4/13/18 Indy 11 Discount Tix for Nashville Game Sat 12 noon, Champs + Europa Final 4 Set, Toronto Advances to CCL Finals, Huge TV Games

So the last 2 days of Champions League is why I absolutely love this sport !  First the unbelievable comeback by Roma at home as they overcame the 3-1 deficit to be beat mighty Barcelona 3-0 and advance on away goals to the Final 4.  Then on Wed  – what would have been the greatest comeback in history as Juventus – my precious Juventus almost pulled the feat down 3-0 after a home loss – scoring 3 at Real Madrid to almost take it to overtime.  Then I have witnessed one of the worse crimes I have ever seen in soccer – as Gigi Buffon – legendary goalkeeper for Juve was sent to the stands after a very questionable call by a subpar referee in a game the Juve should have won.  Now the call – I think was not a penalty in the 93rd minute of a game of this magnitude.  But you can definitely argue it was.  But to kick out Buffon, seriously Buffon one of the greatest goalkeepers of this generation before the penalty kick of the last Champions League game of his life? I don’t care what Gigi said to him?  Nothing he could have done short of choking this horrible ref should have been a sending off.  Not in a game of this magnitude in this situation at that moment.  NOTHING Gigi said was worth a sending off – I don’t care what he said in the heat of the battle.  Give him a yellow then if he doesn’t shut up red him.  But straight red to Gigi, who always wears his emotions on his sleeve at that point ?  I question the sanctity of Champions League, the ref, heck the entire sport of soccer at this point !! Tragedy.  An absolute travesty!!   Of course now on to the Final 4 – the Semi-Finals as Liverpool get Roma and Real Madrid get Bayern Munich.  (More on that next Week)

Our Indy 11 return home for a 12 noon kickoff this Saturday live from Lucas Oil stadium vs Nashville. (Check out the Preview from Blood Shambles)   Get your discount Tickets here (code -2018indy) and be sure to park in the BYB Parking lot 10 – (see below).


So MLS was this close to making history as Toronto advanced to the Finals of CONCACAF Champions League by beating Chivas and the New York Redbulls needed just 1 goal at home to it off in a game they dominated Chivas with 20 shots on goal – but couldn’t find the back of the net and fell short allowing the Mexican side to advance.  Toronto however held serve at Azteca and defeated top Mexican side Club America 4-1 on Aggregate.  Huge games this weekend on Saturday as Chicago and Bastian Swenstiger host LA Galaxy and IBRA on Fox 59 at 3 pm. Sunday the top 2 teams in the Eastern Conference face off at 6 pm on Fox Sport 1 Atlanta United hosting NYCFC.


A handful of big games on TV this weekend as the EPL features Man City vs Tottenham on Sat at 2:45 pm on NBCSN, right after Liverpool host Bournemouth at 12:30 on NBC and Bayern Munich hosts Borrussia M’gladbach also at 12:30 on FS2. Sunday features Newcastle United and US defender Deandre Yedlin host Arsenal on NBCSN at 8:30 am, followed by the All American fare in Germany as the #2 and #3 ranked teams Schalke with US mid McKinney and Dortmund with US Superstar Christian Pulisic battle for 2nd in the Bundesliga at 9:30 am on Fox Sports 1.   German cup and Spanish Cup games continue Tues and Wed on ESPN3 and beIN Sport at 2:45. (see full schedule at https://www.theoleballcoach.com.

Good luck to those teams playing in the Indy Burn Cup and Traveling around this weekend as well as the host of league games and Rec soccer getting underway – assuming we don’t get rained out.


Carmel FC Goalies don’t forget Wednesday night – goalie training at Shelbourne with new GK coach Kristian Nicht!  5:30 to 6:30 U11-U12 6:40 to 7:40 U13 – U19 

Finally as both Recreation and Travel Soccer Games are starting in full scale this weekend – I thought it good timing to include some links reminding us all as coaches, parents, and players what really matters in sports.

Great Link for Parents about Coaches and Refs – Frank Martin USC Basketball Coach

Game Day Nutrition for Youth Soccer Players 

6 Simple Values Learned Thru Playing Sports – from Indiana Soccer Director of Education – Steve Franklin

Six Simple Values Learned through Playing Sports
by Steve Franklin, Indiana Soccer Director of Education

Youth soccer players often start playing sports because their parents have an interest in it. They may see their mother or father watching a game on television and become inspired, or their mother or father may decide that they will benefit from this type of activity. If the youngster has fun while playing, it can lead to a lifetime of enjoying athletics. Regardless of the starting point, there are many values that can be learned by participating in sports.

Food For Thought: Effort and Attitude
Players often worry about the things they cannot control: the referee, the opponents, playing time, starting lineup, or the weather – all things they have exactly zero control over. Two things they have total control over are the effort they give and the attitude they bring to training or the match.Every coach loves the players who give an honest effort in everything they do – be it on the field, in the classroom, or maybe even in the chores around the house. Coaches also appreciate the players with a great attitude. They are fun to coach and develop. Teammates enjoy playing with them. Referees respect them.  Think about that the next time your touch is off or you are not selected for the starting lineup.

Work Ethic
First time youth soccer players, just like those who have been involved in the game for years, can learn the value of work ethic by playing sports. It’s not just getting out on the field and playing the game. You have to go to practice several times per week to learn the skills needed to play the game well. Those players who work hard get better at their technique and skills, and the results show as a season progresses. For example, a youth player who takes the opportunity to train on their foot skills on their own in the yard will often see improved skills and confidence in the second half of the season than he or she did early in the year. A player who does not work as hard may not see the same kind of progress.

You also have to learn to work and play with others to get the most out of the experience, even if you are not always given credit on paper. The player who passes the ball to a teammate who scores gets an assist on the play. However, another teammate who works hard defensively in order to win possession of the ball back won’t get any statistical recognition. The teammate who scored the goal or was able to beat a defender off the dribble in order to serve the ball in to the goal scorer knows why she was able to create such a chance. The coach also appreciates the player who did the hard work in transition to win the ball in order for the attack to go forward.

At a certain point in the season, players likely see their team progressing and also see improvement in their own play. They realize the progress is the result of hard work. Players have every reason to take pride in their achievements and feel some self-respect for the way they have improved. They also realize that the team on the opposite side of the field is practicing and playing just as hard and deserving respect, as well. Showing respect for your opponent leads to displays of sportsmanship. That’s a sign of maturity and development.

It should be noted that supporters in youth soccer should also show that same respect, giving applause or cheers for players on either side when warranted.

Overcoming Adversity
When a player continuously gets stopped when attempting a skill move while dribbling to beat a defender in a game, it can often be easy for that player to feel sorry for himself and want to quit. However, in competitive sports, nearly all players have negative outcomes from time to time. The growth comes from the player who has the bad day, accepts it, and keeps playing and attempting to get better. When you overcome adversity, you learn that life isn’t always easy and it’s best to stay with difficult tasks and conquer them rather than take the easy way out.  While soccer is meant to be a fun experience for all involved (and it usually is!) the real power of the game is in the values learned while participating.


MLS gets 1 Team thru to CCL Finals Matt Doyle –MLS.com

Toronto Advances to CCL Final vs Chivas

Toronto puts on clinic @ Club America in Azteca

Toronto FC Not Done Says Coach Vanney – We want the Title

Red Bulls Were better team in CCL lose to Chivas – Kristian Dyer – Mls.com

Zlatan Ibra

Zlatan Renaldo’s Goal was better than mine

Chicago vs LA Galaxy Preview

Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy –clash of Titans

Power Rankings NYCFC, Atlanta United


Final 4 is Set – who is Favored Now – Mark Odgen ESPNFC

Gigi – Refs should not Destroy Dreams with such horrible Decisions

Renaldo’s Joy – Buffons Woes – defines Wild night in Madrid – Mark Ogden ESPNFC

Buffon Deserved Better than this Ridiculous Sending off – yahoo.com

Allegri Defends Buffon

Buffon’s Legacy not Tarnished by Meltdown at Madrid – ESPNFC Hames Horncastle

Pirlo – Buffon Right to Lose Control vs Real Madrid

Wildest Ending in Champions League History – USA today

Lose Sure – but not like this – Says Italian Newspapers

You have to Hear this Call of Roma beating Barcelona from Roma Radio guy

Roma rewarded for dreaming big as Di Francesco masterminds Barca downfall- Gab Marcotti ESPNFC

