10/28/16 Indy 11 host Playoff Game Next Sat, 11/5 3 pm, MLS Playoffs Sunday on ESPN, FS1, Champ League Tues/Wed

So after the most successful season in Indy 11 history – THE PLAYOFFs are coming to the Circle City as our 11 will host 3rd seed FC Edmonton at the Mike next Saturday Nov 5 at 3 p.m.  The 11 equaled the longest home unbeaten streak in NASL History with 18 straight home games without losing, including an undefeated mark this entire season after blasting Puerto Rico 3-0 Sat Night.

So the PLAYOFFs have started for MLS – yes it means the best team in the MLS doesn’t normally win but honestly we American’s love our playoffs and MLS promises to provide plenty of excitement over the next month .  Montreal and Drogba host the NY Red Bulls aand US mid Sasha Klisten at 3 pm on ESPN Sunday and the LA Galaxy with Landon Donovan, Dos Santos host Colorado and Goalie Tim Howard at 5 pm.  Toronto FC and US players Bradley & Altidore and MVP Giovinco travel to NYCFC Sunday 0n FS1 at 7:30 pm, followed by my team Seattle with new American forward Jordon Morris taking on former Carmel High star – FC Dallas Captain Matt Hodges  at 10 pm on FS1.

American 17 year old youngster Christian Pulisic has me going bandwagon again this season. Last year it was Leicester City, this year its me back on board with German squad Borrusia Dortmund as I have been either tuning in or DVRing every game on FS1 or FS2.  This week Pulisic comes on at the half down 2-0 on the road, all he does is come on to provide an assist to make it 2-3 and add the 93rd minute equalizer to tie it.  I am thinking perhaps a Dortmund jersey this Christmas hum.  Don’t forget Champions League Tues/Wed next week

MUST SEE GAMES ON TV

Thurs, Oct 26

10:00 p.m. (Fox Sports1 W4. Seattle Sounders vs. W5. Sporting Kansas City, MLS Cup playoffs knockout round game

Sat, Oct 29

7:30 am NBCSN            Sunderland vs Arsenal

11 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Leicester City

1:30 pm NBCSN            Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

1:30 pm Fox sports 2       Borussia Dortmund vs Schlake

Sun, Oct 30 

9:30 am NBCSN            Everton vs West Ham

12 noon                            Southhampton vs Chelsea

3 pm  ESPN                     MLS Semis Leg 1: Montreal Impact vs NY Red Bulls

5 pm  ESPN                     MLS Semi-Finals LA Galaxy vs Colorado

7 pm  FS1                         MLS Semi-Finals Leg 1: Toronto FC vs NYCFC

9 pm  FS1                        MLS Semi-Finals Leg 1: Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas

Tues, Nov 1

Europe – UEFA Champions League

1:45pm Fox Soccer Plus,               Beşiktaş vs Napoli

3:45pm Fox Sports 2 USA,            Ludogorets vs Arsenal

3:45pm  Fox Sports 1                      Manchester City vs Barcelona  …

3:45pm ESPN Deportes,                Atlético Madrid vs Rostov

3:45pm ESPN2 or 3?                       Borussia M’gladbach vs Celtic

3:45pm Fox Sports Ind, State    PSV vs Bayern München

3:45pm  ESPN3,                                  Basel vs PSG

3:45pm  ESPN3,                                   Benfica vs Dynamo Kyiv

Wed, Nov 2

3:45pm  Fox Sports 1 Tottenham Hotspur vs Bayer Leverkusen

3:45pm Fox Sports 2  Borussia Dortmund vs Sporting CP

3:45pm ESPN2 Juventus vs Olympique Lyonnais

3:45pm  ESPN Deportes Legia Warszawa vs Real Madrid

3:45pm  ESPN3    København vs Leicester City

3:45pm  ESPN3 Sevilla vs Dinamo Zagreb

Sat, Nov 5     

3  pm My Indy 23       Indy 11 host FC Edmonton in the Semi’s @ the Mike

Sun, Nov 6

3 pm  ESPN                     MLS Conference Semi-Finals

5 pm  ESPN                     MLS Conference Semi-Finals

7 pm  FS1                         MLS Conference Semi-Finals

9 pm  FS1                        MLS Conference Semi-Finals

Thur, Nov 10

10 pm ESPN 2         USA Ladies vs Romania

Fri, Nov 11

7:30 pm Fox Sports 1 USA vs Mexico in Columbus, OH

Tues, Nov 15

9 pm Fox Sports 1 Costa Rica vs USA

Indy 11

Pack the House Playoffs Style – Nov 5 3p m at the Mike Semifinal Round

3 things Indy 11 3-0 Win over Puerto Rico

Braun and Lacroix Win Player of the Week Honors

GK Jon Bush wins player of Week in Goal

Vote Indy 11 Coach of the Year – Tim Hankinson

MLS

Altidore – Toronto Soccer is Back

Playoffs are Here !

Ranking the Playoff Teams!

USA

Pulisic the Savior – Video – yanks Abroad

Pulisic saves Dortmund in OT

Pulisic better at Dortmund rather than Barca

US Hot List

Us Ladies Carli Lloyd opens up about favorite teammate Hope Solo

EPL

Man U’s win over City eases pressure on Mourino

Man City its not working for Pep Just Yet

Mourino open to selling Wayne Rooney

Plenty of Blame to Go around in Man U 4-0 stomping at Chelsea

Cup Ties are Set for Next Round

Fergie says Mourino can do it

 

World

Is Messi’s position move going to cost Barca?  Hunter

Tight race in La Liga for a change

Atletico loses first game in La Liga

 

Champions League Tues/Wed

Juve Return Win over Lyon Gets them Thru

Tottenhan and Leverkusen reach for the Summit

Man City looks for Home Leg to Give Better Results vs Barca after 4-0 loss at Camp Nou

UCL Final in New York City? Someday Maybe? 

Dortmund GM says moving UCL out of Europe would be Crazy!

 

GOALIES

Top Saves in the EPL Week 9

 

 

THREE THINGS: #INDVPRFC

Indiana’s Team grabs all three points in home finale against Puerto Rico FC

Oct 24, 2016

20

STILL STREAKING

Indy Eleven has accomplished something only a handful of teams can also boast – finish an entire season unbeaten at home. The Carolina RailHawks did it during a span in 2014, the Cosmos have done it twice – once in 2015 and then again this season, but something seems special about the way things shook out for Indiana’s Team.Looking back at the two home wins at the end of 2015, it was a fitting way to cap off a season that saw momentum build to the finish at “The Mike” and allowed the team to finish on a high. Then the offseason brought about a number of changes, including a new head coach and almost half a roster of turnover, begging the question of how high is this team’s ceiling? After being treated to a draw on the road against Tampa Bay to open the season, Indy Eleven fans got their first glimpse during the home opener just a week later when Nemanja Vukovic’s late equalizer sealed a point – the first of many results to be impacted in the final minutes of the game.The rest of the story takes its twists and turns, but winning more often than not in front of those fans and to be able to stretch to 18 straight in front of those fans is something the players will never take for granted.”The only element we need is that crowd. Playing in front of the Brickyard Battalion, and to go undefeated here the whole year – a lot of people were laughing at me when I said we could do it. But as a group, we knew it was possible and we’re thrilled to have executed.”

GOALS GALORE

Perhaps one of the more underrated aspects of the streak was how balanced things were in terms of excellence in defense and attack. Including Saturday’s result, Indy Eleven scored three or more goals a total of seven times, while also keeping a clean sheet seven times at home, sometimes all wrapped up in the same result like in the last three contests at “The Mike.”Focusing on the last three home results – all 3-0 wins over Cosmos, Carolina and Puerto Rico FC – it’s hard to see the opposition grinning when they see a trip to Carroll Stadium in their future. That mixed bag of attacking threats and defensive strongholds will be a daunting task to face when the postseason begins on November 5 … FC Edmonton, you’re on the clock.Perhaps the scariest note for Indy’s foes is that you cannot focus on one player in the diverse Eleven attack. Sure, Eamon Zayed is running away with the team’s scoring lead after bagging his 15th goal on Saturday, but Justin Braun, Dylan Mares and Don Smart have also been racking up goals and assists at impressive clips throughout the Fall Season, and those efforts have the “Boys in Blue” peaking at the right time. Also worth a shout – the impact of Sinisa Ubiparipovic on his return to the starting XI. Since working his way back into the team against the Miami FC in a 2-1 win, Ubi has contributed a couple of assists including one in Saturday’s win over Puerto Rico FC. Turns out the goalscorers aren’t the only ones peaking with impeccable timing.

FINISH STRONG

As injury troubles continue to clear up and the “Boys in Blue” have their wounds healed up, the push to end the regular season on a high ends with Sunday night’s battle against postseason contender Rayo OKC at Miller Stadium. While the postseason is less than two weeks away, make no mistake in understanding head coach Tim Hankinson is fully focused on this game before the next one.  The current holders of that coveted fourth and final postseason spot, Rayo OKC are fresh off a 2-0 win at the Fort Lauderdale Strikers, the latest result in a nine-game unbeaten streak. Coupled with Minnesota United FC’s loss to Carolina on Saturday, the Sooner State side is three points clear of the Loons, the only team that could catch them (both hold a GD of +5).  So what does that mean as we approach the weekend? Unfortunately for both sides in the hunt they face difficult opposition in their quest to lock up the #4 spot – Minnesota hosting Fall Season champion New York Cosmos on Saturday before Rayo OKC hosts the “Boys in Blue” on Sunday in the last regular season game of 2016. Bottom line – whoever gets the final berth of The Championship will have to earn it the hard way, with a trip to New York in the Semifinal round their reward.

 

U.S. Hot List: John Brooks back to full fitness, Brad Guzan frozen out

With less than two weeks to go before U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann names his 23-man roster for November’s pivotal World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica, here’s a look at how nine Americans vying for spots have been faring recently with their club teams.

Warming up

John Brooks, DF, Hertha Berlin

Why he’s here: Brooks started Hertha’s last two games — including Saturday’s 2-1 win over Cologne — after serving as an unused substitute following his return earlier this month from a muscle injury.

What this means: Klinsmann’s decision to send the towering 23-year-old back to Berlin before the U.S. played New Zealand to a 1-1 tie on Oct. 11 appears to have paid off, as he reclaimed his regular club place immediately after the international break.

 

Jermaine Jones, M, Colorado Rapids

Why he’s here: The veteran destroyer made his first MLS appearance since July 4 in Sunday’s “Decision Day” regular season finale, coming off the bench in the second half of Colorado’s 1-1 draw versus Houston.

What this means: With the Rapids already through to the Western Conference semifinals, Jones, who turns 35 next week, gets two opportunities before the national team gathers in Columbus next month to prove he can play an entire 90 minutes. A spot on the Americans’ 23-man roster isn’t out of the question if he does.

 

Matt Miazga, DF, Vitesse Arnhem

Why he’s here: It took the 21-year-old Chelsea loanee just six weeks to carve out a regular spot in the Netherlands, where he’s started Vitesse’s last two league games.

What this means: Miazga remains behind Geoff Cameron, Steve Brinbaum and Omar Gonzalez on the Yanks’ right center-back depth chart and a long shot for next month. But the ex-New York Red Bull could move up the pecking order quickly if he keeps his place with the mid-table Dutch club.

 

Christian Pulisic, MF, Borussia Dortmund

Why he’s here: The 18-year-old started a midweek Champions League win at Sporting Lisbon, then scored a stoppage time equalizer (after an earlier assist) in Saturday’s 3-3 come-from-behind tie against Ingolstadt.

What this means: So much for the fear that Pulisic would find playing time harder to come by in his first full season with

Dortmund’s senior side; the Hershey, Penn. native has two goals and four assists in nine appearances for BVB in all competitions so far. As a result, he’s making a compelling case to start against El Tri.

 

DeAndre Yedlin, DF/MF, Newcastle United

Why he’s here: Since joining Newcastle in late August, Yedlin has been used mostly off the bench by manager Rafa Benitez, often on the wing. But after not playing in last week’s 2-0 loss to Barnsley, Yedlin started at right-back and went the distance in Saturday’s 3-0 drubbing of Ipswich.

What this means: The big win could go a long way toward Yedlin keeping his place on the back line. The Magpies play three games — including Tuesday’s EFL Cup tilt against Preston — before next month’s international break and having an in-form, match-fit Yedlin available would be a godsend for Klinsmann and Co.

 

Graham Zusi, MF, Sporting Kansas City

Why he’s here: Yes, Zusi’s numbers have been down the last two years but the 2014 World Cup vet reminded U.S. fans what he’s capable of with a peach of a goal — one that sealed a postseason berth for SKC — in Sunday’s 2-0 victory over San Jose.

What this means: Another strong performance by the 30-year-old in Thursday’s knockout match in Seattle would help him lock in a trip to Ohio’s capital, where Zusi has enjoyed some of his best moments for the national team.

Cooling down

Brad Guzan, GK, Middlesbrough

Why he’s here: Guzan is firmly rooted to the bench at ‘Boro and that doesn’t seem likely to change after No. 1 Victor Valdes’ brilliant display in Saturday’s scoreless draw at Arsenal.

What this means: Unpredictable as Klinsmann can be, it’s hard to see the coach starting a keeper who hasn’t played in over two months — Guzan’s last appearance for club or country was the World Cup qualifying win in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 2 — over Tim Howard, who will arrive in camp straight off a pair of playoff games. Howard got the nod over Guzan the last time the U.S. beat Mexico in a competitive match, in Columbus, back in 2013.

 

Alfredo Morales, MF, Ingolstadt

Why he’s here: The 26-year-old German-American recently lost his spot in Ingolstadt’s lineup after two-plus years as a fixture as a left-midfielder in the club’s 4-3-3 formation.

What this means: If Morales wasn’t a regular call-up for the U.S. despite being a starter in one of the world’s elite leagues before his recent benching, it’s hard to see him returning to Klinsmann’s plans anytime soon.

 

Julian Green, FW, Bayern Munich

Why he’s here: Back on Oct. 14, Bayern boss Carlo Ancelotti said that Green — who has never appeared for the club in Germany’s top flight — would “get his chance to play in the next few games.” But Green hasn’t seen the field in the three matches since.What this means: Green’s best opportunity could come in Wednesday’s German Cup contest against Augsburg. Yet that still might not be enough to convince Klinsmann that the 21-year-old is deserving of a spot on his next 23. On the other hand, the U.S. manager picked Green for a World Cup squad when he had virtually zero first team club experience. So you never know.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN 

 

Armchair Analyst: Ranking the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs field

October 26, 201610:00AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior EditorWe did this last year, and it was fun. So let’s do it again today, as we head into the Audi 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs.Remember, these aren’t the Supporters’ Shield rankings, nor are they the Power Rankings. The Politburo was not consulted (and in fact, they have displeased me and been sent to Siberia).Rather, this is my own personal account of who’s got the best chance of entering the playoffs this week and then coming out six weeks later with a shiny new trophy.

1

 

 

Quite literally unbeatable since July, RBNY have ripped off a 16-game unbeaten run in the league and 20 games overall. They have the Golden Boot winner, the best No. 10 in the league, a pair of wingers who are scoring again, arguably the best defensive midfielder in the league, and enough depth along the backline to have sustained season-ending injuries to two starters. I haven’t even mentioned Luis Robles, who’s got a legit argument that he should repeat as Goalkeeper of the Year.New York are flawed – they will give up late goals, even at home, and they will get exposed on the counter. But they’ve been the best team for the last four months and seem to be playing better as the postseason has arrived.

Why they’ll win: They’re going to press the hell out of all comers and run up the score from open play, while taking the time to pick you apart on set pieces.

Why they’ll lose: Because they’re Icarus. RBNY go hard on the risk/reward line, and when they come up snake eyes, they pay the price. Smart teams will wait them out, then punish them in transition.

2

 

 

They tied the league record for one-goal wins (13), which says quite a bit about this bunch’s resilience and commitment. That they managed it without their most talented player for the vast majority of the season, and with a mid-year goalkeeper switchthrown in, and a backline that was constantly evolving, and with production from their DP forwards that ranged from “sporadic” to “streaky” … OK, I’m rambling a little bit.The point is this: I kept expecting Colorado to go away, and they didn’t. Whoever’s going to face them has a real job to do.

Why they’ll win: They won’t give up a single soft goal, and they’ll murder you on set pieces. Plus Marlon Hairston just has a knack for making plays, doesn’t he?

Why they’ll lose: Their lack of firepower is just impossible to ignore, as their 39 goals scored tied for 18th in the league.

3

 

 

The other team that I doubted for much of the year (loudly and proudly) served me crow again and again. NYCFC are, just like the team on the other side of the Hudson, an attacking juggernaut with a defined style of play that infuses them with an identity they cling to even when things are going bad. 7-0 derby loss? No big deal — just head out and win the next one. [Ed: They tied OCSC, 2-2, in the game directly following that blowout.]It needs to be stressed: This team is an absolute outlier in terms of style. Nobody attempts or completes more passes in their own defensive third, and the point of doing that is to draw opponents forward in order to create space in behind for searching balls from Andrea Pirlo and Andoni Iraola while opening gaps between the lines for Frank Lampard and Tommy McNamara to hit.

Why they’ll win: Because in addition to the guys mentioned above, they’ve got David Villa, and Jack Harrison, and Khiry Shelton, and Steven Mendoza, and Ronald Matarrita, and RJ Allen, and all of them love to attack.

Why they’ll lose: They’re the worst team in the league defending set pieces, they just had to make a switch in goal, and like the Red Bulls, their risk/reward wagers can tend towards catastrophic errors.

4

 

 

Here is a good formula for a title-winning team: Resolute D + Quality GK + MF Warlock + Set-Piece GS. That’s what the Seattle Sounders can put on their LinkedIn profile these days.Seattle aren’t the attacking juggernaut that they were in August, and the biggest issue is that they’ve had to move Nicolas Lodeiro off the right wing and into a pure No. 10 role, which has made his starting points a little more predictable. And without Clint Dempsey as a secondary creative platform there’s just that much more attention on both Lodeiro and Jordan Morris, while the rest of the Sounders attackers have picked up the slack only occasionally.But guess what? They went 5-2-2 even after Deuce was sidelined. If they were going to really disappear, it would have happened by now.

Why they’ll win: That formula I drew up above is tough to beat, and Lodeiro has probably been the best player in the league since his arrival.

Why they’ll lose: Morris had a remarkable rookie year, but he’ll be entering these playoffs as the only legitimate frontline scoring threat on the team. That’s a lot of pressure, and not a lot of help.

5

 

 

On paper and in August this was the team to beat. Then Sebastian Giovinco got hurt, and the midfield got out of sync a little bit, and the defense went into a rut, and a winless streak popped up out of the fog, and now it feels at least a little bit like everybody’s forgotten about the Reds.Let’s make this point, though: By the numbers they’re tied for the second-best defense in the league, and in the Giovinco/Jozy Altidore pairing they have what’s probably the best forward pairing. They also have a host of difference-makers at other spots, including left back Justin Morrow — who should have a spot on this year’s Best XI.Think back to how they were playing in August. That’s what this team really is, and now that everybody’s fit and available, I suspect they’ll show it.

Why they’ll win: They have a good goalkeeper, a good defense and the best player in the league.

Why they’ll lose: They gave up 29 goals in their first 28 games, and then coughed up 10 in the final six. The defense isn’t terrible, but it certainly hasn’t looked championship-caliber.

6

 

 

It hurts to rate the Supporters’ Shield winners this low, but what happens when you lose your two best attacking players over the course of a single season. But Mauro Diaz isn’t walking through that door, and Fabian Castillo isn’t walking through that door, and FC Dallas are what they are at this point.

And what is that, exactly? Well, two things: When they go into a 4-4-2 with no real playmaker, they’ll sit really deep, concede a ton of possession, and then try to hit one of their forwards over the top or or a winger out wide. When they play a 4-2-3-1 with Mauro Rosales in Diaz’s spot, they’ll be a lesser (but still pretty damn good) version of what they were for most of the year.Dallas still absolutely have enough to win the league’s first treble. But a lot of things would have to go right for them to get there

Why they’ll win: On top of all of the above, they are dominant on set pieces (both defending and attacking) and have what I think is the best central defensive combo in the league.

Why they’ll lose: Often times in the biggest, most important games you need that one special player who can create a moment of magic from open play. Dallas now lack that.

7

 

 

LA have played a 4-4-2, a 4-2-3-1, a 4-5-1 and even a 4-3-3 this year. Do you know what their best look is? It’s the end of October, the beginning of the playoffs, and you can’t honestly answer “yes” to that question.

