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.
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
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 Camps – July 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.
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 –
Confed Cup + World
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 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.
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 Wiebe, Arielle Castillo, Nicholas Rosano, Ben Couch and Benjamin Baer, and Contributors Charles Boehm, Franco 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
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.
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.
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Basics||Gold Cup Group C | Gold Cup Roster | FIFA ranking: 17|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
IND – Ben Speas (Marco Franco) 33’
NYC – Emmanuel Ledesma 86’
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