1/26/18 US Men tie Bosnia, FA Cup Sat/Sun, EPL games Tues/Wed, Indy 11 Moving to Lucas Oil & Schedule Released, Full TV Schedule

Update on Indy 11 – So its official – the Indy 11 will play at least some home games if not most of them at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2018.   How very exciting!  I for one will look to at least renew my Flex Pack 8 tickets from 2 years ago for the BYB.  The layout looks like they will close off 1 side and use the other side plus both end zones with the BYB in one end zone.  From what I see – the pricing looks similar to before.  VERY EXCITING MOVE FOR OUR INDY 11 !!

Indy 11 announce Lucas Oil as New home stadium for 2018

https://www.xiforever.com

Indy 11 to call Lucas Oil home – Indy Biz Journal

Indy 11 at the Luke – Nuevo

The US Men – or boys as it would be looked ok on Sun evening vs Bosnia – while everyone else watched the Grammy’s.  Not sure why they didn’t schedule the game for 4 or 5 pm instead of 9:30 pm (good ole US Soccer – CLUELESS!!!)  Anyway – the 50% Bosnian crowd made it loud for the zero to zero tie.  Overall both teams had some decent shots – but overall I thought the US played a little better than Bosnia.  Morris looked good up front – had a chance on 1 and should have had an assist on another.  Same ole US can’t finish issue in front of goal.  US GK faced a PK on a horrible call and it hit post.  Overall not very eventful.  But they held their own.

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Woah Sorry got swamped on Friday – no time to write this week. Excited to see the US men – or boys if you will play this Sunday night vs Bosnia on Fox Sports 1 at 9:30 pm – the US team will have a bunch of youngsters out there – excited to see who gets some game time and if anyone shines?

FA Cup action this weekend in England and while its romantic and all – seriously its usually a blow-out.  I will tune in some – see schedules below – but its not EPL.  The EPL does have games on Tues 3 pm on NBCSN as Liverpool tries to recover from the tie to Swansea on Monday at Huddersfield.  And Wed we get Tottenham vs Man United in a HUGE game for top 4 at 3 pm on NBCSN.   The weekend slate does have Dortmund and US star Pulisic hosting Frieburg at 9:30 am on FS2, while beIn Sport brings us surging Valencia hosting a struggling Real Madrid at 10 am and Juventus traveling to Chievo at 2:45 pm.   Sunday gives us a decent FA Cup game with Chelsea hosting Yedlin and Newcastle United.

The Indy 11 have signed some players and are beginning to assemble a roster.  The full season schedule has been released with some fun games on the docket including of course the home opener vs Louisville FC on March 31st.

Check out The Ole Ballcoach online www.theoleballcoach.com

GAMES ON TV 

Sat, Jan 27 

7:30 am FS 1                  Petersborough United vs Leicester City FA Cup

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayer Munich

9:30 am FS2>                Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Freiburg

10 am beIN Sport       Valencia cs Real Madrid

12:30 FS2                     Werder Bremen vs Schalke

12:30 FS 1                    Newport County vs Tottenham FA Cup

2:45 bein Sport           Juve vs Chievo

2:45 pm FS2                   Liverpool vs West Brom FA Cup

Sun, Jan 28 

8:30 am FS1                   Chelsea vs Newcastle United (yedlin)  FA Cup

9:30 am FS plus           Bayern Leverkusen vs Mainz

10:45 am FS2                 Cardiff vs Man City  FA Cup

2:45 pm beIN Sport     Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves

9:30 pm FS1         USA Men vs Bosnia & Herzegovina

Tues, Jan 30

2:45 pm ??                     Swansea vs Arsenal

2:45 pm Gol TV            Atalanta vs Juve     Coppa Italia

3 pm NBCSN                   Huddersfield Town vs Liverpool

Weds, Jan 31

2:45 pm NBCSN   Tottenham vs Manchester United 

2:45 pm Gol TV            Milan vs Lazio

Fri, Feb 2

2:30 pm FS1                   Kiohl vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

Sat, Feb 3 

7:30 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man City

9:30 am FS 1                  Mainz vs Bayer Munich

10 am NBCSN                 Man United vs Huddersfield (Williams)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Aresnal vs Everton

12:30 FS2                       RB Leipzig vs Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Lavente

Sun, Feb 4  

9:15 am NBcSN            Crystal Palace vs New Castle (Yedlin)

9:30 am FS1                   Franfurt vs Augsburg

11 am NBCSN       Liverpool vs Tottenham 

2:45 pm beIN Sport      Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

Tues, Feb 13 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS2                  Basel vs Man City

2:45 pm Fox Sport1  Juventus vs Tottenham  

Weds, Feb 14 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1                  Real Madrid vs PSG   

2:45 pm Fox Sport2  Porto vs Liverpool  

Tues, Feb 20 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1                  Bayern Munich vs Besiktas

2:45 pm FS 2                  Chelsea vs Barcelona  

Weds, Feb 21 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1                   Sevilla vs Man United                   

2:45 pm Fox Sport2  Roma vs Shakhtar

Thurs, Mar 1

7 pm  ESPN2         US Ladies vs Germany (She Believes Cup @ MAPFREE Stadium Columbus, OH)

Tues, Mar 6 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1                  PSG vs Real Madrid

2:45 pm Fox Sport2  Liverpool vs Porto

Weds, Mar 7  – Champions League

2:45 pm FS2                  Man City vs Basel

2:45 pm Fox Sport1  Tottenham  vs Juventus

Tues, Mar 13 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1                   Man United vs Sevilla

2:45 pm Fox Sport2  Shakhtar  vs Roma

Weds, Mar 14 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1                  Besiktas  vs  Bayern Munich

2:45 pm FS 2                  Barcelona  vs Chelsea

Thurs, Mar 1

7 pm  ESPN2         US Ladies vs Germany (She Believes Cup @ MAPFREE Stadium Columbus, OH)

EPL 2018 Schedule  

Read All the stories online – at www.theoleballcoach.com

INDY 11

Indy 11 Regular Season Schedule is Released

Indy 11 Coach has A lot to do in a Hurry – Indy Star – Kevin Johnston

Forward Justin Braun is Back

Indy 11 Sign Defenders

Around the USL

USA

US Squads New Guys – What you need to know about Ramirez, Glad and Canouse – ESPNFC Noah Davis

US youngster Weston McKinnie of Schalke out 6 weeks with knee injury – ESPNFC

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/soccer/ct-bruce-arena-us-world-cup-20180120-story.html  US laid an Egeg

Howard – No Systemic Issues with US Soccer  ESPN

Who should be on US Roster in 2022- MLS.com

US Led Bid – Pitches Risk Averse World Cup

Bradley predicts slow year for US National Team

US Ladies Star Julie Johnson Ertz – elated to hear her husband going to superbowl at end of US win

NFL Draft Helped Julie Ertz to starring role for US Ladies

The Voters and Issues that will Decide the Next US Soccer President – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Has Any Candidate Separated From the Field?  Grant Wahl SI

American Outlaws Interviews with the US Soccer Candidates

Feb 10 is when the Voting for a NEW US Soccer Prez takes place

INDY 11

Indy 11 Regular Season Schedule is Released

Indy 11 Coach has A lot to do in a Hurry – Indy Star – Kevin Johnston

Forward Justin Braun is Back

Indy 11 Sign Defenders

Around the USL

World

Power Rankings Man City Climb Barca Still on Top – eSPNFC

US Christian Pulisic and Dortmund to Tour US this Summer

Could Zidane Be in Trouble at Real Madrid after losing out of the Copa Del Rey and out of the top 6 in La Liga? 

FA Cup 4th Round Predictions

Why the FA Cup will Always be Important in England

Mexico Power Rankings

World Cup Bid for 2026 by US/Canada/Mexico – Interview with Gulati -SI – Grant Wahl

MLS

Montreal Transfer Academy standout Ballou Trabla to Barcelona

 

U.S. squad’s new guys: What you need to know about Ramirez, Glad, Canouse

10:17 AM ETNoah Davis

The United States men’s national team kicks off its 2018 campaign with a match against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Sunday (9:30 p.m. ET). Interim head coach Dave Sarachan brought a young, inexperienced group into January camp, including 10 players who are getting their first senior team call.To help you get to know this new crew, we gathered notes about who they are and talked to a few experts about where they might fit into the American player pool.

Danny Acosta, DF, Real Salt Lake

Age: 20

Who he is: The Real Salt Lake homegrown player moved to the U.S. from his native Honduras when he was 12, eventually joining Justen Glad, Sebastian Saucedo and Brooks Lennon in the club’s academy. He made 17 appearances for RSL in 2017, locking down the left-back role and standing up to Clint Dempsey in the process.

An expert’s take: “The thing that has everyone talking about Danny right now is his moment talking trash to Dempsey. It always feels like in big games, the U.S. team clams up a bit, so it’s nice to see a kid with some swag who clearly isn’t scared of anyone. His soccer ability? Who knows at this point? But left-back is still a weakness in the player pool, and Acosta will get a chance to play 30 games this year, which puts anyone in contention.”

Russell Canouse, MF, D.C. United

Age: 22

Who he is: The holding midfielder left the U.S. for Germany in 2011, joining Hoffenheim’s youth program. He made a single appearance in the Bundesliga before returning to the States in August and joining D.C. United, with which he was an immediate and effective starter. Canouse has leadership ability, captaining the American team at the 2015 CONCACAF Championship in Jamaica before missing the age-group World Cup due to injury.

An expert’s take: “The U.S. player pool has few really good, dedicated No. 6 defensive midfielders, especially with the defection of Jonathan Gonzalez. Canouse had some strong games in 2017 and also some weak games. He needs a good 2018.”

Marky Delgado, MF, Toronto FC

Age: 22

Who he is: Jozy Altidore, Michael Bradley, Sebastian Giovinco and Victor Vazquez are bigger names, but Delgado — a former Chivas USA Youth Academy product who was taken with the 14th pick in the 2014 MLS Dispersal Draft — makes Toronto FC tick in the midfield. He’s a tenacious tackler and an intuitive passer who has made 48 starts the past two seasons. He started all five matches when the U.S. U-20s reached the quarterfinals at the 2015 World Cup.

An expert’s take: “Delgado is a player who makes the plays you need to win games. He’s been surrounded by special talent at Toronto, which has helped him thrive, and will need to show that he’s exceptional in a few areas to climb up the box-to-box midfielder rankings.”

Justen Glad, DF, Real Salt Lake

Age: 20

Who he is: RSL’s solid center-back made 27 starts in 2016, earning the team’s Defensive Player of the Year honors, and 18 last season after an early season knee injury robbed him of three months. He’s mature beyond his years, though he needs to continue improving if he is to capitalize on his immense promise.

An expert’s take: “One of the most promising newcomers, if not the most promising, on the January roster. He is a mature player for his age and has a very nice upside as a central defender. If Glad plays well and outshines others in this camp like [Walker] Zimmerman and [Tim] Parker, he could see himself high up the depth chart.”

Marlon Hairston, DF/MF, Colorado Rapids

Age: 23

Who he is: The lightning-quick man from Mississippi finally found a home at right-back, playing more than 2,600 minutes for the Colorado Rapids in 2017 as a wing-back and wide midfielder. He has been on the fringes of the U.S. system, making a single appearance for the U-23 squad in 2014.

An expert’s take: “An athletic, energetic attacker who never looked good enough on the ball to make an impact as a forward or winger, it looks like he will get his chance to play wing-back this year in Colorado. With the exception of DeAndre Yedlin, both outside-back spots look up for grabs, so while Hairston has a ton of ground to make up, it’s not impossible.”

Ian Harkes, MF, D.C. United

Age: 22

Who he is: The son of U.S. legend John Harkes, the No. 8 went from winning the Hermann Trophy with Wake Forest to starting in D.C. United’s midfield in a single year. He was the team’s most accurate passer and completed nearly one key pass per game, both indications that he has the vision and ability to succeed in international competition.

An expert’s take: “Had an up-and-down rookie year with D.C. Along with Canouse, Harkes will have to show his worth at the club level before we really know what he is at the international level.”

Brooks Lennon, FW, Real Salt Lake

Age: 20

Who he is: Lennon left RSL’s academy in 2015 to join Liverpool but didn’t make any appearances for the English club before returning Stateside, first on loan and then permanently in December. The pacey attacker scored three goals and posted four assists in 1,525 MLS minutes in 2017, looking lively and nearly leading the Claret and Cobalt to an unlikely postseason trip.

An expert’s take: “He’s a one-on-one guy, which we don’t have many of in the player pool right now. He’s happy to get the ball wide and run at the outside-back. He also has the acceleration to beat most defenders. He doesn’t have the games to say whether he’s fully good enough yet, but anyone with his kind of acceleration has a chance.”

Nick Lima, DF, San Jose Earthquakes

Age: 23

Who he is: The Homegrown San Jose Earthquake started at right-back for an injured Marvell Wynne in Week One, earning MLS Team of the Week honors, and he didn’t look out of place in his rookie year. An injury derailed his campaign, as he started a single match after Aug. 12, but Lima showed more than enough to prove that he belongs.

An expert’s take: “Looked solid in limited minutes with San Jose. He has the athleticism and technical ability you want, but his defensive instincts leave a lot to be desired.”

Ike Opara, DF, Sporting Kansas City

Age: 28

Who he is: Were it not for a series of unfortunate injuries, the 2017 MLS Defender of the Year would have been called into a camp well before his 29th year. The No. 3 overall selection in the 2010 MLS SuperDraft finally stayed healthy, starting 30 games at center-back for Sporting Kansas City and playing 90 minutes in every one.

An expert’s take: “Ike’s a somewhat dying breed of a pure defender. He’s an incredible athlete, able to run and jump with anyone, but he also thinks of the game in a defend-first manner, which in itself is a differentiating factor for defenders these days. He might not have the passing ability or comfort on the ball for the international stage, but that depends on the coach’s preferences.”

Christian Ramirez, FW, Minnesota United

Age: 26

Who he is: The former NASL star stayed with Minnesota United when the team joined MLS, tallying 14 goals in 30 games. He’s an elegant finisher who has found the net at a clip well above a goal every two games during his professional career.

An expert’s take: “Most of his game is based on poaching in the box, and there’s always a place on a roster for a guy who can finish chances. Goal scoring is generally form-based, so it’s tough to say what the future holds, but he has the ability to score goals, which means he can always be in the conversation.”

Christian Pulisic’s Borussia Dortmund to tour U.S. in summer

Borussia Dortmund have announced plans for a summer tour of the United States.  The Bundesliga club will play expansion club Los Angeles FC and will “most probably play two matches” in the International Champions Cup.Sources at the Borussia Dortmund side on Wednesday confirmed to ESPN FCthat the Bundesliga will play a match against Los Angeles FC at the Banc of California Stadium, which with it’s steep standing terraces has partially been inspired by Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion.While that match could already take place as an epilogue to the 2017-2018 season in May — depending on Borussia’s success in Europa League, with the final being played on May 16 — Dortmund will also participate in the International Champions Cup for a third consecutive year, BVB announced.The ICC will be held in July. And Dortmund “will most probably play two matches” in the series, Borussia Dortmund said on their website.The games could be an opportunity for fans to watch United States star Christian Pulisic, who came through the ranks of BVB’s youth academy, having previously joined the club as a 16-year-old in early 2015. A year later, he was promoted to the senior team for whom he hassince played in 79 competitive matches, scoring 11 goals and setting up a further 14.”We hope, and also believe there are positive indications, that the people in the USA are also excited at the prospect of receiving their first visit from BVB, including the entire first team and Christian Pulisic, the U.S. Footballer of the Year,” Borussia director for sales & marketing Carsten Cramer said in quotes on the club’s official website.Cramer added Dortmund were “extremely delighted” to receive a third consecutive invitation to the ICC, saying that the “increasing presence” in it “underlines how importantBorussia Dortmund has become on a sporting level.”

Michael Bradley predicts ‘slow year’ for U.S. national team ahead

nited States captain Michael Bradley has predicted a “slow year” for the national team, telling the Toronto Sun he does not expect a new coach to be hired until the summer.

After failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, the U.S. will not play a competitive game in this calendar year. Interim coach Dave Sarachan will lead the team in a friendly on Sunday, but a permanent successor to Bruce Arena will wait until after the U.S. Soccer Federation presidential election on Feb. 10.But Bradley said he did not believe a new appointment would be made quickly, with potential candidates currently in charge of World Cup teams are clubs in Europe likely to be come available in the coming months..”Right now there’s a presidential election. We’ll have to see how that unfolds. Once there’s a president, that president will have to decide who the next coach is going to be,” Bradley told the Sun.”My guess is that’s going to take time. Anything is possible, but I’m not sure I expect there to be a full-time coach in until the latter part of the year.”When I think about it, a new coach is likely coming from MLS or coaching a team in the World Cup. Both of those things would require you [to] wait.”If someone is coaching in Europe, you have to at least get to the summer. I think it’s going to be a slow year with the national team.”Bradley, 30, said “we’ll see, we’ll see” when asked if he would play for the U.S. this year, but added that he’s not yet done with international duty.”I’ll always be ready if and when they call to go and do everything I can to help the team,” he said.

U.S.-led bid touts ‘risk-averse’ World Cup amid political backlash

Jan 23, 2018ESPN staff

The United States-led bid for the 2026 World Cup is hoping the “economic certainty” it offers global football will outweigh any concerns about negative perceptions of America’s foreign policies.The United Bid Committee is trying to bring the World Cup to the U.S., Mexico and Canada in 2026, but its leadership was pressed in London on Tuesday about the effect recent inflammatory remarks by U.S. President Donald Trump will have on FIFA voters when they select the hosts in June.Trump reportedly used a vulgar term to describe African and Latin American countries during a White House meeting on immigration this month, leading to concerns about an international backlash that could push voters to favor a rival bid from Morocco, which only formally launched its bid on Tuesday.CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani, Canada’s representative in the bid committee, tweeted his support to El Salvador and Haiti on Jan. 12, but when asked by reporters on Tuesday if he also “condemned” Trump’s remarks, he simply restated his support.On whether an anti-Trump effect could see the bid defeated, Montagliani said: “When we started thinking about bidding, years ago, there was certain political environment, there is one right now and there’ll be one in 2026. From a bid point of view, it’s been about football and it will always be about football.”Sitting alongside, U.S. Soccer Federation president Sunil Gulati, who last week admitted political forces could adversely affect the bid, said: “We can’t control the politics. It will change over time. And we have got all the assurances we need from all three governments to support the bid in all areas that are important to FIFA.”

Gulati said 70,000 pages of contracts are currently being signed. As well as requiring tax exemptions on FIFA activities in the host nations, the governing body will also demand by March assurances of visa-free access to the tournament. That could run into conflict with Trump’s hard-line immigration stance, including a ban on travel to the U.S. by residents of six majority-Muslim countries, which is being challenged in the courts.”We have had complete support from the White House on our bid and the government guarantees we need,” Gulati said. “Any participants in the World Cup will have access to the country.”As for visiting fans, Gulati stressed that “subject to security checks they will be allowed to participate.”Gulati said it had not yet been decided whether to use Trump in its final pitch, after former presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama featured in previous American bids.he U.S. is partnering with Mexico on the World Cup just as Trump also presses ahead with construction of a border wall between the neighbors.”In terms of the famous wall, I think football is stronger than that,” Mexican federation president Decio De Maria said. “We are working together to have this event. It’s not the wall that’s going to be part of this bid. It’s football.”The United States is the majority partner in the 2026 bid, with 60 games including everything from the quarterfinals onward, while Canada and Mexico have 10 fixtures each. But Gulati said those numbers were not set in stone.”Might it change? Sure, it is possible,” Gulati said when asked if the junior partners might gain more matches.FIFA has scrapped the tainted system where a small group of officials decided the host and expanded the vote to the entire membership of 211 nations. While many countries have little chance of qualifying, they still have a stake in ensuring the World Cup is profitable, Gulati pointed out.”FIFA’s finances are heavily dependent on one event — the men’s World Cup,” said Gulati, who is also a member of the FIFA Council. “So there is a direct line between funding for programs around the world and what happens at the World Cup and the revenue generated.”With 48 finalists to accommodate, the 2026 World Cup is loaded with unprecedented risks for FIFA, just when it needs to be certain of turning a big profit after losing sponsors over corruption scandals.”We think part of our case is the certainty we can provide for a first-ever expanded World Cup,” Gulati said. “Being risk averse both to members and to FIFA is part of our story.”But it’s also one of unity and keeping these three countries in the international community, in a way that is tied together. We think between that and the certainty we can provide to FIFA’s central piece of revenue, it is a compelling case.”With barely four months until FIFA votes, Morocco finally got around to launching its bid on Tuesday. There’s now a campaign logo and social presence but still few details of how the North African nation will stage the first World Cup after the leap from 32 to 48 teams.Morocco, whose previous failed World Cup campaigns have been implicated in bribery investigations, is touting the upside of the ambiguity surrounding its latest bid.”We may surprise many people with our strong infrastructure and commercial offering,” Moroccan federation president Fouzi Lekjaa said in a statement, “and we will highlight our wonderful welcome, host cities and stunning locations. It promises to be a truly special bid.”Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

 

The voters and issues that will decide the next U.S. Soccer president

Jan 24, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

On Feb. 10, at the U.S. Soccer Federation’s annual general meeting, an era will come to an end. The 12-year reign of president Sunil Gulati will conclude, and the organization will elect a new leader.The race features eight candidates, a list that includes former U.S. men’s international and collegiate head coach Paul Caligiuri, current Soccer United Marketing president Kathy Carter, current USSF vice president Carlos Cordeiro, attorney Steven Gans, former professional and current NBC broadcaster Kyle Martino, U.S. women’s international goalkeeper Hope Solo, attorney Mike Winograd and former U.S. men’s international and current Fox Soccer broadcaster Eric Wynalda.The race to succeed Gulati has captivated the broader U.S. soccer community, sparking endless debates on social media and elsewhere, especially in the wake of the failure by the U.S. men’s national team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. Yet unlike last year’s election for U.S. president, the opinions of rank-and-file fans matter only to a point. What’s more important are the members of the USSF’s National Council who will cast their votes, and even more critically, what issues will drive their vote.

