3/29/18 Indy 11 Discount on Sat 1st Game at the Luke, US Youngsters Impress in Win, Champ League Elite 8 Tues/Wed, Zlatan to Play at LAFC 3 pm Sun on Fox right after Pulisic & Dortmund play Bayern Munich at 12 noon on Fox, Carmel FC GK Training on Weds with Christian Nicht

Our Indy 11 fresh off a 1-0 opening win at Richmond – Return home this Saturday night to host their first ever USL game vs FC Cincinnati at Lucas Oil Stadium – man I wish I wasn’t going to be out of town !! Word is the entire lower bowl will be open with upwards of 15,000 fans on hand.  We are hearing FC Cincy may bring over 2,000 fans – so everyone needs to bring their voices and their fanny’s to the Luke on Saturday night at 7 pm !! Of course if you can’t make it out the game will be on My Indy TV23 at 7 pm.    Help fill the Luke – Sat, March 31st with discounted tickets to the Opening Game!  {Promo code 2018indy}.

GET READY TO TAILGATE WITH THE BYB – Brick Yard Battalion Indy 11 Soccer Fan Club

Park and Tailgate for indy 11 Games with the BYB – Parking in the Gate 10 BYB Section is $4 cheaper per game than the stadium’s South Lot- and OBVIOUSLY more fun! Located at 343 W McCarty Street, Gate 10 is just across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. Gate 10—the 2018 official home of the BYB–is convenient and affordable. Parking is $11 per car for single games, $150 for the season!  Click HERE to purchase your pass today and join the BYB in the Endzone – it’s a memorable experience! You won’t want to watch the game in any other section after standing and screaming and singing with the best supporters section in the US!

Champions League

So after watching the best players in the World play for their countries – and some fantastic play as Brazil edged Germany 1-0, Spain Spanked Argentina 6-1 (without Messi) and Mexico lost to Croatia 0-1 and both France and Brazil spanked Russia (of course) I am thrilled to be getting ready to watch 8 of the top Teams in the world battle to advance to the Semi-Finals of the World’s Top Team Competition Europe’s Champions League!! (see predictions and stories below).  I like Juventus and legendary Goalkeeper Gigi Buffon’s chances of taking revenge on Current Cup Holder’s Real Madrid and Renaldo at home this Tuesday at 2:45 on Fox Sport 1 and I like Liverpool 2-1 at home at Anfield in the 1st leg vs league leader Man City Wednesday on Fox Sport 2.

USA Underwealms in 1-0 Ho Hum Victory over Paraguay

So I am watching the US game Tues night – excited to see the new young players – problem is I didn’t see them.  Seriously you brought in Tim Weah (son of one of the best ever George Weah – now playing at PSG) and Novakovich (scoring goals like a banshee in the Dutch 2nd division), and Roldan– and you didn’t use any of them until the 75th minute – heck 2 subs in the last 8 minutes ?  Did we seriously need to see 75 minutes of Bobby Wood not scoring goals in the field of play he’s done that all season with Hamburg?  85 minutes of Darlington Nagbe winning balls dribbling around and then passing the ball back to the keeper?  Has that guy ever actually passed the ball forward in his life?? He can relieve pressure and get out of trouble – but he never passes the ball forward or tries to actually score?

Now I thought Tyler Adams was ALL OVER the Field – he’s definitely our new #6/#8  Wow he goes forever!! His pairing with Marky Delgado was solid Delgado also played really well in the middle (I assume Weston McKennie was hurt??)  I also thought the backline with the younger Miazga and Carter Vickers in the middle and Yedlin and Villafona on the outside was solid.  Also Will Trap as the Captain was one of the best players on the field tonight.  I thought the young keeper Stefan barely made a misstep.  Overall we were good – and had a decent performance.  I just wish we had a coach who had a clue.  This was a day to show us the excitement of these new young players – too bad we didn’t see them.  Who cares that won the game on a bad penalty call?  The idea was to see the new kids play?  Too bad we didn’t see that tonight?  Complete waste of everyone’s time – continues to show the complete ineptitude of US soccer right now.   Oh and what a loser of a stadium – are we really relegated to playing in high school soccer stadiums for our US National Team now?  What 8K strong?   Seriously my high school football/soccer stadium was bigger and just as nice.  What a joke.  Good to see US Soccer is still being run by idiots.  Oh and the new NON World Cup Jersey’s?  Really?  Someone did tell Nike that due to one of the most colossal embarrassments in US Soccer history that WE AREN’T Going to the World Cup didn’t they.  They should be making Panama Jersey’s instead.  Yes I am Still Bitter – especially since US Soccer voted for more of the same.  Sickens me.  Not sure Soccer will ever be the 3rd major sport it should be in the US – with the US soccer idiots in charge.  Those of us who love the sport will keep trying despite our lack of US soccer leadership.  Remember the US Ladies – you know the World Champion US Ladies – play Mexico next Thurs at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1.


Extremely Excited to for this weekend’s TV Action – as Fox (not Fox Sports1) will carry back to back barn burners as Dortmund and US Youngster Christian Pulisic will face German League leaders Bayern Munich at 12 noon Saturday on Fox, followed by the introduction of former World Class Striker Zlatan Ibrahimovich (aka IBRA) at the LA Galaxy as they host 2-0 new Team LAFC in a Los Angeles Darby at 1:30 pm also on FOX.  Zlatan Ibrahimovic – of Sweden, Inter, PSG and recently Man United fame is joining MLS and the LA Galaxy this summer.  He announced his move in the LA Times with this ad.   The gregarious, boisterous, yet a times spectacular Zlatan – referred by me and most of the world simply as IBRA – will be fun to watch in MLS.  Does he have any gas left in those 36 Year-old legs –who knows – but I for one will be tuning in to see.  I love me some IBRA – who once said he would stay at PSG if they renamed the Eiffel Tower IBRA and put his face on the top of it.  He’s obnoxious, but man in his prime he was one of the top Forwards in the World !  Sunday gives us 5th place Chelsea vs 4th place Tottenham in a battle for the top 4 in the EPL and that coveted Champions League spot, followed by Atlanta United looking to pack 60K+ in the Mercedez Dome vs DC United at 3 pm on ESPN.  Of course the next 2 weeks -Tues/Wed gives us Champions League Elite 8 action on Fox Sports 1 & 2 and Thurs Europa League action on Fox Sport 1 & 2.


Finally we announced that former Indy 11 Goalkeeper Christian Nicht will be coaching the Carmel FC Goalkeepers this season (with the Ole Ballcoach’s help of course).  The Goalie Trainings will be held on Wednesday evenings at Shelbourne Fields starting April 11.  Also Carmel FC will host Carmel Dad’s Club Rec Soccer camps this summer.  Carmel Dad’s Carmel FC Soccer Camp June 4-7 Badger, June 11-14 Shelbourne

 Indy 11

Preview of Indy vs FC Cincy LadyVictoryandherquestforglory.com

Indy 11 Beats Richmond 1-0 Game story – Bloody Shambles

Indy 11 on TV 8 Game update

Gameday Preview BYB

5 Years and Counting Brad Rings Time with Indy 11 –

USL Soccer Update Week 3/24–25

Indy 11 Away Games Streamed Live online on You Tube

Soc Takes – Podcast and Interview with BYB President Josh Mason

Season: IndySoccerTix.com (save on ticket fees!)
Flex Packs: http://ie6.glitnirticketing.com/ieticket/store/index.php?s_category_id=34
Single Game: http://ie6.glitnirticketing.com/ieticket/mobile/evlistm.php?refresh=1520098544

Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

Indy 11_HomeOpener_ISA

Help fill the Luke – Sat, March 31st with discounted tickets to the Opening Game!  {Promo code 2018indy}.

