4/28/17 – Indy 11 Discount Tickets, Title races Tighten up, Messi wins El Classico, Champ League Tues/Wed

ballcoach

Thank’s to the Indy 11 for a Link to Indy 11 Discount Ticket Link – in May/June/July.  Order your tickets now as I am not sure how long this link will be live for us.  The Indy 11 kept the NASL Record Home Non-losing Streak alive at 20 games with their 0-0 tie with San Fran this past weekend at the MIKE.  They travel to Jacksonville to face the Armada on beIN Sport at 7 pm Sat. night.

So Messi did it again in El Classico – somehow I missed it as my beIN Sports Ap did me wrong on the fields this Sunday between reffing and coaching and I taped the wrong channel on my cable somehow.  I hear it was one of the best ever and it sets up a close race as the teams are tied atop La Liga with Real Madrid having a game in hand.  Should be a classic race down the stretch.  Same for France as Monaco and PSG are going down to the wire tied in League One.  The EPL is locked with 6 teams battling for the top 4 as just 3 points divides 3rd place Liverpool, 4th place Man City, 5th place Man U, and 6th place Arsenal (with a game in hand).  Huge games this Sunday as 7th place Everton host Chelsea 9 am on NBCSN and Arsenal travels to White Hart Lane and Tottenham at 11:30 on NBCSN.  Of course Champions League returns next week with Final 4 action – with Real Madrid facing Atletico Madrid in a Madrid Derby Tuesday 2:45 on FS1  and Monaco facing Juventus in the other Wed and May 9/10 2:45 pm on Fox Sports 1.

Huge congrats to the US U17s who beat Mexico 4-3 in CONCACAF Champs 1st game see this wonder goal from US forward Josh Sargent from St. Louis- games continue this weekend.

Good luck to our Carmel FC U15 + U16 Girls competing this weekend in the Crossroads of America Girls College Showcase at Grand Park – and  to our teams in playing in Red Lion good luck dodging the rain.  Carmel FC is proud to be hosting Challenge Cup and State Cup games the weekend of May 5-7 at the River Road fields in East Carmel about 2 miles from Badger.  CFC parents sign up here if you would like to volunteer to help.

GAMES ON TV  

Mon, May 1

3 pm NBCSN                   Watford vs Liverpool

Tues  –May 2  Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

Weds May 3  –Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Monaco vs Juventus

Thur  –May 4   Europa League 

3 pm FoxSport2    Celta Vigo vs  Man U

Fri, May 5

3 pm NBCSN                   West Ham vs Tottenham

Sat, May 6

7:30 am NBCSN            Man City vs Crystal Palace

9:30 am                             Dortmund vs Hoffenhiem

12:30 pm                         beIN Spo   Barcelona vs Villarreal

12:30 pm NBC live    Swansea vs Everton

2:45 pm beIN sport   Granada vs Real Madrid

2:55 pm ESPN               Seattle host Toronto FC (replay of Champ game)

7:30 pm  Myindy TV                        Indy 11 vs Edmonton                      

Sun, May 7

8:30 am NBCSN            Liverpool vs Southhampton

11 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs Man United

1:30 pm                            Min United vs Sporting KC

Mon, May 8

3 pm NBCSN                   Chelsea vs Middlesbrough

Tues  –May 9  Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport1     Juventus vs Monaco

Weds May 10  –Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Real Madrid vs Atletico Madrid

Thur  –May 11   Europa League 

2:45 pm FoxSport2     Man U vs Celta Vigo

Sat, May 13

7:30 am NBCSN            Man City vs Leicester City

9:30 am Fox Sport1   Dortmund vs Ausburg

12:30 pm NBC live    Stoke City vs Arsenal (US Cameron)

7:30 pm  Myindy TV                        Miami vs Indy 11

9 pm ESPN                       Chicago vs Seattle Sounders  

Sun, May 14

9:15 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Liverpool

11 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Man United

4 pm ESPN                       Portland Timbers vs Atlanta United

Indy 11

Indy 11 Discount Ticket Link

Indy 11 Tie San Fran at Home

Indy 11 Sign with Addidas for Uniforms

Indy 11 Enter US Open Cup in 2nd round on May 17th

Champions League

Real vs Atletico, Juve vs Monaco in Champ League Semi’s

Europa League Draw has Man U vs Celta Vigo + Ajax vs Lyon

Juve Favored to Win it

Juve Must Win it All

(check back Monday for Updated Champions League Stories) www.oleballcoach.com

World Soccer

Messi delivers huge classico Win

Juve Take over Top Slot in World – Power Rankings ESPN FC

Macotti’s Musings – World Soccer – Messi Clasico

2 Team race in La Liga

La Liga Table

EPL Table

League 1 Table

German Table

US Soccer

What if Hand Ball Were Called in US game vs Germany in 2002?  Grant Wahl SI

What if US Greatest Athletes Played Soccer?  Grant Wahl SI

World Cup 2026 Projected US Line-Up – Stars and Stripes Alex Showell

Omar Gonzales becomes 3rd American to Win CONCACAF Champ League S&S

Measuring USMNT Results – S&S

Your Votes for who Should be Starting for the US

Bobby Wood – Where will he play next year?

Wondergoal for US U-17 Player

MLS

Week 9 What 2 Watch 4 Stars and Stripes

Week 9 Story Lines MLS.com

GAMES ON TV  

Sat  Apr 29

9:30 am Fox Sports2                         Dortmund vs Koln  (US Pulisic)

10 am NBCSN                Stoke City vs West Ham United (US Cameron)

10:15 am                          beIN sport                        Real Madrid vs Valencia

12:30 pm NBC              Crystal Palace vs Burnley  (seriously)

12:30 pm Fox Sport2                       Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

7 pm beIN Sport  Jacksonville Armada vs Indy 11

Sun  Apr 30

7 am NBCSN                   Man U vs Swansea (relegation time Swansea you US coach firing club you)  

9 am Fox Sport 1         Ausburg vs Hamburger (US Bobby Wood)

9:05 am NBCSN            Everton vs Chelsea

11:30 am NBCSN         Tottenham vs Arsenal  

3 pm Fox Sport1          Atlanta United vs DC United 

 

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Confederations Cup Schedule June

Lionel Messi’s Clasico for the ages, Arsenal surprise us, Inter in trouble

Sometimes they live up to the hype. Sometimes they surpass it.From the neutral’s perspective, Sunday night’s Clasico took it to another level. No matchup in the world has as much talent on the pitch even with Neymar missing and Gareth Bale succumbing to injury after just more than half an hour, and few have had as much drama, individual displays of talent, handbrake turns in the narrative and end-to-end excitement as what we witnessed.And, as far as Lionel Messi is concerned, we’ve had the umpteenth confirmation that we are living in privileged times, able to see one of the greatest of all time doing it over and over again in the most dramatic fashion, including a virtual buzzer-beater.But start with the fallout.Barcelona’s 3-2 win at the Bernabeu doesn’t quite reopen the Liga race, but it does mean Real Madrid are one slip-up away from a potential neck-and-neck finish. Both are level on points, with Barca enjoying the edge in the tie-breaker, but Real Madrid have a game in hand: May 17 away to Celta Vigo. By that point, both Celta and Madrid could be in European finals: Eduardo Berizzo’s crew face Manchester United in the Europa League, and Real, of course, have the Madrid derby.Should Barca hold out hope? Sure. Celta have already beaten Madrid once this season in the Copa del Rey. You presume that the semifinal derby will stretch Real both in terms of mental and physical resources. Only a fool would rule out the possibility of this going down to the wire at this stage.The game itself offered positives and negatives for both sides. Zinedine Zidane made a big call by starting Gareth Bale, who had limped off injured against Bayern 11 days earlier. There’s no point in medical second-guessing, but the gamble clearly didn’t work, as the Welshman hobbled off after 38 minutes with the score at 1-1.Here, Zidane made the first of his three big substitution decisions. The draw would have likely handed the title to Madrid. But rather than looking to preserve the result, he went for the jugular. He could have sent on Isco, which might have shifted Madrid to a virtual 4-4-2, allowing them to control the midfield and, therefore, the game. Instead, he opted for Marco Asensio — a more direct, attacking player — which had the side effect of opening the game up further.Another was taking off Casemiro. The holding midfielder had opened the scoring, but he’d also been engaging in a game of “whack-a-Messi,” which had cost him a booking and could have cost him a sending off. Sending on Mateo Kovacic in his place was a fairly textbook decision.The third, nine minutes from time, involved withdrawing Karim Benzema for James Rodriguez. This was far from textbook. With Real Madrid chasing the game, conventional wisdom would have suggested a like-for-like change (Alvaro Morata) or maybe a guy like Isco. Instead, he opted for Rodriguez, trusting the Colombian’s long-range shooting and ability to improvise. He was quickly vindicated as Rodriguez lost Jordi Alba, cut across the box and was there to turn a cross from the brilliant Marcelo past Marc-Andre ter Stegen to make it 2-2.As for Barcelona, they put together three goals, each of them a peach in its own right. Lionel Messi’s opener featured a delicious swerve to befuddle Dani Carvajal and came after an 18-touch buildup involving eight different players. That was vintage Barca, as if the clock was being rolled back to circa 2009.The second was an Ivan Rakitic thunderbolt with an equally sweet buildup: He squared up to shoot with one foot and then cut across to his other and beat Keylor Navas. The third was the most dramatic: a long gallop from Sergi Roberto, a timely overlap from Alba and a deadeye finish from Messi deep in injury time. It was his 500th goal for Barcelona and his 47th of the season. It also marked the sixth time in his career that he passed the 30-goal mark in La Liga.More than that, it capped a performance that any fan of any team sport can relate to: one superstar taking over a game lock, stock and barrel. It doesn’t happen often, but when it does, it stands out.Messi had been whacked multiple times earlier by Casemiro, took an elbow to the head (inadvertent, perhaps, but still painful) from Marcelo and was on the receiving edge of an X-rated lunge from Sergio Ramos that saw the Madrid defender sent off for the 22nd time of his career.Messi’s usual supporting cast wasn’t getting it done. Neymar was suspended, and his replacement, Paco Alcacer, was ethereal. Andres Iniesta seemed to disappear as the game went on. Luis Suarez was ineffective, so it was up to Messi. And he delivered.Barca may end up well behind Real in the league; they may lose the Copa del Rey final to Alaves and end the season empty-handed. But Messi’s performance on the day will endure for a very long time.As for Madrid, they’ve been reminded it will be a long slog between now and the end of the season. They remain (in my opinion, anyway) the best team in the world. And the way they came back to equalize with 10 men showed a degree of guts, self-belief and personality that few can match, and that you rarely see on teams with this much talent. That, as much their talent, will determine whether they win their 33rd Liga title, let alone their 12th European Cup.

Arsene Wenger, Pep Guardiola surprise us all

Just when you thought you’d figured somebody out, they go and do something unexpected.

Take Arsene Wenger. He’s the guy we’ve been criticising for years for being too stubborn, too one-dimensional, too wedded to an idea of football that’s now passe, too soft, too unwilling to win ugly. So what does he do? He plays a 3-4-2-1 in an FA Cup semifinal at Wembley featuring two holding midfielders and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Nacho Monreal out wide. And rather than trying to pass his way around Manchester City, he happily concedes possession, relying instead on a front three of Olivier Giroud, Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.Or take Pep Guardiola. He’s the guy who always wants to attack, who doesn’t know how to defend and who hates being pragmatic. What does he do when, nine minutes into extra-time and with the score deadlocked, he realizes that his center-forward can’t go on? He sends on two defensive midfielders like Fernando and Fabian Delph for Fernandinho and Sergio Aguero.What this should tell us, at the very least, is that it’s risky — and often inaccurate — to stereotype managers. At some point, they react to situations like the rest of us.Sunday’s 2-1 win for Arsenal was a game marked by mistakes, with both teams evidently showing signs of wear and tear after a long season. Each had a fairly decent penalty shout, but the episodes went against Manchester City, who hit the woodwork twice and had a goal disallowed when the linesman erroneously judged a cross to have gone out of play.Yet that doesn’t mean the victory wasn’t important, or deserved, for Arsenal. The reaction and the grit shown by the players rather contradicted the popular narrative whereby they’re all aching for a change and want to drive Arsene Wenger out the door.It also laid out a rather intriguing scenario. If, as some contend, Wenger would only consider leaving on a high, would an FA Cup win and maybe a strong finale in the Premier League — perhaps not a top-four finish, as that ship seems to have sailed, but some big wins against the likes of Tottenham and Manchester United — constitute enough of a high?As for City, Guardiola said what you expected him to say: City created more and better chances than the opposition; they could easily have won; he’s happy with the performance. And as often happens with Pep, you tend to believe him. You also tend to believe he couldn’t care less that this will be his first season in eight top-flight campaigns that he’ll finish without a trophy.

Bayern struggle after UCL exit

Talk about a Champions League hangover. Bayern took the pitch three days after the controversial extra-time defeat to Real Madrid and turned in one of their worst performances of the season against lowly Mainz. Indeed, you wonder if instead of making just four changes, Carlo Ancelotti would have been better off with a whole new XI.It felt as if Bayern’s heads were still at the Bernabeu. Twice they went behind on silly defensive mistakes by Arturo Vidal and Joshua Kimmich, and twice they scrambled to pull even for the 2-2 draw. They were poor at the back (and David Alaba’s injury won’t help) and while going forward, they looked slow and predictable, displaying the worst kind of sterile possession.Bayern need to snap out of it quickly. Borussia Dortmund beckons next in the German Cup semifinal this week, and the Bundesliga is not yet wrapped up.

Was Chelsea’s win genius or good luck ?

Was leaving Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench for 60 minutes a tactical masterstroke by Antonio Conte? Or maybe just the realization that, while the FA Cup is nice and all, playing it safe and giving yourself the best possible chance to win the Premier League at your first attempt is a whole heck of a lot nicer?We may never know, and if you ask Conte himself, he’ll say something along the lines of choosing the best team to win this game and other platitudes. He’s getting a ton of praise for the impact that Hazard and Costa had off the bench in Chelsea’s 4-2 semifinal win over Tottenham. In many ways, it’s justified. Chelsea bounced back after the disheartening defeat to Manchester United with a victory against the team whom Conte himself had described as playing the best football in England.Yet you can also break down the game to its component parts and reach a different conclusion. Chelsea scored one goal on a free kick, another on a penalty gifted to them by a stupid tackle, a third with a clinical strike that snaked through penalty box traffic and a fourth with a long-range howitzer from a guy who hadn’t scored in nearly a year. For much of the game, it was Tottenham who had the upper hand, scoring two lovely goals with help from an inspired Christian Eriksen.But that’s football. These were two very good managers who were unafraid to take risks and make bold decisions, and the outcome ultimately favoured Conte. That doesn’t mean however that Mauricio Pochettino is a dud (as was suggested on the FC TV show last night) or that Tottenham will throw away the rest of the campaign like they did last season.Hindsight being 20/20, deploying Son Heung-Min as a wing-back, or even going with a back three, was not the right choice. But Tottenham did their part and could well have gotten more out of this.

 Monaco, PSG pick up big wins in tight French Race

Edinson Cavani and Angel Di Maria scored as Paris Saint-Germain rolled to a 2-0 win over Montpellier on Saturday. Twenty-four hours later, Monaco did their bit as Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe guided them to a huge 2-1 away win over Lyon. OL were fatigued from their Europa League exertions but still: this was one of the games where if you were a PSG fan, you most hoped for Monaco to drop points. As it stands, the two are level, but Monaco still have that game in hand.A word on Cavani, too. When Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored 51 goals in all competitions last season, it felt like the performance of a lifetime. Cavani is on 44 (in 43 appearances) and has another five matches — possibly six, if they reach the French Cup final — matches to go. Just to put things into a little bit of context.

