8/25/17 Indy 11 Sat 7:30 host Jax, US Pulisic stays hot, Rooney scores 200th EPL Goal, MLS Rivalry Weekend, US WCQ Next Weekend

Dortmund and US international Christian Pulisic’s play this weekend landed him in the top 10 players of the weekend list after leading Dortmund with its first goal of the season and a pinpoint assist in their win this past weekend.  Pulisic will lead Dortmund vs Hertha FC Sat at 12:30 on Fox Sport 1.  Neyar was brilliant in his PSG home debut netting 2 goals and 2 assist.  Interesting draw for Champions League Group Play in a few weeks as 2-time defending champs Real Madrid draw Dortmund and Tottenham in the toughest group (Group H) – the English teams overall should feel pretty good however.  (full draw below).  Of course everyone expected Renaldo would win Player of the Year in Champ League, and Man U’s Pogba wins it for the Europa League.

In the EPL Wayne Rooney continues his scoring ways as his goal at Man City was his 200th EPL goal making him just the 2nd player to ever break 200 (behind Alan Shearer).  I think more importantly his 2 goals this season have been vital – the game winner at home and the initial goal vs City that helped them earn the draw.  (Sad to see him hang up the boots for England however.)  Everton leads off a big Sunday of games as they will travel to Chelsea at 8:30 am on NBCSN, followed by match of the week Liverpool vs Arsenal at 11 am same station. (Don’t forget despite NBCSN only showing us 1 game per time slot now you can see all the highlights of the Sat games on Sun @ 7 am or so before the 8:30 am game.)

US forward Clint Dempsey is warming up just in time for the US Qualifiers next weekend as he had the winning goal on Sunday for Seattle.  It’s rivalry weekend MLS style as Friday night the NY Red Bulls host NYCFC 7pm on ESPN and Sunday Montreal host top ranked Toronto FC 4:30 on ESPN and the Seattle Sounders will host Portland at 9:30 pm on FS1.

Your Indy 11 return home Saturday night vs Jacksonville 7:30 pm at the MIKE off an impressive 3-3 tie of the NY Cosmos.  Its College Night and admission is just $5 with a college id.  The “Boys in Blue” look to stay hot after wins over New York and Jacksonville to end the Spring Season, and a win over FC Edmonton to open the fall campaign at “The Mike.”  Of course after this weekend of play – World Cup Qualification around the world kicks off next Thurs-Tues with the US looking solidify its spot for Russia with a home win vs Costa Rica Fri night, 7 pm on ESPN,  and at least a tie at Honduras the following Tues 5:30 pm on beIN Sport.  (see TV Schedule below)

GAMES ON TV  

Fri, Aug 25

2:30 pm FS2                   Koln vs Hamburger (Bobby Wood)

7 pm ESPN                                               NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC

Sat, Aug 26                    

7:30 am NBCSN            Bournemouth  vs Man City

9:30 am Fox Sport 2 B Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim

9:30 am FS2                    Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

10 am NBCSN                 New Castle United vs West Ham

12:30 pm NBC      Man United vs Leicester City

12:30 pm FS1       Borrusia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Hertha BSC 

4 pm Lifetime               Seattle Riegn vs Portland Thorns (Women’s League)

7:30 pm My Indy TV  Indy 11 vs Jax Armada

Sun, Aug 27

8:30 am NBCSN   Chelsea vs Everton 

9:30 am FS1                    RB Leipzig vs Freiburg

11 am NBCSN         Liverpool vs Arsenal

12noon  FS2                   Hanover vs Schalke

4:30 pm ESPN                Montreal vs Toronto

9:30 pm Fox Sport 1                Seattle vs Portland (Cascadia Cup)

Thurs, Aug 31       World Cup Qualifying Break

2:45 pm FS2                   Bulgaria vs Sweden

2:45 pm FS1                   Portugal vs Faro Islands

2:45 pm Fox soccer+                       Belgium vs Gibraltar

2:45 pm Watch ESPN                       France vs Netherlands

6:30 pm beIN Sport  Chile vs Paraguay

Fri, Sept 1              World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm FS1                   Czech Republic vs Germany

2:45 pm FS2                   Denmark vs Poland

7 pm ESPN      USA vs Costa Rica

9:30 pm Fox Sport2  Mexico vs Panama

Sat, Sept 2                       World Cup Qualifying

12 noon Fox Sport 2                         Georgia vs Ireland

2:45 pm FS2         Spain vs Italy        

7:30 pm My Indy TV  Indy 11 vs San Fran (beIN Sport too)

Sun, Sept 3                     World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sport 2                         Hungary vs Portugal

2:45 pm Fox Soccer  France vs Luxenbuorg

Sun, Sept 4                     World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                         England vs Slovakia

2:45 pm Fox Sport 2                         Northern Ireland vs Czech Republic

2:45 pm Fox Soccer  Poland vs Kazakahstan

Tues, Sept 5          World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm Fox Sport 1                         Italy vs Israel

2:45 pm Fox Sport 2                         Iceland vs Ukraine

2:45 pm Fox Sport 2                         Hungary vs Portugal

5:30 pm beIN Sport Honduras vs USA

7:30 pm beIN Sport  Venezuela vs Argentina

10 pm beIN Sport       Costa Rica vs Mexico

Fri, Sept 8

2:30 pm FS2                   Hamburger (Bobby Wood) vs RB Leipzig

Tues, Sept 19

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1  USA Ladies team vs New Zealand (at Cincy tix Avail)

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

EPL 2017 Schedule

USA

 

Predicting the Roster for US Qualifiers – Greg Selzer MLS.com

Defensive Questions Abound – Charles Boehm US Soccer Players

Yanks (who’s up and who’s down) – Pulisic + George off to a Fast Start in Germany

US Goalies Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid hope to be in Russia -ESPNFC

Spurs Loan US Cameron Carter Vickers to Sheffield United

Register to Win FREE USA Women vs New Zealand Tickets in Cincy

US Ladies National Team host New Zealand on Tues Night 7:30 pm Sept 19 at Nippert Stadium in Cinncinatti.

WORLD 

Champions League Group Stage Draw is Made

Top Teams Mostly happy with UCL Draw

Real Madrid Set to Win Again – ESPNFC

Top 10 Player Performances of the Weekend – Pulisic #8 – ESPNFC

Highlights for the Weekend overseas  SI

Neymar scores 2 goals, 2 assists in home debut for PSG

Should Dortmund Striker Aubameyang stay or Go?  SI

How World Cup Qualifying Works

EPL

What to Watch For – this Weekend Arsenal vs Liverpool leads the pack

Rooney becomes 2nd Player to Net 200 Goals in EPL

Rooney announces Retirement from International Play for England

Don’t Drop Rashford for Martial – Neville says ESPNFC

Liverpool Serious Threat in Champions League –EPSN FC David Usher

Zlatan Returns to Man United

Zlatan offers Experience and GOALS for United – Andy Mitten

MLS

MLS – Best Fan Cities Are

Cascadia Cup standings with Portland vs Seattle this weekend

Howard sad to see Pablo Go

Orlando’s Suspended Kaka watches game from “The Wall”

Kaka blown away by Visit to the Wall

Toronto Rocks Fire in battle of Shield Combandants

NYCFC David Villa recalled to Spain Duty

GOALIES

MLS Save of the Week

Top Saves of the Week EPL Week 2

US Goalies Sean Johnson and Bill Hamid hope to be in Russia -ESPNFC

Indy 11

3 Things 3 / 3 Tie with Cosmos

Recap 3-3 vs Cosmos

Indy 11 Mexican Start Torrado NASL Player of Week at 2 goals

College Night – $5 admission Aug 26 vs Jax Armada

New Indy 11 TV Schedule for Fall

Seltzer: Predicting the US roster for September’s World Cup qualifiers

August 24, 20173:27PM EDTGreg SeltzerContributor MLS.com

The penultimate pair of CONCACAF Hexagonal World Cup qualifiers is right around the corner for Bruce Arena and the US men’s national team, making it time once again to dig up the roster selection crystal ball. This doubleheader will see Costa Rica visit Red Bull Arena a week from Friday (6:30 pm ET; ESPN, UniMás, UDN) before the USMNT heads down to Honduras the following Tuesday, Sept. 6 (5:30 pm ET; beIN SPORTS).   With second-place Costa Rica and fourth-place Panama each facing the daunting prospect of dropped points against Mexico in this round, Arena will insist on no mistakes in his team’s effort to close on a ticket to Russia for next summer’s World Cup. If the US can sweep all six September points, it’s quite possible they’d be set up to clinch their World Cup 2018 place with a game to spare by beating Panama in Orlando on Oct. 6. As such, don’t expect much in the way of surprises from Arena for this roster. Even with a few starters out or doubtful, the squad should lean heavily on known quantities.

Goalkeepers

Brad Guzan, Ethan Horvath, Tim Howard

Everyone knows Guzan and Howard are shoo-ins for selection, with the Colorado Rapids veteran seemingly the starter. The third pick likely comes down to Bill HamidSean Johnson and Ethan Horvath. We’ll give this nod to the 22-year-old Horvath, who is coming off a big week at Club Brugge that saw him shut out AEK Athens in Europa League qualification play before making several big stops in their weekend league victory.

Defenders

DaMarcus BeasleyMatt Besler, Geoff Cameron, Omar Gonzalez, Eric Lichaj, Tim Ream, Jorge Villafana, Graham Zusi

Injuries have done a number on the projected starting backline, with John Brooks and DeAndre Yedlin currently in their clubs’ recovery bay. Cameron will retain his place in the heart of defense, with Besler and Gonzalez battling to partner him. It appears as though Zusi will step up to work right back, while one would imagine Villafana keep his left back spot despite being rendered a Santos Laguna back-up – for now, anyway – thanks to his late arrival to the Liga MX club following the Gold Cup.The forced roster shuffle will presumably open a spot in central defense for Ream. Even though Timothy Chandler has enjoyed a solid start to his Eintracht Frankfurt campaign, we’ll go with Lichaj to fill out the right back position. As he was during the last round of qualifiers, Beasley should be around to start the road contest.

Midfielders

Kellyn AcostaPaul ArriolaAlejandro BedoyaMichael BradleyDax McCartyDarlington Nagbe, Christian Pulisic, Gyasi Zardes

Most of the center midfielders are no-brainers. Bradley and Pulisic are locks to start, while Nagbe can’t be far behind them in that regard. Arriola and Bedoya provide adequate depth and fill a role, and Acosta should be around for more seasoning despite a so-so Gold Cup.As with the defense, the midfield crew is a bit hobbled. Having missed Borussia Monchengladbach’s league opener last week and being out for full training until Thursday, Fabian Johnson is in doubt for the weekend. If he can go at Augsburg on Saturday, Arena may well call him up and bump Zardes (who probably makes a FabJo-less squad with Kelyn Rowe now injured) off the squad.

Forwards

Jozy AltidoreClint DempseyJordan Morris, Bobby Wood

There shouldn’t be much debate over the forward stable, if any at all. The most experienced quartet are all available, and should easily beat out the likes of Dom Dwyer and CJ Sapong. Altidore possesses the most complete game in the striker corps, Dempsey is at least a super-sub and Wood is a defense-stretching finisher.  Morris, who has four goals in his last nine games for club and country, offers the home-run option out wide.

US – Pulisic, George start fast in Germany; Dwyer’s goal drought continues

ith the European leagues now in full swing, decision time looms for United States head coach Bruce Arena ahead of the September World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica and Honduras.

Heating up:

Christian Pulisic, MF, Borussia Dortmund (Bundesliga)

Why he’s here: Pulisic was fantastic for Borussia Dortmund in Saturday’s 3-0 win at Wolfsburg, producing a goal and an assist.

What this means: After scoring against Bayern Munich in the German Super Cup and then opening his 2017-18 Bundesliga account on Saturday, you get the sense that this could be a breakout season for Pulisic, especially if Ousmane Dembele leaves for Barcelona. The 18-year-old should be brimming with confidence when he takes the field against the Ticos in less than two weeks.

Geoff Cameron, DF, Stoke City (Premier League)

Why he’s here: Cameron put in another 90-minute effort on the left side of the Potters’ three-man defense in Saturday’s 1-0 win over Arsenal.

What this means: Cameron will once again be counted on to lead the U.S. back line. If anything was gleaned from the Gold Cup, it was that the U.S. defense is not nearly as solid without Cameron. Even with injuries to John Brooks, Omar Gonzalez and DeAndre Yedlin, Cameron’s presence at center-back should provide enough stability for the Yanks.

Jann George, FW, Jahn Regensburg (2. Bundesliga)

Why he’s here: George scored a pair of second half goals in six minutes to lead 2. Bundesliga side Jahn Regensburg to a 4-2 victory versus Ingolstadt. The performance earned the German-American forward a spot on kicker’2. Bundesliga Team of the Week.

What this means: With three goals in three games thus far, George is quickly starting to generate some attention. A call-up would be his first with the senior team (he previously received an Under-23 call), but Arena is likely to go with players who are more familiar to him, especially for a crucial World Cup qualifier. Still, George is one to watch over the coming months.

Teal Bunbury, FW, New England Revolution (MLS)

Why he’s here: Bunbury scored the New England Revolution’s lone goal in Sunday’s 2-1 loss to New York City FC.

What this means: Bunbury has quietly become one of the hottest players in MLS, scoring five goals in his last six games. It’s been more than five years since Bunbury made his last USMNT appearance, so he probably still has some distance to make up in the forward pool, but with the likes of Gyasi Zardes and Dom Dwyer struggling, Bunbury’s form cannot be ignored.

 Cooling off:

Danny Williams, MF, Huddersfield Town (Premier League)

Why he’s here: Williams was an unused substitute in Huddersfield Town’s 1-0 win versus Newcastle.

What this means: After a very good season with Reading in 2016-17, the midfielder was a surprise exclusion from Arena’s Gold Cup squad, so his chances of a call for the September qualifiers are already slim. Add to the fact that Philip Billing and Aaron Mooy are preferred in the Huddersfield midfield right now, Williams’ playing time will probably come from the bench, which doesn’t bode well for his immediate USMNT prospects.

Dom Dwyer, FW, Orlando City (MLS)

Why he’s here: Dwyer came off the bench in the 63rd minute but was unable to spark Orlando City to victory against 10-man Columbus in Saturday’s 1-1 draw.

What this means: Dwyer’s scoring slump in MLS now stands at nine games, having not scored since May 3. The former Sporting KC man is likely on the bubble for Costa Rica and Honduras. Dwyer did score in the friendly win versus Ghana and then against Panama in the Gold Cup earlier this summer, but with the full senior team back in tow, his goalless drought in MLS could be the deciding factor in staying home.

Omar Gonzalez, DF, Pachuca (Liga MX)

Why he’s here: Gonzalez missed Pachuca’s 2-1 win at Morelia on Friday with an injury.

What this means: Gonzalez has not played since an Aug. 9 Copa MX game, putting into jeopardy his chances of returning for next month’s qualifiers. Arena cannot afford to risk playing a center-back that’s not 100 percent. Might be best to keep Gonzalez at home for now and allow him to recover.

Sean Johnson, GK, New York City FC (MLS)

Why he’s here: Johnson’s committed a howler in New York City FC’s 2-1 win over New England on Sunday.

What this means: Johnson has had a good season this year in Gotham, but these kind of mistakes, just cannot happen at the national team level. It might cost Johnson his spot as the third ‘keeper.Arch Bell covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC.

Champions League group stage draw 2017-18

Champions League holders Real Madrid will face Borussia Dortmund and Tottenham in a difficult group following the draw ceremony in Monaco on Thursday. Barcelona did not get an easy pass either, as they were drawn against Juventus, Olympiakos, Sporting CP in Group D.

Manchester United received a simpler task after being draw with Benfica, FC Basel and CSKA Moscow in Group A, while Manchester City will face Shakhtar Donetsk, Napoli and Feyenoord in in Group F.

Teams were drawn into eight groups of four. Clubs from the same national association — as well as Russian and Ukrainian clubs — could not be drawn together. The first group games will be played on Sept. 12-13.

Group A: Benfica, Manchester United, FC Basel, CSKA Moscow.

Group B: Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Anderlecht, Celtic.

Group C: Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Roma, FK Qarabag.

Group D: Juventus, Barcelona, Olympiakos, Sporting CP.

Group E: Spartak Moscow, Sevilla, Liverpool, NK Maribor.

Group F: Shakhtar Donetsk, Manchester City, Napoli, Feyenoord.

Group G: Monaco, FC Porto, Besiktas, RB Leipzig.

Group H: Real Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Tottenham, APOEL Nicosia.

 Wayne Rooney’s 200 Premier League goals for Everton, Manchester United

Wayne Rooney scored his 200th Premier League goal on Monday night when he netted for Everton in their 1-1 draw at Manchester City.The 31-year-old became only the second player to reach the milestone after Alan Shearer, who is the competition’s top scorer with 260 goals.Rooney’s landmark came at the start of his second spell at boyhood club Everton, for whom he made his debut at the age of 16. He was 16 years and 360 days old when he netted his first Premier League goal in October 2002 to help Everton beat Arsenal, making him the youngest Premier League goal scorer at the time.The forward left Goodison Park for Manchester United in 2004 for £25 million, the highest fee paid for a teenager at the time. During his 13 years at Old Trafford he won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, one FA Cup, one Champions League, one Europa League and one FIFA Club World Cup before returning to Everton.  Here are the key numbers, facts and stats around Rooney 200 Premier League goals.

HOW MANY HE’S SCORED

Total Premier League games: 462

Total Premier League goals: 200

Goals for Everton: 17 goals

Goal for Manchester United: 183 — the most in the Premier League by any player for one single club.

Highest tally of Premier League goals in one season: 27 (2011-12)

Lowest tally of Premier League goals in one season: 5 (2016-17)

HOW HE SCORED THEM

Right Foot: 153

Left Foot: 26

Headers: 21

Inside the box: 173

Outside the box: 27

Direct free kicks: 7

Penalties: 20

WHO HE SCORED AGAINST

14 goals: Newcastle

13: Aston Villa

11: Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United

10: Fulham, Portsmouth

9: Bolton Wanderers, Manchester City

Only Shearer has double-figure goal tallies against more Premier League opponents — 12, to Rooney’s seven.

Rooney has scored Premier League goals against 35 different opponents in all.

WHERE HE SCORED THEM

Old Trafford: 101

Goodison Park: 11

St James’ Park: 8

Upton Park: 7

White Hart Lane: 7

PREMIER LEAGUE ALL-TIME TOP SCORERS (* = still active)

1: Alan Shearer (Blackburn, Newcastle) — 260

2: Wayne Rooney (Everton, Manchester United) — 200*

3: Andrew Cole (Newcastle, Manchester United, Blackburn, Fulham, Manchester City, Portsmouth) — 187

4: Frank Lampard (West Ham, Chelsea, Manchester City) — 177

5: Thierry Henry (Arsenal) — 175

6: Robbie Fowler (Liverpool, Leeds, Manchester City) — 163

7: Jermain Defoe (West Ham, Tottenham, Portsmouth, Sunderland, Bournemouth) — 158*

8: Michael Owen (Liverpool, Newcastle, Manchester United, Stoke) — 150

9: Les Ferdinand (QPR, Newcastle, Tottenham, West Ham, Leicester, Bolton) — 149

10: Teddy Sheringham (Nottingham Forest, Tottenham, Manchester United, Portsmouth, West Ham) 146

Neymar dominates Toulouse to top first Player Power Rankings of 2017-18

ESPN FC’s worldwide editorial desks nominate their top performers from the weekend’s action, and the results are collated into a top 10. This is Player Power Rankings.

1. Neymar | Paris Saint-Germain

Why he’s here: Neymar scored two, assisted on another two and dazzled the crowd in his Parc des Princes debut, a 6-2 win over Toulouse.

2. Marcos Alonso | Chelsea

Why he’s here: Why he’s here: Alonso’s stunning free kick and a last-gasp goal earned Chelsea all three points in a 3-2 victory over Tottenham at Wembley.

3. Paul Pogba | Manchester United

Why he’s here: Pogba scored one and assisted on another in an impressive display in midfield as Manchester United beat Swansea 4-0.

4. Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez

Why he’s here: Chicharito scored both the Hammers’ goals, but they still fell 3-2 to Southampton at St Mary’s on Saturday.

5. Mauro Icardi | Inter Milan

Why he’s here: Icardi scored from the penalty spot and struck again nine minutes later to secure Inter a 3-0 win vs. Fiorentina on Sunday.

6. Cristhian Stuani | Girona

Why he’s here: Why he’s here: Stuani scored both of newly promoted Girona’s goals as they held on for a 2-2 draw vs. Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

7. Gareth Bale | Real Madrid

Why he’s here: Why he’s here: Bale opened the scoring before adding an assist to his tally as Madrid defeated Deportivo La Coruna 3-0 on Sunday.

8. Christian Pulisic | Borussia Dortmund

Why he’s here: Pulisic registered a goal and an assist as Dortmund beat Wolfsburg 3-0 at the Volkswagen Arena on Saturday.

9. Malcom | Bordeaux

Why he’s here: Malcom scored a pair of goals as Bordeaux fought for a 3-3 draw at Lyon on Saturday.

10. Patrick Cutrone | AC Milan

Why he’s here: Cutrone scored one goal and assisted on another as Milan defeated Crotone 3-0 at the Stadio Ezio Scida on Sunday.Also receiving votes: Jonas (Benfica), Lionel Messi (Barcelona), Vincent Aboubakar (Porto), Keylor Navas (Real Madrid).

Will Liverpool or Arsenal get a much-needed boost this weekend?

W2W4 previews the weekend’s Premier League action and highlights five key storylines.

Liverpool and Arsenal share similar problems

There are definite parallels between Liverpool and Arsenal, who meet at Anfield on Sunday. For a start, both clubs remain troubled by an unsettled star. Philippe Coutinho now appears set to stay on Merseyside, with blame for his links to Barcelona being placed at the feet of his advisers and the Catalan giants, though further twists cannot be ruled out before the transfer window closes on Thursday. Manager Jurgen Klopp had “nothing to say” on the subject after Wednesday’s 4-2 victory over Hoffenheim booked Liverpool into the Champions League group stage, while multiple reports suggest Coutinho has not yet given up on playing at the Camp Nou.Similar mixed signals surround Alexis Sanchez. A late bid from Manchester City, or even increasingly desperate Barcelona, may still be in the offing. According to manager Arsene Wenger, Sanchez is “ready” to face Liverpool. That’s after Klopp said this week that Coutinho was “ill” after the muscle complaint that has precluded his involvement so far.Beyond those players, both teams share the obvious defensive frailties. Arsenal lost 1-0 to Stoke last week after Jese’s winner, a result of dozy, lax play. Meanwhile Liverpool remain vulnerable to crosses but did manage to withstand Crystal Palace and Christian Benteke in last week’s 1-0 win.Like last week’s showdown between Tottenham and Chelsea, this match comes too early to predict Liverpool and Arsenal’s destinies but while a title or Champions League qualification cannot be secured in August, it can come close to being surrendered.

Mourinho on the march

So far, Jose Mourinho’s team are following his title-winning blueprint. A pair of 4-0 victories have seen Manchester United blaze from the blocks, just like Chelsea did in 2004-05, 2005-06 and 2014-15. United brim with the power that Mourinho’s trio of champions did; Romelu Lukaku is in a scoring form that will not hasten the return of re-signed Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Paul Pogba bursts with skill and invention.Pogba embodies something else. For perhaps the first time in the four long years since Sir Alex Ferguson departed, United seem confident and comfortable within themselves. They are visibly enjoying their football, playing without the crippling anxiety that sunk David Moyes, Louis van Gaal and seemed to envelop Mourinho during last season’s Premier League struggles.At this point, a note of caution should be sounded. United won their opening four league matches of last season and have beaten only West Ham and Swansea, two teams who look headed for the dumper. There does, though, seem something different about United. If they breeze past a tricky Leicester team who have begun the season brightly, having scored five goals in their two matches, then United might be the real deal.

 Pep’s patience being tested

Pep Guardiola is still not finding things easy. On Monday, he employed deep sarcasm after Manchester City’s 1-1 draw with Everton. In Manchester, dry cynicism is the overriding brand of humour; perhaps Guardiola has just been assimilating some local culture, but there was definite venom in the applause he aimed at match officials. He could not conceal his anger with Kyle Walker’s second booking after a clash with Dominic Calvert-Lewin, and was perhaps even less enamoured by failing to win the first home game of the season.Guardiola will also have been aware that Everton’s lead came from a move that exploited one of his tactical flights of fancy, using Leroy Sane as left wing-back. He lost the ball, and Calvert-Lewin surged into that sector to lay Wayne Rooney his goal on a plate.Everton were determined not to let City have their own way and such resistance appears problematic for Pep. For all the attacking riches his team possesses, there has been a lack of fluidity so far. Perhaps Saturday opponents, Bournemouth, a team with which Eddie Howe will always try to attack, might be more accommodating, but over-complication might well stop the preseason favourites and biggest spenders from reaching their potential.

Crisis? What crisis?

Last week, this column along with many others was discussing the latest decline and fall of Roman Abramovich’s Chelsea empire. Then came Sunday at Wembley and a match-winning double from Marcos Alonso in a 2-1 defeat of Tottenham. There was irony in that, since Alonso would surely have been on the bench had Antonio Conte got his wish and Juventus’ Alex Sandro been signed from Juventus.Transfers (or a lack of them) have been central to the turmoil, but once Conte could concentrate on what he is best at, he was able to put Tottenham in a tactical squeeze with a most Serie A-style selection of three defensively minded central midfielders in N’Golo Kante, David Luiz and Tiemoue Bakayoko.On Saturday, Everton present a different challenge, with Rooney and Calvert-Lewin leading the line in front of a well-drilled, experienced defence and a hardworking midfield where Idrissa Gueye provides the lung power and discipline. If Chelsea defeat them, such talk of crisis can finally be decommissioned. Perhaps Conte is not having a “Mourinho 2015-16 season” after all.

Zeroes to heroes?

Talking of potential crises, there remain five teams on zero points at the bottom of the Premier League. Entering a two-week international break with nothing from three matches would be damaging to morale, which means each of Bournemouth, Newcastle, Brighton, Crystal Palace and West Ham should be desperate to claim something this weekend.Newcastle vs. the Hammers is Saturday’s battle of the pointless. With Rafa Benitez at loggerheads with owner Mike Ashley and Slaven Bilic under pressure, there is the added spice of two managers fighting for their futures.John Brewin is a staff writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JohnBrewinESPN.

 Spurs to loan U.S.’s Cameron Carter-Vickers to Sheffield United – sources

United States youth international Cameron Carter-Vickers is set to join Championship club Sheffield United on a season-long loan, sources have told ESPN FC.Carter-Vickers, 19, made four appearances in the domestic cups last season but he is yet to feature in the Premier League for Spurs.Last season, Mauricio Pochettino said Carter-Vickers could become “one of the best centre-backs in England” and the Spurs manager has generally been reluctant to send the most promising young players at the club on loan. But this summer has marked a change in approach and Carter-Vickers’ move to the Championship comes after Joshua Onomah joined Aston Villa on loan earlier this month.Carter-Vickers — who could be recalled by Spurs in January — earned a first senior call-up to the U.S. squad in November last year but did not feature in the World Cup qualifiers against Costa Rica or Mexico. He has been a regular for his country at Under-20 and U23 levels.Sheffield United have started the season with wins and two defeats from four matches in the second tier, and their manager Chris Wilder has used a 3-4-3 system, similar to the one favoured by Pochettino.Spurs have already signed centre-back Davinson Sanchez for a club-record £36.5 million, while sources have told ESPN FC that they are closing in on the signing of Argentina Under-20 centre-back Juan Foyth.Dan is ESPN FC’s Tottenham correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Dan_KP.

 Michael Bradley says TFC “wanted to send a message” about Shield ambitions

August 19, 201711:53PM EDTJeff KrauseContributor

Before Saturday night’s contest against league-leading Toronto FC, the Chicago Fire had not lost a game in Toyota Park this season. Despite strong support from the home crowd, the Fire were unable to keep that streak alive, falling 3-1 to the Supporters’ Shieldleaders in a game that could serve to be a playoff preview in a few short months.The Fire have struggled in recent weeks, dropping four of their last five coming into Saturday’s match. Struggling form on the road had been contrasted by domination at home, however. The Fire entered the game against TFC with a home record of 10-0-1, netting 12 goals in their previous three home wins. For head coach Veljko Paunovic, the effort Saturday night simply wasn’t good enough for a team that has been so dominant in front of their home fans.”We will always look to give our best and give our supporters the best possible soccer,” Paunovic said after Saturday’s loss. “Overall we didn’t play the way we are used to. But as I said, we are a good team and we are committed to turn this back around and bring the team where it was just a month ago.”Even if the loss came to the league leaders, the Fire players reiterated their belief in their own abilities.”The fans were behind us, but we just didn’t do enough to win the game,” Fire forward David Accam said. “We know we are a good team, so we’ll go back to work and come back stronger next match.”Toronto FC head coach Greg Vanney echoed the importance of the game at this point in the season, and the possible preview of a matchup in the playoffs.”They’re a tough team. I thought tonight was maybe one of three games [for us] this year that had kind of a playoff feel to it. We knew it was an important game, and it was a really important game for them because of the stretch of games and results that they’ve been on. We knew they were relying on three points, and so we knew this was going to be a tough day.”Was it an important game for Toronto FC? They had it circled on their calendars.”This is a game we’ve been looking forward to for a long time,” Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley told MLSsoccer.com. “Obviously in a long season it’s natural that you look at certain games as important ones in your season, and tonight was certainly one of those. They’ve let a few points get away from them in the last few weeks so in the end the gap is a little bit bigger, but nonetheless there was a lot riding on this one.”They had not lost [at home] this season up until tonight,” Bradley said. “We wanted to send out a message across the league that said the Supporters’ Shield means a lot to us, and we’re giving everything we have to win it.”

Three Things – #NYCvIND

Takeaways from a six-goal thriller at MCU ParrkPublished Aug 21, 2017

“EL BORREGO” NOTCHES TWO

In a night of shining performances, no one’s heroics stood out more than midfielder Gerardo Torrado’s, opening his account NASL play. Not only did the Mexican National Team legend scoring his first goal since joining the club last June, but notched his first brace, as well. Moreover, Torrado is now the second Indy Eleven player to score two goals in the same game so far in 2017; forward Justin Braun being the other after scoring two in Indy’s 3-3 draw against Puerto Rico FC on April 1.

The first of Torrado’s two goals came early in the 10th minute. After earning a corner kick, midfielder Don Smart sent a charged pass from the corner flag towards Torrado at the top left of the Cosmos’ 18-yard box. After a few quick touches, Torrado slammed the ball from the top left corner of the box into the upper right corner of the goal, which led him to wheel away in celebration with his teammates.Minutes later, Torrado found another opportunity as the Cruz Azul legend slotted in his second goal on the night. In the 14th minute, Eleven forward David Goldsmith charged into the right side of the Cosmos’ box unopposed. From there, Goldsmith sent the ball to forward Eamon Zayed in the center of the box to avoid an oncoming Cosmos defender. With an intelligent touch, Zayed retained possession before passing towards the top of the box as multiple Cosmos defenders closed in. With the ball unattended, Torrado seized the moment once more and drove the ball center and into the back of the net.Although the night ended in a draw, both goals from Torrado and a goal from forward Eamon Zayed tied Indy for the third-highest scoring club in the NASL with 28 goals. While among the top scorers, “Indiana’s Team” currently trails behind the New York Cosmos’ 30 goals and Miami FC’s staggering 41 goals.

WELCOME BACK, JUSTIN BRAUN

It was a night of firsts for the “Boys in White”, which included the return of forward Justin Braun. In the 72nd minute, Braun returned to action after coming on as a substitution for forward David Goldsmith. Despite only spending 18 minutes on the pitch, Braun’s effort didn’t go unnoticed. During his short stint in the match, the forward managed to win every tackle and every duel he was involved in.Saturday marked the first time Braun played since Indy’s 2-0 victory over Jacksonville Armada FC on July 15th before sustaining a minor injury during training. With minutes now in hand, it will only be a matter of time before Braun makes a full return to the starting XI.

