11/4/16 Indy 11 host Playoff Game Sat, 11/5 3 pm, MLS Playoffs Continue Sun, US vs Mexico Fri, Nov 11

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 THIS 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 in their last home game  before losing.

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.

Finally – just 1 week now till the USA will host Mexico on Friday night at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1. It is always THE MOST IMPORTANT US GAME which is why its always played in Columbus, Ohio at the Crew Stadium, I consider myself Extremely lucky to have gotten tickets for this my 4th USA vs Mexico game via the American Outlaws – I am undefeated in my previous US/Mexico Caps all Dos a Cero of course – and I hope the trend continues.  I will be bringing both kids along with my niece (both skipping their college classes) for this monumental game!  Started the coverage below but will have much more next week.

Grand Park will host the Big 10 Men’s Soccer Tournament next weekend Nov 11-13.  Friday the Semi-finals will be played at 12 noon and 2:30 pm, with the finals on Sunday at 2 pm.  A huge Boys Soccer Showcase will also be on tapd for that weekend.  Carmel FC begins optional Winter Training next week – for the next month at Murray Stadium at CHS.

Carmel FC Optional Winter Training at Murray

ACADEMY -Tuesdays – Nov 8 & 15; Dec 6 & 13

Girls: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Boys: 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

U11-U12  Wednesdays – Nov 9 & 16; Dec 7 & 14

Girls: 6:00 pm – 7:00 pm

Boys: 7:00 pm – 8:00 pm

U13 & Older  Thursdays – Nov 10 & 17; Dec 8 & 15

Girls: 5:30 pm – 6:45 pm

Boys: 7:00 pm – 8:15 pm

MUST SEE GAMES ON TV

Sat, Nov 5     

10:30 am Fox Sports 2: Bayern Munich vs. TSG Hoffenheim
10:30 am Fox Soccer+: Hamburg SV vs. Borussia Dortmund       – can US 17 year old Pulisic continue his torrid pace after successful Champ League game Tues?

1:30 pm NBC                 Chelsea vs Everton                                                                           – this game just isn’t as big without Tim Howard – sorry

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

Sun, Nov 6

7:00 a.m., NBCSN       Arsenal vs. Tottenham Hotspur                       – North London Derby

10:00 a.m., CNBC       Swansea City vs. Manchester United             -Can US Manager Bob Bradley get 1st home win vs Man United?
11:30 a.m., NBCSN: Leicester City vs. West Bromwich Albion – – Leicester City needs a home win in league

2 pm  ESPN                     MLS Semi-Finals LA Galaxy vs Colorado

5 pm  ESPN                     MLS Semis Leg 2: Montreal Impact vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm FS1                           MLS Semi-Finals Leg 2: Toronto FC vs NYCFC

10 pm  FS1                      MLS Semi-Finals Leg 2: Seattle Sounders vs FC Dallas

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

Sun, Nov 13

9:30 pm Fox Sports 1United States women vs. Romania, international friendly

Tues, Nov 15

9 pm BeIN Sport   Costa Rica vs USA

Sun, Nov 20

8 pm FS 1               MLS – West Con Finals 1st Leg

Tues, Nov 22

8 pm ESPN             MLS – East Con Finals 1st Leg

 

 

Indy 11

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

Vote BYB Players of the Year and Awards

Zayed Hungry for Title

3 Things Indy 11 loss at OKC

3 things Indy 11 3-0 Win over Puerto Rico

Vote Indy 11 Coach of the Year – Tim Hankinson

Final NASL Table has Indy 11 Finishing 2nd

 

USA

US Defender Geoff Cameron to Miss Mexico Game!  

US vs Mexico in Columbus 11/11 is Sold Out

Facing US in Columbus – Excited says Mexico boss Os0rio

Mexico Must Attack says Forward

USA Midfielders in the Hex –Stars and Stripes

Depth Chart US Center backs – Stars and Stripes

State of the Union – US Goalies – Stars and Stripes

US Depth Chart Right Backs – Stars and Stripes

American’s overseas

USA in Drivers Seat for World Cup 2026

 

Champions League

Champions League – where do we Stand now – ESPNFC

Man City beats Barca

Spurs lose heartbreaker to Bayern L at Wembley

Spurs missing Kane

Vardy Struggles for Leicester

GK saves Leicester again

Real’s Draw serves as warning

Pulisic plays well for Dortmund in Win

 

WORLD

Argentina slips to 6th in Conmebol Qualifying after Disqualification of player

 

EPL

Bradley set for Relegation Battle with Swansea

Liverpool Can Challenge for EPL Title

 

 

THE CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE: BLUE COLLAR EFFORT WITH A SILVER SHINE

GK Jon Busch revels in 2016 campaign with Indy Eleven  – Nov 1, 2016

In the build-up to Indy Eleven’s first postseason appearance, IndyEleven.com’s Scott Stewart will chronicle some of the season’s biggest storylines and zero in on the winning pedigree contained within the squad in his series of “The Championship Chase” stories …

