5/26/17 – Title Winners, FA Cup, German Cup, Copa Del Rey Sat, Best Goalie Camp in town next week!

So the season’s overseas have basically wrapped up and with them titles for Chelsea, Real Madrid, Juve, Bayern Munich, and Monaco in the major leagues.  Hanging up the cleats in Italy one Francesco Totti of Roma – this legendary forward played his entire career for Roma but is perhaps best known for his legendary career in leading Italy to World Cup and European Cup Victories.  Word is Totti might end up in MLS next season – it would be worth the ticket price just to see this legend.  Speaking of MLS – Saturday 2:30 on Fox Seattle host Portland is must see TV – its on right after the FA Cup Final between Arsenal and Chelsea which starts at 12:30 on Fox.  Dortmund and US starlet Christian Pulisic will face Franfort and US defender Timmy Chandler for the German Cup at 2 pm on ESPN3 where you can also catch Barca vs Alaves for the Copa Del Rey in Spain at 3:30 pm.

Of course the  U-20 World cup has the US U-20’s leading their group with 4 points heading into the final match on Sun at 5 am on Fox Sports – set those DVRs baby and tune in to see young 17 year old star forward Josh Sergent who has 3 of our goals thus far – they should advance to next week’s round of 16.   And of course next weekend Sat at 2:45 pm on FOX – Champions League Glory with Real Madrid looking for 2 in a row vs Italian Champion Juve and legendary goalkeeper Gigi Buffon.  (more on that match up next week)

The Indy 11 on the road to Edmonton this Saturday at 9  pm.  on MyIndyTV. Use this link for discount tickets.  Indy 11 Discount Ticket Link.

Also this reminder to All Seniors this year and current folks in College – Carmel Dad’s Offers co-ed Alumni/College age soccer in June/July on Tues Nights. Gather a team or sign up as an individual just $95.  Please click here for the registration form Register – May 10- June 1 Commissioner:  Alex Scott  scottaf2@gmail.com

Finally GOALKEEPERS you still have time to sign up for the Best Goalie Camp in town – Coach Carla’s Goalie Post2Post Camp is next week Tues thru Friday.  See full details below! Goalkeeper Camp: May 30 – June 2, 2017        

Its almost Summer – Time to plan your Soccer Camps 

Post2Post Soccer Camps

Former College Coach and Canadian National Team Goalkeeper & current Carmel FC & Carmel High Asst coach Carla Baker Provides elite-level training for youth players who want to become better technical and tactical soccer players.  Our camps focus on individual technical skills and game tactics in pressure situations using advanced training techniques. Come and join our staff of former Division I college coaches, National Team players, experienced youth, high school and college players for a fun learning experience.

Cost: $195 per camper  Location: Badger Fields   Goalkeeper Camp: May 30 – June 2, 2017        Field Player Camp: July 24 – 27, 2017

 

Indy 11 Youth Soccer Camp at Carmel Dad’s Club

June 19-22 9 to 12 noon (ages 5-14)  $135

 

Carmel High School Soccer CampsJuly 17-20

(called Hounds Soccer Technical/Skills Camp and Hounds Soccer Tactical/Scrimmage Camp) and they are being held at Murray Stadium the week of July 17-20. The format will be where the morning session will run 10:00-12:00. This is the technical skills training – session runs 10 am till 12 pm and it will cost $85.   The afternoon session is the tactical/scrimmage session and will run 1:00-3:00 at Murray Stadium both run by Men’s Soccer Head Coach Shane Schmidt. Boys and Girls – 8-14 Cost: $85/per camper per session.

GAMES ON TV  

Sat, May 27 

12:30 pm Fox                Arsenal vs. Chelsea  (FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium)

2 pm ESPN3                    Dortmund vs  Frankfurt (German Cup Final)  (US Pulisic vs Timmy Chandler)

2:30 pm FOX                  Seattle vs Portland

 

9 pm myIndyTV      Edmonton FC vs Indy 11

Sun, May 28

FIFA U-20 World Cup

2:00am       New Zealand U20 vs France U20  Fox Sport1

2:00am       Honduras U20 vs Vietnam U20     Fox Sport 2

5:00am       Senegal U20 vs Ecuador U20       Fox Sport 2

5:00am  USA U20 vs Saudi Arabia U20      Fox Sport 1

5 pm ESPN                       Atlanta United vs NYCFC

8 pm Fox Sport 1        Dallas vs Houston

May 30-June 1 Tues/Wed/Thurs

FIFA U-20 World Cup Round of 16 Games 4 am and 7 am

Sat, June 3

2:30 pm  FOX       Juventus vs Real Madrid       Champions League Final

 