This Galaxy season was bound to be a little unorthodox because of all the offseason changes, a theme that continued into the season itself (goodbye Nigel, welcome back Landon), as well as the natural aging process that’s taken a toll on Robbie Keane and Steven Gerrard. In general, they have enough talent to ameliorate some of that – and obviously enough experience – but Bruce Arena hasn’t quite found the right mix just yetWhat’s that really mean? Well, LA have exactly one win over a playoff team since April, and that came against the pre-Lodeiro Sounders, so I’m not sure it counts for much.

Why they’ll win: Bruce Arena + Landon Donovan + Robbie Keane in the playoffs, with a dash of Gio Dos Santos sprinkled in

Why they’ll lose: They give up a ton of shots, and even if they limit the quality of those shots they still lead to rebounds and scrambles and set pieces (which they don’t defend well) and the exact kind of effort that wears any team out.

8

 

 

Considering they were the hottest team in the league until their back-ups got thumpedon Decision Day, this feels low. We can double down on that and point to match-ups working in their favor as well, since they seem to have the exact ingredients that their Knockout Round opponents, the Montreal Impact, struggle with, and since they’ve performed well against New York, Toronto FC and — most recently — NYCFC

United have been wildly entertaining over the last three months as they’ve transformedinto the league’s most prolific attacking team. Their 4-1-4-1 spreads the field out, gives their wingers space to make runs and midfield creator Luciano Acosta more time and bigger lanes into which he can slip them through. Add in center forward Patrick Mullinsdoing his best David Villa impression (he never stops moving), and you have a very, very potent formula

Why they’ll win: All of that stuff in the previous paragraph, plus Bobby Boswell, Steve Birnbaum and Taylor Kemp’s thunderbolt of a left foot on set pieces.

Why they’ll lose: Because in becoming the league’s most fun attacking team, they’ve opened themselves up defensively. Bill Hamid can (and often does) put out some big fires, but going to that well is a huge risk against the likes of Ignacio Piatti, Villa, Bradley Wright-Phillips and Toronto’s duo.

9

 

 

Sporting are still a 4-3-3 team, and still a high-pressure team, and still a team with multiple international-caliber players on every line. That’s the starting point.And it’s got to be noted that their best players are playing their best soccer of the season. Benny Feilhaber mostly glided through the first 2/3 of the season, but he has two goals and nine assists in his last 11 games – coming up big just as Sporting seemed to be fading out of the playoff picture. Dom Dwyer had his second-best season as a pro, bagging 16 goals and reveling in his whole Cobra Kai persona every time he steps on the pitchBut this team has been mistake-prone at the back, and less dangerous than they needed to be on the wings. They don’t extend the game, which has limited Feilhaber’s chances to play runners through and often left Dwyer on an island. Only one playoff team scored fewer goals than Sporting’s 42.

Why they’ll win: Because most of these guys have come through in big games before. And even with “Sporting aren’t as good defensively as they’ve been in the past” an undeniable fact, that still makes them a top-five defensive team in the league.

Why they’ll lose: That attack is too easy to isolate and disrupt. Add in Tim Melia‘s up-and-down year in goal, and you have an SKC team with more questions than answers at this point in the season

10

 

 

In one way it’s almost impossible to know what to predict with this team, largely because of the drama with Drogba. If Didier demands to play from the start, we know that won’t happen, and we also know that this team can win/has a better chance of winning if he’s on the bench when the whistle blows. But we don’t know what a repeated – let’s assume in this hypothetical Drogba makes a second or third demand – request could/would do to the locker room’s emotional balance. Come together once? Job done. Come together two or three times? That’s a harder askThe flip side is this: Montreal are much, much MUCH more dangerous if Drogba is available to them as a super-sub. He’d be an off-the-bench weapon no team in MLS could match (unless Arena sucks it up and uses Keane as a sub), and a game-changer who can win a series by himself. If he recovers from his current back injury, he’ll make a difference.That I just spent two graphs talking about a guy who probably isn’t going to play makes me an idiot. Montreal will almost certainly use a compact, deep-lying 4-3-3 with Ignacio Piatti on one wing, Dom Oduro on the other and Matteo Mancosu up the middle. They’ll try to approximate the style of last year’s Timbers, if not necessarily their form.

Why they’ll win: Have you seen how good that frontline is when they’re working together?

Why they’ll lose: Above I listed why it’s almost impossible to know what to predict with this team in one way. Here’s the other shoe dropping: it’s very possible to know what to predict from this team’s defense, which continues to get abused in the air. Kei Kamara knocked them out of last year’s playoffs – and scored against them on Decision Day, and Jozy Altidore killed them the week before that, and the guy they play on Thursday (Patrick Mullins) is that exact kind of forward.

11

 

 

No wins and two goals in seven games. Things aren’t so great for RSL these days.

There exist myriad culprits: Injuries have robbed them of starting center back Aaron Maund for one, and Father Time is finally winning his battle against Nick RimandoKyle Beckerman and Javier Morales for another. Add in the subpar second half of the season submitted by both Burrito Martinez and Yura Movsisyan, and that’s your recipe for unhappiness.All of that has culminated in this current run of poor form, and it’s even gotten to the usually effervescent Joao Plata, who fumed as he was subbed off in Sunday’s 2-1 lossat Seattle. There are no smiles anywhere in Utah and it’s fair, at this point, to question whether shifting from the 4-4-2 diamond into a more spread out 4-3-3 really was the right call.

Why they’ll win: Because in Plata, Morales, Movsisyan and Martinez, they have four guys who can create some remarkable individual magic.

Why they’ll lose: They allow so much space in midfield that everyone they face ends up dictating tempo, for one. And for two, there’s just a lack of connection between the midfield and front three in attack, and subsequently a lack of any combination play

12

 

 

The Union are 5-11-4 since June 18. While there’s been a lot of deserved talk about their current seven-game winless streak and all the attendant failings baked into it, the simple truth is that this was mostly a rebuilding year for a young-ish team that’s spent the entire season without one of the DPs who was supposed to be a building block going forward.In actuality, Philly probably overachieved for the first few months of the season, and that streak – particularly from mid-April to early June – gave them enough padding to ride out this months-long swoon and still make the postseason. It’s a positive step for a team that’s ahead of schedule in the Earnie Stewart era, and will be making significant additions this offseason.As it is, just qualifying for the playoffs with three impressive rookies and a bunch of other young players filling such huge roles has to count as a success.

Why they’ll win: Chris Pontius goes berserk 1-v-1, and Andre Blake does his best “Tony Meola 2000” impression

Why they’ll lose: The defense is too young and error-prone, the midfield doesn’t shut down passing lanes as well as it did earlier in the year, C.J. Sapong can’t buy a goal, and neither can Tranquillo Barnetta.

hampions League final could be held outside Europe – new UEFA president

The Champions League final could be contested outside Europe for the first time, new UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Thursday.Ceferin told the Associated Press he will revive an open bidding process for the right to host the climax to the European club season and is open to the game being staged in New York.”I think it might be an idea in future but we have to speak about it,” Ceferin said, highlighting how travel times across Europe can be as long as flights to the United States.”To go from Portugal to Azerbaijan for example is almost the same or the same as if you go to New York. For the fans it’s no problem but we should see. It’s a European competition so let’s think about it.”UEFA could gauge the appetite for taking its major finals beyond Europe by first experimenting with the less-regarded Super Cup, which is played in August between the winners of the Champions League and Europa League.UEFA has until now been awarding the honour of staging its showpiece finals without any tendering process, with stadium hosts decided in secret by the leadership.”The bidding process should be very clear because if you get the Champions League finals or Europa League finals as a political favour then it’s not OK,” Ceferin said.”With a clear bidding procedure I will protect also the administration and myself because whoever tries to call us, to push us, to ask us for such a favour we will have a clear answer, ‘Sorry there are clear rules we cannot do it.'”In his first major interview since succeeding Michel Platini as UEFA president last month, Ceferin displayed a willingness to innovate while not damaging the organisation’s lucrative competitions.”The Champions League is the best sporting product in the world,” Ceferin said at UEFA headquarters in Nyon on the banks of Lake Geneva.And the former Slovenia federation president will not sacrifice the success of the competition by shifting kickoff times to pander to expanding markets in Asia just to sweep up more television viewers or sponsors in the region. Most games start at 19:45 GMT, when much of Asia is asleep.”From a financial point of view it’s not ideal,” Ceferin said. “We should think also about other markets, but how to do it exactly I’m not sure yet. China is financially interesting and the U.S. is not just financially interesting, but football is growing there.”Currently only the final is played on a Saturday, but one option would be to also move the semifinals from their current midweek slot.”There are some ideas about that because then China is not asleep because it’s Saturday and they can watch,” Ceferin said. “But there are many problems concerning that with the calendar of the leagues. National leagues are too important.”You have the Premier League which is very strong. [Semifinals at the weekend] is an idea that came out but it’s too early to say anything concrete on it.”Also on Thursday, Ceferin said he has yet to give his backing to FIFA president Gianni Infantino’s proposal of boosting the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.

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10/21/16 Indy 11 last home Game Sat Night 7:30 pm, MLS Decision Day Sun 4 pm, Man U vs Chelsea Sun 11 am, Champ League Rd 3

The Indy Eleven will close out its 2016 regular season at Carroll Stadium this Saturday, October 22, with a chance to even the NASL modern era record of 18 straight games unbeaten when it welcomes Puerto Rico FC to “The Mike” on Fan Appreciation Night.  Tickets for the last regular season game at Carroll Stadium (remember, The Championship Semifinal is coming November 5th!) start at just $11 in the Brickyard Battalion and East Goal Top sections – or for just $9 for college studentsThe first 4,000 fans through the gates will receive the official 2016 Team Photo poster. All will be able to take advantage of food and drink specials at the concessions stands and merchandise tents (see below), while 11 lucky fans that find a special sticker on the inside cover of their Victory gameday program upon entry will win prizes including team autographed jerseys and balls, official team merchandise and more. Make your plans to head out to the Mike for the Finale – I plan to be in the BYB!

So Champions League match-day 3 wrapped up this week as the group stages near the half-way mark and we had some good games and some fantastic saves from the goalkeepers this week especially Buffon for Juve in saving the 1-0 win over Lyon.   Of course the big game was Barcelona bitch slapping Man City and former Barca coach Pep Guardiola 4-0 at the Camp Nou  – Messi was legendary with a hat-trick and Pep again made some interesting decisions that certainly backfired.  Champs League returns Tues/Wed Nov 1+2 for the return matches as Man City will now host Barca as the biggest game of the week.  The US Ladies are introducing new players including newcomer Lynn Williams who started her career with a goal in just 45 seconds – see the ladies play again this Sunday at 1 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Speaking of US ladies –  best of luck to Indy native Lauren Cheney Holiday who is recovering from surgery to remove a Brain Tumor just a month after having her first child.

Big League week in the EPL as Man United has Mourino returning to Stamford Bridge to face his former team Chelsea on Sunday 11 am on NBCSN.  The big games however are league cup games on beIN Sport Tues/Wed with Liverpool vs Tottenham Tuesday and Man City vs Man U on Wed 2:45 pm.  (ANYONE WANT TO GATHER TO WATCH?)  US Coach Bob Bradley will look for his first win with Swansea as they host Watford on Sat at 10 am on CNBC, while Italy has Juve @ Inter in a top 3 matchup 2:45 on Saturday.

MLS has Decision Day this Sunday with 4 teams battling to make the playoffs – Seattle will host Real Salt Lake at 4 pm on ESPN in a winner advances game – in should be a racous 45,000 strong in Seattle.  Meanwhile Dallas and LA will battle with the top slot in the West on the line on Fox Soccer 1 and ESPN 2 will bounce around from game to game at 4 pm following all the playoff deciding action.  MLS Playoffs start Wed/Thurs eve on ESPN and FS1.

MUST SEE GAMES ON TV

Saturday, October 22

7:30 a.m., NBCSN        Bournemouth vs. Tottenham Hotspur

9:30 a.m., Fox Sports 2: Ingolstadt vs. Borussia Dortmund  will US Christian Pulisec start again like Champions League?

10:00 a.m., CNBC:       Swansea City vs. Watford   American Coach Bob Bradley in first winnable game at home!!

10:15 am  beIn Sport  Valencia vs Barcelona  – top 5 battle in Spain

12:30 p.m., NBC          Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion

12:30 p.m., Fox Sport 2 Bayern Munich vs. Borussia Mönchengladbach  – US Johnson to start at midfield for Monchenglad

2:45 pm beIn Sport   Milan vs Juventus  battle for Italy – 2 top 3 teams battle it out

7:30 pm  My Indy 23                       Indy 11 host Puerto Rico in Last Home Game before Playoffs 

Sunday, October 23

8:30 a.m., NBCSN       Manchester City vs. Southampton

10:15 am beIN Sport                       Sevilla vs Atletico Madrid   – top 3 battle

11:00 a.m, NBCSN      Chelsea vs. Manchester United – ah the classico Mourino returns home to Stamford Bridge

1 pm Fox Sport 1 USA Ladies vs Swiss

2:45 pm beIn Sport Real Madrid vs Athetic Club

4 pm  ESPN                     Seattle Sounders vs Real Salt Lake

4 pm  Fox Sport1        LA Galaxy vs FC Dallas

4 pm  ESPN 2                 MLS – Around the League Goal Zone – Final Day of Regular Season Playoffs Finalized                  

Tuesday, October 25

2:45 p.m., beIN Sports: Liverpool vs. Tottenham Hotspur League Cup (Round of 16)

Wednesday, October 25

2:45 p.m., beIN Sports Manchester United vs. Manchester City League Cup (Round of 16)

8 pm ESPN2                    MLS Playoffs Knock Out Rounds Start Wed Thurs on ESPN2

Sun, Oct 30

3 pm  ESPN                     MLS Conference Semi-Finals

5 pm  ESPN                     MLS Conference Semi-Finals

7 pm  FS1                         MLS Conference Semi-Finals

9 pm  FS1                        MLS Conference Semi-Finals

Sat, Nov 5                       

3  pm My Indy 23       Indy 11 host Playoff Semi’s @ the Mike

Sun, Nov 6

3 pm  ESPN                     MLS Conference Semi-Finals

5 pm  ESPN                     MLS Conference Semi-Finals

7 pm  FS1                         MLS Conference Semi-Finals

9 pm  FS1                        MLS Conference Semi-Finals

Fri, Nov 11

7:30 pm Fox Sports 1 USA vs Mexico in Columbus, OH

indy-11-poster

The First 4000 fans for Sat Nights’s Final Reg Season game will receive this Free Poster.

Indy 11

Fan Appreciation Night and 11 Looking for Home Undefeated Season this Sat Night at the Mike

Indy 11 vs Puerto Rico Preview

3 Take-Aways in 3-2 Win over Tampa Bay Wed

GK Jon Bush wins player of Week in Goal

Vote Indy 11 Coach of the Year – Tim Hankinson

EPL

Around the World What’s Trending

Rooney gives up PKs in 4-0 Europa cup win

EPL Big Game Weekend –

EPL Predictions this weekend

Man City needs to Shake off Bad Run of Games

 USA

Indy’s Lauren Cheney Holiday has Brain Tumor Removed 1 month after giving Birth

US Ladies beat Swiss 4-0 as newcomer scores after 49 seconds

Lynn Williams scores in 49 second for US

 MLS

3 MLS teams in CONCACAF Quarters

Playoff Picture going into last day of Play on Sunday

MLS Playoff Picture ESPN FC

4 Teams Battle for Final 3 Playoff Spots

 Champions League

Could Messy Divorse with Aguero be coming from Pep at Man City?

Messi’s Treble stuns Man City See the Goals

Messi Haunts former Coach Guardiola with 3 goals

Gigi Saves Juve in 1-0 win  Video

Leicester City survives 1-0 with Schmeichel’s game saving save late Video

Lackadasical Defense and Back GK cost Man City vs Barca

Ozil bags 1st Hat-Trick in huge win for Gunners

Group Standings after MatchDay3 – top 2 advance to Sweet 16 Knockout Rounds

World

Neymar Extends Contract to 2012

La Liga – Biggest Game Weekend of the year?

La Liga Table

Goalies

Buffon, Lloris & Schmeichel make legendary Champ League saves this week

Gigi Saves Juve in 1-0 win  Video

PREVIEW: #IND 11 vs PR FC

Indy Eleven hosts PRFC looking to stay unbeaten at home for the 18th straight game

One Record Left

While the postseason is approaching shortly, sights for Indy Eleven are still set on closing out the 2016 regular season in strong fashion. For Indiana’s Team, this means one thing – leaving Carroll Stadium on Saturday night without a loss. It’s been a magnificent run since mid-October 2015. Two wins at the end of the regular season last year were added on to the incredible slate of wins Indy has brought to “The Mike” in 2016, with wins against the New York Cosmos, Minnesota United FC, FC Edmonton, and the Carolina Railhawks to win the Spring Season all standing out. The New York Cosmos, who still hold the joint-record with the Carolina Railhawks for different stretches, also have the opportunity to get to that same number in their home against Miami FC on Saturday night, but like Indy, with a postseason spot locked up earning a point to keep the streak alive may be their biggest motivation.Though the “Boys in Blue” are aware of their semifinal opposition (FC Edmonton – Nov. 5) they must first look for revenge against a sneaky good Puerto Rico FC team that earned a point in their season opener back on July 2.

Who to Watch, Indy Eleven edition: FW Eamon Zayed

He’s been part of the major focus all year alongside Justin Braun in attack, and now he has just two games left to add to his scoring tally this season. Zayed, who has been tightly in the race with Minnesota United FC forward Christian Ramirez, now sits four goals back off the top of the charts but has shown his flair for scoring at home. It’s no secret that Indy’s No.9 knows how to find the back of the net with hat-tricks against the Carolina Railhawks and Jacksonville Armada FC in the Spring and Fall Season still fresh of mind, but if he is to keep himself in the running for the Golden Boot, he’ll need a big game on Saturday night.Working in his favor is the attacking talent placed around him, with players like Braun, Dylan Mares, Don Smart, and more readily setting up the Irishman when possible. As Indy pushes for magic #18 at home, Zayed will surely be a focal point.
Who to Watch, Puerto Rico FC edition: FW Hector Ramos

For the visiting side PRFC, forward Hector Ramos is the name to know in 2016.Scoring seven goals while registering four assists in 18 appearances, the Puerto Rican talent has demonstrated his ability to play in between the lines and work out space for a shot. Impressively, his seven goals on just 15 shots gives him a monsterous conversion rate of 17.5%, and he has scored those goals in a number of ways, one with the left foot, four with the right, and two with his head. However, having not scored since August 20, he will be looking to put his name back up in lights this weekend in the Circle City. Despite that, though, the forward has still contributed with three assists in his last five games and will be the main threat for PRFC.
Match-up to Mark: MF Brad Ring vs. MF Paulo Mendes

Having not played midweek against the Tampa Bay Rowdies, it can be expected that Brad Ring will return to the starting XI for the home season finale, and he’ll likely be going head-to-head with PRFC midfielder Paulo Mendes in another battle of defensive vs. attacking midfielders.Ring has effective in his 26 appearances for the club this year, working as the glue in the center of the park with one of the highest pass completion percentages (81%) on the team. Also noteworthy is Ring’s ranking in pass attempts (2nd – 881) on the team and how efficient he has been in the opposition half, completing 71.8% of passes in the opponent’s area. Paulo, meanwhile, brings a creative dynamic to the PRFC attack and has scored one goal with four assists in 19 games played this year. Also completing a high percentage of his passes (82.4%), the Brazilian attacking midfielder has created 27 chances for his side and will be one to stop for Ring and co. when they meet at Carroll Stadium.

Trending: Jose Mourinho hits back at ‘Einsteins’; Inter eye Pablo Zabaleta

Here are the latest stories for Friday.

MAN UNITEDManchester United manager Jose Mourinho hit back at “Einsteins” after Paul Pogba scored twice in a 4-1 win over Fenerbahce on Thursday, saying that the critics would rapidly change their opinions.

– Michael Owen has questioned former teammate Wayne Rooney’s decision to allow Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial to take penalties.

– Mourinho has admitted he does not feel “lucky” at Stamford Bridge any longer, as he prepares to face Chelsea away on Sunday.

– Paul Pogba has told MUTV that Chelsea are “one of the best teams in the world” ahead of Sunday’s game at Stamford Bridge.

CHELSEA: Victor Moses has told ESPN FC that Jose Mourinho exiled him at Chelsea because “he had his own players” and said he is delighted that new head coach Antonio Conte has given him a second chance to prove himself at Stamford Bridge.

– Former Chelsea midfielder Deco has told the London Evening Standard that John Terry should return to the side as he is “a true captain” and “one of the best I have ever played with.”

– Chelsea will pay tribute to Matthew Harding at Sunday’s Premier League clash with Manchester United on the weekend that marks 20 years since his death.

ARSENAL: Arsenal have been implored by former Gunners goalkeeper David Seaman to splash the cash to ensure Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez sign new deals.