After over 18 years of professional soccer in cities that were not Indianapolis, Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch took his talents to the Circle City in search of something else. Here, he found more than just his next step, he found a home.“It’s been a special season for me. First and foremost, leaving Chicago with the way I was treated there, it left a very bad taste in my mouth. To come to a place where you’re accepted with open arms and treated very well has given me a love for the game and a love for goalkeeping again after a tough season last year,” said Busch, who has become a fan favorite with Indy Eleven supporters. “For me, that was extremely important. I got to go back to being a kid and enjoy goalkeeping, enjoy the team around me. We have a great group of guys here that made it easy.”In a season that has featured a lot of highs with very little lows, Busch has only furthered his reputation as one of the best goalkeepers in the business with an incredible defensive record that he credits the team in front of him for. From the get-go, with all of the experienced players brought in the fold, the New York native knew that Indy could be successful, it was just a matter of whether or not they could execute through the expectations laid out for them.“We talked about it as a group from the beginning when the older, more experienced guys were brought in by coaches Hank and Regan. There was an expectation of not only reaching the playoffs but having success in the playoffs,” he said. “So being in this group of senior players, we knew that it was always on our shoulders and it was always the expectation in our locker room. It didn’t matter what anyone else said outside, it was all about what we believed we could accomplish within the group.”hat they accomplished was more than impressive. A ten-game unbeaten run in the Spring Season saw them crowned champions, and they then rounded out the 2016 season with a second-place finish in both the Fall and Combined Season tables. All of this, of course, while going unbeaten for 16 straight at “The Mike,” a feat that had only been accomplished by two other clubs before them.However, the highs were easy, said Busch. It was the lows that brought out their true character.  Tragedy struck when Busch received word of the loss of his father, Robert Busch, in May. What would derail most people, let alone professional athletes, instead motivated the veteran, though he’ll be the first to say what followed would not have been possible without his teammates.“Losing my father in the middle of the year was obviously a huge hit. He’s a big part of my life and you know that as you get older these things are going to happen, but you can never plan for it or know how you’re going to be emotionally as it happens, so it was a tough time for me,” Busch said. “But, the boys were there for me. They had my back during that period of time and I thank them for that. It doesn’t matter that I’m 40 years old, when you lose your father it’s always going to be difficult emotionally.”Through the loss, Indy’s No.18 had an incredible support system – his teammates and wife Nicole guiding him through that difficult stretch – but in the end, he believes his father’s influence assisted him even after his passing.“I think now he’s looking down and he’s probably had a little touch on this season to make it as special as it has been. He knows how important the game is to me, but also how important the game is to him as well. So far it’s been a great run but we have more planned,” he said.“Like any team in any league, we had our slip ups. But, it’s such a long season, there’s so much that could go right or wrong in terms of injuries, results or whatever, but for the most part, our consistency was impressive. We had that stint of five games where we were off the pace, but that’s normal,” said the ‘netminder. “The important thing was getting out of it as quickly as we did and refocusing. It’s a tip of the cap to the players that got us back on track to help us move on and get back to Indy Eleven soccer.”With everything on the line this Saturday against FC Edmonton in The Championship semifinal, Busch now sees another opportunity to rely on his experience, this time to again use it as motivation for one more game – one more accomplishment – and he feels his team are ready.“I think the important thing is that even though it’s a playoff game, you have to treat it as just one more game. Emotions are going to be higher, there’s more at stake and on the line, but at the end of the day you don’t want your emotions to get out of check. Whether that be physical, mental, or whatever, you want to keep control,” he said. “The easiest way to do that is to simplify your game as a player and do the little things properly – don’t try to overplay or do too much on the field – and just treat it as another normal game.”Another normal game, he says, as if a fan base that has been holding its collective breath since qualifying for the postseason in June isn’t about to burst with exuberance. But that’s just how Jon Busch sees it. For a blue collar guy with a silver shine, it’s just another week at the office.“It doesn’t matter what I’ve done in the past, I will give you everything I have every day of the week and double on Saturday nights to find a way to win the game. I’m not flashy, I’m not eccentric or anything like that, I’m a meat and potatoes kind of guy, but I think they relate to that especially being in the Midwest,” he said. “The fans get me, they understand me, and so the only way we can repay them as a team is to first get a win this weekend, and then ultimately bring that trophy to them and be able to celebrate a championship with them and with the city of Indianapolis.”Though he owes no debt after a season like this one, Jon Busch is a man of his word. Now it’s time to deliver.

THE CHAMPIONSHIP CHASE: EL RATON WANTS HIS CHEESE

Indy Eleven forward Eamon Zayed stresses championship desire  Nov 2, 2016

In the build-up to Indy Eleven’s first postseason appearance, IndyEleven.com’s Scott Stewart will chronicle some of the season’s biggest storylines and zero in on the winning pedigree contained within the squad in his series of “The Championship Chase” stories …