So, who votes?

It’s expected that more than 500 members of the National Council who will cast ballots on Feb. 10, and nearly every delegate will fall into one of four primary constituencies. There is the Youth Council, which comprises representatives from the various state youth soccer associations, as well as national organizations like U.S. Club Soccer and American Youth Soccer Organization. Then there is the Adult Council, which overseas the amateur game, and like its youth counterpart, its representatives hail mostly from the adult state associations. There is the Professional Council, representing the professional leagues for both men’s and women’s soccer, and then there is the Athletes Council, representing the interests of the athletes on various national teams including men, women, beach soccer, futsal and Paralympians.The Youth, Adult and Professional Councils will have their votes weighted to account for approximately 25.8 percent of the vote. As mandated by the Ted Stevens Amateur Sports Act, the Athletes Council takes up 20 percent. The remaining votes — approximately 2.6 percent of the entire vote — will be taken up by national associations and affiliates, board members, life members (up to 12 votes) and two fan representatives.But to paraphrase George Orwell, the weighted nature of the voting means that some votes are more equal than others.The Pro Council has 16 votes, with nine controlled by Major League Soccer, three for second-division United Soccer League, three for the National Women’s Soccer League, and one for the North American Soccer league, which is currently suing the federation on antitrust grounds. That means MLS — which has publicly thrown its support to Carter — will control 14.5 percent of the entire vote.

play

31:34

Max & Herc: Martino talks U.S. Soccer presidential bid

Kyle Martino sits down with Max Bretos to discuss his U.S. Soccer presidential bid and answer your questions.

Meanwhile the total number of voters in the Youth and Adult Councils will reach into the hundreds, yet still account for a quarter of the overall vote. For those two councils, size matters, with the states having more registered players getting more votes.

As for the Athletes Council, comprises 20 members. But even if less than 20 members show up in Orlando, the Athletes Council still gets 20 percent of the overall vote, so its votes will weigh heavy on the outcome. Historically this constituency has voted as a bloc in a bid to maximize its influence. So the conventional wisdom is that all roads to the USSF presidency lead through the Athletes Council, though it’s probably fairer to say winning this constituency requires less groundwork. It’s easier to convince 20 athletes to vote for you than it is 110 state associations.(Anyone wanting a more detailed breakdown can read Anthony DiCicco’s excellent write-up here.)

What are the issues for voters?

As much traction as issues like promotion/relegation and the fate of the national teams get on social media and elsewhere, they are not the first items listed as important by actual delegates. Every council has its pet issues, which explains in part why the support for individual candidates appears to be so fragmented at this stage.

Adult Council

The complaint heard over and over again from Adult Council voters is that this constituency feels forgotten by the USSF. This has led to the broader question of what exactly the USSF does for this organization and its members, especially with two dollars of each player registration going to the USSF.”All of my members feel that we’re not part of the federation anymore,” said U.S. Adult Soccer Association president John Motta. “We’re not inclusive, it’s like we’re outcasts, they do nothing for us. I hear that a lot from my membership. Years ago we felt like we were part of the family, part of the organization. Today we just don’t feel that anymore.”Several Adult Council members said they’d like to see the fee reduced to one dollar per player, same as the youth. This is even more of a pain point given that according to Motta, the USASA was hit with two lawsuits regarding player injuries, resulting in a sharp increase in insurance costs.”It’s a $6 million tax,” said former USSF treasurer Richard Groff, who will serve as an adult commissioner at the election for the Adult Council.

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3:08

Does Solo have what it takes to be U.S. Soccer president?

With Hope Solo announcing her run for U.S. Soccer president, Stevie Nicol questions whether she possesses the necessary qualities for the job.

Scott Eisenbraun, the president of the North Carolina Adult Soccer Association added, “For our smaller state associations, a few thousand dollars doesn’t sound like a lot, but it would be a big help.”With more money and attention, the hope is that more leagues and players currently operating outside the purview of the USSF can be brought into the fold.Transparency is also an issue within some segments of the Adult Council. According to California Soccer Association North president Ric Olivas, too often policy changes were dictated from on high with little to no debate. These included policies related to the election. He spoke of how when Gulati dropped out of the race, his letters of nomination were released just days before the filing deadline.”We’re the members, and we should be given the information honestly and above board,” said Olivas.And yes, promotion/relegation did come up, with Eisenbraun a big supporter. “I think [promotion/relegation] and giving clubs a chance to grow is a big, big piece of the popularity of the sport in this country,” he said.

Youth Council

If the Adult Council feels forgotten, portions of the Youth Council feel overburdened by mandates imposed from above, from the change to birth year registration to field sizes to the much ballyhooed Development Academy, and its insistence on not letting kids play high school soccer. Then there is the way the youth game is structured, with U.S. Club Soccer, U.S. Youth Soccer and the USSF Development Academy at times competing with one another. The costs of course are an issue as well, though there is skepticism as to how much can be done.”People are looking for the silver bullet, talking about things like pay-to-play, things that are just too big to tackle in the election of a president,” said Brian Smith, president of the Utah Youth Soccer Association. “The structure is so horizontal, so spread out. How is the USSF supposed to go out and see the best kids when they’re all over the place? It needs to be more of a vertical structure and let the state associations be what they are and then let everyone report into one unit that is the USSF. It’s a bit of a mess right now, an octopus fight.”

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5:38

WATCH: Kathy Carter on her U.S. Soccer presidential bid

Kathy Carter joins ESPN FC to explain why she’s the most qualified to be the next president of U.S. Soccer.

Kevin Payne, the CEO of U.S. Club Soccer added, “We would love to see the federation develop a broad strategy that includes all of its members, in an undertaking to improve the quality of experience for players and parents and clubs at every level.”There is also a strong push to make the coaching courses put on by the federation more affordable and accessible.”It’s almost a national emergency,” said Payne about improving the ranks of coaches. “This is one of the few areas where I actually think we can achieve results relatively quickly by throwing money at it. The problem now is the federation has properly made their licensing more specific and more rigorous. But in doing that it’s actually narrowed the pipeline for new coaches. It’s made it more meaningful to get different levels of licenses, but it’s really constricted the pipeline.”

Athletes Council

As its name suggests, the focus of the Athletes Council is on the players representing the U.S. at various levels. That means concerning itself with the collective bargaining process for the men’s and women’s national teams (the men’s deal is up in 2018) as well as doing more for other, less-heralded national squads.”We want the programs, from the women on down to beach soccer, to have more resources and be more respected,” said Athletes Council chair Chris Ahrens, himself a Paralympian. “I’m not saying the beach and Paralympians should be given the same as the women, but if you wear the crest, you should be given every opportunity to succeed.”Ahrens said the Athletes Council is also looking for the next president to make sure the NWSL “continues to work and grow and thrive so our women for years to come have a league to play in.”The question does remain as to whether the bloc voting that has characterized previous elections will still be in effect in Orlando. Half of the Athletes Council is comprised of women, who may be inclined to throw their support behind one of the two female candidates, Carter and Solo, though to be clear those two candidates represent opposite ends of the ideological spectrum. At minimum, creating more gender diversity within the ranks of the USSF is a core issue for the Athletes Council.”We want a president who is going to engage the athletes and have them be a part of the process going forward,” said Ahrens.

WATCH: Winograd talks U.S. Soccer presidential bid

ESPN FC’s Adrian Healey sits down with Michael Winograd to discuss his U.S. Soccer presidential candidacy.

Professional Council

The hot-button issues figure to have more resonance inside the Pro Council, though its votes are mostly spoken for. MLS controls nine of the Pro Council’s 16 votes — 56.25 percent — and its support of Carter hints at a strong push to largely maintain the status quo as far as the pro game and its ancillary businesses are concerned, which includes maintaining a closed system.The NASL has already thrown its support behind Wynalda given their shared desire for a more open system.But the remaining votes from the USL and NWSL are still valuable. As for the NWSL, given its dependence on the USSF for its survival, their affinity for a candidate depends on the level of continued support for the league.”Everybody wants sustainability; they don’t want a league to fail, which has happened previously,” said North Carolina Courage owner Steve Malik, who also sits on the USSF board of directors. “At the same time, we all want to raise the standards for every aspect of it, from fan experience to technical ability to support, doing everything we can for these women to fulfill their talent.”

Picking a candidate

Listen to the candidates’ presentations long enough, and you begin to notice some considerable overlap on issues like making the youth game cheaper for everyone, to equality for the women’s game to making governance more transparent and less dependent on one person to make decisions. Some delegates will have very specific goals that only one candidate can satisfy. But what if multiple candidates meet a given constituent’s policy goals? What then?  “We’ve seen in politics of all sorts that words are one thing,” said Malik. “You evaluate them on their experiences, their networks, people that they know and can help bring them into the equation. Just because the president has agenda items, there’s many things that need board approval. So you need someone that can bring everyone along with them.”And what if the preferred candidate drops out? In that case, being a delegate’s second or even third choice has more value than at first glance. But like any political race, the personal touch, regardless of how that is conveyed, matters, and that may ultimately be what nudges a delegate to vote in a certain direction.”For me it will likely come down to personality and how they treated me during this process,” said Eisenbraun. “Not that anyone has treated me badly, but some have been more forthcoming than others in terms of reaching out. That says a lot about them.”

With Weeks Until U.S Soccer Election, Has Any Candidate Separated From the Field?

Every candidate in the U.S. Soccer election was present in Philadelphia last Thursday through the weekend as part of the annual national coaches convention, and with the Feb. 10 decision day approaching, it provided a chance for all of the eight to make a statement. But instead of having the opportunity to debate against one another, the candidates participated in individual panels and a group forum, where they answered direct questions, touting the familiar campaign slogans we’ve been hearing for weeks.With the outgoing president, Sunil Gulati, also in the building at the Pennsylvania Convention Center and thousands of coaches across the USA’s soccer landscape in attendance, the same talking points continued to be batted around–some of the same ones that Gulati called “nonsensical”

as he discussed the vibes emanating from the campaign trail. And while the general public doesn’t vote on the election, and private conversations not privy to the public could go a long way in determining the outcome, the appearances in front of some of the voting constituents left a feeling of wanting more. We discussed the field of eight candidates and the impressions they left on the most recent episode of the Planet Fútbol Podcast. You can listen to the whole conversation in the podcast below (beginning at the 18:00 mark) and subscribe to the podcast on iTunes here (the conversation has been edited only for length and clarity).

GW: Bruce Arena and Sunil Gulati both spoke at this convention. They both had sessions in which they were interviewed by people, and I almost felt like they were on something of a “defiance tour” as I called it in trying to respond to what happened with the U.S. failing to qualify for the World Cup—especially in Arena’s case but also in Gulati’s case, and Gulati talking about how he felt about this U.S. Soccer presidential election that will replace him with one of eight different candidates. Was that the sense that you got? Was this a defiance tour?

BS: I have called them both defiant in the past and they have been defiant. I think, maybe Sunil was a little more defiant. Bruce was, it was certainly the most enlightening and candid that Bruce has been since the Trinidad game. … Then there was Sunil talking about wanting to debate all eight [candidates]. He has so little respect for the eight candidates in the race that he said he asked the convention organizers if he could debate all eight simultaneously, which would’ve been the greatest thing of all time. Whether or not you like Sunil or whether or not you think he made mistakes—I obviously think his control of the technical side of U.S. Soccer was poorly done and is the reason he shouldn’t run again—but he would’ve won that debate pretty easily. The eight candidates … there’s not a ton of inspiring substance coming from that side of the room.

GW: That kind of reminds me, the idea of Sunil Gulati debating all eight candidates, of like when the world chess champion plays 50 10-year-old kids at the same time.

BS: Right! Now they do these videos of where they have three pro soccer players against 100 kids. He’s sharp. Whether or not you think he’s good at hiring coaches, he’s a sharp dude.

GW: I really wish there had been a debate, in real debate form, with the eight candidates in Philadelphia as was previously planned until about a week before the convention, [when] we learned that no, it was just going to be a candidate forum where the candidates would come out one-by-one and answer questions from the legend, J.P. Dellacamera. And that’s what they ended up doing on Saturday.

BS: There were a lot of slogans and weirdness and awkwardness from the candidates. There was some sweating because of these lights … There were a couple things that jumped out: obviously Wynalda claiming that the 2026 bid was jeopardy because of our noncompliance (with FIFA statutes). He made a good point though, too, which was talking about—and I agree with him—that our lack of participation in an open player market is a hindrance. And Wynalda’s point about opening up the league would be that our focus on development would include more markets than just the 18 or whatever U.S. markets that are in MLS. And that’s worth considering, and that could be solved [partially] with things like solidarity payments and an open transfer market and things of that nature.A lot of the other stuff about trying to mend the fractured youth landscape. There are so many youth soccer organizations. It’s so hard to keep track of. If I was a parent or a player I would be so bewildered. We had USYS travel leagues and ODP when we were kids, and that was it. And that system produced the 2002 World Cup team—the quarterfinalists—and that system produce two Women’s World Cup champions. It wasn’t great, but it wasn’t entirely a hindrance. A lot of the candidates had ideas. Paul Caligiuri, for example, suggested that all high school coaches should be ODP scouts because obviously high school soccer gives you access to players you wouldn’t otherwise have in the academy system.Steve Gans also talked about the idea that the prohibition on playing high school soccer robs players of certain benefits, certain pressures, certain scrutiny, certain on-field responsibilities you might have as an elite player, that kids aren’t getting in what he called the sterile development academy environment.There were definitely some points that were interesting in addition to all the nonsense. Carlos Cordeiro wants to start a fund. There’s all this talk about the $150 million surplus. About $60 million of that came from the Copa América Centenario, kind of a one-time thing, and Cordeiro said operating the programs as they exist now would take $100 million off that surplus. So he was talking about starting a fund that would generate the revenue needed and how England and Germany—we have $150 million and England and Germany are spending $500 million—and the differences in financial wherewithal and heft.Each of these people has an area where they know something and where they might be able to help, but certainly none of them jumped out as the person who has enough experience and enough good ideas to kind of run everything. And I think that’s been Sunil’s point—and Sunil obviously failed on the technical side—so maybe the perfect candidate doesn’t exist.

GW: They obviously have their strengths. They have their weaknesses. I find it interesting that you have a pairing almost of candidates. Carter and Cordeiro are two of the business candidates. You’ve got the two lawyers, Winograd and Gans. You’ve got the two former players who I think have a shot of winning, Martino and Wynalda. And then I think you have the two former players who don’t have a shot at winning in Solo and Caligiuri. I find that part interesting. I think it’s crazy that we actually are up with eight candidates in the end, because I don’t know if that’ll ever happen again…

It didn’t surprise me that the two TV folks, Wynalda and Martino, probably came off as the most polished. I do think Winograd—and I interviewed him last week on this podcast—who maybe of all the candidates has gotten notice and maybe increased the interest in himself during this campaign based on how he’s presented himself during the different candidate forums … Do I think that’ll be enough for Winograd to make himself a contender? Not totally sure about that.

BS: He proposed something that I think is along the lines of the German model with the state technical centers, which I thought was interesting. Start to accept that player development isn’t something that can be sort of legislated from the top down—a lot of them were making that point—but Winograd was talking about investing in these state centers. It’s an office, it’s a field complex, it’s a well-paid state technical director who sort of connects the state apparatus…to the federation. That was interesting.

I forgot to mention the most interesting thing about the election stuff at the convention which was a brief moment during both Hope Solo’s and Eric Wynalda’s individual forums, which I was able to attend … Hope blamed the media, which was awesome. A lot of the problems in American soccer are our fault. So that was cool. But the same thing happened in both sessions … they both at one point during conversations about Soccer United Marketing turned to the audience and asked people to raise their hand if they knew what Soccer United Marketing was. Not an opinion—but like, do you even know what this is. There were maybe 300-400 people in Hope Solo’s session and 500-600 in Wynalda’s. Let’s say we’re close to 1,000 people combined in these two sessions. Think about all the time we spend talking about SUM, interacting or looking at the Twitter bubble about SUM. All of the consternation. Obviously it’s a big part of the lawsuit between the NASL and USSF. And I would say of the 1,000 people—and maybe people knew about SUM didn’t raise their hand—but combined, about maybe 10-12 people raised their hand. Out of 1,000! At the grassroots—these are coaches and administrators and people involved in youth and college and high school and club soccer around the country. Most people have no idea what this stuff is. It’s just not part of their daily experience and interaction with the game … It just kind of blew me away.

 

 

Top 10 in the World

1

Barcelona (no change)

 

After a goalless hour at Betis, Barca scored four in 10 minutes to seal victory. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez set up that win and were also superb on Wednesday as Barca reached the Copa del Rey semis.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 5-0 vs. Real Betis (A; La Liga), 2-0 vs. Espanyol (H; Copa del Rey)

2

Manchester City (+1)

 

City got back to winning ways, thanks largely to Sergio Aguero. The club’s record scorer got a hat trick vs. Newcastle and added another in midweek as Pep Guardiola’s side made the Carabao Cup final.

 

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  • Last week: 3-1 vs. Newcastle (H; Premier League), 3-2 vs. Bristol City (A; Carabao Cup)

3

Bayern Munich (+1)

 

With an attacking line-up, Bayern almost paid for defensive lapses as relegation-threatened Werder Bremen took the lead. The champions, however, hit back to win 4-2, with Thomas Muller scoring twice.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 4-2 vs. Werder Bremen (H; Bundesliga)

4

Paris Saint-Germain (-2)

 

Trouble in PSG’s paradise? Without Neymar, Unai Emery’s side fell to defeat at Lyon — thanks to Memphis Depay’s superb winner — and a midweek cup win will do little to ease Parisian disquiet.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 1-2 vs. Lyon (A; Ligue 1), 4-2 vs. Guingamp (H; Coupe de France)

5

Porto (no change)

 

It was a mixed week for the Portuguese giants, who went top in the league after they won and Sporting drew, but then were knocked out of the League Cup by their rivals from Lisbon.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 1-0 vs. Tondela (H; Primeira Liga), 0-0 (lost on penalties) vs. Sporting (A; Taca da Liga)

6

Juventus (no change)

 

Under pressure after Napoli’s victory on Sunday, Juventus edged to a narrow win — their fifth straight in league play — the next day. Douglas Costa got the winner with his first goal since October.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 1-0 vs. Genoa (H; Serie A)

7

Manchester United (no change)

 

Burnley away is not easy for any side and Jose Mourinho’s men only secured victory with a fine Anthony Martial goal and solid defence. United didn’t make any other headlines last week, did they?

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 1-0 vs. Burnley (A; Premier League)

8

Napoli (+2)

 

Dries Mertens scored a vital winner as the Serie A leaders beat Atalanta. Maurizio Sarri’s men still lead Juventus by one point and have three of their next four league games at their San Paolo home.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 1-0 vs. Atalanta (A; Serie A)

9

Shakhtar Donetsk (new)

 

Paulo Fonseca’s side have a three-point lead in the Ukrainian league, which resumes in mid-February. The big question is whether, when it does, Man City target Fred will still be a Shakhtar player.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: Did not play

10

PSV Eindhoven (new)

 

The Eredivisie leaders began the second half of the Dutch season with a win at Heracles, thanks to Luuk de Jong’s winner in the 93rd minute. PSG lead second-placed Ajax by five points.

