6/28/18 World Cup Sweet 16 – TV Game Schedule, Indy 11 win 3rd in a row 3 Game Home Stand Starts Sat 7 pm, Summer Soccer Camps

Wow both Renaldo and Messi are out in the first games of the knock-out stages – fantastic and exciting games to watch with plenty of goals !!   I imagine the Seattle vs Portland MLS game – the oldest rivalry in US soccer would have been good too.  But the IDIOTS at FOX 59 here in Indy don’t give a SHIT about soccer – so they elected to show some bullshit Raw Travel BS Show instead????  SERIOUSLY so the Rest of the US gets to watch the game on Fox and Indy gets crapped on again ???    Well I am done promoting FOX 59 — no more Fox 59 References until our local terdheads at Fox 59 decide they give a crap about soccer.  If you would like to complain join me in leaving nasty messages at 317-632-5900.  I am working on finding a more direct line so our voices will be heard — otherwise they won’t show any of the MLS world cup lead in games scheduled over the next 2 weeks.

Very disappointing FOX 59 !!!!!!

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So the Group Stages have Wrapped up and wow we have some interesting results. First GERMANY – the Defending Champions are going home at the earliest stage in 80 years – their 2 goals in 3 games their lowest total ever, their exit makes them the 4th reigning champion in 5 World Cups to go home during the group stages joining France (2002), Italy (2010), and Spain (2014).  Of course Mexico will look to break the streak and get to Game #5 by winning a knock-out stage game for the first time since 1994 vs Brazil on Monday at 10 am on Fox after they backed into the Sweet 16 thanks to South Korea blanking Germany 2-0.  The strangest might have been Japan going thru over Senagal based on Fair play — which was only introduced as a tiebreaker at this year’s World Cup — was then used to split the pair, with Japan’s four yellow cards beating Senegal’s six. Japan, therefore, reached the round of 16 along with Colombia, with England or Belgium lying in wait.   So it came down to sportsmanship -Seriously???  That needs to be revisited to overall corner kicks or something?  Oh and England sitting their starters when they needed to win to be on the easier side of the group and the #1 team was just stupid !!  Colombia takes them out!!  Otherwise – VAR – Video Review is still getting either Lauded or trashed – for me I think its great.  Yes they have missed 1 or 2 but overall they have been getting the calls right and fairly quickly.  (hey NFL. NBA you watching??)  Man this Saturday are you kidding me!

10 am Fox         France vs Argentina  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Uruguay vs Portugal  (WC Sweet 16)  

US Failure to make it to the World Cup was made even worse with the pathetic showings of Panama and Costa Rica as they each flamed out with 3 losses. (Interesting column in the OBC) I still stick by my statement that the Best for US Soccer is to come.  We need to get the head coach right – but I truly believe this New Hope Group of under 20 US Players is going to get us to the Semi-Finals in the World Cup here in 2026.  The first good step has been taken with hiring of new GM and former national team player Earnie Stewart – next the hiring of one of the stronger American MLS coaches I think will come sometime in late August maybe.  I feel like good times are coming US fans – for now enjoy the no pressure watching of a World Cup without the US – we won’t see that again for a long time!  Either way enjoy those World Cup Commercials – here are my favorites so far – Gieco the Slide, Pirlo McDonalds,  and all of the Volkswagon ones.  Also loved James Corden’s England Team recruits American Fans.   Full World Cup Bracket Here

INDY 11

Our Indy 11 – silenced the Nashville Crowd on the road for a huge 2-0 win at previously unbeaten at home Nashville Tuesday night moving them to 4th place overall with 24 points on 7 wins/3 ties/4 losses.  Our Indy 11 coming off a 3 game winning streak return home this weekend for a Sat night match-up with Penn FC (Pride Night) at 7 pm and July 4th at 7 pm vs Ottawa at Lucas Oil.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available

Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.  July 4th will be military night with ½ priced tickets for military personnel and of course Indy’s Downtown Spectacular Fireworks Show after the game.  The Sat Night game on July 7th will be Indiana Youth Soccer Night, as all teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field.  Reach out to Youth Club Coordinator Shawn Burcham at shawn@indyeleven.com.  I plan to be there for the next 2 Saturday nights – hoping for an open roof.  (I will try to post some pics next week)

Local

Congrats to the 2 Indiana Teams (Indy Premier U16 Girls and St Francis U19 Boys) advancing to the Finals of the US Youth Soccer National President’s Cup July 11-15 at Grand Park.

After the ultra successful first camp in early June – Carmel FC has added another camp headed up by Director Juergen Sommer at Shelbourne from July 23rd thru 26th . Also some Carmel FC teams are still looking for players like the U17 (02) Boys team -email shanebestsoccer@gmail.com if interested.

MLS

Here’s the MLS rankings as we continue the powerhouse World Cup Lead-ins to MLS Games on Fox over the next few weekends. This Saturday we get one of the best venues and rivalries in US soccer as Seattle hosts Portland at 4:30 pm on Fox 59.  Sunday as we get a showdown of the defending Champs Toronto FC vs one of the top teams in the East the New York Red Bulls at 4:30 pm after the World Cup game on Fox 59.  Will be interesting to see if Rooney plays in the new home opener next weekend after finalizing the deal with DC United.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Beats Nashville on Road for 3rd Straight Win

Indy 11 Beats Nashville 2-0 – Blood Shambles Review – Rebecca Townsend

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

USL League Standings

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

militaryindy11

Indy 11 MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

Join us in honoring our military during Military Appreciation Night on July 4th.  Come to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Ottawa Fury and stay for the fireworks downtown.  In honor of our military, we will offering tickets at a 50% discount.  Use the promo-code “military18” and save today

WORLD CUP

My Favorite World Cup Commercilal

World Cup Geico Commercial – the Slide

VAR is Working – Gab Marcotti

Germany Disastrous World Cup Bottom of Group – fewest goals and 80 year low for Germany

We panicked and Went Wild in Search of Winning Goal – Germany’s Hummels

Messi Goal Sets off Celebration for Argentina

Maradona Requires Medical Assistance after Emotional Night and dropping the Middle Finger to Everyone

Argentina Call of Game Winner

Gary Lineker brands Diego Maradona a ‘laughing stock’ after middle finger celebration

READ MORE: Lionel Messi scores 100th goal of World Cup 2018

READ MORE: Argentina saved by Rojo as they set up France clash

Marcotti: Are you not entertained? The World Cup has delivered
OgdenThe Good, Bad and Ugly of the groups
BarnwellWho has the toughest bracket?
ESPN FC TV: Who will surprise in the round of 16?
LaurensHow France relax behind the scenes

Ochoa big Saves Keeps Mexico loss respectable – ESPNFC – Player Ratings

France looks Good Enough to Win this Thing – SI Brian Straus

Africa with Worse Showing Ever at World Cup?

VAR Controversy with Renaldo – World Cup shows system needs Tweeking – Sam Borden ESPNFC

What Do Players Get when They Win the World Cup

 US 

Roger Bennett Discusses American Fiasco

Ameriicans at Home – Even Worse Failures than WC Flameouts Panama and Costa Rica – Stars and Stripes

Arena Says Pulisic is in a Great Place at Dortmund

Why would Tom Ricketts buy AC Milan? Men in Blazers’ Roger Bennett weighs in »

Landon Donovan Clarifies his Vamos Mexico World Cup Ads after criticism

US Ladies Hit Their Stride – USA Today

Hope Solo calls US Soccer a Rich White Kid Sport – Fox

US to Play England, Brazil, Mexico and Italy in Friendlies this Fall

MLS

MLS Power Rankings

Rooney to Sign with DC United this Weekend?

Rooney Signs with DC United !

Seattle vs Portland Preview

Zlattan in ESPN Body Issue

Zlatan the Fortune Teller – James Corden

FC Cincy Lays out Plans for Training Facility

Goalies

Oldest World Cup Player Ever Saves PK for Egypt

Best Saves Round 1 World Cup

Best Saves Round 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

SUMMER CAMPS

CDC Carmel FC Camp – Shelborne Field July 23rd – 26th

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

Sat, June 30         

10 am Fox 59        France vs Argentina  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox 59          Uruguay vs Portugal  (WC Sweet 16)  

3:30 pm Lifetime       Orlando Pride vs North Carolina Courage (Women’s Soccer League)

4:30 pm FOX 59           Seattle Sounders vs Portland Timbers

7 pm ESPN+, TV23   Indy 11 vs Penn  

8 pm Yes                           Chicago vs NY City FC

8 pm ESPN+                    LAFC vs Philly Union

10 pm Univ                     SJ Earthquakes vs LA Galaxy

10 pm g090                    Seattle Reign vs Portland Thorns

10 pm Fox Sport 1     World Cup Tonight

Sun, July 1        

10 am Fox         Spain vs Russia  (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Croatia vs Denmark (WC Sweet 16)  

4:30 pm FOX            Toronto FC vs NY Red Bulls  

10 pm Fox Sport 1     World Cup Tonight

Mon, July 2       

10 am Fox         Brazil vs Mexico (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Belgium vs Japan (WC Sweet 16)  

Tues, July 3       

10 am Fox         Sweden vs Swiss (WC Sweet 16)  

2 pm Fox           Colombia vs England (WC Sweet 16)  

Weds, July 4       

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Ottawa Fury

Fri, July 6         

10 am FS1                        World Cup Quarter Final W49 vs W50

2 pm  FS1                         World Cup Quarter Final W53 vs W54

Sat, July 7         

10 am                                 World Cup Quarter Final W55 vs W56

2 pm                                    World Cup Quarter Final W51 vs W52

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Charlotte

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

7 pm FS1               NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls –(Hudsen River Darby)

Tues, July 10       

2 pm Fox           World Cup Semi’s  

Weds, July 11       

2 pm Fox           World Cup Semi’s  

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox         World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

8 pm ESPN+           Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Houston Dynamo

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox        World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                  Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                       LAFC vs Portland

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

Indy 11 MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

Join us in honoring our military during Military Appreciation Night on July 4th.  Come to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Ottawa Fury and stay for the fireworks downtown.  In honor of our military, we will offering tickets at a 50% discount.  Use the promo-code “military18” and save today

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 !  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.

“Boys in Blue” aim to claim fourth consecutive win against visiting Penn FC

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview  -Saturday, June 30, 2018 – 7 P.M. EST -Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana  

WEEK 16: PART TWO

Indy Eleven entertain Penn FC at home in their second fixture of Week 16 play. The “Boys in Blue” aim to capture their fourth victory in a row as they attempt to defeat the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania based team.Indy Eleven (7W-4L-3D) defeated Nashville SC, 2-0, in their first of two Week 16 fixtures. The “Boys in Blue” also handed Nashville their first home loss of the season. In the 16th minute, defender Karl Ouimette headed home defender Ayoze’s corner kick into the middle. Indy Eleven forward Justin Braun beat Nashville goalkeeper Matt Pickens in the 35th minute with an angled shot that skid underneath the veteran goaltender. Braun’s goal last Saturday was his third in a two-match span after being sidelined by injury late in the 2017 season. Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams recorded his seventh clean sheet, which tied him for first in the USL for most clean sheets. The “Boys in Blue” now sit in fourth place with 24 points.Penn FC (5W-4L-6D) defeated Tampa Bay Rowdies, 2-1, in Week 15. Penn FC forward Lucky Mkosana netted a brace with two goals in the 49th and 67th minute. Tampa Bay scored first in the 34th minute, but Mkosana’s two goals from nearly the same spot on the pitch secured the three points for Penn. Penn have won three of their last five games, scoring 11 goals in the span and allowing 10. Forward Lucky Mkosana and defender Kenneth Tribbett lead the team in goals with four each. Goalkeeper Romuald Peiser leads the team between the sticks. He’s kept three clean sheets in 11 appearances. Penn now sits at 9th in the Eastern Conference just three points behind Indy Eleven.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW JUSTIN BRAUN

Indy Eleven forward Justin Braun has found his place in the back of the net in his last two outings since he returned this year after sustaining a season-ending  injury in late 2017. When Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie built his squad at the beginning of the season, Braun was a key inclusion as the club’s first USL era signing. Joining him were the likes of forwards Eugene Starikov, Soony Saad, and Jack McInerney. All of whom were high quality off-season signings that would force Braun to earn his time on the pitch.Braun has made the most of his recent appearance in the starting XI. The absence of forwards McInerney, Starikov and Saad through various instances meant it was Braun’s turn to step up. In his last two games, he’s scored three pivotal goals that helped the “Boys in Blue” to three points each time, with his goal in the last game against Nashville coming against one of the toughest goalkeepers and defense in the league. It will be up to Braun to continue his form if “Indiana’s Team” is to make it four victories in a row against Penn FC.

PENN FC PLAYER TO WATCH: FW LUCKY MKOSANA

Indy forward Justin Braun isn’t the only forward entering the game on Saturday night in form. Penn FC forward Lucky Mkosana is coming off a double against Tampa Bay Rowdies in Week 15. The Zimbabwean scored a come-from-behind brace that leveled the game in the 49th minute, and handed Penn FC its fifth win of the season in the 67th minute.Mkosana is currently tied with defender Kenneth Tribbett for most goals scored on the team with four each. He’s contributed four of the team’s 17 goals scored so far during the 2018 USL campaign. Mkosana will need to find a way to get through Indy Eleven defenders Carlyle Mitchell and Karl Ouimette inside Indy’s 18-yard box, where he has scored all of his goals, if he plans to beat goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams.

