7/28/17 US Wins Gold Cup, El Classico in Miami Sat 8 pm ESPN ICC, CHS kids camp 8/4

Wow what an ending to an exciting Gold Cup Final victory over Jamaica 2-1 as youngster Jordan Morris scored an 88th minute scrum goal to hand the US the cup.  (by the way I think Clint Dempsey purposefully left that back heel to him – though my family disagrees.)  Either way and exciting end to the tourney as Michael Bradley was name Player of the Tourney and Morris tied for the Golden Boot. I thought Morris, Altidore, Dempsey – (as super sub), Darlington Nagbe Zardes, and Beezler all did wonders for their chances of being on the plane next summer for World Cup.  Either way it was a solid Cup Win with the B/C team with a few A;s sprinkled in late bringing home the trophy and extending AMERICAN Coach Bruce Arena’s unbeated streak to 14 games. Game 15 of course will be the big one as we host Costa Rica for basically 2nd in the Hex in early Sept in NJ.

So the US Ladies are hosting the League of Nations Cup and face Brazil and Marta on Sun eve at 8 pm on ESPN 2, then they face Japan on Thurs night 10 pn on ESPN 2 as well.  Of course locally – tickets are on sale for the US Ladies National Team hosting New Zealand on Tues Night 7:30 pm at Nippert Stadium in Cinncinatti.

The International Champions Cup has given us some exciting games with El Classico Miami – with Real Madrid facing Barcelona this Sat. night at 8 pm on ESPN.  Chelsea faces Inter at 7:30 am on EPSN2, while Man City vs Tottenham with US Carter Vickers kickoff at 6 pm on ESPN2. Roma and Juve play Sunday at 4 pm right after MLS’ NY Derby at 2 pm on ESPN.  Speaking of MLS – how about the return of Bob Bradley to LAFC next season and the return of Sigi Schmidt to the LA Galaxy this week.  Should make the Seattle vs LA Galaxy game quite intreaguing as the former Seattle Manager canned mid last season returns on Sat night at 10 pm on ESPN. And of course the MLS Allstar Game with Chicago and former German National Team Captain Bastian Schenieger captaining the Allstars vs the 2 time defending World Champions Real Madrid with Renaldo, Bale, Benzzema, Ramos and all the stars on hand live in Chicago Wednesday night at 9 pm on Fox Sports 1. (tix still available by the way!! – only 3 hours away!)  Of course the EPL and World League Seasons are right around the corner with the German Super Cup (Dortmund – Pulisic facing Bayern Munich) next Sat 2:30 pm on Fox and the Community Shield with Arsenal vs Chelsea next Sun at 9:30 on FS1.

Good luck to those trying out for High School teams this week and next !!

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Soccer Camp the Carmel High Boys Varsity Soccer Team are hosting their 3 hour camp next Friday, Aug 4 – 9:30 am till 12 noon at River Rd Fields.  Boys and Girls K-8 just $45 with FREE T-Shirt and the chance to be a ball boy or girl at a CHS soccer game this fall.   Visit CHS website

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GAMES ON TV  

Thur, July 27

10 pm ESPN    US Women vs Australia

Sat, July 29

7:30 am ESPN 2            Chelsea vs Inter ICC

3 pm beIN Sports       Monaco vs PSG – French Super Cup

6 pm EsPN 2                   Man City vs Tottenham  ICC

8 pm ESPN             Real Madrid vs Barcelona ICC

10 pm ESPN 1                LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Sun, July 30

2 pm ESPN                                               Toronto vs NY City

4 pm ESPN                       Roma vs Juventus ICC

4 pm ESPN3                    FC Edmonton vs Indy 11

8 pm ESPN2    US Women vs Brazil

Tues, Aug 1

2 pm beIN Sport          Liverpool vs Bayern Munich

Wed, Aug 2

9 pm Fox Sport 1 MLS Allstars vs Real Madrid

Thurs, Aug 3

10 pm ESPN2 US Women vs Japan

Sat, Aug 5

2:30 pm FOX                  Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Bayern Munich (German Supercup)

7:30 pm Myindy TV + beIN Sport Indy 11 vs FC Edmonton

Sun, Aug 6

9 am Fox Sport1          Arsenal vs Chelsea  (EPL Community Shield)

2 pm?  ESPNU               Women’s European Championship?

4 pm ESPN                                               Portland vs LA Galaxy

6 pm Fox Sport 1        NY City vs NY Red Bulls (NY Derby)

8 pm Fox Sport 1        Sporting KC vs Atlanta United

Tues, Aug 8

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                         Real Madrid vs Man United  UEFA Super Cup

Sat, Aug 12                      EPL Starts

7:30 am NBCSN            Watford vs Liverpool

10 am NCBSN                Chelsea vs Burnlee

10 am CNBC                   Everton vs Stoke City

12:30 pm NBC               Brighton vs Man City

7:30 pm Lifetime       Orlando Pride vs Sky Blue (Women’s)

7:30 pm beIN Sport  Miami FC vs Indy 11

10 :30 pm Fox Sport1                      LA Galaxy vs NY City FC

Sun, Aug 13                    EPL

8:30 am NBCSN            New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Tottenham (Carter Vickers)

11 am NBCSN                Man United vs West Ham

2 pm  beIN Sport?     Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Spain Supercup

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

International Champions Cup July  Games in Nashville and Detroit

USA

US Wins Gold Cup Final 2-1 over Jamaica – Jeff Carlisle

Redemption for Jordan Morris As US Wins Gold Cup – Jeff Carlisle

Arena happy but Wants more from US – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

US Men Take Home Gold Cup Title – Matt Doyle MLS.com

Who’s Stock is Up Who Down – ESPNFC  Video

Dempsey is GOAT – MLS.com Kurt Lawson

Dempsey’s Story – The Journey – 4 min Video

He’s a Smug Bastard isn’t he – Klinnsman – Every MLS team wanted my GK son ESPNFC

Mexico Issues Deeper than just Osario – ESPNFC

US Ladies

Tourney of Nations -5 things to Know

US Opponents

MLS

Bastian Schweinsteiger to Captain MLS Allstars vs Real Madrid Wed

Former Seattle coach Sigi Schmid replaces Curt Inalfo as coach at LA Galaxy

Former US Coach Bob Bradley to Coach LAFC

INDY 11

Kicks for Kids McDonalds Family Night Aug 5 vs FC Edmonton

New Indy 11 TV Schedule for Fall

Eamon Zayad Players Perspective

BeIN Sports Signs to Show NASL Games in Fall

Redemption for Jordan Morris, United States in Gold Cup win over Jamaica

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — It’s been said that strikers need to have short memories. If they miss a chance, they need to forget about it and focus on the next opportunity they get because that one is definitely going in.But early in the second half of the U.S.’ 2-1 Gold Cup final win over Jamaica, Jordan Morris realized his selective amnesia needed to reach a higher level. It wasn’t a blown scoring opportunity the young attacker needed to forget, but a blown assignment. He had just been overpowered on a corner kick by Je-Vaughn Watson, allowing the Jamaican to volley home an equalizer. Erasing that memory took some doing.”It definitely lingers on quite a bit, and to be honest I’ve never really had anything like that in my career, where I was kind of at fault for the other team scoring like that,” said Morris. “It was tough to get over, especially in such a big game.”The messages from teammates were all along the same lines; think about the next play, keep pushing, make a difference.”I was making fun of [Morris] because the look on his face was so sad,” said forward Jozy Altidore.Clint Dempsey added: “You have to keep fighting. If you don’t keep fighting you get left to the wayside. It definitely helps build your character.”Whatever way the message was delivered, it worked. With the match looking like it was headed toward extra time, Morris pounced on a loose ball in the box in the 88th minute, and powered home a shot past Jamaica keeper Dwayne Morris to give the U.S. a 2-1 win and its sixth Gold Cup title.”For me it was a sense of relief, trying to make up for the mistake I made earlier,” he said. “If felt good that I could help the team come back.”It also gave Morris a rather unique trifecta. In December of 2015 he won an NCAA crown with Stanford University. Last December he won an MLS Cup in his rookie season with Seattle Sounders FC. Now he has a Gold Cup to his name as well.But lest Morris get carried away, he might want to check with some of the U.S. team’s veterans to see how infrequent winning a trophy is for most players. For Tim Howard, it’s been a decade since last won his last Gold Cup title.He said: “It’s hard to get the young guys to realize that this doesn’t always last forever. When I was younger and got to a cup final, I thought, ‘Ah, the next one’s around the corner.’ And they’re not. This is sweet.”The redemption narrative could be seen everywhere in this match. There was Altidore, winning his first international trophy after it looked like injuries would forever hamper his U.S. career. He did his bit on the night too, delivering a laser-guided free kick in the first half that snuck in just under the bar, and gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead. Michael Bradley was everywhere, and for once got to celebrate winning a final that he actually played in. Howard continued to defy Father Time by delivering a clutch save on Darren Mattocks.But this was a night for some of the less-experienced elements of the roster as well. Jorge Villafana looked the sharpest he has all tournament from his left-back position, and tested Jamaica’s defense with some dangerous crosses. Darlington Nagbe was clean in possession, and found moments to drive with the ball toward Jamaica’s back line.This was supposed to be the whole point of this Gold Cup for the Americans. Try out some fringe players and see how they do. It was one that was shoved into the background to a degree once manager Bruce Arena called in six players — four of them hugely experienced — after the group stage. But there was another layer to Arena’s experimentation. For a select few who had experienced the most recent World Cup qualifying cauldron, it was a chance to take on more responsibility. Some, like Nagbe took advantage. Others, like Kellyn Acosta, struggled with consistency.All of this had value for Arena. Granted, the tournament broke almost perfectly for the Americans. For the most part the U.S. had a huge edge in experience and talent over their opponents. A much-anticipated matchup against Mexico never materialized. There was almost a sense that winning the tournament had lost some of its juice. But that changed, for the players at any rate, as the end goal came into more focus.”It wasn’t critical for us,” said Arena about winning the Gold Cup. “But as we got into tournament, as we entered the quarterfinals, it was clearly the objective and we accomplished that.”Perhaps the bigger objective was using the Gold Cup as a test case for more-important World Cup qualifying games down the road. So was there a ton of movement on the U.S. depth chart? Probably not. For some players, the next chance to impress Arena won’t come until January.But this was more about Arena being reminded of what he had and in some cases what he didn’t. Regardless of how well Altidore, Dempsey, Bradley and Nagbe played in this tournament, Geoff Cameron and Christian Pulisic remain almost irreplaceable. In five weeks’ time, Arena will get to apply what he has learned to a pair of World Cup qualifiers. For all of the joy about winning the Gold Cup, those matches remain foremost in Arena’s mind.”My focus is on, are we getting better? We’re getting better, we need to get much better than we are right now,” he said, before adding: “I’ve got to find the right blend. We’re a long way from qualifying for the World Cup, and that’s the objective for sure. So we’ve got to evaluate this performance in July and the next couple of weeks I have to select a roster for our World Cup qualifying. Then we have to win some games in September and October.”If the U.S. can do precisely that, it will be a memory it won’t want to forget.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

U.S. wins 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup via Jordan Morris’ late goal vs. Jamaica

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The U.S. prevailed over Jamaica 2-1 to claim the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup on Wednesday night at Levi’s Stadium.U.S. forward Jozy Altidore opened the scoring just before halftime with a superbly taken free kick, only for Je-Vaughn Watson to equalize in the 50th minute, volleying home Kemar Lawrence’s corner at the far post. But Jordan Morris fired home an 88th-minute winner to give the U.S. the victory.Here are three thoughts on the U.S. win, their sixth Gold Cup title.

  1. Redemption for Morris and AltidoreWednesday night’s first half was tough and physical. Though the U.S. had the vast majority of possession as Kellyn Acosta pushed high into the attack, the Americans’ forays were snuffed out against the rocks of the Jamaica back line. Other attacks were undone by passes into the box that just missed their intended target.It was always going to take something special for the U.S. to find a breakthrough, even after Jamaica goalkeeper Andre Blake was forced out because of a finger injury in the 23rd minute (more on that later). Leave it to Altidore, then, to provide some heroics as he hit a sumptuous free kick from 27 yards out in the 45th minute that beat substitute keeper Dwayne Miller, grazed the underside of the bar and went in.The goal was just the latest chapter in Altidore’s tournament redemption story. Injuries robbed him of all or part of the 2013 Gold Cup, the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 Gold Cup, and it seemed as if his hamstrings would never allow his game to grow. But for the better part of the last year Altidore has been healthy, and his play for Toronto FC has improved in all facets.It has taken a while for his form for the U.S. to catch up, but catch up it has. The goal was Altidore’s second in two games, and with crucial World Cup qualifiers coming up in September, he’s clearly peaking at the right time. Some might quibble with the quality of opposition, but in Costa Rica and Jamaica, Altidore broke through against two sides with considerable strength on the defensive side of the ball. Altidore has been streaky in the past as well, which, given his current form, bodes well for the U.S. heading back into the Hex.Of course, nothing is ever easy for the U.S, with the Americans’ vulnerability on set pieces rearing its ugly head again. It has been that way for almost the entirety of this World Cup cycle regardless of who has been the manager or who has been on the field. It’s the single biggest worry heading into the homestretch for World Cup qualifying.In this instance, just over four minutes into the second half, Morris was simply overpowered by Watson, allowing the New England Revolution’s utility man to volley home at the back post.But Morris more than made amends, firing home in the 88th minute when Gyasi Zardes’ cross was deflected into the middle of the box. Clint Dempsey got a touch and Morris pounced to nab the winner.All told, Morris leaves this tournament as one of the winners. He scored three goals and showed a knack for popping up at big moments. Victory on Wednesday night continues a dizzying run of success for Morris: Since December 2015, he has won an NCAA title with Stanford, an MLS Cup with the Seattle Sounders and now the Gold Cup.
  2. Jamaica valiant in defeat

Before the final, most conversations about the player of the tournament began and ended with Blake. He had made numerous saves throughout this Gold Cup, including plenty — like saving a deflected effort with his foot against Mexico — that were of the spectacular variety.In the 23rd minute, the Philadelphia Union keeper continued his stellar form, saving Altidore’s long-distance drive and then stuffing Acosta’s rebound attempt from point-blank range. But Blake paid dearly for his bravery: He appeared to have a mangled finger on his right hand as a result of Acosta’s attempt and had to be subbed out in favor of Miller.It was a tough end for a player whose growth as a player has been evident throughout the tournament. The Union will be hopeful that Blake isn’t forced to sit for too long.But understudy Miller didn’t do badly on the night. He might wish he had attempted to touch Altidore’s blast with his other hand. That said, he did well to touch a Morris blast over the bar in the 73rd minute and then palmed Dempsey’s header onto the post two minutes later. He could do nothing about Morris’ winner.The Reggae Boyz had their chances to grab a winner as well, with Tim Howard’s left-footed save denying Darren Mattocks.All told, Jamaica’s players can hold their heads high. The defensive solidity and discipline found under manager Theodore Whitmore has been impressive. The challenge will be maintaining this ethos until the next World Cup qualifying cycle.

  1. U.S. achieves its goal but concerns remain

In some ways, the tournament couldn’t have gone much better for the U.S. and manager Bruce Arena. Without question, this was a watered-down version of the Gold Cup as many of the region’s top players were absent. But Arena went in with a plan that had multiple aims. He wanted to get an extended look at some fringe players. He did that. He also wanted to make sure he had the most competitive team possible in the knockout rounds, and he did that too. And ultimately, the U.S. won the tournament, giving the team some valuable momentum as it heads into the September World Cup qualifiers.But the U.S. also had everything going for it in this match and in this tournament. It boasted a roster with a huge edge in experience. Think of it this way: Jamaica’s starting lineup consisted of seven MLS players, two from the USL and another two from Jamaica’s domestic league. It would have been a failure had the U.S. not managed to win.The result also illustrated the U.S. team’s relative shortage of game-changing attackers. Dempsey did what he could, once again coming off the bench, and Darlington Nagbe continued his growth with a superb performance. But one gets the sense that the U.S. still needs more. Imagine trying to go through the remainder of World Cup qualifying without Christian Pulisic; it’s sobering to say the least.That said, the U.S mentality remains a potent force. It kept its collective head in a match that could have gotten away from it. For an imperfect team, it remains the biggest reason to believe that the Americans will ultimately reach their World Cup-qualifying goal. And on this night, it helped them secure a title.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Bruce Arena happy with Gold Cup win but wants more from United States

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — U.S. manager Bruce Arena lauded his team’s 2-1 victory over Jamaica in the Gold Cup final but acknowledged that there is plenty of room for improvement as it prepares for a pair of World Cup qualifiers in September.”The Gold Cup is important,” Arena said at his postmatch news conference. “I think if you’re in it, you’ve got to be in it to win. We accomplished that, so that’s a real plus.”United States looked to be in total control as it took a 1-0 lead into half-time, thanks to a Jozy Altidore free kick.With Jamaica’s stellar goalkeeper Andre Blake forced out of the match with a right hand injury, everything seemed to be lining up for the Americans. But Je-Vaughn Watson equalized minutes into the second half, outworking Jordan Morris to volley home Kemar Lawrence’s corner kick at the far post.United States turned the screws thereafter, with Clint Dempsey’s header touched onto the post by substitute keeper Dwayne Miller. The Americans did have to survive a few anxious moments from Jamaican counterattacks, but Morris ultimately made amends in the 88th minute, pouncing on a loose ball to fire past Miller to secure victory.”Jamaica was a very difficult opponent,” Arena said. “We needed to score two great goals tonight to win, and we did. Give credit to Jozy and Jordan. Those are great goals.”I applaud our team, I applaud Jamaica. Their defensive performance throughout the tournament was outstanding. They’re hard to play against. Their goalkeeping was excellent.”Unfortunately Blake got injured. I don’t even know the name of the second keeper [Dwayne Miller], he was excellent, he did a great job. Give credit to them.”The victory marked Arena’s third Gold Cup triumph, though he attributed that to longevity more than anything.”I think the only reason I’ve been part of winning three Gold Cups is that I’ve been in a lot of them,” he said.Arena complimented nearly every element of his lineup, but he singled out his veterans for praise. Many of them joined up with the team after the group stage, and their consistent performances keyed the Americans’ run to the title.”Our older players are unbelievable,” he said. “The passion they have for this program from our oldest player, now Tim Howard, to our captain Michael Bradley, to Clint Dempsey … Clint Dempsey is going to do whatever is necessary for this team to be successful.”Arena was also impressed by some of the less experienced elements of his roster. In the final he gave starts to Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, Jorge Villafana, Darlington Nagbe and Morris, and the decision paid off.”They are players with not that much experience at the international level, not that many caps, and to put them in the fire tonight was good. I think they walked away with passing grades,” he said. “That’s encouraging.” Bruce Arena has extended his unbeaten run with United States to 14 games.rena was especially pleased to see Morris shake off his mistake in failing to mark Watson, keep his head in the game, and eventually find a way to make a critical play.”I didn’t like the mistake on the corner kick, but to hang in there and play well and make the difference in the game is encouraging,” Arena said. “He’s a young player with a lot of talent, a lot of physical qualities.”I think he’s going to continue to grow. My predecessor did an outstanding job for getting him involved in the program. He’s a player we certainly think has a future.”But what pleased Arena most of all was the improvement his team has made in 2017. United States is now unbeaten in 14 games under his watch, though he knows there is work to be one.”My focus is on ‘are we getting better?’ We’re getting better, we need to get much better than we are right now,” he said. “But it’s a credit to these players — they’ve done an outstanding job.”Now Arena must regroup and prepare for the next round of World Cup qualifiers.”I’ve got to find the right blend,” he said. “We’re a long way from qualifying for the World Cup, and that’s the objective for sure. So we’ve got to evaluate this performance in July and the next couple of weeks I have to select a roster for our World Cup qualifying. Then we have to win some games in September and October.”Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Armchair Analyst: USMNT cross Jamaica up and claim Gold Cup title

July 27, 20171:16AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

From minutes 1 through 63, the US men’s national team hit 12 crosses. From minutes 64 through 88, the USMNT hit 14 crosses.

The last one in that second bunch led to the game- and tournament-winning goal, as the US took a deserved and dominant 2-1 win against a feisty, disciplined, but ultimately overmatched Jamaican side. It’s the first US Gold Cup title since 2013, and their sixth all-time. They were pretty clearly the better team on the night, and the best attacking team in the tournament, and they deserved the title.

They also deserved to sweat a little bit, and credit to the Reggae Boyz for bringing the heat in that regard. Jamaica, under head coach Theodore Whitmore, are fit and functional, gamers who get chippy but not dirty, and who wouldn’t quit despite playing the two giants of CONCACAF in back-to-back games, and wouldn’t quit after losing their best player – and really, the tournament’s best player in goalkeeper Andre Blake – to a gruesome first-half hand injury, and wouldn’t quit after going down a goal.

But sometimes the numbers are just too overwhelming. The US outshot Jamaica 13-6 overall and 8-3 on target, they out-possessed them 73 percent to 27 percent, and they completed 85 percent of their passes to just 64 percent for Jamaica. It was a thoroughly dominant performance even though the scoreboard was predictably tight.

A few tactical takeaways:

  • Jamaica come out in a slightly alteredversion of their typical, flat 4-4-2. The alteration was a simple one – they inserted Ladale Richie directly in front of the central defense as a classic destroyer, making the 4-4-2 more of a 4-1-3-2. Richie didn’t leave that spot, a symbolic figure with “dare you to play through the middle” plastered all over himself.

So the US struggled, at first, to build meaningful possession, too often shunting play down one flank or the other and just keeping it there.

  • Jozy Altidore, who got the opening goaland was the best US player on the night, was the one who found the key to that particular lock. Altidore, a center forward, dropped waaaaaaay deep into midfield to get on the ball, usually with his back to goal, and started creating ad hoc three-man midfield triangles with Michael Bradley and either Darlington Nagbe pinching in from the wing, or Kellyn Acosta working from his No. 8 position.
  • The US did not have a slow start in this game:
  • Jamaica’s goal came after Je-Vaughn Watsonout-wrestled Jordan Morrison the back post of a Kemar Lawrence corner. That corner, in the 50th minute, came after a needless Acosta turnover in midfield.

Watson’s shot was Jamaica’s first of the night. Acosta’s turnover continued a worrisome pattern for the FC Dallas Homegrown, who struggled mightily this month after last month’s strong showing in World Cup qualifiers. He will get better and he will surely be back in the squad come the next round of qualifiers six weeks from now, but he needs to find and influence the game more.

  • I banged on a bit about crosses in the ledeand on social media, and I’ll make this clear: I have zero problems with teams that cross the ball a lot as long as it comes from some sort of inside-out combination play. It’s alright to attack down the flanks – that’s part of the game, and useful if done right. But doing so in a purely linear fashion tends not to create good looks.

Worse than that, thoughtless crosses can and often do lead to counterattacks in the other direction. The one time the US put in a particularly (let’s call it) “hopeful” cross, off the foot of Gyasi Zardes in the 84th minute, it led to a Reggae Boyz breakout and forced Tim Howard into a nice save.

Crosses are fine. They are often a good and smart way to attack. Crosses against an organized, packed-in defense are more likely to hurt you than help you, though, and it’s good the US mostly avoided that.

  • The vast, vast majority of the US’s 26 crosseswere what I’d consider to be smartcrosses. Jorge Villafaña hit a couple of particularly good ones, as did Morris, as did Graham Zusi, as did Paul Arriola.

I thought this one was borderline:

But credit Zardes here for being decisive, which turned “borderline” into “profitable.” He took one direct touch, opened up a bit of daylight, hit the ball with pace and bend, and put it in a brutal spot for Jermaine Taylor to try to clear. Either Taylor puts it out for a corner kick, or he does… that. Usually when “that” happens, there’s a scramble and a scrum and bodies hit the floor, and the defense gets the benefit of the doubt.  Sometimes, though, a clearance up the gut falls right to the feet of an attacker, and you end up picking the ball out of the net.

  • There is a thing that Earnie Stewart once saidabout Claudio Reyna: “He brings peace to the game.” Reyna had an uncanny knack of shaping his body in a way that threw defenders off, which allowed him to receive the ball on balance in traffic with those wonderfully soft feet that got the US out of so many jams.

Nagbe and Bradley, working together in midfield, create that same effect. I still need to be sold on Nagbe’s ability to be an elite two-way player in central midfield because his defensive recognition can be slow and he is often too hesitant to drive the game forward, but there really is something to be said for having a guy who you can just give the ball to and say “figure this out for us.”  He did that repeatedly against Jamaica. “He never loses the ball” is how Bruce Arena put it afterward.  Bradley doesn’t do it the same way – his feet aren’t that good – but the wild and sometimes reckless Bradley of the Jurgen Klinsmann years is long gone. He controlled every bit of this game, just as he did the previous two, with his vision, understanding of angles, and his understanding of his teammates’ strengths and weaknesses.  It’s now been 840 minutes (14 hours) with Bradley on the field at d-mid under Arena. The US have conceded one open-play goal in that time. He has brought peace to the midfield, and it shows, even if nobody’s really talking about it.  When a No. 6 does things right, most people won’t be sure they’ve done anything at all.

  • There will be bad takes in the commentsbelow, and on social media, and everywhere else about the US failing to show any creativity. Ignore them – they are wrong. The US created infinitely more against Jamaica than they did in January, and more than anybody else Jamaica faced this tournament. They pressured first Blake and then Miller into a series of spectacular saves, generally did a good job of keeping the defense scrambling, and limited their own turnovers in the process.

It would be nice if Bruce Arena could pick Andres Iniesta for this roster, but he can’t. Given what he has to work with, the US are vastly superior at using the ball to break down a static defense than they were in any of the last three summers. Anyone who’s pretends this was just a reactive, regressive showing is flaunting their own lack of understanding about the game.

Same with anyone who dismisses the value of winning this particular trophy. The Gold Cup isn’t World Cup qualifying, and Arena was sure to point that out in the postgame presser. “We’ve got a long way to go to qualify for the World Cup, and that’s the ultimate goal” is what he said.But the point of the game is to win, and if you can do so while playing well, more’s the better. Job done on both counts for the US.

  • I will have a “Stock Up, Stock Down”piece coming tomorrow. Be warned: I like Arriola a lot more than social media seems to.

Wiebe: Jordan Morris proved he belongs on US national team World Cup roster

July 27, 20171:59AM EDTAndrew WiebeSenior Editor

The final whistle blew, and the television cameras flocked to the man who broke Jamaican hearts and gave the United States national team their sixth Gold Cup title.The close-ups weren’t of Clint Dempsey, the talisman just one goal shy of sole possession of the all-time US men’s scoring mark. They weren’t of Jozy Altidore, whose picture-perfect free kick gave the Americans an early lead. Nor Michael Bradley, the tournament’s Golden Ball winner.As his image was broadcast to the world, Jordan Morris rubbed his eyes, tears of joyous disbelief seemingly perched on the brink of escape. His best friend in the entire world, fellow SounderCristian Roldan, wrapped Morris up in a bear hug and lifted him into the air.In 40 minutes, Morris had gone from potential goat – turned inside out by Je-Vaughn Watson on a corner kick that his fellow MLSer to bang in for the equalizer – to history maker. He felt that emotional swing more acutely than anyone else.“I was nervous,” he told FS1’s Jenny Taft after the match. “It was my guy that scored, so I was trying to make up for it any way I could. Obviously, I take responsibility for that, but luckily I put it in the back of the net.”In four short years, Morris has gone from a seemingly-out-of-nowhere prodigy to national champion, MLS Cup winner and Gold Cup hero, his 88th-minute thumper sure to be replayed every two years for at least the next decade. He appeared in every game of the tournament for Bruce Arena, and his three goals tied Golden Boot winner Alphonso Davies atop the Gold Cup charts.Morris did it under pressure, too, career-defining pressure that can make even the most seasoned pro shrink. This may have been labelled a B-team tournament, but like the rest of us, Morris knew he was playing for more than a trophy. He was playing for place on the team that boards a plane for Russia next year, assuming all goes to plan in qualifying.Bruce Arena has the final say, but Morris proved he belongs on that 747 and barring injury – knock on wood – I expect him to be there, a 23-year-old making his wildest childhood dreams come true.Bradley will be the captain and the pacemaker, Altidore the player whose talent can elevate the US from solid to special and Dempsey the swaggering super sub, but it may just be Morris who pops up in a big moment and makes the difference.Morris may not be perfect – someone in the comment section will invariably bash his left foot and occasional long touches – but he brings a skill set, level of versatility and willingness to sacrifice for the common good that no one else on the roster can match.I don’t need to explain his speed, the sort of burst that eliminates defenders entirely, or his knack for scoring big goals. Those qualities might be enough to convince Arena to bring Morris to the biggest tournament on the planet, but it’s an ability to fill multiple holes in the roster puzzle that pushes him over the edge.He can run the channels with another forward (Altidore, most likely) in a 4-4-2, he can play wide left in a 4-2-3-1 or 4-3-3 and bring both defensive industry and attacking verve and there’s no ego to tell him that he deserves more than what he’s given. All month, Morris did what was necessary, whatever Arena asked.Oh, and he played this tournament on a bothersome ankle many thought he should have rested. He was selfless, and in the end he was the man who made the difference.“It’s just an honor to be a part of the team,” Morris told Taft, the sort of quote he delivers in spades, shifting the focus from himself to the team.Come next summer, I expect that honor will thrust him on to the biggest stage the sport has to offer.Morris may not start a match. He probably won’t play hero. He may not score a goal or have a marquee moment.But through six games at the Gold Cup Morris proved he belongs in Arena’s 23-man roster next summer, that he’s an asset with a future that spans the next decade, and that it would be a mistake to leave him home next summer when yet more history is waiting to be made.