U20 – WORLD CUP Schedule on Fox

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

Confederations Cup Schedule June

Gold Cup Schedule In July

International Champions Cup July  Games in Nashville and Detroit

 

EPL

Winning FA Cup won’t Help Arsenal and Wenger ESPNFC

Arsenal need FA Cup win to Plaster over EPL disappointment – Andrew Mangan ESPNFC

Chelsea have Advantage over Arsenal in FA Cup – ESPNFC

Liverpool Must Respond to Man U’s glory in Europa League

Which Champions League Qualifier Had the Best Season

Conte vs Klopp – Who Wins Emotion on Touchline Trophy

Man U Has lots of Work Ahead – Marcotti – ESPNFC

 

USA

US U20s Beat Senegal 1-0 – look to advance with win or tie Sun 5 am

US Late Equalizer saves US vs Ecudor in U20 WC –US Soccer

Another rising U.S. teenage star: Meet 17-year-old Josh Sargent

US National Team Players Weekend Update – Pulisic helps Dortmund win, Bobby Wood avoids Relegation

Pulisic Weather’s Storm Adds to success in 1st full season at Dortmund  SI

The Coach who found Pulisic

 

WORLD

Juve + Madrid on Top –

Zidane guides Real to La Liga Title, Juve Win Title – Marcotti – ESPN FC

Copa Del Rey Final Saturday serves as Sendoff for Barca’s Manager Luis Enrique

Totti’s Awkward Farewell in Serie A for Roma

Argentina reach Agreement with Sevilla over Jorge Sampaoli Appointment as Argentina Coach

 

Chelsea eye domestic Double; Arsenal want record 13th FA Cup win

Chelsea will try to complete a domestic Double while Arsenal will attempt to win the FA Cup for a record 13th time when the two sides meet in the final at Wembley Stadium on Saturday.The eventual top-flight champions have won the FA Cup on 11 occasions, with Chelsea the most recent club to do so in 2010. The last time a team failed to win the Double having reached the final was in 2007, when Chelsea defeated Premier League champions Manchester United.

If Chelsea were to win, they would capture the FA Cup for the eighth time. They have not lost in any of their last four finals, having also won in 2009 and 2012, with Arsenal the last team to beat them in the final in 2002.Regardless of the result on Saturday, the FA Cup will have been won by either Arsenal or Chelsea in seven of the last 11 years. Arsenal won in both 2014 and 2015, and another victory would give Arsene Wenger his seventh FA Cup, surpassing Aston Villa’s George Ramsay.  Arsenal could claim a record 13th FA Cup title with a victory on Saturday.

Arsenal, who completed the Double in 2002, have not lost in the final since 2001 — a run of five successful appearances. They are playing in the final for the 20th time, with Chelsea making their 12th appearance.The only Chelsea player still with the club who participated in their last FA Cup final appearance in 2012 is defender John Terry, who will depart after 22 years this summer. Terry, who has won the FA Cup five times, could win his 16th major title with Chelsea should they win on Saturday.

Chelsea have a 62 percent of winning the FA Cup, according to FiveThirtyEight’s Soccer Power Index.

Theo Walcott, who has five goals for Arsenal, is the top-scoring player remaining in the competition. Pedro has scored four times for Chelsea in the FA Cup this season.The two sides each won their home Premier League fixtures, with Arsenal winning 3-0 on Sept. 24 and Chelsea claiming a 3-1 victory on Feb. 4. Chelsea have won eight of their last 13 meetings with Arsenal with only two losses — although one was the FA Community Shield at Wembley in 2015.

 

FA Cup final tale of the tape: Chelsea have the edge over Arsenal

For Chelsea, the chance to win a second Premier League and FA Cup double. For Arsenal, the chance to climb back above Manchester United and claim the trophy for the 13th time. Those are the barest facts of Saturday’s FA Cup final at Wembley.

The subplots get more complicated beyond that. Might this be Arsene Wenger’s final match in charge of Arsenal? Is this the last time Diego Costa leads the line for Chelsea? Similar might even be the case for Eden Hazard if Real Madrid can get their man.

All that could be answered in a match that is a rematch of the 2002 final, staged in Cardiff, when Arsenal were 2-0 victors. Only Wenger, and John Terry, for whom Wembley will definitely be his last day in the Chelsea sun, remain from that day. Here is a tale of the tape.

Goalkeeper

Petr Cech appears destined to face the club he spent 11 years serving with distinction, rather than David Ospina, who has usually played cup matches for Arsenal this season but did not play in the 2-1 semifinal victory over Manchester City. Cech won four FA Cups as a Chelsea player.