Barcas Players and Coach have no Answers for Collapse – Graham Hunter ESPNFC

American Owner James Pallotta of Roma gets Fined for jumping in Rome  Fountain

The Best Ever Comebacks in Leg 2 in Champ League History – I think Roma over Barca takes # 1 now ESPNFC

Klopp says we/Liverpool can’t compare to Barca, Real or Bayern

Liverpool Exceeds Expectations – ESPNFc Steven Kelly

Salah and Firmino make Liverpool History at Man City

Pep’s Champion League Woes

Why did Man City Season Evaporate – ESPNFC Simon Curtis

Bayern Win Ugly over Sevilla –ESPNFC

Indy 11


Discount Tickets here (code -2018indy)

Indy 11 Preview vs Nashville

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for This Saturday’s Game!   (Code 2018Indy)

Indy 11 Preview – Bloody Shambles – James  Cormack

3 Take Aways from the Win vs NC

Indy’s Pasher is in USL 11 Player of the Week

Justin Braun and Brad Rusin share Recovery Stories

2 Indy 11 games to Air on ESPN News are part of USL ESPN Game of the Week

June 26 – Nashville SC vs. Indy Eleven (ESPNews)
July 4 – Indy Eleven vs. Ottawa Fury FC (ESPNews)

Indy 11 US Open Cup Dates Announced

GET READY TO TAILGATE WITH THE BYB – Brick Yard Battalion Indy 11 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. You Won’t want to watch the game in any other section after standing, screaming, singing, dancing, and partying with the BEST SUPPORTERS SECTION in the US – the BYB.


David De Gea show why Man United can’t let him go to Real Madrid – ESPNFC

What to Watch 4 – Man City vs Tottenham and more in EPL

EPL Predictions


Pulisic Goal a Stunner vs Stuggart

CONMEBOL endorses North American Bid for WC


KC GK Tim Melia is Week 6 Winner and MLS Player of the Week



Fri, Apr 13 

8 pm ESPN                       Philly Union vs Orlando City

Sat, Apr 14

7:30 am NBCSN            Southampton vs Chelsea

9:30 am FS2                    Leverkusen vvs Frankfurt

10 am NBCSN?              Burnley vs Leicester City

10:15 am beIN Sport Barcelona vs Valencia

12 noon                 Indy 11 vs Nashville SC (@ the Luke) discount Tickets here (code -2018indy)

12:30 pm NBCSN      Liverpool vs Bournemouth

12:30 pm FS2                Bayern Munich vs Borussia M’Gladbach (Johnson)

2:45 pm NBCSN   Tottenham vs Manchester City

3 pm Fox 59          Chicago Fire vs LA Galaxy (Zlatan in Chicago)

3 pm ESPN3                    Colorado Rapids vs Toronto FC

3:30 pm Lifetime       Utah Royals vs Chicago Red Stars (Women’s NWSL)

7:30 ESPN3+youtube Louisville City vs Richmond Kickers (USL)

Sun, Apr 15                   

8:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle (Yedlin) vs Arsenal

9 am beIN Sport          Milan vs Napoli

9:30 am FS1                    Schalke (McKinney) vs Dortmund (Pulisic) battle for 2nd   

11 am  NBCSN               Man United vs West Brom

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Malaga vs Real Madrid

4 pm ESPN                       Sporting KC vs Seattle Sounders

6 pm FS 1                         Atlanta United vs NYCFC  

Tues, Apr 17 –

2:45 pm NBCSN           Brighton vs Tottenham

2:45 pm ESPN3+DespLeverkusen vs Bayern Munich – (German Cup)

Weds, Apr 18

2:45 pm NBCSN           Bournemouth vs Manchester United

2:45 pm ESPN3+DespSchalke (Mkkensie) vs Frankfurt  (German Cup)

3:30 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Athletic Club

Sat, Apr 21

9:30 am FS2                    Frankfurt vs Hertha

9:30 am FS1                    Hannover vs Bayern Munich

10 am NBCSN                Watford vs Crystal Palace

12:15 pm Fox 59        Man United vs Tottenham (FA Cup Semis)

12:30 pm Fox Sport 1Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Leverkusen

3:30 pm ESPN News Barcelona vs Sevilla (Final Copa del Rey)

7 pm ESPN3+Utube Cincinatti FC vs Pittsburg Riverhounds (USL)

10:30 pm ESPN3?       Atlanta United vs LA Galaxy

Sun, Apr 22                   

8:30 am NBCSN            Arsenal vs West Ham

9 am beIN Sport          Milan vs Napoli

11:30 am  NBCSN       Man City vs Swansea

12 noon FS1                   koln vs Schalke (McKinney)

4 pm ESPN                    Seattle Sounders vs Minnesota United

6 pm FS 1                      Portland Timbers vs NYCFC  

Real Madrid, Liverpool backed for Champions League final, Arsenal to lose to Atletico

7:39 AM ETMark OgdenSenior Football Writer  Champions League

Bayern Munich vs. Real Madrid

This is a true heavyweight clash, with Bayern and Real having previously met 24 times in this competition and both boasting 11 victories against each other. This will be their seventh meeting in the semifinals alone.Real claimed a controversial quarterfinal victory over Bayern last season when Arturo Vidal was sent off for the Germans in a game that saw two of Cristiano Ronaldo’s three goals allowed to stand despite being offside.Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes, sacked by Real after guiding them to the 1998 Champions League title, goes into this game with the German club announcing that Eintracht Frankfurt coach Niko Kovac will replace him when he retires for a second time at the end of this season.While Bayern have clinched yet another Bundesliga title this term, the club have not enjoyed a campaign without turbulence, with coach Carlo Ancelotti sacked midseason and replaced by Heynckes.Real, meanwhile, sit fourth in La Liga, 15 points behind runaway leaders Barcelona, with their ongoing progression in the Champions League crucial in keeping coach Zinedine Zidane in a job.Wednesday’s 3-1 quarterfinal second-leg defeat at home to Juventus exposed the frailties in Real’s team and their over-reliance on Ronaldo and centre-half Sergio Ramos, whose absence through suspension against Juve left Real hugely vulnerable at the back.This is a tie between two giants, but both teams are arguably on the wane after long periods of success.Who has the edge? With the second leg at the Bernabeu, and with Ronaldo in their side, Real are the slight favourites as they bid to win the Champions League for the third year in a row.

Winners: Real Madrid

Liverpool vs. Roma

This is a repeat of the 1984 European Cup final, when Liverpool defeated Roma on penalties in a game played at the Stadio Olimpico.Roma’s remarkable comeback against Barcelona, when Eusebio di Francesco’s team overturned a 4-1 first-leg deficit to win 3-0 in the Italian capital, ensures they will go into this semifinal as a feared opponent for five-time European champions Liverpool.But despite Roma’s triumph over Barca, and Liverpool’s emphatic 5-1 aggregate quarterfinal win against Manchester City, this is the tie that both clubs would have wanted.Liverpool’s firepower, led by former Roma forward Mohamed Salah, proved too destructive for City, but Roma also have their attacking qualities, with Edin Dzeko a key figure in their win against Barcelona.It promises to be a finely balanced tie, with Roma’s midfield of Kevin Strootman, Daniele De Rossi and Radja Nainggolan the equal of Liverpool’s engine room.And in goal, Roma’s Brazil No.1 Alisson — a keeper being pursued by Liverpool and Real Madrid — gives the Giallorossi the edge over the Premier League outfit.Liverpool have fond memories of Rome, having won two of their five European Cups at the Stadio Olimpico, and they will expect to overcome the Italians to make it to the final in Kiev on May 26.Jurgen Klopp’s team are the favourites, but it will be much closer than many expect, and this tie could go all the way to penalties.Winners: Liverpool

Europa League

Arsenal vs. Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid were the team that each of the other semifinalists were desperate to avoid, but Arsenal, having had the misfortune of being paired with Diego Simeone’s men, are perhaps the only surviving club capable of beating the Spanish outfit.Atletico, beaten finalists in the Champions League in 2014 and 2016, will still be strong favourites to win this semifinal, however.Arsene Wenger’s team will have to nullify the threat of Diego Costa, who scored three goals in six games against the Gunners during his time at Chelsea, and also find a way to keep Antoine Griezmann, Atleti’s 25-goal top scorer, quiet.