 

Click to Flip

  • Last week: 2-1 vs. Heracles (A; Eredivisie)

 

 

Gulati: World’s Perception of Trump, USA Factors in

2026 World Cup Bid Vote

By BRIAN STRAUS January 19, 2018

PHILADELPHIA — His presidency ending in large part because of the blowback that followed the failure to advance to this summer’s World Cup, Sunil Gulati said Thursday that he’s now spending 90% of his “waking hours” on ensuring the USA qualifies as host in 2026.Gulati’s 12-year-run as the head of the U.S. Soccer Federation will end Feb. 10. But he remains on the FIFA Council, and for the next five months, he’ll be chairing the bid committee trying to bring the 2026 tournament to the USA, Canada and Mexico. FIFA members will decide between the “United Bid” and Morocco on June 13, and the result of that vote will have a significant impact on Gulati’s legacy (among other things).The North American partners appear to be heavy favorites thanks to their stadiums, infrastructure, size and economic potential (especially considering FIFA’s current financial and sponsorship concerns). But there are always other factors in play. On its own, the USA lost out to Qatar for the right to host in 2022 for reasons that appeared to have little to do with infrastructure, and Gulati acknowledged here Thursday that he’s once again wary of the intangibles.“This will be a tough battle,” he said during a Q&A at the United Soccer Coaches convention. “This is not only about our stadiums and our hotels and all that. It’s about perceptions of America and it’s a difficult time in the world. So, there’s only certain things we control. We can’t control what happens with the 38th parallel in Korea. We can’t control what happens with embassies in Tel Aviv. We can’t control what happens with climate change accords. We do the best we can. We have the support of Washington … we’ll now have to go out and convince what will eventually be 104 [FIFA members] to vote for us.“This won’t be easy.”The partnership with Canada and Mexico—which would see the USA host 60 games in the expanded 48-team competition while its neighbors each host 10—seems to be a savvy hedge against potential concerns about Donald Trump’s administration. But, as Gulati said, politics and the USA’s global image remain issues. The World Cup host will be decided with an election, after all.Gulati has been keeping an eye on this potential pitfall since before Trump took office.“I think the world’s perception is affected by who’s in the White House, yes, and so it has some bearing,” Gulati said in June 2016 when discussing the World Cup bid. “I think having somebody in the White House that gives a the country an outward-looking view and a personality that’s more easily accepted around the world is positive for the United States, and then more specifically for hosting events here and our general image from a sports perspective. But it’s far beyond sports.”In December, Gulati said, “An important part of what we’re doing has got very little to do with the sport, frankly. It’s a lot to do with the [three] countries. … So the message that hopefully this sends about relationships and international relationships is extraordinarily important.”The final bid books and proposals are due to FIFA on March 16. There are 32 cities currently under consideration to host matches, comprising 25 in the USA, four in Canada and three in Mexico. If the United Bid is successful, decisions on host cities likely won’t be made until 2021.

 

Indy Eleven coach Martin Rennie has a lot to do in a hurry

Kevin Johnston, Special to IndyStarPublished 10:30 p.m. ET Jan. 18, 2018 | Updated 1:24 p.m. ET Jan. 19, 2018

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ew Indy Eleven coach Martin Rennie should probably have an asterisk beside his official title. Well, both he and holdover assistant coach Trevor James: *technical director.Some clubs have a lone individual filling the role, while others rely on a general manager or other front office employees to perform the job duties. While it’s certainly not unheard of for a coach to double as technical director — see Jurgen Klinsmann during his U.S. national team tenure or Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes — it certainly puts more on a coach’s plate and adds pressure.For the last year and a half. that’s been the case for the Indy Eleven, since former team president and soccer startup junkie Peter Wilt left the club toward the end of the 2016 spring season. Wilt possesses an advanced soccer acumen, which helped ease the workloads of former coaches. Ex-manager Tim Hankinson and then-assistant coach Tim Regan began having to take the reins in other areas upon Wilt’s departure.Wilt told IndyStar that while he unequivocally gave final say on player decisions to the coach, he took on quite an active role in scouting, networking with agents and overseeing player signings.“I find the type of players (the coach) wants, and then negotiate to try to get them at a price that makes sense for building a team,” Wilt explained of the dynamic during his time in Indy. “I make recommendations based on my knowledge and experience, but really it was (the coach) who had final say.”Wilt was replaced by current team president Jeff Belskus, whose background is in auto racing, having previously served as president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corp. and its mothership, Hulman & Co. Unlike Wilt, Belskus had no background in professional soccer prior to joining the front office. Belskus’ limitations place the majority of the technical director responsibilities squarely on the coaching staff.It’s a role that Rennie is prepared for, however. Rennie confirmed that he and James will team up to assume the technical director responsibilities just like Hankinson, Regan and James did over the past year and a half.”Yeah, that’s right,” Rennie said. “We’re working on it and we’ve put a lot of time into it, networking and speaking to a lot of people we know.”I’ve built a lot of good connections over the years, and I believe built a good reputation for taking care of players and helping them develop in their careers. It’s exciting to see the players and people who want to be a part of Indy Eleven.”While the Eleven are newbies to the United Soccer League (USL), Rennie certainly isn’t.The veteran Scottish manager coached from 2007-11 for the now-defunct Cleveland City Stars of the former USL Second Division and the Carolina RailHawks, who re-branded to North Carolina FC, in the then-USL First Division.Wilt, who’s currently forming a league, the National Independent Soccer Association (NISA), added that he felt Indy’s jump to the USL was a practical one.“The move to USL will give Indy Eleven much-needed stability,” he said. “So I’m happy for the club in that regard.”Though the Eleven haven’t officially announced any roster moves this offseason, Rennie hopes to have players signed and in training around Feb. 7.

 

REINER FERREIRA, BRAD RUSIN, KEVIN VENEGAS SIGN WITH INDY ELEVEN

By IndyEleven.com, 01/25/18, 2:30PM EST

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Veteran defenders lay foundation for 2018 roster

 

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer announces the signings of 2017 NASL Best XI defender Reiner Ferreira, and MLS veterans Brad Rusin and Kevin Venegas to the 2018 roster pending league registration.“I’m pleased to let Indy Eleven fans know we have our first new signings for the 2018 squad,” Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie said. “These players bring exceptional professional soccer experience and position expertise that will form the nucleus we need to build a dynamic and exciting team.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining Indy Eleven,” said former San Francisco Deltas defender Ferreira. “The feeling of winning a championship is incomparable and Coach Dos Santos and I know that firsthand from last year’s success in the NASL.” Ferreira led San Francisco’s back line all year long, starting in 31 games and finishing as the league leader in interceptions with 86.

Rusin, who was born in Crown Point, Indiana, has 73 appearances under Coach Rennie during stints with North Carolina in the USL and Vancouver in MLS. Most recently, Rusin spent time with Miami FC as part of their stellar defending corps that led the NASL in goals against in 2017.
“It’s quite special to come back home to the state I was born and raised in to play for Indy Eleven and its great fans,” said Rusin. “I’m excited to get to work on making 2018 a memorable year for soccer in Indianapolis.”Venegas joins the “Boys in Blue” after spending the last six seasons with Minnesota United FC. The right back was one of the first two Major League Soccer signings in Minnesota United FC history and in 2015 earned a spot in the NASL Best XI.
“I am very excited and anxious to play for Indy Eleven,” said Venegas. “I can’t wait to contribute to an already highly competitive club and hear the support of the Brickyard Battalion every weekend.”

 

 

 

Earn your Degree While You Watch Your Kids Soccer Practice – ½ the time and cost of Traditional Schools

 

Proud Member of the Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.com , Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

 

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1/19/18  Indy 11 New Coach, Eric Dick 13th Pick in MLS Draft to KC, US Ladies play Sun – Men next Sun; Man City vs New Castle Sat 12:30 NBC leads TV Game slate

So interesting month for our Indy 11 – as they announce moving to a new league – USL, MOVING to Lucas Oil Stadium,  and hire a New Head Coach for the new season.  Martin Rennie seems like a pretty experienced coach – having coached in every professional level in the US.  The PDL, USL, NASL and MLS.   His time in MLS was with Vancouver Whitecaps from 2011-2013 where he took them to the playoffs, while also winning a Cascadia Cup and reaching 2 Canadian Cup Finals in his 3 years there.  I for one am excited to be in the USL with local matchups against Cincy, Louisville and Nashville now on the docket along with some stalwarts like the Tampa Bay Rowdies and NC.  The first game has been set for Sat, March 31st  vs FC Cincy (spring break for me of course –oh well).  I for one am excited for the move to Lucas Oil.

Huge CONGRATS to former Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel High School star Goalkeeper Eric Dick who was picked 13th in the MLS Superdraft today by Sporting Kansas City.  Dick was the Goalkeeper of Year in the Big East this season at Butler.  I will try to update other IU and local players next week.

Moving overseas it was nice to see Man City finally take a loss in the EPL as Liverpool hung 4 on them and had a 4-1 lead before finally hanging on and winning 4-3 at Anfield last weekend.  Man City is going to win the league but it was nice to see they aren’t invincible.  For Liverpool it keeps them in the top 4 in a very tight race for Champions League spots. Not a ton of marquee games on the docket this weekend.  Man City does host New Castle United and US left back Deandre Yedlin on Saturday at 12:30 pm on NBC, while Brighton host Chelsea at 7:30 am and Man United travel to Burnley at 10 am on NBCSN.  Arsenal host Crystal Palace fresh off their collapse last weekend at 10 am on CNBC.  Perhaps the best game is on Friday as Dortmund travels to Hertha at 2:30 pm on Fox Sport 1 with Christian Pulisic slated to return off injury for Friday’s match.  And of course on Wednesday Arsenal will host Chelsea this time at 3 pm on ESPN2 in League Cup play.  (they played to a 0-0 tie at Chelsea last round- so winner advances).

Excited to see the US Ladies play this Sunday night vs Denmark on ESPN at 7:30 pm – the US team honoring former US Goalkeeper Hope Solo should be interesting.  Despite her battles with US soccer and her coaches and everyone else – there is no denying she was the best female goalkeeper in the world for a long time – maybe ever.  Of course a super young US team will take the field next Sunday night at 9:30 pm on Fox Sports 1 vs Bosnia & Herzegovina.  Also next week US Soccer will choose a new President – a few stories below on the leaders to win that spot.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Hire former Vancouver Coach Martin Rennie to Lead Jump into USL – Dakota Crawford – Indy Star

Indy 11 Sign New Coach – Martin Rennie –

Opinion – Potential Hang-Ups in Indy 11 Lucas Oil Deal – Kevin Johnston – Soctakes.com

Indy 11 in Eastern Division in USL with Louisville, Cincy, Nashville, Atlanta, TB, and more- soctakes.com

Indy 11 parts ways with Eamon Zayed

MLS

Former Carmel Dad’s Club and Carmel High School GK Eric Dick is 13th Pick in MLS Draft to Sporting KC

Schweinsteiger Returns to Chicago

USA

USSF Presidential Candidates answer ESPN Questions –

Question and Answer Interviews with all the US Soccer Prez candidates

Pulisic Returns to Game Action on Friday for Dortmund – SI

Landon Donovans Comeback to play for Leon in Liga MX Feels Different – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Leon Coach calls Donovan a Winner

What to Expect of Donovans Return to Action – SI – Grant Wahl

Check out the New Players on the US Men’s Roster for Jan 28th game – US Soccer

See the U20 US Men moving to the Full National Team – us Soccer

5 Things to Know about Denmark playing US Ladies 1/21 7:30 pm ESPN

Jan Camp leading into Sunday Night’s Game – starts big year for US Ladies – US Soccer video

US Ladies to honor Hope Solo at Denmark game Sunday Night on ESPN 9 pm

WORLD

Power Rankings– Barca back top, PSG up, Man City Falls

Will Renaldo leave Real Madrid?  Dermot Corrigan EPSNFC

Gap  Between Superclubs and Rivals must Be Addressed – Gab Marcotti

EPL

Is Pressing the Key to Beating Man City ESPNFC

Tottenham recalls US defender Carter – Vickers

Liverpool needs longturn answer at GK

Top Story Lines – Week 24

GAMES ON TV 

Fri, Jan 19

2:30 pm Fox Sports 1                      Herta BSC vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Sat, Jan 20 

7:30 am NBCSN            Brighton vs Chelsea

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayer Leverkusen

10 am beIN Sport       Real Madrid vs La Coruna

10 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

12:30 pm NBCSN        Man City vs New Castle (Yedlin)

12:30 FS2                                                 RB Leipzig vs Schalke

Sun, Jan 21 

9:30 am FS1                   Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

11 am NBCSN                Southampton vs Tottenham

12:30 FS2                                                 schalke vs hannover

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          real Betis vs Barcelona

7:30 pm ESPN      US LADIES vs DENMARK

Mon, Jan 22 

3 pm NBCSN                   Swansea City vs Liverpool

Wed, Jan 24

3 pm EsPN2 ?                 Chelsea vs Arsenal League Cup

Sat, Jan 27 

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayer Munich

9:30 am FS2>                Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Freiburg

10 am beIN Sport       Valencia cs Real Madrid

Sun, Jan 28 

9:30 am FS1                   Bayern Leverkusen vs Mainz

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves

9:30 pm FS1         USA Men vs Bosnia & Herzegovina

Tues, Jan 30

2:45 pm NBCSN           Swansea vs Arsenal

3 pm NBCSN??              Huddersfield Town vs Liverpool?

Weds, Jan 31

2:45 pm NBCSN   Tottenham vs Manchester United 

Fri, Feb 1

2:30 pm FS1                   Kiohl vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

Sat, Feb 2 

7:30 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man City

9:30 am FS 1                  Mainz vs Bayer Munich

10 am NBCSN                 Man United vs Huddersfield (Williams)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Aresnal vs Everton

12:30 FS2                                                 RB Leipzig vs Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Lavente

Sun, Feb 4  

9:15 am NBcSN            Crystal Palace vs New Castle (Yedlin)

9:30 am FS1                   Franfurt vs Augsburg

11 am NBCSN       Liverpool vs Tottenham 

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

Thurs, Mar 1

7 pm  ESPN2         US Ladies vs Germany (She Believes Cup @ MAPFREE Stadium Columbus, OH)

EPL 2018 Schedule  

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Indy Eleven hires former Vancouver Whitecaps coach Martin Rennie to lead jump to USL

Dakota Crawford, dakota.crawford@indystar.comPublished 12:42 p.m. ET Jan. 16, 2018

Now firmly planted in the United Soccer League, the Indy Eleven announced the hire of a new head coach Tuesday. Martin Rennie, a Thurso, Scotland native, will take over the Eleven after most recently helping to launch an expansion team in Seoul, South Korea.Before that he had coached in the Premier Development League, USL, North American Soccer League (where the Eleven played last year) and Major League Soccer.“Experienced candidates were a focal point of our search, and few coaches have the domestic and international experience that Martin Rennie does,” Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir said in a release. “On behalf of the Indy Eleven family I want to welcome Martin, his wife Amy and their family, to Indianapolis and look forward to them receiving the support of the most passionate fans in North America.”Rennie coached the PDL’s Cascade Surge starting in 2005. He led that team to a 12-2-2 record while winning the North West Division Title.He then coached the PDL’s Cleveland City Stars for two seasons, winning a USL title along the way.His next stop was with the Carolina RailHawks, who had only made the USL playoffs once prior to his arrival. He quickly turned the team around and jumped up to the MLS after three seasons.The peak of his coaching career was 2011-13, when he coached the Vancouver Whitecaps FC, leading them to the playoffs in his first season. He was fired in 2013 after compiling a 24-25-19 record in league play and a 28-27-22 mark overall, which set him up to take on the opportunity with Seoul E-Land.“It’s an honor to be selected to lead Indy Eleven in their inaugural USL season,” Rennie said in a release. “My coaching experience through the professional ranks here in North America, as well as coaching internationally, has prepared me for this opportunity. I look forward to leading a great team that Indiana fans can be proud of, both on and off the field.”

RENNIE TO LEAD INDY ELEVEN AS HEAD COACH

By IndyEleven.com, 01/16/18, 11:45AM EST

Scottish native draws on success from Major League Soccer (MLS) ranks and international coaching experience

INDIANAPOLIS, IND. (January 16, 2018) – Indy Eleven Professional Soccer has concluded the search for its next head coach by officially welcoming Martin Rennie to the technical staff of “Indiana’s Team.” “Experienced candidates were a focal point of our search, and few coaches have the domestic and international experience that Martin Rennie does,” Indy Eleven owner Ersal Ozdemir said. “On behalf of the Indy Eleven family I want to welcome Martin, his wife Amy and their family, to Indianapolis and look forward to them receiving the support of the most passionate fans in North America.”
“It’s an honor to be selected to lead Indy Eleven in their inaugural USL season,” stated Martin Rennie. “I’m grateful to owner Ersal Ozdemir and President Jeff Belskus to have this wonderful opportunity to join Indy Eleven and continue to build on the success of soccer in Indianapolis and throughout the State of Indiana,” said Rennie. “My coaching experience through the professional ranks here in North America, as well as coaching internationally, has prepared me for this opportunity. I look forward to leading a great team that Indiana fans can be proud of, both on and off the field.”
“I’m excited to be adding such a well-qualified candidate that understands what it takes to be a winner,” said Jeff Belskus, President of Indy Eleven. “Martin’s knowledge, leadership, and experience are the qualities needed to help Indy Eleven succeed in our inaugural USL season. We look forward to working with Martin to build a team Indiana soccer fans will be proud to support.”
Rennie was born in Thurso, Scotland and graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University in 1996. Rennie began his soccer-coaching career in 2007. He has spent the last ten years coaching soccer in the US, Canada and Korea. He is the only coach to have worked his way through the North American soccer pyramid having been a Head Coach in the PDL, USL, NASL and MLS, taking only 5 years to transition through the professional ranks. Rennie holds many prestigious coaching qualifications including the UEFA Pro License. The UEFA Pro License is the highest coaching qualification available anywhere in the world and has afforded Rennie the opportunity to learn from some of the most highly decorated coaches and leaders in the world of soccer.Rennie has built a winning team everywhere that he has been. He coached the Cascade Surge to a North West Division Title in 2005, the Cleveland City Stars to a USL Championship and a 2nd placed finish during 2007-2008, and the Carolina RailHawks to two 1st and one 2nd place positions during 2009-2011.  Rennie capped that off his ladder of success while coaching the Vancouver Whitecaps during 2011-2013, when the first Canadian team in MLS history reached the Playoffs while also winning a Cascadia Cup and reaching two Canadian Cup Finals.In 2014, Rennie was given the unique opportunity to build an expansion team in Seoul, South Korea. Seoul E-Land competed in the highly competitive K League where his young team performed beyond all expectations with a 3rd place finish in the first season.

Per club policy, terms of the contract that bring the former North American Soccer League and Major League Soccer veteran coach to the Indy Eleven sideline will not be released.

About Indy Eleven Professional Soccer
Since its launch in 2013, Indy Eleven’s mission – “To win championships with and for the community” – has stayed true to its aim of fielding a team that represents the State of Indiana proudly on and off the field. The 2018 season marks the fifth year of play for Indy Eleven and its first year to compete in the United Soccer League (USL), a professional soccer league based in the United States and Canada. On January 31, 2017, Indy Eleven submitted a bid for an expansion franchise in Major League Soccer (MLS), the First Division of pro soccer in the United States and Canada as recognized by U.S. Soccer.

 

USL announces 2018 conference alignment

January 12, 2018 – soc Takes

 

After a few offseason changes to its stable of clubs, the United Soccer League (USL) revealed its conference alignment for 2018 on Friday morning.

With 33 total teams, the league will be divided up into 16 sides in the Eastern Conference and 17 in the Western Conference. The Mississippi River separates the two divisions, with Saint Louis FC becoming the eastern-most team in the Western Conference, and Nashville SC the western-most squad in the Eastern Conference.The Eastern Conference will consist of ATL UTD 2, Bethlehem Steel FC, Charleston Battery, Charlotte Independence, FC Cincinnati, Indy Eleven, Louisville City FC, Nashville SC, New York Red Bulls II, North Carolina FC, Ottawa Fury FC, Penn FC, Pittsburgh Riverhounds, Richmond Kickers, Tampa Bay Rowdies and Toronto FC II.The Western Conference will include Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC, Fresno FC, LA Galaxy II, Las Vegas Lights FC, OKC Energy FC, Orange County SC, Phoenix Rising FC, Portland Timbers 2, Real Monarchs SLC, Reno 1868 FC, Rio Grande Valley FC, Sacramento Republic FC, Saint Louis FC, San Antonio FC, Seattle Sounders FC 2, Swope Park Rangers and Tulsa Roughnecks FC.The league also confirmed Friday that Orlando City B will not partake in the 2018 season. The USL schedule is expected to be released in the very near future.