El Raton, Spanish for “the rat,” a nickname given to Indy Eleven forward Eamon Zayed by head coach Tim Hankinson for one reason – he’s always chasing his cheese.Coach Hankinson elaborated that the nickname was bestowed upon the team’s leading goalscorer because of his relentless desire to find the ball in the six-yard box and bury it in the back of the net. Though originally unsure about the name, Zayed has somewhat taken a liking to the term and as The Championship semifinal edges closer his hunger for “the cheese” continues to grow.“It’s history. It’s legend in the making for all of us if we can take Indy Eleven to The Championship final and win it. I wish I could have asked anyone in the Brickyard Battalion at the beginning of the season if they believed we would achieve what we have, because it’s been a remarkable campaign so far and we’re here now,” said Zayed. “Their support has been an absolutely key part of getting us here and pushing us through numerous games this season to help us get one more goal. We’re going to need them again, they’re going to need to push us on, and I know they will. Imagine if we can win it. Like I said, this is history in the making for all of us.”The idea of playing in a postseason intrigues Indy’s No.9 as it is an unfamiliar concept. He has never really faced a situation like this due to the fact that in every league he’s played in, whoever finishes at the top of the table at the conclusion of the regular season is typically the league champion. However, he likens his experience in knockout games to being the closest comparison, and therefore knows what is at stake.“We’ve played three games against FC Edmonton this year and all three were tight. All three really could have gone either way – we won one, they won one, and we drew one – but any of those games could have gone to either side. We knew what they’re about. They’re an unbelievably defensive, but excellent defensive side,” said the forward. “If we get the first goal, they have no option but to attack because it’s a knockout game and I feel that could work massively in our favor. I know it’s cliché, but getting the first goal will be the most important factor on Saturday.”For Zayed, goal scoring has come as naturally this season it ever has – and it’s evident. Smashing through club records for most goals in a single game, most goals in one season, and more, he has guided the ball into the back of the net more times than anyone in Indy Eleven history. But is he happy with how things have panned out overall? On that, he’s a bit of a mixed bag.“I’ve almost accomplished everything this year. Almost. Look, I’m happy with the way the season has turned out but I’m only about 75% happy. Looking back, 15 league goals is respectable but I set targets for myself at the beginning of the year and came just a little bit short in not winning the Golden Boot,” he said. “But, that’s the past. At least now I have something to motivate me for next year – that’s the way I feel about it – not winning this year means I’ll go all out next year to get it. We’re in the postseason and that’s what it’s all about. I’ve probably hit a lot of my targets, but my biggest target was to win this whole thing. I’ll gladly exchange any Golden Boot, any individual award, for a championship title.”With individual honors off his mind, the 15-time goalscorer has only one focus – reaching and getting through The Championship final on the winning side. In fact, it’s not just a focus, but an expectation, one that has been there since the beginning of the 2016 season.“The expectations from within the camp at the beginning of the year were always quite high, and definitely from Coach Hankinson – who is an absolute winner – and he set high standards with the new players he brought in – also winners,” said Zayed. “These are guys who have come from winning teams, not guys who came here just to pick up a wage or ride out results and get by, they wanted to win. That’s how it’s been from day one. The expectations within the camp were all about winning. We wanted the Spring Championship and qualify for the playoffs to win the whole thing.”More members of Indiana’s Team believed than just Zayed, though. The Irishman underlined that the expectations were a collective one, not an individual one, and that they didn’t put too much stock on what those outside their camp had to saw.“From the outside, it’s possible that media or fans looking in didn’t give us too much of a chance because we were a new group of players and Indy Eleven had finished towards the bottom of the league in the previous two years. We probably defied expectations from their standpoint, but from our standpoint we knew we had a good group of players and were determined to win something this year.”They’ll get their chance starting this Saturday night against FC Edmonton.

THREE THINGS: #OKC 2 V IND 1

Trio of takeaways from the regular season finale loss in Yukon

Oct 30, 2016

LATE DRAMA FOLLOWS EVERYWHERE

We’ve seen it at “The Mike,” and we’ve seen it on the road at multiple venues. Now, add Miller Stadium to the list of places where late goals determine the winner of an Indy Eleven match, however unfortunate Indiana’s Team was to fall on the wrong side of this one.After a first half battle that saw the two sides level heading into the break, the second half broke out with almost immediate action as Duke Lacroix won a penalty for the “Boys in White” leading to Nicki Paterson’s goal in the 52nd minute. However, just over ten minutes later, Sebastian Velasquez equalized for Rayo and the game opened up once again. As chances went awry for the two sides in the middle of a heated atmosphere, it looked like the season finale would end in a one-all draw. However, five minutes before added time OKC found their second goal of the match – this time a header from defender Moises Hernandez on the end of a Pecka corner doing the job.While the loss is a disappointing one for head coach Tim Hankinson’s side, their hard work shouldn’t go unapplauded after a full 90-minute battle between two sides that have already secured postseason play. Not every game with a late goal can go their way, and this just happened to be one of those cases.TICKETS | The Championship Semifinal – Indy Eleven vs. FC Edmonton

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL

At the beginning of the 2016 regular season, had Indy been offered a Spring Season championship and second place finishes in the Fall and Combined Season standings, it would have been a bold decision to turn that down. Quite a successful set of campaigns, Indy has enjoyed its best run in the three-year history of the club by some margin, finishing the year with 55 points on 15 wins, 10 draws, and just 7 losses, which is tied for league-best with the New York Cosmos. In addition, perhaps most enjoyable is Indy’s success at Carroll Stadium, where its unbeaten run of 18 straight games spans two season, going all the way back to early October 2015. From a squad standpoint, one point worth making is the contributions of every player on the 23-man roster. For players like Neil Shaffer, Daniel Keller, Keith Cardona, and more – ones who did not see as much playing time as some of their teammates – the ability to step in and seamlessly contribute is what makes them such impressive professionals, and they deserve recognition for what they gave to the club in a taxing seven-month season. For others like Nemanja Vukovic, Eamon Zayed, Jon Busch, and more who put their bodies on the line nearly every week, the accomplishment of winning the Spring Season can only be trumped by one thing… winning it all, which they have the chance to do in the coming two weeks.STATS | How last night’s 2-1 loss looked by the numbers

IT’S NOT HOW YOU START…

… it’s how you finish, and while Indiana’s Team ended the 2016 regular season with a loss, they aren’t done yet.Now the real season begins – the potential two games to decide who lifts the Soccer Bowl Trophy as the NASL’s champion, the first being The Championship Semifinal this Saturday November 5 against FC Edmonton. An obvious note in Indy’s favor is the home venue (as shown above), where the Boys in Blue previously drew the Eddies 1-1 in May thanks to a goal from Greg Janicki and, more recently, knocked off the Canadian club 1-0 on July 23 thanks to a goal from, you guessed it, Greg Janicki.With injury concerns limited and a number of “Boys in Blue” well rested, what starts as a week of preparation culminates with the biggest match in Indy Eleven’s brief but growing history and the opportunity to head to a championship final where they would meet the winner of New York-Rayo OKC … assuming the first test is passed.