CLOSE CALLS       

A 3-3 tie is definitely an intense situation no matter how one views it. Though the game ended in a draw, there were still several moments in which the scales could have tipped one way or the other with additional goals left unanswered.The first close call of the evening goes to the New York Cosmos when in the 18th minute, midfielder Andres Flores made an attempt in the center of Indy’s box after finding himself on the receiving end of a cross. The ball looked as though it was heading into the back net before taking a hard deflection off of the left post, leaving Flores to agonize over what could have been.Next close call came in Indy’s favor early into the second half. In the 55th minute, midfielder Don Smart received the ball from midfielder Ben Speas in the center of the Cosmos’ box. With no defenders around, Smart had the time to collect his thoughts and fire his shot. The ball went flying towards the bottom center of the crossbar, but a leaping push upwards from Cosmos goalkeeper Jimmy Maurer kept Indy from distancing their lead.In the 75th minute, the Cosmos came knocking again when defender Jimmy Mulligan fed the ball from the near right post to the center of the Eleven’s where Flores came charging in for a strike. A swift hit from Flores almost found the bottom right corner of Indy’s goal, but quick reflexes from goalkeeper Jon Busch kept forced the ball out and Indy in the lead for just a little longer.Be sure to catch all the action this Saturday, August 26th at 7:30 p.m. as the “Boys in Blue” return home to square up against Jacksonville Armada FC. There’s still plenty of time to get your tickets for as low as $11.

Indy Eleven Midfielder Gerardo Torrado Named NASL Player of the Week

Mexican icon scores first two NASL goals in entertaining 3-3 draw in New York   Published Aug 21, 2017

NEW YORK (August 21, 2017) – Former Mexican national team star Gerardo Torrado scored his first two North American Soccer League (NASL) goals in the span of four minutes to help Indy Eleven earn a point on the road against the New York Cosmos on Saturday night. The veteran midfielder’s role in the thrilling 3-3 draw has earned him NASL Player of the Week honors, the league announced Monday.Torrado, who is tied for second all-time in appearances (146) for El Tri, opened the scoring on Saturday night with a beautiful curled effort in the 10th minute. The goal was Torrado’s first in 32 career appearances for Indy, and miraculously, he wasn’t done.Just four minutes after putting the Boys in Blue up 1-0, Torrado fired home his second goal. Forward Eamon Zayed laid the ball off for the Mexico City native, who blasted a shot past a helpless Jimmy Maurer to double Indy’s lead.Not known for finding the back of the net, Torrado’s two-goal shift helped Indy grind out a point against a tough Cosmos side. The 38-year-old midfielder is known more for his passing and defensive capabilities, only scoring 12 league goals during his 11-year stay with Liga Bancomer MX side Cruz Azul.

Torrado’s pair of goals was just the start of a wild game at MCU Park in Brooklyn. Goals from New York’s Dejan Jakovic and Pablo Vranjican brought the score level, and after Zayed put Indy back ahead, Cosmos midfielder Juan Guerra made the score 3-3 late in the game with a header from 10 yards out. One of Mexico’s most iconic players in recent years, Torrado joined Indy last summer after a memorable career at Cruz Azul. Since joining the NASL side, the 5-foot-8 midfielder has been a fixture in the club’s midfield.  Torrado began his career in Mexico with UNAM Pumas before eventually moving to Spain. From 2000-2005, he played for four Spanish clubs: Tenerife, Poli Ejido, Sevilla, and Racing Santander. Upon returning to Mexico, Torrado started his long stay at Cruz Azul, appearing in 325 league games for La Maquina.  Indy now returns home after Saturday’s draw in New York to welcome Jacksonville Armada FC to Carroll Stadium. The clash is set for 7:30 p.m. ET on Saturday night and the game can be seen live on ESPN3 (U.S.) and NASL.com (Canada and rest of the world).

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8/18/17  EPL Week 2, German, Spanish, Italian Leagues Previews-Start Sat, Indy 11 at NY Cosmos Sat, CHS Girls Pack the House Night Tonite

The German Bundesliga, Spanish La Liga and Italian Serie A all get underway this weekend (see season previews in World below). I will have the DVR rolling Sat am on Fox Sports 1 at 9:30 am for Wolfsburg vs Dortmund with US young star Christian Pulisic slated to start after scoring a goal vs Bayern Munich in the German Supercup.  Real Madrid disposed of Barca Wed 3-1 on aggregate to win the Spanish Super Cup though Real’s Christiano Renaldo lost his appeal and will serve a 5 game suspension for pushing a ref. The 2nd yellow for diving in the box was a HORRIBLE call but Renaldo has to know he can’t touch the ref – even though is was a weak little push. Should be an interesting season as always in La Liga.  By the way to watch La Liga and Serie A and France Legue 1 your best bet is beIN Sport for Sat/Sun afternoon games, the German Bundelisga is of course on Fox Sports 1 & 2 and Fox Soccer and sometimes on GoalTV. (See full TV game schedule below – this is where I give you a cheat-sheet on the games on TV, where and when they are on and I try to bold the big games)

So the EPL got off to a hot start last weekend and Arsenal scored 2 goals in the last few minutes to shock Leicester City and Man U looked like a real contender with the addition of a solid #6 DM Matic to that midfield freeing up Pogba to create.  Some big games this weekend include Liverpool fresh off their impressive 2-1 Champ League win hosting Crystal Palace Sat at 10 am again without Coutino. On NBCSN has Man U at Swansea at 7:30 am Sat and New Castle United at 8:30 am Sunday hosting Huddlesfield Town, a surprising 3-0 opening weekend winner with former US Player David Wagner as Manager. The bigger games of course have Stoke City and US international Stoke City hosting Arsenal (without Sanchez again) on Sat at 12:30 pm on NBC and Tottenham hosting Chelsea (recovering from their openning day embarrasment) at 11 am on Sun on NBCSN, and Monday afternoon’s big Everton vs Man City match-up again on NBCSN at 3 pm.

Sad to see Cinncinatti FC lost a heartbreaker 3-2 in the US Open Cup vs the NY Red Bulls on Tues night. The Orange and Blue clad Cincy had a 2-0 lead early on but gave up 3 unanswered ending the dream of a non MLS team in the US Open Finals.  The NY Red Bulls will travel to Sporting KC in the finals Sept 20 9 pm on ESPN2.

Locally behind two goals from Griffin Dorsey and another from Timmy Mehl, No. 7 Indiana beats No. 9 Louisville, 3-2 at an exhibition match at Grand Park on Thurs evening.  Indiana U will return to the Indy area when they travel to Butler on Wed, Oct 18.  The Indy 11 will play at the NY Cosmos this Sat night at 7:30 on beIN Sport and myindyTV before returning home for Student night ($5 tix for college students) next Sat vs Jax.

The Carmel High Schools girls ranked 26th in the US will be hosting Pack the House Night tonite at home vs Geurin Catholic.  JV starts at 5 pm and Varsity at 7 pm admission is just $5!  Plenty of former Carmel FC players on the rosters!  Good luck to those Carmel FC teams traveling to Pikefest this weekend!

GAMES ON TV  

Fri, Aug 18

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1                         Bayern Munich vs Bayern Leverkusen

7 pm Fox Sport1          Portland Timbers vs NY Red Bulls

Sat, Aug 19     German Bundesliga/La Liga/Serie A Start

7:30 am NBCSN            Swansea vs Man United

9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Wolfsburg vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

9:30 am FS2                    Hoffenheim vs Werder Bremen

10 am NBCSN                 Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

12 noon beIN Sport  Juve vs Cagliari

12:30 pm              NBC        Stoke City (Cameron) vs Arsenal

12:30 pm FS1                Schalke vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm Lifetime       North Carolina vs Washington Spirit (Women’s League)

7:30 pm bein Sport My Indy TV  NY Cosmos vs Indy 11

Sun, Aug 20

8:30 am NBCSN            New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Huddlesfield Town

9:30 am FS1                    Freiburg vs Frankfurt

11 am NBCSN         Tottenham vs Chelsea

12noon FS1                     Borussia M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Koln

2:15 pm beIN Sport  Barcelona vs Real Betis

4 pm  beIN Sport?     Deportivo vs Real Madrid

9:30 pm FS1                   Seattle vs Min United

Mon, Aug 21

3 pm NBCSN          Man City vs Everton

Wed, Aug 23

2:45 pm FS1         Liverpool vs Hoffenheim 2-1 (Champions League)

Fri, Aug 25

2:30 pm FS2                   Koln vs Hamburger (Bobby Wood)

7 pm ESPN                                               NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC

Sat, Aug 26                    

7:30 am NBCSN            Bournemouth  vs Man City

9:30 am Fox Sport 2 B Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim

9:30 am FS2                    Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

10 am NBCSN                 ???

12:30 pm NBC      Man United vs Leicester City

12:30 pm FS1       Borrusia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Hertha BSC 

4 pm Lifetime               Seattle Riegn vs Portland Thorns (Women’s League)

7:30 pm My Indy TV  Indy 11 vs Jax Armada

Sun, Aug 27

8:30 am NBCSN   Chelsea vs Everton  

9:30 am FS1                    RB Leipzig vs Freiburg

11 am NBCSN         Liverpool vs Arsenal

12noon  FS2                   Hanover vs Schalke

4:30 pm ESPN                Montreal vs Toronto

Thurs, Aug 31       World Cup Qualifying Break

2:45 pm FS2                   Bulgaria vs Sweden

2:45 pm FS1                   Portugal vs Faro Islands

2:45 pm Fox soccer+                       Belgium vs Gibraltar

2:45 pm Watch ESPN                       France vs Netherlands

6:30 pm beIN Sport  Chile vs Paraguay

Fri, Sept 1              World Cup Qualifying

2:45 pm FS1                   Czech Republic vs Germany

2:45 pm FS2                   Denmark vs Poland

7 pm ESPN      USA vs Costa Rica

9:30 pm Fox Sport2  Mexico vs Panama

Tues, Sept 5          World Cup Qualifying

5:30 pm beIN Sport Hondoras vs USA

Tues, Sept 19

7:30 pm Fox Sport 1  USA Ladies team vs New Zealand (at Cincy tix Avail)

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

EPL 2017 Schedule

Local

CHS Girls host Pack the House Night – this Friday night 8/18 JV 5 pm and V at 7 pm vs Guerin Catholic

High School Girls – Carmel in Sectional of Death in 3A – Indy Star

Nice story from last year – featuring Carmel High Coach – Frank Dixon

WORLD

Euro Weekend in the Big Leagues

Serie A Preview Philly Times

Bundesliga Preview ESPNFC

La Liga Spanish Preview ESPNFC

Serie A Preview ESPNFC – Horncastle

Real Madrid well ahead of Barca as Laliga kicksoff

Suerez out 1 month for Barca

EPL

How Jose found perfect midfield partner for Man United’s Pogba – Matic

Real trying 1 last time to grab DeGea from Man U

US

Indy makes first cut of 44 Cities to Host World Cup in 2026

US Defensive Depth to be tested  Matt Doyle  MLS.com

John Brooks to Miss 3 month after injury

Pulisic not considering any transfers until after World Cup at earliest Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic happy at Dortmund not looking to move ESPNFC

US Players in Germany

US Who’s Hot, Who’s Not

US 18 YO Youth player Weston McKennie starts for Germany’s Schalke

Register to Win FREE USA Women vs New Zealand Tickets in Cincy

US Ladies National Team hosting New Zealand on Tues Night 7:30 pm Sept 19 at Nippert Stadium in Cinncinatti. 

GOALIES

Saves of Week 1 – English Premier League

MLS Save of the Week

Goalie Motivational Video 3 min

MLS

FC Cincy had Red Bulls on the Ropes in US Open Cup – Brian Straus SI

Game Highlights FC Cincy vs Red Bulls Tues – 3-2 loss

MLS Power Rankings

MLS Weekend that was

Colorado fires Pablo Mastroeni as coach – Matt Doyle MLS.com

Indy 11

NY Cosmos Preview

Indy 11 lose at Miami FC 3-1

College Night – $5 admission Aug 26 vs Jax Armada

New Indy 11 TV Schedule for Fall

 Armchair Analyst: Defensive depth set to be tested – again – for USMNT

August 17, 20171:18PM EDT

Matthew DoyleSenior WriterHere is the little bit of good news: DeAndre Yedlin is back in training for Newcastle United. He missed the newly promoted EPL team’s first game of the season with a hamstring injury picked up at the end of last month, and there was legit worry it would keep him out until the beginning of September.The very beginning of September, of course, is when the next pair of World Cup qualifiers will be played for the USMNT. On September 1 they host Costa Rica at Red Bull Arena, and on September 5 they’ll go down to Honduras to face los Catrachos. They are big games.Now, there is no guarantee that Yedlin will be back. He’s probably not going to play this weekend for Newcastle, and he’s likely to be less than 90 minutes fit next weekend. But the possibility of him being available to Bruce Arena for one or both of next month’s WCQs, either as a starter as a sub, is now on the table in a way it didn’t seem to be a week ago.This is, as I said at the top, good news. Yedlin is the unquestioned first choice at RB, and while there is depth behind him – Graham Zusi has been reliable, Eric Lichaj is an experienced pro, and Timmy Chandler is playing well for Frankfurt (though that’s a tune we’ve heard whistled one too many times – none is anywhere close to Yedlin as a two-way presence. Elsewhere, the news is not so good. John Brooks was subbed off 37 minutes into his Wolfsburg debut after tearing tendons in his right thigh. Brooks, like Yedlin, is a write-his-name-in-pen starter for the US. Unlike Yedlin, his injury is not short-term:

So now, two weeks before the games kick off, Bruce Arena has to figure out a big, glaring roster issue. As I see it he has three options to pair in with Geoff Cameron (guaranteed starter, so long as he’s healthy) in the middle of the back four in place of Brooks:

Matt Besler (44 caps): The 30-year-old is probably the favorite to get the job, provided he stays healthy. Besler’s had another excellent season for Sporting, and marshals what is by far the league’s best defense – they’ve conceded just 19 times through 24 games. He’s also got plenty of experience playing in these types of pressure-filled games, be they in qualifying or the World Cup itself.Besler played a key role in this summer’s Gold Cup triumph as well, starting five games in central defense. That included a 2-0 shutout of Costa Rica in the semifinals.

Tim Ream (25 caps): Back in March, when the US faced a similar injury crisis following Brooks’ injury in the 6-0 home win over Honduras, Arena decided to go with Ream as the fill-in for the next game.

That turned into a 1-1 draw at Panama, and choosing Ream over Besler was understandable given that Ream was fully fit and sharp (Fulham were in the middle of their season while Besler’s year was just beginning). Ream struggled a little bit on the day – nobody for the USMNT was good in Panama City save for Christian Pulisic – but I don’t think starting him was the wrong call.It wouldn’t be the wrong call here, either, as Ream’s started the Championship season in fine form for the Cottagers. They’ve allowed just two goals in three games with him at left center back for the full 270 minutes thus far, and he’ll have two more to play before camp starts. Rust shouldn’t be much of an issue even if it’s not precisely mid-season for Fulham. Bear in mind that Arena seems to trust Ream more than Jurgen Klinsmann did. But at the same time, bear in mind Ream’s history of struggling against CONCACAF opponents.

Omar Gonzalez (45 caps): Gonzalez is also dinged up – he picked up a knock in a Copa MX game about a week ago and hasn’t dressed for Pachuca since (I haven’t been able to track down exactly what the injury is, or how long he’ll be out, but he’s not listed on the most recent injury reports). Omar partnered Besler for the majority of the Gold Cup, starting six of seven games and adding a couple of goals. He’s more of a threat to score off of set pieces than either of the guys above him on this list, and he and Arena go back a decade. They’ve won a lot of stuff together.But Omar’s not a natural left center back. He’s very right-footed, which limits his ability to spread the field and play out of the back, which could invite some pretty dangerous pressure from the Ticos and/or Catrachos. Given that and his injury situation, this is probably a long-shot solution.

  • Best Guess:It’ll be Besler paired with Cameron for the first game in a reprise of what we saw in the 2014 World Cup. I actually like this pairing quite a bit, as Besler’s natural tendency to drop (and his sweeper-like ability to read the game from those situations) melds nicely with Cameron’s more aggressive, front-foot defending. And both guys can pass the hell out of the ball, which matters quite a bit as possession has become a weapon under Arena. For the second game, at Honduras, I suspect there’ll be a certain amount of squad rotation. That could include central defense or – if they play well enough against Costa Rica – maybe not.

One more thing: Presumed starting LB Jorge Villafaña has yet to play for Santos Laguna during the Apertura. Like Besler and Gonzalez he was a starter for the US in the Gold Cup win, but he seems to have lost his club role to 18-year-old Gerardo Arteaga.This is not insignificant. Villafaña has been legitimately good for the US, and Arena didn’t hesitate to throw him into the fire back in March against Honduras despite the fact that Villafaña had, at that point, just 90 league minutes since the end of September. It is nonetheless far from an ideal situation.If Arena decides Villafaña can’t go, the presumed LB fill-ins:

  • DaMarcus Beasley(125 caps): Once more unto the breach, dear friends…
  • Justin Morrow(3 caps): I thought he was better than adequate in the Gold Cup.
  • Fabian Johnson(56 caps): Arena has been determined to use him as a midfielder thus far, but there’s no question he can play LB in games like these.
  • Lichaj(13 caps): Wasn’t great at the Gold Cup, has started the Championship season on the bench and is a natural right-footer, but has played quite a bit of LB over the years.
  • Ream: This feels like a break-in-case-of-emergency solution.

My best guess is that we’ll see Villafaña start against Costa Rica regardless of whether he’s played for Santos between now and then, and then we’ll get one more grind-it-out-on-the-road Beasley performance at Honduras.

Dempsey, Morrow push for starting spots vs. Costa Rica, Brooks injured

World Cup qualifying resumes in just over two weeks, so there are not many chances left to impress U.S. head coach Bruce Arena ahead of the critical clash against Costa Rica on Sept. 1.

Heating up:

Clint Dempsey, FW, Seattle Sounders (MLS)

Why he’s here: Dempsey’s goal in Seattle’s 1-0 win over Sporting Kansas City was his sixth in five games with the Sounders, giving him 50 goals with the team.What this means: After being used as a super sub during the Gold Cup, Arena has to decide whether Dempsey starts against the Ticos. The Texan has scored in each of his last four official matches against Costa Rica, and combined with his current form it would stand to reason that Arena moves Dempsey into a starting role for the upcoming qualifier.

 

Tim Ream, DF, Fulham (EFL Championship)

Why he’s here: Ream began the 2017-18 season in England on the right foot, with another excellent outing in the Cottagers’ 1-1 draw at Reading, earning EFL Team of the Week honors.What this means: This has to be a relief for Arena to see Ream start the season so well, especially with fellow center-backs John Brooks and Omar Gonzalez sustaining injuries. At this rate, Ream is a pretty solid lock to start against Costa Rica.

Justin Morrow, DF, Toronto FC (MLS)

Why he’s here: Morrow was one of the driving forces behind Toronto FC’s sparkling second half in the 4-1 win over Portland, scoring a pair of goals.What this means: Morrow is making the battle at left-back very interesting. Arena has preferred Jorge

Villafana thus far, but Morrow’s recent play and Villafana’s lack of playing time at Santos Laguna (see below) will make for some healthy competition.

Timothy Chandler, DF, Eintracht Frankfurt (Bundesliga)

Why he’s here: Chandler put in a 90-minute shift and scored the opening goal in a 3-0 cup win over fourth-division TuS Erndtebrueck in which Eintracht Frankfurt played with 10 men for the final 70 minutes.What this means: Chandler’s good start and DeAndre Yedlin’s hamstring injury could well pave the way for the 27-year-old to get a call. Whether he starts is another matter. Chandler has struggled against CONCACAF opponents, so he may well find himself on the bench watching Graham Zusi start against the Ticos.

 Cooling off:

John Brooks, DF, Wolfsburg (Bundesliga)

Why he’s here: As mentioned above, just 37 minutes into his first competitive match with new club Wolfsburg, Brooks was forced off with a thigh injury.What this means: With his status for the Bundesliga opener this weekend already in doubt, it might make more sense for Arena to let Brooks rest over the international break. With the season just a week old, this has to be incredibly frustrating for Brooks, who battled injuries last campaign as well.

Gyasi Zardes, FW, Los Angeles Galaxy (MLS)

Why he’s here: Zardes’ scoring struggles continued in Saturday’s 2-0 loss to New York City FC, as he failed to convert a number of clear-cut chances.What this means: Now goalless in 15 games this season, Zardes is all out of sorts. He is a favorite of Arena’s and played in the Gold Cup final as a substitute, but it is hard seeing Zardes getting a call from his former club coach. There are too many others in the forward pool — Jozy Altidore, Bobby Wood, Dom Dwyer — who are in better form right now.

Julian Green, FW, Stuttgart (Bundesliga)

Why he’s here: Green was named to the matchday 18 but did not play in Stuttgart’s cup tie with Energie Cottbus, which Stuttgart won on penalties.What this means: This is an inauspicious start to 2017-18 for Green. The former Bayern Munich man is already a long way from returning to the national team, and judging by his appearances off the bench during the summer friendlies, he is likely to remain in the role of substitute with the newly-promoted side. He’ll need to make the most of any minutes coming his way this fall.

Jorge Villafana, DF, Santos Laguna (Liga MX)

Why he’s here: Villafana was unused substitute in Santos Laguna’s 3-2 home loss to Veracruz.What this means: Villafana has yet to play for Santos since returning from Gold Cup duty on Aug. 1. The left-back fell out of favor late last season and things look to have continued into the current Mexican Apertura. Still, Villafana played well at the Gold Cup and should retain his starting spot, but he should also be aware that the Justin Morrows and Greg Garzas of the world covet his place.Arch Bell covers CONCACAF for ESPN FC. 

Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic rejects Liverpool rumours

U.S. international Christian Pulisic has said he is happy at Borussia Dortmund amid renewed rumours he could join Liverpool.Following his breakthrough season at Dortmund, Pulisic has once again been linked with Liverpool, who made an attempt to sign the winger last year. However, Pulisic — who signed a new contract in January — has said he has no intention of leaving the Westfalenstadion at this stage.Asked about the Liverpool speculation, the 18-year-old told Sport Bild: “Yes, I have read that as well. What can I say? I’m focused on the start of the season.”I’ll lay it on the line for you: I am not thinking about changing clubs. After all, I only signed a new deal through to 2020 in January. I am very happy at Dortmund.”Pulisic played in 43 competitive games for Dortmund last season, scoring five goals and providing 13 assists.He has enjoyed even greater success for United States, scoring seven goals in 15 appearances, with five of those strikes coming in World Cup qualifiers.”Football might not be the biggest sport in America, but the popularity of our soccer keeps growing,” he said. “It would be fantastic if I could contribute my part to inspire kids to play football.”Meanwhile, Dortmund attacker Andre Schurrle is set for a month-long spell on the sidelines.BVB announced on Wednesday that the Germany international “sustained a muscle tear in his thigh and because of this injury will need to rest for four weeks.”Going into the new Bundesliga season, Schurrle’s injury limits coach Peter Bosz’s options in attack even more.Dortmund are already without suspended winger Ousmane Dembele and Germany international Marco Reus, while Emre Mor, whose transfer to Inter has collapsed for now, could compete for a place in BVB’s attack with €20 million signing Maximilian Philipp and Pulisic.Schurrle became Dortmund’s record signing when joining from Wolfsburg for a reported transfer fee of €30m last summer. However, he endured a disappointing first year at the Westfalenstadion with only two goals and three assists in 15 Bundesliga games.Stephan Uersfld is the Germany correspondent for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @uersfeld. 

USMNT IN GERMANY SEASON PREVIEW

MNT Aug 18, 2017

Kicking off this weekend, the German Bundesliga campaign promises another inviting opportunity for a number of U.S. players looking to further cement places with their clubs and in the MNT setup ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.Here’s an outlook for six U.S. internationals as they begin their Bundesliga seasons:

CHRISTIAN PULISIC

Set to turn 19 next month, Christian Pulisic comes off an incredible first full season with Borussia Dortmund where he racked up five goals and nine assists in 43 competitive matches. Along with the personal stats, the youngster became just the second U.S. MNT player to win the DFB-Pokal when BVB dispatched reigning champions Bayern Munich on penalty kicks. WATCH: Pulisic Opens 2017-18 Account in German Super Cup

Now under the direction of Dutch manager Peter Bosz, Pulisic has already opened his account jn the new campaign, tallying the opening goal in BVB’s German Super Cup clash against Bayern Munich on Aug. 5. Pulisic should help the club as it looks to challenge Bayern at the top of the Bundesliga this season, make further progress in the UEFA Champions League and defend its German Cup crown.

FABIAN JOHNSON  

The longest-tenured current U.S. MNT player in Germany, Fabian Johnson is set to remain in the Bundesliga for the foreseeable future thanks to the contract extension he signed which will keep him with Borussia Mönchengladbach through 2020. That renewal came in May on the heels of a lengthy injury layoff that saw the midfielder miss nine matches down the stretch for the Foals and also forced him out of the USA’s important World Cup Qualifiers in March.

Though Johnson returned to play as a substitute in the club’s final two matches of the season, ‘Gladbach missed him dearly and the club finished mid-table, four points out of qualification for a spot in the Europa League. Now with a clean bill of health, Johnson and ‘Gladbach aim to finish back in the top six this season.

BOBBY WOOD

BOBBY WOODS

Having moved from Second Division side Union Berlin to the storied club Hamburg SV before the start of the last campaign, Bobby Wood’s first season in the Bundesliga was a bit of a roller coaster. Individually, Wood led the Die Rothosen in scoring, tallying nine goals across all competitions. Collectively, Hamburg struggled mightily throughout the season and avoided the Bundesliga relegation playoff on the final day of the season with a dramatic win that allowed HSV to remain the only club to have been in the Bundesliga since it was founded in 1963.

Now set for his second season in the Germany’s top division and with a new contract in hand, Wood will be expected to continue being the workhorse and bagging goals up top. If he maintains the same scoring pace as the last two seasons, Hamburg will be a good bet to finish higher up the table come May.

JOHN BROOKs –injured 3 months?

U.S. MNT defender John Brooks made a huge splash this summer when he secured a $22.5 million move from Hertha Berlin to VfL Wolfsburg, setting a new record transfer figure for a U.S. player. Unfortunately, Brooks will have to wait to make an impact with his new club after going down with a thigh injury just 37 minutes into his debut during last Saturday’s 1-0 DFB-Pokal win at Eintracht Nordstedt.Scheduled to be out the next three months, Wolfsburg and the MNT will have to manage without services in the interim and will look forward to his return later in the year.

TIMMY CHANDLER

Timmy Chandler’s 32 league appearances set a personal best last season as he helped Eintracht Frankfurt to an 11th place finish. Chandler will hope to keep up that consistency for Die Adler this year and has already started on the right foot, scoring the opening goal in Frankfurt’s 3-0 DFB-Pokal win against Erndtebrück last Saturday.

More strong performances for his club will also keep Chandler in the conversation for the U.S. MNT’s right back position, along with DeAndre Yedlin, Graham Zusi and Eric Lichaj. 

JULIAN GREEN

A long apprenticeship without much playing time at Bayern Munich led to forward Julian Green’s midseason transfer to Second Division side Stuttgart in January. Entrenched in a fight for the league title as well as promotion, Green was limited to 10 appearances with Die Roten as the club won the championship and bounced back up to the top flight.Competing for and earning minutes will go a long way towards putting Green back in the picture for the U.S. MNT, as memories of his strike against Belgium in the Round of 16 of the 2014 FIFA World Cup leave fans yearning for more.

Red Bulls Finally Break Through to Reach U.S. Open Cup Final

BRIAN STRAUSWednesday August 16th, 2017

FC Cincinnati is a great story. But so is Bradley Wright-Phillips.The son of an English legend who had to set out for soccer’s new world to make his own name, Wright-Phillips added another chapter to his remarkable tale Tuesday night in the Queen City. Facing a two-goal deficit and the prospect of yet another infuriating setback in single-elimination play, the New York Red Bulls halved FCC’s lead in the 75th minute and then rode Wright-Phillips’ two goals to a stirring, 3-2 overtime win over the upstart USL club in the U.S. Open Cup semifinals.As a result, New York will visit Sporting Kansas City in the 104th USOC final on September 20. Sporting outlasted the San Jose Earthquakes on penalty kicks last week. It will be the hard-luck Red Bulls’ second trip to the tournament title game and just their third major final in 22 years. They’ve never won one. No MLS club has had more misfortune in cup competition than New York, but Wright-Phillips gave his team the chance to ease some of that pain Tuesday.Everything was set up for more Metro disappointment. But despite past hardship, New York was the antagonist in the story playing out at sold-out Nippert Stadium. They were the wealthy, big-city club facing off against the smaller, plucky second-year Cinderella yearning to make history of its own. Cincinnati coach Alan Koch called his team ‘FC Disneyland,’ and the moniker was appropriate for a team whose Open Cup run he accurately described as “truly magical.”Since MLS kicked off in 1996, only two lower-league teams reached an Open Cup final. And FCC was only 15 minutes away from being the third. It had won five tournament games by shutout, beating Ohio rival Columbus Crew, rising Eastern power Chicago Fire and then NASL leader Miami FC in the quarterfinals. Home crowds were loud and massive—Tuesday night’s figure of 33,250 set a non-final Open Cup record—and as the run continued, FCC’s MLS expansion bid garnered additional momentum and attention. U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati and MLS commissioner Don Garber were in attendance Tuesday.Even the Red Bulls took notice.“A second-division team in the semifinal of the Open Cup—that’s awesome,” New York captain Sacha Kljestan said. “This is so huge for soccer in our country, big for the club and big for the fans too. This is what the Open Cup is all about.”Indeed, it’s about upsets and fairy tales. But when the underdog wins there’s a favorite that falls and for New York, the Open Cup and MLS playoffs have been about that side of the story far too many times. Only the LA Galaxy have qualified for the MLS postseason more frequently, but the Red Bulls have done nothing with their ample opportunities. There was the 2008 trip to the MLS Cup final, where they were defeated by a superior Columbus Crew squad, and then a whole lot of disappointment, early endings and losses to lower seeds. The only Open Cup final appearance came back in ’03.“There’s going to be more energy [at Nippert] than maybe we felt all year, and a team that’s playing in the most important game in many of their lives,” Red Bulls coach Jesse Marsch told the New York Post. “To be fair, it’s an important game in many of our guys’ lives, so it sets up to be a great match and a fun match and one that we’re going to take very seriously and we know is very important.”The Red Bulls entered Tuesday’s semifinal knowing there was a raucous crowd and a team of destiny on the other side, not to mention their own miserable history behind them. And midway through the second half, it appeared New York would be buried by it. FCC was missing suspended striker Djiby Fall, who’d scored every one of the club’s USOC goals. But the hosts still took a 31st-minute lead through midfielder Corben Bone and then went ahead by two when hometown hero and club captain Austin Berry headed home a corner kick.Marsch had weapons at his disposal, however, that FCC couldn’t match. As the hosts tired, New York brought Gonzalo Verón and Derrick Etienne off the bench. Verón scored from close range in the 75th and then Wright-Phillips went to work.The forward’s comments had caused a bit of a stir before the game, but they were spot on. Favorites are supposed to win. Sometimes they don’t, and that’s what makes cup play so exciting. But the Red Bulls felt they were due.“It’s the furthest we’ve been [in the Open Cup] and no disrespect to Cincinnati—we have to turn up in that game and be ready for the atmosphere—but we should win that game,’’ Wright-Phillips told the Post. “Don’t mistake this for being cocky, but with the quality we’ve got, if we lose this it’ll be on us. We would be the only people to blame for that.”Wright-Phillips put his forehead where his mouth was, tying the game on a 78th-minute header, hitting the crossbar in the 90th and then notching the game-winner in the 101st off a cross from Sal Zizzo (the other New York substitute).On this night, destiny was no match for depth, and the Red Bulls finally avoided folding before a final.They’ll meet a Sporting side that’s used to the big stage. Kansas City has won two MLS Cups and two Open Cups and will be playing in its fourth major final in the past six seasons. On the road, the Red Bulls will be slight underdogs. But Tuesday’s late comeback, not to mention Wright-Phillips’ clutch and confidence, may be a sign their knockout mojo is growing. It’ll be New York’s chance to make history next month.