Opinion: Potential hang-ups in Indy Eleven’s Lucas Oil Stadium deal

January 16, 2018by Kevin Johnston – SocTakes

 

INDIANAPOLIS — The antiquated confines of IUPUI’s Michael A. Carroll Stadium have served as the home of the Indy Eleven since their inaugural 2014 campaign. For all the charm “The Mike” possesses, the beyond-dated venue has some significant drawbacks.A lack of proper locker room facilities and sufficient plumbing negatively affect both the players and fans. The nearest showers are across the street at the Indiana University Natatorium, while standing “water” is too often a staple of the built-in restrooms fans use behind the grandstand. Using on-site portable toilets is the other option. No brick-and-mortar concessions nor kitchens exist on the premises. There’s also no true concourse for fans to seek shelter during foul weather.Alas, the USL-bound Indy Eleven are now in talks to call Lucas Oil Stadium their home pitch. And oddly enough, the pitch itself might be one of the hang-ups currently stalling an agreement between the two parties. The club’s former public relations and communications director John Koluder recalled a FIFA compliance issue with the stadium’s turf, which was designed specifically for American football.In 2013, Chelsea bested Inter Milan 2-0 at the $720 million mega-stadium, home of the Indianapolis Colts, that comfortably seats over 62,000 with the potential to hold up to 70,000 for some events. The match, part of the International Champions Cup, drew nearly 42,000 supporters. The caveat? Natural grass was brought in for the match, a move that’s likely too expensive to even be in play for the Eleven. An artificial surface is the only practical option.

The city’s Capital Improvement Board (CIB), which operates Lucas Oil Stadium, might be unwilling to pay for an expensive, entirely-new surface that satisfies FIFA regulations, leaving the Eleven in a pricey quandary. In addition to purchasing the new turf, there are likely substantial labor costs associated with installing and uninstalling the surface to alternate from football to fútbol.

FIFA bylaws state that an artificial playing surface “must meet the requirements of the FIFA Quality Concept for Football Turf or the International Artificial Turf Standard, unless special dispensation is given by FIFA.” The criteria outlined in the FIFA Quality Concept for Football Turf is quite complex, and it’s unclear which specific categories the current Lucas Oil Stadium turf isn’t up to par in.

Moreover, potential NFL scheduling conflicts will need to be manuevered around. The NFL won’t release its 2018 schedule until April, which further complicates matters.

Standard overhead costs — what some might think present the most sizable obstacle in the deal — may actually be reasonable given the two parties were unlikely to sit at the negotiating table in the first place were they not.While a move to Lucas Oil Stadium would be a massive upgrade for the club, a couple hurdles still need to be leaped for that to happen. But it’s entirely possible if a few kinks are worked out.The Indy Eleven will make their USL debut March 24 on the road against the Richmond Kickers before hosting FC Cincinnati in their March 31 home opener — in whichever stadium the financial and political winds take them.Soc Takes staff writer Aaron Gunyon contributed to this story.Follow Kevin on Twitter: @KJboxing.

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Landon Donovan’s latest comeback, in Liga MX, feels different to past returns

Jan 13, 2018

Jeff CarlisleSoccer

The first time Landon Donovan came out of retirement, the response was, “What took you so long?” Now that Donovan is doing it again, the question is just, “Why?”Donovan announced late Friday night that he would be signing for Liga MX side Leon at the not-so-tender age of 35. On one level the reason is obvious: For just about every soccer player who ever laced up boots, the itch to get on the field and compete never goes away. The legs and the lungs may not comply, but that competitive instinct rarely abates, even for a player such as Donovan who has nothing left to prove. Of course, looking at the entirety of Donovan’s career, that itch to play professional soccer has sometimes seemed more like a rash — or even worse, something uncomfortable that he would just as soon not put up with. Mentally, he was done when he retired for the first time following the 2014 season, burned out on a game that had ceased giving him enjoyment. Later, he candidly and bravely admitted to suffering from depression. The overriding sentiment was that, being just 32 at the time, he still had plenty to give; so when he came back, it wasn’t a surprise.When he retired for the second time, following his comeback in 2016, it was more about his body not being able to put up with the rigors of professional soccer. One of Donovan’s more underrated strengths throughout his career has been his durability, but a hamstring injury forced him out of the Galaxy’s final playoff game that season. He also looked like a player who had accumulated a fair bit of rust during his nearly two-year retirement.Circumstances with the Galaxy also played a factor in his second retirement. When manager Bruce Arena — the “Donovan Whisperer” if there ever was one — left the Galaxy for the U.S. men’s national team, it would have meant playing under a new manager on a team headed in a decidedly different direction. There were rumblings last season that Donovan might end up with Real Salt Lake — and RSL certainly wanted him, but he ended up saying no thanks.And that seemed like the end. Much like he did following his first foray into retirement, Donovan then settled into a life of family and broadcasting work, as well as working on San Diego’s MLS expansion. He seemed content.Now Donovan has come back again, and this time, it feels different. It also seems to carry with it a lot more downside risk. Granted, it’s not only a new team, but also a new league, one that he nearly jumped to back in 2009 when Club America made a strong bid to bring him to Mexico. That can be invigorating, of course: it’s a new kind of adventure for a player who, while reviled south of the border for the way he tormented Mexico’s national team, commanded immense respect. It also seems likely that Donovan won’t be counted on to be the kind of difference-maker he was earlier in his career.That said, this is still Landon Donovan we’re talking about. Expectations have followed him around from the moment he burst on the U.S. soccer scene as a teenager with the U.S. under-17 national team. At times, they’ve been suffocating. They may not weigh as heavy with Leon, but they will be there. Given the intense rivalry between the U.S. and Mexico, it seems as though opponents will like nothing better than to get a piece of Donovan.Yet none of that is stopping Donovan, who clearly hasn’t gotten his desire to play out of his system. He likely never will, either.

U.S. Soccer to honor Hope Solo for 200th cap in match vs. Denmark in San Diego

The controversial keeper’s contributions to U.S. Soccer are beyond question

Hope Solo has been through a lot of off-field controversy during her tenure as the goalkeeper for U.S. Women’s National Team, but her legacy on the pitch is one of the best in the world. On Jan. 21, in a match against Denmark in San Diego, U.S. soccer will honor Solo for her 200th cap with the team. Solo, widely regarded as the best keeper in women’s soccer history, has a record of 153-11-27 between the posts.She has earned 202 caps to this point in her career and has started 195 matches. She has played in three World Cups for the USWNT, in addition to three Olympic appearances. In that span, the USWNT won the 2015 World Cup and claimed gold medals in the 2008 and 2012 Olympics.Solo is one of just 11 USA players to reach 200 caps, and 10th all-time. No. 200 came on Aug. 6, 2016, at the 2016 Olympics against France. The match was a shutout for Solo, as the United States won 1-0. Solo has pitched 102 shutouts in goal for the United States, easily the most all-time.

All things told, Solo has averaged 0.54 goals against per match in her 202 matches. The match against Denmark at San Diego Country Credit Union Stadium will kick off at 7:30 p.m. ET on ESPN.

2017 U-20 WORLD CUP VETS RISING TO MNT FUTURE IN 2018 JANUARY CAMP

Jan 18, 2018

For the U.S. Men’s National Team right now, it’s all about the future. There’s no better punctuation of that theme than the composition of the current January Camp roster.Upon the opening of camp last week, 21 of the 29 invitees were aged 24 and under. Fifteen of are uncapped and 10 have joined the MNT for the first time.Clearly youth is the movement for the senior side, and the promise in the Youth National Team program is also showing through in this camp as 12 players on the roster have represented the U.S. at a Youth World Cup. Two more players – Russell Canouse and Kelyn Rowe — were part of qualifying rosters during their respective youth team cycles.Perhaps most instructive is the fact that four players from the USA roster at 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup are present in Carson, Calif.: Danny Acosta, Tyler Adams, Justen Glad and Brooks Lennon.
Part of the first U.S. team to win the CONCACAF Championship at the U-20 level, they’re the initial crop from a group which ran to the quarterfinals in Korea Republic last summer to cycle into the senior team. Most certainly, they will not be the last. “From the beginning, we knew we had a talented group,” Acosta, a dual national with the U.S. and Honduras, told ussoccer.com “We had a team that worked hard for each other, represented our country well and showed that the future is bright for our national team program.”At age 18, Adams is the youngest of the rising U-20 quartet, but has some seniority in that he already earned his senior team debut in the MNT’s 1-1 draw with Portugal last November. Long involved in the Youth National Team program, the New York Red Bulls utility man recalled an instance during his time with the U-17 MNT in agreeing with Acosta’s assessment.“When I was in residency, I remember our U-17s scrimmaging the U-20 MNT,” Adams said. “At the time, the U-20 team had Rubio Rubin, Russell Canouse, Marky Delgado, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta. Our U-17 team had myself, Christian Pulisic and Weston McKennie. It’s nice to see we were all on the field at the same time and respectively everyone’s doing a good job at their club. Now were coming together making a rise with the National Team. That’s pretty cool as well.”One of the underlying themes for the youthful MNT players in this camp and moving forward is taking the first steps in getting the senior team back on track towards Qatar in 2022.“Every time you wear the crest, it’s a responsibility,” Acosta said. “We didn’t make the World Cup. We’re sad about that, we’re disappointed, but it’s a new start for everyone. I feel a responsibility now to help push things forward, and I would say the 28 other guys in this camp feel the same way.”

 

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (4): Alex Bono (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/DEN; 4/0), Cody Cropper (New England Revolution; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 3/0), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; 0/0), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club; 1/0)

MIDFIELDERS (11): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 15/2), Russell Canouse (D.C. United; 0/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Ian Harkes (D.C. United; 0/0), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 1/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 3/1), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 2/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 37/6)

FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 27/3), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City SC; 4/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 24/5), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC; 0/0), Rubio Rubin (Unattached; 4/0), CJ Sapong (Philadelphia Union; 3/0)

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Gap between superclubs like Man United, Real Madrid and rivals must be addressed

2:25 PM ETGabriele Marcotti

UEFA’s Annual Benchmarking Report, released Tuesday, confirmed what many suspected: the rich are getting richer and leaving the merely well-off far behind. This is perhaps the most stark observation from the hefty study — it runs to 126 pages — of top-flight club football in every league across the continent. If you’re even a little bit wonk-ish, the Benchmarking Report, which is compiled from licensing, transfer and financial data, some of it accessible only to UEFA), makes a fascinating read, filled with all sorts of interesting nuggets.

For example, the median commission paid to agents in the 2000-odd transfers analysed by UEFA stands at around 13 percent. Sometimes it’s lower and sometimes it’s much higher: in fact, there were 28 deals where the transfer fee was more than €10 million ($12.2 million) and the commission was more than 50 percent. Nice work if you can get it.Then there’s the fact that overall, the game is in pretty decent health. In 2011, European clubs recorded operating losses of €382 million while the most recent data available shows operating profits of €832 million.Look at bottom-line losses, which include a host of other elements like transfer income/costs and taxes, and they’ve gone from €1,670 million to €269 million in just six years. Indeed, 70 percent of top-flight clubs from Europe’s big five leagues reported bottom-line profits. Financial Fair Play regulations (first introduced, not a coincidence, in 2011) may have their flaws, but there’s little argument that they’ve contributed to keeping costs down and turning European football into an industry capable of growing at a 10 percent clip annually.

But the single biggest takeaway is confirmation of what we’ve known for a long time. The game is fractured and polarized between the super-rich and everybody else. Most are better off, but the 1 percenters are a lot better off.This is happening both on a macro level across Europe and in individual leagues. Take wages, which correlate to success on the pitch as you’d expect. There are 10 clubs with wage bills of €221 million ($270 million) or above. Then there’s a €60 million ($73.3 million) gap with the club in 11th place (AC Milan, as it happens).Could €60 million in salaries per season buy you a decent amount of manpower? Say a Cristiano Ronaldo plus an Alexis Sanchez? Probably. But the massive disparity exists within individual leagues as well. The top four in England have an average wage bill that is almost twice as high as the next four. In Italy and Germany, it’s more than twice as high; in Spain a whopping three-and-a-half times as high.Go further down the food chain and the picture gets worse. In Portugal, the top three spend (on average) seven times as much on wages as those ranked fourth to sixth. In Scotland, the top two (Celtic and Rangers) pay their guys nearly five times as much as the next two.The reason this disparity exists isn’t rocket science. It’s down to revenue, mostly commercial revenue. Nine clubs earn at least €25 million ($30.5 million) from shirt sponsorship. Another 20 are between €3 million ($3.6 million) and €25 m million ($30.5 million). Everybody else earns less than €3 million, often much less.Or take kit deals: Manchester United, Barcelona and Real Madrid all earn more than €75 million ($91.5 million), which in some cases is 100 times more than some of their rivals in their very same leagues. The top 12 clubs by commercial income (which includes sponsorship) saw their revenues double in the past six years. The other 88 clubs in the top 100 saw far more modest increases, on average less than 25 percent.And this gap is getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

It used to be that broadcast revenue was the big discriminant, the real difference maker between the haves and have-nots. That’s still true on a league-by-league basis: the average Premier league club receives more than twice what the average Italian club gets (Serie A has the second biggest contract) and 28 times as much as the average Dutch side (the Eredivisie ranks eighth, for reference).But within the leagues, thanks to centralized collective deals, the earnings gap has in part been eroded. The top earning club in England gets roughly 1.3 times as much as the median club while in Spain, the multiple is 4.1. That’s highest among major leagues but a lot lower and more equitable than it once was: indeed, it’s interesting to note that if La Liga’s method for awarding TV money were used in the Premier League, a method skewed more towards rewarding historical results and the size of a club’s fanbase, Manchester United’s broadcast revenues would shoot up from €146 million ($178.7 million) to a whopping €362 million ($443.2 million).The real secret to the club’s dominance is that they are massive universal brands that have learned to monetize their fan base at a time when the game is as globalised as it ever was and as new money is flowing into it. In many ways, that gives the big clubs a perpetual advantage because while some fans are fickle, most aren’t going to withdraw their support.Consider Manchester United. They haven’t won the Champions League since 2007-08 or Premier League since 2012-13; they’ve generally been underwhelming since the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson. Yet guess what? They have the highest revenues in football and the second-highest wage bill. They built up a heck of a lot of credit with their success in the previous 25 years and those fans aren’t going away any time soon.Being a universal brand generates a virtuous cycle of success: because you’re rich, famous and successful, folks will flock to you. Sponsors and money soon follow. And, unless you’re a fool who squanders it (and there have been cases…) that will only increase your wealth, fame and success.It’s probably not a coincidence that what the UEFA Benchmarking Report calls “non-wage operating costs” shot up 10 percent last year. Some of that is down to exceptional items and impairments but a lot of it is clubs investing even more in commercial and sponsorship activities. Everybody wants their slice of the pie but the chosen few are already at the table, gorging themselves.Football has always had its rich and poor, its Manchester Uniteds and Huddersfield Towns. But the reality is that more than ever, there’s a glass ceiling and the folks looking down on the plebs are flying around with Iron Man’s jet pack while the plebs below press their noses longingly upwards.People have talked about luxury taxes, salary caps, centralized marketing and even redistributing commercial income along the lines of TV income (like the NFL does). UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin raised the issue last August and mentioned it again in his foreword to the report. It’s basically market engineering along the lines employed to introduce Financial Fair Play.The problem with FFP was that while it achieved one of its goals — namely, turning club ownership from a perpetually loss-making vanity project into a viable, and often profitable, business — it hasn’t done much for making the playing field equitable. But there are tweaks that are worth considering and this report provides plenty of evidence of why we might want to do that. Oh, and provided, of course, that there are enough folks out there who care to make it happen.Frankly, the impression is that between those who are happy to watch their superclub squash the rest of the league, those who support mid-sized teams and make do with the scraps that fall to them (the odd cup run or home draw with a one-percenter) and those who came to the game in the past decade, think this is normal and can’t imagine any other way, it may well be a losing battle.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 24

By Nicholas MendolaJan 18, 2018, 3:35 PM EST

It’s the first week of the Premier League season which follows a Manchester City league loss, so you know our top storyline of the week is going to begin with Pep Guardiola‘s men.

Just how big of a bounce back will there be for Man City?
Manchester City vs. Newcastle United — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC 

The manager, who turned 47 on Thursday, saw Liverpool use a frantic second half spell to boost a 4-3 win and end hopes of an unbeaten PL season.And while Jurgen Klopp‘s high press kept them off-kilter for most of the first half and had them rattled early in the second, City still came within a late free kick to finding a point.Enter Newcastle, a club that flustered them at St. James’ Park last month and came within a Dwight Gayle-turned header of finding a point for Christmas.So how angry is City after its first loss of the season? Maybe a better word is motivated, and we expect that City will hang a big number on Rafa Benitez‘s men considering the Spaniard isn’t likely to try to repeat what worked for Klopp.

Wobbly Burnley plays host to sound Manchester United
Burnley vs. Manchester United — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN 

Jose Mourinho’s men head to Turf Moor with Alexis Sanchez expected to join their side any day and both Liverpool and Chelsea three points behind the Red Devils.Believe it or not, though, the match is more pivotal for the hosts, who are in danger of slipping deep into the back of chasers after their stingy and resolute start to the season had the Clarets aiming for a Top Seven place.Now Leicester is within three of the 7th place Clarets, and Everton is seven back with two big additions in place of need. If Burnley wants to stay in the race for seventh, it needs to get its first win in seven tries. Seven’s the number, you see?

United hasn’t allowed a goal in four matches, dating back to a 2-2 draw on Dec. 26… against Burnley.

Will the Gunners show signs of life after tumultuous week(s)?
Arsenal vs. Crystal Palace — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on CNBC 

Arsenal’s first loss in a month turned “unbeaten in seven” to “one win in five,” and Arsene Wenger‘s men look set to lose Alexis Sanchez and have already watched last season’s second-leading scorer, Theo Walcott, skip town for Everton.eanwhile, Palace played the Gunners tight in a 3-2 loss on Dec. 28, and that was the Eagles’ only Premier League loss since a 1-0 defeat at Spurs on Nov. 5.

Is Liverpool going to stay motivated?
Swansea City vs. Liverpool — 3 p.m. ET Monday 

On the surface this is silly, especially with Virgil Van Dijk happy to return to the fold. Yet Liverpool has a knack of playing down to its opponents. The Reds are coming off a major win over Manchester City and have the knowledge of a recent battering of cellar-dwelling Swans in their back pocket. Will they rise up on Monday? The national focus could help.

Liverpool’s future at goalkeeper may not currently be on their books

11:16 AM ETDavid Usher

There’s a saying in the NFL that if you have two quarterbacks then you have none. The same applies to goalkeepers. There are exceptions of course, but most successful teams have a top goalkeeper who is a clear and undisputed No. 1.Liverpool are edging closer to becoming a successful team again and solving the uncertainty that surrounds their goalkeeping position could be the biggest remaining hurdle to overcome. They have a top quality attack led by centre-forward Roberto Firmino, they’ve just added a quality central defender in Virgil van Dijk and this summer the centre of their midfield will be strengthened with the arrival of the all-action Naby Keita.A world-class spine is taking shape but the goalkeeper they need to complete it is almost certainly not currently on their books.Simon Mignolet spoke earlier this week about the “not healthy” situation he finds himself in after Jurgen Klopp benched him in favour of Loris Karius for the 4-3 win over Manchester City. Klopp has been rotating his keepers for much of the season but revealed before the City game that, form permitting, Karius would now get a run of games to establish himself as Liverpool’s No. 1.How long that run lasts is anybody’s guess, because Karius has yet to show anything to suggest he can be the long-term solution. Klopp wants to take an extended look at his young compatriot but that will only be possible if his performances justify his selection.Mignolet has been dropped before but he has always regained his place quickly. Brendan Rogers once benched him for Brad Jones but had to do an immediate about-face when the Australian meekly shipped three goals in a loss to Manchester United at Old Trafford in December 2014.History repeated itself a year later when Klopp replaced Mignolet with Adam Bogdan. That short-lived experiment ended when Bogdan dropped the ball at the feet of Nathan Ake just three minutes into what would eventually result in a humbling 3-0 defeat for the Reds at Watford in December 2015.The Belgian responded well to those setbacks but neither Jones nor Bogdan posed a serious threat to his place. With Karius, it’s different. Unlike Jones and Bogdan, Karius was not signed to serve as a backup. Klopp clearly wanted him to be his No. 1 but a preseason injury put that on hold initially.Once Karius regained fitness, he was given the opportunity to make the position his own. It didn’t go well. He looked overawed and after a particularly poor performance at Bournemouth (in December 2016), when the Reds blew a 3-1 lead and lost 4-3, Klopp turned once more to Mignolet.He played well in the second half of last season and helped Liverpool secure a top-four finish. He deservedly began this season as first choice but his grip on the position always felt somewhat tenuous, with Karius being given the nod for Champions League fixtures as well as starting the occasional Premier League game, tooThe sense was that Klopp wanted Karius to be his first choice but in the interest of fairness and consistency he needed Mignolet to “play his way out of the team.” A costly error in a 3-3 draw at Arsenal in — you’ve guessed it — December, seems to have been the watershed moment for the Belgian. Klopp did not drop him immediately as that’s not his style, but that mistake probably made Klopp’s mind up once and for all.Mignolet has hinted that he may need to move on because he cannot be sitting on the bench at this stage of his career, especially with a World Cup place at stake. If it were just a case of seeing off the challenge of Karius, things might be different as that’s a battle he probably feels he can win. Mignolet’s problem is not Karius — it’s the likelihood that Klopp will go out this summer and spend big on a top goalkeeper.Roma’s Alisson Becker and Atletico Madrid’s Jan Oblak are rumoured to be potential summer targets. If either of those were to come in, Mignolet could not compete and at this point in his career probably would not want to.If a club he fancied came in for him this month, it would make sense for Mignolet to leave. It would probably suit Liverpool too, but only if the offer was too good to turn down. Moving Mignolet on in this transfer window might also benefit Karius, who — like Mignolet — has been playing this season with the fear that any mistake could cost him his spot.The risk in selling Mignolet is that Karius might not be up to the job. In that scenario, Klopp would be forced to turn to Danny Ward. In the eyes of many supporters that would be no bad thing, but it would undoubtedly be a gamble due to the Welshman’s lack of top-level experience.If nothing happens and Mignolet is still at Anfield when this transfer window closes, don’t bet against him regaining his place before the end of the season. Beyond that though, his future almost certainly lies elsewhere as Liverpool are ready to compete at a level where good is no longer enough. They need great.