Inter are in real trouble in Italy

When you’re 2-1 up nine minutes into the second half and then find yourself 5-2 down (despite your opponent missing a penalty) with 12 minutes to go, something is seriously wrong with you. That’s exactly what happened to Inter away to Fiorentina on Saturday night, and the fact that they scored two late goals to eventually lose 5-4 does nothing to minimize the hurt.Inter have taken two points from their past five games, and it looks as if Stefano Pioli’s run is over. I’ll admit it: I am a Pioli fan, and given the paucity of credible alternatives, I thought sticking with him next sason might not be such a bad thing. Now, I’m not so sure.The question is how you get out of this mess. Inter can’t spend their way out. They’re already under a Financial Fair Play settlement regime with UEFA, which is far stricter than folks seem to realize (at least the guys who mindlessly talk about Inter spending hundreds of millions next summer). In other words, they’re in a financial straitjacket, which makes it that much harder to lure a big-name manager.Inter’s owner, Suning, thinks it has the answer, having renewed director of football Piero Ausilio’s deal through 2020. This is the same Ausilio who has had the gig since 2014 and has seen Inter finish eight, fourth and wherever they end up this year (sixth or seventh). In that time, Inter have a negative net spend of some €120 million ($135 million).The thinking seems to be “you [and a cast of thousands] got us into this mess, you get us out of it.”Good luck.

Stop speculating about Zlatan!

I pray that we haven’t seen the last of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who suffered ligament damage to his knee in the Europa League against Anderlecht on Thursday. But I also hope we won’t get more idle speculation about whether he will or won’t return. Such injuries are difficult to evaluate to begin with, and in his case, his age and body type make him all the more tough to call.Let’s just chill out a minute and let time do its thing. There are only two decisions that matter here: One will be made by Manchester United by June 30 on whether or not to pick up the option on his deal for another season. The other will be made by Ibrahimovic himself at some point in the next six months, based on what his body tells him.Trying to guess now whether he’ll come back and when is pointless. It’s even a bit disrespectful to one of the better strikers of his generation.

Leipzig fail to close the gap in Germany

Leipzig spurned the chance to turn the Bundesliga into a legitimate race when they were held to a 1-1 draw away at Schalke. Timo Werner gave them an early lead but veteran striker Klaas-Jan Huntelaar stunned them with an equaliser at the start of the second half, and from there they simply ran out of steam.In some ways, it rather mirrors their season. In their first 15 games, they gained a whopping 36 points. In their past 15, they managed just 26. Blame a combination of opponents figuring them out since promotion and, perhaps, a certain physical drop. That won’t get any easier next season.The gap remains at at eight points. One more slip-up and Bayern could have this in the bag by the time these teams meet on May 13. Gabriele Marcotti is a Senior Writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Marcotti.

Power Rankings: Juventus retake top spot after Real Madrid’s mixed week

We have a new leader! Meanwhile, re-entering the countdown are a pair of Europe’s biggest clubs, while a German giant drops out.

  1. Juventus(+1)

With a Champions League semifinal against Monaco on the horizon, Juventus continued to tick over in Serie A. A 4-0 win over Genoa means that Max Allegri’s side have an eight-point lead with five games to go; that sixth straight title is just a matter of time away.

  1. Real Madrid(-1)

After battling back with 10 men to equalise vs. Barcelona, Madrid then conceded a last-minute goal that reignited the battle for La Liga. They recovered to win 6-2 at Deportivo in midweek but, with Barca lurking, know that they cannot afford any more slips.

  1. Chelsea(+3)

Their defeat at Manchester United lead to some doubts but, in the past week, Chelsea reasserted their authority in fine style. First came an FA Cup semifinal win over Tottenham and that was followed by a nerve-settling league victory vs. Southampton.

  1. Barcelona(new)

Look who are back! Just days after being dumped out of the Champions League, Barcelona dramatically won arguably the best Clasico in recent years. They then put seven past Osasuna and now lead La Liga, albeit having played one more game.

  1. Monaco(no change)

Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe scored at Lyon as Monaco retained their goal-difference advantage — they also have a game in hand — at the top of Ligue 1. A cup semifinal defeat at the hands of PSG came with a reserve side and showed Monaco’s priorities.

  1. AS Roma(+3)

A comfortable 4-1 win at Pescara was the perfect preparation for Saturday’s Rome derby. Luciano Spalletti’s side are second in Serie, with a four-point advantage over next-best Napoli. Awaiting after Lazio, though, is a trip to Milan and Juventus at home.

  1. Atletico Madrid(-3)

Antoine Griezmann’s 100th goal in La Liga was the highlight of a mixed week for Atletico. The French forward’s strike earned victory over Espanyol, but Wednesday brought a disappointing home defeat to Villarreal for Diego Simeone’s third-placed side.

  1. Paris Saint-Germain(new)

The defending French champions are back in the Top 10 following a week in which they maintained the pressure on Monaco in the league, beating Montpellier 2-0, and thrashed their nearest rivals in the cup, earning a 5-0 semifinal victory.

  1. Borussia Dortmund(+1)

Last week showed yet again that BVB rarely do things easily! First, Raphael Guerreiro scored an 87th-minute winner to beat Monchengladbach in league play, then Dortmund came back from 2-1 down to win 3-2 at Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal semifinal.

  1. RB Leipzig(-2)

A draw at Schalke, secured by Timo Werner’s 17th goal of the season, moved Leipzig one point closer to finishing as runners-up in their first Bundesliga campaign. With four games remaining, Ralph Hasenhuttl’s side lead third-placed Dortmund by six points.

Dropping out: Bayern Munich, Tottenham.

Lionel Messi steps up and delivers a priceless Clasico win for Barcelona

Battered and bruised but still brilliant, Lionel Messi dragged Barcelona from the depths of their resounding Champions League elimination to Juventus to give his team’s ailing title bid the kiss of life. The Argentina international had not scored against Real Madrid since his hat-trick in the 4-3 win at the Bernabeu three years ago but the all-time top scorer in this magnificent fixture rarely stays quiet.

Despite the brutal tactics of Marcelo, Sergio Ramos, Casemiro and even Mateo Kovacic, Real Madrid could not keep Messi down and no-one could have chosen a better scenario or moment for him to strike his 500th goal for Barca. It might just be the goal that reignites the Catalans’ title bid — and their season.

Positives

Barca showed real mettle at the Bernabeu, withstanding numerous setbacks during the game and some interesting decisions from referee Alejandro Jose Hernandez Hernandez, who lacked the courage to send off Casemiro before the break. Barca have often been accused of lacking steel but on Sunday night, they stood up and were counted.

Negatives

By the end of the game, Barca looked to have run out of steam and at some stages one might have suspected it was Luis Enrique’s side and not Zinedine Zidane’s that had 10 men on the pitch. Perhaps they were just saving their energy for the final moments, however, as so many poured forward to help set up Messi’s last-gasp winner.

Manager rating out of 10

5 — Made the right call with his team selection, deciding against playing Arda Turan despite recovering from injury on the day, something Zidane got hopelessly wrong in starting Bale. Didn’t change much during the game although his weak bench left him with little options. Perhaps should have gone for Real’s jugular more after Ramos was dismissed, even though Messi’s brilliance ensured everything turned out just fine.

 

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

GK Marc-Andre ter Stegen, 8 — After misjudging the flight of the ball for Casemiro’s opening goal, the German produced one of his best displays for Barca, executing several stunning saves to thwart Cristiano Ronaldo, Toni Kroos and Marco Asensio. Was always alert to what was going on in front of his area too, making numerous well-timed challenges to clear the danger.

DF Sergi Roberto, 6 — Looked uncomfortable dealing with Kroos’ passes down Barca’s right hand side and his passing was imprecise until his courageous, gut-busting run through the middle that sparked Messi’s winner.

DF Samuel Umtiti, 6 — Rode his luck with an early tackle in the area on Ronaldo but regained his composure.

DF Gerard Pique, 6 — Suffered a lot in the first half, particularly against Ronaldo, although grew in stature after the break.

DF Jordi Alba, 5 — Was quiet going forward for most of the game but proved he is always worth having on the pitch for his cut-back pass to Messi before the game-winning goal.

MF Ivan Rakitic, 6 — Had done little in the game before his thumping strike, which looked to have made amends for his performance. That said, he will be blamed for his lethargic attempt to get tight on Marcelo for the equaliser.

MF Sergio Busquets, 6 — A steady performer in defence and starting attacks but fell asleep in the area to allow James to grab the equaliser right in front of him, which almost cost Barca the win.

MF Andres Iniesta, 8 — Was given far more freedom by Real’s midfield than Juventus had allowed him and he was able to direct Barca’s play with his faultless passing as a result. A great display, especially considering how the Juventus games could have jolted his confidence.

FW Lionel Messi, 9 — Answered any doubts from the Juve games in emphatic fashion despite being mercilessly targeted by Madrid for the entirety of the game. He was unmoved by Marcelo’s brutal elbow, which had him chewing on a tissue for much of the first half, and responded with the most stunning equaliser, ending a three-year drought in the Clasico. And just when Barca’s title bid looked doomed once and for all, he reignited the flame with his 500th goal for the club. Trust him to choose the biggest moment on the biggest stage to do so.

FW Luis Suarez, 4 — Had another desperately disappointing display, failing to impose himself on the game or link up with his strike partners, and wasted two great chances to score.

FW Paco Alcacer, 5 — Combined reasonably well with Messi but often got shrugged off the ball and spurned a huge chance when he only had Keylor Navas to beat.

Substitutes

MF Andre Gomes, NR — Never looked too confident when on the ball and neither did his teammates when he had it, although he did play his part in the winner.

WHAT IF … THE REF HAD CALLED A HANDBALL AGAINST GERMANY AT THE 2002 WORLD CUP?

by Grant Wahl

The stage has never been bigger for U.S. men’s soccer than it was on June 21, 2002, in Ulsan, South Korea. The Americans had made an inspiring World Cup run, beating Portugal and Mexico and advancing to the quarterfinals for the first (and still only) time in the modern era, and early in the second half they were largely outplaying mighty Germany, though they trailed 1–0. In the 50th minute, U.S. midfielder Claudio Reyna unspooled a near-post corner kick that was flicked into the path of defender Gregg Berhalter.

“As the corner was coming in I said, I’m going to gamble and move away from my opponent toward the center back-post area,” says Berhalter, now coach of the Columbus Crew. “The ball fell right to where I was gambling on, and I had a chance to lunge at it with my left foot. [I made] good contact and it was going into the goal; it beat the goalkeeper [Oliver Kahn], but [German midfielder] Torsten Frings put his hand out and blocked it right on the line.”

Nobody disputes that the ball hit Frings’s left arm, preventing it from entering the goal—but should there have been a penalty called and a red card given? The game’s Scottish referee, Hugh Dallas, ruled there was no infraction. “A foul can only be given if it is deliberate hand-to-ball and not ball-to-hand,” he told the Sunday Mail, adding that he’d had “a totally clear view” of the play, even though video replays show there were five players between him and the incident. (UEFA, which employs Dallas, declined to make him available for this story.)

Howard Webb, the Englishman who refereed the 2010 World Cup and Champions League finals, sees the play differently. When Webb became an international referee in ’05, Dallas (who had retired by then) was his mentor for a year. “This is a famous incident, but I don’t think I ever discussed it with him,” says Webb, who reviewed video replays for this story. “The correct outcome should have been a penalty kick awarded for the use of the hand, and a red card for the denial of a goal—not the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, but the denial of a goal, because clearly the ball would have gone in had Frings not blocked it.”

The laws and interpretations governing such incidents have not changed since 2002, Webb notes. “There’s not a great deal of movement by Frings,” he says. “It’s not like Luis Suárez in ’10 against Ghana, when he threw his arms in the air goalkeeper-style” to block a clear goal, earning a penalty and a red card. “A handball has to be deliberate, but when a team gains such a huge advantage through a handball and there is that element of a slight movement toward the ball—or even not a retraction of the arm away from the flight of the ball—then the referee, generally speaking, will penalize the offender.”

So, what if the penalty and red card had been given? Going back to 1966, players have converted 81% of all World Cup penalty kicks. Kahn was in standout form in 2002, but it’s still likely the U.S. would have tied the score from the spot—Bruce Arena, the team’s coach then and now, says Reyna would have taken the penalty—and continued outplaying Germany with a man advantage for up to 70 minutes, including potential extra time. (Playing 11-on-11, the U.S. ended up outshooting Germany 11–6.)

The Americans’ chances of winning, had those calls been made, were “better than 50-50,” says Arena. “And I think if we were one of the big countries, we would have gotten that call.” Landon Donovan, who was a 20-year-old striker in that tournament, says, “Playing against most teams, you would say 75%, maybe 80% [for the U.S. to win]. But playing against top teams like Germany or Brazil, I would probably have put it at 50-50. They would have been smart enough to defend well, and they would have tried to steal a goal the other way on a set piece—and if not, then it goes to penalties, where they’re really good.”

“I think if we were one of the big countries, we would have gotten that call,” Arena says.

And what if the U.S. had advanced past Germany? Awaiting in the semifinal would have been co-host South Korea, whom the U.S. had already tied 1–1 earlier in the tournament and who they’d beaten 2–1 in the 2002 Gold Cup. That said, Arena would have had only 14 eligible field players due to yellow-card suspensions (Berhalter, Pablo Mastroeni, Eddie Pope) and injuries (Jeff Agoos, Steve Cherundolo, Joe-Max Moore). “Would we have beaten South Korea?” asks Donovan. “I don’t know—but it wouldn’t have surprised anyone.” And in a final against Brazil? “Highly unlikely that we win. But we’ve beaten Brazil before, and there’s no reason that, on that day, we couldn’t get a little lucky.”It’s often wondered in American soccer circles whether this country will ever win a men’s World Cup. But the fact is, the U.S. wasn’t that far away in 2002.Webb recently moved to New York City to oversee the new Video Assistant Referee program for the Professional Referees Organization, which handles MLS officiating. Refs are set to have video review for the first time in MLS this summer and at next year’s World Cup in Russia. The Frings incident “would have been a situation where, absolutely, 100% a recommendation would have been made by the video assistant referee for an on-field review,” says Webb. “And I’m pretty sure that would have led to the awarding of a penalty kick and a red card.”He smiles. “And then who knows what would have happened?”

WHAT IF … THE U.S.’S BEST ATHLETES ALL PLAYED SOCCER?

by Grant Wahl

The U.S. would win the World Cup! Like, every year!! I’ve heard that sentiment again and again when I’ve told people I write about fútbol. So let me answer the most tired hypothetical in sports, once and for all: No, LeBron would not help the U.S. win the World Cup. It just doesn’t work like that. The guy is 6′ 8″ and weighs 250 pounds, dimensions that work magnificently on a basketball court but get you nowhere on a soccer field. What if our so-called “best” athletes played soccer? Well, they’d do what Chad Johnson did when he tried out for MLS’s Sporting Kansas City a few years ago: All talk, zero game.

Please, just stop with the daydreaming. The less you know about a sport, the easier it is to assume some simple-minded change would transform the whole thing. (One of my favorites: The hockey outsider who believes an 800-pound goalie would rule the pipes.) Yes, athleticism is important in soccer. But, beyond that, it’s a game in which skill and coaching matter in a huge way. Usain Bolt can make a PR spectacle by practicing with Dortmund, but Dortmund isn’t about to sign Bolt to a real contract—not in a million years.

Is it possible that smaller, shorter athletes like Stephen Curry or Allen Iverson possess the attributes to become pro soccer players, had they only played from the age of five? Perhaps. But it’s just as likely that they wouldn’t have made it. And the paucity of high-level youth soccer coaches in the U.S. means that Curry and Iverson might not have learned much about soccer even if it had been their passion. Why is nobody asking, What if our best coaches had coached soccer?