Thibaut Courtois will be in the opposing goal to former training partner Cech, whom he usurped during the 2014-15 season. Last year, as Chelsea faltered, there were some fans who yearned for his dependable predecessor as Courtois made some worrying flaps. This year, behind an admittedly excellent defence, he has returned to his previous form.

Edge: Chelsea

Defence

When Wenger made an April switch to a back three, he was accused of copying Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, but it has been a qualified success for Arsenal, helping them through that City semifinal and during a late-season run that took them to within a point of fourth place. The issue for Wenger is that he has barely three centre-backs to call on at Wembley. Laurent Koscielny’s senseless sending-off against Everton last week was followed by Gabriel ruining his knee. To persist with the formation, Per Mertesacker, whose season debut came in replacing Gabriel last week, may need to be employed. There will be a great deal of responsibility on Rob Holding. With Shkodran Mustafi recovering from concussion, Nacho Monreal may need to step inside from the left flank.

Conte has a clean bill of health in his defence with his trio of Cesar AzpilicuetaDavid Luiz and Gary Cahill set to line up. Terry can only expect to appear from the bench as a late, ceremonial sub at best, as Kurt Zouma is usual first reserve, and Nathan Ake is also more adaptable within that defensive trio. The wing-back play of Victor Moses and Marcos Alonso has been a key factor in Chelsea’s success and stopping them may be foremost in Wenger’s thoughts.

Edge: Chelsea

Midfield

Wenger had struggled for a midfield formula since Santi Cazorla was lost to injury in October but may have hit on one by accident during their late-season revival. That 3-4-2-1 formation suits the previously struggling Granit Xhaka far better in a deep-lying role and there have been recent glimpses of the same Aaron Ramsey who starred for Wales at Euro 2016. Their presence in the centre and with wing-backs pushed into midfield means Mesut Ozil is given licence to drift and does not have to track back.

N’Golo Kante is one of the many players Wenger claims he could have signed but chose not to. This season’s Footballer of the Year might just be the greatest miss on that lengthy list, since he has been the dominant player of two successive title wins, for Leicester and Chelsea, and could be the player that could answer Arsenal’s habitual lack of power and guile in big, crucial occasions. Alongside him, Nemanja Matic has been restored to the performance levels of two years ago. And, likely from the bench, Cesc Fabregas can hurt his former club with a passing quality that perhaps only Ozil in the English game is capable of emulating.

Edge: Chelsea

Attack

Once this game is finished, the transfer season is fully upon us, and Alexis Sanchez is being linked with a move to Chelsea, with just a year on his contract remaining. Saturday could be a busy day for body language experts. To play with Sanchez, Wenger has lately chosen the speed of Danny Welbeck over Olivier Giroud, preferring the greater pace the Englishman offers. Welbeck missed a couple of decent chances in last week’s 3-1 defeat of Everton but he also showed great composure in setting up the ball for Sanchez to score Arsenal’s second.

With a big move to China in the offing, this may well be the last chance to see Diego Costa run out for Chelsea. He has been a thorn in Arsenal’s side during his three seasons in English football, though he may also be their best route to victory. When he gets riled up and distracted, then Costa can be more help rather than hindrance. Behind him, sometimes beyond him, or wherever the mood takes him, Eden Hazard has been the best, most consistent attacker in England once more this year. Stopping him will be more difficult than putting Costa off his stride.

Edge: Chelsea

Manager

Arsene Wenger has a chance to go out on a high.

Last week, after months of batting questions away, Wenger opened up a little on what has been a harrowing season for him and Arsenal. “Yes, of course,” he replied when asked if questions over his future had been damaging. “You cannot say that the environment for the group of players was especially positive.” This week, he has been much more guarded, still refusing to publicly commit his future. Whether this is the last match of his Arsenal career or not, signing off such a difficult campaign with another FA Cup would be sweet for him.

For all Conte‘s dominance of Serie A with Juventus, where he won three titles, there is a significant absence in his medal collection. As a manager, he is yet to win a cup competition beyond the preseason Supercoppa Italia, failing to win a double of Coppa Italia to accompany that trio of championships. Were his team to win at Wembley, he would emulate Italian compatriot Carlo Ancelotti in winning Chelsea a Double, to cap off a season his team has dominated. And Conte’s own dominance is confirmed by the amount of managers copying his three-man defensive set-up this season. Including Wenger, of course.