Kurt Larson: Clint Dempsey on the cusp of claiming G.O.A.T. crown for USA

July 26, 20173:40PM EDTKurt Larson

Clint Dempsey isn’t just poised to become the US national team’s all-time leading goal-scorer.He’s on the cusp of American soccer immortality — a label bestowed upon an elite group of players who’ve represented the Stars and Stripes.Tim Howard is in that mix. As is Michael Bradley, even according to Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch, who pumped Captain America’s tires last month.For most, Landon Donovan still tops the select billing of Americans who’ve posted phenomenal numbers while representing the US on the biggest stage. He might have cemented his place atop that list if Jurgen Klinsmann hadn’t botched his 2014 World Cup selections, inexplicably leaving Donovan at home.But Klinsmann did. And Donovan, while an undisputed icon, didn’t get the chance to cement his place as the greatest American to ever put on a US jersey.Three years later, Dempsey soon will become his country’s all-time leading scorer, passing his ex-teammate when he scores his 58th international goal.Whether he finds it in Wednesday night’s Gold Cup final (9:30 pm ET on FS1, Univision and TSN), or in the looming World Cup qualifiers in September, it doesn’t matter. Dempsey’s already ticked every box on the G.O.A.T. checklist while accomplishing as much as or arguably more than – both individually and collectively – any American before him.In addition to achieving the all-time goals mark, Dempsey’s 136 caps place him third on the all-time appearances list (Cobi Jones is No. 1 with 164). He’s also scored big goals in big tournaments.Most significant, Dempsey’s four World Cup goals are second all-time to Donovan (5), though Deuce could appear at a fourth World Cup next summer.But whether he does or doesn’t play in Russia, Dempsey’s legacy shouldn’t be defined solely by goals or big moments that will live on in US soccer lore.Rather, it’s about taking the road less traveled — a well-documented rags-to-riches soccer talethat, in many ways, embodies the American Dream.That unconventional path spawned an unconventional American soccer player who, as U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena once said, just “tries s***.” It was a simple two-word quote that should be carved into Dempsey’s future Hall of Fame name plate, given how well it defines his uniqueness.On top of the grit and determination that defines American internationals, Dempsey’s always had a few extra tools in his shed. The audacity to use them — without fear or reservation — ultimately is what sets the 34-year-old apart from every other American striker.It’s a style that’s borderline arrogant until you hear Dempsey explain it. Then you realize it’s merely a byproduct of his humble beginnings in East Texas, where he grew up in a trailer in his grandparents’ backyard. It included matches against grown men in the local Hispanic leagues and six-hour roundtrip drives to practices.He’s a US soccer star who reached his potential, a player who did it his own way and won’t have regrets when he features in his final international fixture.Like Dempsey, the great ones don’t look back and wonder what might have been. They leave little debate as to whether they could have gone further.That’s Dempsey — an all-time great whose all-time career should be defined just as much by his journey and personality and penchant for the head-turning play or pass or goal as it should by the numbers that ultimately could lead us to categorize him as the greatest ever to don an American soccer jersey.Kurt Larson covers Toronto FC and international soccer for the Toronto Sun and Postmedia in Canada.

LA Galaxy fire Curt Onalfo, hire Sigi Schmid as replacement

July 27, 201712:35PM EDTSam StejskalContributor

A year and a day after he was fired by the Seattle Sounders, Sigi Schmid is back in the MLS coaching ranks. The winningest coach in league history will take over the LA Galaxy after the club fired first-year head coach Curt Onalfo, the Galaxy announced Thursday. The LA Times’ Kevin Baxter first reported the news, which was later confirmed by ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle, who added that Schmid had signed a deal with LA through the 2018 season. “After a great deal of evaluation and careful consideration, we believe that Sigi Schmid is the best person to coach our team for the remainder of this season and into the future,” said LA Galaxy President Chris Klein in a statement provided by the team. “Sigi is one of the most experienced coaches in the history of soccer in the United States and he is an extremely successful manager that has proven himself to be a winner within Major League Soccer. Sigi has been one of the best coaches the history of our league and we have full confidence in him to lead our team moving forward.“Our goal remains to win trophies and be the best club in North America and we believe that Sigi gives us the best opportunity to achieve this.”Hired by the Galaxy to replace Bruce Arena after he left LA to take charge of the US national team last November, Onalfo was 6-10-4 in 20 regular season games with the club. Accustomed to competing for the top spots in MLS, the Galaxy are currently in ninth in the Western Conference and sit in 19th in the overall league table. They’re five points behind Vancouver for the West’s sixth and final playoff spot.“Curt Onalfo has been a loyal servant to the Galaxy and Galaxy II for a number of seasons and we wish him well,” said Klein.Schmid’s first game in charge of LA will be a doozy, as the Galaxy will host the Sounders – whom Schmid coached for seven and a half seasons before being dismissed last summer – in a nationally-televised match on Saturday night (10 pm ET; ESPN, ESPN Deportes | MLS LIVE in Canada).A longtime resident of Southern California, Schmid coached the Galaxy once before, leading them from 199-2004. He won three trophies in his first stint with LA, guiding the Galaxy to the 2001 Lamar Hunt US Open Cup before winning MLS Cup and the Supporters’ Shield in 2002.

LAFC to announce Bob Bradley as first manager

BRIAN STRAUS hours ago

Former U.S. national team manager Bob Bradley is on the verge of taking over at MLS expansion team Los Angeles FC, sources tell SI.com. An announcement is expected shortly.Bradley has been out of work since being fired by Swansea City in December, only 11 games into his tenure. It was a frustrating setback for an American coach who’d blazed a unique trail following the 2010 World Cup, from Egypt to Norway to France and then onto the Premier League. Now, it appears the 59-year-old Bradley will be back in MLS for the first time since 2006.

After assisting Bruce Arena at D.C. United, Bradley went on to coach the Chicago Fire, New York Red Bulls (then the MetroStars) and Chivas USA. He won one MLS Cup and two U.S. Open Cup titles and then went on to manage the national team. There, he presided over the 2007 CONCACAF Gold Cup title, the run to the ’09 Confederations Cup final and the USA’s first first-place finish in a World Cup group in 80 years.LAFC kicks off next season in a new stadium being built next to the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The club’s technical side is run currently by former MLS, English Championship and US national team midfielder John Thorrington. Coaches like Guillermo Barros Schelotto and Hugo Sanchez previously had been linked to the LAFC job, but Bradley always has been a leading candidate. After a decade abroad, he’s now set to return to a very different league than the one he left for his second gig with an expansion team–his first started off with a league and cup double in Chicago.News that Bradley is headed to LAFC comes shortly after the new club’s future rival, the LA Galaxy, announced the firing of coach Curt Onalfo and replaced him with former Galaxy, Seattle Sounders and Columbus Crew coach Sigi Schmid.

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Soccer Camp the Carmel High Boys Varsity Soccer Team are hosting their 3 hour camp next Friday, Aug 4 – 9:30 am till 12 noon at River Rd Fields.  Boys and Girls K-8 just $45 with FREE T-Shirt and the chance to be a ball boy or girl at a CHS soccer game this fall.   Visit CHS website

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7/26/17  US vs Jamaica GOLD CUP Finals Tonite 9 pm FoxSports 1, ICC El Classico Sat ESPN, MLS AllStars vs Real Madrid -Chicago Wed 8/2 FS1 9 pm,  CHS Boys Soccer Camp 8/4

Anyone Want to Gather to Watch tonite?  Thinking Brockway Pub or Stacked Pickle off of Old Maridian???

So the US has a chance to lift a trophy tonight as they face Jamaica in the Gold Cup Finals at 9:30 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Jamaica certainly shouldn’t be taken lightly as they have played well and have a hot goal keeper in Philly Union’s Andre Blake.   Of course I always miss the chance to play Mexico so that’s a bit disappointing since they brought their B/C team into Gold Cup play.  Anyway the chance to take home some hardware for the US and Bruce Arena, who has yet to lose as the US boss since his return, is always worthwhile.  Great to see Dempsey tie Landon Donovan’’s record of 57 goals in his home state of Texas in Dallas close to where he grew up.  His insertion as a supersub was spot on as he changed the dynamic upon entering in the 65th minute or so with a couple of spectacular passes – one for an assist to Altidore.  And of course his spot kick was fantastic.  Yes Dempsey still has a place on this team for the next World Cup because honestly he’s still our most creative player and scorer.   I have always thought Dempsey was better than Landon because of his work oversea’s in the EPL – and the scoring record just cements that.  Tickets are on sale for the US Ladies National Team hosting New Zealand on Tues Night 7:30 pm at Nippert Stadium in Cinncinatti.  Great Place to see a game my friends tell me!

The International Champions Cup has given us some exciting games with 2 more games tonite (unfortunately right around US game- bad timing for both) and of course El Classico Miami – with Real Madrid facing Barcelona this Sat. night at 8 pm on ESPN.

Good luck to those trying out for High School teams this week and next !!

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Soccer Camp the Carmel High Boys Varsity Soccer Team are hosting their 3 hour camp next Friday, Aug 4 – 9:30 am till 12 noon at River Rd Fields.  Boys and Girls K-8 just $45 with FREE T-Shirt and the chance to be a ball boy or girl at a CHS soccer game this fall.   Visit CHS website

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USA

Arena thinks Jamaica is a Threat to Win

The Matchup Jamaica vs USA in Gold cup Final ESPNFC

US Has Rare Chance in Gold Cup Final – no Mexico – SI Brian Straus

Bradley Enjoying Resurgence under Arena – ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Dempsey still vital for US as Supersub – Noah Davis EsPNFC

Dempsey ties Donovans US Goal Scoring Record

Dempsey Ties US Men’s Goal Record with 57th – SI

MLS + Indy 11

MLS Power Rankings SI

New Indy 11 TV Schedule for Fall

Eamon Zayad Players Perspective

BeIN Sports Signs to Show NASL Games in Fall

Kicks for Kids McDonalds Family Night Aug 5 vs FC Edmonton

GOALIES

Guardians of the Galaxy Goalie Style – ESPNFC

Blake Jamaica Goalie – Saves vs Mexico

Top Saves in Gold Cup Early Rounds

Top Saves Gold Cup

Best Saves of the MLS Season So Far

Navas Save ICC

Penalties Real vs Man United

International Champions Cup Great Goalies

GAMES ON TV  

Wed, July 26

7:30 pm ESPN 2           Barcelona vs Man United ICC

9 pm ESPN 2                   Juve  vs PSG  ICC

9 pm Fox Sp 1       Gold Cup Final

9:30 pm ESPN               Man City vs Real Madrid ICC

Sat, July 29

7:30 am ESPN 2            Chelsea vs Inter ICC

3 pm beIN Sports       Monaco vs PSG – French Super Cup

6 pm EsPN 2                   Man City vs Tottenham  ICC

8 pm ESPN             Real Madrid vs Barcelona ICC

10 pm ESPN 1                LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

Sun, July 30

2 pm ESPN                                               Toronto vs NY City

4 pm ESPN                       Roma vs Juventus ICC

4 pm ESPN3                    FC Edmonton vs Indy 11

Tues, Aug 1

2 pm beIN Sport          Liverpool vs Bayern Munich

Wed, Aug 2

9 pm Fox Sport 1 MLS Allstars vs Real Madrid 

Sat, Aug 5

2:30 pm FOX                  Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Bayern Munich (German Supercup)

7:30 pm Myindy TV + beIN Sport Indy 11 vs FC Edmonton

Sun, Aug 6

9 am Fox Sport1          Arsenal vs Chelsea  (EPL Community Shield)

2 pm?  ESPNU               Women’s European Championship?

4 pm ESPN                                               Portland vs LA Galaxy

6 pm Fox Sport 1        NY City vs NY Red Bulls (NY Derby)

8 pm Fox Sport 1        Sporting KC vs Atlanta United

Tues, Aug 8

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                         Real Madrid vs Man United  UEFA Super Cup

Sat, Aug 12                      EPL Starts

7:30 am NBCSN            Watford vs Liverpool

10 am NCBSN                Chelsea vs Burnlee

10 am CNBC                   Everton vs Stoke City

12:30 pm NBC               Brighton vs Man City

7:30 pm Lifetime       Orlando Pride vs Sky Blue (Women’s)

7:30 pm beIN Sport  Miami FC vs Indy 11

10 :30 pm Fox Sport1                      LA Galaxy vs NY City FC

Sun, Aug 13                    EPL

8:30 am NBCSN            New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Tottenham (Carter Vickers)

11 am NBCSN                Man United vs West Ham

2 pm  beIN Sport?     Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Spain Supercup

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

International Champions Cup July  Games in Nashville and Detroit

Gold Cup final tale of the tape: United States to overcome Jamaica

It’s not the matchup that many anticipated, but it’ll decide the 2017 Gold Cup championship nonetheless. Jamaica’s stunning takedown of Mexico on Sunday night in Pasadena, California, both avenged its loss in the 2015 final and set up a showdown with a United States team that will surely like its chances of walking away with the trophy.Though some might be disappointed not to see yet another renewal of the El Tri-USMNT rivalry, it’ll certainly be compelling watching Jamaica try to become the least likely federation champion since Canada in 2000.

At first glance, the United States has a distinct edge, but there are some areas Jamaica will hope to exploit in pursuit of another upset. Here is the tale of the tape.

Goalkeeper

Just about any time in the past decade-and-a-half, the advantage would have gone to Tim Howard without a second thought. But the 38-year-old is no longer the unquestioned top goalkeeper in CONCACAF. That’s Real Madrid No. 1 Keylor Navas, of Costa Rica, who sat out this tournament to rest up after an arduous league campaign.

After Navas, though? Jamaica’s Andre Blake has as good a shout as anybody. Blake has been exceptional all month, and especially in the knockout rounds. Exhibit A: The otherworldly save the ‘keeper somehow pulled off to deny Junior Hoilett’s would-be equalizer against Canada in the quarters. He was even more dominant against Mexico.

The U.S. knows better than most what the value of a red-hot goalkeeper is. Even if the USMNT jumps on the Reggae Boyz early, Blake could single-handedly keep this close.

Edge: Jamaica

Defense

The American back line has been shaky at times. A good example being the narrow 3-2 win over Martinique during which the minnows found plenty of open space to exploit.

Jamaica’s run to the final has been built on the foundation of a stingy defense. It has allowed just two goals all tournament, and shutting out Mexico twice in as many weeks is a legitimate feat.

Edge: Jamaica

 Midfield

This category isn’t all that close. Kellyn Acosta, the 21-year-old, has occasionally betrayed his youth and the Americans have lacked for a true playmaker like Christian Pulisic, who took this tournament off, or a hard-charging winger to help stretch the field.

Still, the USMNT boasts depth and versatility that give it the nod. Michael Bradley remains a bona fide game-changer on his day, and Darlington Nagbe was great in the semis. Acosta, too, despite his early unevenness, feels due for a signature moment with which to crown his first major international tournament at senior level.

Edge: United States

 Forward

As much as Darren Mattocks inexplicably turns into Superman every time he dons Jamaica’s yellow, green and black jersey, based on pedigree alone this isn’t much of a debate.

Despite what has often been a frustrating sophomore campaign with the Sounders, Jordan Morris has looked rejuvenated over these past few weeks. Jozy Altidore is divisive in American soccer circles, but there is no attacking player on the other side you would trade him for ahead of the final.

Clint Dempsey is one goal away from breaking Landon Donovan’s all-time USMNT scoring record, and he’s likely to start on the bench.

Edge: United States

 Coach

Full credit to what Theodore Whitmore has done with a team that was reeling when he was appointed on an interim basis following Jamaica’s disappointing showing in the World Cup qualifiers.  Few gave the Reggae Boyz much of a chance to recreate their magical run to the 2015 final, but they’ve been hard to break down and opportunistic in the biggest moments. If there were a “Coach of This Specific Tournament” award, it would go to Whitmore, hands down, and he has done more than enough to earn the gig on a full-time basis.  All that being said, on longevity alone, Bruce Arena has the upper hand. His second go-around as USMNT boss has gone about as smoothly as could have been anticipated when he took over from Jurgen Klinsmann this past winter.

Guided by Arena’s steady hand, the United States is on track to qualify for next summer’s World Cup and one game away from a sixth Gold Cup championship.

Edge: United States

 Intangibles

Do not underestimate the historic significance of what the Jamaicans pulled off at the Rose Bowl against Mexico. Given the lack of precedent and the still-lingering sting of 2015, the victory clinched by Kemar Lawrence’s firecracker in the 88th minute will go down as one of the proudest Jamaica has ever pulled off.

It’ll head into Wednesday’s final riding a high, with the fearlessness of an underdog, and is unlikely to be intimidated by the stakes.

Edge: Jamaica

Prediction

United States 2-1 Jamaica (after extra time). It would make for a great story if Jamaica actually pulls this off, but the USMNT has too much going in its favor not to finish the job.Matt Pentz is a Seattle-based soccer reporter covering primarily the Sounders, Timbers and Whitecaps. Follow him on Twitter @mattpentz.

USMNT Has Rare Chance in Gold Cup Final, but Jamaica Represents Real Hurdle

  • No Mexico? No matter. The U.S. has an opportunity to win its sixth major title in the program’s 100 years, but Jamaica will prove to be a tricky test on Wednesday.

BRIAN STRAUSWednesday July 26th, 2017

SANTA CLARA, Calif.—There’s always a hefty chunk of nerves and anticipation preceding a final. They’re the matches young players dream about and the ones for which pros prepare during hundreds of repetitive and anonymous practices. Finals are—if you play to win the game—what the game really is about.

So it’s tempting ahead of Wednesday’s CONCACAF Gold Cup decider between the USA and Jamaica here at Levi’s Stadium to simply look forward—to focus on form and tactics and to make the next 90 minutes about nothing more than the next 90 minutes. But this 14th Gold Cup tournament, and the route the Americans took to Wednesday’s final, have been far from standard. The past three weeks, the past eight months and for some, the past decade, have shaped the narrative and will influence the approach and emotions of the men who take the field.

It starts on a personal level. Consider Jozy Altidore, the veteran forward who’s already the third leading scorer in U.S. national team history. Too few of those goals have come during the summer, however, as the 27-year-old been ravaged by injury during recent tournaments. He’s yet to win a trophy for his country. Altidore’s long-time friend Michael Bradley, the USA captain who’s now a teammate at Toronto FC as well, had his own rough run of luck in finals until lifting the Canadian Championship last month. Clint Dempsey is making the most of what seems like a second chance at an international career after recovering from a heart ailment. Tim Howard was there in 2011 at the Rose Bowl, where Mexico defeated the USA, 4-2, in a classic that still echoes. So was Eric Lichaj, who then was removed for the national team picture and is only now getting another long, legitimate look.Then there’s the group dynamic, starting with the two World Cup qualifying losses in November and former coach Jurgen Klinsmann’s subsequent sacking. Bruce Arena re-entered and quickly reset the tone, creating an atmosphere in which his increasingly comfortable and confident players were able to trust his approach for this Gold Cup. The plans were unorthodox: Start 22 of 23 players during the three group-stage games, then bring in five veterans for the knockout rounds who’d be expected to slip in seamlessly. Those are the sorts of wholesale lineup and roster changes that don’t typically result in championship consistency. But Arena has pushed the right buttons, gone undefeated in his first 13 games in charge and led the USA to a record 10th Gold Cup final. He’s earned the benefit of the doubt.

“We started [the Gold Cup] to try to win the thing so its not like we were every going to think that what we were doing wasn’t going to work, or else we wouldn’t have done it,” Arena told reporters here on Monday. “You make one change and you’re concerned about it, let alone 11. Every game we played, you’re never quite certain what you’re going to get. But overall, we thought the plan we had would work.”nd he had buy-in from locker room leaders because of the chemistry and trust that’s developed over time. Even Dempsey, who fought for every minute like it was his last, even before his 2016 illness, appears to appreciate the potential the “super-sub” role that decided Saturday’s semifinal against Costa Rica.“He’s been really good with his selection and the players that he’s decided to play in games. He’s been undefeated,” Dempsey said. “So all I can go out there and do is make sure that I’m putting myself in the best position [so] if I do get called upon, that I can go in and impact the game. The most important thing is the team winning. It’s not who plays. So hopefully we can go out there and win the Cup.”   Bradley, who’s known Arena since he was a toddler, elaborated following his team’s Levi’s Stadium walk-through on Tuesday.  “From the beginning, there was a real sense within the group that this is what it’s supposed to feel like,” the captain said. “We had let ourselves down at the end of last year, there was no two ways about that. Obviously, Jurgen pays the price in terms of losing his job. But there was more to it than that. We understood that. We knew that we had to look in the mirror and also know that we had let ourselves down on a few too many occasions.

“When Bruce and his staff came in, in January, the tone they set from the beginning in terms of creating an environment where now everybody feels a part of it, everybody’s all in, creating an environment where players are challenged and pushed to take big roles in terms of what goes on every day, this part has been great,” Bradley continued. “I certainly appreciate the trust and the confidence he’s shown in me in this stretch and for any player, when you have a coach who gives you that, you want nothing more than to repay that back every single day and ultimately in the biggest moments.”Wednesday is one of those moments, whether or not conversations among the press and fans suggest otherwise. Trophies are hard to come by, finals are scarce and careers are short. Not a single member of the American camp expressed any concern that a potential sixth major title in the program’s 100 years might be worth a bit less because rival Mexico stumbled in the semi. Teams that have won five trophies in a century-plus don’t get to debate the aesthetics. That’s for the Brazils of the world. Plus, Jamaica earned its way to Santa Clara. The rugged and robust Reggae Boyz, runners-up two years ago when the USA crashed out early, have yielded just two goals in five Gold Cup games.

“We’re both in points in our careers, where ultimately we want to win,” Bradley said of himself and Altidore. “We don’t care about much else—what people say, what people write, who scores, who doesn’t score, who gets the credit, who doesn’t. None of it matters to either of us. We want to play on teams that win and we want to play on teams that win trophies, and tomorrow’s another chance for us.”  Jamaica represents a real hurdle. The Reggae Boyz are in a second straight final but were eliminated early from World Cup qualifying. Former midfielder and manager Theodore Whitmore returned to the team last year and has helped build a side that matches in defensive discipline what it’s always offered in danger on the break. Anchored by MLSers like Darren Mattocks, Je-Vaughn Watson and Shaun Francis, Jamaica went 1-0-1 against Mexico this month and was a deserving winner on Sunday. “They’re a different kind of Jamaican team than we’ve seen in the past,” Arena said this week. “They have a lot of discipline. They are very strong defensively and they’re hard to play against. That, to me, is not what you typically see out of a Jamaican team.”

That juxtaposition of a team 90 minutes from the CONCACAF title that couldn’t finish among the top six in World Cup qualifying is a fitting one for a tournament that’s been a bit odd, even by this quirky confederation’s high standards. The golden boot leaders heading into the final are a 16-year-old Canadian (Alphonso Davies) and a forward from a country of 390,000 that isn’t even a FIFA member (Martinique’s Kévin Parsemain).

Honduras got to within a goal of a quarterfinal shootout against Mexico without actually scoring one of its own in four games. It owed its place to the bizarre decision by French Guiana to play ineligible French veteran Florent Malouda, which led to the forfeit that sent Los Catrachos to the knockout stage at Martinique’s expense. That was a shame for Martinique, which overcame a two-goal deficit against the USA during the group stage. Then there was the biting and nipple twisting the Americans faced against El Salvador, and CONCACAF’s quixotic effort to convince fans to stop yelling homophobic slurs during goal kicks. Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio was jeered by El Tri supporters upon landing in Mexico City, even though he was suspended for the duration of the tournament. Dempsey was cheered when he tied Landon Donovan’s all-time U.S. scoring record in the closing minutes of the semifinal.There’s been no lack of narrative during this Gold Cup, and no dearth of context preceding this final. Jamaica (3-0-2) can become the first non-North American team to win the competition since CONCACAF relaunched and rebranded its flagship event in 1991. The USA (4-0-1) has a chance to build on the momentum generated in the past eight months. A win would provide some championship confidence to new players who’ve made a statement, while offering a lasting memory and some priceless validation to those who’ve stuck it out.That’s why finals are about much more than 90 minutes. They’re certainly about more than who might have been playing for other teams or missing out. These games are about reflection, redefinition and legacy.“This means the world to me. I haven’t had the best of luck the past four or five years. The opponent in the final didn’t matter. I had this tournament circled on my calendar, and to be able to get there and see it through with no hiccups, I’m really excited to have the opportunity to play for a trophy,” Altidore told SI.com on Tuesday.

“This is what we all play for—to win things, to have these type of memories, to play in atmospheres hopefully like tomorrow that will be special,” he continued. “For us, this is what we’re all about, getting to games that mean you’re achampion at the end of it. Everybody’s excited. We can’t wait to kick off.”