Champions League Elite 8 is Back

Champions League Quarterfinal Predictions

Why a Juve Win over Real Madrid would NOT be an Upset – SI  Video

Xabi – Liverpool a Tough Matchup for any club this year

Renaldo is an Assassin – Says Buffon

US Soccer

US Not Slowed by Lack of Experience – ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Player Ratings Jason Davis – ESPNFC

Player Ratings US Greg Seltzser MLS.com

Community Player Ratings – Stars and Stripes

US Lacks Playmaking Again under Sarachan – Brian Straus SI

US New Talents ty to Establish own Culture – Brian Straus SI

4 Things we Learned from US vs Paraguay – S & S

Tim Weah Satisfied with Debut – ePSNFC

Will Trapp takes his Chance in New Look US Midfeild – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC


Tuesday Wrap on World Games – Brazil 1 – Germany 0, Spain 6-1 Argentina, France 3-1 Russian ESPNFC

Mbappe Sensationa for France in 3-1 Slamming of Russia

FIFA to Investigate Russian Racism Claims against France Players

A few positives in 1-1 tie for Italy after tie at England

Germany Stay at Top of FIFA Rankings despite loss to Brazil


Predicting How Things Are going to Finish in the EPL


Week 4 Wrap

Why you Must Watch LA Darby

Bob Bradley LAFC Head Coach Talks Soccer with SI Grant Wahl –

LA Galaxy have more to Prove vs LAFC – MLS.com

LA Galaxy open up about Rivalry with LAFC

Most overrated MLS Players

Columbus Doesn’t Deserve to Lose the Crew – SF Gate

Toronto and NY balance the MLS vs CCL Play over the next 2 Weeks

Top Saves in Week 4 MLS


Sat, Mar 31

7 am beIn Sport          Eibar vs Real Madrid

7:30 am NBCSN            Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

9:30 am FS1                    Schalke vs Freiburg

10 am NBCSN                Man United vs Swansea

12:30 pm NBC     Everton vs Man City

12:30 pm Fox       Bayern Munich vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

3 pm Fox               LA Galaxy vs LAFC 

7 pm MyIndyTV   Indy 11 vs FC Cincy (@ Lucas Oil) buy tix as little as $15

Sun, Apr 1                      

8:30 am NBCSN        Arsenal vs Stoke City

10:30 am FS1             Werder Bremen ( ) vs Frankfurt

11 am  NBCSN           Chelsea vs Tottenham 

3 pm ESPN                   Atlanta United vs DC United

Tues, Apr 3 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1           Juventus vs Real Madrid  

2:45 ESPN Des/FBlive Sevilla vs Bayern Munich (facebook live)

8 pm Univision        Toronto FC  vs America (Concacaf Champ League)

Weds, Apr 4 – Champions League

12:30 pm beIN Sport   Milan vs Inter (Italy Serie A)

2:45 pm FS 1              Barcelona  vs Roma

2:45 pm FS2                Liverpool vs Man City

8 pm Univision        Guadalajara vs NY Redbulls (Concacaf Champ League)

Thurs, Apr 5  – Europa League

3:05 pm FS2                   Atletico Madrid vs Sporting CP

3:05 pm FS1                   Arsenal vs CSKA Moscow

3 pm Fox soccer          RB Leipeg vs Marseille

7 pm Fox Sport 1        USA Women vs Mexico

Fri, Apr 6

2:30 pm Fox Sport 2    Hannover vs Werder Bremen (US-Aronsson)

2:45 pm beIN Sport      Saint Etienne vs PSG (US-Tim Weah)

Sat, Apr 7

7:30 am NBCSN   Everton vs Liverpool

10 am NBCSN?              Stoke City (Cameron) vs Tottenham

12:30 pm NBC     Man City vs Man United

12:30 pm Fox               Hamburger (Woods) vs Schalke (Mckinnie)

5 pm ESPN            Atlanta United vs LAFC 

 7 pm Youtube     North Carolina vs Indy 11  (BYB Watch Party @ Union Jack Broad Ripple-924 Broad Ripple Ave)

7 pm Youtube               FC Cincy vs Louisville FC

Sun, Apr 8                      

8:30 am NBCSN            Arsenal vs Stoke City

10:15 AM beIN Sport                      Real Madrid vs Athletico Madrid (Madrid Derby)

10:30 am FS1                 Werder Bremen ( ) vs Frankfurt

11 am  NBCSN      Chelsea vs Tottenham 

12:30 pm Fox       US Ladies vs Mexico

4 pm ESPN                       Orlando City vs Portland Timbers

9 pm FS 1                                                 LA Galaxy vs Sporting KC  

Tues, Apr 10 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS 1                 Roma vs Barcelona

2:45 pm FS2                Man City vs Liverpool  

8 pm Univision        America vs Toronto FC  (Concacaf Champ League)

10 pm Univision      NY Redbulls vs Guadalajara (Concacaf Champ League)

Weds, Apr 4 – Champions League

2:45 pm FS1           Real Madrid vs Juventus

2:45 ESPN Des/FBlive               Sevilla vs Bayern Munich (facebook live)

World Cup on Fox

PREVIEW OF INDY 11 VS FC Cincy – LadyvictoryandherquestforGLORY.com

Last week Indy Eleven opened a new chapter in their history as they clinched three points in their first USL game against the Richmond Kickers. Another chapter will unfold this week as the Eleven will face FC Cincinnati in their new home, Lucas Oil Stadium.


FC Cincinnati:

Silence the Indy crowd early– Lucas Oil Stadium is expected to be packed on Saturday night. Yes FC Cincinnati is expected to bring a crowd but the majority of the fans will be there to cheer on Indy Eleven. The sooner Cincinnati can flood their attacking half the quicker they take the crowd out of contention.

Richie Ryan– The Indy Eleven Dream Killer is coming back to Indy. He did it with Ottawa, Miami, and now looks to do the same with Cincinnati. If the team from Ohio looks to have any success at Lucas Oil Stadium it will come from the distribution of Richie Ryan. In their first game of the season Ryan was 82% accurate in the opposing half and will look to feed more devastating passes against Indy Eleven.

Indy Eleven:

Law Firm of Saad and Steinberger– When Zach Steinberger and Soony Saad where involved in Indy’s attack the Boys in Blue were threatening with legal proceedings in front of the Kickers goal. Their goal totals and assists may not always reflect it but if these two continue to thread key passes, Indy Eleven will be an attacking force USL teams do not want to face.

Transition to defense– The players in the blue Adidas jerseys understood their responsibility’s when the Eleven had the ball. But as the game went on and the Kickers saw more of the ball, the Eleven struggled with the role of transitioning to defense. FC Cincinnati may dictate possession for long periods of time so it will be crucial for the Eleven to understand when to pressure, where to cover, and where they need to be balanced in transition.

Don’t foul around the eighteen– The few members left over from Indy Eleven’s NASL days know all too well what Lance Laing can do from set plays. But you add Emmanuel Ledesma in the mix and FC Cincinnati can come at you from all different directions and plays. In order to shut down that aspect of Cincinnati’s tactical approach the Eleven cannot afford to give up senseless fouls around the box.

X-FACTOR: Playing surface

The last time soccer was played at Lucas Oil Stadium real grass was installed for the Chelsea-Inter Milan match in 2013. But the Eleven and FC Cincinnati will be playing on artificial turf. It’s a common misconception that all artificial turf is the same but it’s not. It will be interesting to see the speed of play, how the ball rolls, bounces, and skips across the playing surface at Lucas Oil Stadium. This could be a determining factor in the outcome of the match.

Indy Eleven Begins New Journey With Victory – Richmond Kickers V Indy Eleven (3/24/2018)

Indy began their league campaign in Richmond and returned home with three points.
By: James Cormack   www.bloodyshambles.com Indy Eleven won their inaugural match in USL thanks to a first-half goal in Richmond by Jack McInerney. In a game that many of us thought was a very good chance for Indy Eleven to win, possibly by several goals, we will gladly accept 1-0 victories every week.Not only does Soony Saad, Jack McInerney, and Owain Fôn Williams make history with Indy Eleven’s first assist, goal, and shutout in USL, but Indy Eleven also recorded their first win in an opening league match in five years.It was never going to be easy taking a guess at a starting lineup with this roster and maybe a few selections were surprising. Martin Rennie has faced off against Leigh Cowlishaw before and it was interesting that the chose the same formation of 4-2-3-1. Was this Rennie’s preferred starting XI? Who knows? My feeling is Rennie doesn’t think in terms of only eleven players and we may see several different lineups during the early months of this season. he starting lineup for Indy was similar to the one that drew 0-0 with Jacksonville Armada but with a couple of changes. Owain Fôn Williams started in goal behind a back four of Pasher, Ferreira, Mitchell, and Ouimette. Matern and Watson made up the two with Nico playing tighter to the back line while Watson covered a larger area of the midfield.

In front of them, Steinberger took the role of central attacking mid and covered an incredible amount of ground for the entirety of the game, alongside him Soony Saad and Eugene Starikov seemed almost interchangeable and often switched sides during the game while Jack McInerney sat just in front of that attacking three.Indy Eleven showed remarkable organization and fluidity for an opening match, they were not organized to the point where they just became rigid in their positions with more than a few stepping well away from what may be considered a comfort zone for their position. The best way I can describe how we played is organized, disciplined and fluid, players were not on a short leash but regained formation well at times when they roamed out of their position, and each was covered well by a teammate when they did.

If you have the time to flick through some of the heatmaps and touch maps provided by USL’s Opta stats for the match, you can clearly see just how well each player worked within this formation, and the 4-2-3-1 is an easily adaptable shape if a change is required later in a game. Things that stood out for me was the work rate and areas covered by Matern, Watson, and Steinberger (shown above) and the ability of Pasher and Ouimette to hug the lines from back to front.The work by this group of players alone when Indy was not in possession allowed our two center backs to solely concentrate on anything that may slip through the middle, they had a bit of work to do but not too much. The same group of players moved the ball through Richmond’s midfield very well when we attacked.
When I think back to the opening game of 2016 against Tampa Bay where we drew 0-0 we didn’t have that same composure and organization as early, we had a solid starting lineup but it still seemed new and unknown to each other. To me, Indy Eleven looked like they were already a few competitive games into their season and that’s a very good sign.
When you can take three outstanding players like Brad Ring, Juan Guerra and Justin Braun off the bench and fit them seamlessly into a setup that is already working it bodes well for the future. Kevin Venegas and Ayoze didn’t even travel with the team and our reserve lineup still looked scary.