“THE BEST DEFENSE IS A GOOD OFFENSE”

Indy Eleven and Penn FC will face off in Week 16 of USL play with offenses that have been finding the back of the net regularly. In the last five games, each team has scored a total of 11 goals, averaging just over two goals a game.Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie may disagree with the famous Vince Lombardi quote above. Rennie has preached a stern, stellar defense that doesn’t breakdown to help the “Boys in Blue” earn three points regularly. His team has given up seven goals in the last five games and recorded two clean sheets in that span. The ‘absorb the pressure’ style Rennie has taught his squad has proved fruitful, as the team has found its hot streak in front of net while not giving up many chances. What was thought to be a concern at the beginning of the season now seems a distant memory as the “Boys in Blue” are consistently finding the back of the net multiple times a game, just as they did in the 2-0 defeat of Nashville SC, one of the toughest defenses in USL, on last Tuesday night.“Indiana’s Team” will welcome another hot offense, led by forward Lucky Mkosana and defender Kenneth Tribbett, into Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday night. The Pennsylvanian based team has been the king of the comeback on the road in their last two matches as they fought back from down 3-1 against Louisville City FC and 1-0 against Tampa Bay Rowdies. Penn FC has struggled on the road, finding the back of the net only six times and securing two wins. A positive last two road results, a 3-3 draw against second place Louisville and 2-1 victory at Tampa bay, has given the side hope of defeating Indy Eleven. The “Boys in Blue” have a 3W-3L-1D record at home and have conceded ten goals in Lucas Oil Stadium. “Indiana’s Team” aims to add a few more to their 11-goal haul at home this season, along with securing their fourth victory in a row on Saturday night. Coach Rennie’s side will need to continue their hot form in front of goal if they are to do so. “Indiana’s Team” will take on Penn FC for the first time in the 2018 USL campaign. A win would potentially boost the “Boys in Blue” into second place overtaking Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC and Louisville City FC.

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 !  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.

 

Germany’s disastrous World Cup – Bottom of the group, fewest goals, and an 80-year low

10:30 AM ETDebayan SenSenior Assistant Editor  Germany’s World Cup ended in humiliation after a shock defeat to South Korea. ESPN brings you the numbers behind their disastrous campaign.

80

Germany have been eliminated in the first round of the World Cup for the first time in 80 years, since a defeat in 1938 at the hands of Switzerland, where they drew the first match 1-1, before being beaten 4-2 in the replay. Since group stages were introduced in the World Cup in 1950 — though they missed out on participation in that edition — Germany have failed to advance to the next stage of the tournament for the first time.

2

The two goals scored by Germany are now the fewest they have scored in a single World Cup campaign. The previous record for fewest goals by a German team at a World Cup was three, scored during the 1938 campaign where they played just two matches – both against Switzerland – and scored one goal in a 1-1 draw and then two in a 4-2 defeat in the replay.

4

Germany have become the fourth reigning champions to be shown the door in the group stages in the last five World Cup editions. France (2002), Italy (2010) and Spain (2014) had all suffered the same fate in recent years, exactly one tournament after having won the World Cup. Brazil, in 2006, are the only team to have bucked that trend in all these years, though they remain the only other defending champions to have been eliminated in the group stages, in 1966.

1

Korea have become the first Asian team to have beat Germany at the World Cup. In fact, they have become the first team from AFC to have scored against Germany in 24 years, since Germany beat Korea 3-2 in the 1994 World Cup. Germany had shut out four teams from Asia since then in World Cup meetings.

18

Andreas Granqvist converted the 18th successful penalty of the 2018 World Cup, when he put Sweden 2-0 up against Mexico. This is now a record for most penalties converted at a World Cup, surpassing the 17 conversions in 1998.

32

Germany have failed to win two matches in a four-team group stage for the first time in 32 years, since this format was introduced to the World Cup, and only for the fourth time overall. They won one game and drew two in both 1958 and 1978, while in 1986, they went on to play the final despite winning, drawing and losing one game apiece in Mexico.

13

Jesus Gallardo of Mexico was shown the yellow card within 13 seconds of kick-off against Sweden, which is now the fastest yellow card in World Cup history. The only other yellow card inside a minute was shown to Sergej Gorlukowitsch, inside 54 seconds for Russia against Sweden during the 1994 World Cup.

7

Edson Alvarez scored the seventh own goal of the 2018 World Cup, now a record for the most in one World Cup edition. Alvarez also scored Mexico’s fourth own goal in World Cup history, also a World Cup record, as it takes them past both Bulgaria and Spain. All numbers courtesy of ESPN’s Stats and Information Group

4 quick thoughts on the Lionel Messi goal against Nigeria, which has us screaming

Messi is one of the few people alive who could have done what he just did.

By Nate Scott@aNateScott  Updated Jun 26, 2018, 4:03pm EDT

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Lionel Messi scored the opening goal for Argentina in their pivotal match against Nigeria on Tuesday, and it was like the world exhaled in unison. After a nightmarish start to their World Cup, Argentina were in a position to advance out of the group stage … and it was their hero, oddly quiet up to this point, who had broken the deadlock.Once Argentina fans took a moment to feel relief at the goal, though, they undoubtedly started screaming. Because holy hell WHAT A GOAL.The goal was pivotal too, as it started off Argentina toward an eventual, dramatic 2-1 win and a place in the knockout round.Watch it here, then below, I have four thoughts on it, and how it might be even better than you realize.

  1. First, the run from Messi. I’ve watched Messi play so many times over the last decade or so, and one of the more underrated and incredible things about him as a player is the moment he sees a run and decides to go for it. He commits totally. He accelerates like a supercar, the time between initial thought to full speed takes place in the span of maybe half a second. At first, he drifts inside, just to lull the Nigeria defender into thinking he’s checking to the ball … then he and Banega locked eyes, and he took off running the other way. He wasn’t close to offside, and it didn’t matter. He was going, he would get past his defender, and then it was on Banega to put the ball where it needed to be.
  2. So, of course we have to talk about the pass from Banega. There was a lot missing from Argentina in their previous match, a disappointing lossto Croatia, but a glaring weakness was Argentina’s inability to pass the ball out of the midfield. With so many runners and high-energy guys in, they pressed, but they couldn’t make the passes they needed to. Banega in, and all of a sudden they have a player who can hit a 40-yard ball to Messi’s left thigh.
  3. The two touches Messi took to control this ball might be the single most incredible thing I’ve seen this World Cup. I’m including James’ pass. I’m including Quaresma’s trivela. I’m including it all. Some of those took daring, and vision. Messi’s two touches there are the product of a man with a generational touch. I’m struggling to wrap my mind around those two touches. Messi is running full sprint with a defender on his back hip, and he’s got a ball kicked at him that’s flying in from a distance of 40 yards, and — again, while running at full speed — he nestles the ball down with his trailing leg, takes another delicate touch in stride, and sets himself up to shoot. That’s not hard … that’s impossible. Think about how hard it is to do anything else when you’re sprinting. You’re really just focused on one thing: going as fast as you can. Now think about doing that, but mid-stride, receiving a ball fired in at you from 40 yards and having the grace and patience to calmly ease the ball down with your upper leg, then, while still taking that same step, take a second, even more delicate touch to your other foot. You’re still sprinting this whole time, faster than another extremely fast athlete, who doesn’t have the ball and doesn’t have to do anything delicate. You can’t imagine doing this, because there are only a few people who have ever lived who could do it. That’s what separates Messi.4. The finish. It seems a little rote, especially after those two touches … a cymbal crash at the end of a symphony. But Messi still had to take the ball onto his weaker right foot and fire it in at not a great angle. He did it, because he had to do it. We needed that goal. He needed that goal. Argentina needed that goal. It was the moment we were waiting for.

France Keeps Growing Into a World Cup It’s Talented Enough to Win

By BRIAN STRAUS June 26, 2018

MOSCOW — The most meaningful moment of Tuesday’s World Cup Group C finale between France and Denmark here at the Luzhniki Stadium occurred in around the 18th minute, 1,000 miles to the south in Sochi. There, Peru took a lead over desperate but underwhelming Australia, essentially confirming that the Danes would advance to the round of 16 along with Les Bleus.With the stakes all but resolved, the two European sides played (in a manner of speaking) to avoid injury, suspension or sweat stains as they lurched to this World Cup’s first 0-0 draw. They fulfilled their scheduled obligation under cascades of whistles and boos, but neither was concerned. In fact, both coaches expressed post-game satisfaction. Denmark, which is here to get out of the group then roll the dice in the second round, was content with second place. As for France—it’ll be far more interested on the July 15 game at Luzhniki than Tuesday’s. Les Bleus are in Russia to win the World Cup.The thing is, that’s been the case at a lot of World Cups. Yet France has just the one title—earned on home soil in 1998—to its credit. Obviously, all but eight countries would be thrilled to make that statement. But somehow, considering what seems to be an endless stream of world-class talent at their disposal, Les Bleus have frequently stumbled on the big stage. The stories of France’s near misses, implosions, bad luck and self-inflicted wounds are as legendary, and more plentiful, than the memories of its triumph two decades ago in Saint-Denis. It seems as likely to go home early, or in disgrace, as it is to stay until the end.A glance at the players left behind this summer by coach Didier Deschamps is an indication of the quality of those in Russia: Lacazette, Martial, Coman, Sissoko, Koscielny, Digne, Sakho, Benzema, Payet—France’s ‘B’ team might have a shot at the World Cup quarterfinals. Such is the wellspring of talent produced at Clairefontaine and in the Paris banlieues that Deschamps named just nine Euro 2016 silver medalists to his World Cup squad, and there are only six players remaining from France’s run to the last eight in 2014.n Tuesday, with a first-place finish likely and only three full days of rest before an expected round-of-16 game in Kazan, Deschamps displayed the measure of his resources. The likes of Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappé, Blaise Matuidi, Samuel Umtiti, Benjamin Mendy and Hugo Lloris all started on the bench. Some were on a yellow card, others were rested or recovering. Yet still, Denmark adopted a withdrawn, defensive posture. “We were up against one of the best teams in the world,” Denmark coach Åge Hareide said following the game. “We would’ve been stupid to open up a lot of space for the French team. So we stayed back whenever we could, and we played to get the result we needed.”France controlled possession (62% to 38%) and more than doubled Denmark’s shot total. But against a well-organized opponent and absent any urgency, Les Bleus didn’t really press the issue. There were missed connections, stray passes and a dearth of clear looks at goal. Substitute Nabil Fekir came closest to breaking the deadlock in the second half, and goalkeeper Steve Mandanda did well to take a dangerous cross off Denmark starChristian Eriksen’s foot in the 29th minute. And so the group concluded anticlimactically, with France’s title credentials remaining obvious on paper, but still not established on the field.Les Bleus finished first-round play 2-0-1, with just three goals scored and one yielded. They hardly blew the doors off a quartet in which they clearly were the most talented squad. Deschamps said Tuesday evening that the 2-1 defeat of Australia was “not quite good enough” and that the subsequent 1-0 win over Peru was “better,” even though La Blanquirroja had their share of chances.Most of this tournament’s favored teams have started slowly, he said.“It’s challenging for everyone. Look at Argentina, for example—one of the top contenders … Germany got by by the skin of their teeth. It’s not easy,” claimed Deschamps, who captained the 1998 champions. “Obviously you can tell me there’s room for improvement. But even teams that are top contenders—Brazil, Germany, Spain—it’s not easy for them either. It’s complicated for everyone.”France’s goal now must be to avoid making it more complicated than it has to be. In the past, that’s been one of its specialties. There was the 2010 mutiny against coach Raymond Domenech sparked by the team’s dismissal of Nicolas Anelka. That followed the Zinedine Zidane headbutt in 2006 that very well may have cost France a second star.In other years, Les Bleus simply and grossly underperformed. Their title defense in 2002 (a year in which they were World Cup, European Championship and Confederations Cup holders) was derailed by an astonishing loss to Senegal in the opener. Zidane was hurt that day in Seoul, but a squad featuring Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry still managed to get beat by a debutant. In 1993, a team led by Eric Cantona, Jean-Pierre Papin and a handful of eventual champions failed to qualify after inexplicably blowing home games against Israel and Bulgaria. Michel Platini’s 1980s powerhouse fared better and came close, but lost two consecutive semifinals to West Germany.The trajectory looks good this summer. Deschamps’ group is relatively young, impressively deep and is getting closer to the summit, from the quarterfinal defeat by Germany in ’14 to the upset loss to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final. The question has been whether the manager can find the right formula—whether he can take all this individual ability and field a cohesive, all-conquering team.There remain several significant tactical questions, from the ideal number of forwards to the arrangement and responsibilities in a loaded and mobile midfield that features top players with overlapping abilities. Deploying Olivier Giroud as a target forward leads to one sort of approach. Putting Antoine Griezmann atop of a 4-3-3 produces quite another. And pundits and former players continue to chip away at the intangibles, looking for cracks in the foundation and wondering whether this generation of Frenchmen will succumb to the distractions or selfishness that bedeviled many predecessors. When Griezmann airs his “decision” special on the eve of the tournament, or whenever Pogba behaves oddly, commentary and questions flow that reveal fears of flaws and failures past.One of those skeptics was Hareide. The Denmark coach told Jyllands-Postenbefore the World Cup that France “don’t have a leader” like Zidane, and that it “needs to play as a team.”His opinion of Pogba: “Good grief, does he only think about his haircuts?”Hareide said here that his comments were taken out of context and after Tuesday’s draw and France’s first-place finish, he didn’t seem to think Les Bleus’ slower start was a sign of trouble to come. Champions grow into tournaments, Hareide said.“The big teams—Germany, Argentina, others–have had problems,” Hareide observed. “But France, I’m certain will come up there as a [contender] for the title. … The French team is getting better and better as you go forward. [It] will go into the last 16 and after that, the big games will start for France.”Its “big games” actually begin in the round of 16 thanks to Argentina’s last-gasp win over Nigeria later Tuesday. There haven’t been many World Cup matches at that stage that have had the profile of France-Argentina. They meet Saturday in Kazan.Center back Raphaël Varane, who’s learned a thing or two about clutch performance collecting trophies with Real Madrid, said here that France’s potential remains front and center, rather than its uneven start or any possible problems.“I think there is still a great understanding. It’s a young and dynamic group,” Varane said. “We don’t even need to talk about motivation. The motivation is there. We do have different personalities, but overall we’ve got a good dynamic. The coach has been here for six years now. He’s used to creating a group, and we’re living well together. So yes, we’re carrying on with the same good spirit and I think that’s very important in such a competition.”If he’s right, or prescient, then France has as good a shot as any team to be back at the Luzhniki for the biggest, most high-stakes game of all.