U.S. captain Michael Bradley enjoying a resurgence under Bruce Arena

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The Gold Cup hasn’t necessarily been kind to Michael Bradley.In 2007, he was sent off in the semifinal win over Canada, and thus wasn’t on the field for the 2-1 victory over Mexico in the final. In the 2011 final, he was on the losing end of a bitter 4-2 defeat to Mexico at the Rose Bowl.On Wednesday, Bradley will have a chance to put that right as he captains the U.S. against Jamaica in the 2017 Gold Cup final. But Bradley insists that he’s not haunted by what happened in the past. There are no ghosts lingering in his psyche. The fact that this is a somewhat watered down version of the Gold Cup doesn’t affect him either. “I want to win because I want to win. I want to win because that’s why you play,” he said after the U.S. team completed its walk-through at Levi’s Stadium. “To win medals, to win trophies, that’s what it’s all about. People say, ‘It’s the Gold Cup.’ People say, ‘You played Jamaica in the final.’ None of it matters. At the end, they pass out medals, and they pass out a trophy. We want to be the team holding that trophy up.”The calendar year has witnessed something of a resurgence for Bradley. The end of 2016 saw a U.S. team that suffered through a collective meltdown, especially in the debacle that was the 4-0 World Cup qualifying loss to Costa Rica, which led to the dismissal of manager Jurgen Klinsmann.”We had let ourselves down at the end of last year,” Bradley said. “There was no two ways about that. Obviously, Jurgen pays the price in terms of losing his job, but there was more to it than that, and we understood that. We knew that we had to look in the mirror and also know that we had let ourselves down on a few too many occasions.”In the aftermath, Bruce Arena was hired once again to manage the U.S. team, and the uptick in the mood of the group and Bradley’s performances at international level have been evident. He called his time under Arena “very, very enjoyable. I think from the beginning there was a real sense within the group that this is what was supposed to feel like.”He added, “When Bruce and his staff came in in January, the tone they set from the beginning in terms of creating an environment where everybody feels a part of it, everybody is all in, creating an environment where the players are challenged and pushed to take big roles in terms of what goes on every day, the environment, this part has been great.”Arena’s arrival has coincided with a more defined role for Bradley, that of a holding midfielder tasked mostly with sitting in front of the back line, and letting the likes of Kellyn Acosta or Darlington Nagbe venture further up field. That said, Bradley has picked his moments to get forward, as witnessed by the wonder goal he scored against Mexico during last month’s World Cup qualifier at the Azteca. But there seems to be something deeper at work. At least outwardly it looks like coach and captain are completely in sync, something that Bradley attributes to Arena.”For me, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to play for Bruce again,” Bradley said. “I certainly appreciate the trust and the confidence that he’s shown in me in this stretch. And for any player when you have a coach who gives you that, you want nothing more than to repay that back every single day, and ultimately in the biggest moments.”For Arena the appreciation is mutual. Arena has historically relied on his leaders to take their pulse of the locker room, and handle any issues that arise. In this vein, he has relied on Bradley’s play and leadership throughout the calendar year, and Bradley has responded.”He makes my job easier because we have a really focused individual, a focused captain, and a person that wants to play in a World Cup in 2018,” Arena said of Bradley. “From January on, he has been a great leader in the program, very focused … and the players follow his lead. He’s been fantastic to work with.”Of course, Arena has practically had a front-row seat to Bradley’s entire life. The lives of Arena and Bradley’s father, Bob, have crisscrossed each other over the years, with the elder Bradley serving as Arena’s assistant more than once. And it was Arena who actually gave Bradley his first cap, a late cameo in a friendly against Venezuela just prior to the 2006 World Cup when Bradley wasn’t even a member of the World Cup squad.”I probably saw him the week he was born,” Arena said of Michael Bradley at Tuesday’s news conference. “I saw him around the game an awful lot as a young kid. First of all, I never thought he’d grow to where he’s grown, physically. If you would’ve seen his family you never would have guessed that as well. But obviously there was a focus.”He has a lot of his father’s qualities. He’s a very dedicated professional. He understands a lot of other things outside the lines, which has helped him as a player as well. He’s been terrific in that sense. And it’s interesting to me, he continues to grow every year as a player, and he’s at an age where you wouldn’t think that would happen as much, but he continues to grow and get better. I’m real pleased with Michael’s progress.”For now the focus is on Wednesday’s final. The U.S. will need to be patient with the ball, while also pressuring quickly, the better to negate the Reggae Boyz’s ability to break quickly.”You don’t get a million of these opportunities in your career,” Bradley said. “So we’re very cognizant of that, and you don’t let opportunities [pass] you by. So we have a group of guys that is excited and motivated by the chance of stepping on the field in a big final.”And this time, coming away with a victory.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Clint Dempsey is as vital as ever to U.S. despite apparent “super sub” role

Salazar and Herculez Gomez break down the United States’ win over Costa Rica in the Gold Cup semifinals.

With the United States men’s national team clinging to a 1-0 lead in the 82nd minute of Saturday night’s Gold Cup semifinal, Clint Dempsey prepared to take a free kick from 25 yards. He stood over the ball, feet a little wider than shoulder-width, the picture of calm as he surveyed the defensive wall and Costa Rica goalkeeper Patrick Pemberton’s positioning.

The 34-year-old Dempsey, who had replaced Paul Arriola 20 minutes into the second half, started his run up with a half-step and a little hop, followed by a quick series of stutter steps. He blasted the ball with his right foot, sending it skipping on the ground past the leaping wall before it tucked inside Pemberton’s post.Dempsey celebrated by running away, arms out from his side, face focused and determined. It wasn’t the unbridled enthusiasm of a rookie notching his first goal but rather a veteran who has been there many times before. After all, he had been. The tally, Dempsey’s 57th for the U.S., sent them into the Gold Cup final and tied him with Landon Donovan for the team’s all-time lead.The fact that Dempsey will soon stand alone atop the American scoring charts is shocking, though more recently, it’s also felt inevitable. On one hand, it’s shocking because of the long, improbable road he had to travel to even make the American squad, much less start and score consistently. (Cue a narrator’s voice-over about growing up on the dirt fields of Nacogdoches, Texas …)Equally, it’s inevitable because, over the past few years, it has become clear how much more dangerous Dempsey is in front of net than the rest of his teammates. He was always going to get the record once he returned from the heart condition that kept him out for six months between late 2016 and early 2017.

Of course, setting a national team record for goals requires being consistently excellent over a long stretch of time. Dempsey has been just that, scoring at least two goals every year since 2005, when he found the back of the net for the first time in a friendly against England at Soldier Field. (He was even a focal point of the attack during Bruce Arena’s first stint at the top of the squad.)Dempsey has come up big in major tournaments, becoming the first American to tally in three consecutive World Cups — his 2006 strike against Ghana remains the hardest ball I’ve ever seen anyone kick in person — getting three goals each in the 2009 Confederations Cup and the 2015 Copa América Centenario,while also finding 18 World Cup qualifying goals against just 13 in friendlies.

Dempsey’s play rises with the stakes but becoming a national team’s all-time goal-scoring leader also requires something else: it means that the player remains one of his country’s top two or three attackers for more than a decade. Dempsey has done that, too, an impressive testament to his ability but also perhaps a reflection of the shallowness in the American player pool.Clint Dempsey’s longevity owes a lot to his consistent production. The U.S. will need him in 2018.How many promising forwards have come and gone, unable to grab a spot in the starting lineup? Dempsey’s record is built on his ability, yes, but also on the collective failure of the U.S. attacking corps.

Until now, mind you. The emergence of Christian Pulisic creates a bit of a conundrum since both he and Dempsey like to operate in the same space in the middle of the field. They can combine beautifully, as they did during a 6-0 destruction of overmatched Honduras in March, but more often than not, the two struggle to space themselves correctly. They can become redundant pieces. And it’s Dempsey, never the fastest player and now a bit slower with age, who loses out.

In the 52nd minute of the 2-0 qualifier with Trinidad and Tobago on June 9, DeAndre Yedlin crossed a ball into the box. Dempsey slid to reach it, the kind of classic scrappy play he has scored on so many times before. Except Pulisic was quicker, inside Dempsey and already sliding, already putting the ball into the back of the net. As Pulisic popped up and sprinted to the end line to celebrate with a knee slide, Dempsey rose and slowly jogged toward his teammate.It was a small, but telling moment. It felt like a passing of the torch at the time, and still does six weeks later. The pair can play together and do so successfully. But if Bruce Arena has to pick one, for the first time in more than a decade, Dempsey won’t win.Against Costa Rica on Saturday, the Texas forward started the game on the bench, an unusual position for him. The goal he would score was only the second one he has notched as a sub because when he has been healthy, he has been a starter for three consecutive American coaches. But just three days after going 90 draining minutes in a match against El Salvador, Arena decided to put the longtime talisman on the bench, planning to insert him if the U.S. needed late-game magic. They did, and Dempsey, to no one’s surprise, delivered.

Before Dempsey scored the clinching goal, he set up Jozy Altidore’s opener with a lovely spin move followed by a perfect pass. While “super sub” is sort of an insulting term for someone with Dempsey’s prolific resume, it fits.What a luxury it is for Arena to hand the keys to Pulisic, already high up on the list of most dynamic American attackers ever, at the beginning of the game while keeping another man on that short list in reserve. Dempsey should start some games and will continue to do so, but he also understands what a weapon he can be with fresh legs in the last 20-25 minutes.   “Bruce told me that he knew the game was going to be tight and the second half it would open up,” Dempsey said after Saturday’s 2-0 semifinal win over Los Ticos. “He thought I could be someone to come on and make a difference, and he was right. When I went out there I just tried to play with confidence, tried to move the ball forward, create for others and create for myself and got into good spots tonight.”Fast forward 11 months and that quote could easily come after a 2018 World Cup group stage match. While Dempsey might not be at the height of his powers anymore, he’s far from done. He has a role to play, and one that’s larger than it might seem. He was always going to write his own final chapter.Noah Davis is a Brooklyn-based correspondent for ESPN FC and deputy editor at American Soccer Now. Twitter: @Noahedavis.

MLS Power Rankings Week 20: Resetting After Gold Cup

ALEXANDER ABNOSTuesday July 25th, 2017Coming back from vacation is always a bit interesting. These Power Rankings, for example, have been dormant since Week 17, with the Gold Cup and all its surrounding hoopla occupying most of everyone’s attention. Now, on the eve of that tournament’s final and with eyes returning to MLS, we see a league that is slightly different than the one we left. Many of the contenders are the same, but other teams have made a claim to that category as well. Some of the teams on the bottom are making moves forward (hello, Orlando City!), while others continue to be stuck in the muck.While the Eastern Conference currently boasts a number of the league’s strongest sides, two of the league’s most storied franchises are on shaky ground, suffering a series of setbacks.So how does the league shake out after 20 weeks of play and with the All-Star Game on the horizon? Let’s get to the rankings:

1  TORONTO FC

last week: 1

record: 11-3-7

We all know by now that Toronto FC boasts enviable depth throughout its roster, but that depth was given a huge chance to shine over these last few months. Just off a brutal five-games-in-two-weeks run, TFC lost Sebastian Giovinco to a minor knock, plus Jozy Altidore and Michael Bradley joined Justin Morrow on the U.S. Gold Cup squad. In the four games since the last ranking, they’ve gone 1–1–2. It’s not great, but it’s also solid considering all their absences. A Sunday showdown with NYCFC could tilt the scales of power in the Eastern Conference.

2  NEW YORK CITY FC

last week: 3

record: 11-6-4

NYCFC went 2–1–1 in its four games, but the biggest of those results has to be last weekend’s 2–1 home win over Chicago. That result is impressive not just because it was against one of MLS’s best teams, but also because NYCFC accomplished it while playing down a man for the majority of the match after an early red card to Yangel Herrera.

3  CHICAGO FIRE

last week: 2

record: 11-4-5

The Fire extended their unbeaten run to 11 games with a 4–0 home win over Vancouver and a 2–2 draw at Portland, but that came to an end with Saturday’s 2–1 loss away to NYCFC. That lengthy run may be over, but in the process of making it the Fire have catapulted from “Are they for real?” status to one of the undoubted MLS Cup contenders.

4  FC DALLAS

last week: 5

record: 9-3-7

After an early-summer swoon, FC Dallas appears to be back on the right track. Oscar Pareja’s side has won three straight games, including home victories over D.C. United and Toronto FC and three points away at Montreal. Last weekend’s result in Canada may be the most impressive, and the most important; highly-touted striker Cristian Colman finally got his first two goals of the season. If he gets going alongside Maxi Urruti and Mauro Diaz’s health continues to improve after a long injury layoff, watch out.

5  ATLANTA UNITED FC

last week: 6

record: 10-7-3

Atlanta United’s biggest problem before the Gold Cup break was that it struggled to string together positive results. That doesn’t seem to be the case at the moment, as the team is currently riding a four-game winning streak. Hector Villalba has been in scorching form in those victories, including a stupendous winning goal against Orlando on Friday.

6  NEW YORK RED BULLS

last week: 9

record: 10-8-2

With no major international absences other than Kemar Lawrence, the Red Bulls have rolled since the Gold Cup break, rolling off three straight wins and outscoring teams 11–3 in that span. Austrian winger Daniel Royer has been a man possessed during this run, scoring four goals and chipping in an assist in those three victories.

7  HOUSTON DYNAMO

last week: 8

record: 9-7-5

The Dynamo have gone 2–1–1 in their last four–not a bad mark considering that all of the team’s first-choice attacking trident of Erick “Cubo” Torres, Alberth Elis, and Romell Quioto were absent at at various times thanks to the Gold Cup. Homegrown player Memo Rodriguez has stepped up in their place, scoring both of his first two professional goals in the last set of games.

8  SPORTING KANSAS CITY

last week: 4

record: 8-4-9

Say this much about Sporting Kansas City: it’s a difficult team to beat. SKC has drawn five of its last six games (four of the 1-1 variety), including home matches against Portland and Philadelphia and a chippy away tilt at rival Real Salt Lake. While that technically extends an unbeaten streak to seven games, five of those results have been draws. With Dom Dwyer on the move to Orlando and with other teams making up ground in the West, it’s hard to know what’s in store for SKC the rest of the season.

9PORTLAND TIMBERS

last week: 7

record: 8-8-6

The middle of the summer hasn’t been kind to Portland, which finally got a win on Sunday at Vancouver after six league games without one. Injuries, suspensions and international call-ups have forced Portland to dip pretty far into its tenuous depth, though new signing Larrys Mabiala looks like he could be a high-quality addition to the Timbers’ first-choice back line.

10. SEATTLE SOUNDERS

last week: 15

record: 8-7-6

The Sounders are riding a five-game unbeaten streak (their longest of the year), which includes three straight wins. Of those, Week 19’s 4–3 win over D.C. United stands out if only for historic reasons. The Sounders were down 3–0 after 50 minutes, but staked a remarkable comeback to win 4–3. It’s the first time in league history a team has come from 3–0 down to win in regulation. Do the Sounders have another summer surge in them?

Indy 11 — Belief

Forward Eamon Zayed on the Spring Season, this year and last

Published Jul 19, 2017

By: Eamon Zayed

S,o I’ve decided I’m not going anywhere. Yup, that’s right. I’m going nowhere; you’ll have to personally come and take my laptop off me if you want rid of me! I am going to stay here and write more articles for you guys. Give you a player’s perspective on all things Indy, on and off the pitch! Any ideas/suggestions on future topics you the fans would like me to discuss, email my chief editor Scott@indyeleven.com 🙂

So the Spring Season has just finished and we capped it off with a solid 2-0 victory over Jacksonville on Saturday night – the same Jacksonville side that beat us 4-1 not too long ago. Although, for some reason, that defeat feels like it happened months ago. Let’s be honest, the relatively short 4 month Spring Season has felt like a full season in itself with all that has been thrown our way.  The last 5 games over the span of around a month have seen results change significantly for us on the pitch. With that said, many people have asked why and how such a turnaround. First 11 games = 7 points. Last 5 games = 13 points. Everyone has their own reason or reasons why the change in results, I have my own thoughts as well…

I remember just over a month ago before a game we had our usual team meeting. Coach Hankinson does the talking. We were joint bottom of the league and were way off the group of teams at the top of table. Statistics were not on our side! Hankinson mentioned statistics and our league position briefly but he continued on to talk about something that statistics DO NOT measure. He looked around the room at each and every one of us and said hunger, ambition, courage, effort… statistics DON’T measure them. BELIEF – the most important of them all – no statistic can measure that! We may have been bottom of the league with the statistics that can be measured on paper but the ones you cannot measure, the characteristics and attributes that can not be measured, this group of guys belong at the top and coach Hankinson believed.  Let me tell you two true stories. Now, before I begin, full discretion, neither Colin Falvey nor myself are physic! However, we both have very strong beliefs, we both hate to lose, and I think we have quite a few guys on our team with the same attitude. If you see something in your head and truly believe it can happen and you have the courage to put it out there in the world, I believe it can happen. People sometimes believe something but keep it to themselves, maybe in fear of it not happening and looking stupid. The power of true belief is immeasurable (my philosophy for the day!).

So, two true stories: Story number 1. Last season we claimed the Spring Championship on the final day of the league schedule needing to win by a clear 3-goal margin. Leading into that week, Colin, Nicki Patterson and myself said to each other we were going to win 4-1. All that week, in and out of training, and on game day, we continued to say 4-1. We genuinely truly believed we would win 4-1. I still do not know why we were so convinced of it, we just collectively were. Our coach also believed. We put that belief out there for everyone to see and hear. Looking back on it, we made ourselves vulnerable to that result not happening and therefore looking stupid but there was such belief and confidence that it was going to happen. Obviously as all now know, we won that game 4-1, consequently giving us the result needed to win the club’s first silverware.Story number 2. So, rewind to my previous paragraph, Coach Hankinson has given his team talk before our game. He has told us that certain statistics cannot be measured. We had 5 games left of the spring season. 15 points up for grabs. Colin and myself were chatting about it and said let’s get 10+ points out of our last 5 games. Now let me tell you, in 11 games we had collected 7 points but now with only 5 games left, we said we were going to accumulate almost double that amount. And we sincerely believed we were going to do it. Why did we believe it you ask? Because we looked around at our team, our staff, and our fans, and believed we were that capable at a time when not many others believed. But I can assure you, every one of the guys on this team believed it.Fast forward to the end of those final five games and we amassed 13 out of 15 points. Same team, same staff, same fans, the only thing that changed was belief. As Brad (Ring) tweeted after Saturday’s game, “Early season struggles never cracked our confidence. Feels good to be on a good run heading into the @naslofficial break. Proud of this team.” The Spring Season is officially over and we did not accomplish what we wanted to, but the belief that turned our form around has been deeply solidified within us, and with that, what can be achieved in the Fall Season is unlimited.  #IsItFallSeasonYet?

============================================================================Soccer Camp the Carmel High Boys Varsity Soccer Team are hosting their 3 hour camp next Friday, Aug 4 – 9:30 am till 12 noon at River Rd Fields.  Boys and Girls K-8 just $45 with FREE T-Shirt and the chance to be a ball boy or girl at a CHS soccer game this fall.   Visit CHS website 

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http://www.ticketmaster.com/event/160052F2EE895DA8   US Women’s Soccer Tickets vs New Zealand

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

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

Proud Member of the Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.com , Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

July 18 – USA vs El Salvador Wed 9 pm Fox Sports 1, Gold Cup Quarterfinals Set for Wed/Thurs, ICC Man U vs Man City Thurs 10 pm ESPN, Full TV Schedule

Well the US certainly knows how to make it exciting.  Knowing they needed a 3-0 win vs lowly Nicaugua in their final group stage game in Cleveland on Sat evening to win the group – the US blew 2 penalty kicks and missed tons of opportunities in front of net before finally netting the third and decisive goal on a set piece header by Miazga in the 81st minute off a nice serve from Zusi. I was in the stands as the American Outlaws tried to bring life to the 30K or so on hand in downtown Cleveland and while their were some good moments – this team still needs to find some finishers.  I guess that’s why Bruce is bringing in the big guns for the Quarterfinal matchup with El Salvadore on Wednesday night at 9 pm on Fox Sports 1.  Bradley, Altidore, Dempsey and Darlington Nagbe will join the squad as Bedoya (off to see his 2nd child be born this week), Dom Dwyer, Kellyn Rowe,

I have to say I am surprised and a little disappointed Bruce is bringing in Dempsey and Altidore especially.  Bradley is the Captain and pairing him up with Kellyn Acosta or Nagbe to see if we can solidify that #6 & #8 defensive mid spot is fine with me. But I would have loved seeing Morris and Dwyer and Juan Aguadelo put in hard work up top to see who might be worth the seat to Russia next summer.  I loved Dwyer’s tenacity and Morris’ pace and guile in front of net.  Kelyn Rowe has been a revelation and I really would love to see him under more pressure in the knockouts rounds.  I certainly think Rowe has raised some eyebrows as have the 2 center forwards thus far.  Either way we are still desperately seeking a left back – I do not know why he won’t give Eric Leijia a run on the left instead of the right – the right back side is covered with Yedlin but the left is still seeking a decent starter and while its not his most natural position Leija has played that role for Notinghams Forest in England before. The Center back pairings should also be interesting moving forward will it be Gonzales, Miazga, Beesler or Hedges?  I think former Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel High MLS all star Matt Hedges took a step back and I am hopeful now that he wasn’t sent home that he might get a chance to redeem himself.

The (ICC) International Champions Cup is underway with Roma vs PSG Wed Night at 9 pm on ESPN 2, Man U vs Man City Thurs at 9:30 pm on ESPN, Juventus vs Barcelona at 6 pm on ESPN and El Classico in Miami as Barca faces 2 time defending Champions League winners Real Madrid on Sat, July 29 at 7:30 pm on ESPN (see full schedule in Games on TV below)

The Indy 11 finished the Spring Season on a roll with 4 wins and a tie including the 2-0 blanking of Jax last Sat.  They return for the fall season with a game next Sat, Aug 5th at 7:30 pm at the Mike.  Getting some injured players back and the home stand have helped the 11 move out of the cellar and into 6th place in the NASL.

CARMEL FC GOALIE TRAINING STARTS TUES -AUG 8th at Shelbourne.  U11-U13 6-7, U14-above 7:15-8:15

GAMES ON TV  

Wed, July 19

7:30 am ESPN 3/Des Bayern Munich vs Arsenal  ICC

6 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup Quarterfinal – Panama vs Costa Rica

9 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup Quarterfinal Philly (US vs El Salvador)  

9 pm ESPN2                    Roma vs PSG  ICC

Thur, July 20

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Gold Cup Quarterfinal Jamaica vs Canada

10 pm ESPN                    Man U vs Man City ICC

10:30pm Fox Sport 1                       Gold Cup Quarterfinal Mexico vs Honduras

Fri, July 21

7 pm ESPN                                              Orlando City vs Atlanta United

Sat, July 22

5:30 am ESPN 2 +Des                       Bayern Munich vs Milan ICC

6 pm ESPN                       Juve vs Barcelona ICC

4 pm ESPN                       Minn United vs NY RB MLS

8 pm ESPN 2                  PSG vs Tottenham ICC

10 pm Fox Sport 1     Gold Cup SEMI FINAL  Dallas US vs Costa Rica? 

Sun, July 23

5:30 am EPSN 3+Des                        Bayern Munich vs Milan ICC

5 pm ESPN ?                   Real Madrid vs Man United ICC

6:30 pm Fox Sport1  Vancuouver vs Portland MLS

9 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup SEMI FINAL 2  Mexico vs Canada??

Mon, July 24

8 am ESPN 3+Des        Inter vs Lyon  ICC

Tues, July 25

8 am ESPN 3+Des        Chelsea vs Bayern Munich

8 pm EsPN                       Tottenham vs Roma ICC

Wed, July 26

7:30 am ESPN                Barcelona vs Man United ICC

8 pm EsPN 2                   Juve  vs PSG  ICC

9 pm Fox Sp 1       Gold Cup Final

Sat, July 29

7:30 am ESPN desp    Chelsea vs Inter ICC

6 pm EsPN 2                   Man City vs Tottenham  ICC

7:30 pm ESPN       Real Madrid vs Barcelona ICC

Sun, July 30

4 pm ESPN                       Roma vs Juventus ICC

Wed, Aug 2

9 pm Fox Sport 1 MLS Allstars vs Real Madrid 

Gold Cup Schedule In July

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

International Champions Cup July  Games in Nashville and Detroit

 Its Summer – Time to plan your Soccer Camps 

BEST FAMILY GOALIE TRAINING – if anyone is interested in Goalie Training this summer – let me know.  My 18 year old  goalie Tyler and I may offer some evening training if we get enough interest.  RE: with interest.

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.

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   Field Player Camp: July 24 – 27, 2017

USA

QuarterFinals set up easy path for US and Mexico – eSPNFC

Arena Ends Player Pool Testing by adding 4 Veterans Bradely, Altidore, Dempsey, Nagbe to Mix – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

3 things we learned from the Roster Changes – Stars and Stripes

3 things we learned US 3-0 win – NBCsports

US Player Ratings – ESPNFC – Arch Bell

Player Ratings NBCsprits

Winners and Losers in the Group Stages

Bedoya Leads the Young US into Quarterfinals – ESPNFC

Mexico does just enough to win Group C

This Mexico Side a Work in Progress – eSPNFC

ICC

US Pulisic helps on 2 Goals for Dortmund in Win over AC

Man United Boss says MLS is Improving

Man U Lukoku scores first goal for United

Indy 11

Indy 11 extend streak to 5 games with 2-0 win over Jax

3 Things Win over Jax

11 Defender Vukovic names NASL Player of the Week

GOALIES

CARMEL FC GOALIE TRAINING STARTS TUES -AUG 8th at Shelbourne.  U11-U13 6-7, U14-above 7:15-8:15

Indy 11 Jon Busch with Great Saves in 2-0 Win over Jax

Saves of the Game for Each Gold Cup Game

Save of Game 1 Guzan – in Gold Cup

Lorente saves 2 PKs vs USA

Goalie Motivational Video 3 min

MLS Save of the Week

Top 5 Saves Confed Cup

Worst Goalie Mistakes 2016/17

Arena won’t learn more about U.S. player pool by calling in reinforcements

HILADELPHIA — From the outset of this Gold Cup, it was the plan of U.S men’s national team manager Bruce Arena to add six players to his roster at the conclusion of the group stage. The tournament rules allow it, and Arena took full advantage.All of which seems kind of a shame.The U.S. manager has brought in the Toronto FC duo of Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore. He’s also added Portland Timbers midfielder Darlington Nagbe, Seattle Sounders forward Clint Dempsey, Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard and FC Dallas goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez. The infusion of experience is considerable. Out of those six, four of them — Bradley, Altidore, Dempsey and Howard — have more than 100 caps apiece. Nagbe has been a steady presence for the U.S. throughout 2017. Only Gonzalez, who just recently had his one-time switch of affiliation from Mexico to the U.S. approved by FIFA, can be considered a prospect.The unlucky six who were sent back to their clubs were really an unlucky three. Midfielder Alejandro Bedoya and his wife Beatrice are expecting their second child this week, so his departure was long planned. It was also understood that goalkeepers Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson would be sent back to Atlanta United and New York City FC, respectively. That left Kelyn Rowe, Cristian Roldan and Dom Dwyer to be sent home.It’s peculiar in that Rowe and Dwyer have shown well over the course of the past three weeks, with each player scoring a goal and contributing to the attack in other ways. Roldan’s situation is easier to understand, as he had his moments of struggle against Martinique, though he did take good care of the ball. But for these three players, it’s clear that their playing time would have been severely limited going forward, considering who was called up. That is true especially for Dwyer given that Dempsey and Altidore will chew up the bulk of the forward minutes, while Juan Agudelo and Jordan Morris have the ability to play out wide if needed.”All of [the decisions] are difficult because all of the players did well,” Arena told reporters. “I thought Dom, Cristian and Kelyn did very well, and I told them that. They’re players that we’re obviously going to continue to keep an eye on, and continue to obviously have them in the program.” He added, “It’s a difficult tournament, and when you play so many less experienced and younger players together, it’s difficult. It’s not easy. Probably the perfect way to do that is to mix in more veteran players. But we wanted to give everyone an opportunity, and that’s the way we decided to do it, and I think they came through with passing grades, all of them.”It’s an odd rule to be sure, one that I can’t recall being replicated anywhere else in the world. Given how crowded the international calendar tends to get in the summer, as well as the fact that MLS shuts down for only the group stage, it’s understandable that CONCACAF would want to allow some flexibility to teams in order to get the best players on display. But at the same time, it seems to undermine the integrity of the competition by allowing such drastic changes.To be clear, the U.S. isn’t doing anything wrong here, but it still seems unfortunate, in a way, for Arena to bring in reinforcements, and not just for the players sent home. With essentially five starters added, it’s almost as if a different team will take the field for Wednesday’s quarterfinal, and playing time will be much harder to come by for those group-stage players who remain.Without question, the U.S. looked far from convincing during the group stage. It played poorly in a 1-1 draw with Panama and was given a fright by unheralded Martinique in a 3-2 win, before looking more like its old self in a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua.But the whole point of this tournament, for the U.S. at any rate, was to give some playing time to some heretofore bit-part — and, in some cases, no-part — players. During the group stage, Arena did that and then some, giving starts to 22 out of the 23 players on the roster. So why not let them finish the job? Why not see how these players can do in a knockout game possessing a very different kind of pressure from the group stage?Granted, the winner of this Gold Cup gets one foot in the door toward qualifying for the Confederations Cup, but that assumes there will be a Confederations Cup in four years’ time. Considering Qatar is hosting the 2022 World Cup in the winter, holding the tournament in December 2021 is a no-go with the game’s power brokers in Europe. Ditto for holding it in the searing summer heat. There is talk of using the 2021 Club World Cup as a dry run for the World Cup instead.So what does the U.S. really gain by bringing in five new starters? Arena highlighted the quintet’s experience, and it obviously gives the U.S. a much better chance of winning the tournament. The competition for places will certainly heat up. But it also seems unlikely that Arena will acquire more data about his player pool as opposed to if he had kept his roster the same.That is precisely the approach Mexico has taken. Certainly, it’s not quite an apples-to-apples comparison given that El Tri‘s participation in this year’s Confederations Cup added an extra competition to their calendar. But manager Juan Carlos Osorio is giving his inexperienced side — which had a stumble of its own in tying Jamaica 0-0 — the chance to win the tournament, as opposed to making changes.”I think this group deserves the opportunity to continue [in the Gold Cup] and experience this tournament and the great responsibility that representing Mexico is,” said Osorio.He added, “[I feel] happy, very optimistic about the group. We’re continuing to consolidate a very good group of talented, young players that are the future of Mexican football. That factor, for me personally, is the most gratifying and what I enjoy most in life.”As it stands now, a hypothetical U.S. lineup for Wednesday’s quarterfinal could consist entirely of players who were on the roster for the World Cup qualifiers last June. So it looks like for Arena, the search for that kind of gratification Osorio referred to has been put on hold.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle. 