RECAP | Indy Eleven Drops Away Contest to Miami FC

“Boys in Blue” fall 3-1 in goalkeeper Jon Busch’s 500th professional appearance

Published Aug 12, 2017

INDIANAPOLIS (August 12, 2017) – On goalkeeper Jon Busch’s 500th appearance in all competitions, Indy Eleven fell 3-0 to the Spring Season champs Miami FC in their third game of the Fall Season.An exciting first half that featured “Buschy” making three important saves, it was “Indiana’s Team” that created the first chance of the night. Earning a corner, midfielder Don Smart jogged over to take and swung in a fantastic ball to the dead middle of the six-yard box. Defender Colin Falvey was first to meet the cross, but his header went flying over the bar. The first save of the night for Busch came just minutes later when Stefano Pinho was in perfect position to direct a header on goal only to see the veteran leap towards the top corner and collect with both hands.As the half wore on, defender Nemanja Vukovic found himself set up perfectly with a free kick just outside the box and looked to replicate his curling free kick goal against FC Edmonton last week. Instead, “Vuko” rifled one around the wall and towards Miami FC ‘keeper Daniel Vega’s far post only to see the effort scale inches wide of goal. Three minutes later, Miami FC had their best opportunity of the first half through the attacker Poku. Sprinting down the right side, the former New York City FC man slid a ball into the middle of the area for his teammate Jamie Chavez but found the pass just behind the forward and Indy was able to clear.At the half, Indy held strong and though unable to capitalize on chances in the box still kept their shape defensively and the deadlock continued.A completely different second 45 minutes began quickly for the hosts as Miami FC got themselves on the board after just five minutes. With Jamie Chavez streaking down the flank, the forward got a cross away for Stefano Pinho to get on the end of and his point-blank header on the break beat Busch for the first of the evening.However, Indy would come close to an equalizer just two minutes later as forward David Goldsmith was able to create an opportunity for himself. Twisting his way through the Miami defense, the Butler product saw the ball roll into his path only for a heavy effort to be nailed right down the pipe at Vega. The hosts continued to flash their attack as Indy sought their first of the match, and midfielder Dylan Mares was able to capitalize on an opportunity right at the hour mark. Similar to Goldsmith’s run moments earlier, Mares weaved his way through the defense before hitting a bullet at goal from just outside the box that Busch had no shot at. Despite the two-goal deficit, again the “Boys in White” threatened in attack. Midfielder Don Smart, who is nearing his 100thappearance for Indy Eleven, intercepted a pass in Miami territory and squared it for Zayed. With Vega just barely getting back in position, the forward could only clip the bar as the chance went begging.  In the 70th minute, Miami FC found their third goal of the evening as Stefano Pinho completed his brace. Defender Hunter Freeman marauded into Indy Eleven territory and whipped up a pass into the six-yard box that Pinho was able to get his forehead to, again heading past Busch who could only watch.“Indiana’s Team” would not go quietly, however, and in the 88th minute, they were able to earn a goal for the forward Zayed. Active in attack all game long, midfielder Ben Speas was able to skip around a pair of defenders and get a cross into the area for Zayed. The Irishman’s direct header found the top corner to pull one back, but Miami FC took home all three points and Indy left empty-handed.Next up, Indy Eleven travels to New York to face the Cosmos on Saturday, August 19 before returning home to IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium to host Jacksonville Armada FC on Saturday, August 26 at 7:30 P.M. ET. Tickets for the game – and all remaining 5+ 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 Fall Season   Miami FC 3 : 1 Indy Eleven
Saturday, August 12, 2017  FIU Stadium – Miami, FL

Scoring Summary:
MIA – Stefano Pinho (Jamie Chavez) 48’
MIA – Dylan Mares (Jamie Chavez) 60’
MIA – Stefano Pinho (Hunter Freeman) 70’
IND – Eamon Zayed (Ben Speas) 88’

Discipline Summary:
IND – Colin Falvey 50’
MIA – Michael Lahoud 53’
IND – Gerardo Torrado 63’
IND – Brad Ring 82’

Indy Eleven lineup (4-5-1, L–>R):  Jon Busch (GK); Nemanja Vukovic, Daniel Keller, Colin Falvey © (Kwame Watson-Siriboe 65’), Marco Franco; Ben Speas, Brad Ring, Gerardo Torrado (Tanner Thompson 77’), Craig Henderson (David Goldsmith 32’), Don Smart; Eamon Zayed

IND bench: Keith Cardona (GK); Sinisa Ubiparipovic, Adrian Ables

 

Miami FC lineup (4-3-3, L->R): Daniel Vega (GK); Blake Smith, Tyler Ruthven, Rhett Bernstein, Hunter Freeman; Dylan Mares (Calvin Rezende 74’), Richie Ryan, Michael Lahoud ©; Jaime Chavez, Kwadwo Poku (Ariel Martinez 77’), Stefano Pinho (Michel 90+1’)MIA bench: Ryan Herman, Jonathan Borrajo, Jonny Steele, Gabriel Farfan

EUROPEAN LEAGUE PREVIEWS :

Bundesliga preview: Can Bayern stay ahead of a crowded chasing pack?

Wins in the Confederations Cup and the U-21 Euros have shown that German football continues to get an awful lot of things right, especially when it comes to player development. But the Bundesliga has not been able to fully withstand the powerful wave of Premier League and Paris Saint-Germain money that has been sweeping the continent and has brought the relative lack of investment in the top flight — €483 million, gross — in new personnel into sharp focus.It has divided Germans into realists and traditionalists. The latter bemoan the “immoral,” destabilising pull of increased liquidity in the market on players, and they fear that the estrangement between the game and its followers is becoming ever greater. The other camp believe that German clubs — even FC Bayern — are in danger of getting left behind unless they’ll be able to spend similar sums as their international rivals in years to come.This fundamental divide also explains why the Bavarians’ stranglehold on the league has not (yet) dampened excitement for the competition within Germany. The majority of rival fans prefer the existing order — a high permeability from Bayern and Borussia Dortmund downwards — as the lesser of two evils. They’re simply not willing to sacrifice their clubs’ democratic ownership model for investor-led competitiveness.

Key storylines

VAR is finally here: After a season-long offline trial, video evidence will come into play in earnest at 8:30 p.m. on Friday night, when Bayern Munich take on Bayer Leverkusen in the curtain raiser at the Allianz Arena. The new technology will undoubtedly eliminate some refereeing mistakes but the prospect of increased justice does not excite everyone.Some supporters are concerned that inevitable delays between the ball the hitting the net and the referee pointing to the centre-circle will rob them of the football’s most joyful, intense moment: the unbridled celebration of the game’s objective being achieved. Other doubts concern a lack of transparency.Since not all clubs agreed that contentious scenes should be played back for the benefit for the spectators, stadium screens will (for the time being) stay dark while TV viewers and the video referee watch the replayed footage. It’s not an ideal situation as much of the VAR’s success will depend on the extent the public, both at home and in the stands, are exposed to the decision-making process.If the watchers of the watchmen work in secrecy, the effect will be distrust rather than more equitable refereeing.Can Schalke 04 finally rebound? After last year’s false restart under Markus Weinzierl, sporting director Christian Heidel gets a second crack at re-awakening the comatose giant that is Schalke 04. A lack of European engagements has hurt the bottom line, leading to some frugal spending — French attacker Amine Harit, signed for €8m from Nantes, was the only significant outlay — but also offers a chance for new coach Dominico Tedesco to bring his tactical ideas to bear.The 31-year-old, Schalke’s youngest-ever manager, was bought out of his contract at second division Erzgebirge Aue after merely two months in charge. Back in March, the German-Italian was still coaching Hoffenheim’s U-19s. Yet Heidel is convinced Tedesco will emerge as the next managerial wunderkind of the Bundesliga in due course.The departure of Sead Kolasinac and a brewing controversy over the demotion of captain Benedikt Höwedes, who lost his armband to keeper Ralf Fahrmann, might somewhat limit the scope of the Royal Blues’ revival but the club look well poised to make at least the first steps towards re-establishing themselves among the Bundesliga elite.The fight against commercialism continues: Fans of newly-promoted Hannover 96 will only support their team in silence this season. The so-called “cheering boycott” was declared after a meeting of ultra groups last Friday night, in protest against club boss Martin Kind’s efforts to abolish the Bundesliga’s 50+1 rule and open the door to investors.While German FA president Dr. Reinhard Grindel offered an olive branch to ultras on Monday, professing an end to collective punishment for riots and proscribed activities inside the grounds, the power struggle between fans and clubs/authorities is set to continue. Many organised groups consider it their duty to stand up against what they perceive as the game’s rampant commercialisation. The question of “who owns football?” will be hotly debated.

Marquee signings

James Rodriguez (MF, loan, Real Madrid) at Bayern is easily the most glamorous arrival. The Colombia international attacking midfielder, reportedly Carlo Ancelotti’s dream player, won’t be in action for another few weeks, however. Bayern’s other signings are rather low-key: in Corentin Tolisso (Lyon), Niklas Süle and Sebastian Rudy (both Hoffenheim), the German champions have bought players they’re hoping to turn into stars.

Meanwhile Dortmund have continued their strategy of investing in potential: German youth internationals Maximilian Philipp (Freiburg) and Mahmoud Dahoud (Gladbach) should make for great additions. Further down the food-chain, the €17m price tag of new Wolfsburg recruit, defender John-Anthony Brooks, reflects the former Hertha defender’s rapid progress over the past season.

Big departures

Bayern jettisoned Douglas Costa (Juventus, loan with option to buy) after the Brazil international winger had agitated a little too forcefully for improved wages. The lure of China’s riches proved irresistible to French striker Anthony Modeste (Tianjin Quanjian) and Bayer 04 Leverkusen sold two stars in Hakan Calhanoglu (Milan) and Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez(West Ham) to adjust the wage-bill for a season without European football.  Barcelona target Ousmane Dembele is, as things stand, still at Dortmund but might well become the most-expensive Bundesliga player ever sold over the course of the next week.

Who will win the league?

Bayern’s disastrous pre-season form hinted at real weakness in the months to come but even a slightly chaotic, vulnerable Bayern, coached by a man who is increasingly viewed with suspicion in the Sabener Strasse boardroom, should once again prove too strong. Dortmund’s squad (especially if they can fend off Barcelona’s advances) should make them at least credible contenders but all-action pressing game of new manager Peter Bosz could well take some time to become fully operational.  Leipzig and Hoffenheim might have a hard time adjusting to a two-game-per-week schedule, which could clear the path for a third, surprise challenger in Schalke 04.

 Battle at the bottom

Hamburger SV have suffered their customary horror start to the season, crashing out of the DFB Pokal at third-division VfL Osnabrück with a 3-1 defeat last weekend. Whether the northerners will find more stability in the league is doubtful, if recent history is an indication, but on paper, new boys Hannover 96 should have much bigger problems. SC Freiburg, despite their sensational seventh-place finish last season, will be in danger to succumb to the pull of gravity, as are FC Augsburg.Raphael Honigstein is ESPN FC’s German football expert. Follow: @honigstein

 La Liga preview: Can rampant Real keep Barcelona and Atletico at bay?

Real Madrid’s quest to maintain supremacy over Barca in Spain looks likely this season but then again, you never know what to expect. Graham Hunter previews the 2017-18 La Liga season.

Key storylines

With all due respect to Neymar’s quest to persuade us that his move to Paris has more to do with ambition than finance — good luck with that one, kid — the three biggest storylines in world football all reside in Spain.They are the narratives of Leo Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Zinedine Zidane. A year ago, admittedly, everyone was salivating over the Pep Guardiola vs. Jose Mourinho story, Part II. This season it’ll be the real thing: whichever of them finishes higher in the Premier League will be champion. But in the interim, they’ve been firmly shoved off centre stage by Zidane.He starts this season, only his second full term in charge, at Madrid as Spanish, European and world champion. As a coach, whether assistant or head, he has won three Champions League medals in the past four years and in doing so, he has become the only manager to win back-to-back Champions League titlesThree additional things stand out about the “Zizou” story since assuming control at the Bernabeu. Firstly his team’s football is immense fun to watch. Front foot, daring, never-say-die stuff. Secondly, he gives off clear signs that he’s loving his work. He radiates confidence, enjoyment and a bewilderment at how this job looked like a thankless task for so many of his predecessors. Finally, it has been near impossible for any coach to manage both upwards and downwards at Madrid over the past couple of decades. (Downwards meaning the squad, upwards meaning the president.)

Zidane seems effortless but can he continue along this trophy-laden path?

One of the key factors in that answer is, of course, Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s hard not to imagine him winning the Ballon d’Or again in January but can he repeat that massive, muscular burst of prolific goal scoring just at the crucial time this term?Ronaldo is an advert for the “less is more” claim. Less dribbling, less movement, less pressing, less running. But more rest, more often playing like a centre-forward, more goals and more trophies.Will age gnaw at him or reduce him? Can he rest as much as last season when there’s no James Rodriguez or Alvaro Morata to pick up the slack? Can he feasibly keep on racking up trophies and achievements. It’s an irresistible storyline that inevitably, leads to Messi.Newly re-committed to Barça (although yet to sign his deal), Messi is a guy who always, always responds to the stimuli of the gauntlet being thrown at him. Neymar’s absence hands more responsibility to the greatest player in history but not just to score more goals: He now has to adapt correctly to a differently equipped forward line.More, although there is clear mutual respect between Messi and Ronaldo, it has always been sufficient to galvanize the Argentina international when CR7 appears to be subjugating him.Finally, Messi yearns for the World Cup. He must power his nation through a treacherous final qualification stretch and he must find out whether the best way to get himself to Russia ready to win the trophy that matters so much to him is to conserve energy and attitude domestically, or play flat-out and hope to carry devastating form all the way from the stadia of La Liga to victory in Moscow next July.

 Marquee signings

At the time of writing, the likelihood of either Madrid or Barcelona securing their targets — Kylian Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele or Philippe Coutinho — remains in question. So while these “marquee” signings may be overtaken in profile and dwarfed in price, these are the key moves so far.Vitolo, MF/FW, Sevilla to Atletico Madrid: This represents the age-old tactic of harming a direct rival while reinforcing yourself. Even before highlighting the attacking midfielder’s football ability there’s such a thing as a “fit” when a guy joins a club. Atleti’s fans want derring-do; they want passion, effort, commitment and fun.The degree to which Sevilla’s fans took Vitolo to their heart, and now mourn his loss, tells you this is a pure-bred Atleti signing.How does he cope with a few months “back home” playing for Las Palmas before Atleti’s transfer ban ends? Can he help inspire Diego Simeone’s team to a trophy between January and May? Vitolo’s a vital story.Nelson Semedo, DF, Benfica to Barcelona: Two things should happen as a result of the Portugal right-back arriving at the Camp Nou. Sergi Roberto, a technically gifted and intelligent midfielder, should be restored to his more natural position. Secondly, the lack of outright pace that dogged Barça last season in this position, as they struggled to come to terms with the loss of Dani Alves, can be addressed.

Semedo might be raw in terms of elite experience but he’s an exciting, daring footballer and brings competitive aggression too.Luis Muriel, FW, Sampdoria to Sevilla: Anyone who can successfully make his way in Colombian and Italian football with a “Boy Named Sue” weight around his neck deserves respect. OK, OK, it’s Luis Muriel not Muriel Luis. Notwithstanding that Johnny Cash joke, there’s another burden for the new boy. Sevilla arguably have the best transfer market record in modern football history but it’s not all been plain sailing.Muriel beats their two previous most costly signings: Alvaro Negredo and Arouna Koné. Negredo was a stonking hit, splurging goals, while Kone’s appearance and goal record stank. The Colombia international, who is fast, agile and can play off any of the three front positions, needs to aim at Negredo’s achievements and look to dwarf those of the Ivorian flop.

 Big departures

Call me an old softie (although it had better be behind my back!) but I’d hate to see the loss of Diego Alves to La Liga go unheralded. Of course he’ll always stand out for having saved more penalties in the history of this competition than anyone else. His record was absolutely eerie. In fact, in all competitions while in Spain, he saved 26 more spot-kicks than were scored against him.But it goes further than that. Twice, while Valencia were being battered by Chelsea at the Mestalla and Barcelona at Camp Nou, I saw him produce a stream of saves that frankly, stand in the top goalkeeping performances of defiance I’ve ever witnessed. And finally, I met him a few times and the Brazil international proved to be friendly, articulate and a great representative for our sport. He’ll be missed.Ruben Castro, who left Betis for football in China, was also something of a phenomenon. Far from prolific until the age of 29, indeed bouncing north, south, east and west around Spain on various loans, he then hit 135 goals for Betis from the age of 29 until 36. Really, he was an excuse to watch an Betis game because he knew no situation where the odds were too great for him to expect to score and win.There are things worth saying about both Pepe and Morata, who have left Madrid for Turkey and England respectively, but I guess candidate No. 3 has to be Neymar. Without question he brought effervescent creativity and wit to La Liga. What’s a little sad is that this competition didn’t see his maturity, nor did it see him properly protected on the pitch.Right now he’s saying that he feels liberated and is enjoying a new lease of life. Let’s go back to that in, say, January, when there have a been a couple of cold damp months and two or three lie ahead and the fixture list offers the next three away games at Angers, Dijon and Troyes.

 Who will win the league?

ut simply, only Real Madrid can stop Madrid. Right now, with Barcelona not only in decline but split by factions clawing at each other, Zidane’s team has enough skill, hunger, mentality and experience to repeat their triumph of last season.However, there are caveats. I disagree that it’s competent to shed 31 goals (Rodriguez and Morata) and not replace that with a proven scorer or scorers. Good luck, Borja Mayoral: you’re a welcome return to La Liga, but should one of Madrid’s front line have an injury-plagued season then Los Blancos‘ current ability to produce jack-in-the-box wins in tough fixtures may wilt. Moreover, teams that compete in the Club World Cup usually carry a hangover into January. It didn’t happen to Madrid last season, but it’s a hurdle they face again.Barcelona, if they were reinforced well between now and the closing of the transfer market, carry the threat of being stung into a reaction. It’s not impossible that they lift the title, but the Camp Nou is an unhappy camp right now, which, as ever, leaves Atleti as dark horses because while Sevilla look exciting, they don’t have enough depth to win the title.

Simeone’s troops looked as if they needed not only reinforcements but a decent summer’s rest. The latter is in the bag; the former will come at Christmas. Given how he plays, Gabi has passed the most powerful stage of his career and that will be Atleti’s Achilles heel unless Augusto, such a loss last term, hits the ground running.

 Battle at the bottom

This season threatens to offer us six or seven teams who will face relegation uncertainty right until the end of La Liga 2017-18.Girona were top scorers in winning promotion and will debut in the top division this season. They’re an outright marvellous story given the predicament they were in when coach Pablo Machín took over and have Manchester City as a friend in deed, but they need to prove they can score. Preseason has shown that unless Olarenwaju Kayode does arrive from Pep Guardiola’s squad and is pretty prolific, then Girona have problems.Getafe squeaked up via the playoffs. It’s easy to point at them and say that the thing that kept them up for so many years previously, the fact that teams didn’t like playing at the soul-less Coliseum Alfonso Perez and let performances there dip, needs to be re-confirmed. But Getafe don’t yet look like a squad that will be free of sleepless nights between now and May.Making the Madrid derbies they’ll play vs. Leganes all the more attractive. How on earth Asier Garitano kept them up is still enough to make you scratch your head but those last four or five games when everyone at and around the club completely believed in their safety: that was special. Keeping prying eyes away from Alexander Szymanowski until the market closes looks vital.Levante, Depor, Alaves, Eibar: you’ve much to prove but for the moment, you’re not in my top three suspects list.Enjoy the season. Football is great. Particularly in Spain.Graham Hunter covers Spain for ESPN FC and Sky Sports. Author of “Barca: The Making of the Greatest Team in the World.” Twitter: @BumperGraham.

 Five teams to watch out for as Italy’s Serie A kicks off

Updated: AUGUST 15, 2017 — 3:01 AM EDT

by Daniella Matar, The Associated Press

MILAN (AP) — Five teams to keep an eye on in the Italian league this season, which starts this weekend:

Juventus

Following another Serie A-Italian Cup double, Juventus has had to deal with infighting and the departures of Leonardo Bonucci and Dani Alves.Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri, however, has again bought shrewdly in the offseason.Douglas Costa brings Champions League experience from his time at Bayern Munich, while Federico Bernardeschi is one of Italy’s top young players. Those two wingers will link up with Paulo Dybala, just behind Gonzalo Higuain.Juventus is favored to maintain its grip on the Serie A title but could be distracted by its desire to win the Champions League, especially in veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon’s final season. The team lost in the Champions League final last season for the second time in three years.

AC Milan

After three years without any appearances in European soccer, AC Milan is looking to regain its place among the game’s elite.The Chinese-led consortium that purchased Milan from Silvio Berlusconi for $800 million in April has infused the club with cash and splashed out more than 200 million euros ($234 million) in the offseason.The top four teams in Serie A will now qualify for the Champions League, making it a bit easier for Milan to get back into the top tournament.

Besides signing Italy defender Leonardo Bonucci, Milan also brought in forward Andre Silva (FC Porto); midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie (Atalanta), Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).With teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma agreeing to extend his contract until 2021, Milan could be in position to challenge for its first Serie A title since 2011.

Inter Milan

Inter Milan not only lost out on a spot in the Europa League to AC Milan, but it has also been forced to watch as its city rival signed several star players.Inter’s signings have been more low key but it has brought in defender Dalbert from Nice and Borja Valero from Fiorentina. The creative midfielder is likely to provide even more opportunities for Inter forward Mauro Icardi.Inter coach Luciano Spalletti should provide some much-needed stability to a club after a tumultuous campaign last season that included four managerial changes.Inter’s preparations last year were complicated by the departure of coach Roberto Mancini two weeks before the start of the season.

Napoli

Napoli’s attacking flair saw the team score 94 Serie A goals last season on its way to setting a club record for points. But while it arguably played the best soccer in Italy, it finished only third.There is the feeling that this could be the year for Napoli, which has improved season after season and has managed to keep its team together.Dries Mertens and Lorenzo Insigne have signed new contracts, Arkadiusz Milik will have a full pre-season and be fully recovered from the knee injury which sidelined him for four months last year, and MarekHamsik is only three goals away from breaking Diego Maradona’s scoring record for the club.That means coach Maurizio Sarri will have a group of talented players who are hungry for success, high in confidence (after a great season finish) and well drilled in his system.

Roma

Roma will be playing without Francesco Totti for the first time in 25 years.Sporting director Monchi has been busy in the transfer market since replacing Walter Sabatini, but has signed no big names.However, Roma has recruited defenders who can pass well and feed speedy wingers to set up center forward Edin Dzeko, who led the Italian league with 29 goals last season.While the club has failed to replace Mohamed Salah, who left for Liverpool, it now has more strength in depth.It remains to be seenhow coach Eusebio Di Francesco will make the step up to a top team and deal with the pressure of the Champions League for the first time.Di Francesco, who played for Roma, arrived from Sassuolo. He guided that team from Serie B in 2013 to a sixth-place finish and Europa League qualification in 2016.

Serie A preview: Is Juventus’ title run set to end? Can Milan challenge again?

Serie A is back from its summer holidays this weekend. James Horncastle looks ahead to what could be the most open season in years:

Key storylines

Milan’s spending

Before Paris Saint-Germain signed Neymar, the biggest story of the summer was how Milan were spending at a rate not seen since Roman Abramovich became Chelsea owner in 2003. The scale of the investment — €215.5m — and its targeted nature has lent credibility to the project even though doubts remain about exactly how much of the money is president Li Yonghong’s and whether Milan’s business plan is compliant with Financial Fair Play. Still not done in the transfer market, the standout pieces of business will remain the signing of Leonardo Bonucci from Juventus and the contract extension for goalkeeping wunderkind Gianluigi Donnarumma. A sleeping giant is rousing from its slumber.

Buffon’s final year

This section could have been devoted to VAR going online in a country where it is so badly needed but, as an old romantic who blubbered through Francesco Totti’s retirement from Roma, I will dedicate it instead to Gigi Buffon and his swansong season. The 39-year-old plans on retiring after the World Cup in Russia, Italy’s qualification for which depends a lot on September’s trip to Spain. But if Juve do make it third time lucky and wins the Champions League in Kiev, he will also honour a promise made to president Andrea Agnelli and pull on his gloves again for the UEFA Super Cup and FIFA Club World Cup.

Another Champions League spot

For the first time in six seasons Serie A will have four Champions League spots up for grabs. Juventus aside, that owes more to politicking than merit and Agnelli is already worried that, if the other Italian sides don’t start pulling their weight, Ligue 1 will do what the Bundesliga did in 2011 and take it off them. Until then, greater access promises to be a game-changer for Italian football. Inter and Milan’s decline has in part come because they have been starved of Champions League revenue although, even had four-team qualification been in place over the last six years, they wouldn’t have always qualified. But the stakes are higher this year.

 Marquee signings

Leonardo Bonucci: Juventus to AC Milan, £37.8 million

Bonucci has made no secret of wanting to “do for Milan what [Andrea] Pirlo did for Juventus.” Six years ago the midfielder’s move was the hinge on which the balance of power swung in Italy and Bonucci now hopes to do the same in the opposite direction. The consequence of his fallout with Max Allegri is similar to the manager’s marginalisation of Pirlo in 2011, in that it strengthens a rival. Juventus and Bonucci could have got a lot more if he had left for Manchester City or Chelsea. Instead, Milan have got themselves one of the best centre-backs in the world for a steal of a price.

Douglas Costa: Bayern Munich to Juventus, £5.4m (loan)

Juventus’ switch to 4-2-3-1 in January helped propel the team to a second Champions League final in three years but, during the second half in Cardiff, it became abundantly clear they didn’t have a squad built for it. Costa and Federico Bernardeschi have been signed to make the system a more natural fit and Gonzalo Higuain must be licking his lips at having both of them and Paulo Dybala behind him. “Wherever I go, I quickly become a striker’s best friend,” Costa told La Gazzetta dello Sport. “It happened with Luiz Adriano in Ukraine and Robert Lewandowski at Bayern. You’ll see. Higuain and I will get on well.”

Borja Valero: Fiorentina to Inter, £4.95m

Probably the bargain of the window, Borja is the midfield general Inter have lacked, at least in a tactical sense, since the 2014 departure of Esteban Cambiasso. Manager Luciano Spalletti wanted him at Roma last season and not just for his ability to play between the lines and knit teams together; Borja makes the players around him better and is a leader. He was nicknamed “the mayor” in Florence and Inter have badly needed a player of his ability and character.

 Big departures

Dani Alves: Juventus to Paris Saint-Germain, free

Not allowed to express himself as much as he would have liked, Alves decided after just a year that Italian football wasn’t for him. The Brazilian full-back’s decision to double his money and act as an incentive to Neymar surprised and disappointed Juventus and, as with the Bonucci situation, the departure has left them in a bind. Alves was the club’s major difference maker in the knockout stages of the Champions League last season and brought a risk-taking swagger to their play. He will be a big miss even if both parties didn’t end on the best of terms.

Joe Hart: Torino to West Ham, end of loan

Hart’s popularity off the pitch, as well as the novelty of an Englishman playing for a club as romantic as Torino, ultimately wrote cheques off the pitch that his body couldn’t cash on it. Torino owner Urbano Cairo probably drove him to the airport, in part because he sincerely liked Hart, but also because he knew the club could do better with new signing Salvatore Sirigu.

Antonio Cassano: Hellas Verona to retirement (for now, at least)

Asked in June why a top-flight club should take a punt on him after a year out of the game, Antonio Cassano boasted: “Because I’m still the best there is in Italy.” Hellas rolled the dice and reunited him with his old strike partner Giampaolo Pazzini, giving fans of a certain age pangs of nostalgia. Shortly after, though, Cassano quit training camp and announced his retirement. He then had second thoughts, went back on the decision and returned to training, only to re-quit and retire a few days later. Talk about one of the game’s biggest wasted talents.

 Who will win the league?

Juventus’ rivals are sniffing blood but the champions have sold multiple big-name players in other years — most notably 2015 — and still won the title. They remain favourites but, if the crown slips, Napoli look best placed to take it from them. Unlike last year, they’ve kept their best players and just need to pick up where they left off.Naturally Milan are being billed as contenders but it remains to be seen if an entire new team can come together quickly enough to join the title race. Inter have had a fantastic preseason and, after underperforming last year, are perhaps not being taken as seriously as a Luciano Spalletti team should be. Spalletti already looks to have knocked them into shape and they’re close to completing an already-talented squad with some astute, if low profile signings.Meanwhile, Roma may have changed too much to contend, although the hope is Eusebio di Francesco will make the same leap in his coaching development as Allegri and Maurizio Sarri did when they went from Cagliari and Empoli to Milan and Napoli respectively. Fresh from winning the Super Cup, Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio also don’t look like fading away despite losing Lucas Biglia, and in all probability, Keita Balde Diao.

 Battle at the bottom

The most pessimistic fans are, quite rightly, those of Fiorentina, although it’s unlikely they will be drawn into the relegation battle under Stefano Pioli. Almost all of the club’s best players wanted to leave this summer and ended up getting their way, but there look to be some hidden gems — Rafik Zekhnini and Nikola Milenkovic — in their transfer window in addition to the better-known Giovanni Simeone, who is expected to arrive from Genoa.Sassuolo are a minor concern now Di Francesco has departed for Roma, but at least Domenico Berardi is sticking around for another year. Sampdoria’s mini-Monaco model, which has seen Milan Skriniar, Luis Muriel, Bruno Fernandes and, likely, Patrik Schick all leave, places a lot of trust in the recruitment of Riccardo Pecini as well as the coaching of Marco Giampaolo. But they should still stay up.Whether second season syndrome afflicts Cagliari will be a storyline to follow and it’ll be interesting to see if Genoa are able to quit their dangerous liaisons with relegation. Crotone seemed to have Serie A all figured out toward the end of last year but the limited material at Davide Nicola’s disposal was, in part, what made their escape so great.Of the promoted clubs, Hellas have a goalscorer in Pazzini while SPAL, back in the top flight after 49 years, have been able to keep many of those who who got them up, including their goalkeeping star Alex Meret. This has been more of a challenge for debutantes Benevento, who will be aware of how that proved Pescara’s downfall last season.James covers the Italian Serie A and European football for ESPN FC Follow him on Twitter @JamesHorncastle.

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8/11/17 EPL Starts Today 3 pm, El Classico Barca vs Real Madrid Sun 4 pm ESPN, TV Schedule, Indy 11 Goalie – Training CFC Keepers Tues/Thurs 6 pm

So the English Premier League gets underway this weekend with Arsenal vs Leicester City on Friday afternoon 3 pm on NBCSN. Speaking of NBCSN – so I saw this news a few weeks ago but its really sinking in now as we approach opening weekend – remember those lovely NBC Extra Time stations where you could catch all the games being played on Sat/Sun mornings.  Well that is now going to cost you $50 a season for the NBC Sports Golden Pass.  While most of the big games will be on network TV – there will be some games – (think games with American’s like Stoke City’s Geoff Cameron and Newcastle’s Deandre Yedlin) that simply won’t be on. Fortunately opening weekend has most of the big games on starting with Liverpool (with or without Courtino?) traveling to Watford at 7:30 am on NBCSN. Everton will host Stoke City at 10 am on CNBC, while Chelsea host Burnley at 10 am on NBCSN.  The 12:30 EPL game has Brighton returning to the EPL hosting Man City on NBCSN. Sunday gives us New Castle Uniteds return to the EPL vs title contenders Tottenham on Sunday at 8:30 am on NBCSN (not sure that US defender Yedlin will play as he’s injuried) followed by Man U vs West Ham on NBCSN at 11.

Not sure who I like to win it this season – Man City certainly spent the money, and Man United looks stronger than last season.  I think Chelsea will finish top 4 but not repeat as Morata up top is not as good as the evil Diego Costa was.  As much as I would love to see Liverpool or Arsenal make a title run – the on-going sagas of Coutinho at Liverpool and Sanchez at Arsenal might make top 4 finishes the true aim for both squads.  Now if Coutinho goes to Barca does that open a starting spot for young US International Christian Pulisic from Dortmund?  Man that would turn some heads and have US supporters (including myself) clamoring for new Liverpool kits. That would sure be cool – though I think Pulisic stays at Dortmund this season and works on becoming a star for the 2nd best team in Germany.   Either way let the games begin!

El Clasico – Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Spanish Supercup action gets underway Sunday on ESPN 4 pm as does Neymar’s first game playing for Paris Saint Germain on beIN Sport Sunday at 3 pm.  Meanwhile the German, Italian, and Spanish league games will start next week as does Champions League play Tues FS1 2:45 with Liverpool traveling Hoffenheim.  (see full schedule below)

A flurry of action in the MLS as multiple teams added players in the last days of the transfer window – lead by US International Paul Arriola’s return from Tiajuana to DC United.  LA hosts NYC FC on Sat night 10:30 pm on FS1.  The Indy 11 travel to Miami this weekend on Sat night 7:30 pm on beIN Sport and My Indy TV looking to rebound from a tough 3-1 loss at home to Edmonton last weekend.  Returning Defender Cory Miller should help shore up the defense a little as stud GK Jon Bush was under a lot of duress last weekend.