– Arsenal striker Lucas Perez said he has not played as much as he envisaged since joining from Deportivo La Coruna but is determined to make the most of his opportunities.

– Arsene Wenger says Arsenal have improved “tremendously” when it comes to preventing muscle injuries.

MAN CITY: Inter Milan are considering making a move for Manchester City defender Pablo Zabaleta in January, sources have told ESPN FC.

– Former Spain coach Vicente del Bosque has come out in support of Pep Guardiola following criticism of the Manchester City manager after his team’s 4-0 defeat at Barcelona.

LIVERPOOL: Jurgen Klopp has dismissed Jose Mourinho’s criticismof his Liverpool side and believes his players have a duty to play attacking football because of the club’s illustrious history.

– Steven Gerrard has revealed the emotional toll it took on him to be Liverpool captain for 12 years. Gerrard is the longest-serving captain in the club’s history, taking on the armband in October 2003 before departing for LA Galaxy last summer.

TOTTENHAM: Mauricio Pochettino has likened Dele Alli to a “wild horse” but says he has no plans to tame the Tottenham Hotspur stallion.

– Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Dele Alli has said he is missing too many chances.

LEICESTER: Claudio Ranieri reached retirement age on Thursday but the Leicester boss has no plans to relax just yet.

– Leicester City defender Christian Fuchs has signed a new three-year contract with the Premier League champions.

EVERTON: Everton manager Ronald Koeman says Ross Barkley’s omission against Manchester City should act as a “wake-up call.”

SWANSEA: Bob Bradley accepts Swansea are in a relegation battlebut believes he can draw on his experience in Norwegian football to keep the club in the Premier League.

ENGLAND: Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has dismissed the suggestion that Bournemouth boss Eddie Howe is too young to take the England job, saying younger coaches can relate better to players.

WEST HAM: The Metropolitan Police Service says a “tactical solution” is now set for matches at West Ham’s London Stadium, which would see officers deployed inside the ground if needed for the EFL Cup tie against Chelsea.

JUVENTUS: Juventus striker Gonzalo Higuain is hoping it will be a case of third time lucky when he faces AC Milan and teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma on Saturday.

BARCELONA: Juventus full-back Patrice Evra has congratulated Barcelona striker Luis Suarez on his European Golden Shoe award.

ATLETICO MADRID: Atletico Madrid have accepted they will not sign players in January while they fight a FIFA transfer ban at sport’s highest court.

– Atletico Madrid midfielder Yannick Carrasco has signed a two-year contractextension with the club.

REAL MADRID: Cristiano Ronaldo incurred the wrath of Buddhistson social media after the Real Madrid star posed in an Instagram photo with his foot resting at the base of a Buddha statue.

BAYERN MUNICH: Carlo Ancelotti paid tribute to his side’s “attitude and reaction” after Bayern Munich bounced back to end a run of three games without a win with a convincing 4-1 win over PSV Eindhoven.

LIGUE 1: Radamel Falcao is set for his first appearance since suffering concussion last month after being included in Monaco’s squad for Friday’s Ligue 1 game against Montpellier.

Mourinho’s Stamford Bridge return; Arsenal try not to pull an Arsenal

W2W4 previews the weekend’s Premier League fixtures and highlights five key storylines.

How will Jose Mourinho approach his return to Stamford Bridge?

If nothing else, it will be interesting to see what sort of mindset Jose Mourinho arrives back at Chelsea with on Sunday. Against Liverpool on Monday his primary aim seemed to be to stop his opponents — a perfectly sensible, if not massively entertaining strategy. But that was against a team that looked like they were hitting their attacking stride and thus a containing approach was more justified, but Chelsea have looked less certain going forward. Indeed, there are clearly areas in their side Mourinho could exploit with a more positive mentality, if he chooses to do so.

Antonio Conte’s experiment with a three-man defence is two games old, and while two clean sheets have been kept, those haven’t been against attacks which offered much. Victor Moses is still getting used to playing as a wing-back, and whichever trio play in that three-man backline won’t exactly be experts either. With the pace United have available on the wings, encouraging Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and/or Jesse Lingard to attack a little more than they were asked/allowed to at Anfield could cause big problems for Chelsea. If nothing else, on Monday it was extremely frustrating to see a side with as much talent in it as United’s essentially acting as spoilers, to take a reactive rather than proactive stance in a big game. Mourinho might not want to take too many risks, and we expect this of him in this sort of game, but it would be nice to see him take the shackles off a bit.

Will Manchester City’s blip continue against Southampton?

Four matches without a win. Given that two were draws and two were against Tottenham and Barcelona, perhaps the best opponents Manchester City will face in the Premier and Champions Leagues this season, it’s doubtful Pep Guardiola will be panicking excessively. But that still represents a very unusual dip for one of his sides: the only time a Guardiola team has gone longer without a victory was in his first year at Barcelona, when they drew three and lost two in spring 2009. This is probably just a blip, but a win against a fine Southampton side at the weekend is not a given. After that five-game run in 2009, Barcelona won their next seven games and embarked on an unbeaten run which included that famous 6-2 win over Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. The way City were playing before this slip-up, they could easily repeat that.

Will Arsenal avoid being ‘Arsenal’?

Arsenal are playing superbly at the moment. They’ve won their last seven games in all competitions, and haven’t lost since that madcap 4-3 defeat to Liverpool on the opening weekend. Theo Walcott finally looks like the player we all thought he’d be, nobody has scored more goals and they’re level on points with Manchester City. They haven’t even got many injuries, which is surreal. And yet, there’s always the suspicion with Arsenal — because we’ve had years of evidence pointing this way — that they could make a frustrating mess of things at any moment. That could come in the form of a careless defeat to a team they should beat handily: a team like Middlesbrough for example, this weekend’s visitors. Beating Aitor Karanka’s side won’t convince anyone further that they could win the title, but each passing week does offer more evidence that things might actually have changed.

Can Sunderland go backwards any further?

This week, Jermain Defoe commented that Sunderland appear to have “gone backwards” this season. As they’re bottom of the table with just two points to their name, that might seem a fairly self-evident statement, but it was rather surprising to hear it from their star (only) striker, and in an interview with their official website, no less. Opinion seems to be solidifying that David Moyes, only eight league games into his tenure, is already on borrowed time. One would think that if they don’t get a result against West Ham on Saturday then the clamour could grow much louder. They’re the only side in the top four divisions without a win so far this season, and should results go against them they might be seven points from safety by the end of the weekend. Is Sam Allardyce back from his holiday yet?

Can Stoke confirm the party is over for Hull?

Hull City have one point from their last six games. The first five of those featured defeats to Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Chelsea, with a handy draw at Burnley thrown in — all of which can be filed under the “no disgrace” category. However, last weekend they were taken to the cleaners by Bournemouth, the 6-1 defeat exposing that this is still not a squad ready for the challenges of the Premier League. Stoke, on the other hand, are showing signs of life after a rotten start to the season, taking five points from the last available nine and recording their first win last weekend. The initial performances from both teams were rather unexpected, but should the Potters win on Saturday then it should be an indicator of the directions both these teams are heading in.Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League

Jose Mourinho returns to face Chelsea, Manchester City’s Southampton test

Jose Mourinho returns to former club Chelsea with Manchester United on Sunday having struggled to break down Liverpool in the 0-0 draw at Anfield, but seeing his side score four against Feyenoord.Arsenal are flying high after their demolition of Ludogorets, which was their seventh win in a row in all competitions, and will hope add to that streak against struggling Middlesbrough, while leaders Manchester City take on Southampton hoping to get back on track after their humbling at Barcelona.Will David Moyes finally win a game as Sunderland boss? And can Everton to push for a place among the big boys at the top of the table?Predict the Premier League matches in ESPN FC’s polls.

CHELSEA: Jose Mourinho will be out to prove a point on his return to Stamford Bridge and come away with all three with Manchester United. Equally, Antonio Conte will want to reinforce the growing belief that he is a worthy long-term successor to the Special One. A tight game looks in prospect with a draw the likely outcome.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United — Mark Worrall

MAN UNITED: Chelsea have been impressive when dispatching teams with far fewer resources, but have struggled to overcome their traditional rivals. Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho’s team are still struggling for attacking cohesion of their own, and so his homecoming – which may be a little acrimonious – looks set to be a stalemate.
Prediction: Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United — Musa Okwonga

MAN CITY: With a 10-win start morphing into a run of two defeats and two draws, City need three points quickly to quell growing nerves. Having delivered many of their own problems in Barcelona, a clean sheet and goals from a restored Sergio Aguero (maybe even a penalty) would be welcome vs. Southampton.
Prediction: Manchester City 3-1 Southampton — Simon Curtis

SOUTHAMPTON: A tough week does not get any easier as Southampton travels to the Etihad hot on the heels of a 1-0 Europa League defeat against Italian giants Inter Milan. Goalkeeper Fraser Forster may need to be on top form to keep out City’s potent attack.Prediction: Manchester City 2-1 Southampton — Alex Crook

BOURNEMOUTH: After Bournemouth’s outstanding 6-1 win over Hull at the weekend, the Cherries will be as confident as ever in continuing their home form against Tottenham. Spurs are without key men Harry Kane and Toby Alderweireld, which also works in the home side’s favour. The Cherries will win again with Josh King netting late on.
Prediction: Bournemouth 2-1 Tottenham — Will Kent

TOTTENHAM: Bournemouth will be on a high after their 6-1 thrashing of Hull, while Spurs will be reflecting on the lack of clinical finishing in front of goal that cost them dear against both West Brom and Leverkusen. But these are the games any side that considers themselves to be title contenders should be expecting to win, and Mauricio Pochettino is likely to ring the changes to get the job done.Prediction: Bournemouth 1-2 Tottenham — John Crace

ARSENAL: The 6-0 win over Ludogorets was their ninth from their last 10 games, and the fact that the goals are being spread around means Arsene Wenger’s side are difficult to defend against. With chief creator Mesut Ozil now turned regular goalscorer, the unpredictability means opposition can’t plan as well as they have been able to in the past. The only issue might be fatigue, but the Gunners look as if they have the squad depth to cope with that.

Prediction: Arsenal 2-0 Middlesbrough — Andrew Mangan

MIDDLESBROUGH: It’s a big ask for Middlesbrough to pick themselves up from a demoralising and hugely disappointing 1-0 defeat at home to Watford. A trip to the Emirates is less than ideal but Boro will hope that at least some faith and character shine through in an attempt to turn things around.Prediction: Arsenal 4-0 Middlesbrough — Catherine Wilson

 

LIVERPOOL: Having already witnessed the restrictive tactics of Manchester United, Liverpool fans must hope their team will be better prepared for similar measures from Tony Pulis’ West Brom. Pressure is building for the Reds to shine in every game now but a tight match will be expected with few chances.Prediction: Liverpool 1-0 West Brom — Stephen Kelly

WEST BROM: The Baggies head to Liverpool for the second of three consecutive fixtures against teams in the top four of the Premier League. With key man Jonny Evans suspended, West Brom stalwart Jonas Olsson will step in as Tony Pulis’ side look to nullify Liverpool’s exciting front three.Prediction: Liverpool 2-0 West Brom — Matthew Evans

LEICESTER: The Foxes will hope to continue in Champions League form. Leicester have been practically two different sides in the Premier League and Europe thus far. The 1-0 home win last season over the Eagles was City’s first clean sheet of the campaign and earned a pizza reward from manager Claudio Ranieri. If Leicester can defend equally as well as that day they will win comfortably.Prediction: Leicester 2-0 Crystal Palace — Ben Jacobs

CRYSTAL PALACE: The Eagles are difficult opposition when playing away, and with Leicester City going through a patchy spell in the league, the opportunity is there for Alan Pardew’s side to take advantage. So long as the service to Christian Benteke is there, Palace have a great chance of collecting three points.Prediction: Leicester 1-2 Crystal Palace — Rob Sutherland

BURNLEY: The hosts are expected to be without key midfielder Steven Defour due to a hamstring injury and star striker Andre Gray serves the last game of a four-match ban. The Clarets have been strong at home this season, but the pace and movement of Everton’s attack will cause them problems and a third straight league loss feels likely.
Prediction: Burnley 1-2 Everton  Jamie Smith

EVERTON: After their defensive capabilities earned a point against free-scoring Manchester City, Everton travel to Burnley in search of the right balance in the final third as only an in-form Romelu Lukaku is showing the necessary consistency at present. The Blues need to end a three-game winless run in the league.Prediction: Burnley 0-2 Everton Luke O’Farrell

WEST HAM: The Hammers will view a home game against Sunderland as a chance to build on last week’s win against Crystal Palace. Team confidence is up and fans are looking forward to laying to rest some of the myths about their new London Stadium. Prediction:  West Ham 3-0 Sunderland — Peter Thorne

SUNDERLAND: West Ham started the season badly but are in better spirits after a win at Crystal Palace, while Sunderland still look incapable of more than an occasional draw. Only a supreme effort from David Moyes’ uninspiring and injury-ravaged squad will take anything from this game; a sound defeat seems more likely.Prediction: West Ham 3-0 Sunderland — Colin Randall

SWANSEA: Bob Bradley helped Swansea rediscover their scoring touch last Saturday against a strong Arsenal side. This weekend they will face Watford, who can’t match Arsenal’s firepower and don’t have as good of a defence, as Bradley makes his home Premier League debut. This must be the moment Swansea turn their season around.Prediction: Swansea 3-1 Watford – WATFORD: After coming out on top in a turgid affair against Middlesbrough, Watford will be hopeful of taking another three points from another struggling side. Although not tested at the Riverside, the defence still looks creaky and is particularly vulnerable to set pieces. At the other end of the pitch, Isaac Success is quickly making a name for himself and the Swansea back line won’t be relishing their afternoon against him and Troy Deeney.Prediction: Swansea 1-2 Watford — Mike Parkin

HULL CITY: Two months after their last Premier League win, Hull can look forward to their first inviting home fixture of the season against Stoke, an opponent they have already beaten in the EFL Cup. Hope, though, is tempered by last weekend’s thumping defeat at Bournemouth and the loss of the club’s only senior left-back, Andy Robertson, to a long-term injury. A point might not be such a bad result, if only to stop the rot.Prediction: Hull 1-1 Stoke — Phil Buckingham

STOKE: Unlikely goal-machine Joe Allen will be licking his lips at the prospect of facing a Hull defence that conceded six goals in their last game. With any luck he will be joined on the scoresheet by an ever-improving Wilfried Bony who is yet to score a goal this calendar year. Hull 0-2 Stoke.Prediction: Stoke 2-0 Hull — James Whittaker

FC Dallas advances, giving MLS three teams in CONCACAF Champions League quarters

Leave a commentBy Nicholas MendolaOct 20, 2016, 10:01 PM EDT

Major League Soccer will have three teams in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League thanks to FC Dallas’ thrilling comeback win on Thursday.FCD beat Guatemalan side Suchitepéquez 5-2 at the Estadio Mateo Flores after going down by a pair of first half goals.Carlos Gruezo and Matt Hedges helped Dallas to level terms by halftime, and Atiba Harris scored just after the break to put FCD ahead. An own goal and a must-watch Carlos Lizarazo 90th minute wonderstrike gave us the final scoreline. Gruezo also added an assist.A tie would’ve been enough to send Dallas through atop Group H, but the big win moves it ahead of New York Red Bulls. FCD will finish seventh at worst.FCD joins Vancouver and New York Red Bulls as the MLS representatives in the tournament, and the league will have at-worst the joint-most clubs in the quarters. [ MORE: PST talks with FCD’s Hedges, Zimmerman exican sides UANL Tigres and Pachuca are quarterfinalists, while Panamanian side Arabe Unido and Costa Rican stalwarts Saprissa advanced as well. The field’s eighth team will be set after the 10 p.m. ET matchup between Honduras Progreso and Mexico’s UNAM. The Whitecaps are the No. 1 seed, and could well match-up with the Red Bulls if there is a winner between UNAM and Honduras Progreso. If Honduras Progreso advances via draw, the Hondurans will be the No. 8 seed.

Report: USWNT star Holiday has brain tumor removed

Leave a commentBy Nicholas MendolaOct 21, 2016, 7:51 AM EDT

World Cup champion Lauren Holiday has had a brain tumor removed, one month after giving birth.Holiday’s husband, Jrue Holiday of the New Orleans Pelicans, announced that his pregnant wife was diagnosed with an operable tumor in September, and Lauren Holiday has publicly thanked fans for support while requesting prayers.The Holidays welcomed their first child earlier this month, and Jrue left the Pelicans preseason to help his wife.The BBC added this tidbit:

Unbelievably as a three-year-old, she had open-heart surgery to repair a defect and went on to become one of the world’s most respected football players.  Get well soon, Lauren.

he soon-to-be U.S. women’s national team star you really should know

Leander Schaerlaeckens,FC Yahoo Wed, Oct 19 8:04 PM PDT

Lynn Williams didn’t take long to make an impact in her USWNT debut. (AP Photo)

Remember the name. Because Lynn Williams took just 50 seconds to score her first national team goal.She came on as a halftime substitute during the United States’ 4-0 friendly win over Switzerland on Wednesday in Sandy, Utah. And the striker immediately pressured a defender into a badly miss-hit back pass, stole it, ran at goalkeeper Gaelle Thalmann and finished coolly for what turned out to be the winner.It was some kind of start to a USA career for the 23-year-old, who stands just 5-foot-7. In a highly experimental game for head coach Jill Ellis, who fielded a three-woman back line and gave five players their debuts, the U.S. dominated but didn’t convert all of its possession and shots until Williams stepped into the fray.But then her immediate impact was also sort of natural, considering the year Williams has had. She won the Golden Boot in the National Women’s Soccer League, scoring 11 goals in 19 games. She also recorded five assists and was given the league MVP award. But Williams didn’t really get started until the playoffs. Her Western New York Flash took their semifinal at the heavily favored Portland Thorns to extra time before she scored twice to win it. Then, in the final, her 124th-minute goal salvaged a penalty shootout for the Flash which they won, you guessed it, on account of Williams converting their fourth kick.Williams’ emergence is all the more remarkable for how far she had to come. As an NWSL rookie in 2015, she scored four times in 17 appearances. But that she got to the pros at all was something of a miracle. Endless injury trouble has dogged her career and seemed to be savaging her chances. She had just two scholarship offers out of high school, and neither for big-time women’s soccer programs, per FourFourTwo USA.At Pepperdine, she had meniscus and labrum surgery, a shattered elbow and a facial fracture. Her stats were good and she was a finalist for the Hermann Trophy as the college game’s best player. But she believes that she was perhaps only drafted by the Flash because its technical director had been a youth coach of hers in California.Now, less than two years on, the speedy and industrious Williams is squarely in the national team’s crowded forward picture. And her poacher’s instinct was as much on show against Switzerland in her goal as it was in a later play, when she blocked goalkeeper Thalmann’s clearance on something of a hopeless play but almost forced the ball to carom back into Switzerland’s net.All the same, the Americans ran up the score in the second half. In the 62nd minute, a cool finish from Tobin Heath on preparatory work by Crystal Dunn doubled the score.

When do the 2016 Major League Soccer playoffs start?

The 2016 Major League Soccer season will finish on Oct. 23, 2016. Twelve teams will advance to the playoffs, six from each conference. Click here for the latest standings.

Western Conference clubs that have clinched a playoff berth: FC Dallas, Colorado Rapids, LA Galaxy

Eastern Conference clubs who have clinched a playoff berth: New York Red Bulls, Toronto FC, New York City FC, Montreal Impact, D.C. United

Eliminated from contention: Chicago Fire, Columbus Crew SC, Orlando City, Houston Dynamo, San Jose Earthquakes, Vancouver Whitecaps.

How teams can clinch a playoff berth:

Seattle Sounders: Win vs. Real Salt Lake OR loss/draw by Sporting KC or Portland.

Sporting Kansas City: Win vs. San Jose Earthquakes OR draw and Portland draw/loss OR loss and Portland loss and maintain goal difference tiebreaker on Portland.

Portland Timbers: Win at Vancouver Whitecaps OR draw and Sporting KC loss OR a loss and a Sporting KC loss and make up 1 in goal difference on SKC.

Philadelphia Union: Win or draw vs. New York Red Bulls OR New England loss/draw OR loss and New England win if New England does not make up at least 12 in goal difference.

New England Revolution: Win vs. Montreal Impact AND Philadelphia loss and must make up at least 12 in goal difference.