And even if Arsenal manage that, they then have to get past goalkeeper Jan Oblak, one of the world’s best, to score the goals to take them into the final.But the biggest challenge likely to face Arsenal is being able to match the work rate and tenacity of Atletico’s high-pressing game.Wenger must devise a plan to ensure his attacking players, such as Mesut Ozil and Alexandre Lacazette, offer as much threat for Arsenal as Costa and Griezmann will provide for Atletico.Whether Arsenal can keep it tight enough at the back is another matter, with the 2-2 quarterfinal second-leg draw against CSKA Moscow once again exposing their defensive frailties.But this competition arguably means more to Arsenal than Atletico because it offers a route back into the Champions League. And winning it may also be the only way to save Wenger’s job.Despite all of that, Arsenal face a mountain to climb if they are to make it to the final.Winners: Atletico Madrid

Marseille vs. Salzburg

French giants Marseille go into this tie with the edge in terms of European pedigree, having reached two Champions League finals and two UEFA Cup/Europa League Finals, since the start of the 1990s.And with Lyon set to stage this season’s Europa League final, there will be an added incentive for Rudi Garcia’s team to overcome the Austrian Bundesliga leaders.But Red Bull-owned Salzburg — known as FC Salzburg in UEFA competition due to sponsorship regulations — proved their quality with a stunning 4-1 quarterfinal second-leg win at home to Lazio, which secured a 6-5 aggregate victory.Marco Rose’s team sit eight points clear of Sturm Graz in their domestic league and are on course for a fifth successive title, while Marseille are locked in a battle with Lyon for the third and final Champions League qualification berth in Ligue 1.Marseille have never lost at home to an Austrian club, winning one and drawing two of their three encounters with Austrian opposition at Stade Velodrome, but Salzburg are unbeaten in their last three games against French opposition.Munas Dabbur and Valon Berisha are the Salzburg danger men, with both scoring five goals so far during their run to the semifinals.But former West Ham playmaker Dimitri Payet is the man most likely to make a difference for Marseille, with the France international scoring three and creating four goals for Garcia’s team in the Europa League.The winners of this tie are likely to go into the final as underdogs against Arsenal or Atletico, but Marseille can use the raucous atmosphere at home in the first leg to build a platform to take them to Lyon.Winners: Marseille

Andrea Pirlo: Juventus’ Gianluigi Buffon right to ‘lose control’ vs. Real Madrid

4:10 AM ETBen Gladwell

Andrea Pirlo has defended Gianluigi Buffon for losing his temper after a penalty was awarded in the final seconds of Juventus’ Champions League quarterfinal second leg at Real Madrid on Wednesday, telling La Gazzetta dello Sport he would have reacted in the same way.Referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot with seconds left of a game Juve were leading 3-0 — a result that would have cancelled out the same outcome in the first leg and taken the game to extra time — after judging that Medhi Benatia had fouled Lucas Vazquez inside the penalty area.An animated Buffon led Juve’s protests, and he was consequently shown a red card by Oliver in what could prove to be the 40-year-old’s final appearance in the competition. Pirlo the former AC Milan and Juventus midfielder, said that Buffon’s behaviour cannot be condoned, but at the same time, he feels he would have reacted in the very same way.”He was angry and at a time like that, anything can come out of your mouth,” Pirlo said. “He would have thought that it was his last chance to win the Champions League. If, out of nowhere, they give a penalty against you, you lose control.”He may have gone too far, but you’ve got to understand him. It happens that you react like that when you are robbed in such a way. Of course [I would have done the same]. Something like that makes you go out of your mind. Winning is too nice that when you get deprived of it in such a way.”Pirlo believes Oliver ultimately made the wrong decision, although he admitted it was a call that could have gone either way.

“It’s a classic case of interpretation — you can give it, or you can wave play on,” Pirlo said. “With just 10 seconds left on the clock, if you are wise, you don’t give it and you let the two teams battle it out for victory in extra time.”I’m very sorry for Gigi and for the lads. For that to happen 10 seconds from the end of such a beautiful game is incredibleNevertheless, Pirlo said Juve really only have themselves to blame for throwing away the first leg, but that the tie also showed that Italian clubs should shed their fear of Spanish opponents.”We’re very good at making others out to be much better than what they are,” Pirlo said. “But Juve and Roma have shown that they can be tactically superior to Real [Madrid] and Barcelona. They both deserve huge applause, and now Roma must believe that they can go on and win it.”I was at the Olimpico on Tuesday and I got emotional. I felt like a Giallorossifan. Italian football mustnow lift itself up and build a great future. Bit by bit, a great job can be done.”Oliver Kahn, meanwhile, told Bild that Buffon has already missed the ideal time to retire.”It’s a fundamental question whether you find the best time to retire from football,” the former Germany keeper said.”He could have spared himself a lot: The missed World Cup qualification with Italy or the events in Madrid, for instance. But he’s driven by setting new records and the dream of winning Champions League.”Kahn retired from football in 2008, shortly before turning 39. Two years before, he ended his international career after losing his place in Germany’s goal to Jens Lehmann ahead of the World Cup.”If you don’t find the right point to leave the game, it can hurt massively,” Kahn said. “Philipp Lahm, for instance, found the ideal time, and I realised after the 2006 World Cup that this was it. And I could have played two, three more years at club level in 2008, but why?”Regardless, Kahn believes that the sending off at the Bernabeu will not tarnish Buffon’s career.”His career will not be measured by this red card or that he never won Champions League,” Kahn said. “He won the World Cup, was named best keeper in the world. Those things matter.”ESPN FC’s Germany correspondent Stephan Uersfeld contributed to this report.

Armchair Analyst: Toronto FC go through while RBNY stumble in CCL semis

April 11, 201812:40AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

It is probably in keeping with the stop-start nature of progress as a whole, as well as the stop-start nature of progress for this league of ours, that a Tuesday night capable of producing such fun and fruition could, at the same time, create so much frustration.Toronto FC went through to the Concacaf Champions League final, dispatching Club América by 4-2 (drawing 1-1 at the Azteca on the night), while the New York Red Bulls went home and stayed there, dominating Chivas Guadalajara but failing to score and thus losing 1-0 on aggregate.MLS is a league capable of producing weird results, but this is true: TFC are the best team in MLS history, and so it’s appropriate that they’ve dispatched the best team in recent Liga MX history (Tigres) and the best team in all of Liga MX history (Las Aguilas) on their way to what appears to be a date with destiny.But as weird as MLS is, the CCL is weirder, because here’s a fact: Chivas are pretty obviously the worst Liga MX team we’ve ever seen in the knockout round of this tournament. And somehow they’ve rope-a-doped their way all the way to the final.On the night in Harrison Chivas were outshot 20-1 by an RBNY team as relentless as they were profligate. One shot is a record low for any team in CCL history – the previous record was three, held by seven different teams, most of them semi-pro. Nobody’s parked the bus as thoroughly as the Goats.Chivas cleared the ball 52 teams. Just hopeless, helpless, aimless clearances. That’s the second-most in CCL history, behind only minnows Police United of Belize against Pachuca a few years back, and it speaks to how pinned into their own area they were. New York utterly, completely dominated:The fact that they didn’t advance… it’s cruel, but that’s the game. And the truth is that 1) RBNY have only themselves to blame, and 2) I’m sure they know it.Obviously the question is “why and how does this keep happening to RBNY in the biggest moments?” I thought in this one it was a case of Jesse Marsch getting his personnel wrong. To me he overthought things, as his postgame presser kind of highlighted.”Yeah, I feel like the way that we started the game was really good, and the tactics and to rotate [Bradley Wright-Phillips] underneath so that he wasn’t just being marked by a center back but could find more space, and to have the guys in front of them to really be aggressive to be on the run and play behind and put them on their heels,” is how Marsch explained his decision to go with what looked like a 5-2-3 but with Wright-Phillips as a sort of hybrid playmaker/striker.There’s obviously logic there, but also a flaw: Going with that formation and that personnel left Kaku Gamarra on the bench. And while Kaku hasn’t been a wizard since his arrival, he’s nonetheless been pretty good and has a dose of final third creativity that RBNY clearly missed over the past 180 minutes.The other flaw is that… well, I don’t mind BWP being marked by center backs! He’s scored 100 goals for the Red Bulls while being marked by center backs, and clearly knows how to shake them in the box if the build-up play around him is right (which, for most of the year until this series, it had been). Get him in the box and let them try to mark him, and if he fails, so be it. Ride your best horse.That was the strategy of Toronto, who took their shot in Leg 1’s stunning 3-1 win over América at BMO Field, then came out with the exact same XI a week later at the Azteca. Their gameplan was mostly the same: They sat in what I wouldn’t quite call a low block, attacked mostly with just three, and were patient about picking their chances to go forward.