Edge: Chelsea

Intangibles

Even with Chelsea going for a Double, a feat not completed since they last did it in 2010, most eyes will be on Wenger for signs that this may be his final bow. Having admitted his players have been affected, questions over their Wembley state of mind may be raised. And beyond Wenger himself, the contract situations of both Ozil and Sanchez also lie in abeyance. Arsenal are a club of uncertainties right now, as opposed to Chelsea, who have made an almost total recovery from the fallout that followed Jose Mourinho’s December 2015 departure.

First in the Premier League against fifth, after Arsenal finished 28 points behind, makes the champions favourite, especially in the light of that defensive injury crisis. For Arsenal to win would be no giant-killing but it would register as a significant shock.

Perhaps Chelsea’s greatest problem might be overconfidence but Conte, meticulous in preparation, clear-sighted in his vision, is unlikely to allow complacency to set in. Though it gave rise to the shift in formation that would swiftly alter the momentum of this season’s title race, he will well remember the lessons of losing 3-0 to Arsenal at the Emirates in September.Score prediction: Chelsea 3-1 Arsenal, with a flutter of late goals to seal the trophy.John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.

 

 

MNT REWIND: PULISIC HELPS BORUSSIA DORTMUND EARN UEFA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE PLACE

by Pulisic earns game-winning penalty kick, Wood helps Hamburg stay up, Cameron provides game-winning assist on final day of league seasons in Germany and England on May 21, 2017

 

League seasons across Europe ended this week, with a couple of Americans playing a role in helping their clubs to prime positions for next season.

Here’s how they performed:

In Germany, Christian Pulisic came off the bench at halftime and helped spark Borussia Dortmund’s 4-3 comeback win against Werder Bremen to clinch third and an automatic place in the UEFA Champions League. Pulisic played his part, earning the game-winning penalty kick which Bundesliga-leading scorer Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang sent home in the 89th minute to earn all three points. Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund now turn their focus to Saturday’s DFB Pokal Final where they’ll take on Timmy Chandler and Eintracht Frankfurt. lsewhere, Bobby Wood went 90 minutes and helped Hamburg stay up in the Bundesliga thanks to a 2-1 win against Wolfsburg. The sides were tied 1-1 until substitute Gian-Luca Waldschmidt’s 88th minute header gave HSV the goal they needed to remain in the German topflight next season.  READ MORE: Five Things to Know About Bobby Wood

In England, Geoff Cameron collected his first assist of the campaign when his floated cross from the right picked out Peter Crouch at the back post for the game’s only goal in Stoke City’s 1-0 season-ending victory at Southampton.

A few other highlights:

  • Danny Williams and Reading are off to the English League Championship Playoff Final thanks to their 1-0 win against Tim Ream and Fulham at midweek. The Royals will face former U.S. international David Wagner and Huddersfield in the Final on May 29. Learn more about the English League Championship Promotion Playoffs.
  • Fabian Johnson started and went 74 minutes in Borussia Mönchengladbach’s 2-2 draw with Darmstadt. It was his second-straight appearance and first start since returning from a hamstring injury suffered back in March.
  • Nick Rimando extended his M.L.S. penalty kick save record to 23 when he denied Clint Dempsey’s attempt in Real Salt Lake’s 1-0 defeat to Seattle Sounders FC on Saturday.
  • Ethan Horvath ended the season with his fourth-straight appearance, helping Club Brugge to a 2-1 win vs. Gent and a second-place finish in the Belgian Jupiler League.
  • U.S. youth international Weston McKennie made his professional debut, entering Schalke’s 1-1 draw at Ingolstadt in the 77th minute. Fellow youth international Haji Wright also made the Schalke 18, but didn’t appear in the match.

Check out the full rundown of how MNT players performed for their clubs this past week: 

Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas) – 88 minutes in 1-0 loss vs. San Jose Earthquakes (May 20)
Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC) – 90 minutes in 1-1 draw at New York Red Bulls (May 19)
Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana) – 90 minutes in 2-0 loss at Tigres UANL (May 17); Sunday, May 20 vs. Tigres UANL (9 p.m. ET – Azteca America)
DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo) – 90 minutes in 4-1 loss at Atlanta United FC (May 20)
Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union) – 90 minutes in 2-0 win vs. Houston Dynamo; 90 minutes in 2-1 win vs. Colorado Rapids (May 20)
Matt Besler (Sporting KC) – 90 minutes in 3-0 win vs. Seattle Sounders FC (May 17); 90 minutes in 2-0 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (May 20)
David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes) – 90 minutes in 1-1 draw vs. Orlando City SC; 90 minutes in 1-0 win at FC Dallas (May 20)
Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United) – 90 minutes in 1-0 loss vs. Chicago Fire (May 20)
Michael Bradley (Toronto FC) – 90 minutes in 1-1 draw at New York Red Bulls (May 19)
John Brooks (Hertha Berlin) – 45 minutes in 6-2 loss vs. Bayer Leverkusen (May 20)
Geoff Cameron (Stoke City) – 90 minutes, ASSIST in 1-0 win at Southampton (May 21)
Timmy Chandler (Eintracht Frankfurt) – 90 minutes in 2-2 draw vs. RB Leipzig (May 20)
Joe Corona (Club Tijuana) – In 18, DNP in 2-0 loss at Tigres UANL (May 17); Sunday, May 20 vs. Tigres UANL (9 p.m. ET – Azteca America)
Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC) – 81 minutes in 1-0 win vs. Real Salt Lake (May 20)
Benny Feilhaber (Sporting KC) – 90 minutes, ASSIST in 3-0 win vs. Seattle Sounders FC (May 17); 34 substitute minutes in 2-0 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (May 20)
Greg Garza (Atlanta United FC) – 90 minutes in 4-1 win vs. Houston Dynamo (May 20)
Lynden Gooch (Sunderland) – 13 substitute minutes in 2-0 loss at Arsenal (May 16); 28 substitute minutes in 5-1 loss at Chelsea (May 21)
Brad Guzan (Middlesbrough) – 90 minutes in 3-0 loss at Liverpool (May 21)
Bill Hamid (D.C. United) – 90 minutes in 1-0 loss vs. Chicago Fire (May 20)
Matt Hedges (FC Dallas) – 90 minutes in 1-0 loss vs. San Jose Earthquakes (May 20)
Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge) – 90 minutes in 2-1 loss at Oostende (May 18); 90 minutes in 2-1 win vs. Gent (May 21)
Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids) – 90 minutes in 3-0 loss at Chicago Fire (May 17); 90 minutes in 2-1 loss at Philadelphia Union (May 20)
Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach) – 74 minutes in 2-2 draw vs. Darmstadt (May 20)
Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls) – 90 minutes, ASSIST in 1-1 draw vs. Toronto FC (May 19)
Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire) – 90 minutes in 3-0 win vs. Colorado Rapids (May 17); 90 minutes in 1-0 win at D.C. United (May 20)
Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC) – 77 minutes in 3-0 loss at Sporting KC (May 17); 90 minutes in 1-0 win vs. Real Salt Lake (May 20)
Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers) – 78 minutes in 4-1 loss at Montreal Impact (May 20)
Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund) – 45 substitute minutes in 4-3 win vs. Werder Bremen (May 20)
Tim Ream (Fulham) – 90 minutes in 1-0 loss at Reading (May 16)
Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake) – 90 minutes in 2-1 win vs. New York City FC (May 17); 90 minutes, PK SAVE in 1-0 loss at Seattle Sounders FC (May 20)
Luis Robles (New York Red Bulls) – 90 minutes in 1-1 draw vs. Toronto FC (May 19)
Danny Williams (Reading) – 90 minutes in 1-0 win vs. Fulham (May 16)
Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes) – 90 minutes, GOAL in 1-1 draw vs. Orlando City SC (May 17); 90 minutes in 1-0 win at FC Dallas (May 20)
Bobby Wood (Hamburg) – 90 minutes in 2-1 win vs. Wolfsburg (May 20)
Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy) – 90 minutes in 2-1 win at Minnesota United FC (May 20)
Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas) – 90 minutes in 1-0 loss vs. San Jose Earthquakes (May 20)
Graham Zusi (Sporting KC) – 90 minutes, ASSIST in 3-0 win vs. Seattle Sounders FC (May 17); 90 minutes in 2-0 loss at Vancouver Whitecaps FC (May 20)

U.S. star Christian Pulisic: American soccer has ‘so much potential’

United States international Christian Pulisic believes the future is bright for American soccer.Borussia Dortmund winger Pulisic, 18, told The Guardian he is encouraged by the sport’s progress in his nation, who reached the round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup but face a fight to qualify for 2018, and is predicting that Bruce Arena’s side will be a force in years to come.”It’s been big flaw of ours in the soccer department that a lot of our best athletes go and play other sports,” he said. “But I think young players have seen me, and others, go over to Europe and play in some of the best leagues — and MLS is improving so much too.”There’s so much potential and I think it’s changing: we’ve had some bigger athletes in the past but I don’t think that defines us anymore.”We’re going to keep moving forward, developing young players and we’re going to have a really good shot in the next few years.”Pulisic has continued to impress for Dortmund in 2016-17, scoring three Bundesliga goals and recording six assists.He now shares an apartment with his cousin Will, a 19-year-old goalkeeper who joined Dortmund last year, and said the pair enjoy throwing a gridiron football around “just to still feel American” during their downtime.Asked about a possible return to MLS in the future, Pulisic said: “I’d never put that out of the question.”Playing in your home country would be special; obviously I don’t have any immediate plans to do that but it’s always an option. You see so many people at the games now and it’s exciting; we have a really strong soccer league we can build on.”Follow