 Knockout Round

Oct. 26: Two games (times TBD) — Match 1: ESPN2 & UniMas; Match 2: UniMas

Oct. 27: Two games (times TBD) – Match 1: FS1 & UniMas; Match 2: UniMas

Conference Semifinals

Oct. 30: Eastern and Western Conference Leg 1 — 3 pm ET (ESPN), 5 p.m. ET (ESPN), 7 p.m. ET (FS1), 9:30 p.m. ET (FS1)

Nov. 6: Eastern and Western Conference Leg 2 — 3 p.m. ET (ESPN), 5 p.m. ET (ESPN), 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1), 10 p.m. ET (FS1)

Conference Championships

Nov. 20: Western Conference Championship Leg 1 (FS1, 8 p.m. ET)

Nov. 22: Eastern Conference Championship Leg 1 (ESPN, 8 p.m. ET)

Nov. 27: Western Conference Championship Leg 2 (ESPN, 4 p.m. ET)

Nov. 30: Eastern Conference Championship Leg 2 (FS1, 7 p.m. ET)

2016 MLS Cup

Dec. 10: 2016 MLS Cup (FOX, UniMas, TSN, RDS, 8 p.m. ET)

*Dates/times are subject to change

PARTY SPOILERS

Indy Eleven truly spoiled the fun in a windy St. Petersburg last night. It seemed pretty clear cut for Tampa Bay – get the three points and a strong postseason push continues. Earn a draw, and playing in November is possible but looks slightly less likely. Meanwhile, a loss, while not completely eliminating them from contention, puts a massive dent in their hopes – and that’s what they got thanks to Nicki Paterson’s thunderous 85th minute strike. That makes two straight games in which Indy Eleven has taken the winds out of the sails of a contender for The Championship, which might make Rayo OKC more than a bit nervous for next Sunday’s regular season finale.Of course, even earning the three points would not have necessarily blasted the Rowdies into fourth place – they would have needed to win by a significant number of goals to jump Minnesota United FC on goal differential – but the overarching point here is that when it came down to it, Indy stepped up to take down Tampa Bay when the match could have gone either way. It was the hosts’ match to take after Joe Cole’s incredible effort from outside the area tied things up with just over 20 minutes to play, but instead of allowing a third, the “Boys in Blue” battened down the hatches to prevent Tampa Bay from finding one more moment of magic and ended up finding one of their own on the counter.Now Indy gets to return to Carroll Stadium, where they have not lost in over a calendar year, for the Fall Season home finale against Puerto Rico FC, still chasing what would tie an NASL home unbeaten record of 18 straight games. Anticipation.

STATS | Indy Eleven at Tampa Bay Rowdies

SPEAKING OF THE COUNTER…

Using his blinding pace, splitting the defense, and following through a nutmeg with a finish at the near post, Duke Lacroix is one of the big reasons last night clicked, but he’s just the first example of how Indy’s counter-attack can be incredibly deadly with the right weapons in the right places. The Young Player of the Year nominee looked incredible on the left side of the midfield diamond, and added a clever assist to his goal last night after taking a Rowdies defender one-on-one to the byline and working in a cross for forward Jair Reinoso to knock home.

With Lacroix on the left and Omar Gordon on the right, Indy also used outside backs Marco Franco and Neil Shaffer to charge up the pitch on the break and create more room for the wide midfielders as Tampa Bay tried to mark one man too many. Looking at Reinoso’s goal, the break begins with Gordon regaining possession and Indy working the ball around the center of the park to escape challenges by the Rowdies. Keller then finds Shaffer, and the break is one. “The Bulldog” (as Eleven ‘keeper Jon Busch nicknamed Shaffer on Twitter post-game) blitzes up the left side and finds Lacroix, who after working the right-back Darnell King gets to the endline and lays it off for Reinoso to do the rest. It was clean, it was quick, and it was impressive.The above example is just one of many from the night. Employing the kind of speed needed to complete moves like this is a tip of the cap to head coach Tim Hankinson and his tactics, which paid off in the form of three points after the full 90 minutes last night. While we’ve seen Indiana’s Team use the counter to their advantage in past games, few times have we seen them use it as successfully.

RECAP | Tampa Bay Rowdies 2 : 3 Indy Eleven

SQUAD DEPTH

One final part of last night that can’t go unmentioned is the depth of the Spring Season champions, which was tested due to an unintentional schedule quirk that has the squad in the midst of a four-game, 11-day stretch. Coach Hankinson made eight changes heading into the game, and to be able to call on guys who haven’t seen typical starter’s minutes and still get a performance like that is reassuring for not just the coaching staff, but for the players up and down the roster.  For guys like Keith Cardona, Neil Shaffer (making his regular season debut on the night), Jair Reinoso, Daniel Keller, Omar Gordon and Duke Lacroix, the 90 minutes and the victory are rewards for a season’s worth of hard work in training every day that the fans aren’t able to see. Not only did their effort contribute to the team getting the away win jinx off its collective backs, but it will also help keep them mentally sharp just in case they are called upon again down the stretch drive.With just two games left in the 2016 regular season, Indy Eleven has ticked off just about every box possible this year – unbeaten at home, getting that elusive road win, and even three points from the Sunshine State – and now has the luxury of two more games to tune things up before The Championship on November 5.

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10/11/16 US vs NZ tonite ESPN 8 pm, Indy 11 @ Jax Wed 8 pm

US takes on New Zealand tonite on ESPN at 8 pm — in the last of the friendlies before the Nov Qualifier with Mexico.  Mexico beat NZ 2-1 on Thursday so this will be an interesting test to see the  comparison. Look for Klinsmann to try a lot more new players tonite after starting a pretty strong side in the 2-0 win over Cuba last Friday afternoon.  Also the Indy 11 take on Jax on Wed Eve at 8 pm – in a game moved from the weekend because of the hurricane in Florida.  Check out lots of stories below.

cfc_soct16_03g

Coach Baker’s U14 G Gold team took home the top level championship at Socctoberfest this past weekend at Zionsville.

cfc_soc16_u8boys

Congrats to the Carmel FC U-8 Boys Gold (pictured) and the U-8 boys (white) for going undefeated in this weekend’s Soctoberfest in Zionsville.

MUST SEE GAMES ON TV

Tues, Oct 11  – World Cup Qualifying

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 –

7 pm  My Indy 23??            Indy 11 vs Jacksonville

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  – US Johnson vs US Bobby Woods of Hamburger

10 am NBCSN                                         Man City vs EvertonArsenal vs Swansea  (coach Bob Bradley debut)

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

7:30 Wish TV 8                     Indy 11 vs Carolina 

USA

How will US Line-Up vs New Zealand Tonite? NBCSN

Match Preview for Tonites game – US Soccer

Klinnsy Hopes Fringe Players Deliver Surprises – ESPN FC

5 things to Know About Tonights Game

Gooch Eager for 1st MNT Cap  ESPN FC

Wondo, Green, GK Horvath Star for US in 2-0 win over Cuba –ESPNFC

http://www.yardbarker.com/soccer/articles/where_should_us_soccer_play_their_home_world_cup_qualifiers/s1_12749_22048903

The US top Wing Options

EUROs

Euro Qualifying Wrap-up – Mon

Euro update from Weekend

OTHER

NY Flash beat Washington Flash in PKs to Win Title

Bob Bradley Arrives at Swansea – Dsicussion on NBCSN

GOALIES

Pretty Cool Keeper Drill going Viral

England Keeper Training for Qualifiers

England U21s GK Training

More GAMES ON TV

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

 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

7 pm  My Indy 23??            Indy 11 vs Jacksonville

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

10 am NBCSN                                         Man City vs EvertonArsenal vs Swansea  (coach Bob Bradley debut)

12:30 pm                         NBCSN                                West Brom vs Tottenham

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

7:30 Wish TV 8                     Indy 11 vs Carolina 

Sun, Oct 16  

3 pm ESPN                                               Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC

5 pm ESPN                                               Portland Timbers vs Colorado Rapids

Wed, Oct 19

9 pm ESPN2                          US Women vs Switzerland

Wed, Oct 26

MLS Playoffs Start

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

 

How will an experimental USMNT line up vs. New Zealand?

Leave a commentJoe Prince-WrightOct 10, 2016, 1:40 PM EDT

With plenty of unfamiliar faces set to be involved for the U.S. national team in their friendly game against New Zealand on Tuesday, who will line up from the start for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side?Truth be told, there are some many different ways he could go with this.

[ PREVIEW: USA v New Zealand ]Following the 2-0 win in Cuba on Fridaynine players were released from the team and seven were called up, as Klinsmann shuffles his pack and tries to look at as many players as he can ahead of the two huge 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica next month.The Hex is on the horizon and although the starting lineup looks pretty set, there are still plenty of spots up for grabs in the USMNT squad. So Klinsmann says.[ MORE: What did we learn from win in Cuba? Below is a look at three options the USMNT head coach could go for at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET.

Option 1 (4-2-3-1)

—– Yarbrough —–

— Orozco — Birnbaum — Gonzalez — Acosta —

—- Williams —- Kitchen —-

— Arriola — Gooch — Agudelo —

—– Boyd —–

Option 2 (4-4-2, Diamond)

—– Hamid —–

— Yedlin — Parker — Besler — Acosta —

—- Bradley —-

— Gooch — Williams —

—- Kljestan —-

—- Agudelo —- Green —-

Option 3 (4-3-3) 

—- Bingham —-

— Orozco — Birnbaum — Gonzalez — Besler —

—- Gooch —- Bradley —- Williams —-

—- Agudelo —- Altidore —- Green —-

Conclusion

Let’s start with Option 1: Well, this for me would be a really good lineup which would see youngsters handed a chance to impress as none of the starters from the Cuba game would start again. That always seemed to be the aim when these two friendlies were arranged as Klinsmann could get to look at as many players as possible over two matches. With Terrence Boyd up top on his own supported by Paul Arriola and Juan Agudelo there would be plenty of pace and trickery in attack. In midfield the trio of Danny Williams, Perry Kitchen and Lynden Gooch would compliment each other well and in defense Kellyn Acosta would get another chance at left back with Omar Gonzaez and Michael Orozco handed chances to show their importance as squad players. As for the goalkeeper, William Yarbrough impressed against Switzerland in a friendly last year and it could be time for him to make a real push to get alongside Tim Howard and Brad Guzan.

Option 2 sees a little mix of youth and experience. With Bill Hamid in goal, this may be one of his final chances as Ethan Horvath’s emergence threatens his spot in the player pool. In central defense Tim Parker and Matt Besler could mix well and DeAndre Yedlin could start again at right back after only getting 45 minutes against Cuba. A diamond in midfield would see captain Michael Bradley at the base and Sacha Kljestan pulling the strings in front of an energetic duo of Gooch and Williams, while two up top would be the most interesting part for me. Julian Green was lively out on the left against Cuba but in his preferred central role he could wreck havoc alongside Agudelo.Option 3 is in line with the kind of formation we expect from the USMNT’s first choice lineup. Again, a new goalkeeper in net sees David Bingham start after his solid display against Canada in February. The back four is more experienced with Besler getting an outing at left back like he was used in an emergency situation during the Copa American Centenario. In midfield the trio of Gooch, Williams and Bradley would again blend well and in attack Jozy Altidore could be the main man with Agudelo and Green picking up his knockdowns.Simply put: Klinsmann has plenty of options as he continues to see as many players as possible in action for the Stars and Stripes.

MATCH PREVIEW: USAVNZL | 8PM ET | ESPN, UNIMAS

MNT Oct 11, 2016

The U.S. Men’s National Team plays its last match before the final round of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup when they take on New Zealand on Tuesday at iconic RFK Stadium in Washington D.C. Kicking off at 8 p.m. ET, the match can be seen live on ESPN and UniMas. Fans can also follow the game live on Twitter at @ussoccer and @ussoccer_esp.Coming off a 2-0 win against Cuba in Havana on Friday, the MNT faces New Zealand for the third time and first since a 2-1 victory on June 8, 2003 in nearby Richmond, Va. The two sides first met in the opening match of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, also a 2-1 win which pushed the U.S. on to a third-place finish at the tournament in Mexico.Just as the U.S. will use the game as its last test before opening “the Hex” next month against Mexico (Nov. 11) and at Costa Rica (Nov. 15), New Zealand will also utilize Tuesday’s contest as its final warm-up before embarking on the third round of Oceanic Football Confederation qualifying, which opens next month against New Caledonia.

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION

GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)
DEFENDERS (7)Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Matt Besler (Sporting KC), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Michael Orozco (Club Tijuana), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)
MIDFIELDERS (6): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Danny Williams (Reading)
FORWARDS (4): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Terrence Boyd (RB Leipzig), Julian Green (Bayern Munich)

COMPETITION HEATS UP AHEAD OF THE HEX
With the depth chart filling up in positions all over the field, competition will be fierce for the coveted 23 spots on the roster for the huge opening game of the Hex against rivals Mexico and the away trip to the venomous confines of Estadio Nacional in Costa Rica. While there are a host of regulars in the squad, there are a number of players looking to “make their case” for inclusion in November.

Coming off a two-and-a-half year absence from the National Team, Sacha Kljestan rose to the occasion upon his recall last month, tallying two goals and two assists in World Cup Qualifying matches vs. St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago. MNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann said this week he hoped some of the players recalled for this camp would follow Kljestan’s example over the next two matches, while the veteran U.S. midfielder admitted he’s hoping to use games against Cuba and New Zealand as an audition for a starting XI spot when the Hex opens next month.

ROSTER CHANGES ANNOUNCED
Following the MNT’s 2-0 win in Havana, U.S. head coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced a number of roster changes, allowing players based both in MLS and abroad the opportunity to return to their clubs early to prepare for upcoming matches. The nine departuresopened the door for seven players to join the team, with Kellyn Acosta, Juan Agudelo, Matt Besler, Terrence Boyd, Bill Hamid, Michael Orozco and Tim Parker arriving to take part in Tuesday’s friendly against New Zealand.

After last appearing in MNT camp more than two years ago, Boyd returns to the team after overcoming a long comeback from an ACL injury suffered at the end of 2014. Besler also returns to the side after scoring on the same day his first-born daughter Parker was born back in the MNT’s 6-0 World Cup Qualifying win at St. Vincent and the Grenadines on Sept. 3 in Kingstown. Both playersspoke about their returns upon rejoining the team earlier this week.

JULIAN GREEN MAKES STRONG RETURN
A last-minute addition to the U.S. roster for Friday’s match at Cuba, 21-year-old attacker Julian Green earned his second career start and repaid Jurgen Klinsmann for the opportunity when he helped set up Chris Wondolowski’s 62nd minute goal before finishing himself nine minutes later to cap the 2-0 win. With seven appearances to his credit, the Bayern Munich forward hopes to continue his form against New Zealand in an effort to replicate the output from Sacha Kljestan in his National Team return last month.

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY IN GOAL
Klinsmann has opened up a rare window of opportunity for the next generation of goalkeepers this week. Standing down veterans Brad Guzan and Tim Howard, the MNT head coach brought in David Bingham, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough for the Cuba match. Becoming one of the youngest goalkeepers all-time to debut for the MNT during Friday’s 2-0 win in Havana, Horvath was allowed to return to Norwegian club Molde following the match, leaving the door open for Bingham, Yarbrough and new addition Bill Hamid to gain time in Tuesday night’s friendly against New Zealand.

THE FORTRESS OF RFK STADIUM
Returning to RFK Stadium on Tuesday night, the MNT comes back to a place it has found a lot of success over the years. Going 15-3-5 all-time at the iconic venue, the USA enters Tuesday’s match with a nine-game unbeaten run at RFK, going 8-0-1 in a streak that dates back to a 2-1 win against Uruguay on May 12, 2002. Having hosted 23 matches since a 1-1 draw with China on Oct. 6, 1977, RFK Stadium has been the host of more MNT games than any other venue worldwide.

NEW ZEALAND NOTES

  • The U.S. is 2-0-0 all-time against New Zealand, winning both previous meetings by a 2-1 score line.
  • The sides first met in the opening match of the 1999 FIFA Confederations Cup, where Jovan Kirovski and Brian McBride scored on both sides of halftime to give the U.S. three points in Guadalajara, Mexico. More recently, the teams faced off in a warm-up for the 2003 FIFA Confederations Cup in nearby Richmond, Va., with Kirovski and Chris Klein scoring in the 2-1 win.
  • The match also marks New Zealand’s final test before beginning the third round of OFC qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The All-Whites will take on New Caledonia in two group games on Nov. 12 and 15 before taking on Fiji on March 20 and 28, 2017.
  • Captained by West Ham United center back Winston Reid, New Zealand also features a few connections to Major League Soccer. Goalkeeper Jake Gleeson has had a revelatory season, winning the starting job for Portland Timbers, while defender Kip Colvey plies his trade for San Jose Earthquakes.
  • The All-Whites also feature Vancouver Whitecaps FC 2 defender Deklan Wynne as well as University of Wisconsin defender Sam Brotherton.

Jurgen Klinsmann hoping U.S. fringe players can deliver ‘surprises’

United States coach Jurgen Klinsmann says he is hoping to find a few “surprises” among his fringe players in Tuesday night’s friendly against New Zealand.Following last week’s win in Cuba, the U.S. returns home for the friendly at RFK Stadium (8 p.m., ESPN) in its final test before beginning the final World Cup qualifying round against Mexico next month.The squad to face New Zealand features many new faces as nine players departed following the 2-0 win in Havana, and Klinsmann said he’s using the opportunity to evaluate as many players as he can, even if they won’t be able to force their way into the lineup in November.”A month away from the clash with Mexico, we have a clear picture already of how we want to approach this very, very big game,” he said in quotes released by U.S. Soccer.”But at the same time we want to see some players who we haven’t really had the opportunity in the last few World Cup qualifers to have a closer look at. And obviously when you do that, when you bring in players that weren’t with us for a little bit, you might get surprised.”And we had one surprise definitely with Julian Green. Julian Green is training tremendously well. He had a good game in Cuba, even if you couldn’t judge that game because of the field, but we see a lot of elements that we were hoping for in his game.”Then we have other young [players] like Lynden Gooch, training really well. Guys back in the group like Perry Kitchen or Danny Williams, we have a young goalkeeper coming through with Ethan Horvath in his debut for the national team program.”So it’s very helpful for us to gather that information. But do we have a pretty clear picture of how to approach Mexico? Yes we do.”One player who could get a chance to shine against New Zealand is striker Juan Agudelo, who was called up for the first time in over a year.Agudelo made his senior international debut six years ago at age 17, but after the absence the New England Revolution forward said he’s learned to appreciate playing for his country.”I am more excited now to get a call-up, maybe because I haven’t been called in a year,” Agudelo told MLSsoccer.com. “But it’s definitely more of a privilege — and it should’ve always been a privilege, but now it’s like,  understand. It’s more about maturing, I guess.”

Christian Pulisic, Julian Green and Lynden Gooch – Sizing up the U.S. wing midfield pool

Goal.com  8:35 AM PDT

Not since Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey were working on opposite flanks in their prime during the 2010 World Cup qualifying cycle have we really seen the U.S. national team boast a dangerous and reliable set of wingers.That could be about to change — if not in the immediate future, then very soon.Christian Pulisic’s rapid emergence has given the U.S. its most promising attacking wing option in years. Though he’s still just 18, he has already shown enough to start being considered a good bet to be a starter when the final round of World Cup qualifying begins in November.Pulisic is actually just one of a handful of talented young wing options coming up the pipeline, such as Paul Arriola and Brooks Lennon, not to mention Julian Green, who has played his way onto the Bayern Munich first-team roster, even if as a reserve striker.What makes the winger pool even more interesting is the fact that the U.S. team’s best winger may not wind up playing on the wing. Fabian Johnson remains Klinsmann’s best midfielder, but he also happens to be Klinsmann’s best left back. And with left back having fewer viable options than the left wing, Johnson still looks like a good bet to be starting in the back four rather than midfield when the Americans take on Mexico and Costa Rica in November.In the latest installment in Goal USA‘s series on the U.S. player pool depth chart, we take a closer look at Klinsmann’s wing options, including the veterans who still have a role to play in the immediate future, and younger options who could develop into difference makers in years to come.This list doesn’t include the likes of Joe Gyau and Josh Gatt, a pair of speedy wingers who would have been a part of such a list two years ago, before injuries left them both sidelined for extended periods of time. Gatt has recently returned to playing with Molde in Norway, while Gyau is continuing to rehab as he moves closer to full action in Borussia Dortmund’s setup. They may not be on this list now, but they could very well be back among the top options in the near future.

Also absent from the list are MLS midfielders Lee Nguyen, Darlington Nagbe and Ethan Finlay. Though Nguyen and Nagbe have been used on the wings by Klinsmann in the past, they are more natural central midfielders, while Finlay has taken a bit of a step back after his outstanding 2015 season, which helped earn him a look from Klinsmann in March. All three are still young enough to be options on the flanks, but they will need to step it up to get back into the top 10.

