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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Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

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