The Indy 11 look to extend their NASL Record Non-Losing Streak to 21 games as they face FC Edmonton this weekend at 7:30 pm at the MIKE in their brand new Adidas Uniforms. NASL Player of the month Justin Braun will lead the blues. Get discounted tickets for the game and games in May/June/Jule by clicking Indy 11 Discount Ticket Link. This Sat night is Craft Beer Night as special Craft beers will be served starting 2 hours before gametime. This year’s edition of the Indy Eleven Craft Beer Fest will feature at least 13 breweries, with all but one bringing brews for tasting from right here in the Hoosier State.
So I have been frustrated with MLS for not showing good games this season – but man they have a doosy on Sat on ESPN at 2:55 pm with Defending Champs Seattle hosting Toronto FC. Both teams are on form as Seattle erased a 3 goal deficit last week to tie 3-3 and Toronto won 2-0 behind 2 great goals by Jozy Altidore. Set those DVRs or tune for the best match-up at least on TV of the MLS season so far. In other news the MLS Allstar game featuring defending Champions League Champs Real Madrid vs the MLS All-Stars will be held in Chicago on Wednesday Night, Aug 2 at Soldier Field. I am planning to go and would love to set up a caravan up there if anyone else wants to come. This is an exclusive link to purchase tickets before they go on sale to the general public Thursday morning. https://www1.ticketmaster.com/event/0400524DB5832485?CAMEFROM=CFC_MLG_17ASG_PREFIREDATABASE Tickets are about $60 in the upper decks and $90 for level 2 behind the goals (where we are looking) RE: If you would like to order tickets together and head over.
The Champions League is down to the final 4 – after the first legs – it looks like Juventus and Real Madrid are on their way to the Finals. Yes Real still must go to Atletico but with a 3-0 lead – it looks good for the Madradista’s returning to the finals looking for the back to back. For Juve – the old lady and the old Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon came thru again as they continued their shutout streak (since mid-November in Champions League) with 6 great saves and a 2-0 win at Monaco behind 2 Higuain goals off of Dani Alves passes. Return legs are Tues – Juventus hosting Monaco at 2:45 on Fox Sports 1 and Wed same time and channel for Atletico vs Real Madrid and Renaldo.
Carmel FC is proud to be hosting Challenge Cup and President’s Cup games this weekend May 5-7 at the River Road fields in East Carmel about 2 miles from Badger. CFC parents sign up here if you would be willing to volunteer to help: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/4090b44aaad22a0fe3-carmel.
Coaches and parents check out this great read Developing Warriors not Winners sent by our CFC DOC Matt Coyer.
GAMES ON TV
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 Atletico Madrid vs Real 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
3 Things Indy 11 vs Jax 1-1 Tie
Tues –May 9 Champions League
2:45 pm FoxSport1 Juventus vs Monaco
Weds May 10 –Champions League
2:45 pm FoxSport1 Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid
Thur –May 11 Europa League
2:45 pm FoxSport2 Man U vs Celta Vigo
World Races for titles,Champions League and Relagation are up for grabs still in most of the leagues in the world. Of course Bayern won the Bundesliga again as did Juve in Italy and Chelsea has a 4 pt lead in the EPL.
PREVIEW | #INDy 11 V FC Edmonton
Indy Eleven vs FC Edmonton – #INDvFCE Saturday, May 6, 2017 – 7:30 P.M. EST Michael A. Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana
Watch/Listen Live: Local TV: MyINDY TV-23 Streaming Video: ESPN3
THE EDDIES RETURN TO INDY
“Indiana’s Team” makes their return to Carroll Stadium this Saturday as the “Fight for Three” continues on home turf against Canadian rivals FC Edmonton. From the two sides’ first meeting in Spring 2014, Indy has held a diverse record when it comes to competition against the Eddies (3W-2D-4L, plus one postseason win).Despite forward Justin Braun’s Player of the Month performance and Indy’s position among the top three highest scoring clubs, Indy currently sits in sixth place after each of the club’s first five matches resulted in a draw. While the last regular season match against Edmonton ended in a 2-1 loss away from home, the “Boys in Blue” will continue to fight for NASL supremacy and seek redemption for lost points in previous encounters. FC Edmonton currently sits at the bottom of the 2017 table with three points and a record of 1W-0D-4L. Edmonton’s visit to the Circle City this Saturday will mark the end of a three-game travel week for the visitors. Prior to their match with Indy, Edmonton has lost 2-0 away at Miami FC during regular season play and a 1-0 defeat away to former Canadian NASL rivals Ottawa Fury FC in leg one of the Canadian Cup Championship. This Saturday also marks the third out of six games the Canadian side will have to play within a 14-day time span. This bombardment of matches bodes well for Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson, who hopes that his side can have a leg up on their competitors in the rest column.“Any team that plays in Miami in the heat and humidity, and has to travel internationally from Canada to that tip of the U.S., and then return, and then have to play against really what is an archrival team in Ottawa in the Canadian Cup…traveling again internationally here, the weather conditions won’t be an issues for them, but it takes something out of the team,” detailed Hankinson. “We’ve tried to manage our training to be as fresh as possible come Saturday because I think that fresh legs will be the difference maker.”
WHO TO WATCH INDY ELEVEN EDITION: DF LOVEL PALMER
After a Team of the Week performance in Week 6 against Jacksonville, Jamaican defender Lovel Palmer looks to continue to fortify Indy Eleven’s backline. Away to Armada FC, Palmer’s performance saw the NASL veteran accumulate a total of five clearances out of dangerous territory, five interceptions, a shot within the opposition’s box, and win 60-percent of his duels and while completing over three-fourths of his passes. The former Chicago Fire SC man now finds himself among the list of top players to complete clearances with 22 total for his season so far.This Saturday is projected to be Palmer’s first start against Edmonton on home turf, which his last performance against the visitors at home on July 23, 2017, saw the defender play eight minutes after subbing in for former Eleven midfelder Dylan Mares in the 82nd minute.
