are a thing of the past. “He still so young. Hopefully he stays healthy. We need him in top shape.”

Paul Arriola, M/F, Club Tijuana (Mexico)

Why he’s here: Arriola scored off the bench in last week’s 4-0 rout of Trinidad and Tobago in Jacksonville, Florida, giving the 21-year-old San Diego-area product two goals in two U.S. games.What this means: Arriola still has to establish himself with Xolos — he’s been used exclusively as a substitute this season after winning a starting job last spring — but he clearly impressed with the U.S., and not just during the game. “Arriola stuck out for me in training all week,” teammate Sacha Kljestan said in Florida. “He works his butt off.”

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

Why he’s here: Birnbaum started and played well against the Soca Warriors, then returned to United and scored a huge goal in Sunday’s 2-2 tie against the New York Red Bulls at Red Bull Arena.What this means: The Americans’ depth at center-back could make it hard for Birnbaum to keep his place when Matt Besler and John Brooks are available (both missed the T&T game), but Birnbaum remains ahead of Liga MX-based Omar Gonzalez on the U.S. depth chart.

Aron Johannsson, F, Werder Bremen (Germany)

Why he’s here: The Icelandic-American missed almost a year with a hip injury, but he has started both of Bremen’s first two games of the Bundesliga season and scored from the spot on Sunday in Bremen’s 2-1 loss to Augsburg.What this means: Johannsson is just a couple of matches into the new campaign, and it sounds like Klinsmann has an eye on the striker not for next month, but for the Hex itself. “He’s not at 90 minutes (fit) yet,” Klinsmann said of the 25-year-old. “We need to be patient with Aron for a little bit. Hopefully soon we have him back. If that will be already the games against Cuba and New Zealand, that’s questionable.”

Lynden Gooch, M, Sunderland (England)

Why he’s here: Gooch is still looking for his first senior cap, but he started Sunderland’s first three games of the Premier League season and he was right back in David Moyes’ XI following the international break, going 56 minutes in Monday’s 3-0 loss to Everton.What this means: The 20-year-old will be in the coach’s plans if he keeps playing. Klinsmann called the Californian recently. “He just said well done for what I achieved and just told me to keep working hard and make sure I stay in the team,” Gooch told Men in Blazers.

Sacha Kljestan, M, New York Red Bulls (MLS)

Why he’s here: With two goals and two assists in two games for the U.S. following his surprise recall, the MLS assists leader sealed his spot in next month’s camp.What this means: “He matured,” Klinsmann said of Kljestan, who went more than two years between international invites. “Sacha definitely took his chance in these two World Cup Qualifiers and made a strong case. I told him see you back in October.”

Timmy Chandler, D, Eintracht Frankfurt (Germany)

Why he’s here: The German-American made the Copa America Centenario roster in June before having to withdraw through injury, and he has started his hometown team’s first two games of the season at right-back.What this means: Some U.S. fans love to hate on the 26-year-old. But Chandler’s pedigree, age and — most crucially — his position will keep him in the mix. “Where we’re lacking is definitely full-backs, left-backs and right-backs that are natural in that position,” Klinsmann said. “He’s another player that we’re looking at.”

Cooling down

Julian Green, F, Bayern Munich (Germany)

Why he’s here: The 21-year-old dressed but was an unused substitute in both of Bayern’s first two Bundesliga games.What this means: It’s hard to see Klinsmann calling Green in next month if nothing changes. Answering a question about Green and Arsenal prospect Gedion Zelalem, the coach said this: “They are not seeing any minutes with their club teams, so it’s really difficult to bring them into the senior environment right now.”

Clint Dempsey, F, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Why he’s here: The national team’s second career leading scorer remains sidelined indefinitely because of an irregular heartbeat.What this means: Three weeks since news about Dempsey’s condition first broke, there has been no update about his potential return. “I’m in touch with Clint,” Klinsmann said. “I can only say from our end that we hope to have him back as soon as possible.”

Brad Guzan, G, Middlesbrough (England)

Why he’s here: He started two league games for Boro while ex-Barcelona and Manchester United keeper Victor Valdes was injured and played well. But with Valdes back, Guzan returned to coach Aitor Karanka’s bench for Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Crystal Palace.What this means: With U.S. teammate Tim Howard playing every week for the Colorado Rapids, Guzan might need to oust Valdes over the next eight weeks to earn the start against El Tri.

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

Why he’s here: The hard-running and versatile attacker is out until November with a broken foot, and others — including a certain touted teenager — are gunning for his spot in the lineup.What this means: “It’s a bummer for Gyasi because over the last two years he’s been big for us,” Klinsmann said. “We’d love to have more alternatives in midfield on the wing, especially with Zardes out for a little bit. With Christian Pulisic, I think we found a kid that gives us a huge option now.”Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

Heather O’Reilly, Megan Rapinoe share spotlight in U.S. Ladies rout

By Graham Hays | Sep 16, 2016    Heather O’Reilly subbed off for final time

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Thursday night’s game between the United States and Thailand was a great many things. Heck, it was a lot of things before the actual game was five minutes old.The first mile on the road to France and the 2019 World Cup?Not so much. On a night when the United States beat Thailand 9-0, when Carli Lloyd tallied three goals and four assists, the game was about two people. And Lloyd wasn’t one of them.One was celebrated as she stood alone in a national team uniform for the final time.One was watched as she knelt on the ground, surrounded but solitary, before the game.Thursday was about Heather O’Reilly becoming part of the team’s past after her final game and Megan Rapinoe stoking controversy in the present by kneeling during “The Star-Spangled Banner” for the first time while wearing a national team uniform.Neither has much to do with what happens across the Atlantic Ocean in three years.”The most important thing for me is Heather O’Reilly having a fitting send-off game,” U.S. coach Jill Ellis said. “That was the most important thing, in terms of with the team internally, externally, what we tried to do and how we honored her. That was the priority.”On a different night, really any other night, O’Reilly would have had the spotlight to herself. This was the antithesis of that laborious game in New Orleans last December when the United States tried and tried to send off Abby Wambach with a goal and instead lost to China.In the minutes before the game, O’Reilly blasted the ball into the top of the goal during a shooting drill. Starting and wearing the captain’s armband in the last of her 231 appearances for the national team, O’Reilly appeared more than ready to go out as more than a ceremonial figure.Less than 60 seconds into the game, she got to the end line and delivered a cross — of course she did — that Lloyd finished for the opening goal. For someone with more assists than all but five women in the team’s history, it was a fitting way to exit. Except O’Reilly wasn’t done. In the fifth minute, Christen Press having already extended the lead to two goals in the intervening seconds, Lloyd returned the favor and set up O’Reilly for her first international goal in nearly a year. She nearly poached another goal, chasing a Tobin Heath goal into the net, relentless effort that in its own way summed up the player.

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Even a final act that Ellis made sound like something of an audible proved perfect. When the United States made its sixth and final substitution in the second half and O’Reilly stayed on the field, it seemed she wouldn’t get the typical farewell curtain call. But with only a handful of minutes remaining, Ellis got approval from the referees to make a unique move.Up went the fourth official’s electronic board with O’Reilly’s No. 9 as the departing player. But where the number of her replacement would have been, there was nothing. O’Reilly walked off alone, and the United States played the final minutes with 10 players on the field.”I thought it was just fitting that she get a standing ovation, a moment to herself in this game,” Ellis said. “I just felt she needed that singular moment to be acknowledged and recognized by everyone.”Left unsaid was that it was a night when singular moments were difficult to come by. O’Reilly was honored on the field before the game in a ceremony that included Mia Hamm, a fellow North Carolina Tar Heel and former national teammate when O’Reilly first appeared as a high schooler. But that felt like prelude to the national anthem that followed. After saying Wednesday that she wasn’t sure if she would stand or kneel, Rapinoe made her choice.If you hadn’t been looking, you might not even have noticed her flanked by the other bench players who remained standing. But, of course, everyone was looking. The day after a police shooting in Columbus in which a 13-year-old African-American boy was killed after reportedly pulling what proved to be a realistic looking BB gun from his waistband, Rapinoe knelt.”I never felt like it was wrong in the first place,” Rapinoe said of her decision. “I never felt it was disrespectful. I felt very convicted in Chicago that night when I took that knee for the first time. And I think that I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make everybody happy. That’s not possible. I truly believe in what I’m doing and the things that I’m saying and the need for this conversation to happen, especially in light of what happened last night in this city.”I think, ultimately, I know I can sleep at night with the decision that I made.”What some people heard as a single voice shouting “Stand up Pinoe” was the only audible response, although it later sounded as if some boos greeted Rapinoe when she took the field in the second half.Ellis made clear the day before the game her belief that national team duty conveys a responsibility to stand for the anthem. In a statement released during the game, U.S. Soccer expressed an almost identical stance. But Rapinoe said no one asked her to stand for the anthem and the statement made no mention of potential sanctions. Ellis, too, said she didn’t consider not playing Rapinoe. But she also left room to suggest that isn’t permanent.”I think for me and who I am, I’ve given this a lot of thought and a lot of contemplation,” Ellis said. “And I think tonight I was not going to get caught up in an emotional response in the moment. I’m pretty measured in everything I do, and certainly even to the game plan was measured in minutes and that was factored in, including Megan. I think that’s just how I am.”Now it’s continued conversations and thoughts on my part and probably with the federation.”

I never felt it was disrespectful. … I think that I’ve been trying to figure out a way to make everybody happy. That’s not possible. I truly believe in what I’m doing and the things that I’m saying and the need for this conversation to happen …

Megan Rapinoe on kneeling

It took until now to even mention that the United States played the game without Hope Solo in goal, a situation that will be so for at least the next six months. Then again, it took until the 34th minute for the crowd to get a chance to cheer starting goalkeeper Ashlyn Harris in her first appearance for the national team in more than a year, when a teammate played a ball back to her. But for a second-half sequence in which Thailand nearly scored a goal, replays suggesting Kelley O’Hara’s goal-line clearance was either perfect timing or an advertisement for goal-line technology, the defensive half of the field was an afterthought for the Americans.Of course, except for those that involved O’Reilly, the nine goals they scored at the other end were ultimately an afterthought, too. With apologies to Lloyd’s haul, history will not long remember the final score of the game. It might well remember the rest of the night.This is supposed to be the doldrums of women’s international soccer for North American teams. The United States won’t play another meaningful game until 2018. But when nine goals and Solo’s absence don’t even make the top of the page, these are interesting times.So it was left to O’Reilly, who half-jokingly confirmed she was still sure about international retirement in the wake of such a strong performance, to offer her final words as a member of the national team not about the celebration but the latest controversy.”She did talk to the team, that she was thinking about doing that,” O’Reilly said of Rapinoe. “And we know, obviously, why she is doing that — because she loves this country and she wants to see change and that’s how she feels, in her heart, that she’s demonstrating it.”We will eventually start down the road to France. It just didn’t happen Thursday night.Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs Miami FC   Saturday, September 17, 2016 – 7:30 p.m. ET   IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN

Watch/Listen Live:Local TV: WISH-TV

Indy Eleven:Fall Season: 6W-3D-5L, 21 pts, 4th place // Combined Season: 10W-9D-5L, 39 pts., 3rd place

Miami FC: Fall Season: 7W-4D-2L, 25 pts, 2nd place // Combined Season: 8W-8D-7L, 32 pts, 5th place

Click here for the complete NASL Fall Season standings

Last Time Out – Fort Lauderdale Strikers 2 : 1 Indy Eleven

The “Boys in Blue” fell to the Fort Lauderdale Strikers last Saturday at Central Broward Stadium in a scrappy match that finished 2-1. Though Indy had a few chances early on, it was the Strikers who got on the board first through Paulo Jr. In the 19th minute. The Brazilian raced forward on a counterattack and used his pace to streak down the wing and into the box, where he beat Eleven ‘keeper Jon Busch low to his right-hand side. The 1-0 scoreline would remain the same through halftime as Indy pressed back but could not find an equalizer.Just after 20 minutes of action in the second period, the Strikers would take advantage of dispossession in the center of the park, and attacking weapon Maicon Santos would tally past a stretched Indy backline to increase the host’s lead. The Boys in Blue continued to pressure the Fort Lauderdale goal as the match wore on, but it wasn’t until the 88th minute when they found the back of the net. Defender Lovel Palmer stood on the right wing and whipped in a perfectly weighted cross that met the head of forward Justin Braun, and the American buried it from close range to make it a contest.Ultimately, the Eleven could not find a last-gasp equalizer and fell in the Sunshine State to drop to fourth place in the Fall Season – but remain in third place in the Combined Season standings.

Home Sweet Home

The team returning to Carroll Stadium on Saturday means one thing – another chance to defend the fortress that has been #TheMike in 2016. The “Boys in Blue” were unable to break down the Tampa Bay Rowdies in their last home, but that draw followed eight straight home wins dating back to the 4-2 win over Minnesota United FC on May 21. If you can’t remember the last time Indy Eleven lost on the IUPUI campus it is for good reason – Indiana’s Team will carry a 14-game home unbeaten stretch with it into Saturday’s game, dating back to last October. With the home crowd behind them, Indy Eleven has been unbeatable (seriously) and will now look to continue that momentum against a Miami FC side that has earned some impressive results in recent weeks.

Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: FW Eamon Zayed

One of many to watch on Saturday night, Zayed has not scored since the loss at Carolina on August 20 but remains one of the team’s biggest threats going forward. Alongside Justin Braun, the Irish striker has a knack for goal that has earned him the nickname “El Raton” from head coach Tim Hankinson, like “the rat that chases his cheese.”In training, Zayed has been transitioning seamlessly with his striking partner and working hard to connect with the midfield in an attempt to get himself more space from the defense – and it has worked. A true poaching forward, look for Indy’s No.9 to put himself in position to get back on the scoresheet when Miami FC comes to town.

Who to Watch, Miami FC edition: FW Dario Cvitanich

The name to know from the visiting side Saturday is forward Dario Cvitanich, who took just one minute to score against Carolina Railhawks FC midweek in their 1-0 home win.Cvitanich has nine goals and four assists in 21 appearances for Miami FC and has scored in all three of their matches in the month of September, all of which they won. The Argentine will be ahead of midfielder Poku, who showed his capacity as a dangerous midfielder in the last meeting with Indy Eleven, and will look to pounce in the same fashion that saw him score in the 2-1 win at the end of July. Indy’s backline will have to keep their eyes on that pair, and Cvitanich specifically, as they look to limit scoring chances in their return home.
Match-up to Mark: MF Poku vs. MF Gerardo Torrado

Two extremely impactful midfielders are at the center of Saturday’s match when former NYCFC midfielder Poku lines up against Mexico legend and a staple in Indy’s starting XI in Gerardo Torrado.With five goals and one assist in 12 appearances in 2016, Poku acts as Miami’s No.10 with an attacking presence that his marginally increased in the Fall Season. The Ghanaian midfielder is one of many engines in the visiting side that will look to both create and finish chances in front of the Indy net, but will have to get past Torrado in order to do so.Arriving in the Fall Season, Gerardo Torrado has yet to register a goal or assist in 11 appearances but plays an incredibly important role in the fluidity of the midfield. Winning 19 of 21 tackles, tallying 22 interceptions, and completing over 80% of his passes, nearly 40% of which have gone forward, the former Cruz Azul man will be tasked with acting as a roadblock between the Miami FC midfield and attack on Saturday.

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Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

 

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9/12/16 Champions League Tues/Wed 2:45 pm on Fox Sports Networks/ESPN2, Indy 11 Home Sat vs Miami, US Open Cup Tues, CHS Senior Night Tues Night, Guerin Pack the House Night Tues Night

If you didn’t watch Borrusia Dortmund vs  Legia Warsaw — Watch it now — US National 17 year old Christian Pulisic not only played but he started and had an assist!!!  Hi lights show 9:30 till 10:30 pm on Fox Soccer Channel and again on FS2 2 to 3 am Thurs AM.

The Wrap-up of Champions League Day 1 (second day)

Dortmund Hi-Lights 6-0 – Christian Pulisic starts and has assist

Real Madrid Score Twice Late to Survive vs Sporting CP

EPL Champ Leicester City crush Brugge 3-0 in first UCL Game

Tottenham loses at Wimbley to Monaco

Real Madrid get late win, Leicester and Manchester City win in UCL

Late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Alvaro Morata earned Real Madrid a comeback 2-1 win against Sporting Lisbon at the Bernabeu.Bruno Cesar had put Sporting into a 48th-minute lead with a low curling effort but the holders left it late, first Ronaldo scoring a free kick in the final minute of normal time before Morata headed home in the fourth minute of added time to earn Los Blancos all three points.Leicester City began their debut Champions League campaign with a bang, running out 3-0 winners against Club Brugge in Group G.Marc Albrighton took advantage of a defensive mix-up to score from close range on five minutes and Riyad Mahrez doubled the Foxes’ advantage, in front of a below-capacity stadium, with a 28th-minute free kick.Mahrez added a third from the spot in the 61st-minute after Jamie Vardy was fouled by Brugge goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle.Manchester City kept up their perfect start to the season and began their Champions League campaign with a win, at the second attempt, by beatingBorussia Monchengladbach 4-0 at the Etihad Stadium courtesy of a Sergio Aguero hat trick.Aguero turned in a low cross from Aleksandar Kolarov after eight minutes, added a 28th-minute penalty when debutant Ilkay Gundogan was fouled, and completed his treble on 77 minutes when Raheem Sterling’s through-ball allowed him to round Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer and tap in.Kelechi Iheanacho came off the bench to add a late fourth. That result puts City second in Group C, behind Barcelona on goal difference.It wasn’t a good start for Tottenham Hotspur at Wembley on their Champions League return, however, as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat againstAS Monaco.Bernardo Silva had the Ligue 1 side in front on 15 minutes before Thomas Lemar added a 31st-minute second. Toby Alderweireld pulled one back for Spurs on 45 minutes with a header from a cornerJuventus played out a frustrating 0-0 draw with Sevilla, Gonzalo Higuain’s second half header, which struck the crossbar, their best chance against the three time Europa League winners.Headers from Mario Gotze and Sokratis and a close range tap-in from Marc Bartra had a rampant Borussia Dortmund three goals ahead against Legia Warsaw inside 20 minutes as they ran out 6-0 winners in Poland. Raphael Guerreiro added a fourth early in the second half after Ousmane Dembele’s blocked shot fell kindly to him in front of goal before substitute Gonzalo Castro and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang completed the rout late on.CSKA Moscow fought back from two goals down to earn an unlikely 2-2 draw against Bayer Leverkusen. The Bundesliga side controlled the opening exchanges, and took a two-goal lead through Admir Mehmedi and Hakan Calhanoglu inside the opening 15 minutes, but against the run of play Alan Dzagoev and Roman Eremenko pulled the Russian champions level and earned a point.In the other game in Leicester’s group, Porto were held to a 1-1 draw by 10-man FC Copenhagen. Andreas Cornelius pulled Copenhagen level on 52 minutes after they had fallen behind to Otavio’s 13th-minute strike for Porto, before Jan Gregus was dismissed for a second bookable offence. That draw leaves Leicester top of Group G.Goals from Corentin Tolisso, Jordan Ferri and Maxwel Cornet gave Lyon a convincing 3-0 win against Dinamo Zagreb in France.