W2W4: U.S. and Mexico to advance from Gold Cup quarterfinals

The Gold Cup’s 12-team field has been cut down to the quarterfinals; it is now the win-or-go-home thrills of the knockout stage.But which teams will take the next step toward the July 26 final in Santa Clara, California? Here’s what to watch for.

Costa Rica vs. Panama, Wednesday (6 p.m. ET — Philadelphia)

We start with the most intriguing match. Both have played reasonably well — each can feel aggrieved to have drawn the other so early in the knockout rounds — but karma may be paying Costa Rica back for its easy group. Outside of the hot-tempered opener against Honduras, Costa Rica hardly had to break a sweat on its way to a first-place finish in Group A.Like the U.S. and Mexico, Costa Rica left some of its biggest stars off the roster (like Real Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas), but unlike those other regional heavyweights, Los Ticos haven’t looked any worse for their high-profile absences. Being able to bring a red-hot Rodney Wallace off your B-team bench speaks well to one’s depth.Panama, meanwhile, was just minutes away from topping Group B before American defender Matt Miazga scored late against Nicaragua. Los Canaleros haven’t been perfect, but as the U.S. learned in the group-stage opener, this is a resilient squad and a tough out.Prediction: Costa Rica 1-0 Panama

United States vs. El Salvador, Wednesday (9 p.m. ET — Philadelphia)

Despite an underwhelming performance to this point, the United States has been rewarded with perhaps the tamest opponent left. The Americans needed to scramble to avoid embarrassment against Martinique — which will be missed — and labored much more than anticipated to score the three goals necessary vs. Nicaragua to win Group B.Yet reinforcements like veterans Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Michael Bradley are on the way. And even the JV squad would have fancied its chances against the Salvadorans.El Salvador has just about played to type by sneaking into the quarterfinals. It lost to Mexico, beat Curacao and fought Jamaica to a draw. With backs against the wall headed into the Jamaica match, this solid, unspectacular crew at least proved that it isn’t a pushover. Still, there’s a reason El Salvador is currently 103rd in the FIFA rankings. Barring a disaster, the U.S. should move on comfortably.Prediction: United States 3-1 El Salvador

Based on recent history, this should be an easy one to call. The Reggae Boyz reached the Gold Cup final the last time around, while Canada hasn’t advanced past this point in a decade.Dig a little deeper, however, and the more this looks like a golden opportunity for the Canadians. Jamaica is vulnerable. It was disciplined and organized in holding Mexico to a dour scoreless draw but otherwise hasn’t shown much. The team has been on a gradual slide for a while now, no longer possessing the spark of the group that so memorably stunned the U.S. in the 2015 semis.For Canada, meanwhile, the future is as bright as it’s been in a long time. Their 16-year-old sensation Alphonso Davies has risen to the occasion in his first big international tournament and is currently tied for the Golden Boot with three goals; Cyle Larin, who was called up for the knockout rounds ahead of Thursday’s match, is another sturdy young building block.Canada betrayed some nerves in the group-stage finale against Honduras, but it earned its quarterfinal place. This squad has genuine promise and is playing well.Prediction: Canada 2-1 Jamaica (extra time)

Mexico vs. Honduras, Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET — Glendale, Ariz.)

Has there ever been a quarterfinalist in any tournament that has done less to earn its place than these Hondurans?To say Honduras has underwhelmed would be an understatement. Tabbed by many as the potential sleeper in this field, Los Catrachos have yet to score a goal in 270 minutes of action. Their vaunted counterattack has faltered.Yet thanks to French Guiana’s willfully accepting a forfeit in exchange for starting ineligible attacker Florent Malouda in their second group-stage match, Honduras advanced on the back of its “3-0 win” that was actually a scoreless draw. Take that away and Honduras picked up just two points from three games.Mexico has looked much like you’d expect from a team that left most of its best players at home to enjoy their summer vacations. With the possible exception of the 3-1 win against El Salvador, El Tri has neither impressed nor especially underwhelmed. But it should have more than enough to overcome a Honduras team still trying to convert its legitimate attacking talent into a more formidable foe.  Prediction: Mexico 2-0 Honduras 

Bruce Arena makes six changes as USA bolsters squad for Gold Cup playoffs

BRIAN STRAUSSunday July 16th, 2017  SI

Bruce Arena is going for gold. The U.S. national team coach was afforded the opportunity to swap up to six players on his CONCACAF Gold Cup roster following the first round, which ended Saturday evening. Not only is he using all six slots—he’s enlisting the help of at least five World Cup-quality starters who should help transform the USA from a team that strained to top an underwhelming group to a team that should be considered the Gold Cup favorite.  Mexico, for example, intends to keep its current roster intact. Meanwhile, captain Michael Bradley, forwards Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey, midfielder Darlington Nagbe and goalkeepers Tim Howard and Jesse Gonzalez are in for the USA. They’ll join Arena’s squad ahead of Wednesday’s quarterfinal in Philadelphia against either Honduras or El Salvador (the matchup will be determined Sunday evening when group play concludes).  Heading home are goalies Brad Guzan and Sean Johnson, midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, Cristian Roldan and Kelyn Rowe, and forward Dom Dwyer.Arena had always intended to mix, match, overhaul and experiment during the group stage, with an eye on getting a close look at players beyond the national team core. It was a chance to see who might help during four critical World Cup qualifiers later this year and perhaps further down the road. In that sense, this Gold Cup group stage was a success.Each of the 20 field players got a look and the last one to do so, defender Matt Miazga, was the one who scored the 88th-minute goal against Nicaragua that clinched first place. But the fact the Americans (2-0-1) needed that late header to overhaul Panama (2-0-1) on the goals-scored tiebreaker is indicative of how hard results were to come by. The U.S. looked second best during significant stretches of a 1-1 tournament-opening draw with Panama. Arena’s team then blew a two-goal, second-half lead against Martinique (1-2-0) before bouncing back with Jordan Morris’s game-winner. In Saturday’s finale, the Americans struggled to impose themselves and missed two penalty kicks against overmatched Nicaragua (0-3-0).”We have added some experienced players to the roster that can help us in the knockout round of the Gold Cup. The players leaving all made a good impression, and I’m optimistic for their future with the national team program,” Arena said on Sunday.  Here’s a look at the changes and at where Arena’s 23-man now roster stands as the USA reinforces itself for a run at a sixth Gold Cup crown.

Goalkeepers

Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Bill Hamid (D.C. United), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids)

In: Jesse Gonzalez, Tim Howard

Out: Brad Guzan, Sean Johnson

Gonzalez’s decision to file for a one-time international eligibility switch from his parents’ native Mexico to the USA was big news prior to the tournament and certainly could be a boon to the program from 2019 onward. But the next couple weeks and the next 12 months are still about Guzan and Howard. The former, minus one mistake against Martinique, looked very good during the Gold Cup’s first two games. The latter now will take over as the knockout rounds beckon.Guzan will depart to get started at his new club, Atlanta United, while Johnson will head back to New York City FC. Hamid, who played Saturday night, remains, and if healthy would seem to have the inside track at a No. 3 role behind the two entrenched veterans.

Defenders 

Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City),  Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest), Matt Miazga (Chelsea), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC),  Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

In: None

Out: None

Arena had the option to add Steve Birnbaum, Greg Garza, Matt Polster and/or Jonathan Spector but opted to stick with what he had. The USA yielded three goals across its three group-stage games.

Midfielders 

Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Joe Corona (Club Tijuana), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Chris Pontius (Philadelphia Union), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy)  (Leaving Kelyn Rowe NE Rev MF, Cristian Roldan Seattle MF)

In: Michael Bradley, Darlington Nagbe

Out: Alejandro Bedoya, Cristian Roldan, Kelyn Rowe

Bedoya was one of Arena’s more valuable players during the group stage, whether it was for his work rate against Panama or his attacking contributions the past two games. But his second child is due, and the Union veteran is heading home to be with his wife and family. Nagbe is the obvious replacement. Meanwhile, Bradley’s arrival knocks Roldan from the depth chart in the middle. He’ll return to Seattle and warrants a more extended look at the next January camp.

Rowe showed a couple of intriguing flashes during the group stage, most notably when he set up Dom Dwyer’s goal against Panama with a beautiful settle and sombrero in the left corner. Rowe also scored against Nicaragua. But with Nagbe and Dempsey—two creative players who enjoy finding pockets between the opposition midfield and back four—coming in, it appears the New England Revolution catalyst was squeezed out. But Arena’s decision to send Rowe back to Boston and keep both Joe Corona and Chris Pontius may raise some eyebrows.

Forwards 

Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders)

In: Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey

Out: Dom Dwyer

Dwyer’s departure will disappoint some. He was a great story—his career hung by a thread when he arrived in the USA from his native England to play junior college soccer in Texas. He went on to win USL, US Open Cup and MLS Cup titles. He married a US women’s star, earned his American citizenship and scored on his international debut last month against Ghana.   But with Altidore and Dempsey waiting in the wings, the bar was going to be a lot higher for Dwyer than anyone else on the roster. Both Altidore and Dempsey do most of their attacking from the middle or the channels, and so does Dwyer.  Unfortunately, it was a numbers game for the Sporting striker. With Besler and Zusi remaining with the national team, at least Kansas City fans will be glad to have Dwyer back. Morris’s impressive performance against Martinique, and the versatility he brings as a player who can stretch a back four and attack from deeper or wider spots, keeps him in camp. Agudelo offers similar attributes.

3 things we can learn from Arena’s roster changes

Arena clearly strengthened his side, but also kept some under-performing players. So what gives?

by Adam Whittaker Snavely@Snaves  Jul 17, 2017, 5:00am PDT

e all, somehow, survived the Gold Cup group stage. The United States squeaked by to win Group B with a squad that could charitably be described as somewhere between a B and a C team. It was ugly and at times painful to watch, but it’s over and the team avoids Costa Rica in the quarterfinals. Along with that, there’s a crop of new players added to the fray specifically to raise the attacking level of this team. However, along with these veteran players, Bruce Arena has made…interesting choices of which players should be replaced. So, what do the changes tell us about the team and Arena’s coaching philosophy in regards to this Gold Cup?

Arena Wants to Win

You don’t call in Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard if you’re using this tournament purely as a proving ground for players. Jesse Gonzalez? Sure. Darlington Nagbe? Maybe so. I can even see calling in Michael Bradley as another means of testing how the younger players on this Gold Cup squad react to playing with another starter from the first team. But Dempsey and Howard have a combined age of 72. They’re the only two current players that Arena also coached in his first tenure as USMNT head coach. There’s no reason to send them out to the Gold Cup to “see what they’ve got.” Both of these guys have proven that they still have more to give to the national team, and if anyone knows exactly what they bring to the team, it’s Bruce.

Alongside that fact, however, is that Bruce has continually preached rest for the both of them. Dempsey in particular has seemed unhappy when Bruce has erred on the side of giving his legs a break, but both players are at an age where recovery time takes longer. Taking them away from their clubs to jet around the country and potentially play 3 games in 8 days is not something that Arena will do flippantly, and signals real intent. This isn’t just some no-reason tournament. If it was, you keep Dom Dwyer and Kelyn Rowe and bring in younger, lesser players. Bruce wants to win the whole thing.

Don’t Look Back in Anger

Just because people like Dom Dwyer and Kelyn Rowe are leaving camp does not mean they didn’t impress or that Arena thinks other players he’s keeping were better than them. The people who have left camp have pretty specific replacements coming in for them, and many questions seem to have been answered about them. We know Dom Dwyer is a strong, goal-scoring forward that will work relentlessly and can play the lone-forward position. He also played a lot of minutes in the group stage, and with Dempsey and Jozy Altidore coming in, Bruce can afford to give him a rest. Same applies to Kelyn Rowe. You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who thinks Paul Arriola or Chris Pontius outplayed Rowe in the group stage. But Rowe also played more minutes than the other two, and Nagbe is a more than competent replacement. Cristian Roldangot his 90 minutes, but makes way for the Captain, and two keepers are replaced by another two keepers.

I don’t claim to agree with the philosophy at work here (what does Chris Pontius bring to the national team besides Google searches that come up with a member of Jackass? Not a rhetorical question), but it at least makes a bit of sense. The players kept were, by and large, people that Arena has worked with on the national team before this Gold Cup, players that didn’t get as many minutes in the group stage, and still have question marks lingering around them. So sure, I would rather have Rowe and Dwyer with the team the rest of the way. But I don’t think for a second that this tournament was a failure for them, either.

The flip-side of this is equally important. Arena was surprisingly gentle with people like Arriola, Pontius, and even Joe Corona and Gyasi Zardes, who started this camp slowly but seemed to have grown more into the tournament as games have gone on. To say Arriola in particular has been a disappointment so far this tournament would be a massive understatement, as the positive play and dependable crossing he provided in his cameos with the first team over the last year or so have dried up with bad giveaways and a lack of composure on the ball. All of these players still have much more to prove in order to gain a spot with the USMNT A team. They’ll need to take advantage of Arena’s grace in order to win them.

Defensive Pressure

One area of concern where no help will be arriving is the U.S. defense, and that was probably the biggest problem in the group stage. If the defense looked weak against nama, it looked like a wet paper towel against Martinique. The game against Nicaragua offered a little reprieve thanks to Nicaragua fielding the tried-and-true parked bus formation, but with no new defenders called in, just who is Arena’s back four? We’ve seen Jorge Villafaña, Justin MorrowMatt BeslerMatt HedgesOmar GonzalezEric LichajGraham Zusi, and Matt Miazga start at some point in the group stage, Arena’s full complement of defenders. It seems like he’s most comfortable moving forward with Villafaña and Zusi on the wings, and Matt Besler looks like he probably has the left centerback spot to himself, but who partners with him? Omar Gonzalez has the experience, Matt Hedges has the MLS pedigree that Arena likes, and Miazga has youth and promise, but all three have made their share of missteps.

This is a similar question to the one dogging the USMNT in the spring, when an injury bug forced Arena to play a back four of Villafaña, Tim Ream, Gonzalez, and Zusi in Panama. The absences of John Brooks, Geoff Cameron, and DeAndre Yedlin are huge, and there seems to be a steep drop-off in talent past the few first-choice players in defense. If any player can step up during the knockout round games, they have a good chance at riding that wave all the way to a potential World Cup roster spot. If not, Arena will be left to answer for the defenders he did bring along, and how they got it so wrong.

Three things: USMNT beats Nicaragua 3-0, wins Group B

2 CommentsAndy EdwardsJul 15, 2017, 10:26 PM EDT

The following lessons were bestowed upon us during the U.S. national team’s 3-0 victory over Nicaragua on Saturday…

The left back search continues

This was Jorge Villafaña’s chance; it was to be his Gold Cup; it was supposed to be his coming-out party; it was his audition for next summer’s World Cup — the one where he needed to step up and say, “I am the left back,” thus solving the USMNT’s biggest, longest-running problem. After starting the first and the third games of the group, we’re no closer to having found a full-time starter. It would have been nice, but at this point, we all knew better.Villafaña’s weaknesses are, simply put, 1) he’s wasteful and unimaginative when overlapping on the attacking, and 2) he’s a second- (or third-) best in every two-man foot race. In the modern game, especially with two eyes focused on the World Cup 11 months from now, those are fatal flaws in considering the world-class talent he’d be up against in Russia.At this point, either Greg Garza fills the superhero cape Villafaña so admirably tried, but failed, to fill, or DaMarcus Beasley is heading to his fifth World Cup.

[ MORE: Bradley, Altidore to be added to USMNT’s roster for KO rounds ]

Joe Corona… not a no. 10

Here’s what I wrote about Corona in my player ratings: “Scored a goal, missed a penalty, killed the majority of attacking movements during which he touched the ball. Business as usual.” Those are very bad qualities for a player deployed, on multiple occasions, as a no. 10. Do you know who’s proven quite effective in that de facto role, and is on this same roster?

Best-case scenario: Kelyn Rowe is a no. 10. Worst-case scenario: he’s a better no. 10 than Corona, even if still slightly miscast. He’s not a brilliant chance creator, like a traditional no. 10, but he’s an effective circulator of the ball, something he does with good tempo and security. Unfortunately, he’ll either be released from camp this week, or find himself buried on the depth chart once the first-teamers make their way aboard for the knockout rounds.

The wings are, uh, also a problem

This isn’t a lesson from Saturday, per se — more so of the last few months — but other than left back, the player pool is most shallow on the wings.If Christian Pulisic’s ultimate home is as a no. 10 for the USMNT (many, including myself, think it is), we’re picking two from the following group of non-winger wingers: Fabian Johnson (true position unknown), Darlington Nagbe (central midfielder), Bobby Wood (center forward) and Jordan Morris (center forward).Watching Chris Pontius on Saturday, following wide shifts from Paul Arriola and Gyasi Zardes over the last two weeks, I suddenly feel very unwell when faced with the prospects of attempting to score goals next summer.

USMNT: Winners and Losers of Group Stage

Let’s look at who improved/hurt their stock for the World Cup Squad during the Gold Cup group stage

by seancurtis  Jul 17, 2017, 6:00am PDT

The first three games of the Gold Cup campaign for the United States have come and gone, with the team managing to squeak out as Group B winners. They started with a disappointing draw against Panama, followed by a disappointing 3-2 win over Martinique. Finally, a late goal gave them a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua, the exact win they needed to win the group.  Six players have been added to the USMNT squad to help them through the knockout rounds, and six (somewhat surprising) players have been sent home. Before we move on to Wednesday’s game, let’s look at the three players who most improved their stock to make the 2018 World Cup roster and the three who hurt their stock the most.

Winners

Kelyn Rowe

Probably the biggest surprise of the tournament has been Kelyn Rowe. Before the game against Ghana, he had never even stepped onto the field in a USA jersey, but he quickly became a focal point of the team. He played in three games (Ghana, Panama, and Nicaragua), and he was one of the most dangerous players in all three. The pressure of the Gold Cup and the attention suddenly falling on him never even made him flinch, and he even scored his first goal against Nicaragua. This writer doesn’t really understand why he got sent home, but he goes home with a raised stock and the approval of many fans.

Dom Dwyer

His “eh” outing against Nicaragua has tempered some of the praise coming his direction, but there is no denying he helped his stock over the last few weeks. He scored against Ghana and Panama, and he showed his hustle and work rate in all of his games. He had an opportunity to raise his stock even higher, but he took a relatively poor penalty against Nicaragua that got saved. In the end, he came into July with a lot of fans wondering where he fit into the depth chart, and he at least asserted himself into the mix with players like Jordan Morris for the fourth forward spot behind Wood, Altidore, and Dempsey.

Alejandro Bedoya

Coming into this tournament, many fans thought that we would begin to see Alejandro Bedoya fade out of the national team. He isn’t lightning fast or super flashy, but he is a great utility. He captained the team, showed his hustle, and made a number of key passes throughout the group stage (like hitting Eric Lichaj against Martinique and assisting two goals against Nicaragua). He also played wide and centrally throughout the group. Is he a starter for the World Cup? No. However, he did assert himself back into the fold as a good utility bench player.

Losers

Matt Hedges

Matt Hedges was one of the names we were all excited to see when the roster came out. Unfortunately, he had a little bit of a rough game against Martinique, and that was the only real chance he got during the group. On top of that the USA has a number of fairly established CBs in John Brooks, Geoff CameronMatt Besler, and *cough* Omar Gonzalez *cough*. To make things worse, Matt Miazga seems to have done a better job taking his chance so far, so Hedges is going to have to have a great knockout stage to really battle for a World Cup spot.

Graham Zusi

Coming into the tournament, there were not a lot of fans very high on the experiment of Graham Zusi as a right back. Unfortunately, I don’t feel much better about it after the group stage. He struggled heavily against Panama, and his defense wasn’t great against Nicaragua. One thing he did fairly well was get forward and hit some decent crosses, including the assist on the Miazga goal, but I don’t think that does enough to cover for the liability he seems to be at right back. He is still clearly behind DeAndre Yedlin and Timmy Chandler, and he didn’t do anything to argue that he is above Eric Lichaj or some of the other reserve options the USA has.

Cristian Roldan

Cristian Roldan was another name people really wanted to see on the Gold Cup roster, but he also let us down. He only managed to get onto the field in one game, and that game was a struggle. He should have been head-and-shoulders above Martinique in talent, but he did not do much to stand out. With Michael Bradley coming in, he falls even further down the Gold Cup depth chart, so he may not see the field again this tournament. It appears that he is squarely behind Kellyn Acosta and Dax McCarty in addition to the A-squad members, so the World Cup seems like a long shot at the moment.

Bedoya stands out as U.S. gets 3-0 win vs. Nicaragua to top Gold Cup Group B

It took a little longer than expected, but the United States did what it had to do to win Gold Cup Group B with a 3-0 victory over Nicaragua on Saturday evening at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland.

Positives

Out of the three group-stage matches, this was the best performance from the U.S., which really isn’t saying that much. Yet there were some positives, namely Alejandro Bedoya and Kelyn Rowe in midfield. Matt Miazga and Matt Besler also worked well as the two center backs and could be the pair that lines up in Wednesday’s quarterfinal.

Negatives

Two missed penalties will not make coach Bruce Arena happy at all, especially with the knockout round looming. The U.S. team’s disconcerting trend of letting the tempo drop after a bright first 10-15 minutes will also agitate.

Manager rating out of 10

6 — Arena elected to field a completely new squad from the 11 that started against Martinique and had a chance to evaluate all his field players. He faces some big decisions ahead of the quarterfinal.

Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best — players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Bill Hamid, 7 — Comfortably dealt with any potential danger. Was really pressed into making a save only once in each half. Seemed to communicate well with his center backs.

DF Jorge Villafana, 6 — Probably not as clean as Arena would like. Gave away a couple of cheap balls early but improved in the second half.

DF Matt Besler, 7 — The Sporting Kansas City man had the look of a leader on a back line that has been much-maligned in this tournament. Read the game well and had good chemistry with center-back partner Miazga.

DF Matt Miazga, 7.5 — A well-taken goal when the U.S. needed a third. Outside of one instance in which he was beaten by Juan Barrera, Miazga answered the call. His composure belied his lack of international experience.

DF Graham Zusi, 5.5 — Too many giveaways to make him an automatic selection for the quarterfinal. Had a dangerous clearance in front of goal and also an ill-advised header that gifted Nicaragua a chance. Lofted a beautiful ball in for Miazga to head home for the third.

MF Dax McCarty, 6.5 — Better than his initial outing against Panama. There was a lapse in the first half when he was dispossessed too easily deep in the U.S. half but recovered nicely and put forth a workmanlike performance.

MF Chris Pontius, 6.5 — Erred on a headed clearance in the second half but did a nice job overall down the right flank. Attempted a bold overhead kick to try to lift the U.S. from its early lull. Good pass into Dwyer that earned a penalty. Also worked hard defensively, constantly battling for possession.

MF Alejandro Bedoya, 8 — Built off his good substitute performance in the Martinique game. Bedoya was in the middle of most of the U.S. chances, including the Rowe goal when he set the table for the New England Revolution man. Made the run that earned the U.S. its second penalty. His run and cutback pass also led to the Corona opener.

MF Kelyn Rowe, 7.5 — Rowe’s clever finish was a fine reward for his performance. Made a smart run to receive the pass from Bedoya and finished it off with aplomb. Played some nice early balls and did good work in traffic. There was a wasted chance on a counter to Dwyer, but that is nitpicking. A very good 60-minute shift.

MF Joe Corona, 5.5 — Had a roller coaster of a game. Lady Luck was on his side in scoring the first U.S. goal, but a weak penalty that was easily saved by Nicaraguan goalkeeper Justo Lorente drops his rating. A little too heavy with touches, but still much better in midfield than he was during the Panama game.

FW Dom Dwyer, 5 — Like Corona, did not distinguish himself with his penalty as his spot kick was also saved by Lorente. Also mistimed several runs and was flagged for offside. A frustrating night.

Substitutes:

MF Paul Arriola, 6.5 — On for Rowe and injected some energy into the U.S. attack against a tired Nicaragua defense.

FW Jordan Morris, 6.5 — Came on for Corona in the 66th minute as the U.S. searched for a third goal. Never had a good look at goal but was a constant threat.

FW Juan Agudelo, NR — Replaced Dwyer in the 73rd minute. Earned a late free kick for the U.S. in a dangerous position.

Player ratings from USMNT’s 3-0 win over Nicaragua

1 Comment

By Andy EdwardsJul 15, 2017, 9:36 PM EDT

The U.S. national team is through to the quarterfinals of the 2017 Gold Cup as Group B winners following Saturday’s 3-0 victory over Nicaragua.Wh stood out for all the right — and wrong — reasons, as Bruce Arena prepares to make as many as six changes to the USMNT roster before the knockout rounds begin on Wednesday?

GK — Bill Hamid: 6 — Challenged just twice all night, Hamid made both saves asked of him, though he did spill a long-range effort late in the second half which nearly turned into a disastrous moment.

LB — Jorge Villafaña: 5 — Villafaña struggles with two facets of playing left back at the international level: 1) he’s  pretty poor attacker when he gets forward, and 2) he’s left for dead against pacy wingers. Neither of those bode well 11 months before the start of the World Cup.

CB — Matt Besler: 6 — It’s not often that a center back is completely uninvolved in everything that happens in the game, but that was the case for Besler in this one. It’s impossible to “hurt” your stock in such an event, but there’s no helping either.

CB — Matt Miazga: 7 — Again, the center backs were largely untested over the 90 minutes, but Miazga did score the late winner, albeit while completely unmarked, on a set piece.

RB — Graham Zusi: 5.5 — He’s not an international right back. What I mean by that is: he’s great at the position for Sporting Kansas City, because the entirety of the attacking and defensive systems are tailored to his strengths, and away from his weaknesses. That’s impossible to replicate during an international camp, and it’s actively hurting the USMNT.

[ MORE: USMNT miss two PKs, still finish top of Group B ]

CM — Dax McCarty: 6 — The majority of the game was played in the final third for the USMNT, and out on the wings for Nicaragua — both of which are to say, McCarty, like the center backs directly behind him, saw very little action.

CM — Alejandro Bedoya: 8 — Man of the Match, probably. Furthermore, I’ll own this: I was wrong. I thought Bedoya should be deployed as a winger and/or wide midfielder, but he’s so clearly a two-way central midfielder, and with a responsible, dominant partner like McCarty, a really good one.

CM — Joe Corona: 6 — Scored a goal, missed a penalty, killed the majority of attacking movements during which he touched the ball. Business as usual.

[ MORE: Panama win helps USMNT, Mexico into quarterfinals ]

LW — Kelyn Rowe: 8 — Best attacker during the group stage, hands down. Another strong showing, while played out of position, and a goal to show for his efforts.

CF — Dom Dwyer: 5 — Like Corona, Dwyer missed a penalty and served as the end of the road for a number of promising attacking sequences. His hold-up play isn’t strong enough to play as a target; his movement isn’t tricky, nor his finishing clinical, enough to be a poacher. It’s tough to see where/how he fits in going forward.

RW — Chris Pontius: 5 — Wings are the most wide open positions in the player pool, so it’s worth it to give anyone and everyone a look, especially during the group stage, but Pontius is neither explosive now a visionary. One or the other, please.

[ MORE: Costa Rica, Canada book quarterfinal places ]

Sub — Paul Arriola: 5 — Unable to find time on the ball, or space, to create. He’s a worker, to be certain, but offers very little in terms of chance creation. As established above, a common theme.

Sub — Jordan Morris: 5 — Let’s pick a position for Morris, and let him live there. Is he a forward? Is he an cutting-in winger? He took a knock on the hip not long after coming on, and look hindered the rest of the way. There’s a time and a place for a player with his speed, but a game where you’ve already got a 2-0 lead might not be it.