Mystery Solved: What do players get when they win the World Cup?

Alex Baker

Fame, glory, immortality, the gratitude of an ecstatic nation. The intangibles of what a player gets when they help their nation to a World Cup triumph are well understood. But what do players actually get when they achieve the honor of lifting the coveted Jules Rimet trophy at the end of the tournament?

Prize money

With a total of $400 million to be shared between teams competing in Russia, there is substantial prize money on offer not just for winning, but even just for participating in this summer’s World Cup. Making it to the tournament in the first place is worth $9.5M, $8M for participating in the group stage and $1.5M for tournament costs.Teams that make it through the group to the Round of 16 get another $4M bump.Making it past the first knockout round into the quarters gets you another $4M. Teams that get out of the quarters and into the final four receive different amounts, depending on how well they do.Even the teams that fail in the semis and play in the third-place match do pretty well, with the winner netting $24M and the loser getting $22M.he team that loses the final next month at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium will still take home $28M.What about the prize money for going all the way?The team that’s ultimately crowned the winner of the 2018 World Cup final will take home $38M in prize money.

Bonus payments

On top of the prize money on offer from FIFA, each nation’s soccer federation offers bonuses and financial incentives based on how well a team does and individual player performances. The amount of these bonus payments to individual players varies from association to association. Often it’s the players’ representatives who negotiate the amounts with the associations.Expectations also play a role in determining who gets paid what. Teams that are expected to challenge for the title, like Germany or Brazil for instance, aren’t likely to get paid much just for making the Round of 16 or the quarters. Smaller teams, on the other hand, who might be pleased just to make it out of their group, will typically receive greater bonuses for making the knockout rounds.Defending champion Germany will reportedly receive $9.3M should it retain the title. Divvied up between the 23 members of the squad, that would amount to about $407,000 each.England meanwhile, would receive $6.61M for bringing the trophy home for the first time since 1966, amounting to a payout of $284K for each player on the squad.

What, no trophy?

One thing the winning team at the World Cup does not take home is the trophy itself. While winning teams are allowed to hoist it aloft and party with it for an hour or two, the iconic Jules Rimet trophy is quickly returned to FIFA following the trophy ceremony and celebrations. Instead, the winning team will go home with a gold-plated replica of the actual trophy.This is likely a result of the numerous times the trophy has been stolen in the past, most notably, in 1966, when it was spirited away from a public exhibition in London, only to turn up wrapped in newspaper in some bushes a few days later.Unlike in American sports, where we tend to give out championship rings, players in World Cup winning teams receive medals.

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Although up until 1978, only players who appeared in the actual final match would receive a medal. FIFA changed that rule in 2007 and players on winning teams who had not appeared in the finals prior to 1978 were retroactively awarded medals.

 

US to face Brazil, Mexico, England, Italy in friendlies

AFP•June 25, 2018

Chicago (AFP) – The United States will face Brazil, Mexico, England and Italy in friendlies to kick off preparations for its World Cup qualification in 2022, it was announced on Monday.The United States Soccer Federation said in a statement the US men’s team, which failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, would launch its “Kickoff Series” with a friendly against Brazil at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on September 7.Four days later the US will play regional rivals Mexico at the Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Tennessee. The US will head to Europe to face England at Wembley on November 15, before facing Italy five days later at a venue to be confirmed.The US will also play two other home matches in October, with opponents and venues to be revealed at a later date.”We are at the beginning phase of building our identity,” US general manager Earnie Stewart said in a statement.”These games are obviously huge challenges, and for young players it’s an opportunity to see the benchmark of some of the top teams in the world.”We can use these experiences to learn about ourselves and take the next steps towards developing into the team we want to become.”The US have not yet appointed a successor to Bruce Arena as national team coach. Arena’s tenure ended after the US failed to qualify for this year’s World Cup.

Roger Bennett on ‘American Fiasco,’ the state of U.S. soccer and the ‘siren call’ of Chicago

Joe KnowlesContact ReporterChicago Tribune

The allure of Chicago knows no boundaries. The city’s charms and its passion for sports reached a young Roger Bennett, the co-host of NBCSN’s “Men in Blazers,” all the way across the pond in Liverpool and drew him to move here as a young man in the 1990s. “It was like a siren call,” Bennett says.Bennett, who became a U.S. citizen on June 1, also is the creative force behind the brilliant new podcast “American Fiasco,” which tells the story of the U.S. national team’s dramatic rise in the mid-’90s and their equally spectacular flameout in the 1998 World Cup. He and “Blazers” co-host Michael Davies recently released a book on the sport called “Encyclopedia Blazertannica: A Suboptimal Guide to Soccer, America’s Sport of the Future Since 1972.”The Tribune reached Bennett in Russia, where he is covering the World Cup for NBC, to talk about the podcast, the state of American soccer and his affection for all things Chicago.

The “American Fiasco” podcast series is an impressive piece of work. How much reporting time went into it?

In the field, just tracking down the players and broadcasters and doing the interviews, it took seven months.

What inspired you to do it?

I came to America in the mid-’90s and was just blown away by what I found there watching the U.S. team taking the field in the 1994 World Cup. I always felt that the rich soccer history that exists in this country was not always valued or self-respected, and to be able to tell their story from 1994 to the 1998 World Cup was the honor of a lifetime.

You were able to get the principal characters to speak very candidly about their roles on that team. What did you learn about them that you didn’t know before you began the project?

For some of them, even 20 years later, this is a wound that hasn’t healed. I asked Steve Sampson, the coach, whether he still dreams about what happened and he didn’t waste a second. He said, ‘Yes.’ He has recurring nightmares about it.The big thing I forgot, was how the 1994 team swaggered onto the field. In 1990 they showed they could qualify and in 1994 they won a game and showed they belonged. You guys (Americans) like nothing more than winning, you love winning dominant like the “Dream Team” and you love winning underdog like the “Miracle on Ice.”In 1995, they’d left the 1994 World Cup and went down to Paraguay for this big tournament, the Copa South America, and they opened up a can of whoop-ass. They beat Chile, they beat Mexico, and most impressively, they beat Argentina, the defending champion, and they trashed them … trashed a very good Argentinian side. They left the Copa feeling validated that they were a team that could take on massive powers and not just beat them but flush them. That part of the story, which happens in Episode 3, when they go down to Paraguay and just charm the world … there were kids on the playground there who were saying ‘I want to be Eric Wynalda’ and ‘I want to be Alexi Lalas.” They were the next big thing in world football and then things just splintered.

During that time in Paraguay, the U.S. Soccer Federation caused a rift by not paying all the players equally or fairly, a decision that was delivered on the plane during the flight to South America. Did the federation get caught off guard by the team’s success? How much did that contribute to the splintering?

Yeah, it was a shocking transformation. When you think about soccer, we forget that before 1994 most of these players could not get professional jobs. The European teams didn’t want them and there was no professional full-time league. MLS (Major League Soccer) didn’t come about until 1996. And so many of these players, before 1996, U.S. Soccer provided their housing, so they lived together and trained together, almost like a club team. They were making almost nothing.One of the players, Marcelo Balboa, described the transformation. It was like, one minute we’re living on five-dollar-a-day per diems, the next minute, after the 1994 World Cup, our faces are on cereal boxes, we’ve all got agents, we’re all driving Porsches, jet skis … one guy bought a horse farm. That transformation was incredible.Alexi Lalas tells the story that right before the 1994 World Cup, he was flying coach and an old woman asked him “What do you do, son?” and he said “I’m a soccer player, ma’am.” And she said, “No, I mean what do you do professionally?” And two weeks later, Lalas was on the field at the Silverdome with a billion people watching around the world. U.S. Soccer was transformed. These players’ lives were transformed.One of the themes (of the podcast) is that once you understand how radically transformed you can be by success, you can understand how your own self-interest, your own venality, can undermine everything that brought you success in the first place.

No one personifies that idea more than the coach, Steve Sampson. In “Fiasco,” he is portrayed as someone who was over his head running a national team. Do you think if that team had a different head coach it would have led to a different result?

You can’t be hypothetical about history, I really believe that. (Sampson) was, and is, an honorable man who has paid a terrible price and was made a scapegoat for the disastrous 1998 campaign. He almost lived a career in reverse where his first job was his biggest job, and since then the resume has gone in the other direction. Most people start with the small-college jobs and then work up to the big one.

Sampson cut his captain and arguably his best player, John Harkes, because Harkes allegedly was having an affair with a teammate’s wife. Would a more experienced coach have made a different decision?

He takes consolation in that he was true to his values. And ultimately, it’s hard to be a good football manager and be a man of values. He had a series of decisions, tactical decisions, personnel decisions, and he saw them as moral decisions. And that came back to haunt him.The players often said there were two Steve Sampsons. … The one at the beginning was calm, more of a player’s manager who let the players drive. Before him, you had a very dictatorial manager in Bora Milutinovic. Sampson let the players attack, let them express themselves, but the more successful he became, the players say, the more he wanted himself to be the story. Sampson tried to grab control and enforce his will on the team, but once you’ve let the players drive, it’s very hard to grab the wheel again.

Hmm, maybe a cautionary lesson here for Joe Maddon and the Cubs.

Sorry, you’ll have to forgive me, but I’m a White Sox fan.

I’m interested in your experience in Chicago. Did you really move to Rogers Park because of the name?

Absolutely. I moved to Chicago partially because of the Chicago Bears. I fell in love with the team and that glorious Buddy Ryan, defensive-based football. As a kid from Liverpool, just to watch this dominant team just smite all comers, it was one of the most thrilling sports experiences of my youth. (At home in Liverpool) I had a “Monsters of the Midway” poster and a “Refrigerator” Perry poster above my bed, right by a “Ferris Bueller” one, so it was a combination of sports and the movies that became kind of a siren call.When I was 15, I spent a glorious month in Highland Park with a Chicagoan pen pal and I went to New Trier (High School). I still have my green New Trier shorts. And I swore to myself that when I was done with university, I would come right back out to Chicago. I made good on that vow.I lived in Hyde Park originally and watched the World Cup in ’94 at Jimmy’s Woodlawn Tap. I needed a place to live permanently and I really didn’t know much about the area, and I just saw Rogers Park, and my name was Roger, and I was like, that’s great, I’ll move there. And I did, and it was the greatest four years of my life.

What was it like for an American-obsessed, soccer-loving Brit to live in a place where the world’s most popular game was an afterthought?

It was hard to follow English football in America at that time. I’d phone my dad and he’d hold the phone by the television for big games so I could at least follow along that way.I still played the game, played on the Midway and those were some of the most talented and most polyglot games I think I’ve ever been involved in. You had South Americans, Jamaicans, Poles, Mexicans and me just kind of charging around the back trying to elbow people.But it was during that time I fell head over heels in love with American sports. The first baseball game I went to was at old Comiskey Park, I caught it just before it was to be torn down when I spent the summer in Highland Park. I adored old Comiskey Park. I loved (White Sox infielder) Joey Cora, the way he’d charge onto the field. … I follow the Everton football club and when they succeed, they succeed as a collective, because of their tenacity and grit. So I fell in love with the White Sox.Then there were the Jeremy Roenick Blackhawks. … He was just so much better than all the players around him. He made passes, brilliant passes, that would just bounce off the boards because the other players didn’t have the ice hockey IQ to understand where they should be.Unfortunately, the Bears at that time entered what appears to be a terminal decline.There’s no better city to experience sports than Chicago. Every affection I have for Chicago sports burns as brightly now as when I lived there.

The Jeremy Roenick trade broke my heart. On another Chicago note, there are reports that Tom Ricketts and his family might be interested in purchasing AC Milan. Do you think Ricketts could find the same success in Italian soccer that he has had here with the Cubs?

One of the most fascinating storylines since I’ve been in America isn’t just that Americans are falling in love with world football but that world football is falling in love with America. You have Bayern Munich, Juventus in Italy, Barcelona … they all covet the American fan. It’s this vast terrain of untapped fans. So you have all these teams trying to win the hearts and minds of the American fan.But at the same time, every sports entrepreneur in America is looking at these massive teams and thinking “Why am I not owning one?”I interviewed people with the Red Sox … they were one of the first (American) teams to buy a European soccer team and they told me two things. “We found out that when Liverpool play Manchester United in the regular season, 600 million people around the world tune in … and they’re guaranteed to play twice a season.” That dwarfs the Super Bowl.“And then, the other thing is that when we sell a Red Sox cap, we have to share the revenue with every other owner in baseball. But then we found out that if we sell a Liverpool jersey, we get to keep all of that sweet money.”America, it’s the home of capitalism … it’s a free-market economy everywhere but in sports. They look at these foreign teams, they’re not chained by a draft or a salary cap or revenue sharing. AC Milan is a sleeping giant. It’s a complicated club with a complicated situation but it’s definitely really worthy.

Here in the U.S. we’ve been hearing for a while that soccer is the next big thing, but it does seem like the sport is getting some traction here. Obviously, the professional league plays a huge role in the sport’s success. MLS is doing well in some markets, but not so well in others. What do you think the league is getting right and what is it getting wrong?