Huge blow for USMNT: Geoff Cameron set to miss USA vs. Mexico

1 CommentBy Joe Prince-WrightNov 4, 2016, 6:45 AM EDT

This a huge blow for the U.S. national team.Geoff Cameron has not recovered as expected from a knee injury and the Stoke City star is highly unlikely to feature for the U.S. next week against Mexico in their massive 2018 World Cup qualifier.ProSoccerTalk understands that Cameron will not even make the trip back to the U.S. for the international break as he focuses on getting fully fit.[ MORE: Latest USMNT news ]

Cameron injured his right knee after a late collision in the 2-0 win at Hull City on Oct. 29 and was initially diagnosed with a hyper-extension but there was also a strain in the MCL. He hasn’t played since.The former Houston Dynamo star had been a key figure in central midfield for Stoke in recent weeks, with the Potters going four games unbeaten and Cameron widely praise for his reading of the game and defensive solidity allowing the likes of Joe AllenXherdan Shaqiri and Marko Arnautovic to pour forward.On Friday Stoke’s manager Mark Hughes all but confirmed that Cameron will miss their game at West Ham United on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSports.com) and is not likely to travel back to the U.S. for the crunch Hexagonal qualifiers against Mexico and Costa Rica.

“The likelihood is that he [Cameron] won’t be involved and he won’t travel to join up with his country next week,” Hughes confirmed.

Cameron, 31, has been influential for the USMNT over the past 12 months, playing in every single minute of the run to the Copa America Centenario semifinals last summer and he’s been a rock in central defense. He also played in every single game in the last round of World Cup qualifying. Alongside John Brooks, the duo have built a formidable partnership and Jurgen Klinsmann now has a big headache as to who comes into the team.Matt Besler, Omar Gonzalez, Steve Birnbaum and Michael Orozco will all look to get the nod in Cameron’s place but it will be a blow for Klinsmann to see the defensive unit of DeAndre Yedlin, Cameron, Brooks and Fabian Johnson, which performed so well last summer, broken up.Make no mistake about it, losing Cameron for the marquee match in Columbus, Ohio on Nov. 11 against Mexico and for the trip to CONCACAF foes Costa Rica will put a huge dent in the USA’s chances of kicking off the final stage of World Cup qualifying with two positive results.

U.S. soccer sells out World Cup qualifier vs. Mexico in Columbus

Fans from every state and Washington, D.C. bought tickets for next week’s sold-out World Cup qualifier between the United States and Mexico in Columbus, Ohio, the U.S. Soccer Federation said on Tuesday.U.S. Soccer offered seats for the match via a lottery. They received almost 17,000 requests for 56,270 tickets.MAPFRE Stadium, which has hosted every quadrennial home qualifier between the Americans and El Tri since 2001, has a listed capacity of 23,665 for the match.U.S. soccer will not issue actual paper tickets for the game, however.In an effort to prevent counterfeit ducats from being circulated on the resale market, the organization is distributing only mobile tickets for the first time.The U.S. has won all four previous meetings with Mexico at MAPFRE by identical 2-0 scorelines.The venue, which is home to Columbus Crew of MLS, was the only soccer-specific stadium in the country when it opened in 1999.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.

Mexico boss Osorio hails ‘fantastic’ opportunity against U.S. in Columbus

The countdown to the Mexico national team’s game against the United States in the Hexagonal round of World Cup qualifying in Columbus, Ohio is on and El Tri coach Juan Carlos Osorio is in a positive mood ahead of his squad announcement.Mexico has lost its past four contests against the Stars and Stripes at MAPFRE Stadium by scores of 2-0, but the under-pressure tactician will be telling his players that the Nov. 11 showdown represents a chance to set the record straight.”We see it as a fantastic opportunity to go there and change the story and break that statistic,” said Osorio in an exclusive interview with ESPN FC that will be published in its entirety on Friday. “We’ll play [against] a strong team, with their fans, in a stadium that historically hasn’t been good for Mexico. But the opportunity is exactly that.”A meticulous planner, Osorio and his coaching staff have been immersing themselves in games involving Jurgen Klinsmann’s likely U.S. call-ups.”We’ve been watching the MLS and watching the main players playing,” said Osorio.The former New York Red Bulls coach added that he respects the “very strong” North American league.”Also, [we’ve been] watching Borussia Dortmund for [Christian] Pulisic, Ingolstadt for [Alfredo] Morales, Borussia Monchengladbach for Fabian Johnson and so on and so forth — the Premier League for [Geoff] Cameron and others. I think that we are preparing the game well.”Osorio acknowledged that Klinsmann is a “top manager” who will have his players fired up for CONCACAF’s clasico and added that he believes Mexico will need at least six players who are good in the air to counter the United States’ aerial threat.The Mexico squad is scheduled to be announced this Thursday — although it could be delayed until Friday — and the team is taking the unusual step of traveling to Columbus on the Monday ahead of the Friday game. For Osorio, it’s a no-brainer; with a healthy number of players likely to be called up from European teams, Mexico wants them all to be as fresh as possible.”We want to [save] our players the extra four hours traveling from [Mexico City] and back,” said Osorio. “We’ve arranged it so we’ll go straight to Columbus and we’ll be there for four days.”

