So our Indy 11 have finally put their hat into the MLS Expansion pot for this round. I think with the new stadium issues and just too many other cities with deeper pockets that Indy is certainly a long shot for MLS Expansion this go round – but its nice to see we are in the running. Someday maybe – a nice new stadium over by Lucas Oil near the White River would be nice.
So Bruce is back in charge of the US team and we still can’t score. 0-0 with Serbia was certainly not the result we were looking for – but I thought we of course dominated possession and had some good moments in the game. I thought Benny Feilhaber brought instant offense when he check in. I also thought Sebastian Lletget gave some really good moments in the 2nd half beside Michael Bradley who once again didn’t really impress. I thought the Zusi experiment at right back went well – though I still think oustarting right back playing really well in England right now. It will be interesting to see how the midfield plays on Friday night 7:30 pm vs Jamaica on Fox Sports 1.
Big games this weekend as Arsenal gets there shot at Chelsea without Arsene Wenger on the sideline 7:30 am on NBCSN and Dortmund and US starlet Christian Pulisic face surprising Red Bull Leipzig at 12:30 on Fox Sports 1 or 2? Sunday Leicester tries to fight its way above the relegation zone in a huge home match vs unbeaten in a long time Man United at 11 am on NBCSN.
Thurs, Feb 2
2 pm beIN Sport Africa Cup of Nations Semi-Final 2
Fri, Feb 3
2:30 pm Fox Sport2 Hamburger vs Bayer Leverkusen
7:30 pm Fox Sport 1 USA vs Jamaica
Sat. Feb 4
7:30 am NBCSN Chelsea vs Arsenal
9:30 am FS1 Bayern Munich vs Shalke
10 am NBCSN Hull City vs Liverpool
12:30 pm Fox Sp 2 Dortmund vs Red Bull Leipzig
12:30 NBCSN? Tottenham vs Middlesborough
Sun, Feb 5
8:30 am NBCSN Man City vs Swansea
10 am beIN Sport Atletico Madrid vs Leganes
9:30 am Fox Soccer Frieberg vs Hertha BSC
11 am NBCSN Leicester City vs Man United
2 pm beIN Sport Africa Cup of Nations FINALS
2:45 pm beIN Sport? Juventus vs Inter
Sat, Feb 11
7:30 am NBCSN Arsenal vs Hull City
12:30 pm NBCSN Liverpool vs Tottenham
Sun, Feb 12
8:30 am NBCSN Burnley vs Chelsea
Mon, Feb 13
3 pm NBCSN Bournemouth vs Man City
Tues, Feb 14 – Champions League
2:45 pm Fox Sport 2 Benfica vs Borussian Dortmund
2:45 pm Fox Sport 1 PSG vs Barcelona
Weds, Feb 15
2:45 pm Fox Sport 1 Bayern Munich vs Arsenal
2:45 pm Fox Sport 2 Real Madrid vs Napoli
Tues, Feb 21 – Champions League
2:45 pm Fox Sport 2 Bayer Levekusen vs Atletico Madrid
2:45 pm Fox Sport 1 Manchester City vs Monaco
Weds, Feb 22
2:45 pm Fox Sport 1 Sevilla vs Leicester City
2:45 pm Fox Sport 2 Porto vs Juventus
Weds, Mar 1 – She Believes Cup
4 pm ?? France vs England Women
7 pm Fox Sports 1 US Women vs Germany
Sat, Mar 4 – She Believes Cup
4 pm ?? France vs Germany Women
5 pm Fox US Women vs England
Indy 11 + MLS
Indianapolis will become 12th city applying for MLS expansion
BRIAN STRAUSMonday January 30th, 2017
On the eve of Major League Soccer’s expansion application deadline, Indy Eleven has made it 12.The NASL club’s president, Jeff Belskus, confirmed to SI.com late Monday that the Eleven, owner Ersal Ozdemir and the city of Indianapolis are pursuing one of the four MLS expansion openings. Ozdemir will deliver the application by hand to the league office in Manhattan on Tuesday. Indianapolis is the 12th city to declare its MLS intentions. In mid-December, the league announced its plan to add four more teams, bringing the eventual membership to 28 (including Los Angeles FC next year and David Beckham’s quixotic Miami project). At that time, prospective investors in Charlotte, Cincinnati, Detroit, Nashville, Raleigh, Sacramento, St. Louis, San Antonio, San Diego and Tampa Bay already had come forward. An 11th applicant, the USL’s Phoenix Rising, then joined the fray last week.Indy’s absence on the original list was notable, but not entirely unexpected. The Eleven have done well at the gate and Ozdemir had met with MLS officials as far back as 2013. Indianapolis seemed like a city that was on the right trajectory. But stadium legislation stalled in 2015 when the Indiana house and senate couldn’t come to an agreement on whether to funnel usage taxes toward a new facility or use state funds to upgrade the Eleven’s current home, Carroll Stadium. So Indy’s MLS plans stalled as well.Then last summer, they were back on track. Confident that usage taxes (or taxes generated by the