WHO TO WATCH FC EDMONTON EDITION: FW TOMI AMEOBI
England native and former Leeds United forward Tomi Ameobi returns for his fourth season with FC Edmonton. Since his arrival in Canada in 2015, Ameobi has tallied over 3,900 minutes of playtime over the span of 53 games and has netted 10 goals and three assists, making him the leading goalscorer for the current Eddies squad. During his breakout season in 2015, the Newcastle United youth product finished as co-leader in scoring with seven goals under his belt. In 2017, Ameobi has started the first five matches of Edmonton’s Spring season and has racked up a single goal for the Canadian side.Since August 2015, Ameobi has made a total of five appearances (four in regular season play & one in The 2016 Championship Semifinal) and has only managed one goal for his side in 358 minutes against the “Boys in Blue.”
MATCH-UP TO MARK: FW JUSTIN BRAUN VS. DF ALBERT WATSON
Earning NASL Player of the Month for the month of April, Justin Braun will be battling Albert Watson, one of Edmonton’s longest serving players in their current squad, for his position in the visitor’s box this Saturday when the “man on fire” clashes with the Irishman.Out of the six goals scored by “Indiana’s Team” on the season, Braun has been involved with all but one (three goals, two assists). In Week 6, Braun netted his 11th career goal for Indy in the 25th minute against Jacksonville Armada FC, which led him past former Eleven “original” Dylan Mares to claim second place on the club’s top goalscoring charts. Forward Eamon Zayed, who led the way in scoring in Indy’s 2016 campaign, has now been responsible for two (one goal, one assist), both of which have been linked with Braun. The striking duo’s interplay in front led Indy Eleven to a 2016 Spring Championship title and helped the club finish runner-up in the 2016 Championship finals, and the forwards are looking to improve upon their record. Watson signed for FC Edmonton back in 2013 and has made full 90-minute appearances in seven of the nine regular season matches the Eddies have played against Indy. The U-23 Ireland National Team member currently sits in sixth place among the top players with 25 total clearances to his name. The former Linfield FC player also has completed over 80-percent of his passes, won four-fifths of his tackles and has provided a defensive wall with six blocks. The defender and his staunch protective nature will prove to be an obstacle for any attacker who crosses his path.
Armchair Analyst: MLS Match-up Week 10
May 5, 20179:30AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior WriterThe 94th game of the 2017 MLS regular season will mark the quarter pole of this year’s circuit of 374 games. As such, next week’s content plan includes looks at some of our early-season award winners like MVP, Coach of the Year, Young Player of the Year, etc. So keep that in mind as you watch this weekend’s games. Also keep in mind that, historically speaking, teams that are over the red line by mid-May have about a 90 percent success rate when it comes to staying in playoff position. That’s not a guarantee – everyone remembers what the Seattle Sounders and, to a lesser extent, D.C. United did last season. Still, it’s something to be aware of. There’s a nasty habit of writing off early-season struggles and assuming a correction can be made come summer. But more often than not those corrections don’t actually fix teams that have, for one reason or another, looked broken. On to the weekend ahead…
Call the Police
It’s fitting that the game wrapping up the season’s first quarter is the rematch of the one that capped last season, the 2016 MLS Cup final between Seattle and Toronto FC. This time it’ll be Seattle hosting, and Saturday’s contest (3 pm ET; ESPN & ESPN Deportes in US | CTV & TSN2 in Canada) gives us a chance to take the measure of the champs. Attack-wise, they’re as they were last year, only more so because 1) Clint Dempsey is back and healthy and playing good soccer, and 2) Joevin Jones is even more comfortable with his role as an overlapping, attacking left back. There are a lot of reasons why the Sounders attack is so scary and so effective, and lots of those come down to the mastery of Dempsey and Nicolas Lodeiro, or the threat of Jordan Morris, or the cleverness of center forward Will Bruin or midfielder Harry Shipp (two guys that GM Garth Lagerwey picked up this winter for a song), or the platform provided by this team’s rock solid central midfield duo. When the Sounders attack up that left flank they’re damn near unstoppable. Jones doesn’t just add an extra body: He adds an extra playmaker (five assists already this year), and that forces the opposing defense to either come all the way out to the touchline to meet him, or to track him all the way to the endline. While he’s doing that, Lodeiro has become expert at ghosting around into odd little pockets of space that no other attack in the league is quite multi-faceted enough to open up.It doesn’t always come off, obviously, but it’s quite a bit of fun to watch. The fact that they’re getting robbed by the woodwork at a record-shattering pace isn’t an indication that they’re cursed, rather that they’re creating the type of looks that eventually start to fall:
Washingtonians are having less fun watching the Seattle backline, which has been crippled by injury all year. Chad Marshall is still out, and it doesn’t seem like Brad Evans is all that close to returning. That’s left the Sounders in a situation where Tony Alfaro is getting decisive minutes maybe a little earlier than they’ve wanted, and where Gustav Svensson, a deep midfielder at heart, has spent more time in the heart of the defense and at right back than anyone would’ve expected.Now, teams have started to figure out they can bully Svensson in the box itself. Juan Agudelo dunked on him last week, and Jozy Altidore is even more of a physical presence than his younger countryman.The good news for Seattle is that Roman Torres is healthy and will probably be playing in the backline on Saturday (he played as a striker in his return to the lineup as a late-game toss-of-the-dice against the Revs, and it worked). He and Alfaro should start together, and Svensson should either get a break, or get shuffled back out to right back.I’ll also be watching: TFC are coming off a hard-fought, fast-paced midweek home win over Orlando City. So they’re traveling cross-country on short rest to play a non-conference road game during a month in which they’ve got eight games scheduled (including Canadian Championship work).There’s going to be some squad rotation here. Maybe even a lot of squad rotation.