It’s amazing, the league is just over 20 years old and the leaps and bounds it’s made are unbelievable. When I was growing up, the Italian league was the top league, and now you have seen the Premier League rise up from the hooligan-filled, mud-pitch league it was when I was young to where it is today.MLS has great aspirations, and those aspirations are not yet real, but look at Atlanta, when 72,000 fans pack an NFL stadium, look at LAFC, which is a jewel of a team. In Portland and Seattle, you have a delirious atmosphere there.Then there are the originals, like New England, where it’s like the old MLS, the attendance and the atmosphere are not what you need it to be. And Chicago is facing some of the same early-MLS-experience challenges.I’m incredibly bullish (on MLS), having seen England become a huge football power. The change happens when you start bringing in young talent from places like Central and South America, 20- and 21-year-olds who are coveted by the world’s best teams. MLS is starting to do that and that’s the next iteration, when the quality of the football starts to catalyze into a glorious, tenacious sort of attacking style, and that’s what I believe MLS is morphing into now right before our eyes.

How big of a missed opportunity was the Americans’ failure to qualify for this year’s World Cup?

It was a darkness. A darkness for the players, who missed the jewel of their careers. It was a bigger darkness for the fans, especially for the “American Outlaws” who, in the last World Cup became just the darlings of world football. I feed badly for them. And it was a darkness for Fox. … Thank goodness for them this is one of the best World Cups of my lifetime.The best news, which I think has been under-reported and underappreciated, is that the 2022 World Cup will be coming to Canada, Mexico and the U.S. — the NAFTA World Cup, if NAFTA is still around by then. That will be a huge lift for the sport, the money that will be coming in that can be put to youth development and scouting and to coaching, my god, to coaching. Coaching in this country needs to uptick significantly, and then some.The award by FIFA of that 2022 World Cup is game-changing. 1994 made America not hate soccer anymore. I think 2022 will be deeply transformative.

Christian Pulisic ‘in a great place’ at Borussia Dortmund — Bruce Arena

Jun 19, 2018ESPN

United States and Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic is at the perfect place for his development and shouldn’t move to another club if similar playing time isn’t on offer, former U.S. national team coach Bruce Arena says.The 19-year-old has long been linked with a move to either Liverpool or Manchester United in the future, and the Telegraph reported last month that Tottenham are considering adding the U.S. international as well.However, Pulisic’s father called speculation that the young American star could move to the Premier League “hogwash” and told Sky Sports that his son plans to return to Borussia Dortmund — at least for next season.Speaking to Omnisport on Tuesday, Arena agreed with the decision: “I think Christian is in a great place. Dortmund has a very good reputation for developing players.”In his couple years there with the first team, he’s done very well. Hopefully, he can continue to do that, be consistent at the club level, and if he does that, he’s going to be a real plus for the national team program.”Any move Christian makes in the future, it’s important he goes to a club where he plays on a regular basis. There’s no point in him leaving Dortmund and going to a club where he doesn’t get the kind of minutes he needs to continue to develop.”Pulisic will not turn 20 until December, but he has already played in 70 Bundesliga games with Dortmund over the past three seasons, scoring nine league goals.With the U.S. failing to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, he will be able to rest until Dortmund resume training ahead of their U.S. tour in late July as part of the International Champions Cup.

U.S. Soccer Extends Interim USMNT Coach Sarachan’s Contract Through End of 2018

Khadrice Rollins,Sports Illustrated 21 hours ago

While the U.S. men’s national team continues its search for a permanent manager, it has decided to extend the contracts of interim manager Dave Sarachan and assistants Richie Williams and Matt Reis through the end of 2018. Sarachan’s contract was originally set to expire at the end of June, and U.S. Soccer’s Board of Directors unanimously approved the extension, Paul Tenorio of The Athletic reports.Sarchan has been at the helm of the squad since the end of October, when he was named as the replacement manager following the USA’s failure to qualify for the World Cup. He was an assistant under former manager Bruce Arena, who resigned the loss in Trinidad & Tobago.A different and permanent manager for the USMNT could still be hired before the end of the year. U.S. Soccer has ensured that stability for both the team, Sarachan and his staff if the coaching search goes deeper into the year. New general manager Earnie Stewart will oversee the search.Sarachan has the backing of at least one of the USA’s rising stars. In an appearance onPlanet Fútbol TV, Tim Weah said Sarachan “does everything right, he treats us like we’re his sons.” Weah added that he appreciates Sarachan and “he’s the right coach for the job.”Under Sarachan, the U.S. men have gone 2-1-3. Their most recent result was a draw against World Cup contender France.With the extension, it’s possible that Sarachan will be on the sidelines when the U.S. returns to action in a pair of friendlies against Brazil and Mexico.

Rooney Signs with DC United – Is Official

It’s official: Wayne Rooney will be suiting up in Black-and-Red.D.C. United announced on Thursday they have signed the English star on a permanent transfer from Everton, inking him to a three-and-a-half year deal  after weeks of speculation regarding a potential move.”It is fantastic to be joining D.C. United at such an exciting time in the club’s history with the new stadium opening in just a few weeks,” Rooney said in a team statement. “Moving to America and MLS fulfills another career ambition for me. I have the hunger to be a success here and will give D.C. 100 percent – as I have always done for every team I have ever played for.”When I visited earlier this summer I was really impressed with everyone I met connected with the club, and of course the new Audi Field. Now I can’t wait to get on the pitch in a United shirt and join my new teammates to bring success to this club.”Rooney, 32, joins the four-time MLS Cup champions after a decorated career in his native England. Getting his start as a precocious 16-year-old with Everton in 2002, the striker burst onto the scene with his hometown club, before making a high-profile move to Manchester United in 2004.With the Red Devils, Rooney won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, an FA Cup, a UEFA Champions League title, a Europa League title and a FIFA Club World Cup. In additional to a slew of individual accolades, including Premier League Player of the Season in 2009-10, Rooney finished his tenure with Manchester United as the team’s all-time leading Premier League scorer, with 183 goals in 393 appearances. The Liverpool native returned to Everton in 2017, scoring 10 goals in the recently concluded Premier League season.Rooney was also an England international from 2003-2016, leading the line for the Three Lions and becoming the all-time leading scorer for his country, with 53 goals in 119 appearances. He played in three World Cups (’06, ’10, ’14) and three European Championship tournaments (’04, ’12, ’16) with England.“Wayne is undoubtedly one of the best players in Premier League history and his goal scoring record for club and country speaks for itself,” said D.C. United GM and VP of Soccer Operations Dave Kasper. “He is a world-class player and he elevates those around him, both through his work-ethic and winning mentality. We are beyond excited to add someone of Rooney’s caliber and we are thrilled to welcome him to D.C.”D.C. United’s new star, who will occupy a Designated Player slot on the team’s roster, will be available for selection following the opening of the Secondary Transfer Window on July 10. He will be eligible for the club’s inaugural match at their new home, Audi Field, on July 14 when they host Vancouver Whitecaps FC (8 pm ET on ESPN+ in USA and TSN in Canada) and is expected to make his debut in that match, per a club release.”This is a seminal moment for our fans and organization,” said United Managing General Partner and CEO Jason Levien.  “Wayne is a global soccer icon and his presence at D.C. United will elevate our product on the pitch and soccer as a whole in our city and in this country. Wayne has thrived when competing at the most elite levels of soccer and we’re thrilled to have his leadership as we enter this new era at Audi Field.”Currently in last place in the Eastern Conference (2W-6L-4D, 10 pts), D.C. United will be looking to make up the 11 points that separate them from the last and final playoff spot. They have several games in hand to accomplish the feat and the remainder of their 22 regular season matches include 15 at Audi Field.

Report: Rooney to sign with DC United by end of week

By Nicholas MendolaJun 27, 2018, 7:15 PM EDT

Wayne Rooney to Major League Soccer will be confirmed Thursday, according to Sky Sports.A Monday press conference will follow, where DC United will unveil its latest acquisition.Rooney, 32, posted 10 goals with two assists for Everton this season, his first with the Merseyside club after a record-shattering time at Manchester United.[ MORE: Rodwell to MLS? ]And Carl Robinson’s Whitecaps could be staring down England’s leading goal scorer when they help DC christen Audi Field.

According to Sky:

He could then make his debut against four days later against Vancouver Whitecaps at the opening of the new £140m 20,000-seater Audi Field stadium in Washington.

Once his MLS career is over, Rooney is expected to return to Goodison Park as a coach after reportedly negotiating a deal with Everton.

As we detailed previously, Rooney is likely to succeed in MLS almost regardless of the measuring stick. If he doesn’t, at least DC will get a bunch of sell-outs and sell a whole lot of black-and-red shirts nationwide.Jermain Defoe, the England star and ex-TFC man, told Sky Sports that he believes MLS is a place where previously under-scrutiny Premier League players can “enjoy their football”:“There is not so much pressure on and off the pitch. He could probably enjoy his life a little bit without constantly watching what you do and the things you say.”

MLS expansion team FC Cincinnati reveal plans for training facility

June 26, 20185:21PM EDTAlicia RodriguezContributor

2019 MLS expansion team FC Cincinnati publicly unveiled plans on Tuesday to build a $30 million training facility in Milford, Ohio.The site, located less than 20 miles from FC Cincinnati’s future stadium site in the West End neighborhood of Cincinnati, will occupy about 23.6 acres, and is proposed to include both full-size grass and artificial turf fields, a goalkeeper training area, as well as indoor performance and work space facilities for the first team and a separate building for the FC Cincinnati academy teams.Cincinnati-based MSA Sport is the principal designer of the project, and construction will be carried out by Turner Construction, with FC Cincinnati privately financing the construction.Rendering of multi-use building at training facility. | Courtesy of FC Cincinnati

While an agreement has been reached between the team and city and county, the proposal is still pending final approval by local government.The team expects the first team to move to the training site in January, ahead of the team’s first season in MLS, with the complex fully running by July and all work on the site to be done by the end of 2019.“We’re excited to announce our state-of-the-art training complex in Milford,” FC Cincinnati president and general manager Jeff Berding said. “We’ve been searching for the right location in the Greater Cincinnati area – including Hamilton, Butler, Warren and Clermont Counties, as well as counties in Northern Kentucky – for two-and-a-half years and this site presents the best opportunity for the growth for our club.“The accessibility of this location – being near major transportation routes and at the center of our youth development radius – gives us the perfect home base as we enter Major League Soccer in 2019 and also launch our FCC Youth Academy,” Berding continued. “We are building a transformational facility, not only our club, but also soccer in the region,” Berding said. “This project will be one of the key aligners of all levels of our soccer operations, from the MLS team down to our youth teams and community programming. This facility is a legacy project as we continue to grow soccer in the Greater Cincinnati area and bring the world’s game to the region.”

Indy Forces Music City Submission – Nashville SC V Indy Eleven REVIEW

y: Rebecca Townsend (aka The Pitch Bitch)

(Union Jack Pub, Broad Ripple, Indianapolis) — Nashville SC had a lot riding on the match it hosted Tuesday night against Indy Eleven: The club hadn’t been beaten in league play since April 14, not since the last time they met Indy Eleven. And they’d never been beaten — or even trailed — at home.This time, even home advantage was no help: Indy dominated, 2-0. A shutout that launched the club to 4th in the Eastern Conference and a 4-1-2 record on the road.
Karl Ouimette is the Pitch Bitch Man of the Match (even though the whole team deserves to share credit for working together so well!) because he played solid defense but also galvanized the evening’s attack. In the opening minutes, he made a great defensive stick which neutralized a worrisome Nashville effort toward the goal. Then, after a header from Justin Braun was deflected out of bounds by host keeper Matt Pickens, Ouimette’s head connected with Ayoze’s incoming corner to put the visitors up 1 with the majority of the first half still to play.nd speaking of good headers … Thanks to Ayoze’s positioning and quick reflexes on Indy’s goal line during a second-half Nashville set piece, a ball headed straight for the back of the net instead was redirected out into the field of play. The broadcasters (whose narrative was running about 5 seconds ahead of the accompanying video feed, by the way, which enabled those of us watching at the pub to learn we scored before we could actually see the ball in the net) were smitten. “Ayoze, clever on the line,” one of the men comments. “He really can do it all! This guy’s amazing, one of my favorites in the back!”]Nashville dominated shots in the first half (9 to Indy’s 4) and held the majority of possession, but Indy made the most of their time on the ball. This efficiency in working as a unit is evolving with Indy and its incredibly talented and versatile roster of players, which is unsettling opponents unsure of from what angle or with what tools the Eleven will strike.Indy keeper Owain Fôn Williams definitely found himself in some tight spots, but he remained on point throughout the match and managed to hold on to a shutout while his field players kept working. With about 10 minutes remaining in the first half, Justin Braun launched a longshot from the left corner of the 18 (from the attacker’s perspective) across the mouth of the goal. The shot did not appear to be super threatening, but Pickens could not keep the ball contained and it found the far-post corner to give the visitors a two-point advantage that held solid for the rest of the match.
The win was not for a lack of effort on Nashville’s part. They were just outclassed by Indy. A Kevin Venegas shot that ricocheted into the path of Jack McInerney almost gave Indy a three-point advantage before the half. Even though this and all subsequent efforts did not find the net, the pressure was phenomenal, even as the team recovered when defensive duties called — working together to neutralize what at times were very potent threats.Seth Moses had a great defensive presence and good connectivity with Matt Watson in the midfield, which stopped many of the host’s efforts from developing and planted the seeds for many gallant counter attacks from their own squad. But it really is impossible to choose favorites because, from back to front, the team was a cohesive unit. And the work rate was impressive. For instance, just before the half, an errant pass from McInerney led to a turnover. But instead of accepting the loss, McInerney chased down the interceptor and stole the ball back. Good form.Around the 70th minute, Nashville launched a threatening attack that had the defense scrambling to organize its pressure and cover. But Indy did manage efficient and effective resource allocation, slowing the player with the ball and manning up on all his friends quickly enough for the Indy midfield to drop in and provide the necessary cover. Minutes later, Venegas neutralizes another Nashville effort with a slide tackle that was at once both tough and beautiful.Indy will close out a successful month by hosting Penn FC on June 30. The match will kickoff at 7 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium. Tickets are available at IndyEleven.com and (if you want to avoid a fee and support the supporters) at brickyardbattalion.com/byb-tix/. A mid-week, holiday match at Lucas Oil will follow: The USL selected Indy’s at-home July 4th match against Ottawa FC as its Game of the Week.