Oh, and they got a monumental performance from Alex Bono:

Bono was there eight times to bail the Reds out once Club América had pushed them deep into their own 18 to defend – which they often did. Sometimes a hot goalkeeper is all the difference in the world, and sometimes when you’re missing four starters (Jozy Altidore limped off injured after six minutes, joining Victor VazquezJustin Morrow and Chris Mavinga) you’re going to have to lean on that guy.And so they did, and so it worked, and so I’ll say it again: TFC are the best team in MLS history. In my eyes, and in the eyes of most long-time observers of the league, they’ve already cemented themselves as such.Now all they have to do is prove it one last time.A few notes:

  • As per Paul Carr, TFC are the first MLS team to eliminate two separate Liga MX teams in a single CCL
  • MLS teams are 5-3-2, +3 GD (14 goals scored and 11 conceded) against Liga MX teams this spring
  • The Red Bulls, in six CCL games, conceded only three goals

Toronto FC put on clinic vs. America to advance to Champions League final

1:24 AM ETTom MarshallESPN FC

MEXICO CITY — Three takes as Toronto FC and Club America drew 1-1 in Estadio Azteca to reach the CONCACAF Champions League final 4-2 on aggregate.

  1. Toronto deserves the final

Whatever happens in the CONCACAF Champions League final between Toronto FC and Chivas, nobody will be able to look back and say that the Canadian champions didn’t deserve to make it this far. This has been an authoritative advertisement for both Toronto and Major League Soccer.After slaying reigning Liga MX champion Tigres in the quarterfinal, Toronto got past Club America with relative ease over the 180 minutes, deservedly winning the first leg 3-1 at BMO Field and then drawing the second.If there is one defining feature from the Toronto side during its CCL run, it is the way the team refuses to be rattled. There is a calm authority and steel about it — not much seems to bother Greg Vanney’s squad.The acid test of that theory came in the Estadio Azteca on Tuesday. With rain pelting down, fans backing America and Miguel Herrera’s side attacking from the start, this was Toronto’s biggest challenge in this season’s CCL.When key striker Jozy Altidore was taken off in the seventh minute, perhaps other teams would start to wilt, perhaps doubts would creep in.

But Toronto scored five minutes later. Sebastian Giovinco flicked the ball through to Altidore’s replacement, Tosaint Ricketts, who steered it to Jonathan Osorio — who is gaining quite the reputation this tournament — for a tap-in.The early Club America storm had been weathered and Toronto had struck. Clinical.Las Aguilas pushed but lacked a conductor for its orchestra, a player to speed up and slow down play when required. Playing two strikers like Oribe Peralta and Henry Martin made it easier for Toronto’s back three. Club America lacked a player who could move between the lines to unsettle Toronto.In essence, America lacked a Giovinco, although Coach Herrera can’t be blamed for injuries to his two most creative players, Cecilio Dominguez and Jeremy Menez.America’s attacking was haphazard and sporadic, but Paul Aguilar forced a fine save from Alex Bono on a diving header in the 28th minute. Peralta went close one minute later and after the break piled on the pressure.Las Aguilas should’ve had a penalty early in the second half, but there was never a sense that the game was theirs for the taking — and it didn’t have to do with extreme luck or an amazing performance from the goalkeeper. Club America’s late penalty goal through Mateus Uribe turned out to be a mere consolation.

Make no mistake about it, this Toronto side showed Liga MX’s best that it is the real deal.

  1. Vanney outshines Herrera

The Toronto FC coach is inevitably in the conversation for the U.S. men’s national team job and this performance in the Estadio Azteca — the spiritual home of Mexican football and El Tri — won’t do any harm at all.Nor will the fact that passage to the final came at the expense of two former Mexico managers — Ricardo Ferretti and Herrera — who are considered among the best in Liga MX.Herrera’s outbursts after the first leg in Toronto and in the days leading up to game painted him in a bad light. His chances of returning to the Mexico national job any time soon couldn’t have been helped.Vanney had the aces up his sleeve on the field, as well. Granted, having a player like Giovinco makes planning easier, but Toronto withstood America’s first line in the press and picked holes in midfield and up front. At least, that’s what happened in first leg and in the early stages in the Azteca. The second half Tuesday was more a case of holding on.The preparation of Toronto FC also turned heads, with the squad arriving in Mexico five days ahead of the game to acclimate to the altitude. They even took some time in the preseason to play in Mexico, though it wasn’t much of a factor, as Toronto was 4-1 up on aggregate for most of the second leg.Herrera’s performance and behavior shouldn’t be surprising. He has done it before and he’ll do it again. But it was jarring in comparison to Vanney, who looked very competent at this level in a difficult atmosphere.

  1. Toronto can’t take Chivas for granted

When the quarterfinals were set, Chivas were the least likely Mexican team to make the final and Toronto faced the daunting task of getting past both Tigres and America. Now they’ll face off in the final.Chivas might have struggled to get over the line against New York Red Bulls, but wen the Guadalajara team and its fans smell a trophy, the momentum and support rapidly crescendos. And the fact Chivas haven’t won a CONCACAF trophy since 1962 increases the importance.On the other side, Toronto famously has space in its trophy cabinet ready for when the club lifts the CCL title.The Vanney against Matias Almeyda clash on the bench promises to be fascinating, and a Liga MX vs. MLS final is exactly what this tournament needed.

Atlanta United keeps the heat on NYCFC in Power Rankings

Apr 9, 2018Jason Davis    A look at how the teams in Major League Soccer stack up after Week 6 of the season:

  1. New York City FC (no change)
    Patrick Vieira’s side sat idle on the weekend ahead of a midweek match against Real Salt Lake.
  2. Atlanta United (no change)
    Saved by VAR in the early going from playing down a man, United turned on the firepower and laid waste to LAFC in a 5-0 romp. Three of the goals came in the final 10 minutes of the match, but it was nonetheless an impressive performance from Atlanta.
  3. New York Red Bulls (+2)
    The Red Bulls didn’t play ahead of their Champions League semifinal showdown with Chivas Guadalajara this week.
  4. Sporting Kansas City (+4)
    A move up for Kansas City, which handled the Galaxy on the road in Carson. After a brief chaotic period when Zlatan Ibrahimovic entered the game, SKC regained control of the game and bagged three important road points in the Western Conference. Yohan Croizet has been underwhelming as a DP, but Johnny Russell looks like a real player.
  5. Columbus Crew SC (-2)
    After starting strong, the Crew are now in the midst of a two-game losing streak. The performance on the road in Chicago was marked mostly by missed chances and simple mistakes — odd failures for a Gregg Berhalter-led team. Zack Steffen’s terrible giveaway showed the young keeper is still maturing.
  6. Vancouver Whitecaps (no change)
    After last week’s big road win in Columbus, the Whitecaps fell to Real Salt Lake in Utah. Defensive lapses proved to be the difference for the visitors, who were the better team overall. Brek Shea’s third goal of the season puts him just one shy of his total for 2017.
  7. Toronto FC (no change)
    It’s all about the Champions League prep for TFC, with no league match this weekend.
  8. New England Revolution (+3)
    The Revs rolled the momentum from last week’s win in Houston into a home romp over the Impact on Friday night. Aided by a red card to Saphir Taider, New England got goals from unlikely sources like defender Andrew Farrell, who scored for the first time in his MLS career, to continue its unbeaten run.
  9. LAFC (-5)
    Bob Bradley’s team went from looking extremely well-prepared and well above traditional expansion level to conceding five straight goals without an answer over the past 135 minutes. Saturday’s showing in Atlanta lacked any sort of attacking punch, a troubling sign.
  10. Houston Dynamo (-1)
    No game for the Dynamo this week, but the Revolution’s jump up the standings pushes Wilmer Cabrera’s side down.
  11. LA Galaxy (-1)
    No magic from Ibrahimovic this time around, as the Galaxy crashed back to earth in a 2-0 loss to Kansas City at home. Whatever the Swede’s impact, LA is still a team that lacks a cohesive structure that might give it a chance in games when there are no 40-yard volleys to be had.
  12. Orlando City (+7)
    The Lions scored a second consecutive victory in a wild 3-2 comeback against Portland on Sunday. Orlando got the benefit of a questionable penalty and the vagaries of VAR, with a penalty review going against them and another penalty call not getting a review despite some doubt about the call.