existence of the new stadium) would get the political traction required at the state and city levels, the Eleven re-opened conversations with MLS. Those talks led to the decision to bid and Ozdemir’s trip to New York.Belskus, who was the Indianapolis Motor Speedway president and CEO before running the Eleven, said the club’s MLS stadium will be a public-private partnership and that Ozdemir and his unnamed partners would be kicking in a “significant amount of private money.” Ozdemir will remain the majority owner.If built, the new stadium would be located in downtown Indianapolis between the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium and the White River.“We have a lot of energy for building a soccer stadium here,” Belskus said. “We’ve proven Indianapolis has the fan base to support soccer. It will support pro soccer and it will support Major League Soccer … It’s so logical for us.”Sponsors are lined up, he added, and Ozdemir’s investor group “is committed. They want to see this work. The want to see it work for this community.” The Eleven kicked off as an NASL expansion team in 2014. Although the team fared poorly on the field in its first two seasons, support was strong. Indy’s average attendance led the league in ’14 (it surpassed 10,000 per game) and 2015 before falling to second, behind MLS-bound Minnesota United, last season. But that slight slip was offset by wins. Behind former Tampa Bay Mutiny and Colorado Rapids coach Tim Hankinson and Irish-born Libyan international Éamon Zayed, an NASL Best XI striker, Indy finished finished second in the overall 2016 regular season standings and fell to the New York Cosmos in the league title game.It will remain part of the NASL this year while pursuing a place in MLS.
Who should start for the USMNT vs. Jamaica?
The first match of Bruce Arena’s second tenure as United States men’s national team manager didn’t go as anyone hoped. It’s hard to takeaway any positives from a boring and stale scoreless draw. I’ve seen some respected media members claim that the team’s shape looked more structured as if they had a better understanding of their roles. To that I’d sort of agree, but it’s just hard to lean on that narrative after just 90 minutes. The match on Friday against a decent CONCACAF side in Jamaica should tell a better tale.We’ve already seen Jozy Altidore come out and wonder if playing with a lone striker is the right move or not, with Arena responding that he could change up the formation at any time. Assuming that he decides to stay the course and trot out the same 4-2-3-1/4-3-3 he did against Serbia, what changes could we see? Two starters from Sunday are guaranteed to be replaced with Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljestan leaving camp. Here’s a lineup I’d like to see on Friday if the formation and philosophy stays the same:
With Kljestan unavailable that leaves a hole in the No. 10 position. In my eyes, the only two options to replace him are Benny Feilhaber or Darlington Nagbe. Nagbe’s role for the Timbers the past couple of seasons has seen him shift into a central role, predominantly as a box-to-box player to support Diego Valeri, but he has the ability to be the primary playmaker to rely on. We saw what he can do on the wing against Serbia, now it’s time to get a feel for his contribution in the center pulling the strings.Replacing Jones is a little more complicated. The obvious pick is Sebastian Lletget, who came on a halftime for the veteran and did pretty well as a box-to-box midfielder. However, I’d like to see Dax McCarty inserted into the lineup for two reasons that both include Michael Bradley. The first is, McCarty offers a more defensive pure No. 6 option that would allow Bradley the freedom to move up and down the field as he pleases. He’s a defensive midfielder who needs a more defensive partner and that’s what McCarty offers. The second is looking toward the second half. Take Bradley out at halftime and replace him with Lletget no matter how the team is doing. It’s time to see a half of soccer that isn’t dedicated to finding the right scenario for Bradley to succeed.Jordan Morris on the wing is something the Sounders did several times throughout their MLS Cup run. Specifically in the Western conference finals against FC Dallas where the move paid off significantly despite objections from yours truly. His pace and attacking mentality offers that dynamic aspect that Jozy alluded to in his 4-3-3 concerns.The back line changes are all about seeing different options. Villafana looked good in his brief substitute appearance and Walker Zimmerman has apparently impressed in camp. Give those two a full run-out and give Luis Robles a chance in goal just as a reward for a long camp and being one of the most consistent performers in MLS for a long while.If Bruce decides that it’s time to change things up and adhere to Jozy’s concerns over a lone striker formation here’s a lineup I’d throw out there:
It’s the same personnel except for the switch of McCarty and Lletget. Having both McCarty and Bradley in a narrow formation like this would seem too defensive, akin back to the four CDM days under Klinsmann.Giving Altidore some striking support in Morris would make him happy and having Nagbe behind them doing his ‘sprint dribble past five players’ thing should open up some space for everyone.It’s not the most ideal lineup, but it could be effective.What do you think about these two options? What changes would you make if you were Bruce? Show us your tactical genius in the comments.
Jones and Kljestan leave USMNT camp, opening door in midfield
Jermaine Jones and Sacha Kljesten were sent home from United States men’s national team camp following the team’s 0-0 draw against Serbia on Sunday.Jones will not play in March’s World Cup qualifiers due to suspension, so Bruce Arena sent him home to get used to his new LA Galaxy teammates.And Kljestan’s wife is giving birth, meaning he won’t play against Jamaica.That opens up the midfield for several U.S. players to seize an opportunity on Friday.It shouldn’t be hard for any one player to make a statement given the lackluster attacking performance from the MLS-only squad.Darlington Nagbe and Sebastian Lletget both impressed against Serbia, granted they stood out in a match that was offensively uninspiring.Benny Feilhaber didn’t get a ton of time to make an impact, and had a moment or two in his quarter-hour return to the fold. Chris Pontius came close to scoring during his 25-plus minutes, but neither ran wild against a team which entered the day with a combined eight caps.The only U.S. midfield player not to get a run was Dax McCarty, and it seems likely the new Chicago Fire man will see plenty of time against Jamaica.Perhaps Arena will line ’em up like so:
Zusi — Zimmerman — Evans — Villafana
McCarty — Bradley
Nagbe — Feilhaber — Bedoya
The USMNT Goalkeeping Dilemma
The short term future of the goalkeeping position is in serious doubt.
News broke out late January that Brad Guzan would be leaving Middlesbrough in the Premier League in the summer and moving to the MLS expansion side, Atlanta United. While this is a big move for Atlanta, it does present a little bit of an issue for the USMNT. With Guzan’s move, there are no American goalkeepers left playing in the English top flight. Nor in any of the first divisions of Germany, Spain, Italy, or France. This hasn’t happened since Kasey Keller joined Leicester City in 1996, two decades ago. With Guzan leaving, there won’t be any USMNT caliber left in Europe except for Ethan Horvath, who recently moved to Club Bruges in the Belgium first division, the Jupiler League. With this change in situation, we need to evaluate the talent of the American goalkeeping pool.
By my count, these are the players who could be in the running for the starting place this year or in the near future.
There are other players who have played for the USMNT but who don’t appear to be in significant contention for the starting place. That includes Rimando, Robles, Cropper, and Yarbrough. But for the sake of time and relevance, I am limiting the discussion to that list of 5.
Guzan’s been with the USMNT for a long time, dutifully serving as the backup behind Tim Howard. After Howard took a sabbatical following the 2014 World Cup, the starting position has been Guzan’s. The past few years have been a little bit rough for Guzan. An excellent stop-shot, Guzan was arguably the most important player in keeping Aston Villa from being relegated in 2013-14 and 2014-15. However, Guzan lost form with Villa in the last season and left to join Middlesbrough for free after the Birmingham side were relegated. Life with Middlesbrough has not gone as well as the Chicagoan would have hoped. The club brought in the Spaniard, Victor Valdes, to play as the starting keeper, with Guzan relegated to the backup role once again.