Indiana Youth Soccer Night

Post-Game Photo On The Field

In celebration of Indy Eleven’s official Indiana Youth Soccer Night all youth soccer teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at the completion of our game. All participants need a game ticket and all teams must register to be eligible for the post-game photo. To register, please sign up here. The deadline to register is Thursday, July 5th. Only one (1) member from each team is required to register for the entire team. For questions, please contact Youth Club Coordinator, Shawn Burcham, at 317-685-1100 or shawn@indyeleven.com.

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 !  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.

BYB PRIDE RAISER  – SUPPORT INDY PRIDE WITH EVERY INDY 11 GOAL IN JUNE

UPDATE:  as of June 5, BYB members have pledged $107 per goal.

The BYB prides itself in fostering an environment that welcomes all individuals to our section. This year, the Brickyard Battalion is participating in PRIDE RAISER to support the LGBTQ community in Indiana.
We are hoping you will join the Brickyard Battalion’s Board of Directors in pledging a few dollars for every goal scored by Indy Eleven in the month of June (4 games). All pledges will go to support Indy PrideMake A Pledge Today

Great 2,000 SF place in La Porte, IN just 20 min from both Notre Dame and the lakeshore. 3 Br/2 Ba Place 4 beds on Stone Lake – check it out: https://abnb.me/EVmg/KjWULabehK

Proud Member of Indy’s Brick Yard Battalion – http://www.brickyardbattalion.comCLICK HERE FOR BYBTIX

Sam’s Army- http://www.sams-army.com , American Outlaws  http://www.facebook.com/IndyAOUnite

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

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6/21/18 World Cup Full TV Game Schedule, Indy 11 win 2 in a row, US Ladies Win 2, Summer Soccer Camps

The World Cup has certainly had its Wow Moments.  My Favorites are Renaldo and Portugal tying Spain with the late Free kick, Mexico’s classic win over defending champion Germany, and Iceland’s surprising victory over Argentina and Lionel Messi.  Who would have guessed that favorites Germany, Spain, Brazil, and Argentina would all have ties or losses in the first games?   Of course one big storyline has been the use of VAR – Video Review – I for one love it.  As a referee myself – I would love to be able to go to the monitor and see if I missed seeing a penalty or hand ball or offsides.  I honestly think it has been working fantastically so far.  Also cool to see the US MLS Referees being involved – great story below on the experience of handling VAR for a year leading to more US referees being involved this year.

INDY 11

Our Indy 11 coming off a 2 game winning streak return home next weekend for a Sat night match-up with Penn FC at 7 pm and July 4th at 7 pm vs Ottawa.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.  July 4th will be military night with ½ priced tickets for military personnel and of course Indy’s Downtown Spectacular Fireworks Show after the game.  The game on July 7th will be Indiana Youth Soccer Night, as all teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field.  Reach out to Youth Club Coordinator Shawn Burcham at shawn@indyeleven.com.

Local

Congrats to the 2 Indiana Teams (Indy Premier U16 Girls and St Francis U19 Boys) advancing to the Finals of the US Youth Soccer National President’s Cup July 11-15 at Grand Park.

After the ultra successful first camp in early June – Carmel FC has added another camp headed up by Director Juergen Sommer at Shelbourne from July 23rd thru 26th from Click here to Register.

MLS

Here’s the MLS rankings this week as we get a showdown of the top team in the East Atlanta United hosting the hottest team in the West with 8 straight wins or ties in Portland at 4 pm after the World Cup game Sunday on Fox 59.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Defeat Toronto FC 2 on the Road 3-1

Midfielder Juan Guerra shares his Expereince Playing for Venezuela 

WORLD CUP

My Favorite World Cup Commercilal

Argentina’s Meltdown – Who’s Fault Was it?

US & MLS

3 Things We Learned US Win over China – Stars and Stripes

Which Cities will Host the World Cup 2026 – MLS

US Ref Mark Geiger To Work World Cup

MLS Commish Says World Cup will be Rocket Fuel for Soccer in America

Former MLS Coach and current Mexican Coach Juan Carlos Osorio can Do it

US Chief Says World Cup could Make Soccer #1 Sport in America

NY Red Bull Parker Shows Mettle vs France

Tim Ream Named Player of Season for Fulham

US Work towards Gold Cup 2019 – US Soccer players

Top 10 Power Rankings MLS

US Open Cup Quarterfinal Pairings Set

Goalies

Best Saves 1st Round – World Cup 2018

Egypt Keeper Save  Save of the Day WC Day 1

Great Saves Friendlies before the World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL – Ashlyn Harris

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

 SUMMER CAMPS

CDC Carmel FC Camp – Shelborne Field July 23rd – 26th – Click here to Register

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

    THURSDAY, JUNE 21
8 a.m. ET FS1 France vs. Peru
11 a.m. ET Fox Denmark vs. Australia
2 p.m. ET Fox Argentina vs. Croatia
    FRIDAY, JUNE 22
8 a.m. ET FS1 Brazil vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Fox Nigeria vs. Iceland
2 p.m. ET Fox Serbia vs. Switzerland
    SATURDAY, JUNE 23
8 a.m. ET Fox Belgium vs. Tunisia
11 a.m. ET Fox Germany vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox South Korea vs. Mexico
    SUNDAY, JUNE 24
8 a.m. ET FS1 England vs. Panama
11 a.m. ET Fox Japan vs. Senegal
2 p.m. ET Fox Poland vs. Colombia
    MONDAY, JUNE 25
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Uruguay vs. Russia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iran vs. Portugal
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Spain vs. Morocco
    TUESDAY, JUNE 26
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Australia vs. Peru
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Denmark vs. France
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iceland vs. Croatia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Nigeria vs. Argentina
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 South Korea vs. Germany
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Mexico vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Switzerland vs. Costa Rica
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Serbia vs. Brazil
    THURSDAY, JUNE 28
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Japan vs. Poland
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Senegal vs. Colombia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 England vs. Belgium
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Panama vs. Tunisia

Tues , July 3rd

 

Fri, July 6         

10 am FS1                        World Cup Quarter Final W49 vs W50

2 pm  FS1                         World Cup Quarter Final W53 vs W54

Sat, July 7         

10 am                                 World Cup Quarter Final W55 vs W56

2 pm                                    World Cup Quarter Final W51 vs W52

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

7 pm FS1               NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls –(Hudsen River Darby)

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

militaryindy11

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN SECURE THREE POINTS AGAINST TORONTO FC II, 3-1

By Trey Higdon, 06/17/18, 12:30AM EDT  A brace from Braun sees Indy claim back-to-back wins for the first time in 2018

Indy Eleven pull away in a 1-3 victory against Canadian contenders Toronto FC II. The victory marks the first time the “Boys in Blue” have registered two consecutive wins in the 2018 season, which puts the team in fifth place.The night started strong for both teams. Toronto made the first breakaway run into Indy’s 18-yard box in the fourth minute. Defender Carlyle Mitchell did well to neutralize the early attack, one-on-one, which led Indy forward Justin Braun to make a similar run four minutes later.Indy continued to apply pressure with runs from Braun, forward Soony Saad and defender Kevin Venegas. The constant assault saw Indy take the lead.In the 23rd minute, Venegas rushed up the right edge of the pitch unopposed after he gained the ball near center field. The former Minnesota United FC defender made a sharp turn into the edge of Toronto’s 18-yard box and continued his run through the home side’s defenses. Venegas slotted the ball past Toronto goalkeeper Gianluca Catalano from near post to give “Indiana’s Team” the lead. The goal was Venegas’ first since signing for Indy Eleven earlier this year.Toronto came close to the night’s first goal in the 16th minute after two chances from loose balls in front of Indy’s goal, but Venegas and Mitchell ended the threat. Instead, Toronto settled for an equalizer fve minutes after the “Boys in Blue’s” opening goal.Short passing play by Toronto forward Aidan Daniels saw striking partner Ayo Akinola bag his goal from distancein the 28th minute. The goal, which ended in the upper left of the corner of the net, was Akinola’s third in 2018.The stalemate didn’t extend beyond the first half thanks to Braun. In the only minute of first-half stoppage time, Venegas forced a pass through a group of Toronto defenders in their 6-yard box to Braun, who was quick to shoot and score. The goal was Braun’s first since his return from injury last August.Indy widened its lead five minutes after half time with a headed effort from Braun. Passing play from midfielders Seth Moses and Matt Watson in the 50th minute saw service delivered to Braun inside the 6-yard box. Braun’s header ricocheted off the bottom of the crossbar and over the line. The goal sealed the win for Indy.Toronto almost pulled one back in the 94th minute with a wide strike from substitute midfielder Malik Johnson. The low strike skid toward the right post, which led to Indy Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams to dive for the save. The Welshman managed to keep the ball out by the tips of his gloves.Though it was the players who scored the goals, Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie credits his coaching staff for their work behind the scenes.“I think a lot of credit goes to my assistant coaches, Phil Dos Santos and Dave Dixon, for the preparation they do to get the players ready for a team where it’s hard to know who’s going to play,” Rennie said. “It’s hard to know what kind of system they’re [Toronto] going to play, but Phil and Dave got it spot on. That helped the players a lot going into the game.”The “Boys in Blue” hit the road again Tuesday, June 26, in a rematch against Nashville SC “Indiana’s Team” will return home on Saturday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m., for Pride Night against Penn FC. Fans can get tickets to the next home match starting at just $15 by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100. USL Regular Season
Indy Eleven 3:1 Toronto FC II
Saturday, June 16, 2018
Marina Auto Stadium – Rochester, New York

Scoring Summary:

IND – Kevin Venegas 23′
TOR – Ayo Akinola (Aidan Daniels) 28′
IND – Justin Braun (Kevin Venegas) 45+1′
IND – Justin Braun (Matt Watson) 50′
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern (Brad Ring 76′), Matt Watson (C), Juan Guerra, Seth Moses; Soony Saad (Eugene Starikov 74′), Justin Braun (Ben Speas 87′)Indy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK);

World Cup 2018 Day 8 winners and losers: How it all went wrong for Argentina and Messi

Henry BushnellFC YahooJun 21, 2018, 5:27 PM

It was as if Lionel Messi knew. As if the mourning had already begun, before the scene that would culminate in the fatal blow even unraveled. The image has already become a meme. But it was more than that. It was pressure. It was expectation. Expectation soon to be unfulfilled.Shortly before 90 of the worst minutes of his prolific career, as millions of Argentineans around the world roared along with their national anthem, Messi shut his eyes and brought a pale right hand to his forehead. His head was slightly bowed.  Over the next two hours, the World Cup that was supposed to be his fell apart. A 3-0 loss to Croatia pushed him and Argentina to the brink. It left the soccer world stunned. And it left a single question on the tips of tongues everywhere: HowHow did Argentina, with arguably the greatest player the sport has ever seen, flounder so calamitously? How did a team with Lionel Messi become a national disgrace?

Back to that image. To Messi’s agonized rubs of his forehead. Because they were telling.Messi seemed acutely aware of the torment approaching. And perhaps we should have been as well. His face told of expectations that didn’t align with the team trying to meet them. So perhaps we should have lowered them.The warning signs were there. They had been present for weeks, months, even years.essi’s brilliance afforded shelter from reality. And reality was that Argentina, over the past two years, was never all that good. It limped through qualifying, bailed out only by a Messi hat trick on the final night.Reality was that throughout Messi’s Argentina career, and especially recently, there have been inherent, structural problems. That Messi had not figured out how to mesh with his Argentinean teammates, nor them with him. Three managers had tried to facilitate that relationship throughout qualifying with tactics both complex and simple. All three had failed. Those incompatible relationships – between Messi and teammates’ skill sets, between Messi and coaches’ systems, between Messi and outsize on-field expectations – are at the heart of Argentina’s 2018 World Cup disaster. And blame for them lies everywhere, including with Messi, but not exclusively with Messi. In fact, far from it.All the bearers of Argentinean blame are the losers of Day 8 in Russia.