Italian legend Buffon deserved a better Champions League ending than this

Joey Gulino,FC Yahoo 18 hours ago

Gianluigi Buffon was sent off for protesting a controversial penalty call late in Juventus’ loss to Real Madrid. (Getty)

So this is it? This is how Gianluigi Buffon’s Champions League career ends? This is how one of the greatest goalkeepers of all time, if not the greatest, says goodbye to Europe?With a red card following two eminently questionable transgressions? One of his own making and one beyond it?To start, Buffon didn’t even commit the penalty (term used loosely) that led to Real Madrid’s last-gasp 4-3 aggregate escape from Juventus on Wednesday in the quarterfinals. That was Medhi Benatia, and his contact with Real Madrid’s Lucas Vázquez was so minimal a fly would hardly feel it.

Yes, Benatia extended his arms and put them on Vázquez’s back. (Frankly, that’s the most generous reading of the situation.) He also wrapped his left leg around Vázquez, but he barely impeded the attacker while making a clear attempt to play the ball.In any case, the referee blew his whistle in one of the biggest possible spots and signaled a penalty, which sent Buffon into infuriated remonstrating. After the referee produced the red card, it sent Buffon into more. In general, that’s not OK; soccer has long struggled with players swarming referees and crossing the line when it comes to complaining about calls.

Still, barring physical contact, it’s tolerated. And not just in the Champions League, but also in the Premier League, where the referee in question, Michael Oliver, not only plies his trade but is regarded a top-of-the-line official.You be the judge. Of all of it:So it begs the question: Why was Oliver so quick to show red to Buffon on Wednesday? Could it have been something Buffon said? That’s a nebulous area where the referee typically deserves the benefit of the doubt.

Yet it still seems odd that he barreled past all the caution signposts and pulled a straight red of his pocket. Certainly he’s heard worse language in the Premier League? And regardless of how one feels about the protestations, Oliver’s decision brought a screeching halt to what had been an inspiring performance on the day by Juventus.

It’s not that the Italian giants had outclassed Real Madrid at the Bernabeu on balance, it’s that they had given the kind of spirited, aggressive performance that usually yields positive results and, at the very least, a couple breaks. Mario Mandzukic’s first-half double and Blaise Matuidi’s 60th-minute goal looked to have Juve on the way to extra time, and who knows what happens from there?

Juventus manager Max Allegri consoles Gianluigi Buffon after his sending off. (Getty)

Well, we know what happened now. Cristiano Ronaldo slammed home the penalty kick to push two-time defending champion Real Madrid into the Champions League semifinals, and sent Juventus back to Turin wondering how it all unspooled so quickly.

It also sent Buffon into more post-match tirades. “A human being cannot destroy dreams like that,” he said according to one reporter. “You do not really know s—,” he saidaccording to another.

In all likelihood, this means Buffon will retire without a Champions League title. It’s the one glaring hole in his all-time great resume. Buffon has won the World Cup, Serie A, the Coppa Italia and so many individual awards he’d need a mansion’s worth of trophy cases just to house them.

But he’s 40 years old and has considered retirement in recent years, not to mention he’s already hung up his international boots and has a keeper-in-waiting at Juve in Wojciech Szczesny.

It just goes to show, winning the Champions League is usually as much about fortune as it is form, at least when it comes to the very best clubs in the world. Juventus has been one of those for a long time.

Fortune wasn’t on the Old Lady’s side on Wednesday. It wasn’t on the old man’s, either.

Joey Gulino is the editor of FC Yahoo and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

Allegri defends Buffon’s ‘human reaction’ to Champions League heartbreak

Goal.com 11 hours ago "That was a human reaction and I think he should have been understood." Massimiliano Allegri responded to Gianluigi Buffon's red card.

Massimiliano Allegri defended Gianluigi Buffon’s reaction after the Juventus captain and goalkeeper was sent off for protesting Real Madrid’s stoppage-time penalty in the Champions League.Juventus were eliminated 4-3 on aggregate in the quarter-finals, despite Wednesday’s 3-1 victory over Madrid, who benefited from a dramatic last-gasp penalty at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Buffon and Juve were poised to force extra time after remarkably erasing Madrid’s 3-0 first-leg lead, until Cristiano Ronaldo broke their hearts with a spot-kick at the death.

Two-time reigning champions Madrid were awarded a penalty after Lucas Vazquez was fouled by defender Medhi Benatia, sparking a furious protest from Buffon, who was shown a red card having confronted referee Michael Oliver.

“There was too much confusion, and this is what happened,” Allegri said. “Gigi had that reaction but it’s understandable.

“I don’t know if this will be Gigi’s last Champions League game but there were three seconds left and we were close to a historical result, something he saw slip from his fingers.

“That was a human reaction and I think he should have been understood. In that moment there was a lot of confusion and the referee took out the red card. I never talk about single episodes.

“The penalty… the referee saw that and gave the penalty. There’s nothing left to say. There’s a lot of regret on our part, the team played very well tonight and in Turin for 60 minutes they also played well.

“The result condemned the performance of the team but that’s not what it was. That’s why I was very confident on tonight’s performance.”

“There’s no VAR so we lost,” Allegri added. “There’s not much to say. This is UEFA’s problem. I always said that VAR is a very important tool on objective and important decisions. But there’s no VAR and we have to deal with that.”

Allegri was seen in conversation with Sergio Ramos, having walked over to Madrid’s bench to speak to the suspended captain following the awarding of the penalty.

“Ramos said the penalty was ‘claro’ [clear] and I told him: ‘Not so ‘claro’, let’s say grey’. I also told him that in the first leg at minutes 92 there was a penalty on [Juan] Cuadrado,” Allegri said.

“I only told him that. But it’s normal, there has to be some anger and regret because at that point Buffon was also sent off. Also, Benatia should have been sent off because he already had one yellow card. So let’s just say there was general confusion overall.”

Gianluigi Buffon’s legacy not tarnished by Madrid meltdown, his response was understandable

9:14 AM ET

Gianluigi Buffon anticipated it might be like this. Musing about the end of his career while on international duty last March, he smiled and said: “Maybe I’ll go out like [Zinedine] Zidane, giving someone a headbutt.”Zizou’s presence on the sidelines at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night rendered those words strangely prescient. What a curious twist of fate. Buffon witnessed Zidane plant his head into Marco Materazzi’s chest from Italy’s goal in the 2006 World Cup final. Flash forward 12 ars and the roles have been reversed. Buffon’s moment of madness came in what was billed as his last appearance on the Champions League stage.ADVERTISEMENTBuffon likes to say you need sana follia (craziness of the good, healthy kind) in order to achieve great things. To some though, his push on referee Michael Oliver and the extraordinary comments that followed were just crazy. It brought back memories of Buffon’s youth when he had a reputation as an Ultra in gloves and didn’t always count to 10 before saying or doing something.Those days seemed behind him. Over the years, the Juventus and Italy captain has become statesmanlike. He almost always finds the right words and has an acute sense of responsibility; he doesn’t go looking for scapegoats. Buffon invariably looks at himself or his team first. Within that context Wednesday’s comments seemed out of character.

Alessandro Del Piero, Buffon’s predecessor as Juventus captain, said: “When Gigi spoke about the referee… honestlyI found it hard to understand.” And he went on to express the opinion that his former teammate would think differently about his comments in the cold light of the coming days.Regardless of what you make of the controversy, Buffon’s emotional response was understandable.There were two stages of incredulity. The first was that Juventus found themselves on the brink of one of the greatest comebacks ever in this competition — tied at 3-3 after losing the first leg 3-0. The second is that 10 seconds from extra-time it should all go up in smoke. Buffon’s career in the Champions League looked dead a week ago; then it came back to life. It might have extended to another two or three games had Juve progressed after extra-time and with both Spanish sides out — Juventus’ nemeses in 2015 and 2017 — they maybe would have ended their (and Buffon’s) long wait for this trophy.How well they played against Madrid, the fact it came in their tormentors’ own backyard left them with the conviction that this team isn’t finished. Giorgio Chiellini seems more persuaded than ever that Juventus’ time will come. Which is why it wouldn’t come as a surprise if Buffon were to come back next year.Backup goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny has said he wouldn’t have a problem with it and you can imagine the same debate vis-a-vis Buffon and his international retirement re-emerging in relation to his club career over the next six weeks: the sense he deserves better than to go out like that.It sounds indulgent, but it’s not. One of the remarkable things about his re-call for the last round of international friendlies was that Buffon, at 40, was still Italy’s best player in their defeat to Argentina. He had a good game in Madrid too.Chiellini thought he was in such a state of grace that had Oliver decided not to send him off, he would probably have saved Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty. Up until that point it had been the perfect night. A flawless performance.The noise Buffon’s comments have made have, in some respects, allowed the focus to shift away from that display. While everyone at Juventus was singing from the same hymn sheet — just in more diplomatic terms — you suspect that’s the thing he’ll probably be most disappointed about after his opinion of Oliver’s refereeing.Juventus’ president Andrea Agnelli had already done a very good job in defending not just his club but also Serie A’s other representatives in Europe, raising his concern that UEFA’s referee designator Pierluigi Collina is purposely assigning the least experienced referees to games involving Italian teams so as to maintain the appearance of impartiality.Agnelli pointed to the penalties Roma didn’t get at Camp Nou, Danny Welbeck’s dive against Milan in the Europa League, and the fact Juan Cuadrado wasn’t awarded a spot kick in the first leg for an almost identical foul to the one Lucas Vazquez suffered. His status as head of the European Club Association (ECA) means he is in a better position to influence matters than Buffon.Not that Buffon should have kept his counsel. Too often we criticise players for not speaking their minds. It would be hypocritical to have a go at Buffon for doing just that even if he could and should have been more measured.What happened at the Bernabeu does not tarnish his legacy. For all the comparisons with Zidane it was a push, not a headbutt, a Champions League quarterfinal, not a World Cup final and far from his last big game.Juventus have a top of the table clash with Napoli to come, the Derby d’Italia, a Coppa Italia final against Milan and a trip to the capital to face Roma in the next six weeks. What anger he still feels needs to be channelled into doing the Double and edging Napoli in the only real title race in Europe’s top five leagues.