Guzan’s time as the starter with the USMNT has similarly been mixed. While the USMNT struggled in the months following the World Cup, Guzan played quite well. However, during the 2015 Gold Cup, he made several prominent errors, specifically in the semifinal against Jamaica. While throwing a ball to a teammate, Guzan accidentally carried the ball just past the boundary of the penalty box. The ref blew for a hand ball and Jamaica scored on the freekick. The US lost and were knocked out of the tournament (Guzan won the award for best goalkeeper, to my astonishment.) After the Gold Cup and the return of Tim Howard, Klinsmann announced that Guzan would split time as the starter with Howard. Guzan was named the starter for the Copa America Centenario in 2016, where he performed admirably. However, the policy of rotating between Guzan and Howard was re-implemented, with Howard playing in the loss against Mexico, at least until he was forced off with injury.
With a new coach leading the USMNT, Guzan’s role is, again, in doubt. Guzan no longer has the prestige of playing in the Premier League. Nor does he have consistent playing time to justify his inclusion, at least not until he arrives in Atlanta in the summer. At 32, Guzan’s age needs to be considered. While it is true that goalkeepers peak and decline later than outfield players, 32 is still towards the older side of the spectrum. He cannot be considered a project with hopes of improving. He’s at the age where his career has hit the peak and will advance no further. At worst, we could start to see the decline from age. If Guzan’s not starting, serious questions need to be asked if it would simply be better to bring in someone who will be relevant after the 2018 World Cup. Of course, this is all a moot point if Arena decides Guzan’s clearly the best talent the US has at this point. But that question has been debated, and may very well continue to be debated going forward.
Tim Howard is a USMNT legend. He has the most caps for any goalkeeper in USMNT history. He’s played in 2 World Cups, setting a record for most saves in a single match in the loss against Belgium. However, at some point, the Secretary of Defense’s term must come to an end. Tim Howard is 37, approaching 38. He has seen a decline in form followed by a transfer to MLS and a long-term injury in the form of tear in his abductor muscle. At this point, if one were to ask if Howard were still the best goalkeeper for the US, the answer quite possibly could be “No”. Indeed, one could ask if Howard will even still be playing as a 39 year old by the time Russia 2018 rolls around. However, Howard is still the experienced veteran, the established name who can be depended on to marshal the defense into an impenetrable shield. If the USMNT needs results now, does that mean relying on Howard one more time to get through qualifying? Klinsmann seemed to at least consider it. We will have to see if Arena will be willing to try it, as well.
Now we come to the prospects. Ethan Horvath is one of the brightest talents in the American Goalkeeping pool. Horvath was at Molde starting from 2013 where he eventually made 39 appearances, serving as a brilliantly effective keeper in the Norwegian League. Those consistent and distinguished performances led to a January transfer to Club Bruges, the leading club in the Belgian league. At just 21, Horvath has both a lot of talent and a lot of potential. However, he is serving as the back up for Club Bruges starting keeper, Ludovic Butelle, and has yet to make a start. Horvath certainly has a bright future ahead of him. The question is whether he will rise and become the next American starlet at keeper, and how quickly that rise will happen. There’s an opportunity for him to make a big splash this year, but it depends on how he presents himself in camp.
Bill Hamid has been the Next Big Thing for over a half-decade. While he’s been spectacular at times with DC United, including a Goalkeeper of the Year award in 2014, Hamid has had trouble turning that club success into a big offer from a European club or international success. Mostly, this has been because of a string of injuries. Hamid can’t seem to stay healthy long enough to get time with the national team, earning just 2 senior caps in 5 years. In this very January Camp, Hamid came in and was forced to leave early due to an injury. At the age of 26, Hamid has a huge opportunity to take the USMNT starting spot and make it is own, along with a big-money move abroad. But to do that, he’ll need to be consistent and, above all, healthy.