Speaking of Goalkeeping –  Carmel FC is proud to introduce Christian Lomeli, back-up goalkeeper for the Indy 11, as a new GK coach for this season.

GK_Christian_Lomeli-Web

Christian played at IUPUI before finishing up his collegiate career last season as a starter for Indiana University.  “We are thrilled to have a young dynamic professional Goalie like Christian working with our kids,” CFC DOC Matt Coyer said.  “Christian will bring his experience at the major College and Professional ranks as he prepares our lesson plans and works to help teach our goalies the art of goalkeeping.”

Of course I will be on hand as well helping with the training on Tuesday and Thurs nights 6-8 pm.  This week the trainings are at Shelbourne U11-U12 Boys and Girls  6- 7 pm   &   U13 + Above 7-8 pm.

GAMES ON TV  

Fri, Aug 11  —                EPL Starts

2 45 pm NBCSN           Arsenal vs Leciester City

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

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

11 am NBCSN                Man United vs West Ham

3 pm beIN Sport         Guingamp vs PSG (Neymar first game)

4 pm  ESPN         Barcelona vs Real Madrid – Spain Supercup

Tues, Aug 18

2:45 pm FS1         Hoffenheim vs Liverpool Champions League

 Sat, Aug 19     German Bundesliga/La Liga/Serie A Start

7:30 am NBCSN            Swansea vs Man United

9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Wolfsburg vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

9:30 am FS2                    Hoffenheim vs Werder Bremen

10 am NBCSN                 Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

12 noon beIN Sport  Juve vs Cagliari

12:30 pm              NBC        Stoke City (Cameron) vs Arsenal

12:30 pm FS1                Schalke vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm Lifetime       North Carolina vs Washington Spirit (Women’s League)

7:30 pm bein Sport My Indy TV  NY Cosmos vs Indy 11

Sun, Aug 20

8:30 am NBCSN            New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Huddlesfield Town

9:30 am FS1                    Freiburg vs Frankfurt

11 am NBCSN         Tottenham vs Chelsea

12noon FS1                     Borussia M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Koln

2:15 pm beIN Sport  Barcelona vs Real Betis

4 pm  beIN Sport?     Deportivo vs Real Madrid

9:30 pm FS1                   Seattle vs Min United

Mon, Aug 21

3 pm NBCSN          Man City vs Everton

3 pm beIN Sport?       Crotone vs AC Milan

Wed, Aug 23

2:45 pm FS1         Liverpool vs Hoffenheim (Champions League)

Fri, Aug 25

2:30 pm FS2                   Koln vs Hamburger (Bobby Wood)

7 pm ESPN                                               NY Red Bulls vs NYCFC

Sat, Aug 26                    

7:30 am NBCSN            Bournemouth  vs Man City

9:30 am Fox Sport 2 B Leverkusen vs Hoffenheim

9:30 am FS2                    Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

10 am NBCSN                 ???

12:30 pm NBC      Man United vs Leicester City

12:30 pm FS1       Borrusia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Hertha BSC  

4 pm Lifetime               Seattle Riegn vs Portland Thorns (Women’s League)

7:30 pm My Indy TV  Indy 11 vs Jax Armada

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

EPL 2017 Schedule

EPL

Arsenal vs Leicester Preview

Opening weekend games

Preview Liverpool vs Watford

EPL Predictions – ESPNFC – Ian MacIntosh

How the EPL Season will Unfold – SI Jon Wilson

EPL Predictions and What’s New – US Soccer Players.com

EPL Rankings

Liverpool set for Pivotal Period with Transfer Troubles ESPNFC

Arsenal Deserved the Win in the Community Shield Match

Chelsea have no reason to panic

Soccer on TV in America is Changing and it starts with the EPL this Weekend

WORLD

Soccer Rankings for Every Team in the World

Why Neymar went to PSG  – ESPNFC -see intro a 1st game

Shootout Loss no issue for Dortmund who looked the better team

Bundesliga Preview

USA

See Pulisics Goal for Dortmund vs Bayern Munich  https://streamable.com/jw9gc

Yedlins Battle to stay in the EPL

US Forward Johanssen looking to move from Bremen?

American’s Abroad – Pulisic scores 1st goal of Season for Dortmund

Mayor of Hannover – US Defender Steve Cherundolo Q & A

Goalies

MLS Save of the Week

Week 21 save of the week

MLS

MLS Power Rankings Chicago back on Top of Toronto and NYFC

Tons of MLS Movement – US Star Paul Arriola comes to DC United from Tiajuana

The Weekend that Was in MLS – VAR opens to Rave Reviews

This Week in MLS Week 22 – 14 min video

Where is Soccer Going in the US – for MLS and others?  J Hutcherson

Learning to Like the MLS Allstar Game

Indy 11

Preview Indy 11 at Miami FC

Indy 11 ReSign Defender Cory Miller

3 Things loss to FCE

College Night – Aug 26 vs Jax Armada

New Indy 11 TV Schedule for Fall

Arsenal vs. Leicester: Team News, Potential Lineups for Premier League Opener

Thursday August 10th, 2017

The last two months have felt like an eternity, as they seem to do after every season…but finally the Premier League is back in action, and is kicking off on Friday night with Arsenal taking on Leicester, both teams of course wanting to get off to the best possible start.It’s a big year for Arsene Wenger who has signed a new two-year contract earlier this summer, and after last season’s antics of ‘Wenger Out’ Champions League qualification is a must after narrowly missing out to Liverpool. Arsenal have to come out the blocks quickly this season, and the boss has shown clear intentions during pre-season by winning the Emirates Cup and Community Shield. The Gunners will therefore go into the game in a confident mood even if there are a number of injury doubts for the clash.Craig Shakespeare will also need to get off to a good start to cement his managerial place after last season’s sacking of title winning manager Claudio Ranieri. The Foxes have done well in  pre-season beating Borussia Mönchengladbach of particular note and they will want to continue in the same vein on Friday.

Classic Encounters

Last season Arsenal had the upper hand over Leicester in their two matches, at the King Power the tie resulted in a draw and at the Emirates Arsenal won 1-0. ne only has to go back to Leicester’s title winning season in 2015/16 to find an enticing encounter between the two sides. Although Leicester amazingly managed to defy all odds and win the league they did not manage to beat Arsenal home or away. The first encounter of the season was a high scoring 5-2 victory for Arsenal. Alexis Sanchez completed his hat-trick whilst Jamie Vardy scored a brace, both continuing their fine form. This victory put the Gunners in 4th position and Leicester in 6th, no one was to know that the relegation favourites would triumph later in the season. The second encounter was a grueling game which saw Danny Simpson sent off and a Danny Welbeck header in the 90th minute which looked to ruin Leicester’s chances of winning the league. This was only Leicester City’s second defeat in their last 17 Premier League away games.

Team News

Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez will miss the next two league matches with an abdominal strain while Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Özil and Per Mertesacker are all injury doubts for this tie. Mertesacker looks the most likely to start, but Mohamed Elneny is set to replace Ramsey and Welbeck likewise instead of Özil.Francis Coquelin, Gabriel and Shkodran Mustafi are definite absentees because of injuries. New signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac are expected to feature in the starting eleven for their Premier League debuts. Laurent Koscielny is unavailable after receiving a red card and a three-match ban for a ridiculous foul on Enner Valencia in Arsenal’s final league match against Everton, ruling him out of the FA Cup final as well as the first two league matches of the new season.

Leicester

For this match Leicester boss Craig Shakespeare could opt for a more defensive looking five-man midfield consisting of Marc Albrighton, Andy King, Wilfred Ndidi, Matty James and Demarai Gray. James is set to take Danny Drinkwater’s place who is unlikely to be fit due to a thigh strain, while King will replace the crocked summer signing Vicente Iborra. Shakespeare was hoping that new signing Kelechi Iheanacho would be in contention for a starting spot, however this seems doubtful after picking up a knock on his debut for the Foxes, the Nigerian will probably start on the bench.Islam Slimani has a knee problem which has hampered his preparations for this match up and therefore Jamie Vardy looks to start as a lone striker. Another new signing Harry Maguire also looks to start with Robert Huth’s ankle injury keeping him out of the frame for the first few games.

Key Man

Arsenal have needed a world class striker for at least four seasons now and finally they have their hands on clinical finisher Alexandre Lacazette. Although the Frenchman has only successfully played in Ligue 1 and the Europa League, if he can give Arsenal a cutting edge with his goals they will be a tough outlet to beat. The Gunners certainly need his form from his past seasons if they want to win this one.

The £52.7m signing looks to start versus Leicester after showing promise in the Community Shield. The Frenchman was unlucky not to score, hitting the post from a long range curling effort. All football spectators are excited to see what Arsenal’s record signing is capable of and will be key to gaining Arsenal three points.

Predicted Lineups

Potential Arsenal Starting Lineup (3-4-3): Cech, Holding, Mertesacker, Monreal, Bellerin, Kolašinac, Xhaka, Elneny, Iwobi, Welbeck, Lacazette.

Potential Leicester Starting Lineup (4-5-1): Schmeichel, Simpson, Maguire, Morgan, Fuchs, Albrighton, King, James, Ndidi, Mahrez, Vardy.

Prediction

Arsenal have won each of their last 10 Premier League home encounters with Leicester City, their joint longest winning streak at home against a single opponent, and by looking at the two potential lineups Arsenal by far look the strongest.The Gunners have won only one of their last seven opening day Premier League fixtures, losing three of the last four (W1 D3 L3). Arsene Wenger will be looking to rectify this record with a win on Friday – but it’s not the safest bet given this record…Alexandre Lacazette scored 91 goals in the French Ligue 1 over the last four seasons more than any other player in the competition in that period and if that form continues he is bound to set the Premier League alight and contribute to a victory for Arsenal on Friday.Although Arsenal are notoriously bad on the opening day of the season it looks that they will win the encounter. Even with injuries the squad is far superior than Leicester’s and they look the favourites for a win. Prediction: Arsenal 3 Leicester 1

Manchester clubs to battle for the title; Chelsea, Liverpool to miss the top four

With the new Premier League season upon us, Iain Macintosh puts himself on the line by predicting where all 20 clubs will finish the campaign. Ian MacIntosh ESPNFC

  1. Manchester City

They say that you learn more from failure than you do from success. If that’s true, then City should win the title. There were times last season when you suspected that Pep Guardiola could have written entire books based on individual games. Everton away, for example. But he has a new goalkeeper now. And three new full-backs. And yet another devastating attacking midfielder. City are going to be terrifying. In a good way this time.

 

  1. Manchester United

Yes, they certainly underperformed in the league last season, but only Tottenham conceded fewer goals than Jose Mourinho’s side. Unfortunately, United also scored fewer than Bournemouth. But much has changed over the summer. They will be quicker and more potent up front with Romelu Lukaku, and the arrival of Nemanja Matic should free up Ander Herrera and Paul Pogba in the middle. After four years of ignominy, a title challenge awaits.

 

  1. Tottenham

Tottenham haven’t strengthened this summer, but that’s understandable. They already have one of the most balanced squads in the league. With Harry Winks fit again and Kyle Walker-Peters ready to step up to replace his almost-namesake, they should feel the benefits of stability. The worry is Wembley Stadium. It shouldn’t be a problem. It’s not a haunted house. But if they don’t lay down a victory quickly, you wonder how much it will affect them.

 

  1. Arsenal

What are Arsenal? Are they the faint-hearted cavaliers who will gallop through the winter and then ride their horse into a tree in the first week of February? Or are they the ferocious scrappers who fought for everything to overturn the odds at Wembley in the FA Cup Final? Their Community Shield performance — a shootout win against holders Chelsea — suggests that latter more than the former, but how much can you read into that? Ah, you know what? Fourth is usually a safe bet.

 

  1. Chelsea

Let’s ignore the Community Shield result for now. Things may change before the transfer window shuts, but at the time of writing, Chelsea are woefully short of depth. Allowing the likes of Tammy Abraham, Izzy Brown, Ruben Loftus-Cheek and Kurt Zouma to leave on loan is an odd move, so you presume reinforcements are on their way. After all, the Blues will be stretched by European football already. If they actually suffer some injuries this season, they could be in a lot of trouble.

 

  1. Liverpool

On their day, there are few sides as dazzling in possession as Liverpool. It’s when they’re out of possession that the problems start. Had they landed Virgil van Dijk, you might feel differently about their prospects. Had they captured the dynamic Naby Keita, you might make allowances. Forwards Mohamed Salah and Dominic Solanke should prove good signings, but that’s not where the problems are. This could be a frustrating year at Anfield. Still, they’ve got used to them over the years.

 

  1. Everton

Is this the year that Everton break back into the top four? They’ve signed well, they have a manager with three impressive Premier League seasons under his belt and there’s a feel-good factor around the club. But you can’t just drop half a dozen players into a team and expect them to gel. And you do wonder if Ronald Koeman is going to spend six months shuffling his pack to accommodate Wayne Rooney before he concludes, as Mourinho did before him, that Rooney is just not good enough anymore.

 

  1. Leicester

Assuming that the players don’t quickly lose faith in their manager and down tools again, this could be a decent season for Leicester. Not decent enough for another crack at the title, but certainly enough to keep them in the European conversation for a while. Harry Maguire will have a chance to displace the injured Robert Huth, Vicente Iborra is a class act and Kelechi Iheanacho is a fine signing. And, thanks to new Premier League regulations, no one is going to get a migraine looking at their pitch.

 

  1. Newcastle

Newcastle United are back. And this time, they’re competent. After a second year in the rehab of the Championship, the Magpies are rejuvenated and refocused. Rafa Benitez’s meticulous management, not to mention his genuine empathy with the fans, has been warmly appreciated by the locals at St James’ Park. Their spending has been modest, and while there’s tension behind the scenes, Jacob Murphy should be fun to watch and they’ll have more good days than bad.

 

  1. Southampton

A quiet season of transition beckons for Southampton and their third new manager in four years, Mauricio Pellegrino. Defender Jan Bednarek is the only arrival this summer, but given vice chairman Les Reed’s record with talent-spotting, you suspect that it’s only a matter of time before Liverpool make a £40 million bid for the young Pole’s services.

 

  1. Bournemouth

Bournemouth’s late run of form brought them an incredible ninth-place finish last season, and they won’t be far off that again. Asmir Begovic is a clear upgrade in goal, Nathan Ake has signed permanently after his impressive loan spell and, while it’s a bit of a shame that Josh King’s place and primacy may be under threat just as he figures out where the goal is, you can’t argue with the signing of Jermain Defoe.

 

  1. Stoke

You fear for Mark Hughes now. After three 50-plus-point, ninth-place finishes, last season brought only 44 points and the mediocrity of lower mid-table. The fans are beginning to make their displeasure known, and a slow start could be the catalyst for change. Josh Tymon and Zouma are good young acquisitions, and Darren Fletcher brings experience and composure to the midfield, but will it be enough? Or will this be the first of the medium-sized jobs to lure Sam Allardyce back into football?

 

  1. Swansea

Paul Clement’s rescue job on Swansea, a team that looked doomed at the turn of the year, was a fine achievement. Now he has a chance to cast a new side in his own image. Chelsea loanee Abraham will continue his development at the Liberty Stadium and if Roque Mesa proves as impressive as his Errol Flynn moustache, we’re all in for a treat. They should be just fine this year.

  1. West Ham

Slaven Bilic needs a good season to reassert his authority at West Ham, having been undermined by last year’s woefully inconsistent campaign. He’s certainly bought well. Javier Hernandez should be a guarantee of goals, and if he can unlock the magic of Marko Arnautovic, £24m will look cheap. Joe Hart may yet rediscover his form and Pablo Zabaleta is a venerable God in human form. But there are a lot of variables here, and there’s something that doesn’t add up with the Hammers. If they don’t click quickly, Bilic could be axed.

  1. Crystal Palace

Frank de Boer and Crystal Palace should be a match made in heaven. And it may yet prove to be so. But a difficult first season of adjustment beckons. Switching gears between the prosaic, calculated counter-attacking of Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce and the more thoughtful, expressive methods of De Boer will bring unavoidable clunking. But expect signs of clear improvement by the spring.

  1. West Brom

Tony Pulis’ 10th-place finish last season was actually quite disappointing, given where the Baggies had been just a couple of months earlier. Freed from the fear of relegation, they won just two points from a possible 27 in the season’s close. They won’t go down — no one ever does under Pulis — and they’ve got a welcoming enough start to the season, but it’s hard to see them kicking on after such a low key summer.

  1. Burnley

Burnley were never really in trouble last season, and that’s testament to the management of Sean Dyche. But has he taken them as far as he can? If he thinks he has, perhaps this will be the year that he moves on. He’s signed well. Jack Cork is an underrated midfielder, and Charlie Taylor has been highly thought of for some time. But if the West Ham, Stoke or West Bromwich Albion jobs come up …

  1. Watford

The Hornets have done well this summer, recruiting Marco Silva as manager and snapping up Will Hughes and Nathaniel Chalobah from Derby and Chelsea, respectively. But you sense that they’ve been riding their luck for a while now, shuffling their pack on an annual basis to such an extent that the very notion of continuity is an abstract concept. So far, it has (just) worked. But it won’t work forever. And perhaps this is the year they’ll be caught out.

  1. Huddersfield

It is a continuing oddity that the least fashionable club promoted to the Premier League will always rack up points early on in the season as it takes advantage of the witless and the complacent. Expect Huddersfield to fulfill that role this season with Crystal Palace and West Ham their most likely early victims. But, as with Hull City last season, their early promise will fade. It was a miracle that a team on such a tight budget was even promoted. It will take an even bigger one to keep them up.

  1. Brighton

Everyone is going to love a trip to Brighton this season. The bracing sea air, the trendy bars, the discovery that 70 percent of the town’s inhabitants used to live in London but came south to follow their dream of producing their own ironic T-shirt range. Oh, and three points. Much will rest on the shoulders of talismanic Anthony Knockaert. Too much, in all probability.Iain Macintosh covers the Premier League and Champions League for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @IainMacintosh.

Premier League Preseason Tiers: Ranking the Contenders to the Relegation Candidates

SHAREJONATHAN WILSONWednesday August 9th, 2017  SI

The Premier League, in truth, is a series of smaller leagues. There is an obvious big six who have realistic hopes of winning the title, and there are those sides who at the beginning of the season would quite happily settle for finishing fourth from the bottom. Some may climb a band over the course of a season, or slip into the band below the one they believed themselves to be in–and there’s always the example of Leicester City to make fools of those who make predictions–but here is our predicted 1-20 finish for the season, divided into five key levels.

 

GENUINE TITLE CONTENDERS

  1. MANCHESTER CITY:City has bought extensively–and expensively–over the summer, and seems to have addressed most of the major deficiencies of last season, even if Ederson’s start in goal hasn’t entirely convinced. Pep Guardiola has said that for the first time in preseason he has begun to see City playing as he would like it to, which is just as well given the sense that there is a clear need to start delivering in City’s investment in him. The signing of three orthodox attacking fullbacks in Kyle Walker, Danilo and Benjamin Mendy perhaps signals a slight change of approach. Bernardo Silva should add to the attacking options.
  2. MANCHESTER UNITED: Jose Mourinho always wins the league in his second season at a club and he has, in Romelu Lukaku, Nemanja Matic and Victor Lindelof, strengthened the spine. Matic, vitally, should release Paul Pogba to be more effective than he was last season, while Lukaku should resolve the issue of failing to break down lesser sides. But there is wrangling over further spending while doubts remain as to Mourinho’s methods in the modern game.
  3. CHELSEA: The champion is likely to find it much tougher this season. European competition means Antonio Conte will have to rotate more, while teams even toward the end of last season began to get wise to the 3-4-2-1 formation he introduced with such success. The pending sale of Diego Costa and the injury that will keep Eden Hazard out of the early weeks of the season mean a possible dearth of creativity, while there has been constant rumbling over the summer about a perceived lack of transfer activity.
  4. TOTTENHAM:There has been no spending at all by Spurs this summer, a bold gambit in the modern world, but keeping last season’s squad together–with the exception of Walker–represents a major achievement. This is a young, exciting side that is growing together, but playing home games at Wembley while White Hart Lane is redeveloped may be an issue given Tottenham’s poor record at the national stadium.
  5. LIVERPOOL: Mohamed Salah’s arrival gives Liverpool the option of serious pace on both flanks, while Dominic Solanke adds depth to Liverpool’s attacking options. The failure to land Naby Keita, though, is a blow and there probably is need of another central defender, while the prospect of Philippe Coutinho departing for Barcelona looms over the start to the season.
  6. ARSENAL:Although Alexandre Lacazette has arrived to give Arsenal more cutting edge, the issues at the other end remain, for all that Sead Kolasinac enjoyed a goal-scoring debut in the Community Shield. The switch to a back three perhaps offers greater solidity, but with the future of a number of players still in doubt, this still feels like a

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE POTENTIAL

  1. EVERTON:Last season, Everton was in a league of its own in seventh, eight points adrift of Manchester United in sixth and 15 clear of Southampton in eighth. After a summer of unprecedented spending, facilitated by the sale of Romelu Lukaku, Ronald Koeman’s side should have moved closer to sixth than eighth, but it still looks stranded on the Europa League mezzanine.

EUROPA LEAGUE POTENTIAL

  1. SOUTHAMPTON: Few managers in Premier League history have made less of an impression than Claude Puel, who arrived without fanfare and departed without mourning, having done a decent job that hardly anybody noticed. Mauricio Pellegrino is more dynamic but he, as all recent Southampton managers have been, is hobbled by the club’s reputation for selling off its best talent.
  2. NEWCASTLE UNITED:It’s entirely possible Newcastle could be relegated. It’s entirely possible it could win silverware. Rafa Benitez is a very fine manager and he has a decent squad, but the summer following promotion has been spent in wrangling over transfers and control. For the moment an uneasy peace holds, but Newcastle could explode in either direction.

 

SAFELY MID-TABLE

  1. LEICESTER CITY:How will Leicester react to being just another club? It’s not the champion and it has no Champions League as a distraction, nor all the frenzied talk of player sales. And is Craig Shakespeare actually a good manager, or did he just benefit last season from not being Claudio Ranieri, after players lost faith in the Italian?
  2. STOKE CITY: 13th, 9th, 9th, 9th, 13th, 14th, 13th, 11th, 12th. That, going backwards, is a list of Stoke’s finishes since returning to the top flight in 2008. The makeup of the squad has changed profoundly since Mark Hughes took charge three years ago, but the result never seems much different. Marko Arnatutivic, Jon Walters and Glenn Whelan have gone; Darren Fletcher and Kurt Zouma have arrived, and it looks like it’s destined for a mid-table finish again.
  3. WEST HAM:There were times last season when it looked as though West Ham might be dragged into the relegation battle, there is still widespread dissatisfaction with the new stadium and Slaven Bilic sits uneasily on the Irons’ throne, but realistically the long-term prognosis must be positive. Summer additions Joe Hart, Javier Hernandez, Pablo Zabaleta and Arnautovic bring experience.
  4. WEST BROMWICH ALBION:Now that Sam Allardyce has retired, Tony Pulis is as near as there is to a guarantee against relegation. The football may not be pretty, and that has become an issue with West Brom fans who wonder whether drab stasis is actually better than aesthetically pleasing jeopardy. Egyptian center back Ahmed Hegazi is an intriguing addition, but this has been a quiet summer transfer-wise at the Hawthorns.

 

RELEGATION FODDER

  1. CRYSTAL PALACE:Frank De Boer’s managerial record is uncertain. Although he won four league titles in charge of Ajax, his time at Inter was brief and disastrous. It’s true that Inter is a club with deep structural issues, but the concern for Palace must be that De Boer needs the Ajax environment to survive. Jairo Riedewald and Ruben Loftus-Cheek are interesting rather than spectacular signings.
  2. BOURNEMOUTH:Eddie Howe’s side faces the familiar problem of the smaller club in the top flight. It has survived twice, but as the initial thrill of playing in the Premier League wears off, what comes next? Qualifying for the Europa League seems impossibly far off, so for smaller clubs existence becomes about staving off relegation for as long as possible before economic reality bites. Jermain Defoe, Asmir Begovic and Nathan Ake are experienced additions.
  3. BURNLEY: Sean Dyche has done a remarkable job at Burnley, but it, too, is now suffering from the question of what comes next. Does it look to play more expansively while trying to edge closer to mid-table, or is it enough simply to keep on surviving? Jon Walters, Jack Cork and Phil Bardsley are experienced signings, but the sale of Michael Keane could leave a defensive gap.
  4. WATFORD:Marco Silva impressed many as manager of Hull last season but ultimately couldn’t keep the Tigers up. He was appointed in the summer as Watford maintains its policy of staying up then sacking the manager who achieved that, although given the widespread dissatisfaction with Walter Mazzari that was perhaps perhaps a more understandable decision this tie than it has been in the past. The club-record signing of Andre Gray not only strengthens the attack, but it weakens a competitor in Burnley.
  5. BRIGHTON: After years of knocking on the Premier League door, Brighton has at last gained admittance. The question now is staying there. Chris Hughton is a well-respected manager who was harshly sacked by Newcastle and Norwich in his last two stints in the top flight. Anthony Knockaert is a classy midfielder who should make the step up, while there have been eight new arrivals.
  6. SWANSEA CITY: Paul Clement performed a minor miracle to keep Swansea up after a shambolic start to last season, but a squad that needed major surgery has only been tweaked. There have been several departures, but the only major arrival has been the midfielder Roque Mesa. With Fernando Llorente a year older and Gylfi Sigurdsson potentially on the outs as well, it’s not clear where the goals will come from unless Tammy Abraham, on loan from Chesea, hits the ground running.
  7. HUDDERSFIELD TOWN:For Huddersfield to win promotion is one of the more remarkable stories in recent history. David Wagner’s hard-pressing approach unsettled Championship sides early in the season, and the Terriers clung on to win the playoff final on penalties. Against fitter opponents there may need to be a change of approach, and with the budget relatively limited, this season is likely to be a struggle despite £38 million of investment.

HOW TO WATCH THE 2017-18 PREMIER LEAGUE SEASON

AUGUST 10, 2017

It’s the start of the greatest league in the world if you believe the hype around the Premier League. If you don’t, it’s still the start of the season for one of the world’s elite league. The Premier League offers some of the biggest names in the game while seeming more than happy to pay what that costs on our behalf. It’s nice of them to do the rest of us the favor. Meanwhile, there’s a big wide world of potential Premier League fans ready and willing to attach themselves to a surprisingly wide range of clubs. The Premier League might be all about Champions League qualification, but there’s still plenty to play for up and down the table.

The Siren Wail of the Super Clubs

This is a league dominated by clubs familiar to even the casual American sports fan. Not so long ago, most of the people fitting that description couldn’t have named a Premier League club if you spotted them a United. These days? The sport of the future is here in the present in America. There’s enough video game familiarity and NBC exposure for everybody and their mom to know the biggest clubs in the Premier League. That familiarity carries with it an easy way to pick a favorite. Go with what you know, which is the real reason why so many Americans tend to be fans of the same small group of clubs.Arsenal and Manchester United lead that list for that obvious reason. There’s nothing wrong with deciding to throw in with the club you’re most likely to see on TV or in person on a lucrative preseason tour. To a large extent, it makes more sense than getting clever with it and ending up following a club that only makes cameo appearances in your real life. Still, it does seem like every other American fan of a Premier League club has a very good and even noble reason for picking Arsenal.This season, that’s the same old story. Under majority owner Stan Kroenke, CEO and former MLS executive Ivan Gazidis, and manager Arsene Wenger Arsenal has shown season after season that they’re almost good enough. This has led supporters home and abroad to ask why they can’t win the title rather than providing good reasons for why a top four finish still counts. It does, of course, but this is a team that set a lofty standard in their Invincibles era. That means not losing, something Arsenal struggles with. That meant 5th-place last season, forcing a managerial crisis that Arsenal addressed by doing nothing. The Europa League this season can’t count enough. To keep things the same, Arsenal needs to win the Premier League title.

Managers

A super club needs an equally super manager. That’s been the case in English soccer since before the Premier League broke away in the early 90s. England likes to play up the role of the boss, turning them into almost mythical figures. For decades, that usually meant locally. These days, it means internationally. The two Manchester clubs employ two of the biggest names in world soccer. Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City and Jose Mourinho’s United are as much about the two of them right now.For Guardiola, this season is about showing he can put together his own super club as well as finally getting City into Champions League contention. For his old pal Mourinho, it’s about returning Manchester United’s stature as the top team in England if not Europe. Last season, Mourinho went all in on winning the Europa League and with it a Champions League place. It worked, but it almost felt beneath a club like United trading league points for Europa League success.What happens this season is important bordering on crucial for both of them. There are enough managers with jobs they don’t really want and lucrative offers in far-flung leagues to tell the story of what happens when reputations erode.

Coverage

Things have changed for the Premier League in America. What was blanket coverage courtesy of our friends at NBC Sports is now paying for the full glut of games each week. The best games on the schedule will probably be free to access for anyone with a standard cable subscription. If your interests lie with the bottom half of the table, you’re either paying for the extra online package or making do watching your heroes against bigger clubs.Of course, this pushes emerging fandom back towards the biggest clubs. They’re the ones that are easiest to watch with access you already have. For all the complaints about super club fandom and the Premier League, it remains the pragmatic response. Did anybody really expect season after season of an American broadcaster dumping every game on the schedule somewhere in their litany of cable and internet options? Well, regardless of that expectation, the reality hits for the 2017-18 season.

Top Four

It’s not always the top four, but that’s normally the teams getting into the Champions League. It’s also the line between elite success and failure in the Premier League, especially for the big clubs. The next tier can make do with the Europa League spots, but the elite deal in Champions League places. This season, there are five teams starting in the Champions League courtesy of Manchester United’s Europa League win. The pressure is on all of them to do more with that opportunity than what happened last season.In 2016-17, only one team made it to the quarterfinals. That was defending Premier League champions Leicester City, who had fired their manager and were caught in an odd scenario. Skirting relegation in the Premier League while advancing to the quarterfinals of the Champions League. They fixed their Premier League problems to finish 12th while the rest of that league’s elite wondered what happened to them in Europe.The Premier League is the richest league top to bottom in Europe. Shouldn’t that mean doing as good a job of beating those European clubs as we used to see not all that long ago?

Everyone Else

It’s tough being part of the Premier League’s nouveau-riche. Sure, you have the TV money to spend but so do all of your direct competitors. There’s also those selling clubs all over the world more than happy to adjust the price to account for your increase in revenue. Playing to survive seems silly when you’ve got transfer money to spend. Silly, but not exactly fair considering how many impactful players there are to go around.Premier League clubs are showing that it isn’t as simple as spending accordingly. It takes not just a shared vision for a squad but the availability of players to make it happen. That’s not a given. Where this leaves too many clubs is in a same as it ever was situation. They shouldn’t be battling against relegation, yet here they are with not enough points to show for their spending.That’s not the most engaging story and the Premier League has to know that. Figuring out the bottom half of the league might not be a priority, but it says as much about the Premier League as their title contenders.Nobody should confuse Everton with a club wondering what’s happening as they slide down the table. The blue half of Liverpool has spent a lot of money this summer and look to be the test case. Is spending enough to push into the elite in a single season? Are we about to see a new version of the Premier League that’s closer to the build for right now model normally associated with Liga MX and the South American leagues? It’s one of the interesting stories for a league well equipped to provide a lot of them.

PULISIC SCORES FOR BORUSSIA DORTMUND IN THE SUPERCUP- AMerican’s Abroad

AUGUST 6, 2017

The USMNT players in Europe and Mexico opens with Christian Pulisic picking up where he left off with Borussia Dortmund, scoring in the 2017 Supercup loss to Bayern Munich on penalties. Pulisic opened the scoring in the 12th minute with Bayern equalizing in the 18th. Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang returned the lead in the 71st with Bayern equalizing in the 88th from an own-goal. Tied 2-2 the game went to penalties with Bayern winning 5-4. Pulisic subbed out in stoppage time.A coach is never satisfied. At least, I’m not,” Borussia Dortmund coach Peter Bosz said. “In this case, neither with the match nor the result. If you’re 2-1 up with two minutes remaining, then you have to win the match. But we didn’t. We were in the lead on three occasions if you include the penalty shootout. That’s why we’re disappointed.”