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=So Champion’s League Group Play gets underway this Tues/Wed as the top teams in Europe begin the quest for the ultimate Team Prize – the EUFA Champions League Title.   Anyone want to grab a late lunch with the games Tues or Wed let me know!!  Huge games for Arsenal Tues on Fox Sports 2 as they host their UCL nemisis PSG, while Man City host US Winger Fabian Johnson of Borussia M’Gladbach on Fox Sports Indiana as they open their campaigns at home.  Also Tues night 10 pm on ESPN 2  its the US Open Cup Final as NE takes on Dallas FC and former Carmel High star Matt Hedges.  On Wednesday Juve hosts Sevilla 2:45 pm on ESPN 2, while Tottenham host Monaco on FS Ind and Leicester City travels for their firsts ever UCL game at Club Brugge (Belgium) on Fox Soccer Channel.  The big game of the weekend overseas was of course the Manchester Derby and oh it did not disappoint!!  The huge match-up was EPIC as Man City and coach Pep G. showed their class with a masterful first half performance that put them up 2-1 at Old Trafford as they dominated possession 70-30.  Not to disappoint however – the self appointed – Special One Man U’s Jose Mourino changed tactics in the 2nd half and had the boys in Red in charge with nearly a 65-35 possesion time dominance and 3 times as many shots on goal.  Man U couldn’t find the equalizer however despite new Goalie Claudio Bravo’s many gaffs.  Great game, great atmosphere on Sat early morning on NBCSports Network.  Friday Chelsea hosts Liverpool in the only decent game of the weekend in the EPL at 2:30 on NBCSN, while in Italy Juve hosts Inter Sunday 12 noon on beIN Sports.

The Indy 11 return home Saturday in a desperate search for a win vs Miami at 7:30 pm at The MIKE!  The 11’s last win was at home nearly a month ago but they still stand in 4th place overall in the NASL standings with 21 pts.  They host Octoberfest this Saturday night with beer specials galore get your tickets today!

 LOCAL HIGH SCHOOL

The 5th ranked Carmel High School boys team is hosting Senior Night this Tues, Sep 13th – 7:00pm Murray Stadium.  We have 2 former and 1 current Senior on the Squad – Max Toubin is a current U18/19 player and Reese McDaniel and Matthew Skor are former CFC’ers.

Guerin High School is hosting their Pack the House night this Tuesday night, Sept 13 at Grand Park on Field 1 – the Championship Field Jv at 5:30, Varsity at 7pm. FREE Admission for Carmel FC and CDC kids and parents, prizes, contests and more. CFC has many former and current players on the JV and 9th grade teams and these 9 on Varsity: Cooper Fetters, Julian Tessarzyk, PJ Grocki, Matt Quinn, Scott Corman, Logan Bedford, Noah DeWaal, Jack Hagle, and Patrick Koehl.

The 2nd Ranked Carmel High Girls – host Teacher Appreciation Night tonight at Murray Stadium vs North Central with 5 pm Coach Carla Baker’s JV and 7 pm Varsity.

9_11_u11_girls

Coach Andy Martin (a former Captain in the Army who served in Kuwait, and West Point Grad) was proud of his U-11 girls displaying the Flag at their Sunday game on 9/11.  Mighty proud ladies and Coach!!

GAMES OF THE WEEK 

 Tues  Sept 13                                         Champions League Group Stage Starts 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                       Arsenal @ PSG                                  home date for Arsenal

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Celtic @ Barcelona

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana         Man City vs Borussia M’gladbach – US Winger Fabian                                                                        Johnson travels to Man City in the group of death

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Bayern Munich vs Rostov

10 pm   ESPN2   Dallas vs New England – US Open Cup FINAL – see who takes home US                                                                               club team top hardware-like the FA Cup in England

Wed Sept 14

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Juventus vs Sevilla

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                       Real Madrid vs Sporting CP

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana        Tottenham vs Monaco –The Spurs host their 1st                                                                                                                                    game at Whiteheart Lane

2:45 pm Fox Soccer Plus               Club Brugge vs LEICESTER CITY  – the Foxes travel for                                                                                  their 1st ever UCL game ! Go Foxes!!

Thurs, Sept 15

8 pm ESPN 2                          US Ladies vs Thailand

Fri, Sept 16                                              

3 pm NBCSN      Chelsea vs Liverpool   – weird to have this huge game on a Friday with no                                                                                  decent games on the Sat/Sun–tape it to watch

Champions League

5 Must See Games in Group Stages – eSPN FC

Which 16 Teams will make it out of Group Stages – NBC Sports

Vote Best 11 in UCL

32 players you must watch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INDY 11

Indy 11 lose 2-1 to Ft. Lauderdale

OctoberFest Celebration for Sat Night home Game

USA 

US Women Host Free Practice Session at Columbus Crew Stadium Wed followed by Game Thurs Eve

US Open Cup final Pits FC Dallas vs New England Revs

Game notes for Tuesday Night – US Open Cup Final on ESPN 2

More GAMES ON TV

Mon, Sept 12

3 pm NBCSN                                           Sunderland vs Everton

Tues  Sept 13                                         Champions League Group Stage Starts 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                       Arsenal @ PSG                                   

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Celtic @ Barcelona

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana         Man City vs Borussia M’gladbach

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Bayern Munich vs Rostov

2:45 pm ESPN Desporte                 PSV vs Atletico Madrid

10 pm   ESPN2                                      Dallas vs New England – US Open Cup

Wed Sept 14                                                                 

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Juventus vs Sevilla

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                       Real Madrid vs Sporting CP

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana        Tottenham vs Monaco

2:45 pm Fox Soccer Plus               Club Brugge vs LEICESTER CITY

Thurs, Sept 15

1 pm Fox Sport 1                                Feyernord vs Man United

3 pm Fox Soccer Plus                      Inter vs Hapoel Sheva

8 pm ESPN                            US Ladies vs Thailand

Fri, Sept 16                                              

3 pm NBCSN                                           Chelsea vs Liverpool

Sat, Sept 17

7 am beIn Sports                                 Barcelona vs Leganes

7:30 am NBCSN                                    Hull City vs Arsenal

9:30 am Fox Sports 1                       Buyern Munich vs Ingolstadt

9:30 am Fox Sports 2                       Dortmund vs Darmdstadt

10 am NBCSN                                        Man City vs Bournemouth, Leceister City vs Burnley,

12:30 pm NBC                                      Everton vs Middlesborough

12:30 pm Fox Soccer +                  Borussia Mgladbach vs Werder Bremen                                                    

7:30 pm YES                                           NYCFC vs Dallas

7:30 pm TV 8, GolTV   Indy 11 host Miami

Sun, Sat 18

7 am CNBC                                               Watford vs Man United

9:15 am NBCSN                                    Crystal Palace vs Stoke City

9:30 am FS1                                            Augsburg vs Mainz

9:30 am Fox Soccer Plus                Ingolstadt vs Hertha BSC

9:30 am Fox Sports 2                                               Freiburg vs Borussia M’Gladbach

11:30 am NBCSN                                 Tottenham vs Sunderland

12 noon beIN Sports                                                Inter vs Juventus                                 

11:30 am FS 2                                       Hertha vs Schalke 

2 pm FS 1                                                                         LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC

2:45 pm beIN Sport                                                  Espanyol vs Real Madrid

5 pm FS 2                                                                         Toronto vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm FS 1                              US Women vs Netherlands

Sept 27

Man City @ Celtic

Bayern Munich @ Athletico Madrid

Sept 28

Real Madrid @ Dortmund

Porto @ Leicester City

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

Indy Eleven’s Comeback Bid Falls Short in 1-2 Loss at Fort Lauderdale-Justin Braun’s Fifth Goal of the Season Not Enough to Help Indiana’s Team Earn Road Result
(Saturday, September 10, 2016) – Indy Eleven saw a late comeback bid fall short, as forward Justin Braun’s 88th minute tally could only bring things close in an eventual 1-2 defeat at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers at Central Broward Stadium. Fort Lauderdale used goals from Brazilian forwards Paulo Junior and Maicon Santos on either side of halftime to build a lead that proved insurmountable, keeping Indy Eleven winless on the road in seven Fall Season attempts.STATS: Get detailed Opta statistics from #FTLvIND via the NASL MatchCenter

Paulo Jr. would see the game’s first quality look just four minutes in when a ball found him with ample space in the right side of the area, but his rushed shot would miss just high and wide of goal. He would make up for that miss in the 19th minute, when he finished a lengthy run down the right flank with a shot that beat Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch low and inside the far left post to give the home side the early 1-0 advantage.Despite several dangerous crosses and set pieces earned throughout the first half, Indy Eleven couldn’t scratch across a goal. Midfielder Gerardo Torrado’s volleyed attempt in the 14th minute marked the visitors’ best chance until the 37th minute, when midfielder Don Smart’s crafty chip was batted away by Strikers netminder Bruno at the near left post.Paulo Jr. nearly had his second of the night in the 42nd minute when he danced past a defender and into the area to snap off a shot from 10 yards, but Busch did well to knock away the chance with two hands. A minute later Maicon Santos saw a header ring off the crossbar and bounce off the goalline, but the shot was nullified anyway when the offside flag went up on the dead ball opportunity. Indy Eleven looked to have scored a last gasp goal in first half stoppage time when Lovel Palmer got a head on Nemanja Vukovic’s set piece delivery, but it too was whistled dead for offside.The second half would take some time to heat up, but quality chances would come from both sides around the hour mark, first from the Strikers when a cross found Ramon Nunez unmarked at the far post, but the Honduran would push his header from five yards out wide. A minute later Indy’s best chance from the run of play on the evening would end with substitute Duke Lacroix running onto Eamon Zayed’s low ball played across the area, only to sky the chance from the edge of the six.That would leave the door open for the home side to double the advantage, and it would do just that through Maicon Santos in the 67th minute. With the Indy backline stretched, Santos was able to carry 20 yards into the left side of the Eleven area before cutting inside and firing a low shot inside the far right post, giving Busch no chance and extending the Fort Lauderdale lead to 2-0.Braun had a great chance to cut the lead in half in the 72nd minute after running onto Lacroix’s cross five yards out, but the ball short-hopped the forward, forcing him to pop up the golden opportunity. However, Braun would indeed make things interesting in the late going thanks to his fifth goal of the season, ending well an industrious shift in what was his first start in more than a month since suffering a right MCL strain. Braun’s return to the scoresheet came in the 88th minute, when he nodded home Lovel Palmer’s cross from 10 yards out, cutting the Fort Lauderdale lead in half and setting up a contested finish. However, repeated forays into the final third would be repelled through four minutes of stoppage time, resulting in Indy Eleven’s recent winless streak moving to five games (0W-2D-3L).ndy Eleven returns to IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium next Saturday, Sept. 17, and will look to extend its 14-game home undefeated streak when it welcomes The Miami FC to “The Mike” for the first time. Kickoff that evening is set for 7:30 p.m. (live on WISH-TV and online via ESPN3.com), while the club’s second annual Oktoberfest event will begin at 5:30 p.m. Tickets for that match and the pre-game Oktoberfest celebration are available at IndyEleven.com or by calling 317-685-1100 during regular business hours.
NASL Fall Season
Fort Lauderdale Strikers  2 : 1  Indy Eleven  Saturday, September 10, 2016
Central Broward Stadium – Lauderhill, FL  Attendance: 2,376

Indy Eleven:
Fall Season: 6W-3D-5L, 21 pts.
Overall Season: 10W-9D-5L, 39 pts.

Fort Lauderdale Strikers:
Fall Season: 4W-4D-5L, 16 pts.
Overall Season: 8W-7D-8L, 31 pts.
Scoring Summary:
FTL – Paulo Jr. (Ramon Nunez) 19’
FTL – Maicon Santos  (Paulo Junior) 67’
IND – Justin Braun (Lovel Palmer) 88’
Discipline Summary:
IND – Lovel Palmer (caution) 15’
IND – Brad Ring (caution) 42’
FTL – Ramon Nunez (caution) 52’
IND – Duke Lacroix (caution) 76’
IND – Gerardo Torrado (caution) 84’
FTL – Bruno (caution) 92+’

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch; Nemanja Vuković, Daniel Keller, Colin Falvey (capt), Lovel Palmer; Omar Gordon (Duke Lacroix 57’), Gerardo Torrado, Brad Ring (Dylan Mares 57’), Don Smart (Nicki Paterson 74’); Eamon Zayed, Justin BraunIndy Eleven bench: Keith Cardona (GK), Marco Franco, Neil Shaffer, Souleymane Youla
Fort Lauderdale Strikers (4-3-3): Bruno; Nana Attakora, Julius James, Dalton, Jorge Luis Corrales; Manny Gonzalez (Bryan Arguez 45’), Luis Felipe Fernandes, Ramon Nunez (Adrianinho 70’); Paulo Jr., Jose Angulo, Maicon Santos (Amauri 81’)Strikers bench: Matias Reynares (GK), Geison Moura, Luis Zapata, Victor Pineda

Five must-see UCL group stage games: Barca-Man City, PSG-Arsenal, more

The Champions League is about to get underway again. James Horncastle takes a look at the five matches to look out for in the group stages… 

Paris Saint-Germain vs. Arsenal, Sept. 13

The last time these sides met was so long ago that Arsène Wenger wasn’t even manager of Arsenal. In fact, to find their last encounter you have to cast your mind all the way back to 1994 and a Cup Winners Cup semifinal decided by a Kevin Campbell goal at Highbury. Reunited at the Parc this Tuesday, Wenger, who amusingly confused Croatia’s doctor for Unai Emery while doing a spot of punditry at the Euros, will finally shake hands with the real thing.While the stakes will no doubt be higher at the Emirates in November, this game also comes at a delicate time, particularly for PSG. Emery isn’t done experimenting with the team and the players are still adjusting to his methods. A defeat to Monaco before the international break was followed by a draw to Saint-Étienne on Friday and for all of Emery’s success in the Europa League with Sevilla, he’s never made an impact in the Champions League. The question is: can Arsenal capitalise at a time when PSG are uncertain in what they do and are still in search of new reference points?Zlatan Ibrahimovic is gone although as fans of Inter and Barça will tell you, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Both just so happened to win the Champions League in the year he left them. If anything, it bodes well… 

Juventus vs. Sevilla, Sept. 14

After spending €162 million this summer (and still managing to turn a profit!), the Champions League is where Juventus will be judged this season, starting with Sevilla. The Old Lady has gone all-in to end her two-decade wait for this trophy and Juventus have matured in Europe under Max Allegri, reaching the final two years ago. Since then, and at his specific instruction, they have looked to add skill to the team in the firm belief that technique is what ultimately makes the difference in this competition.Unlucky to go out at the Round of 16 last year after giving Pep Guardiola’s Bayern a real scare, in truth Juventus only had themselves to blame after defeat in Seville meant they finished runners-up in their group. Their old friend Fernando Llorente came back to haunt them on that occasion. Luckily Llorente is now gone, as is Emery, the mastermind of Sevilla’s hat-trick of Europa League wins.Excitingly, though, Jorge Sampaoli has taken his place. This is his first experience in Europe and it will be fascinating to see him pit his wits against Allegri. Both managers have some wonderful talent at their disposal. Monchi, like Beppe Marotta and Fabio Paratici at Juventus, worked wonders again this summer, bringing Paulo Henrique Ganso, Wissam Ben Yedder, Samir Nasri and Paulo Dybala’s old buddy from Palermo, Franco Vazquez, to Andalusia.This game promises to be a classic, particularly with Juventus uncharacteristically leaking goals at the moment and Sevilla playing roller-coaster football.

Atletico Madrid vs. Bayern Munich, Sept. 28

We get a repeat of last season’s enthralling semifinal when Atleti progressed on away goals and denied Guardiola the fairytale ending to his time in Munich and if there’s even a smidgeon of the drama, tension and skill we saw in late April and early May, this clash will be must-watch TV.Carlo Ancelotti returns to the Spanish capital where he famously got the better of Atleti in the Champions League. Real claimed the Decima at their expense in Lisbon and then eliminated them in the quarterfinals the following year. In some respects, however, this is Ancelotti in a nutshell because the story was completely different in La Liga, where Atleti did the double over Real for the first time since 1951 and even trounced them 4-0 at the Calderón.No one in football looks forward to facing Diego Simeone’s side and Ancelotti is no different. However, Bayern will see this as an early opportunity to put last season’s knock-out behind them. Omitted from the starting line-up the first leg, Thomas Müller missed a penalty in the second. He’ll be out for redemption.

Barcelona vs. Manchester City, Oct. 19

Of course this isn’t the first time Pep Guardiola returns to the Camp Nou to sit in the away dug-out. You’ll remember how a little over a year ago, he daringly tried to get Bayern to out-Barça Barça and memorably had Mehdi Benatia, Jerome Boateng and Rafinha man-mark the “MSN.”As brave as it was foolish, Bayern valiantly held out until the 77th minute, Messi then floored Boateng and the floodgates opened. Barça won 3-0 and the lesson for Pep to learn was a simple one: Don’t try and beat Barça at their own game. The trouble is while the Blaugrana have become more direct since Pep left, their game is his game too and he will not compromise on it.For instance, Pep will not ask his Manchester City players to park the bus at the Camp Nou. You will never hear him say: “We didn’t want the ball,” like Jose Mourinho did when Inter prevailed there in 2010. Or set up like Atleti did last season, alternating between a high pressing game and getting everybody behind the ball in a deep block. How Pep approaches this game will be fascinating.

Real Madrid vs. Borussia Dortmund, Dec. 7

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if we were to get to the final Matchday in Group F and this game at the Bernabeu still decided the group winner? Historically there is often high drama when these teams clash in this competition, from the Torfall in 1998 to the Polka poker scored by Robert Lewandowski three years ago. Dortmund reached the final that year and I suppose one of things they they have in common with Real’s neighbours Atleti is that no one ever relishes playing them although for the reasons for that are slightly different.Real coach Zinedine Zidane has bad memories of facing BVB. He was on the losing side in the 1997 final when his Juventus team were beaten by Dortmund. However, all of that is in the past now and he can call upon a very settled side. Alvaro Morata was Real’s only summer signing and he scored in both legs when Juventus eliminated Dortmund from this competition two years ago.Dortmund, by contrast, have changed a lot, losing Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gundogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the summer but adding a number of uber-talented youngsters, the most exciting of which is Ousmane Dembele. Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel has the look and the genius of a charismatic Bond villain. Make no mistake: he will be a formidable opponent for Zidane to out-think. 