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1/12/18  Its Official – Indy 11 USL Bound at The Mike, Carmel FC Welcomes Juergen Sommer, US Mens & Women’s Camps Start, Liverpool vs Man City leads games on TV

So its Official – our Indy 11 are headed for the USL – D2 United Soccer League for the 2018 season.  I am excited because of the more Regional Feel it will provide.  Instead of Ottawa or Jacksonville – we’ll have games against the likes of Cincinatti, Louisville, Nashville, St Louis and maybe someday Chicago.  Road games might become a realistic concept and having legit crowds come from Cincy or Louisville could give us some Real Rivalries we can sink our teeth into.  We’ll see about the stadium situation as no mention was made of moving to Lucas Oil away from The Jake.  I for one would love to see a handful of game at Lucas Oil just to see what the experience would be like (maybe opening game and Louisville or Cincy games?)  But I would have to think the Jake is a more realistic size for our current fan base on a normal game day.  Either way I sure am glad the Indy 11 are not going anywhere – now we’ll have to see who they get as a coach and which players might return for the USL Spring Season which starts March 16 or so.

Fantastic story on new Carmel FC’s Director of Soccer Operations Juergen Sommer in the Current in Carmel in December.  Having worked with Juergen some in training our Goalkeeper’s I can tell you I am excited to have Juergen on board.  The former US National Team Goalkeeper, who was the first American GK to play in the Premier League, also won a National Championship at Indiana University.  He also served at the first coach of the Indy 11.   “My kids all participated in soccer, baseball, basketball and football,” said Sommer, who moved to Carmel in 2002 after retiring from pro soccer. “We’ve been around the organization for quite a while. I’m just excited to be inside now and overseeing the vibrant and growing soccer program they have.” Sommer said he hopes the CDC recreation program, the recreation-plus program and travel team can form one comprehensive platform.

The US Men have invited a very young team to the January Camp of mainly MLS and US based players.  It will be interesting to see who excels when they face Bosnia & Herzegovina on Jan 28th on FS1.   The US Ladies have invited a much more experienced team as they get ready for the She Believes Cup in the US in March.  (Including a match on Thurs, March 1 vs  in Columbus at MAPFREE Stadium.   They do play Denmark first next Sun, Jan 21st at 7:30 pm on ESPN.

So as we look ahead to the weekend on TV – a huge match as Liverpool will host Man City looking to break that Man City unbeaten streak on Sunday at 11 am on NBCSN.  I was sad to see Coutino leaving Liverpool for Barcelona – but I think that was the one team he would leave Liverpool for.  I would love to see US Superstar Christian Pulisic take that midfield spot that Coutino is leaving but I think Pulisic is smart to continue his learning at Dortmund where he starts and is still a key cog (see story below).  When he makes the move to a bigger club – and it will happen eventually – he needs to be sure he’s going to be not only a starter – but a key cog for the team.  Sat at 10 AM Chelsea will host Leicester City on NBCSN fresh off tying Man United this week in League Cup play.  Tottenham and the world’s top scorer Harry Kane will host Everton and Wayne Rooney on Saturday at 12:30 pm on NBC I think – if not NBCSN.  Dortmund and Christian Pulisic will host Wolfsburg on Sunday at 12:30 on Fox Sports 2 and they play again next Friday at 2:30 on FS1.

INDY 11

Indy 11 moves to USL – Stay at the Mike

Its Official Indy 11 Joins USL – Nuevo

Indy 11 to Join USL – Soc Takes

Indy 11 to Join USL in 2018 play games at Lucus Oil – Indy Star – Matt Glenesk

Indy 11 Joins USL in 2018  -Indy 11 site

$50 Deposit gets you a Season Ticket start for the 2018 Season

USA

US Invites 30 Youngsters to Camp – ESPNFC – Jeff Carlisle

US  Men 30 Players Invited to Jan Camp

EPL will have to Wait for Pulisic – eSPNFC

Bayern’s U-20 Tim Tillmen Switches from Germany to US Team – ESPNFC

How Mexico Wooed US National Jonathan Gonzales – ESPNFC

Mexico coming after US Nats with Mexican Heritage

Getting to Know the New US Players in Camp – US Soccer

USA Ladies Called to Jan Camp – US Soccer

Eric Lichaj Scores 2 Goals vs Arsenal for Nottingham Forest in win over Arsenal

World

EPL What to Watch For this Weekend

Power Rankings World – Man City on top

Sanchez Fee Might kill the Man City deal

Renaldo from Brazil says PSG is Step Back for Neymar

Liverpool Had No Choice but to Sell Coutinho

GAMES ON TV 

Fri, Jan 12

2:30 pm FS1                   Bayern Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich 

Sat, Jan 13 

10 am NBCSN                Chelsea vs Leicester City

10 am beIN Sport       Real Madrid vs Villareal

12:30 pm NBCSN        Tottenham vs Everton

12:30 FS2                                                 RB Leipzig vs Schalke

Sun, Jan 14 

8:30 am NBCSN            Bournemouth vs Arsenal

11 am NBCSN       Liverpool vs Man City

12:30 FS2                                                 Borussian Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Wolfsburg

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          real Sociadad vs Barcelona

3 pm beIN Sport         Nantes vs PSG

Mon, Jan 15 

3 pm NBCSN                   Man United vs Stoke City (Cameron)

Fri, Jan 19

2:30 pm Fox Sports 1                      Herta BSC vs Borussia Dortund (Pulisic)

Sat, Jan 20 

7:30 am NBCSN            Brighton vs Chelsea

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayer Leverkusen

10 am beIN Sport       Real Madrid vs La Coruna

10 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

12:30 pm NBCSN        Man City vs New Castle (Yedlin)

12:30 FS2                                                 RB Leipzig vs Schalke

Sun, Jan 21 

9:30 am FS1                   Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

11 am NBCSN                Southampton vs Tottenham

12:30 FS2                                                 schalke vs hannover

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          real Betis vs Barcelona

7:30 pm ESPN      US LADIES vs DENMARK

Mon, Jan 22 

3 pm NBCSN                   Swansea City vs Liverpool

Wed, Jan 24

3 pm EsPN2 ?                 Chelsea vs Arsenal League Cup

Sat, Jan 27 

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayer Munich

9:30 am FS2>                Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Freiburg

10 am beIN Sport       Valencia cs Real Madrid

Sun, Jan 28 

9:30 am FS1                   Bayern Leverkusen vs Mainz

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves

9:30 pm FS1         USA Men vs Bosnia & Herzegovina

Tues, Jan 30

2:45 pm NBCSN           Swansea vs Arsenal

3 pm NBCSN??              Huddersfield Town vs Liverpool?

Weds, Jan 31

2:45 pm NBCSN   Tottenham vs Manchester United 

Fri, Feb 1

2:30 pm FS1                   Kiohl vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

Sat, Feb 2 

7:30 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man City

9:30 am FS 1                  Mainz vs Bayer Munich

10 am NBCSN                 Man United vs Huddersfield (Williams)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Aresnal vs Everton

12:30 FS2                      RB Leipzig vs Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Lavente

Sun, Feb 4  

9:15 am NBcSN            Crystal Palace vs New Castle (Yedlin)

9:30 am FS1                   Franfurt vs Augsburg

11 am NBCSN       Liverpool vs Tottenham 

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

Thurs, Mar 1

7 pm  ESPN2         US Ladies vs Germany (She Believes Cup @ MAPFREE Stadium Columbus, OH)

EPL 2018 Schedule  

Read All the stories online – at www.theoleballcoach.com

 Indy Eleven (officially) announces move to USL, plans to remain at Carroll Stadium

Dakota Crawford, dakota.crawford@indystar.comPublished 3:32 p.m. ET Jan. 10, 2018

The Indy Eleven announced it will join the United Soccer League on Wednesday following several days of speculation and reports surrounding the club’s move away from the North American Soccer League.”We enjoyed our run in the NASL, and we want to wish them the best,” team president Jeff Belskus told IndyStar after announcement. “But we’re very excited about being in the USL. It’s a very stable, growing league. This is very positive for Indy Eleven.”The Indy Eleven’s future has been up in the air since U.S. Soccer didn’t grant the NASL Division II status in September. The league lost a lawsuit against the U.S. Soccer Federation and is currently awaiting word on its appeal.The Eleven didn’t wait around. Indy joins Fresno FC, Las Vegas Lights FC, Nashville SC, North Carolina FC and ATL UTD 2 as new additions to the USL. This league has a strong relationship with Major League Soccer, Belskus said, which could help the Eleven in its long-term goal of bringing a top-tier expansion to Indianapolis.As for current season ticket holders, this doesn’t change much. They will get first priority on seats for the upcoming season with renewal information to be distributed in the coming days. Despite a report that the Eleven could play at Lucas Oil Stadium, the team, for now,  plans to remain at Carroll Stadium on IUPUI’s campus. Belskus said they’re asking around the city and “exploring other options,” but has no timetable for picking somewhere new. Efforts to build a publicly-funded stadium have previously failed.  The team is searching for a head coach, and Belskus said an announcement could come within the next week. Current players could sign agreements to keep playing for the Eleven in the USL, but Belskus said that is yet to be decided in many cases.

NOTE FROM THE BYB – January 11, 2018

 

Today, the Indy Eleven announced that they will become a new member of the United Soccer League (USL) for the 2018 season.

Our viewpoint has always been that we are supporters of the Indy Eleven first and foremost. This move changes nothing. The Brickyard Battalion supports our Boys in Blue no matter the league or opponent.
This news certainly brings mixed emotions for all members of the Brickyard Battalion. We have enjoyed playing in the NASL where we’ve seen some great rivalries develop. The independent and, at times, rebellious nature of the NASL was something we supported and were excited to be a part of. We celebrated our first match and first piece of hardware in this league. Nothing will taint those memories, but there is sadness to see all of that come to a close. We are hopeful that all of the supporters of our former opponents see their teams continue either in the NASL or another league. Nobody deserves to lose their team no matter how much we hate them on gameday. At the same time, there is excitement in joining the USL. The USL is a stable D2 league with 34 teams playing in 2018 and more on the way. We will renew rivalries with San Antonio, North Carolina, Ottawa and Tampa Bay. We will also see real local rivalries for the first time with Louisville, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Nashville–all within 5 hours of Indianapolis. Plus, teams in Memphis, and possibly Chicago, will be joining in future seasons. And of course, North Carolina is still only 10 hours away. Plans for road trips are already in the works!Another positive, in 2017 all USL games were available in HD on YouTube, as well as select games on ESPN3 and the final on ESPN U. Even if these agreements only maintain this coverage in 2018, that’s certainly an improvement over what we had last season in terms of broadcasts.We are actively preparing for the 2018 season. Watch for announcements about tailgating, merchandise, new board members, road trips, and much more in the coming weeks!Kickoff is less than 3 months away! We can’t wait!  The BYB Board

 

W2W4: Van Dijk set for Man City test, Tosun to solve Everton’s scoring woes?

After a week break for the FA Cup, the Premier league returns this weeked. Here’s what to watch for…

How will Liverpool’s new-look defence fare against Man City?

Virgil van Dijk passed his first test at Liverpool with flying colours last week, scoring the winning goal in the Reds’ FA Cup tie against Everton. It was a debut to savour for the Dutchman in front of the Anfield crowd, but the visit of Manchester City on Sunday will offer a much more thorough examination of his credentials.With 64 goals already this season — 10 more than Manchester United managed in the entirety of the previous campaign — City’s runaway lead at the top of the Premier League has been powered by Pep Guardiola’s devastating attacking style. Liverpool will be keenly aware of that fact, having been thrashed 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium in September at the start of a run that saw them pick up just one win in eight matches over all competitions.Gabriel Jesus scored a brace that afternoon, but in the Brazilian’s injury absence much of the burden this weekend will fall on Sergio Aguero, who opened the scoring at the Etihad before Sadio Mane’s controversial red card. Although the Argentine is no longer guaranteed a starting spot under Guardiola, 19 goals in 25 matches suggests he remains as potent as ever and the greatest threat to Jurgen Klopp’s side avenging September’s heavy defeat on Sunday.While most defenders would have sleepless nights preparing to face Aguero, Van Dijk commands an impressive record against the City striker. In three previous meetings, Aguero hasn’t found the net once, failing to muster a single attempt on target in 90 minutes against Southampton earlier in the season. With Van Dijk marshalling the defence, the Saints were a competitive prospect against the top six, and it required a 96th-minute winner from Raheem Sterling to eventually get the better of them in November.Van Dijk’s performances against imposing opposition undoubtedly played a part in Liverpool’s decision to spend £75 million on his services, and Sunday’s clash against City is a chance for the centre-back to build on a solid start against Everton. If he can keep Aguero quiet once more, it may hint that Liverpool finally have the foundation on which to mount their own title challenge next season.

Can Tosun solve Everton’s scoring woes?

It is now five games without a victory for Everton in all competitions as Sam Allardyce’s honeymoon spell on Merseyside grinds to an abrupt halt. Of all the mistakes in a haphazard approach to the summer transfer window — which ultimately cost Ronald Koeman his job — failing to sign a striker to replace Romelu Lukaku was the least forgivable. Having scored just two goals in their winless run, it was little surprise to see the Toffees’ hierarchy hastily sanction a £27m move for Turkish striker Cenk Tosun.It is likely Tosun will be thrown straight in against Tottenham on Saturday, and Allardyce needs his new man to adapt quickly to the Premier League to avoid a seven-point gap to the bottom three from shrinking any further. While Wayne Rooney has performed better than many anticipated on his return to Everton, scoring 11 goals so far, his recent displays — particularly in the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United — have reinforced the view that he is no longer capable of leading the line. That responsibility now falls to Tosun.The striker has an impressive pedigree, helping fire Besiktas to back-to-back Turkish Super Lig titles with his direct style and lethal eye for goal. Displaying excellent movement off the ball, Tosun is strong in the air and makes well-timed runs into the box. That is exactly what Everton have been lacking and, with Yannick Bolasie and Gylfi Sigurdsson providing the ammunition, they will head to Wembley to take on Spurs with renewed confidence.

Stoke must stop Lingard

Everton may have been sorely missing Lukaku this season, but the Manchester United striker arguably isn’t the biggest concern for managerless Stoke when they travel to Old Trafford on Monday night. Instead, Jesse Lingard is the player they should fear most, with the midfielder cementing his status as the clutch individual for Jose Mourinho’s side in recent weeks.The 25-year-old has scored seven times in his last nine Premier League appearances, compared to five top-flight strikes in the rest of his career as a whole (60 appearances). A brace against Arsenal earned a vital victory at the start of December, while Lingard also bagged the winner at West Brom, rescued a point against Burnley and helped secure all three at Everton — not to mention his late goal in a 2-0 win over Derby in the FA Cup to ensure United avoided a replay in an already packed fixture list.There are few players in better form in the Premier League at present, and Gareth Southgate will be paying close attention as he ponders his England World Cup squad. Stoke would also do well to keep a careful eye on Lingard — otherwise his penchant for late goals could punish yet another opponent.

Is Sanchez close to the exit door at Arsenal?

Arsene Wenger’s team selection for Sunday’s trip to Bournemouth could reveal whether Alexis Sanchez will be staying at Arsenal this month or finally completing a protracted move to Manchester City. The forward only appeared as a second-half substitute in Wednesday’s League Cup semi-final against Chelsea, hinting that Wenger is planning for a future without one of his star players.

West Brom in the last chance saloon

It is 20 matches since West Brom last won in the Premier League and eight since Alan Pardew replaced Tony Pulis in the hot seat. For the manager and his players, time is quickly running out — even Championship side Bristol City boast more wins (4) against top-flight opposition than the Baggies this season.Perhaps a 2-0 victory over Exeter in the FA Cup — a first in any competition since August — will serve as the springboard for a renewed shot at survival when Brighton travel to The Hawthorns on Saturday.

U.S. Soccer calls in youthful squad for January national team camp

Jan 8, 2018 Jeff Carlisle Soccer

Acting United States men’s national team manager Dave Sarachan has called in a youthful 30-man squad for the team’s annual January camp, the U.S. Soccer Federation announced on Monday.The camp, which starts on Jan. 10, will conclude with a match against Bosnia and Herzegovina on Jan. 28 at StubHub Center in Carson, California.The roster includes 21 players aged 24 and under, while half the group is comprised of uncapped players. A conscious decision was also made to leave out more veteran players such as the Toronto FC duo of captain Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore.”Obviously, this is a unique January camp in that we’re solely preparing for the future and to give opportunity to players that have a future in the program. We didn’t bring in a lot of the veteran players for that reason,” Sarachan said.Only four of the players on the roster have more than 10 appearances with the U.S., led by LA Galaxy attacker Gyasi Zardes (37 caps), New England Revolution forward Juan Agudelo (27), Seattle Sounders forward Jordan Morris (24) and D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola (15).With the Bosnia match taking place outside a FIFA international window, the USSF needed the permission of clubs for players to be released. Among overseas players, only FC Midtjylland goalkeeper Bill Hamid was released by his club.Conversely, FC Dallas denied the USSF permission to include any of its players, including midfielder Kellyn Acosta. FCD is one of five Major League Soccer teams that will play in the CONCACAF Champions League before the start of the MLS season, but it was the only to take this approach.All but two players come from MLS clubs, and now the chance for those players to make an impression awaits.”The message to this group is, ‘You belong here, and always take advantage of any opportunities that you have with the national team,'” Sarachan said. “We have 18 days before we play our game against Bosnia.”The whole idea for this group of players is to take advantage of the training, take advantage of getting to know one another and take advantage of the opportunity that presents itself because this is going to be part of our future going forward.”The roster announcement comes on a day on which sources confirmed to ESPN FC that Monterrey and U.S. youth international midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez plans to file a one-time switch with FIFA to represent Mexico.  Sources told ESPN FC that over the last month both Sarachan and U.S. Under-20 manager Tab Ramos tried to reach out to Gonzalez, and that he was among the list of call-ups for the January camp.While it seemed nearly impossible that Monterrey would release him during its season, it was a way of letting the player know he was in the U.S. team’s thoughts. However, sources said Gonzalez never responded to Sarachan or Ramos.