It’s a moot point in the end. In the U.S., soccer will always have to compete against the other big sports for players. As soccer continues gaining popularity in this country, it’s reasonable to think the talent pool will grow in lockstep, so that it’s less of a middle/upper-class sport. But don’t assume those changes will deliver the World Cup trophy stateside. It’s the most coveted hardware on the planet for a reason.

U.S.’s Bruce Arena to visit Hamburg over Bobby Wood’s future – report

coach Bruce Arena is set to visit Hamburg next week to discuss Bobby Wood’s future at the club, according to kicker, amid reports linking the U.S. forward with a switch away from the Volksparkstadion.Having only joined Hamburg last summer, the 24-year-old Wood has been the subject of increasing rumours in recent weeks after he switched agents and a €12 million release clause was made public.Hamburg have previously said they are in contract negotiations with Wood, and speaking to kicker, the club’s sporting director Jens Todt confirmed the talks and said: “Bobby is a key player for us when he’s in top form, we need him.”The German football magazine added that Todt next week will welcome U.S. coach Arena at the club to also talk about the forward’s future.Speaking at a news conference ahead of Hamburg’s crucial match at Augsburg on Saturday, coach Markus Gisdol explained to a group of school kids in attendence: “He does not want to leave, the others want to buy him.”Gisdol added: “It’s about a lot of money. We have a good chance that he will continue to play for us. But I also understand that the lads think about their future when they are courted by other clubs.”German newspaper Bild previously linked Wood to Premier League clubs Leicester and West Ham, then last week reported that Borussia Dortmund were interested in the Hawaii native.Wood has scored five Bundesliga goals in 24 appearances this season, adding four more in as many games in the DFB Pokal, though he came into criticism after his performance last week in a loss to Darmstadt.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN SETS NASL MODERN ERA RECORD IN STALEMATE WITH SAN FRANCISCO

“Boys in Blue” Earn Fourth Straight Point in 0-0 Draw at Carroll Stadium

Apr 22, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (Saturday, April 22, 2017) – Indy Eleven extended its home unbeaten streak to an NASL Modern Era record 20 games in a 0-0 draw with the San Francisco Deltas on Saturday afternoon at Carroll Stadium.A tight contest that tested both sides from the get-go, Indy was the first to fire a shot away in the sixth minute as Gerardo Torrado ripped an effort from just outside the box only to see it blocked from near point blank range. Though the opening 15 minutes saw both teams settle into their game, San Francisco was the first to test the opposing ‘keeper in the 24th minute. Defender Karl Ouimette collected a pass from out wide and lifted it in towards forward Tommy Heinemann, and though the attacker was able to connect on the dipping cross, he did not have enough on the chance to beat Indy ‘keeper Jon Busch. The closest Indy would get in the opening 45 minutes came 10 minutes before the halftime break when forwards Justin Braun and Eamon Zayed linked up and played a tight one-two only for Deltas defender Nana Attakora to break up the play and end the threat.As the second half wore on, Indy nearly found their way through just before the hour mark through Week 3 goalscorer Eamon Zayed. Taking a cross from Torrado, Zayed did well to get in position and power a header at SFD ‘keeper Romuald Peiser, but the ‘netminder was able to make the save at his near post and prevent the opener. The best chance of the match for the visitors came in the 75th minute via midfielder Kyle Bekker. Settling the ball from the right flank, Bekker turned a speculative effort into a fantastic chance as he unleashed a curling shot towards the back post. However, “Buschy” was equal to the effort and put himself in perfect position to tip it over the bar at the last second.Two minutes later, Zayed was again in the thick of the action and used his head to test Peiser off a Vukovic cross. With similar power as his first chance, Peiser again beat the effort over the bar and out for a corner. Both teams had a chance in the final few minutes, but Indy came closest in the final minute of stoppage time. Forward Justin Braun collected a pass from Vukovic and hit a near-perfect knock towards goal, but the ball hit the outside of the post and turned the wrong direction. In the end, it proved a valuable point as Indy earned their fourth point on the year to remain unbeaten on the year and extend their 20-game home unbeaten run, an NASL Modern Era record.Indiana’s Team returns home to IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium to host FC Edmonton on Saturday, May 6 at 7:30 P.M. ET. Tickets for the game – and all remaining 14 NASL matches at “The Mike” in 2017 – can be purchased for as little as $11 online at www.IndyEleven.com or by phone at 317-685-1100.

NASL Spring Season
Indy Eleven 0 : 0 San Francisco Deltas
Saturday, April 22, 2017 Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN

Discipline Summary:
IND – Lovel Palmer 42’, IND – Craig Henderson 67’, IND – Justin Braun 71’

Indy Eleven line-up (4-4-2, L–>R):  Jon Busch (GK); Nemanja Vuković, Lovel Palmer (Daniel Keller 62’), Colin Falvey ©, Marco Franco; Sinisa Ubiparipovic (Tanner Thompson 60’), Gerardo Torrado, Brad Ring, Craig Henderson; Eamon Zayed, Justin Braun
IND bench: Keith Cardona (GK); Kwame Watson-Siriboe, Adrian Ables, David Goldsmith

THREE THINGS: #INDVSFD

Indy Eleven sets an NASL Modern Era record and more in this week’s Three Things  Apr 24, 2017

“BUSCHY” SAVES THE DAY

Indy Eleven goaltender Jon Busch put in the paces between the posts on Saturday keeping the “Boys in Blue” in contention for points with his massive performance. The MLS veteran saved the day by shutting down the San Francisco Deltas offensive efforts on five separate occasions throughout the 90 minutes. The opposition’s first attempt came in the 24th minute after Deltas forward Thomas Heinemann attempted to head in a cross from teammate Karl Ouimette, but “Buschy” was on the receiving end of the attempt. The next attempt came a minute later after Deltas fed a ball forward to Heinemann’s right foot, but Busch was ready and caught the ball off the bounce. Fast forward to the 37th minute, Deltas midfielder Pablo Dyego sent a ball toward the center of the box, right into the arms of the Eleven keeper’s arms. The fourth and possibly biggest save came in the 75th minute when the visiting Kyle Bekker sent a ball flying from outside the box to the upper left corner, but a massive leap from Busch forced the ball over the bar to keep the score level. The final of Busch’s saves came in the 86th minute after Deltas Michael Stephens sent an aerial ball straight into the arms of our keeper.Since joining Indy Eleven in 2016, Busch has kept his overall goals against average (GAA) to below one. Fans have the opportunity to pledge a donation for every save “Buschy” makes in the 2017 season for his SAVES for SEALS initiative.

TORRADO ON THE BALL

“Boys in Blue” Gerardo Torrado took home the high honors of being the “Wick’s Pie Chart” Player of the Game for his performance on Saturday. The Mexican Men’s National Team legend completed over three-fourths of his pass, more than any other player suited up in blue, and created two chances in the second half of the game.“El Borrego” joined “Indiana’s Team” in 2016 after transferring from an 11-years stint with Liga MX side Cruz Azul. Since his addition to the club, Torrado has played a total of 1369 minutes in 20 appearances and has accumulated one assist.

RECORD SETTING AT HOME

While a 0-0 draw at home is not always ideal, fans and players can rejoice knowing that Saturday’s result set the NASL Modern Era record for the longest unbeaten streak at a club’s home stadium with 20 regular season games and counting. The “Boys in Blue” haven’t lost at “The Mike” since October 10, 2015 after a 1-2 loss to the now defunct San Antonio Scorpions. Indy was neck-in-neck in competition with the New York Cosmos, who led the unbeaten streak by one game before bowing out at a 19 in a 0-3 loss to Miami FC at MCU Park during Week 2 of the 2017 season. Indy’s 20 game streak includes 15 wins, five draws and eight clean sheets at home. Since the start of the 2016 season, “Indiana’s Team” also scored the most goals at home, leading the way with 40 goals. Don’t miss your chance to join Indy Eleven in their “Fight for Three” during the next home game on May 6th. 

ADIDAS NAMED INDY ELEVEN’S OFFICIAL UNIFORM PARTNER

“Indiana’s Team” Joins Iconic Teams from Across the World in Wearing adidas’ Iconic Three Stripes; Pre-Orders for New Version of Blue Home Jersey Now Available   Apr 25, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (Tuesday, April 25, 2017) – Four years to the day Indy Eleven unveiled its club identity, “Indiana’s Team” is celebrating its anniversary today with a new look courtesy of adidas, the team’s new Official Uniform Partner.“Indy Eleven is excited and honored to join some of the world’s greatest clubs in representing adidas on the field,” said Indy Eleven president Jeff Belskus. “Soccer fans and players alike know and appreciate the quality that adidas delivers, and we look forward to wearing their three stripes with pride.”adidas is the world’s top selling-brand of soccer apparel and ranks second globally in sales across the overall sportswear industry. The German-based company’s stable of “superclub” partners include Real Madrid, Manchester United, Chelsea, Bayern Munich and Juventus, while also boasting the national teams of current World Cup champion Germany, Spain, Argentina and Mexico.adidas is no stranger to the U.S. market either, serving as a partner of Major League Soccer since its 1996 launch, including as the official athletic sponsor and licensed poduct supplier apparel partner of the league and its member clubs since 2005.In conjunction with today’s announcement, Indy Eleven has opened up a pre-sale for authentic versions of its new blue primary (home) adidas jerseys, available both online at Shop.IndyEleven.com and in-person at the Indy Eleven Team Store in Broad Ripple (6280 N. College Ave.).Men’s and Women’s ($90) and youth ($75) sizes are available, with all jerseys to be available exclusively in authentic versions. These pre-sale orders will receive first priority for delivery once received by Indy Eleven in May.The “Boys in Blue” are expected to debut their new blue adidas home kits at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium next Saturday, May 6 (7:30 p.m. kickoff), when Indy Eleven will host a NASL Seminial Championship rematch against FC Edmonton. In that match, Indy Eleven will look to extend its modern-day NASL record 20-game home undefeated streak at “The Mike.”Indy Eleven also expects to unveil the design for and debut its secondary adidas jersey in May.The new home and away jerseys were designed in partnership by Indy Eleven and Patrick Cummings, an Indianapolis-based graphic designer. A longtime member of the Brickyard Battalion, Cummings also helped design the Indy Eleven crest, logos and color scheme that were unveiled at Monument Circle four years ago on April 25, 2013.

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4/21/17 Indy 11 home Sat 3 pm vs San Fran, El Classico Sun 2:45 pm, FA Cup Semis Sat/Sun, Champions League Final 4 set, TV Games

Champions League Semi-Finals are set with Real Madrid facing Atletico Madrid in a Madrid Derby, and Monaco facing Juventus in the other May 2/3 and May 9/10.  Champions League was pretty dramatic down the stretch especially the Real Madrid vs Bayern Munich game – what a performance by Bayern – as down a man (man the reffing was bad) they still found a way to take it to extra time.  Renaldo was fantastic and carried his team to the final 4 with another hattrick in a Champions League match.  What tension and drama as these 2 teams (both of whom could have made the finals) battled off in the Elite 8.  The young squad at Monaco continued to impress with a solid 3-1 win at home – man they play attacking football and these young guys just don’t seem fazed at all by the bright lights of the TOP competition in the world. Teenage striker Mbappe scores another goal – that’s 5 in his 7 Champions League matches, only the legendary Thierry Henry scored more with 6 in his first 7 with Arsenal. Monaco becomes the 1st French side to reach the Finals since Lyon in 2010. Atletico continues to impress their 1-0 wins at home and on the road vs Leicester City now sets up the Madrid derby with Real Madrid. Barcelona couldn’t pull the miracle at home this time as Juve showed what Italian Defense can be like as they held Barca to just 4 shots on target and did not allow a goal in either game home or away.  The impressive win now labels Juventus as favorites moving into the final 4.

Over 500 million are expected to tune in as El Classico returns this Sunday with Real Madrid hosting Barcelona at 2:45 on beIN Sport– kind of anti climatic after the Champions League action this week but El Classico is always worth watchig.  Real is 3 pts up in the table – so a Barca win could set up a tight race down the stretch for La Liga.  FA Cup Semi-Final action this weekend features the Top 2 teams in the EPL as Chelsea vs Tottenham Sat at 12:15 on Fox, Sunday Arsenal faces Man City at 10 am on Fox Sports 1.  EPL matches feature West Ham vs Everton on Sat at 10 on NBCSN, and Liverpool vs Crystal Palace 11:30 on Sunday NCBSN. Weekday games Tues/Wed/Thurs feature Chelsea vs Southampton Tues, Arsenal vs Leicester City Wed and Man City vs Man United on Thurs at 3 pm on NBCSN.  See TV Games below.   This Sunday serves up a stacked tripleheader of MLS action, and you can get the day started with MLS Matchday Live. With New York City FC facing Orlando City on FS1 and FOX Deportes (1:30 pm ET | , the Seattle Sounders visiting the LA Galaxy on ESPN and ESPN Deportes (4 pm ET ) and Minnesota United hosting the Colorado Rapids in the nightcap (6 pm ET | MLS LIVE), it’s an epic lineup, and Matchday Live will get you started at 12:30 pm ET on the MLS Facebook page.

Carmel FC will have a few teams competing next weekend in the Crossroads of America Girls College Showcase at Grand Park – also there will be some good Men’s College Games at the big field this weekend along with the Boys Showcase– tickets are just $5 at the door checkout www.gp2017crossroads.eventbrite.com for more info.

Fri  4/21 7 pm    IU vs Cinncinati

Sat  4/22 5 pm    IUPUI vs Uni. Indianapolis

St 4/22 7 pm     UK vs Notre Dame

GAMES ON TV  

Sat  Apr 22

9:15 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man U

12:15 pm Fox Sport1? Chelsea vs Tottenham FA CUP Semi’s

12:30 pm Fox Sport2     B Mgladbach vs Dortmund (US Pulisic)

3 pm myindy 23 Indy 11 vs San Fran Deltas

Sun  Apr 23

9:15 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man U

10 am Fox Sport1       Arsenal vs Man City FA CUP Semi’s

11:30 am NBCSN         Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

11:30 am Fox Sport2    Schlake vs RB Leipzig

1:30 pm Fox Sport 1     NYCFC vs Orlando City

2:45 pm beIN Sport Real Madrid vs Barcelona -El Classico –

4 pm ESPN                       LA vs Seattle 

Tues Apr 25

2:45 pm NBCSN           Chelsea vs Southampton

Wed, Apr 26

1:30 pm beIn Sport Barcelona vs Osasuna

2:45 pm ESPN2             Bayern Munich vs Dortmund – German Cup

2:45 pm NBCSN Extra  Arsenal vs Leicester City

3 pm NBCSN                   Crystal Palace vs Tottenham

6:30 pm Univision?       Mexico U17s vs USA U17s  Concacaf Championships

Thurs Apr 27

3 pm NBCSN                   Man City vs Man United

Sat  Apr 29

9:30 am Fox Sports2    Dortmund vs Koln  (US Pulisic)

10 am NBCSN                Stoke City vs West Ham United

10:15 am   beIN sport  Real Madrid vs Valencia

12:30 pm NBSSN         Crystal Palace vs Burnley

12:30 pm Fox Sport2   Wolfsburg vs Bayern Munich

7 pm beIN Sport  Jacksonville Armada vs Indy 11

Sun  Apr 30

7 am NBCSN                   Man U vs Swansea

9 am Fox Sport 1         Ausburg vs Hamburger (US Bobby Wood)

9:05 am NBCSN            Everton vs Chelsea

11:30 am NBCSN         Tottenham vs Arsenal  

3 pm Fox Sport1          Atlanta United vs DC United 

Mon, May 1

3 pm NBCSN                   Watford vs Liverpool

Fri, May 5

3 pm NBCSN                   West Ham vs Tottenham

Sun, May 7

11 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs Man United

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

INDY 11

Indy 11 Preview vs San Fran

By the #s Week 5

Greg Ballard – Build a Stadium for Indy 11 Now

Indy 11 draw with PR on Road

Captain Falvey works way back from offseason injury

8 Game Flexpack

Champions League

Real vs Atletico, Juve vs Monaco in Champ League Semi’s

Europa League Draw has Man U vs Celta Vigo + Ajax vs Lyon

Juve Favored to Win it

Monaco too Much for Dortmund

Juve were never afraid of Barca

Juve Must Win it All

Chiellini and Bonucci lead Juve to Next Round

Video Replay is Needed – Just ask Bayern – Gab Marcotti ESPNFC

Real get help in Win over Bayern – SI

The Case for Simeone as Best Manager in the World

Notes on all the Games

Man U survives in ET at home in Europa League Play

Top Teams in the World – Power Rankings

Officials Catch Dortmund Bus Bomber

US

US, Canada, Mexico Prepair Joint Bid for 2026 World Cup

Predicting 2026 World Cup US Hero’s – Arm Chair Analyst Doyle

American players finding it tougher in MLS

US Will Train in Mountains before Mexico Clash in June.