Gonzalo Higuain’s goals put Juventus in commanding position vs. Monaco
MONACO — Three thoughts on an enthralling first leg at the Stade Louis II as Juventus picked up a commanding 2-0 win:
- Juventus have one foot in the final
Wednesday’s result made it clear: Juventus have one foot in the Champions League final. It would take an astonishing second-leg turnaround, even allowing for the gifts of this Monaco side, to deny them after a 2-0 victory earned through a superb goal in each half from Gonzalo Higuain. The first half will be replayed for weeks; the second might well have decided the tie and, in the end, Juventus deserved nothing less.The key for Massimiliano Allegri’s side was depriving Monaco of the kind of momentum that has blown other opponents away. They took the sting out of the opening 10 minutes and had the first half-chance when Dani Alves, connecting at the back post, volleyed just over the head of an unmarked Mario Mandzukic.Yet the joy of Monaco this season has been that chances tend to come along so easily. Two excellent openings fell to Kylian Mbappe as they settled into the game: the 18-year-old headed straight at Gianluigi Buffon when he should have done far better. Then, in the 16th minute, he got in front of his marker sharply to direct a fizzing Nabil Dirar cross toward goal. This time, Buffon’s save down at his near post was superb.All of a sudden, Buffon was busy. Radamel Falcao was next to threaten, looping a header that the keeper had to claw away. Juventus were under real pressure now, but as sides of their experience do, they responded emphatically and Higuain’s goal was sublime. The striker sent Alves scampering away down the inside-right channel before, in a stunning piece of synchronicity, arriving at the perfect time to side-foot the Brazilian’s astute back-heel past Danijel Subasic.Now the wind had gone from Monaco’s sails and it took until after the interval for them to regain a head of steam. Then, it took just two minutes for Falcao to sidefoot at Buffon after being played in by Bernardo Silva. Monaco had upped the tempo but it was another big miss and Claudio Marchisio, shooting at the legs of Subasic, almost made them pay again.The reprieve was only temporary. Juve’s second goal arrived just before the hour when the outstanding Alves robbed a dithering Tiemoue Bakayoko, received a pass from Paulo Dybala and crossed perfectly for the onrushing Higuain at the far post. The finish was again clinical. Juventus’ celebrations allowed no doubt about the goal’s importance, and Monaco, for all their endeavour, had no answer in the remaining 31 minutes.It will have to be some response on Tuesday if they are to trouble the Italians further.
- Dani Alves rolls back the years in vintage performance
At times, Allegri’s side were stretched more than at any point in this Champions League campaign, but they got the job done with some conviction, and the sense grows that there is no better team in Europe at the moment.While Higuain and Buffon will take the headlines, this was also a triumph for a manager who continues to impress. With Sami Khedira suspended and Monaco holding a physical advantage in central midfield, he opted for a three-man central defence with wing-backs to either side.While the idea was to shore things up, the move made a decisive difference in attacking areas. That is largely because Alves, who turns 34 on Saturday, put in a performance reminiscent of his most dynamic days at Barcelona and Sevilla.His two assists, a sparkling run and back-heel for the first goal and a perfectly weighted cross for the second after he’d pressed high up the pitch to win the ball back, were of the highest quality, and he gave Djibril Sidibe (primarily a right-back but repositioned to the left) an uncomfortable night throughout. Alex Sandro had slightly more trouble against Nabil Dirar on the other side, but it was Alves, whose energy levels never dropped, who made the difference.Juventus’ defence gave up chances but, when they were extended, the peerless Buffon was in immaculate form. His final save of the night was a last-minute tip-over from Valere Germain’s header. Had that gone in, there would have been a morsel of encouragement from Monaco, but the visitors were, overall, convincing winners. They play with a level of control and flexibility across all areas of the pitch that few can match, and it came to the fore yet again here.Juventus are utterly ruthless at both ends of the pitch; can anyone stop them now?
- Mbappe and Monaco fall just short
It’s no surprise that 18-year-old strikers will miss chances, but it said something for the regard in which Mbappe is held that his 13th-minute miss, a harmless nod at Buffon when he had both space and time, was so surprising. Mbappe is such a razor-sharp customer, and his lavish talent was evident in abundance here; he will regret not opening the scoring, though, and it was symptomatic of a night on which Monaco did not quite fire.They have an uphill task now, but if Allegri retains the same formation in Turin, Juventus’ gnarled back three will know to expect a vigorous examination in the second leg. Among Mbappe’s many impressive facets is that he shirks nothing: he was back for more within moments of that fluffed header, forcing Buffon into a much more difficult save, and there was a spell before Higuain’s tie-altering goal when he had his battle-worn opponents firmly on the back foot.Mbappe’s work rate and cleverly timed spins out to the left caused problems throughout; perhaps the best example of his all-round package came a few seconds after the break when a wonderful, cushioned touch past Leonardo Bonucci and jet-heeled dash into the area led to a cutback that none of his teammates could put away. Like his pursuers, perhaps they simply could not keep up.Monaco will rue their missed opportunities (and Mbappe was not the only culprit) but eventually their inexperience told. They were not helped by a hamstring injury to their flying left-back, Benjamin Mendy, that ruled him out of the match and meant the equally exhilarating Sidibe had to be redeployed in his position. The balance and directness that have characterised so much of their play were not quite there and barring one cute pass for Falcao, the creative wiles of Bernardo Silva were relatively subdued too.The error by Bakayoko that led to Higuain’s second goal spoke volumes: in the end Juventus were just slicker and sharper. This tie was never going to make or break the careers of Mbappe and his thrilling young cohort but you wonder whether they will be seen at this level in Monaco’s colours again.Nick Ames is a football journalist who writes for ESPN FC on a range of topics. Twitter: @NickAmes82.