Sub — Juan Agudelo: 6 — The smallest sample size — just 16 minutes — but every time he hits the field, Agudelo gets on the ball and his first instinct is to run at defenders. It was his dribble through midfield which won the free kick that resulted in Miazga’s winner. Things happen when Agudelo is on the field. He should have started the first and the third games, with Dwyer taking the middle of the three.

Veteran Alejandro Bedoya makes mark on youthful USA Gold Cup squad

CLEVELAND — As Alejandro Bedoya slowly walked toward the team bus, it was evident that his day’s work had come at a physical cost. “I got whacked on that first assist, so my ankle is feeling it,” he said.But there was a payoff, too. Bedoya, operating as the U.S. team’s box-to-box midfielder, set up goals for Joe Corona and Kelyn Rowe, plays that proved critical in the Americans’ 3-0 win over Nicaragua on Saturday night. The result enabled the U.S. to finish the first round of the Gold Cup atop Group B, edging out Panama, which defeated Martinique 3-0 earlier in the day, on the goals-scored tiebreaker.”It was alright,” Bedoya said in assessing his own play. “I tried to find spaces in that position, that No. 8 role. I enjoy it when I try to get free in between the lines and cause their back line trouble. I’m always going to be the second runner to try to break them down, and I think I was able to do that at times. And I got two assists, so not bad.” Bedoya won’t get a chance to build on his performance in next week’s quarterfinal, which will take place in his current home city of Philadelphia. He and his wife, Beatrice, are expecting their second child, so he’s being released from the Gold Cup squad.”As much as I would have loved to have stayed, I’m welcoming my new love to this world,” he said. “I’m looking forward to that.”Bedoya is a player who has long divided opinion. He has always been a conscientious, two-way player, but some fans and pundits have made it clear they prefer a more dynamic attacking presence on the field. Competing against the likes of Darlington Nagbe and Fabian Johnson, it can be hard to argue.And so far during Bruce Arena’s second stint in charge, Bedoya has found minutes tough to come by. While he has appeared nine times since Arena took over, six of those have been as a substitute, and Saturday’s match marked the first time he had played the full 90 minutes.Bedoya has long taken such criticism in stride and remains as confident as ever in his play. Is he a starter when the full team gets together? At this stage, probably not. But his experience, defense and versatility still make him a valuable presence on the squad.”I’ve been a national teamer under three different coaches. I must be doing something right,” he said. “Everybody has got their cup of tea, and whatever. Whenever I step between those white lines, I always do my best for the team. I know I’ve got the attributes and the ability. My game speaks for itself. Some don’t like it, some do.”Among those who do is Arena, who said those calling for Bedoya to be dropped are “pretty stupid.” Teammate Dax McCarty showed his appreciation as well.”[Bedoya is] a glue guy, he’s a guy that you want on the field, he’s a guy that you want in your team because he does all the little things that make your team better,” McCarty said. “He wins second balls, he’s really clever with his movement, he’s really clever with his passing. He makes the right runs. And defensively, he’s really solid.” Bedoya provided some valuable leadership as well. McCarty said before the match he felt that there was some tension within the side as players pondered what might be their last shot at breaking into the national team during this World Cup cycle. Bedoya said he felt that vibe as well, and did what he could to settle his teammates’ nerves.”I think throughout the games, I’ve sensed a little bit some anxiety from some of the guys, the new guys,” he said. “It’s a tournament, you know? As a captain, I’m not the most vocal guy, but I try to get in there and just try to calm them down and let them enjoy themselves. It was better knowing before what the score needed to be. It gives us some sense of urgency, to put them under pressure early and try to be aggressive at them.”On this day, the U.S. looked like it coped with the game’s pressure a bit better than in its previous two group matches. Defensively, the team was more solid and did a better job of applying pressure in the opposition half. Had the U.S. not squandered a pair of penalties — both were saved by Nicaragua keeper Justo Lorente — they wouldn’t have needed Matt Miazga’s late tally with two minutes left to clinch their status as Group B winners.To be clear, not only was it helpful to know what score was needed to finish out the group stage in first place, but playing the weakest team in the group didn’t hurt, either. The U.S. cause was also aided by a red card to Nicaragua defender Luis Copete with five minutes to go and a late injury to Luis Galeano that left Los Pinoleros short-handed when Miazga nodded home Graham Zusi’s free kick.But after struggling for much of the first two games, this group will take whatever steps forward it can muster, no matter how slight. And it can’t be forgotten that the Americans ultimately accomplished their mission on the day. Granted, it’s not like a switch is flipped and all of a sudden players become immune from pressure. It’s something players become more adept at dealing with over time. That process now seems to be moving in more of a positive direction.”We put a lot of pressure on them, got two penalties that we deserved,” McCarty said. “When you don’t convert those, it can lead to a little bit of frustration. It can be a punch to the gut. But we just stayed positive. That’s what we told the guys. ‘Keep going.’ And at the end of it all, we got the win that we needed.”And a result that the Americans deserved. The question now is whether they can continue on this path in quarters. With six players being added to the roster, it will almost be a brand-new team that will take the field. But for those that remain, a boost in confidence has been generated. And as Bedoya exits the tournament, he can feel secure in the knowledge that he did his part.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Three Things – #INDvJAX

Goals, saves, and the fall season – our takeaways from the Spring Season finale

Published Jul 17, 2017

After every game in 2017, IndyEleven.com’s Trey Higdon will give his three takeaways from the performance of the “Boys in Blue.” This week’s edition comes after Indiana’s Team down Jacksonville Armada FC 2-0 in the club’s Spring finale.

TALLY ONE FOR VUKOVIC AND HENDERSON

“Indiana’s Team” finished the 2017 Spring season strong with a 2-0 shutout against Jacksonville Armada FC in front of a crowd of 8,735 fans. Goals from “Boys in Blue” defender Nemanja Vukovic and midfielder Craig Henderson secured Indy’s 4th victory out of the last five matches. In addition, Indy has collected 13 points in their last five matches; more than any other NASL side in the last five contests.

After several back-and-forth chances in the first 45 minutes, Vukovic opened the scoring for Indy early into the start of the second half. In the 48th minute, Eleven midfielder Brad Ring sent the ball soaring from the left side of the field to a patiently waiting Vukovic at the right edge of the Jacksonville 18-yard box. From there, the Montenegrin defender danced the ball around Armada midfielder Jemal Johnson before beaming the ball at distance beyond Armada ‘keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell into the upper left corner of the goal. The goal was the first time Vukovic had scored for Indy XI in 2017 and his fourth overall goal for his team. Vukovic last scored on August 3, 2016, in Indy’s 5-2 stunner against Jacksonville at “The Mike”.Indy’s next goal and the nail in Jacksonville’s coffin came in the 68th minute by the way of New Zealand national Henderson. “Boys in Blue” midfielder Don Smart made an attempt at goal from just inside the right edge of Armada’s 18-yard box, but the run ended wide of his target. However, XI striker Eamon Zayed kept the attack alive when he met Smart’s cross with a quick pass to Henderson in the center of Patterson-Sewell’s box. With a quick stop and turn, Henderson chipped the ball around Armada defender Aaron Pitchkolan into the top corner of Armada’s goal.

SUPERHERO-LIKE SAVES for BUSCH

Indy Eleven goalkeeper Jon Busch chalked up another spectacular performance after keeping a hotly contested clean sheet to close out the Spring season. After collecting 5 saves on the evening, “Buschy” walked away with another brick in his hands and three points for “Indiana’s Team”.

The first of Busch’s five saves came in the 44th minute when Armada forward Derek Gebhard charged past Indy’s defense into the 18-yard box before making his shot just outside the right corner of the goal. However, Gebhard’s shot met Busch’s legs, deflecting back out to Eleven midfielder Don Smart to restart Indy’s attack. Following halftime, in the 46th minute, Armada midfielder Jack Blake looked to make his mark on the match. Fortunately, Blake’s shot from the right of the box found Busch’s hands in the center of the goal. Minutes later, in the 53rd minute, Armada midfielder Jemal Johnson rocketed the ball towards Indy’s goal from outside the 18-yard box, but a quick dive to the left corner saw Busch collect his third save. Immediately following his third save, Busch collected his fourth in the 55th minute when Jacksonville’s Blake sent a ball from the outside of the box to the top left corner. But once again, the ball met with Busch’s glove and the match continued. Fast forward to the dying minutes of the match, a bouncing cross met with Armada midfielder J.C. Banks’ head in front of the goal. Yet, Banks’ header was no match for Busch’s cat-like reflexes as he deflected the ball out of danger for the final time.

via GIPHY

Busch brought an end to the Spring season with a 4th his shutout for 2017 and a total of 52 saves to his name, 28 of which came from the last five matches. Additionally, the 40-year-old goaltender ends the Spring season with the second most saves across the NASL, falling just behind North Carolina FC’s ‘keeper Bryan Sylvestre’s 66 saves.

ONWARD TO FALL                                                                                                                                 

Despite an impressive 5-game undefeated streak going into the two-week break, Indy Eleven ended the Spring season in 6thplace. Luckily, it’s not all doom and gloom in the overall standings. With 20-points, Indy remains just four points off from a potential 3rd place position on the table and six points off of 2nd place. Moreover, Indy remains seven points clear of falling to 7thplace. Regaining fitness and finding form have been crucial to returning to winning ways once again. Now, it’s become a matter of retaining that momentum after the two-week break.  Position aside, it’s still very much a battle for a playoff spot with 16 matches awaiting the “Boys in Blue” in the fall. Don’t miss your chance to see all the action firsthand when the “Boys in Blue” return home August 5th.

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

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July 13, 2017 – USA vs Nicaragua Sat 7 pm FXX, Indy 11 host Sat 6:30 pm, ICC Cup Starts  

(Note USA game on FXX Sat Night – not Fox Sport 1  – we are in Cleveland and planning to go tonite!) 

So the US is 2 games into the Gold Cup with a tie and a win – but it hasn’t been pretty.  The tie with Panama was one thing, now the 3-2 win last night over Martinique who had only 2 professional players is another.  This was not a good show for the US – yes I know it’s the B team – but we should be able to send the Indy 11 out there and win a game vs Martinique for heavens sakes.  I thought Jordan Morris looked good with his 2 goals and some timely runs and good passing – (I would love to see him on the field with our goalscorer last game Dom Dwyer in our next match to see how that looks). The US will look to win the group by facing winless Nicaragua on Sat night at 7 pm in Cleveland on Fox Sports 1.  (see the full tourney schedule below).  Moving down the roster – Guzan let a bad one by last night, and the defense was shaky in the 2nd half giving up 2 goals.  I thought Leeija was our best defender on the right showing his time with Notinghams Forest in England has gone him good.  (I would love to see him get a shot at the left side) as Justin Morrow was just decent on the left last night.  Gonzales was OK and he scored on a header but his fellow central back former Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel High defender Matt Hedges really struggled.  I thought he had a very good 1st half, but in the 2nd he allowed the turn and run on the first goal and later lost some important headers that fortunately missed the mark.  Hopefully Matt gets another chance on Sat, he was the defender of the year in MLS for Dallas last season, but he really struggled last night.  The midfield was again iffy last night as Acosta looks lost without Bradley there to direct him, Arriola was ok, but really they didn’t settle in until Bedoya came in at the 60 minute mark and settled things down.  The US needs a win in the next game now and will need to put a few goals in Cleveland.

The (ICC) International Champions Cup kicks off its 2 weeks of games on ESPN this Sat with LA Galaxy vs Man United on ESPN 2 at 10 pm, other big games include Man U vs Man City next Thurs at 9:30 pm on ESPN, Juventus vs Barcelona at 4 pm on ESPN next Sat and El Classico in Miami as Barca faces 2 time defending Champions League winners Real Madrid on Sat, July 29 at 7:30 pm on ESPN (see full schedule in Games on TV below)

The Indy 11 coming off 3 Wins and a tie will host Jacksonville this Sat July 15 at 6:30 pm at the Mike.  Getting some injured players back and the home stand have helped the 11 move out of the cellar and into 6th place in the NASL.  Huge props to FC Cincy for their huge home win over the Chicago Fire at home on ESPN on June 28th – I am afraid the dream is over now as they must travel to Miami FC tonight (honestly they should have weighted the ping pong balls for 1 more home stand for this squad vs an MLS team) – oh well – would have been fun to go.

BEST FAMILY GOALIE TRAINING – if anyone is interested in Goalie Training this summer – let me know.  My 18 year old  goalie Tyler and I are offering some evening training on Wednesdays in July. RE: with interest.

GAMES ON TV  

Thur, July 12

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         El Salvador vs Curucao– Gold Cup

10 pm FS1                                                Mexico vs Jamaica– Gold Cup

Fri, July 13

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Costa Rica vs French Gaina– Gold Cup

10 pm FS1                                                Canada vs Honduras– Gold Cup

Sat July 15

3:30 pm Lifetime       Portland Thorns vs NC (Womens NWSL)

4:30 pm Fox Sport 2                         Panama vs Martinque– Gold Cup

7 pm FS1?        Nicaragua vs USA – Gold Cup (Cleveland)

6:30 pm MyIndy TV/ESPN3 Indy 11 vs Jacksonville

10 pm ESPN 2               LA Galaxy vs Man United – International Champions Cup

Sun, July 15

6 pm Fox Sport 2        Jamaica vs El Salvador– Gold Cup

8 pm Fox Sport 1        Cacacua vs Mexico – Gold Cup

Mon, July 17

7:30 am ESPN 2           Real Salt Lake vs Man United ICC

Wed, July 19

7:30 am ESPN 3/Des Bayern Munich vs Arsenal  ICC

6 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup Quarterfinal Philly (US probably)

9 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup Quarterfinal

9 pm ESPN2                    Roma vs PSG  ICC

Thur, July 20

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Gold Cup Quarterfinal

10 pm ESPN                    Man U vs Man City ICC

10:30pm Fox Sport 1                       Gold Cup Quarterfinal

Sat, July 22

5:30 am EPSN 3+Des                        Bayern Munich vs Milan ICC

4 pm ESPN                       Juve vs Barcelona ICC

10 pm Fox Sport 1     Gold Cup SEMI FINAL  Dallas US? 

Sun, July 23

5:30 am EPSN 3+Des                        Bayern Munich vs Milan ICC

5 pm ESPN ?                   Real Madrid vs Man United ICC

6:30 pm Fox Sport1  Vancuouver vs Portland

9 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup SEMI FINAL 2

Mon, July 24

8 am ESPN 3+Des        Inter vs Lyon  ICC

Tues, July 25

8 am ESPN 3+Des        Chelsea vs Bayern Munich

8 pm EsPN                       Tottenham vs Roma ICC

Wed, July 26

7:30 am ESPN                Barcelona vs Man United ICC

8 pm EsPN 2                   Juve  vs PSG  ICC

9 pm Fox Sp 1       Gold Cup Final

Sat, July 29

7:30 am ESPN desp    Chelsea vs Inter ICC

6 pm EsPN 2                   Man City vs Tottenham  ICC

7:30 pm ESPN       Real Madrid vs Barcelona ICC

Sun, July 30

4 pm ESPN                       Roma vs Juventus ICC

Wed, Aug 2

9 pm Fox Sport 1 MLS Allstars vs Real Madrid              

Gold Cup Schedule In July

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

International Champions Cup July  Games in Nashville and Detroit

 Its Summer – Time to plan your Soccer Camps 

BEST FAMILY GOALIE TRAINING – if anyone is interested in Goalie Training this summer – let me know.  My 18 year old  goalie Tyler and I may offer some evening training if we get enough interest.  RE: with interest.

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.

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   Field Player Camp: July 24 – 27, 2017

USA

US Narrowly Wins vs Martinique Shows Flaws – Jeff Carlisle EPSNFC

Player Ratings Jordon Morris is Hero with Brace for US Win – Jason Davis ESPNFC

Player Ratings MLS.con Greg Seltzer

Player Ratings NBCsports

US Hangs on to Beat Martinique – Arch Belle ESPNFC

Morris takes aim at WC spot with selfless Outing vs Martinique

Morris Breaks thru with 2 Needed Goals vs Martinique

Morris Saves the Day with 2 goals Video

Midfield with Crap Performance vs Panama – Jeff Carlisle EPSNFC

Gold Cup + ICC + Women’s Euros  

Who starts for Mexico tonite?  ESPNFC

Mexico beats El Salvador but defense a trouble

Costa Rica and Canada Tie to Stay atop of Group A

FIFA Scandal Whistleblower and Chief – Chuck Blazer dies at 72

Barca Brings Stars Messi, Neyar, Ramos, Suarez on US Tour for ICC games

ICC Ideal Prep for Real Madrid

Man U and Real Madrid Bicker over Facilities in LA

ESPN 3 and ESPN Networks to show Women’s Euro 2017 starting next Week

GOALIES

Save of Game 1 Guzan – in Gold Cup

Young Goalie Gigi D re-signs with AC Milan

Mexico’s Great Wall – Ochoa completes move to Belgium Club

MLS Save of the Week

David Bingham MLS Save of the Week 18

Top 5 Saves Confed Cup

World

Rooney back to Everton

Rooney scores in 1st game back

MLS

Ranking Schedules down the sstretch on MLS season

Kaka Expects even match with Real Madrid

David Villa wins ESPY for Player of Year

Indy 11

Indy 11 Discount Ticket Link

3 things Win over NY Cosmos Sat

11 Forward Justin Braun named to NASL Team of Month

U.S. narrowly wins, shows worrying flaws in Gold Cup scare vs. Martinique

Given the B-list nature of the U.S. roster, this Gold Cup was bound to possess some good, some bad, and some downright ugliness for the Americans. But Wednesday’s 3-2 win over Martinique came dangerously close to humiliation.It took a 76th-minute winner from Jordan Morris, his second goal of the night, to finally see off a game opponent. As such, the victory should provide little comfort to manager Bruce Arena and his players, who will be left red-faced from a match that should never have been so close.Yes, soccer’s low-scoring nature makes it ripe for upsets and the potential for giant-killings is part of its appeal. Further, it can also make the expectation of a blowout a tad unrealistic.But none of that can be used as an excuse for this U.S. performance. We’re talking about a team of full-time professionals going up against a group of semi-pros.Does Martinique deserve some credit? Absolutely. It played with spirit and organization. But the Americans had the game seemingly under control, taking a 2-0 lead in the 64th minute when Morris scored his first. At which point, Arena’s side showed a complete inability to manage the game.  For whatever reason, maintaining tempo — especially when leading — has been a problem from the Ghana friendly on July 1 to Panama last Saturday all the way to Wednesday.Granted. goalkeeper Brad Guzan should have saved the first of Kevin Parsemain’s two goals, but there were warning signs even before that, with Martinique hitting the post in the first half. And how is it that the U.S. coughs up an equalizer that started with a three-on-three counter-attack?

Sure, the U.S. roster is lacking some experience at international level, but it also has logged plenty of domestic matches. Arena’s understandable squad rotation — there were eight changes from the Panama game — could also be a factor. However, regardless of who is on the field, the U.S. ought to know how to manage a result against such a lowly opponent.So two games into this tournament, the U.S. hasn’t done much to distinguish itself. It has shown little consistency, both on a team and individual level. In fact, the performances of most players have alternated between frigid and scalding, oftentimes in the same game.A case in point is Gyasi Zardes. The LA Galaxy midfielder did well in setting up Morris’ winner with a smart cutback and, overall, was better in the second half. But Zardes also had his share of suspect touches and poor passes.Meanwhile, Matt Hedges, for all of his ability with the ball, struggled with his defending both in the air and on the ground, and was beaten in the run-up to Martinique’s equalizer.Even Eric Lichaj, who did his future prospects no harm, wasn’t completely immune. He assisted on Morris’ first goal thanks to a darting run, but was also guilty of a first-half giveaway that forced a sharp save from Guzan.The group that has acquitted itself the best so far in the tournament are the forwards. Dom Dwyer, who was given the night off, has two goals this month while Juan Agudelo, who did start vs. Martinique, had the misfortune of being at his best when those around him were at their worst. Otherwise, he might have had more reward for his hard work and clever touches.But this night belonged to Morris. It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons for him — his two goals equaled his 2017 total for the Seattle Sounders — and this match did reveal that his decision-making on the ball needs some work. But his pace makes him a valued part of this U.S. side and his runs in the box made him too much to handle for Martinique.So is it time to panic? Far from it. But that doesn’t mean there can’t be disappointment with the way this U.S. has performed so far.Prior to the tournament there was genuine excitement about what this team could do, and which players could emerge to take on bigger roles. For now, that has been replaced by skepticism over just how many players will be able to help out when World Cup qualifying resumes in September.The U.S. sits on top of its group after two games, thanks to the goals scored tiebreaker, but it will need more of the good in its game to emerge in order to achieve the goal of winning the Gold Cup.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. 

Jordan Morris the hero as U.S. hangs on to beat Martinique in Gold Cup

With eight changes from its opening group-stage match, the United States overcame a terrible first half performance, a goalkeeping gaffe and a defensive lapse to beat Martinique 3-2 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Positives

Considering how poor the first half was, the second half response could be called a “positive.” At least on the attacking end the Americans showed a bit more energy and sharpness, which led to three goals and the eventual win. The substitute performance of Alejandro Bedoya lifted the team too, while Jordan Morris’ brace could help pull the forward out of poor run of form for club and country.

Negatives

Too many to name. Going into halftime tied 0-0 represented a failure, especially since Martinique was actually unfortunate not to have the lead. Defensively, the Americans were slow, disorganized and too reactive. Brad Guzan’s second-half display will fill no one with confidence that there is a clear No. 2 for the USMNT behind Tim Howard.

Manager rating out of 10

4.5 — Against a team such as Martinique, tactics shouldn’t really be the issue. Still, Arena failed to provide his team a creative option in the midfield, a situation that led to a lack of connectivity through the spine of the team. The U.S. head coach wanted to see a different set of players, and he overhauled the team. That might have been a factor in the disjointed nature of the performance, though Arena might be willing to live with it for evaluation purposes.

Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best — players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Brad Guzan, 4 — Made a strong save in the first half but will be rightly criticized for allowing Martinique’s first goal on a shot to his left inside the near post. Looked hesitant with decision-making for the rest of the match.

DF Eric Lichaj, 6.5 — Tidy on the ball for most of the night, with the exception of a turnover or two. Pushed higher in the second half, directly leading to an assist for the second U.S. goal.

DF Matt Hedges, 4 — Beaten too easily in the second half, directly leading to Martinique’s comeback on two different occasions. Poor decision-making and weak in the air.

DF Omar Gonzalez, 4.5 — Scored, which helped salvage his night. Alongside Hedges, he was too slow to react and lost his way tracking Martinique attackers.

DF Justin Morrow, 6 — Competent overall. Heeded the need for extra bodies in the final third of the second half by getting forward more often.

MF Paul Arriola, 6 — Killed a counterattacking chance in the first half with a poor pass. Improved in the second half, and hit the shot that ended up as the first U.S. goal.

MF Kellyn Acosta, 5.5 — Anonymous at times and lacked the level of sharpness required. With a chance to stamp his leadership on an inexperienced team, he came up short.

MF Cristian Roldan, 6 — Started brightly before falling off the pace of the game a bit over the next hour. Collected a handful of important recoveries.

MF Gyasi Zardes, 6 — Provided some much-needed width for the U.S. all night. Maddeningly inconsistent with his touches, but played several good crosses and set up the winner for Morris.

FW Jordan Morris, 7.5 — Saved the Americans with his two goals. Quiet in the opening half, but used his speed to stretch the defense in the second half.

FW Juan Agudelo, 6.5 — Lively and mobile, especially in the first half when his work was wasted by teammates. Pushed too hard for a goal in the second half, failing to spot better options.

Substitutes:

MF Alejandro Bedoya, NR — Made an impact off the bench with some smart, late runs. Missed an excellent chance to score.

MF Chris Pontius, NR — Added energy up the flank, especially on the defensive side of the ball.

MF Dax McCarty, NR — Helped settle the game and see it out for the Americans after coming on with just a handful of minutes to go.Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer 

USMNT Player Ratings: Morris, Gyasi stand out vs. MTQ while others…do not

July 13, 20171:00AM EDTGreg SeltzerContributor

The US national team made things a bit more exciting than they needed to be, but prevailed late in a 3-2 win over CONCACAF Gold Cup Group B visitors Martinique on Wednesday night.Working with a highly experimental lineup, the Nats were patient before intermission and persistent in being decisive after it. Thanks to a Jordan Morris brace, they were able to come out with the points despite blowing a two-goal lead.

Brad Guzan (5.5) – The US netminder made a few strong saves, but boy, he should have stopped the shot on Martinique’s opener.

Eric Lichaj (7) – Aside from a bad first-half giveaway that led to long-range shot, Nottingham Forest’s Player of the Year put in a professional shift in his first international start in over six years. Lichaj didn’t burst forward often, but did notch a nice assist on the US second.

Omar Gonzalez (7) – The Pachuca center back (#3 above) did take a quick nap on one Martinique rush, but was otherwise solid at the back. Gonzo also moved the ball safely and alertly tucked home a rebound to get his side on the board.

Matt Hedges (3.5) – It was a rough night for the FC Dallas defender, who was beaten in several different ways. Most notably, Hedges was caught out by a lunging missed tackle, lost an aerial duel directly in front of the US goal despite having early position and was burned for pace on the buildup for Martinique’s second.

Justin Morrow (6) – The Toronto FC left back was decent in his return to USMNT action after four-and-a-half years. He deftly aided the team’s possession and some rushes up his flank. Though Morrow only served one dangerous cross on the night, he did split three defenders with a pass to initiate the winning goal play.

Cristian Roldan (6) – The midfield debutant was a defensive force in the opening half-hour, but somewhat faded in this regard after that. In particular, Roldan failed to mind the gate to the back line a couple times. However, his work on the ball was steady.

Kellyn Acosta (5.5) – While the FCD midfield ace improved on his Panama showing, he fell well short of shining. Acosta landed his first several restart serves in dangerous spots, but his last few went awry.

Paul Arriola (6) – It was a mixed bag for the Tijuana youngster, who was guilty of some sloppy play in the first half and lax on tracking back to disrupt the shooter on Martinique’s first. However, he was often quicker than the rest in chasing down loose balls in the attacking third, which caused havoc for the visitors’ defense. On one such occasion, Arriola’s seeing-eye drive from a busted corner kick forced the rebound for Gonzalez’s goal.

Gyasi Zardes (7.5) – More than any other US player, Zardes consistently harassed the away defense. While his touch can be inelegant at times, it was also good enough to break free down the left flank to kick-start several rushes. His cutback on Morris’ winner was a thing of beauty.

Juan Agudelo (5) – There were times when Agudelo’s (above) movement unnerved the Martinique back line, but he was inefficient on the ball and too often forced individual play.

Jordan Morris (8) – The Seattle speedster logged his first two-goal game in a US shirt, and it was well deserved. His hold-up play surprisingly provided a fulcrum for the hosts in the first half and his more characteristic runs caused other problems for Martinique. Morris both started and finished the final approach on the winner, which surely induced a widespread sigh of relief.

Coach Bruce Arena (5.5) – Is it fair to be rough on the coach for fielding a line-up that required a lot of introductions? Or is that precisely the reason we shouldn’t be so hard on Arena for what was essentially a middling display? I’m slightly leaning toward the latter because, well… Martinique. Some of those players should have reasonably been expected to perform better. In the end, though, the team got the win and grabbed first place in Group B. Call it mission barely accomplished, and hope for something more emphatic against Nicaragua on Saturday (7 pm ET | Univision, UDN, FXX in US, TSN GO in Canada).

Subs:
Alejandro Bedoya (6) – The veteran looked lively in his 28 minutes, and it his through ball released Lichaj to cross for Morris’ first goal. Bedoya’s grade was dragged back to average when he was not tuned in enough to close down Johan Audel, whose shot caromed in off a teammate to tie the game.

Chris Pontius (5) – The most notable event of his 17 minutes came when he neglected to track his opposite, who fired the shot that deflected in to momentarily level matters.

Dax McCarty (6) – Though only on for four minutes, the Chicago Fire man was aggressive in helping close out the win.

Player ratings from the USMNT’s 3-2 win over Martinique

Leave a commentBy Nicholas MendolaJul 12, 2017, 10:55 PM EDT

It wasn’t decisive and nearly fell apart, but the United States men’s national team emerged with all three points from its second match of the 2017 Gold Cup.Bruce Arena changed eight of his 11 starters for the match. Some thrived, some middled, and some struggled.