How US Players Fared Overseas

Tottenham hot for Pulisic

Pulisic grows up fast after Bus Attacks SI Grant Wahl

MLS

MLS Allstar Game vs Real Madrid in Chicago

10 Things to Know About Real Madrid

Things to Ponder after Week 7 –Arm Chair Analyst Doyle

MLS Week 7 Preview – Jason Davis

Schwienstieger Might Just be Fine After all for Chicago Fire

MLS Power Rankings

MLS Snowball Fight?

Orlando’s Purple Wall

Tim Howard Suspended 3 games

Orlando’s record 4th Win in New Stadium

No MLS Teams sho interest in Chelsea’s John Terry

World

El Classico on Sunday

Madrid Will Outlast Barca

FA Cup Keys this Weekend

Man U Stops Chelsea at home 2-0

Mourino’s Tactics down Chelsea –

Could Chelsea really lose the title?

FA Cup Clash Sat – Chelsea vs Spurs could decide EPL Title Race?

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs San Francisco Deltas – #INDvSFD
Saturday, April 22, 2017 – 3:00 P.M. EST    Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana

Watch/Listen Live: Local TV: MyINDY TV-23   Streaming Video: ESPN3

WELCOME TO OUR HOUSE

The “Boys in Blue” are back home again for the second time in 2017, facing off against the San Francisco Deltas for the first time on home turf.  “Indiana’s Team” continues to “Fight for Three,” searching for their first win in the 2017 season as well as looking to extend the club’s unbeaten streak at home to 20 matches. During Indy’s first meeting with the Deltas at Kezar Stadium, MLS veteran Kyle Bekker netted the home side’s first NASL goal with hopes to secure three points in their inaugural match, but a second half goal from one of Indy’s new signings Tanner Thompson, brought the Eleven back from the brink to save a point.Since Week One, the Deltas have forged ahead and landed themselves in second place with five points going into Week Five. Two weeks after our initial draw with the new franchise, Deltas secured their club’s first win in a 3-1 stunner against North Carolina FC, with forward Tommy Heinemann (two goals) and midfielder Pablo Dyego (one goal) leading the club to victory. In Week Four, San Francisco was faced with another draw in the record books after traveling east for the first time to square up with the current table toppers, Jacksonville Armada FC.  After a bye week, Indy Eleven enters Week Five with three out of nine possible points, finding themselves tied for sixth on the NASL table. In addition, Indy has managed to tally five goals in three games, making them the highest scoring club in the league with a 20-percent goals conversion. The group showcased their attacking prowess during the team’s first match at home after putting on a 3-3 thriller against the visiting Puerto Rico FC, with forward Justin Braun tallying two goals and an assist, and former Minnesota United FC midfielder Ben Speas getting his first goal for Indy.

WHO TO WATCH INDY ELEVEN EDITION: MF CRAIG HENDERSON

Continuing his chase for a title, former Ivy-League standout Craig Henderson looks to make his mark once more for the “Boys in Blue”. The New Zealand international made his first appearance for Indy as a sub in the final minutes against the Deltas on March 25. Since his debut, Henderson has played 120 minutes and has managed to complete nearly 75-percent of his passes. Joining the likes of Brad Ring and Gerardo Torrado in the midfield, Henderson’s versatility adds an additional offensive and defensive push in any given situation.

WHO TO WATCH SAN FRANCISCO EDITION: FW TOMMY HEINEMANN

Forward Tommy Heinemann continues to bring himself in the spotlight after his two-goal performance in Week Three places him in a four-way tie for the top individual goal scorer in the league, joining the ranks of Eleven star Justin Braun. Heinemann joins the Deltas after spending the 2016 season with former NASL side Tampa Bay Rowdies. During his stint with the Rowdies, Heinemann played a total of 1358 minutes, scoring four goals in 26 games. Heinemann was also a part of the 2015 Ottawa Fury squad that challenged the New York Cosmos for the season Championship, which ultimately ended with the Fury ending their season as runner-ups.

MATCH-UP TO MARK: MF PABLO DYEGO VS. DF MARCO FRANCO

Fluminense Youth Academy product Pablo Dyego will battle with Indy defender Marco Franco along the wing this Saturday. Dyego, a former Ottawa Fury player, has already made his mark after scoring one goal during his first start in San Francisco Deltas’ 3-1 home win against North Carolina FC. In comparison, Marco Franco has been a dominating defensive presence in Indy’s first three matches of 2017. By completing close to 74-percent of his passes, winning majority of his tackles and majority of his duels, Franco has positioned himself to be a defensive force to be reckoned with, as well as his ability to move the ball forward with speed and accuracy.Don’t miss your chance to see Indy “Fight for Three” as they look to continue to find their first win in 2017 and extend their record-breaking home undefeated streak.

Real Madrid vs. Atletico, Juventus vs. Monaco in Champions League semis

Reigning European champions Real Madrid will play neighbours Atletico Madrid in the Champions League semifinals.Eleven-time European champions Real, who eliminated Bayern Munich in the quarterfinals, could become the first club in the Champions League era to win the competition in successive seasons.The Madrid clubs have met in the Champions League final in two of the last three years, with Real coming out on top on both occasions.Atletico had also reached the final in 1974, when they lost to Bayern, but have yet to win the competition.Atletico director Clemente Villaverde said the club were not daunted by facing their rivals again, while Real director of institutional relations Emilio Butragueno said past meetings will have no bearing on the clash.The other tie sees Ligue 1 leaders Monaco take on Italian champions Juventus.Juventus, European champions in 1985 and 1996, lost the final to Barcelona in 2015 but defeated Luis Enrique’s side 3-0 on aggregate in this year’s quarterfinals.Monaco have only once reached the final, losing to Jose Mourinho’s Porto in 2004. They eliminated Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund on their way to the last four.Juventus director Pavel Nedved said the club could go all the way but warned that semifinal opponents Monaco would pose a tough challenge.Meanwhile, Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev said his side had the chance to gain revenge for their defeat to the same club in the 2015 quarterfinals.According to the Soccer Power Index (SPI), Real are 67 percent likely to beat Atletico, with Juve rated 70 percent likely to defeat Monaco. The Spanish club are marginal favourites to lift the trophy, rated at 38 percent in the SPI compared to Juve’s 36 percent chance.  Real Madrid will host Atletico at the Bernabeu on May 2 before travelling to the Calderon eight days later on May 10.Juventus will go to the Stade Louis II on May 3 before Monaco travel to Turin the following week on May 9.The final will be played at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium on Saturday June 3.

SEMIFINAL DRAW:

The first legs will take place on May 2 and 3, with the second legs the following week.

Real Madrid v Atletico Madrid
Monaco v Juventus

Trending: Juventus do a job on Barca, Monaco too much for Dortmund

Following their performances against Barcelona in the UCL, the FC crew explain why Juventus are now the favourites to win it all.

Thursday’s latest stories from the world of football in ESPN FC’s What’s Trending…

JUVENTUS: Massimiliano Allegri has called his side “a great Juventus” after qualifying for the Champions League semifinals 3-0 on aggregate over Barcelona, after drawing 0-0 at the Camp Nou on Wednesday when his side looked like never conceding even if the match lasted all day. – Defender Leonardo Bonucci insists that every club must fear Juventus now after they knocked Barcelona out of the Champions League.

BARCELONA: Luis Enrique was left frustrated with Barcelona’s wastefulness in front of goal as they came up short against Juventus.

– Gerard Pique remained confident that Barcelona could recover in time for Sunday’s La Liga Clasico against Real Madrid.

– Barcelona and Brazil forward Neymar has professed his “love” of countryman Gabriel Jesus’ play, and counts him along with Antoine Griezmann as the next generation of superstars.

REAL MADRID:  The club have not made an approach for Monaco star Kylian Mbappe, the Ligue 1 club’s sporting director Antonio Cordon has told Cadena Ser radio.

– Gareth Bale has stepped up his bid to return from injury in time for Real Madrid’s home Clasico against Barcelona on Sunday.

BAYERN MUNICH:  The club have confirmed goalkeeper Manuel Neuer will be out for the rest of the season with a broken foot.

MONACO: Leonardo Jardim insists his free-scoring team are not among the favourites for Champions League success despite seeing off Borussia Dortmund 3-1 at Stade Louis II to secure their place in Friday’s semifinals draw.

– Radamel Falcao said he had kept faith during a difficult spell in the Premier League after his 45th goal in 50 European appearances made him the most prolific goal scorer in UEFA club competition history.

BORUSSIA DORTMUND: Thomas Tuchel said Dortmund’s morale was affected when police stopped their team bus from leaving the hotel before Wednesday’s Champions League game against Monaco — calling it “the worst thing that can happen.”

 Power Rankings: Real Madrid still No. 1, Juventus No. 2 after advancing in UCL

The final four of the Champions League are set, albeit amid contentious circumstances, but there can be no doubting the validity of Shaka Hislop’s top 10.

  1. Real Madrid(no change)

They needed a last-minute goal to beat Sporting and overcame Bayern thanks to the benefit of some controversial refereeing, but at the end of it all, Madrid remain top of La Liga and are in the Champions League semifinals. Next up? The small matter of El Clasico!

  1. Juventus(no change)

An easy win over Pescara was ideal preparation for a trip to the Camp Nou, where Max Allegri’s men were resolute and disciplined to complete a 3-0 aggregate win. Juventus allowed just one shot on target as they claimed their place in the Champions league’s last four.

  1. Bayern Munich(no change)

It was a week to forget for the German champions. First, they failed to find a way through Leverkusen, despite taking 21 shots, before things got worse in midweek. Having fought back to draw level vs. Madrid, Bayern were on the wrong end of key decisions.

  1. Atletico Madrid(+1)

After claiming a fourth straight home league win to consolidate third place in La Liga, Atletico scored an away goal at Leicester and then withstood everything the English champions threw at them to claim a third Champions league semifinal place in four seasons.

  1. Monaco(+2)

The treble chasers marched closer to marking an unforgettable season with silverware. Radamel Falcao’s superb free kick secured a league win over Dijon, and the striker was on the score sheet again as Monaco completed a Champions League win vs. Dortmund.

  1. Chelsea(-2)

They’re still favourites to win the Premier league, but make no mistake, Chelsea have wobbled in recent weeks. Antonio Conte’s side did not manage a shot on target in their loss at Manchester United and must rediscover their form soon if they are not to collapse entirely.

  1. Tottenham(-1)

Can Spurs, who have won seven straight league games, keep winning to maintain the pressure they have put on Chelsea? They get an opportunity to strike a psychological blow this weekend when they face their London rivals in the FA Cup semifinal at Wembley.

  1. RB Leipzig(new)

The plucky upstarts in Germany endured a major bump in form that ended their remote title hopes, but they have rebounded sharply in the weeks since. Last weekend’s 4-0 win over Freiburg keeps Leipzig firmly in control of second place behind Bayern, seven points ahead of third-place Hoffenheim after 29 games. Will Leipzig contend again next season?

  1. AS Roma(-1)

The Giallorossi are no longer competing in Europe but did pick up another draw, 1-1 at Pescara, last week to remain in control of second place in Serie A with six league games remaining.

  1. Borussia Dortmund(no change)

Thomas Tuchel’s side had a pair of 3-1 results since last week: The first was a win against Eintracht Frankfurt, and the second a defeat at red-hot AS Monaco to end the Bundesliga side’s Champions League aspirations. Still, Dortmund are playing well domestically and are just a point off the top three (and automatic UCL qualification) with five games left. You’d bet on them to finish the job. Dropping out: Barcelona

La Liga on the line as Real Madrid face Barcelona in El Clasico

The world will stop for El Clasico this Sunday, with La Liga on the line.

Real Madrid will start the match three points ahead in the title race, with anything other than a win for Barcelona surely ending any hope of winning the league.

It’s a monumental match. Ed Alvarez (Real Madrid) and Sam Marsden (Barcelona) look ahead to the battle at the Santiago Bernabeu.

If Barcelona don’t win, is that it as far as La Liga is concerned?

Ed Alvarez: Their chances will be dismal, but they will exist. Madrid still have a few difficult La Liga fixtures left: Valencia and Sevilla will visit the Santiago Bernabeu, while Zinedine Zidane’s team must travel to Malaga — who defeated Barcelona two weeks ago — and Vigo, where the in-shape Celta await. Even though all seem like tough but winnable matches, the semifinals of the Champions League in between could have an impact on the team’s performance and make them lose a few points.

Barcelona have an easier calendar — only Villarreal at the Camp Nou seems mildly threatening — and to their own chagrin will not be distracted by Champions League action. That said, with a match in hand and a three-point advantage, Madrid would have to completely collapse for their visitors to win this one, but we’ve seen stranger things happen before.

Sam Marsden: After what happened against Paris Saint-Germain you can’t imagine Barcelona throwing in the towel, but if they don’t win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday you have to say that’s that in the title race. Lose and they are definitely out of it, six points back having played a game more. A draw will keep them hoping, but Madrid — especially their players from the back of the wardrobe, as they say in Spain — have been consistent and possess a steely resilience.

BBC vs. MSN: Who has had the better season?

EA: Both have had their moments here and there, but neither has been particularly consistent as a trio. In previous seasons, we’ve seen whole months of outstanding football by Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar, but in the current one it’s been a case of one footballer carrying the other two. Suarez started off well, Messi then took over and in some matches, such as the PSG comeback, Neymar became the reference.

The Real Madrid trio has not been any different: Gareth Bale began the season in terrific shape, but injuries have derailed his campaign. Cristiano Ronaldo commenced slowly and is finishing in top form, while Karim Benzema is as consistently inconsistent as ever. If anything, both trios have shown how important it is to have a physically strong, skilled midfield to get the best out of them.

SM: There can be few doubts that Messi, Suarez and Neymar have had the better season. Messi is the top scorer in the league and the Champions League and Neymar — until that Malaga game at least — has had a dazzling campaign, looking increasingly mature and ready to take over the mantle of world’s best player. Suarez hasn’t been as good, but still has over 20 league goals.

Ronaldo, meanwhile, has been hot and cold but has produced some incredibly important performances, like the ones against Atletico Madrid and Bayern Munich. But he’s been let down by injury-hit Bale and inconsistent Benzema. Strangely, though, Madrid’s ability to cope without a red hot BBC is what has helped them build their lead at the top of the table, with their back-up players doing fine jobs. Barca, meanwhile, remain dependent on the same two or three.