Timely Higuain, tactical tweak have Juventus on brink of Champions League final
QUICKLY It was the Gonzalo Higuain and Dani Alves show in Monaco, where Juventus extended its shutout streak to 621 minutes and took a big step toward the Champions League final.JONATHAN WILSON2 hours ago
The Champions League looks set for a repeat of the 1998 final after Juventus took charge of its semifinal against Monaco with a 2-0 victory in the principality a day after Cristiano Ronaldo-led Real Madrid seized a 3-0 lead after the home leg of its semifinal against Atletico Madrid.Monaco never hit its stride at home, failing to score in a league or Champions League game for only the third time this season (running Juventus’s shutout streak in the competition to 621 minutes), and it was undone by two goals from Gonzalo Higuain, both of them set up by Dani Alves.Here are three thoughts on Juventus’s win, which puts the club on course for a June 3 date in Cardiff.
Allegri’s tactical tweak works wonders
Max Allegri sprang a major surprise by reverting to the back three that Juve used with such success under Antonio Conte rather than the 4-2-3-1 that has been the usual formation this season. That meant Andrea Barzagli returning at the expense of Juan Cuadrado, with Dani Alves and Alex Sandro pushing up as wingbacks. That perhaps was an attempt to engage Monaco’s attacking fullbacks higher up the pitch–although they were less threatening than usual.One of the first-choice pair, Benjamin Mendy, was out with an injury suffered against Toulouse over the weekend and the other, Djibril Sidibe was playing on the opposite side than usual to allow Nabil Dirar to come in on the right. Monaco’s midfield four plays very narrow, meaning the fullbacks are critical to Leonardo Jardim’s side having width. Whether it was because of the change of personnel or Juve’s tactics, that threat never materialized.Having the old BBC central defense–Barzagli, Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini–back in harness also ensured there was an extra man to help deal with the twin attacking threat of Radamel Falcao and Kylian Mbappe, both of whom threatened only sporadically.
Higuain comes through at last
Higuain has developed a reputation as a player who cannot do it when the pressure is really on. He missed clear chances in both the 2014 World Cup and 2015 Copa America finals, and lost in three Champions League semifinals with Real Madrid.In 24 previous Champions League knockout ties, he’d scored only two goals, neither of them away from home. He looked a little out of sorts to start on Wednesday, wasting three promising opportunities, but, after 29 minutes, he rounded off a brilliant move to give Juventus the lead. It was a sequence that began with the ball at the feet of goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. He rolled it right to Barzagli, who went forward and inside to Claudio Marchisio, in for the suspended Sami Khedira. Marchisio clipped a pass forward and right for Paulo Dybala and the young Argentine flicked it inside for Dani Alves, who surged forward and gave the ball to Higuain in the center circle. He played a return, leading Dani Alves to scamper on into the right edge of the box. Kamil Glik seemed to have held him up, but the Brazilian back-heeled the ball into the path of Higuain, chugging up in support, and he stroked a first-time finish into the bottom corner, a goal of uplifting smoothness and geometry.Having ended a four-year wait for a Champions League knockout goal, Higuain soon scored a second. Earlier this season, the Argentine quoted advice once given to him by Ruud van Nistelrooy about overcoming goal droughts, likening them to ketchup bottles: “You try but they won’t come out. Then…they all come out at once.” And it proved, as Higuain put Juve up two just before the hour mark. The source was the same, Dybala and Dani Alves combining on the right before the latter shaped in a perfect fading cross for Higuain, arriving at the back post, to score with a low volley.
Monaco’s attack blunted
Surprising as the Juventus shape was, the plan worked. This is a Monaco side that has scored 146 goals this seasons, but this is a Juventus side that has conceded only two so far in the Champions League. There is a toughness about Juve as well as the capacity to read the game, exemplified by the elbow Chiellini planted on Falcao midway through the second half. The referee showed only a yellow card, suggesting he felt the act was careless rather than malicious–certainly Chiellini didn’t look at Falcao–but at the very least he knew where to leave his elbow to protect himself. In an era of high-tempo, high-pressing football, there’s something almost old-fashioned about such cynical arts.There were some concerns early on for Juve as the brilliant 18-year-old Mbappe twice went close. First he planted a free header straight at Buffon and then he made a sharp run between Chiellini and Bonucci to meet a Dirar cross. Again Buffon saved. Falcao had a couple of chances at the beginning of each half and was denied by Buffon on both occasions, and Valere Germain had a late leader tipped over by the keeper.But those threats were patchy, for all that Monaco dominated possession. Dirar bent in a few dangerous crosses, but after that first quarter-hour or so there was little in the way of sustained threat, while Juve always offers menace on the break. Marchisio, in fact, should have scored just after halftime as Monaco lost possession in the face of a rare Juve press.
Power Rankings: Juventus hold firm in top spot, Real Madrid still No. 2
Juventus keep rolling! Their impressive win at Monaco keeps them top of Shaka Hislop’s Power Rankings while Real and Chelsea stay second and third.
- Juventus(no change)
Sure, they dropped two league points by conceding late at Atalanta but such is Juve’s Serie A lead that they could win the title this weekend. The more relevant result last week was a superb 2-0 win in Monaco, which means Max Allegri’s men have one foot in the Champions League final.
- Real Madrid(no change)
After the trauma of losing El Clasico in such dramatic fashion, Madrid looked set to drop more points when Valencia equalised late on Saturday. But Marcelo popped up with a winner and then, three days later, Cristiano Ronaldo destroyed Atletico. All is well at the Bernabeu again!
- Chelsea(no change)
A trip to Everton was viewed as a potential bump in the road on the way to winning the Premier League title, but Antonio Conte’s side responded in the way that champions do. Three second-half goals earned an emphatic win and saw Chelsea maintain their four-point lead at the top.
- Barcelona(no change)
A city derby at Espanyol yielded a 3-0 win that sees Barca, who have won four straight league games and scored 16 goals in the process, keep the pressure on leaders Madrid. Luis Suarez scored twice to end a goalless run of five games; he now has 34 in all competitions this season.
- Bayern Munich(new)
They’re back! Sealing the German Bundesliga was on their agenda after last week’s German Cup semifinal defeat, and guess what? They did it in fine fashion, thrashing Wolfsburg 6-0 to record a remarkable fifth straight league title.
