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.
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
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)
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
Soccer Rankings for Every Team in the World
Why Neymar went to PSG – ESPNFC -see intro a 1st game
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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 …
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.
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.
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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?
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  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.
- 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.
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?
- 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.
- Seattle Sounders(+1): The Sounders’ counterattack worked to precision in a 4-0 romp at Minnesota United. It’s now seven unbeaten for Seattle.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
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.
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.
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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