The fact we only scored one goal matters not, we’ll find more opportunities as the team settles. I felt my prediction of 2-0 was fair, it was our first competitive match and despite Richmond missing some key personnel they were still coming off the back of a heavy defeat and playing in front of their home fans, they fought well and may feel they deserved a point.

A win is a win however it comes and Indy Eleven got another 90 minutes of field time under their belt and will have learned more about each other as they head into what may arguably be a much tougher game against FC Cincinnati. We will likely be considered underdogs this weekend and that’s fine, we have been in his position before and stepped up.

The Boys in Blue will have enjoyed their first taste of league football this year and will be eager to head straight back into the fight, FC Cincinnati played in the opening round while Indy watched and it was Cincinnati’s turn to sit out this week. It should be a very interesting and challenging game.

Reaction from Caleb Ramp:

Indy Eleven and her fans will experience many “culture shocks” with their 2018 move to USL and Lucas Oil Stadium. While most of these will be in off-field operations and league structure (with the exception of the actual field, I suppose), the potentially large talent disparity in week-over-week opponents is something which may take time to get used to.
In the NASL, there weren’t many free lunches – especially on the road. Perhaps it’s disingenuous to say a road victory in your first match with a new team and a new regime is “expected” – but if we were to categorize the Have Nots of the USL, the Richmond Kickers would certainly qualify.
It wasn’t pretty, but it didn’t have to be. There were clear synergy issues which come with a late start to the preseason and season. The squad failed on numerous occasions to put Richmond away in a scoreless second half and were lucky not to be punished near the end.

That isn’t to say there weren’t moments of positive play or a showcase of talent to encourage further optimism, however. Watson looks active, everywhere, and worthy of the armband. Steinberger looks every bit of the player who made an otherwise-underwhelming Armada squad relevant in 2017. Pasher and Saad look to be a menacing duo down the left wing. McInerney might even make a play for the 2018 USL Golden Boot.
Our much-touted depth – Venegas and Ayoze didn’t even travel with the team, Speas and Moses sat unused on the bench, and Braun was given only a token stoppage time appearance – also shouldn’t be forgotten.
Ultimately, to compete for a playoff spot we’ll have to perform better — but we certainly have the tools to do so.
In the words of an Indianapolis favorite: We’re on to Cincinnati.——————————————————————————————-

If you still have not got your tickets for Indy Eleven’s home opener against FC Cincinnati at Lucas Oil Stadium check out BYBTIX for the best price ticket and no fees, we need the Brickyard Battalion section sold out! The South end zone section has been sold out but more seats are being opened up, for seats there and other parts of the stadium please visit INDYELEVENTICKETS. DON”T MISS OUT ON THE HOME OPENER!

Brazil get some revenge on Germany; Spain hit Argentina for six

Mar 27, 2018ESPN staff

Brazil managed a 1-0 friendly victory over Germany to earn a measure of closure after their humiliating defeat at the 2014 World Cup.The two world footballing powers were meeting for the first time since Germany embarrassed Brazil 7-1 in the semifinals at home nearly four years ago.But Brazil’s defense was stauncher in Munich on Tuesday and Gabriel Jesus’ lone goal proved to be the difference. Willian sent a curling cross into the Manchester City forward, whose powerful header was straight at Germany goalkeeper Kevin Trapp but looped up and over the line.The defeat ended Germany’s 22-game unbeaten streak, which came one game short from matching their record of 23 from 1978-81. Brazil also halted another Germany 22-game unbeaten run in 1998.

Instead, it was Brazil’s chief rivals Argentina‘s turn to suffer a lopsided defeat, as they matched their worst-ever result with a 6-1 loss to Spain, who got a hat trick from Isco.Diego Costa opened the scoring for the hosts on 12 minutes, pouncing on a Marco Asensio through ball and bundling home from close range past goalkeeper Sergio Romero, who was injured and had to leave the game soon after. Spain would be two up 15 minutes later, when Isco calmly slotted home from 12 yards away on a goal also assisted by Asensio. Nicolas Otamendi then halved the deficit before the break, beating David De Gea in the Spain goal with a pinpoint header following a corner kick.But Isco restored Spain’s two-goal advantage soon after the break tucking away past Romero from a Iago Aspas assist following a counter-attack and Thiago would make it 4-1 minutes later, firing in a first-time shot to effectively put the match to bed 10 minutes into the second half.And substitute Aspas would pile on Argentina’s woe, chasing down a De Gea goal kick and slotting home for Spain’s fifth before setting Isco up to complete his hat trick and the rout.

Paul Pogba scored a fine free kick and Kylian Mbappe netted twice as France beat World Cup hosts Russia 3-1 in a friendly on Tuesday.Pogba has fallen out of favour under Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho and has been linked with a move away this summer, but he was in excellent shape for France, scoring once and setting up Les Bleus‘ opener.Mbappe scored the opener in the 40th minute, leaving defender Roman Neustaedter stranded before shooting calmly past Andrei Lunyov in the Russian goal. Pogba curled a free kick over the wall and into the bottom corner for France’s second five minutes after the break.Russia hit back in the 68th minute when Fyodor Smolov tapped home a deep cross from substitute right-back Igor Smolnikov but Mbappe scored again 15 minutes later to illustrate the gulf between the teams.

Italy held England to a 1-1 draw after VAR awarded the visitors a late penalty at Wembley.Jamie Vardy’s 27th-minute strike looked like it would separate the two teams, with England also looking to claim a record-equalling sixth clean sheet in a row.But they were denied four minutes from time when debutant James Tarkowski was adjudged to have fouled Federico Chiesa in the area. Originally the penalty was not given but referee Deniz Aytekin consulted VAR and the spot kick was awarded. Lorenzo Insigne stepped up to smash the ball past Jack Butland.

Belgium 4-0 Saudi Arabia: Lukaku ties record

Romelu Lukaku scored twice in the first half to match the Belgium all-time goals record in a 4-0 win over Saudi Arabia.Lukaku put Belgium 2-0 up within the opening 39 minutes and then added an assist to let Kevin De Bruyne score the final goal in the 79th minute, one minute after Michy Batshuayi netted the third.Lukaku, who had a hat trick of international goals ruled out early in his career after Belgium made too many substitutes in a game, has now officially matched Bernard Voorhoof and Paul van Himst’s 30 goals for his country.

Six different players found the net as Switzerland demolished fellow World Cup qualifiers Panama 6-0.Blerim Dzemaili opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, Granit Xhaka converted a penalty nine minutes later and Breel Embolo and Steven Zuber also added first-half goals before Josip Drmic and Fabian Frei heaped in more after the break.

Panama’s fellow CONCACAF qualifiers Costa Rica also suffered a defeat, 1-0 to Tunisia thanks to Wahbi Khazri’s 36th-minute strike.

Japan‘s preparations took another knock as they lost to Ukraine 2-1. Japan have won only two of their last seven games and rarely looked capable of beating a Ukrainian team who didn’t qualify for the World Cup.

In a near-empty stadium in Belgium, Yaroslav Rakitskiy put Ukraine ahead in the 21st minute with a powerful shot from outside the area that took a deflection off Japan defender Naomichi Ueda.Japan equalised in the 41st minute when Tomoaki Makino scored with a header from a free kick, but Oleksander Karavaev scored the winner in the 69th with his first international goal.

Egypt 0-1 Greece: Karelis the difference

Nikolaos Karelis’ 29th minute header proved decisive as Greece held off Egypt in an underwhelming affair, in Zurich.

Mohamed Salah remained on the bench as Egypt fell 1-0 to Greece, who got a 29th-minute headed goal from Nikolaos Karelis to earn the victory.Greece nearly had a second goal from an audacious Kostas Stafylidis volley from the side of the 18-yard box, but it was controversially ruled out for offside.

Serbia got the better of Nigeria 2-0 as Aleksandar Mitrovic scored twice.

Sardar Azmoun and Mehdi Taromi both scored in the opening 20 minutes as Iran earned a 2-1 win over Algeria, while Ivory Coastheld off Moldova by the same scoreline after first-half goals from Roger Assale and Nicolas Pepe.

Sweden could have used striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic as they were shut out in a 1-0 defeat to Romania.

Austria eased to a 4-0 win over Luxembourg with goals from Marko Arnautovic, Florian Grillitsch, Michael Gregoritsch and Louis Schaub.

Matthew Phillips scored three minutes after half-time to give Scotland a 1-0 victory over Hungary.

Colombia and Australia played out a goalless draw, as did Denmark and Chile as well as Senegal and Bosnia-Herzegoniva.