At 27, David Bingham is not exactly a prospect. However, the supporter turned player has performed admirably with the San Jose Earthquakes, emerging as one of the clear standouts in MLS. With Howard and Guzan aging, Bingham has a chance to eventually take the head spot, depending on how Hamid and Horvath turn out. It’s an outside shot, but he’s got a chance.
Originally posted on The Sports Daily | By Jack King | Last updated 2/1/17
Sandwiched in between a friendly match against Serbia and an upcoming friendly against Jamaica this Friday, new USMNT manager Bruce Arena has said that he sees no reason why his squad shouldn’t qualify for World Cup play.For context, we’ll take a look back to Nov. 20, when the USMNT was embarrassed 4-0 in Costa Rica. In the days following the loss, former manager Jurgen Klinsmann publicly stated that he was 1,000 percent sure that the team would advance to Russia in 2018. The U.S. found itself 0-2 in group play after losing to Mexico in a prior match, and Klinsmann was shown the door.For national team managers, their careers and team expectations are like milk carton expiration dates. Such is the case with Arena. He is well aware that the expectations placed upon him are twofold. First, he must pull the USMNT out of their slump and garner enough points in the next eight qualifying matches to compete in Russia. With the top three teams making the trek (and a fourth involved in a home and away scenario), it would seem that the U.S. should advance. Once in Russia, it is expected that his squad will make a run deep into the competition.With two matches remaining against under-performing Panama and two against a weak Trinidad and Tobago team, ten points is likely to be earned and all twelve is not out of the question. The two games against Honduras should garner four points, and a home game against Costa Rica will produce no worse than a draw and a possible win. The other game on the schedule, against El Tri at The Azteca, will prove to be the most difficult qualifying match and even a point might prove elusive. But the USMNT will ultimately amass enough points to make the trip to Russia, which is the immediate task at hand for Arena.The CONCACAF region as a whole does not have any powerhouses, compared to what lies in Europe and South America. It relies primarily on Mexico and the U.S. to showcase its talent to the world, and both teams have underperformed in the past few years. That the USMNT has to fight its way to earn a qualifying spot within CONCACAF is not a benchmark for success, but it is a crucial first step. With all eyes on Arena as the new manager, he can only be as successful as his available talent. The Serbia friendly that ended in a 0-0 draw saw a dearth of talent from his MLS players, given that they played against a tired Serbian squad comprised entirely of “B” and “C” team players. While most of the MLS-laden team will not make Arena’s final World Cup squad, the friendlies are critical to identifying role players, as well as providing depth to the team. While the manager was kind with his words, there were few standout performances following a three-week camp. The Jamaica friendly on Friday will be the last chance for these players to make an impact on the team before the next set of qualifiers begins on March 24th.That leaves the USMNT to rely upon their overseas players. But isn’t that where the USMNT was under former manager Klinsmann? While he favored the German system to train his players more than other leagues, the talent pool is no larger than it was last year. While the emergence of a player like Christian Pulisic is helpful to the team, at 18 years of age his biggest contribution will be in future Cups. Bobby Wood shows promise in the forward slot, while attacking midfielder Julian Green has demonstrated he belongs on the squad. While these players have value to the USMNT, if they aren’t stars on their club teams, it would be folly to expect such results as they compete on the world stage.The core of the USMNT team has quietly aged as well. Players like Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones have lost more than a couple of steps, and 33 year-old Clint Dempsey’s heart ailment leaves his playing career in question.One would think that new manager Arena has taken all of that into account and is fielding the best team available to him in a short amount of time. It appears that the shape of the U.S on the pitch has taken a more defensive posture, possibly to reduce their vulnerability from a counter-attack due to their lack of speed. All of that comes at a price, however, as forward Altidore has said that he isn’t keen on his lone-striker role. Look for the U.S. to provide more support to the flanks, which is where the team has taken a beating in recent matches. At age 65, Arena’s experience has taught him to keep the games close enough to be in a position to pick up points in each match.The Klinsmann era of the turbo-charged three-forward offense has passed. Arena’s style of play will be slower and more defensive-minded. But if his squad is to have any chance to qualify for World Cup play in Russia in 2018, he might just need to make lemonade from lemons to advance.
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