The full U.S. squad (club and caps):

Goalkeepers: Alex Bono (Toronto FC, 0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland, 4), Cody Cropper (New England Revolution, 0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC, 0)

Defenders: Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake, 0), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake, 0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes, 0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC, 3), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City, 0), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps, 0), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire, 0), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire,1), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC, 1)

Midfielders: Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls, 1), Paul Arriola (D.C. United, 15), Russell Canouse (D.C. United, 0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC, 0), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids, 0), Ian Harkes (D.C. United, 0), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake, 0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders, 1), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution, 3), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC, 2), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy, 37)

Forwards: Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution, 27), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City, 4), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders, 24), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United, 0), Rubio Rubin (Unattached, 4), C.J. Sapong (Philadelphia Union, 3)

SARACHAN CALLS 30 PLAYER ROSTER TO NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER FOR 2018 JANUARY CAMP

HEAVY YOUTH NATIONAL TEAM AND U.S. SOCCER DEVELOPMENT ACADEMY EXPERIENCE IN GROUP TO FACE BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA ON JAN. 28 AT STUBHUB CENTER

U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION (Club; Caps/Goals):
GOALKEEPERS (4): Alex Bono (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Bill Hamid (Midtjylland/DEN; 4/0), Cody Cropper (New England Revolution; 0/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC; 0/0)

DEFENDERS (9): Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Nick Lima (San Jose Earthquakes; 0/0), Justin Morrow (Toronto FC/CAN; 3/0), Ike Opara (Sporting Kansas City; 0/0), Tim Parker (Vancouver Whitecaps FC/CAN; 0/0), Matt Polster (Chicago Fire; 0/0), Brandon Vincent (Chicago Fire; 1/0), Walker Zimmerman (Los Angeles Football Club; 1/0)

MIDFIELDERS (11): Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Paul Arriola (D.C. United; 15/2), Russell Canouse (D.C. United; 0/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 0/0), Marlon Hairston (Colorado Rapids; 0/0), Ian Harkes (D.C. United; 0/0), Brooks Lennon (Real Salt Lake; 0/0), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC; 1/0), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution; 3/1), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 2/0), Gyasi Zardes (LA Galaxy; 37/6)

FORWARDS (6): Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution; 27/3), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City SC; 4/2), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders FC; 24/5), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United FC; 0/0), Rubio Rubin (Unattached; 4/0), CJ Sapong (Philadelphia Union; 3/0)

Bayern’s Timothy Tillman to switch from Germany to U.S.

3:16 PM ETESPN staff

Bayern Munich prospect Timothy Tillman will switch to the United States after playing for Germany youth teams, U.S. under-20 coach Tab Ramos has told Goal.

Tillman, 19, last played for Germany’s under-19 team in European Championship qualifiers in October, but rather than rejoin them in March, he will join up with the U.S. under-20s instead.”He told me he’s ready to go and ready to join us and I’m excited to have him in the group because we haven’t had him in before,” Ramos told Goal.Born in Germany to a U.S. serviceman, Tillman will need to file a one-time switch with FIFA in order to play for the U.S. ahead of the 2019 Under-20 World Cup.Tillman plays for Bayern’s reserves but has appeared with the first team in a smattering of preseason friendlies including the Audi Cup.After playing from Germany’s youth international teams since the under-15 level, he moved to Bayern from SpVgg Greuther Furth for €500,000 in 2015.Furth president Helmut Hack said at the time: “Timothy Tillman is the biggest talent we have had for 30 years. His departure is a catastrophe for our club.”Last year, Bayern president Uli Hoeness personally vetoed Tillman’s potential move to Barcelona, his agent told Sport Bild.The news will come as a welcome boost to U.S. Soccer, which recently lost out on another highly rated teenager, Jonathan Gonzalez, who switched to Mexicoafter playing for U.S. youth teams.Tillman’s younger brother, Malik, has already played for the U.S. under-15 team.

Pulisic’s comfort in Dortmund means Premier League will have to wait

10:00 AM ETRaphael Honigstein

MARBELLA, Spain — As he breaks away from a gaggle of Borussia Dortmund players flooding out of a post-dinner team meeting, Christian Pulisic looks almost a little embarrassed by the prospect of being put under the spotlight. Listening to the the 19-year-old contrast the incredible amount of attention and hope heaped upon him in the States with being “just a good team player, a piece of the puzzle” in one of the Bundesliga’s leading clubs, it’s clear where his preference lies.”I’ve come into a bigger role with the national team, but the environment here [with Dortmund] definitely helps,” he says. “I’m still trying to figure it all out.”In northwest Germany, Pulisic is still just a kid, a foreign teenage recruit with a slightly exotic background working hard on turning regular game time — he’s played 16 out of 17 league games and started four of out of six Champions League matches — into consistent end product in the shape of goals and assists.Away from the hype that rages back home, he can concentrate on growing, safe in the knowledge that coach Peter Stoger and the club will evaluate his progress on its own terms. There’s no team to be carried all by himself, no hero status to live up to, no premature comparisons with the game’s superstars to be met. As a relatively small name, he’s still allowed to worry about the small things at Signal Iduna Park. Wisely, that’s exactly what he does. – WATCH: How good is Christian Pulisic’s German?

“I set [myself] the huge goal of being a professional soccer player,” he says. “Now that I’ve kind of got there, I try to set smaller, short-term goals for myself. I look at certain things within in the game, certain points where could have I done better. I try to work on them throughout the week. I think about them, and I think what I want to do, how I can play my best game.”Pulisic adds that he always watches game footage of himself to learn from his mistakes, and after some gentle prodding, he also reveals that he’s benefitted from watching how teammate Marco Reus makes his runs beyond the defence.”I was running but I didn’t get the timing right. So I looked at players, looked at Marco, at how he would time his runs. I showed it in the last game [before the winter break] against Hoffenheim with a perfectly timed run and Shinji [Kagawa] played the ball through perfectly.” Pulisic scored his third goal of the season to complete the move and secure Dortmund’s second consecutive win under new coach Stoger, who was brought in to relieve Peter Bosz.Pulisic jokes that Stoger’s Austrian dialect is hard to understand — “I have to concentrate really hard” — but there’s little doubt that the 51-year-old’s more pragmatic defensive setup has yielded some instant stability. Third-place Dortmund start the second half of the Bundesliga campaign at home to Wolfsburg on Sunday, confident that they will make the Champions League again next season and provide a serious challenge in the Europa League.”It’s early, obviously,” Pulisic says. “We just got a new coach. But [the winter break] has given us good time in the training camp to learn some things and see how we want to play and figure things out. I think the start’s been good, and we want to continue to learn his style. I think the team is going to be ready however we want to play.”Despite BVB’s failure to qualify for the knockout stages of this year’s Champions League and their disappointing run of results domestically, Pulisic’s form hasn’t really suffered. Gradually, his decision-making process is improving as maturity refines his youthful fearlessness. “Routine, experience: it all comes with the territory once you get older,” he says.No wonder those close to him believe Dortmund, a medium-sized city with fanatical but also forgiving and realistic supporters, provides the ideal place to further his career. Pulisic himself seems too level-headed to eye up a move to bigger, more pressurised clubs before he’s fully formed as one of those rare attacking midfielders who can make the difference every single time they touch the ball.”Of course I always dream big, but I don’t put a plan out for myself,” he says, deflecting talk of a move. “I try to focus on the next week and the next game every time, focus on what I’m doing right now and just to continue to improve every single day. If I do that, I should have a good future.”Time is on Pulisic’s side. Reading between the lines of his thoughts on the U.S. national team after its World Cup failure, he seems to believe that “a new kind of player,” perhaps on a similar level to his own, for the game make a giant leap forward in his native land. Even if that were to happen, however, Pulisic will still be burdened by being the outstanding talent of his generation, the man destined to smash through U.S. soccer’s glass ceiling.His unique combination of skill and marketability in the world’s biggest economy have established him as a key strategic talent for the biggest clubs. Liverpool, who already tried in in vain to sign him in 2016, and Manchester United are particularly keen to acquire his services in light of their American owners. Dortmund are certainly braced for more forceful attempts to lure Pulisic to the Premier League next summer.His emergence as arguably the best-ever U.S. player will see him outgrow the confines in northwest Germany some time in his early 20s, at the latest. Right now, however, the time seems not yet ripe to trade in the comparative anonymity of being a bright puzzle piece with the Black and Yellow for the big-money, big-expectations frenzy of wearing a red shirt in the northwest of England.When you’re 19 years old, you want the world at your feet, not its weight on your shoulders.

GALLERY: GET TO KNOW THE 10 MNT DEBUTANTES AT 2018 JANUARY CAMP

MNT Jan 8, 2018The MNT’s annual January Camp always serves up new opportunity for a crop of rising players, and this year’s gathering will be no different. Fifteen of the 30 players summoned to Carson, California are looking for their first MNT cap, while 10 of those are making their debut in senior team camp.Get to know the 10 taking their first strides with the MNT:

Danny Acosta | Defender | Real Salt Lake
One of three RSL products from the U.S. Soccer Development Academy coming to January Camp, the left back arrives at his first MNT gathering on the heels of a great calendar year for club and country. The Salt Lake City native was a key piece for the U-20 MNT throughout 2017, appearing in 11 of 12 matches in helping the USA to its first CONCACAF U-20 Championship title and a quarterfinal finish at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic. On the club front, RSL went 9-5-3 in matches Acosta appeared in, with the defender aiding in the side’s late-season resurgence along the way.

Russell Canouse | Midfielder | D.C. United
At just 22, Canouse already has a ton of club experience thanks to seven years in Germany with Hoffenheim and later VfL Bochum. During his time abroad the central midfielder was an integral part in Tab Ramos’ U-20 MNT side during the 2015 cycle, captaining the team at that year’s CONCACAF Championship and making the World Cup roster before having to pull out due to injury. A product of U.S. Soccer Development Academy sides PA Classics and New York Red Bulls, Canouse, who pronounces his last name as though is rhymes with “house,” returned stateside this past August when he signed for D.C. United alongside fellow January Camp attendees Paul Arriola and Ian Harkes as part of a youth resurgence at a D.C. United team that moves into its new home at Audi Field this summer. 

Marky Delgado | Midfielder | Toronto FC
One of three members of MLS Cup winners Toronto FC called up by Dave Sarachan, Delgado has been rewarded for his workman-like performances in leading the Reds to the unprecedented treble this past season. A simple and efficient box-to-box midfielder, the 22-year-old has teamed with and learned from MNT captain Michael Bradley the past three years in doing much of the dirty work that has allowed the TFC attack to flourish. While it’s his first appearance in MNT camp, Delgado is no stranger to the U.S. setup, having come through the U-17, U-18 and U-20 levels. Most recently, he started all five matches during the USA’s run to the quarterfinals of the 2015 FIFA U-20 World Cup. With his arrival in Carson, he’ll be come the eighth member of that side to be part of an MNT camp. Delgado’s other contemporaries from that group are Kellyn Acosta, Paul Arriola, CameronCarter-Vickers, Emerson Hyndman, Matt Miazga, Rubio Rubin and Zack Steffen.

Justen Glad | Defender | Real Salt Lake
RSL Academy experience? Check. RSL First Team? Check. U-20 MNT World Cup Alum? Check.

A physical center back with good vision, Glad is the third player on this list to tick all the above boxes and has become a mainstay in the middle of the RSL backline the past two seasons. His club play carried over to Tab Ramos’ U-20 MNT side for which he earned tournament Best XI honors at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship. An injury coming out of that tournament hampered his ability to fully contribute at the U-20 World Cup, but Glad still took part in three matches and returned to RSL to aid in their late-season push for the playoffs.

Marlon Hairston | Midfielder | Colorado Rapids
One of the more enigmatic new-comers to MNT camp, Hairston is the only player on this list to play in each of his club’s 34 regular season games last season. Early on, those appearances were necessitated at right back, but Hairston later moved into a more natural attacking position further up the wing and finished the campaign with three goals and four assists. Now going into his fifth season with the Rapids, the pacey attacker could become the first Mississippi-born player since Justin Mapp in 2007 to earn a cap for the MNT. 

Ian Harkes | Midfielder | D.C. United
If that name looks familiar to long-time MNT fans, that’s because it is! The son of former MNT captain and two-time World Cup veteran John Harkes, Ian takes his first step in senior team camp following a promising rookie season with D.C. United. After winning the 2016 MAC Hermann Trophy following his senior season with Wake Forest, Harkes followed in his father’s footsteps by joining United on a Homegrown contract where he performed admirably, logging 25 appearances, two goals and an assist mostly in a central midfield role. Should he take the field on Jan. 28 vs. Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Harkes family would become the sixth father/son tandem to make an appearance for the U.S. Men’s National Team.

Q: Can you name the others? 

A: (fathers listed first) James and George Brown; Phillip and Joe Gyau; Harry and Ty Keough; Joe and Alain Maca; Tim and Taylor Twellman

Brooks Lennon | Midfielder | Real Salt Lake
One of three MNT camp debutants from Real Salt Lake, Lennon comes to Carson fresh off a fantastic year in 2017. The crafty winger was vital in leading the USA to its first CONCACAF U-20 Championship, scoring four goals on the way to collecting a spot on the tournament’s Best XI. He continued his run by adding two goals and two assists as the MNT drove to the Quarterfinals of the 2017 FIFA U-20 World Cup. On the club front, following a stint with the Liverpool Academy, Lennon returned stateside to join Real Salt Lake on loan where he recorded three goals and four assists across 24 games before making his stay permanent at the club in December 2017. 

Nick Lima | Defender | San Jose Earthquakes
Just a shade more than 12 months ago, Lima was putting pen to paper on his first professional contract when he signed a Homegrown deal with San Jose Earthquakes. Flash-forward and the dependable right back has been summoned for his first MNT camp. Thrust into the starting lineup during MLS Opening Weekend last season, Lima was given the tough task of marking venerable Montreal Impact attacker Ignacio Piatti and performed splendidly in the Quakes’ 1-0 win. Though he would see his season end early due to injury, Lima contributed 22 appearances during his rookie season, helping push the club to its first U.S. Open Cup Semifinal appearance since 2004 and first postseason berth since 2012. 

Ike Opara | Defender; Sporting Kansas City
At 28, Opara is the oldest of the first-timers, but he likely would have been here sooner if not for injuries. The 6-2 center back was actually tapped for January Camp back in 2011, but ended up withdrawing as he was just coming back from a foot injury. A member of the U.S. side at the 2009 FIFA U-20 World Cup and in 2012 for Olympic Qualifying, Opara makes his long-awaited MNT camp debut after being crowned 2017 MLS Defender of the Year, a season that saw him record a career-high 30 appearances, three goals and also help Sporting KC to a fourth U.S. Open Cup title.

Christian Ramirez | Forward | Minnesota United FC
A prolific goalscorer during Minnesota United FC’s NASL days, Ramirez continued to find the back of the net during his debut MLS season, leading the line with 14 goals and three assists in 30 games for the expansion club. Another first-timer who’s on the older end of the spectrum, the 6-2 forward’s January call is well-deserved after finishing third among U.S.-eligible players on the MLS goalscoring chart behind fellow camp attendee CJ Sapong (16 goals) and veteran MNT striker Jozy Altidore (15).

Liverpool had ‘no option’ but to sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona – Klopp

9:25 AM ETGlenn PriceLiverpool Correspondent

LIVERPOOL — Jurgen Klopp says Liverpool had “no other option” but to sell Philippe Coutinho to Barcelona after it became clear there was “no chance” the Brazilian could play for the Reds in the second half of the season.Coutinho left Liverpool for the Nou Camp earlier this month in a £142 million deal (after add-ons) that makes him the second-most expensive footballer of all time.Liverpool had resisted three offers from Barcelona in the summer, with the 25-year-old eventually returning to the squad after missing the entire month of August as he attempted to push through a move to Spain.When asked at his pre-Manchester City news conference on Friday why Liverpool sold Coutinho, Klopp replied: “Because there was no other option. That’s, I would say, a pretty easy answer.”If there’s somebody, maybe, who should be angry or massively disappointed — or whatever in this case — then it could be the manager of the club, but I’m not. Because I know we tried absolutely everything. The club tried everything to convince Phil to stay here and carry on going the way together with us.”It was his dream and it’s the truth when I say he left Liverpool only for one club — and it was Barcelona. That was the moment when we really had to accept that. The club was fighting until the last second, if you want, and really tried everything. That’s the case.”I knew when it will come up again in this transfer window. It came up massively that it would be very difficult if we say: ‘Here’s your contract, you have to stay here’ and to use him as a player in the second part of the season. That’s the decision I have to make — does it make sense? Do I think I can use him still and help us?”To be honest, it was 100 percent clear [there was] no chance. He was not ready to do that anymore.”He did fantastic in the first part of the season after the thing we had to deal with in the summer. The team did really brilliant with that — how the whole club did, Anfield itself. But it was clear that’s over now and we cannot do anymore. We made that decision.”

Klopp has vast experience of losing key players during his managerial career, having seen the likes of Mario Gotze, Robert Lewandowski and Nuri Sahin leave Borussia Dortmund during his seven years in charge there.”It’s normal in this business — you lose players, you buy players, you bring players through,” he added. “You always need to react. It’s all about the atmosphere in the club. On Sunday, for example, if there’s a free kick in the stadium from 18 or 20 yards and everyone is thinking: ‘ah, Phil’. That would be not too cool. It’s how it always is with the past — use it, but don’t suffer because of it.”In terms of replacing Coutinho, Klopp admits Liverpool will explore the transfer market for potential new signings, but will not be rushed into reinvesting the £142m. A source has told ESPN FC that Liverpool are in dialogue with RB Leipzig about the possibility of bringing forward Naby Keita’s move to Merseyside this month.”If we do something then it needs to be the right decision. We don’t have to replace him, we have to step up,” Klopp said.”We will have 11 players and we played fantastic football with Phil. I don’t want to sound disrespectful because I really liked him. He was five years here and was here since I came in. You miss a person and I’m sure he’s missing us — maybe he doesn’t realise in the moment when everything is new there!”And replacements, first of all, we have to replace him internally, but we go through with open eyes in this transfer window, as you can imagine. But we will not make crazy things. That’s how it is. ‘Right’ before ‘expensive’.”On Keita, the Liverpool manager continued: “There’s nothing to say about it. When we had this conversation around Phil Coutinho, I said the same — nothing to say — and I won’t change that. He is a player of Leipzig, that’s what I know and will be here in the summer, that’s what I know as well. All the rest, nothing to say about it.”Meanwhile, Mohamed Salah will be fit for Liverpool’s encounter with Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday after missing the last two matches with a groin injury. Alberto Moreno (ankle) and Daniel Sturridge (muscular) are back in full training, while Jordan Henderson continues with his recovery from a hamstring issue.”If nothing happens in this moment, Mo is back, he is training completely normally,” Klopp concluded. “[Sturridge] is back in training, healthy and on the way to be fit again. Hendo is in this moment out on the pitch and is training. It looks good — he wears football boots, that is always a good sign. He was not in team training so far.”Alberto Moreno was in team training yesterday, the first full session. He is a little bit early but after that he should be ready. He needs time for proper training of course.”The boys really do a lot in their rehab situation and, if we have time, we bring them a little bit later into team training so that they can do a little bit more specific physical work. But still they need time to adapt to the intensity of a football game. It looks really good, cool.”

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1/6/18 Indy 11 to USL, Year in Review –

Late Breaking News that the Indy 11 may be joining the USL – United Soccer League for 2018.  See story from the Soc Takes and Indy Star Below – more to come on this as it officially breaks on www.theoleballcoach.com.  I for one welcome the move the USL – the chance to build local rivalries with Louisville and Cincy. I have no idea what this means for roster size or quality of players we can sign.  But this sound good to me!

Ok soccer fans – so I didn’t get a chance to finish up my Year End Wrap up of the soccer year.  So here goes.  First who can forget the disappointment of the US National Team men not qualifying for the World Cup in Russia next summer.  As an ardent follower of the US men’s team since 1990 I can honestly say I have never been more stunned or disappointed.  Who is to blame can laid at many people’s feet – Klinsmann, Arena, the players, US Soccer for playing that stupid game vs Costa Rica in New York/New Jersey (stupid!) with half the crowd Costa Ricans – that 2-0 loss is one huge reason we did not advance.  Tie that game and we advance even though we lost to T&T.  Now we should never lose to T&T but still.  It will be interesting to see if changes are afoot in US Soccer.  I am happy to see a new US Soccer President – though I hope this doesn’t hurt our chance of hosting the 2016 World Cup with Canada/Mexico.  It was great to see young US Star Christian Pulisic – US Player of the Year – play in both Champions League for Dortmund and become the go-to star for the US.

The World Cup run of the US Ladies was fantastic and fun to watch – I am still kicking myself for not going to Canada to watch a game.  Still having the Women’s World Cup Championship and that 3rd star was fantastic.  Great job ladies!!