In the 2. Bundesliga, Terence Boyd subbed on in the 78th minute for Darmstadt’s 1-1 draw at Kaiserslautern. Trailing from the 39th minute, Wilson Kamavuaka equalized in the 72nd. Alfredo Morales and Ingolstadt lost 1-0 at Sandhausen.

The Championship season started with a point for Tim Ream and Fulham, drawing 1-1 at home with Norwich City. An own-goal gave Fulham the lead in the 25th minute with Norwich equalizing in the 88th.

Geoff Cameron and Stoke City beat RB Leipzig 2-1 in a preseason friendly. Stoke gave up a 5th minute penalty at Red Bull Arena Leipzig with Mame Diouf equalizing in the 44th. A 78th minute own-goal was the difference.

Mix Diskerud’s IFK lost 1-0 at Kalmar, giving up a goal four minutes into stoppage time. Ethan Horvath was in goal for Club Brugge in their 3-1 home win over Eupen. Club Brugge trailed from the 19th minute with Jelle Vossen equalizing from the penalty spot in the 32nd. Dennis Bonaventure put Club Brugge up in the 65th. Eupen went a man down in the 90th with Abdoulay Diaby scoring Club Brugge’s third goal a minute later.

Liga MX, and Joe Corona and Paul Arriola started for Tijuana in their 3-0 home loss to Monterrey. Corona subbed out in the 61st minute. Arriola saw yellow in the 26th. Omar Gonzalez and Pachuca lost 3-2 at Lobos BUAP. Trailing 3-0, Edson Puch converted a 71st minute penalty and Jonathan Urretaviscaya pulled a goal back a minute into stoppage time. Jonathan Bornstein and Queretaro drew 1-1 at Tigres. Luis Miguel Noriega put Queretaro up in the 10th minute with Tigres equalizing in the 58th.

Did Not Play: Matt Miazga (Vitesse 1 – Feyenoord 1, 2-4 on penalties with Feyenoord winning the Johan Cruyff Shield), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Spurs 2 – Juventus 0), Lynden Gooch (Sunderland 1 – Derby County 1), Eric Lichaj (Nottingham Forest 1 – Millwall 0), Jorge Villafana and Ventura Alvarado (Santos Laguna 1 – Morelia 1), Michael Orozco (Tijuana 0 – Monterrey 3), Jose Torres (Tigres 1 – Queretaro 1), William Yarbrough (Leon 2 – Cruz Azul 2)

The advice, book and club move that put DeAndre Yedlin’s career back on track

QUICKLYU.S. right back DeAndre Yedlin’s soaring career hit a wall, but he found inspiration and took a leap of faith on a risky club move that put him back on course to excel.SHAREBRIAN STRAUSThursday May 18th, 2017

The warning may not have been exactly what DeAndre Yedlin wanted to hear, but mentorship isn’t always supposed to be warm, fuzzy and positive. Love should be tough at times, and truth is essential even if it hurts.At that time, Seattle Sounders forward Obafemi Martins was with his eighth club. Since moving from his native Nigeria to Italy as a teenager, he’d played professionally in six countries. He’d been around the block. And in Yedlin, he saw a talented homegrown player who’d be going places. So Martins made an effort to describe the journey that lay ahead.“He told me in everybody’s career, there’s going to be at least one point that you’re just going to hit a wall,” Yedlin recalled. “Whether it’s an injury, whether you’re just stressed out—nothing’s going right. There’s going to be some sort of bad time in your career.”

Yedlin’s trajectory mirrored his game. He did everything quickly and for a time, it seemed he’d simply sprint past those walls. In the fall of 2012 he was a University of Akron sophomore. In 2013 he was an MLS All-Star. And the following summer, he stepped off the U.S. bench and gave Eden Hazard and Belgium fits in the World Cup’s round of 16. Six months later, Yedlin, who was born and raised in Seattle, moved to England and joined Tottenham Hotspur on a reported $4 million transfer. He was 21.Yedlin was soaring. Then he hit the wall. And the manner in which he hauled himself over it looks like it’s going to be the turning point in his career—and perhaps his life—putting him in position to be a Premier League starter and the USA’s first-choice right back for years to come. He’s certainly a good bet to start next month’s pair of World Cup qualifiers.“At the time, [what Martins said] was a bit frightening to hear. I’d been on this run of two years of madness, going from Seattle to the World Cup and to Tottenham,” Yedlin told SI.com. “Now, especially that I’m a bit older, I’m so glad he mentioned that to me. It was huge, and it’s one of those things that stuck with me to this day. If I’m going through a hard time, I think about what he told me just reminds me that everybody goes through this. You just got to get through.”Yedlin didn’t expect to step onto the field at White Hart Lane right away.“I knew it was going to be a tough time when I got there and saw the level. I just tried to make the best out of the situation,” he said.But he also wasn’t prepared to make just one appearance for Spurs’ senior side. The player who’d done everything so quickly now was idle, and the trappings of a pro footballer’s life—especially in London—became too prominent. There’s temptation or diversion around most corners. The capital can make Seattle seem quaint. It can be overwhelming, especially if you suddenly have more money and time than ever.“It started as a very exciting time for me and for that first month, I was just trying to take everything in. It was a city I’d probably compare to New York—very fast-paced. Everybody’s a bit hectic. It’s massive.” Yedlin said. “Just being in that big of a city, it stalled me, I guess. … The football wasn’t going as I wanted it to. You try to find other things to do, to distract you a little bit. It’s just human nature. If you’re not fully happy doing one thing, you try to do find another thing to take your mind from it. I probably went out a little bit too much. I’m not a huge party guy, but more than I had been in the past.”That summer, Yedlin and the USA struggled through a miserable CONCACAF Gold Cup. In the meantime, he waited for some sort of relief at Tottenham. It finally came during the final hours of the transfer window in the form of a season-long loan to Sunderland, which had escaped relegation by three points in 2014-15.He was hurt at first. Spurs didn’t want him. But Yedlin quickly realized what an opportunity he had. He was still in the Premier League, after all. So he settled in and got to work. He made Sunderland’s match-day roster in the second and third weeks of the season and in the fourth, he went 90 minutes in a 2-2 draw against West Ham. Yedlin started seven of the ensuing eight games. Then, on December 12, he was pulled in the 19th minute against Watford. His confidence crumbled.“That had never happened to me in my life. It was eye-opening. It was embarrassing. I didn’t understand it,” he said. “I needed to make the best out of [the loan]. I was really trying to figure out, what is my problem? What can I do to better myself? I figured out that mentally, I needed to get stronger. In England, especially, mentally if you’re not strong it can eat you up. There’s the media, all the negativity surrounding footballers. If you’re not mentally strong, it can eat you. I wasn’t sure where to start, so I went on Amazon and typed in books about success.”  He ordered Maximum Achievement by Brian Tracy, a Canadian author, consultant and speaker now based in Southern California.Yedlin dived in.“I’m not a big reader, either. It was kind of an odd thing,” he said. “But that book will be one of the most important things I ever read. I have such a positive mindset now. One of the biggest things it did was help me set goals. It’s all things I sort of knew before, but I kind of had to see [in print].”Seeing it made the difference. Yedlin began writing those goals down in detail—one week out, then two weeks, one month, six months, two years. Committing them to paper had the effect of signing a contract with himself, or Tracy, or Sunderland, or the universe. He obligated himself, and only himself, to reach them. He started keeping a journal.“I was kind of blaming other things and wasn’t realizing it,” he said. “The book said nobody can make you feel a certain way. You always have control … I had to take responsibility for myself.”He started against Manchester United on February 13 and remained in the Black Cats’ lineup for the remainder of the ’15-16 EPL campaign. They survived by two points. Then, armed with the a discipline and perspective forged by failure and a transformative year on loan, Yedlin took ownership of the biggest decision of his career.“Kind of in the middle of July, [my agent] said there was Newcastle interest,” he said. “But at first, I didn’t want to go down a league.”The Magpies, Sunderland’s arch-rival, played in the Championship. There was no denying it was a step down. But NUFC is hardly a small club. It has a “Premier League culture,” Yedlin said. St. James’ Park seats more than 50,000. Coach Rafa Benítez was a Champions League winner. Promotion to the EPL was anticipated and if everything went well, Yedlin would be starting when they got there. But if they didn’t….“It was a risk,” he said. “It was a very, very tough choice. But I made it and stuck with it. I kind of took it on myself. Obviously, I spoke with different people. But I tried not to let their opinions weigh on my decision. I sat down with myself. ‘What do you want to do? What are the pros and cons?’”

He signed a five-year contract. Not everyone was happy. Sunderland fans called Yedlin a “snake,” he said. U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann wanted him to stay in the EPL, either at Sunderland or, ideally, by earning minutes back at Tottenham. Following a couple friendlies last fall, Klinsmann ripped Yedlin during a press conference, citing his “drop” to the Championship. He played only 16 minutes combined in the qualifying losses to Mexico and Costa Rica.But in Newcastle, Yedlin flourished. He rented a house and reveled in living alone and parking in his garage. The city’s big enough to have what you want and need, but not so large that it exhausts you. It’s northern. It’s overcast. And it loves its soccer. It felt like home.“It doesn’t have the mountain, but it has its nature. It’s a little bit isolated. There’s definitely a more Seattle feel. Living in London and having a lavish lifestyle, it’s not that important to me. I’m fine with just a simple life. That’s what got me here,” he said. “Seattle is bigger, but in terms of the calmness of the city, which is a big thing for me, I think I do a lot better in a city that’s more relaxed.”Yedlin’s grandparents, who raised him, visit frequently and have mastered driving on the left so they can attend his games while they’re there. It usually was worth going. Yedlin started frequently in the fall and then regularly in January and February before a hamstring injury sidelined him in March. He bounced back to start three of Newcastle’s final four games, during which wins over Preston, Cardiff City and Barnsley vaulted the Magpies past Brighton and to the top of the table. Newcastle will enter the Premier League as champions.Yedlin won the Supporters’ Shield and U.S. Open Cup with the Sounders, but the toll this trophy exacted was much larger. “The way the whole scenario turned out, it was incredible. There’s no feeling like it,” he said. “I lifted [the trophy], and it was pretty heavy. But it felt real.”

He took a few days off, visited Las Vegas with a friend and expected to be back home in Seattle by the end of this week. He said he was hoping to train with the Sounders for a while—a champion mingling with champions—in order to stay sharp for the upcoming qualifiers.“I definitely needed a little bit of a break, but I love football. When I’m gone for a week or two, I start to get the itch to get back onto the field. That’s the way I am,” he said.Perhaps his former Seattle teammates will notice a bit of a difference. They may find that Yedlin now has mental fortitude that matches his physical gifts. For a few years, he represented potential that required refinement. He was a speedy, skillful outside back with an attacking mentality who hadn’t mastered the art or subtlety of defending at the highest level. He could be exposed. And his first 18 months in England exposed him. But that trial revealed someone who was willing to humble himself–who was eager to work and strive to become the player he needed to be on the field and the person he wanted to be off it.

Over the next few months, as the USA tries to enhance its Hexagonal standing, as it looks for Gold Cup redemption and as Newcastle takes its rightful Premier League place, Yedlin will have the chance to show off what he’s learned. It’s an opportunity he’ll have earned.

Steve Cherundolo Q&A: Former U.S. star on coaching, national team, more

The Mayor of Hannover shows no signs of leaving office.Steve Cherundolo arrived at Hannover 96 in 1999 as an unheralded outside back, and aside from stints with the U.S. national team, he never left. Cherundolo retired from the game in 2014 after making more than 420 league and cup appearances for Die Roten but has stayed with the club in a variety of coaching roles. He is going into his third season as manager of the club’s U-17 team, but he also is taking on a role outside of his coaching duties. Cherundolo is part of the Bundesliga Legends Network, a group of former pros intent on spreading the word about the Bundesliga.Reached by telephone, Cherundolo spoke of his career, his managerial hopes and his thoughts on the current state of the U.S. men’s national team, as well as one Christian Pulisic.This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

ESPN FC: It’s your third year coaching the U-17s. Do you enjoy coaching that age group?

SC: Yeah. It’s difficult because it’s right in the middle of puberty and they have other things going on in their heads. So it’s a constant battle with them, but it’s fun. It’s an age where they can develop a helluva lot. It’s probably my last year in this age group. It’s still fun. It’s an age where they start to realize there’s more to the game than just going out and “trying my hardest.” It’s definitely interesting, but sometimes you do miss the tempo of the men’s game.

ESPN FC: What’s better, being a player or a coach?

SC: They’re both kind of satisfying in different ways. A coach, you definitely have more going on; there’s more organization, there’s more time management, there’s more obstacles to overcome, there’s more decisions to be made. It’s definitely more fulfilling, the coaching job, I would say on an all-around basis. And when something does go well, you accomplish something, it’s more gratifying as a coach to see that, to see your ideas out on the field that work and don’t work. But as a player, the lifestyle of a player is amazing. It’s an incredible job and a privilege to have been a player.

ESPN FC: Did you always want to be a coach?

SC: It always interested me, yeah. It always fascinated me, and I always tried as a player to soak up any bit of information I had from all of my different coaches growing up in the youths and in the men’s game. So it always interested me, the different approaches my coaches had in my career. You take a little bit from each one and kind of implement that into your own style and characteristics. You are who you are. You really can’t change that. I think being authentic is important in a coaching job.

ESPN FC: Who in terms of coaches shaped you?

SC: Clive Charles, for sure. Sigi Schmid was another important coach in the youth ranks and someone I’ve kept in contact with over the years and just talked about soccer in general. On the national team side, you have Bruce Arena, who was the coach for eight years while I was active with the team. Then Bob Bradley, and at the end of my career Jurgen Klinsmann. Those were coaches who I learned something from all of them, and they all have different characteristics and different traits that are good. I think you can take the best of all three.

ESPN FC: When you were approaching retirement, was there an “Oh crap, what do I do now?” moment, or had you been planning this move into coaching for quite a while?

SC: I wouldn’t describe it as an “Oh crap” moment because I was in no hurry to do anything else. I had a wonderful career, and I didn’t have to jump into something right away. So I just decided to retire in March [2014] because I was fed up with rehab and there was no progress. I just decided to call it. And then I started to work on a solution.

I needed to finish in my head what I had done on the field, I wanted to make sure that psychologically that was finished, close the door on my playing career. And then I spoke to my club about options, and then an opportunity popped up as an assistant coach in our reserve team, and that was perfect. I pretty much jumped straight into that. I think it was like a three-week break. And then my wife threw me out of the house. She couldn’t stand it anymore. So it was three weeks of retirement, and then I decided to get back on the field.

ESPN FC: Had you already started getting your coaching licenses?

SC: No, I had not, and I kind of regret that. If I did have the opportunity to give some advice to older players, and they want to get into coaching or at least keep that option open, I would recommend to them to take the coaching licenses as a player because it will change the way you see the game as a player, as well. I kind of regret that, but I didn’t plan on retiring then.

ESPN FC: In what way does it does it change the way you see the game?

SC: I think you get a better understanding of the whole picture. As a player, if you’re a right-back or a goalkeeper or a forward, you’re very in tune with what’s happening on your parts of the field and what your job is with the ball and without the ball, and who is playing next to you. But you don’t have too much concern with how all 11 players, and even the players on the bench, are moving and functioning and working together. What decisions have to be made off the field, and what decisions off the field affect the ones on the field and so forth.

So coaching is really complex, you have to keep everyone involved, and everybody has to be looked after and taken care of. As a player, you’re just looking after yourself and taking orders. As a coach, it’s kind of different. You have to gather information, make decisions and give orders. I think as a player, if you have that knowledge, you can first help the coach, and second become a better player.

ESPN FC: What was the hardest part about transitioning into coaching for you?

SC: Time management, because you are the one calling the shots and you are not just following orders. I think as a professional, and growing up in the youth ranks, you just do what the coach says and you’re there at the time that the coach says. You do that for so many years, and it just becomes natural. You wait for a schedule and you make sure that you’re on time. As a coach, you’re making sure that everything works and everything functions properly, and you’re taking into consideration all of the other people’s schedules: your players, your staff, the parents if it’s a youth game.

I think that’s the biggest transition, just time management and organization and making sure you’re prepared for training and games. Preparation is 90 percent of the battle, and once you have a grip on that, then you can dive into the meat and potatoes of coaching and really talk about tactics and what’s the best way to develop a player and what’s the best way to win a game. That’s the fun stuff, but the stuff you have to get through is just the organization and time management.

ESPN FC: Oftentimes you hear about a stigma being attached to being an American player in Europe. To what extent does that still exist and have you encountered that a little bit as a coach?

SC: No, and I never really felt that as a player, either. To me, there’s a general understanding — and that’s just the way the leagues work here — and that is for the sporting director or the manager, it’s his job to replace you as soon as you sign a contract. I think if you understand that as a player it’s a business — it’s a cutthroat business and it’s never personal — and if you perform well, it doesn’t matter where you’re from. It doesn’t matter what language you speak, it doesn’t matter what country you’re from, the doors will be wide open.

If you’re not performing at the highest level, then of course I can see how some players interpret that as being, “Oh they don’t like me because I’m American.” And I haven’t had that feeling yet as a coach, nor did I have that feeling as a player.

ESPN FC: Do you feel like part of that is due to the fact that you’ve been established in Germany for so long?

SC: Yeah. For sure, playing in the Bundesliga for a number of years and being in Germany has enabled me to at least get my foot in the door as a coach. You have to kind of prove that you know what you’re doing once you’re there, but it will definitely help you get your foot in the door, that’s for sure.

ESPN FC: So how far away from being a full-fledged manager of a pro team are you, do you think?

SC: I will be hopefully be starting my pro license next year, in 2018. Once I have that, you basically have your driving license to drive a professional team. I need that first. It’s a 10-month course, so all of 2018, and you’re looking at 2019 is when I would look to take over a team, either in MLS or in Europe.

ESPN FC: So you’re not picky about it having to be Hannover since you’ve been there forever?

SC: No, it just has to fit for myself, the club and my family. I would love to come home, and [I] respect the work that MLS and U.S. Soccer has done over the years. I would love to at some point be a part of that. But the timing has to work out. These are things you learn as a player. That’s something the business decides. You can prepare yourself for certain things, but you’re not alone making those decisions.

ESPN FC: How do you see the Bundesliga shaping up this year?

SC: There’s obviously Bayern Munich on top, but I think there’s at least two or three teams that can fight for the title. I think Dortmund definitely has a shot. I know they have a new coach. Depending on how quickly the coach can implement his style of soccer on the players, that’s something that we’ll just have to wait and see. But I think if you look at the teams and the quality they have out on the field, they’re definitely strong enough to give Bayern a run for their money this year. I don’t expect Leipzig to have a season like they did last year, but they have made some good signings, so we’ll see.

ESPN FC: What are your thoughts on the U.S. national team at the moment?

SC: It’s wonderful to see them successful again. I followed the Gold Cup, obviously, and it’s great to see some of the guys that I used to play with on the field and winning the title, and a little bit of the spirit of the U.S. national team back out on the field. That’s something that Bruce is very, very good at, putting 11 guys out on the field who compete at the highest level possible. That’s something he managed everywhere he’s been, and I think it’s something he stands for, and U.S. Soccer is profiting from it once again.

ESPN FC: How does he do that? You hear what a player’s coach he is, but what is it about his approach and his style that gets 11 guys to fight?

SC: It’s a combination of things. One, it’s his demeanor and the way he interpreted the game as a player and, obviously, as a coach. It’s how he goes about creating an atmosphere during training camp. Off the field, everything is pretty relaxed — still focused, but very relaxed. But once training time comes around, it’s all business, and once he blows that whistle, he wants 100 percent effort from everybody. That’s well understood and well communicated. That’s all a player wants, as well. A player wants to come into camp, he wants to know what he’s doing during the week, he wants to know what training is like, and Bruce gives him that. There aren’t too many surprises.

The other thing he does really well, him and his staff, is their roster selection and eventually the starting XI selection. I think he does an unbelievable job of mixing and matching characteristics on the field. So you have a right winger who matches up with a right-back. The duo on the left side works out well together. And it’s not only technically and tactically, but also mentally and psychologically. So I think that’s something that he’s always kept his eye on, and in my opinion, I haven’t had a coach that has done that any better than he has. He’s the best at mixing and matching players to find the right starting XI.

ESPN FC: Arena’s reputation is that he isn’t a tactician. You played for him for a long time, what do you say to that critique?

SC: I disagree with that. Obviously, you cannot survive in a professional league, in the professional ranks for so long and be as successful as Bruce and not coach tactics. Of course he does. But I think what you can do as a coach, and what he does very well, is mix and match the players who understand the game similarly. If you try to put two forwards on the field and one player with his club plays as a lone striker up top and the other player plays on the weekend with two strikers, it’s not going to work well. Bruce will not do that. He’ll put two forwards together that play the same style of soccer at club, so they mix and match well. I think you can get through a lot of tactical issues on the national team by putting 11 players on the field that understand each other well. I think that’s kind of the trick to it. You just don’t always have the time on the field as a men’s national team coach to go through the tactics.

ESPN FC: What did you make of Klinsmann’s time as coach of the national team?

SC: It was a lot of fun, and it was challenging in some ways because he expects more things out of players than most coaches would. He wants a player to not just go out on the field and give 100 percent, he wants them to be thinking about soccer and challenging the players off the field, as well. The game of soccer is so broad, and there are so many ways to explore soccer and try to improve in different areas. And that’s something he really tried to implement, and I applauded him.

It’s true, as a soccer player, a professional athlete, you have a lot of downtime. And you have a lot of time wasted, shopping, you do this and that. I think Jurgen tried to make the most of that off time by making players smarter and helping them to know the game better. I think the idea that what Jurgen had was good, it was fantastic. I don’t know if that’s the right way to make players short-term better, but I’m sure long term it would.

ESPN FC: Do you think it was the right move to have him be replaced and have Bruce come in?

SC: It’s so hard for me to comment on that from the outside. I watched the games, I followed the results, but I have no idea what’s going on in camps.

ESPN FC: But you mentioned earlier it seemed like the team had lost a bit of fight, and that they’ve gotten that back.

SC: I wouldn’t say fight, but I would say maybe a little bit of identity that they’ve had over the years. For so many years, the national team was embodied by players who gave their all, who never stopped fighting, and they were reoccurring faces that you saw on the national team. I think Jurgen made an honest attempt to try to have more players involved in the program, so there was a little more depth in the program, which is smart long term. But I think sometimes what happened is that the first 11 was changed too much to where the team lost its identity over time. You may have won some depth, but I think your top 11 lost some identity, and at some point that’s tough to overcome.

ESPN FC: Fans watch guys go over to Europe and some guys stick and some don’t. Looking back over your career, why was it that you were able to establish yourself and stay in Germany for so long?

SC: A point that I recognized early was that I was only as good as my last game, and at any stage, the club was trying to replace me. And they did. They tried to replace me every year. But I enjoyed that challenge, convincing every coach that I had that I was the best choice for that position at that time. I also felt that staying at Hannover was important to me because I was improving as a player. I felt that the club was making strides forward, building that program and financially, as well. And [what] I always ask myself when I signed a contract was: personally how happy am I? All of those questions always got answered with “yes.”

ESPN FC: How critical is learning the language to make sure that you’re maximizing your effectiveness on the field?

SC: Very important, because there is a life outside of your apartment, the stadium and the hotels; a very large one. And I think the quicker and sooner and the more you can engulf yourself in the culture, the better off you are because there are difficult times on the field and in the team where you don’t have any room to escape. I think it’s really important to find a group of friends or places you can go to take your mind off of what’s going on in the locker room or out on the field, or maybe a tiff you had with the coach or a teammate. That was something that was very important to me; an opportunity to vent outside of my Bundesliga bubble. You can only do that if you speak the language.

ESPN FC: I’ve got to ask you about Christian Pulisic. What are your thoughts on him and his progress, and how far do you think he can go?

SC: The sky is the limit, and it’s a perfect example of what can happen to a player … let me go back a bit. The U.S. does an unbelievable job of developing players technically and physically. What I think happens at some points is that we lose the ball on the tactical side of the game. When the boys turn 16, the level of play in the U.S. from the age of 16 to 18 isn’t good enough compared to Europe. I think Pulisic came over [to Europe] when he was 16, and there are a few other examples now. If you can get a European passport, I would recommend that to the young American players, because the level of play from 16 to 18 here in the junior Bundesliga is excellent. Until we can achieve that in the U.S., I don’t think we can maximize our talents in the U.S. They need to move to Europe.

I think that’s what’s really given Pulisic the opportunity to maximize his talents and his potential. He pushed the limits. He pushed the envelope. I think he would’ve been bored [had he stayed in the U.S.] He would’ve stood out in the U.S., he would have been a professional, I think. But I think pushing him to his limits from 16 to 18 enabled him to step into the men’s team at 18 and really make a splash, which is what he’s done.

ESPN FC: You mentioned the 16-to-18 age group — is that just because not as many kids in the U.S. are in professional environments at that age?

SC: Yeah, I think it’s the most important age group. I’ve trained this age group for the past three years now, and that’s where you really see kids drop off the pace or keep up the pace of the game. I see 16-year-olds, OK — they realize it’s professional soccer or that this high level isn’t for them, so they’re going to go to a smaller club. That is the age where you make or break it.

It’s very interesting, and I think it’s very important that they have high-quality games week in, week out, and good training four times a week at that age. Prior to that, you can do a lot of wonderful things on the technical side and the physical side to get players ready, but from 16 to 18, that’s where you need to learn the tactics of the game and implement them on the weekend against high-quality opponents. That’s the problem in the U.S. right now.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

Chicago back on top of MLS as disappointing draw against lowly D.C. drops Toronto

The Fire are back on top after Toronto tripped up against the league’s worst team in D.C.

  1. Chicago Fire(+1): The Fire couldn’t overtake TFC for first in the East after their 4-1 destruction of New England, but they did reclaim the No. 1 spot in the Power Rankings.
  2. Toronto FC(-1): It took an own goal for the first-place team in the East to salvage a 1-1 draw against the last-place team, D.C. United. MLS!
  3. New York City FC(no change): This just in: David Villa is very good. The defending MVP is starting to look like this year’s MVP after a hat trick in a 3-2 win over the Red Bulls.
  4. Sporting Kansas City(no change): A questionable penalty helped host Sporting to a 1-1 draw with Atlanta in a game the home team probably should have won.
  5. Atlanta United(+1): Another impressive road result via a 1-1 draw in Kansas City for the expansion team that looks more and more like a playoff contender.
  6. FC Dallas(-1): After a 3-1 loss in Philadelphia, Oscar Pareja’s men have dropped two in a row and shipped seven goals in the process. Blip or worrying trend?
  7. New York Red Bulls(no change): The Red Bulls not only saw their four-game winning streak come to an end with a 3-2 loss in the Bronx, they lost the bragging rights in the battle for New York.
  8. Seattle Sounders(+1): The Sounders’ counterattack worked to precision in a 4-0 romp at Minnesota United. It’s now seven unbeaten for Seattle.
  9. Vancouver Whitecaps(+2): The Caps’ slow climb up the standings in the West continued with a 2-2 draw in Colorado. Fredy Montero is leading the way.
  10. San Jose Earthquakes(+1): Chris Wondolowski’s ninth goal of the year helped the Quakes to a 2-1 win over Crew SC and put him one goal away from double-digit goals for an eighth straight season.
  11. Portland Timbers(+1): How good is Diego Valeri? The Argentine put in another virtuoso performance in the Timbers’ 3-1 win over the Galaxy on Sunday.
  12. Houston Dynamo(-4): For the Dynamo, every point on the road is a bonus. A goalless draw in Sandy, Utah — especially after Alex’s sending-off — represents progress.
  13. Columbus Crew SC(-3): Crew SC sit above the red line, but with 10 games left, even a 2-1 loss in San Jose stings just a bit as they push for the playoffs.
  14. Philadelphia Union(+4): The Union are a maddening mix of good and bad. Bad, like last week’s 3-0 loss to New England. Good, like this week’s 3-1 showing against Dallas.
  15. LA Galaxy(-1): After a 3-1 loss in Portland, the Sigi Schmid era isn’t exactly off to a great start in L.A. Problems in midfield need sorting out.
  16. Orlando City SC(-1): Getting Cyle Larin back on the scoresheet is a good thing for Orlando, but losing 2-1 in Montreal won’t help the playoff chase.

VAR debuts to positive reviews, Orlando City continues to falter

the Video Assistant Referee era begins in Major League Soccer, we take a look at who stood out for the right and wrong reasons over the weekend.  ARCH BELL ESPNFC

Heroes

The Video Assistant Referee made its debut this weekend in MLS and fulfilled expectations. Any fears of five-minute waits and players standing around with hands on hips were put to rest, but more importantly, a call such as the Maxi Urruti goal versus the Philadelphia Union was rightly disallowed. Considering this was its first weekend of prime-time use in the league, it has to be considered a success. I, for one, welcome our new video-review overlords.  Once Lloyd Sam was sent off late in the first half of DC United’s home date against league leading Toronto FC, things looked bleak for Ben Olsen’s men, even though they were leading 1-0. It’s been a miserable season in the nation’s capital, but to their credit, they gutted out a 1-1 draw against the Canadians on Saturday. It wasn’t like DC United had to hang on for dear life, either, to get the draw. They kept TFC at bay with Luciano Acosta frustrating everyone in sight. Meanwhile, the defense, having been gutted for 15 goals in the previous four games, stayed compact and organized. Kudos to DC United for a very good result.  The eighth edition of the New York derby was played on Sunday, and hands down it was the best of the bunch thus far between the Red Bulls and NYCFC. After two years of one-way traffic in favor of the Red Bulls, NYCFC can say that the Big Apple is blue after Sunday’s 3-2 win. Winning the season series was important for NYCFC, and more so because they overcame a 2-1 second half deficit. It was the first time that NYCFC has shown resiliency in the face of adversity in this rivalry. A significant win, no doubt.  This felt like the weekend of the MLS ball boy. First there was the DC United ball boy who skillfully ball-faked a Toronto FC player in the second half of Saturday’s 1-1 draw at RFK Stadium. That was then followed by the molasses-like reaction from the NYCFC ball boy during Sunday’s New York derby. Are these childish techniques used to waste time? Yes, of course they are. They’re ball kids. If opponents don’t like it, they should make better use of the other 89:55.

Villains

There is arguably no team in a bigger rut right now than Orlando City after Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Montreal. While still in the playoff hunt, Orlando’s form of late — one win in nine games — reflects a team lacking ideas. The OCSC attack is painful to watch. With the pieces they have in Dom Dwyer, Cyle Larin and Kaka, they should be doing better, but the shortcomings come in midfield, and it’s on head coach Jason Kreis to figure it out. Quickly.  Minnesota United remains an enigma. The team’s past three matches, all at home, have been a roller coaster, with a dismal 3-0 loss to the Red Bulls followed by a euphoric 4-0 win over DC United, then ending with a 4-0 whipping at the hands of the Seattle Sounders. Just when you think Minnesota has taken a step forward and had one of those “this could change our season” games, it falls on its face.   Houston Dynamo midfielder Alex had an epically bad 90 seconds on Saturday night, earning a pair of yellow cards in less time than it takes to microwave popcorn. For a team that habitually struggles away from home — just one win– playing with 10 men ended any hopes of victory on Saturday against Real Salt Lake. Alex has been fantastic this season for the Dynamo, but his reckless decisions put the Dynamo in peril of reverting back to losing ways on the road.  What’s going on with FC Dallas? In past seasons the Texans have gone through rough spells, but it looked like they would shake that in 2017. No such luck. A week after getting pasted 4-0 at home to Vancouver, FC Dallas responded with a desultory 3-1 loss in Philadelphia. Even more curious was Mauro Diaz’s substitution off at halftime with the score at 2-0. Swapping your main playmaker after just 45 minutes will raise plenty of questions. It could be just a rough spell, but after two bad losses and midfielder Kellyn Acosta’s “I’d move to Europe in this window” comment

, things are rocky in Big D.

Indy Eleven Signs Experienced Defender Cory Miller

Former “Boy in Blue” rejoins after intensive rehab; additional roster changes take effect

INDIANAPOLIS (August 9, 2017) – Indy Eleven announces the signing of defender Cory Miller, with the defender eligible to face Miami FC this weekend. Per club policy, details of the contract will not be released.Miller, who returns to Indy Eleven having featured over 40 times for the club since his arrival in 2014, is a welcome return to the squad after suffering a season-ending injury in October 2016. After extensive rehabilitation and training, the defender returns to the field and will wear No. 16. Miller’s return brings the Indy Eleven roster to a total of 22 players.“It means a lot to return to playing for Indy Eleven. I’ve been working hard for the last ten months to get back in shape and get back on this team so I’m excited to be back for my fourth year,” said Miller. “I’m so excited to play in front of our fans again! I’ve been getting messages for the last six months about when I would be back so my first home game is going to be extremely special and I’m pumped to be back, that’s for sure.”