Roma rewarded for dreaming big as Di Francesco masterminds Barca downfall

3:50 AM ETGabriele Marcotti

And to think that some Roma fans wanted them to tank…On Monday, the talk in some quarters — particularly among the local radio stations that provide the soundtrack to any taxi ride in the Eternal City — was that Roma boss Eusebio Di Francesco should play the long game.The club were obviously not going to come back from a 4-1 deficit against Barcelona in their Champions League second leg, so why not conserve their energy for Sunday’s Serie A derby against Lazio?It made sense, didn’t it? Beating Lazio — tied for third with Roma and one point ahead of Inter — would mean taking a big step towards a top four finish. And that, in turn, would secure another year in the Champions League, which means a minimum of $60 million in the coffers (and maybe much more.) Surely, for a club still under Financial Fair Play (FFP) restrictions, this made more sense than chasing some kind of “Field of Dreams,” three goals in the hole?In a very rational universe that argument makes sense. The combination of Europa League football and FFP restrictions would likely mean another summer of asset-flogging to make ends meet. And Roma fans would have to say farewell to a Radja Nainggolan or an Allisson, just as they bade adieu to Mohamed Salah, Antonio Rudiger and Miralem Pjanic the past two summers.Thankfully, Di Francesco doesn’t live in this “very rational” universe. He inhabits one where hope springs eternal, where you can dream big, where you owe it to the fans to fight until the very end. A universe where you stop and ask yourself: “What is the point, other than cash, of qualifying for the Champions League if we’re not going to have a go when we’re there?”Not that he didn’t agonise over the right approach against Barcelona. The decision to ditch his preferred 4-3-3 with the wingers wide for a near unprecedented back three with the lanky Patrik Schick playing off the Colossus (AKA Edin Dzeko) came to him at 5 O’clock in the morning on Sunday, the day after Roma’s home defeat to Fiorentina.”I couldn’t sleep, plus I’m a bit insane, so I got out of bed and drew up possible schemes for the Barcelona game, different looks that would put them under pressure in different ways,” he said. “And this came to me. Had it not worked, you would have killed me.”It didn’t just work, it road-graded: apart from an early Sergi Roberto chance, all Barca could muster were a couple Lionel Messi free kicks and Ousmane Dembele’s mad lob at the end. Make no mistake about it, this was a gamble in all respects — beginning with the decision to press high to disrupt Barcelona’s build-up. It’s not something that, on paper, Roma ought to be good at. Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov are both 32, while Daniele De Rossi is 34. None of the three are what you’d call dynamic at this stage of their career. Nainggolan is a livelier of course, but he was coming off an injury.Keeping a high line against Barca meant pitting the back three against Messi and Luis Suarez. And, bear in mind, the back three included Federico Fazio, who at 6-foot-5 isn’t who you want in the open field against Messi (or, really, anyone) and Juan Jesus, the Stadio Olimpico’s favourite whipping boy for the past two seasons.The margin for error was wafer-thin, but Roma had the concentration and the nous to stay within it. As Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde pointed out, his side were rattled and forced into hitting longer passes. But when you do that, you need to win the second balls. And Barca scarcely had a sniff of those all night.Valverde said after the game that he was to blame as he was responsible for the personnel and the formation. And truth be told, insisting on the same formation as the first leg (whose 4-1 scoreline was largely due to individual blunders, own goals and penalties not given) seemed foolish. Shoe-horning Nelson Semedo into the lineup by moving Sergi Roberto to the wing backfired badly; so too did leaving out Dembele, the only Barcelona attacker with a bit of pace.The fact that Valverde waited until the 75th minute, when Roma were 2-0 up, to make a change (other than shifting Andres Iniesta centrally) suggests that he either didn’t realise his team were producing close to nothing or that he simply froze, like a deer in the headlights of Mac Truck.But there’s enough blame to go around here, starting with the front two. Suarez’s most impactful contribution may well have been the two minutes of time he ate up feigning injury after Juan Jesus’ hand grazed his face. And after setting up the Sergi Roberto chance early, Messi faded into oblivion.And that’s not good news for a team that is as Messi-dependent in the final third as Barcelona have been in many years. Again, the warning signs were there. They were humdrum against Roma at Camp Nou and, but for Messi’s heroics and some craven individual mistakes, might have gone out against Chelsea in the previousround as well.Some of us even pointed it out at the time: Valverde needs to find a way of scoring that is not Messi-related.It wasn’t hard to predict Roma getting something out of this game. After all, they had yet to concede a single Champions League goal at home and they bested the likes of Atletico Madrid, Shaktar Donetsk and Chelsea to get here.But to become only the third team in the Champions League era to overturn a three-goal first-leg deficit is something few could have imagined.Luckily for Roma one of those few was an insomniac Di Francesco, pulling an all-nighter of crazed alchemy to concoct a formula that would make history in the Eternal City. And luckily — not just for Roma fans but for any neutral who enjoys an underdog comeback — he didn’t listen to those who urged him to be sensible, rational and patient in just trying to live to fight another day.This was a night for daring. Daring to do and daring to dream. And he did.

Liverpool have exceeded expectations, carrying England banner in Europe

7:59 AM ETSteven Kelly

Liverpool go marching on in Europe after a determined, fully deserved 5-1 aggregate win over Manchester City.With a 3-0 lead the tie was won at Anfield, really, and despite a very tense first half at the Etihad — where City demonstrated why they are running away with the Premier League — the first-leg victory proved too big to overcome.Many mocked the idea of a passionate Anfield having any sway over the result, but it has happened so often over the years that it seemed churlish to pretend it does not play a part.Pep Guardiola remembered his manners to congratulate Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool, but not before listing several decisions that did not go his team’s way, implying that the best team didn’t go through.That’s a game that anybody can play. Going over each and every incident after the fact with a fine-toothed comb is very easy. City’s deadly start to the second leg was assisted by a clear push on Virgil van Dijk by Raheem Sterling, a player who’d petulantly kicked out at Jordan Henderson at Anfield and received no punishment for it.If the eventual aggregate had been marginal, City could have good cause for grievance. But since it wasn’t, there can be little doubt which team eventually deserved to go through.Before the season began, Liverpool supporters argued about what they could expect from their team.Once Manchester City began to race into an unassailable lead in the Premier League, all thought of being title-winners — if there actually were any fans who believed in that — would have been adjusted.A top-four spot and a reasonable Champions League campaign were therefore the renewed ambitions and Klopp has almost certainly achieved both, the upcoming semifinal a delightful bonus.That he has managed to do all this with a negative net spend in the transfer market simply defies belief.Some supporters make too much of the current financial imbalance between Liverpool and a few of the teams they’re trying to catch, but a swift comparison between the substitute benches at the Etihad were a reminder of what Klopp is up against.He can be proud of the fact that the big-money players he was allowed to buy have worked out well; none more so than Mohamed Salah, who might have sealed all the various Footballer of the Year awards after his two vital goals in the European tie.What happens this summer will define where Liverpool go next. It’s a long shot, but they may even be European champions by then, with the extra allure that can bring for outstanding footballers looking to make the next step up.As good as City have been, this is a Liverpool team that’s beaten them three times and clearly has laid the foundations to make the final move toward greatness.Of course, there are flaws. Dejan Lovren was excellent against City in both games but has never shown the true consistency that someone like van Dijk has displayed in just a few months at the club.Central midfield will be augmented by Leipzig’s Naby Keita soon enough, but perhaps even more is needed.Liverpool’s front three have been amazing, but if one should miss out, there’s a big drop in quality. That won’t be so easy to resolve, since truly gifted players might be fearful of long spells as a substitute.There can be too much attention paid to what isn’t there and not enough to what Klopp has achieved. His teams have averaged two goals a game since he arrived and this Champions League campaign alone has garnered 39 of them.Somebody like Salah was expected to be a decent addition but exceeded everyone’s wildest dreams, while Roberto Firmino has been transformed into one of the game’s most influential strikers.Klopp himself has always been casually dismissive of the transfer window’s importance, but there’s little doubt that Liverpool stand on the edge of something big and he needs to be backed completely this summer, whatever the cost.There will be stumbles along the way and most will be mindful that the last two Liverpool managers who built great teams — Rafa Benitez and Brendan Rodgers — were unceremoniously dumped within a year, when all that promise quickly evaporated.Klopp may well have to deal eventually with the cruel vagaries of modern football management, but many will hope there will be a degree of patience shown to the affable German in the future.He has restored Liverpool’s reputation in Europe with one final and perhaps even two. Once the club lost its domestic superiority, their role as England’s most successful representatives abroad has been clung to like a life raft.In the afterglow of great celebrations following a tremendous win, it’s vital to keep looking to the future and not to allow yet another good team to break up and wither away without reinforcements.