Germany stay top of FIFA World Ranking; Italy slump, Tunisia soar

Mar 28, 2018Dale Johnson ESPNFC

Germany will stay top of the new FIFA World Ranking following March’s round of international fixtures, despite losing 1-0 to second-placed Brazil on Tuesday.Gabriel Jesus scored the only goal of the game in Berlin but it won’t be enough for Tite’s side to leapfrog the reigning world champions at the top of the ranking when the next update is published on April 12. Germany have been in the No. 1 position, with Brazil in second, for the past eight months, and before that the two nations had been trading places. It’s now 13 months since any other nation was top, with Argentina being on the summit in March 2017.

Belgium are back on the rise once more, with a 4-0 victory over Saudi Arabia moving them up two places into third for the first time since their descent from first position two years ago.

Portugal and Argentina both drop one place, into fourth and fifth respectively. It is the first time Argentina have been outside of the top four since 2014.

Despite beating Argentina 6-1 on Tuesday night, Spain will actually drop one place to eighth, with Poland the big fallers down four places from sixth to 10th. Switzerland (6th) and France (7th) are the beneficiaries and both climb up two places, with Chile up one into ninth.There is no movement into the top 10, with Peru and Denmark keeping hold of 11th and 12th.

England are the biggest climbers within the top 20, moving up three into 13th. But Tunisia, England’s opening opponents at the World Cup finals, have made giant strides to move into it as the top African nation, rising nine places into 14th. It is Tunisia’s best-ever ranking by some way, surpassing their 19th position held in 1998 — when England beat Tunisia 2-0 in the World Cup finals.Colombia (16th) and Croatia (18th) both drop three places, but the biggest fallers within the top 30 nations are Italy, slumping six places into 20th and now behind Netherlands (19th). It is the Azzurri‘s lowest-ever position, having never been below 17th before, and they are likely to drop further after failing to make the World Cup.Iceland (22nd) and Sweden (23rd) are down four and Wales (21st) also lose their place inside the top 20 for the first time since 2016.Mexico (15th) are still the top CONCACAF nation, ahead of United States (24th) and Costa Rica (25th).In Africa, Tunisia are followed by Senegal (28th) and Congo DR (38th).Iran remain top-ranked in Asia, holding 36th spot, with Australia 40th.World Cup hosts Russia will fall to an all-time low of 66th.

New FIFA Ranking top 20

  1. Germany
    2. Brazil
    3. Belgium
    4. Portugal
    5. Argentina
    6. Switzerland
    7. France
    8. Spain
    9. Chile
    10. Poland
    11. Peru
    12. Denmark
    13. England
    14. Tunisia
    15. Mexico
    16. Colombia
    17. Uruguay
    18. Croatia
    19. Netherlands
    20. Italy

USA Lacks Playmaking Element Again Under Sarachan in Edging Paraguay

The USMNT won for the first time since October, but a conservative lineup choice and a lack of used subs–coupled with the reality of a missed World Cup–made for an odd occasion at a quaint North Carolina venue.  By BRIAN STRAUS   March 27, 2018

CARY N.C. — A young U.S. national team, playing in a conservative but sturdy formation that’s becoming familiar under interim coach Dave Sarachan, defeated Paraguay Tuesday night, 1-0, in a friendly between sides that played hard despite their absence from this summer’s World Cup.The USA has scored just two goals under Sarachan, but the second—which came via a Bobby Wood penalty kick toward the end of the first half—was enough to win here at WakeMed Soccer Park.Here are three thoughts on tightly contested, frequently rough-and-tumble game:


It’s been a brutal year for Wood, who’s scored just twice this season for a last-place Hamburg team that’s likely headed out of the Bundesliga. But he’s hit ruts in his club career before and used success with the USA to haul himself out. And although his performance Tuesday was uneven and the Americans didn’t create much going forward, it was Wood’s 45th-minute penalty kick that lifted the hosts to the win. And a goal is a goal.“Bobby and his club are going through a tough time,” Sarachan said. “[He converted] the penalty and he’s always going to give you the hard work. … I hope he takes this game and goes back to Hamburg with more confidence.”The absence of a playmaker or someone who could consistently connect Wood to the U.S. midfield (more on that below) limited his impact. He looked uncomfortable without regular service or passes played into space, and he misplayed a couple balls early. But he got his opportunity at the close of the first half thanks to midfielder teammates Marky Delgado and Tyler Adams, who linked up in the U.S. half. Adams fed Delgado with a short pass then took off, and the Toronto FC man sent a long ball over the Paraguayan midfield and on to the foot of his streaking teammate. Adams was brought down by Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernández, and Wood rolled in the ensuing penalty.The USA had more time with the ball on the wings, so perhaps a bigger target forward like C.J. Sapong, who started in Sarachan’s first two games in charge, would’ve been more effective. But Wood has been good for the USA in the past and clearly needed the boost Tuesday. Regardless of whether it makes a difference back in Germany, it made the difference in Cary.


For the third straight game, Sarachan deployed the USA in a 4-1-4-1 that helped his side win the midfield but resulted in frustration entering the attacking third. That 4-1-4-1 has comprised different players with different skills. But the common thread across Sarachan’s three games has been the absence of a central attacking presence who can unlock a well-organized defense, either with a killer penetrating pass or a dribble that forces defenders to vacate their preferred positions.A case can be made, of course, that such a player isn’t readily available at this point. Christian Pulisic can play centrally, but he has yet to feature under Sarachan. Others, like Sacha Kljestan, don’t fit in with the current youth movement. The Orlando City playmaker may have helped Tuesday, but at 32, he won’t be considered a long-term solution for a rebuilding program.So the 4-1-4-1 may be Sarachan’s effort to adapt to the absence of a creative connector, but it also highlighted that absence. Wil Trapp is one of MLS’s top holding midfielders, and he played Tuesday behind Adams and Delgado, a USA debutant who’s a skillful shuttler. Collectively, they blunted the Paraguayan counter and Atlanta United star Miguel Almirón, helped the hosts build out of the back and moved the ball with precision to the outside midfielders or the fullbacks.But when Paraguay didn’t press, the USA lacked the quality to break through. The attack was predictable and somewhat conservative, and without a player who could hit a pass that might give Wood a look at goal, or one who could dribble past a Paraguayan defender, the U.S. was static higher up the field. The passes that did some damage were hit between the lines from further back. Trapp and right midfielder Darlington Nagbe each had a couple, and Delgado hit the ball that led to the decisive penalty.Pulisic likely will return to the USA for the upcoming friendlies against Bolivia, Ireland and France. And considering the strength of the latter two, Sarachan might wind up calling up some older, more experienced players. Perhaps someone who can fit that central, creative role is somewhere in the pool (Kenny Saief, who played on the left Tuesday, also has spent time in the middle). But so far, the manager seems to think the USA needs to learn to play without one.


At times, it seemed Tuesday’s the game mattered. Paraguay was physical—and brutal at times—and was committed to the tackle like a team needing three points, not one that’s going to miss the World Cup. The visitors were shown five yellow cards, and at least one—a two-footed, lunging tackle by Rodrigo Rojas—could’ve been red. Sarachan said afterward he was impressed with his young squad’s composure.And Sarachan, who at Monday’s pregame press conference that he wished he could give playing time to his entire team, instead coached most of the match like it was the third game of a group stage. In the 75th minute, he’d used only one substitute of an allotted six. And Paris Saint-Germain’s Tim Weah didn’t make his USA debut until the 86th. Two subs went unused.The sell-out crowd of 9,895 was in good spirits. Anger over the Americans’ failure to qualify may have been mitigated by the interest in seeing some younger talent and the fact that this was the national team’s first appearance in the Triangle in a dozen years. So there was some atmosphere.“We felt it was like a real home game,” Sarachan said.But in the end, the lack of a U.S. breakthrough and the absence of so many familiar faces and names reminded everyone what Tuesday’s game really was—a standalone exhibition without much long-term purpose, and a reminder of the frustrating state of current affairs.Elsewhere in the country Tuesday, Mexico was preparing for the World Cup in a sold-out stadium in Dallas, while Peru and Iceland got ready for long-awaited appearances on the sport’s biggest stage at Red Bull Arena. But the U.S., the site of all those games, isn’t going. Adams, Trapp and Weah, along with goalkeeper Zack Steffen and center backs Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers—who played well and deserve a mention—may be the future. But the present is a team of international newbies playing in a hospitable but small second-division stadium. It was a bit strange, and not where U.S. Soccer expected to be. And there are more of these nights to come.

Wood struggles for sharpness but scores lone goal in U.S. win

The United States men’s national team turned the page on the next generation with a 1-0 friendly win over Paraguay at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary, North Carolina on Tuesday night. A young team put in a strong performance against a physical South American side, with several players making good cases to be central to the future of the program.


The central midfield trio of Tyler Adams, Marky Delgado and Wil Trapp was excellent. Working well as a unit, the group slowed down Paraguay through the middle of the field. The balance of play tilted in the Americans’ direction through the first hour of the game on the backs of the central midfield work, the press and smart passing.

The center-back pairing of Cameron Carter-Vickers and Matt Miazga was also a bright spot, perhaps giving a glimpse of the future in that area of the field for the United States.