 

Christian Pulisic weathers storms, adds to success in first full Dortmund season

QUICKLYFighting for his place, scoring big goals, confronting terror: Christian Pulisic’s first full season as a first-teamer at Borussia Dortmund featured a little bit of everything.SHAREBRIAN STRAUSFriday May 26th, 2017

For so many of soccer’s best players and biggest clubs, success is measured by silverware. They play to win (or in some cases, to finish fourth). Borussia Dortmund is a big club. It’s a former world and European champion that draws the sport’s largest average crowds to its colorful, boisterous Westfalenstadion. BVB is soccer’s 11th richest team according to the Deloitte Money League, and it’s the seventh strongest in Europe, according to UEFA.And on Saturday, it may win its first major trophy in five years.That’s the price to pay for being just the second biggest club in Germany, where Bayern Munich reigns so supreme. Recently, Dortmund has been forced to settle for being the highest hurdle between its Bavarian rival and the trophies they covet. Since winning the German league and cup double in 2012, BVB has finished second to Bayern three times in Bundesliga play, three times in the DFB Pokal and once in the Champions League.Iconic manager Jürgen Klopp left for Liverpool in 2015, and he then was followed out the BVB door by players like Mats Hummels, Ilkay Gündogan and Henrikh Mkhitaryan. When confronting a behemoth like Bayern, the departure of such influential personalities and then a challenging 2016-17 season—which has featured a slew of injuries, a potential falling-out between coach Thomas Tuchel and club administrators and the stunning April bombing of the team bus—the definition of success inevitably evolves. Beating Eintracht Frankfurt in Saturday’s DFB Pokal final in Berlin would have been mandatory just a couple seasons ago. Now, it likely would feel like a relief.”We had many injury problems and there were lots of issues. But it was always fun, even in the difficult times,” Tuchel told reporters following BVB’s Bundesliga finale. “Now we want to crown the season [in Berlin].” Among the highlights of Dortmund’s 2016-17 campaign has been the play of American attacker Christian Pulisic. He’s the rare U.S. teenager whose performance matches the hype, and his ability to shrug off pressure and scrutiny as if they’re just additional bewildered defenders has impressed on both sides of the Atlantic. Although he’s still only 18, Pulisic has been in Dortmund for over two years. He’s grown comfortable, he speaks the language and the club has invested in his success.Although BVB acquired German World Cup heroes Mario Götze and André Schürrle last summer—as well as French forward Ousmane Dembélé, Turkish rising star Emre Mor, German center midfielder Sebastian Rode and others—Pulisic has continued to play well and force his way onto the field. And he’s done this while handling transfer rumors (he reportedly was targeted by Klopp’s new club, Liverpool, last summer) and his increasingly vital role with the U.S. national team—these are the trappings of life as a top-notch player.“I’m very satisfied,” Pulisic told BVB TV when asked to reflect on his season. “We added a lot of new players and I didn’t know if I’d get to play that much. But I worked very hard every day in practice, and I think the coach saw that.”Said Tuchel: “What makes him special is the fact he never quits. He always delivers even, or especially, when the pressure is on.” Pulisic’s obvious poise has been matched by his statistics. He started frequently, but when coming off the bench he had the composure, confidence and maturity to assert himself and find ways to impact a match. He typically played on the right flank but had occasions when he shifted inside or to the left. In his 42 competitive appearances, Pulisic tallied five goals and 12 assists. He appeared in each of BVB’s 10 Champions League contests, starting six, and helped his club top a group that included finalist Real Madrid and Portuguese power Sporting CP. At the Bernabeu, he came off the bench and played a role in a late equalizer. It was his goal against Benfica in the round of 16 that put Dortmund in position to reach the quarterfinals.There have been American born-and-bred players who scored more goals during a European season. Jozy Altidore set the record at AZ Alkmaar. There were U.S. field players who featured more prominently for their teams, like Clint Dempsey and Brian McBride at Fulham or Steve Cherundolo at Hannover 96. Maurice Edu (Rangers) and Sacha Kljestan (Anderlecht) won league titles. Michael Bradley excelled at Borussia Mönchengladbach and Chievo Verona and earned a transfer to Roma. DaMarcus Beasley played in the Champions League semis with PSV Eindhoven.•​ Another rising U.S. teenage star: Meet 17-year-old Josh Sargent