Pick a combined XI

EA: Marc-Andre ter Stegen; Daniel Carvajal, Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Marcelo; Luka Modric, Casemiro, Toni Kroos, Marco Asensio; Ronaldo, Messi.

This combined XI features only players available for the match, considering their current shape. That is why no Barcelona midfielders made it, as Sergio Busquets and Andres Iniesta — who would start in normal conditions — are far from their best form. Finally, with Ronaldo and Messi in the XI, another forward like Neymar or Suarez would make the team unbalanced defensively.

SM: Ter Stegen; Ramos, Pique, Samuel Umtiti; Carvajal, Kroos, Modric, Marcelo; Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar.

Based on this season’s form, there was no room for Iniesta or Busquets. The hardest decision, though, was leaving Suarez out. He’s scored plenty of goals, but the sensations have been that he hasn’t always been at his best — plus look at who he’s got for competition.

Danger Man

EA: Leaving the obvious choice aside — Ronaldo seems to be peaking at the right moment — Kroos will have the opportunity to shine against a tired Barcelona midfield that lacks confidence. If the Germany maestro can set the flow of the match with his passing and find ways to feed the forward line, Real Madrid’s challenge of defeating the Blaugrana to get closer to a much-anticipated La Liga title will become easier.

SM: Recent Clasico encounters have been dominated by the ongoing duel between Messi and Ronaldo, but it’s not all about them — and we’re approaching an era where it won’t be about them at all. Obviously Messi will have to be close to his best and Suarez will need to bring his shooting boots but, most importantly, Barca must find a way to make up for Neymar’s absence on the left. There’s no natural replacement for the Brazil international — and no one with anywhere near as much pace — so that will add extra significance to Jordi Alba’s role. The left-back has been in and out of the squad in recent weeks and should be fresh and ready to impress.

Prediction:

EA: 3-1. Madrid’s midfield line will control the match, taking advantage of Barcelona’s struggling form.

SM: 2-2. Barcelona have to go for the win and while Madrid will too, they will probably be happy to settle for a draw, which will keep their rivals at arm’s length.

Chiellini, Bonucci superb as Juve knock Barca out of the Champions League

Keeping a clean sheet, Juventus played with character and composure to earn a 0-0 draw at the Camp Nou and progress to the semifinal of the Champions League, 3-0 on aggregate.Demonstrating offensive strength in the first leg and offensive might in the second, Juve played as a unit with intensity and organisation. Aggressive from the get-go, they showed no fear and were quick to press, eager for a battle. Spotting the weaknesses, Barcelona attacked on the left through Neymar but often found themselves halted by a unit that worked impeccably well together. Throwing on more and more attackers as time wore on, Barca searched for ways to pierce through an impenetrable defence but proved incapable.

Composed and organised, Juventus held firm and looked comfortable defending, playing with maturity to hinder Barcelona’s ability to attack with force. It was a perfect performance that earned a great result.

Positives

You can search the world over, but you won’t find a defensive partnership as effective as Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini. Boasting experience, physicality and intelligence, they played with fluency and character and effectively muted the opponent. Leaders at the back, they secured Juve’s progression.

Negatives

Another huge Champions League night goes by, and Gonzalo Higuain isn’t any closer to scoring a goal. When offered the chance for goal, the Argentine was simply too eager to strike, playing in panicked fashion as opposed to demonstrating composure and confidence to finish well. Should the opportunities for goal arise again, Higuain must forget about the occasion and the pressure, focusing instead on a calm strike.Manager rating 9 (out of 10) — The coach, the intellectual, the legend. Eradicating the fear that once hindered Juve’s capability to produce in Europe, Allegri is a genius for finally allowing the Old Lady to play to her potential and to her strengths, as opposed to relying on intensity and relentless running to mask her weaknesses.Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best; players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating):

GK Gianluigi Buffon, 7 — A leader at the back who transmits great serenity, Buffon made one misjudgement but was overall superb at the back, reading every situation well.

DF Dani Alves, 7 — Alves pressed aggressively and played like a champion. He was not always defensively perfect, but he ran everywhere and threw himself into every situation to ensure safety.

DF Leonardo Bonucci, 9 — He makes clearances to perfection, executed perfect tackles and closed every gap to produce a heroic performance at the back. He’s the perfect version of himself when alongside Chiellini.

DF Giorgio Chiellini, 9 — Master of the interception, Chiellini took Luis Suarez out of the game, read every move perfectly and defended like the warrior he is to ensure a perfect defensive performance.

DF Alex Sandro, 6 — Sandro was not the pillar of strength on this occasion in the same way he was in the reverse fixture, but he provided security at the back.

MF Sami Khedira, 7 — Impeccable. He did exceptionally well at stopping Busquets playing out from the back and provided excellent defensive cover while his tactical intelligence was in full view of the world.

MF Miralem Pjanic, 7 — Composed, intelligent and excellent at recovering possession, the Bosnian looked to create chances when on the ball and defended with might off it, tackling with excellence.

MF Juan Cuadrado, 6 — He always provided his teammates with an option in attack, using his pace to push forward and create problems, but he didn’t always make the right choice. He produced a great challenge to halt a swift Barcelona attack in the second half.

MF Paulo Dybala, 6 — Dybala always looked dangerous with the ball at his feet in the first half, wriggling his way past defenders. But he was keen to get back and help the unit to defend. He looked exhausted at the end.

MF Mario Mandzukic, 7 — He is practically an entire team by himself. He pressed the opponent, attacked with strength, defended like his life depended on it and showed great composure and desire. Perfect.

FW Gonzalo Higuain, 6 — Higuain wasted a few good chances but sacrificed for the team and was always on hand to help defensively.

Real Madrid announced as 2017 MLS All-Star Game opponent

April 15, 20172:41PM EDTMLSsoccer staffMLSsoccer.comThe most decorated club in European history will face off against the best of MLS this summer.The league announced Saturday that reigning UEFA Champions League winner Real Madrid will face the MLS All-Stars in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on August 2 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The game will be broadcast live at 9 pm ET on FS1, UniMás, TSN and TVA Sports in the US and Canada, as well as in 170 other countries around the world.Real Madrid is one of the most successful clubs in the history of the sport, having won a record 32 La Liga championships and 11 UEFA Champions League titles, as well as capturing the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup on multiple occasions. Managed by legendary French midfielder Zinedine Zidane and headlined by stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid currently sit atop the La Liga table and hold a lead over Bayern Munich heading into the home leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal series.This will mark the first time that the MLS All-Stars will play a team from Spain’s La Liga. The MLS All-Stars have previously faced clubs from the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Mexico’s Liga MX and Scottish Premier League, posting a 9-4-1 record against some of the world’s most renowned clubs.MLS lost the 2016 All-Star Game, falling 2-1 to English side Arsenal at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. MLS had won the two previous All-Star Games, beating Bayern Munich in 2014 before downing EPL club Tottenham in 2015.The MLS All-Stars will be managed by Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic, who spent over a decade playing in Spain and made 87 appearances for Real Madrid’s crosstown rivals, Atletico Madrid.“It is an honor to represent Major League Soccer and to work with our league’s great players in a match against one of the top clubs in the word,” Paunovic said in a statement released by the league. “I know how special it is to compete against Real Madrid and I think our players and fans will also enjoy the experience.”Soldier Field, with a capacity of 61,500, has played host to some of the most exciting sporting and entertainment events in the world including CONCACAF Gold Cup matches, World Cup Qualifiers, 1994 FIFA World Cup matches, and last summer’s Copa America Centenario. The home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Soldier Field also has a rich MLS legacy, as it was home to the Chicago Fire for seven total seasons. The Fire owned a 62-23-10 record (.705 winning percentage) in their home games at Soldier Field, a span which also includes the club’s three appearances in MLS Cup.

MLS All-Star Game Tickets

Register for an All-Star Game presale code for an opportunity to purchase tickets ahead of the public sale. Tickets start at just $35!

US, Canada and Mexico launch joint World Cup bid for 2026

April 10, 20172:34PM EDT

Steve BrisendineContributorIn an unprecedented show of continental unity, the United States, Canada and Mexico on Monday launched a joint bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.If approved, it would be the first World Cup hosted by three nations and the first jointly hosted World Cup since Korea/Japan 2002. It would also be the first finals held in North America since the US hosted the 1994 tournament. Mexico would host matches for the first time since 1986, and Canada would host men’s World Cup matches for the first time in history after hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2015.The tournament would primarily be played in the United States, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said during the announcement event in New York, with the US hosting 60 matches – including all matches after the quarterfinal round – and 10 matches each to be played in Canada and Mexico.”This is a milestone day for U.S. Soccer and for CONCACAF,” Gulati said. “We gave careful consideration to the prospect of bidding for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and ultimately feel strongly this is the right thing for our region and for our sport. Along with our partners from the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, we are confident that we will submit an exemplary bid worthy of bringing the FIFA World Cup back to North America. The United States, Mexico and Canada have individually demonstrated their exceptional abilities to host world-class events.”When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike.”And despite any international tensions arising from last November’s US presidential elections, US soccer president Sunil Gulati tweeted that the bid has the full backing of President Trump.Gulati was joined in the announcement by CONCACAF and Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani and Federación Mexicana de Fútbol president Decio de Maria.”For the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, and the entire Mexican soccer family, it is a source of pride to be candidates, along with the United States and Canada, to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026,” said de Maria, whose country also hosted the 1970 World Cup. “We have a unique opportunity to be the first country to host three World Cups.”As such we are filled with pride and committed to make it the best ever. Mexico has been recognized for being a magnificent host of past FIFA events, such as the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, the 1999 Confederations Cup, the 2011 Under-17 World Cup, and most recently the 2016 FIFA Congress. If we are selected to host, it will be an honor to welcome everyone with open arms.”In addition to the 2015 women’s Final, Canada has a successful history of hosting FIFA youth tournaments, including the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.”Canada Soccer is honored to partner with fellow CONCACAF member associations USA and Mexico to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” said Montagliani. “Canada is the only remaining G-8 nation to have not hosted a FIFA World Cup despite our history of success in raising the bar for youth and women’s FIFA tournaments.”We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with fellow CONCACAF member associations U.S. Soccer and Federación Mexicana de Fútbol under the FIFA Council principles for joint bids and to continue our tradition of hosting record-breaking international events.”Gulati told reporters that the memorandum of understanding between the three countries called for all of them to receive automatic qualification to the final – the first to be played under an expanded 48-team format – but that the FIFA Council will have final say on that matter.

Villa, NYCFC shoot up MLS Power Rankings, L.A. plummets, Dallas No. 1

David Villa’s wonder goal capped a win for New York City FC that pushed them up the latest MLS Power Rankings, while the LA Galaxy plummet and FC Dallas stays No. 1.

  1. FC Dallas(no change)
    FC Dallas was on its way to a win that would have lifted it to the top of the Western Conference, but a late goal changed things and the team settled for a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. Nevertheless, the Texas club holds on to the top spot thanks in large part to the slew of losses for other contenders to the throne.
  2. Columbus Crew SC(+5)
    Crew SC followed up a loss at the Chicago Fire with an impressive 2-1 home win over defending Eastern Conference champ Toronto FC. Niko Hansen was impressive in his first start. The win is good for a big boost up the rankings to go with Columbus’ spot at the top of the standings.
  3. Orlando City SC(+5)
    The Lions leap up the rankings on the back of a yet another home win. It’s now four out of four at the new stadium after a 2-1 victory against the LA Galaxy, a record start for an MLS club in a brand-new building. It’s also worth pointing out that Orlando is winning despite the absence of Kaka, who should be back on the field in a few weeks’ time.
  4. Portland Timbers(-2)
    The Timbers’ attack ran up against the best defense in the league on Saturday and dropped two places after a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City as a result. The goalless performance against Sporting was Portland’s first of the year and shouldn’t be taken as a troubling sign of things to come. Slightly more worrying is the lack of a win in the past two home games.
  5. Sporting Kansas City(+4)
    Peter Vermes’ team benefited from the aforementioned win against Portland, moving into the top five on the back of that stifling performance at Providence Park and a lovely goal scored by Dom Dwyer. Sporting is making a habit of shutting down opposing attacks and then putting together expert moves that result in goals on the other end. It’s a good look.
  6. New York City FC(+5)
    New York City FC dominated possession, chances and the run of play at the Philadelphia Union in a 2-0 win and are rewarded with a move into the top 10. How good is David Villa? Jack Harrison’s goal was the game-winner, but it was the former Spain striker’s chip from midfield that stole the show and put an exclamation point on the win.
  7. New York Red Bulls(+3)
    The NYRB broke a four-game winless run with a 2-0 victory over rival D.C. United and get a push up the rankings for the effort. There are still questions about the attack, but Bradley Wright-Phillips’s nutmeg finish on Bill Hamid — from a perfect Felipe pass — is just the kind of thing Red Bulls fans want to see.
  8. Toronto FC(-5)
    TFC has a single win on the year and tumbles down the rankings after the 2-1 loss at Columbus. Jozy Altidore is scoring goals, but the Reds are dealing with a strange ineffective period from star Sebastian Giovinco. He is taking as many shots as you’d expect, but they just aren’t going in.
  9. Seattle Sounders(-5)
    A bit of bad luck and the head of Fredy Montero did the Sounders in up at the Vancouver Whitecaps. Seattle controlled the game from the outset and pushed hard to get back into it late, but neither was enough in the 2-1 loss.
  10. Atlanta United(-5)
    The rough three-game road trip that took Atlanta to Seattle, Toronto and Montreal netted the club two points and a slip down to 10th in the rankings. Facing the Impact didn’t look like the toughest task on paper, but a questionable penalty and red card on Leandro Gonzalez Pirez put the visitors in a difficult spot in a 2-1 loss.
  11. Chicago Fire(+2)
    Bastian Schweinsteiger scored again in a comprehensive 3-0 win over the New England Revolution, the latest bit of evidence that Chicago is improving on last year’s dismal campaign. But it’s still unclear just how good the team is, and the Revs did abet the win by going down a man early in the match. Chicago hangs just outside the top 10 with a chance of moving up.

Kurt Larson: Bastian Schweinsteiger is flipping the narrative in Chicago

April 20, 201712:06PM EDT

Kurt LarsonAdd my name to the exhaustive list of columnists who dismissed Bastian Schweinsteiger long before he stepped off the plane.A quick Google search reveals the glut of reasons – most of them unfounded hunches – pundits gave. Not only was the Manchester United import “declining,” but he was also apparently tiring and close to retiring. The Chicago Fire, some said, were suckers for believing he’d contribute in the ways we’ve seen.But now he has. And all of us – including myself – once again have proven our reactionary takes and inferiority complexes are sometimes blinding.We’re too eager to latch onto whatever narrative people around the world are perpetuating, often times nonsensically.It’s how North American media somehow turned a 32-year-old, World Cup-winner into a broken down, one-way midfielder with nothing left to give.I’m told the overwhelming negative response “surprised” the Chicago Fire, which didn’t expect the MLS community to “lump in” Schweinsteiger with previous over-the-hill signings, which the league was moving away from (the headlines this week pointed out how “MLS clubs have no interest in signing John Terry“).But many did. And for few other reasons than the long-running narrative that began last year when Fire bench boss Veljko Paunovic was spotted meeting with the German.Five months and a trio of positive performances later, Schweinsteiger – after two goals and an assist in 270 minutes – is making doubters look silly.The tacticians also are having a difficult time explaining how their X’s and O’s have so far failed them after many thought Schweinsteiger was too similar to Chicago’s veterans. However, the eye test and the analytics appear to completely discredit the notion that Schweinsteiger is incapable of being a consistent playmaker.MLSsoccer.com’s Ben Baer crunched some numbers and found that since his arrival Schweinsteiger is among the league leaders in completed passes (60) in the final third of the field, trailing only Seattle’s Nicolas Lodeiro and New York Red Bull’s Sacha Kljestan. He’s also completed the fourth most passes league-wide since joining MLS.The somewhat small sample size has shown Schweinsteiger to be a productive compliment to Fire midfield bulldog Dax McCarty, whose discipline and eagerness do the dirty work has allowed Chicago’s Designated Player to roam and cheat defensively and find the space that opens up when the Fire are and aren’t in possession.The next question is whether it will work this Friday in Toronto (7:30 pm ET on TSN4 in Canada; MLS LIVE in USA), where the Fire won’t enjoy the same amount of possession they have through the previous three weeks.In those three weeks, though, Schweinsteiger already has outpaced the extremely low expectations most set for him. It’s what led me to playfully mock the masses last month in the hours after Chicago announced his signing. Barring a string of never-ending injuries, it very likely won’t be.By all accounts, Schweinsteiger has completely bought in – the less-talked-about aspect of these multi-million dollar signings:

I’m told it also has culminated in “demand” (inbound calls, web traffic and other growth analytics) expanding by three-times year-over-year. There’s also been a significant bump in coverage from local outlets in the Windy City.Yet the number of “Hey, this guy might just pan out” columns hasn’t been proportional to the number of rash stories that were frantically written four weeks ago.Perhaps we’re all just waiting for something to go horribly wrong with a signing that seemed doomed from the start.Or, perhaps, some of us are just afraid we might have been wrong.Kurt Larson covers Toronto FC for the Toronto Sun and the Canadian national teams for Postmedia in Canada.