Despite the solid work in the middle of the field for the U.S., a lack of creativity was glaringly evident. Without Christian Pulisic in the lineup, the Americans struggled to create clear chances. A reliance on low-efficiency crosses marked most of the night on the attacking end. Full-backs Jorge Villafana and DeAndre Yedlin pushed up the field to limited effect and the home side never found the combinations necessary to break down Paraguay’s defense.

Manager rating out of 10

4.5 — A win is a win, especially for a program that needs a boost of confidence, but interim manager Dave Sarachan’s decisions left a lot to be desired. Playing Bobby Wood as a lone striker considering the Hamburg striker’s poor form and flagging confidence was questionable tactically. With a squad full of young players begging for a chance to show what they could do, Sarachan waited until the 67th minute to make his first substitution and only used four of a possible six. Instead of coaching like someone who the freedom to experiment, Sarachan managed like a man who cared more about winning than pushing the new generation forward for the benefit of the program.

Player ratings (1-10; 10 = best. Players introduced after 70 minutes get no rating)

GK Zack Steffen, 6.5 — Hardly tested thanks to a misfiring Paraguay attack. Commanded his box, did not make any obvious mistakes with distribution.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, 5 — Not effective enough going forward, but was fine on the defensive end. Seemed out of sorts getting in the attacking in partnership with Darlington Nagbe.

DF Cameron Carter-Vickers, 7 — Extremely solid night at the back. A late (undeserved) yellow card soured what was nearly a perfect night for the 20-year-old. (OBC – solid pairing in the Back)

DF Matt Miazga, 6.5 — Made a mistake in possession that turned into a Paraguayan chance, but was otherwise competent in partnership with Carter-Vickers. Blocked two shots to help keep the clean sheet.  (OBC – solid pairing in the Back)

DF Jorge Villafana, 6.5 — Active in the first half in concert with Kenny Saief. Hit several mediocre crosses when he did get forward. Defensively sound.

MF Wil Trapp, 8 — Played his position to a tee. Expertly adjusted to Paraguay’s pressure and clogged the middle as the lone defensive shield. Led the team with 10 recoveries. (OBC- Led the team – played very well! )

MF Kenny Saief, 6 — Picked up his play in the second half after a less-than-stellar opening 45 minute. Showed his skill on the ball, but struggled to make his touches count in the attacking third of the field.  (OBC – Was Terrible for 50 minutes – decent for 20 minutes in the 2nd half)

MF Tyler Adams, 8.5 — Set up the lone U.S. goal with an excellent run out of midfield that won a penalty. Played all over the park, connecting passes and breaking up Paraguayan play. (OBC – Played like a god!)

MF Marky Delgado, 7.5 — Played the pass that set up Adams to win a penalty. Struggled to play forward prior to that moment, but was solid on both side of the ball for most of the evening.(OBC – Solid pairing with Adams – played well – covered well and solid passing from the back.)

MF Darlington Nagbe, 6.5 — Dribbled the Americans out of pressure and moved the ball well on the right side of the midfield. Provided one bright attacking moment in the first half, but was otherwise limited in the final third.  (OBC 5 – WHAT he passed the ball back 35 of 37 times he won it?? He had 1 shot on goal))

FW Bobby Wood, 4.5 — Scored the penalty that provided the margin of victory. Lacked a sharp touch and made poor decisions with the ball. Failed to get a shot off during the run of play. (3 OBC- SERIOUSLY HE WAS HORRIBLE – NO WONDER HE’s NOT PLAYING AT RELAGATION THREATENED HAMBURG – HE DID NOTHING IN 75 Minutes?? COMPLETE WASTE OF SPACE UP FRONT))


MF Rubio Rubin, 5.5 — Provided width and energy in about 25 minutes but never connected on a meaningful move.

FW Andrija Novakovich, NR — Had a shot saved on a late one-v-one that would have capped a momentous occasion on his international debut. (TOO BAD HE ONLY HAD 8 Minutes- he did more in that 8 minutes that WOODS did All night?? !!!!)

MF Tim Weah, NR — Looked bright in a few minutes as a late substitute. Had one moment of obvious nerves, but flashed the talent that makes him a potential star of the future. (OBC -What in 3 minutes?? STUPID HORRIBLE COACHING)

MF Cristian Roldan, NR – Came in with 2 minutes in OT?

 USMNT Player Ratings: Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga lead the way for rugged US

March 27, 201811:53PM EDTGreg SeltzerContributor

The US national team posted their first “W” of 2018 by controlling play for a solid 1-0 victory over friendly guests Paraguay in Cary, North Carolina on Tuesday night.

The home side gave their opponents precious little room to maneuver through midfield and turned steals into solid team-building exercises all night long. They were unable to pull the right levers in the final third, but made a 45th-minute Bobby Wood penalty-kick strike stand up without too much great fuss.

Zack Steffen (6) — The netminder didn’t have a whole lot to do, and most of his tasks were pretty straightforward. Steffen’s most important action came when he rejected a last-ditch restart shot. Unfortunately, he also endured a nervy distribution moment for the second straight US game.

DeAndre Yedlin (5.5) — It was an oddly quiet night for the Newcastle right back at both ends, especially in the first half. Yedlin was often sloppy with the ball when venturing forward. He did make a helpful nudge-away-from-trouble maneuver during a late set-piece scramble.

Cameron Carter-Vickers (5) — The Ipswich Town loan defender easily had the most uneasy night. A too-gentle back pass caused some early stress, and he’d later lose a battle at the top of the area in a clumsy fashion. For the time being, Carter-Vickers may be best suited at this level as the middle man in a three-man back line.

Matt Miazga (7.5) — On the other hand, the Vitesse marshal was largely as cool as you’d like. Among his 10 total defensive stops in and around the US area, Miazga squelched dribble drives, turned away crosses, stepped into lanes and came up with a couple of important shot blocks. The only real blemish was a poor giveaway, and part of the blame lies with Steffen for putting him in dutch.

Jorge Villafaña (6.5) — Though the left back’s crosses were often imprecise, he was clearly dedicated to getting forward and repeatedly aided possession with shrewd moves. It was a mixed bag defensively for Villafaña. His most notable error involved losing a late back-post mark, but his best work soon followed when he ushered trouble away from the aforementioned restart scramble.

Wil Trapp (7) — While the night’s skipper has certainly passed better across games, he still supplied enough fuel for moves forward. What really made the 4-1-4-1 set hum, though, was Trapp’s wise control of the region between the home area and the midfield stripe. Thirteen of his 17 defensive plays came in this section, and all 12 of his positive passes out of it occurred prior to the US goal.

Darlington Nagbe (7) — The Atlanta United traffic director was moved wide right for this US cap, and he made it work. Nagbe routinely helped the team creep forward, and sprinkled in some key one-man pressure valve moves.

Marky Delgado (7) — The early phase of the game was bumpy for Delgado, who flubbed a couple of important rush passes into the final third. The Toronto FC midfielder soon grew into the game, however, and ended up providing plenty of the measured press-and-link work from his MLS portfolio. His shining moment came on the diabolical through ball that led to the winning spot kick.

Tyler Adams (7.5) — Plain and simple, Adams is a professional nuisance. If he’s not picking a pocket or shutting off an attack avenue, he’s probably exploiting space with a selective surge forward. That’s precisely what happened when he teed up the penalty winner by racing free on Delgado’s needle-threader.

Kenny Saief (7) — It was an excellent outing for the Anderlecht man, who showed an array of build-up skills. Obviously cozy comfy on the ball, Saief was a mighty handful across several attack lanes throughout his 67 minutes. He also surprised by piling up 11 defensive stops, largely from the pressure game. More, please.

Bobby Wood (6.5) — The Hamburg forward was an early spark, but fell quiet as the first half progressed due to some bad hold-up touches and teammates failing to reward a couple of excellent runs behind. Wood coolly buried his spot kick chance ahead of the break, before fading again after intermission.

Coach Dave Sarachan (6.5) — The interim boss’ grade get stretched and pulled in both directions by several factors. It’s easy to question how much can truly be gleaned from a formation likely to be a faint memory by the time the US plays a competitive match, and it was highly annoying to see only two subs get so many as 13 minutes after Sarachan vowed to properly use all six.That said, it was a very well-drilled 4-1-4-1. The Nats effectively bottled up Paraguay’s danger guys, caused threatening turnovers, re-organized into shape calmly and worked the ball to the final third with great ease.

Rubio Rubin (6) — It took a few times on the ball for Rubin to find any space, but he did play one terrific switching ball to help set up a danger free kick.

Andrija Novakavich (6) — The striker had one noteworthy action, as he raced loose late to display his surprising wheels. The Telstar loan ace probably should have given up the fast-break shot, though.

Timothy Weah (6) — Though he only enjoyed a few touches, the PSG youngster quickly showed he was a game debutant.

Christian Roldan (-) — No need to rate the stoppage-time entrant.