When The Going Gets Tough – Indy Eleven V Nashville SC PREVIEW (4/14/2018)By: James Cormack  Bloody Shambles 

Indy Eleven will take to the field at noon on Saturday for their second home game of the season. With two wins on the road and a defeat in their home opener to FC Cincinnati, Indy will be looking to give the home support something to celebrate in Lucas Oil Stadium when the final whistle comes around.
There a lot of big question marks surrounding the availability of players for Indy’s back line, and I am sure while Nashville and former Atlanta Silverbacks coach Gary Smith won’t be taking anything for granted, the Nashville supporters may feel this is a good opportunity to take three points on their first visit to Indianapolis.The one thing we know for certain is that Karl Ouimette will not play, after a red card last week in North Carolina, Karl was served with a three-match suspension which was subsequently reduced to one match. This adds to Martin Rennie’s already depleted crop of defenders. Reiner Ferreira was injured in the match against FC Cincinnati and Carlyle Mitchell was removed from play late in the match against North Carolina FC.If none of these center backs are available that leaves Indy Eleven with only one available, Brad Rusin. As a result of the Ferreira injury, Brad Ring has been filling in at right back so that Karl Ouimette could slide in to partner Mitchell. The question now is what options can Rennie look at to provide a starting four (or three) at the back that can be comfortable together and will we need to form up in such a way to limit the chances of the opposition running at our defense?

All pure speculation and at the end of the day, I don’t think any of these scenarios are going to happen. I am also not the coach so don’t listen to me anyway.
Having watched the previous game against North Carolina twice now I have a feeling that Carlyle Mitchell will line up in the back alongside Brad Rusin. Mitchell did take a reasonably severe knock to his knee in the first half last week, but he’s a big lad. Considering the weather was deteriorating and the temperature dropping during the game it is highly possible he developed cramp while slightly favoring one leg for about fifty minutes.Carlyle is in training and I think come kick-off time we will see him in the starting lineup. Even if I am wrong, and Martin Rennie has to come up with a completely new back line, I don’t think any perceived weaknesses our defensive injuries or suspension may cause will be a major factor in the game.Besides that, Nashville still has to get past Owain Fôn Williams. So there.

Where is Kevin Venegas…
A quality player we still have not seen yet, he appears to be in full training and as we saw last week with Ayoze coming straight into a starting lineup, we may also see Venegas for the first time this weekend. Considering that Ouimette is out and Ferreira is not ready to return we need defenders on the bench. The former Loon may even start and displace Brad Ring, but he at least should make the game roster.
A starting back four of Venegas, Rusin, Mitchell, and Ayoze is pretty formidable for any team, and if Ring continues at right back there’ll be no complaints from me.

The Form…

Nashville is a new team to everyone and the USL is a new league for us, very difficult to try and formulate an opinion of the outcome of this game with very little knowledge of the opposition or previous matches.
Nashville has played four games this year so far. They began their season away to Louisville and lost 2-0 before drawing 0-0 in their home opener against Pittsburgh. They come into the game against Indy on the back of two wins against Bethlehem Steel (1-0 A) and Charlotte Independence (2-0 H).

Louisville is a tough place to start but Indy Eleven is probably going to be Nashville’s toughest opponent since that game. With no disrespect to Charlotte, they got off to a bright start against lesser opposition and I would not be expecting them to set the league on fire this year.Likewise Indy have lost their only game against what could be considered a playoff contender, FC Cincinnati. Away wins at Richmond and last week against North Carolina who are now 0-3 in games gives very little indication of how Indy will fare against those teams expected to be in the postseason.Indy Eleven has been as I expected, very difficult to play against and are conceding few goals. Two clean sheets in three games and only one goal conceded in their single defeat. FC Cincinnati was a real test for Indy and they were unlucky not to leave the field with a point. Indy does not have a scoring issue, we are only three games in and we have any number of players in our bag of tricks that can and will find the back of the net.It’s probably best described as a finely balanced matchup that is hard to predict. I don’t see Indy Eleven’s selection worries as being a major factor in this game, I have previewed matches in the past where our opposition has been in a similar predicament or worse and we’ve failed to win those games.Prediction – Probably not a good idea for me to jinx things but I actually think Indy Eleven can win at home for the first time this year, but not by any great margin, 1-0 or 2-1.

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

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By Trey Higdon, 04/11/18, 3:00PM EDTShare

“Boys in Blue” Justin Braun and Brad Rusin share their recovery stories from season ending injuries

It took a big toll on me mentally,” said Indy Eleven forward Justin Braun. “I spent a lot of hours doing therapy making sure I’d come back as strong as possible. I didn’t want this injury to end my career.”

Injuries are an inconvenience. Being bound to a bed or a wheelchair, or having to hobble around in a boot or crutches can often make the simplest task a taxing affair. But for professional athletes, such as Braun or “New in Blue” Brad Rusin, injuries of this magnitude can be far more than inconvenient – they can be career ending. And for both Braun and Rusin, this was almost a reality.On August 26, 2017, Braun came on as a substitute in the 58th minute during Indy’s2-3 defeat to former NASL rivals Jacksonville Armada. Though his interjection into the match showed an immediate impact assisting with Indy’s opening goal, the forward was playing on borrowed time from an existing ankle injury.In the 75th minute, Braun’s time ran out.While rounding a sharp turn around an Armada player, Braun distinctly remembers a popping and grinding sensation in his ankle before collapsing in sheer agony. This was the sound of his Deltoid ligaments tearing in his left ankle.“As soon as the injury occurred I knew it was bad,” Braun recalls. “I heard a popping and cracking sound and assumed it was ligaments tearing and my ankle breaking. I didn’t want to look down at my ankle because I figured it wasn’t going to be a good sight. I figured my season was over and that’s why I was so emotional when it occurred.”