Greg Ballard: Build a soccer stadium for Indy Eleven

Greg BallardPublished 4:06 p.m. ET April 12, 2017 | Updated 4:55 p.m. ET April 12, 2017

Those of us fortunate enough to have been born and raised in Indianapolis can remember a time when the term “destination city” certainly didn’t make people think about our state capital.Dreary? Boring? Desolate? None of these words are too harsh; in fact, other than the 31 days in May, they are so accurate as to be painful. Growing up here in the 1960s and ‘70s, there is no way I could have predicted the brilliant success and terrific reputation Indianapolis has around the globe for hosting sporting events, a vibrant Downtown, and, yes, our Hoosier hospitality.In hundreds of countries around the globe, moreover, the national game, the national passion is soccer. Played by billions of people and watched by billions of people, fútbol is clearly the most popular sport in the world. In the United States and in Indiana, the popularity of soccer has grown exponentially during the past few decades.  In 2013, our professional soccer team, Indy Eleven, joined the North American Soccer League. Quickly, and despite playing their games in a converted track venue, the team attracted a devoted and dedicated following, led the league in attendance, and proved they are a considerable driver to our city’s economy.

What we know:Briggs: It’s crunch time for Indy Eleven’s MLS expansion bid

The potential is there, however, for so much more. We have a chance this year to build on the vision articulated over the past several decades by the founders of modern Indianapolis: let’s come together and build a stadium that can host soccer games and other events involving thousands of fans and for soccer players at all ages.While we watch sports at all levels, we tend to gravitate to watching our favorite sports and teams that showcase skills at the highest level. For soccer in the United States, this is Major League Soccer. It has teams in the largest cities in the United States and Canada. To say MLS is thriving would be a significant understatement; last year’s average attendance for its 22 teams was nearly 22,000 (21,690), surpassing crowds attending NBA and NHL games.MLS has announced plans to expand its league by four teams; Indy Eleven is one of the teams applying to the league for an expansion franchise. While the impact of an MLS team on Indianapolis would be tremendous for the local economy, its statement to the rest of world would be just as powerful.A bigger stage for our soccer team means more visibility around the world for economic development. People in other countries and on other continents (read: leaders who make decisions about where to invest and create jobs) pay attention to Major League Soccer and understand the vibrancy it brings to a city. As mayor, a foreign dignitary or corporate executive frequently asked me about our local sports teams.Indy Eleven’s connection to its fan base is truly remarkable. If I were to have any doubt that Major League Soccer could succeed here, I would only have to go to a game. The team is a success on the field. Its activities mean more tax dollars for our city. It has recruited a substantial number of local investors. Indy Eleven’s presence in the community is constructive and constant.Indianapolis transformed itself because it wasn’t afraid to take the necessary steps to break into the major league of cities throughout the world. Sports and tourism were, and remain, a critical foundation of our growth for the past fifty years. Through Indy Eleven, we have been given a unique chance to expand our economic and entertainment portfolio in a way that will be noticed around the globe.Please join me in supporting Indy Eleven’s move to Major League Soccer.Ballard is a former mayor of Indianapolis.

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4/17/17 Champions League Elite 8 Tues/Wed, Indy 11 home Sat 3 pm vs San Fran, Full TV Schedule 

Champions League heats back up with Elite 8 Final leg action on Tues/Wed on Fox Sports. Can Leicester City scrap back a goal at home with Atletico on FS 2 Tues at 2:45 pm?  Will the holders Real Madrid hold on at home with a 3-2 aggregate lead heading home on Tuesday vs a fully recovered Bayern returning their star striker?   Can Barca work another miracle at home down 3-0 to Juve on Wednesday?   Can Dortmund regain their composure from last week’s bombing and take a point down 3-2 traveling to the hot young French side Monaco?   Tune in to find out Tues/Wed.

GAMES ON TV  

Tues  –Apr 18 Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport2    Leicester City vs Atletico (0-1)

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Real Madrid  vs Bayern Munich (3-2)

Weds Apr 19 –Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Barcelona  vs Juventus (0-3)

2:45 pm FoxSport2    Monaco vs Dortmund (3-2)

Thur, Apr 20 – Europa League

3 pm Fox Sport1         Man United vs Anderlect (1-1)

3 pm FS2                      Schalke 04 vs Ajax

Sat  Apr 22

9:15 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man U

12:15 pm Fox Sport1? Chelsea vs Tottenham FA CUP Semi’s

12:30 pm Fox Sport2   B Mgladbach vs Dortmund (US Johnson vs US Pulisic)

3 pm myindy TV Indy 11 vs San Fran Deltas

Sun  Apr 23

9:15 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man U

10 am Fox Sport1       Arsenal vs Man City FA CUP Semi’s

11:30 am NBCSN         Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

11:30 am Fox Sport2    Schlake vs RB Leipzig

1:30 pm Fox Sport 1    NYCFC vs Orlando City

2:45 pm beIN Sport Real Madrid vs Barcelona -El Classico –

4 pm ESPN                       LA vs Seattle  

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Champions League

Real’s Bale to miss Bayern Match

Barca Loss not due to Tactics

Barca’s Neymar we can Come back Again!

Leicester sets for unthinkable vs Athleti at home

Down just 1-0 Leicester must be Streetwise vs Athleti

INDY 11

Indy 11 draw with PR on Road

Captain Falvey works way back from offseason injury

8 Game Flexpack

US

US, Canada, Mexico Prepair Joint Bid for 2026 World Cup

Predicting 2026 World Cup US Hero’s – Arm Chair Analyst Doyle

American players finding it tougher in MLS

US Will Train in Mountains before Mexico Clash in June.

How US Players Fared Overseas

MLS

MLS Allstar Game vs Real Madrid in Chicago

10 Things to Know About Real Madrid

Things to Ponder after Week 7 –Arm Chair Analyst Doyle

MLS Power Rankings

MLS Snowball Fight?

Orlando’s Purple Wall

Tim Howard Suspended 3 games

Orlando’s record 4th Win in New Stadium

No MLS Teams sho interest in Chelsea’s John Terry

World

Man U Stops Chelsea at home 2-0

Mourino’s Tactics down Chelsea –

Could Chelsea really lose the title?

Madrid Will Outlast Barca

FA Cup Clash Sat – Chelsea vs Spurs could decide EPL Title Race?

 Leicester relish underdog billing, eye unthinkable UCL upset as goals flow

Leicester City are on the verge of the unthinkable: a place in the semifinals of the Champions League. They host Atletico Madrid trailing 1-0 from the first leg with the knowledge that they are very much in the tie, especially given that they have won every game at home since Craig Shakespeare replaced Claudio Ranieri.City will be delighted with a slender loss from the Vincente Calderon, even if they couldn’t steal an away goal like they did against Sevilla in the previous round. They proved they weren’t over-awed and that bodes well ahead of a crucial return leg.Atleti are still very much the favourites, especially when you consider they haven’t lost away since a 3-0 defeat at Villarreal in early December. Leicester, though, are suddenly scoring goals for fun and will thus expect — at the very worst — to get on the scoresheet.Leicester’s biggest concern could be fatigue. Shakespeare boldly chose to field his stars in the 2-2 draw at Crystal Palace on Saturday. The point might prove a vital one, since a tally of 37 could be enough to stay up, but if Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez look tired and the Foxes go out the manager could well come under a bit of criticism.City also have issues at the back. Robert Huth picked up a yellow card in Madrid and is suspended, while captain Wes Morgan could still be sidelined or forced to play at less than 100 percent.Yohan Benalouane also limped off at Palace, leaving Leicester very short of centre-backs and putting significant pressure on Wilfred Ndidi to protect them in what may be closer to a 4-1-4-1 formation than a 4-4-2.Marcin Wasilewski or Daniel Amartey may have to come into the side and both would be targeted by Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres. Leicester have looked extremely susceptible at the back when their regular defence is disrupted. This was arguably most apparent in a 5-0 drubbing at Porto in the group stage of the Champions League, though that was a game where City had nothing to play for.Atleti won’t care about scoring five. It won’t even be on their minds. As one of Spain’s top defensive outfits they will simply look for an early away goal, forcing the Foxes to score three to progress.The other thing perhaps working somewhat against Leicester is the second leg against Sevilla. Diego Simeone would be wise to play parts of it to his squad ahead of kickoff to ensure they avoid complacency and get an idea of the cauldron-like atmosphere at the King Power Stadium. A visit to the east Midlands shouldn’t be a surprise or culture shock to any of Atleti’s stars, even those who remember watching on television the more modest surroundings of Filbert Street around 20 years ago.Irrespective of their current purple patch, Leicester are huge underdogs with very little to lose and they will relish that billing. Mahrez and Marc Albrighton are in excellent form and Vardy suddenly looks sharp, hungry and most importantly clinical. If he can fire in the opening goal the Foxes will smell an upset.It might not be the biggest game in Leicester’s history, although some will certainly call it that — and that argument can be made. But the run-in to win the Premier League title surely had more significance and, unless Leicester win the Champions League, will live longer in the memory. However, this is easily the most prestigious individual fixture Leicester have ever played and there is a real sense around the city that the fairytale won’t end on Tuesday.Ben Jacobs is ESPN FC’s Leicester City blogger. Follow him on Twitter @JacobsBen.

Real Madrid announced as 2017 MLS All-Star Game opponent

April 15, 20172:41PM EDTMLSsoccer staffMLSsoccer.comThe most decorated club in European history will face off against the best of MLS this summer.The league announced Saturday that reigning UEFA Champions League winner Real Madrid will face the MLS All-Stars in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target on August 2 at Soldier Field in Chicago. The game will be broadcast live at 9 pm ET on FS1, UniMás, TSN and TVA Sports in the US and Canada, as well as in 170 other countries around the world.Real Madrid is one of the most successful clubs in the history of the sport, having won a record 32 La Liga championships and 11 UEFA Champions League titles, as well as capturing the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup on multiple occasions. Managed by legendary French midfielder Zinedine Zidane and headlined by stars Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Sergio Ramos, Real Madrid currently sit atop the La Liga table and hold a lead over Bayern Munich heading into the home leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal series.This will mark the first time that the MLS All-Stars will play a team from Spain’s La Liga. The MLS All-Stars have previously faced clubs from the English Premier League, German Bundesliga, Italian Serie A, Mexico’s Liga MX and Scottish Premier League, posting a 9-4-1 record against some of the world’s most renowned clubs.MLS lost the 2016 All-Star Game, falling 2-1 to English side Arsenal at Avaya Stadium in San Jose. MLS had won the two previous All-Star Games, beating Bayern Munich in 2014 before downing EPL club Tottenham in 2015.The MLS All-Stars will be managed by Chicago Fire head coach Veljko Paunovic, who spent over a decade playing in Spain and made 87 appearances for Real Madrid’s crosstown rivals, Atletico Madrid.“It is an honor to represent Major League Soccer and to work with our league’s great players in a match against one of the top clubs in the word,” Paunovic said in a statement released by the league. “I know how special it is to compete against Real Madrid and I think our players and fans will also enjoy the experience.”Soldier Field, with a capacity of 61,500, has played host to some of the most exciting sporting and entertainment events in the world including CONCACAF Gold Cup matches, World Cup Qualifiers, 1994 FIFA World Cup matches, and last summer’s Copa America Centenario. The home of the NFL’s Chicago Bears, Soldier Field also has a rich MLS legacy, as it was home to the Chicago Fire for seven total seasons. The Fire owned a 62-23-10 record (.705 winning percentage) in their home games at Soldier Field, a span which also includes the club’s three appearances in MLS Cup.

MLS All-Star Game Tickets

Register for an All-Star Game presale code for an opportunity to purchase tickets ahead of the public sale. Tickets start at just $35!

US, Canada and Mexico launch joint World Cup bid for 2026

April 10, 20172:34PM EDT

Steve BrisendineContributorIn an unprecedented show of continental unity, the United States, Canada and Mexico on Monday launched a joint bid to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.If approved, it would be the first World Cup hosted by three nations and the first jointly hosted World Cup since Korea/Japan 2002. It would also be the first finals held in North America since the US hosted the 1994 tournament. Mexico would host matches for the first time since 1986, and Canada would host men’s World Cup matches for the first time in history after hosting the Women’s World Cup in 2015.The tournament would primarily be played in the United States, US Soccer president Sunil Gulati said during the announcement event in New York, with the US hosting 60 matches – including all matches after the quarterfinal round – and 10 matches each to be played in Canada and Mexico.”This is a milestone day for U.S. Soccer and for CONCACAF,” Gulati said. “We gave careful consideration to the prospect of bidding for the 2026 FIFA World Cup, and ultimately feel strongly this is the right thing for our region and for our sport. Along with our partners from the Canadian Soccer Association and the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, we are confident that we will submit an exemplary bid worthy of bringing the FIFA World Cup back to North America. The United States, Mexico and Canada have individually demonstrated their exceptional abilities to host world-class events.”When our nations come together as one, as we will for 2026, there is no question the United States, Mexico and Canada will deliver an experience that will celebrate the game and serve players, supporters and partners alike.”And despite any international tensions arising from last November’s US presidential elections, US soccer president Sunil Gulati tweeted that the bid has the full backing of President Trump.Gulati was joined in the announcement by CONCACAF and Canadian Soccer Association president Victor Montagliani and Federación Mexicana de Fútbol president Decio de Maria.”For the Federación Mexicana de Fútbol, and the entire Mexican soccer family, it is a source of pride to be candidates, along with the United States and Canada, to host the FIFA World Cup in 2026,” said de Maria, whose country also hosted the 1970 World Cup. “We have a unique opportunity to be the first country to host three World Cups.”As such we are filled with pride and committed to make it the best ever. Mexico has been recognized for being a magnificent host of past FIFA events, such as the 1970 and 1986 World Cups, the 1999 Confederations Cup, the 2011 Under-17 World Cup, and most recently the 2016 FIFA Congress. If we are selected to host, it will be an honor to welcome everyone with open arms.”In addition to the 2015 women’s Final, Canada has a successful history of hosting FIFA youth tournaments, including the 2007 FIFA U-20 World Cup.”Canada Soccer is honored to partner with fellow CONCACAF member associations USA and Mexico to bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup,” said Montagliani. “Canada is the only remaining G-8 nation to have not hosted a FIFA World Cup despite our history of success in raising the bar for youth and women’s FIFA tournaments.”We look forward to continuing our successful collaboration with fellow CONCACAF member associations U.S. Soccer and Federación Mexicana de Fútbol under the FIFA Council principles for joint bids and to continue our tradition of hosting record-breaking international events.”Gulati told reporters that the memorandum of understanding between the three countries called for all of them to receive automatic qualification to the final – the first to be played under an expanded 48-team format – but that the FIFA Council will have final say on that matter.