 USMNT’s New Talents Establish Own Culture, Tactical Identity as Uncertain Future Looms

  • The USMNT has abruptly become a young side in transition, but the core of rising stars that should lead the program forward is starting to form and lay the foundation to build on for the next World Cup cycle.By BRIAN STRAUS SI  March 28, 2018

CARY, N.C. — It was an occasion worthy of a souvenir, and Marky Delgado had a pretty good one—the traditional signed match ball celebrating a player’s first appearance with the senior U.S. national team.More than five years after making his pro debut with Chivas USA (RIP), Delgado, who’s now an MLS champion with Toronto FC, finally played for his country at the highest level. And the 22-year-old made an impact. Starting alongside a pair of MLS rivals/colleagues, Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls) and Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Delgado helped a young U.S. side dictate the pace for significant stretches of Tuesday’s friendly against Paraguay.The visitors’ primary creator, Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), was stifled. And as halftime approached, Delgado helped set up the game’s only goal. His seeing-eye long ball to Adams led directly to a penalty kick converted by forward Bobby Wood. The ball Delgado carried as he departed WakeMed Soccer Park was the tangible reward. But it didn’t necessarily represent his contribution. He’d have received one if he’d played just a few minutes, or had he been the worst player on the pitch.So for Delgado, the most vital takeaway from the 1-0 win was intangible. After two camps with the USA and 90 productive minutes on Tuesday, he felt a sense of belonging and noticed a nascent tactical identity. Both are important for a young national team in transition.“Everyone here deserves to be here,” he said of a squad that featured eight uncapped players before kickoff (and another four men with just one). “Everyone here is a competitor on and off the field. Just going in every day to training, it’s very competitive. Everyone’s hungry to prove a point and show they deserve to be here. We don’t have many veteran players here, but the level is definitely very high.”The long-term faces of the national team—Tim Howard, Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, etc.—have been sidelined as the USA tries to recover from last fall’s World Cup qualifying disaster. Some may return down the road, but coach Dave Sarachan’s focus across his three games in charge has been the introduction of the next generation of American talent. They have room to grow and a couple years to get acclimated. But building a national team happens in fits and starts. Players come together for a few days then scatter, and the combinations and permutations are in constant flux.It’s incumbent on the manager and locker room leadership to establish the tone, set personal and positional expectations and a outline a basic tactical framework. Players arrive and have just a few days to prepare for a game. They can’t afford to start from scratch or reinvent the wheel each time. Predictability, patterns and playing to his team’s strengths didn’t interest Jurgen Klinsmann. Bruce Arena then tried to forge some consistency and coherence, and he did well for a while before inexplicably deviating from what had been working when the stakes were highest. That combination cost the USA a trip to Russia.Sarachan, who’ll be in charge at least through the pre-World Cup friendlies against Bolivia, Ireland and France, has responded with pragmatism. The soccer hasn’t been sexy (the Americans have scored twice in his three games). He’s sprinkled some experience throughout his lineups, and hasn’t been moved by those interested in seeing more prospects, more substitutions and a more gung-ho approach. Sarachan said Tuesday night that he waited on making changes against Paraguay, and used only four subs instead of six, because most of the men who built the lead deserved to see out the game. National teams are meritocracies and building a winning culture is crucial. At this point, a foundation must be created small piece by small piece.“We had five real hard training sessions,” Sarachan said. “You only have five days in bringing guys together. You try to make as much headway into making the group become cohesive and work together, and some of them have the advantage of having played [for the national team] before. But it’s like a crash course in communicating.”So they found familiarity where they could, and much of that was in the 4-1-4-1 Sarachan has deployed in the past three games. In each case, the USA lacked a playmaker or creator who could reliably connect the lone forward to the midfield, or put an opposing defense in disarray with an incisive pass or dribble. The resulting lack of penetration and chance creation was predictable. But such a player isn’t readily available. Christian Pulisic is the most likely candidate for the role long term, but he hasn’t been called in since Sarachan took over. Others are too old to anchor a rebuild.So the USA has gone without, building what it can in the meantime—establishing roles and responsibilities and playing to the strengths available. Trapp has been very good as a deep-lying shield and distributor. Adams is a star in the making. Darlington Nagbe can shine in the right surroundings, and the likes of Kellyn Acosta (unavailable) and Weston Mckennie (injured) are among the additional assets Sarachan can deploy in midfield.“We have a deep midfield now [and] with the players that we have these past three camps, [the 4-1-4-1] fits the style pretty well,” Adams told SI.comafter Tuesday’s game. “Having one guy that sits and facilitates the play, and then having two 8s who are able to step out and press at the needed times to take the workload off the striker is pretty important. For me, the main attributes of some of the key guys that have been in here—Kenny [Saief] and Darlington this last time, myself, Marky, Wil—we were able to find good combinations and link-up play thru the middle of the field.”he USA didn’t create much centrally or in the channels of the attacking third, and its ability to shuttle the ball to the outside midfielders or overlapping fullbacks (Jorge Villafaña had a very good game on the left) didn’t amount to much, because crosses were so ineffective against an experienced Paraguayan rearguard. But generating chances from open play is the hardest part of the game, and that may come in time, either because the current group continues to gel or via the addition of Pulisic and older attackers who still have fuel in their international tanks.Meanwhile, they’ll make do with what’s taking shape. This is a young, athletic group with confidence and range, and the defensive effort and composure has been good in all three games. Sarachan said the formation is designed to create “movement and interchange” among the midfielders, ensuring space is occupied and that the opponent faces pressure from different points and attacking runs from unpredictable positions. The communication and comfort required to execute that can come only with time.“In camps you play in, you learn guys’ tendencies and you gain chemistry with every player you’re in camp with,” Adams said.“This is the formation that we kind of want to stick to going forward,” Delgado told SI.com. “I feel like we definitely have the players to really fill this formation, and we’ve got a lot of players with a high fitness level. So going up and down the field is no problem. Tyler can go up and down. Wil does an excellent job holding the fort. He’s a great player. And I felt like the chemistry out there was pretty good for the most part.”Then, you add to what’s been built. Whether that’s the likes of Acosta or McKennie, vets like Bradley or Jozy Altidore or, when a central playmaker is desired, Pulisic (who can also play wide).“I don’t think we’re worried about finding a 10 when you have Christian Pulisic, who’s not here,” Adams said. “He’s obviously the future with a lot of other young guys, creative guys, who’ll be in and out of this cycle as well. Once you have someone like that, when he’s going to come back in and slide right in and be the creator, the facilitator, the playmaker of the team—I don’t think we’re too worried about not having a No. 10 in there right now.”dams and Delgado have all of four senior caps between them. But that lower number belies their experience. Both play key roles for clubs that are among MLS’s best. Both are vets of the U.S. youth national teams. And both feel good about what’s been established in the early going under Sarachan. Absent an attacking fulcrum, they found a way to get a result. Absent the program’s long-time leaders, they’re stepping up and establishing their own culture.“Now you have guys like myself, Weston, Christian, who are ready to play big roles,” Adams said. “There are reasons we’re getting minutes at our clubs and we’re able to take the next step to here. You continue to get the experience of these games, you learn each game and you develop your own leadership within the team. You have certain guys who are still leaders and veterans, obviously, but maybe with not as much experience. But we’re able to play a certain role and we’re going to play it to the best of our ability going forward.”The 4-1-4-1 and the culture being forged under Sarachan could all be undone by his successor, of course. U.S. Soccer is currently working to hire a national team GM who’s supposed to have control over coaching appointments. Sarachan has said he wants the manager’s job, but there will be plenty of competition and pressure for a change-of-pace hire following the World Cup. If another coach fills the role, the senior team’s technical and tactical future will be up to him. But that coach will be inheriting several young players who’ve started to establish their own international intangibles. Those were evident as they held on to the lead late and kept their nerve in the face of some hard, rough play and gamesmanship from the Paraguayans. Delgado’s signed ball is just a symbol. And that, at least, is a start.“On the night, each man competed great. There was some good soccer played,” Sarachan said. “I couldn’t be more pleased for the group. This game became a real big-boy game—playing a South American team that has a lot of experience, I thought our guys kept their composure when things started to fly, which was fairly good for a young team. And winning is good. … I think it’s another step forward.”

Four things we learned from USMNT vs. Paraguay

146By Jared Young  Mar 28, 2018, 7:05am PDT  Stars and Stripes


In a few short hours last fall the U.S. Men’s National Team went from building to rebuilding, and Tuesday night’s friendly against Paraguay finally felt like a proper kickoff to that process. International talent melded with MLS hopefuls to form something of a realistic team. The players and coaches promised open play and basically delivered on that promise to came away with a solid 1-0 performance.Trying to manufacture learning from this game might cause one to question the value of an education altogether, but there a few things that are worth noting from a friendly that was just one small step on a long road back to respectability.