Champions League draw yields great matchups, top-heavy groups

BEN LYTTLETONThursday August 25th, SI

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

Group A 

PSG, Arsenal, FC Basel, Ludogorets

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

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

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

Group B 

Benfica, Napoli, Dynamo Kiev, Besiktas

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

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

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

Group C

Barcelona, Manchester City, Borussia Monchengladbach, Celtic

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

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

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

Group D 

Bayern Munich, Atletico Madrid, PSV Eindhoven, Rostov  

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

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

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

Group E 

CSKA Moscow, Bayer Leverkusen, Tottenham, Monaco

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

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

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

Group F 

Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Sporting Lisbon, Legia Warsaw

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

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

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

Group G

Leicester, FC Porto, Club Brugge, FC Copenhagen

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

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

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

Group H 

Juventus, Sevilla, Lyon, Dinamo Zagreb

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

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

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

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

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

Predicted finish

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

Paris Saint-Germain

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

Arsenal

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

FC Basel

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

Ludogorets Razgrad

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

Game of the group:

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

X Factor

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

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

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

Predicted finish

  1. Porto
    Leicester City
    3. Copenhagen
    4.Brugge

Leicester City

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

Porto

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

Club Brugge

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

FC Copenhagen

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

Game of the group: Porto vs. Leicester

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

X Factor

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

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

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

Predicted finish

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

Barcelona

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

Manchester City

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

Borussia Monchengladbach

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

Celtic

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

Game of the group

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

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

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

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

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

X factor

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

Predicted finish

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

 

Bayern Munich

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

Atletico Madrid

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

PSV Eindhoven

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

Rostov

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

Game of the group

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

X Factor

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

Harry Kane can inspire Spurs in Champions League Group E

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

Predicted finish

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

Tottenham

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

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

Bayer Leverkusen

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

Monaco

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

CSKA Moscow

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

Game of the group

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

X factor

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

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

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

Predicted finish

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

Real Madrid

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

Borussia Dortmund

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

Sporting Lisbon

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

Legia Warsaw

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

Game of the group

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

X factor

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

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

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

Predicted finish

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

Bottom of Form

Leicester City

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

Porto

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

Club Brugge

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

FC Copenhagen

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

Game of the group: Porto vs. Leicester

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

X Factor

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

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

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

Predicted finish

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

Juventus

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

Lyon

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

Sevilla

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

Dinamo Zagreb

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

Game of the group

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

X Factor

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

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9/9/16 Manchester Darby Sat 7:30 AM, Landon Donovan Un-Retires for LA Galaxy, US Men Advance to HEX, US Ladies play Thur Eve in Columbus

Ok so big news week in soccer this week – Champions League Group Stage returns next Tues/Wed, the Manchester Darby with Man City and Pep vs Man U and Mourino (the special one) live from Old Trafford at 7:30 am on  NBCSN on Sat – (don’t ask me why this isn’t 12:30 NBC game but what the heck –over 2000 media credentials (almost the same as the last Superbowl) were requested.  Should be a dousy!  Renaldo returns from his knee injury to feature for Real Madrid this Sat and of course the US just qualified for the HEX (the final 6 team/10 game segment that will determine which 4 teams advance to the 2018 World Cup in Russia) – which includes an opening match vs Mexico (possibly in Columbus, Ohio) on Friday night, Nov 11. As for the US – it was great to see Klinsmann finally play some of the kids this past week. FC Dallas man Kellen Acosta was good at left back last weekend, Bobby Wood was solid, as was Morris off the bench.  But that new winger/forward the 17 year old Dortmund sensation Christian Pulisic from Penn showed he is the real deal.  Two goals and an assist on Friday, then an assist and some fantastic shots and overall play vs T+T showed he is not just hype, heck he was the best player on the field Tuesday.  Seriously his long runs with the ball remind me of Landon Donovan except I think he actually passes and moves around the field a little better than Landon especially when he was young.  Exciting to see what Pulisic can do in the future.  Also Altidore was very good up front and the addition of Sasha Kleistian was key – you could argue he made up the most ground this past week.  Of course the US Women host a game at Columbus next Thursday night, Sept 15thtickets are still available to see the ladies play or watch on ESPN at 7:30 pm.

But trumping all of that for me is the UN-RETIREMENT of former US and LA Galaxy superstar Landon Donovan.  He returns to an injury plagued LA Galaxy as they shoot for another MLS Cup.  You can perhaps see Donovan play this Sunday as LA hosts Orlando City on Fox Sports 1 -7 pm on Sunday evening.  Sat at 12:30 on NBCSN Liverpool will host Leciester City in a battle vs last season’s EPL Champ at Anfield, while Sat 7 am has Celtic vs Rangers in Scottish Football action on Fox Sports 1. The Indy 11 are at Ft. Lauderdale Saturday and will be on Tape Delay on beIN Sport at 9 pm.

I will have a Champions League Update on Monday before the huge matches on Tues/Wed which include Arsenal traveling to PSG, Celtic @ Barcelona, Man City hosting Borussian Mgladbach and US mid Fabian Johnson on Tuesday and Juve v Sevilla, Tottenham at home to Monaco and my Foxes of Leciester City traveling to Club Brugge on Wednesday all on the Fox Sports Channels and ESPN.  (see schedule below)   Let me know if anyone wants to gather for a late lunch 2:45 Tuesday or Wednesday for the action!!

 GAMES OF THE WEEK 

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

 Sat, Sept 10

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

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Man United vs Man City – Manchester Darby between the new mega star coaches

12:30 pm NBCSN               Liverpool vs Leicester Citydefending champs head to Anfield for a top 5 battle

9 pm beIN Sports                                Ft. Lauderdale host Indy 11 (tape delay)

Sun, Sept 11

1 pm ESPN                              New York Red Bulls vs DC United

7 pm FS 1                                                LA Galaxy vs Orlando City  – Top 4 teams battle for playoff slots as Landon Donovan returns to face Kaka

Tues  Sept 13                           Champions League Group Stage Starts 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2             Arsenal @ PSG                        

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Celtic @ Barcelona

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana         Man City vs Borussia M’gladbach – US Winger Fabian Johnson travels to Man City in the group of death

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Bayern Munich vs Rostov

10 pm   ESPN2                                      Dallas vs New England – US Open Cup

Wed Sept 14                                                                 

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Juventus vs Sevilla

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                       Real Madrid vs Sporting CP

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana        Tottenham vs Monaco

2:45 pm Fox Soccer Plus               Club Brugge vs LEICESTER CITY

Thurs, Sept 15

8 pm ESPN                            US Ladies vs Thailand

Fri, Sept 16                                              

3 pm NBCSN                           Chelsea vs Liverpool

 WORLD LEAGUES-EPL

Weekend EPL Predictions ESPNFC

Manchester Darby -7:30 am NBCSN

Darby Predictions ESPNFC

Key men in the Battle ESPNFC

Manchester Darby what you need to know

Most Anticipated EPL Match Ever?  SI

Aguero ban hurts Man City vs United

Ibra Needs No Motivation for this game

Huge battle of world class Managers

5 Key Questions

Old Trafford Awaits the matchup with over 2K media requests

What impact will new signing have for the Leciester city Foxes

Gigi Buffon Fan gets awesome Tatto of Gigi

MLS

What to think of Landon’s Stunning Un Retirement – SI – Grant Wahl

Landon Donovan Returns to LA Galaxy from Retirement

Donovan is a Risk Worth Taking for LA  –eSPNFC

Can Donovan Really pull off the Comeback 2 years later?  Stars and Stripes

What to Watch 4 – MLS Weekend – Jason Davis

Landon Return response on Social Media

USA

Klinsy launches the Pulisic Era – Jason Davis

Its OK to feel confident about the US Right now

Tim Howard Sets Record in Win

US Finishes 1st in Group On to the HEX – US Soccer

US Vets amazed by Pulisic Start

Pulisic must Wait for Chance at Dortman – Coach Says

1st Kid and 1st US Goal – Special day for D Matt Bezler

US Paralympic Team Starts Pool Play next week

Fab Johnson in Group of Death in champions League

US Women

Megan Rapinoe named to USWNT Roster for Friendlies next week

Buy tickets for the Game

Below is the USWNT squad in full for GAME NEXT THURS IN COLUMBUS, OHIO

GOALKEEPERS (2): Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars)

DEFENDERS (7): Whitney Engen (Boston Breakers), Julie Johnston (Chicago Red Stars), Meghan Klingenberg (Portland Thorns FC), Ali Krieger (Washington Spirit), Kelley O’Hara (Sky Blue FC), Becky Sauerbrunn (FC Kansas City), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Morgan Brian (Houston Dash), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC), Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC), Carli Lloyd (Houston Dash), Allie Long (Portland Thorns FC), Samantha Mewis (Western New York Flash), Heather O’Reilly (FC Kansas City), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC)

FORWARDS (4): Crystal Dunn (Washington Spirit), Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride), Christen Press (Chicago Red Stars), Mallory Pugh (Real Colorado)

World Cup Qualifying

Mexico has  a Tough Road in the HEX

Mexico lost faith in coach?

Brazil showed in WCQ

Messi scores to help Argentina

Indy 11

Full NASL Table

Indy 11 broadcast changes to 2 hr delay for Indy @ Ft. Lauderdale

New Indy 11 Blog

3 things Indy vs Tampa Bay

Preview of Upcoming Strikers Game

More GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Fri, Sept 9                                                 

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

Sat, Sept 10

7 am FS1                                                 Celtic vs Rangers – Ireland

7:30 am NBCSN                                 Man United vs Man City

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

10 am beIN Sports                   Real Madrid vs Osasuna

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

12:30 pm FS 2                         RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund

12:30 pm NBCSN                   Liverpool s Leicester City

2:30 pm beIn Sports                                Barcelona vs Deportivo

7:30 pm YES                           New England vs NYCFC

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

9 pm beIN Sport                      Futsal World Cup – Colombia vs Portugal

Sun, Sept 11

9:30 am FS1                            Werder Bremen vs Augsburg

9:30 am Fox Soccer Plus         Ingolstadt vs Hertha BSC

9:30 am Fox Sports 2                              Freiburg vs Borussia M’Gladbach

11 am NBCSN                         Swansea vs Chelsea 

11:30 am FS 1                         Mainz 05 vs Hoffenhiem

1 pm ESPN                              New York Red Bulls vs DC United

7 pm FS 1                                                LA Galaxy vs Orlando City

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

Mon, Sept 12

3 pm NBCSN                           Sunderland vs Everton

 Tues  Sept 13                           Champions League Group Stage Starts 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2             Arsenal @ PSG                        

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Celtic @ Barcelona

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana         Man City vs Borussia M’gladbach

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Bayern Munich vs Rostov

2:45 pm ESPN Desporte                 PSV vs Atletico Madrid

10 pm   ESPN2                                      Dallas vs New England – US Open Cup

Wed Sept 14                                                                 

2:45 pm ESPN 2                                   Juventus vs Sevilla

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                       Real Madrid vs Sporting CP

2:45 pm Fox Sports Indiana        Tottenham vs Monaco

2:45 pm Fox Soccer Plus               Club Brugge vs LEICESTER CITY

Thurs, Sept 15

1 pm Fox Sport 1                                Feyernord vs Man United

3 pm Fox Soccer Plus                      Inter vs Hapoel Sheva

8 pm ESPN                            US Ladies vs Thailand

Fri, Sept 16                                              

3 pm NBCSN                           Chelsea vs Liverpool

Sat, Sept 17

7 am beIn Sports                     Barcelona vs Leganes

7:30 am NBCSN                      Hull City vs Arsenal

9:30 am Fox Sports 1              Buyern Munich vs Ingolstadt

9:30 am Fox Sports 2              Dortmund vs Darmdstadt

10 am NBCSN                         Man City vs Bournemouth, Leceister City vs Burnley,

12:30 pm NBC                         Everton vs Middlesborough

12:30 pm Fox Soccer +            Borussia Mgladbach vs Werder Bremen                                 

7:30 pm YES                           NYCFC vs Dallas

7:30 pm TV 8, GolTV Indy 11 host Miami

Sun, Sat 18

7 am CNBC                              Watford vs Man United

9:15 am NBCSN                      Crystal Palace vs Stoke City

9:30 am FS1                            Augsburg vs Mainz

9:30 am Fox Soccer Plus         Ingolstadt vs Hertha BSC

9:30 am Fox Sports 2                              Freiburg vs Borussia M’Gladbach

11:30 am NBCSN                    Tottenham vs Sunderland

12 noon beIN Sports                               Inter vs Juventus                     

11:30 am FS 2                         Hertha vs Schalke 

2 pm FS 1                                                LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC

2:45 pm beIN Sport                                 Espanyol vs Real Madrid

5 pm FS 2                                                Toronto vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm FS 1                             US Women vs Netherlands

Sept 27

Man City @ Celtic

Bayern Munich @ Athletico Madrid

Sept 28

Real Madrid @ Dortmund

Porto @ Leicester City

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

 Landon Donovan has earned the chance to rewrite the end of his storybook career

Goal.com 17 hours ago

After two years away from the game and becoming a father for the first time, Landon Donovan seemed like the last person anyone would expect to decide to lace the boots back up and resume his playing career.What else was there to prove?He walked away from the game as the best to ever play in MLS and is arguably the greatest player in U.S. national team history. He had his MLS Cup titles and MVP trophies, and the league even renamed its MVP award trophy after him. He was supposed to make the transition to television pundit, or coach, or part owner, or whatever else retired superstars decide to do to occupy their time once the playing days are over.Donovan did a little bit of all of those things, but apparently he decided that he still had something left to give on the field . Perhaps he felt some obligation to the LA Galaxy after watching them seemingly fall apart a week ago amid a rash of injuries and the surprising departure of Nigel de Jong. Here was the team he helped transform into the league’s definitive empire showing signs of crumbling, and we can’t forget we’re just two years away from LAFC arriving in the area.You can chalk it up to fate that the Galaxy just happened to have a roster slot available to sign him, thanks to the hasty unloading of De Jong. The timing of the two moves might lead some to believe they were related, but multiple sources have confirmed to Goal USA that De Jong’s departure was in no way driven by or related to Donovan returning, though De Jong’s departure has helped pave the way for Donovan’s serendipitous return.Opening the doors for Donovan’s return is a no-brainer for the Galaxy, who lost Gyasi Zardes for the season to a broken foot and had seen their attack struggle with inconsistency even before his injury. Donovan’s versatility should allow him to slide into any number of positions. And even if he is a step slower, his passing ability and soccer smarts should give the attack a boost.That is, if Donovan is still anywhere close to the player he was when he retired. Donovan went out on top, winning an MLS Cup in 2014 and enjoying a strong final season before retiring. He certainly looked capable of playing at a high level for another couple of years, but now that he has been away for two years, will he be able to shake enough of the rust off to still be an impact player?Perhaps that very question is what is driving Donovan’s second act. It can’t be about trying to win another title or about making more money. It’s probably as simple as being about proving to himself that he can still play at a high level. The fierce competitor in him probably doesn’t need much more.Or maybe, after all the time off and all the other ventures he tried, he missed playing most of all. Luckily for him, he retired at the relatively young age of 32, and at 34 still might have a few more seasons in him. The Galaxy would love nothing more than bringing back such a charismatic figure to help the team on the field as well as off it, where the impending arrival of LAFC must have the Galaxy feeling the heat to solidify its standing in the Los Angeles market.Donovan shed light on the process that led to his decision in a statement he released on Facebook, with wanting to help the Galaxy in their time of need and also wanting to be able to bring his infant son onto the field after a mach he has played in among the motivations.The desire to have his son, born last January, have some part in his playing career makes a world of sense as motivation, and his choice of No. 26 (the date his son was born) shows just how much.Donovan’s return isn’t without risk. He is risking overshadowing, and in some ways ruining, what was by all measures a perfect farewell, winning an MLS Cup in his final match and kissing one final trophy as he rode off into the California sunset. If his return proves to be a struggle and he is nowhere near the player he once was, then the fairytale ending will wind up being replaced by a cautionary tale of another athlete who wound up holding on a bit too long.Donovan made it clear he isn’t worried about that.”I know this won’t be received well by everyone,” Donovan wrote on his Facebook page. “That’s OK. I’ve always made decisions in life based on two guiding principles: my own happiness and the happiness of those I love and care about. Being on the field again, being able to help an organization that has meant so much to me and having my son in my arms after a game will undoubtedly make me and all my loved ones happy. That’s all that matters.”f Donovan isn’t worried about that possibility, then we probably shouldn’t be either. He’s done more than enough in his career to go out on his terms and come back for one more run at glory. That possibility just might be all the motivation Donovan needs. It is certainly enough to make American soccer fans excited about having one more chance to see him play, and one more chance to see him add to his legacy.

Landon Donovan’s comeback is a risk worth taking for injury-hit LA Galaxy

Now that Landon Donovan has come out of retirement to rejoin the LA Galaxy, there is one question: Landon, what took you so long?It always seemed like Donovan retired too soon. When the confetti rained down at StubHub Center on Dec. 7, 2014, his sixth MLS Cup now in his possession, Donovan was only 32 years old. He was physically in good shape, and clearly still one of the best players in MLS.”You don’t retire at 32 unless you have to,” former U.S. international Kasey Keller told ESPN FC via telephone. “You retire from the national team maybe because that’s going to take so much time and energy, so you think, ‘Maybe I just concentrate on my club career.'”But with Donovan, continuing his life as a professional soccer player was never about the legs, or the heart, but the head. Toward the latter part of Donovan’s career, there seemed to be almost a love/hate relationship with his chosen profession, and there was a good reason for this. Donovan admitted to me in an October 2014 interview that prior to the sabbatical he took in early 2013, “I was [depressed], and I was burnt out and getting up and going to training every day was really weighing on me.”For that reason, the long slog that can at times characterize the pro athlete’s existence seemed one that Donovan was willing to leave behind, and since calling it quits he has always looked content with his new life. There was his marriage to Hannah Bartell and the birth of his son, Talon. He seemed to enjoy his broadcasting work and had begun acquiring his coaching licenses.But while players and coaches talk of the grind, there are plenty of things about being a pro soccer player that are missed: the adrenaline rush of game day, the camaraderie of teammates, the roar of the crowd. There are financial incentives as well. The siren call has now proved to be one that not even Donovan could ignore, saying the chance to play in front of his newborn son played a role in his decision to return.So now a different set of questions is being asked. Having taken nearly two seasons off, one can only assume that his head has cleared, his conflicting feelings about being a pro now gone, or at least diminished. But what about the legs? Now 34, how much rust has Donovan accumulated? How will he recover? His return carries with it some risk. There’s a chance, or even a strong likelihood, that Donovan will not be the player that he was.”It’s completely doable,” said Keller. “But I remember there were times when Chris Henderson would do the beep test with [the Seattle Sounders] in preseason and he had been retired for years, and be one of the top finishers in the beep test. But that doesn’t mean he can still play. It’s a different ball game thinking, ‘I’m fit, I watch these guys, and I [coached] the Homegrown Game and I’m better than these guys.’ That may be, but those guys don’t have the expectation of being Landon Donovan or the paycheck of Landon Donovan.”Regardless of how those questions get answered, the risk is still one worth taking for Donovan, and especially the Galaxy. The best-laid plans of manager and GM Bruce Arena haven’t completely gone awry, but through no fault of his own, the season was threatening to go off the rails. Gyasi Zardes will be sidelined for the rest of the regular season with a broken foot. Steven Gerrard is dealing with a hamstring injury. Robbie Keane has played just 13 of the Galaxy’s 28 regular season games. With the injuries piling up, the Galaxy put together a deal in the span of two weeks that now sees Donovan return to the five-time champions of MLS.And if anyone can get Donovan in the frame of mind needed to jump back onto the field, it is Arena. The Galaxy head coach has almost always managed to coax the best out of Donovan, be it with the Galaxy or the national team. Arena has provided Donovan with a cocoon of trust, the needed benefit of the doubt.There is also the rather exciting prospect of seeing Donovan on the field with Giovani Dos Santos. The two players are similar in so many respects. Both have shouldered the weight of high expectations from a young age, especially as it relates to their respective national teams.For Donovan, it has been there since he emerged out of the U.S. U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Florida. For Dos Santos, the hopes were heaped on him ever since he led Mexico to the 2005 U-17 World Cup, and later signed with Barcelona. His career has meandered somewhat since, but this season in L.A., Dos Santos has largely lived up to his Designated Player billing, with 12 goals and nine assists.There is some question as to how well the two will mesh, especially since Dos Santos has thrived in a more central role. But Donovan’s versatility makes it more likely the two will complement rather than impede each other. The results could be devastating for the rest of the league.There are no guarantees of course, and the fact that the league’s MVP award is named after Donovan creates a certain level of awkwardness. But having Donovan back in the league will no doubt generate buzz that MLS can’t get enough of. And he may even lead his beloved Galaxy to a sixth MLS Cup.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle. 

What to make of Landon Donovan’s stunning return to the LA Galaxy, MLS

QUICKLY-Two years after stepping away from the game, Landon Donovan is set for a shocking return to the LA Galaxy.