USMNT State of the Union, Hex Edition: Midfielders

An uncharacteristic dry season has given way to a more general showering of good form amongst the midfield. Will they be able to make the difference like they did in the last edition of the Hex?

by Adam Whittaker Snavely@Snaves  Nov 2, 2016, 7:10am PDT

The midfield. For the better part of three World Cup cycles, the U.S. midfield was seen as the strong suit of the team. There was constantly players knocking on the door and pushing other players to higher levels, which was great for the team, even if it led to selection choices more than a few times. But the fact that there were so many options in midfield seemed like a very, very good thing.For most of the last year and a half, however, the midfield has been a bit under fire. Michael Bradley never really looked to regain the form that made him invaluable at the 2010 World Cup and for most of the 2014 World Cup cycle after a lackluster summer in Brazil, and while he’s played well enough in the grand scheme of things, “well enough” just wasn’t the “great” that U.S. fans were expecting from the former Roma man. Jermaine Jones became more and more polarizing the more entrenched he became in the lineup. Alejandro Bedoya was a hard worker, but his offensive explosions came and went. Kyle Beckerman looked like he had aged a decade in the matter of a year.But with the infusion of a few new faces, and one very notable old one, the U.S. midfield looks to be relatively on track for the Hex, one poor friendly with New Zealand notwithstanding.

Christian Pulisic – B+

The kid has been playing a ton of minutes for Dortmund over the beginning of the season with Marco Reus and Andre Schurrle both out due to injury, and has done well with his time overall. He has two goals and three assists in 7 Bundesliga games and another couple assists in the Champions League. That doesn’t mean he’s ready to take over the starting reins in Dortmund for good, however: he’s still prone to being muscled out of games at times, as Schalke just proved over the weekend.

Michael Bradley – B+

Michael Bradley has been looking more and more like his old holding mid self with Toronto FC in the playoffs, making vital defensive contributions and springing Jozy Altidore and Sebastian Giovinco into counter attacks left and right. It’s especially important for a strong defensive midfield with the 3-5-2 Greg Vanney has rolled out, and Bradley has answered the call. It remains to be seen whether he can do that on a consistent basis for the USMNT anymore.

Sacha Kljestan – B+

Sacha was just rewarded for his performances on the season with as a MLS MVP finalist, and the assist king probably stands to get a good shot at it. His performances over the past two years for the Red Bulls have been consistently great. That didn’t stop Montreal from preventing him from creating a single chance in their playoff match, however, the first time that has happened all season.

Alejandro Bedoya – B-

Bedoya has brought his trademark grit and workrate to the center of the Philadelphia Union midfield, and helped propel them to their first playoff berth since their inaugural season. He managed to score a goal in their playoff match against Toronto, too. Unfortunately for him, that wasn’t enough to stop the Reds. Bedoya should be rested and ready to go for the Hex.

Jermaine Jones – C

The fact that Jermaine has anything above a D here is a good thing for him, seeing as he’s finally back to playing. He also managed to create the Rapids only real threat on the Galaxy goal last weekend, a 25-yard thunderbolt that Brian Rowe just managed to parry away. His fitness levels are still in question, but that right foot sure isn’t.

Perry Kitchen – C+

Captain America to Hearts fans, Kitchen looked initially shaky in a three-man midfield against New Zealand with Michael Bradley and Sacha Kljestan, but the three appeared to grow into the game at the tail end of the first half and beginning of the second, before both teams started making wholesale changes. Hearts have slipped a bit in Scotland as well: after a 3-3 draw with Inverness, in which none of the Hearts defense covered themselves in glory, they now sit in third behind Celtic and Rangers.

Danny Williams – B-

Williams’ stock appeared to be on the rise at October camp, making a game appearance before Perry Kitchen, and most likely appeals to Klinsmann for his propensity to play both ways on the field. This is also a measure of his importance for Reading. He’s one of the first names down on the team sheet for the Royals, and likes to roam from deeper positions to test opposing keepers.

Paul Arriola – C+

Arriola will be looking for a spot on this roster after a string of call-ups and appearances against Puerto Rico, Trinidad and Tobago, and Cuba, scoring two goals in those three games. He’s still fighting for playing time in Tijuana, on the other hand, and has been mostly used as a late-game sub by Miguel Herrera as of late. The Xolos are in first place in Mexico, so trying to break into the lineup will probably continue to be difficult.

Lynden Gooch – C

Lynden Gooch’s positive start to both the Premier League season and his senior USMNT career both has led to a spell stranded on the bench at Sunderland. While Black Cats supporters admire the youngster’s work rate and intelligence in the midfield, he’s only collected a handful of substitute minutes over the last month, despite the fact that Sunderland are dead last in England and haven’t won a game all season. David Moyes looks to be the next coach to exit the Stadium of Light’s coaching carousel.

Josh Gatt – B+

Josh Gatt! We’re talking about him! Because he’s finally playing again for Molde, because he’s just scored a goal, and because it seems he’s retained most of the speed that made him such an intriguing U.S. prospect in the first place!He might be a longshot to make this roster, but it’s just good to see him out and running again.

Darlington Nagbe – **waves goodbye**

Nagbe didn’t have a great second half of the season for the Timbers, but the same could be said of the rest of the squad, and Nagbe himself was forced out of the position that put him in the USMNT (a deeper-lying box-to-box midfielder) and onto the wing or higher up in the midfield due to injuries and severe dips in form from other players. That didn’t stop him from looking very good in his limited USMNT minutes, but I think it’s safe to say that between league play and the mysterious snub of call-ups to the October friendlies, we most likely won’t be seeing Nagbe for a while.