But Pulisic has accomplished something none of them managed, and he’s done so at 18. He is an integral, contributing member of a Champions League club from one of Europe’s top three circuits (La Liga, the Bundesliga and the Premier League). He’s weathered the various storms, found the extra gear needed to help the U.S. through its qualifying difficulties and even though he hasn’t started for Tuchel this month, he remains focused and effective. In last weekend’s league finale against Werder Bremen, for example, Pulisic drew the 89th-minute penalty kick that lifted BVB to a 4-3 win, third place and an automatic spot in the group stage of next season’s Champions League.“It’s been a crazy ride with Dortmund,” Pulisic told BVB TV. “I miss my family every day. My mom, my dad, my whole family. It’s very hard. It’s a new step for me and it’s difficult, but I feel very comfortable in Dortmund.”hat, by itself, represents a victory. His intangibles match the tangible. That can be as rare among young players abroad as the electrifying technical skill Pulisic posses

“The game is easy for him. He’s got exceptional skill, vision—he’s pretty smooth,” U.S. coach Bruce Arena said a couple months ago.It may look easy, but what Pulisic has accomplished this season has been anything but. It’s been a noteworthy success. And that will be the case regardless of whether he starts or comes off the bench Saturday against Eintracht Frankfurt and regardless of whether he leaves the Olympiastadion with a gold or silver medal. Big players and big clubs are defined by their honors—usually. Sometimes, circumstances require an adjusted metric. That’s been the case for Dortmund in recent years and this season, it’s the case for Pulisic.He can “crown” his memorable season, to use Tuchel’s terminology, by contributing to a cup final triumph. But there’s no risk of failure. Considering the rarity of his accomplishments, his age and the bright lights under which he’s been playing, Pulisic already has had a winning season.

Who had the better season: Liverpool or Man City? Spurs or Man United?

They’ve all qualified for the Champions League but in contrasting ways. Tottenham, Liverpool, Manchester City or Manchester United: Who had the better season?Each side’s fans will have a case for why their team enjoyed the best 2016-17 behind Chelsea. Tottenham finished second, while Manchester United finished sixth and won two trophies. Elsewhere, Liverpool and Manchester City finished in the top four. We have pitted Tottenham and Manchester United together to settle the age old debate about finishing in the top four vs. finishing outside but winning silverware. In the other battle, neither side won anything — it’s down to you to choose who performed better out of Liverpool and Manchester City.

Tottenham or Manchester United?

Dan Kilpatrick, Tottenham correspondent: Taking the season in isolation, United were the more successful, but remember the words of Bill Nicholson: “It is better to fail aiming high than to succeed aiming low.”Spurs are in no position to scorn silverware but while Jose Mourinho targeted the low-hanging fruit of the League Cup and Europa League, those competitions ranked fourth and third, respectively, in Pochettino’s priorities. Tottenham aimed for the league title.Mourinho’s pragmatism paid off but he finished the season a place lower than his predecessor and kissing a trophy he had previously derided; United fans were entitled to expect more from the most expensively assembled squad in history.Spurs, by contrast, reached new heights in the Premier League, playing scintillating football (light years ahead of United’s best) and they were only denied the title and an FA Cup final by a record-breaking and ruthless Chelsea team.Their season, while trophyless, was far more enjoyable than United’s and, given the two clubs’ resources and the preseason expectation, it was more impressive, too.Rob Dawson, Manchester United correspondent: Tottenham finished comfortably ahead of United in the league, but Mourinho and executive vice chairman Ed Woodward will feel they have had the better season.United are in the business of winning trophies, and they have won two this season — three if, like Mourinho, you count the Community Shield. United wanted to be back in the Champions League, that much is clear. But if at the start of the season you had offered Woodward and Mourinho second place in the league and no trophy, like Tottenham, they would not have taken it.In fact, both would have accepted finishing 10th — maybe even lower — if it meant winning two trophies. That’s how much winning silverware matters at Old Trafford. The Europa League is also a competition United have never won, which adds to its importance. Tottenham might have had a good season by their standards, but United have had a better one. You will not be able to convince Mourinho and Woodward otherwise.

Liverpool or Manchester City?