Three points clear and with a game in hand, the French league title is within touching distance for Monaco after they won and Paris Saint-Germain lost at the weekend. Having gone down to Juventus, though, European glory might be a step too far, this season at least.
- Atletico Madrid(no change)
Winning 5-0 at Las Palmas appeared to be ideal perfect preparation for a Champions League derby but, unlike so many times when they have given Madrid all they can handle, Atletico offered so little on Tuesday. In the space of 90 minutes, their season might have ground to a halt.
Winning the derby over rivals Arsenal marked Mauricio Pochettino’s side as the kings of North London for the first time in 22 years. It was a sweet bonus after such an emphatic 2-0 win that really could have been 5-0 were it not for Petr Cech. There’s a lot to love about this Spurs team … assuming Daniel Levy can keep them all after this summer’s transfer window.
- Borussia Dortmund(no change)
Dortmund’s 0-0 draw with Cologne was a fine follow-up to beating Bayern last week as Thomas Tuchel & Co. try to finish in the top three.
- AS Roma(-4)
Roma did lose the Rome derby 3-1 vs. Lazio, but the Giallorossi are still playing better than their immediate rivals for the final place in the top 10. And let’s face it: Derbies are notoriously impossible to call. The drive of Edin Dzeko and Mo Salah should be enough for Luciano Spalletti’s side to finish second behind Juventus in Serie A this season.Dropping out: Paris Saint-Germain, RB Leipzig.Shaka Hislop played for over 10 years in the Premier League and represented Trinidad and Tobago at the 2006 World Cup. Watch him on ESPN FC TV!
U.S. Hot List: Gonzalez, Miazga win trophies, Green struggling for time
It is hard to believe, but the United States national team is just weeks away from gearing up for a busy summer of international soccer, which includes a pair of CONCACAF World Cup qualifiers in early June and then the Gold Cup in July.Here are the highlighted players, for better or worse, from the past week.
Juan Agudelo, FW, New England Revolution (MLS)
Why he’s here: Agudelo was superb in a two-goal performance as the Revolution played to a 3-3 draw against the Seattle Sounders. But the goals only tell half the story. Agudelo also showed off his hold-up play, passing skills and improved defensive work.
What this means: It will be hard to break up U.S. coach Bruce Arena’s preferred forward partnership of Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, and there are other strikers, such as Bobby Wood, who will be in the mix, but Agudelo is certainly making a strong case. And if not the qualifiers, then one has to think the Gold Cup will be on the docket for the Revs forward.
Omar Gonzalez, DF, Pachuca (Liga MX)
Why he’s here: It was quite the week for the former LA Galaxy defender. On Wednesday, Gonzalez started and went the full 90 minutes helping Pachuca clinch the 2016-17 CONCACAF Champions League with a 1-0 win over Tigres in the second leg. That was followed three days later by a solid 90-minute performance in a 2-2 draw against Cruz Azul.
What this means: While Gonzalez’s performances in a U.S. jersey have not been up to the standard that he has maintained in Liga MX — the 2-0 loss at Guatemala in March 2016 and last November’s 4-0 defeat at Costa Rica are the most glaring examples — Gonzalez is likely to play a key role for the Yanks in the June qualifiers. His Liga MX experience will be invaluable when the U.S. steps onto the Estadio Azteca turf on June 11 to face Mexico.
Matt Miazga, DF, Vitesse Arnhem (Eredivisie)
Why he’s here: For the first time in its 125-year history, Dutch club Vitesse won a major trophy with a 2-0 win in the Dutch Cup final over AZ Alkmaar in which Miazga started and went the distance. The Chelsea loanee has appeared in 21 of Vitesse’s 32 league matches this season.
What this means: Despite John Brooks’ injury woes, Miazga likely won’t feature in the June qualifiers since Arena has shown that he prefers other center-back options such as Gonzalez, Geoff Cameron and Tim Ream. But the Gold Cup would serve as a great way for Miazga to get some big-game national team experience.
Benny Feilhaber, MF, Sporting Kansas City (MLS)
Why he’s here: Feilhaber is no stranger to the spectacular, and he put on another show last Saturday with a stunning strike from distance in Sporting Kansas City’s 3-0 win over Real Salt Lake, his second goal of the young season.
What this means: Feilhaber has hit the ground running since returning from a hamstring injury on April 15, and any time he is on the field, Sporting Kansas City is a better team. More performances like last Saturday’s will put the veteran midfielder in discussion for a roster spot for next month’s qualifiers.
Julian Green, MF, Stuttgart (2. Bundesliga)
Why he’s here: The 21-year-old Green was once again an unused substitute in Stuttgart’s 3-2 victory at Nurnberg. It was the fourth match in a row in which Green has failed to see any action, and he has played in just two matches since March 10.
What this means: While the lack of minutes at star-studded Bayern Munich was understandable and the failed loan to Hamburg two seasons ago could be attributed to a young player still trying to find his way, the hope was that Green, who turns 22 in June, would have had greater success thus far at Stuttgart. Now, Green’s chances of a Gold Cup spot appear to be fading, but with the tournament scheduled for July, it may well behoove Green to instead focus on having a strong preseason with Stuttgart, who look set for a Bundesliga return in 2017-18.
Jorge Villafana, DF, Santos Laguna (Liga MX)
Why he’s here: Perhaps it is harsh to include a player in the Cooling Off section that just made his seventh straight start and helped his team clinch a Liguilla spot, but it has to be said that Villafana struggled a lot in Saturday’s 2-2 draw at Chiapas. He was unable to clear a ball that led to the first Chiapas goal and then fell while trying to defend on the second Chiapas score.
What this means: Villafana started the two March qualifiers back when he wasn’t even getting any first-team minutes at Santos, so a mini-slump will likely not change Arena’s opinion.
Jermaine Jones, MF, LA Galaxy (MLS)
Why he’s here: Playing in a more advanced role, Jones was unable to help the Galaxy solve their attacking woes in a 0-0 draw versus the Philadelphia Union. Jones had the biggest miss of all when he popped a wide-open header well over the crossbar.