USMNT Depth Chart 2016: Center backs

Who’s behind President Brooks? by Rob Usry and Brendan Joseph  Nov 1, 2016, 9:04am PDT

The United States men’s national team is preparing for the start of the final round of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying. About a year ago SSFC’s Depth Chart series explored the USMNT player pool. Now, a year later, the team has improved tremendously from a horrid 2015, but how has the outlook on the pool changed? So with that in mind, as the Americans gear up for the Hex, we attempt to create a depth chart for the team, position by position. Figuring out what Klinsmann is thinking is a fool’s errand, so this is what our depth chart would be and we’ll talk about how we landed here.

Center backs

1 John Brooks
2 Geoff Cameron
3 Matt Besler
4 Omar Gonzalez
5 Steve Birnbaum
6 Ventura Alvarado
7 Matt Miazga
8 Cameron Carter-Vickers
9 Michael Orozco

Rob: While the USMNT fullback pool is nothing to write home about, the center backs are looking surprisingly strong this year with actual competition for spots brewing. This summer proved that a healthy and hungry John Brooks is far and away the USA’s best defender. The question is who is fighting for No. 2?

Brendan: I’m going to tentatively say the spot goes to Geoff Cameron, but he could always end up as a fullback or a defensive midfielder. There’s always that weird element when making these lists that seems fairly exclusive to the U.S.: anyone can play multiple positions and usually does. For example, Cameron has been doing well at midfield for Stoke, and would prefer to stick to one position based on recent reports. However, much like Fabian Johnson and fullback, the U.S. might need him at center back because even out of position he’s better than the alternatives.We’re still two years out from the World Cup, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see Omar Gonzalez work his way back into a starting role. He’s been slowly regaining his spot after his banishment.

Rob: It seems Besler and Gonzalez have been stuck in the same cycle since that Belgium match they started together. Both are either working their way up the depth chart or completely out of the picture. I’m not sure either one is the apple of Klinsmann’s eye, just a means to an end until the younger guys prove themselves worthy of consideration.Guys like Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga, who most think are the center back pairing of the future, are waiting in the wings. The only problem is their club situations and not getting the appropriate playing time to justify getting called up.

Brendan: Matt Miazga is at sixth on the list, but I think he could be in the top three by next year. He’s been playing with Vitesse, which is admittedly not the biggest club in the world. There’s been a general fear that he’ll become one of the “lost loan players of Chelsea” or whatever the colloquial name is. Klinsmann also clearly likes Birnbaum, but is still waiting for him to take that next step. Maybe that next step will be a rumored move abroad. But I agree, there’s a slight feeling of “It’s fine for now” with Klinsmann and Gonzalez. Besler has his uses as a utility player, so he’ll be included in most rosters for the next two years.Still, it’s a lot easier to find a center back pairing when you already have one established. Brooks is a godsend for the national team.

Rob: The overall depth for center backs is actually very good. Arguably the deepest of any position for the national team. We’ve listed nine players but could’ve easily had at least 12 with the likes of Tim Ream, Matt Hedges, and even the emerging Walker Zimmerman. Are there any other fringe players we could’ve added and what will it take for them to catch Jurgen’s eye?

Brendan: People love Tim Parker up in Vancouver. He’s a relatively young (23) second-year professional out of St. John’s. Parker was included on the roster for the match against New Zealand. It’s probably still a little too early to pencil him in for a spot in 2018, but he’ll definitely challenge for a reserve role in 2022.Eric Miller, another player who spent time with the U-23 national team, could also get a look in the future. He started 23 matches with the Colorado Rapids this season.Rob: So, the talent is there and appears it will be there for a while. Is it safe to say that center back is the position the USMNT is deepest at out of every spot on the field? Or am I being too optimistic?

Brendan: It used to be goalkeeper, but I think it’s fair to say the U.S. has quite a few options at center back. Klinsmann just needs to figure out who will pair with Brooks.

USMNT State of the Union, Hex Edition: Goalkeepers

Mexico and Costa Rica await. So how does the form of the U.S. goalkeepers look?

The goalkeeper pool, on form, looks like less of a depth chart and more of a blob. The veterans aren’t exactly continuing to prove utter dominance over the pool, but the younger keepers in the pool haven’t done enough to warrant a changing of the guard just yet. Sure, the U.S. might benefit in the long run by just making the swap at goalkeeper and entrusting the position to someone other than Tim Howard or Brad Guzan, but competitive matches against Mexico and Costa Rica isn’t that time.And so we’re left with a fairly predictable goalkeeping situation as far as a depth chart goes. Does it match the form of the pool? Not exactly, but that’s rarely the case anyway. As always, grades given are based on player form, and are not necessarily an indication of my ranking or any sort of depth chart prediction.

Tim Howard – B+

Howard is the most likely candidate to start against Mexico and Costa Rica, based on Jurgen Klinsmann’s reliance on Howard and Brad Guzan (and Guzan’s failure to touch the field as of late). Howard is coming off of a very solid game against the Galaxy, although a Gio Dos Santos header deflected into a looping shot over Howard’s head and into the back of the net. The header would’ve gone in the opposite corner without the deflection, but getting chipped by Dos Santos in LA surely doesn’t bring back any good memories.

Brad Guzan – D

Guzan’s move to Middlesborough over the offseason was met with optimisim initially by many U.S. fans, but Guzan has been mired on the bench ever since Victor Valdes returned from early-season injury. Guzan is still one of Klinsmann’s top keepers, but the complete lack of playing time is killing his chances at taking back the #1 (and #1.5) spot he’s enjoyed over the past two years with the U.S.