Overseas Real Madrid’s defense of their Champions League trophy was impressive – unfortunately it came at the cost of my favorite GK Gigi Buffon of Juventus winning that elusive trophy.  That was probably Gigi’s last legit change at the only trophy he hasn’t won.  Still a great accomplishment by Player of the Year Renaldo and the Madridista’s.  Now I don’t see them capturing a 3rd in a row however.   Of course Real Madrid won 4 trophy’s last year the League Cup, La Liga, Champions League and the World Club cup – pretty amazing overall.  Perhaps it was the good luck we gave them as my family had a chance to go to our first Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid games in Spain in the spring.  Truly a magnificent experience!  Also overseas Chelsea’s winning the EPL was quite an accomplishment and I think show’s what a great coach like Conte can achieve.  Of course Man City, Man U, Tottenham with the leading scorer of the year Harry Kane, and Liverpool all had great year’s as well.

Back in the US — MLS featured a repeat of last year’s Championship game with Toronto completing the Best ever season by beating my Seattle Sounders.  Great to see Bradley, Altidore and Giovincho finally win the title.  Though I was sad Clint Dempsey couldn’t etch his name on the trophy – still a great playoffs and deserved Championship for Toronto.

Locally both Butler with Carmel High grad All-American Goal Keeper Eric Dick and Indiana U made good runs in the College Soccer play-offs.  IU was ranked #1 for much of the season and just barely lost the final to now 3 time defending Champion Stanford.  Still a good run for the Hooisers.

Finally I will selfishly end with my experience.  Though I am still involved with helping coach the Goalkeepers with Carmel FC – I wrapped up my 20+ seasons of head coaching Travel Soccer by coaching my son Tyler’s final season the U18/19 boys this past spring.  I have worked with this group of boys since many of them were 10 year-olds – in our first full season as Carmel FC.  I helped Coach Carla and Tom Baker that first season before taking the 2nd Team thru U14 then taking the first team thru the high school years.  We were proud to put 15 boys off that U14 team onto high school rosters at Carmel High and Guerin and even prouder when 3 of them went on to win a state title at Guerin as Juniors. But overall it was just fun to keep the boys playing soccer many after they had left the Carmel soccer program but still showing a love (hopefully a lifelong) love of the game. The boys in the picture below played with Carmel FC since they were 10 year-olds, most played each spring season with us.  I also selfishly thought this was a good time to drop in my first Carmel pre-FC team in 2008 with my daugher Courtney as the Goalkeeper – see photo below. I was fortunate enough to coach that group from U13-U16.

CFC_U18B_u11all
First CFC U11 Boys finished up with us  at U18/19 this past Spring. Front Max Toubin, Mason Hester (Back) Jake Madden, Allesandro Theilmann., Tyler Best, Coach Shane Best, Noah Swanson, Ast Coach Todd Beck

CarmelFC-U14F

my first pre-Carmel FC – team coached with Asst Ian Smith in Fall of 2008 – great group of girls!  My daughter Courtney the GK up front.

I certainly want to Wish everyone a Happy Happy New Year — keep watching the Beautiful Game – and keep an eye out for The Ole Ball Coach Soccer updates each week – usually on Fridays.  Best Wishes – Coach Shane Best

GAMES ON TV 

Sun, Jan 7

10:15 am beIN Sport                       Barcelona vs Levante

10 am Fox Sport 1     Tottenham vs AFC Wimbeldon FA CUP

9:30 am FS1                    Hannover vs Bayer Leverkusen

11 am FS1                                                Nottinghams Forest vs Arsenal FA Cup

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Celta de Vigo

Tues, Jan 9

2:45 pm?  ESPN3?      Bristol City vs Man City  – League Cup

Wed, Jan 10

3 pm EsPN2                    Chelsea vs Arsenal League Cup

Fri, Jan 12

2:30 pm FS1                   Bayern Leverkusen vs Bayern Munich  

Sat, Jan 13  

10 am beIN Sport       Real Madrid vs Villareal

12:30 pm NBCSN        Tottenham vs Everton

12:30 FS2                                                 RB Leipzig vs Schalke

Sun, Jan 14  

8:30 am NBCSN            Bournemouth vs Arsenal

11 am NBCSN       Liverpool vs Man City

12:30 FS2                                                 Borussian Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Wolfsburg

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          real Sociadad vs Barcelona

3 pm beIN Sport         Nantes vs PSG

Mon, Jan 15  

3 pm NBCSN                   Man City vs Stoke City (Cameron)

Sat, Jan 20  

7:30 am NBCSN            Brighton vs Chelsea

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayer Leverkusen

10 am beIN Sport       Real Madrid vs La Coruna

10 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Crystal Palace

12:30 pm NBCSN        Man City vs New Castle (Yedlin)

12:30 FS2                                                 RB Leipzig vs Schalke

Sun, Jan 21  

9:30 am FS1                   Bayern Munich vs Werder Bremen

11 am NBCSN                Southampton vs Tottenham

12:30 FS2                                                 schalke vs hannover

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          real Betis vs Barcelona

7:30 pm ESPN      US LADIES vs DENMARK

Mon, Jan 22  

3 pm NBCSN                   Swansea City vs Liverpool

Wed, Jan 24

3 pm EsPN2 ?                 Chelsea vs Arsenal League Cup

Sat, Jan 27  

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenhiem vs Bayer Munich

9:30 am FS2>                Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Freiburg

10 am beIN Sport       Valencia cs Real Madrid

Sun, Jan 28  

9:30 am FS1                   Bayern Leverkusen vs Mainz

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          Barcelona vs Deportivo Alaves

Tues, Jan 30

2:45 pm NBCSN           Swansea vs Arsenal

3 pm NBCSN??              Huddersfield Twon vs Liverpool?

Weds, Jan 31

2:45 pm NBCSN   Tottenham vs Manchester United  

Fri, Feb 1

2:30 pm FS1                   Kiohl vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

Sat, Feb 2  

7:30 am NBCSN            Burnley vs Man City

9:30 am FS 1                  Mainz vs Bayer Munich

10 am NBCSN                 Man United vs Huddersfield (Williams)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Aresnal vs Everton

12:30 FS2                                                 RB Leipzig vs Borussia Mgladbach (Johnson)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Lavente

Sun, Feb 4   

9:15 am NBcSN            Crystal Palace vs New Castle (Yedlin)

9:30 am FS1                   Franfurt vs Augsburg

11 am NBCSN       Liverpool vs Tottenham  

2:45 pm beIN Sport                          Atletico Madrid vs Valencia

EPL 2018 Schedule  

Read All the stories online – at www.theoleballcoach.com

INDY 11

Indy 11 to Join USL – Soc Takes

Indy 11 to Join USL in 2018 play games at Lucus Oil – Indy Star – Matt Glenesk

WORLD

Pulisic, Kagawa Save Dortmund Late – Pulisic Scores Winner in 89th minute

Pulisic Scores Wonder Goal for Dortmund Winner – SI

Star Wars Approach to Top Young Players in the World – including Pulisic

Alex Morgan and Keylor Navas win CONCACAF Players of the Year

Kaka Officially Retires from Soccer

USA

Pulisic Named US Male Player of the Year

No Contest Teenage Sensation Pulisic Wins US Player of the Year – Brian Straus SI

Gonzales Didn’t Get Call About Call-up to US Team?

US Men – Jan Camp will go On – Who Will be Invited – SI Avi Creditor

Stars come out for Houston Charity Game

Questions and Answers with MLS Commish – Don Garber – eSPNFC

US/Mexico/Canada World Cup could be most Profitable Ever

MLS

Reliving MLS Toronto Championship

Nashville Named Expansion Team

Iker Casillas to Chicago?

Top Solo Runs of the MLS Season

Indy Eleven to join USL, likely to play at Lucas Oil Stadium

January 6, 2018by Nipun Chopra = Soc Takes

INDIANAPOLIS — Multiple sources inform Soc Takes that Indy Eleven will play in the United Soccer League (USL) during the 2018 season.

The decision was finalized this morning (Jan. 5) and is expected to be announced late next week by USL, along with the USL schedule for the 2018 season.Soc Takes understands that Indy Eleven ownership was locked in negotiations with the city to find an alternate stadium solution to IUPUI’s Carroll stadium, the home of the team since its inception.Unless unexpected changes occur, Indy Eleven will play its home games at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2018, the home of the Indianapolis Colts.Soc Takes understands the league will ensure that Indy Eleven’s early fall games do not conflict with Colts’ preseason games which tend to be held on Saturdays.The club is expected to pay the $25,000 “operational withdrawal” fee for leaving the NASL after the loss of second-division status.Before the announcement of Indy Eleven as its newest franchise, the USL is expected to announce Memphis as an expansion team on Monday.The future of the NASL remains in the balance as they await a decision on their appeal.No change in ownership is expected for the Indy Eleven as they join the USL.

Report: Indy Eleven to join USL in 2018

Matthew Glenesk, matthew.glenesk@indystar.comPublished 7:50 p.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018 | Updated 9:14 p.m. ET Jan. 5, 2018

Professional soccer team Indy Eleven supporters group, the Brickyard Battalion packs the stands at every home game to cheer on the “boys in blue.” Autumn Allison / The Star

The Indy Eleven’s future has been up in the air since U.S. Soccer stripped the North American Soccer League of its Division II status in September. The league sued the U.S. Soccer Federation and is currently awaiting word on its appeal, but it seems the Eleven aren’t waiting around.According to soccer website SocTakes, the Eleven will join the United Soccer League for the 2018 season. USL, which had played in U.S. Soccer’s third tier, was granted probationary Division II status last year. The USL has the backing of Major League Soccer, American soccer’s top league.SocTakes reports an announcement could come late next week. A spokesman for the Eleven said no decision on a move to the USL has been finalized and the team is still awaiting the court’s decision regarding the NASL’s appeal.In September, Eleven president Jeff Belskus told IndyStar “we continue to evaluate our options” following USSF’s decision to strip NASL of Division II status. SocTakes reports, “unless unexpected changes occur, Indy Eleven will play its home games at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2018” rather than IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium, which it has called home since its inception in 2014.The Eleven applied for MLS expansion, but were passed over in the latest wave of expansion, for a number of reasons, primarily the lack of forward movement regarding a new stadium.Belskus told IndyStar after submitting its MLS bid that Lucas Oil Stadium would be a temporary option for the Eleven if Indy secured MLS expansion while it awaited a stadium of its own. The Colts stadium hosted nearly 42,000 fans for an exhibition match between Chelsea and Inter Milan in 2013.While the Eleven’s MLS hopes are unlikely to materialize, the USL is seen as a much more viable league than the NASL. The NASL argued if it was not granted second tier status, it would fold. The Eleven’s move will likely signal the final death blow for the NASL, which has been hemorrhaging teams the past two seasons. In 2017, the league shrunk from 12 teams to eight, and following this season, Edmonton left the league and San Francisco foldedSo what exactly is the United Soccer League?The league was founded in 2010, play began in 2011 with 15 teams, and has doubled in size since 2014.Nineteen of the 28 teams in USL have affiliations with MLS clubs. Some of the USL teams are owned and operated by their MLS parent clubs, while others are affiliated with MLS teams, aiding in player development. USL clubs include nearby FC Cincinnati and Louisville City FC. Ten more teams are listed as expansion franchises for the league.Among the league’s squads are former NASL teams North Carolina FC (formerly Carolina Railhawks), Ottawa Fury FC and Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Jonathan Gonzalez: U.S. didn’t contact me about November call-up

ESPN staff

Jonathan Gonzalez says U.S. Soccer did not approach him about potentially making his senior national team debut in November’s friendly against Portugal.Gonzalez, 18, is a U.S. youth international but has yet to play for the senior team despite enjoying a breakout year playing in Mexico, where he helped Monterrey win the Copa MX and was named to the Liga MX Apertura Best XI.For the November camp, U.S. Soccer made a decision to allow Gonzalez to stay with his club ahead of the Liga MX playoffs, but the midfielder told Soccer America that no one contacted him about why he was left out for the U.S.’s first game since failing to qualify for the World Cup.”I wasn’t called in, in November,” Gonzalez said. “Personally, nobody came and talked to me and let me know about that friendly. I just wasn’t called in.”Gonzalez had been in contact with Bruce Arena in August, but the U.S. coach resigned in October after the U.S. missed the World Cup and was replaced on an interim basis for the Portugal game by Dave Sarachan, who gave first senior call-ups to teenagers Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams and Josh Sargent.A dual U.S.-Mexico national, Gonzalez moved to Monterrey from the California Bay Area at 14. He has played for U.S. teams at the under-14, -17, -18 and -20 levels, and he said his experiences with those squads were “honestly one of the greatest experiences I ever had — being with the national team — and I’m really thankful for that.”As the Portugal game was a friendly, Gonzalez would not have been cap-tied to the U.S. by playing, but after the U.S. missed the World Cup, it will not play a competitive game until the Gold Cup in the summer of 2019.That could allow Mexico the opportunity to secure Gonzalez’s services permanently by offering him a spot at the 2018 World Cup in Russia. At Monterrey this season, he was already starting in place of experienced Mexico international midfielder Jesus Molina.The Mexican federation’s director of national teams said before the U.S.’s November squad announcement that Mexico would continue to pursue the rising star, and Goal — citing a source close to the player — reported in December that Gonzalez was unhappy at being left out of the U.S. squad.But Gonzlez said last week that he was not making any decisions on his internationl future while Monterrey was still preparing to play in the Liga MX and Copa MX finals. “At the moment, I really haven’t thought of it much,” he told Soccer America. “I focused on my club because of the finals and all of that.”

Christian Pulisic voted U.S. Soccer’s Male Player of the Year

Dec 14, 2017Jeff CarlisleSoccer

United States and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic has been voted the 2017 U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year.Pulisic, 19, becomes the youngest winner in the award’s history, beating out Landon Donovan, who was 21 when he won the award in 2003.”I just want to thank everyone who voted for me to win U.S. Male Player of the Year,” Pulisicsaid.

in a video posted on social media.”It’s something I never could have imagined, to be here in this position and I’m just really thankful to everyone who supported me along the way and I’m excited for the future.”Pulisic received 94 percent of the votes, which were cast by a group that included men’s national players that earned a cap in 2017, men’s national team and youth national team coaches, Major League Soccer, North American Soccer League and United Soccer League head coaches, as well as select former players, administrators and media members. Pulisic’s victory was not a surprise. In a year in which the U.S. men failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, Pulisic was one of the few players to emerge with his reputation intact.Pulisic’s sudden rise has seen him become the new face of U.S. Soccer both on and off the field since bursting onto the scene last year.He was the U.S. team’s biggest offensive contributor with six goals and four assists in nine matches. In the matches he played, he was either directly or indirectly involved in 13 of the 17 goals the U.S. scored.”It’s something I would have never imagined. But it’s something I’ve had to deal with at a young age and I’m kind of coming to terms with it, where I stand with the team and in the U.S.,” he told Fox Sports of his rise to prominence.”It’s something that I’m definitely still learning through and I have the best people to help me through it and yeah, definitely still learning but something I’m comfortable with.”With Dortmund, Pulisic tallied three goals and three assists in 25 league and cup appearances during his first full season with the club.And Pulisic, who was able to join the German side as a 16-year-old in 2015 because he has a Croatian passport, urged more promising American talents to follow in his footsteps and develop their skills in Europe.”I absolutely think it’s the best thing for younger kids to develop,” he said. “Obviously it’s the decision I made and I don’t regret it at all.”I mean, you can see where I’ve come and how far I’ve come, and right now I think it’s the best way to develop, to play against the best and I think that’s what I’m doing and I would encourage other kids to do if they want to … do what I’m doing.”

No Contest: Teenage Sensation Pulisic Wins U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year

QUICKLYChristian Pulisic, 19, becomes the youngest player to be named U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year, winning in a landslide vote.

By BRIAN STRAUS December 14, 2017

A year of defeat and discontent in American men’s soccer will be remembered for one good thing—the performance of the preternaturally gifted Christian Pulisic. The 19-year-old helped Borussia Dortmund win the German Cup, and he carried the U.S. national team at times during its doomed World Cup qualifying campaign. As a result, he was the easy choice—and really the only choice—for the U.S. Soccer Male Player of the Year award announced Thursday afternoon.Pulisic won in an avalanche, earning a whopping 94% of the vote conducted by U.S. players, federation and pro coaches, and “select former players, administrators and media members.” He’s the youngest player in the award’s 34-year-history to win, eclipsing four-time honoree Landon Donovan, who won it for the first time at 21.”It’s definitely a big honor for me. I just could never imagine being here so soon,” Pulisic told Fox as his win was announced.Pulisic’s resume was unimpeachable. He tallied six goals and four assists in nine national team appearances (eight of which were qualifiers). The USA scored 17 goals across those nine games and Pulisic was involved in 13 of them, highlighting his indispensability. His strike in a moribund Hexagonal finale in Trinidad, which eliminated the USA from next summer’s World Cup, was symbolic of his ability to rise to an occasion while so many around him struggled.Asked how he felt following that defeat, Pulisic said Thursday he was “destroyed,” adding, “It was my biggest dream. Everything I wanted to do was go to the World Cup, and obviously for me it was just a huge disappointment we couldn’t do it.”Regarding his status as a teenager who is already a national team linchpin, Pulisic told Fox, “It’s something that I’ve had to deal with at a young age. I’m kind of coming to terms with it, where I stand with the team and in the U.S. It’s something I’m definitely still learning through. I have the best people to help me through it.”He wasn’t as vital at Dortmund, but he certainly was effective. Among his three goals in the spring was the go-ahead tally against Benfica in the UEFA Champions League round-of-16, and he earned the penalty kick that lifted BVB to win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the DFB Pokal final. Pulisic kicked off the 2017-18 club campaign with a goal against Bayern Munich in the DFL Supercup, and he’s added two more in Bundesliga play.The other finalists were last year’s winner, Jozy Altidore, along with Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Jordan Morris, whose late game-winning goal against Jamaica in the CONCACAF Gold Cup final was overshadowed by the ensuing World Cup disaster.Pulisic, who won the Young Male Player of the Year award in 2016, becomes the 24th man to win American soccer’s highest annual individual honor. The rest:

1984—Rick Davis

1985—Perry Van der Beck

1986—Paul Caligiuri

1987—Brent Goulet

1988—Peter Vermes

1989—Mike Windischmann

1990—Tab Ramos

1991—Hugo Perez

1992—Marcelo Balboa

1993—Thomas Dooley

1994—Marcelo Balboa

1995—Alexi Lalas

1996—Eric Wynalda

1997—Kasey Keller

1998—Cobi Jones

1999—Kasey Keller

2000—Chris Armas

2001—Earnie Stewart

2002—Brad Friedel

2003—Landon Donovan

2004—Landon Donovan

2005—Kasey Keller

2006—Oguchi Onyewu

2007—Clint Dempsey

2008—Tim Howard

2009—Landon Donovan

2010—Landon Donovan

2011—Clint Dempsey

2012—Clint Dempsey

2013—Jozy Altidore

2014—Tim Howard

2015—Michael Bradley

2016—Jozy Altidore

 USMNT’s January Camp Will Go On, But Who Should Be Invited?

QUICKLYThe U.S. men’s national team’s traditional January camp will take place despite all the turmoil and change in the offing at U.S. Soccer, and it’s an opportunity for a bevy of new, young faces to get a look on the senior national team level.

By AVI CREDITOR 

These are not easy times for U.S. men’s national team, whose players watched last week as the 32 nations that did qualify for the World Cup learned their respective group fates for this coming summer in Russia.The USA’s summer, by contrast, is going to be spent as both a tune-up opponent and as a spectator. France announced Thursday that it would be hosting the U.S. men in Lyon on June 9, and U.S. Soccer confirmed that while the contract is not yet signed, the agreement is being finalized and an official announcement from the U.S. end is forthcoming. International fixture dates will still have to be filled, and the U.S., despite the change in the offing at USSF headquarters, will continue to oblige as it picks up the pieces of qualifying failure and looks toward the future. That quest began in Portugal last month, where a young, largely untested side battled a Cristiano Ronaldo-less European championship side to a 1-1 draw, and it will take its next step in January with the annual camp in California.U.S. Soccer announced Wednesday that interim coach Dave Sarachan and his staff will stay on to oversee the camp, which makes sense from a logistical and financial standpoint, but still feels a bit odd. Sarachan, after all, was Bruce Arena’s assistant for years for both club and country, and with ties to that staff still in the mix, the process of fully moving on really can’t begin to take place.That said, the camp will go on and begin on Jan. 10, and roughly 30 players will be called in, according to U.S. Soccer. It will conclude on Jan. 28 with a friendly against Bosnia & Herzegovina at StubHub Center, though, as with friendlies on non-FIFA dates, it’s anybody’s guess as to who will be made available for the Dragons, who also failed in their quest to reach Russia 2018. Don’t count on the likes of Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic making the trip.So who might Sarachan turn to for this camp? It’s traditionally made up of a majority of MLS players, given the time of year on the club calendar, and with the USA turning the page on a number of veterans and seeking a squad to build toward Qatar 2022, the older faces should be few and far between and the new ones–i.e., rising talents in their upper teens to low 20s–should be more prevalent. Would Clint Dempsey, who remains tied with Landon Donovan for the all-time USMNT scoring record, want to take part in such a forum and attempt to break the record in such a lousy circumstance? What about fellow MLS Cup finalists Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore? At 30 and 28, respectively, surely they have more to give to the national team, but after a long and trying year, and with Altidore playing on a bum ankle in the title game, perhaps a break is best.So with all of that in mind, here’s a group of 30 players you could expect to be in the mix for next month’s camp:

GOALKEEPERS

Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Jesse Gonzalez (FC Dallas), Brad Guzan (Atlanta United), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)

Guzan is the lone veteran holdover, though at 33, it’s hard to see him fending off one of his younger counterparts for a lead role in the coming years. It still helps to have a tested, experienced player in the mix, though, and Guzan fits the bill and can lend a hand to the up-and-comers. Bono, 23, has backstopped Toronto FC to MLS Cup and took part in January camp in 2015. Gonzalez completed his one-time FIFA switch from Mexico, and it’s time for the USA to see what it has in the 22-year-old. Steffen, 23, was the breakout star of the MLS playoffs, and he’s more than earned his chance on the next level.