What this means: Arena is a big fan of Jones, evidenced by his most recent start in the qualifier against Panama, so Jones’ early season struggles with the Galaxy won’t likely damage his national team standing.
Alfredo Morales, MF, Ingolstadt (Bundesliga)
Why he’s here: A sending off is never a way to earn favor, but that’s what happened to Morales, who picked up two yellow cards in relegation-threatened Ingolstadt’s 0-0 draw with RB Leipzig.
What this means: While Morales did feature for the U.S. in the 2015 Gold Cup, his chances of getting a call for the 2017 edition are slim at best.
U.S. Hot List: Dempsey, Morris impress but defensive injuries are a concern
One U.S. national team mainstay made consecutive Premier League starts for the first time since August, while another is heading back to England’s top flight after a productive detour in the second tier. In MLS, meanwhile, several attacking players are showing off their sharpness, but there’s also worrying injury news for Bruce Arena, both at home and overseas.
With the start of the next national team camp just over a month away, which Americans are trending north and whose stock is heading the other direction?
Clint Dempsey, FW; Seattle Sounders (MLS)
Why he’s here: Dempsey took a ridiculous eight shots — scoring once and adding an assist — in Sunday’s 3-0 rout of the reeling LA Galaxy.
What this means: With seven goals in the nine games he’s played for club and country over the last month, Dempsey is back to his best. That could mean a selection headache for Arena in June if Jozy Altidore and Bobby Wood are also healthy. But it’s a good problem for the U.S. coach to have.
Jordan Morris, MF/FW; Seattle Sounders (MLS)
Why he’s here: The 22-year-old scored his second goal of the season in the win at LA.
What this means: A pair of strikes in seven appearances is respectable enough but more impressive than the numbers is how Morris’ runs have become sharper and his finishing cleaner in his second season as a professional. Both were on display last Sunday.
DeAndre Yedlin, DF; Newcastle United (English League Championship)
Why he’s here: On Monday, the 23-year-old veteran of the 2014 World Cup watched from the bench as his club beat Preston North End 4-1 to secure promotion to the Premier League for next season.
What this means: Yedlin’s gamble paid off. The former Tottenham full-back played well in the Prem last season on loan with Sunderland and wanted to stay there but, instead, moved to rivals Newcastle because Sunderland wouldn’t pay Spurs’ asking price. He’s spent most of the season as first-choice right-back and now Yedlin will get to test himself against all-world competition in the run-up to Russia 2018, while Sunderland look likely to be relegated.
Darlington Nagbe, MF; Portland Timbers (MLS)
Why he’s here: This brilliant individual goal in Saturday’s 2-1 triumph over the Vancouver Whitecaps:
What this means: Nagbe’s confidence is clearly sky high after starting two World Cup qualifiers last month. The knocks against the Akron alum throughout his MLS career have been a lack of production and a tendency to drift out of games. But the technically gifted 26-year-old has been at the heart of everything for the Western Conference-leading Timbers in the seven games he’s played this year, with his two goals already doubling his 27-match total in 2016.
Geoff Cameron, DF/MF; Stoke City (English Premier League)
Why he’s here: Cameron has gone the distance in Stoke’s last four contests after recovering from the strained quad he suffered during the U.S.’ win against Honduras last month.
What this means: Manager Mark Hughes once again deployed Cameron as a central midfielder at Swansea, just as he has in the 31-year-old’s eight league games this calendar year. It makes you wonder if Arena might try the versatile vet alongside Michael Bradley in the June 3 friendly vs. Venezuela and, if that goes well, subsequent qualifiers against Trinidad and Tobago (June 8) and Mexico (June 11).
Brad Guzan, GK; Middlesbrough (English Premier League)
Why he’s here: With starter Victor Vales sidelined by a rib injury, Guzan has been between the posts in relegation-fighting Boro’s last two games — his first back-to-back league starts in eight months — and should keep his place for looming tests against Sunderland and stacked Manchester City.
What this means: It sure doesn’t hurt Guzan to get some important games in before U.S. camp opens at the end of next month, especially with Tim Howard still serving a suspension in MLS. Still, one has to think that Howard remains Arena’s first choice.
Joe Corona, MF; Tijuana (Mexican Liga MX)
Why he’s here: Corona’s second goal of the season — and first since Jan. 13 — stood up as the winner Friday against Toluca, a victory that left Xolos alone atop the Mexican standings.
What this means: The 26-year-old No. 8, who hasn’t played for the U.S. since 2015, continues — slowly but surely — to build a case for his national team return.
John Brooks, DF; Hertha Berlin (German Bundesliga)
Why he’s here: Brooks is out indefinitely after sustaining a hip injury during Saturday’s 1-0 win over Wolfsburg.
What this means: If Brooks is still sidelined a month from now it will be a blow but not a disaster for the U.S., which has gotten used to being without the brittle center-back for important qualifiers. Tim Ream figures to be next man up in that scenario.
Nick Rimando, GK; Real Salt Lake (MLS)
Why he’s here: Rimando has made several costly blunders this season, including two that led to goals in Saturday’s 3-1 home loss to expansion side Atlanta United. The 37-year-old was later forced to leave the match with a leg injury.
What this means: Whether Rimando is even available next month remains to be seen. Either way, the door could be opening for another MLS keeper to stake his claim for the third-string job, with Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls), Bill Hamid (D.C. United) and David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes) the leading candidates.
Michael Orozco, DF; Tijuana (Mexican Liga MX)
Why he’s here: The 31-year-old has missed Xolos’ last three games because of a knee injury.
What this means: With just two league games left on Tijuana’s regular-season slate, Orozco is in a race against time to return for the playoffs. If he’s unable to participate between now and the end of the postseason, then it’s hard to see him being part of Arena’s May and June plans.Doug McIntyre is a staff writer for ESPN The Magazine and ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @DougMacESPN.
MLS expansion latest: Tampa Bay’s vote; Beckham’s new investor; a pulse for St. Louis?