Here is a closer look at how Klinsmann’s top wing options stack up at the moment:

FABIAN JOHNSON

A left winger for Borussia Moenchengladbach, Johnson has shown time and time again on the club level that he is very much a capable player on the flanks. He has done the same with the U.S. when played in such a role, but with Klinsmann needing him more as a fullback, we haven’t been able to see Johnson’s attacking prowess on a consistent basis for the U.S.Could that be changing? It will depend completely on new fullback options emerging in order to free up Johnson to play a more advanced role. If a player like Timmy Chandler can step up and show themselves to be a dependable starting option at left back, then we could see Klinsmann deploy a Johnson-Pulisic winger tandem, which most U.S. fans are probably already dreaming of.

CHRISTIAN PULISIC

September was a breakout month for Pulisic, who not only turned 18, but enjoyed a strong run for both club and country which essentially erased the lingering “he’s too young” notions that were keeping him from being considered a serious factor for the U.S. Yes, he’s young and will have his growing pains, but it’s tough to argue that he hasn’t shown enough to be considered a strong candidate to start for the U.S. from here on out.Pulisic’s versatility should help give Klinsmann some good options. He’s capable of playing on either wing, and though he’s not a natural left winger, his speed and ability to cut inside and wreak havoc make him effective there, as he has shown with Borussia Dortmund. He will eventually develop into a central playmaker, but for now, Pulisic is looking like the dynamic winger the U.S. had been lacking since Johnson was forced to play fullback.

ALEJANDRO BEDOYA

A workhorse midfielder who doesn’t get nearly the credit he deserves, Bedoya has been an effective wing option, if not a flashy one. His two-way work, and ability to combine well and move well in the flow of the attack has long made him a useful contributor on both ends of the field.Bedoya has settled into central midfield with the Philadelphia Union and could float into a more central role with the U.S. soon enough, particularly as other wing options develop. But Bedoya could definitely still be a wing starter when World Cup qualifying resumes in November.

GYASI ZARDES

Currently sidelined as he recovers from a broken foot, Zardes had established himself as a regular starter on the wing over the previous two years. A natural striker, Zardes was able to use his speed, strength and tireless motor to be an effective flank player, even though he never was quite effective at providing service.Zardes recently began running again, but it remains unclear whether he can make it all the way back for November’s qualifiers. If he can’t make it back, he should still be a strong candidate for a flank role in 2017, though Klinsmann might start eyeing him more as forward depth if some younger wingers continue emerging.

PAUL ARRIOLA

The 21-year-old winger earned his first senior national team look in May, and made the most of it by impressing in a friendly against Puerto Rico. He has parlayed that into more looks, including a goal-scoring cameo in September’s World Cup qualifying win against Trinidad and Tobago.Though he has yet to establish himself as a starter on the club level, Arriola has been a regular substitute for Club Tijuana, which is currently in first place in Liga MX. His ability to take defenders on and provide service makes him a good option off the bench for the U.S., and he’s still young so we haven’t seen the best of him yet.

GRAHAM ZUSI

Don’t go forgetting about the Sporting Kansas City winger even though injuries have kept him from showing his best in recent years. When he has been healthy, Zusi has shown that he still can make an impact, as evidenced in March’s World Cup qualifying win against Guatemala, and his goal-scoring cameo in the Copa America rout of Costa Rica.What the 30-year-old winger provides is good service from the wing, and another set-piece/corner-kick option for Klinsmann, and he has shown a penchant for being able to step up in big moments. He will need to stay healthy to keep his place in Klinsmann’s pecking order before younger options move past him permanently.

LYNDEN GOOCH

No, Gooch hasn’t played for the U.S. senior team yet, but he has earned his first call-up for the current camp and is a good bet to make his debut in the coming days. The Sunderland winger has been a real revelation, earning regular minutes for the English Premier League club and showing himself to be a tenacious and versatile midfielder.The 20-year-old is still young and a bit raw, but he has already shown good qualities, including speed and a willingness to take on defenders, that could keep him in the picture for both the U.S. and Sunderland.

JULIAN GREEN

Funny how fortunes can change. Julian Green has gone from prodigy and World Cup goal-scorer, to national team afterthought struggling to play on the youth national team level, to now on Bayern Munich’s first-team squad and back in Klinsmann’s squad. Carlo Ancelotti’s decision to use Green as a striker has helped rejuvenate his standing with the German champions, though he still isn’t getting first-team minutes. So is he a winger or a striker? Klinsmann hasn’t discussed yet whether he’s buying into Ancelotti’s belief that Green is a more effective striker than winger, but we might find out in the upcoming U.S. friendlies. It should be noted that Green has played almost exclusively on the flank for both the senior national team and youth national teams.

BROOKS LENNON

The least well-known of the players on this list, Brooks Lennon may have the most upside of anybody not named Pulisic. The Liverpool youth player has been turning heads since leaving Real Salt Lake’s academy and signing with the English powerhouse. The 19-year-old forward-winger has been scoring goals with regularity in the Liverpool youth ranks, and should raise his profile among American fans as a key figure in the next U.S. Under-20 World Cup qualifying cycle.

Though he might develop into more of a forward option, Lennon has shown himself to be an effective wing player, and developing under the watchful eye of Jurgen Klopp is certainly not a bad thing for the teenager.

JEROME KIESEWETTER

The German-American winger-forward earned a place in Klinsmann’s January camp after having previously impressed on the youth national team level. As a U-23 winger, Kiesewetter was particularly impressive with his speed and service, forming a good partnership with Jordan Morris.Now with Bundesliga 2 side Fortuna Dusseldorf, Kiesewettter is fighting for regular playing time, though he will have to establish himself as a starter to really move up these rankings.

 

Gooch eager to make U.S. debut vs. New Zealand

ALEXANDRIA, Va. – If there were any lingering doubts about which national team Lynden Gooch wants to represent at the international level, the Sunderland forward/midfielder extinguished them on Sunday. The 20-year-old Santa Cruz, California native, who started the Black Cats first four games of the Premier League season, remains eligible for play for England (through his father) and the Republic of Ireland (through his mother). But Gooch, who suited up mostly for the U.S. but also Ireland at youth level, is hoping to make his senior debut for the Americans in Tuesday’s exhibition against New Zealand. And he left no doubt that his allegiance lies with the USA.”I’m definitely committed” to the red, white and blue, the soft-spoken Gooch told reporters before the U.S. trained in suburban Washington, D.C. ahead of the match at RFK Stadium (8 p.m. ET, ESPN/WatchESPN). “I just want to play in this friendly and I want to play next month in the qualifiers, hopefully, if I do well. I’m committed to playing for this team. That’s why am here.” Gooch was referring to November’s World Cup qualifying games against Mexico and Costa Rica. He would be permanently tied to the U.S. should he appear in either.Gooch’s declaration isn’t a huge surprise; he’s said as much when asked in the past. But for a country that doesn’t exactly have Prem players falling from trees — Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron is the only American earning regular minutes in England’s top flight this season — it’s still a significant coup.Now comes the match against the Kiwis. Gooch didn’t get off the bench for Jurgen Klinsmann’s side in Friday’s 2-0 victory versus Cuba. But with nine players — including six starters — released to their clubs following the win in Havana, Gooch is expected to see his first action at the top level.”I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “Obviously I wanted to play a little bit in the Cuba game, but it didn’t happen. But hopefully I’ll get my first cap.”on the wing and as a deep-lying midfielder for Sunderland, but is hoping to occupy a more advanced role under Klinsmann. With attackers Jordan Morris, Christian Pulisic, Chris Wondolowski and Bobby Wood among those released between matches, he might get his wish and possibly from the first whistle.A strong performance would go a long way toward earning a recall from the coach next month. But both his immediate and long-term future with the U.S. is more likely dependent on how — and how much — he plays for his club.After those season-opening starts, Gooch was an unused substitute in Sunderland’s 1-0 loss at Tottenham and didn’t make the 18 for 3-2 defeat against Crystal Palace. He came off the bench for the final minutes of the Black Cats most recent game, a 1-1 tie with West Bromwich Albion on Oct. 1.  “I think that’s normal for young players — you’re not gonna be able to play every game,” Gooch said when asked about the highs and lows so far. “I started four games straight off the bounce. I think that was a surprise, but they manage players well. “I think you’ll get burned out if you play every second after making that jump,”I’ve got an experienced manager, David Moyes. He knows how to handle young players…he said that at times, ‘I have to take pressure off you as well.'”Speaking of pressure, he did get a little ribbing from his family when it came time to choosing which country’s colors to defend, even though it wasn’t a difficult decision. “I’ve got an Irish mother and an English dad, but I was born and raised in California,” Gooch said. “My mom, she’s always saying ‘Ireland, Ireland.’ But she’s happy.”U.S. fans ought to be, too.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN 

 

Green, Horvath, Wondolowski star as United States edge Cuba in Havana

The United States did little more than fill an international date with a glorified scrimmage on Friday afternoon in Havana, Cuba. The game was more “historic event” than meaningful soccer exercise, but a 2-0 win will nevertheless feel good for Jurgen Klinsmann and his team, especially in light of the difficult conditions.

Positives

The debut of Ethan Horvath in goal represents a step forward in the young player’s career, and Julian Green did well on the left side of the American midfield. Steve Birnbaum got 45 more minutes toward his experience total in a U.S. shirt (and suffered a cut for his trouble), but perhaps most importantly, the Americans suffered no significant injuries. That’s no small feat considering the conditions.

Negatives

It’s tough to know what to make of a friendly played on such a terrible surface. A bumpy field with barren patches made for difficult passing all afternoon long. Rhythm was essentially nonexistent for the Americans, despite the weakness of the Cuban side. Several key U.S. players looked uncomfortable simply running on the Cuban grass, much less trying to play up to their usual standard. The energy level was low, and if not for Chris Wondolowski, the U.S. might have left Havana with an embarrassing result.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Klinsmann’s starting lineup has potential, and might work against weaker opponents in better — more meaningful — circumstances and on a better surface. Giving Green a start proved to be a smart move. With a full complement of friendly substitutions, the United States boss was able to get a look at most of his roster.

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

GK Ethan Horvath, 8 — Composed and confident. The only American player to make a positive impression in the first half. Bailed the U.S. out a few key saves.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, 6 — Handled his defensive responsibilities reasonably well, but made no mark in the attack. Subbed at half-time.

DF Geoff Cameron, 5.5 — Victimized by Cuban movement on a couple of counterattacking opportunities. Like many of his teammates, never found the pace of the field and passed poorly.

DF John Brooks, 5.5 — Struggled with the rest of his defensive mates to hold and manage a high line. Stumbled on the bumpy field more than once and was likely happy to take a seat at half-time.

DF Fabian Johnson, 5 — Lethargic and disinterested throughout. Occasionally got forward into the attack but did nothing when there. Did not recover his position quickly enough.

MF Julian Green, 8 — The most vibrant of the U.S. attackers for most of the day. Created the first goal with a shot, then scored the second by getting on the end of Wondolowski’s service.

MF Sacha Kljestan, 7 — Provided a number of useful balls out of his central midfield position. Showed the vision that earned him a spot back in the national-team picture, even as his teammates were unable to leverage it.

MF Michael Bradley, 6 — Sat deep as the only holding midfielder in the game at the start. Looked troubled by the Cuban break. Passed well enough, but without much danger.

MF Christian Pulisic, 4.5 — The Dortmund wunderkind did not enjoy his half in Havana, both because of the rough surface and the physical approach of the Cubans.

FW Bobby Wood, 5.5 — Popped up in good spots a few times, but wasted the chances he was given. Gave the requisite effort tracking back and making runs off of Jozy Altidore.

FW Jozy Altidore, 5.5 — A presence and little more at the front of the formation. With the surface so poor, was asked to win a number of long balls in the air, pulling him away from goal and limiting his danger.

Substitutes:

FW Chris Wondolowski, 8 — Took his goal exceptionally well and set up the second. Adapted to the field better than any other American forward.

DF Timothy Chandler, 6 — Helped with possession as the U.S. played out the second half, defending adequately.

DF Steve Birnbaum, 7 — Brought needed interest and energy to the back line when he entered at half-time, but suffered a nasty injury when kicked in the head by a Cuban player.

FW Jordan Morris, 6 — Involved in a few dangerous moments in combination with Wondolowski, including one he stumbled away shortly after entering.

FW Paul Arriola, NR — Essentially anonymous in a little more than 20 minutes as a second-half substitute.

MF Danny Williams, NR — Didn’t seem to have much success slowing down the Cuban attack, who still found joy on the counter after Williams entered to help stiffen the American midfield.Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer 

Where should U.S. Soccer play home World Cup qualifiers?

Originally posted on 32 Flags  |  By Pauly Kwestel  |  Last updated 10/6/16

As expected, it didn’t take long for U.S. Soccer to announce that the U.S. Men’s National Team’s opening game in the Hex against Mexico would be played in Columbus, Ohio. After all, that’s where the U.S. has played Mexico since 2001, and the Americans seem to always win by a famous scoreline that you may have heard of.But U.S. Soccer has yet to announce where the other four home matches will be. This year, the U.S. is in a very interesting position where for each two-game stretch of the Hex the USMNT will have a Friday home game proceeding an away game. That means the U.S. can in theory pick similar cities to the conditions of its away game to help prepare for those elements if the team so chooses.The question is, where should U.S. Soccer host these games? For starters, these games are about one thing and one thing only, qualifying for the World Cup. They are not for making as much money as you possibly can. That’s what friendlies are for. That’s why, unless there’s a special situation, U.S. Soccer should be choosing cozy MLS Stadiums that are designed for soccer rather than half-empty football stadiums. If more fans want tickets than the stadium can hold, so be it.If you were in charge of U.S. soccer, where would you put the games? That’s a question that can be taken to Twitter. But if I was in charge of U.S. Soccer? Well, here’s where I’d put them.

March 24, 2017: USA vs. Honduras (Denver) 

There’s a school of thought that the U.S. should play the Trinidad & Tobago match in June in Denver’s altitude to prepare for the Mexico match at the Azteca, but that’s a bunch of hogwash. Why waste one of the few home-field advantages the United States has by playing in Denver in June?

The March game is pretty much the only game that falls out in winter. Denver is a great winter city. As we found out from the snow-game against Costa Rica in 2013, the weather in Denver can pretty much be anything. The Americans are used to that. We have winter. You know who doesn’t have a winter season? Honduras. Put the game in Denver in the winter, and Honduras will have no chance.

June 9, 2017: USA vs. Trinidad & Tobago (Jacksonville)

Sure, people want to play this game in Denver to prepare for the Azteca’s altitude, but that’s only one of the battles the U.S. will be facing. It will also have to deal with the heat and humidity that comes with Mexico City. Ergo the U.S. should be looking for the hottest and most humid city it can find. If there’s a hotter and more humid city in the middle of June than Jacksonville then sure play it there, but Jacksonville is the one that comes to my mind, and the U.S. is undefeated there.

I understand the U.S. literally just played Trinidad & Tobago in Jacksonville this past September, but like I said, this isn’t about making money, it’s about qualifying for the World Cup. That last game worked out well for the U.S., just run it back. (If you want to move this game to Washington, D.C., I won’t argue).

September 1, 2017: USA vs. Costa Rica (Kansas City)

Kansas City has a great stadium, and it has a great crowd. The atmosphere that the fans create in Kansas City is not only top-notch, but it’s mainly only rivaled by that of Columbus, Washington and the Pacific Northwest. Kansas City deserves a World Cup qualifying match, and since it didn’t get one last round, the city gets one now. Plus Costa Rica will be the second toughest game the U.S. will play, so the Americans need to play it in a good location.

October 6, 2017: USA vs. Panama (Washington, D.C.) 

Every other country plays home games in its capital city, therefore the U.S. should play one in its too. The fact that RFK Stadium crowd always brings it is just an added bonus. If the Hex plays out like the last one did, the U.S. will have already advanced, and this will be a 90-minute party. If it plays out like the 2010 Hex did, the U.S. will need to win to advance, and where better to play than the stadium that holds more USMNT wins than any other?

And with RFK Stadium likely to close down after the 2017 MLS season, this would be one of the final games ever played and would serve as a fitting tribute to a historic stadium that has been so important for U.S. Soccer’s history.

UEFA World Cup qualifying: Italy edges Macedonia, Spain eases past Albania

3 CommentsBy Matt ReedOct 9, 2016, 4:41 PM EDT

One of Europe’s top sides needed a late strike to get past a surprisingly competitive Macedonia side.[ MORE: England adds keeper Pickford following Heaton injury ]Ciro Immobile’s brace in the final quarter hour helped Italy rescued a victory against Macedonia during their 3-2 win on Sunday afternoon.Immobile scored in the 75th and 91st minutes for the Italians, which helped them avoid a potentially disastrous result.Despite Andrea Belotti’s first-half finish for the Azzurri, it was Macedonia that opened the second half on the front foot. Goals from Ilija Nestoroski and Ferhan Hasani handed the hosts the lead within a span of three minutes, before Immobile rescued the Italians.Spain pulled off a 2-0 win against Albania behind second-half finishes from Diego Costaand Nolito on the road.Nacho Monreal played a quick pass to Nolito on left wing for Spain’s second in the 63rd minute, which puts La Furia Roja back atop Group G on seven points. The Manchester City attacker made a brilliant move to cut back against a defender, before slotting his effort past goalkeeper Etrit Berisha.Following a crucial mistake from the Albania backline, Diego Costa gave the Spaniards the advantage after halftime when David Silva played a simple ball across the center of the box for the Chelsea striker to smash home.

Elsewhere around Europe:

Group D

Wales 1-1 Georgia

Moldova 1-3 Republic of Ireland

Serbia 3-2 Austria

Group G

Israel 2-1 Liechtenstein

Group I

Iceland 2-0 Turkey

Finland 0-1 Croatia

Ukraine 3-0 Kosovo

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10/6/16 US Manager Bob Bradley Becomes First EPL Manager at Swansea, US Men Play Fri 4 pm FS1, Tues 8 pm ESPN, World Cup Qualifiers Thurs-Tues, HS Sectionals

The focus turns to the US team this week as the World Leagues take the weekend off for International play, World Cup qualifiers and friendlies this weekend.  First off the HUGE news that former US Manager Bob Bradley has accepted the manager position for struggling EPL side Swansea.  He becomes the first US Manager to ever coach in the Premier League.  US fans will remember Bradley as the US manager who was removed for Juergan Klinnsman after finishing 3rd in the Gold Cup following a Sweet 16 run in the World Cup in 2010.  What folks seem to forget is Bradley had the US in the final of the Confederation Cup beating #1 Spain, #5 Italy before losing to Brazil 3-2 in the Finals the year before the World Cup.  The US achieved its highest ever ranking at 4th In the world in front of Spain, Italy, Argentina, Mexico and Portugal.  Since of course Klinnsman has made massive changes including recruiting German/American players, revamping the US development academy and making multiple changes.  Honestly Bradley was never given that type of latitude for the US – and yet despite this he managed the players he had admirably and always had his team prepared for the match.  Good luck to coach Bradley as he blazes the trail for US soccer coaches in Europe and go Swansea!

The US will travel to Cuba for Friday afternoon’s friendly at 4 pm on Fox Sports 1, expect the US to play a mix of youngsters mixed in with experience as we prepare for the huge Mexico vs USA match November 11 in Columbus, OH next month.  The US game will follow the Netherlands vs Belarus WCQ match on FS1 Friday before the US returns home Tues nght at 8 pm on ESPN vs New Zealand.

World Cup Qualifiers and friendlies get started on Thursday with the much anticipated Italy vs Spain qualifier at 2:45 on Fox Sports 1.  World class keepers Gigi Buffon and David De Gea will go head to head in this qualifier, while Austria and Gareth Bale’s Wales are on FS2 same time.  Thurs eve has South American WC Qualifiers with Brazil hosting Bolivia at 8:45 pm and Peru hosting a Mesi less Argentina at 10:15 pm both on beIN sports.  (See the Complete WCQ schedule below).  The National Women’s League Finals set as Washington plays NY Flash Sun 5 pm on FS1. 

Good luck to all our Carmel FC teams this weekend in SoctoberFest in Zionsville and good luck to our former/current players playing high school sectionals this week and weekend!  The #3 Ranked Carmel ladies face 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 with 4 former/current CFCers will square off against  18th ranked Guerin Catholic with 6 Senior former CFC’ers on Sat at 7 pm in Zionsville with a spot to sectionals on the line.      Carmel boys Upens Zionsville 1-0

MUST SEE GAMES ON TV

Thurs, Oct 6  – World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                       Italy vs Spain  –Great Goalie battle Buffon vs DeGea

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 ESPN 2 or 3?                     France vs Bulgaria

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

 Sat Oct 8  – World Cup Qualifying

12 noon Fox Sports 1                      U17 WWC – Japan vs USA 

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Germany vs Czech Republic

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 NY vs Washington

Mon, Oct 10  – World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                      Netherlands vs France 

Tues, Oct 11  – World Cup Qualifying

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

7 pm  My Indy 23??            Indy 11 vs Jacksonville

USA

Former US Manager becomes first ever US Manager in the EPL = Grant Wahl-Sl

Former US Manager Bob Bradley Takes over EPL Team Swansea

Bradley to Swansea – Fantastic says Klinsy

What does this mean for American soccer?