GRANT WAHLThursday September 8th, 2016As recently as June, Landon Donovan was a 34-year-old retiree broadcasting U.S. games in the Copa América for Fox Sports. He was taking courses for his coaching badges. He was enjoying his first year as a new father. He had moved to the San Diego area with his wife, Hannah. He was playing a lot of tennis. In early July, he announced his role as part owner of Premier League’s Swansea City.Now Donovan is set to come back and play for the LA Galaxy.

Donovan, the all-time MLS leader in goals (144) and assists (136), the player who was so important to the league that it named its MVP trophy after him, is nearing the official completion of a deal that would see him come out of retirement and rejoin the Galaxy, SI.com has confirmed with multiple sources. Blake Thomsen of The Cauldron first reported the story.WATCH: Your questions answered on Landon Donovan’s return

According to a source with knowledge of the deal, which could be announced as early as Thursday, Donovan will play for the rest of this season with the Galaxy and has not yet committed to continuing beyond that. He will fill the spot of the recently departed Nigel de Jong on the roster, meaning Donovan will not be a Designated Player. While player selection is up to Galaxy coach Bruce Arena, Donovan could play as early as early as this Sunday against Orlando City (FS1, 7 p.m. ET).What does it mean for Donovan? Well, despite not giving any hints of a return, he clearly has missed playing. He retired two years ago at age 32, a remarkably young age, even if he had been playing as a professional for 15 years already. Donovan talked openly of dealing with depression and struggling to find the motivation to continue the grind of soccer week after week, year after year.But he left the sport while still playing at a high level. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann had controversially dropped Donovan from the 2014 U.S. World Cup team, but Donovan ended his LA career with an MLS Cup trophy, his third in four years and record sixth of his career, and put up superb numbers: 10 goals and a career-high 19 assists in the 2014 MLS season.Now Donovan is back. “He’s our Brett Favre,” one MLS insider told SI.com on Thursday.The Galaxy could use him, too. LA is in third place in the Western Conference with six games left in the regular season stretch run. The team sold de Jong to Turkey’s Galatasaray and has lost Gyasi Zardes for the rest of the regular season with a broken foot, but it has plenty of talent, led by Robbie Keane, Giovani Dos Santos and Steven Gerrard. At his best, Donovan is just the kind of player who could bring out the best in Dos Santos in a way that we haven’t totally seen yet in MLS.More details will emerge in the coming days on Donovan’s return, but it’s hard to imagine that he would return if he didn’t think he could still excel in this league.Whatever happens, it will be a lot of fun to find out if he can still bring it on the soccer field.

Rivalries, tactical battles, great clubs converge in anticipated Manchester derby

QUICKLY-Two 3-0-0 teams. Mourinho vs. Guardiola. Ibrahimovic vs. Guardiola. City vs. United. This Manchester derby may be the most anticipated match in Premier League history. JONATHAN WILSONFriday September 9th, 2016

And to think we used to get excited about whether Wayne Bridge would shake John Terry’s hand.Saturday’s Manchester derby (7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN) at Old Trafford might be the most anticipated match in English Premier League history. It’s not just a derby, not just a meeting of probably the two best squads in the country, but it’s Jose Mourinho against Pep Guardiola–and a little bit of Zlatan Ibrahimovic too.This is a day when the game of football and the soap opera of football come together, a clash of two great clubs, two great managers and an awful lot of questions.There is one clash missing, though. There will be no battle of the strikers, no face off between Ibrahimovic and Sergio Aguero. Everybody in both squads is either fit or nearly fit, butAguero will be missing as he serves the first of a three-game suspension imposed for his elbow on West Ham’s Winston Reid in the last league game before the international break.here are tactical conundrums aplenty, but the most pressing of them is a simple matter of personnel. With Aguero absent, who plays up front for City? Until Gabriel Jesus arrives in January, and with Wilfried Bony sold to Stoke City, the only other orthodox center forward in the squad is Kelechi Iheanacho. The Nigerian 19-year-old impressed last season, scoring eight Premier League goals despite being largely restricted to appearances from the bench, but making his first start of the season in the derby would be an extraordinary responsibility for one so inexperienced.The other option is to go with a false nine, as Guardiola so often has in the past. David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have both occupied the role before, but the most likely candidate is Raheem Sterling, even if his falseness is likely to manifest in movement out to the flank rather than back into midfield. If he is used centrally, it means the Silva-De Bruyne axis, playing as “free eights” at the front of the midfield is kept in tact, but it does leave a question of who operates on the right, assuming Nolito is retained on the left. Jesus Navas has already played there this season, but if Leroy Sane is fully fit, there may be a temptation to give him his debut.At the other end of the pitch, Guardiola’s issues are threefold. Does he give Claudio Bravo his debut in goal, even though he will have trained with his new colleagues for only three days? Does he field Ilkay Gundogan for his first start for the club now that he is recovered from his knee injury–and, if he does, who does he replace? And does Guardiola trust the two Argentina players, Nicolas Otamendi and Pablo Zabaleta, who were away playing in World Cup qualifiers and returned to training only on Thursday?But there is always the possibility Guardiola does something unexpected. His capacity to devise a specific plan for a specific game is a major part of his genius. Trying to guess what it may entail is all but impossible, but there could be a case for including both Fernandinho and Gundogan.Assuming there is no switch to a back three, which, given Ibrahimovic’s form and aerial prowess would be an enormous gamble, could there be a case for playing without a center forward at all, with Sterling and Nolito attacking the box from wide? Or perhaps Guardiola might risk matching the two fullbacks against Juan Mata and Anthony Martial, using John Stones against Ibrahimovic with Fernandinho dropping back to cover. It would mean Sterling and Nolito (if they play wide) operating as quasi-wingbacks, but it would be a way of exerting pressure on the back of the United midfield, which is where they are least settled.That’s assuming United plays a 4-2-3-1, which it may not. On five of the 12 occasions when Mourinho faced Guardiola in Spain, he played a 4-3-3, his “trivote” with three holding midfielders. City probably isn’t yet slick enough to warrant such an approach, but it could be that Mourinho nonetheless prefers the insurance of an additional player in the center. Morgan Schneiderlin could come in, freeing up Paul Pogba, which would mean either that Wayne Rooney misses out or that he operates on the right in place of Juan Mata.Tactics, of course, are only part of it. There are personal antipathies and subplots everywhere, not just between the two managers. Most significant, perhaps, is that between Ibrahimovic and Guardiola. The striker has clearly never quite forgiven Guardiola for the way he treated him during his spell at Barcelona. “As a coach he was fantastic,” Ibrahimovic said in an interview with CNN last year. “As a person I’ve no comments about that, that’s something else. He’s not a man, there’s nothing more to say.” (Also last July, Ibrahimovic was asked to play word association in an interview with SI. He gave Mourinho “power.” Pep? “Good coach. Bad person.”)And that’s why Saturday’s encounter is so fascinating. It’s a tactical battle and a personal battle that also happens to be one of England’s biggest derbies. The plot lines are converging, and it could be apocalyptic.

Five Questions for the Manchester City-Manchester United derby

Ahead of the weekend’s Manchester Derby, Nick Miller checks in with five questions for this highly anticipated Premier League showdown between Jose Mourinho’s United and Pep Guardiola’s City.

  1. Will we see any of the old Guardiola-Mourinho animosity?

They used to get on quite well, these two. From when they both were at Barcelona — Pep Guardiola as a player, Jose Mourinho as a translator then coach — they were friends, and Manchester United’s new manager has described their relationship back then as “close.” That obviously changed when they were managers of Barca and Real Madrid, two men taking on the personalities and rivalries of their respective clubs, whose rows spread from touchline to news conference and beyond. In the end, their animosity was undoubtedly a factor in Guardiola’s burnout and departure from Cataluyna.So will that spill over into their first meeting in the Premier League? Relations have seemingly been quite cordial so far, and Mourinho even managed to leave Guardiola off his list of targets to have a brief jab at in his introductory news conference. Maybe it’s too soon for the old rivalry to manifest itself, and it will take an incident, a comment or a perceived injustice to spark it again. For now, maybe it’s best just to concentrate on the football.

  1. Who will City replace Aguero with?

Sergio Aguero found out the hard way that, these days, there isn’t much you can get away with on a football pitch. The cameras see all, and in this case they spotted him laying an elbow on Winston Reid, earning him a three match ban and Guardiola with a bit of a quandary. Who shall play up front in his place? There are two obvious options: Guardiola could either go with what is as close to a like-for-like swap as is available to him, bringing in Kelechi Iheanacho, or he could choose from a number of “false nine” possibles. Nolito, Kevin De Bruyne and Raheem Sterling are the stand-out candidates for the second option, but Guardiola might be loath to move the latter two from positions they have already excelled in this season.The “false nine” seems the most likely choice, but when Aguero was rested for the second leg of their Champions League qualifier against Steaua Bucharest, he opted for Iheanacho. “He is always ready,” Guardiola said of the young forward. “We will need him. Sergio can’t play all season and Keli is going to play.” Playing in what was essentially a meaningless match is one thing, but it will be interesting to see if Guardiola trusts him in a game as big as this.

  1. Can Mourinho afford to ignore Rashford?

Even before Marcus Rashford sauntered off with the match ball, having helped himself to a hat trick for England’s under-21s on Tuesday, the case for him starting more for Manchester United was strong. Rashford’s goal against Hull in United’s last game may well have been a tap-in, but it was his vigour and relentlessness that really made an impression, providing more danger in 19 minutes than many of the United players managed in 90. When there are still question marks over the City defence, can Mourinho afford to ignore him? And if the answer is no, who would he play instead of?There’s little chance of Zlatan Ibrahimovic being left out of a game this size, while Wayne Rooney seems to still be the apple of any manager’s eye, regardless of how he actually plays. Thus, oddly enough, the most likely candidate to be omitted is Anthony Martial, who has looked slightly subdued in the opening weeks of the season. Rashford has already shown that he can provide a threat from the left flank. Mourinho’s record with young players is constantly queried, but the only way Rashford plays like a kid is through the energy in his legs. The pressure on Mourinho to start him is strong.

  1. Who will City play in defence?

The top end of Guardiola’s team looks fine, a buzzing collection of busy and absurdly skillful attackers providing just as much threat as we thought they would. The defence is more questionable, and might provide the biggest head-scratcher. Nicolas Otamendi has started the last two games alongside John Stones, but he might be in no fit state to take part after appearing for Argentina in Venezuela on Tuesday. Ideally, Vincent Kompany would be back to reassure everyone, but his fitness is, as always these days, in doubt. Aleksandar Kolarov has played in the middle, and Guardiola talked up the possibility of Fernandinho filling the role a few weeks ago. In short, any option looks risky, and when the “defensively incomplete” Stones is the safest option available to City, it’s no wonder they could be worried.

  1. Will Mourinho adapt his tactics to counter City?

So far, Jose Mourinho has deployed a fairly conventional 4-2-3-1 system with a deep-lying midfielder alongside Paul Pogba, behind the attacking trio. However, with the greatest respect to Southampton, Bournemouth and Hull, this is a different matter entirely, with the added problem of a dangerous City attacking line featuring De Bruyne, Sterling, David Silva and possibly for the first time, Leroy Sane. Could Mourinho change things and switch to a 4-3-3 system, bringing in an extra midfielder to counter City’s attackers? That could be the most sensible option, but would require dropping a forward, with one of Juan Mata, Rooney, Martial or Rashford missing out. The arch pragmatist, you can be sure Mourinho will have a plan.Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.

Newcomers Ibrahimovic and Bravo headline Manchester derby

When United meet City in Saturday’s Manchester derby, there will be story lines galore to follow.  But who are the most important players to watch? Michael Cox picked three from each side.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Manchester United)

Although the Swede is often criticised for not performing in big Champions League matches, his record in major league games is excellent. He had a fine record in the Milan derby, scored minutes into his El Clasico debut and regularly netted against Marseille when playing for PSG.

Against his old foe Pep Guardiola, Ibrahimovic will be even more fired up than usual. He might have something of a lonely game if Jose Mourinho decides to play cautiously, but could thrive against City’s somewhat lightweight centre-back combination. John Stones, for all his quality in possession, can struggle against strong number nines, and Ibrahimovic’s physical power shouldn’t be underestimated.

Few centre-forwards adapt to the Premier League so smoothly, but Ibrahimovic’s quality shouldn’t come as a surprise – it’s arguably only English football which has underestimated him over the past decade. It would be typical for him to settle his first Manchester derby with a moment of magic.

Marouane Fellaini (Manchester United)

Manchester United’s primary tactical task this weekend should be protecting the space in front of their defence. City’s shape for this season features a 4-3-3 with both David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne springing forward from conventional central midfield positions, and some of their interplay has been quite magnificent.  Therefore, United need a solid midfield performance from their two holding players, and Mourinho might decide to beef up his midfield with the introduction of a second defensive player, pushing Paul Pogba into a more advanced role. Could Michael Carrick, Ander Herrera or Morgan Schneiderlin come in?  It is Fellaini, however, who is assured of a start in one of the two deep midfield roles. He’s impressed for United under Mourinho, with his physical power as useful as ever, but his positioning has been particularly good too. Having often played in a more advanced role under Louis van Gaal, he’s readjusted impressively to this more defensive position, and will have a crucial role to play in stopping City’s two dangermen.

Eric Bailly (Manchester United)  

United fans knew what to expect from Ibrahimovic, Pogba and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but centre-back Eric Bailly was a relative unknown. Nevertheless, the Ivorian international has looked excellent so far at the heart of Manchester United’s defence, and won United’s Player of the Month award for August.  Saturday will be his biggest test yet, and Bailly won’t know quite what to expect. He’ll presumably be delighted that Sergio Aguero is out injured, but what threat will he play against instead? The traditional centre-forward qualities of Kelechi Iheanacho? The speed into the channels of Raheem Sterling, Nolito or Leroy Sane? Perhaps even a false nine with David Silva dropping deep between the lines?

The major question mark about Bailly is his positioning, which is inevitable for a young defender in a new league. He’s impressed so far by responding to things quickly and decisively, but against top-class opponents, centre-backs need to read the game and anticipate danger. He’ll need intelligence to adjust his positioning according to his direct opponent, but he’ll relish the challenge.

Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)

Sterling’s first Manchester City campaign was disappointing, his Euro 2016 even more underwhelming. But Guardiola already appears to have rejuvenated his career; Sterling looks lively, threatening and – perhaps most crucially – highly motivated.So far he’s started on the right flank, told to stay wide and stretch the play, dribbling at opposition left-backs repeatedly. But without Aguero there’s a good chance Sterling will be deployed upfront, a position he played occasionally last season, including when he hit a hat trick against Bournemouth in October.Sterling’s major weakness, however, remains his finishing. He’s simply not good at striking the ball, often snatching at chances and failing to generate the necessary power. He can’t realistically expect to play a centre-forward role regularly if his shooting doesn’t improve – and this weekend, in the biggest game of the season so far, a crucial goal would illustrate his continuing improvement.

Claudio Bravo (Manchester City)

Guardiola is expected to throw his new goalkeeper in at the deep end, and a debut away at Old Trafford is a huge first test for the Chilean. Of course, Claudio Bravo is a highly experienced and reliable goalkeeper accustomed to performing on the biggest stage, so the occasion itself shouldn’t bother him. Premier League football, though, is different in style to La Liga.As his opposite number David De Gea realised when joining Manchester United five years ago, goalkeepers are tested physically in English football. Bravo is famed for his fine distribution skills, precisely the reason Guardiola recruited him, but physically he’s hardly the most imposing goalkeeper, at just 6’0.Mourinho will look to put him under pressure in this sense, and Bravo should expect plenty of men around him the first time United get a corner. He’s not particularly good at commanding his box though, and City don’t have a particularly tall team this season. Bravo will eventually prove a fine addition, but his first match might be difficult.

John Stones (Manchester City)

A player purchased for his ability in possession, Stones should have plenty of opportunities to demonstrate his passing quality here. Manchester United are likely to drop off, keep it tight between the lines and deny City space in the final third. The onus, therefore, will be on Stones to come forward on the ball.Stones doesn’t necessarily need to provide killer passes. He simply needs to attract opposition midfielders towards him, creating space for his more creative teammates in advanced positions. It’s funny how much opponents panic when they realise a talented centre-back is going on a dribble forward; there’s often a moment of panic before someone actually commits and engages.But Stones’ defensive abilities will be tested, too. He’s yet to form a reliable centre-back partnership with any particular individual at City, and against the threat of Ibrahimovic, Stones needs to demonstrate that he’s physically capable, and intelligent enough to read the game. Sometimes guilty of getting caught too high up the pitch, his positioning must be flawless this time around.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs ‘zero’ motivation to shine – Jose Mourinho

Manchester United striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic needs to be given “zero” motivation and has not chased after the riches of China or the United States, according to manager Jose Mourinho.On Saturday, Ibrahimovic will have a chance to go up against Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola when their clubs meet in the derby at Old Trafford.The Swede fell out with Guardiola while they worked together at Barcelonaand the 34-year-old arrived in the Premier League with the aim of turning United into serial winners again.Discussing Ibrahimovic in his news conference on Friday, Mourinho said: “Zlatan is a phenomenal player, who arrives at 34 and still wants more for his career. “He didn’t want the Chinese money or the American U.S. dollars; he wanted the most difficult place to play and win.”Zlatan is more about him than us. Our contribution to him, in motivational terms, is zero. This is just his nature.”United’s out-of-favour midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger expressed interest in moving to the United States last month when he said on Aug. 24 that he would not play for another club in Europe, then added on Aug. 30 that“America is naturally an option.”Mourinho isn’t the only one to tout Ibrahimovic’s ability to motivate himself, as his former teammate Thierry Henry believes “he will score goals no matter what.””Zlatan was born for these types of games, he demands these types of games, and he usually performs,” Henry said in his position as a pundit forSky Sports.”Zlatan obviously has a bit of an edge on him now, he’s not the young player he used to be, but there is something, he usually backs it up when he talks.”He maybe hasn’t controlled games yet, but it doesn’t matter for Zlatan, he has scored, and that’s the impact you want. That is something I like about him, he brings a winning mentality.”He doesn’t like second-best, wherever he went he won the league. He will score you goals. You will see this year. I tipped him to be top scorer, and I know people think I’m crazy, but he will score goals no matter what.” ichael Cox is the editor of Zonal Marking and a contributor to ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Zonal_Marking. 

Mourinho and Guardiola in Old Trafford summit meeting for United vs. City

ESPN FC’s Shaka Hislop and Alexis Nunes predict the winners and losers of this weekend’s Premier league action.

It’s the biggest game of the Premier League season so far and probably the biggest across Europe this weekend as Manchester United face Manchester City.

And, of course, it’s Jose Mourinho vs. Pep Guardiola as the bitter rivals resume hostilities again. It promises to be an enthralling occasion at Old Trafford, but there’s plenty of action elsewhere too, as champions Leicester face Liverpool in their newly improved Anfield and Antonio Conte puts his 100 percent record on the line as Chelsea travel to Swansea.