Dave Sarachan has been very pragmatic as interim head coach

Normally calling a soccer coach “pragmatic” is a subtle critique but in this case it’s a compliment. Sarachan isn’t going to be around long but he’s doing right by the players. He’s letting the players play forward and showcase their skills, and at the same time keeping the team well organized. In his three games the U.S. has given up just one goal despite asking inexperienced players to press. The team pressure has worked even if it hasn’t resulted in easy goals.The game plan has been to press wide and get organized if the opponent is central and reaching the attacking third. Here’s a chart of the U.S. tackle attempts and interceptions. Almost all of the defensive activity is out wide until the final third. The defensive results can’t be argued but offensively the U.S. has looked like the disjointed lot that they are. While some players like Kenny Saief showed they can be dangerous offensively, the team as a whole hasn’t shown any ability to break down international defenses. Still, Sarachan has pushed to open them up and deserves credit for his results.

Tyler Adams is a diverse talent

To be clear, those that watch Tyler Adams regularly did not learn this. But Adams showcased for others that he can play anywhere in the midfield and be dangerous in the attack. His run on the ball from Marky Delgado put the pressure on Paraguayan keeper Gatito Fernandez and forced him into an awkward slide. That run was the difference in the game.Check out the passing chart for Adams. His play was so balanced all over the midfield.

No one locked down a future spot, but no one played themselves out of a spot either

There were plenty of solid performances but no one played a game that was critically bad or good. Part of the issue is that Paraguay played passively and allowed the U.S. to dictate for much of the match. But they also were able to snuff out U.S. attacks as soon as they started to become interesting.Among the better performances beside Adams and Saief were Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, and Jorge Villafana on defense. Villafana was particularly active offensively as well, getting in some solid early crosses. Will Trapp played a tidy game keeping Atlanta United’s Miguel Almiron from breaking through in the attacking third. Here’s Almiron’s passing chart. Notice how he was completely shut out from completing dangerous passes near the 18 yard box. Credit to the defensive trio in that area.

It’s a long road back to respectability – patience is a must

For fans who are still healing this game was not much of a salve. The solidity of the play did not hide the lack of quality when compared to the play of teams who are still building toward Russia. There’s no shortage of hope and talent waiting to come together to form a cohesive and dangerous national team, but we will need to endure plenty of these games before that reality begins to take shape.

‘Nervous’ Tim Weah ‘satisfied’ with debut performance for U.S.

Mar 28, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

CARY, N.C. — Tim Weah made his international debut on Tuesday, officially playing the last four minutes of the U.S. national team’s 1-0 victory over Paraguay, becoming the first player born in the 2000s to earn a U.S. cap.The son of former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah — who now is the president of Liberia — the younger Weah subbed in for Marky Delgado in the 86th minute and with stoppages was granted another three minutes or so of playing time. It was enough time to get rid of some considerable butterflies.”An 18-year-old coming into his first game for his country, I was nervous,” he said. “The first pass was a little off, but I was like, ‘I have to chill out, get comfortable,’ so that’s what I did. I got a few tackles in, I won a few balls, I almost got an assist. I can only ask for so much.”Weah had said coming into the match that he had three goals: make his debut, get a goal and also the win. He had to settle for two out of three. The near-assist proved to be his best play of the night, as he put fellow substitute Andrija Novakovich in on goal, only for Paraguay goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez to come up with a sharp save.”I’m satisfied,” Weah said. “I played [seven] minutes. You can only do so much. I almost got my assist, but unfortunately Andrija didn’t score. But the main goal was to get the win and play for the team. Coming out here and making my debut in front of such amazing fans was a blessing. I just can’t wait to play more games and get more goals and more assists.”Interim U.S. manager Dave Sarachan pronounced himself pleased with Weah’s contribution, which helped the U.S. win its first game since October.[Weah] was real nervous, he should have been nervous going into his first game against a team that we recognize as a good team,” said Sarachan. “They’ve got to start somewhere, so this was a good debut for him to go in and get his feet wet because this was a big-boy game tonight.”Sarachan added, “Whether it’s your 50th or your first, once you’re in the arena and on the field, no one cares about how many caps you have.”It had already been quite a month for Weah, as he made his first-team debut with club side Paris Saint-Germain on March 3. Now that he’s done the same for the U.S., he’s keen to keep the momentum going.”It’s always going to give you confidence coming out here playing for your country,” said Weah. “Going back [to PSG], I’m going to take what I learned here and just add it to my game so when I go back I’m unstoppable an hopefully get more minutes in Ligue 1 and just continue from there and hopefully get more call-ups.”rief injury-time appearance for the Seattle Sounders man.

Wil Trapp takes his chance in new-look U.S. midfield

Mar 28, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

CARY, N.C. — For Wil Trapp, a spot on the U.S. men’s national team has long seemed just beyond his reach. Central midfield has long been the deepest position in the player pool, making it difficult for the Columbus Crew SC captain to break through.Further, on the rare occasions when he was called in, Trapp seemed an odd fit. Jurgen Klinsmann memorably tried him at outside midfield during one January camp, with subpar results.But over the last three months, Trapp has won the trust of interim coach Dave Sarachan and has seen his stature grow within the national team program. Sure, the roster assembled for Tuesday’s match against Paraguay was far short of the A-team, though given the odd state in which the U.S. team finds itself these days, what constitutes a first-choice lineup is amorphous to say the least.Tuesday’s appearance marked the first time Trapp had played for the U.S. outside of a January camp and he was his usual steady self, initiating the attack and effectively organizing his teammates. He also captained the side for the second game running, which is impressive given that he now has just four caps to his name.”I don’t think you get used to it, man,” said Trapp about wearing the armband. “It’s just one of those things. There’s a huge honor in it and there’s a lot of weight to it, but I just do my best to help my guys win the game.”He did just that by delivering the defensive play of the game, blocking a shot from Miguel Almiron midway through the second half following a turnover in the Americans’ defensive third. It was one of the few times the Atlanta United star shook free all night.When asked if he felt he had taken the next step in his international career, Trapp said, “Sure. Look, it’s always a process and you have to trust it as much as you can and just continue every time you’re in camp to build chemistry and try to perform when you’re on the field.”Trapp was the fulcrum for a stealthy U.S. trio in the center of the park. None of Trapp, Marky Delgado or Tyler Adams is imposing physically — all are slight of build and height-wise are 5-foot-9 or shorter — yet each brings something different to the table.Adams has the big engine to harry opponents and make lung-busting runs from deep in midfield. Delgado is the crafty connector in the middle third, and it was his deadeye pass to Adams that saw the New York Red Bull win the penalty that was converted by Bobby Wood for the game’s only goal. It amounted to a midfield trio whose skill set complemented each other well.”We knew we wanted to come at them and be positive with our mentality and I thought we did that,” said Trapp. “Tyler is going to get after the ball, Marky is smart and good in pockets, and I kind of like to hold a little bit more. I think the compliments were certainly there and they created the goal those two. That was a wonderful thing to see.”Adams seems set to become a mainstay, though his best position is still to be defined. Delgado passed his debut test and, at 22 years of age, has plenty more soccer left in front of him. As for Trapp, Sarachan will only be manager for three more months, at which point he will give way to a more permanent hire.Said manager might decide that his ideal midfield doesn’t have room for a deep-lying distributor. There are also young players with a European pedigree, like Schalke’s Weston McKennie, who could very well push Trapp out.For now, there is no doubting that the Ohio native has done plenty to increase his stock, and he’ll benefit from Sarachan being charge for a little longer. There are three games coming up in the May/June time frame, which leaves more time for Trapp to make an impression and keep his national team goals within reach.

Predictions for Two Mouthwatering, Two Seemingly Straightforward UCL Quarterfinals

By AVI CREDITOR March 16, 2018  SI


The Champions League quarterfinal draw could have yielded much more explosive results, but we’re left with the potential for an even more explosive set of semifinals, should the final eight go to form. The possibilities for Friday’s draw included a Clasico, two sets of Pep Guardiola derbies (Barcelona-Man City, Bayern Munich-Man City), a Monchi showdown (Roma’s current sporting director/Sevilla’s former one) and more permutations pitting the world’s elite against one another. And while a pair of mouthwatering matchups await, augmented by another pair of seemingly straightforward ones, it’s clear that the biggest battles are yet to come.

Here are the four that were picked out of the pot by Ukrainian Champions League ambassador Andriy Shevchenko, as the road to the May 26 final in Kiev continues:

BARCELONA vs. ROMA (April 4 at Camp Nou; April 10 at Stadio Olimpico)

There were only two matchups where Barcelona would have been a sure-fire favorite to go through, and this is one of them. All credit to Roma for winning a difficult group and reaching this stage by beating a tricky Shakhtar Donetsk side, but this likely represents a challenge too steep.If there’s a lifeline for Roma, it’s that Barcelona midfield star Sergio Busquets could miss the tie with a broken toe, but Paulinho has been so stout in the center of the park this season, that Barcelona has plenty of cover. Factor in the emergence of Ousmane Dembele as a threat going forward, as evidenced by his showing in the second leg vs. Chelsea, and it’s possible that Barcelona, which remains undefeated in La Liga, is still getting better.