DEFENDERS

Danny Acosta (Real Salt Lake), Steve Birnbaum (D.C. United), Greg Garza (Atlanta United), Justen Glad (Real Salt Lake), Matt Hedges (FC Dallas), Keegan Rosenberry (Philadelphia Union), James Sands (NYCFC), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas)

There’s a blend of semi-veterans and complete newbies here, albeit very heavy on the central defenders. The USA U-20 and U-17 national teams have featured some promising individuals, and RSL’s duo of Acosta and Glad and NYCFC’s Sands are among them. This is a no-risk look at seeing where they stand and if they’re ready to make the leap.

If Birnbaum is cleared following the concussion that ended his season, he’d be a likely starter in the middle, while the FCD duo of Hedges and Zimmerman, despite subpar seasons during a weird year for the club, could challenge. Garza, whose season was cut short by a hamstring injury, should be bolstered by a fresh bill of health and his new Atlanta United contract and would be the top choice on the left, while Rosenberry could start on the right. This is admittedly light on fullbacks, but then again, isn’t that a proper indictment of the U.S. player pool in recent years?

MIDFIELDERS

Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Chris Durkin (D.C. United), Christopher Goslin (Atlanta United), Kekuta Manneh (Columbus Crew), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Kelyn Rowe (New England Revolution), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew)

If a changing of the guard is on the way, then the midfield backbone had better be a priority, and in Acosta, Adams, Arriola and Roldan, Sarachan has four players aged 22 or younger vying to be part of that new nucleus.

Rowe, 26, showed well at the Gold Cup and brings the playmaking quality so sorely lacking in the U.S. pool, while Trapp, who turned 25 next month, offers another sound option in defensive midfield. Nagbe, who most pegged for a more influential role in helping the U.S. during its qualifying campaign, still carries value at 27 and has the individual talent to succeed on the international level. Delgado, 22, gets overlooked at Toronto FC given the talent around him, but he has difference-making ability.

Manneh, meanwhile, earned his U.S. citizenship this past year and was a sparkplug for the Crew. He’s on trial with Union Berlin in Germany, and should he make that move, a place in this camp would be unlikely. Gyasi Zardes, a player very familiar to Sarachan from their time together with the LA Galaxy, would be a candidate here, too.  As for U-17 World Cup standouts Durkin and Goslin, it’s a chance to go a couple of levels up to continue their progression.

FORWARDS

Juan Agudelo (New England Revolution), Andrew Carleton (Atlanta United), Dom Dwyer (Orlando City), Jordan Morris (Seattle Sounders), Christian Ramirez (Minnesota United), CJ Sapong (Philadelphia Union), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen as of February)

Sapong starred vs. Portugal and was the highest-scoring American in MLS this past season with 16 goals. He’s earned another look, though at 28, he’ll be hard pressed to improve over the next five years.

Sargent is headed for Germany when he turns 18 in February, but the breakout youth star could use the camp to get in shape for his pro move while further integrating himself in the national side. Carleton, one of Sargent’s U-17 national team teammates, enjoyed a strong World Cup showing and could be given a taste of the senior life, too.

Ramirez has been overlooked by the national team for some time, and his 14-goal campaign in Minnesota’s expansion season did little to harm his reputation. Next month should be his chance to prove he belongs.

In Agudelo, Morris and Dwyer, Sarachan has three more well-known commodities to which he can turn.

Garber Q&A: MLS commissioner talks U.S. failure, pro/rel, expansion, more

Dec 9, 2017Jeff CarlisleSoccer

TORONTO — These are indeed interesting times for the game of soccer in the United States. The men’s side of the game is still reeling from the national team’s failure to qualify for the World Cup. Come February, the U.S. Soccer Federation will have a new president for the first time in 12 years. The Columbus Crew’s potential move to Austin, Texas, is creating some considerable angst, and not just in Columbus.It is the job of MLS commissioner Don Garber to wade through this morass and lead North America’s domestic league to the other side. There are positives, to be sure — Atlanta United’s inaugural season, improved attendance and television metrics for the playoffs — but there is no denying the fact that this is the most challenging time for the sport in recent memory.

During an extensive Q&A with ESPN FC, Garber discussed the USSF presidential election and his support of Kathy Carter, the impact of the World Cup qualifying failure on SUM, David Beckham’s Miami project and the uncertainty facing the Crew. What’s detailed here is the rest of the discussion.

This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.

ESPN FC: How much responsibility does MLS bear for the failure to qualify for the World Cup?

Don Garber: I think anybody who has been engaged in the soccer business in our country shares some accountability for where we are today as a sport, and also shares in some of the success that we’ve had. I’ve said many times that as a fan, as commissioner of a league and as member of the U.S. Soccer Board, I was very disappointed and in many ways heartbroken by not qualifying. Some of the greatest experiences of my life and of my professional career have been watching the U.S. play in World Cup competition and seeing how that’s driven the sport in our country, and seeing how it has made stars out of some of our players.I don’t believe that players who come back to MLS are any less successful in international competition because we don’t know what it would be like if they never came home. There has been so much finger pointing and so much blame being thrown around trying to demonize either an entity or decisions that have been made or individuals. While I understand it, I don’t think it’s productive.We need to use this as a wakeup call to recognize that there are things that we as a league and we as a federation and we as those responsible for the development of players at the youth level should assess where we are and try to come together as opposed to break apart to figure out how we can get better and ensure that this never happens again.

ESPN FC: What can MLS do to help the national team recover?

DG: I think we just need to continue to do what we’ve been doing. And recognize that it will take even more investment in our academy programs and perhaps more decisions that need to be made in concert with the federation to be able to accelerate the development of young American players.

That could mean more minutes played for academy players, but it could also mean incentivizing our teams to invest more in their academies and more in their signing of homegrown players. It could mean that we invest more with the French Football Federation to have proper coaching support for our academy programs. It could be that we work with the federation to provide funding that could be passed through to non-MLS academy programs. It could be that we take a greater leadership position in the entire sport to utilize our resources, our expertise and some of our programs to accelerate this process faster.

ESPN FC: You talked about incentivizing teams. What about the training compensation/solidarity payment issue?

DG: Training compensation and solidarity payments, MLS is a beneficiary of that because we are developing more players who are going to come through our academies and leave. So this is not the league against the youth system. I think the federation and the league and the clubs need to come up with some sort of solution that is workable for all. This would be an example of how there needs to be a change in our approach so that we can ensure that more money is invested and more people are benefiting from the development of players, including those players themselves.

ESPN FC: You see guys like Tyler Adams getting a shot, but are enough young players getting a chance in this league?

DG: I do think they are. I’ve said all along that we need more than a handful of players, whether it’s a Tyler Adams or a Kellyn Acosta or even Christian Pulisic. We need hundreds of young players who are playing in our league regularly, and we also need hundreds of young players who are going to be coming out of our system and playing overseas regularly, and it is a numbers game.

We’ve been in the academy business for less than 10 years. Bayern Munich and Manchester United have been at this for decades. This is going to take time.

I go back to where we are. While I’m deeply disappointed, I actually think that when you have trauma to a system, it forces everyone to take a step back and say, “What went wrong? What do we need to do to improve it? How do we marshal our resources together so that the sum is greater than the individual parts, so that we’re in a better position four years from now than we are today?” I want to focus our attention on that and less about some individual or some entity out to dry because some people are unhappy.

ESPN FC: Will MLS take a break next summer for the World Cup?

DG: Yes. We’ve not announced what that break is. We have shared our recommendation with our ownership, but we will definitely take a break next year.

ESPN FC: A lot of CONCACAF players will go to the World Cup. What does that say about the league?

DG: I think it says that our league is providing opportunities to compete in a professional environment and ultimately benefit their national teams. That should be able to inure benefit to the U.S. men’s national team as well, but this is a global sport. We have players from around the world, we have an agreement with our federation to limit the foreign professional players on our rosters, and I think the fact that we are seeing the Roman Torreses of the world excel through him playing in MLS shows that the system isn’t wrong when they get into MLS.

There is something happening in that we’re not getting enough talent up through the pipeline once they get into MLS. That’s something we all need to work on. I’m not at all apologetic that MLS has helped not just the U.S. but also other teams in the region and around the world. That’s what professional soccer leagues should be all about.

ESPN FC: What are your thoughts on the current round of expansion?

DG: There’s been a very empowering level of energy throughout our country to try to bring MLS to their respective cities. The presentations from Nashville and Cincinnati and Sacramento and Detroit were terrific. In three of the four cases, the mayors came in to be part of the presentation. You’ve got strong ownership groups, all with downtown stadium plans with investments that could total $400 million in terms of the contribution and capital that would be put into building out a stadium and everything around it.

We’ll go through the process. We have an expansion committee call [Friday]. We’ll talk to our board about it on Dec. 14. I expect that we’ll come out with more direction from that though not a final decision. But I know that we will definitely have two teams to select that will be teams 25 and 26.

ESPN FC: What do you make of the situation in San Antonio, because it seems like they feel hard done by with this situation in Austin.

DG: There’s a lot going on in that, and I‘m not going to comment on it. Clearly, the county judge has been very aggressive. Our press releases have been clear. We have done absolutely nothing wrong in San Antonio, and I stand by that.

ESPN FC: Eric Wynalda has suggested some changes to MLS, including promotion/relegation and changing the calendar. Have you talked to him? And what do you think about these ideas?

DG: I have met with him, and Eric is someone who clearly has a lot of ideas, and when people are passionate about their ideas, it gets conversation, and conversation is good. The promotion/relegation and changing the calendar ideas are not new. I encouraged Eric to be thoughtful about his comments and to recognize that the federation is not the entity that will determine the structure of MLS, either its competition format or its calendar or anything related to it. It’s not the role of the federation.

ESPN FC: And promotion/relegation?

DG: I think I’ve been very clear from the very beginning. While I appreciate all the social media banter back and forth, the concept of having our league be structured the way it is in England, or the way it is Brazil, is not necessarily what’s going to work here in North America. That requires stability. That requires consistency. And to turn that upside down because people think it will be fun or interesting is just not worth the impact and the end result of that.

Where would the Galaxy play today? What would happen to their players? Would they be in our [players] union or the non-unionized USL? What would happen to their local television deal with Time Warner, or their sponsor Herbalife? What would happen to StubHub Center, which has been financed with debt that’s guaranteed by the revenues that come into it?I’ve got 100 examples of that that are the realities of what it’s like to actually run a business. And while I appreciate and actually don’t mind the social media fervor underneath it, I think people, when they take a real step back, take a look at MLS and how far it’s grown over the years in our current structure, and probably hope that we can continue to grow, as opposed to having things that might make us unstable.

ESPN FC: Your contract is up in 2018. Do you want to continue? Are there talks for you to continue?

DG: There have been talks to continue, and the MLS owners and a committee will get together and try to determine whether or not they want to go forward. Then we’ll sit down, I’m sure over the next couple of months, and figure all that out. It’s been 18 long years for me, and in the beginning it was all about trying to manage trauma and trying to work to see if it could continue. I think we finally have built something that is thriving and arguably has more and more opportunity in front of it, and I’ll have to figure out what I want to do, as will they.

ESPN FC: Will there ever come a time when the leagues let teams spend the salary budget without all these rules?

DG: I think the challenge that we always have, is we’re compared to other soccer leagues. But every league here in North America has roster limitations and salary cap and budget distinctions, and ways that salary investment can be used strategically to make the game better and make the league more competitive.I believe we’re still very much in the growth phase. We have to be very smart about how our teams are utilizing their expenditures to be more competitive — more competitive against Mexico so we can win the CONCACAF Champions League, and more competitive against this influx of international soccer that people have an opportunity to engage in. I think the time might come at some point in the future, but right now, every dollar matters.When you look at the [Targeted Allocation Money] program, that’s been incredibly successful in bringing players, like a Victor Vazquez for example, who can be impactful, while at the same time providing resources to sign homegrown players, or to buy down designated players, to create a system where the league’s competitive value grows. I think it is the right thing for where we are now, I don’t see it changing anytime soon, but who knows what can happen in the future.

ESPN FC: The playoff schedule, obviously this comes up every year, but with the international window, it seems really drawn out. Is there anything that can be done about that?

DG: It’s interesting. We’ve had our most successful playoffs ever. The last two games were 31,000 and 45,000. Our television ratings on ESPN are up 40 percent. They were up dramatically here in Canada on TSN and TVA. So I think the view that the playoffs have been challenged by the calendar probably isn’t true because the interest and measures have increased.That doesn’t mean it’s not a real hassle to have to take a break in the November window. I’d love to have MLS Cup before that November break. We continue to look at trying to evolve our schedules so that ultimately we’re not in a situation where we’re playing our cup in mid-December and having to have a long break between the two legs of our playoffs. But until we’re able to find a solution, which is worked on every year by our product strategy committee, I think we are where we are.

ESPN FC: The midweek games have worked better?

DG: It was a courageous move — move up weekends to the midweek. Attendances were up dramatically across the entire playoff schedule, and our television ratings grew, so we’re getting more and more committed fans in our market where they’re willing and able to come out for a midweek even on short notice. And it could get to the point where they’re willing to come to regular-season games in February, which, right now, we’re concerned about being able to execute successfully.

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12/24 Big Holiday Schedule

WORLD

Pulisic, Kagawa Save Dortmund Late – Pulisic Scores Winner in 89th minute

Pulisic Scores Wonder Goal for Dortmund Winner – SI

Star Wars Approach to Top Young Players in the World – including Pulisic

Alex Morgan and Keylor Navas win CONCACAF Players of the Year

Kaka Officially Retires from Soccer

EPL

Festive Predictions for the Big 6 over Holiday Games

Man Citys De Bruyne Schools Spurs Dele Alli

Salah happy to be At Anfield

USA

Pulisic Named US Male Player of the Year

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Premier League Christmas fixtures: Festive predictions for ‘big six’

The Premier League’s Christmas fixture period is always a pivotal time in the season, and with the division’s “big six” clubs battling for just four Champions League places, this year’s festive period is set to be crucial.Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham all have a packed schedule and ESPN FC’s club correspondents take a look, provide a prediction for each match and give an overview of their team’s prospects.

ARSENAL: Arsenal have stumbled out of the blocks in December, with the 3-1 loss to Manchester United followed by two disappointing away draws. Now they face two top four rivals at the Emirates, with two tricky away matches in-between.

It’s a bad time to be struggling for form and confidence, and the Gunners will need a massive improvement to make sure their season doesn’t derail completely. But unless Alexis Sanchez steps up and starts playing like a star again, it’s hard to see that improvement coming. — Mattias Karen

Dec. 22: Liverpool (H) – D
Dec. 28: Crystal Palace (A) – D
Dec. 31: West Brom (A) – W
Jan. 3: Chelsea (H) – L

Total points: 5

CHELSEA: Chelsea’s limp defeat against West Ham — coupled with Manchester City’s wins over Manchester United and Tottenham — has confirmed the most Antonio Conte can hope to achieve with a relatively favourable festive run is to solidify his team’s top four place.

Taking on Everton at Goodison Park is a far less appealing proposition with Sam Allardyce in charge, but home matches against Brighton and Stoke should yield nothing less than maximum points. Only against Arsenal, who boast a strong home record and have fared peculiarly well against Antonio Conte, could accumulated fatigue from the festive period take its toll on the Blues.

Losing to West Ham has already shattered Chelsea’s hopes of a flawless December run and any notion of catching City seems absurd, but they are still well positioned for a points haul that will keep them battling for second place with United. — Liam Twomey

Dec. 23: Everton (A) – D
Dec. 26: Brighton (H) – W
Dec. 30: Stoke (H) – W
Jan. 3: Arsenal (A) – D

Total points: 8

LIVERPOOL: The biggest test for Liverpool once again this festive period is overcoming the little recovery time in-between games. In a similar scenario to last season, there are just 48 hours between Liverpool’s home match with Leicester City before they travel to high-flying Burnley, much to Jurgen Klopp’s frustration.

Klopp has prepared in advance for this period with his acquisitions in the transfer market and rotation policy. Liverpool are in a much better position this time around to handle the demands of this period. It wouldn’t be entirely surprising to see the Liverpool manager make 11 changes for the Burnley game — something that wouldn’t have been feasible last season due to the drop-off in quality.

Liverpool’s injury situation is somewhat positive, with Nathaniel Clyne the only long-term absentee. There is hope at Anfield that Joel Matip will return for these Christmas fixtures. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has found his opportunities somewhat limited since moving from Arsenal, but this block of games could be where the midfielder really shines and justifies his decision to move to Liverpool for career progression. — Glenn Price

Dec. 22: Arsenal (A) – W
Dec. 26: Swansea City (H) – W
Dec. 30: Leicester City (H) – W
Jan. 1: Burnley (A) – L

Total points: 9

MAN CITY: Manchester City’s winning run has been extended to 16 after difficult games against top six rivals Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur and they have a set of fixtures over Christmas that suggest it could go on a little while longer yet. They start at home to Bournemouth, who are without a win in six matches and if they play as open as they did against Liverpool on Sunday, City will register at least a third successive four-goal victory over the Cherries at the Etihad.

Newcastle are in even worse form with just one point in nine games and it looks like a straightforward three points at St James’ Park while Watford are also on a terrible run and were emphatically beaten 6-0 at home by Pep Guardiola’s side earlier in the season. The biggest test will come at Crystal Palace, who have not been beaten at Selhurst Park since September and City can expect a hostile welcome on New Year’s Eve against a side reborn with spirit and energy. — Jonathan Smith

Dec. 23: Bournemouth (H) – W
Dec. 27: Newcastle (A) – W
Dec. 31: Crystal Palace (A) – D
Jan. 2: Watford (H) – W

Total points: 10

MAN UNITED: Manchester United have got a run of games over Christmas and New Year that they will expect to win. Jose Mourinho has got a squad that should be big enough to cope with the extra workload. He knows how to manage his players, when to rotate and when to stick with what he’s got, and the same period last season coincided with United’s best run of form — nine straight wins in all competitions.

They will need something similar this time if they hope to be in touch with Manchester City at the top of the table in the New Year. It is a crucial period for United and Mourinho will hope the gap to City is significantly fewer than 11 points by the time the Champions League restarts in February. Mourinho can only hope that City struggle to maintain their high-energy football with four games in a week and slip-up somewhere, although they haven’t shown much sign of weakness yet. — Rob Dawson

Dec. 23: Leicester (A) – W
Dec. 26: Burnley (H) – W
Dec. 30: Southampton (H) – W
Jan. 1: Everton (A) – W

Total points: 12

TOTTENHAM: Tottenham have been the best team over Christmas in each of the last two seasons, winning seven straight matches between Dec. 14 and Jan. 14 last year, but the 4-1 defeat to Manchester City exposed many of their flaws.

Spurs do not look likely to embark on another winning run, particularly as Mauricio Pochettino, their manager, has already warned they are running further than ever before on Wembley’s big pitch. Their next two home games at the national stadium look favourable on paper but Southampton and West Ham will surely copy the successful blueprint set by other lesser teams by dropping deep, flooding the centre and trying to frustrate Spurs.

A trip to Burnley is never easy and it now has the added the importance of being a six-pointer for a place in the top four. Injured Toby Alderweireld will continue to be sorely missed but Erik Lamela’s return has given Pochettino an alternative to the out-of-form Dele Alli, while the manager will hope to have Victor Wanyama back soon. — Dan Kilpatrick

Dec. 23: Burnley (A) D
Dec. 26: Southampton (H) – D
Jan. 2: Swansea (A) – W
Jan. 4: West Ham (H) – W

Total points: 8