It wasn’t a pretty sight. Fans looked on for several minutes before the then-leading goal scorer was inevitably stretched off the field and rushed to the hospital with an air cast cradling his leg. It was there that medical staff narrowed treatment down to a single option: surgery. The severity of the injury left Braun’s ankle with no structural support on the medial (inside) side and cartilage so badly damaged that it wouldn’t heal on its own without micro-fracture surgery. Surgery was the only option, however, it wasn’t a guaranteed fix. Braun didn’t hesitate and opted to go under the knife.Some injuries don’t happen immediately, but can develop overtime if pre-existing symptoms are aggravated; such was the case for Brad Rusin. The Crown Point, Indiana native joined former NASL 2017 Spring and Fall Season Champions Miami FC early on in 2016. Rusin was looking to expand his NASL career having spent short spells with Tampa Bay Rowdies (NASL at the time) and now-dissolved San Antonio Scorpions in the previous season. Unfortunately, injury woes struck before he could start for his new club.During the 2016 preseason Rusin tore his medial and lateral meniscus, suffered multiple floating bone fragments and chondromalacia (inflammation of cartilage) underneath one of his kneecaps. Pain didn’t seem to be an issue for the experienced defender, but the constant swelling quickly became an issue. Underneath the skin, a combination of bone and cartilage grinding, as well as fluid buildup, left Rusin’s knee nearly immobile as training sessions and games came and went. The former Orlando City SC defender did whatever he could to avoid the impossible task of surgery; repeated drainage, shutting himself in to focus on stretching, icing, compression, massage, and more. Despite exhaustive efforts, surgery to tend to his damaged knee became Rusin’s sole option after making just seven regular season appearances.Surgery is just one half of the battle. Though both players were on the mend after their procedures, the rigorous rehabilitation, along with the physical and mental challenges associated with the long process, awaited them.While some players traveled around and explored new avenues in their offseason, Braun continued to put months of work into his recovery. Days spent stretching, running, lifting light weights, balancing, and more occupied the Salt Lake City native’s offseason schedule. But with the NASL and Indy Eleven’s future unclear after the 2017 season closed, the mental and emotional taxation began to take its toll.“This was definitely the longest and hardest offseason I’ve had since I’ve been playing,” Braun claimed. “I spent a lot of hours doing therapy, making sure I would come back as strong as possible. I tried my best not to think about the uncertainty of the league and my team. My main focus was getting back to full strength so I would be ready for preseason.”Rusin’s physical experience didn’t differ much during his time in Miami. Countless hours were spent working on mobility with weights, swimming, running, and several of the same treatments Braun endured. Trainers gleamed an optimistic light early on with claims that Rusin could possibly see playing time before the end of the 2016 season. That excitement faded as Rusin continued to experience pain while performing day-to-day tasks. But Rusin didn’t waver.“Mentally, the hardest part was being in the present and accomplishing the tasks at hand,” Rusin said. “Taking small steps every day and knowing that these steps will get me to where I needed to be. For me, the most important aspect of returning from an injury is keeping a positive attitude. Again, enjoying the process.”Fast forward to today. After not hours or days, but months of persistence and a positive attitude, Braun returned to playing the “Beautiful Game”. On April 7, 2018, Braun made his first appearance in Indy’s starting XI against North Carolina FC, where he collected his first assist during his 65 minutes on the pitch. It’s a good sign, but Braun is still taking his recovery day by day.“Getting my first start last week was a big accomplishment for me,” Braun said. “I worked really hard to get back to the point where I’m capable of starting a game. I can’t say exactly when I’ll feel like I’m back 100 percent, but I’m doing everything I can each week to get there as fast as possible.”Though his moment was short lived, Rusin also made his come back to the game in his first Indy Eleven appearance as an 89th minute substitute in the same North Carolina FC match. A huge milestone by all definitions of the word after having not seen any regular season play in over a year. An emotional, but exciting return to the sport Rusin has played since his youth.“There were ups and downs, but I never quit. I had the right people around me to push me and motivate me when I needed it most. I couldn’t have done it without those closest to me and those who put in their own time to make sure I was back.”  Both of these players could’ve thrown in the towel and walked away from their careers during this process. The fact that they didn’t is a testament to the commitment that both Braun and Rusin have to their club and the sport they’ve devoted their lives to. Dedication, that is sure to be demonstrated as each player begins applying their continued hard work during their minutes on the pitch this season.“I’ve always believed in hard work,” said Rusin. “I’ve always believed in myself. Those two together create opportunities. It’s not by luck. 2018 is a new year and I’m ready.”

Rivalries, Newcomers Highlight the 2018 ESPN Game of the Week Schedule

By USLSoccer.com Staff, 04/10/18, 4:29PM EDTShare


TAMPA, Fla. – The United Soccer League (USL) and ESPN announced today the full schedule for the USL Game of the Week. Six games will air on national television during the summer, with an additional 14 games to stream digitally on ESPN3. The announcement follows the groundbreaking partnership between the two organizations that brings the thrill and excitement of the USL to the innovative ESPN+ platform alongside other major soccer properties like the UEFA Nations League, the English Football League and Major League Soccer.Nineteen teams from across the league will feature on national broadcasts, including two former league champions, 10 2017 USL Cup Playoff teams, and four of the league’s newest arrivals for the 2018 season.“The excitement of our league is built around heated regional rivalries fueled by the sport’s most passionate fans. We are thrilled to bring that excitement to the national spotlight this season, including some great primetime matchups that offer a glimpse at potential USL Cup Playoffs matchups later this season,” said USL President Jake Edwards. “The increase in USL matches available to a national audience this year is part of our partnership with ESPN, which includes launching our new home on the innovative ESPN+ platform, a move that will raise the prominence of the USL and its clubs to a higher level alongside great domestic and international competitions. This expanded partnership is a testament to the significant investments into the sport by the league and its clubs, and our collective commitment to delivering the best experience to our fans either at the stadium or at home.”


ESPNews will serve as the home for five of the USL’s six linear broadcasts in 2018, with a clash between newcomers Nashville SC and Indy Eleven at First Tennessee Park on Tuesday, June 26 set to lead off the run of six consecutive games broadcast over the air during the summer months. Other games to feature in that span include a visit to Nippert Stadium when FC Cincinnati hosts the Charlotte Independence on Wednesday, July 18, and a meeting between San Antonio FC and Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC at Toyota Field on Wednesday, July 25.Indy Eleven will also feature on the Fourth of July as it plays host to Ottawa Fury FC at Lucas Oil Stadium, while the run of six games will conclude with a trip to Al Lang Stadium as the Tampa Bay Rowdies play host to the Charleston Battery on Wednesday, August 8.The USL Game of the Week package will kick off on ESPN3 later this month as Sacramento Republic FC welcomes Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC to Papa Murphy’s Park on Wednesday, April 18. Three weeks later fans will head slightly south to see newcomer Fresno FC as it takes on Rio Grande Valley FC at Chukchansi Park on Wednesday, May 9, while later in the season we’ll pay a first visit to Real Monarchs SLC’s new home at Zions Bank Stadium when the defending USL Regular Season champions host Saint Louis FC. The season wraps up on Wednesday, October 10 when Las Vegas Lights FC plays host to Phoenix Rising FC in the final week of the 2018 regular season.


In addition to the USL Game of the Week on ESPN3, ESPNews and ESPNU, the league’s regular-season contests will be available in the United States through ESPN+ after its launch on April 12, where the league will reside alongside Major League Soccer, the English Football League and UEFA Nations League on the new direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company Direct-to-Consumer and International group in partnership with ESPN.Games will be produced by USL Productions, the league’s state-of-the-art broadcast production, broadcast and distribution facilities with VISTA Worldlink in south Florida. Now in its second season, USL Productions produces and distributes more than 500 league matches and more than 1,000 hours of original content to national partners and local affiliates. The USL Match Center will also up-to-the-minute match statistics provided by industry leader Opta.


June 26 – Nashville SC vs. Indy Eleven, ESPNews

2018 USL Games on National Television

Six games this summer are slated for ESPNews and ESPNU, with some of the league’s top players and clubs set to square off as the race for the 2018 USL Cup Playoffs heats up.

April 18 – Sacramento Republic FC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (ESPN3)
April 27 – Las Vegas Lights FC vs. San Antonio FC (ESPN3)
May 2 – Indy Eleven vs. FC Cincinnati (ESPN3)
May 9 – Fresno FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC (ESPN3)
May 30 – Saint Louis FC vs. Phoenix Rising FC (ESPN3)
June 13 – FC Cincinnati vs. Bethlehem Steel FC (ESPN3)
June 26 – Nashville SC vs. Indy Eleven (ESPNews)
July 4 – Indy Eleven vs. Ottawa Fury FC (ESPNews)
July 11 – OKC Energy FC vs. Las Vegas Lights FC (ESPNews)
July 18 – FC Cincinnati vs. Charlotte Independence (ESPNews)
July 25 – San Antonio FC vs. Colorado Springs Switchbacks FC (ESPNU)
August 8 – Tampa Bay Rowdies vs. Charleston Battery (ESPNews)
August 15 – Saint Louis FC vs. Sacramento Republic FC (ESPN3)
August 22 – Phoenix Rising FC vs. San Antonio FC (ESPN3)
August 29 – Rio Grande Valley FC vs. San Antonio FC (ESPN3)
September 5 – Phoenix Rising FC vs. Rio Grande Valley FC (ESPN3)
September 12 – Real Monarchs SLC vs. Saint Louis FC (ESPN3)
September 18 – Nashville SC vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies (ESPN3)
September 26 – Richmond Kickers vs. FC Cincinnati (ESPN3)
October 10 – Las Vegas Lights FC vs. Phoenix Rising FC (ESPN3)

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 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 $15 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!



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