Loser: Argentina

It is often known as Messi Dependencia – Messi Dependence. It was as extreme as ever in Argentina’s opener against Iceland. And it’s the result of a years-long vicious cycle, one that turned a team of many talents into a team of one. Or, on Thursday, a team of none.Messi’s gifts are gravitational. Teammates naturally turn to him. The ball invariably finds his feet. And Messi, being the genius that he is, so often has rewarded their faith. Given the keys to the Argentinean car, he has driven it to success.But his individual success feeds into teammates’ willingness to rely on him. They yield to greatness. He makes magic. And positive reinforcement kicks in; the ball finds Messi’s feet more and more often. Teammates turn to him with increasing automation.That’s how the dependence developed, and it became habitual. It became an addiction impossible to break. Managers, consequentially, have understood this and structured teams around Messi. That, too, has facilitated the reliance even more.And the more teammates were made to feel like secondary or tertiary characters, the less responsibility they took; the more they disengaged; the more they underperformed. And the more they became incapable of picking up the slack when Messi misfired.  And when Messi did misfire …

Loser: Lionel Messi

Argentina’s reliance on Messi made his performances binary propositions. Either he succeeded or failed. Against Iceland, his free kicks struck foreheads; his curling 20-yard efforts whizzed by posts; his penalty was palmed away. So he failed.His failure left manager Jorge Sampaoli with a decision, one with which so many coaches have grappled in the past. Was the remedy to increase the effectiveness of Messi? Or empower 10 others at the expense of No. 10?Sampaoli chose the latter. He made three changes and swapped a coherent 4-2-3-1 for an undefined mess of a 3-4-3. And Messi got lost within it, just as he had warned Sampaoli he would months ago. His 49 touches were the fewest of any Argentina outfield player who went 90 minutes. He was borderline invisible.And his teammates were flat-out bad.Some of his invisibility, of course, is on Sampaoli, and on those teammates. But Messi cannot escape blame. He sputtered with responsibility on Matchday 1, then was unable to take it when it wasn’t given to him on Matchday 2. He didn’t do enough to get on the ball. He didn’t do enough with it when he did.Against an opponent intent on suffocating him, rather than rise above, he disappeared.

Losers: Jorge Sampaoli and the Argentinean federation

Until this past week, there was hope that Sampaoli could find a solution. That he could wean Argentina off its Messi Dependencia, or at least find alternative routes to success.He never did, and resorted to lunatic lineup changes for the Croatia game. But did he ever really have sufficient time?His and Argentina’s preparation for the tournament was badly mishandled. Messi missed the first set of warmup friendlies in March due to injury, rendering them useless. Sampaoli then got just one May friendly to experiment before the World Cup. The Argentinean soccer federation scheduled a misguided exhibition match in Israel. It was cancelled over safety concerns. Argentina went to Russia with just 90 minutes against Haiti – an experience far from translatable to Iceland or Croatia – under its belt. It therefore went to Russia still unsure of who it was.And was Sampaoli the right choice in the first place? His insistence on ravenous pressing was an awful match for an old, slow rearguard. It didn’t suit Messi either. Sampaoli was put in position to fail. That’s not on him. It’s on the federation.

Loser: Argentinean randomness

Nonetheless, there are still so many what ifs. What if Icelandic goalkeeper Hannes Thor Halldorsson had guessed the other way? What if Sampaoli had simply started Franco Armani instead of Willy Caballero? What if Caballero’s gaffe had travelled 20 yards in the air instead of 10?

Belief still lingers. Belief in Argentina’s theoretical potential. Belief in Messi. Belief that if only Argentina can luck its way into the knockout round, a solution can be found. And if the answers to any of the above questions had been different, to the knockout round is likely where Argentina would be headed. In addition to all the structural problems and underachieving, a lot of bad luck has left Argentina on the verge of elimination. A lot of unexpected occurrences.But that was no consolation to Sampaoli as he stormed off down the tunnel. That was no consolation to Messi as he wandered off the field, bereft. Thursday was the culmination of countless faults and shortcomings. And under the utmost pressure, Argentina cracked.

Winner: Croatia

Lost in the Argentina furor will be deserved praise for Croatia, which is on to the last 16 of a World Cup for the first time since the 20th century. It is in pole position to win Group D and avoid France. The quarterfinals beckon. The so-called golden generation – an overused term, but it applies here – is, at long last, coming good.

Loser: Argentinean hope

Argentina is still in with a realistic chance of progression. Its hope rests on a victory over Nigeria on Matchday 3, and on Iceland picking up three or fewer points from its final two games. So the Argentines will be rooting for Nigeria in Group D’s other Matchday 2 fixture.

But with Croatia already qualified, manager Zlatko Dalic said after Thursday’s game that he’ll rest players in the group finale. That bolsters Iceland’s shot at a result there, and cuts further into any leftover Argentinean optimism.

Loser: Javier Mascherano

Javier Mascherano has had great moments in an Albiceleste shirt. This, on Croatia’s third goal, was not one of them:

Frankly, it was embarrassing. And it was emblematic of a performance that felt overly emotional and desperate from start to finish. When fortune turned its back, players’ heads sunk. Frustration boiled over. A few quit.That’s why, despite the many scenarios that could still see Argentina through, this felt like the end. And it’s why the inquest is underway.

– – – – – – –Henry Bushnell covers global soccer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Question? Comment? Email him at henrydbushnell@gmail.com, or follow him on Twitter @HenryBushnell, and on Facebook.

 Cordeiro: 2026 World Cup could make soccer top sport in North America

June 13, 201811:41AM EDT

The first FIFA World Cup in the United States in 1994 helped birth Major League Soccer.When the World Cup returns here in 2026, as part of a unique United bid between the United States, Canada and Mexico, U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro believes the event will be a “lightning rod” to make soccer the “preeminent sport in North America.”“We believe that soccer or football will become the preeminent sport in North America,” Cordeiro said. “I’m not just speaking for the U.S., I think I speak for Canada.”In a conference call with reporters just hours after the FIFA vote that awarded 2026 hosting rights to North America’s United bid, Cordeiro said he expects the World Cup to vastly increase participation among kids in the United States.“We believe this event will become a lightning rod, will become transformational for the sport as kids who are now eight, 10, 12 years old can all dream of potentially playing for a national team,” he said. “By in large, we need more kids, boys and girls, in the United States playing soccer inside the umbrella of the Federation, we don’t have enough of them. Three-and-a-half or four million registered kids, we believe there are many more out there who could be playing with us.”As for challenging baseball, basketball and gridiron football, Cordeiro admits there is a lot of competition. The same is true in Canada, with ice hockey considered the national pastime.But serving as a co-host for a “world-class event, the scope of which we haven’t seen in our country,” according to Canada Soccer president Steven Reed, could change things.“Ultimately our focus is to grow our sport or our game and to provide the impetus for that. There’s a strength in numbers in our country where we’ve got over one million registered players in a country that only has over 30 million in total population,” Reed said. “It’s one of the strongest sports, one of the largest sports and I think we can become the preeminent sport in our country. That’s the legacy we would love to see.”

 Osorio’s former MLS players say he can take Mexico to World Cup success

June 14, 20186:03PM EDTDave ZeitlinContributor

They all remember the notebook.Anyone who played under Mexican national team coach Juan Carlos Osorio will tell you how he always used to jot down notes in his little spiral pad, using a red and blue pen to differentiate attacking players from defenders.“You can still see him doing it now,” says New York Red Bulls II head coach John Wolyniec, who played under Osorio with the Red Bulls in 2008 and 2009.“I never quite got a peek inside of it,” adds Calen Carr, who suited up for him in 2007 when Osorio took over a last-place Chicago Fire team midway through the season and led them into the playoffs.But even though it may have been shrouded in mystery, that notebook was symbolic of Osorio’s meticulous nature during his three-year-run as an MLS head coach. And it’s that nature, some of his old MLS players believe, that can perhaps help Mexico snap a streak of six straight Round of 16 exits at the World Cup.El Tri open Sunday vs. defending champs Germany, with both sides looking to win Group F to avoid a potential meeting with Brazil in their first knockout game.“If there is a manager that can get Mexico to finally get over the hurdle,” Carr says, “I think Juan Carlos would be as prepared to get his team as psychologically and physically ready as anybody.”Carr only played under Osorio for a short period of time in Chicago but nevertheless called him “one of my favorite coaches.” And he credits him for coming in right away and changing the mentality of the group because he knows how to “find a way to get people to really buy into what he’s doing.”Philadelphia Union head coach Jim Curtin agrees with that sentiment, although he admits Osorio’s style is “unorthodox” and initially came as a “shock to some players.” Curtin was certainly shocked the first time he saw Osorio sleeping in the Fire’s film room.“His preparation for training sessions was pretty meticulous in terms of setting a cone down to literally the exact inch and being out on the field two hours before a session to make sure everything was up and running and not a minute was wasted,” says Curtin, who was injured during much of that 2007 season in Chicago, allowing him to more closely observe his coach.“To watch what he’s done with Mexico is not a surprise because he did the same thing in the short time I was around him in Chicago. He’s bold. He doesn’t care what people think and he doesn’t care what the media says. He has his way.”Osorio certainly has his share of critics with the Mexican fans and media but Curtin thinks that if you look at his 31-9-8 record with El Tri since taking over in late 2015, “not enough people talk about how good of a job he’s done there.”  He and others also believe the Colombian is uniquely suited to do well in a tournament setting because of how sharp he is at scouting and how unafraid he is to make big adjustments when needed.“It’s no secret the criticism of Juan Carlos is he changes too much — changes formations, changes players,” Wolyniec says. “I think that comes from him coming at the game from a scouting perspective and reacting and adjusting to the opponent.”“If you look at his track record, he hasn’t been a lot of places too long,” Carr adds. “I think part of the reason is he comes in fast and he’s passionate and I think there’s something to that in getting the best out of people in a short format.”Carr also adds that not being Mexican may serve as an advantage because “he’s unburdened by some of the past, and I think he can help the team feel that way as well too.”Perhaps then, after the World Cup, he may also be in the running for the US national team coaching job?“I’d back him for it,” Carr says. “I think he checks a lot of boxes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him considered for that position, which would sort of be an interesting wrinkle in the US-Mexico rivalry.”Wolyniec agrees that Osorio certainly has the pedigree, work ethic, scouting chops, international experience and MLS background to make him a candidate for the USMNT job. But no matter where the 57-year-old ends up, or if he stays with Mexico, the Red Bulls II coach will continue to look to him as an inspiration, just as he has for the past decade.“The first thing you notice about Juan Carlos is his seriousness and his passion for the game,” Wolyniec says. “That comes off right away almost before he introduces himself. And that’s infectious.“He would say players pick up on anything, so if you misplace a cone or say the wrong player’s name, they’re going to pick up on that. So that’s why you have to be detailed and meticulous about what you’re doing.“He’s certainly an example to follow but a model that’s hard to replicate.”

USA vs China friendlies: 3 things we learned

There’s a good midfield somewhere in there, we just know it.

By Stephanie Y@thrace  Jun 13, 2018, 11:30am PDT

The United States put together a pair of close wins over China in June, winning 1-0 and 2-1. Their lone goal in the 1-0 win was an Alex Morgan header off a set piece, but their two goals in the second game came from open play. Perhaps Tobin Heath’s goal needed more than a pinch of luck, but that goal doesn’t happen without the nice buildup and Heath putting herself into position to shoot. But this wasn’t a case of individual brilliance overcoming bad tactics; in fact the tactics, at least in the second game, were fine, with three theoretically excellent midfielders to maintain control while the wings engaged and attacked from the flanks. It was that a good percentage of the team couldn’t execute on the night. Both Allie Long and Julie Ertz watched helplessly as passes rolled by half a step away in game 2, preventing smooth side-to-side transitions, and there were some messes with the defense. So here’s a few things we learned from USA vs China:

Sofia Huerta needs a lot more training at right back and she’ll probably never get it

Huerta did not have a good game 2. Game 1 showed her potential to be a complement to someone like Crystal Dunn, but her defensive work and decision making are not up to par for the USWNT. The problem is she’ll never get the repetitions she needs at right back to truly excel there, playing midfield/forward as she does for Chicago. There’s five games between now and World Cup qualifying. Maybe Tournament of Nations will be a crucible for Huerta, but is she really going to become a reliable enough RB by October that Ellis would risk starting her during qualifying? And then assuming the United States qualifies, will Ellis spend the time between then and June 2019 to make Huerta as complete a fullback as possible? Realistically, Huerta needs to be ready to go by the end of April at the latest. That’s six months after qualification to become a world class right back capable of competing in a World Cup.

One thing Huerta does have going for her is, like Dunn, she can switch around the field on the fly. Ellis might be taking into account her utility in being able to play almost anywhere on the right. The fullback pool is also a little thin on the ground at the moment, and even after Casey Short hopefully makes her triumphant return, that may still leave room for Huerta. There’s only one Crystal Dunn; they can’t just clone her and have her play both right and left fullback and forward.

…can they?

Our central midfield pool is fine

Yes, our midfield did look sloppy in all its iterations. Game 1 was a mix of McCall Zerboni, Julie Ertz, Lindsey Horan, Allie Long, and Sam Mewis. Game 2 used Mewis, Ertz, Horan, Morgan Brian, and Rose Lavelle. Of those players, Ertz, Brian, and Lavelle are all still recuperating. Brian was kind of quiet in the one half she did get, but showed flickers of her healthiest self operating in tight spaces and picking out the developing play.

Ellis rotated through Ertz, Long, and Zerboni as her holding mid; has Mewis, Brian, and Horan for box-to-box work; and Lavelle is once again a potential 10. Zerboni, Horan, Lavelle, and Mewis can all be asked to play higher and attack aggressively out of the midfield. Brian, Horan, and Lavelle can work the half spaces to help maximize our already dangerous flank play. And in a pinch, there’s good old battering ram Carli Lloyd, assuming her shift into central forward is just another piece of her toolkit and not a permanent move. That’s a lot of flexibility and talent! The question is who is going to become a starter and where; flexibility is nice, but stability can often be much better.

Christen Press can play wide

In game 2 of this friendly series, Christen Press was often the joint swinging the punch at China. Yes, China often gave her tons of room out on the right wing, which was odd considering how often she got fed the ball throughout the entire 90 minutes. But Press did a fine job playing the wide attacker, looking for Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe in the box. “Should Press stay central or be forced wide” is a pretty healthy ongoing debate among soccer fans and last night added a tick to the “play her wide” column. Of course, versatility has been the watchword throughout this things-we-learned, and there’s still arguments that Press can play well as lone striker or in a front two. We’ll see what happens once Mal Pugh recovers from injury.

