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
Things to Ponder after Week 7 –Arm Chair Analyst Doyle
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.
The first legs will take place on May 2 and 3, with the second legs the following week.
|Real Madrid||v||Atletico Madrid|
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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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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