MAN UNITED: Both Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola will be eager to get one over on each other on Saturday, even if both will claim that the match is not about them. For the fans, aside from all-important bragging rights, it will be a good opportunity to see how their team fare against the competition. Sergio Aguero’s absence could be crucial, while United’s attacking dilemma is whether Marcus Rashford should get a spot in the starting XI, and if so, who he should replace. Expect a tight clash that United will just edge.
Prediction: Manchester United 2-1 Manchester City — Scott Patterson

MAN CITY: City go to Old Trafford in the best form they could, having won all five of Pep Guardiola’s matches so far. The fans are optimistic, but cautiously so as Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are in fine form, too. This could be a very tight game and a huge tactical battle between two rivals, with both teams perhaps worried about losing.
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City — David Mooney

LIVERPOOL: After four games on the road, Liverpool finally return home to play at an expanded Anfield. Not since the 1980s have the Reds played in front of more than 50,000 fans in their home stadium, and that will provide the inspiration for a narrow win over the champions.
Prediction: Liverpool 2-1 Leicester City — Steven Kelly

LEICESTER: A trip to Liverpool is another big test of Leicester’s European credentials, and they need a positive performance ahead of their Champions League debut at Club Brugge on Wednesday. Claudio Ranieri must also decide his best XI now that the transfer window has shut. Islam Slimani may come in for Shinji Okazaki, but the Japanese forward’s defensive qualities could come in handy. With both sides capable of goals, a high-scoring draw isn’t out of the question. Prediction: Liverpool 2-2 Leicester City — Ben Jacobs

SWANSEA: The Swans have had a week off to reflect on a slow start to their season, but will need to find something spectacular to stop unbeaten Chelsea, even with home advantage. Perhaps likely debutant Borja Baston can be that something, although finding a way to stop conceding from set pieces might be just as valuable.
Prediction: Swansea 0-2 Chelsea — Max Hicks

CHELSEA: Chelsea have yet to face a serious challenge to their 100 percent start to the Premier League season. Swansea have yet to score in front of their own fans, and while there’s always a chance of that happening against a Blues side prone to defensive wobbles, Antonio Conte’s side will have enough goals in them to win the game comfortably.
Prediction: Swansea 1-3 Chelsea — Mark Worrall

ARSENAL: With over £50 million of new signings added to the squad, Arsenal approach Saturday’s match in a position of some strength. It might be too early for Shkodran Mustafi and Lucas Perez to start, but Arsenal should still have enough to beat a Southampton side still looking for their first win of the season.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-0 Southampton — Tom Adams

SOUTHAMPTON: Claude Puel was Arsene Wenger’s protege at Monaco, but his side need to show more quality than they have in their first three games of the season to help their new manager turn the tables on his mentor, especially with new club-record-signing Sofiane Boufal not yet match fit.
Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Southampton — Alex Crook

STOKE: New loan-signing Wilfried Bony is set to make his debut, and Mark Hughes will be hoping that Xherdan Shaqiri passes a late fitness test to provide the Ivorian with the service needed to score the goals to lift his side off the foot of the table.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Tottenham — James Whittaker

TOTTENHAM: Spurs have been a long way off their best in the first three Premier League games, and the international break is unlikely to have helped them regain their fluency. With Mousa Dembele still suspended and Erik Lamela likely to be on the substitutes bench following a long flight back from Argentina on Thursday, all eyes will be on new signing Moussa Sissoko to see if he can kick-start Tottenham’s season. It’s asking a lot to expect the French international to hit the ground running, and the likely result is another draw.
Prediction: Stoke 1-1 Tottenham — John Crace

BURNLEY: Burnley will have the visit of Hull City down as one of the games they must win if they are to survive in the Premier League this season. Former Clarets and Hull caretaker manager Mike Phelan will get a great reception from the Turf Moor crowd, but club-record-signings Jeff Hendrick and Steven Defour can see the hosts through to a vital three points.
Prediction: Burnley 2-1 Hull  Jamie Smith

HULL CITY: Any meeting of two newly promoted sides brings an added significance, and the timing of Hull City’s trip to Burnley only heightens that. Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea map out a demanding trilogy of fixtures after this weekend, so anything from this notoriously unhappy hunting ground would be welcomed. City have lost 10 of their last 12 trips to Turf Moor, but another well-drilled approach can secure a point from a tight fixture.
Prediction: Burnley 0-0 Hull — Phil Buckingham

SUNDERLAND: David Moyes, a good manager at Everton, will want to show his old side he has not lost his touch. After a so-so transfer window, his new-look Sunderland desperately need a first win — against tough opposition — on Monday night. Expect it to be tighter than the 3-0 victory that sealed survival in May.
Prediction: Sunderland 2-1 Everton — Colin Randall

EVERTON: A pleasing August and the sight of Romelu Lukaku back among the goals during the international break should put Everton in a confident mood for Monday’s trip to Sunderland. Seamus Coleman’s return to fitness and the fine form of Mason Holgate leaves Ronald Koeman with a dilemma at right-back as the Blues prepare to face former manager David Moyes.
Prediction: Sunderland 1-2 Everton  Luke O’Farrell

WEST HAM: Watford, searching for their first win under Walter Mazzarri, are still something of an unknown quantity, but West Ham will be welcoming back a fully fit Dimitri Payet and Manuel Lanzini, while Zaza will make his debut. The season proper starts here.
Prediction:  West Ham 3-0 Watford — Peter Thorne

WATFORD: In the bottom three for the first time since being promoted, Watford will be looking to bounce back after suffering a heavy defeat against Arsenal last time out. The impressive Miguel Britos could return to the back three after becoming a father, whilst it seems certain midfielder Roberto Pereyra will make his first start. Hornets fans will hope that the International break has been used to further integrate the swathe of summer signings, and the visit to the London Stadium provides a chance for Mazzarri’s men to kick-start their season.
Prediction: West Ham 2-2 Watford — Mike Parkin

MIDDLESBROUGH: This could be the game where Boro finally let fly as an attacking force — the gritty groundwork laid in previous Premier League games finally coming to fruition. Crystal Palace head to the Riverside in search of their first victory of the season, with Scott Dann’s injury-time goal saving their blushes against Bournemouth last time out. A refreshed Boro have been largely undisturbed by the international break and will have used the time to tighten the link between goalkeeper Brad Guzan and his back four, as well as fine-tuning the balance of a busy midfield five.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 3-1 Crystal Palace — Catherine Wilson

CRYSTAL PALACE: Palace have another striker addition to call upon in Loic Remy, and alongside Christian Benteke the Chelsea loan-signing should give Alan Pardew’s side more aggression in attack. If Palace can create chances for them, they should win.
Prediction: Middlesbrough 1-2 Crystal Palace  — Rob Sutherland

BOURNEMOUTH: Despite not winning a league game so far this season, Bournemouth have still performed well in bursts. It’s up to them to change these short stints into full 90-minute performances, and they will do that against West Brom. Jack Wilshere, signed on loan from Arsenal on transfer deadline day, will play a pivotal role, and the Cherries will win.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-0 West Brom — Will Kent

WEST BROM: West Brom will be looking to finally kick-start their Premier League season when they travel to Bournemouth on Saturday. Tony Pulis will be hopeful that new club-record-signing Nacer Chadli will be able to provide the attacking impetus and creativity that has been sorely lacking so far this campaign.
Prediction: Bournemouth 1-1 West Brom — Matthew Evans

Mourinho’s clash with Guardiola is the latest meeting in the pair’s ongoing rivalry, with the United boss potentially under more pressure to get a result at Old Trafford. The pair’s tactics will be a talking point this Saturday lunchtime, as will Guardiola’s choice of who deputises for the suspended Sergio Aguero.As always, you can vote for your winner in every Premier League match this weekend and have your say in the comments below.

What can new signing Islam Slimani bring to Leicester?

Claudio Ranieri believes Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have all the tools necessary to compete for the title.

Leicester’s sensational exploits to win the Premier League title last season were fuelled to a large extent by the prolific Jamie Vardy, whose remarkable ascension up the football ladder is well documented. Less well-known is the equally meteoric upward trajectory of his new strike partner, Islam Slimani.In an amazing three-year journey, Slimani went from an average performer in the Algerian league to the most feared centre-forward in Portugal. And now, after arriving on deadline day for a fee of €35 million, he is a Leicester player.Leicester fans will get their first look at the 28-year-old striker on Saturday evening when the Premier League champions take on Liverpool at Anfield. Here’s five things they can expect from their record signing.

  1. He’s lethal in the air

Without doubt the Algerian’s strongest asset is his deadly heading prowess. Standing 6-foot-2, Slimani uses his height and strength to great effect in the opposition area. He times his runs and jumps to perfection, and is equally adept at producing bullet headers or using the pace of well-delivered crosses to expertly direct the ball into the net. He is also a big asset in helping to defend free kicks and corners in his own box.Sporting coach Jorge Jesus said while co-commentating on Portuguese TV during the England vs. Portugal friendly before this summer’s European Championship: “If Vardy is the top scorer in England, then with the right coach Slimani would score double the number of goals as him.”

  1. He is a real work horse

As well as his goals and willingness to follow whatever instructions the three managers he played for at Sporting gave him, what made Slimani such an icon among the Alvalade faithful was his insatiable work rate. He worked hard for every minute of the game, throwing himself into challenges all over the pitch, running the channels tirelessly, and using his big frame to batter the opposition into submission. Slimani never gives up on what others would consider a lost cause. In short, he is a nightmare to play against.

  1. He has a big-game temperament

Another facet to Slimani’s game that so endeared him to Sporting’s fans was his productivity in the biggest matches, which also suggests the step up to Premier League football will not be a step too far.Portugal may not have the strongest league in Europe, but Benfica, Porto and Braga provide stern opposition. In a total of 24 matches against Sporting’s three biggest domestic rivals, Slimani scored 16 goals. Last season Sporting played the trio eight times, and in only two of those games did the Algerian fail to find the net.After they were drawn with Leicester in the Champions League group stages, Porto fans must have let out a collective groan upon hearing about Slimani’s transfer to the Foxes. In his last three games against the Dragons, Slimani has bagged five goals.

  1. He is happy to get into a battle

At the end of 90 minutes, Premier League defenders charged with marking Slimani will know they’ve been in a battle. Liberal use of his arms has got the Algerian into trouble in Portugal on several occasions, with Porto calling out a flailing elbow just two weeks ago.In a particularly bad-tempered Lisbon derby in last season’s Portuguese Cup, city rivals Benfica were infuriated he was not red-carded for hitting the throatof Greek midfielder Andreas Samaris. TV replays showed they were justified in their complaints, although the fierce nature of the game mitigated Slimani’s actions in Sporting’s eyes. The lesson learned? If it’s one of those matches that turns into a battle, expect Slimani to be on the front line.

  1. He is willing to learn, and shows humility and intelligence

Slimani joined Sporting in August 2013 and the first impressions were not the best. His poor technique persuaded many to conclude early on that he did not have the necessary quality for a club of Sporting’s ambitions. But perceptions soon changed as improvements became apparent in just about every aspect of his game: positioning, tactical awareness, touch, passing and finishing.He scored 10, 15 and then 31 goals in his three seasons at Sporting, which accurately reflects his development. Under Jesus especially, his game progressed to a whole different level, and Slimani himself recognises the role the charismatic Sporting manager played in his career.”He’s a world-class coach, a genius, and I’m not exaggerating,” he said. “He points out details that seem irrelevant, but suddenly you realise why. He makes you improve every day and it’s a pleasure to work with him.”The ability to take his coach’s recommendations on board shows that Slimani has intelligence and humility to go with his brawn. The tears he shed after coming off the pitch in his last match for Sporting only cemented his place in the hearts of the Lisbon club’s fans. Upon his departure, hundreds of messages from Sporting supporters flooded social media wishing Slimani luck at his new club.

It’s okay to be somewhat-confident about the USMNT right now

By Harrison Hamm on Sep 8, 2016, 9:30a + 

The United States men’s national team has not always been good at beating the teams they’re supposed to beat. We all remember the semifinal loss to Jamaica in last year’s Gold Cup and the calamitous away defeat in Guatemala back in March. They managed to lose to Ukraine in a 2014 World Cup warm-up game, and, who could forget, they needed a 90th-minute Eddie Johnson header to beat Antigua and Barbuda in World Cup qualifying back in 2012.So you could forgive someone for being a little tentative when pondering the US’s qualifier against Trinidad and Tobago, even if there wasn’t an obvious reason to be. The US went into the match having all but secured a spot in the next round of 2018 qualification — only drastic measures could see Guatemala leapfrog them — and arrived in Jacksonville confident following a 6-0 shellacking of St. Vincent, a team that brought back memories of Antigua. But given their history in these kinds of games, I don’t think I was the only one worrying about a disaster.A disaster, by the way, would mean a draw or a loss, not an unrealistic 12-goal swing that would move Guatemala up a place in the standings. Dropped points against Trinidad would be severely disappointing despite their secure spot in the Hexagonal, especially considering Jurgen Klinsmann’s statements saying he would play his best lineup. It would have been a severe humiliation.Observers had reason to believe an embarrassment was possible. CONCACAF referees are known to be quite slimy and have a tendency to give out red cards and/or PKs at the drop of a hat, often drastically changing game outcomes. Trinidad could have come out firing and run away with it early as revenge for Fox Sports 1’s showing of the 1989 World Cup qualifier that saw the US eliminate T&T in Port of Spain. Klinsmann could have played Sacha Kljestan at left back or Jozy Altidore in defensive midfield or something.Plenty of things could have gone wrong, like they have in the past. But the US erased all doubts and cruised to a convincing 4-0 victory, with Kljestan dominating from the No. 10 position and Altidore recording a brace as a center forward.Montero turned out to be a fine and capable official. Already-qualified Trinidad looked asleep for long periods of time. Klinsmann put out his best lineup in forever. It honestly turned out alright.We can now afford to be semi-confident about things going forward, if only because the US don’t play a competitive match for another couple of months. You all can worry about another soccer team for the time being, because our national team is actually looking okay right now.Because I said that, Michael Bradley probably won’t get called up two months from now or something ridiculous like that, but for now, we can afford to be satisfied, even if history tells us not to be.

KLINSMANN CHOSES TO START THE PULISIC ERA

SEPTEMBER 7, 2016

By Jason Davis – WASHINGTON, DC (Sep 7, 2016) US Soccer Players – Jurgen Klinsmann certainly didn’t do what so many of us thought he would. The expectations for the final Group C World Cup qualifier leaned toward practical. Name a solid eleven capable of getting the job done against Trinidad & Tobago in Jacksonville. One that would put stopping Trinidad & Tobago’s speedy attack first among its priorities and then work from that platform to score any goals.Those expectations were built on so many other lineup choices from Klinsmann over the last five years. Lineups that failed to measure up to the front-foot, aggressive attitude Klinsmann so often says he wants. More often than not, the USMNT head coach had chosen to go with teams that could only be called “conservative” in the face of an impending challenge. Sometimes it had to do with the opponent. Most times, the talent advantages of the Americans seemed not to matter.What Klinsmann did on Tuesday night was throw (some) caution to the wind. Again, the chances that the Americans would miss out on the Hex were essentially nil. So though he could have justified rolling out a team that lacked an adventurous spirit, Klinsmann instead took the opportunity to give a start to a number of players who think forward first.The most intriguing name in the eleven was the one who created the most discussion heading into the game: Christian Pulisic. At just 17, Pulisic is an extremely young player who nevertheless has shown immense potential in his limited time playing for both Borussia Dortmund of the German Bundesliga and the USMNT. Perhaps not since Landon Donovan has the United States produced a player who arrived looking so ready to become a major part of every team the Americans put out in every game of consequence. Pulisic’s instincts, touch, and understanding of the game put him on a level unseen in an American teenager.Klinsmann made sure to downplay some of the hype around Pulisic in the buildup to the game. Preaching patience, he spoke to how long Pulisic had to go before he could be called a complete player. Then, Klinsmann being Klinsmann, he started Pulisic in a midfield quartet that also included the previously banished Sacha Kljestan. Remember, Kljestan was a late addition to the squad for this round of matches. He replaced the injured John Brooks on the roster just days ahead of the start of camp. Suddenly, the Red Bulls midfielder is first-choice in a game that would serve as both the final piece of Hex qualification and a platform from which the team would build into the last round.The choices paid off. Pulisic made a case to be a starter every time out. Kljestan, after a slow start, grew into the game first with a goal then as a playmaker as the Americans salted away the win. Even better, the pair worked well together, showing an understanding of space and movement the speaks to their soccer intelligence and current form. The Americans raised their level in the second half, and almost all of it came down to a conscience decision to involved the teenager at every possible turn. A very clear shift from right (manned by full back Geoff Cameron and midfielder Alejandro Bedoya) to left (fullback: Fabian Johnson, midfielder: Christian Pulisic) facilitated the pressure and chance-creation that led to all three second-half goals.For all the positives Pulisic and Kljestan brought to the team, the combination of Bobby Wood and Jozy Altidore up top failed to produce much over the course of an hour. It’s not that either player was bad, it was that they similarity in their games prevented them from working well ahead of Kljestan. Altidore scored just before Wood was removed for Jordan Morris, but the goal came with the Hamburg striker dropped deep and allowed Altidore to occupy the central of the T&T defense.Altidore’s form is a major takeaway from the match heading into the gauntlet of the Hex. When he’s on his game, there is no one like him in the American player pool. The combination of power, touch, and goal-scoring makes him an immensely important part of any team Klinsmann runs out in the next round. Against T&T, Altidore showed every bit of his skill as well as his fully evolved hold-up ability. If finding a partner to work with the TFC forward is Klinsmann’s biggest problem coming out of the win, it’s a good problem to have. No matter what he decides to do, he has a rampant center forward at his disposal.Amid the excitement over Pulisic, the redemptive influence of Kljestan, and the form of Altidore, the important thing is that the United States advanced. The Hex will present its own challenges. Namely, opening at home against Mexico followed by a road trip to Costa Rica four days later. That’s the reward for finishing atop their fourth round group. However, the format is incredibly forgiving. Barring a series of disastrous performances, the USMNT is in line to make its eighth-straight World Cup.They may arrive in Russia with an emerging group of talented young players. Pulisic will be chief among them .They’re the forefront of the quest to reach Klinsmann’s goal of a semifinal berth in part because of surprising lineup choices made nearly two years before the tournament begins.Jason Davis is the founder of MatchFitUSA.com and the host of The United States of Soccer on SiriusXM. 

USA FINISHES FIRST IN SEMIFINAL ROUND OF 2018 WORLD CUP QUALIFYING GROUP C WITH 4-0 WIN VS. TRINIDAD & TOBAGO

SECOND HALF BRACE SEES JOZY ALTIDORE BECOME MNT’S ALL-TIME LEADING SCORER IN WORLD CUP QUALIFYING; SACHA KLJESTAN AND PAUL ARRIOLA SCORE SECOND GOALS IN AS MANY MATCHES TO HELP MNT TO TOP SPOT IN GROUP C; WIN SETS UP NOV. 11 HOME CLASH WITH MEXICO TO BEGIN FINAL ROUND WORLD CUP QUALIFYINGMNT Sep 6, 2016

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (Sept. 6, 2016) – The U.S. Men’s National Team used a brace from Jozy Altidore and goals from Sacha Kljestan and Paul Arriola to earn a hard-fought 4-0 victory against Trinidad & Tobago Tuesday night. The win propelled the MNT to the top spot in Group C of Semifinal Round CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying, as well as a berth in the Final Round beginning in November.A dominant first half from the U.S. saw Christian Pulisic force a diving stop out of Trinidad & Tobago goalkeeper Marvin Phillip in the ninth minute, before the 17-year-old attacker incredibly careened a shot off both posts in the 31st. The first stanza also saw a clear penalty shout for a foul on Geoff Cameron inside the area, but referee Ricardo Montero Araya awarded a free kick just outside the box.Just as it looked like the MNT would go into the break empty-handed, a nice bit of combination work between Fabian Johnson, Kljestan and Pulisic led to a failed T&T clearance before Kljestan buried inside the right post in the 44th minute.With that goal in the bank, the floodgates opened for the MNT in the second half. Altidore would tally two goals in the 59th and 62nd minutes, with the first moving him past Clint Dempsey to become the MNT’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup Qualifying. His second of the match padded his lead at the top, giving him 16 Qualifying goals.Just moments after entering the match, second half substitute Paul Arriola increased the lead, burying a close-range rebound off of a Pulisic effort in the 71st minute.On the defensive side of the field, the U.S. back line kept its eighth clean sheet of the year, while Tim Howard made five saves to earn his 37th career shutout.The win sees the U.S. finish with a 4-1-1 record and top spot in Group C of the Semifinal Round of CONCACAF Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, setting up a home clash with Mexico to open the final round of World Cup Qualifying. The site of the Nov. 11 match vs.El Tri will be announced early next week.