FOR CLUB AND COUNTRY – Indy 11S jUAN gUERRA

By Trey Higdon, 06/13/18, 2:30PM EDT

One of the greatest honors a player can receive is being called up to represent their country’s national team. It’s an opportunity many fight for, but only a handful experience in their playing careers.For Indy Eleven midfielder Juan Guerra, it was a dream come true. He was asked to wear his country’s colors in a series of qualifying rounds for Venezuela in the 2014 World Cup.“My agent called me on the phone and said ‘Listen, you’ll probably want to check the newspaper tomorrow because your name is going to be on the list of 23 players that are going to play the next two World Cup qualifying matches.’” Guerra said.His name first appeared on the Venezuelan National Team roster in the team’s monumental 1-0 win over Argentina, a first in the nation’s history. Though Guerra didn’t feature, the young Venezuelan was floored to be there.“I didn’t get to play that game, but it was the first time that Venezuela beat Argentina in a World Cup qualifying match,” Guerra said. “It was great because I was with the first team.”Soon after Venezuela defeated Argentina, Guerra received two additional call-ups to his country’s World Cup qualifying matches against Columbia and Chile. Guerra made a second-half substitution appearance against Columbia, but didn’t get any play time in the home game against Chile. Regardless, the experience was invaluable.“I did get to play against Columbia and we tied. We were playing away in Barranquilla and it was great being in a full stadium of more than 60,000 people. Playing in a match against people like Falcao, James Rodriguez. It’s an experience that I’m definitely never going to forget.”While growing up in Caracas, Venezuela, Guerra’s father would take him to see the Venezuelan National Team. which is often referred to as La Vinotinto, play in Barcelona, Venezuela, nearly 200 miles from their home.In his youth, Guerra received first hand experience watching his idols play. Idols who would one day become his friends and his mentors. One of who was former New York Cosmos and La Vinotinto teammate Juan Arango.“Juan was a main reference for all of us because he was one of the best players when I was young,” Guerra said. “He was one of the first players to get out of Venezuela and cause an impact in a main league around the world when he was playing in Spain.”Former Venezuelan forward Giovanni Savarese, another idol, would later coach Guerra during his time with the New York Cosmos. A native of Caracas, Venezuela, Savarses played for top clubs around the world, which included stints with Major League Soccer’s New York Red Bulls and the English Premier League’s Swansea City.“My dad used to take me to the stadium to watch the National Team play and some of the team’s that Gio played for when he was in Venezuela,” Guerra said. “I would’ve never, ever have expected that after so many years we were going to develop such a good relationship.”Guerra found his footing in the United States’ professional system. He spent eight years in the US; four years in high school followed by another four years in college. During his collegiate career with Florida International University, he scored 15 goals in 44 appearances in his four-year stay. Guerra also spent a season with United Soccer League Premier Development League’s Brooklyn Knights, where he scored four goals in 15 appearances.In 2008, Guerra was drafted by MLS’ FC Dallas right after college, but was told after preseason he wouldn’t be signed by the club. Unsure of his future, Guerra decided to return to Venezuela to play professionally. He signed his first professional contract with Primera Division 1. League club Monagas SC.“It was tough at first,” Guerra said. “I had to go to a city with people I didn’t know after being in the US for eight years. At the time, I knew I was doing it for a reason, and the reason was that I wanted to play professionally. I wanted to make it all the way.”Removed from his comfort zone, Guerra made his on-field performance his main focus. Monagas’ manager at the time bestowed Guerra with the Captain’s armband after six months. To Guerra, it was a sign he had made the right decision to return home.“Being 21-years-old and being the team captain was an incredible responsibility and also gave me the confidence to know I could go all the way,” said Guerra.Guerra finished his only season at Monagas with one goal in 21 appearances. While he wasn’t a prolific scorer with the club, Guerra’s performance caught the attention of Venezuela’s most successful club, Caracas FC. He signed for Caracas the following season and helped his hometown club claim another Primera Division 1. League title. His career blossomed from there.“I played one year with Caracas and then got offered a contract to go play in Europe,” said Guerra. “After Europe, the National Team came, and so on, and so on.”In 2012, 24-year-old Guerra had signed a contract for top-flight Spanish club, Las Palmas. He only featured once for Las Palmas, but the minutes he didn’t get with his club was replaced with minutes on the pitch with the Venezuela National Team.“I’m very glad that I made the decision when I didn’t get picked by FC Dallas to go back home and started playing first division in Venezuela,” Guerra said.Venezuela failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, which gives 31-year-old Guerra the ability to focus his energy on his first season with Indy Eleven and his son, Santiago. Attending training sessions and games has been the daily routine for Guerra’s small family, ensuring ‘Santi’ is a part Guerra’s journey as a player.“As soon as I got married, me and my wife talked about it.” Guerra said. “I told her that I wanted to have kids while I was still playing, and I wanted to make sure that our kids see me play and share the same passion. I didn’t want to have kids later on and to have to show them newspaper articles and to say ‘This was me. I used to play.’”Guerra’s wish was granted. Guerra and his wife, Maria, often have to keep Santiago from sleeping in his Indy Eleven jersey, and refrain from telling him when games are to keep him from staying up at night out of excitement. It’s become commonplace to see Santiago at the training grounds or on the field after a home match with a ball at his feet, happily dribbling back and forth.Santiago is years away from a professional career, but the world is focused on the next generation of players.In 2017, the Venezuelan National Team U-20 squad were runner-ups in the U-20 World Cup, falling to England’s U-20 side 0-1 in the Final. Though they didn’t win, it was the furthest Venezuela’s U-20 side had advanced in the tournament, having made it to the U-20 World Cup Second Round only once before.In the last 15 years, Venezuela has experienced political, cultural and economic turmoil. Guerra believes the role of a National Team player goes beyond the impact one makes on the pitch.“Understand that being called up for the National Team is not a gift, it’s a huge responsibility,” Guerra said. “Once you put on that jersey, you’re representing your country. You’re representing every single guy, girl and kid that dreams of putting on that jersey. You’re representing people that have to work seven days a week to put food on their table for their kids.”As Guerra and his Venezuelan teammates age out, it’s up to the next generation of athletes to take their places.“My time and my process with the National Team has already passed,” Guerra said. “It’s time for this new generation of kids that are young to get prepared for Qatar 2022.”

militaryindy11

MILITARY APPRECIATION NIGHT

Join us in honoring our military during Military Appreciation Night on July 4th.  Come to watch the Boys in Blue take on the Ottawa Fury and stay for the fireworks downtown.  In honor of our military, we will offering tickets at a 50% discount.  Use the promo-code “military18” and save today

Indiana Youth Soccer Night

Post-Game Photo On The Field

In celebration of Indy Eleven’s official Indiana Youth Soccer Night all youth soccer teams across the state are invited to participate in a post-game photo on the field at Lucas Oil Stadium at the completion of our game. All participants need a game ticket and all teams must register to be eligible for the post-game photo. To register, please sign up here. The deadline to register is Thursday, July 5th. Only one (1) member from each team is required to register for the entire team. For questions, please contact Youth Club Coordinator, Shawn Burcham, at 317-685-1100 or shawn@indyeleven.com.

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

 

6/14/18  World Cup Starts Today, Spain Fires Coach, Full TV Schedule, Indy 11 travel to Toronto, CFC Coaches Game Thur Night

The US/Canada/Mexico Will Host World Cup 2026

So huge news on Wednesday when The United Bid – consisting of the US/Canada/Mexico will host World Cup 2026.  Finally FIFA with a legit and open vote gave the World Cup to the right bid.  That means in just 8 years we get the World Cup here in the US.  With the Finals in New York and the Semi’s probably in Dallas and Atlanta.  Currently Nashville and Cincinnati are the closest possible World Cup Cities that might have games.  I can only imagine how much tickets will be – but man its going to be in our country – GLORIOUS!

The World Cup is Upon Us

So I understand that many like myself are both heartbroken and disgusted that the United States Men’s National Team did not qualify for the World Cup – for the first time in over 30 years.  But the World Cup is indeed upon us and there are tons of reasons to watch.  But let me start here – the reason I am ordering Telemundo during this month of the World Cup as one Andres Cantor will be doing the Spanish Language coverage.(see story below)  Andres Cantor’s Call of Landon Donovan’s WC Goal vs Algeria.  If that doesn’t get you excited – how about this?  Cantor on Telemundo World Cup Warm Up  or The Official Video and Song of the World Cup 2018.  So sure the US and Italy, the Dutch and Chile are missing – but look at who is in.  Can Lionel Messi finally lift Argentina to World Cup Glory after reaching the finals in the last World Cup and Copa America? Can Germany repeat as champion – a feat that hasn’t been done since Pele in 1958 and 1962 with Brazil?  Can Brazil with a semi-healthy Neymar put the demons of a 7-1 home beatdown to Germany behind them and reach the pinnacle again?  Will Mexico get #5 – that elusive win of game #5 and a visit to the Quarterfinals?  Can Spain with new coach Lopetegi return to glory of 2010 with an aging set of veterans?  Can Belgium and all that talent finally make a run to the finals? Can France with all its youth like Pogba and Mbappe, put things together and reach the Championship?  Will Portugal and superstar Renaldo, just 2 years off a European Championship, find lightning in a bottle once again here in Russia?  There are tons of storylines and even more predictions for this World Wide Phenomenon known as the World Cup which is expected to be watched by more than 4 billion people over 5 weeks from June 14 till the Final on Sun, July 15 at 11 am on Fox 5.  The Games are at interesting times from Russia – with 8 am, 11 am and 2 pm the most popular start times for most of the games.  (Thank God I work from home!)  So tons of previews out there but here are my favorites.  World Cup Predictions – SI Planet Futbol   ESPN FC’s experts make their picks
As for me – I will be rooting for lots of teams of course.  I for one would love to see an underdog say an Iceland, the smallest country to ever make the World Cup, make it to the Elite 8.  I have lots of friends who love Germany or Mexico – and while I don’t mind Germany doing well – I always like to see new teams win it all.  As for Mexico – I should be rooting for our neighbor and CONCACAF Champion and I will certainly thru the Group stages. It will certainly be interesting to see how American sport networks cover this World Cup without the US in it.  A run by Mexico into the Semi-Finals would most certainly energize our Mexican-American friends, neighbors and co-workers and might do a bit to re-unite this somewhat fractured country of ours.  As for my picks – oh it depends on which of my 3 sheets you look at?  For now I am going with a rejuvenated Brazil under Tite to make the finals and win it all vs Spain or Germany.  Maybe Germany since Spain fired their coach Wednesday. Man I would love to see Argentina and Messi find a way however.

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US Ladies Win Both

Had a chance to watch the win on Tues night over China for the US Ladies – a hard fought win over a good China squad – I thought the US Ladies did a fine job of possession and pulled out the victory 2-1 – great to see Tobin Heath back from injury score the game winner.  Look for many of the US Ladies in the NWSL on Lifetime and ESPN News (see TV Schedule below).

Indy 11

Fresh off the big home win last week the Indy 11 will travel this week to Toronto 2 this Sat night at 7 pm on ESPN+ (Join the BYB at Union Jack in Broadripple).   The Eleven will be on the road until they return June 26th for a Sat night match-up with Penn FC at 7 pm and July 4th at 7 pm vs Ottawa.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

Carmel FC Coaches Game @ Shelbourne Fields

Thursday, June 14th 6:30 pm Pizza and Water provided – All CFC Coaches and Managers welcome!

SUMMER CAMPS

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – June 18, 20, 25, 27 July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

 GAMES ON TV This Week

Thur, June 14        World Cup on Fox

10:30 am Fox         OPENNING CEREMONIES

11 am Fox              Russia vs Saudi Arabia

Fri, June 15           World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox Sport1     Egypt (Salah) vs Uruguay

11 am Fox              Morocco vs Iran

1 pm Fox                Portugal (Renaldo) vs Spain

Sat, June 16          World Cup on Fox

6 am FS1                France vs Australia

9 am Fox                Argentina (Messi) vs Iceland

12 noon FS1           Peru vs Denmark

3 pm FS1                Croatia vs Nigeria

8 pm ESPNNews    Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns NWSL

9 pm USSocccer.com Sporting KC vs Dallas (Matt Hedges) US Open Cup

Sun, June 17         World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox 59          Costa Rica vs Serbia

11 am Fox Sp1   Germany vs Mexico 

2 pm FS1               Brazil vs Switzerland

 WORLD CUP

World Cup Video – 2018 – Live It Up  –

World Cup Warm Up Video

Andres Cantor to Call World Cup for Telemundo

Andres Cantor’s Call of Landon Donovan’s WC Goal vs Algeria.

2nd Most Memorable World Cup Goal – Argentina – Hand of God – Fox

3rd most Memorable Goal – Brazil

Pele Meets the World

Which World Cup Team Should You Support?