Ethan Horvath – B+

Horvath is still Molde’s top keeper and still making the saves he needs to make. In a game more exciting for Josh Gatt’s first goal in almost three years, Horvath made four saves and kept the clean sheet. The Tippeligaen isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but to lock down the starting spot so consistently at 21 years old is still impressive. Add that to a solid showing against Cuba, and Horvath should have a roster spot secured for the Hex.

David Bingham – C+

Couldn’t make up for San Jose’s impotent offense enough for the Quakes to make it into the playoffs. While San Jose only allowed 40 goals on the season, they scored a league-low 32. Bingham has been good to very good in MLS play, but in his big showcase against New Zealand, he didn’t look convincing between the sticks.

William Yarbrough – C+

Similarly to Bingham, Yarbrough is perfectly passable at Club Leon and is maintaining his starting position, but his penchant for punching crosses back into play instead of catching them was on full display against New Zealand, and it made for plenty of nervy moments.

Bill Hamid – C+

Mr. 6th or 7th on the depth chart, I believe, is superior to the next two keepers above him, but wasn’t able to show it against New Zealand or in the MLS playoffs. He played very well for a resurgent DC United at the end of the MLS season, doing his “single-handedly dragging DC to success” thing again. He couldn’t make up for the shambles that was DC’s back line against Montreal, however, to the tune of a 4-2 defeat. While Hamid was more of a victim than perpetrator on most, he might want Matteo Mancuso’s header back.

USA in driver’s seat for 2026 World Cup bid after Europe is prohibited by FIFA

North America’s chances skyrocketby Rob Usry@RobUsry  Oct 14, 2016, 11:12am PDT

Stop us if you’ve heard this before. The United States are in great position to host a World Cup in the next decade. The FIFA Council decided on Friday that European countries will be prohibited from making true bids host the 2026 World Cup so soon after Russia hosts in 2018.FIFA state that it’s rotational policy of making sure every federation has a fair chance to host makes Europe hosting unfair in their eyes. They will be limited to standby status in case any of the competing bids from around the world aren’t up to standard.”The feeling amongst the council is rather positive towards expansion,” said Fifa president Gianni Infantino.This decision could very well pave the way for the United States to win a bid to host the tournament in some fashion. There have been talks in the past of a possible joint bid between the USA and Mexico and even whispers that Canada could jump in as well to help North America’s chances.”That has changed the landscape [of the 2026 contest] a little bit,” said U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, a FIFA Council member.There’s still a lot to be decided on what exactly the USA’s bid will look like, but you can be assured they’ll be among the favorites to win it. Many expected them to have a great chance of winning the 2022 bid, but they lost out to Qatar after some shady politics that eventually led to the widespread corruption investigation by U.S. authorities that lead to FIFA’s current reform efforts under Infantino.The new President is thinking of making major changes to the world’s most prestigious sporting event by expanding it to 40 or 48 teams.The bidding process for the 2026 World Cup isn’t expected to be resolved until 2020 after it was postponed due to the corruption investigation.

Champions League group stage permutations for round of 16

The top two teams qualify for the round of 16, with the third-place team dropping into the Europa League and the bottom club eliminated from Europe.

Qualified teams: Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Paris Saint-Germain
Eliminated: Club Brugge, Dinamo Zagreb, FC Basel, FC Rostov, Legia Warsaw, Ludogorets Razgrad, PSV Eindhoven

GROUP A

Arsenal and Paris Saint-Germain have qualified, and the top spot in the group will be decided if there is a winner in the match between the two teams at the Emirates on Nov. 23. If that match is a draw, it could go down to goal difference, with the Gunners having an advantage of three.

The Europa League spot for third place has a very similar situation. A winner between Ludogorets and FC Basel will settle that. Otherwise, it will go to goal difference, with FC Basel holding an advantage of three.

GROUP B

Benfica: Will qualify with a win at Besiktas in the next round of games

Napoli: Can qualify with a win at Dynamo Kiev next time, if Benfica also beat Besiktas

Besiktas: Cannot go through on Matchday 5 and will likely need to pick up four points to have a chance to progress

Dynamo Kiev: Would need to win both of their remaining matches, including beating Napoli by two goals, and hope Napoli lose to Benfica and Besiktas do not beat Benfica

GROUP C

Barcelona: Must win at Celtic to guarantee their passage. They will also be through regardless of their result if Borussia Monchengladbach fail to beat Manchester City.

Manchester City: Require a point at Borussia Monchengladbach to seal a place in the round of 16.

Borussia Monchengladbach: Must beat Man City to stay alive, and even then, they would likely have to better City’s result on the final day to go through.

Celtic: Must beat both Manchester City and Barcelona, plus hope City do not beat Gladbach and that Gladbach pick up no more than three points from their two remaining matches.

GROUP D

Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich are through, with Atletico three points clear, having won the game between the two sides. Bayern will likely have to win at home to Atletico to stand a chance of finishing top.

Rostov and PSV Eindhoven will battle it out for a place in the Europa League, with the two teams meeting in the Netherlands on the final matchday. The first game between the teams finished 2-2.

GROUP E

AS Monaco: Need a point at home to Tottenham in their next game to qualify for the round of 16.

Bayer Leverkusen: Can qualify with a point at CSKA Moscow if Tottenham lose at Monaco. They will also be through with a win if Tottenham do no better than draw in France.

Tottenham: Will be guaranteed a place in the knockout rounds if they win both of their remaining fixtures.

CSKA Moscow: Could actually qualify with a win over Bayer Levekusen and a draw at Tottenham, if Monaco beat Leverkusen and avoid defeat against Spurs. But it is likely they will have to win both games to stand any chance.