Next on the Schedule: The U.S. MNT gets set for CONCACAF’s Final Round of Qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup with an historic visit to take on Cuba in Havana on Friday, Oct. 7 on ESPN and Univision Networks (Time TBD). The MNT then returns home to the familiar confines of RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. where they’ll face Oceanic Football Confederation champions, New Zealand on Tuesday, Oct. 11 at 8 p.m. ET (ESPN and Univision Networks).

Goal Scoring Rundown: 
USA – Sacha Kljestan (unassisted), 44th minute:
 Fabian Johnson began on the left, playing for Sacha Kljestan in the penalty area before returning a back heel to the left back in stride. Johnson then played for Christian Pulisic whose centering pass was heeled away by Radanfah Abu Bakr before Carlyle Mitchell took another swing. His clearance was blocked by Kljestan who quickly poked the ball in the lower, right corner. USA 1, TRI 0 [WATCH]

USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson) 59th minute: Fabian Johnson broke free down the left before feeding Altidore into the area. The MNT forward took a touch past his marker before firing a low shot inside the right post to double the advantage and make Altidore the MNT’s all-time leading scorer in World Cup Qualifying. USA 2, TRI 0 [WATCH]

USA – Jozy Altidore (Christian Pulisic) 62nd minute: Altidore would score his 16th all-time World Cup Qualifying goal just three minutes later. A quick combination between Pulisic and Kljestan on the left saw Pulisic cross for Altidore at the right post, allowing the veteran striker an easy tap-in. USA 3, TRI 0 [WATCH] 

USA – Paul Arriola (unassisted) 71st minute: Pulisic intercepted a T&T pass in his own half and rushed upfield to the edge of the Trinidad box before laying the ball off to Jordan Morris who turned away from pressure and played the ball back to the center of the pitch for Sacha Kljestan to send it on to the feet of Jozy Altidore, who sent an incisive cross through the box for a sliding Pulisic to get a redirected shot on goal that was saved by Soca Warriors ‘keeper Marvin Phillip. The rebound fell to the onrushing Arriola who hit a one-time shot into the vacated net for his first World Cup Qualifying goal. USA 4, TRI 0 FINAL

Key Saves and Defensive Stops:
USA – Tim Howard, 7th minute: Trinidad & Tobago found the opportunity to spring a fast counter attack as Kenwyne Jones found Joevin Jones in stride up the right. The Seattle Sounders FC winger sprung forward before cutting inside and firing a well-hit blast directly at Howard.

TRI – Marvin Phillip, 9th minute: A quick transition in midfield saw Sacha Kljestan turn towards goal before laying off for Christian Pulisic on the left. The 17-year-old attacker cut inside and rifled a low, right-footed blast that deflected off a Trinidad defender before seeing goalkeeper Marvin Phillip make a diving save to push the ball out for a corner kick.

TRI – Marvin Phillip, 67th minute, 68th minute: Just moments after entering the match, Paul Arriola received a feed from Altidore on the right, cut inside and blasted an effort that saw Phillip push the ball over the post for a corner kick. Michael Bradley’s ensuing take found Kljestan open outside the box, where the MNT midfielder blasted a long-range effort that Phillip parried away in the 68thminute.

TRI – Tim Howard, 75th minute: With Trinidad continuing to look for a goal, Joevin Jones took some space about 30 yards from goal and unleashed an effort that Tim Howard pushed out to his right for a corner kick.

MILESTONE WATCH:

  • At 17 years, 353 days, Christian Pulisic is the youngest player in MNT history to start a FIFA World Cup qualifier, beating Jozy Altidore’s previous mark of 18 years, 343 days set on Sept. 1, 2001 vs. Honduras.
  • Jozy Altidore’s 59th minute goal moved him past Clint Dempsey into first place on the MNT’s all-time World Cup Qualifying goals list with 15. His 62nd minute strike padded his lead over Dempsey, giving him 16.
  • Tim Howard earned his 32nd World Cup Qualifying appearance, moving past Kasey Keller for the most all-time among MNT goalkeepers and into fourth in team history. Howard is 22-7-3 all-time in World Cup Qualifying.
  • Captain Michael Bradley became the 12th player in MNT history to reach 30 World Cup Qualifying caps.

NOTES:

  • The victory sees the U.S. top its Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying group for the sixth-straight time.
  • Sacha Kljestan’s 44th minute goal was his second in as many matches and sixth career strike for the MNT.
  • Paul Arriola’s 71st minute goal was his second in as many matches for the U.S. Arriola also tallied in the MNT’s 3-1 win against Puerto Rico on May 21.
  • Geoff Cameron is the only U.S. player to start all six semifinal round World Cup Qualifying matches.
  • Arriola and Caleb Stanko each made their World Cup Qualifying debuts.
  • Starting Tim Howard in goal, Jurgen Klinsmann elected to go with a backline featuring Geoff Cameron and right back, Steve Birnbaum and Omar Gonzalez in the middle and Fabian Johnson on the left.
  • In handing Christian Pulisic his first MNT start, Klinsmann deployed the 17-year-old on the left side, with Alejandro Bedoya as his counterpart on the right and Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan paired in the middle.
  • Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood completed the starting XI up top, pairing for the second straight game and fifth time overall.

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

Match: U.S. Men’s National Team vs. Trinidad & Tobago
Date: September 6, 2016
Competition: 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifying; Semifinal Round
Venue: EverBank Field; Jacksonville, Florida
Kickoff: 8 p.m. ET
Attendance: 19,410
Weather: 86 degrees, Sunny

Scoring Summary: 1 2 F 
USA                        1 3 4 
TRI                          0 0 0

USA – Sacha Kljestan                           44th minute
USA – Jozy Altidore (Fabian Johnson)     59
USA – Jozy Altidore (Christian Pulisic)    62
USA – Paul Arriola                                 71

Lineups: 
USA: 12-Tim Howard; 20-Geoff Cameron, 21-Steve Birnbaum, 3-Omar Gonzalez, 23-Fabian Johnson; 11-Alejandro Bedoya (14-Paul Arriola, 66), 4-Michael Bradley (capt.), 16-Sacha Kljestan (13-Caleb Stanko, 72), 10-Christian Pulisic; 7-Bobby Wood (8-Jordan Morris, 60), 17-Jozy Altidore
Subs not used:
 1-Brad Guzan, 22-Ethan Horvath, 2-Kellyn Acosta, 5-Michael Orozco, 6-Darlington Nagbe, 9-Rubio Rubin, 15-Kyle Beckerman, 18-Chris Wondolowski, 19-Graham Zusi
Head Coach: Jurgen Klinsmann

TRI : 1-Marvin Phillip; 2-Aubrey David, 12-Carlyle Mitchell, 6-Radanfah Abu Bakr, 17-Mekeil Williams; 3-Joevin Jones, 8-Khaleem Hyland, ,10-Kevin Molino, 14-Andre Boucaud (19-Kevan George, 76), 16-Levi Garcia (23-Jomal Williams, 57); 9-Kenwyne Jones (capt.) (11-Shahdon Winchester, 69)
Subs not used:
 21-Adrian Foncette, 22-Greg Ranjitsingh, 5-Daneil Cyrus, 7-Hughtun Hector, 13-Cordell Cato, 15-Neveal Hackshaw, 18-Yohance Marshall, 20-Trevin Caesar
Head Coach: Stephen Hart

Stats Summary: USA / TRI 
Shots: 17 / 14
Shots on Goal: 10 / 5
Saves: 5 / 6
Corner Kicks: 3 / 2
Fouls: 8 / 11
Offside: 4 / 1

Misconduct Summary:
TRI – Mekeil Williams (caution) 25th minute
TRI – Carlyle Mitchell (caution) 52
TRI  Jomal Williams (caution) 62

Officials: 
Referee: Ricardo Montero Araya (CRC)
Assistant Referee 1: Octavio Jara Carballo (CRC)
Assistant Referee 2: Juan Carlos Mora Araya (CRC)
4th Official: Walter Quesada Cordero (CRC)

Budweiser Man of the Match: Jozy Altidore

FIRST KID, FIRST GOAL – A SPECIAL DAY FOR MATT BESLER

MNT Sep 3, 2016  Matt Besler woke up Friday morning hoping for a special day. It’s fair to say he had no idea precisely how special it would be.On the day he and his wife Amanda welcomed Parker Rhea Besler into the world that morning, he scored his first international goal in the 32nd minute of the USA’s 6-0 World Cup Qualifying victory at St. Vincent and the Grenadines.“It’s amazing, it really is,” Besler said when asked about his day following the match. “It’s just hard to explain how I was feeling this morning. Obviously a big part of me would have liked to have been at home to be there and be at the side of my wife. At the same time, I was just so excited to play in the game. I really felt special today, and I’m glad that things worked out and I made the most of it.”Feeling conflicted about the timing of the camp and where his wife was at this stage in her pregnancy with two weeks to her due date, Besler knew there was a chance he would miss the birth. Because of the difficulty of travel from the U.S. to St. Vincent – there are no direct flights – the veteran defender knew there was a period of time where he might be locked in without a way to get back.That point came following Thursday’s night’s training session at Arnos Vale Stadium, when he received a text stating only “CALL ME ASAP.”Besler told MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann of the news that night and said they would talk again in the morning.  He got the great news just before 7 a.m., and when he spoke to Klinsmann, the coach offered to send him home straight away.  With his baby born, no easy path to return and a huge World Cup qualifier to be played Besler elected to stick it out.“I was really excited, but I was also ready to play. This was something I really wanted to do because it’s already a special day and I wanted to make it even more special and play in this special game,” he added.With the U.S. already leading following Bobby Wood’s 28th minute goal, Besler secured his daughter’s first gift four minutes later. A free kick played into the box from Graham Zusi was poorly cleared by a St. Vincent defender and fell right to Besler, who chested the ball down before volleying into the net.

View image on Twitter

His teammates gathered around him and joined as he did the classic “rock the baby” goal celebration. With just three goals in MLS play since starting with Sporting KC in 2009, Besler admitted he hasn’t had a lot of time to practice goal celebrations.“It just came natural I guess,” he joked after the match. “Once you become a dad, it’s just instinct to do that.”As the MNT returns to Jacksonville, Fla., Saturday afternoon to prepare for Tuesday’s Semifinal Round World Cup Qualifying finale against Trinidad & Tobago, Besler will head back to Kansas City to be with his wife and new baby girl. He’ll also be carrying that present, the ball with which he scored his first international goal for his first child.

Christian Pulisic ‘trusted’ at Dortmund, but must wait for his chance – Tuchel

Thomas Tuchel says Borussia Dortmund fully trust United States international Christian Pulisic, but the teenager will have to wait for his chance in the Bundesliga.Pulisic, 17, impressed for the United States in their World Cup qualifiers against St. Vincent and the Grenadines, where he contributed two goals in the 6-0 win, and Trinidad and Tobago, where he became the youngest player to start in a World Cup qualifier for the country.However, his late return to preseason from the Copa America Centenario means he is behind the rest of Dortmund’s squad in terms of fitness and, speaking at a news conference in Germany on Friday, Tuchel told reporters Pulisic is unlikely to feature against RB Leipzig this weekend.”He started preseason late as a 17-year-old,” Tuchel said. “This makes being selected for the match day squad harder.”We are delighted that Christian is that successful for the United States. He’s only 17 years, and it’s a huge, huge achievement and a confirmation of his talent. To beat those records is testimony to his quality.”But Tuchel also wants Pulisic’s achievements at international level to be put into perspective.”Those were games against St.Vincent and Trinidad,” he said. “And if you play against Trinidad, it’s not like you have the right to play Bayern in the Super Cup. And he’s aware of it. It’s difficult enough to cope with all the praise and distraction and to remain open for the normal processes.”We’d like to think that he stays sensible. We’ve already trusted him last season. Because he deserved it and not so we can pat ourselves on the back. The trust is there.”

THREE THINGS: #INDVTBR

Three points as Indy draws one-all with Tampa BaySep 6, 2016

CONCEDING FIRST

As of late, Indy Eleven has had a pattern of conceding the first goal of the match and while it tends to pan out at Carroll Stadium, Saturday night’s turn of the tale proved the point again – Indiana’s Team must tighten up defensively.Just under a month ago, Indy hosted Rayo OKC on a drenched Saturday night in mid-August. On that night, OKC took advantage of the “shock factor” and put one past Eleven ‘keeper Jon Busch inside the opning 15 minutes. Though Indy would rescue the three points thanks to a 41st minute tally from Dylan Mares and a 84th minute goal from Colin Falvey, it was the beginning of a dangerous pattern.Indy hit the road to Ottawa and New York where they conceded first in both matches. It is worth noting that against Carolina it was the “Boys in Blue” who struck first, but a goal by the hosts just three minutes later takes the sting out of a quick strike like that.Turning attention back to Saturday night, a 28th minute goal by Justin Chavez off a Joe Cole free kick opened the scoring at Carroll Stadium, and while Omar Gordon was able to turn momentum back to the Eleven with his 34th minute strike, Indy would not strike again leaving a 1-1 final score. The result means that the home unbeaten streak is extended, but Tampa Bay managed to snap the 8-game win streak that the Eleven had been riding since May.Special mention does go to Daniel Keller for his performance at centerback, though. He was outstanding.

RECAP | Indy Eleven 1 : 1 Tampa Bay Rowdies
LIMITING JOE COLE

It was always going to be difficult when it came to limiting chances for former England international Joe Cole, but Indy did relatively well in stifling his success. The 34-year-old had 59 touches in 89 minutes, completed 35/47 passes and created two chances while notching an assist on Saturday. But, looking at the blueprint for Cole, the Eleven might have done their best job.Choking off access to the ball for the midfielder has been difficult, but in some matches certain methods seem to work better than not. Looking at Tampa Bay’s 1-0 loss against FC Edmonton, Cole’s stats were even better. Securing 61 touches in 90 minutes, the former Chelsea FC man completed 32/36 passes and created four chances while registering three shots on target. However, in the 2-0 win over Rayo OKC, Cole’s two goals were added by his completing of 44/47 passes while creating four chances with three shots on target.While he created double the amount of chances in a win over OKC and loss over FCE, perhaps Indy’s biggest mistake was the amount of set-piece chances given up in front of goal. Cole couldn’t work something up on the other two from 30 yards or less, but his drop pass at the feet of Chavez in the 28th minute was seemingly enough to do the job.
Playoff soccer comes to “The Mike” in November!

MONTH OF SEPTEMBER

After the 3-0 loss against New York, it was emphasized how important it was to hit September hard and take every point from each match. Indy is already chasing the rest after Saturday’s draw with a somewhat struggling Rowdies side, but there is still plenty to play for.That starts this Saturday against Fort Lauderdale. Stepping into their own, the Strikers are unbeaten in their last five matches after a draw at home against the New York Cosmos and new signing Amauri has three goals in five total appearances. The Eleven were unable to break down Fort Lauderdale in the Sunshine State in May, but both sides have a different look and will be employing different systems if recent weeks have shown anything. Regardless, Indy has three weeks to take advantage of a lighter fixture schedule before a grueling October brings the season to a close.

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

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US WC Qualifiers Fri 3:30 pm, Tues 8 pm, Indy 11 H Sat 7:30, CHS Boys-Fri 7 pm Free Admission CDC/CFC Players  

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

The US National Team has some HUGE Qualifiers this Friday 3:30 pm at St Vincent on beIN Sport and Tues in Jax vs Trinidad and Tobago at  pm on Fox Sports 1.  What’s at stake – well currently the US is 2nd behind T&T in our group – 2 wins are a necessity to win the Group and guarantee ourselves the top slot moving into the next round (the HEX).  Win both games without our leading scoring Clint Dempsey (who is still having irregular heartbeat tests done) and we advance to the HEX and get to host Mexico on Nov 11 most probably at Columbus. Lose one or lose and tie and qualifying could be in question with Guatamala just 1 pt back in 3rd place. Locally the Indy 11  return for a home game at the MIKE on Saturday, Sept 3rd vs the Tampa Bay Rowdies at 7:30 pm.  Tix just $11.  This Friday – Sept 2 – the CHS boys host PACK THE HOUSE/MAKE GOOD DECISIONS NITE with FREE ADMISSION for CDC + CFC players in uniform

GAMES OF THE WEEK 

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

 Fri, Sept 2 

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

Sat, Sept 3                                              *International Break *

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

Sun, Sept 4 

12 pm Fox Sports ? ESPN3           Slovakia vs England

Tues, Sept 6 

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

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

Sat, Sept 10

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

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

 LOCAL High School

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

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

 U.S. Men

What the US Needs to Qualify for Next Round of WC Qualifying – The HEX

W2W4 – S+S

US Needs Creativity from Somewhere – GOAL

US Needs the younger Players to push for playing Time says Klinsy

Bobby Wood/Altidore Partnership could be a Key ESPN FC –

US has Reasons for Hope and Worry in these 2 qualifiers – ESPN FC Doug McIntyre

Sacha K looks to make an Impact

Sultry 5 days for US in the Caribean – US Soccer Players

What’s the next 12 Months look like for US Men

Why the US Needs to Win

EPL – World – Transfers /Deadline Day

EPL transfers good and bad

Should the Transfer System be Changed?   J Hutcherson US Soccerplayers.com

US D Matt Miazga loaned to Vitesse from Chelsea

MLS

Why do American Players Peak so late?  Stars and Stripes

Rapids are much worse with Tim Howard

Indy 11

3 Things NY Cosmos 3-0 loss

Playoff Tickets for Purchase

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

More GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Wed, Aug 31                                        

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

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

Fri, Sept 2 

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

5 pm beIN Sport                                 Honduras vs Canada

8 pm beIN Sport                                 Haiti vs Costa Rica

10 pm beIN Sport                              Mexico vs El Salvador

Sat, Sept 3                                              *International Break *

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

Sun, Sept 4 

12 pm Fox Sports 2                           Denmark vs Armenia

12 pm Fox Sports ? ESPN3           Slovakia vs England

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Norway vs Germany

Mon, Sept 5 

12 pm Fox Sports 1                           Spain vs Leichenstein

Tues, Sept 6 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                                               Belarus vs France

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Switzerland vs Portugal

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

8:15 pm beIN Sport                                                  Brazil vs Colombia

Fri, Sept 9                                                 

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

Sat, Sept 10

7 am FS1                                                   Celtic vs Rangers – Ireland

11 am NBCSN                       Man United vs Man City

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

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

12:30 pm FS 2                                       RB Leipzig vs Borussia Dortmund

12:30 pm NBCSN                                Liverpool s Leicester City

7:30 pm YES                                           New England vs NYCFC

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

9 pm beIN Sport                                 Futsal World Cup – Colombia vs Portugal

Sun, Sept 11

9:30 am FS1                                            Werder Bremen vs Augsburg

11 am NBCSN                                        Swansea vs Chelsea 

11:30 am FS 1                                       Mainz 05 vs Hoffenhiem

7 pm FS 1                                                                         LA Galaxy vs Orlando City

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

Mon, Sept 12

3 pm NBCSN                                           Sunderland vs Everton

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

Tues -Arsenal @ PSG + Celtic @ Barcelona

Wed- Monico @ Tottenham + Sevilla @ Juve

Sept 27

Man City @ Celtic

Bayern Munich @ Athletico Madrid

Sept 28

Real Madrid @ Dortmund

Porto @ Leicester City

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

2018 CONCACAF World Cup Qualifying: Semi-final round advancement scenarios

By Cody Bradley  @ThatCodyTho on Sep 1, 2016, 8:55a 5 

After surviving quite the scare, the U.S. men’s national team have put themselves in a good position to advance from their Fourth Round Group with two matches to play. We wanted to take a look at all possible scenarios for the Red, White and Blue to finish the group and move on to the Hexagonal.As is stands now, the U.S. would advance as they are sitting in second place behind Trinidad & Tobago. Here is what the table looks like:

Guatemala is still right in the mix, and could potentially still eliminate the U.S. from World Cup qualification. Each team has two matches remaining and the USMNT faces St. Vincent & the Grenadines on Friday before wrapping up the group on September 6th against Trinidad & Tobago.