US soccer reacts to Bradley’s new gig

Bradley on Swans chance: “Special opportunity”

What next for Bradley?

US Calls in Mix of Veterans and Youngsters for this week Friendlies– SI

5 Questions Facing US in Oct Friendlies –goal.com

4 questions facing USMNT ahead of Cuba Friendly – MLS.com

US Leaves out Starting Goalkeepers

How might the US line-up – NBC Sports

Kljestan’s US return opens doors for other to return from the Cold – ESPN FC Graham Parker

Why a Bigger World Cup would help the US and Canada

US Ladies Carli Lloyd Chats about her Book

Here’s the full USMNT roster for the two upcoming friendlies:

GOALKEEPERS (3): David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)

DEFENDERS (7): Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin),Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)

MIDFIELDERS (8): Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Danny Williams (Reading)

FORWARDS (5): Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg

EPL

Assessing the Contenders – NBCSN

Tottenham takes EPL lead after 2-0 thrashing of Man City

Spurs Pochettino confident after win

Fermino leads Liverpool

Cante and Mourino need time to change things -EspnFC

35 Things about Ibra on his 35th Birthday

WORLD

World Cup Qualifiers – Spain vs Italy over the years

Leicesters GK Casper Schmeichel wants Denmark back in the big time

Power Rankings

Around the World of Soccer

Atletico Takes top Spot in La Liga after Barca and Real Madrid falter

Rashford must start over Rooney for England

GOALKEEPERS

French 5th Division Keeper makes Triple Save

Oops Barcelona’s Ter Stegan Struggles Clearing

MLS + NWSL + Indy 11  

NWSL Finals set as Washington plays NY Flash Sun 5 pm on FS1 

Washington Spirit will face the Western New York Flash next Sunday (5 p.m. ET, FS1)

Power Rankings Dallas back on top

3 Things Indy 11 loss

Indy 11 Sat Night Game @ Jax moved to Wed 10/12/16

 More GAMES ON TV

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 Thurs, Oct 6  – World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sports 1                       Italy vs Spain  –Great Goalie battle Buffon vs DeGea

2:45 pm Fox Sports 2                      Austria vs Wales

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

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 NY vs Washington

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

7 pm  My Indy 23??            Indy 11 vs Jacksonville

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

10 am NBCSN                                         Man City vs EvertonArsenal vs Swansea  (coach Bob Bradley debut)

12:30 pm                         NBCSN                                West Brom vs Tottenham

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

7:30 Wish TV 8                     Indy 11 vs Carolina 

Sun, Oct 16  

3 pm ESPN                                               Montreal Impact vs Toronto FC

5 pm ESPN                                               Portland Timbers vs Colorado Rapids

Wed, Oct 19

9 pm ESPN2                          US Women vs Switzerland

Wed, Oct 26

MLS Playoffs Start

MLS TV Schedule ‘

EPL TV Schedule on NBC + NBCSN

German Bundesliga TV Schedule on Fox Soccer and Gol TV

EPL’s Swansea City hires Bob Bradley in historic appointment for American manager

QUICKLY GRANT WAHL2 hours ago

  • Bradley makes history and becomes the first American to manage a team in one of Europe’s top four leagues.

In a historic move for U.S. soccer, former U.S. coach Bob Bradley has agreed to become the new manager of English Premier League club Swansea City, SI.com has learned. The 58-year-old Bradley, who will replace Francesco Guidolin, will become the first American ever to manage a team in one of Europe’s top four leagues.According to sources close to the deal, Bradley won the job ahead of former Manchester United legend Ryan Giggs and former Villarreal manager Marcelino, who were both interviewed by Swansea as well.The decision to hire Bradley was made collectively by three people at Swansea: Co-managing owners Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien and Welshman Huw Jenkins, who has been Swansea’s chairman for 14 years. They felt Bradley’s managing experience in various places gave him an edge over Giggs, who has never been a full-time head coach.Bradley’s contract with Swansea will run through the end of the 2018-19 season.

Swansea is in 17th place (one spot above the relegation zone) after seven games, with one win, one tie and five losses. The club was taken over in July by a consortium of American owners led by Kaplan and Levien.

Bradley comes to Swansea from Le Havre in the French second division. He took over Le Havre midseason in November 2015 and came within one goal of promotion to Ligue 1 with a 5-0 win in the final game of the season. Before Le Havre, Bradley spent two seasons at Norway’s Stabaek. Despite being one of the most cash-strapped teams in the Norwegian top flight, Stabaek qualified for the Europa League under Bradley.

From 2011 to ’13, Bradley coached the Egyptian national team. During a time of social upheaval in Egypt and in the wake of the Port Said stadium massacre that took 74 lives and caused the suspension of the Egyptian league, Bradley somehow rallied Egypt to within a game of qualifying for its first World Cup since 1990.Before Egypt, Bradley coached the U.S. national team from 2006 to ’11. During his tenure, Bradley’s U.S. team won its World Cup 2010 group ahead of England and reached the 2009 Confederations Cup final, beating a Spain team in the semifinals that was at the height of its powers before losing 3-2 to Brazil in the final. Bradley was fired in 2011 after the U.S.’s 4-2 loss to Mexico in the Gold Cup final. Bradley coached three MLS teams between 1998 and 2006. He led the Chicago Fire to the MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup double during his first season in 1998 and the Open Cup trophy again in 2000. He went on to coach the MetroStars from 2003 to ’05 and Chivas USA in 2006.  Bradley got his start in coaching with head jobs at Ohio University and Princeton.

What does Bradley’s hiring at Swansea mean for American soccer?

13 CommentsBy Joe Prince-WrightOct 3, 2016, 9:55 AM EDT

Game-changer.That sums up what Bob Bradley’s appointment as Swansea City’s new manager on Monday could be.[ MORE: Key US figures react ]

Bradley, 58, has been chipping away for a chance like this for many years and Swansea’s new U.S. majority owners have handed him the keys to the Liberty Stadium.This is a huge opportunity for not only Bradley but for the whole of the U.S. soccer community to be taken more seriously in Europe. That’s not an overstatement.For many years any of us involved in the U.S. soccer scene have had to listened to digs and jibes from around the world about a nation which has not traditionally been a passionate patron of the beautiful game.“What do Yanks know about football?” or “He’s American, what’s the point?” are already some of the responses to Bradley getting the Swansea job. Those responses are, sadly, far too predictable.But what does being American have anything to do with being a good coach? It shouldn’t have anything to do with it but we all know it does.[ LONGFORM: Bradley’s journey in Norway 

Bradley himself has spoken out in the past about the same group of coaches getting jobs time and time again in the Premier League and Europe’s top leagues. Whether it is because they’re English and seem a safe bet, the circuit has been a closed shop for some time. Now, though, Bradley has a chance to prove just how good of a coach he is. Simply put, his nationality probably played a part in him not getting this chance 10 years ago.Those attitudes and beliefs have often hindered not only American coaches but also American players getting chances in Europe’s elite leagues. Look around Europe’s top leagues today. There are a handful of U.S. players in Germany, five total in the Premier League and a few others scattered around. After that, well, U.S. youngsters at academies across Europe are battling away but are facing similar problems.Back in 2014 I traveled to Norway to sit down with Bob and see his work firsthand with tiny Norwegian side Stabaek, but also to talk about why American’s have found it so hard to gain respect in Europe.

“In its simplest form, as much as the game has grown in the U.S., players and coaches earning respect in Europe is still not easy,” Bradley said. “Actually when we [U.S. national team] had success in the Confederations Cup and then in the World Cup, many football people spoke very highly of the way we played as a team, our football, our results. What we accomplished but still that part of what it means for players getting chances at a big clubs… what does that mean for coaches getting chances? It still takes time. We are still in the midst of it, there’s no two ways about it.”

His resume is helping some of the barriers to be broken down but it will still take time. For instance, Ryan Giggs, who has zero head-coaching experience, was Swansea’s other option here and is many of Swansea’s fans are talking about him being a better option compared to Bradley’s almost four decades coaching in the game.Bradley started off on home soil and led the expansion franchise Chicago Fire to an MLS Cup and U.S. Open Cup in their inaugural season. Then led Chivas USA to the playoffs before taking over the U.S. national team before heading overseas for the last five years in Egypt, Norway and France.He is a disciple of Bruce Arena and was his assistant at the University of Virginia and D.C. United in MLS’ formative years. Bradley has been described by many as a founding father of American soccer along with Arena. During his days with the U.S. national team from 2006-11 he won the 2007 Gold Cup, took the U.S. to the 2009 Confederations Cup final after shocking Spain in the semifinals and reached the Round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup. The U.S. national team, despite arguably having a stronger player pool now than when Bradley was in charge, has struggled to reach those heights.The New Jersey native then moved to Egypt and took them to the brink of the World Cup in hugely trying circumstance during the Arab spring. He then proved his worth at Stabaek in Norway’s top-flight in 2014 and 2015 (he became the first-ever American to coach in a European top-flight there, by the way) taking the newly promoted side to third-place in his second season as they qualified for Europe. His most recent job was at Le Havre where he stepped down to France’s second-tier midway through last season and took them to within one goal of promotion to Ligue 1.All of this says that Bradley has earned his chance to manage in the Premier League after being previously linked with the jobs at West Brom, Aston Villa, Sunderland Hull City and Fulham. Now is his chance to show the world, and mostly European soccer’s elite, that an American can succeed in the Premier League, and Europe, as a coach. This is a big chance for the American game to gain more respect globally.Being successful at Swansea will be initially keeping them in the PL and then building them into a stable midtable club, something they’ve been since they arrived in the top-flight in 2011. The Princeton graduate will have to do that while also carrying the baggage of being an American. He’s used to it but it doesn’t make the task any easier.Bradley doesn’t like to be known as a trailblazer and someone who is flying the American flag overseas but he is. That’s the only way he’s been able to get on people’s radar and that has eventually led to him getting this opportunity in the most-watched and competitive league on the planet.His former assistant coach at Stabaek, Tomasz Kaczmarek, back in 2014, summed up the situation regarding the lack of respect for Americans in soccer perfectly.

“Look. All of the players, whether it is in Europe or in Egypt, they work with Bob and nobody thinks of him as American. They think he’s a damn good football coach,” Kaczmarek said, defiantly. “This is all they see and all they care about. They see he is a good leader and he makes the players better so they respect him and appreciate him. I believe on the outside there are too many people who say, ‘Oh yeah, he’s American. He can’t be a good coach. How can an American know something about football?’ This is not only in this case. There are too many people in football who don’t look deep enough. Don’t look at the work that is being done and the way the team plays. That is probably the biggest challenge for him going forward, to make sure that people on the outside recognize that he is American, yes, but he is a very good coach.”

Maybe one day coaches from the U.S. will be hired all across Europe and the rest of the world without a second glance at their passport. If we ever get to that point, there’s no doubting that Bradley’s appointment and any subsequent success he has at Swansea will have been a key factor in helping that happen.Don’t underestimate how monumental of a moment this is for American soccer.

Klinsmann hails Bob Bradley’s hiring at Swansea City as ‘fantastic’

MIAMI SHORES, Fla. — U.S. national team manager Jurgen Klinsmann has hailed the appointment of Bob Bradley at Swansea City, saying it is “fantastic” that there is an American coach now in the Premier League, and that Bradley “deserves it.”Klinsmann succeeded Bradley as U.S. manager back in 2011, but he noted all of the places that his predecessor has coached since, including stints with Egypt, Norwegian side Stabaek, and French club Le Havre.”There are plenty of very, very good American coaches that can coach overseas, so no doubt about it. In Bob’s case he’s so experienced,” Klinsmann told reporters ahead of Friday’s match against Cuba.”He went the tough route. The places he coached after the [U.S.] national team has been impressive. He didn’t shy away from different cultures, different countries, different languages, different approaches. He deserves that chance.”Klinsmann’s sentiments were echoed by Bradley’s son Michael, who is currently with the U.S. squad.”I’m very, very excited; very, very proud,” he said. “It’s a dream he’s had for a very long time, to be able to coach a big club in a big league. I’ve never seen somebody more fearless in the path and the choices that he made along the way.”From somebody who is obviously very close with him, who looks up to him in every way, I couldn’t be more proud.”Klinsmann added that the elder Bradley’s success will hinge in part on the support he receives from owners Stephen Kaplan and Jason Levien. Given that both owners are American, that seems likely, but Klinsmann insisted nonetheless that it is imperative they stand behind Bradley through the inevitable ups and downs.”In the Premier League you need to be backed up by your owners, you need to have their trust, you need to have people around you who are with you when things go wrong, because things aren’t always going the right way,” he said.”Hopefully they give him that trust. You need time and you need to have the backup from the people around you to mae changes the way you want them.”Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U

Five questions facing the U.S. roster for October’s friendlies

Goal.com 13 minutes ago

From the moment the October friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand were announced, Jurgen Klinsmann was expected to call on youth in a pair of rather tame friendlies. What may not have been expected was what Klinsmann has produced: A perfect mix of youth and a strong nucleus of regular starters.

Klinsmann didn’t go the route of Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio, who chose to leave several first-choice starters out of his October squad in order to see a plethora of younger prospects. What Klinsmann did do was bring back in some players who had previously shown signs of being capable of bigger roles, but who for some reason or another had fallen by the wayside.Danny Williams and Timmy Chandler are two such players. Both have had the kind of club success at positions of need that would have led most to think they could have been regular starters by now. Unfortunately for both German-Americans, they have failed to maximize their opportunities, and Klinsmann has responded by not calling them in as frequently as you would expect. Both are in the October camp, and both have opportunities to seize prominent roles at positions of need.As much as the roster is led by a strong base of top starters, there is a good collection of young talent in this camp, including Lynden Gooch, who will be taking part in his first senior team camp. The Sunderland winger turned some heads when broke into the Back Cats’ starting lineup to begin the English Premier League season, and is a good prospect in a deepening pool of impressive young American wingers.In terms of young players who could play themselves into roles in November’s qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica, Christian Pulisic heads that list, and the October friendlies could signal his move into a regular starting role for the U.S. He isn’t the only youngster though. Paul Arriola has done well with his looks with the national team and should have an even better chance at more minutes in the upcoming matches.The goalkeeper position will turn some heads because of the absence of reliable veterans Tim Howard and Brad Guzan, but you can’t really blame Klinsmann for wanting a closer look at the next generation of netminders, particularly given the advancing age of his top two options. Here is a closer at some of the questions faced by the roster Klinsmann called on to face Cuba and New Zealand:

WHO WILL STEP UP TO GRAB DEFENSIVE MIDFIELD SPOTS?

 

It has been three months since Jermaine Jones last played after being sidelined by a knee injury, and with the timetable for his return still up in the air, it’s time to start assuming he won’t be available for the November qualifiers. With that in mind, Klinsmann has a pair of younger options who will have their chances to be longer term solutions for replacing Jones. Perry Kitchen is doing well in Scotland, having earned the captaincy and a regular starting role at Hearts, and Williams is playing well for Reading. Kitchen is still just 24, and coming into his own, while 27-year-old Williams is trying to regain the standing he enjoyed four years ago when he was earning qualifying starts and was seen as the future of the defensive midfield position. He brings more of an attacking element to the spot, which can help offset what the U.S. loses without Jones, but Kitchen is arguably the better defensive option in central midfield.  Neither has to be considered a challenger for a starting role since Michael Bradley looks best-suited at the moment to mind the defensive midfield spot, but with Kyle Beckerman and Jones looking like they’re reaching the end of the road, Klinsmann needs some new blood in the pool at that position in a hurry.

IS THIS TIMMY CHANDLER’S LAST CHANCE?

Whether because of poor form, injuries or simple exclusions from the squad, Timmy Chandler has not seen much first-team action under Klinsmann despite having put together a solid career playing fullback in the German Bundesliga. He hasn’t translated that success on the international front, and has missed out on several chances to be a factor in the fullback conversation.  With Fabian Johnson not in this camp, Chandler can be the latest to try and stake a claim to the left back role. It is safe to say Klinsmann would love to be able to use Johnson in attack, but he has needed him more at fullback against tougher opponents. Can Chandler do enough in the upcoming friendlies to make Klinsmann comfortable with starting him against the likes of Mexico and Costa Rica? That might be a bit ambitious, but a good showing this month could set him up to taking a step closer to a more prominent role in 2017.Something else to consider is Chandler’s versatility. He can play left back and right back, and with DeAndre Yedlin’s hold on the right back spot looking vulnerable, Chandler could provide some competition there, along with do-everything veteran standout Geoff Cameron.This is all dependent on Chandler showing up in camp with the right mindset, which is something he has lacked in past call-ups, leading to questions of just how committed he is to the national team cause. If he has a poor camp, Chandler could find himself out of the national team picture for a long time.

WHERE WILL CAMERON PLAY?

Just when we thought we were done with this question, Klinsmann decided to mix things up by trying Cameron at right back in the September qualifying win against Trinidad and Tobago. Now, all of a sudden, we are left to wonder if Klinsmann liked what he saw.Cameron is Klinsmann’s most reliable defender. Of that, there is little doubt. Yes, John Brooks was outstanding at Copa America, but his penchant for picking up injuries has made him a bit of wild card. The good news is Klinsmann has a handful of good options, including Steve Birnbaum, Omar Gonzalez and Matt Besler. Birnbaum has been particularly steady when called upon, which made Klinsmann comfortable enough with moving Cameron to right back against Trinidad and Tobago.With Brooks back in the fold, will Klinsmann reunite the dominating tandem of Brooks and Cameron in central defense, or will he see what a Brooks-Birnbaum tandem might look like? It could depend on how the fullbacks look in camp. Yedlin and Chandler need to be close to flawless against the likes of Cuba and/or New Zealand if Klinsmann is going to be expected to trust them in November.If Klinsmann ultimately decides that having Cameron and Fabian Johnson at fullback to cope with the dangerous wingers Mexico and Costa Rica possess, then we could certainly see Cameron stick at right back for the coming months while Birnbaum continues to be rewarded for his steady play.

WHICH GOALKEEPER WILL IMPRESS?

One of the benefits of scheduling a pair of relatively easy friendlies in the same international window is having the luxury to experiment at a position like goalkeeper.

Ethan Horvath is the youngest of the group, and enters as the most highly regarded of the three goalkeepers in camp. He is a full five years younger than the other options, but is already turning heads in Europe with his exploits for Molde.

Bingham posted a national team shut out in last winter’s friendly win against Canada, and has established himself as a steady goalkeeper at the age of 25 (his own goal this past weekend notwithstanding). William Yarbrough, 27, is starting for Leon and has been a big part of that team turning around its fortunes in Liga MX.

One player conspicuous by his absence was Bill Hamid, who suffered a major knee injury to start the year and didn’t get a call from Klinsmann despite having been strong in goal during D.C. United’s recent surge. Given the fact the second October friendly is being played at RFK Stadium, there’s a good chance we will see Hamid get a call for the New Zealand match.

COULD WE SEE AN EARLY LOOK AT HEX LINEUP?

Though it wasn’t mentioned in the announcement of the squad on Sunday, there is a good chance Klinsmann will release some players after the Cuba game and bring in some new faces for the New Zealand match. With that being the case, will Klinsmann trot out as close to a full-strength lineup as possible against Cuba?  That could look something like the team above.

Stejskal: Four questions for the USMNT ahead of Friday’s friendly at Cuba

October 4, 20161:15PM EDTSam StejskalContributor

Historical significance notwithstanding, the US men’s national team’s friendly at Cuba on Friday (4 pm ET; ESPN2) is about as minor as international matches get.It’s an exhibition game against a weak opponent that will be played in an environment that won’t approximate anything the US will see on the road in World Cup qualifying, so everything that happens in Havana should be taken with several grains of salt.Still, with Hexagonal matches against Mexico and at Costa Rica looming, the US will have a chance to do a bit of fine-tuning in the Caribbean on Friday. The match might not mean much, but it shouldn’t be totally overlooked, either.Here are four questions I’ll look for the US to continue answering in Havana:

How will the Altidore-Wood partnership look?

Jozy Altidore is playing some of the best soccer of his life; Bobby Wood has gotten his Bundesliga career off to a solid start. Both are talented, both are in form and both will likely start for the US on Friday and in the two Hex matches next month.While it’s undeniably a positive for the US to have two strikers in such fine form (with a third,Jordan Morris, playing pretty well himself), starting Altidore and Wood together doesn’t come without its complications. Both players are best as pure central forwards and tend to occupy the same sorts of spaces. That can create problems in the attack and can be an even bigger issue when the US don’t have the ball.Wood and Altidore building a better understanding with each other will be huge for both players individually. With those massive Hex matches on the horizon, their partnership will be enormously important for the entire USMNT, as well.