- Stay up to date on the latest across the MLS expansion landscape, with the league continuing to churn on its decisions for the next franchises to enter the fold.SHAREBRIAN STRAUSFriday April 28th, 2017
Once again, the future of an MLS expansion effort is in voters’ hands. Three weeks ago, the citizens of St. Louis decided against providing funding for a soccer stadium. Next Tuesday, the St. Petersburg half of the Tampa Bay metro area will decide whether the Rowdies’ bid will move forward.There isn’t nearly as much money at stake in the St. Petersburg vote and thus, a much greater likelihood the Rowdies will get the result they need. But Rick Baker is taking no chances. The president of The Edwards Group (led by Rowdies owner Bill Edwards) knows a thing or two about elections. He was elected mayor of St. Petersburg twice. And he told SI.com this week that no matter the odds or outlook, there are only two ways to approach a vote: “One is unopposed. The other is scared,” Baker said.
So he’s literally been going door to door in an effort to share the Rowdies’ plans with area residents. Unlike the very public campaign waged in St. Louis, the MLS hopefuls in Tampa Bay are staying relatively quiet and working the grassroots. Baker said he’s visited some 50 groups in person over the past two months: neighborhood and homeowners associations, condo boards, rotary clubs and business owners. The Rowdies also sought the opinion of area stakeholders and event organizers during the stadium design phase. “It was important to Bill that we reach out to the community directly … and have a chance to see people face-to-face and give us an opportunity to respond to concerns,” Baker said. “We’ve used this opportunity of a referendum to explain why we think [the vote] is a good thing and also to try to help them understand why we think soccer is important to the city’s future.”Edwards and the Rowdies aren’t asking for money. Instead, they want permission to sign a 25-year lease with the city of St. Petersburg that will allow the club to upgrade Al Lang Stadium to meet MLS standards and then play there for the long term. Any lease on city-owned waterfront property that’s greater than five years requires public approval. Edwards is financing the special election himself to the tune of $280,000, and plans to spend $80 million of his own money to transform Al Lang into an iconic venue that looks out onto Tampa Bay and sits alongside the 2,000-seat Mahaffey Theater and the Salvador Dalí Museum, which holds the largest collection of the Spanish artist’s work outside Europe. Edwards also will foot the $150 million MLS expansion fee.So who would vote against it?“At this point, there really is no organized opposition that I’m aware of,” said Baker, who was mayor from 2001 to 2010. “People have questions about whether we have sufficient parking. Have you accommodated the lighting? In order to deal with the condominiums surrounding the stadium, do we have transportation covered—those kinds of questions. So we wanted to get around and talk to people.”The city has 168,000 eligible voters and nearly 22,000 ballots already have been sent in by mail. Saint Petersblog, a local news blog, conducted a poll in early April and reported that 70% of voters are expected to approve the referendum, with 19% opposing and 11% undecided.“If we pass the referendum, there’s a high degree of certainty associated with our stadium plan. That’s a pretty good advantage we have in our corner,” Baker said.But there’s no telling whether it’ll be enough to sway MLS. Competition for the four available expansion slots—at least two are expected to be awarded by the end of the year—is fierce. In Tampa Bay’s corner: it’s the 11th largest media market in the country and now the biggest without an MLS team, the aforementioned stadium certainty and the history behind the Rowdies brand. Potential pitfalls could be Tampa/St. Petersburg’s proximity to Orlando (plus a possible expansion team in Miami) and perceived competition from the Lightning, Rays and the array of annual or one-time sporting events staged in the area.“Everything that we’ve heard either privately or publicly from folks at MLS about Orlando is that not only is it not seen as an impediment, but it’s seen as a positive thing because of the opportunity to have a great rivalry down the I4 corridor,” Baker said.Orlando City plays about 110 miles from Al Lang and Miami is 260 miles to the south—that’s greater than the distance between Washington, D.C., and New York City.“I haven’t heard how [Miami] would impact us either way. Our perspective is that we’re just doing our thing,” Baker said.Whether the Rowdies can keep doing their thing will be determined Tuesday.“Hopefully we get over the hurdle. It’s still a hurdle,” said Baker, who will remain “scared” until the final votes are counted.Meanwhile, the Rowdies have averaged 5,591 fans at their four home games so far this season. That ranks eighth in the 30-team USL, behind rival MLS expansion bidders FC Cincinnati, Sacramento Republic, San Antonio FC and Phoenix Rising.Speaking of rival bids, here’s an update on some other areas of the MLS expansion landscape:
Arsene Wenger out to end Jose Mourinho hoodoo in Arsenal vs. United
Arsene Wenger has never beaten Jose Mourinho in the Premier League.Mourinho will need that trend to continue if he is to take Manchester United into the top four this season. A draw, though, is no good for United this Sunday. Victories are needed to overtake Manchester City and Liverpool in the fight to finish in the Champions League places. Arsenal need three points to boost their own hopes of the top four while higher up, the title race remains alive after Tottenham beat the Gunners last week. Spurs can cut the gap to just one point if they beat West Ham on Friday before Chelsea host Middlesbrough on Monday.Predict the outcome of the latest round of fixtures in our match polls …
ARSENAL: Wenger has never recorded a Premier League victory over Mourinho, and with Arsenal in this form it doesn’t feel as if that’s likely to happen anytime soon. With Mourinho’s focus now arguably on the Europa League, he’s likely to be content to shut this game down and take a point.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United — James McNicholas
MAN UNITED: Mourinho has claimed that he way rest players for Manchester United’s trip to the Emirates so he can prioritise the Europa League semifinal. That may well be the case, but you would imagine that the manager will put something in place to deny Wenger a victory. Defensively, United will struggle, given how many players are missing through injury and how many others are exhausted through the lack of rotation. However, tactics similar to those employed at Man City might be on show. If someone like Anthony Martial or Henrikh Mkhitaryan can come up with a top performance, United may surprise a few people.