Glenn Price, Liverpool correspondent: After finishing fourth, you have to consider Liverpool’s season a success, while conceding City have been a little underwhelming, even if they did finish one spot above Jurgen Klopp’s side.Indeed, Champions League qualification would have appeared to be the bare minimum when Liverpool were making an unlikely push for the Premier League title, but a top four finish certainty represents progress under Klopp. Liverpool were able to finish fourth in a competitive league, despite rivals having deeper pockets and squad depth.Injuries and absences to key players consistently plagued Liverpool’s season, but they still pushed City right until the final day for third place. Klopp considered City to be “the most difficult team to play” this season, so he could also consider it a small feat to have been unbeaten against Pep Guardiola’s team this term — beating them 1-0 on New Year’s Eve before playing out an entertaining draw in March.Jonathan Smith, Manchester City correspondent: In the simplest of terms, Manchester City had the better season by finishing one place above Liverpool in the Premier League.But it’s also worth remembering that it was also done while City had a busy European schedule — playing nine more games throughout the season. While City were facing the likes of Barcelona and Monaco in the Champions League, Liverpool had a free week to prepare for each Premier League fixture. Next season, both sides will be in the same boat.There’s some disappointment that Guardiola failed to maintain an expected title challenge, but there is optimism at the emergence of exciting young attacking talents Leroy Sane, Gabriel Jesus and Raheem Sterling. But City are still getting to terms with the Catalan’s tactics, although the fact they dominated possession in every game shows they are close to maximising his philosophy.Where Liverpool have the edge was their ability to win the big games. Guardiola’s biggest task is to turn around a poor record against their rivals while Klopp would appear to have a simpler mission of making his side capable of regularly beating teams in the lower half of the table.Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

 

Juve, Madrid on top before Champions League final; Man United a new entry

The top two each wrapped a league title last weekend, Next stop Cardiff, via Shaka Hislop’s latest Power Rankings!

  1. Juventus(no change)

A 3-0 win against Crotone confirmed what, in truth, most of us have expected all season: Juventus are champions of Italy for the sixth straight game. With two parts of a treble complete, only Real Madrid stand between Max Allegri’s men and footballing immortality.

  1. Real Madrid(no change)

With Barcelona poised to take advantage of any slip, Madrid knew they had to start well at Malaga. Cometh the hour, cometh Cristiano Ronaldo, whose second-minute goal set up what would be a comfortable victory that clinched the club’s 33rd Spanish league title.

  1. Chelsea(no change)

Having wrapped up the Premier League with two games to spare, Chelsea played with freedom in the last week of the season, scoring a total of nine goals in home wins vs. Watford and Sunderland. Saturday’s FA Cup final vs. Arsenal offers the chance of a double.

  1. Bayern Munich(+1)

Last weekend featured several goodbyes and Bayern lost two modern-day greats, as Philipp Lahm and Xabi Alonso played their final games before retirement. Both will be difficult to replace in what could be an off-season of much change for the German champions.

  1. Monaco(+1)

Monaco’s championship was the club’s eighth overall and the first since 1999-2000.

After four straight Ligue 1 titles, Paris Saint-Germain were expected to coast to another championship, but they didn’t reckon upon Monaco’s remarkable rise. Leonardo Jardim’s young side, who finished the season with a win at Rennes, were simply superb.

  1. Barcelona(-2)

Luis Enrique’s final Liga game in charge did not end with a title triumph and, as away side Eibar took a 2-0 lead, it looked as though it would end in defeat. But then Lionel Messi took over to ispire a comeback win and set up Barca for the Copa del Rey final vs. Alaves.

  1. Roma(no change)

Serie A still has one round of games remaining, which means Roma can’t yet relax. But a fourth straight win — this time at home against Genoa in Francesco Totti’s farewell — will seal second place and guarantee a place in the group stage of the Champions League.

  1. Atletico Madrid(no change)

Ten wins in their final 13 league games saw Atletico claim third place at the end of a season that, perhaps, saw them slightly underperform, especially when compared to recent campaigns. Koke has signed a new deal, but will Antoine Griezmann be there next season?

  1. Manchester United(new)

It hasn’t been pretty but Jose Mourinho achieved his main objective: Champions League qualification. Sixth in the league was disappointing but surely, at the start of the season, United fans would have taken two major trophies and a return to club football’s biggest competition.

  1. Feyenoord(no change)

The Dutch champions are no doubt enjoying their holidays, while still basking in the glory of their first Eredivisie title since 1999. You wonder whether their success will attract bigger clubs toward their best players and there is also a Dirk Kuyt-sized hole that they must fill.

Dropping out: Benfica.

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