Villa, NYCFC shoot up MLS Power Rankings, L.A. plummets, Dallas No. 1

David Villa’s wonder goal capped a win for New York City FC that pushed them up the latest MLS Power Rankings, while the LA Galaxy plummet and FC Dallas stays No. 1.

  1. FC Dallas(no change)
    FC Dallas was on its way to a win that would have lifted it to the top of the Western Conference, but a late goal changed things and the team settled for a 1-1 draw with the San Jose Earthquakes. Nevertheless, the Texas club holds on to the top spot thanks in large part to the slew of losses for other contenders to the throne.
  2. Columbus Crew SC(+5)
    Crew SC followed up a loss at the Chicago Fire with an impressive 2-1 home win over defending Eastern Conference champ Toronto FC. Niko Hansen was impressive in his first start. The win is good for a big boost up the rankings to go with Columbus’ spot at the top of the standings.
  3. Orlando City SC(+5)
    The Lions leap up the rankings on the back of a yet another home win. It’s now four out of four at the new stadium after a 2-1 victory against the LA Galaxy, a record start for an MLS club in a brand-new building. It’s also worth pointing out that Orlando is winning despite the absence of Kaka, who should be back on the field in a few weeks’ time.
  4. Portland Timbers(-2)
    The Timbers’ attack ran up against the best defense in the league on Saturday and dropped two places after a 1-0 loss to Sporting Kansas City as a result. The goalless performance against Sporting was Portland’s first of the year and shouldn’t be taken as a troubling sign of things to come. Slightly more worrying is the lack of a win in the past two home games.
  5. Sporting Kansas City(+4)
    Peter Vermes’ team benefited from the aforementioned win against Portland, moving into the top five on the back of that stifling performance at Providence Park and a lovely goal scored by Dom Dwyer. Sporting is making a habit of shutting down opposing attacks and then putting together expert moves that result in goals on the other end. It’s a good look.
  6. New York City FC(+5)
    New York City FC dominated possession, chances and the run of play at the Philadelphia Union in a 2-0 win and are rewarded with a move into the top 10. How good is David Villa? Jack Harrison’s goal was the game-winner, but it was the former Spain striker’s chip from midfield that stole the show and put an exclamation point on the win.
  7. New York Red Bulls(+3)
    The NYRB broke a four-game winless run with a 2-0 victory over rival D.C. United and get a push up the rankings for the effort. There are still questions about the attack, but Bradley Wright-Phillips’s nutmeg finish on Bill Hamid — from a perfect Felipe pass — is just the kind of thing Red Bulls fans want to see.
  8. Toronto FC(-5)
    TFC has a single win on the year and tumbles down the rankings after the 2-1 loss at Columbus. Jozy Altidore is scoring goals, but the Reds are dealing with a strange ineffective period from star Sebastian Giovinco. He is taking as many shots as you’d expect, but they just aren’t going in.
  9. Seattle Sounders(-5)
    A bit of bad luck and the head of Fredy Montero did the Sounders in up at the Vancouver Whitecaps. Seattle controlled the game from the outset and pushed hard to get back into it late, but neither was enough in the 2-1 loss.
  10. Atlanta United(-5)
    The rough three-game road trip that took Atlanta to Seattle, Toronto and Montreal netted the club two points and a slip down to 10th in the rankings. Facing the Impact didn’t look like the toughest task on paper, but a questionable penalty and red card on Leandro Gonzalez Pirez put the visitors in a difficult spot in a 2-1 loss.
  11. Chicago Fire(+2)
    Bastian Schweinsteiger scored again in a comprehensive 3-0 win over the New England Revolution, the latest bit of evidence that Chicago is improving on last year’s dismal campaign. But it’s still unclear just how good the team is, and the Revs did abet the win by going down a man early in the match. Chicago hangs just outside the top 10 with a chance of moving up.

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4/10/17 Champions League Elite 8 Tues/Wed

Champions League Elite 8 action finds American Teenage sensation Christian Pulisic in unusual waters as a possible starter for a team in Quarter Final action of the world’s biggest club competition.  Huge games on the docket as all the games listed below are world class now.

GAMES ON TV  

 

Tues Apr 11 –Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Juventus vs Barcelona  

2:45 pm FoxSport2    Dortmund vs Monaco

Weds  –Apr 12 Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport2    Atletico vs Leicester City

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Bayern Munich vs Real Madrid

Thur, Apr 13 – Europa League

3 pm Fox Sport1         Anderlect vs Man United

3 pm FS2                      Ajax vs Schalke 04

Tues  –Apr 18 Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport2    Leicester City vs Atletico

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Real Madrid  vs Bayern Munich

Weds Apr 19 –Champions League 

2:45 pm FoxSport1    Barcelona  vs Barcelona

2:45 pm FoxSport2    Monaco vs Dortmund

Thur, Apr 20 – Europa League

3 pm Fox Sport1         Man United vs Anderlect

3 pm FS2                      Schalke 04 vs Ajax

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

 

Champions League Quarterfinal Predicitions –  ESPNFC

US Pulisic Represents Future of Attacking play in Champions League ESPNFC

Key Stats Dortmund vs Monaco

Dortmunds Aubameyang anxious to settle score with Monaco

Why Monaco can Win

Juve’s Higuain on things

Pregame notes Real Madrid vs Barcelona

Why Barca and Real Madrid are in Trouble when Messi and Renaldo start fading – ESPNFC

Foxes plot Atleti shock, Barca vs. Juve, Monaco vs. BVB, Bayern vs. Madrid

We have reached the business end of the Champions League and there’s a tasty-looking quarterfinals in store.Barcelona, fresh from their incredible, miracle comeback against Paris Saint-Germain, face Juventus in their first leg, while attack is likely to be the order of the day in Monaco vs. Borussia Dortmund.And then there’s Leicester — yes, Leicester! — in the last eight and facing a trip to last year’s finalists Atletico Madrid. The Foxes saw off Sevilla in the round of 16 — can they upset the odds again here?Completing the ties, European royalty face off as 11-time winners Real Madrid are up against five-time winners Bayern Munich.How will the first legs go? ESPN FC’s club bloggers and correspondents have their say and you can too by voting in the match polls.

Juventus vs. Barcelona

JUVENTUS: They had hoped for an easier draw or at least for the second leg to be at home, but if Juventus want to overcome Barcelona and prove they are back to being world beaters they must play the game of their lives at home in the first leg. Gonzalo Higuain seems to be back to his lethal best, scoring with ease once again while the balance within Juve’s game has ensured consistent victories. The only problem is that the side are still psychologically weak in Europe and tend to overly respect great opponents. With a little arrogance and organised tactics, Juve are likely to win the first leg.
Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Barcelona — Mina Rzouki

 

BARCELONA: Barcelona have looked back to somewhere near their best since switching to a back three. However, as Malaga proved, it does come with risks in defence and Juventus should have the quality to take advantage of that. It will be important for Barca to score an away goal — or goals — and they have to ensure they’re still in the tie going back to Camp Nou. They cannot afford another night like they had in Paris because Juve will not capitulate like Paris Saint-Germain did if they’re given a decent head start going into the second leg.
Prediction: Juventus 2-1 Barcelona 

Borussia Dortmund vs. Monaco

BORUSSIA DORTMUND: Dortmund were very content with the draw. Although they aren’t great favourites, they are at least not the underdog as they would have been against most other teams left in the mix. Dortmund have to rely on their strong form at the Westfalenstadion, where they are unbeaten for two years in the Bundesliga and Champions League. However, it is hard to predict what Dortmund’s injury list will look like going into the match. They could be running on fumes going into this first leg. With both teams strong up front and suspect at the back, this could be a goal-laden game.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 3-2 Monaco — Stefan Buczko

 

MONACO: When Monaco looked at their list of potential quarterfinal opponents, Dortmund were no doubt in the “we can beat them” category, particularly with the Ligue 1 side’s confidence bolstered by their disposal of Manchester City. Though far from impressive in recent domestic outings, the French league leaders have been sizzling in European competition, and the painful experience of a narrow quarterfinal exit to Juventus two years ago will serve them well this time. With their attack at least equal to Dortmund’s and their defence superior, Leonardo Jardim’s men should get a result that leaves them in a good stead for the second leg.
Prediction: Borussia Dortmund 2-2 Monaco — Ian Holyman

Atletico Madrid vs. Leicester

ATLETICO MADRID: For once Lady Luck has been kind to Los Rojiblancos in the Champions League draw — and this should be a tie they negotiate with relative ease compared to previous years. It will be a battle of the counterattacks with neither side particularly keen to dominate possession, however Diego Simeone’s side possess superior weapons to the English champions in that sense. Their experience at this level, desire to lift the one trophy that has alluded them under the Argentine coach and streetwise cunning means there is only one winner.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Leicester — Joe Walker

 

LEICESTER: This is Leicester’s biggest game in their history. The Foxes will be desperate to get an away goal and keep the scoreline tight and if they do so, a giant killing at the King Power in the second leg is more than possible. Captain Wes Morgan could be sidelined through injury and Riyad Mahrez has looked tired of late, so there are selection concerns at both ends of the field. The key to staying in the tie will probably lie in the hands of goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. If Leicester can prevent Antoine Griezmann from running riot, then steal a goal on the counterattack, there is no reason why the Champions League fairytale can’t continue.
Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2-1 Leicester — Ben Jacobs

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid

BAYERN MUNICH: Bayern, whisper it quietly, will be confident even against the holders. Clinical top scorer Robert Lewandowski has a superb scoring record against Real from his time at Borussia Dortmund, and aided by the cunning and guile of ex-Barca midfielder Thiago Alcantara, the in-form duo are perfectly capable of firing the five-time winners into the last four. Add the world’s best keeper, Manuel Neuer “100 percent certain” to return from a toe injury, Bayern look good for a 17th successive home Champions League win (a competition record) to put them into pole position for a semifinal spot.
Prediction: Bayern Munich 3-1 Real Madrid — Mark Lovell

 

REAL MADRID: There will be mixed feelings for Real Madrid’s players and coach Zinedine Zidane as they take on Bayern on Wednesday for a reunion with former coach Carlo Ancelotti — a man who knows the strengths and weaknesses of their “BBC” strikeforce more than anyone. Although man-for-man Madrid just about have a quality advantage over Ancelotti’s side, Zidane’s team are likely to try and play cautiously and hope to decide the tie back at the Bernabeu in the second leg. They would be more than happy to get out of Munich with a draw and an away goal — and they can do just that.
Prediction: Real Madrid 1-1 Bayern Munich  — Dermot Corrigan

ESPN FC has all the best coverage ahead of the showdowns in Europe — starting with Simon Kuper’s belief that once Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo leave Barcelona and Real Madrid, their dominance at home and abroad will be over. Rob Train reckons it’s make or break for Zinedine Zidane this month, while Nick Ames has a crack at who will go through to the semifinals.Who do you believe is going through? Vote in our polls and have your say in the comments. Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

 

Kylian Mbappe and Christian Pulisic represent the future of attacking play in Monico vs Dortmund Clash

Tuesday’s meeting between Borussia Dortmund and Monaco isn’t the most hyped Champions League tie of the day; Juventus’ home match with Barcelona will inevitably attract more viewers.But this could be a sensational match; a clash between Thomas Tuchel’s exciting, high-tempo Dortmund side against Leonardo Jardim’s thrillingly fast, ultra-attacking Monaco. It also features the world’s most exciting 18-year-old footballers: Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic and Monaco’s Kylian Mbappe. Between them, they might come to define the next decade of football.In basic terms, they have little in common. One is an American playmaker establishing himself in the Bundesliga, the other a French forward shining in his home country. But there is a similarity. Usually, 18-year-olds are notable for one or two things — their pace and dribbling ability, for example — but these two are curiously complete players, perfect for the this era of universality in which footballers are no longer expected to be specialists in one role, but instead capable of providing numerous different qualities.Right now, Mbappe is the greater star. Describing a youngster as being “the new X” always feels a cheap, simplistic way of explaining his qualities to the world, but it’s difficult to watch Mbappe without thinking of another Frenchman. Indeed, when even Arsene Wenger suggests he “could be another Thierry Henry,” it’s probably time to stop resisting the comparisons. Mbappe, like Henry, has risen through the ranks at Monaco, and he stole two records from the Arsenal legend: He became Monaco’s youngest-ever player, and then, sure enough, Monaco’s youngest-ever scorer, too.He also, incidentally, became the youngest full France international for more than 60 years, and Mbappe’s development in the past few months has been extraordinary. He made just two league starts last season, played only 25 minutes in the Champions League group stage this season, and made consecutive league starts for the first time in February. Jardim has intelligently been trying to manage his playing time at this young stage of his career, but Mbappe has become impossible to ignore and has developed into the most promising young attacker in the world.He’s so highly rated precisely because he seems an incredibly mature, all-round attacker. Whereas many promising youngsters of his age are talented but flashy and liable to overplaying in the final third, Mbappe is brilliantly efficient and tucks away chances with nonchalance. In the first half of the season, he was primarily a provider, racking up three goals and five assists until Christmas. Since then, however, he’s increasingly become the main man. He hasn’t recorded another assist since then but has smashed in 11 goals in his past 11 games.Like Henry, Mbappe is right-footed but prefers playing from the left, cutting inside and finishing coolly. When running at full speed, he sometimes appears leggy and lacks the natural grace and balance of Henry, but he’s trickier in tight situations, capable of throwing feints and stepovers before playing neat, clever passes into onrushing teammates.Mbappe’s major shortcoming is his lack of defensive work; as he’s acknowledged, this is an area he must improve. But then, the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Eden Hazard have become top-class players despite their lack of defensive work and have simply convinced managers that their attacking efficiency justifies freeing them from defensive duties. Mbappe might well do the same.

The Frenchman will attract plenty of transfer interest this summer, but that speculation can wait. For now, he’s the most exciting player in arguably Europe’s most exciting side, and with Monaco into the Champions League quarterfinals, there’s no reason they can’t surprise the usual contenders and triumph. First, of course, they’ll have to get past Dortmund — and Pulisic.A talented young American at one of Europe’s most exciting clubs was always likely to be hyped like crazy, but the more you watch Pulisic, the more he appears to have all the attributes required to succeed at the highest level. He seems the real deal, and while he isn’t quite winning games as regularly as Mbappe, it feels like Pulisic’s potential is greater, his ceiling higher. Playmakers tend to peak considerably later than speedy attackers, and Pulisic will get better and better for a number of years.The American offers the perfect blend of counter-attacking directness and more wily creative play in tight positions. Naturally, he feels like a No. 10, but having generally been deployed out wide for Dortmund this season, he’s learning his trade in a different role, developing his all-round game. Besides, for now that might be the best use of his skill set, without putting too much pressure on him to be his side’s primary creative outlet.In a Dortmund side all about quick passing combinations and clever movement, it’s notable how quickly Pulisic uses the ball in tight situations, but more than anything, Pulisic is thrillingly direct. You wouldn’t describe him as a showboater in possession, and he tends to use skills to slalom past opponents quickly and put himself into good positions to play immediate passes. His decision-making is extremely good for an 18-year-old, even if there’s inevitably room for improvement.What’s most distinctive about Pulisic’s game is his short stride length, and when combined with his ability to play the ball with either foot, this leaves his opponents guessing about precisely when he’s going to play the ball, whether a pass or a shot. He can release it at any moment, and compared to players who have longer, less rapid strides and strongly prefer one foot, it means Pulisic is a gloriously unpredictable player.Like Mbappe, Pulisic needs to become better in a tactical sense when the opposition have the ball. Although his work rate can’t be faulted, at times it’s arguable Pulisic does too much running back with his opponent rather than remaining in positions to launch quick counters. It was notable how Philipp Lahm pushed him back easily at the weekend with constant forward running, whereas in the past, Dortmund’s wide players have often caused Bayern problems by being slightly braver with their positioning.It remains to be seen whether either Mbappe or Pulisic will prove crucial in this week’s Champions League quarterfinal, but you sense this won’t be the final opportunity to triumph for either 18-year-old. Both quick, dynamic, versatile and technically gifted, it feels like these two represent the future of attacking play.Michael Cox is the editor of zonalmarking.net and a contributor to ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Zonal_Marking.