Starting XI

Brad Guzan — 6 — Strong first half, but needs to stop the first Martinique goal. He’s being measured against his predecessors.

Justin Morrow — 5 — Would like to see him again with the nerves out of system.

Omar Gonzalez — 7 — One of his better nights in a U.S. kit. Scored the opener in a gritty and instinctive way, and did not misplay any of his 23 passes.

Matt Hedges — 5 — Outran and out-of-position in the buildup to Martinique’s equalizer. Otherwise, just fine.

Eric Lichaj — 7 — Deserves to be in the discussion for Russia 2018, should they qualify, and proved it on Wednesday.

Cristian Roldan — 6 — A bit out of position but not overwhelmed on his debut. Composure wasn’t a problem, but performance was.

Kellyn Acosta (Off 62′) — 6 — He remains a big part of the USMNT’s future, but it’s hard to say he’s built on a strong performance against Ghana.

Paul Arriola (Off 73′) — 7 — Was missing the requisite finish but has made a definite argument to get more looks from Arena.

Gyasi Zardes — 5 — Gets credit for an assist on Morris’s second, but his industry was betrayed by his touch more often than not.

Juan Agudelo (Off 86′) — 6 — Brighter than his compatriots in the first half, his work out left in the second was significant.

Jordan Morris — 8 — His dogged work was rewarded with a pair of goals in a performance which will hopefully snap him out of a long funk for club and country.

Subs

Alejandro Bedoya (On 62′) — 6 — Helped set up second goal.

Chris Pontius (On 73′) — 6 — Not a bad shift.

Dax McCarty (On 86′) — N/A

 

U.S. hangs on to beat Martinique in Gold Cup via Jordan Morris’ two goals

Three thoughts from the United States’ nervy 3-2 win over Martinique in Gold Cup Group B:

  1. U.S. flounders in narrow win

While Wednesday’s victory is enough to send the U.S. to the top of Group B, this was a floundering performance from a side that nearly did the unthinkable and play to a draw after having a two-goal lead in the second half against an inferior opponent.

The best friend that the U.S. could have had on Wednesday was an early goal, but by the 20th minute it was evident that it was going to be another difficult night for the U.S., in front of a large crowd at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida.

Saturday’s 1-1 draw for the U.S. against Panama could be understood based on the recent contests between the two squads, but Wednesday’s performance is alarming for several reasons. First, the U.S. was plagued by mistakes on defense, allowing Martinique to come back from a 2-0 second-half deficit to pull level and nearly slip in a third. Second, these was no urgency shown in the first half, essentially 45 minutes wasted.But for the U.S., there is enough individual quality in Bruce Arena’s squad to be able to avoid a disastrous result. Jordan Morris took both his goals quite well, powering strong finishes into the back of the net after Omar Gonzalez’s fortuitous opener.Yet there was plenty of bad decision-making from the U.S. all over the field. Whether it was an ill-advised shot, a heavy touch, a lightly hit ball or a failure to play a simple pass, there were too many lapses and miscues. In attack, these issues were best summed up by a late first-half break when Paul Arriola looked to play wide to Gyasi Zardes, instead of continuing his dribble into the Martinique area. Kevin Parsemaine’s shot off the post was a harbinger of the defensive issues to come.Still, the U.S. has a very good shot to finish atop the group, but a quick glance at its potential quarterfinal opponents — Canada, for example — means that improvement against Nicaragua is imperative. After this performance, any thought that Saturday’s group stage final in Cleveland is going to be a walk in the park would be mistaken.

  1. More U.S. defensive headaches

It was another shaky performance from the U.S. at the back, allowing a pair of Martinique goals that nearly earned the islanders a stunning draw.

Things weren’t busy at the back for the first half-hour, but as Martinique grew into the match and became more comfortable, the U.S. looked more unsteady. Parsemain was a thorn in the U.S.’s side and should have scored after a dreadful giveaway from Eric Lichaj in the first half.

FC Dallas center-back Matt Hedges also struggled. He was beaten by Yoann Arquin on a header that forced Brad Guzan into a reaction save and then allowed Steeven Langil to blaze past him in the run-up to the second Martinique goal.

It seems like a broken record at this point after two Gold Cup matches, but it’s clear that this U.S. defense is out of sorts. Very clearly, it misses the presence of a veteran such as Geoff Cameron to shepherd the back line.

  1. Eight changes do little to convince

Head coach Bruce Arena made a whopping eight changes with goalkeeper Brad Guzan, center-back Gonzalez and midfielder Kellyn Acosta the lone holdovers from Saturday. All in all, this was a fairly inexperienced starting XI, and no player showed that more than Cristian Roldan, who made his debut on Wednesday and started brightly by cutting down passes and taking Martinique attackers off the ball before settling into an average performance.

While Morris did have two of the U.S. goals, he was way too anonymous for nearly a half-hour stretch in the first half. Against an opponent such as Martinique, the U.S. can get away with that, but it simply cannot happen in the knockout stages. Furthermore, Morris’ attack partner Juan Agudelo did have some good, creative moments, but there seemed to be a lack of connection between him and the U.S. midfield.At this point, assuming the U.S. reaches the quarterfinals, Arena will have to think very hard about bringing in his A-team stars, including Michael Bradley, Jozy Altidore and Clint Dempsey. If he persists with this group, he might run the risk of a humiliating early exit.Arch Bell covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @ArchBell . 

Jordan Morris breaks through with needed Gold Cup goals for USA vs. Martinique

BRIAN STRAUSThursday July 13th, 2017

In the midst of a difficult sophomore MLS season, Jordan Morris has kept the faith. And he came to life just in time Wednesday night, scoring two second-half goals and saving a disjointed U.S. national team from what could’ve been a historically humiliating result against tiny Martinique. Instead, the 3-2 win at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa leaves the Americans (1-0-1) in good position to move on to the CONCACAF Gold Cup quarterfinals as expected.Not much else is certain, however, as coach Bruce Arena’s makeshift squad still hasn’t found its footing.Here are three thoughts from a strange night:

USA in first as expected–but after a bizarre evening

The path was unpredictable, surreal and far rockier than it needed to be, but at the end, Arena and his team are where they expected to be after two games—atop Group B. But they’re there by a sliver, leading Panama (1-0-1) on the second tiebreaker (goals scored) heading into Saturday’s finale. Finishing first matters. The group winner meets a third-place qualifier in next week’s quarterfinals. The runner-up likey will be facing Costa Rica.Considering the stakes, it’s alarming that the USA was unable to put together a side after two weeks of training that could take the game to semi-pros representing a country that’s not even a FIFA member. This was a game the hosts easily could have lost. A tentative opening 45 minutes—during which the U.S. attack was static and predictable—gave way to a wild, entertaining and infuriating second half.Both teams squandered open looks before defender Omar Gonzalez lifted the USA into a 53rd-minute lead. Morris doubled the advantage 10 minutes later. Then the Americans collapsed. Maintaining momentum following a goal or scoring chance was an issue in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Panama, and it bit the USA again on Wednesday.Martinique forward Kevin Parsemain was the best player on the field for either team, and the former (very briefly) Seattle Sounder took advantage of goalkeeper Brad Guzan’s late reaction in the 66th and then a fortunate deflection in the 74th. Just when it was setting in that the five-time CONCACAF champs had blown a two-goal lead to a country of fewer than 400,000 people, Gyasi Zardes and Morris combined to score the game-winner.Typically, teams adopt a survive-and-advance mantra during tournament, and the USA has done that. But it’s been far more tense than it should’ve been, and there’s nothing to suggest the U.S. won’t be hanging onto first place for dear life when it plays Nicaragua on Saturday. Arena and his players promised a better showing following the Panama game. They delivered the win, but failed to make a statement.“I think we made it really tough on ourselves. We could’ve done much better. That’s the disappointing part, the fact that we let up two goals,” Gonzalez said following the game. “Moving forward, there’s a lot to learn from this, and I’m happy that we never gave up. But there’s definitely things we could improve on.”

Morris sticks with it

Morris has only two goals this season for the Sounders, but his glorious 2016 rookie campaign, obvious potential and Arena’s decision to leave his top strikers at home meant the second-year pro would get his Gold Cup shot. During Wednesday’s first half, it appeared Morris was going to waste it.But good strikers stick with it even when shots aren’t falling, and Morris’s game-winning brace was as much about relentlessness and maturity as it was about speed or skill. Both goals came thanks to his willingness to run hard, keep things smple and trust his teammates—all things that can be difficult for a scorer in a slump.In the 64th, Morris recognized a smart run by right back Eric Lichaj and was there in a sliver of space between a Martinique defender and goalie Kevin Olimpa for the near-post finish. In the 76th, two minutes after the visitors leveled terms, Morris fed Zardes through the left channel then maintained his run into the penalty area. Zardes cut a good cross back toward the center and Morris was there for a composed and accurate first-time finish into the roof of the net.Strikers have to be right in the feet and in the head. Morris made the difference his team needed on Wednesday because he maintained the latter until the former caught up. Now we’ll see if Arena will pair Morris with Dom Dwyer, his other Gold Cup scorer.

Arena left with some difficult decisions

The forward pairing is just once choice Arena faces during what might be a fitful few days for the USA manager. He surely hoped that his group-stage squad rotation would result in several players rising to the fore and claiming knockout-round spots. But that hasn’t happened. He’ll feel good about Morris’s second half, but should be concerned about Zardes’s often wasteful touches in the attacking third and Paul Arriola’s odd decision making.Juan Agudelo worked hard but lacked solutions and faded. Kellyn Acosta improved from his performance against Panama, but he was unable to impose himself or consistently orchestrate the buildup. To be fair, Arena asked more of him Wednesday than FC Dallas typically does.Morris and Lichaj, who was playing in his first competitive international (and fourth U.S. match overall) in six years, were the only American men who seemed to raise their level as the game became tougher. Guzan had been the Gold Cup MVP before his second-half mistake. Matt Hedges struggled to stay with Martinique’s quick forwards, and it took left back Justin Morrow way too long to find the right moments to jump into the attack. Against a team like Martinique, those solutions should be easy to spot and implement. When the hosts did finally create the occasional attacking overload, they seemed so surprised by the fortunate turn of events that they lost their composure.That can’t continue to happen if the USA has a shot at winning this Gold Cup. After two games, it appears Arena will have to start making some phone calls to the eligible veterans on his 40-man preliminary roster. It’s tough to imagine Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jozy Altidore making a game like Wednesday night’s game so difficult.

 Jordan Morris takes aim at World Cup spot with selfless outing for US

July 13, 20171:29AM EDTNeil Blackmon

TAMPA, Fla. – Jordan Morris knows he can’t control whether he’s on the plane to Russia for the World Cup next summer.But he’ll do everything in his power to put himself in position. Wednesday night on a wet track in Tampa, that meant making the often-unheralded near-post run.“I can’t worry about making the World Cup team or my roster spot or things beyond my control,” Morris said after bagging the first brace of his international career in the US national team’s 3-2 victory over Martinique. “What I can do is make the runs coach stresses, do what’s best for the team, and play hard, impact winning.”After a first half where Arena said his team “wasn’t sharp” in the final third, Morris said Arena went back to a common point of emphasis: having one forward sacrifice himself by surging towards the near post to create space around him.“Bruce stresses that he wants a forward to make a near post run and sacrifice to make space,” Morris said of his opening goal. “I did that, and then [Eric] Lichaj played a great ball.”It’s a run Cristian Roldan has seen his Seattle Sounders teammate make time and time again, playing off Clint Dempsey for the defending MLS Cup champions.“Every coach wants a forward to attack the near post, but sometimes that’s just a space-creating run,” Roldan said. “Jordan does that all the time and it was good to see him get the goal, especially on a play that started from the left side and was just good ball movement. We rotated it all the way out right and Eric played a beautiful ball.”Morris also delivered when the team needed him most, and again because he finished a run.Following a stunning Martinique equalizer on a rebound from Johan Audel, the US appeared on the verge of another disappointing draw. But Morris took a ball in the center of the park and played it on the ground through to Gyasi Zardes. Sensing space in the box, he shouted and waved for Zardes to play the ball back to him.“Gyasi made a great run and I saw space at the PK spot and attacked the space. [Zardes] made a great pass and we got a big goal.”While Morris is right that he can’t control whether he makes a World Cup roster, his performance garnered praise from the one man who can: Arena.“Jordan runs very well in the penalty area,” said the USMNT coach. “We told the guys at halftime we needed to attack the near post and he responded. Then he finished another run for a second goal. He had an overall good game tonight with Juan [Agudelo]. It definitely made a good impression.” 

Midfield’s ‘crap performance’ a worry in United States’ Gold Cup opener

.You know it wasn’t a good performance when a team’s best player is its goalkeeper. That was the case for the United States in its 1-1 tie with Panama on Saturday in Nashville.Had Los Canaleros been able to find the target with more regularity on the clear chances they created, we might very well be talking about the Americans’ second-ever defeat in the group stage of a Gold Cup. Soccer justice might very well have been served if that had been the case. Brad Guzan had a lot to do with preserving the tie, making several key saves, while defender Omar Gonzalez got a key touch when it looked as though Ismael Diaz was poised to poke in a rebound from all of two yards away. There will be a temptation to blame this lackluster result on the back line, and to be sure this was not the group’s best day. Graham Zusi struggled with his one-on-one defending, as did Jorge Villafaña. Matt Besler switched off a few times and wasn’t as precise with his passing as he normally is.But the source of the Americans’ struggles was actually further up field. Kellyn Acosta had what was likely his worst performance in a U.S. uniform, losing out on some key individual battles — including the run-up to Miguel Camargo’s equalizer — misplaying passes and getting caught in possession. Acosta himself used stronger words to assess the match: Acosta’s central cohorts Joe Corona and Dax McCarty, who performed so well against Ghana, also suffered through subpar days. Granted, the match against the Black Stars was a friendly, not a tournament match like this one, but the dropoff in performance was still striking.Corona was adept at finding room between the lines against Ghana, but the Club Tijuana man was deathly quiet against Panama’s central tandem of Anibal Godoy and Gabriel Gomez. Credit the Panama duo, as well as outside midfielders Camargo and Joel Barcenas, who pitched in defensively. They effectively took away the spaces where Corona thrives, leaving the midfielder with an imperfect choice of supporting lone striker Dom Dwyer or retreating deep into midfield to get the ball. As a result, the U.S. attack looked disjointed and had the effect of stranding Dwyer for long stretches.As for McCarty, the ball wasn’t his friend to the degree that it was against Ghana (81 percent versus 95.3 percent, according to ESPN Stats & Information), and found himself coming out second-best in terms of physical duels.Even Kelyn Rowe — the field player who besides Dwyer arguably helped himself the most on the day thanks to his superb effort in setting up the lone U.S. goal — had his rough moments. His decision to go to ground in an effort to tackle the ball away from Barcenas saw the Panama midfielder skip past him and create the goalmouth melee that resulted in Camargo’s score.But even more worrying than the individual performances was the collective effort on both sides of the ball. The U.S. was in prime position to seize control after Dwyer put the Americans ahead in the 50th minute, a significant advantage on a scorching-hot day that saw game-time temperatures hit 87 degrees. But instead of keeping the ball and controlling the tempo, a track meet ensued that benefited the visitors far more than the U.S. Defensively, the U.S. seemed incapable of closing down opposition midfielders, allowing the likes of Gomez and Godoy to pick the Americans apart, be it in transition or when the U.S. was defending in a low block.The benefit of the match is that it stressed a lineup bereft of first-team players. Performers such as McCarty and Acosta gained valuable experience, and will no doubt be better able to deal with difficult moments later in the tournament. The downside is that the next two group-stage games for the U.S., against Martinique and Nicaragua, will provide little insight into a player’s ability at the international level. With a schedule that sees the U.S. play its three group-stage games in eight days, coach Bruce Arena is expected to utilize his depth in a big way. Depending on how the group finishes up, Arena’s preferred starting XI might not be tested again until the semifinals.That, of course, is something neither Arena nor the players have any control over. But this Gold Cup is about taking advantage of opportunities. There are still more data points to gather, yet for the Americans to prevail in this tournament, the U.S. midfield will need to raise its game.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team 

Kaka expecting tight game when MLS All-Star side meet Real Madrid

Orlando City playmaker Kaka says his MLS All-Star side can face Champions League holders Real Madrid as “equals” when they meet in Chicago on Aug. 2.Kaka is to line up alongside Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger, reigning Major League Soccer MVP David Villa of New York City FC, Michael Bradley of Toronto FC and Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard in the showpiece game against Zinedine Zidane’s men at Soldier Field.Zidane’s side are expected to be almost at full strength for the encounter, which comes after their International Champions Cup meetings with Manchester United, Manchester City and Barcelona, with players including Gareth Bale, Sergio Ramos, Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos set to feature.Speaking to U.S. Spanish-language newspaper Hoy, former Madrid midfielder Kaka said he did not think the All-Star side drawn from around MLS would have trouble gelling together, and predicted they would give Madrid a good contest.”We do not know how the game will go,” Kaka said. “But we have the players to take on Real Madrid as equals. We have a great team. The truth is it will be a very good and attractive game as our team have great players. Although we do not play together [with clubs], I don’t believe it will be difficult to understand each other.”Kaka, 35, scored 29 goals in 130 games as a Madrid player between 2009 and 2013, although injuries contributed to the former Brazil international not having the impact expected when he moved from AC Milan for a fee of €65 million.”I have good memories of Real Madrid,” he said. “Professionally it was a difficult period, but my experience there was very good in all senses as I grew a lot, learned many things, and lived with great champions.”They were four years where we won La Liga, Copa del Rey, the Spanish Supercopa, and I scored goals. Although I expected more, my time at Real Madrid was very good. To be able to say I played four seasons there is a great pleasure.”Kaka said that coming up against old teammates including Ramos, Benzema, Marcelo, Luka Modric and Raphael Varane will make it an emotional occasion.”To take on Madrid is a very good experience,” he said. “When I was there I played once against Milan, and now with the All-Stars team I will play against Real Madrid. It is something very emotional. To take on staff at the club and ex-teammates of Real Madrid will be a very different experience for me.”

Three Things – #INDvNYC

Three points from, well, three points against the Cosmos

Published Jul 11, 2017

NO BETTER TIME FOR A FIRST GOAL

Indy original and former “super sub” Don Smart made his 2017 scoring debut in spectacular fashion on Saturday against the New York Cosmos. “Indiana’s Team” were granted a penalty kick in the 15th minute after “Boys in Blue” forward Justin Braun was caught out in an aerial battle with Cosmos’ defenders Ryan Richter and David Ochieng within New York’s penalty area. The Kingston, Jamaica-born midfielder stepped up to the spot and graced the scoreboard in the 17th minute when Smart’s shot skid past Cosmos ‘keeper Jimmy Maurer’s left dive into the lower right corner of the goal. For Smart, it was close to being his second goal for the evening. In the 13th minute, Indy XI forward Eamon Zayed battled for possession along the right wing with a Cosmos’ defender. In an attempted to save a potentially dying play, Zayed sent the ball sky high and into the edge of the outer box where Maurer met it with a header. Fortunately, Maurer’s headed ball soared to the feet of Smart just outside the box, who then sent it right back towards the Cosmos’ goal. Unfortunately, Smart’s chance was cut short when Maurer’s dead sprint back to the goal ended with a dive that forced the ball back into Cosmos possession.

Smart’s goal on Saturday marks his ninth in 85 appearances for the club since his signing in 2013. Smart netted his first goal against North Carolina FC in the club’s first recorded win and away win on July 12, 2014. Saturday’s goal marks Smart’s first goal since the Eleven’s 2-1 home win over Miami on September 17, 2016. For those who love stats, Smart holds a 5W-2D-2L record in matches in which he has scored, averaging 2.25 goals per season.

BRAUN’S MOVING UP THE LIST

Another night, another goal for “Boys in Blue” striker Justin Braun has he headed home the game winner late in the evening. In the 74th minute, Cosmos’ David Ochieng conceded a corner kick by sending the ball flying past their goal into the East End to avoid giving possession to a charging Eamon Zayed. Thereafter, in the 75th minute, Indy Eleven’s crossing extraordinaire Nemanja Vukovic sent the ball from the corner flying over the Cosmos defense. From there, Braun slipped away from his marker to meet the ball with his head, darting it over Maurer’s left shoulder to net what would be the game-winner.  So far, Braun has netted seven goals for “Indiana’s Team” as the league enters the final week of the Spring season. Taking a glimpse across the NASL, Braun sits in second place of the most goals scored this thus far in 2017. Just ahead on the list are Miami FC’s Stefano Pinho and Vincenzo Rennella tied for 1st place with eight goals to each player. Earlier this season, Braun overtook former Eleven star Dylan Mares for the second most all-time goals among Indy players with 11 goals. Since then, Braun has collected another four goals, giving the Salt Lake City native a total of 15 all-time goals in 40 appearances Indy Eleven. Furthermore, Braun’s 15 goals leave him nipping at the heels of striking partner Zayed, who sits atop Indy’s top scoring list with 18 goals in 45 appearances.

WHAT’S NEXT…?                                                                                                                                                                    Indy Eleven remains in 6th places after collecting another 3-points on a beautiful evening in front of a crowd of 8,748 fans at “The Mike”. Unfortunately, the Eleven can no longer advance into a Top 4 position given last week’s results in New York. Looking forward, there’s still a chance to advance into 5th place pending our results against Jacksonville Armada FC, North Carolina FC’s match-up against Puerto Rico FC and New York Cosmos’ fixture against FC Edmonton. While 5th place isn’t entirely ideal, a move to 5th still puts Indy XI a step closer to an NASL playoff position with just a few points separating the gap to a T4 spot—should the Spring results end favorably for the “Boys in Blue”.

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July 7, 2017 – Gold Cup Starts USA vs Panama Sat 4:30 pm Fox, Indy 11 host NY Cosmos Sat 7:30 pm, Germany wins Confed Cup,

The Gold Cup starts up tonight and continues with group stage games the next 2 weeks on Fox, Fox Sports 1 and Fox Sport 2 – (see full TV schedule below).  Will be interesting to see how our US team does with very few regulars – I will watch with a keen eye the new players the Bruce has brought in (Dom Dyer looked great vs Ghana as did Acousta and Kellyn along with a good mix of veterans.  Hopefully Carmel’s own Matt Hedges All Star defender from Dallas FC will continue getting starts in the middle of the US defense.  The US kicks off with its most difficult group game vs Panama on Sat at 4:30 pm on Fox.

Wow what a Confederations Cup this turned out to be. In Russia here 1 year before the World Cup.  The final between the young German squad and Chile was must watch futbol as both teams gave their all in the exciting 2-1 Germany victory.  The German’s took their young guns with very few National team veterans and took home their first Confed Cup Trophy.  I thought Chile played lights out and I was surprised the young German’s pulled this one out. Overall I thought Mexico looked pretty good in making the Semi Finals – though a win over a Renaldo less Portugal for 3rd would have been nice.  Either way it was good soccer- and I especially enjoyed the Chile vs Portugal shootout and the finals.

The Indy 11 coming off 2 Wins vs North Carolina and a tie at NY on July 4th will host the defending Champ NY Cosmos on Sat night at 7:30 pm at the Mike.  Its Pride night at the Mike this week before the final home game of the Spring Season next Sat July 15 vs Jacksonville at 6:30 pm.  Huge props to FC Cincy for their huge home win over the Chicago Fire at home on ESPN on June 28th – I am afraid the dream is over now as they must travel to Miami FC next Wed July 12. (honestly they should have weighted the ping pong balls for 1 more home stand for this squad vs an MLS team) – oh well – would have been fun to go.

BEST FAMILY GOALIE TRAINING – if anyone is interested in Goalie Training this summer – let me know.  My 18 year old  goalie Tyler and I are offering some evening training on Wednesdays in July. RE: with interest.

GAMES ON TV  

Fri, July 7

7 pm Fox Sport 2        French Guiana vs Canada– Gold Cup

9  pm FS2                         Honduras vs Costa Rica– Gold Cup

Sat, July 8

4:30 pm Fox          USA vs Panama – GOLD CUP

7 pm FS2                           Martinique vs Nicaragua – Gold Cup

7:30 pm Lifetime       North Carolina vs Seattle Reign (Women’s NWSL)

7:30 pm MyIndy TV   Indy 11 vs NY Cosmos

Sun, July 9

7 pm Fox Sport 1        Curacao vs Jamaica – Gold Cup

9:30 pm FS1                   Mexico vs El Salvador – Gold Cup

Tues, July 11

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Costa Rica vs Canada– Gold Cup

10 pm FS1                                                Honduras vs French Guiana – Gold Cup

Weds, July 12

6:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Panama vs Nicaragua -Gold Cup

8:30 pm Fox Sport 1 USA vs Martinique  – Gold Cup

Thur, July 12

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         El Salvador vs Curucao– Gold Cup

10 pm FS1                                                Mexico vs Jamaica– Gold Cup

Fri, July 13

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Costa Rica vs French Gaina– Gold Cup

10 pm FS1                                                Canada vs Honduras– Gold Cup

Sat July 14

4:30 pm Fox Sport 2                         Panama vs Martinque– Gold Cup

7 pm FS1?        Nicaragua vs USA – Gold Cup (Cleveland)

Sun, July 15

6 pm Fox Sport 2        Jamaica vs El Salvador– Gold Cup

8 pm Fox Sport 1        Cacacua vs Mexico – Gold Cup

Wed, July 19

7:30 am ESPN 3?         Bayern Munich vs Arsenal  ICC

4 pm ESPN2                    Roma vs PSG  ICC

6 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup Quarterfinal

9 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup Quarterfinal

Thur, July 20

4 pm ESPN                       Man U vs Man City ICC

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Gold Cup Quarterfinal

10:30pm Fox Sport 1                       Gold Cup Quarterfinal

Sat, July 22

5:30 am EPSN 3+Des                        Bayern Munich vs Milan ICC

4 pm ESPN                       Juve vs Barcelona ICC

10 pm Fox Sport 1     Gold Cup SEMI FINAL

Sun, July 23

5:30 am EPSN 3+Des                        Bayern Munich vs Milan ICC

5 pm ESPN ?                   Real Madrid vs Man United ICC

6:30 pm Fox Sport1  Vancuouver vs Portland

9 pm Fox Sport 1        Gold Cup SEMI FINAL 2

Mon, July 24

8 am ESPN 3+Des        Inter vs Lyon  ICC

Tues, July 25

8 am ESPN 3+Des        Chelsea vs Bayern Munich

8 pm EsPN                       Tottenham vs Roma

Wed, July 26

7:30 am ESPN                Barcelona vs Man United ICC

8 pm EsPN 2                   Juve  vs PSG  ICC

9 pm Fox Sp 1       Gold Cup Final

Sat, July 29

7:30 am ESPN desp    Chelsea vs Inter ICC

6 pm EsPN 2                   Man City vs Tottenham  ICC

7:30 pm ESPN       Real Madrid vs Barcelona ICC

Sun, July 30

4 pm ESPN                       Roma vs Juventus ICC

Wed, Aug 2

9 pm Fox Sport 1 MLS Allstars vs Real Madrid              

Gold Cup Schedule In July

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

International Champions Cup July  Games in Nashville and Detroit

 

Its Summer – Time to plan your Soccer Camps 

 

BEST FAMILY GOALIE TRAINING – if anyone is interested in Goalie Training this summer – let me know.  My 18 year old  goalie Tyler and I may offer some evening training if we get enough interest.  RE: with interest.

 

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.

 

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   Field Player Camp: July 24 – 27, 2017

 

US + GOLD CUP –

Preview USA vs Panama Sat 4:30 on Fox

Who’s going to win Gold Cup?  – MLS.com

Can Anyone Upset US or Mexico in Gold Cup?

