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 !!
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
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
MLS All-Star Game Preview – MLS.com
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
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Seattle Sounders (+2):Seattle extended its unbeaten run to six games, putting on a strong defensive performance in a scoreless draw against LA.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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 , 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 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.
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.”
MORE TOURNAMENT OF NATIONS
StubHub Center (Carson, California) USWNT vs. Japan, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
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.
Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com –