GROUP F

Borussia Dortmund: Have qualified and will likely top the group if they avoid defeat at Real Madrid.

Real Madrid: Need a point at Sporting Lisbon to book their place on MatchDay 5.

Sporting Lisbon: Must win both of their remaining games to stand a chance and hope Real Madrid slip up at home to Dortmund.

Legia Warsaw: Eliminated, though they face Sporting on the final MatchDay and could qualify for the Europa League if they win that.

GROUP G

Leicester City: Need one point from their final two games to qualify for the round of 16.

FC Porto: Will be through if they win at FC Copenhagen next time out.

FC Copenhagen: Will be through if they win both of their remaining games.

Club Brugge: Have been eliminated and can only make the Europa League if they win both of their remaining games and FC Copenhagen pick up no more than a point.

GROUP H

Sevilla: Need a point from their remaining two matches to advance.

Juventus: Will be through if they win at Sevilla, or if Lyon do not win at Dinamo Zagreb, on MatchDay 5.

Lyon: Must win both of their games and hope that either Juventus pick up no more than one point or that Juventus beat Sevilla

Dinamo Zagreb: Eliminated, and must win both games, with Lyon failing to beat Sevilla, to make the Europa League. Dale Johnson has been an editor and journalist at ESPN for 17 years. You can follow him on Twitter @dalejohnsonESPN.

Man City finally beat Barca as Guardiola’s new team becomes true Champions League contender

Leander Schaerlaeckens,FC Yahoo 22 hours ago

It isn’t often that you get to exorcise several demons on the same night.  In the first two seasons in which Manchester City reached the knockout stages of the UEFA Champions League – after two straight failures to survive the group stage in the early years of the moneyed Abu Dhabi ownership’s reign at the club – it was summarily bounced in the round of 16 by an imperious Barcelona.  [ Champions League: Matchday 4 Live | Scores | Standings | News ]

Two weeks ago, City, playing the best soccer the club has ever enjoyed, traveled to Catalonia to take on its old tormentors again. It seemed like the time had come for the Citizens to compete with one of the game’s all-time great teams. But Lionel Messi, the sport’s best-ever player, ran riot and scored a hat trick as Barca sent City home smarting from a 4-0 whipping.  That game had been a homecoming for Pep Guardiola, who had built Barcelona’s world-beating and paradigm-shifting machinery, when he’d been promoted from iconic midfielder to legendary manager at his boyhood club. He was humiliated by the thrashing at the Camp Nou.  On Tuesday, Manchester City finally made amends for all those slights and insults and embarrassments, even though Guardiola believed it would take an almost perfect performance. At its impregnable Etihad Stadium, City overcame an early deficit to record a cathartic and well-deserved 3-1 victory. Ilkay Gundogan’s brace and Kevin De Bruyne’s free kick undid Messi’s go-ahead goal. ity hadn’t lost at home in a dozen games, dating back to March. But for the first half hour or so, it seemed like that streak would end and its run of futility against Barca continue. In a physical and breathless game, it was the visitors who played as if they were at home. Luis Enrique’s side, however, was lucky to be spared a penalty in the 11th minute, when Samuel Umtiti hooked his foot around Raheem Sterling’s in the box. It was a clear penalty, but referee Viktor Kassai incomprehensibly gave the English winger a yellow card for diving instead.Barcelona soon reaped the reward for its early dominance. In the 21st minute, Sergio Aguero had a shot blocked. Messi sent the ball forward to Neymar, who returned it to him as the Argentine ran away from several markers and stuck it away under goalkeeper Willy Caballero.Barca had a flurry of chances to get the second but converted none. And then City took control.  Sergi Roberto sent an errant pass deep in his own third in the 39th minute, and Aguero picked it up and zipped it to Sterling. He squared to Gundogan for a simple finish. Man City’s assault would keep up apace after the break. Right after the half, the Citizens were all over Barca. Another ball was won high – Guardiola’s plan to unsettle his old side was evidently to press its shaky back line with the soccer equivalent to a full-court press – and Aguero set up Sterling. But he took a heavy touch and couldn’t finish from the angle.  But in the 51st minute, the heretofore anonymous De Bruyne deposited a free kick behind a wrong-footed and culpable Marc-Andre Ter Stegen to give his side the lead.  City threatened again and again as Barca’s vaunted Messi-Neymar-Luis Suarez trident grew invisible. An Aleksandar Kolarov cross very nearly found De Bruyne for a tap-in. Quite against the grain, Andre Games then hammered a shot off City’s bar following a John Stones miscue in the back.  But that dizzying end-to-end phase, in which De Bruyne also kissed a shot off the post, would end in City’s security goal. In the 74th, De Bruyne sent Jesus Navas through with an inch-perfect ball. His cross to Aguero was tricky for the Argentina to chest in – with the ball, incidentally, caroming off his right forearm, held firmly to his chest. The rebound fell generously for Gundogan, who got his second.  Barcelona was beaten and knew it, never formulating a coherent response.  Guardiola, in the end, had vanquished the monster he had created. And in the process, he redeemed his new club’s battered honor. Aside from cheering his team’s third goal, he seemed to take no delight at all in it. He must know he has undermined his beloved Barca’s supremacy.  City, meanwhile, have become real Champions League contenders under Guardiola and now trail Group C leader Barca by only two points with two games to play. The larger takeaway, however, is its fresh ability to beat the likes of Barca. Because a win as comprehensive as this, against so laureled an opponent, signals Manchester City’s true arrival at the European summit. Leander Schaerlaeckens is a soccer columnist for Yahoo Sports. 

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