How to Win the Group

The USMNT need to make up three points on T&T and would obviously do so by beating them on the 6th. However if Trinidad can beat Guatemala, they would tie for first with 13 points and it will come down to goal differential. The U.S. is trailing T&T in that category by one goal at the moment. USMNT need to win both matches AND do so with a better goal difference than T&T; OR a T&T draw or loss vs Guatemala

How to Advance

For all the pessimists out there, the U.S. can technically lose both remaining matches and still advance.  After Friday’s USMNT match against SVG, all eyes will turn towards Guatemala vs Trinidad & Tobago later on in the evening. If Guatemala can surprise again, then they will REALLY put some pressure on the U.S. going into the final match. A draw between those two teams would probably be the best result for the Americans.Failure to pick up all three points against last place SVG would likely put the U.S. in a “win or go home” situation against T&T.But you have to think they’ll take care of business and get that win. In that case, a Guatemala loss to T&T would put the U.S. four points clear and guaranteed to advance going into the final match. If Guatemala draws with T&T, then the U.S. would have to get a result in the last match or hope for SVG to pull of an upset.The only thing that should matter here.. is that if the Americans win both matches, they advance.

How to be eliminated

Yes, it is a possibility. Don’t shoot the messenger.If the U.S. messes around and loses both matches, Guatemala would only need two points from two matches to knock them out. One of those matches is against an 0-2 SVG, so the points are there for them to get. But even playing at their worst, the USMNT should be able to get at least one win.If the U.S. beats SVG and Guatemala also beats T&T, then Guatemala could still eliminate the Americans. That would indeed happen if the USA then lose to T&T and Guatemala beats SVG***.

***Technically if Guatemala were to beat T&T by 10 goals, then only draw against SVG would also see them move into 2nd place in this scenario.

Crazy Scenario

If the United States loses to SVG, Guatemala beats T&T; then U.S. beats T&T and Guatemala beats SVG… it would mean Trinidad & Tobago slide out of qualifying with Guatemala finishing first and the U.S. second.

The Bottom Line

The USMNT hold their destiny in their own hands. If they win these next two matches as they very well should, they are through to the Hexagonal where it is much safer. Of the six teams, the top three go to Russia in 2018 plus a fourth then plays an inter-confederation playoff against a team from Asia to qualify. In 2014 qualifying, Mexico went a lowly 2-3-5 in the Hexagonal and still was able to qualify. This round is more forgiving with more matches to play and one bad day won’t put you on the brink of elimination.

SVG vs. USA, What to watch for

By Adam Whittaker Snavely  @Snaves on Sep 1, 2016, 7:30a 15 

The USMNT travels to the Caribbean to lock up three points and possibly advance to the Hex against minnows St. Vincent & the Grenadines. Will they take care of business, or can Vincy Heat give them a run for their money?

Usually when you talk about CONCACAF travel, you think hostile, urban environments with stifling heat and immense pressure from the home fans. Vincy Heat will have heat and a good home crowd (the nation has declared a half-day holiday for the game), but…well, just look at it.This time around, the boys get a beach-side hotel and rainbows overlooking rain forests for practice sessions. The epitome of hostility these islands are not.St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG for time’s sake from here on out) has a population of roughly 103,000 people, which means the pickings for a soccer team (which splits time with cricket as most popular sport) are relatively slim. This didn’t stop SVG from taking a shock lead against the U.S. in St. Louis before receiving a thorough trouncing to the tune of six unanswered goals. With Trinidad & Tobago squaring off with Guatemala in Trinidad, a win for the U.S. and a T&T victory guarantees both victors advancing to the Hex. Any other combination of results complicates things a bit more, but advancing on Friday is still firmly within reach.

Recent Form:

USA

L (0-1) – Colombia – Copa America

L (0-4) – Argentina – Copa America

W (2-1) – Ecuador – Copa America

W (1-0) – Paraguary – Copa America

W (4-0) – Costa Rica – Copa America

St. Vincent and the Grenadines

L (0-1) – St. Kitts and Nevis – Caribbean Cup

L (2-1) – Suriname – Caribbean Cup

L (6-0) – Trinidad & Tobago – WCQ

L (2-3) – Trinidad & Tobago – WCQ

L (0-4) – Guatemala – WCQ

What to Watch For:

Get the Result – This isn’t a complex gameplan. This is a team the United States shouldbeat 10 out of 10 times, and a win is absolutely necessary if the U.S. is to maintain any semblance of control over their destiny (and with SVG traveling to Guatemala for the last matchday of this round of qualifying, a loss here and a Guatemala win against T&T would be catastrophic). Again, this should be an easy win for the U.S., but…Antigua & Barbuda.

Play Your Vets – With a result needed, expect Klinsmann to turn to his veterans as much as he can to start the game off. We might see some greener faces later on (and again against T&T should advancement be secured on Friday), but don’t be surprised when the Kyle Beckerman-types get the nod. Klinsmann will want people who have experience with the zaniness of CONCACAF in from the start, and while that might not be exciting, it’s also smart, common-sense coaching.

Midfield Shakedown – Michael Bradley is suspended, Jermaine Jones is hurt, and Clint Dempsey isn’t in the squad due to medical precautions. The middle of the field is a bit up in the air for Friday. Kyle Beckerman, Alejandro Bedoya, and Graham Zusi are the only people left that Klinsmann has called on with any regularity, while Darlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, Paul Arriola, and Sacha Kljestan all offer different and intriguing skillsets to the midfield pool, but have yet to fully win Klinsmann’s trust. Any way you slice it, it looks like a pretty sure bet someone will be grabbing a somewhat-surprising start in the midfield.

Lineup Prediction:

Klinsmann preached consistency with the results and positive performances from the Copa America, so I think he’ll try to replicate them as much as possible.

Altidore

Wood/Bedoya

Nagbe/Beckerman/Zusi

Johnson/Besler/Cameron/Yedlin

Guzan

With limited midfield options, I think Klinsmann tries out the lopsided 4-3-3/4-4-2 thing that worked against Ecuador so well. Bobby Wood provides defensive cover as he can on the wing, but also pinches into the middle to be a second forward as opposed to staying on the touchline. Altidore gets the nod up top, while Bedoya’s work rate gives him the nod to on the right. The midfield trio works because Nagbe is so attune to the needs of his team and his tactical adjustments can account for Wood switching into a forward on the break and in possession. Zusi is another Bedoya-like player with a high work rate that Klinsmann trusts, and with no other holding midfielder here besides Caleb Stanko, Beckerman will almost certainly be the one shielding the backline. Besler is the only change fromt the Copa America defense, filling in for John Brooks. It’s also possible Klinsmann decides to slot Geoff Cameron back into the defensive midfield position and give the Omar Gonzalez-Matt Besler tandem another go, but my guess is he keeps Cameron at the back where he’s been so good for the U.S. over the past year.

Whether Kljestan or Nagbe, Klinsmann needs creativity in Dempsey-less U.S. lineup

Goal.com Tue, Aug 30 11:10 PM PDT

Clint Dempsey’s absence will be felt by the U.S. national team in the upcoming days. That statement seems obvious enough, but it might be easy to look at the Americans’ upcoming opponents and think it won’t matter all that much if the team’s most dynamic attacking weapon is not around.It may not matter a ton against Saint Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday, or even in Jacksonville, Florida, on Tuesday against Trinidad and Tobago. But with a perfect opportunity to give some creative midfield options a try in the starting lineup, Jurgen Klinsmann would be wise to hand the keys to the attack to Sacha Kljestan or Darlington Nagbe.If you think including Kljestan or Nagbe in Friday’s starting lineup is a foregone conclusion, then you haven’t been paying attention to Klinsmann’s moves over recent months and years. Nagbe has repeatedly been given nibbles as a second-half substitute, and looked good each time, but he has yet to be in a starting lineup. Kljestan is fresh off a two-plus-year absence from the team, and has played one national team match in almost three years. Not exactly the track record of someone Klinsmann is going to automatically insert into the lineup.Klinsmann could very easily start a central midfield pairing of Kyle Beckerman and Alejandro Bedoya, or even a triangle including those two along with Graham Zusi. Those would be safe enough options, with all three being World Cup veterans who know what it’s like to start in qualifying.Such picks would be safe, but they would ignore the opportunity to look at a pair of truly gifted creators capable of doing a better job of filling the playmaking void Dempsey’s absence creates. And we’re not just talking about Friday’s qualifier, which won’t included suspended U.S. captain Michael Bradley. We are talking about an opportunity to see if Kljestan and Nagbe can lead the attack in a creative midfield role and make the most of the fact that the U.S. currently boasts some in-form forwards.Kljestan is playing some of the best soccer of his career. He leads MLS in assists (15) and chances created. The argument can be made that he’s a much better creator now than he was seven years ago, when he was last a regular starter for the national team. Back then, Bob Bradley partnered Kljestan with Michael Bradley. Oftentimes Kljestan seemed content to defer to Bradley’s attacking whims, which worked most memorably in the 2009 qualifying win against Mexico. Bradley scored two goals that day and Kljestan did a lot of the dirty work in midfield while also keeping the ball moving.Kljestan is older now — he turns 31 next month — but also more mature as a player and more accomplished at delivering key passes to his forwards. He has also honed the defensive side of his game during his time in Europe, and more recently with the New York Red Bulls. He may not cover ground like he used to seven years ago, but he certainly reads the game better, and has just as much experience in big matches than most players in the U.S. player pool.Nagbe is a different kind of player, but he is also deserving of a chance to start in one of the September qualifiers. His attacking statistics don’t jump out at you, at least not this year, but he is still the same mobile and dangerous midfielder who can put defenders on their heels. He hasn’t created even half as many chances as Kljestan in MLS play this season, but nobody has a higher pass completion percentage among MLS starters, or a better passing accuracy in the attacking half of the field.Klinsmann has seemed reluctant to give Nagbe a shot, and the sense you get is that he feels there is still something missing — at least that has been the case in 2016. Maybe there is something to that, because there is no denying Nagbe has struggled to reach the levels he hit in the final months of 2015, when he helped carry the Portland Timbers to an MLS Cup. He has just one goal and five assists this season, but he still hasn’t lost his quickness or ability on the ball.Yes, Klinsmann could choose to pass on both Kljestan and Nagbe as starters, but that will be doing a disservice to a pair of forwards in Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood who rely heavily on good service. Why not put a skilled attacking midfielder behind Altidore and Wood and see what they can create? Doing so just might reveal a truly viable creative alternative for if and when Dempsey may not be available.Bradley will be back for the Trinidad and Tobago match, and Klinsmann could choose to slot him in a playmaking role, but we have seen enough evidence to know that isn’t the best place to play him. Bradley is thriving in a deep-lying midfield role with Toronto FC and he functioned well in that role in the Copa America. Giving Bradley someone who he can connect passes with and count on to provide some distribution to the forwards is paramount without Dempsey.Nagbe is the younger option, at 26, so Klinsmann could choose to go with him, but nobody would blame him if he decides to split the two September qualifiers between them. That would be the best route. Let Nagbe start the first match, and then reunite Kljestan and Bradley in central midfield against Trinidad and Tobago. It would mark their first start together since 2013, and first start together in an official competition since the 2011 Gold Cup semifinal win against Panama, two games before Klinsmann took over as U.S. coach. They have changed quite a bit in the years since then, but those changes just might make Kljestan and Bradley an even better central midfield tandem now than they were before.It will all depend on what Klinsmann wants to do. Leaving Nagbe and Kljestan on the bench against opponents the U.S. should be able to go after offensively will feel like an overly safe play, and a wasted opportunity to give two of the most creative players in the U.S. player pool a chance to show what they can do.

Bobby Wood, Jozy Altidore rapport could benefit Dempsey-less U.S.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Forward partnerships are typically formed on the practice field. Preferences, from a player’s favored foot to the runs he likes to make, are noted. Repetition and time are then needed for such knowledge to take hold, though the infrequency of national team matches can make this difficult at international level.In the case of Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood, there was work off the field as well.When Wood was first getting called into the U.S. national team on a consistent basis, he endured some inevitable ups and downs. It was Altidore who reached out to offer emotional support.”[Altidore] was one of the guys who was always there for me,” said Wood prior to Tuesday’s practice session. “He always wrote to me after games to tell me what I could do to try to improve. I’ll always have respect for him. [That help] is always great. I can’t complain.”Altidore has a deep reservoir of advice from which to draw, of course, having ridden the roller coaster that is endemic to the life of a forward. He has endured injuries and drops in form, as well as criticism from coaches and media. He sees in Wood a forward whose career is about to reach escape velocity.”Bobby is a guy who is just well-rounded,” Altidore told reporters on Tuesday. “I think his work rate is fantastic, he’s a little bit of a pit bull. He makes it uncomfortable for defenses. It was rough on him in the beginning. I think people were a little harsh on him but now I think you see him starting to grow. He’s getting more confident, and he’s got a great transfer now at Hamburg, and you see around the group he’s just brighter, happier. He’s improved a lot and he’s going to continue to improve.”head of two World Cup qualifiers — one in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Friday, followed by a home match against Trinidad & Tobago on Sept. 6 — it seems likely the U.S. will rely on Wood and Altidore at some point over the next week. The absence of Clint Dempsey due to an irregular heartbeat will force something of a rethink in terms of the U.S. attack, a situation compounded by the suspension of Michael Bradley for Friday’s game and an ongoing knee injury for Jermaine Jones.Altidore insisted not much would change — “Trying to be effective, trying to be dangerous,” — but U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann admitted that he has a bit more planning to do than he normally would if Dempsey was available. He noted that Dempsey’s habit of dropping back into midfield left Wood to remain high, occupying the center-backs. When the ball was lost the roles were reversed, with Wood the one to help out defensively. Now the U.S. will have to compensate for that loss in familiarity.”You put your puzzle together, and it’s always important what key elements you have and [Dempsey] has been a key element for us over the last years, over the last 10 years,” Klinsmann told ESPN FC. “Then once he’s not on the field, you put it together differently. You have a different approach then.”Then he added, “I think we have built some players over the last couple of years and they are ready to step in and get the job done.”Wood is foremost among those, having struggled at 1860 Munich only to break out last year at Union Berlin.”I think Bobby is an example of a lot of work,” said Klinsmann, referring to both player and coach. “Two years ago people said ‘Why is he playing that kid? He hasn’t played any minutes at 1860 Munich.’ Well, if you tell the German national team coach to pull a kid from the second division that isn’t even on the bench, they would call you crazy. But our pool of players is just completely different to any team in Europe or South America. We don’t have the luxury just to pick the players from Champions League teams.”Now Wood’s aforementioned transfer to Hamburg looks promising, especially after he scored on his Bundesliga debut in a 1-1 draw with Freiburg. “It was a really proud moment and something I worked hard for,” he said.Altidore is only just back into the frame after recovering from his latest hamstring injury. When reminded of this he said, “Let’s knock on wood somewhere,” pun not intended.”I think now we’ve pinpointed it,” said Altidore about the cause of his hamstring injuries. “The national team has been a really big help for me in that. Hopefully I can stay healthy and if I stay healthy, with my ability, I know I can help the team.”In total, Altidore and Wood have been on the field together in 10 U.S. matches, including the 6-1 win over the Vincy Heat in November, a game in which both players scored. For that reason Wood is confident that he and Altidore will link up well.”We’ll figure it out,” he said. “He’s a great player and it’s not going to be a problem playing with two strikers or whatever we do. We’ll just have to come in and adapt and do whatever we can to help the team.”And each other.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. 

 

Reasons for hope, reasons for worry for U.S. in World Cup qualifying

As the U.S. heads into a pair of important World Cup qualifiers starting with Friday’s tilt at St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the question facing national team fans is this: How worried should they be about their country’s chances of reaching the final round of regional qualifying for Russia 2018? In truth, not very.The U.S. is coming off a successful summer. It finished fourth at a Copa America played on home soil, and the Americans are the clear favorites in both upcoming games, the second of which is Tuesday in Jacksonville, Florida, against Trinidad and Tobago.But if March’s ugly road loss in Guatemala proved anything, it’s that things don’t always go according to plan in this region, especially away from home. And the U.S. will be without some of its most reliable veterans for the double fixture. That doesn’t mean it won’t advance to the six-team “Hexagonal” — this is a team that has participated in seven consecutive World Cups, after all, and has reached the knockout stage in three of the last four tournaments. It’ll get there.But challenges with travel, weather, field conditions and opponents hell-bent on stealing a result means it won’t be a cakewalk. It never is.”CONCACAF is very tricky — I had to experience that myself over the last five years,” U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann said. “On a piece of paper it looks easy, but reality is just different.”Here are five reasons U.S. fans should be concerned, and five reasons to be hopeful as Friday’s kickoff approaches.

Reasons to worry

  1. Dempsey’s absence

Clint Dempsey has been the USA’s most consistent scoring threat during the past two World Cup cycles. He led the team with three goals during the Copa, and had five in three games for Seattle when the club shut down the 33-year-old, who is being evaluated for an irregular heartbeat. He’ll miss both games as a result.The Texan leaves huge shoes to fill. Dempsey’s is the USA’s all-time top scorer in qualifying.”Would we need him down in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and against Trinidad and Tobago in the second game?” Klinsmann said. “Absolutely.”

  1. Other key players are out, too

Dempsey’s absence wouldn’t be as big a concern if other starters weren’t also unavailable. Captain Michael Bradley is suspended for Friday’s game because of yellow card accumulation. Jermaine Jones was called in but only so the national team staff could evaluate the knee injury that has prevented the enforcer from playing for the Colorado Rapids in almost two months. And center back John Brooks, who was a rock alongside Geoff Cameron during the Copa, withdrew from the squad Monday because of a back injury.

  1. Consistently inconsistent

You never know what U.S. team is going to show up under Klinsmann, whose penchant for tinkering unnecessarily at times has led to flat performances. The U.S. coach was more pragmatic at Copa America, after which one player told ESPN FC that Klinsmann’s upbeat style helped maintain a positive locker room atmosphere during the month-plus the U.S. squad was together. But that loss in Guatemala City is a reminder how quickly one game can turn things south.

  1. Little margin for error

With only six games (compared to 10 in the final round), the semis are even trickier than the Hex. One slip-up can be devastating, and reminds us that playing CONCACAF minnows on their own (bumpy) turf isn’t always easy. In Barbados 16 years ago, the U.S. was 45 minutes away from being eliminated from the 2002 World Cup before gutting out the victory. (The Americans went on to reach the quarterfinals in Korea and Japan.) Four years ago, Klinsmann’s side needed a stoppage-time goal from Eddie Johnson in tiny Antigua and Barbuda to secure three points and ensure that its closing semifinal-round game against Guatemala wasn’t a must-win.