Prediction: Arsenal 1-1 Manchester United — Scott Patterson
INDY ELEVEN FORWARD JUSTIN BRAUN NAMED NASL PLAYER OF THE MONTH
Salt Lake City native leads league in scoring, assists after fast start in 2017
NEW YORK (May 4, 2017) – Indy Eleven forward Justin Braun has been named North American Soccer League (NASL) Player of the Month for April after emerging from the first five games as the league’s leading scorer. The award is voted on by NASL media.With three goals and two assists so far this season, Braun sits atop the league’s scoring chart and is tied for the league lead in assists. The 30-year-old veteran’s best game of the opening month came on April 1 when he tallied two goals and an assist in a thrilling 3-3 draw with Puerto Rico FC. He scored the all-important equalizer to help Indy extend its record-setting home unbeaten streak at the time, and ultimately earned NASL Player of the Week honors for his performance.Braun’s third goal of the month came just last weekend in Jacksonville, where the Boys in Blue earned a 1-1 draw to stay undefeated on the season. He opened the scoring before Armada FC fought back to earn a share of the points.A tireless striker who seemingly never loses energy, Braun has played every minute of every game in 2017 and also leads Indy in shots. He has been a valuable asset in the air as well, leading the club in aerial duels won.Braun, an imposing figure standing 6-foot-3, joined the club in early 2016 from USL side Sacramento Republic, and ended up turning in a solid first season for Indiana’s Team. The Utah native scored eight goals and racked up five assists in 25 league appearances last year.Indy, which has drawn its first five games, returns home this Saturday to host FC Edmonton, the side it beat in The Championship Semifinals last November. Kickoff at Carroll Stadium is set for 7:30 p.m. ET, and the Week 7 clash can be seen live on ESPN3 (U.S.) and NASL.com (Canada).
BEN SPEAS WINS PLAY OF THE MONTH
The midfielder’s masterful chip vs. Puerto Rico FC voted best for April award May 5, 2017
Indy Eleven played to a thrilling 3-3 draw with Puerto Rico FC back in Week 2 of the NASL Spring Season. It was Indy’s 2017 home debut and the first chance for new signing Ben Speas to play in front of the home support. The midfielder certainly didn’t disappoint. For the second goal in the match, Speas timed his run to perfection, recieving the ball from forward Justin Braun, and then finished with aplomb. He chipped Puerto Rico FC goalkeeper Trevor Spangenberg for his first Indy goal, and the tally has won NASL Play of the Month, voted on by the fans. http://www.indyeleven.com/news/2017/05/05/ben-speas-wins-play-of-the-month
THREE THINGS: #JAX V INDY 11
Justin Braun picks up top scoring honor in fifth consecutive draw May 1, 2017
BRAUN TAKES THE LEAD
After sitting in a six-way tie going into Week 6, Indy Eleven’s forward Justin Braun forged ahead on Saturday night to take the lead in the race to become the top goal scorer in the league. Braun linked up with striking partner Eamon Zayed in spectacular fashion in the 25th minute to zip past Jacksonville Armada FC’s offside trap, and followed up his run by narrowly avoiding a sliding tackle from Armada ‘keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell to comfortably send the ball into the back of the net. However, Braun’s goal wasn’t enough to stop the table toppers after Armada forward Johnathan Glenn headed his first goal of 2017 from a corner five minutes later.Braun takes the number one spot on the list with three goals, leaving behind a now seven-way tie for second place; Hector Ramos (PRFC), Stefano Pinho (MIA), Kwadwo Poku (MIA), J.C. Banks (JAX), Thomas Heinemann (SFD), Lance Laing (NCFC) and Matthew Fondy (NCFC) all sit in second place with two goals each. After taking a fifth consecutive point in the 2017 season, “Indiana’s Team” remains amongst the top three highest-scoring teams in the league and remains one of two teams undefeated in 2017.
TORRADO CONTINUES TO DOMINATE
During Week 5’s 0-0 home draw against San Francisco Deltas, “Boys in Blue” midfielder Gerardo Torrado took home the honor of Wick’s Pie Chart Player of the Match for his outstanding performance and looked to replicate his performance in Week 6. “El Borrego’s” 90-minute performance saw the Mexico National Team legend win 100-percent of his tackles, complete nearly four-fifths of his passes and win the same amount of duels, and gained two interceptions for his side. Torrado’s versatile playstyle in the midfield makes him a viable attacking and defending option in any situation.While Torrado showed great defensive awareness on Saturday, good work from the rest of the team doesn’t go unnoticed. In similar fashion, Indy defender Lovel Palmer had a stellar performance, completing 85-percent of his passes, winning four-fifths of his duels, claiming four interceptions and clearing the ball six times.
WELCOME TO THE NASL, DAVID GOLDSMITH
In the dying minutes of the match, Indy Eleven forward David Goldsmith made his professional debut against Jacksonville Armada FC. The Bristol, England native came on the pitch in the 88th minute for midfielder Sinisa Ubiparipovic as a last minute injection of fresh, attacking legs to help attempt to break the stalemate. Though the contest ended in a draw, hopefully, this is a sign of good things to come for the young striker.Prior to joining Indy Eleven, Goldsmith played for university champion side Butler University. Goldsmith helped secure Butler’s 2016 Big East Championship title, paving the way by scoring 12 goals and helping the team to earn 28 points, which ranked him among the top 20 goal scorers in the nation. In addition to his championship title run, Goldsmith also picked up several other awards, including: Big East Male Scholar-Athlete of the Year (2016), All-Big East First Team, Big East Co-Offensive Player of the Year (2016) and semifinalist for the Missouri Athletic Club Hermann Trophy, the sport’s most prestigious collegiate award. Goldsmith is among three of the “Boys in Blue” to sign for the club out of college this season; Both Tanner Thompson and Christian Lomeli, Indiana University graduated, penned their names on contracts for the Eleven before the start of the 2017 season.Don’t miss out on the first chance to see “Indiana’s Team” in the new adidas home kits this Saturday as they continue the “Fight for Three” on home turf.
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