A native of Zionsville, Indiana, Miller graduated from Zionsville High School in 2006 and starred at NAIA side Olivet Nazarene University in Chicago, IL from 2006-09. He would go on to be the university’s first-ever professional player after signing on with the Carolina Railhawks (North Carolina FC) in 2011. After a stint with USL PRO League’s Los Angeles Blues during the 2012-13 seasons, Miller was then signed for “Indiana’s Team” on August 28, 2014, and played a big role down the stretch in starting the team’s final nine contests of the inaugural campaign.Speaking on the addition, Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson wasted no time in applauding the defender for his recovery and efforts.“Cory has great athleticism and pace. He can run with anybody and he’s a very physical player; he enjoys that part of the game. For me, this would start the process of being the comeback player of the year,” said Hankinson. “It’s extremely important to have options in selection. Right now, we have six defenders with our starting back four, and I think the depth and experience of the squad will help as guys can step into any situation. We’re well covered now.”In a related roster note, defender Anthony Manning (concussion protocol) will be placed on medical leave for the foreseeable future on the recommendation of the Indy Eleven medical staff.Indy Eleven travels south to face NASL Spring Season Champion Miami FC this Saturday (7:30 PM ET; beIN Sports).

Three Things – #INDvFCE

Our takeaways from Indy Eleven’s 3-1 loss to FC Edmonton at home on Saturday

Published Aug 7, 2017

GOALS TRENDING FOR VUKOVIC

Indy Eleven defender Nemanja Vukovic continues to impress after scoring his second goal in the last three games. The “Boys in Blue” were granted a free kick outside of the Eddies’ box in the 65th minute after Edmonton defender Abdoulaye Diakite was shown a yellow card for tripping Indy youngster David Goldsmith. With a masterful left-footed strike, Vukovic sent the ball directly into the top left corner of the goal just out of Edmonton goalkeeper Tyson Farago’s reach. Giving Indy one for the evening, Vukovic’s strike came close to closing the gap between Edmonton’s two-goal lead. Unfortunately, luck fell to the wayside as Edmonton claimed victory and three points.Prior to Vukovic’s goal against the Eddies, the Montenegrin claimed a goal in Indy’s 2-0 victory against Jacksonville Armada FC on June 15th.  In the 48th minute, Vukovic delivered a corner kick to the center of Jacksonville’s box that was immediately deflected to the left edge of the field. However, the ball was met by Indy XI forward Justin Braun who laid a quick pass to Indy midfielder Brad Ring. With an Armada defender charging towards him, Ring sent the ball sky-high back to Vukovic who was waiting inside the right edge of the Armada’s box. With a quick dance around another charging Armada defender, Vukovic sent the ball into the back of the net from a difficult angle, opening the scoring for the evening.Vukovic’s goal total has been brought up to five since he signed for “Indiana’s Team” in 2016. In addition, the defender has collected 6 assists in his time so far.

CAUTIONS

Saturday’s match was rife with disciplinary measures for both sides. By the end of the night, there was a total of six yellow cards between the two teams; two for Indy Eleven and four for FC Edmonton.The first card of the evening was shown to the Eddies’ Nik Ledgerwood in the 34th minute for a handball. Next card was shown to Eleven midfielder Gerardo Torrado in the 52nd minute for dissent after a verbal disagreement with Edmonton players over the official’s penalty kick call. Soon after in the 65th minute, Edmonton’s Abdoulaye Diakite was shown the next yellow after tripping David Goldsmith; this foul was the precursor to Nemanja Vukovic’s goal. Less than 10 minutes later, Brad Ring was shown Indy’s second yellow for the evening in the 74th minute after contesting the change in possession after the ball was forced from play. The last two yellows of the evening were shown to Edmonton’s Tyson Farago and Shawn Nicklaw for time-wasting.

TIME TO REBUILD

There’s no time to dwell on the past. With the first loss of the Fall Season, as well as the first loss in seven matches, the situation has become a matter of picking up the pieces and moving forward. As it stands for the Fall, Indy currently sits in 6th place with three points with North Carolina FC leading the table with four points. Overall, Indy moved back down into 6th place on the combined table with 23 points, trailing behind Jacksonville’s and North Carolina’s 25 points.  Where the “Boys in Blue” currently stand, there’s still plenty of time forge ahead. After an impressive 6-game run, Indy Eleven has managed to close the gap on a playoff spot in the combined standings. Furthermore, a win and a loss this early in the Fall Season leaves more than enough room for improvement. In an earlier interview, Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson stated that “With 16 games, we figure we’ve got to win about 10, 11 [games] in order to build the kind of points—30-plus-points to add to the 20 from our Spring. I feel like that’s the level we’ve got to produce to be a playoff team.”  A loss is a tough pill to swallow, but regaining momentum will be the key moving forward to the next match away from home this Saturday against the 2017 Spring Champions, Miami FC.

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8/7/17 Carmel FC starts Goalie Training Tues/Thur eves with Indy 11 Keeper

Carmel FC is excited to get Goalkeeper Training started for the season this Tuesday night at Shelbourne fields.  We’ll plan to meet at the Shelbourne concessions for our first training session. U11-U12 Boys and Girls  6- 7 pm   &   U13 + Above 7-8 pm.

Trainings will be two days a week Tues/Thurs with hopes the keepers can make at least 1 session per week – (even if they have to miss some team practice time).

 

We are excited to introduce Christian Lomeli, a back-up Goalkeeper for the Indy 11, as a new Goalkeeping Coach this season for Carmel FC.  Christian played at IUPUI before finishing up his collegiate career last season as a starter for Indiana University.  He has served as an assistant training goalies at Chicago/Indiana Fire and IU since starting his professional career.

GK_Christian_Lomeli-Web

“We are thrilled to have a young dynamic professional Goalie like Christian working with our kids,” CFC DOC Matt Coyer said.  “Christian will bring his experience at the major College and Professional ranks as he prepares our lesson plans and works to help teach our goalies the art of goalkeeping.”

GK Coach Shane Best is also returning and will focus on just helping with the goalies this year.

Carmel FC Goalkeeper Training 

Tues/Thurs Evenings at Shelbourne / *Thurs moving to Badger (by 8/24)

U11-U12 Boys and Girls  6- 7 pm   &   U13 + Above 7-8 pm

 

Contact GK Coach Shane Best at shanebestsoccer@gmail.com for more info.

8/4/17 Neymar to PSG for Record Fee, MLS Allstars Tie Real Madrid, Indy 11 Home Sat Night 7:30 pm, Germany and English Cup Games Sat/Sun on Fox, US Ladies Win

Neymar is headed to PSG for a Record Breaking amount of money $222 million. Wow the transfer fees are getting unbelievable – and this certainly took some time – but honestly I have no issue with Neymar wanting to break out on his own and try move himself from the 3rd or 4th best player in the world to 1st.  At Barca he was always going to play second fiddle to the legendary Messi.  At PSG – if he can help lead them to the Champion League Finals or Semi-Finals even – he will prove his worth.  The EPL and World League Seasons are right around the corner with the German Super Cup (Dortmund – Pulisic facing Bayern Munich) on Sat 2:30 pm on Fox and the Community Shield with Arsenal vs Chelsea Sunday at 9:30 am on Fox Sports 1.  The French/Ligue 1 season also starts this weekend with PSG hosting Amiens SC Sat at 11 am and Olympique Lyon vs Strasbourg at 2 pm both on beIN Sport.  (See season preview below).

I watched the MLS Allstar game with great interest as I was really hoping to attend.  It rained so I am actually glad I didn’t go but it was a fine game and I was happy to see MLS tie the game late 1-1.  I was a little disappointed Real didn’t have more starters – start the game.  But everyone basically played and it was entertaining with some great saves to keep it low scoring.  Great to see a sold out stadium and the highest TV audience #s ever for a MLS Allstar game.  Video Review starts this weekend in MLS – (great story below on its development led by Reffing Superstar Howard Web) – it should be interesting to see how it plays out in important match-ups this weekend including the triple header Sunday with Portland hosting LA Galaxy Sunday at 2 pm on ESPN, and the NY Derby NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls Sunday 6 pm on FS1.

Great bounceback for the US ladies as they pounded Japan 3-0 late Thursday night in the League of Nations Cup.  Next chance to see the ladies will be at Nippert Stadium in Cincy – tix are on sale for the US vs New Zealand game in Cincy on Tues Sept. 19 at 7:30 pm.  Also the NWSL – Women’s league still has games on Lifetime every Sunday see the Soccer TV Schedule below for times and games.

The Indy 11 return home with a 1-0 record in the Fall Season as they host FC Edmonton on McDonald’s Family night at the MIKE this Saturday night at 7:30 pm and on MyIndy TV.  Huge Contrats to Cinncinati FC as they defeated NASL Club Miami FC last night to advance to the Semi-Finals of the US Open Cup.  They will host the NY Red Bulls next Tues night, Aug 15 at 8 pm at Nippert Stadium. (Tickets are in the $50 range)

Carmel FC Goalkeepers – Training will begin on Tuesday, Aug 4th at Shelbourne Fields with GK Coach Shane Best, DOC Matt Coyer and a Surprise new Professional Goalkeeper!!    

U11-U12 – Boys & Girls 6-7 pm     U13+ above  7- 8 pm

Congrats to those who made their High School teams this week – Carmel FC is well represented at both Carmel and Guerin High Schools this season! I know at least 8 of our former Goalies made their squads.  Good luck on the season.   

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Girls Carmel High School Soccer  Car Dry Fundraiser Sat, Aug 5 – 9:30 am till 3 pm at Valero Gas Station 116th and Rangeline.  Swing on by for a Carwash ! 

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CHSboyscamp17

The Carmel High School Boys soccer team Hosted their annual Day Camp on Friday, Aug 4 as over 30 campers were on hand for training and a good time.

MLS

Adidas Signs Record Deal with MLS

Record Audience Watched All Star Game

Zidane praises Level of Play by MLS Players

All Stars Unfazed by PK loss to Real Madrid

What 2 Watch 4 – MLS – Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle MLS.com

Video Review Starts with MLS this Weekend Howard Web Takes Control

Beckham Closer to Bringing us a Miami MLS Team

Match Preview NY Derby – NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls Sun 6 pm on FS1

Portland vs LA Galaxy on ESPN Sun 2 pm

WORLD

French Ligue 1 Preview – Neymar Arrives to PGS and Monaco are Dismantled – ESPNFC

Neymar on Joining PSG – I followed my Heart

The Impact of Neymar’s Record Breaking Move – Marcotti

Neymar Transfer Defies Belief – Jonathan Wilson SI

Timeline of Neymar Going to PSG

Liverpool to face Hoffenhiem in UCL

USA

US Ladies Beat Japan 3-0

Carli Lloyd Doesn’t Like Easy Way

GOALIES

ICC – Own The Save from ICC games Vol 4 – this week

International Champions Cup – Best Saves – Episode 3

Jesus Navas returns to his boyhood Sevilla after Man City Release

Indy 11 + Locally

Kicks for Kids McDonalds Family Night Aug 5 vs FC Edmonton

Indy 11 Preview of FC Edmonton

Indy Starts Fall Season with 2-1 at FC Edmonton

New Indy 11 TV Schedule for Fall

Eamon Zayad Players Perspective

BeIN Sports Signs to Show NASL Games in Fall

Cincy FC wins @ Miami FC 1-0 Advances to Semi Finals of US Open Cup

Cincy Special Win

GAMES ON TV  

Sat, Aug 5

11 am beIN Sport       PGS vs Ameins SC (French)

2 pm beIN Sport         Olympique Lyon vs Strasbourg (French)

2 pm Lifetime               Portland Thorns vs Houston Dash (NWSL)

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)

11 am ESPN2                 Women’s European Champ Netherlands vs Denmark

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

Fri, Aug 11  —                EPL Starts

2 45 pm NBCSN           Arsenal vs Leciester City

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

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

Sat, Aug 19                     German Bundesliga/La Liga/Serie A Start

7:30 am NBCSN            Swansea vs Man United

9:30 am Fox Sport 1 Wolfsburg vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

10 am NBCSN                 Liverpool vs Crystal Palace

12 noon beIN Sport  Juve vs Cagliari

12:30 pm                         NBC              Stoke City (Cameron) vs Arsenal

12:30 pm FS1                Schalke vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm Lifetime       North Carolina vs Washington Spirit (Women’s League)

Sun, Aug 20

8:30 am NBCSN            New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Huddlestown

9:30 am FS1                    Freiburg vs Frankfurt

11 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Chelsea

12noon FS1                   Borussia M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Koln

4 pm  beIN Sport?     Deportivo vs Real Madrid

9:30 pm FS1                   Seatle vs Min United

Mon, Aug 21

3 pm NBCSN                   Man City vs Everton

3 pm beIN Sport?       Crotone vs AC Milan

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

EPL 2017 Schedule

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Girls Carmel High School Soccer  Car Dry Fundraiser Sat, Aug 5 – 9:30 am till 3 pm at Valero Gas Station 116th and Rangeline.  Swing on by for a Carwash ! 

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2017 MLS All-Star Game vs. Real Madrid sets new TV viewership record

August 4, 20171:41AM EDTMLSsoccer staff

Wednesday night’s 2017 MLS All-Star Game, which featured a dramatic finish vs. European champions Real Madrid in front of a sellout crowd in Chicago, will go down as one of the biggest soccer events in league history.The TV viewership numbers tell the story.The league announced on Thursday that the match between the MLS All-Stars and Real Madrid set a new all-time viewership record for an MLS All-Star Game as 2.1 million viewers across the USA and Canada combined to watch the event.That audience surpassed the 2011 MLS All-Star Game involving English giants Manchester United, according to Nielsen and Numeris research.Here’s the breakout of the 2.1 million viewers:

  • Univision/UDN (USA): 1,484,000
  • FS1 (USA): 420,000
  • TSN (Canada): 97,000
  • TVA Sports (Canada): 96,000

The match, which was played in front of a sold-out crowd of 61,428 at Soldier Field, was also broadcast in more than 170 countries around the world.

MLS All-Stars unfazed by shootout loss to Real Madrid on memorable night

August 3, 20172:09AM EDTJohn WilkinsonContributor

CHICAGO – Stefan Frei had already turned around to wave to the 61,428 fans at Soldier Field and say thank you, thinking he had helped the MLS All-Stars to a 1-1 draw against the champions of Europe, when he was all of a sudden informed that “no, no we’re going to PKs” and there had to be a winner in the 2017 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target.“Honestly I didn’t even know that it would go straight to PKs,” Frei said the All-Star Game, which Real Madrid won on penalty kicks. “I thought the game was over, and we’d end in a tie so I’m going to call FIFA rules on that and we’ll stick with a tie.” When asked if that meant that MLS Cup 2016 – which Frei helped Seattle win on penalties – should have been a tie, he went the other way.“Well, no on that particular one there needs to be a winner,” he said. “And I’m thankful that [in] that PK one I was on the right end of.” Even if penalties did help him win a title last year, Frei said he’s never been much of a fan of ending matches with a shootout, even if he did understand the reason for them on Tuesday.“I think it’s one of the most horrible ways to end a team sport,” he said. “I said that even when I was at the other end against Toronto. Somebody is going to have to be the one that misses and then that’s not what football for me is really about, but the spectacle for the fans I guess.”The All-Star Game got to penalties thanks to Dom Dwyer’s late goal. The second-half attacking group of Dwyer, Nemanja NikolicDiego ValeriMiguel Almiron and Giovani dos Santos, seemed to combine well even before creating the goal, with Nikolic coming close to scoring a couple times before Dwyer finally got the equalizer.“It was fun. [We tried] to keep it simple, to be honest, keep it simple, try to find the passes, movements,” Valeri said. “I think we did some good movements overall in the second half. It wasn’t easy because they got the goal and they put on the field some fresh guys and some very – you know Bale, Marcelo, Benzema – it wasn’t easy, but I think it was fun and we created some chances.”While a club team might have a set pecking order of penalty takers, head coach Veljko Paunovic picked the shooters for the All-Stars.“Blame me, of course,” Paunovic said. “It’s unfortunate. PKs you never know. I think emotions – we had a drain of energy in the second half because given the circumstances of this kind of game, some guys had to run more and some guys less. But what was good for me was the reaction. We showed character and I think that the effort was appropriate and I think overall the image was good. And at the end when you came to the point where you have to go to PKs it’s not easy for the guys after they had to spend a lot of energy. And that’s it. They tried the best, for sure, for sure.”With the friendly nature of the match, the two All-Stars who made their penalties – Valeri and Almiron – said they didn’t feel much pressure.“No I wasn’t nervous, I was very secure that I wanted to go down the middle,” Valeri said. “It’s to enjoy to be honest, it’s very friendly.”It was just the second time the MLS All-Star Game had been decided by a penalty shootout. The only other was in 2009, when Frei’s current All-Star teammate Tim Howard helped Everton beat that year’s MLS side. Despite being on the losing side – or not, in his mind – Frei left Soldier Field happy with the experience. “It’s an honor when you get to play against – I mean, I’ve played against legends before, I’ve played with legends before, but tonight I was able to play with legends against legends,” Frei said. “It’s a huge, huge honor. Really cool crowd in a really awesome stadium and something I think a lot of these guys here will cherish for the rest of our lives.”

Neymar on joining PSG from Barcelona: I followed my heart

PARIS — Neymar said he followed his “heart” after sealing his €222 million move to Paris Saint-Germain from Barcelona. Neymar became the world’s most expensive player after PSG opted to trigger his buyout clause and told reporters at his unveiling on Friday: “My heart told me that it was time to sign for Paris Saint-Germain.”The 25-year-old enjoyed a successful four-year spell with Barcelona, winning one Champions League, two La Liga titles and three Copas del Rey as well as one FIFA Club World Cup and one Spanish Super Cup, but he said he was relishing the new challenge.”I am very, very happy,” he said. “I cannot describe what I am feeling in my heart right now. I am here to help the team to win as many titles as possible. I have come to take on a new challenge and to win titles.”I have friends in Barcelona, it was not easy to leave. However, football can be like that. It was the most difficult decision of my life to leave Barcelona but I felt like it was the right moment to leave.”I have friends here in Paris and I already feel at home here. I was very happy during four years in Barcelona. I am not sad, I won lots of titles.”A source has told ESPN FC that Neymar will be paid around €30m per year after taxes and has been handed a major signing bonus in excess of his net annual sum.Told that some people think he moved just for the money, Neymar said: “Well, what I can say to these people is that they don’t know anything about my personal life. I was never motivated by money. It was never my first motivation.”What I think about is my happiness, together with my family. I want us to be happy. I must follow my heart, not considering the money. If I was following the money, I would be somewhere else with different teams in different countries.”I am really sad to think people think that way. I would like to thank PSG as they believe in my potential and I want to pay them back.”Lionel Messi had posted a heartfelt farewell message to Neymar this week, and the Brazil forward rejected the suggestions he wanted to leave to step out of Messi’s shadow.”No, quite on the contrary,” he said. “One of my motivations to play for Barcelona was to play alongside Lionel Messi — he was my role model.”There was no pressure at all, only during the first week during Barcelona I was worried about training with my role models at the time. That was a lot of pressure but after that first week I felt relaxed and in my own environment.”To play with the best is very easy actually because all the players, all the players in the world, want to play with the best players to win titles together. I would like to thank Lionel Messi because he welcomed me so well, I learned so much from him in four years together.”Neymar has built up his fitness during Barcelona’s preseason and said he was ready to make his PSG debut in the Ligue 1 clash with Amiens on Saturday.”I am ready to get started from tomorrow,” he said. “If it is possible, let’s do it!”I have seen Parc des Princes and I am itching to pull on my new shirt and play. I have not spoken with the coach about whether I will play or not, where I will play or if he wants me to play yet.”He said he does not fear the weight of expectation after PSG broke the world transfer record.”To be the most expensive player in the world does not concern me or weigh me down,” he said. “I am still the same weight as always, I have nothing on my back.”PSG chairman and CEO Nasser Al-Khelaifi, appearing alongside Neymar at the news conference, said he viewed his new signing as the finest footballer on the planet.”I am very happy to present our big star, an idol to the whole world,” he said. “We have always wanted Neymar. He is the best player in the world and now he is ours.”There had been suggestions that PSG had targeted Neymar in response to Barcelona’s pursuit of their key midfielder Marco Verratti earlier in the summer.However, Al-Khelaifi said: “We did not buy Neymar because Barcelona wanted Marco. We simply wanted the best player in the world.”PSG have faced questions about whether they can now adhere to UEFA’s financial fair play rules, with La Liga president Javier Tebas saying he would file a complaint to the governing body and the EU over the transfer. “You are talking about financial fair play — we have been very transparent,” Al-Khelaifi said. “We have been from day one, and we will be until the last day here with UEFA about financial fair play.”There is no problem. I have a strong team with me working day and night working applying the regulation on the financial fair play.”However, if anyone is thinking about financial fair play I tell them please: go have a coffee and don’t worry about us, we are in good hands. Thank you.”He said the deal had improved the value of the club, explaining: “Before Neymar, PSG were worth €1 billion. With Neymar, we are now worth €1.5bn.”It is a transfer that has cost a lot today but that will surely not be the case in two years’ time…”He also defended Neymar against suggestions he had moved for financial reasons, saying: “If he was motivated by money, he could have gone elsewhere. He has come for the project.”PSG have made no secret of their desire to win the Champions League but Neymar said they would also have to work hard in Ligue 1, having lost their domestic crown to Monaco last season.”I have heard people criticise Ligue 1 but I do not agree with that,” he said. “I have spoken with others who have played here and I have learned that there are no easy matches. We are here to win titles.”He added: “We want to win the Champions League but other titles as well. We are here to write the club’s history.”Jonathan Johnson covers PSG and the French national team for ESPN FC. Twitter: @Jon_LeGossip.

Neymar’s record-breaking move: What it means for Barcelona, PSG and more

There’s a veritable kaleidoscope of vantage points from which to consider the transfer of Neymar da Silva Santos Junior, aka you-know-who.We’re not just talking the most expensive footballer of all time; we’re talking a guy who cost more than a quarter of a billion dollars. That’s Paul Pogba plus Cristiano Ronaldo with enough left over to cover their wages until Christmas.This is not, as some have suggested, the end of football as we know it. It’s either a bold, game-changing move from Paris Saint-Germain or a colossal blunder by folks with more money than sense or, perhaps, something in between. Yet the web of implications is so far-reaching that it’s worth looking at this deal from various perspectives.

Barcelona

This is probably more of a psychological setback than a footballing one. It’s the third time a buyout clause has been used by a rival club to swoop into the Camp Nou and make off with a prize asset. Twenty years ago, Inter Milan showed up with $27 million — don’t laugh, young readers, it was a world record at the time — and secured the original Ronaldo, the “Phenomenon”. In 2000, Real Madrid made off with Luis Figo for $74m, launching the Bernabeu’s “Galactico” era.Ronaldo was the reigning World Player of the Year and had yet to turn 21; you’d be hard-pressed to find a player not named Pele who had achieved so much at so young. Figo, meanwhile, was 28 and one of the best wingers in the world, but Madrid weren’t buying potential with him; they were simply rubbing the opposition’s noses in it.On the pitch, Barcelona can likely reload pretty quickly without Neymar. Not in terms of finding the heir to Lionel Messi, but in coming back as one of the best teams in the world. It’s going to be expensive — $262m is a lot to have burning a hole in your pocket and potential sellers will want a big chunk — but, if done right, it can be pretty painless.And, perhaps, simply having Messi and Suarez, instead of the much-vaunted MSN up front, will give new coach Ernesto Valverde more tactical freedom. The bottom line is that Barcelona won before Neymar’s arrival, they won with Neymar and they’ll likely win again without him.Where it does hurt is inside. The Barcelona that lost Ronaldo and Figo was not today’s Barcelona. Those sides weren’t among the top three or four in the world and the footballing landscape wasn’t as polarized as it is today. The message here is that a superstar wanted to be elsewhere and that’s tough to swallow.Equally tough to accept is how this came about. It’s not as simple as saying Barca ought to have set a higher release clause; it’s about misreading Neymar and Co. when he signed his new deal less than a year ago. Particularly when Barcelona knew full well how his camp — read: his father — operates. 

Paris Saint-Germain

This is like getting the top draft pick in the NBA lottery and choosing the best player available, rather than drafting for need. PSG’s squad is already teeming with attacking midfielder/winger types like Julian Draxler, Angel Di Maria, Lucas Moura, Hatem Ben Arfa, Javier Pastore and Goncalo Guedes.Sure, Neymar is better than all of them — and you can never have too many great players — but in terms of resource allocation, figuring it all out won’t be easy. If they move some on, as you suspect they will, they’ll do so as “motivated sellers,” which knocks down the price. There’s a lot there for sporting director Antero Henrique and manager Unai Emery to sift through and not much time in which to do it.Some draw a parallel with the 2012 signing of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who helped deliver four straight league titles and quarterfinal finishes in the Champions League. He put PSG on the euro-superpower map, but you’d imagine Neymar would need to do better for his signing to be defined as a success.That’s a tall order and it likely will depend as much on those around him as it does on Neymar himself. At 25 years of age, how much better can he realistically get? 

Neymar

Let’s start with an anecdote. While in Brazil for the 2013 Confederations Cup, I flipped on the TV. It went to a commercial break and five of the seven ads featured Neymar. He was 21 at the time, already the undisputed leader of the Selecao and he was ubiquitous. It’s pretty obvious that whatever runs through his veins is positively reptilian; few superstars in any sport handle pressure and scrutiny with his level of aplomb.Maybe that’s why there is some stock in the theory that this move isn’t just — or, only — about Euro signs. Maybe he really wants to be the superstar on a successful team he can call his own (something that won’t happen at Barca as long as Messi is around).Is it gullible to give him the benefit of the doubt? I’m not so sure. He’ll certainly earn more at PSG but it likely won’t be “move-the-needle” type more. Not compared with the opportunities that come with being a Brazil and Barcelona legend.And there’s a flip side: This move is not without risk. PSG, in terms of exposure and prestige, aren’t in the same hemisphere as Barcelona, particularly if they underachieve. A couple more seasons like last year with no Champions League football in April could see his mantle of heir apparent to the Messi-Ronaldo crown slip, even if he performs well with Brazil.Whatever you think of Neymar, this does not seem like something motivated chiefly by greed or manipulation; this is a superstar wanting to really challenge himself, rather than continue in a supporting role.In other words, I want to believe these words are genuine.

 Financial Fair Play

Forget the hysterical reaction from La Liga and Catalonia and forget discussion of covert payments to be the “face” of Qatar 2022 and other such nonsense. FFP hasn’t been “relaxed.” It’s still around and it’s very real (just ask Roma or Inter or Galatasaray). And, if PSG can’t afford Neymar without breaching the requirements, we’ll find out.It’s just that we won’t know until the fall of 2018, when seasons 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 are cumulatively assessed, whether PSG violated FFP rules, which dictate that no more than $35.6m can be lost over three seasons, though some expenses and revenues aren’t included in the FFP calculation.And that last part is crucial. PSG’s official accounts show a profit of $12m for 2015-16 but that’s largely irrelevant because more than a quarter of their revenues came courtesy of a sponsorship deal with the Qatar Tourism Authority, worth some $240m. UEFA found the amount to be grossly inflated and discounted it by around 50 percent.They have the power to do the same if things don’t add up. And, by the way, spending $262m on Neymar doesn’t mean a $262m hit in their accounts. Transfer fees get amortized over the life of a contract, which means it will cost them a fifth in his first year.Throw in his wages and you’re looking at north of $100m which, while still a frightening number — Messi is costing Barcelona half of that — is possibly more manageable if you’re smart with your sales and you squeeze out commercial revenue properly. 

UEFA

Europe’s governing body has a wide scope of interpretation when it comes to “related-party transactions” — basically, anything that can be traced back to Qatar, since Neymar’s new employers are effectively owned by the country — and there’s no clever sleight-of-hand to get around it.If UEFA suspect a sponsorship is inflated they get experts involved, who compare it against industry benchmarks and comparable clubs and assess a fair market value. That’s what they did in 2013 when PSG and Manchester City were sanctioned along similar lines.Back then clubs were offered a “settlement agreement” — basically a plea bargain — where they agreed to certain fines and restrictions as punishment. If other clubs don’t believe the “settlement agreement” is stiff enough, they can appeal it and send the case to the Club Financial Control Body’s Adjudicatory Branch, who have sweeping powers and are entirely independent.That’s key here. In 2013, not least because it was the first year of FFP, some felt that PSG and City got off lightly but there were no complaints to UEFA. It’s hard to see that scenario occurring again, not with Barcelona and other big clubs likely to exert pressure on UEFA. And particularly not now that they happen to be, officially, business partners in the Champions’ League and Europa League.

 Transfer fees

Some fret over the “football bubble” bursting, but we’re not talking dotcoms or even tulips. When FFP was introduced in 2010, European clubs were losing, on aggregate, nearly two billion dollars a year. Now, those losses are down to just over $300m.You don’t need to be an economist to know that it’s OK to spend more if you’re earning more money; Barcelona’s revenues, for example, have gone up nearly 70 percent in the last seven years. The vast majority of Europe’s richest clubs — the ones who spend big on transfer fees — have seen comparable rises. What’s more, most of them are profitable.It’s not as if, because Neymar costs $262m, Ingolstadt or Atalanta or Celta Vigo will suddenly need to spend $20m to sign a decent right-back. What happens at the top of the market does not trickle down to the middle classes any more than a hedge fund manager blowing $1.5m on a Lamborghini Diablo means the man in the street not being able to buy a family sedan for $30,000.What’s more, markets have a way of correcting themselves, particularly now that we have oversight. Contracts expire and players — read: assets — can be sold. This is neither the end nor the beginning of the end.Instead, it’s a massive deal caused by very specific and unusual circumstances. Football will be just fine.Gabriele Marcotti is a Senior Writer for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @Marcotti. 

Neymar’s Transfer from Barcelona to PSG Defies Belief on All Levels

JONATHAN WILSONThursday August 3rd, 2017 Sports Illustrated

Even in this summer of mind-boggling transfers, when it seems the entirety of football has lost its collective senses and that jaws couldn’t fall any lower, the transfer of Neymar from Barcelona to Paris Saint-Germain for a fee of $263 million, more than double the previous world record, has taken those jaws down into the basement.It’s a complex move, a five-year deal to sign the 25-year-old Brazilian star, and one that defies belief on almost every level.Barcelona was helpless, however much it wanted to hang on to Neymar, now that PSG has met his buyout clause, but it could have never expected anybody to pay that. This raises the question not only of why Neymar would want to leave a club that over the past decade has enjoyed extraordinary success while redefining the tactical parameters of the game to join a club that has never got beyond the quarterfinal of the Champions League, but also how that club can possibly afford it while complying with financial fair play regulations.Let’s begin with the relatively simple bit: why Neymar may want to leave. Money, obviously, is a major factor, as, perhaps, is the assiduousness with which the Spanish tax authorities have begun investigating players. Last year a Spanish court found him guilty of tax evasion and fined him $66 million, reduced to $33 million this year on appeal.There are, though, football reasons. Although ostensibly the front three of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar get on well, perhaps there is an element of frustration that, for now, the Argentine remains the headline figure. Neymar is five years younger than Messi, and there were signs even last season that he might soon become the main man, but there would probably still be a sense that this was Messi’s team. At PSG, Neymar will be the undisputed No. 1. It’s easy to see why the idea of being the player who, at last, brings PSG to its first Champions League title might appeal.That may enhance his chances of winning the Ballon d’Or, an individual award that was once a side issue but now seems to dominate the thoughts of gifted young players, but the issue is far from clear. The award may be based in France, but no France-based player has topped the voting since Jean-Pierre Papin in 1991.Neymar’s good friend, Dani Alves, who has been savagely critical of the Barcelona board and its treatment of players, is also now at PSG after a season at Juventus.And if the French league is slightly less demanding than the Spanish league (which is far from certain) in a World Cup year, that is no bad thing either.

