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 !!
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
US Has Rare Chance in Gold Cup Final – no Mexico – SI Brian Straus
MLS + Indy 11
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
last week: 7
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
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?
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