  1. Remember Mexico

If you think not qualifying is impossible, look at what happened to Mexico in 2008. Long before “San Zusi” saved El Tri‘s bacon in 2013, CONCACAF’s other giant was on the brink of elimination at the semifinal stage. Mexico eventually advanced to the Hexagonal over Jamaica on goal difference, but it was a massive scare for the futbol-crazy nation, and it went a long way toward the dismissal of manager Sven Goran-Eriksson, who was fired after Mexico lost its Hex opener to the United States in early 2009.

Reasons not to

  1. 1. Altidore, Wood in fine form

Even without Dempsey, the U.S. has more than enough firepower to beat the Vincy Heat, as the hosts are known. (And for good reason: It will be 87 degrees Fahrenheit, with 78 percent humidity, on Friday.)

Target forward Jozy Altidore has plenty of experience in games just like this, and he arrived in camp having scored five times in eight MLS appearances for Toronto FC since returning from the hamstring injury that ruled him out of Copa America. The similarly physical Bobby Wood, who impressed in Altidore’s place in June, scored Saturday for Hamburg in his Bundesliga debut. (Both players also found the net against SVG last November.) And Jordan Morris and Chris Wondolowski have combined for 18 MLS goals in 2016.

  1. Opportunity for others

The absence of Bradley and almost certainly Jones (who, not surprisingly, didn’t train with his teammates Tuesday) all but guarantees that veteran destroyer Kyle Beckerman will start in central midfield. World Cup 2014 starter Matt Besler should slot in seamlessly for left center back Brooks. And based on who’s available, it’s possible that one of Sacha Kljestan (who was added to the squad Monday) Darlington Nagbe or 17-year-old Christian Pulisic will start. All three have plenty to prove and will be motivated to perform well if the chance comes, with a bigger role in the team up for grabs.

  1. Continuity

Eighteen members of the 23-man Copa squad return. It would’ve been 21 of 23 had Brooks, Dempsey and LA Galaxy forward Gyasi Zardes (who misses out because of a broken foot) been healthy and available. That built-in cohesion is by design. Klinsmann’s hope is that the chemistry developed within the team over the summer carries into these two dates even if his lineup is shorthanded.

  1. Wins and they’re in

The U.S. should always beat SVG. Trinidad and Tobago is expected to top Guatemala — the Americans already beat them away this cycle — in Port of Spain. If both results pan out, the U.S. and T&T advance regardless of what happens in Jacksonville.  But the bottom line is the U.S. should win both games. If it does, not only will the Americans advance to the Hex, they’ll lock up the top spot in Group C, setting up a home date against Mexico in the opening match of the final round.

  1. The U.S. isn’tEl Tri

Mexico won last year’s CONCACAF Cup over the U.S., and top to bottom, El Tri has a deeper roster. But the Americans have been better in World Cup qualifying over the last decade. In fact, Mexico hasn’t finished above the U.S. — which has topped the regional standings in each of the last three cycles — since 2001.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

 

U.S. team youth need to push older players out – Jurgen Klinsmann

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview that, with the team about halfway through the current World Cup cycle, he wishes more young players were pushing for spots.Klinsmann hailed the U.S.’ highly respectable fourth place finish at the Copa America and said he was confident that his side would carry the momentum from that tournament into the last two matches of the current round of World Cup qualifying.On Friday, the U.S. will play St. Vincent and the Grenadines in Kingstown, followed by a match against Trinidad & Tobago four days later in Jacksonville. The U.S. is expected to get the results it needs to clinch a spot in the final round Hexagonal.In terms of the team’s composition, the U.S. remains heavily reliant on veteran players. But what is concerning for Klinsmann is the lack of pressure coming from up-and-coming players, a point made more acute by the absences of Jermaine Jones and Clint Dempsey.”We hoped for more push from the younger generation,” Klinsmann said. “So our message consistently is when they are with us you’ve got to make your case. You’ve got to come out of your shell.”You’ve got to speak up and ask questions. Push the older ones out. This is your job. In general, my experience over the last five years is that American talent takes longer, maybe because the college culture is still there in the middle of it.”Meanwhile, you have European or South American kids at 18, 19, biting the legs off the older ones. Here [a player] needs to be maybe 22, 23, so that kind of personality jump comes a bit later with our players.”Granted, age in itself is no crime, Klinsmann said. In the heat of a qualification cycle, experience is a valuable commodity to have. But Jones is injured and likely won’t play in either of the upcoming qualifiers, although he remains a significant part of the team at age 34. And the other mainstay, 33-year-old Dempsey, has been sidelined with an irregular heartbeat, though Kyle Beckerman, also 34, is a shoo-in to play in both matches.Klinsmann didn’t sound overly alarmed by the presence of the veterans, noting that he considers this part of the normal process, and he did bring in some younger elements to his squad for the current round of qualifiers.But out of players under 25, only DeAndre Yedlin (23) and Bobby Wood (23) are certain starters. It remains to be seen how big a role 17-year-old Christian Pulisic will be handed with progression to the next round of qualifying on the line.Klinsmann pointed to Wood as an example of what the U.S. has to go through in terms of bringing players into the national team.Two years ago, Wood was sitting on the bench for 1860 Munich, but Klinsmann kept calling the young forward up anyway. That provided a badly needed dose of confidence, and combined with a stellar season at 2. Bundesliga side Union Berlin, Wood has parlayed that into a move to Hamburg.”If you tell the German national team coach to pull a kid from the second division that isn’t even on the bench, they would call you crazy,” Klinsmann said. “But our pool of players is just completely different to any team in Europe or South America. We don’t have the luxury just to pick the players from Champions League teams.”We don’t have that. We have to be happy for a kid to sign a professional contract and then try to help him understand what it takes to become a pro, and to work his way through the system wherever he is.”The lack of young players coming through is most apparent in midfield, though Klinsmann noted that injuries have played a part. Hearts midfielder Perry Kitchen is a candidate, but Klinsmann said the player’s recent recovery from injury didn’t come in time for this week’s games.Bournemouth’s Emerson Hyndman is another who has been dealing with injuries of late. FC Vaduz midfielder Caleb Stanko did make the trip, and Klinsmann said he had showed well during a U.S. camp last May.One player who has made a something of a breakthrough at club level is 20-year-old Lynden Gooch, who has made five appearances for EPL side Sunderland already this season.But Klinsmann declined to call Gooch up, saying that he’s seen numerous instances of players losing their spot in the starting lineup at club level after returning from international duty, especially given the jet lag and fatigue involved.For that reason, Klinsmann didn’t want to jeopardize Gooch’s spot in the starting lineup at Sunderland.”I spoke to [Gooch], and for him now it’s a case of, ‘I just broke in. I’ve got to digest that for a second, and I’ve got to make sure I keep my spot.’ This is World Cup qualifying right now.”Yeah, we brought a couple of youngsters in, but we give priority to the group that got Copa America done. So we’ve got to get results now. This is purely result-driven the next seven days.”So maybe in October, we have the opportunity to bring some youngsters in, give them some playing time. It’s a completely different scenario.”In terms of improving the overall quality of the U.S. side, Klinsmann admitted there is no better test than what the U.S. faced earlier this summer.”The Copa America was for us, priceless in terms of not only because it was successful, but also because of the experience,” he said.”If every two years we could have a Copa America, it would boost our program tremendously because you need to play the best nations out there, and the best nations are in Europe and South America. So that learning curve hopefully pays off two years from now.”Klinsmann added that given the level of competition that the Copa offered, he hopes the U.S. will be able to compete in more editions of the tournament in the future.”Maybe down the road we have one Copa America in between the cycles and one Gold Cup, and not two Gold Cups,” he said. “I think that would be ideal. A Gold Cup doesn’t really challenge us. OK, it’s Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, and us. Yeah, Jamaica here and there.”They are strong nations, but from a learning perspective between two cycles, you want to play if possible Brazil, Argentina, Chile; or Holland, England, France and Germany.”Now with the way they schedule, and the qualifiers, obviously the 18-game schedule of South America, we have actually no chance anymore to schedule them in friendly games. That’s not good for us, because the only way we grow is by playing up.”Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. 

‘Difference-maker’ Sacha Kljestan ready to seize latest U.S. team chance

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Sacha Kljestan thought his first U.S. national team call-up in more than two years was a prank.It was around 11 p.m. Sunday night when Kljestan received a text from U.S. manager Jurgen Klinsmann giving him the news he had long waited for. In that moment, the New York Red Bulls midfielder didn’t recognize the number, and his troll deflector shield immediately went up.”It was a 949 phone number, which is where my brother lives and close to where I grew up, so I thought it was maybe one of my friends that was having a joke with me,” he told reporters prior to Tuesday’s training session with the U.S. national team. “I didn’t really want to text back like I was excited, [which] I was, so I just wrote, ‘Please call me.’ [Klinsmann] called me a few minutes later, and we talked for a few minutes, and I told my wife and she didn’t really believe it either. I’m here now. It’s pretty exciting.”Kljestan’s wait has certainly been well-documented — and excruciating — for a player who first made his U.S. debut in 2007. He most recently appeared for the U.S. in a 2-0 loss to Ukraine on March 5, 2014, in a match that was moved to Larnaca, Cyprus. Kljestan’s fading international prospects were made even tougher to swallow as he moved to Belgian side Anderlecht, won league titles and played in the UEFA Champions League.He returned to MLS in 2015 with the New York Red Bulls and put together an impressive season as the side won the Supporters’ Shield. His stellar form has continued into this season, as he has tallied five goals and a league-leading 15 assists.None of that was good enough for Klinsmann. Although Kljestan was called up with a fair bit of regularity in 2012 and 2013, he essentially fell off the international map thereafter. In a recent interview with ESPN FC, Kljestan called the snub “a small mystery.” Consider it now a mystery solved, mostly.”The reason Sacha is back in this group is he deserves it,” Klinsmann said in an exclusive interview. “He’s a difference-maker at [the Red Bulls], and he’s more mature. He seems very driven.”Klinsmann insisted that he has been watching Kljestan over the years and said that he considered him for Copa America, though the New York attacker didn’t make the 40-man provisional roster. The U.S. manager noted that players such as Michael Bradley, Jermaine Jones and Kyle Beckerman created something of a logjam in the center of midfield. But as Klinsmann explained this thinking, it became clear that the difference-maker tag — however he defines it — has been the dividing line for whether Kljestan gets called in.”We always ask national team players to be a difference-maker,” Klinsmann said. “Whatever position you play, you’ve got to be different to whatever the other players out there in your league and your club that play your position. That needs to be there. There’s always a special piece to a player that becomes a national team player.”So if you play a No 8 or a No. 10 now — he plays more a No. 10 at Red Bulls — then I need killer passes, I need you to get in the box, I need you to be decisive on set pieces, certain things that make a difference. That’s what Kljestan is doing. When he was three, four years with us, he struggled to do that for whatever reason. Now there’s another opportunity.”Kljestan understands full well why this chance has come about. Jones is out because of a lingering knee problem that includes an LCL strain, and Bradley is suspended for Friday’s World Cup qualifier against St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Kljestan’s experience is such that the circumstances don’t bother him in the least. He knows that his smarts and ability mean there is a real chance that he’ll see the field against the Vincy Heat or, failing that, against Trinidad & Tobago four days later.”I think it’s up to me in the next couple of days in practice to prove that I’m ready for that level again,” he said. “But yeah, I’ve been asked this question a million times over the last couple of years, and I said, ‘If I get a chance, I’ll be ready.’ If I get a chance to play in either of the games, I know I’ll be ready, and I know I’ll help the team.”Klinsmann certainly sounds like a believer, even though it’s been a long time coming for Kljestan.”It’s great to have [Kljestan] back, and without putting pressure on Sacha, it’s an opportunity for him now to prove a point,” he said. “He doesn’t have to prove that point in these eight days. It’s not that I want to see miracles from you. I just want you to take the initiative.”Consider that a message received.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC.  

THE NEXT 14 MONTHS FOR THE USMNT

AUGUST 29, 2016

By Clemente Lisi – NEW YORK, NY (Aug 29, 2016) US Soccer Players – The USMNT returns to action this week for the first time since reaching the semifinals of the Copa Centenario. The September window means a pair of World Cup Qualifiers versus two island nations. They’re on the road versus St Vincent & the Grenadines on September 2 (3:30pm ET – beIN Sport). Then it’s home against Trinidad & Tobago four days later (8pm ET – Fox Sports 1). These are both winnable games. The USMNT is on an upswing coming off of the Centenario. Still, they know better than to underestimate a CONCACAF opponent. The matches also mark the start of a 14-month period where there will be little time for mistakes. Tinkering with lineups and tactics may be a thing of the past for Klinsmann.  CONCACAF has stretched the final round of qualifying over two years. At the same time, FIFA has reduced the dates on its international calendar starting next year. That move was to appease European clubs. For everybody else, it’s a schedule crunch leaving less time to play friendlies. The USMNT will also play in the Gold Cup next summer. That adds another layer of competitive regional games to the already congested mix. There could’ve been more games. the Confederations Cup is also next summer. It’s hard to think of the mini-World Cup as a time to experiment. Instead, it’s a chance to familiarize teams with the venues and the country ahead of the World Cup. From this point on, the United States has to play every game to win.The USMNT works toward the September games ranked 26th in the world. They have a large group of MLS players approaching playoff form. There’s also a core of European-based players who are just starting their club seasons. That’s a plus for Klinsmann. At the Copa Centenario he used the same starting IX in three straight games. That’s something a US coach had not done since the 1930 World Cup. That provided both the coaching staff with a base to work with and the players with some sense of stability heading into next year.   “We definitely think that the group that got fourth (place) in the Copa America deserves a certain priority going on to the next World Cup qualifiers because they did tremendously well in the Copa America,” Klinsmann said in a news release Sunday. “It was an exciting tournament with great games. The whole group learned a lot, playing teams like Colombia, Ecuador and Argentina. This is a big stage, and they deserve to come back and confirm what they did in the tournament in these upcoming, very important World Cup Qualifiers.”Here’s a look ahead to what lies ahead for the USMNT and what to expect as it resumes its journey to Russia 2018:

September

Klinsmann will gather his players this week in Florida. They play at St Vincent & the Grenadines on Friday and Trinidad & Tobago on September 5 at EverBank Field in Jacksonville. Games in the Caribbean are always a tricky proposition. Anything less than the full six points will be a disappointment. It’s worth noting that T&T is a team on the rise. It has a core of European-based players. That’s turning them into one of the best sides to come out of that country since qualifying for Germany ’06. The Americans, however, are 4-0 in Jacksonville dating back to 1997.The United States will be without Clint Dempsey, but Jozy Altidore is back from injury. Look to Altidore for the goals. He’s scoring regularly in MLS and leads this group of players in World Cup qualifying goals. The defense hasGeoff Cameron and John Brooks both coming off strong Copa Centenario performances. Omar Gonzalez, overlooked for the Copa, also got the call-up. Brad Guzan is likely to be the starter in goal. Tim Howard provides the team with a great back-up should Klinsmann choose to switch it up.

October

This will be the chance for the United States to play some friendlies. Unfortunately, the opposition isn’t strong. The October 2 game in Havana versus Cuba appears to be more about diplomacy than soccer. Even so, it will be good to play in the Caribbean given the type of teams and travel schedule in the Hex.Eight days later, it’s USMNT vs New Zealand at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. Klinsmann will have his European-based players at his disposal for both games. Expect this to be a place where he experiments with a player or two. These games will be confidence-builders entering the 10-game Hexagonal.

November

This is where the schedule becomes intense. The month will feature two games to start the final round of World Cup qualifying. Based on the draw earlier this year, the United States is likely to face Mexico, followed by Costa Rica. That would be a tough start to the whole thing.Mexico will finish first in Group A. In Group C, the USMNT trails Trinidad & Tobago going into the final two games. The schedule calls for the Group C winner to host the winner of Group A1 (Mexico). Forget about the Guerra Fria this time around.Costa Rica, meanwhile, is in first place in Group B, just three points ahead of Panama. If Costa Rica and the US both win their respective groups, the sides will meet on November 14 in Costa Rica.

January 2017

January camp may be the only real chance for Klinsmann to look at players. This isn’t a FIFA date, so expect what we regularly see in January. MLS players. European players that need games. Opponents that aren’t as strong as they would be on an official FIFA date.

March

There are no official FIFA dates in January or February. March 20th and 28th are the next two times the United States will get the chance to play. Both these dates have been set aside by CONCACAF for Hexagonal matches.

July

The United States will again host the Gold Cup. The tournament runs from July 9-30. The US and Mexico, as always, enter the competition as favorites.

August

August 28 and September 5 will feature two Hex games.

October

October 2 and 10 marks the final two Hexagonal rounds.

November

The top three teams in the Hexagonal advance to Russia ‘18. The 4th-place finisher in CONCACAF will play the 5th-place team from Asia over two legs on November 6 and 14.  Based in New York City, Clemente Lisi is a regular contributor to US Soccer Players. 

THE EXTENDED LIFE OF SOCCER’S TRANSFER SYSTEM

AUGUST 31, 2016

By J Hutcherson (Aug 31, 2016) US Soccer Players – Amid the talk of super leagues, mergers, and revamping European club soccer as we know it, the transfer system doesn’t get enough attention. FIFPro is adament that it needs to stop, and they’ve got a solid point. The way players move in European soccer is a relic of a different era, one that should’ve come to an end before any of us were born. Instead, clubs are still attaching value to players apart from their contract and selling them. Any of the North American leagues could’ve done the same. None of them made that the main way players move clubs.Yet, the transfer system hangs on. English clubs complain that they’re paying more for overseas players and new records fall. Small clubs find themselves cut out almost entirely, something that has become a relic of an earlier era. It wasn’t long ago that transferring a star player could float a small club for years. Now, that move happens before that player ever makes a first team appearance. Thus FIFA’s insistence on solidarity payments.It’s what has to happen to shore up the transfer system that should be enough to topple it. The big clubs move money around between each other. The record transfers almost always lead to the selling club spending the balance. Otherwise, they face the wrath of supporters wondering why they made the sell in the first place. Then there’s the push to get rid of players before they become free agents. Anything is better than nothing within the transfer system. Meanwhile, the complaints about home grown players, limited opportunities, and building from within are loudest when a super club is struggling.It’s hard to see Europe as it is deciding the transfer system has to go. It would be the equivalent of all of the leagues deciding on an entry draft and a salary cap. But a breakaway league. That changes things, right? It’s as close as we’ll ever see to Europe starting from scratch.Should those super clubs make that move, what’s in their best interest? Certainly not the transfer system as we know it. Paying gigantic amounts of money for the right to a player contract doesn’t make a lot of sense. Baseball uses it when a club signs a player from a Japanese club but it’s a rarity bordering on silly. You trade players and sign free agents. You don’t buy the right to a contract for tens of millions of dollars unless there’s no other option.Europe’s proposed super league could choose to create those other options. That would be for entirely self-serving reasons, but it would also answer a lot of FIFPro’s complaints.Pushing against that is more than tradition. It’s the way clubs move money around in a system that relies on several basic assumptions. Few of them hold up. It doesn’t make economic sense to pay for the right to pay a player. It doesn’t make sense to hold players hostage within a system that puts a market value on them without their involvement. A player has very little choice within the transfer system, something that “giving” the player a cut of the fee doesn’t address. That last one is a bigger moral and ethical question, one world soccer chooses to avoid.So here we are at the end of the summer of 2016. We’re staring down a super league. UEFA may have postponed that inevitability for a few more years, but it’s stalking European and world soccer as a whole. It’s not a straw man to suggest that a breakaway super league would reconsider the transfer system. That’s just common sense and a practical business adjustment. The better question is why would it take a super league to bring an end to the transfer market? Why not just go ahead and take that step now?  J Hutcherson started covering soccer in 1999 and has worked as the general manager of the US National Soccer Team Players Association since 2002. 

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