How, then, can PSG possible afford not only the initial fee but also wages likely to be around $600,000 a week for five years? That is where this deal gets really interesting. PSG, after all, is bankrolled by Qatari Sports Investment, the sovereign wealth fund representing the Qatari royal family. With the falling oil price, there has been widespread retrenchment in Qatar and even talk of imposing a tax system. Over the past two seasons, PSG has made only two major signings, Julian Draxler and Angel Di Maria.Smashing records to land Neymar, then, is a major departure so abrupt that it’s hard not to wonder whether it may have less to do with football and PSG than with Qatar making a statement. Over the past two months, Qatar has been engaged in major diplomatic wrangling with Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain following accusations that it supports terrorism. Its response has been to strengthen ties with Turkey and Iran and to emphasize its continuing economic might; it is, after all, the country with the highest GDP per capita in the world. Shattering the world transfer record is about as a high a profile a way as possible to let the world know that Qatar is still rich.In that context, it may not be a coincidence that Barcelona’s deal with Qatar Airways came to an end on June 30, with the Japanese e-commerce firm Rakuten taking over as shirt sponsor. It’s probably going a little far to see this as a punitive measure, but what is true is that Qatar’s football interests are now all focused on one club.That still doesn’t solve the issue of financial fair play–PSG was sanctioned in 2014 which in theory means a potential second offense–and it would seem likely there will have to be sales. Di Maria and Marco Verratti perhaps are the most likely to leave.In simple terms, Neymar leaving Barcelona will weaken Ernesto Valverde’s side and raise further concerns about its aging core, while all but guaranteeing PSG another French title, particularly with Monaco weakened by departures this summer.But Neymar’s move is about far more than that.

Ligue 1 preview: Neymar has arrived, as champions Monaco are dismantled

After a wonderful 2016-17 season, Ligue 1 is bracing itself for yet another top campaign. Can a weaker Monaco retain their title? Can anyone stop Paris Saint-Germain and Neymar? Marseille are stronger, Lyon have done their revolution, Nice have been clever again, Bordeaux look interesting, Lille and Marcelo Bielsa are exciting, as are Claudio Ranieri and Nantes.Ligue 1 has found itself a new King in Neymar, will meet new faces (Bertrand Traore, Youri Tielemans, Luis Gustavo and Thiago Maia) and old ones (Steve Mandanda, Adil Rami and Mario Balotelli). It also lost, as usual, some of its best talents (Tiemoue Bakayoko, Corentin Tolisso, Bernardo Silva, Ricardo Pereira, Benjamin Mendy, Alexandre Lacazette, Adam Ounas, Amine Harit and Sebastien Corchia) and more might follow (Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Angel Di Maria, Jean Seri, Yann Karamoh and Dalbert.)

Key storylines

PSG with Neymar. What a difference 12 months can make. Last summer, PSG approached their transfer window in a more low-key way. Zlatan Ibrahimovic left and the club tried to do a clever recruitment more than a glittering one. Jese, Hatem Ben Arfa and Grzegorz Krychowiak arrived and all failed. This summer, Paris went big; bigger than anyone else ever. They signed Neymar for €222 million and free-agent Dani Alves, and kept their other gems, Marquinhos, Edinson Cavani and Marco Verratti.Right now, at least domestically, they are untouchable. Manager Unai Emery has learnt a lot from last season. His team’s second part of the league campaign, where they took more points than any other, shows that they have improved and got a grip on what he was asking his players to do. PSG are way stronger than last season. With Neymar and Alves, they are probably the best team ever assembled in French football history.Mbappe in or out? After the Neymar saga, French football has another one on its hands: Kylian Mbappe’s future and with him, Monaco’s future. The 18-year-old prodigy has had an exceptional rise since January. Some reports in France say that he wants to leave the French champions and that the club are demanding €180m to let him go. Are Real Madrid or Barcelona ready to pay that much? Probably. Mbappe is such a special talent and his final decision will have a huge impact on the Ligue 1 season.Obviously, Monaco will be a totally different team with or without him. After already losing Mendy, Silva and Bakayoko, as well as Valere Germain and Nabil Dirar, it would be another huge blow for the Principality club to lose their gem. Whatever happens to the young France international, it will be a transition season for the Champions. They saw the end of their golden generation and are rebuilding the next one. Radamel Falcao is still there, and, for now, so are Lemar and Fabinho.The League of Gentlemen. If the English Premier League is still, without a doubt, the home of the world’s best managers, Ligue 1 also has a very interesting lineup of No. 1 coaches on its benches. The best manager in the world, according to Pep Guardiola, is Bielsa and two years after leaving Marseille, he is back in France. He will try to lead Lille to new heights.Monaco’s Leonardo Jardim worked wonders last season, but it is a much bigger challenge that awaits him this year. Emery has to start well at PSG after a disappointing campaign last year. Lucien Favre was wanted by Borussia Dortmund in the summer but stayed in Nice after an excellent first season.Ranieri, sacked by Leicester last season, chose Nantes to continue his career. Rudi Garcia at Marseille has a solid reputation, and Bordeaux’s Jocelyn Gourvennec is the most promising young French manager around. It will be interesting to follow Oscar Garcia’s first season at St Etienne and Christian Gourcuff’s second at Rennes. On the other hand, Bruno Genesio still has a lot to prove at Lyon.

Marquee signings

Neymar, Barcelona to PSG, £198m  Who else? He is the biggest transfer in the history of football. The Brazilian superstar has chosen PSG and Ligue 1 to pursue his career after deciding to leave Barcelona. He will bring his new club and his new league to another level. At 25, he is expected to make this team his own.

Luis Gustavo, Wolfsburg to Marseille, £7m  Marseille needed a leader in midfield, strong, solid with great experience and a winning mentality. They found the perfect one in Luis Gustavo, 30, the former Bayern Munich and Brazil defensive midfielder. Alongside Mandanda in goal, Rami at the back and Germain up front, also all recruited this summer so far, Marseille went for experience and leadership and had an excellent transfer window.

Youri Tielemans, Anderlecht to Monaco, £22m

After selling some of their key players, Monaco are rebuilding a competitive squad and they believe the Belgium international, 20, represents the future of the club. The French champions will want him to replace Bakayoko and dictate the way Monaco will play this season. With his vision, the quality of his passes and quick feet, he has everything to be a huge success.

Alexandre Lacazette, Lyon to Arsenal, £46.5m

It was always going to happen. After spending pretty much all his life at Lyon, Lacazette, 26, left his club and his hometown for a big transfer to Arsenal. In six seasons in Ligue 1, Lacazette was the best French striker with 129 goals in 275 matches. With him, Tolisso (Bayern Munich) and Maxime Gonalons (Roma) also left, meaning the end of an era at the club.

Benjamin Mendy, Monaco to Manchester City, £52m

Eighteen months ago, he was not even always starting for Marseille. Now, Mendy is the most expensive defender in the history of football. His move to Manchester City capped a wonderful season with Monaco where he also broke into the France national team. At 23, he is in the top five left-backs in the world and seems to have no limits.

Amine Harit, Nantes to Schalke, £9m

As usual, Ligue 1 has already lost some of its brightest and youngest prospect this summer. Harit, 20, the wonderfully gifted Nantes attacking midfielder, U19 European champion last summer with France, left for Schalke after just one season in Ligue 1. Adam Ounas, 20, joined Napoli from Bordeaux for more or less the same amount, like Jean-Kevin Augustin, 20, arriving at RB Leipzig from PSG.

Who will win the league?

Now that PSG have their superhero in Neymar, and while Monaco can still lose theirs in Mbappe, the French title is Les Parisien’s to lose this season. They are the outstanding favourite to regain the crown they abandoned to Monaco last season after four coronations in a row previously. PSG simply look unbeatable at the moment.Behind them, four teams will fight for second and third places: Monaco and Lyon are in transition after losing key players while the Marseille project is interesting under Garcia with some solid signings. Nice and Balotelli are still so talented and exciting. Outside of this top five, Lille, Rennes, Bordeaux or St Etienne could be the season’s surprise package.

Battle at the bottom

Last season offered a dramatic fight against relegation with almost 10 clubs involved until very late in the campaign. It should be the same this year. The three promoted teams (Amiens for the first time, Troyes after one season in Ligue 2 and Strasbourg who haven’t play in the top flight since 2008) all look in danger. But Dijon and Metz will not be far off either, while Caen and Angers have to be careful too.Julien Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter: @LaurensJulien.

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven vs FC Edmonton – #INDvFCE  Saturday, August 5, 2017 – 7:30 P.M. EST   Carroll Stadium – Indianapolis, IN

  • National TV: beIN Sports USA   Local TV: WNDY

PICKING UP WHERE THEY LEFT OFF

Opening the 2017 Fall Season with a 2-1 win over the Eddies last week, Indy Eleven welcomes their Canadian foes for the Fall Season home opener this Saturday.With the win on Sunday, Indy is now riding a six-game unbeaten streak that has seen them pick up three straight wins dating back to the July 8 match against the New York Cosmos. Now ahead of back-to-back road trips to Miami and New York, the “Boys in Blue” are faced with another 2016 Championship Semifinal rematch against FC Edmonton, who sit in 7th place in both the Fall Season and combined standings.

WHO TO WATCH INDY ELEVEN EDITION: DF DANIEL KELLER

Indy Eleven defender Daniel Keller has been an integral part of Indy’s solid defensive record this year, playing in 16 of Indy’s 17 matches so far and earning 14 starts in the process. The Carmel, IN native has already well surpassed his 2016 season total in games played and minutes featured and has matched his 2015 total of 16 games played (11 starts).Stepping up at the back, Keller has won 13 of 18 tackles this year and over half his aerial and ground duels while also collecting 37 interceptions. Keller and his oft-partnered defender Colin Falvey have eerily similar numbers, though Falvey has won a slightly higher amount of his duels. Expect the pair to be locked down again when Edmonton comes for the Fall home opener.

WHO TO WATCH FC EDMONTON EDITION: FW TOMI AMEOBI

For Indy, the main threat up top will again be forward Tomi Ameobi, who scored a goal in their 2-1 loss last weekend in his 100th appearance for the club.  Ameobi has five goals in 17 appearances for the Eddies this year and showed why he is such a threat in the box on Sunday night. A dominant forward in the air, the 6-foot-3 185 lb. tower showed both his physicality and ability to play with it at his feet. With the likely return of defender Colin Falvey to the starting line-up, it will be interesting to see if Ameobi is still able to win as much off of the cross.

MATCH-UP TO MARK: MF BRAD RING vs MF BEN FISK

It will be defense-minded Brad Ring against attacking midfielder Ben Fisk again this weekend after the pair dueled last Sunday.  Ring was a perfect stopper in the midfield in the Fall opening win, completing 26/38 passes but more importantly winning 100% of his tackles and 67% of his duels while collecting two interceptions to thwart the Eddies attack. Ring was often the key to cutting off direct access to Ameobi’s feet while helping to cover wide when one of midfielders Sainney Nyassi or Ben Fisk would fly forward.  Ring’s likely marker this weekend will be the latter of the two mentioned above, Ben Fisk. The wide midfielder was credited the assist on Ameobi’s goal last weekend and was a spark in the 66 minutes he featured in. Creating three clear-cut chances for his side, Fisk will look to get a bit more of a run out on Saturday night.

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Aug 2, MLS All-Star Game on Fox Sports 1 Tonite 8:30 pm, US Ladies vs Japan Thurs ESPN2, Indy 11 home Sat, Germany and England Cup Games Sat/Sun on Fox

So the MLS All-Star game has arrived as the MLS All-Stars will match up against 2 time defending Champions League winner Real Madrid.  It should be a good match as the All Stars will try to prove they belong against the top team in the World (minus Renaldo of course – who is home recovering from the Confed Cup and defending his Tax fraud claim in Spain).  The kickoff is 9 pm live from Chicago on Fox Sports 1.

El Classico Sat night in Miami was well – EL CLASSICO.  So tickets were going for $900 outside the stadium for this once in a lifetime event in Miami and boy did they get a show.  Both Barcelona and  Real Madrid threw most of their starters in for the first 65 minutes and it was game on.  Messi scored a stunner just 2 minutes in and Barca took a 2-0 lead just 10 minutes later to take a 2-0 lead only to be tied just before the half by Real Madrid.  Of course missing Real’s Renaldo was a bummer but both teams played just like a La Liga match – complete with dives, constant complaining to the refs and well pretty darn good soccer in between.  What a treat for those fans and us watching on ESPN.  That brings up a point about soccer in the US.  You know as stadiums fill across the country and millions tune in for these International Champions Cup games on ESPN featuring the best teams in the world from Spain, England, Italy and Germany the discussion comes up about soccer’s popularity in the US.  Yes the US National team still moves the needle but the US Pro leagues MLS, NASL and USL are still getting more attention but haven’t broken into the top 3 or 4 sports in the US.  A challenge is this – you know the US hosts the best pro leagues in the world in Basketball (NBA), Baseball (MLB), Hockey (NHL), and the only in Football (NFL).  Soccer’s best leagues are in England, Spain, Germany, Italy, France – that’s where the best players in the world play including Americans.  To expect the US top home league MLS to compete especially on TV when the best teams in the world are constantly on against them is unrealistic.  I would argue that when you include the world soccer leagues that are consumed in the US the EPL on NBCSN, the German Bundesliga and Champions + Europa League on Fox, La Liga and Serie A on beIN sport, and MLS on Fox and ESPN that soccer is pushing Baseball for 3rd in the US sports landscape especially among those 35 and younger.  Don’t believe me –walk around the mall or school and look at the multiple pro soccer jerseys on kids and in the stores.  I would say more kids wear soccer jerseys today than anything but football jerseys maybe. The tide is turning here in the US as soccer nation is growing – but its not going to show with our domestic league MLS – for a long time as long as the best players play overseas.  But that’s ok – I for one am happy that access to the foreign leagues and watching the best players is more available now than at anytime in our history.

Tuned into the US vs Brazil ladies game last night and wow what a comeback.  The US was down 3-1 with about 13 minutes to play despite outshooting Brazil in the game.  All they did next was score 3 goals in 9 minutes all in the field of play as Rapino netted 1 and had an assist and the cross in for Julie Johnson Ertz’ winner in the 89th minute.  After losing to Australia 1-0 earlier – a 2nd loss would have been devestating in this 3 game tourney on US soil. The US will wrap things up with a top 6 matchup with Japan on Thurs night, ESPN2 at 8 pm.  Of course locally tix are on sale for the US vs New Zealand game in Cincy on Tues Sept. 19 at 7:30 pm.  Also the NWSL – Women’s league still has games on Lifetime every Sunday see the Soccer TV Schedule below for times and games.

Of course the EPL and World League Seasons are right around the corner with the German Super Cup (Dortmund – Pulisic facing Bayern Munich) on Sat 2:30 pm on Fox and the Community Shield with Arsenal vs Chelsea Sun at 9:30 am on FS1.

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

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

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GAMES ON TV  

Wed, Aug 2

9 pm Fox Sport 1 MLS Allstars vs Real Madrid

Thurs, Aug 3

10 pm ESPN2 US Women vs Japan

Sat, Aug 5

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

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

Sun, Aug 6

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

2 pm?  ESPNU               Women’s European Championship?

4 pm ESPN                                               Portland vs LA Galaxy

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

8 pm Fox Sport 1        Sporting KC vs Atlanta United

Tues, Aug 8

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

Sat, Aug 12                      EPL Starts

7:30 am NBCSN            Watford vs Liverpool

10 am NCBSN                Chelsea vs Burnlee

10 am CNBC                   Everton vs Stoke City

12:30 pm NBC               Brighton vs Man City

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

7:30 pm beIN Sport  Miami FC vs Indy 11

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

Sun, Aug 13                   

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

11 am NBCSN                Man United vs West Ham

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

Full MLS Schedule

Indy 11 TV Schedule

EPL 2017 Schedule

MLS

MLS Allstars Must Be Ready for Real Madrid’s Quality

MLS All-Star Game Preview – MLS.com

With MLS Maturing – All Star Game Needs to Return to East vs West – Noah Davis ESPNFC

Tim Howard Reflects on Returning to the All Star Game –

Who Should Start for Allstars?  MLS.com ET

Home Grown Undre 21 Game vs Chivas U20s

What to Do in Chicago around a Game

What Happened over the Weekend

MLS Power Rankings

MLS Turns Down 4 billion dollar offer for Media Rights to include Relagation/Promotion

Toronto’s Sebastian Giovinco maybe the Best Ever MLS Player – ESPNFC

Mexico’s Jonathan Dos Santos takes Risk Leaving Europe for LA Galaxy – SI

Video Review – VAR – Debuts in MLS on Aug 5th

US

US Ladies Rally to Win 4-3 over Brazil – SI

US Ladies Stunning 4-3 win in comeback vs Brazil

Australia stuns US team with 1-0 win

Foudy – US 4-4-2 not working

US / Brazil the Goals video

Take-Aways from the US Gold Cup Win – Brian Straus SI

Gold Cup Win Take- Aways US Soccerplayers.com

Pulisic to Liverpool Rumors Continue

Soc Takes Radio Looks back at US Gold Cup Win

World

Best Pre-Season Game Ever – El Classico Miami ?

Barca beats Madrid 3-2

Buffon admits Juve Stranglehold on Serie A could be at end

Man U signs Chelsea’s Matic

GOALIES

ICC – Own The Save from ICC games Vol 4 – this week

International Champions Cup – Best Saves – Episode 3

Jesus Navas returns to his boyhood Sevilla after Man City Release

Indy 11

Kicks for Kids McDonalds Family Night Aug 5 vs FC Edmonton

Indy Starts Fall Season with 2-1 at FC Edmonton

New Indy 11 TV Schedule for Fall

Eamon Zayad Players Perspective

BeIN Sports Signs to Show NASL Games in Fall

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

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All-Stars eager, but wary of Real Madrid’s quality: “You need to go hard”

August 1, 201711:29AM EDTCharles BoehmContributor

LISTEN: There’s no better way to prepare for the MLS All-Star Game presented by Target than interviews with Graham Zusi (SKC), Michael Parkhurst (ATL), Kellyn Acosta (DAL), Greg Garza (ATL) and Jelle Van Damme (LA)! Subscribe now so you never miss a show! Download this episode!CHICAGO – Nemanja Nikolic has crossed paths with Real Madrid before. It did not go well for his team.“It was a big experience for me to play in [Estadio] Santiago Bernabeu,” recalled the Chicago Fire’s star striker and MLS Golden Boot leader after the MLS All-Stars’ Monday morning training session at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Nikolic met the Spanish giants in a UEFA Champions League match last October while starring for Polish side Legia Warsaw. “We played against them, we lose 5-1, but the game was open.“I had a feeling at that time that they are so good that in every single moment, when they want, they can score goals. They have a lot of good characters, a lot of good players in the squad and their soccer, it’s offensive all the time.”Nikolic’s tale underlines both the promise and the peril facing the MLS All-Star Team this week as they face the 12-time European champions at Soldier Field on Wednesday (8:30 pm ET on FS1 and Univision in USA; TSN and TVAS in Canada). It’s a rare opportunity for MLS’s best to measure themselves against arguably the most talented team on the face of the earth.“When you put the ball on the field,” said All-Star and former Madrid icon Kaká, “nobody wants to lose.”But it’s also an extremely testing matchup that could very easily turn into a humbling affair, given Madrid’s fearsome arsenal of world-class attacking talent.“It’s an exhibition, but these kinds of games, you can’t turn off,” LA Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme said. “You want to show yourself and get a result. And we have to be focused 100 percent. This is one of the best teams in the world, so you don’t want to get embarrassed. We have to stay focused and be sharp.”All-Stars coach Veljko Paunovic has been tasked with preparing the home side for this occasion, and the Chicago Fire boss is well-positioned for the job. A longtime standout in Spain’s La Liga, “Pauno” faced the mighty Merengues many times as a player, including several years as a regular with their bitter crosstown rivals Atletico Madrid.“When you have an opponent like Real Madrid, there is nothing better – there are a lot of great teams in the world but when you have the opportunity to play against Real Madrid, it’s an occasion that you just cannot let go,” Paunovic told reporters Monday.“You have try to do your best, you have to give a spectacle … but you also want to win. And that’s how we’re going to prepare. My experience with Real Madrid was always that they are a very good team, a quality team, hard mentality. Even when you score against them, they come back. And that’s all I said to our guys.”Monday’s All-Star training session was primarily a chance for the squad to regenerate and stretch their legs after their respective journeys to Chicago following the weekend’s league action.Paunovic did spend some time working on team shape, however, as he and his staff try to make the most of their limited preparation time for a high-profile match that will be viewed around the world.Though reticent to delve into too many tactical details, he made clear that the All-Stars will have to disrupt Madrid’s rhythm and patterns of play if they are to have any chance of pulling off an upset.“We know that they are comfortable with the ball if there is no pressure on the ball and on the players,” Paunovic said. “But also, they are comfortable without the ball and they are very dangerous in counterattack. We have to be also prepared to match their speed, their pace and their quality with the ball.”Savoring a rare experience while still battling tooth-and-nail? Nikolic sounds up for the challenge.“It needs to be fun, because I think we need to enjoy this moment,” said the Hungarian international, “but also on the other hand, in soccer you cannot make a joke from these kind of games. You need to go hard, you need to give your maximum. This is our work.” 

For Tim Howard, All-Star Game is both a new experience and a familiar one

July 31, 201710:35AM EDTGeoff

SAN JOSE, Calif. – When it comes to the MLS All-Star Game, few, if any, players can boast of a résumé with greater breadth than Colorado Rapids goalkeeper Tim Howard.In 2001, Howard represented the East in a conference-vs.-conference setup. The following year, he was part of a league-wide squad that took on US national team stars of the past and (then-)present. In 2009, Howard returned with top-flight English side Everton as the opposition in what has become the now-standard format of a single MLS squad facing a European club.This week, Howard will make his first All-Star appearance on the MLS side in 15 years, starting for Chicago Fire coach Veljko Paunovic against arguably the strongest team in the world at the moment: Spanish behemoths Real Madrid.“I think it’s exciting to have all the East and West [All-Stars] together, playing against some of the best teams in the world,” Howard told MLSsoccer.com on Saturday, after the Rapids’ 1-0 defeat to the San Jose Earthquakes. “And at the end of the day, it’s an All-Star game, right? So people want to be entertained. And that’s bringing the most entertainment value. So it’s great.”Howard, 38, wouldn’t voice a preference for one format over another – although the quality of this year’s opponent cannot be denied.“I think it’s always exciting to be an All-Star and to be recognized as such,” Howard said. “There’s a lot of pageantry involved. I’m not sure which one’s better. But it will be certainly exciting to play Real Madrid, there’s no question about that.”Even though the All-Star Game represents the end of a whirlwind, four-games-in-11-days US tourfor Real, Howard is not expecting any restraint from the visitors, who open their competitive play for the 2017-18 campaign on August 13 with the first leg of the Supercopa de España against archrival Barcelona.“When you get to play for a team like Real Madrid, there’s no days off,” Howard said. “There’s no easy games. They have a world-class coach that they’re trying to impress. They have got to play well to earn a spot coming up for the La Liga season. World football is intense and it’s cutthroat. There isn’t any days when guys just take it easy. When you put your jersey on and cross the line, whether it’s a tournament, a regular-season game, a preseason game, an All-Star Game, these guys are going to be up for it.”Howard will be up for it as well – if only to match the high bar he set in his last appearance. Playing with the Toffees, Howard saved three penalty kicks to secure a shootout victory, stopping Brad Davis, Davy Arnaud and, in the sixth and final round, Freddie Ljungberg.“It was exciting for me, playing for the club that I love, being back in America with lots of family and friends,” Howard said. “Those games are great. I have a lot of fond memories, but certainly that’s one of them.”

With MLS maturing, it’s time to return the All-Star Game to East vs. West

On Wednesday, Major League Soccer’s best will line up against Real Madrid at Chicago’s Soldier Field. It promises to be a star-studded affair with David Villa, Giovani Dos Santos, Kaka and others taking on Gareth Bale, Marcelo, Luka Modric, and the rest of Zinedine Zidane’s European champions.The match will be an exhibition, of course, but also a nice showcase for the league, a 90-minute stretch that could draw headlines around the globe. Playing a club with the international pedigree of Real Madrid, after all, will never be a bad thing.Wednesday’s game marks the 13th straight year in which the All-Star Game consisted of a group from MLS taking on an international club. It began with a 4-1 win over Fulham in 2005 and has featured Chelsea and Manchester United twice, along with Roma, Bayern Munich, Arsenal and a few other notable clubs. (The All-Stars vs. Guest format also occurred in 2002 and 2003, when the league’s stars played the U.S. national team and Chivas de Guadalajara, respectively, before reverting to East vs. West for a year in 2004.)Overall, the MLS vs. a popular European team has been a successful experiment. But after nearly a decade and a half, with the domestic league maturing, the time for the format to end is drawing near. In the near future, the MLS All-Star Game should feature only players from the league.There were three major reasons for switching to the MLS vs. World format. One was to increase the level of competition. While All-Star Games in all sports leagues are inherently free-flowing exhibitions geared toward offense, the MLS All-Star Games at the turn of the millennium were spinning out of control. In 1999, the West won 6-4 followed by a 9-4 East win in 2000 and a 6-6 draw in 2001, highlighted by four goals from Landon Donovan.Goals are fun; three straight games ticking into double digits, however, makes a mockery of the sport. That’s somewhere between 300 and 400 percent more goals than teams scored per game during the regular season. Even the NBA All-Star Game, which critics deride for its lack of defense, sees only a 50-100 percent increase in scoring compared to regular-season action.The second reason was to help MLS gain visibility around the world. An All-Star Game featuring a team such as Chelsea, Bayern Munich or Real Madrid will naturally draw more attention abroad than one in which players from the league face off against one another. It presented a way to show European audiences a stadium full of passionate fans to prove that Americans were interested in soccer.Finally, in the early days of the league, MLS lacked the depth to field two full All-Star teams. With at least 18 players per side, that’s three dozen guys earning a nod. In 2004, the last year of the East vs. West format, MLS had 10 teams, which means almost a third of each squad’s starting lineup made the All-Star team. That’s… a lot.But MLS in 2017 is not the same as MLS in 2004 or even MLS in 2010. None of the reasons for continuing to bring in European teams are as compelling as they were five, 10 or 15 years ago.From a competitive standpoint, playing a European giant is always going to be a tricky proposition. It’s a no-win situation for the domestic league’s team. If the MLS players prevail, as they have done in more than half the games in the past, it gets written off as an empty victory against a team on a preseason U.S. vacation. If they lose, the narrative is that MLS’ strongest players aren’t good enough to compete. If the MLS squad tries too hard, as it did during the 2014 match with Bayern Munich, the opposing coach and players get angry, and “Handshake-gate” ensues. No one needs that to happen again.Two teams made up of MLS players would compete against each other, bringing an appropriate level of effort to the field, focusing on having a good time and bringing the viewing audience in as well. And if the occasional game ends 6-6 or 9-4, so what? As long as the goals are good, people won’t complain.Furthermore, MLS has enough talent to make two strong rosters. The 24 All-Stars this season represent only 12 teams, which means nearly half the league doesn’t have anyone to root for. That’s disappointing, and it’s also the type of small thing that stymies growth. Fans might not watch one of MLS’ signature events because they don’t feel invested in the players. An easy fix for that problem is to have more All-Stars. Expanding to two teams of 18, or even 20, players would give more spots and get more fan bases involved.Of the three reasons for playing a European squad, the visibility it would bring across the pond remains the most useful. The All-Star Game can be a good showcase for how the league is growing — a sold-out Solider Field will make a strong impression — and clubs like Real Madrid and Bayern Munich want to partake in the game as they try to build their brands in America.But MLS could have it both ways. They could hold a double-header, for example, with an all-MLS All-Star Game and a friendly between two European teams on the same night. Or they could hold the games on consecutive nights, with soccer taking over the host city for a weekend.If the logistics are too complicated or if there’s a concern that the All-Star Game would be overshadowed by the friendly, what about bringing in a European squad to participate in a skills competition? Imagine Gareth Bale racing Kekuta Manneh, Keylor Navas and Tim Howard facing off in a shot-stopping competition, Sebastian Giovinco and Karim Benzema battling in some sort of finishing challenge. I’d tune in for that, and I imagine I’m not the only one.MLS, now in its 22nd year, is growing up. It’s time its All-Star Game does as well.Noah Davis is a Brooklyn-based correspondent for ESPN FC 

Toronto jumps over Chicago, NYCFC thanks to Giovinco; D.C. stays bottom

Lots of movement in the Power Rankings this week, as Toronto FC leapt to the top following its big win and the Chicago Fire’s loss to Sporting Kansas City.

  1. Toronto FC (+2):Just in case anyone had forgotten, Sebastian Giovinco reminded MLS that he remains the best player in the league with two goals in a 4-0 romp over NYCFC.
  2. Chicago Fire (-1):On the field, the Fire ran into a Sporting team with something to prove, and lost 3-2 in Kansas City. Off it, David Accam’s future remains up in the air.
  3. New York City FC (-1):NYCFC were undone by the Giovinco Show in Toronto, with Andrea Pirlo looking decidedly ineffective in Yangel Herrera’s place.
  4. Sporting Kansas City (+2):No Dom Dwyer, no deficiencies on the attacking end for Sporting. The emergence of Daniel Salloi in a 3-2 win over the Fire is a great sign.
  5. FC Dallas (-1):A deflected shot and a questionable penalty had Dallas in a hole even before a red card for Carlos Gruezo, all of which resulted in a shocking 4-0 loss to Vancouver.
  6. Atlanta United (-1):There was a bit of bad luck at play in Atlanta’s 1-1 draw with Orlando in their final game at Bobby Dodd Stadium. The frame of the goal kept out several excellent efforts.
  7. New York Red Bulls (+2):Since losing to NYCFC on June 24, the Red Bulls are enjoying a four-game unbeaten run. Their most recent victory came in 4-0 demolition of Montreal.
  8. Houston Dynamo (no change):Juan Cabezas’ first goal in Dynamo orange helped salvage a 2-2 draw against the Portland Timber, and kept Houston’s unbeaten home record intact.
  9. Seattle Sounders (+2):Seattle extended its unbeaten run to six games, putting on a strong defensive performance in a scoreless draw against LA.
  10. Columbus Crew SC (-1):After Wednesday’s 3-0 debacle of a loss in Philadelphia, Crew SC did a credible job in a 2-2 draw across the country in Utah.
  11. Vancouver Whitecaps (+4):Not many would have picked the ‘Caps to go on the road and beat down Dallas 4-0, but a bit of a luck and a red card for the host set things up nicely for Vancouver.
  12. San Jose Earthquakes (-2):Nick Lima’s sweet half-volley was all the Quakes needed to take down the Rapids 1-0 at Avaya Stadium.
  13. Portland Timbers (+1):The good news is that VAR would have fixed the missed call that held the Timbers to a 2-2 draw in Houston. The bad news it that VAR won’t be operational until next week.
  14. LA Galaxy (-2):Sigi Schmid’s Galaxy debut and showdown with his old club came and went with a whimper, as neither LA nor Seattle found the net in a goalless draw.
  15. Orlando City SC (-2):Kaka has still got it. The Brazilian showed his quality with a wonderful goal in Orlando’s 1-1 draw against Atlanta. Now to sort out the Dwyer / Cyle Larin partnership.