Gold Cup Preview – MLS.com

Preview Group B – US Group

Ten Storylines – Gold Cup

Dwyer and Rowe Impressive in US Debut win over Ghana

Ginga Ninja – Dax McCarty set as break out star for Confed Cup

5 Questions for Mexico Osario Critics – EPSNF

6 Game Ban for Mexico Coach Osario for antics at Confed Cup

 

Confed Cup + World

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly of the Confed Cup

Germany Takes Top Slot in World with Impressive Confed Cup

Germany’s young Guns Take it Home – Marcotti

Best 11 of Confed Cup

Mexico Wavers and loses 3rd place game to Portugal

Top 5 Saves Confed Cup Fox

Great Saves Confed Cup

Top 10 Saves Confed Cup

Cladio Bravo Chile Saves 3 Penalties Confed Cup

Ochoa Great Saves Confed cup

Ter Stegan Great Saves Confed Cup

 

MLS

Chicago Takes Top Slot

Overlooked Markets are MLS most Fertile Ground

Atlanta United – It’s a Family Affair

MLS Allstar game vs Real Madrid is in Chicago – Aug 2

 

Indy 11

Indy Pride Night vs NY Cosmos on Sat, July 8 at the Mike

Indy 11 Draw 1-1 at NY Cosmos on July 4

Jon Busch wins Goalie of the Week in 2-1 win at NC

 

 

SMNT Gold Cup match-up vs. Panama brings deja vu over “a dangerous team”

July 6, 20176:22PM EDT  Arielle CastilloSenior Editor

NASHVILLE — Hello darkness, our old friend. The beginning of the Gold Cup for the US sees them facing Panama again. And in looking ahead to the match-up, which kicks off the Yanks’ campaign on Saturday at Nissan Stadium (4:30 pm ET | FOX and Univision), nobody’s coming in hot or headstrong. “Panama’s extremely a tough opponent, especially right out of the gate,” said defender Matt Besler, of Sporting Kansas City, on Thursday afternoon, after the US’ last training session at Nashville’s Lipscomb University. “We seem to have played them a lot in recent years, and every single game’s been different, and they’ve all been very tough, physical battles.”For some at US camp, a tough opponent to start is a little like ripping off a bandage, with a positive result steamrolling into some momentum in a tournament that could be winnable. But, yes, even a draw will definitely require laser focus. “They’re a very familiar opponent… It feels like we see them every couple months,” said defender Graham Zusi, also of Sporting Kansas City. “They’re a dangerous team. They play the counter pretty well, and their set pieces are very dangerous as well. This is a game we’re gonna have to be locked in for a full 90 minutes.”Of course, the US haven’t actually met up with Panama every couple of months. But they have met them in both this cycle of World Cup qualifying, as well as the last edition of the Gold Cup, and will meet them again in qualifying in October. None of these match-ups over the last two years have proved easy; both of them in the 2015 Gold Cup, both in the group stage and the third-place playoff, yielded a 1-1 draw. The same scoreline followed this past March in World Cup qualifying. Now, though, the US come into this test in Nashville with a different coach, in Arena, and a fresher, hungry squad comprised mainly of MLS players. Many of them will potentially recognize some of Los Canaleros from league play, particularly standouts like Anibal Godoy, of the San Jose Earthquakes, and Armando Cooper, of Toronto FC.  Zusi, however, quickly pointed out that focusing on any one threat from among the Panamanians would be to miss the overall danger. “We’ve just started looking at some of the film of Panama now,” he said. “As a team, they’re going to be dangerous. If we look to individuals too much, I think the other guys will hurt us.”Midfielder Paul Arriola, of Liga MX club Tijuana, also echoed the Yanks’ need to prepare for nearly any kind of strategy from their opponents. “Panama obviously is very diverse,” the 22-year-old said of their favored M.O. “They like to attack with numbers. They like to throw their outside backs forward, and I think for us it’s important to be not just defensive, but also not be scared to open up the game and trust our players.”Luckily head coach Bruce Arena expressed just that kind of trust after a training session that markedly ramped up in tactics. “Most of these guys have a hunger,” he said. “The reason they’re here is basically they’re hungry players, they’re motivated players.”

 

Can anyone upset Gold Cup heavyweights Mexico, United States?

There isn’t much about the CONCACAF Gold Cup that is sexy. Holding the tournament every two years invites a certain amount of fatigue. Invariably, with a crowded summer international calendar, one version becomes watered down as the best teams — read Mexico and the United States — opt to send their B-teams.That isn’t to say that the Gold Cup is devoid of value, however. The winner of the tournament will be halfway toward qualification for the 2021 Confederations Cup. But for many of the participants, how that value is calculated varies from country to country.

The heavyweights

The U.S. and Mexico are co-favorites to win the tournament. What else is new, right? Since the confederation championship was revamped in 1991, the two countries have claimed 12 of the 13 tournaments contested. But both teams are also looking to determine which fringe players might be counted on for next year’s World Cup, though the Americans still have a bit more work to do in terms of securing qualification.Mexico’s exertions in the Confederations Cup mean that no frontline players will be available. Defender Ugo Ayala is the most experienced outfield player with 30 caps. Alan Pulido’s injury has created an opening for Houston Dynamo forward Erick “Cubo” Torres.The U.S. boasts a bit more experience with the World Cup veterans Omar Gonzalez, Alejandro Bedoya, Matt Besler, Graham Zusi and Brad Guzan all on the roster. More could arrive after the group stage when teams are allowed to make up to six roster changes. But for now, eyes will be on players like Kellyn Acosta and Dax McCarty as they try to stake their claim to more playing time.Overall, it will be a shock if the U.S. and Mexico don’t meet in the final on July 26, but as the 2015 edition showed when Jamaica ambushed the U.S. in the semifinals, upsets have been known to happen.

Looking for a breakthrough

The tournament comes with only four games remaining in the final round of World Cup qualifying, so for the likes of Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, the value comes primarily from testing out some new players while also trying to fine-tune some things ahead of the next round of games in September.When it comes to the Gold Cup, all three of these teams have beaten finalists in the past, but Costa Rica looks to have brought in more of its first-choice lineup, putting it in a good position to make a deep run. The Ticos will be tested early, as its group is probably the toughest in the tournament, one that includes Honduras, Canada and French Guiana.Panama will be looking to build off its third-place finish in 2015, though oddly enough it failed to win a game in that tournament outside of prevailing on penalties. Manager Hernan Dario Gomez will be aiming to get his offense going, having scored only four goals in the Hexagonal.Honduras has the opposite problem. Los Catrachos stand in fifth place thanks to a Hexagonal-worst defense, so manager Jorge Luis Pinto will be looking to see more consistency from his backline.That still leaves seven other teams possessing a variety of motivations. For Canada — who in 2000 became the only team other than Mexico and the U.S. to have won the Gold Cup — this will mark the first tournament with manager Octavio Zambrano in charge. And his roster choices are notable in that he has the only player in the entire tournament who was born in the 1970s (Patrice Bernier) and in the 2000s (Alphonso Davies).In Jamaica and El Salvador, you have a pair of teams very much in remodel mode. Jamaica’s World Cup qualifying campaign was hugely disappointing after reaching the Gold Cup final in 2015. The Reggae Boyz needed a last-minute goal from Simon Dawkins just to get past Nicaragua in the third round. Jamaica then finished dead last in its group in the semifinal round, and was eliminated. Manager Theodore Whitmore will be aiming to get his side going again with the help of several MLS players, including Philadelphia Union goalkeeper Andre Blake, and Portland Timbers striker Darren Mattocks.El Salvador is now four years removed from a match-fixing scandal that decimated the national side, with 14 players getting lifetime bans. Los Cuscatlecos’ midfield is led by the San Jose Earthquakes’ Darwin Ceren, but a youthful backline will determine whether El Salvador can reach the knockout stages.

The French twist

For Martinique and French Guiana, the Gold Cup marks the pinnacle of their international aspirations. Both are overseas departments of France, and thus not members of FIFA, which prevents both from competing in the World Cup. Given that the rosters of both sides are dominated by players from their respective domestic leagues and the lower divisions of French soccer, one might scoff at their inclusion. But there is some history of French departments doing damage in the Gold Cup. Back in 2007, Guadeloupe, with French international defender Jocelyn Angloma in its ranks, made it all the way to the semifinals, where it was only beaten by mighty Mexico, 1-0.Martinique reached the quarterfinals in 2002, and has former Seattle Sounder Kevin Parsemain leading its front line. French Guiana’s team includes former France international Florent Malouda.

The up-and-comers

If you need an underdog to root for, Curacao is the team for you. The island competed internationally as the Netherlands Antilles until its dissolution in 2010. More recently, Curacao has become a rising force in Caribbean soccer, and produced a shock when it beat Jamaica 2-1 to claim the 2017 Caribbean Cup. Elson Hooi, who has been on the books of NAC Breda in the past, is the guy to watch for a side making its Gold Cup debut.Nicaragua is making its first Gold Cup appearance since 2009 but has shown it can put a scare into teams, as witnessed by the aforementioned set-to with Jamaica. Los Pinoleros owe their spot in the tournament to Juan Barrera, who in a playoff against Haiti bagged a hat trick in the last eight minutes to claim a 4-3 aggregate triumph.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Discuss: Who will win the CONCACAF Gold Cup? Who will win the Golden Boot?

July 6, 201710:30AM EDT

MLSsoccer staffWelcome to another edition of “Discuss,” in which MLSsoccer.com editors debate the topics of the moment in MLS, or, in this case, the upcoming CONCACAF Gold Cup. We asked two questions this time around: Who will win the tournament and who will win its Golden Boot?

Editor-in-Chief Simon Borg, Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle, Senior Editors Andrew WiebeArielle CastilloNicholas RosanoBen Couch and Benjamin Baer, and Contributors Charles BoehmFranco Panizo and Alicia Rodriguez give their takes.

Borg: USA, Alberth Elis (Honduras)

If we’re to see the first Gold Cup upset since Canada in 2000, this would seem to be the tournament for it. But a hungry US team, which could bring in the big guns for the knockouts, will prove unstoppable. Even for Mexico.

Doyle: Canada, Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Canada)

Atiba Hutchinson was offside 10 years ago. Canada will find someone who can stay onside in big moments this time.

Wiebe: USA, Dom Dwyer (USA)

History tells us either the US or Mexico will win the Gold Cup – only Canada have broken that CONCACAF hegemony. This time around, it’s the Americans turn to bathe in confetti, thanks to the freedom and urgency Bruce Arena will foster in a squad with plenty to prove.

Castillo: USA, Kellyn Acosta (USA)

The US have a real chance at this, considering Mexico are essentially sending their B-squad, and ours is full of guys extra hungry to make their mark at the international level.

Rosano: Mexico, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres (Mexico)

OK, I’ll bite. Seriously, someone has to pick Mexico. Yes, El Tri are sending their B-squad, but their depth is terrifying and like many of their US counterparts the players will be ready to show why they are ‘A’-caliber players. Among them? My guy Cubo. They say he only scores at home? Good thing every game is a home game for Mexico in this tournament.

Baer: Costa Rica, Dom Dwyer (USA)

Costa Rica are the only nation of the CONCACAF Big 3 to bring their A-team (mostly) and they’ll be chomping at the bit to win their first Gold Cup.

Boehm: USA, Erick Gutierrez (Mexico)

I’ve got the US here. Good blend of experience, youth and above all hunger on the roster, along with some savvy leadership from Bruce Arena, will be just enough to edge Mexico’s B-team.

Panizo: Costa Rica, Erick ‘Cubo’ Torres (Mexico)

The Ticos may have lost a key player in Ronald Matarrita to injury last week, but are still taking a very strong squad into this tournament. With Arsenal’s Joel Campbell and Bryan Ruiz of Sporting CP helping lead the attack, Costa Rica finally get regional bragging rights and a shiny trophy for their cabinet.

Rodriguez: United States, Juan Agudelo (USA)

I’m taking the US here, because the United States hosts every single time and there have to be fringe benefits from time to time to give the home team a boost.

Germany top FIFA World Ranking over Brazil as Switzerland and Poland rise

Head coach Joachim Low, goalkeeper Marc-Andre Ter Stegen and defender Matthias Ginter reflect on Germany’s Confed Cup win.

Germany will return to the summit of the FIFA World Ranking after their Confederations Cup victory over Chile.

Brazil had held the No. 1 position since April, but the world champions just accrued enough ranking points to reclaim top spot for the first time in two years. Germany climb two places from third to usurp both Brazil and Argentina.European champions Portugal, who finished third at the Confederations Cup, climb four places to fourth with Chile falling three places to seventh after winning just one match in Russia even though they reached the final.Switzerland climb four places into fifth, while Poland shoot to their highest-ever ranking of sixth — up from their previous best of 10th in June. Before last year, Poland had never even been inside the top 15, and a 3-1 World Cup qualifying win over Romania has increased their placing further.Colombia, France and Belgium also drop three places, to eighth, ninth and 10th respectively.Peru (14th, up one), Iceland (19th, up three), Northern Ireland (22nd, up six) and Congo DR (28th, up 13) all register their best-ever ranking. Sweden rocket 16 places from 34th into 18th, helped by their Word Cup qualifying win over France, while Haiti are up 15 into 49th.But there’s not such good news for Netherlands (32nd, down one) who drop to their equal-worst ranking. United States (35th, down 12) are now just one position below their worst placing while, 12 months on from their appearance at Euro 2016, Hungary slump 24 places into 57th — their lowest position for seven years.

Mexico are the top ranked nation in CONCACAF, and remain in 16th, with Costa Rica down sixth to 26th. However, all CONCACAF nations will have the chance to climb back up with the Gold Cup taking place this month.

Egypt remain the No. 1 team in Africa, though drop four places to 24th. Senegal are up three in 27th, followed by Congo DR.

In Asia, Iran are still way out in front and moved up another seven places into 23rd in the process of qualifying for the World Cup. Their nearest challengers are Australia (44th, up four) and Japan (45th, non-mover).

The new FIFA Ranking will be officially published on Thursday.

JULY FIFA RANKING TOP 20
1. Germany
2. Brazil
3. Argentina
4. Portugal
5. Switzerland
6. Poland
7. Chile
8. Colombia
9. France
10. Belgium
11. Spain
12. Italy
13. England
14. Peru
15. Croatia
16. Mexico
17. Uruguay
18. Sweden
19. Iceland
20. Wales

Low’s German youngsters come of age as they withstand Chile’s onslaught

SAINT PETERSBURG, Russia — On a day when they were frustrated, intimidated and pegged back by the red horde in front of them, Germany kept their nerve, hunkered down and punished an opponent’s mistake for a 1-0 win that sealed the country’s first Confederations Cup trophy.It’s what you’d call a veteran performance, borne out of age-old experience and tactical savvy — except this German side has an average age of 23 and had hardly played together until 3½ weeks ago.You hate to slip into stereotypes, but when a side this green in terms of experience displays such maturity, you’re tempted to credit the magical powers of the white shirt with the four stars on it. Either that or Joachim Low is simply one heck of a coach.Chile were the home side at the steeply banked Zenit Arena, in which cries of “Chi! Chi! Chi! Le! Le! Le! Fuerza Chi-le!” rained down before kickoff. It might take a minimum of 18½ hours to fly here from Santiago — with a stopover in Paris — but a surprising number of La Roja enthusiasts had made the trip.Maybe it was knowing that, for this Golden Generation, the window of opportunity won’t stay open forever — another World Cup, another Copa America maybe — and that while travel is pricey, you regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do. The dream of telling their grandkids that they saw their nation win silverware in three different continents, over three magical summers, was too special for many to turn down.But they won’t be able to do that. Instead, they will be able to go home and say that their team dominated long stretches of a final against the world champions — a fearsome side, no matter the absentees — only to see the trophy slip through their fingers like dust.”We dominated, we played very well, we controlled the game, but football is the way it is … sometimes, it’s not enough and accidents happen,” Chile boss Juan Antonio Pizzi said after the match.Despite a draining semifinal against Portugal and with Teutonic young legs in front of them, Chile came out of the gate as if the fast-forward button was stuck on. They pressed high and they pressed hard, and Charles Aranguiz, Eduardo Vargas and Arturo Vidal (twice) all had cracks at goal in a furious opening 20 minutes that had Low pacing the sideline as Germany struggled to get out of their own half.Chile’s best chance came after 19 minutes when Marc-Andre ter Stegen spilled a vicious shot from the effervescent Vidal. The ball fell to Alexis Sanchez — exactly who you’d want in this situation — but, with ter Stegen on his knees, the forward screwed his finish wide.And that’s when the totally unscientific “Law of Football” kicked in: Miss a chance at one end, get punished at the other.Marcelo Diaz, dropping deep between the center backs as he always does to build play, made an ill-advised turn into the path of the lurking, ubiquitous Timo Werner. The RB Leipzig striker nicked the ball away and knocked it into space before squaring past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo for the unmarked Lars Stindl to tap it into the empty net.The classic sucker-punch. We’ve seen this script before, though rarely with Germany — they normally take the game to the opposition — as the ones who turn the run of play on its head.Low’s initial lineup, with three center-backs and Werner on his own up front with Stindl and Julian Draxler behind, was set up to both contain and attack. Before the goal, Germany had little chance to do the latter; afterward, it made more sense to sit and unleash Werner’s wheels. A mistake by Gary Medel — not dissimilar to that of Diaz — gave Leon Goretzka a shot at making it 2-0, which would have been harsh on Chile.Pizzi’s side pushed on in the second half, but Germany were all too happy to wait and pounce. Tension rose and tempers flared: Bravo clashed with, of all people, Joshua Kimmich, who got an earful from Vidal, his Bayern teammate. Kimmich had talked about how Vidal was a kind of mentor/big brother. Not during these 90 minutes, he wasn’t.Hope for a final without video replay were dashed when Werner, chasing a long ball, was whacked in the jaw by Gonzalo Jara. Referee Milorad Mazic missed the incident, but the VAR did its job in flagging it up. Mazic, following procedure in these situations, took a look at it himself but showed Jara only a yellow card.”He hit him in the face,” Low said after the match. “You expect that to be a red, no?”The German manager was right, and Mazic’s reluctance to send off Jara is sure to further inflame the replay debate. Whatever your view on VAR, it’s worth remembering that, without the guys in the booth, Jara would have got away scot-free with what he did.Still Chile pressed on, taking greater risks and inevitably conceding more at the back. Vidal skied over a great chance, and tempers flared again when, after Sanchez went down, Mazic refused to consult replays. Vargas was booked for his protests.Pizzi rolled the dice by sending on Edson Puch and Angelo Sagal. They’re not part of the Golden Generation, but they had a gilt-edged chance to become honorary lifelong members when Puch cut a ball back for Sagal in front of an empty net. In his first competitive match for his country, the striker skied over the crossbar.”One of the most difficult things to do in football is score,” Pizzi said afterward with a trace of bitterness. “That’s why strikers get paid so much money.”(It’s not necessarily cruel to point out that Sagal is not one of those strikers with the telephone-number salary.)Testament to the red fury at the end of the game — and Low’s respect for Chile’s threat — was shown by Germany’s use of two defensive substitutions: Emre Can came on for the marauding Goretzka, and the man-mountain Niklas Sule replaced Werner. Germany finished the match with four central defenders, two full-backs and two defensive midfielders.”We had to fight for every single meter of the pitch to defend our lead,” Low said later. “They are an outstanding team. But we were single-minded about this victory. And I am so, so impressed with that. We’re talking about a team with so little international experience dealing so well with the pressure, with the nerves, with a talented, experienced opponent. I am mega-proud of them.”Pizzi was proud, too, if deflated: “We knew we can compete with the very best in the world, and we showed it again today. We have to accept that luck and incidents are a part of it. We can’t complain.”Referring to the intense, high risk-high reward philosophy that has been a hallmark for Chile under his predecessor Marcelo Bielsa and Jorge Sampaoli, Pizzi added: “We know this is the way forward for us, and we’ve had confirmation of it again. We go home with no energy left, lots of glory and no trophy. That’s football.”As for Low, Germany are like those boxers with an alphabet soup of championship belts: world champions, Under-21 European champions and, now, Confederations Cup champions. And they possess an embarrassment of riches to choose from when it comes to next summer; folks will have a lot of fun speculating who in this squad will crack the 23 for the World Cup.”You shouldn’t be asking that,” Low said, stone-faced. “You should be asking which of the guys we left at home are good enough to make it into this squad.”Then he broke into a smile. He was joking. Sort of.Gabriele Marcotti is a Senior Writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Marcotti.

 

Confederations Cup verdict: Best game, players, Russia readiness, future

 

The Confederations Cup came to an end on Sunday when Germany lifted the trophy in St. Petersburg. ESPN FC writers were in Russia to follow events and we asked them for their views on the tournament.

 

What was the best game you saw?

Gab Marcotti: Australia 2-3 Germany
Early goals were followed by a strong reaction. Low’s men were relentless and there was brilliance from Draxler; it’s not often they’ll play a team with the style of Australia.

 

Mark Ogden: Germany 4-1 Mexico
Mexico believed they had a chance of defeating Joachim Low’s young team in the Sochi semifinal, but two goals inside the opening 10 minutes from Leon Goretzka delivered an emphatic signal that the Germans were on a different level. Mexico fought valiantly, but were blown away.

 

Nick Ames: Portugal 0-0 Chile (Chile won 3-0 on penalties)
It may have featured a goalless 120 minutes but it felt like a knife-edge match that would not have been out of place at the World Cup for tension and high stakes. The shootout was not quite as even but the Confederations Cup needed a game like this, where the smallest error or piece of genius could decide everything.

 

Tom Marshall: Germany 4-1 Mexico
This might have made for grim viewing from a Mexican perspective, but it was the outstanding performance of the tournament from the eventual champion and a devastating reminder of the depth of talent that Germany nation possess.

 

Who were your player(s) of the tournament?

Marcotti: Julian Draxler (Germany), Leon Goretzka (Germany), Arturo Vidal (Chile)
Draxler just shades it as the overall No. 1. Low tailor-made a role for him during the tournament and he responded with quality and maturity, despite a sub-par display in the final. Next season is absolutely huge for him.

 

Ogden: Leon Goretzka (Germany) and Claudio Bravo (Chile)
Goretzka was the emerging talent of the tournament and it is difficult to imagine the world champions returning next summer without the Schalke youngster at the heart of their team. He has pace, strength, vision, endless energy and an eye for goal. Chile goalkeeper Bravo has restored his reputation during in Russia after a disastrous first season with Manchester City. He was impressive against Australia in group play before emerging as the penalty shootout hero against

Portugal in the semifinal.

 

Ames: Arturo Vidal (Chile)
Vidal is simply a monumental presence and in no way deserved to be on the losing side in the final. Where he goes, others follow and it is hard to overstate his influence on the way Chile have played over the last half-decade. At 30 he is hardly over the hill but, nonetheless, his energy levels are remarkable. At times it felt as if he was on a single-handed mission to bring Chile the trophy.

 

Marshall: Julian Draxler (Germany)
Arturo Vidal was his usual imposing self for Chile, but it was the young Germans that set the tournament alight. Draxler was the pick, although Joshua Kimmich, Leon Goretzka and Timo Werner were almost equally superb.

 

What were your impressions of Russia as a host nation, a year out from the World Cup?

Marcotti: Organizationally and in terms of infrastructure — at least in host cities Moscow, St. Petersburg, Sochi and Kazan — everything went smoothly and there were no issues of crime, violence or racism. Things can change in 12 months and it’s a big country; who knows what it’s like in the other seven cities?

 

Ogden: Russia has exceeded expectations and dampened the fears of many by hosting a slick, well-organised tournament. From new stadia to infrastructure within cities, it has been a big fortnight for the World Cup host nation. The unpredictable weather may catch out a few fans next summer and Moscow traffic appears permanently gridlocked but, all in all, it has been a success.

 

Ames: Barring a few kinks that should be ironed out over the next 11 months, all four venues look perfectly cut out for a World Cup; the stadia are modern and well-equipped, with access reasonably straightforward, while the cities are used to hosting foreigners and the welcome was universally warm. But key to 2018’s overall success may well be venues like Saransk, Volgograd and Samara, where things are not quite as clear-cut and infrastructure for international visitors is less developed. There can be no real complaints about the last fortnight, but some question marks remain elsewhere.

 

Marshall: The host cities and their stadia are pretty much ready. Challenges remain in the further-flung venues and in base camps for teams, but the organization was generally positive. Security issues were also taken very seriously throughout the tournament; the feeling is that Russia will do everything possible to make sure the World Cup is a success.

 

Should the Confederations Cup have a future?

Marcotti: Given the scheduling for Qatar, I genuinely don’t know how they’ll be able to squeeze this in next time around. That said, it’s worth sticking with and the World Cup dry run is very important. I don’t get the animosity toward it from some, mostly of British extraction. No, it’s not the World Cup but it means a lot to the teams in it. Germany resting guys this year was unprecedented and maybe more teams will do that in the future but, frankly, I doubt it. And, if you’re going to replace it, what do you replace it with? Do you really want some kind of global Champions League redux to be played every summer?

 

Ogden: The premise of the tournament still stacks up, with the champions of each continent playing a preparatory competition in the World Cup host nation, a year from the big kickoff. For the organisers, it is an invaluable opportunity to see how things work and identify potential problems. But does the football calendar need it? Probably not. And how can FIFA stage it in Qatar in 2021 without disrupting league seasons across the globe?

 

Ames: In a sense, the farce — and that is what it became — around VAR justified this tournament’s existence. It is accepted as a testing ground for all aspects of a World Cup and, as an arena for testing new technology in relatively harmless circumstances, it could hardly have been more appropriate. On the pitch, Germany showed another way in which it can be used to develop a team; although that was not the competition’s original intention and many of the games are played at around 75 percent the intensity of World Cup fixtures. But it does no harm for a tournament’s purpose to evolve and this year’s event has presented a reasonably strong case for its continuation.

 

Marshall: That the Qatar World Cup will be held in December means organizing a Confederations Cup in 2001 is a headache. Plus, you have to factor in the rapidly shifting order in international football, with the introduction of the UEFA Nations League and the 48-team World Cup from 2026. That said, when you witness how keen the participating teams were to win in Russia, there is still merit in the tournament. It’s also a crucial test run for the organizing country.Follow @ESPNFC on Twitter to keep up with the latest football updates.

 

2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup: Your ultimate guide to North America’s tournament

July 4, 20174:45PM EDTCharles Boehm

The 14th edition of the CONCACAF Gold Cup, which crowns North America’s top national soccer team, will see regional powers and eternal rivals USA and Mexico battle for CONCACAF supremacy.  But a host of other nations will feel they are capable of springing the upset, including Costa Rica, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama and Canada. And there’s always the chance for a Cinderella run by smaller nations like Nicaragua, El Salvador, Curacao, Martinique and French Guiana.

How the tournament works: The Gold Cup field is made up of 12 teams divided into three groups of four. Each team plays the other three in their group. The top two teams from each group, along with the two best third-place teams, advance to the single-elimination quarterfinals (July 19-20), followed by the semis (July 22-23) and the tournament final (July 26). Use our 2017 Gold Cup bracket to track the tournament’s progress.

Canada

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 109
How qualified Automatic berth
Gold Cup history Appeared in 12 of 13 previous editions, withdrawing from the 1998 Gold Cup (tournament record: 15W-15L-11D). They are the only nation other than the USA and Mexico to win the title (2000).
Head coach Former MLS head coach Octavio Zambrano was recently hired on March 17, 2017. The Ecuadorean is charged with ushering in a youth movement to lead Canada into the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle.
Top 3 stars While veterans Patrice Bernier (Montreal Impact) and Marcel de Jong (Vancouver Whitecaps) may be the most recognizable faces, all eyes will be on young, exciting up-and-comers Raheem Edwards (Toronto FC), Alphonso Davies (Vancouver Whitecaps) and Anthony Jackson-Hamel (Montreal Impact).
MLS connections In addition to Zambrano’s MLS past, 17 players from the team’s 40-man preliminary roster hail from the league.
Projections The Canadians aim to send a clear message that their next generation will make them a force to be reckoned with in the region. To achieve that they’ll need to get out of Group A and impress in the quarterfinal stage.