Oh, and then there’s the Lionel Messi factor. Arrivederci, Roma.

Prediction: Barcelona advances on a 6-1 aggregate

SEVILLA vs. BAYERN MUNICH (April 3 at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan; April 11 at Allianz Arena)

Sevilla capitalized on Manchester United’s slack defending and backwards tactics to advance to the final eight, but it should not expect the same from its next opponent. Bayern Munich is firing on all cylinders under Jupp Heynckes and may well have clinched the Bundesliga title by the time this series kicks off. All eggs will be in the Champions League basket at that point, and Heynckes can deploy his side accordingly.

Sevilla, meanwhile, has been putrid in defense in the league and has conceded multiple goals in half of its Champions League contests. Hosting the first leg in a raucous atmosphere could provide the boost needed to compete, but this has wheels-falling-off potential for Vincenzo Montella’s side, which has reached this stage for the first time in 60 years.Prediction: Bayern Munich advances on a 7-2 aggregate

JUVENTUS vs. REAL MADRID (April 3 at Allianz Stadium; April 11 at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu)

Juventus’s Champions League road will once again go through a Spanish power. Beaten by Barcelona and Real Madrid in two of the last three finals, the 2017 final rematch vs. Cristiano Ronaldo & Co. will present a challenge, while also offering a chance at redemption. This isn’t Juventus’s best team of this golden era, but it’s hitting its stride in both the league and in Europe at the right time, and it’s certainly capable of the quality and defensive discipline necessary to go through.

Real Madrid is a curious case. Amid all of the struggles in La Liga and rumors regarding Zinedine Zidane’s future and Neymar’s potential blockbuster arrival, the club has fared quite well in the Champions League. It didn’t win its group, but then again, it didn’t last season on a romp to a second straight title. Against PSG, Real Madrid was clearly better, taking control of a flawed team of under-pressure superstars and outclassing them over two legs. Juventus is a different beast. It’s a well-drilled side ready for the occasion, though the fact that Tottenham had so much control of their last-16 series and produced so many quality chances should be a cause for concern. Ronaldo’s goal-scoring record in Europe has been sensational, and if the same kind of chances fall his way, Juve could be staring at another Spain-induced exit. This is the toughest of the four matchups to call, and it should play out as close as that. Prediction: Juventus advances on a 3-2 aggregate

LIVERPOOL vs. MANCHESTER CITY (April 4 at Anfield; April 10 at Etihad Stadium)

Liverpool, which fell to City 5-0 in a red-card-altered clash in September, is responsible for Manchester City’s only loss of the Premier League season, impeding the road to Invincible in a 4-3 classic on January 14. There won’t be any fear factor, but the question remains: Can Jurgen Klopp’s style of play hold vs. Man City over the course of 180 more minutes? Liverpool was downright surgical in its pressing of Man City in that meeting and got every step right until Pep’s charges mounted a furious late comeback. Whether that’s sustainable for the duration of a European tie is the key question.Then there’s the schedule congestion part of all of this. In the middle of the six-day turnaround sits a pair of rivalry games in the league. Manchester City plays Manchester United on April 7 (though the title should already be clinched by then), while Liverpool, still fighting for its top-four life, faces Merseyside foe Everton on the same day in a rescheduled bout that was pushed a day earlier. You’d have to give the advantage to City in terms of the ability to rotate the squad.These teams know each other too well and are too potentially explosive for this series not to dazzle, but it’s hard to see Guardiola not adjusting his side to account for January’s events in what should be a high-scoring affair.

Prediction: Manchester City advances on a 6-4 aggregate


By Trey Higdon, 03/28/18, 5:15PM EDT  Reflecting on Brad Ring’s time with Indy Eleven

,758 minutes. That’s how many regular season minutes Brad Ring has appeared on the pitch donning Indy Eleven’s crest over his heart. Ring, affectionately nicknamed “Legend” by the Brickyard Battalion (BYB), first joined Indy Eleven’s roster back in January 2014. Although joining Indy Eleven was new territory for him, the move was Ring’s return to the Hoosier state after his successful stint with Indiana University Men’s Soccer team from 2005-2008.Back in 2014, “Indiana’s Team” was still growing—Indy Eleven had officially come into existence a year prior under the moniker “Indy Pro Soccer”; only a handful of players had been signed and most glaringly, the club hadn’t played a game. It was truly a fresh start for Ring, a seasoned veteran who had played for Major League Soccer giants Portland Timbers and San Jose Earthquakes in seasons prior. Some of the more dedicated fans would’ve known the Rockford, Illinois native from his MLS and college career, but for the rest, his name didn’t “ring” a bell.Over the last five seasons, Ring has seen the Circle City club evolve: numerous teammates come and go; three head coaches, two assistant coaches; collecting the club’s first silverware in 2016 and suffering championship-falling heartbreak later that season. Through all the ebbs and flows, Ring remained the one constant. This consistency manifested itself in Ring’s role with the club slowly molding him into the leader that he is today.  “I have been fortunate to have so many amazing teammates over the last 4 years here in Indy,” said Ring. “Although it’s a bit sad that so many guys have gone different directions with their careers, it’s an honor to be the last remaining original member of the 2014 squad. My role has changed each year. Some years I have been more vocal and other years I have lead quietly by example. I have worn the armband a few times which is always an honor so it was special to be named vice captain this year to Matt Watson as team captain.”A “leader” can be defined as “the person who leads or commands a group or organization”. Leadership is synonymous with experience, and experience is something Ring has a wealth of given the amount of times he’s dressed in his club’s colors. After coming on as a substitute in last Saturday’s 1-0 win against the Richmond Kickers, the midfielder inched closer to making his 100th appearance for Indy. Sitting at 95 caps [appearances] for his club, Ring is just games away from becoming the second player to register 100 appearances in Indy Eleven’s history, the first being former teammate and Indy original Don Smart.According to Ring, there isn’t any magic to being selected. However, Ring leads by example by demonstrating proper fitness and personal upkeep to make himself eligible for play time each week.“As you get older all the little things add up,” Ring explained. “I try to take care of my body as best as I can. Eating healthy with the help from King Cal meals, recovering properly, staying hydrated, etc., so that I can train and play to the best of my ability every time I step on the field.” Off the pitch, Ring reprises his leadership role by becoming a role model in his community.  In 2016, he founded “Ring’s Reading Program”, a reading program geared towards helping elementary students improve their literary skills. The program initially debuted in schools within the Carmel, Indiana area, but quickly spread to education systems throughout the city. Inspired by numerous figures in his youth, Ring strives to grow his reading program as a way to give back to the community that has welcomed him with open arms.“I’m very proud to have started ‘Ring’s Reading Program’ aimed at helping elementary school kids improve their reading, nutrition and living an active lifestyle,” Ring stated. “The idea transpired due to my desire to give back to the community. A lot of people inspired me when I was young so I feel the calling to do the same for today’s youth. We have received a lot of positive feedback from schools so the plan is to continue to visit schools to expand the impact of my program.”It’s the ever-growing acts of selflessness in his community and the dedication to his teammates on the pitch that has drawn the eyes of so many supporters. As the saying goes, “Your small support could accomplish a big dream.” In the case for Brad Ring, the support he’s received from the BYB over the years has been anything but small. From 2014 to today, Ring has been a mainstay in both Indy’s lineup and the in the hearts of the club’s fans. Ring has found himself the subject of several fan-favorite moments, from innumerable stellar performances to the famous celebratory “beer chug” after clinching the 2016 Spring North American Soccer League Championship.Indianapolis’ obsession with Ring became apparent earlier this year when the hashtag #BringBradBack made its round on social media just days before the championed midfielder re-signed with Indy Eleven. It’s these moments that have cemented Ring into the fabric of supporter culture, and the focus of their cheers and chants game after game.“I have an enormous amount of respect for our fan base and specifically the BYB,” Ring said. “They welcomed me and my family from day one helping to make Indy feel quickly like home. They give everything they have for 90+ mins always pushing us to fight ‘til the end. I appreciate the love and support they have given me over the years. I hope they know how much it means to me, my family and the entire organization.”hile the club’s fan base has remained a constant, Indy Eleven has seen some wholesales changes in the last four years. It’s not every day a player finds themselves playing for a new head coach in a brand new league, but still playing for the same team they’ve been with for years. However, this is the reality for Ring. Facing a whirlwind of changes in such a small time frame can be daunting, but the ability for players to look past change and unite under a common goal is what makes them all the more admirable.“The coaching staff has really developed a positive and supporting culture in their short time with the club,” Ring said. “I have no personal goals but just to enjoy the season and be the best teammate possible. Every team has a goal to make the playoffs and we are no exception. We have high hopes for the year even greater than that. We know the road won’t be easy but if we work hard and stick together, we have the talent and resources to do big things.” Time wears on. Buildings rise and fall. Players come and go. Eventually, there will be a time in which Ring will say “farewell” to Indy Eleven and his supporters. Long after that times comes, though, fans will still remember his legacy. Until that day comes, Ring is here to stay, and Ring is here to win.

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