Will the Kljestan Show continue?

Like Matt Doyle, I think Sacha Kljestan is the best No. 10 in the US pool right now. It wasn’t against the toughest opposition, but he was excellent at St. Vincent and the Grenadines and against Trinidad and Tobago last month, scoring two goals and notching a pair of assists in the wins. More important than any numbers he put up in those matches, however, was the impact he has on the rest of the US lineup. Doyle summed it up best:“Putting a real playmaker in there allows more service to the forwards, who are playing better than ever; it allows wunderkind Christian Pulisic to play on either wing combining in the channels on the break or around the box in possession while not having to worry about shouldering the pure creative load; it allows Michael Bradley to play in his preferred spot as a No. 6, and in the seven games since he’s been playing there the US have gone 5-2-0 with plus-11 goal differential (15 GF; 4 GA); and that, in turn, allows the central defense a stable outlet in possession, which in turn allows the fullbacks to get forward.”Continuing to get solid play from the Red Bulls creator will be hugely important for the US. Let’s hope the 31-year-old keeps taking advantage of his newfound international opportunity.

Who claims the third goalkeeper spot?

Tim Howard and Brad Guzan aren’t with the US, leaving the door open for David Bingham, Ethan Horvath and William Yarbrough to stake their claim the No. 3 spot.I’m not sure the Cuba game will play a large role in determining who gets called-up for the Hex matches (will the starter actually be tested?), but the time in camp could play a major role. Whoever gets the most time over the next two games will likely be the favorite to be named to the roster for the Mexico and Costa Rica contests in November.

Will any of the youngsters stand out?

Christian Pulisic is the real deal. Barring something depressing, I anticipate that he’ll be a constant in US camp for years to come. You can’t exactly say that about the other unproven young guys on the roster – Paul Arriola, Lynden Gooch and Julian Green.Arriola has the most recent experience with the national team, having played well in his brief run-outs with the USMNT this year. Gooch, 20, doesn’t yet have a full USMNT cap, but he has been in and out of the lineup with Sunderland in the EPL. Green is still toiling away at Bayern Munich, having played a total of 24 minutes in all competitions for the German giants so far this year.It’d be beyond shocking if any of these three were anything more than a sub against Mexico or Costa Rica, but the Cuba and New Zealand friendlies will be good opportunities for them to show Klinsmann they belong on the roster for the Hex openers. We’ll see how they perform on Friday and next Tuesday.

How might the USMNT lineup in Cuba on Friday?

Leave a commentBy Nicholas MendolaOct 5, 2016, 5:52 PM EDT

The United States men’s national team has largely handled its business in its CONCACAF rivalry with Cuba, with the Yanks and Leones del Caribe renewing acquaintances for the 12th time on Friday.The U.S. boasts a 9-1-1 record ahead of the match in Havana, just the third time Cuba has hosted the Yanks and the first time the two have staged a friendly thereFew expect Cuba to contend in Friday’s contest, and Jurgen Klinsmann should be able to give some of his fringe players a chance to state their intentions ahead of next month’s massive World Cup qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica.Jermaine Jones, Clint Dempsey, and Gyasi Zardes are still out, and Alejandro Bedoya will miss the match as well. With a trio of unusual goalkeepers on the roster, Friday’s match may be more experimental than Tuesday’s visit from New Zealand.What might we see?When the Yanks last took the pitch, a 4-0 defeat of Trinidad and Tobago, we saw both Christian Pulisic and Sacha Kljestan earn starts in a dominant win. The set-up was a 4-4-2 with both Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood up top.That duo wasn’t exactly dynamite together, but expect Klinsmann to give them a chance to shine together.John Brooks hasn’t started a match for Hertha Berlin since Sept. 10 thanks to an injury, so we may not see the Yanks’ preferred center back pairing. Also don’t sleep on Timmy Chandler getting another shot at left back, as the Eintracht Frankfurt man has been regularly going 90 for his Bundesliga side during a strong start to the season (though he plays RB there).The trickiest spot to predict is right mid (assuming Bradley, Pulisic, and Kljestan complete the four-man group). Danny Williams, Lynden Gooch, and Paul Arriola could all slide in there, and Gooch seems the least likely due to Klinsmann’s proclivity for using players off the bench for cap No. 1.Klinsmann could also again opt to use Bradley more advanced in order to get a look at Perry Kitchen or Danny Williams in a deep-lying spot, but we doubt that’s going to happen. Right? RIGHT?

Yarbrough

Yedlin — Cameron — Birnbaum — Johnson

Bradley

Williams — Pulisic

Kljestan

Wood — Altidore

Given the Yanks’ opposition and manager, we could provide you with a wild-looking 4-4-2 just for kicks, though. Instead, we’ll opt for some questions for the comment section:

  1. Who’s the third forward? Or at least, what’s the pecking order at each spot? Is Jordan Morris No. 3 regardless, or could Julian Green be preferred if Altidore comes out? Would Klinsmann really opt for Chris Wondolowski before either?
  2. Might Michael Bradley be moved? Look, he’s their best defensive or deep-lying mid, but it’s possible Klinsmann would prefer to play him while also getting a look at Geoff Cameron, Perry Kitchen, or Danny Williams in that spot.
  3. Who’s the No.1, No. 3 goalkeeper? With Tim Howard and Brad Guzan allowed to remain with their clubs, will it be David Bingham, William Yarbrough, or Ethan Horvath between the sticks?

Howard, Guzan left out of United States squad for October friendlies

United States manager Jurgen Klinsmann has called in a mix of veterans and emerging talents to his squad ahead of upcoming friendlies against Cuba and New Zealand on Oct. 7 and 11, respectively.All told, 15 of the players who contested World Cup qualifiers last month against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad & Tobago are on the roster, including captain Michael Bradley.The group also includes five of the six goal scorers from those matches, a list comprised of New York Red Bulls midfielder Sacha Kljestan, Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, Hamburg SV forward Bobby Wood, and Club Tijuana attacker Paul Arriola. The biggest area of competition comes at goalkeeper, where neither Tim Howard nor Brad Guzan were included. Klinsmann has opted to give David Bingham of the San Jose Earthquakes, Ethan Horvath of Molde FK, and William Yarbrough of Club Leon a chance to impress ahead of World Cup qualifiers next month against Mexico and Costa Rica.Klinsmann did find room for some players who missed out on the most recent round of qualifying matches. Defender John Brooks makes his return to the squad after missing the two recent U.S. matches due to a back injury.Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch, Bayern Munich’s Julian Green, Hearts midfielder Perry Kitchen, Eintracht Frankfurt defender Timothy Chandler, and Reading midfielder Danny Williams are also in the squad.

Full U.S. squad:

Goalkeeper: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Leon)

Defenders: Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin),
Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Moenchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle)

Midfielders: Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Hearts), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund),
 Danny Williams (Reading)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburg SV), Julian Green (Bayern Munich)Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Klinsmann calls on young GKs, veteran core, Pulisic, Morris for USA’s October friendlies

BRIAN STRAUSSunday October 2nd, 2016

  • Brad Guzan and Tim Howard have been left behind for USA’s October friendlies, while rising stars Christian Pulisic, Jordan Morris and Lynden Gooch complement returning veterans.

Juren Klinsmann has upped the stakes on a pair of modest October friendlies, naming a veteran-heavy roster to face lightweight opposition in Cuba and New Zealand in anticipation of the much bigger matches just around the corner. With World Cup qualifiers at home against Mexico and in Costa Rica on deck in early November, the U.S. national team coach said Sunday that, “There’s a lot at stake for the players to make their case, to show where they are right now … I’m sure everyone wants to be in the starting 11 in Columbus on November 11 [against Mexico].”The race for those spots begins over the next couple days with the 23 players named Sunday. The U.S. will train in Miami and then travel to Havana for the first time since 2008. After Friday afternoon’s game against Cuba, the Americans will head to Washington, D.C., for an Oct. 11 meeting with New Zealand. Neither opponent is expected to be very strong and the U.S. hasn’t lost to either in nearly 70 years. Instead, the competition is expected to come from within.In addition to the 23 men identified Sunday, several additional players likely will be called in for the second game thanks to club scheduling considerations both in MLS and Europe.“Now when the players come in they know it’s a competition, and at every position we have very good competition. So if they want a spot, I expect them to get their message across,” Klinsmann said. “These two games are very important for us because it’s the last time we can see certain players before making the decision on the 23 going in to represent us for the Mexico and Costa Rica clashes.”Here’s a look at Klinsmann’s team for the match in Cuba (again, some changes are expected between games).

Goalkeepers

David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Ethan Horvath (Molde FK), William Yarbrough (Club Léon)

The biggest surprises on the roster are in net, and there are at least two of them. Normally, we’d expect to see one of the above names along with co-incumbents Brad Guzan and Tim Howard, But Klinsmann has enough faith in the veterans come November to let them work out different, but equally important, situations with their clubs while getting a good long look at the battle for the No. 3 (and perhaps future No. 1) role.“I think the goalkeeper position is unique,” Klinsmann said. “Obviously we have the two experienced guys with Tim Howard and Brad Guzan. Both are in different situations right now. Tim is obviously very busy with the Colorado Rapids and Brad is not getting the opportunity to play at Middlesbrough. I think it’s a perfect time to give an open window to three younger goalkeepers … That’s why we decided to leave the two older guys out and give these three youngsters a chance to prove their point. That kind of opportunity is very rare.”Bingham appears to have overtaken Real Salt Lake veteran Nick Rimando as Klinsmann’s preferred MLS goalie (not counting the newly-arrived Howard). The 26-year-old has been capped just once but has been a regular call-up this year, and his 1.13 goals against average is among the best in the league. Horvath was the No. 3 at the Copa América Centenario and Yarbrough is back in the picture as the regular starter at Léon.

Defenders

Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)

Klinsmann’s Copa América pairing of Brooks and Cameron may have been in some doubt following the Hertha stalwart’s recent groin injury, but his inclusion in the 18-man squad for Saturday’s win over HSV is a sign he’s on the mend.Birnbaum and Gonzalez will challenge for minutes in the middle. Yedlin and Johnson are the clear choices at outside back, which remains the position of least depth in the U.S. pool. Chandler, who hasn’t played for the national team since last year’s CONCACAF Gold Cup, now makes his return. He was invited over the likes of Kellyn Acosta (a midfielder), Matt Besler (a center back), Michael Orozco (a center back) and Edgar Castillo, who have been called upon to fill in at outside back in recent months.“Timmy Chandler is playing a good role at Frankfurt right now,” Klinsmann said.

Midfielders

Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Perry Kitchen (Heart of Midlothian), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund), Danny Williams (Reading)

The absence of Jermaine Jones (recovering from a knee injury), Kljestan’s dramatic resurgence and Pulisic’s meteoric rise has altered the face of the U.S. midfield, where Bradley and Bedoya are the only real familiar faces. The newer names, however, belong. Kitchen, for example, has been named captain at Hearts less than a year after moving to Scotland. Arriola, 21, became only the eighth U.S. player to score in his first two senior appearances with his goal in September’s qualifying win over Trinidad & Tobago. And Gooch is getting his first look with the top team thanks to multiple starts at Sunderland.Kyle Beckerman’s omission leaves Bradley as the likely defensive midfielder, with Williams his deputy.There’s by far more flux in midfield than any part of the roster, but Klinsmann sounded like that’s a good problem to have.“Obviously we have our core of players that took us through a very successful Copa América and the recent games, but at the same time you constantly evaluate and observe what the players are doing that are knocking on the door,” he said. “Some of the players really deserve a look. Lynden Gooch is a very talented, young player coming through at Sunderland. Danny Williams has had an outstanding season so far for Reading … For Danny Williams, we recognize his good performances over the last two months with Reading.”Six months ago, Klinsmann was nowhere near ready to hand the attacking keys to Kljestan and/or Pulisic, but both have surged up the depth chart. Pulisic’s skill, dynamism and composure can’t be ignored—he’s both old enough and good enough—and Kljestan’s transition to Red Bulls playmaker has afforded him the national team opportunity he couldn’t seem to hold on to when he was in a more defensive role at Anderlecht. The pair combined for four goals and four assists in last month’s two qualifiers.“The national team always has an open-door policy,” Klinsmann said. “Young, old, it doesn’t matter. But if you come in and get the opportunity, then you have to grab it. You have to put a stamp on it. That’s what Sacha did [last month]. That’s what Pulisic is doing. He’s making a difference when he comes on the field. It doesn’t matter if it’s from the bench or from the beginning.”Darlington Nagbe, whose Portland Timbers are fighting for their playoff lives, Sporting Kansas City veteran Graham Zusi and Beckerman are among the frequent call-ups left behind this week. Meanwhile, Kljestan and Bradley are the only two players on this roster who played in Cuba back in ’08.

Forwards

 Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes), Bobby Wood (Hamburger SV)

Clint Dempsey’s absence may be lengthy because of a heart condition that has sidelined him for the remainder of the Seattle Sounders season. It will be keenly felt. No one is more clutch in a U.S. jersey. But it comes at a time when the national team’s forward pipeline is as packed as its ever been. Wood, now in the Bundesliga with HSV, has seven goals for the U.S. over the past 16 months. And Altidore is in very good form in Toronto (he wrecked Birnbaum on Saturday and scored his ninth MLS goal since the end of July).Wood and Altidore have combined to score 10 goals in the five U.S. games they’ve started together.Morris is among the players who may head back to his club after the Cuba game—Seattle has a massive match against the Houston Dynamo on Oct. 12—but the 21-year-old has handled a unique and challenging rookie season with such composure that it would come as no surprise to see him contribute in Havana. He has 12 goals and three assists in league play this year.Wondolowski has found the net for San Jose only twice in the past two months, but Klinsmann remains enamored of the veteran’s work-rate and intangibles. Green is a somewhat surprising choice. The 21-year-old World Cup scorer has moved up to Bayern’s first team but has played only once this season. Nevertheless, Klinsmann has preferred him to the likes of Juan Agudelo (three goals and three assists in five games for New England), Rubio Rubin or the returning Aron Jóhannsson. Gyasi Zardes’s broken foot also may have affected Klinsmann’s decisions in midfield and up front.

 Will Kljestan’s U.S. return open doors for others to come in from the cold?

It was a very Jurgen Klinsmann-esque chance of redemption: A center-back gets injured so a creative midfielder gets called in from a long exile. But the emphatic manner in which Sacha Kljestan seized his unexpected chance, with two goals and two assists in the two games against St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Trinidad and Tobago, meant he looked a subsequent shoo-in for the latest U.S. roster. And the 31-year-old was duly called up this week.His performance was no surprise to anyone who has watched the New York Red Bulls in the past couple of years, though even those who are high on Kljestan’s movement, vision and eye for the killer assist were caught off-guard by the ease with which he reinserted himself into the national team. His renaissance with the Red Bulls was not an overnight affair, after all; it took time for Kljestan and his club teammates to get a reading on each other’s habits and movements, though when they adapted to his habit of finding or creating pockets of space between opposition midfield and defensive lines, New York’s players went on a charge that took them to the 2015 MLS Supporters’ Shield.Still, it’s an occupational hazard for a creative player who operates in the way Kljestan does to be something of a slow burner as coaches and teammates figure out his game. But it’s to the immense credit of Kljestan that, knowing from bitter experience that he was never likely to receive such indulgence under a national team coach who had already discarded him once, he made such an emphatic case for himself in such short order.And in doing so he held out the tantalizing possibility of a much better-functioning U.S. midfield going forward. If he and Michael Bradley were to gel now — and the signs last time out were encouraging rather than conclusive — with Bradley sitting in his preferred No. 6 position and Kljestan operating as a cool No. 10, Klinsmann might just have stumbled on a midfield spine that finally makes sense of some of the hitherto awkwardly assorted parts around it.That remains to be seen. But Kljestan’s return has opened up some interesting possibilities for other players who might conceivably get a second look, just in case the success of this latest experiment prompts Klinsmann to dig out some old notebooks.There’s Benny Feilhaber, of course: another creative midfielder who went from playing in the 2010 World Cup to being on the outside looking in in 2014, despite maturing into a more effective player in the interim. Feilhaber hasn’t made it easy for himself at times; his mouth has a habit of uttering things that might be on other players’ minds but which they manage to filter before they hit the microphone. But then again, defenseman Brad Evans is no wallflower in public, and he seems to have managed to forge a respectable utility role under Klinsmann.Feilhaber’s not helped by being at a Sporting Kansas City team that has been somewhat indifferent this season, and he was also unfortunate that the 2015 performances that saw him shortlisted for league MVP happened to occur within the stellar context of Sebastian Giovinco’s first season in the league. Outside of his Kansas City market, Feilhaber never quite got the column inches or appreciation he deserved, and those factors could have pushed him closer to Klinsmann’s plans.As it is, Feilhaber is in the last few months of his contract with Sporting, wasthe subject of a $500,000 bid from Israeli champions Hapoel Be’er Shevajust a few weeks ago and might well be off to Mexico in the offseason. Perhaps that will be the cue for Klinsmann to look at him again, just as the manager has started to take Omar Gonzalez more seriously since his game intensified south of the border.Another intriguing possibility is Juan Agudelo, currently finding form in New England playing off Kei Kamara and looking a much more complete physical player than the rather cocky but undercooked version of himself that went to England too soon. Agudelo’s talent is undeniable, and his current form is irresistible, but it’s a very small sample size, and that’s always been Agudelo’s issue: The highlight reel is spectacular, but there’s a lot of combing of footage to be done to come up with it.Kljestan’s case for inclusion can point to his being directly involved in 41 percent of his team’s goals, during the Red Bulls’ rise from losing six of their opening seven games to topping the Eastern Conference going into the final two games. Agudelo’s most recent case, meanwhile, is based on a decent couple of months. But if he can continue his form into the postseason and his partnership with Kamara can mature in 2017, he could yet have his say in the Hexagonal.There is one other potential redemption narrative at play in the current roster. Julian Green’s inclusion in the 2014 World Cup squad, and the fact that he got a goal in the last stand against Belgium, got the hype train running. It says a lot about the expectation that we routinely heap on young U.S. players that his inclusion in this squad feels like a comeback, when after all, what has happened in the interim has merely been his club carefully handling his development and managing his inclusion into the Bayern Munich first-team squad, while his national team manager has monitored his progress.Yet Green too has a point to prove on re-entering the national team picture. If he ends up playing off Kljestan for any portion of the forthcoming games, he’ll get a firsthand reminder that it’s never too late to be a comeback kid.Graham Parker writes for ESPN FC, FourFourTwo,

 Expanded World Cup tournament could help US, Canada in different ways

October 5, 20165:46PM EDTAlicia RodriguezContributor

When FIFA presidnt Gianni Infantino recently floated the idea of expanding the World Cup finals tournament to 48 teams from the current 32-team format, there were plenty of groans and moans.The reaction is understandable for several reasons, of course. While Infantino hasn’t had a lot of time to make a real imprint publicly as head of FIFA, his predecessor was fond of coming up withharebrained ideas in soccer. So that’s strike one.And then there’s the prospect of expanding the World Cup itself. While I get the impression most American fans are content with a 32-team tournament, which has been around since 1998, there remains pockets of pundits and fans around the world who sniff at the size of the competition these days, wishing for the purer days, to 24 teams from 1982-94, or even to 16 teams from 1954-78.

The truth is, while a modern-day qualification system that only resulted in 16 teams qualifying would produce a higher caliber of games, historically the smaller tournaments of the past were not equitable in how teams qualified. One could still argue that Europe still holds a disproportionatenumber of slots, with 13, while two more populous continents with a similar number of countries (Africa: five slots; Asia: four and a half slots) have less than that number combined.For any talk of the quality of soccer on display, it seems obvious that expanding the tournament over time has benefitted the World Cup and soccer itself globally, with less represented confederations getting a larger share of the slots.And that’s where the United States and Canada come into the story.How would a 48-team World Cup benefit the US? They’re already qualifying for the tournaments now, so would it really help them? It would, but probably not through the US national team itself.Instead, the main benefit could come from bolstering the chances of hosting the tournament, asCONCACAF president Victor Montagliani discussed this week. The United States already has the stadia, the accommodations and infrastructure to host a 48-team World Cup, and could do it at pretty much any time. That provides an advantage, as Montagliani noted fewer countries around the world would be equipped to take on the additional burden of adding 16 teams to the World Cup.As for Canada, while they too could play a role in CONCACAF hosting an expanded World Cup, something Montagliani also noted this week, one would think a larger World Cup field could bridge the gap for them to qualify for their first tournament since 1986.Canada have been a Top 12 team in the current and previous round of World Cup qualifying, and expanding CONCACAF’s number of slots for the World Cup – to seven, let’s say – would not guarantee Canada a coveted spot in the tournament, but it would increase the odds. And with Canada appearing to get even closer to Top 6 status in the region each cycle, the combination of national team improvement and a larger pool of teams reaching the World Cup could help them reach paydirt.And ultimately, that could fuel further improvement. As we’ve seen with the United States, the twin pillars of qualifying for a World Cup (1990) with hosting a World Cup (1994), followed shortly thereafter by the launch of Major League Soccer (1996) has done wonders for the interest and quality of soccer in the United States. Perhaps a similar trend could be kickstarted for the Canadian national team with a World Cup qualification?So while the cynics among us may scoff at Infantino’s proposal to expand the World Cup field, and for good reason, there could also be a huge silver lining if a 48-team tournament comes to pass for the US and Canada alike. Time will tell, but it may not be a terrible idea after all.