Costa Rica

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 19
How qualified Fourth-place finishers at 2017 Copa Centroamericana
Gold Cup history Appeared in 12 of 13 previous editions; finished runners-up in 2002 (won the CONCACAF Championship, prior to Gold Cup, in 1963, 1969 and 1989).
Head coach A Costa Rican international during his playing days, Oscar Ramirez has led Los Ticos since 2015. “El Macho” has steered his country to a strong start in the final round of World Cup qualifying, where the Ticos are in second place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal.
Top 3 stars Playmaker Bryan Ruiz has starred in top European leagues for the past decade and continues to be key for Costa Rica as he approaches his 100th cap. He will be supported by crafty Portland Timbers newcomer David Guzman in midfield. Joel Campbell has struggled to break into the lineup at Arsenal, yet remains one of his country’s most talented attackers.
MLS connections Los Ticos are chock-full of current and former MLS standouts.Francisco Calvo, Johan Venegas, Rodney Wallace, Marco Ureña and Guzman are important contributors to their US clubs and key defender Giancarlo Gonzalez made it to Italy’s Serie A in part via sterling performances with Columbus Crew SC.
Projections Costa Rica are one of a select few nations who can realistically aim to break the joint US-Mexico stranglehold on the Gold Cup trophy. They’re favored to advance out of Group A and from there, anything’s possible given their quality and defensive organization.

Curaçao

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 70
How qualified The small island nation, a constituent member of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, finished as one of the Caribbean subregion’s top four teams in the Caribbean Cup.
Gold Cup history This is Curacao’s first Gold Cup; its predecessor, the Netherlands Antilles, participated in the CONCACAF Championship that preceded the Gold Cup, finishing in third place in 1963 and 1969.
Head coach Remko Bicentini took over from retired Dutch legend Patrick Kluivert last September and has already won a trophy, as Curacao triumphed at the 2017 Caribbean Cup in June.
Top 3 stars Striker Elson Hooi plays in the Danish first division and was Curacao’s Caribbean Cup hero, scoring two goals to beat Jamaica in the tournament final; midfielder Leandro Bacuna is a regular at England’s Aston Villa, and captain Cuco Martina just finished a stint at Southampton and has been linked to Everton.
MLS connections Cuco’s older brother Javier (who has also represented Curacao) played for Toronto FC in 2011, when the Reds brought in several Dutchmen during the head coaching tenure of Aron Winter.
Projections Considering that Curacao just knocked off the Reggae Boyz in the Caribbean Cup final, Jamaica had best beware of their island counterparts to the south, who could well ambush them in the pursuit of advancement out of Group C.

El Salvador

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 106
How qualified Third-place finish in the 2017 Copa Centroamericana
Gold Cup history This is the 10th appearance for Los Cuscatlecos, and they’ve gone as far as the quarterfinals on four occasions: 2002, 2003, 2011 and 2013.
Head coach The Colombian Eduardo Lara took over El Salvador last year and has Cuscatlecos supporters feeling optimistic about their prospects for advancement out of the Gold Cup group stage.
Top 3 stars San Jose’s Darwin Ceren is a pivotal central midfield presence for El Salvador, Rodolfo Zelaya is a crafty playmaker who’s been connected to MLS teams in the past and Andres Flores, who plays in the NASL for the New York Cosmos, can finish if provided with service.
MLS connections Many in this Cuscatlecos team have lived and played in the United States, and four currently do so in the US lower divisions. Gerson Mayen played for Chivas USA and Junior Burgos was on Atlanta United’s books last year.
Projections As has usually been the case in this century, El Salvador will be pronounced underdogs this summer. But with the right chemistry, some vocal support from their expatriate fans in the US and a bit of luck, they could make a run for the semifinals.

French Guiana

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: N/A
How qualified Les Yana Dòkòs (“Strong Guiana”) worked their way through the long qualifying process (it kicked off in March of 2016) for this summer’s Caribbean Cup, where they clinched a spot as one of the Caribbean subregion’s top four teams.
Gold Cup history This is French Guiana’s first time in the tournament. As an overseas department of France, the large and sparsely-populated territory perched on the corner of South America is ineligible for full FIFA competitions like the World Cup, but can take part in regional events.
Head coach French Guiana feature the relative rarity of dual head coaches: Local product Jaïr Karam and Frenchman Marie-Rose Carême. Karam has rather boldly stated that his team’s goal is a run to the Gold Cup quarterfinals.
Top 3 stars The former colony’s status as a de facto French province means that its most talented players can (and often do) play for the mother country. But France internationals of Guianese descent can also represent French Guiana. That’s how former Chelsea and Lyon star Florent Malouda, a veteran of two France World Cup teams who’s now 37 and playing in the Indian league, was able to make his French Guiana debut in the Caribbean Cup. Midfielder Ludovic Baal and striker Sloan Privat both ply their trade in France’s Ligue 1 with Rennes and Guingamp, respectively.
MLS connections Not much to report on here. For the aforementioned, French Guianese footy has always looked northeast to France, less so to MLS to the northwest.
Projections It’s hard to think of a bigger wild card than this one. Perhaps it’s worth noting that French Guiana beat Haiti to reach the Caribbean Cup, but fell to Jamaica via a penalty-kick shootout in the semifinals on June 22. Surviving the Gold Cup’s group stage would be a major achievement.

Honduras

Basics Gold Cup Group A | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 69
How qualified 2017 Copa Centroamericana winners
Gold Cup history Appeared in 12 of 13 previous editions; finished runners-up in 1991 (won the CONCACAF Championship, prior to the Gold Cup, in 1981).
Head coach Jorge Luis Pinto shot into worldwide prominence when he led Costa Rica on a Cinderella run at the 2014 World Cup. The Colombian’s subsequent move to Honduras hasn’t gone quite so swimmingly, though. “La H” sit in second-to-last place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal with a worst-in-show goal differential of -7 over six games.
Top 3 stars MLS fans will be familiar with the menace posed by the Houston Dynamo strike duo of Alberth “La Panterita” Elis and Romell “Romantico” Quioto, teammates of veteran midfielder Boniek Garcia with both club and country. But keep an eye on young attacker Anthony Lozano, who’s fresh off a promising loan stint with Spain’s Tenerife and could use a strong Gold Cup to fuel his career progress.
MLS connections Besides the Houston trio of Elis, Garcia and Quioto, FC Dallas’ Maynor Figueroa made the current Catrachos squad, along with a few former MLSers like Johnny Leveron (ex-Vancouver) and Mario Martinez (ex-Seattle).
Projections Honduras have the talent to beat just about anyone in this tournament, but the program is at a low ebb right now, with Pinto on the hot seat. Given that, any run beyond the quarterfinals would be surprising.

Jamaica

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 79
How qualified Finished as one of the Caribbean subregion’s top four teams during Caribbean Cup qualifying, advancing to the Caribbean Cup final.
Gold Cup history 2017 marks the Reggae Boyz’ 10th Gold Cup campaign; two years ago they produced their best-ever performance, finishing second behind Mexico.
Head coach A key member of Jamaica’s legendary 1998 World Cup team, Theodore “Tappa” Whitmore is in his second stint in charge of his homeland, having previously led the program from 2009-13.
Top 3 stars The Philadelphia Union’s Andre Blake is one of CONCACAF’s top goalkeepers and a linchpin for Jamaica’s hopes; Portland’s Darren Mattocks is similarly crucial to their attack and his Timbers teammate Alvas Powell is an important two-way presence at right back.
MLS connections MLS and Jamrock have a long and fruitful relationship. The league is the Reggae Boyz’ leading overseas destination and beyond those mentioned above, this squad will rely heavily on the likes of Kemar Lawrence (NY Red Bulls), Je-Vaughn Watson (New England) and other MLSers.
Projections Jamaica should finish second behind Mexico in Group C. That said, they’re as inconsistent as they are talented, and a few hiccups could leave them on an early flight home.

Martinique

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: N/A
How qualified Finished as one of the Caribbean subregion’s top four teams during Caribbean Cup qualifying, losing the third-place match to French Guiana.
Gold Cup history The French overseas department has participated in four previous editions of the tournament, highlighted by an upstart run to the quarterfinals in 2002.
Head coach Jean-Marc Civault was once again given the reins of the team last year, also juggling club duties with local sides Club Franciscain and now with Aiglon du Lamentin.
Top 3 stars Big French-born forward Yoann Arquin is well traveled after stints in England, Scotland, Turkey and Sweden, and similarly winger Johan Audel carries ample experience in major European leagues. Forward Gregory Pastel is one of the top scorers in the domestic league.
MLS connections Longtime Les Matinino striker Kevin Parsemain spent nearly a year with the Seattle Sounders, who currently have his countryman Jordy Delem on their roster; former Portland striker Frederic Piquionne represented Martinique after his international hopes with France had run their course.
Projections The French islanders are another dark horse whose true prospects are tough to gauge. But they could well grab one of Group B’s advancement slots, especially given that they’re fresh off a semifinal run at the Caribbean Cup on home soil.

Mexico

Basics Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 17
How qualified Automatic
Gold Cup history The kings of Copa Oro, El Tri have participated in every edition of the tourney and won it seven times, more than any other nation.
Head coach Former Chicago Fire and New York Red Bulls boss Juan Carlos Osorio has led Mexico to first place in the CONCACAF Hexagonal, and has suffered just two losses in more than a year and a half at the helm.
Top 3 stars El Tri‘s busy summer of qualifiers and Confederations Cup play has led Osorio to pick something less than a full-strength roster. But the domestic-based Gold Cup squad will be hungry to seize the opportunity, led by Houston Dynamo scoring machine Erick “El Cubo” Torres, Pachuca star Erick “Guti” Gutierrez and a heavy Chivas Guadalajara contingent featuring Orbelin Pineda.
MLS connections After originally being left off the roster, Houston’s “Cubo” Torres was brought in to replace the injured Alan Pulido. Goalkeeper Moises Munoz, has been a rumored MLS target and was raised in California’s Bay Area, nearly pursuing an American football career instead of soccer.
Projections Any Gold Cup Mexico doesn’t win is generally considered a failure; that said, with so much else going on for El Tri, Osorio seems to be approaching this year’s edition with an experimental air.

Nicaragua

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 100
How qualified Defeated Haiti in a playoff between the Caribbean zone’s fifth-place team and the Central American zone fifth-place team.
Gold Cup history One of Central America’s traditional underdogs and a country where baseball has historically been as popular as soccer, Los Pinoleros have only made it to this event once before, in 2009, when they didn’t make it out of the group stage.
Head coach Well-traveled Costa Rican Henry Duarte has led Nicaragua since 2014.
Top 3 stars Defender Josue Quijano and midfielder Marlon Lopez are two of the most experienced players on a Pinoleros squad based almost entirely in the domestic league, mainly at Real Esteli. But striker Juan Barrera, the first Nicaraguan to gain opportunities in Europe and hat-trick hero of their playoff win over Haiti, is probably the top talent on this squad.
MLS connections Surprisingly scant, aside from a few MLS clubs meeting Real Esteli in CONCACAF Champions League over the years, most recently when the Nicaraguan side gave FC Dallas a tough test in last year’s CCL group stage.
Projections With little in the way of pedigree or experience, hard work, discipline and unity will be key if Los Pinoleros are to beat the odds and make something memorable of this rare Gold Cup trip.

Panama

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 59
How qualified 2017 Copa Centroamericana runners-up
Gold Cup history 2017 marks Panama’s eighth Gold Cup; after qualifying just once over its first seven editions, Los Canaleros finished second in the 2005 tournament and have taken part in every one since.
Head coach Hernan Dario Gomez, better known as El Bolillo to many, is a Colombian whose resume includes stints in charge of Colombia, Ecuador, Guatemala and several Colombian clubs; named CONCACAF Male Coach of the Year in 2015.
Top 3 stars The San Jose Earthquakes’ Anibal Godoy will be a key cog in central midfield alongside onetime Philadelphia Union signing Gabriel Gomez, while former Colorado Rapid Gabriel Torres, now playing in Switzerland, is the most experienced striker on the roster.
MLS connections Beyond the MLSers, current and former, mentioned above, the Canaleros will also look to NYCFC’s Antonio Camargo, the Red Bulls’ Michael Murillo and Toronto FC’s Armando Cooper.
Projections Panama are strong favorites to advance out of Group B along with the US. Depending on their scoring efficiency and the luck of the knockout-round draw, they could easily match 2015’s run to the semifinals.

 

United States

Basics Gold Cup Group B | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 23
How qualified Automatic berth
Gold Cup history The Yanks have used the relatively new tournament in their backyard to signal their modern climb in international soccer, winning the event in 1991, 2002, 2005, 2007 and 2013 and reaching the final on four other occasions (1993, 1998, 2009, 2011). The fourth-place finish in the 2015 edition ranks as one of the USMNT’s lowlights, though.
Head coach Bruce Arena is half a year into his second stint at the US helm, having led the Yanks from 1998 to 2006. During his first term he lifted the Gold Cup trophy in 2002 and 2005; this time around the event ranks a distant second behind 2018 World Cup qualification.
Top 3 stars Freshly arrived at his new club in Atlanta, goalkeeper Brad Guzan brings veteran experience and leadership to a group that needs it, as does midfielder Alejandro Bedoya. And this tournament could well mark a true breakout moment in Kellyn Acosta’s international career.
MLS connections Myriad. All but seven members of the Gold Cup roster ply their trade in the domestic league, while three of those foreign-based players (Omar Gonzalez, Jorge Villafana and Matt Miazga) made their names in MLS.
Projections The Yanks enter every Gold Cup with the aim of winning it and this year is no exception. That said, Arena has made clear that World Cup qualification is the top priority and his roster choices reflect that this event is an audition for many players.

 

 

2017 Gold Cup: Group B Preview

Daniel Karell,NBC Sports 19 hours ago

With the 2017 Gold Cup just two days away, it’s time to take a closer look at this year’s participants.Group B includes one of the tournament favorites, the U.S. Men’s National Team, along with Panama, Martinique and Nicaragua.Here’s what you need to know ahead of the start of the tournament:

Group B

United States

How it qualified: Automatic qualification as tournament hosts.

FIFA ranking: 23

Star player: Omar Gonzalez – While Bruce Arena is resting the European-based players and some of the veteran starters for the USMNT, Omar Gonzalez comes off a terrific season with Pachuca as well as strong performances with the USMNT in World Cup qualifying to help lead the U.S. at the 2017 Gold Cup.

One to watch: Kellyn Acosta – This may be obvious, especially after his goal against Ghana and his performance alongside Michael Bradley at Mexico in the Estadio Azteca, but Acosta has a chance to have a breakout summer with the national team and solidify his place in the starting lineup for the 2018 World Cup. Another to keep an eye on is 21-year-old centerback Matt Miazga.

Manager: Bruce Arena – Back for his second time in charge, Arena is set to test the U.S. depth in the first tournament of his second spell with U.S. Soccer.

Chance of winning group: 75% – The U.S. should easily finish in the top two of the group and if it defeats Panama in the USMNT’s opening match on June 8, the schedule sets up well for the U.S. to cruise to win the group.

Panama

How it qualified: Runners-up at the 2017 Copa Centroamericana.

FIFA ranking: 59

Star player: Anibal Godoy – The holding midfielder has been a real boost to the San Jose Earthquakes since signing in MLS in 2015. He’s scored five goals in 48 games and is difficult to play through in the center of the park.

One to watch: Ismael Diaz – The 20-year-old forward impressed European scouts enough at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup (as an 18-year-old) to earn a move to FC Porto, where he’s spent the last two seasons playing for the reserve squad. While he could be changing clubs this summer, the Gold Cup is a great opportunity for him to prove himself against top regional competition.

Manager: Hernan Dario Gomez – El Bolillo has been in charge of Panama since 2014, shortly after the nation missed out on qualifying for the 2014 World Cup. Gomez has only lost two games in the past 8 months, including a pair of draws against Mexico and the U.S.

Chance of winning group: 15% – It all depends on the opener against the USMNT. If Panama can pull out an unexpected win as well as take care of business against Martinique and Nicaragua, it will win the group.

Martinique

How it qualified: Fourth place at the 2017 Caribbean Cup

FIFA ranking: Not a member of FIFA

Star player: Kévin Parsemain – The veteran striker has scored boatloads of goals for the French overseas territory, and even spent a season with the Seattle Sounders, though he missed nearly the entire campaign with a torn ACL.

One to watch: Jordy Delem – The current Seattle Sounder has looked strong and pacey down the right side of the field for the club. He spent the 2016 season with Sounders 2 before making the jump to MLS this season.

Manager: Louis Marianne. The veteran Frenchman is back in charge of Les Matinino. Fun fact. Former USMNT defender David Regis, a native of Martinique, is the general manager of the national team.

Chance of winning group: 5% – Martinique’s inexperienced squad at this level should keep them from advancing, but we’ve seen surprises before and perhaps they can stun the U.S. or Panama.

Nicaragua

How it qualified: won a two-game playoff, 4-3 on aggregate over Haiti in a battle between the fifth-place teams from the 2017 Caribbean Cup and the 2017 Copa Centroamericana.

FIFA ranking: 100

Star player:  Juan Barrera – The 28-year-old winger, who in 2015 became the first Nicaraguan-born player to sign for a European club, has had a long and illustrious career with the national team and is leading La Azul y Blanco to the Gold Cup for the first time since 2009.

One to watch: Daniel Cadena – Cadena is a Spanish-born midfielder who currently plays in Iceland and played for a time as a youngster for Real Betis.

Manager: Henry Duarte – The veteran Costa Rican has been Nicaragua manager since December 2014 and by qualifying for the 2017 Gold Cup, he’s led the nation to just its second regional tournament.

Chances of winning group: 5% – Like Martinique, Nicaragua’s overall inexperience at the international level should make for easy wins for the U.S. and Panama, but perhaps Juan Barrera and co. and produce a national moment folks will talk about for years to come.

Dom Dwyer, Kelyn Rowe debut well in U.S. friendly win over Ghana

In what was unmistakably a friendly with low stakes, the United States warmed up their engines for the Gold Cup with a 2-1 result against a second string Ghana side in Connecticut.

 

Positives

Facing Ghana’s B team fresh off a friendly against Mexico on Wednesday, the intensity of the game was never going to be high. Still, the Americans played some bright, technical soccer that should encourage Bruce Arena moving into the Gold Cup next week. The midfield worked well together, creating several good chances. Dom Dwyer’s debut resulted in his first USMNT goal, adding an extra feel-good element to the win. Kelyn Rowe was good in his first cap, as was Kenny Saief in a substitute role.

 

Negatives

Aside from a drop in energy in the second half and giving away the foul that led to Asamoah Gyan’s free kick goal, it’s difficult to find too many negatives from the American performance. Dwyer’s finishing was just good enough to help get the win, but the game might have been a more comprehensive victory if there was just a bit more sharpness in the attacking third. Set piece defending is still an issue.

 

Manager rating

7 — It’s tough to pin down how to rate Arena because of the friendly nature of the game and the fresh-faced nature of his roster. His starting lineup played relatively well together after an opening-minute mistake. Ball movement was good, and an understanding in the midfield developed quickly. Arena waited longer than expected to use any substitutions but may have planned that pattern specifically due to the upcoming Gold Cup opener.

 

Player ratings (1-10, with 10 the best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Brad Guzan, 8.5 — Saved Gyan’s penalty to help the U.S. maintain their first-half lead. Looked confident and came off his line to good effect.

DF Graham Zusi, 7 — Acquitted himself well defensively and helped in possession. Got forwarded a few times as part of overlapping runs.

DF Matt Besler, 7 — Wasn’t asked to do much in the first half. Played his position well to help put out a few fires in the last 45.

DF Matt Hedges, 7 — Slow to adjust to the way the referee was calling the match. Pressed high and helped slow the Ghanaians down in the middle of the field.

DF Jorge Villafana, 6.5 — Mixed day. Pressed well to win the ball and set up Dwyer’s opener, then gave away a penalty in the dying moments of the first half. Defended well beyond that mistake.

MF Kelyn Rowe, 7.5 — Strong showing in his debut for the national team. Played several clever one-touch passes in the first half. Far from perfect, but set himself up for minutes in the Gold Cup.

MF Kellyn Acosta, 9 — Scored the free kick goal that proved to be the winner, but it was the rest of his day that should excite fans. Displayed his passing ability while working out a relationship with Dax McCarty in midfield.

MF Dax McCarty, 8 — Needed some time to work out the positional relationship with Acosta, but settled in nicely. Marshalled the American lines and played his usual heady passing game.

MF Joe Corona, 8 — Best when drifting into wide areas but did set up an excellent chance for Dwyer in the first half that should have resulted in a red card for Ghana. Good on the ball.

MF Paul Arriola, 6 — Had some bright moments in the second half but struggled to find the game for the first 45 minutes. Did not pop up in any dangerous areas when the U.S. was dominating proceedings.

FW Dom Dwyer, 8 — The newly minted American scored in his debut and harried the Ghanaian back line all afternoon. Wasted a few chances but otherwise was the presence up top Arena wanted.

Substitutes

MF Gyasi Zardes, NR — Missed a chance to play a switch into space and was too often flustered on the ball. Looked out of sync with his teammates.

MF Kenny Saief, NR — Charged around the field in his USMNT debut, showing the industry that earned him a call-up. Set the stage for an intriguing Gold Cup.

MF Alejandro Bedoya, NR — Popped up on the back post for Jordan Morris’ cross but couldn’t beat the Ghana keeper. Covered well defensively as the game became stretched.

FW Jordan Morris, NR — Pressed the Ghanaian defense and provided an excellent left-footed cross — to the surprise of many — that nearly resulted in a goal.

DF Omar Gonzalez, NR — Made a cameo appearance with time running out after Jorge Villafana went down with a cramp.Jason Davis covers Major League Soccer and the United States national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @davisjsn.

 

Chicago grabs the top spot in the MLS rankings as Toronto falters in Texas

After threatening to grab the top spot for weeks, the Fire finally do the deed and move to No. 1.

  1. Chicago Fire(+1): The Fire jump to the top spot after a comprehensive 4-0 win over the Whitecaps, and will be crossing their fingers that Bastian Schweinsteiger’s injury is minor.
  2. Toronto FC(-2): The Reds looked flat in a 3-1 road loss to FC Dallas, finally showing the fatigue that comes with a packed schedule.
  3. New York City FC(+2): Everything was good in NYCFC’s 3-1 win over Minnesota — except for the injury to Ronald Matarrita that will keep him out for an extended period.
  4. FC Dallas(+1): Without their leader in the midfield and their best defender, FC Dallas handled the TFC 3-1 at Toyota Field. Something to build on.
  5. Sporting Kansas City(-2): The man with the most circuitous homegrown story in the league, Daniel Salloi, scored his first MLS goal to help Sporting salvage a 1-1 draw with Portland.
  6. Atlanta United(no change): Perhaps the most impressive thing in Atlanta’s inaugural season so far is their away record. A 2-0 win in Columbus gives them three away victories in 2017.
  7. San Jose Earthquakes(+5): Another dramatic win in the Cali Clasico thanks to — who else? — Chris Wondolowski starts the Chris Leitch era off with an important win.
  8. Columbus Crew SC(no change): It was simple stuff that beat the Crew SC defense in their 2-0 loss to Atlanta. Again, Jonathan Mensah was a liability.
  9. Houston Dynamo(-1): Still no away win for the Dynamo in 2017 after a 3-1 loss in Colorado. To be fair, they were missing several players due to Gold Cup preparations.
  10. LA Galaxy(+3): As if it wasn’t bad enough that LA fell to the Quakes 2-1 via a goal in the dying moments, Jelle van Damme will miss a game after a silly post-match red card.
  11. Orlando City SC(-2): Former RSL man Will Johnson did the honors in a 1-0 away win in Utah. Breaking the four-game losing streak had to feel good for a beleaguered Lions side.
  12. New York Red Bulls(-2): A bye gives the Red Bulls a chance to lick their wounds after a disappointing New York derby match last weekend. Next up: a home affair against the Revs on Wednesday.
  13. Portland Timbers(-2): A 1-1 draw in Kansas City is a respectable result, but they’ll feel they dropped points thanks to a missed penalty.
  14. Philadelphia Union(+2):  Even without Alejandro Bedoya, the Union pressed their advantage in a 3-0 win over New England. After a three-game skid, Philly has now won two in a row.
  15. Seattle Sounders(-1): A bye for the Sounders gives Brian Schmetzer a chance to reconfigure his team ahead of a Tuesday date in Colorado.

Indy Eleven Goalkeeper Jon Busch Named NASL Player of the Week

Six saves from the veteran goalkeeper help Indy earn 2-1 win in North Carolina

Published Jun 27, 2017

NEW YORK (June 27, 2017) – Jon Busch has turned in some incredible goalkeeping performances over the course of his 21-year professional career, and Saturday’s win over North Carolina FC was no exception. The Indy Eleven goalkeeper was named North American Soccer League (NASL) Player of the Week on Tuesday thanks to his six-save outing at WakeMed Soccer Park in Week 14.The 40-year-old veteran shook off North Carolina’s early goal, which was unlucky from a goalkeeping point of view, to lead the Boys in Blue to a 2-1 win on the road. Busch made six saves in the game, including an incredible double-save to thwart Billy Schuler and Saeed Robinson in the 61st minute. The victory was Indy’s second straight, and both of them came against North Carolina. The club is now just two points shy of fifth-place North Carolina with three games to play in the Spring Season. While Indy doesn’t have a shot at the Spring Season title, which the club took home last year, Tim Hankinson’s side can put itself in a good position going into the Fall Season when the Combined Standings begin to come into play.Busch has had an exceptional two weeks as well. The Queens, N.Y., native has only conceded once in his last two games, coming up with 11 saves in the process.Now third in the league in saves, Busch signed with Indy prior to the 2016 season. In his first year with the club, he reached The Championship Final, where Indy fell on penalty kicks. Since joining the Boys in Blue, Busch has started 41 league games.Before signing with Indy, Busch spent 14 seasons in MLS with the Columbus Crew, Chicago Fire, and San Jose Earthquakes. He played in the A-League prior to that, suiting up for the Worcester Wildfire, Carolina Dynamo, Hampton Roads Mariners, and Hershey Wildcats.

RECAP | Indy Eleven Draws One-All with New York Cosmos on Independence Day Clash

First half goal by Ben Speas canceled out by late second half penalty to tie honors even at MCU Park  Published Jul 4, 2017

 

INDIANAPOLIS (July 4, 2017) – An entertaining bout between Indy Eleven and the New York Cosmos wrapped up with both sides taking home a point at MCU Park.Indy got the match going quickly with a scoring chance inside the first two minutes for midfielder Don Smart. With forward Eamon Zayed streaking down the left, the Irishman stopped on a dime to lift a ball towards Smart at the back post. However, as the ball missed the head of a Cosmos defender, Smart miscued his shot and the chance went wide.After continual pressing, though, Indy would open the scoring just after the opening half hour thanks to midfielder Ben Speas. Pushing up the right side once again, defender Marco Franco threaded the needle for one of the newer “Boys In Blue,” and a clever touch from Speas allowed him to slot the ball between Cosmos’ ‘keeper Jimmy Maurer’s legs for the first goal of the night. For Speas, it was his third goal of the year, putting him level with Eamon Zayed for second on the team scoring charts, and the second assist in as many weeks for defender Marco Franco.The best chance of the opening half for the hosts came in the 40th minute through the captain Ayoze. With enough real estate in front of him, the defender stepped up and ripped a shot at Indy ‘keeper Jon Busch, who was able to corral the ball after making one of his eight saves on the night, an individual game record.The second half saw the Cosmos press higher up the pitch on the Indy goal, and after creating a few chances they earned another solid look in the 60th minute. Forward Emmanuel Ledesma was in a similar position as his teammate Ayoze when taking a drive at Busch’s goal, except this time the ‘netminder could only watch as Ledesma’s bullet landed just wide of the far post. Two minutes later, Indy would get their best chance of the second half as Smart settled a ball for Justin Braun. Though Cosmos defender Ryan Richter would head the chance clear, Indy defender Nemanja Vukovic followed up on the half-volley only for the shot to settle wide.Drama ensued in the 86th minute when Indy Eleven defender Colin Falvey came together with Ledesma in the penalty area, which resulted in the head official pointing directly to the spot. Stepping up, Ledesma beat Busch to Busch’s left into the side-netting and the Cosmos were able to pull one back for the draw.Indy Eleven will return home to IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium to face the New York Cosmos on Saturday, July 8 at 7:30 P.M. ET. Tickets for the game – and all remaining 10+ NASL matches at “The Mike” in 2017 – can be purchased for as little as $11 online at www.IndyEleven.com or by phone at 317-685-1100.
NASL Spring Season
New York Cosmos 1 : 1 Indy Eleven
Saturday, July 4, 2017
MCU Park – Brooklyn, NY

Scoring Summary:
IND – Ben Speas (Marco Franco) 33’
NYC – Emmanuel Ledesma 86’

 

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

 

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