Pro/rel component made $4B bid for MLS media rights a non-starter

Four billion dollars. No matter the context in which you look at that figure, it is a significant amount of money. And, apparently it could have been put in MLS’ pocket in exchange for its worldwide media rights over a 10-year period.But for MLS, the proposal contained the ultimate poison pill, that being the implementation of a system of promotion/relegation. And the proposal was made by MP & Silva founder Riccardo Silva. Silva just happens to be co-owner of NASL side Miami FC, and he’s been pushing for a pro/rel system to be implemented in North American soccer for some time. Last year he funded a study by Deloitte that looked at the potential benefits of a pro/rel system, but one that MLS president and deputy commissioner Mark Abbott dismissed as having “serious credibility questions”.Then there is the fact that the league’s current deal with ESPN, Fox and Univision prohibits MLS from even discussing a new media rights deal for several years. All of this led MLS to rebuff Silva’s offer.”We’re very fortunate that we have long-term, successful partnerships with some of the world’s leading media companies in ESPN, Fox and Univision,” MLS said in a statement to ESPN FC. “These agreements run through 2022 and provide each broadcaster with exclusive negotiating windows and renewal rights. As was stated to Mr. Silva both in person and in a subsequent letter, Major League Soccer is prohibited contractually from engaging in discussions about our media rights with other distributors. Accordingly, we are not in a position, nor are we interested, in engaging with Mr. Silva on his proposal.”Privately, more than one MLS source referred to what Silva is doing as “grandstanding”. It’s easy to make such an offer when you know the intended recipient is in no position to accept. One source indicated that Silva asked to meet with Garber, and Garber accepted without knowing that media rights were specifically on Silva’s agenda. When asked what exactly was on the agenda, and whether it was related to the league’s attempted expansion foray into Miami with David Beckham, MLS didn’t provide an answer.Silva declined an interview request through a spokesperson.So was Silva grandstanding? In some ways yes, though there are reasons why he might not have been. MP & Silva is an established player in the media rights business with existing deals in soccer, motor racing, tennis and the NFL, just to name a few.”I definitely think the bid was something that was done in earnest,” said Michael Colangelo, the assistant director of USC’s Sports Business Institute. “You want to table-set this because you want to get ahead of it. It sort of allows him to show that he’s serious. You don’t make an offer like this unless you have some sort of consistent plan that you can execute on. So by setting things up and having it so in 2023, once you have the rights in hand, you can start to figure out the more difficult things like cord-cutting, and getting viewership on a digital platform instead of a traditional platform if that’s where the market is trending.”And what about Miami FC, Silva’s NASL team? While instituting a pro/rel system would be one way to get around having to pay an expansion fee, it seems unlikely that’s the only thing that’s driving Silva.”I think when you talk about someone like Riccardo, I think he sees a business opportunity, he sees a chance to grow MP & Silva on its own, more than a chance to get his team in,” said Colangelo.But the pro/rel component remains a non-starter. Would it make the end of the MLS regular season more compelling? Without question. Such a system would also add a layer of accountability to teams as well. There are also host of negatives on the business side, however. What the game needs right now is investment in terms of stadiums, players and youth academies, just to name a few. The willingness on the part of owners to build that kind of infrastructure would lessen considerably if there were a risk of relegation.MLS is also in the midst of an expansion-bidding process with entry fees starting at $150 million. In all likelihood, the introduction of a pro/rel system would give prospective ownership groups and communities — some of whom are contemplating providing public land for stadiums — reason to have second thoughts.”No owner with deep pockets is going to say, ‘I’m going to line up all my sponsorships, and then get relegated,'” said Colangelo. “No sponsor is going to come in and be the kit sponsor if you can relegated in a year or two. Right now the system just isn’t built for the risk.”A system like England is so established. In the U.S. is there the right amount of teams to start this? Are the markets the right fit? Are the venues the right fit? Right now it’s not in the cards. Now, if we’re talking 10 to 15 to 20 years down the line, maybe it is. But right now, it just doesn’t make sense for MLS with the business structure and trying to expand the league and these franchise fees and making sure that the product is up to par. It doesn’t make much sense for the league as currently constructed.”Then there is the issue of control as it relates to media rights. MLS has historically negotiated rights deals on its own, and isn’t going to give away that kind of power any time soon.”This ensures that [MLS] and its partners can structure an agreement that addresses all elements, such as scheduling, marketing and digital distribution, that are required for a successful partnership,” the MLS statement read.Exactly how the media landscape will look in six years is another giant unknown, especially as it relates to cord-cutting, and the move to digital platforms. The advent of streaming companies wanting to get more into sports is another changing aspect. Then you have entertainment entities like UFC and WWE who own or control their own streaming rights.”MLS has time on its side,” said Colangelo. “In a few years they may know the landscape a little bit better, and how to monetize things like cord-cutters. So why rush into something right now when they may get five or six more bidders down the line? They may figure out a business model where it’s league owned and they can benefit from their own distribution model.”The number is astounding, it’s jaw-dropping. How can you turn down $4 billion? But the way the business is moving, you could have left millions and millions on the table just because of that.”Will Silva jump into the bidding fray when negotiations open up? It’s possible, though as long as pro/rel is part of the equation, MLS is almost certain to look elsewhere.Jeff Carlisle covers MLS and the U.S. national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @JeffreyCarlisle.

U.S. Ladies score three late goals to complete stunning comeback win over Brazil 4-3

Jul 30, 2017

SAN DIEGO — Julie Johnson Ertz came in off the bench and scored in the 89th minute and the United States women’s soccer team overcame a late two-goal deficit to beat Brazil 4-3 on Sunday night in the Tournament of Nations.The United States was in danger of losing for the fourth time this year before the three-goal flurry in about nine minutes.Two minutes after Brazil’s Andressinha scored on a free kick in the 78th minute for her second goal of the game, Christen Press countered to make it 3-2 with her 43rd career goal and second of the year.Press fed Megan Rapinoe for a spectacular running blast that tied it in the 85th minute, and Ertz put the Americans ahead four minutes later. Ertz is using her married name after playing as Julie Johnston.Rapinoe, who was recovering from knee surgery for much of past year, had not scored for the national team since the 2015 World Cup. She has rebounded this season with the Seattle Reign and leads the National Women’s Soccer League with 12 goals.The United States was coming off a 1-0 loss to Australia in the team’s Tournament of Nations opener in Seattle on Thursday night. It was the first time that the Australians beat the Americans 28 previous matches.Coach Jill Ellis tinkered with her lineup against Brazil, surprisingly moving Becky Sauerbrunn to a defensive midfielder role rather than her usual spot at center back.The United States has never dropped four games on home soil in a single season. In addition to Australia on Thursday, the Americans fell to England and France in the She Believes Cup in March.The Americans have won just four matches when they’ve allowed an opponent three goals.In Sunday’s early game at Qualcomm Stadium, Sam Kerr scored three goals for her first international hat trick and the Australian women’s national team beat Japan 4-2.Kerr scored in the 10th, 14th and 43rd minutes, capping the trio of goals with a backflip.Australia, ranked No. 7 in the world, leads the tournament standings. The Matildas will wrap up the round-robin tournament against Brazil on Thursday in Carson, California. The United States will face Japan.

Aside From the Trophy, What Else Can USA Take Away From 2017 Gold Cup?

  • Bruce Arena learned plenty about his player pool, with all having an eye on taking the momentum generated by the Gold Cup triumph into World Cup qualifying.

BRIAN STRAUSFriday July 28th, 2017  SI

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — The USA can call itself CONCACAF champion again, at least for the next two years. And if FIFA holds a Confederations Cup in 2021 (it’s not a certainty because the leeway organizers had to move Qatar’s 2022 World Cup to the less-blistering winter may not be available the year before), the Americans have punched half a ticket. Veterans like Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore scratched a lingering international itch, while the likes of Darlington Nagbe, Jordan Morris, Kellyn Acosta and Jorge Villafaña earned some pedigree.The Americans deserve a celebration, thought it must be brief. The two-game hole they fell into at the start of World Cup qualifying makes this month’s triumph taste a bit sweeter. It also cast a shadow over the tournament. This Gold Cup could never be about just this Gold Cup. In five weeks, qualifying starts up again and even the slightest stumble there will put a trip to Russia back into jeopardy and render Wednesday’s triumph almost moot. “We’ve made progress, but we have a long way to go,” coach Bruce Arena said after his team deservedly defeated Jamaica, 2-1, in Wednesday’s final here at Levi’s Stadium. “We’re a long way from qualifying for the World Cup and that’s the objective, for sure. We’ve got to evaluate this performance in July and the next couple of weeks, and I have to select a roster for our World Cup qualifying. Then we have to win some games in September and October.”The USA defeated Costa Rica relatively easily in the Gold Cup semifinals. But the Ticos team that shows up to Red Bull Arena on September 1 almost certainly will be stronger. Arena will have access to his full arsenal as well, as those European players who missed the Gold Cup will be available. He said Wednesday that it’ll be “challenging” finding the right blend after the full squad has spent almost three months apart. But in his favor, he’ll have the a much deeper knowledge of his player pool, a confident group of CONCACAF champions and some reliable trends in form.

Here is a look at a few takeaways, other than the trophy, from the Gold Cup:

VAUNTED VETERANS CEMENT THEIR STATURE

It’s tough to imagine the likes of Tim Howard, Bradley or Clint Dempsey still having something to prove, and certainly their involvement in the upcoming qualifiers never was in question as long as they’re healthy. Yet each of them, along with Altidore, somehow managed to enhance his stature during the Gold Cup. And they did so on the field and off.“In the locker room they’re such great guys that calm us down,” Morris said following Wednesday’s final, during which he careened from goat to hero. “They’ve been part of those big moments before, so for us it’s learning from them and trying to just be calm in those big moments and they really help with that.”Howard didn’t put a foot wrong. Bradley was imperious. The Americans’ midfield organization and spacing improved dramatically once the captain arrived ahead of the quarterfinals, and he performed so well, he was named tournament MVP despite missing half of it. Bradley was comfortable as both a No. 6 and in a more mobile role alongside Acosta in the semifinal and final, and the USA didn’t yield a Gold Cup goal from open play during the 270-plus minutes he was on the field.

Meanwhile, Dempsey’s denouement has been officially delayed. He may be 34 and enjoying a new lease on his soccer life following a heart ailment that sidelined him last year, but the desperate, making-up-for-lost time approach he’s had his entire career looks like it’ll continue to pay dividends. Dempsey has always played like a man delayed, desperate to squeeze the most out of every minute on the field. Arena rolled the dice this month and guessed that reducing those minutes, rather than giving reason Dempsey to sulk, might help him become even more efficient.  It worked. Dempsey came on as a second-half sub in both the semi and the final. In the first game, he set up Altidore’s game-winner then scored on a beautiful free kick in the closing moments. Acosta is a two-way midfielder rather than a playmaker and was more than willing to defer to Dempsey in that space behind the forwards the latter likes to exploit. It made all the difference against Costa Rica. In Wednesday’s final, Dempsey replaced Acosta and acted as more of an attacking free agent in a game the USA was dominating. He nearly scored the winner—and the goal that would’ve lifted him past Landon Donovan on the all-time U.S. goal scoring list—in the 75th, but his sharp header was saved brilliantly by Jamaican substitute Dwayne Miller. Then in the 88th, he helped steer the ball toward Morris for the clincher.“I’m older and I appreciate it more,” Dempsey said of his third Gold Cup championship. “I know that there’s not a lot more opportunities to win cups. To say I’ve won three is something that I’ll remember, and to be able to say that I’ve tied the record during the process—three games to chip in with a goal and three assists—I’m proud of that.”Of course Dempsey’s counting. That’s what makes him so productive. Said Arena, “Our older players are unbelievable. The passion they have for this program from our oldest player, now Tim Howard [38], to our captain Michael Bradley, to Clint Dempsey … Clint Dempsey is going to do whatever is necessary for this team to be successful so this is encouraging stuff.”Arena has his veterans playing well and buying in, and that should pave the way for the rest of the squad this fall.

NEWER PLAYERS HELP ESTABLISH RELIABLE DEPTH

Qualifying for a World Cup and doing well once you get there also requires answering some key questions behind the core. And the Gold Cup helped Arena do that in a number of ways.“This was a really good experience for me and the players to get to know each other and move our program forward,” Arena said.The manager was clear that Acosta, the homegrown FC Dallas star, needed additional international seasoning. He’s far from a first-choice starter and has aspects of his game he needs to clean up. Nagbe is ahead of him if Arena has his full complement of outside midfielders, and Alejandro Bedoya remains a versatile, arguably indispensable asset. But Acosta is smart and unselfish, and he demonstrated the sort of potential he has a complementary piece in the way he played off Bradley (and Dempsey in the semifinal). He’ll get more opportunities. Morris did more than net the trophy-winner. He made it clear he has the intangibles to succeed at higher levels even as he works to round out his game. The story of the high expectations and slow start to his rookie season in Seattle, which ended with a 2016 MLS Cup title, is well known. He’s struggled early in 2017 as well, and there are players who might endure that slump, see Dom Dwyer score in his first two internationals and then yield an equalizer in a tournament final and crumble. Morris didn’t, however. His perseverance through an indifferent hour against Martinique during the group stage led to two second-half goals, and his recovery from his defensive miscue Wednesday night will become the stuff of U.S. soccer legend. Add all that to his versatility—he can play high and stretch a defense or attack from wider positions—and Morris is in great shape to continue his rise for country as well as club.Nagbe clearly has a fan in Arena, who’s lauded the Portland midfielder at every opportunity. Perhaps he reminds the manager a bit of his former Virginia and national team captain Claudio Reyna—on a relative scale—thanks to his ability to keep the ball, facilitate possession and influence team speed and shape. Neither is the assertive, game-breaking attacker some probably hoped for, but Nagbe is still relatively new to the international game and has a significant upside. He’ll play a role going forward.Gyasi Zardes is another player whom Arena favors. The LA Galaxy midfielder/forward doesn’t have Nagbe’s technique or comfort on the ball, but he makes things happen in the attacking third in a way his Portland counterpart doesn’t. Zardes is an agent of offensive chaos, and that’s not a bad thing to be able to bring off the bench. On Wednesday, he hit the cross that led to Morris’s goal.

ARENA LAYS A DEFENSIVE FOUNDATION

Arena didn’t need to see a ton from his center backs during the Gold Cup. Matt Besler and Omar Gonzalez will remain in the rotation, and the latter’s improved performance in the final after a more difficult outing against Cost Rica was a good sign. They’re veterans, they’re established and with Geoff Cameron and John Brooks also available for the qualifiers, Arena can take comfort in having four World Cup-level defenders to deploy. His successor can delve deeper into the potential of Matt Hedges, Matt Miazga, Cameron Carter-Vickers and others.The bigger questions had been on the flanks, where former coach Jurgen Klinsmann consistently struggled to find answers. This month, Arena found some depth. Eric Lichaj had some good moments in his long-awaited return to regular international duty and if he didn’t do enough to unseat Graham Zusi as the No. 2 behind DeAndre Yedlin, he at least pushed the Sporting Kansas City veteran and gave Arena another option. Jorge Villafaña hasn’t been perfect on the left, but he also hasn’t done enough to lose the job and, at times, he shows the sort of dynamism and range that makes him a likely first choice. Fabian Johnson remains a fallback option.There is no settled back four, but there are several combinations that could work. And that represents progress from last fall.Plus, there’s more depth in the program if Arena wants to look for it, from European players like Timmy Chandler and Tim Ream to potential January camp invitees such as Justin Morrow, Greg Garza, Steve Birnbaum and Tim Parker. That camp also may represent an opportunity for Bill Hamid, who blanked Nicaragua in the Gold Cup’s group stage finale, to make his case for a spot on the flight to Russia. It’s a flight that now, thanks to progress on multiple fronts, seems more likely to happen.

Australia earns historic win over U.S. women, who struggle in Tournament of Nations opener

By Graham Hays | Jul 28, 2017

SEATTLE — It seemed a bit of a bland name, this Tournament of Nations. It felt obvious, one step better than calling it the tournament of teams. It felt far more fitting by the end of the night.By the time the final whistle blew on Australia’s 1-0 win against the United States, the first victory for the Matildas in 28 meetings between the teams secured when Tameka Butt slipped the ball past goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher in the 67th minute, the name felt downright eloquent.This is a tournament of nations. These days, there are far more nations that matter in women’s soccer. And far more of them are capable of beating the United States than ever before.Like Brazil and Japan, the other teams in the tournament, Australia is now on that list — which is both why the United States is trying to remake itself and why that is proving so difficult.”I think any team in the top 10 or 12 of women’s football can all beat each other now,” Australia coach Alen Stajcic said after his team, ranked seventh in the world, proved just that.Just as England and France proved on American soil earlier this year in the SheBelieves Cup.This is, believe it or not, what U.S. coach Jill Ellis wanted out of this year. Well, not the third loss by shutout, but the competition. The year after the Olympics used to be a quiet one for the U.S. women, no major tournaments or qualifying events to worry about. Four years ago, for example, they barely took the field during the summer. They certainly didn’t play three top-10 opponents in eight days. But Ellis said here in Seattle this week that it was important not to fall behind as other teams benefited from the competition of the European Championship now being played in the Netherlands.So the Tournament of Nations was added to a schedule that already included the SheBelieves Cup and a trip to Europe to play Norway and Sweden. The objective wasn’t to win 2017 but to be better prepared to win in 2019 when the next World Cup rolls around.”It’s a big ask, especially for where we are, in terms of we’re a team in transition,” Ellis said the day before the loss. “But there is no better way to get ready for qualifying than to play these teams. You just learn so much about yourself. We knew we were going to be a younger team. To play the top nine teams in the world in one calendar year, yeah, it’s pretty good.”That was why Crystal Dunn, Carli Lloyd and Alex Morgan began Thursday’s game healthy but on the bench. Why the back line featured one player making her debut in Taylor Smith and another earning her fifth cap in Abby Dahlkemper. It was why Lindsey Horan started alongside Christen Press as a forward, a role Horan has played elsewhere but not with the national team.What will worry, disappoint, frustrate or infuriate many is that the U.S. women again generally failed to threaten the goal until those familiar faces entered as second-half substitutes. Until the game necessitated throwing caution to the wind and attacking with numbers. The idea of a process might not worry most, but the perception of a lack of progress will.The United States had a lot of possession in the opening 20 minutes and some near chances, most often through the work of Megan Rapinoe. Playing in her professional home, where she is in the midst of a sensational NWSL season for the Seattle Reign, Rapinoe played all 90 minutes and looked indispensable. That, too, is part of the process when it comes to a player coming off another knee injury. But the initial surge abated and the United States, all too familiarly, left vast swaths of midfield unclaimed. Press and Horan were left isolated. Australia’s pressure pinned back Smith and Casey Short, the Americans’ starting outside backs. The Australians didn’t let the Americans play, and the attack bogged down.”We talk about it and we work on it,” Rapinoe said. “In the game it’s tough when you’re under the pump. I think we just need a little bit quicker thinking from everybody; that’s quicker in movement, quicker decision-making, and have those options around the ball for teams that press like that. It’s kind of hurried in the beginning, but once you break that initial pressure you can get out and run on them.”But I think we struggled to find that release ball today, and I think that really hurt us.”There were few better examples of that than Horan. The 23-year-old, the fourth-most-senior player in the starting lineup, nearly played in Press for a goal in the first half and nearly had several memorable moments. Instead, Horan left the game midway through the second half after, although not directly as a result of, what looked like a painful head-to-head collision. This developmental phase for the United States is designed for players like Horan, who is clearly talented and excelled with French giant Paris Saint-Germain after skipping college. But from an experiment deep in the midfield to a higher role to the forward role she now occupies as essentially Lloyd’s understudy, it has not been a smooth ascendency. It has been a struggle, just like Thursday night.”It was difficult,” Horan said. “Australia is a great team, and they came out and they were pressing us. Any time we would have back to goal, getting the ball into them, they would be right up on us. It was difficult to get out of pressure at points. I think a lot of the time we did find the weak side and try to get out. In the second half, we got a lot more chances off of it, so that was great as a team. Unfortunately we didn’t get the goal, didn’t get the winDunn, Lloyd and Morgan all had chances to level the score after they came on in the second half, Lloyd denied by a brilliant save from goalkeeper Lydia Williams on a ripped shot from distance that looked bound for goal. But Australia, with seven starters who also started against the United States in the World Cup two years ago and some new faces mixed in, wasn’t spooked by the close calls.”The growth of the women’s game, it’s very steep,” U.S. co-captain Becky Sauerbrunn said. “You’re seeing excellent soccer from a lot of countries. Watching Euros, you are seeing teams like Austria play some really quality football. It’s exciting — obviously we want to stay at the top of that group, but it’s definitely hard.”

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THURSDAY
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Australia became the 16th country to beat the U.S. women, but it was an overdue formality in many ways. The Matildas surprised Brazil in the 2015 World Cup, could have (maybe should have) derailed Germany in the Olympics a year ago, and have been good enough to beat the United States on any given day for several years. But for some fantastic Hope Solo saves and Rapinoe’s virtuoso performance, the Australians might have done that in the opening game of the World Cup two years ago.The 3-1 final score that day was a less accurate reflection of the proceedings than the score Thursday.”I think there’s been a lot of fear over the years,” Stajcic said. “But look, I think we busted that myth at the World Cup, to be honest. Even though we didn’t win that game, the players got a lot of belief out of that game. Especially in the first half that day, we walked off knowing we were the better team that half. …”I think that day was really a turning point for the team, and today was probably the result.”That result was a reminder of why Ellis believes so much in what she is doing in trying to make the United States deeper, younger and better. But it also was a performance that won’t silence doubts about the progress of that process.Graham Hays covers college sports for espnW, including softball and soccer. Hays began with ESPN in 1999.

Gold Cup Trophy Builds Confidence for USA, but Work Still Remains

BRIAN STRAUSThursday July 27th, 2017

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Goals change mood, perspective and trajectory, and winning cures nearly all ills.A little less than 40 minutes after he made the mistake that, at least in his eyes, could have cost his country a major title, Jordan Morris inked his name into U.S. soccer history and scored the goal that sealed the 2017 CONCACAF Gold Cup title. He became only the fourth American man to notch a goal that clinched a trophy. And eight months after a dramatic, costly coaching change left the program in a World Cup qualifying crisis and drifting in a state of significant uncertainty, the mood around the U.S. national team seems better than it’s been for years.Yet still, coach Bruce Arena said here late Wednesday night after his team’s 2–1 win over Jamaica in the Gold Cup final that, “I think we’re still behind the 8-ball.”If that’s the case—the USA is 2–2–2 and in third place in the Hexagonal with four qualifiers remaining—then it’s just about the lightest, least imposing 8-ball there is. Undoubtedly, work remains to be done. But the collective that takes the field at Red Bull Arena for the Sept. 1 qualifier against Costa Rica almost certainly will be miles from the listless, uncertain squad that was demolished by Los Ticos last November. Since Jurgen Klinsmann’s subsequent dismissal and Arena’s appointment, the USA is 9–0–5. Its 2–0–2 qualifying mark includes a 6–0 dismantling of Honduras and a draw in Mexico at the Estadio Azteca. And now, the USA is continental champion for the first time in four years. Success breeds confidence, trust, and chemistry.None of that guarantees future results of course. But the smiles on the faces of Arena and the men who passed through the Levi’s Stadium mixed zone with gold medals around their necks suggested this is a team that, despite the qualifying work still remaining, is quite happy with where it is.“If you had asked me in November if this was where we’d be with the program, I’d probably say ‘I don’t think so,’” Arena said. “For me, personally, it certainly feels good and for the players that are working really hard to represent the United States and get our national team program better, it’s a real credit to them, simply an outstanding ob from the first day I’ve taken this position. Our older players are unbelievable—the passion they have for this program …. this is encouraging stuff.”Arena cited Tim Howard, who appears on the road to starting in a third World Cup; captain Michael Bradley, who won the Gold Cup’s golden ball award despite joining the team after the group stage; and striker Clint Dempsey, who’s willingness to accept a role as a game-changing substitute sent a signal that this a squad with it priorities in place.“Those guys … really set the tone, and we have to have the tone set the right way if we’re going to get through these next four World Cup qualifiers,” Arena said. “We have to be successful in September and October and we have a group of guys who are motivated to do that.”There’s a significant chunk of the national team, led by the likes of Christian Pulisic, Fabian Johnson, Geoff Cameron and Bobby Wood, who missed out on this Gold Cup while preparing for their upcoming club seasons in Europe. Arena said integrating those athletes after nearly a month without them will be a challenge. But he’s shown an impressive dexterity in managing and massaging a roster, along with a keen understanding of on-field chemistry. Those Europe-based players will join a group that’s established a welcoming, ofessional, and motivated culture.“Any team has a bit of stagnation toward the end of an era, and that was us, probably, in November,” said Howard, who won his first CONCACAF title since ‘07. “Bruce has come in. We have a renewed sense of urgency. He lit a fire under us as a group and certain players, and the results have come our way.”Morris is among those players who still hasn’t earned national team tenure. He’s 22 and in his second year as a pro. There have been ups and downs, from an MLS Cup title last December to a brutally slow start to his sophomore season in Seattle. This Gold Cup marked his last best chance to show he had a role to play in the upcoming qualifiers, and he took it like a seasoned striker, scoring twice against Martinique in the group stage and then delivering the emphatic 88th-minute winner on Wednesday. the goal meant even more considering that it was Morris’ faulty marking that allowed Je-Vaughn Watson to get free for Jamaica’s equalizer.It’s a great championship game narrative, the mistake and then the recovery. “Redemption is a beautiful thing,” said Howard. But Morris, who took ownership of his mistake on Watson’s goal, said his rise from the ashes was as much about that collective culture as his own focus.“I’ve never really had anything like that in my career, where I was kind of at fault for the other team scoring like that. So, it was tough to get over, especially in such a big game,” Morris said. “But my teammates were great and for me. [They] picked me right back up after the mistake and said, ‘Next play. Keep moving on. Try and make a difference.’ And that’s what I tried to do and I was happy I could do that.”Said Arena, “This tournament has been a really good experience for me and the players to get to know each other and move our program forward …. We’ve made progress, but we have a long way to go.”It’s a good sign for all that his players agree on both counts.“I still think we can improve,” said Jozy Altidore, who scored the Americans’ opening goal on a stunning 45th-minute free kick. “We still have to raise our level. We’re happy with the trophy, but I still think there are points where we can dominate games better …. We’re going to enjoy this moment, but there’s still a lot of room to improve.”

Christian Pulisic to Liverpool links continue

Leave a commentBy Joe Prince-WrightJul 31, 2017, 9:55 AM EDT

For well over 12 months Christian Pulisic has been linked with a move to Liverpool, and that doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.[ MORE: Pulisic speaks to JPW ]The U.S. national team star, still just 18 years old, signed a new long-term deal at German giants Borussia Dortmund over the summer but the Pennsylvania native has once again been linked with a transfer to Liverpool to join his former manager Jurgen Klopp.A report in the Daily Mirror in the UK suggests that if Barcelona’s Neymar moves to PSG, Barca will then push through a move for Liverpool’s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho. If that happens then per the report Pulisic would be Klopp’s top replacement.Pro Soccer Talk understands that Klopp and Pulisic keep in regular contact after the latter moved from Hershey, PA as a 15-year-old to sign for Dortmund who were then managed by Klopp.Last summer speculation was rife that Liverpool were pushing hard to sign Pulisic, but Klopp was coy when we asked him just before the transfer window slammed shut. And before you accuse Klopp of tapping up another player (fans of RB Leipzig and Southampton are likely nodding their heads), it is believed the pair have a very close relationship with the German coach influential in helping Pulisic and his father settle into life overseas in 2015 when he moved to Germany.Since then a lot has changed for Pulisic.He’s become the main attacking threat from midfield for the U.S. national team, plus a regular for Dortmund as they reached the UEFA Champions League last eight, won the German Cup and finished third in the Bundesliga.The hype is very real around Pulisic and although the talented teenager continues to impress each and every time he steps on the pitch, fans of the USMNT are trying not to get ahead of themselves.In truth, he’s the most exciting attacking talent the U.S. has had since Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey burst onto the scenes and he has the potential — seven goals in 16 appearances for the USMNT is not half bad — to surpass both of their stunning international careers.When it comes to Pulisic’s club career, many would suggest that staying in the Bundesliga for another two to three years would be the best for his development and then he’d still only be 21 or 22 if he decided it was time to move on in 2020. The world is at his feet and if he continues his rapid ascension then plenty of big money offers will come in if he ever wants to leave Dortmund, which again is another big question mark given their status in Europe and beyond.The main question, at least for me, around this reported Liverpool interest is simple: how much would Pulisic cost? A rough estimate of $35-40 million may even be on the low side, considering Dortmund would know that Liverpool has a huge transfer fee of over $115 million, or more, coming in for Coutinho.Everything suggests Pulisic will remain at Dortmund for the foreseeable future given their annual ability to challenge for the Bundesliga title and qualify for the UCL each season.Klopp is keeping a close eye on his former protege.Although Pulisic’s diminutive stature may be an issue for some around this move, anybody who has watched his breathtaking ability on the ball, pace and sublime awareness to navigate his way around the pitch know that moving to the Premier League would be something he’d take time to adjust to but would surely master.It still seems a little early for Pulisic to be heading to the PL, but there’s no doubt the top clubs in England will soon be chasing him if he improves on his breakout season at Dortmund in 2016-17.As long as Klopp is in charge at Liverpool, it’s likely they’ll be at the front of the queue.’

Three Things – #FCEvINDY 11

Three points from Sunday’s 2-1 win over FC Edmonton

Published Jul 31, 2017

GOLDIE NETS HIS FIRST

Patience and practice finally paid off for forward David Goldsmith as the new-in-blue striker netted his first professional goal in the first regular season start of his career. In the 7th minute, Goldsmith sent a through pass from the center circle towards Indy original Don Smart near the right side of FC Edmonton’s box. From there, Smart zoomed past Edmonton’s defense where he met Goldsmith’s pass on the flank, and after a single touch, he sent the ball rocketing towards the post where it deflected off the diving gloves of Edmonton goalkeeper Tyson Farago. However, Farago’s deflection sent the ball bouncing behind him and directly in front of the open goal. Without hesitation, Goldsmith came forward to send the ball to the back of the net, giving both himself and “Indiana’s Team” the first goal of the night.  The Bristol, England native signed for the Eleven prior to the start of the 2017 Season after completing his collegiate career at Butler University. Over the course of 281 minutes on the pitch, Goldsmith has now been involved in two goals this season – his first being his assistance in XI midfielder Ben Speas’ goal during Indy’s 2-0 victory over North Carolina FC on June 17. In addition, Goldsmith is the third Indy Eleven player to score his NASL debut goal this season, joining the ranks of midfielders Craig Henderson and Tanner Thompson. Moreover, Goldsmith is the 10th player to score a goal for the “Boys in Blue” so far in 2017; scorers that precede Goldsmith include: Justin Braun, Eamon Zayed, Lovel Palmer, Ben Speas, Tanner Thompson, Nemanja Vukovic, Brad Ring, Craig Henderson and former Eleven player Jason Plumhoff.

RACKING UP THE SAVES

Acting as though there wasn’t a two-week break, Indy Eleven goalkeeper extraordinaire Jon Busch returned to action with another stellar performance between the posts at Clarke Stadium. Like a nearly impenetrable wall, Busch added another seven saves to his personal stats, letting just one slip through the cracks. Five out of the seven of Busch’s saves came within the last 10 minutes of the match as Edmonton frantically searched for an equalizer. The first of which came in the 81st minute after FC Edmonton’s Ben Fisk won a free kick after being taken down by XI midfielder Brad Ring just outside Indy’s box. Edmonton midfielder Dustin Corea stepped up to take the kick that inevitably found Bush’s gloves in the top-center of the goal. Shortly after in the 83rd minute, FC Edmonton found another opportunity when forward Jake Keegan sent a strike hurling in from far outside the box, but a comfortable dive from Busch kept Indy in the lead. The Eddies continued their attack two minutes later when Edmonton’s Ben McKendry sent another ball skidding across the ground from outside the box, making for another easy save for Busch. Fast forward minutes later in the 90th minute, Fisk came charging along the left edge of the box before firing off a shot just feet away from the goal. Reacting quickly, Busch made yet another save with a masterful drop-and-stretch, sending the ball forward to be cleared by Indy’s Tanner Thompson. The last of Busch’s saves came in the final play in extra time when Eleven defender Lovel Palmer’s clearance landed at the feet of McKendry just outside the box. McKendry fired off the final high flying ball, which was collected by Busch in the center of the goal, sealing Indy’s first win for the Fall season.

Bush has collected 59 saves in total so far in 2017, putting him only 11 off from the most saves in the NASL. Fans have the opportunity to pledge a donation for every save Busch makes in the 2017 season for his SAVES for SEALS initiative. The man is also auctioning off game-worn gloves and boots, also connected to his SAVES for SEALS program.

A STRONG START

Sunday’s 1-2 win marks a strong start to the Fall season for Indy Eleven, with Indy being one of two teams to walk away with three points over the weekend. “Indiana’s Team” currently sits in second place for the Fall due to goal differential, with the New York Cosmos taking first over the weekend. However, Indy surged ahead in the combined table by overtaking North Carolina FC’s 5thplace position, inching closer to a playoff position. In an earlier interview, Indy Eleven head coach Tim Hankinson stressed the importance of gaining points in back-to-back matches with Edmonton:

“These are two vital games coming up,” Hankinson said. “Because they are a team that sits below us and they’re going to be fighting, clawing to get past us. With 16 games, we figure we’ve got to win about 10, 11 [games] in order to build the kind of points—30-plus-points to add to the 20 from our Spring. I feel like that’s the level we’ve got to produce to be a playoff team.”

The “Boys in Blue” will look to make the most of their early lead in the Fall as they take on our Canadian rivals once again at home. Tickets are available now for this Saturday’s match-up against FC Edmonton at “The Mike” for as low as $11.

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