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
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
Champions League Tues/Wed
THREE THINGS: #INDVPRFC
Indiana’s Team grabs all three points in home finale against Puerto Rico FC
Oct 24, 2016
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 lose: Their lack of firepower is just impossible to ignore, as their 39 goals scored tied for 18th in the league.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 Rimando, Kyle 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
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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