Swansea dismiss Francesco Guidolin, appoint former U.S. boss Bob Bradley

Swansea City have named former United States boss Bob Bradley as their new coach after parting company with Francesco Guidolin.Bradley, 58, had been linked with the position last week as Guidolin came under pressure following a poor run of results, and the Italian has been dismissed after Saturday’s 2-1 defeat to Liverpool, which left the club 17th in the Premier League.Swansea have now turned to Bradley, who had been in charge of French second-tier side Le Havre and becomes the first American to take charge of a club in any of Europe’s top five leagues.Swansea chairman Huw Jenkins told the club’s official website: “We are delighted Bob has agreed to join us. He is highly regarded as a coach and has a wealth of experience on the international and domestic front.”He is well aware of the club’s footballing philosophy and will provide us with strong leadership qualities and a renewed belief to compete at this level. It is never easy changing managers, but we are looking at a long-term appointment and we are confident Bob can settle us down and stabilise matters on and off the pitch.”Guidolin, who turned 61 on Monday, had taken charge at the Liberty Stadium in January and guided the club to Premier League safety, finishing in 12th position.Jenkins said: “We are obviously disappointed to part company with Francesco. We felt he deserved his opportunity after the work he did last season.”Unfortunately we have not been able to carry performances over from last season and we felt we needed to change things as soon as possible in order to move forward in a positive way.”We would like to thank Francesco and his staff for their services to the club and wish them well for the future.”In July, an American consortium led by Steve Kaplan and Jason Levienbought a controlling stake in Swansea. Landon Donovan, a U.S. international during Bradley’s tenure, is also a shareholder.Bradley was 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.Le Havre announced the appointment of Oswald Tanchot as Bradley’s replacement on Monday and the American told the club’s official website he had “mixed feelings” over his departure.Bradley said: “On the one hand, I would have liked to see the project through by taking the team up at the end of the season. On the other hand, I thank HAC [Le Havre] and president [Vincent] Volpe for allowing me the chance to coach in the world’s leading league.”It is a unique opportunity and I will not forget HAC and the president have made it possible for me to take it at this moment during the season. I also know I can now coach in the Premier League thanks to the exposure this club has offered me.”I have total confidence in Oswald’s work. It has been a pleasure working with him and I know he is up to the set task: a Ligue 1 return. I will certainly continue to be a strong supporter of HAC.”Le Havre president Volpe said he was satisfied that Tanchot, who had been Bradley’s assistant, would be a strong appointment.”I am pleased for two reasons,” he said. “Firstly, because we have helped Bob to reach the Premier League and secondly because Oswald is succeeding him as coach. When Bob Bradley arrived in November of 2015, we hoped to team them up so that this promising young coach could learn from his time in contact with the former U.S. men’s national team boss.”We also convinced Oswald to stay at the club this summer because he was wanted by others. We explained to him that he was well positioned to become coach in the medium to long term. We already anticipated the current situation and the senior side will now be led by Oswald Tanchot, holder of the BEPF [FFF coaching badge].”Le Havre are currently 11th in Ligue 2.

Marcus Rashford must start for England, not Wayne Rooney – Shearer

lan Shearer believes Marcus Rashford should start for England against Malta on Saturday — but Wayne Rooney should not be playing behind him.Rashford was among four Manchester United players in interim manager Gareth Southgate’s squad for the World Cup qualifiers against Malta and Slovenia, alongside Rooney, Jesse Lingard and Chris Smalling.”He [Rashford] has been knocking on the door until now,” former England captain Shearer wrote in his column for The Sun. “He is crashing on it with his performances for Manchester United. If you can step up to the plate for them, England will hold no worries for him.”To be fair, caretaker boss Gareth Southgate could play anyone up front and win this game, so why not give Rashford his chance? We need to be looking to the future after those woeful performances at the Euros and Rashford is very much that.”Shearer also questioned former England manager Roy Hodgson’s decision to bring Rashford on so late in the round-of-16 defeat against Iceland at Euro 2016.”If he had been given more than a few minutes against Iceland, we might have stumbled along into the quarterfinals of that competition,” he wrote. “Why on earth he wasn’t brought on before the 86th minute, when it was crying out for his spark, I don’t know.”Well, now is the chance to see the very best from him in his best position, straight up front. Not just one game either, give him a run.”This is a young player with pace, trickery, awareness and a great eye for goal. He is not too young either, he is good enough and, from what I hear, he is a very level-headed lad.”The question then, is who plays just behind him? It should not be Wayne Rooney. He has not started in the last three games for his club and doesn’t look like getting back into this Manchester United side.”This is why I said it would have been better for him to retire from international football after the Euros. He can no longer do it for club and country. Right now, he can’t even do it for his club and that is what he needs to concentrate on to have a chance of extending his career. I would put Dele Alli in behind Rashford.”Rashford has scored four goals for United this season in nine appearances, while Rooney has scored once for the Red Devils this term in 10 appearances.

Premier League Playback: Assessing the title contenders

1 CommentBy Joe Prince-WrightOct 5, 2016, 12:10 PM EDT

ASSESSING TITLE CONTENDERS

Who is on the up?

LiverpoolJurgen Klopp’s side are the top goalscorers so far this season and they are showing signs of defensive solidity despite still giving up sloppy goals from set piece situations. Still, if you’re going to score at least two goals per game, you can afford the odd slip up and it hasn’t cost Liverpool who have beaten Arsenal and Chelsea away from home, and also drawn with Tottenham on the road. Not bad at all. Liverpool has so many attacking options currently on form with Sadio ManePhilippe CoutinhoAdam Lallana andRoberto Firmino all on their game. The fact that Daniel SturridgeDivock Origi andDanny Ings are on the outside looking in says it all. Jordan Henderson and Georginio Wijnaldum are quietly building a formidable partnership in central midfield too with Klopp’s tactics and the extra time to work on the training ground with no European action paying dividends already.

Arsenal: The Gunners are red-hot with five wins from five going into the break. Shkodran Mustafi looks like a superb addition in central defense and with Alexis Sanchez through the middle and Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi and Theo Walcott feeding off him, Arsene Wenger’s side look so dangerous in attack. After just celebrating his 20th anniversary in charge, will Wenger be celebrating a first PL title since 2004? His side is surging and after finishing second last season despite a dip in the second half of the campaign, the Gunners look like the biggest threat to Manchester City for the title as things stand.

[ MORE: 3 things on Spurs-City ]

Tottenham: These guys, somehow, have flown completely under the radar. After a summer of careful additions to the squad and being focused on signing a dozen key players to new contracts, Mauricio Pochettino’s squad looks much stronger from 1-16 and they’ve coped masterfully with the recent absence of Harry Kane and Mousa Dembele. In their win over Manchester City before the break, Spurs showed just how good they are. High-press, defensive solidity and then relying on Dele Alli and Kane for goals and assists is a pretty formidable formula. The only unbeaten team in the PL has tougher tests ahead but so far they’ve vastly exceeded expectations.

Stalling after strong starts?

Man United: Yes, they’ve still won four of their opening seven games, but United has shown that they’re still very disjointed and I’m a firm believer that Jose Mourinho still doesn’t know what his best team is. The Portuguese coach has chopped and changed so much in midfield but now Wayne Rooney is out, finally he’s getting the best out of Paul Pogba withAnder Herrera alongside him. Zlatan Ibrahimovic has, so far, been a hit and with Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial around, he has competition. United have looked really good in flashes but are yet to get firing on all cylinders apart from the first half of the big win against Leicester City. Work to do, Jose.

Chelsea: So, the Blues have defensive issues. Big time. Antonio Conte‘s boys won their opening three games but since then they’ve won just once, losing to Liverpool and home and they were trounced by London rivals Arsenal. With John Terry out injured, Conte’s defense has looked porous, although they did go to a three-man central defensive at Hull last week and it worked a treat. That seems to be the way forward because the plan was for this Chelsea team to be tough to beat and rely on the clinical finishing of Diego Costa and the wizardry of Eden Hazard and Willian to get wins. Conte has a lot of work to do at Chelsea and he knows it.

Man City: Okay, they’re top of the league with six wins from seven but in the last week or so doubts have crept in as to just how good this Man City side is under Pep Guardiola. In truth, they steamrollered opponents early in the season but the toughest game they had was against a Manchester United who were poor on the day at Old Trafford. Both Celtic and then Tottenham showed that intense high-pressing can work a treat against City withClaudio Bravo and his defense unable to find midfielders with the ball. Of course, City have missed Kevin De Bruyne of late and Vincent Kompany too but maybe this small blip will keep their feet firmly on the ground with a tough stretch of games coming up. We’ll find out how good City is in the weeks to come.

BRADLEY’S ARRIVAL HUGE FOR USA, WELL-DESERVED

It actually happened.

For so long now Bob Bradley has been linked with the vacant positions in the Premier League (Fulham, West Brom, Hull, Sunderland to name a few) but on Monday Swansea City announced the former U.S. national team head coach was their new boss.

This is a monumental moment for soccer in the USA as Bradley is the first-ever American to coach in the Premier League or any of Europe’s top five leagues.Bradley, 58, has been working his whole career for this opportunity. From NCAA to MLS, USA to Egypt and then on his recent travails across Norway and France, Bradley has taken the long road and now he has his big chance.Swansea hasn’t had a great start to the season (four points through seven matches will tell you that) but they have real talent and if Bradley can get through the first six games with 7-9 points on the board, a real stretch of winnable matches arrives throughout the busy December period.Speaking following his final game for French second-tier side Le Havre on Monday, Bradley revealed his feelings on joining Swansea.

“In this moment the opportunity to go to the Premier League, on many levels, is special,” Bradley said. “I am sorry to leave, especially at this moment. It is still an opportunity for me, my family, for American football. I thank Le Havre for the opportunity to work in the best league in the world. It’s a unique opportunity.”

It’s a safe bet that everyone in the U.S. Soccer community had a wry smile on their faces when Bradley was appointed Swansea’s new manager and uttered something along the lines of: “Good for Bob.”He’s a much liked figure and although he’s globe-trotted in recent years, the U.S. connection remains strong with his time in charge of the USMNT, plus great success in MLS’ early years. The American soccer community holds him close to their hearts as he starts this exciting journey in the Premier League.Bradley will now prepare for a huge task ahead — starting with his managerial debut in the PL away at Arsenal on Oct. 15 (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBC Sports) — but it is one he will be relishing and an opportunity he thoroughly deserves.

GOOCH MAKING WAVES

Premier League Schedule – Week 7

Result Recap & Highlights
Burnley 0-1 Arsenal Recap, watch here
Everton 1-1 Palace Recap, watch here
Hull 0-2 Chelsea Recap, watch here
Leicester 0-0 Saints Recap, watch here
Man United 1-1 Stoke Recap, watch here
Tottenham 2-0 Man City Recap, watch here
Sunderland 1-1 WBA Recap, watch here
Swansea 1-2 Liverpool Recap, watch here
Watford 2-2 B’mouth Recap, watch here
West Ham 1-1 M’boro Recap, watch here

The Premier League also has a new American midfielder making a name for himself: Lynden Gooch.

A 20-year-old from Santa Cruz, California, Gooch has come up through Sunderland’s ranks after joining their academy as a 16-year-old and he has made seven appearances for the Black Cats, starting their first four games in the Premier League.Last Thursday I went up to Sunderland’s Academy of Light training ground to speak with Gooch about his incredible rise and over the weekend it was announced he’d been called into the U.S. national team for the first time.Looks like it was a good decision to ditch surfing in Santa Cruz to play soccer in Sunderland at the age of 16.Watch the video below of our Facebook live chat, plus here’s a snippet from an exclusive chat we had as the wind howled in England’s north east as Sunderland remains winless through their opening seven PL games.Even if the Mackems aren’t enjoying a good start to this season, Gooch is in dreamland.

“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.”

Jose Mourinho and Antonio Conte need time to change past habits

Pep Guardiola’s admission that his Manchester City side had been outplayed by Tottenham in their 2-0 defeat on Sunday was a statement of the obvious. Nevertheless, it was interesting to hear one of his explanations for their superiority.”We played against a team who had the same trainer for the last two or three years,” he said. “They were one step in front of us today.”Continuity, or lack thereof, is something of a theme this season. One of the reasons the top of the Premier League is so intriguing is that three of the main contenders for the title (Man United, City and Chelsea) have new managers: not just men who have their own styles, but men whose styles contrast significantly with their predecessors.That was certainly something Antonio Conte lingered on after Chelsea’s nerve-calming 2-0 win over Hull City. The first weeks of the Italian’s tenure at Stamford Bridge have been rather uneven, Saturday representing their first victory since August. Questions have been asked about their lack of defensive solidity, to the point that Conte almost seemed more pleased with the clean sheet (also their first since August) than the win.Conte changed Chelsea’s system to a three-man defence on Saturday, and while Hull’s attack didn’t exactly provide the sternest of tests, the players did at least show they could cope with the formation he often deployed to great success with Juventus and Italy.Conte noted afterwards that the “principles are more important than the system” and Chelsea’s sticky start to the season is, at least in part, down to the instilling of those principles. It will not come immediately.”I think today I saw a lot of things I like,” said Conte. “We worked to put pressure, to win the ball back, and I like this. To do this it needs time, because we have to change the habits of the past.”That last point didn’t seem to be a particular dig at Jose Mourinho, or interim coach Guus Hiddink, but simply to emphasise that changing a manager is not like changing a t-shirt. Conte stressed that he wants his sides to be compact, to maintain width, to win the ball back quickly and to pressure the opposition, all things that he wants the team to do in his own way.”Now we must work,” he added. “Because we know to change the past we need to work a lot, to work together, to understand there is a lot to improve.”The point about changing the past is arguably even more apposite to one of Conte’s predecessors. Mourinho not only has to deal with a new club, but with a Manchester United team who spent last season playing what we’ll diplomatically call “a particular type” of football.Under Louis van Gaal, United’s players were instructed — nay, ordered, under pain of punishment — to build slowly, to dominate possession and pass, pass, pass. At points it’s been frustrating to watch United this season, but it must be remembered that, like Conte, Mourinho has had to change the habits of the past.This is perhaps one of the more underrated problems that new managers have to face at their clubs: it must be difficult enough to get one player to forget everything they’d been told before by the previous regime, never mind a whole squad of them.A good manager will imbue his charges with his own style, his own instructions, to the extent that it becomes second nature: a new manager has to change that nature.It’s no wonder that Conte has been asking for time, reportedly meeting Roman Abramovich three times last week and having lunch with the owner in the Chelsea canteen. And given this is something Conte has done before, granting him this time is justified: he took Juventus from seventh place to three consecutive Serie A titles, and took an Italy side who had departed the 2014 World Cup in the first round to the quarterfinals at Euro 2016.Hull’s caretaker manager Mike Phelan, as experienced a man as you will find in the game and Conte’s opponent on Saturday, was asked what he made of Chelsea. Without knowing what the Italian had said a few minutes before, Phelan picked up on the point. “They’ve got a new manager with new methods, that shows at times that it’s still a work in progress,” he said. “He knows what he wants, but it’s difficult to impose those beliefs on a group of players that have perhaps had two or three different managers.”These are three works in progress, Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City, and one thinks of the immortal Brendan Rodgers line, when he said that managing a football team was “like trying to build an airplane while it’s flying.”The Premier League is so relentless that these teams are busy building while travelling at a thousand miles an hour, so while that pace inevitably comes with a degree of impatience, these managers deserve some understanding as they try to move their squads from the old to the new. We are essentially watching revolution disguised as evolution — a tricky task to manage, to say the least.Guardiola has seemingly coped with the problem of transformation a little better than his opponents, but as Tottenham and to a lesser extent Celtic proved last week, there are still kinks to work out. As for Conte and Mourinho, as well as having the same issues to confront, the two men have identical records: both Chelsea and United have won four, drawn one and lost three.”The work we’ve done is good,” said Conte, “but we must continue.”Nick Miller is a writer for ESPN FC, covering Premier League and European football. Follow him on Twitter @NickMiller79.

After two wild semifinals, Washington and WNY are through to the NWSL championship

The NWSL will have a first-time champion now.

Flash forward Lynn Williams celebrates scoring a goal during the NWSL semifinals at Providence Park in Portland. Photo by Craig Mitchelldyer/isiphotos.com.

By Caitlin MurrayOct 2, 2016 at 9:40p ET

After two dramatic extra-time matches in the semifinals, the slate for the NWSL championship is set. The Washington Spirit will face the Western New York Flash next Sunday (5 p.m. ET, FS1) as one of them will win their first league title.The Portland Thorns looked poised to make try to make history Sunday and become the first NWSL Shield winner to bring home a title — the atmosphere was special as they set a new attendance record for the NWSL semifinals at 20,086 raucous fans. But they spent the day chasing the game after uncharacteristically conceding early twice, despite pulling level and forcing extra time.The match was an even one with both sides recording 17 shots each, but the Flash did well to capitalize on the chances they had, with Samantha Mewis’ first goal and game-winning assist for Lynn Williams the highlights:

Williams finished with a brace and a Makenzy Doniak goal rounded out WNY’s efforts on the day. For Portland, Christine Sinclair, Emily Sonnett and Lindsey Horan each had goals.Waiting for WNY will be the Washington Spirit, who clinched their championship spot on Friday night with an extra-time win over the Chicago Red Stars in cold, rainy conditions. Francisca Ordega scored the winner in the 111th minute.Defender Ali Krieger put Washington up first on a well-finished header, but Chicago striker Christen Press struck back 10 minutes before full-time with a beautiful volley to push the game into extra time: It will be Washington’s first time into the NWSL final in the league’s four-year history, but the Flash have had a shot at the title once before. In 2013, the Flash hosted the championship but were shut out by Portland, 2-0.The NWSL championship will be hosted in Houston as a predetermined site on Oct. 9. at BBVA Compass Stadium.

D.C. United storm into top 10 in MLS Power Rankings as Dallas retake No. 1

Overall points leaders FC Dallas are back on top of our Major League Soccer Power Rankings after an important 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy, while D.C. United are the biggest movers thanks to a six-point week.

  1. FC Dallas(+1)
    After slipping against the Colorado Rapids a few weeks ago, FC Dallas have gotten back to their unbeatable ways at Toyota Stadium, most recently with a big 1-0 win over the LA Galaxy. It looks more and more likely that the path to the MLS Cup will go through Texas.
  2. New York Red Bulls(+1)
    The Red Bulls are trying to finish the season with a flourish. After Saturday’s 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Union, New York boast a two-game winning streak and a 14-game unbeaten run.
  3. Toronto FC(-2)
    Still no Sebastian Giovinco due to injury, and it’s starting to hurt. TFC’s 2-1 loss to D.C. United on Saturday night dropped them into third place in the Eastern Conference.
  4. Colorado Rapids(no change)
    The Rapids kept their Supporters’ Shield hopes alive by making a single goal stand up in a home win against the Portland Timbers.
  5. New York City FC(+2)
    David Villa is the hero New York need. The Spaniard was sensational on the weekend, scoring a brace in a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo and further solidifying an impeccable MVP resume.
  6. Seattle Sounders(+1)
    The Sounders are on the verge of making the playoffs after a 2-1 win at the Vancouver Whitecaps and, much to everyone’s surprise, they could be dangerous once they get there.
  7. Philadelphia Union(-1)
    The Union’s set piece defending let them down big time in a 3-2 loss at Red Bull Arena. Five games without a win means they’re no longer a safe bet to make the playoffs.
  8. D.C. United(+4)
    The contest for the title of “hottest team in the league” is a two-team affair between the Sounders and United. D.C.’s destruction of Columbus Crew SC 3-0 in midweek was impressive, but the road win in Toronto might have proved more.
  9. Real Salt Lake(-1)
    RSL look like a team stuck in neutral, and it cost them on the road in a 2-1 defeat against the San Jose Earthquakes. Jeff Cassar’s team have talent and experience, but they lack balance.
  10. Sporting Kansas City(-1)
    It’s going to go down to the wire for Sporting, who are clinging to sixth place after a 3-1 loss at the New England Revolution. No blame to Dom Dwyer, who has scored in four straight games.

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