Dortmund and Monaco aim to get on front foot

Monday 27 March 2017

Having scored freely in the round of 16, Borussia Dortmund and Monaco will be keen to establish a first-leg advantage when they meet for the first time in the quarter-finals.

Having both produced blistering attacking displays in the round of 16, Borussia Dortmund and AS Monaco FC will be looking to reproduce that form when they meet for the first time.

  • Both teams have recent UEFA Champions League quarter-final experience, Dortmund appearing in the last eight in 2013/14 and Monaco last featuring the following season.
  • Dortmund and Monaco are each aiming to reach a fourth UEFA Champions League semi-final. Dortmund’s last semi-final outing came in 2012/13, when they went on to finish as runners-up to FC Bayern München; Monaco have not been in the last four since losing to FC Porto in the 2004 final.

Match background

Dortmund
• This is Dortmund’s eighth European Cup quarter-final, and their third in five years. The German club’s last-eight record is W5 L2.

Monaco
• Monaco are in the European Cup quarter-finals for the fifth time overall. Their record to date: W2 L2.

  • Monaco are making a second UEFA Champions League quarter-final appearance in three seasons. On their last outing in 2015 they beat English opposition on away goals in the round of 16, knocking out Arsenal FC (3-1 a,0-2 h); this year they repeated the trick at Manchester City FC’s expense (3-5 a,3-1 h).
  • Monaco became the ninth team to successfully overcome a two-goal deficit after the first leg of a UEFA Champions League knockout tie and just the third club to achieve the feat twice, after FC Barcelona and Chelsea FC, having also done so against Real Madrid in the 2003/04 quarter-finals (2-4 a,3-1 h).
  • The six goals Monaco conceded against City is the most ever shipped by a victorious side in a UEFA Champions League knockout phase tie. Three clubs had previously exited after scoring five.
  • Two seasons ago the Ligue 1 club lost to Juventus at this stage,going down 1-0 in Turinbefore a 0-0 home draw.
  • Monaco were beaten in Germany in this season’s group stage,going down 3-0 at Bayer 04 Leverkusen on matchday six havingdrawn 1-1 at home. Overall, Monaco’s record away to Bundesliga opponents is W3 D2 L2; the Leverkusen reverse ended a five-game unbeaten run on such trips.
  • Monaco’s record in two-legged ties with German clubs is W3 L1, having won the last three. This is their first knockout tie against Bundesliga opposition since a 5-0 aggregate triumph against Hamburger SV in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup third round.
  • The Ligue 1 team have won two of their six away games in this season’s competition, atVillarreal CF in the play-off first legand at Tottenham Hotspur FC in the group stage

, although they have lost the last two.

Coach and player links
• Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang played for Monaco in 2010/11 on loan from AC Milan, scoring two goals in 19 Ligue 1 matches.

  • Aubameyang also had loan spells at Dijon FCO (2008/09), LOSC Lille (2009/10) and AS Saint-Étienne (2011/11) before signing permanently for St-Étienne in 2011. He scored 37 goals in 87 league appearances for Les Verts, joining Dortmund in 2013.
  • Aubameyang was on target in LOSC’s 4-0 Ligue 1 win at Monaco on 13 December 2009, and was in the St-Étienne side that drew 1-1 at home to the principality club on 1 May 2011.
  • Ousmane Dembélé struck 12 goals in 26 Ligue 1 outings for Stade Rennais FC, leaving for Dortmund last summer. He played in a 1-1 home draw with Monaco on 24 April 2016.
  • Raphaël Guerreiro started his career at SM Caen, making 38 Ligue 2 appearances in 2012/13 – including home (3-0) and away (1-0) wins against Monaco – before joining FC Lorient, playing 110 league games between 2013 and 2016. His record against Monaco with Lorient was W2 D1 L2.
  • Benjamin Mendy was in the Marseille team beaten 3-0 away and2-1 at homeby Dortmund in the 2013/14 UEFA Champions League group stage.
  • While at Bayer 04 Leverkusen, Gonzalo Castro played in 1-0 defeats bothaway – João Moutinho scoring– and home against Monaco in the 2014/15 UEFA Champions League group stage.

    • Radamel Falcao got Club Atlético de Madrid’s goal in a 2-1 Liga home defeat by Marc Bartra’s FC Barcelona in May 2013.

    • International team-mates
    Ousmane Dembélé & Kylian Mbappé, Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Mendy, Djibril Sidibé (France)
    João Moutinho, Bernardo Silva & Raphaël Guerreiro (Portugal)
    Łukasz Piszczek & Kamil Glik (Poland)

    • Guerreiro and Moutinho helped Portugal win UEFA EURO 2016 in France.

Match facts

Dortmund
• Guerreiro and Marcel Schmelzer are a booking away from a ban.

  • Until Saturday’s 4-1 loss at Bayern München, Aubameyang had scored in seven successive appearances for Dortmund, 11 goals in total.
  • Dortmund will play Bayern in the German Cup semi-finals on 26 April, having beaten third-tier VfL Sportfreunde Lotte 3-0 in their rearranged last-eight tie on 14 March.
  • BVB announced on 30 March that Mahmoud Dahoud will join the club from VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach in the summer.
  • Erik Durm (muscular) and André Schürrle (ankle) have missed Dortmund’s last three Bundesliga games. Schürrle sustained his injury during Germany’s 4-1 victory over Azerbaijan on 26 March, a European Qualifier in which he scored twice.
  • Schmelzer (back) sat out the 3-0 win against Hamburger SV on 4 April but returned against Bayern, while Marco Reus (hamstring) has not played since 4 March.
  • Sven Bender (ankle), an unused substitute in the last three Bundesliga fixtures is yet to play in 2017 but Sebastian Rode (groin) made his first appearance of the year at Bayern.
  • Mario Götze, who has not featured since 29 January, will not play again this season. The midfielder is suffering from metabolic disturbances, a disorder that is contributing to his ongoing muscular problems.
  • BVB announced on 6 April that Piszczek has extended his contract by one year until summer 2019. Gonzalo Casto (2020) signed a new contract in March.

Monaco
• Falcao, Valère Germain, Sidibé and Fabinho are all a booking away from a ban. Tiémoué Bakayoko serves a one-match suspension.

  • Monaco’s run of six successive wins in all competitions ended when they lost 4-1 to Paris Saint-Germain in the French League Cup final on 1 April.
  • Leonardo Jardim’s men bounced back three days later by progressing to the last four of the French Cup, Germain scoring twice in a 2-1 home victory over LOSC Lille.
  • Falcao (out since 11 March, hip) made his return against LOSC as a late substitute and scored the only goal on Saturday against Angers.
  • Mbappé and Mendy made their senior France debuts on 25 March. Mendy and Sidibé started against Luxembourg in the European Qualfiers for the FIFA World Cup, setting up a goal apiece for Olivier Giroud in the 3-1 success, while Mbappé was introduced in the second half.

Aubameyang anxious to settle Monaco score

Monday 10 April 2017

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will be hoping to remind Monaco what they missed out on, the Ligue 1 side having allowed the Dortmund forward to slip through their grasp during a loan spell in 2010/11.

When Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang lines up against Monaco on Tuesday, the Dortmund striker will be raring to show how far he has come since a frustrating loan spell with the Ligue 1 club in 2010/11.

  • Link to background/preview
  • All the live build-up to Dortmund v Monaco 

This week’s UEFA Champions League showdown will stir up some unpleasant memories for the Gabonese international, who joined the Principality outfit while still an AC Milan player in summer 2010. Having already spent time on loan at Dijon and LOSC, Aubameyang travelled to the Stade Louis II eager to leave his mark.”I want to make an impression at an important club that’s developed plenty of young players,” he said, agreeing a year-long deal that gave Monaco the option to make the switch permanent. “I’d really like Monaco to take up that option, which didn’t happen when I was at Lille. I hope it happens this year.”Destiny decided otherwise, despite two goals in Aubameyang’s first four games. With Guy Lacombe at the helm, the then 21-year-old enjoyed the playing time he craved, but those early efforts would turn out to be his only strikes in a total of 23 matches, as he and the rest of his team-mates struggled.Indeed, Lacombe departed after a shock French Cup loss to minnows Chambéry in January 2011, and Aubameyang was gone soon after. Left out of Monaco’s next two matches by new coach Laurent Banide, the forward departed just six months into his stay – penning a loan deal with St-Étienne, where he would eventually forge his reputation. Monaco were relegated that season, while Aubameyang went on to register 37 goals in 87 Ligue 1 games over the next two and a half years with Les Verts, before rumours surfaced of a return to the Principality. “Monaco are the kind of club who’ll be doing something important in two or three years,” said Aubameyang’s father in June 2013. “That’s what I want for my son.”Ultimately he joined Dortmund, and although he has not looked back, breaking the 20-goal barrier once again this term, Monaco have certainly emerged as a surprise European force. Coach Leonardo Jardim and his youthful line-up are now targeting a spot in the UEFA Champions League semi-finals, but first they must get past that rarest of things – an exciting young talent they let slip through their grasp.

Real Madrid and Barca will no longer dominate after Ronaldo, Messi fade

Imagine you had a billion dollars and you had to buy a player to replace Lionel Messi, or Cristiano Ronaldo. You couldn’t. There is simply nobody else as good, no matter how much you pay. That is the problem now worrying the people who run Barcelona and Real Madrid. This spring the two clubs sit on top of the world and look favorites to win the Champions League. But their long dominance could end in the next couple of years.There’s an endless silly argument about who is better, Messi or Ronaldo, when the key point is that they are probably the two best club players in history. True, we can never prove that they have more quality than Diego Maradona, Pele or Johan Cruyff. But we do know that their club stats are much better. Ronaldo and Messi reached their current level in about 2008. Since then, both have averaged more than a goal per league game, and between them have won six out of nine Champions Leagues (including Ronaldo’s victory with Manchester United in 2008).There’s a lot more to Messi and Ronaldo than their scoring records, but it’s the stat that most immediately demonstrates how special they are. “When it comes to scoring, these two aren’t just on top of the pile, they’re hang-gliding somewhere way above it,” FiveThirtyEight remarked in a 2014 article called “Lionel Messi is Impossible.” Compare them with the next-best forwards of our time: Luis Suarez averaged over a goal a game in just one of his seven seasons in top-class leagues. Zlatan Ibrahimovic managed it once in 13.But Messi, 29, and Ronaldo, 32, won’t last forever. With Ronaldo you can already see some decline. He no longer makes the rushes he used to, and this season, with 19 goals in 23 league games, is on track for his lowest goals total since 2009-2010. True, that’s partly because he’s had various injuries, but then frequent injuries tend to be signs of age.Madrid and Barcelona won’t merely lose two irreplaceable players. They will also soon lose an irreplaceable generation. From 2008 through 2012, Spain, for the first time in its history, had the best crop of players in the world. Most of them grew up at Barcelona or Madrid, or moved there young for relatively low transfer fees, and then won multiple Champions Leagues.But Carles Puyol and Xavi are gone, Xabi Alonso is retiring this summer, while Iker Casillas is spending his golden years at Porto. Sergio Ramos (31), Andres Iniesta (32), Gerard Pique (30) and Sergio Busquets (28) won’t be around much longer. The Spanish generation beneath them is less brilliant. Forget the impossibility of replacing Messi. Barca and Madrid will find it almost impossible and extremely expensive to replace Iniesta and Ramos.In 2020, these clubs will still have excellent players. But it’s hard to see Spain, a midsized and not very rich country, continuing to dominate the Champions League. Barca and Madrid are the best teams of our era, but that’s an historical anomaly, far from Spain’s normal performance since Real’s great run in the 1950s. From 1967 through 2008, Barca and Madrid won only five Champions Leagues between them. Those meagre times could soon return.Contrary to what many fans imagine, it’s not a club’s history or spirit or inspirational manager that wins trophies. (Ronaldo and Messi have won their six Champions Leagues with five different managers.) The secret to winning in soccer is, simply, money. Money buys or helps you keep the best players. Money has enabled Spain’s dominance. Real Madrid topped the consulting firm Deloitte’s “Money League” of the clubs with the highest revenues for 11 straight years through 2015. Barcelona was usually close behind. But now the Spaniards risk losing their financial lead.The world’s richest club in the 2015-16 season, according to Deloitte, was Manchester United. Scarily for the Spaniards, United generated revenues of €689 million despite exiting the lucrative Champions League after the group stage. Madrid won the competition that season, yet generated “only” €620.1 million, a fraction behind Barcelona.On the field, English teams are currently unremarkable. They are third-best in Europe, behind Spain and Germany, according to UEFA’s coefficient rankings. But they can expect to rise. The Premier League’s broadcasting revenues have kept soaring and are worth more than £8 billion over the next three years.True, Spanish TV revenues have soared, too. La Liga is negotiating its biggest ever deal for foreign rights. But in 2015 the Spaniards decided to share out the TV cash more equally among all clubs. No longer do Madrid and Barcelona bag the lion’s share. The Big Two’s TV income is therefore stagnating at about €140 million a year each, while English clubs are catching up.Crucially, the English domestic TV market dwarves Spain’s: there are about 16 to 17 million soccer TV subscribers in England, against 3 to 4 million in Spain, noted Barcelona’s vice-president Manel Arroyo last year. No wonder the Premier League’s total wage bill of about $3.6 billion is nearly as high as the Bundesliga’s, Spain’s top division and Italy’s Serie A combined.For now, Barca and Madrid lead global soccer in commercial deals. For instance, from 2018 Barcelona will get at least €155 million a season from its kit sponsor, Nike. But once Messi, Ronaldo and Spain’s golden generation fade, these clubs will be less appealing to sponsors.We’ll see the consequences on the field. Last summer Manchester United paid a world-record fee of $116 million for Paul Pogba. He will never be in the class of Messi or Ronaldo, but he might become the best in the world of his generation. This summer United look the favorite to sign his compatriot Antoine Griezmann, another contender to be the world’s best player in the future.Then there’s Bayern Munich, which has been closing the financial gap with the world’s three richest clubs. (It has also closed the intelligence gap and may now be the smartest big club both on the field and in terms of marketing its brand and expanding its reach globally, though unfortunately Deloitte doesn’t rank brains.) Bayern’s home country is larger and richer than Spain and has a more consistent record of producing top-class players.We’ve come to take Spanish dominance for granted. We shouldn’t. Remember that once upon a time Italian clubs, even Dutch clubs, dominated Europe. In the end, all empires decline. I’d bet on Bayern and Manchester United to win more Champions Leagues from 2020 to 2030 than Real and Barcelona.Simon Kuper is a contributor to ESPN FC and co-author, with Stefan Szymanski, of Soccernomics.