– Welcome to the Alternative 2018 World Cup Fans’ Guide
– ESPN FC’s experts make their picks
– Marvel’s amazing World Cup spoilers
– Revealed: World Cup 2018 Ultimate XI
– Fixtures, results and full coverage
– Team-by-team previews of all 32 nations

ESPN  – WORLD CUP HOME PAGE

Spanish FA Right to Fire Lopetegui – Gab MArcotti

Argentina Wary of Iceland Height –

 Goalies

Save of the Week – NWSL – Ashlyn Harris

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

 Indy 11

Indy 11 Snap 4 Game Winless Skid with 2-0 downing of Atlanta United 2 – Kevin Johnston indy Star

Indy 11 2 Tough 2 B Bothered by Atlanta United 2 – Bloody Shambles – Rebacca Townsend

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

Flex Packs: Discount Indy 11 Flex Pack Tickets
Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

GAMES ON TV 

 

Fri, June 15           World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox Sport1     Egypt (Salah) vs Uruguay

11 am Fox              Morocco vs Iran

1 pm Fox                Portugal (Renaldo) vs Spain

Sat, June 16          World Cup on Fox

6 am FS1                France vs Australia

9 am Fox                Argentina (Messi) vs Iceland

12 noon FS1           Peru vs Denmark

3 pm FS1                Croatia vs Nigeria

7 pm ESPN+        Toronto II vs Indy 11

8 pm ESPNNews    Chicago Red Stars vs Portland Thorns NWSL

9 pm USSocccer.com Sporting KC vs Dallas (Matt Hedges) US Open Cup

Sun, June 17         World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox 59          Costa Rica vs Serbia

11 am Fox Sp1   Germany vs Mexico 

2 pm FS1               Brazil vs Switzerland

  MON, JUNE 18
8 a.m. ET FS1 Sweden vs. South Korea
11 a.m. ET FS1 Belgium vs. Panama
2 p.m. ET FS1 Tunisia vs. England
    TUESDAY, JUNE 19
8 a.m. ET FS1 Poland vs. Senegal
11 a.m. ET Fox Colombia vs. Japan
2 p.m. ET Fox Russia vs. Egypt
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
8 a.m. ET FS1 Portugal vs. Morocco
11 a.m. ET Fox Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia
2 p.m. ET Fox Iran vs. Spain
    THURSDAY, JUNE 21
8 a.m. ET FS1 France vs. Peru
11 a.m. ET Fox Denmark vs. Australia
2 p.m. ET Fox Argentina vs. Croatia
    FRIDAY, JUNE 22
8 a.m. ET FS1 Brazil vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Fox Nigeria vs. Iceland
2 p.m. ET Fox Serbia vs. Switzerland
    SATURDAY, JUNE 23
8 a.m. ET Fox Belgium vs. Tunisia
11 a.m. ET Fox Germany vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox South Korea vs. Mexico
    SUNDAY, JUNE 24
8 a.m. ET FS1 England vs. Panama
11 a.m. ET Fox Japan vs. Senegal
2 p.m. ET Fox Poland vs. Colombia
    MONDAY, JUNE 25
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Uruguay vs. Russia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iran vs. Portugal
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Spain vs. Morocco
    TUESDAY, JUNE 26
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Australia vs. Peru
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Denmark vs. France
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iceland vs. Croatia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Nigeria vs. Argentina
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 South Korea vs. Germany
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Mexico vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Switzerland vs. Costa Rica
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Serbia vs. Brazil
    THURSDAY, JUNE 28
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Japan vs. Poland
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Senegal vs. Colombia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 England vs. Belgium
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Panama vs. Tunisia

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

McCordsville/Ronald McDonald House – Greater Indy 3 vs 3 – June 23

www.3v3live.com  $200 per team up to six players. Each player will receive a t-shirt, top three teams in each division get custom medals, top four qualify for Regionals the road to Disney. Full details and fun details on our tourney https://www.3v3live.com/mcdonalds

The U.S. will co-host the 2026 World Cup: Here’s everything you need to know

5:53 PM ETJeff CarlisleSoccer

MOSCOW — The World Cup is coming back to North America.The “United Bid” comprising Canada, Mexico and the United States prevailed in a vote against Morocco here on Wednesday and it represents something familiar and something unfamiliar. Old in that Mexico will be hosting the tournament for a record third time after previously hosting the 1970 and 1986 editions. Meanwhile, the vote marks the second time the U.S. has won the honour of hosting the tournament, and it was the highly successful 1994 World Cup that in part helped the Americans land the tournament this time around. For something new, you have Canada hosting the men’s edition for the first time, though it has hosted other FIFA events, including the 2015 Women’s World Cup.

So what does it all mean? Let’s try to fill in the blanks.

Q: When will the tournament be?

A: In all likelihood, the tournament will run from mid-June to mid-July, though given the increase in teams from 32 to 48 (more on that in a bit), the timeline for the tournament may be stretched out a bit longer. Yes, that falls smack in the middle of summer, and those who recall the 1994 World Cup remember that a few games were played in searing heat. But with more indoor stadiums to pick from, the hope is that will be mitigated to a degree.

Q: How many teams will take part?

A: Barring a change of heart by FIFA as it relates to 2022, this will the first World Cup to feature 48 teams. That decision may have actually aided the United Bid’s cause given that the three nations have a host of World Cup-ready stadiums to pick from, with more sure to be built. Morocco couldn’t say the same.

Q: How will this impact World Cup qualifying in CONCACAF? Will the three hosts get spots automatically?

A: The expanded field will see CONCACAF get allocated six guaranteed slots with the possibility of more via a playoff. As for the question of whether three spots will be set aside for the hosts, that won’t be decided until next year’s FIFA Congress in Paris. But FIFA certainly seems to be leaning towards granting automatic spots to all three countries. Former U.S. Soccer Federation president and current FIFA Council member Sunil Gulati told ESPN FC colleague Sam Borden that he would “fully expect” that all three countries would get automatic bids.

Q: Why didn’t the U.S. bid on its own?

A: Because the odds of winning the bid jointly were greater. Each country could have bid on its own, but a combined bid was viewed as a bid for the entire region as opposed to one that was for individual countries. Had some combination of the U.S., Mexico and Canada bid, it might have fractured the vote within CONCACAF, bolstering the bid from another confederation.

Q: How much did the political climate impact the decision to bid jointly?

A: Even in the best of times, geopolitical considerations have an impact on a World Cup bid. That was true when the U.S. lost out on hosting the 2022 tournament when Barack Obama was president. It’s also true now that Donald Trump is president. Simply put, there is plenty of anti-American sentiment around the world that would have hampered a U.S.-only bid. The inclusion of Canada and Mexico made the bid more palatable to voters.

Q: Has a World Cup ever been co-hosted?

A: Yes. Japan and South Korea co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, and while the tournament generally came off without any major glitches, it was very much a forced marriage. Both countries wanted to host the tournament themselves, but the bids were so even that FIFA was loathe to select one over the other. So FIFA hit upon a compromise, but one that was ultimately unsatisfying, so much so that afterwards FIFA swore it would never go for such an arrangement again. Then-FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that having two host countries required twice as much effort in terms of organizing, which led to twice as much cost with no additional money heading FIFA’s way.

The vibe of the United Bid was different in that from the beginning the decision was made to join forces, and that helped sway voters.

Q: So what’s the breakdown of games by country?

A: The U.S. is hosting the bulk of the games, 60 out of 80 in fact, and every single match from the quarterfinals on.

Q: Are Mexico and Canada okay with this?

A: There is some grumbling for sure. Mexico in particular feels that given it has hosted the tournament twice previously, it should get more games, but at present this is the arrangement the three countries have agreed upon.

Q: What will be the expected crowds be?

A: Big, really big. The 1994 edition of the tournament set records for total (3,587,538 fans) and average attendance (68,991 per match) that still stand to this day. This is despite the fact that it was a 24-team tournament that contained just 52 games as opposed to the 64 that have been played in each edition since. The larger stadiums in all three countries, as well as the additional games should see those records shattered. The United Bid is projecting average crowds of 72,500 over the 80 games.

Q: How much money will the World Cup bring in?

A: The official bid book submitted by the United Bid touted $14 billion in revenues and $11 billion in profits for FIFA. Exactly how much of a cut the host countries would get isn’t known exactly, and there has been some skepticism that the numbers listed in the bid book are inflated. But USSF president Carlos Cordeiro has said that he wants the USSF’s annual budget to increase from $100 million to $500 million and winning the bid was a major part of his plan for getting U.S. Soccer to that level.

Q: Where will the games be played?

A: Ultimately ,there will be 16 host cities. For now, 23 host cities — 17 in the U.S., three in Canada and three in Mexico — have been selected. All three cities in both Canada and Mexico are likely to be chosen which would leave the United States to pick 10 remaining cities from their preliminary list of 17. There appears to be some wiggle room, though. CONCACAF president Victor Montagliani stated that his hometown of Vancouver — which opted to take itself out of the running over concerns about among other things security costs — might have a way back in. We’ll see.

World Cup predictions: ESPN FC’s experts’ picks for champion, Golden Ball and more

  Who will win the Golden Boot (top scorer)?

Gab Marcotti: Luis Suarez, Uruguay

A weak group and the fact that I have Uruguay going far suggest he may hit his peak after a relatively lacklustre — by his standards — club campaign.

Craig Burley: Neymar, Brazil

Neymar is much more prepared to carry his country than he was four years ago. He’s had a good rest after injury, too, so fitness permitting, he has the ability and supporting cast to back his showmanship up.

Mark Ogden: Neymar, Brazil

It usually takes six goals to win the Golden Boot. With Brazil benefiting from a soft group and a good route to the latter stages, it is difficult to see past Neymar in the race for top scorer.

Shaka Hislop: Gabriel Jesus, Brazil

Gabriel Jesus will launch himself into the top tier of players in world football, joining the likes of teammate Neymar.

Stewart Robson: Lionel Messi, Argentina

Given a free role, the best player in the world will finally show it on the world’s biggest stage.

Paul Mariner: Antoine Griezmann, France

Surrounded by top players, he will get the supply and will be on all of France’s dead ball opportunities. Always cool under pressure and a great finisher.

Alejandro Moreno: Timo Werner, Germany

I know this pick may be surprising to some, but Germany will be around for a while in this tournament and were drawn into a favourable group that could provide Werner with more opportunities than most to have very productive matches. Werner is not a popular pick, but I am guessing neither were past Golden Boot winners Salvatore “Toto” Schillaci (1990) or Oleg Salenko (1994).

Raphael Honigstein: Antoine Griezmann, France

One of the favourites, France are destined to go far, and Griezmann is in top form.

After scoring six goals at the Euros, what does Antoine Griezmann have in store for the World Cup. Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Julien Laurens: Neymar, Brazil

The fact that he didn’t play at all between the end of February and mid-May means that he will be fresher and sharper than other big players. This is a Brazil team that will go far in the competition and will score lots of goals, and Neymar will be at the heart of everything they do going forward.

Which two nations will reach the final?

Gab Marcotti: Spain vs. Uruguay

If last-minute replacement Fernando Hierro can guide a gifted and experienced Spain team to the final, it will be because they can beat you many different ways. Uruguay is more of a long shot, obviously. But that explosive attacking tandem, coupled with the grizzled warriors at the back and some fresh legs in midfield means they may just do it … and even upset favourite Brazil along the way.

Craig Burley: Germany and Brazil

Quite simply, two best teams entering the tournament will be the two best teams at it.

Mark Ogden: Germany and Brazil

Sorry to be predictable, but who can beat either of them?

Shaka Hislop: Germany and Brazil

Both Brazil and Germany looked impeccable in qualifying and will take that form and their tournament experience into the World Cup.

Stewart Robson: Brazil and Spain

Both countries have been brilliant in qualification and have mixed outstanding quality with defensive organisation.

Paul Mariner: France and Spain

There is massive pressure on France’s Didier Deschamps to get it right, and the players will respond. Spain, on the other hand, have quality in all the right areas and are experienced on this stage.

Alejandro Moreno: Brazil and Spain

The two best teams coming into the tournament will not disappoint. They may have a couple of nervous moments in the latter stages of the competition, but experience, character and talent will eventually separate these two from the rest.

Raphael Honigstein: Brazil and Spain

Brazil and Spain should both win their groups and will survive tough semifinals vs. Germany and France, respectively, to set up a mouth-watering final.

Julien Laurens: France and Argentina

France will beat Brazil in one semifinal and Argentina will knock out Germany in the other. Les Bleus will then get a superb 3-2 win thanks to a late Kylian Mbappe goal.

Who will win the World Cup?

Gab Marcotti: Spain

A shutdown goalkeeper, a veteran defense, a midfield that can keep the ball all day … all they need is some directness up front. If they can find it, they will be world champions.

Craig Burley: Germany

I’m swaying on this pick as Brazil in particular do look strong. However, the continuity in terms of coaching with Joachim Low means they can usually sail through rough seas as they did in 2014. They’ve been unconvincing recently in friendlies, but Germany aren’t about friendlies. Personnel changes mean some players are untried at this level, but they still have enough big-game players and game-changers to just sneak it.

Mark Ogden: Brazil

Brazil are stronger than four years ago, and if Neymar stays fit, they should go all the way this time around.

Shaka Hislop: Brazil

Brazil to bury the ghosts of 2014 and avenge that infamous 7-1 defeat to Germany!

Stewart Robson: Spain

This Spain team has many of the qualities of the clubs responsible for recent glories, but also includes a more penetrative attacking element and more athleticism.

Paul Mariner: France

The pressure is on the French, but with talent all over the field and a star like Griezmann, Les Bleus repeat their exploits of 20 years ago.

Alejandro Moreno: Brazil

Assuming Neymar is fully recovered from his foot injury, Brazil has everything you want from a team in a World Cup. Brazil are the total package as they have attacking talent everywhere, balance in midfield and discipline in the defensive half. Brazil’s best is just better than that of every other contending team.

Raphael Honigstein: Brazil

The perfect blend between skill, depth and tactical balance.

Julien Laurens: France

It is France’s destiny, 20 years after their 1998 triumph, to win the World Cup again. This squad is ready for it!

Potential dark horse(s)?

Gab Marcotti: Senegal

Boasting arguably the best defender in the competition in Kalidou Koulibaly and plenty of punch up front, you’re not sure what you’ll get with them, but if they’re in stride, they can spring a few surprises.

Craig Burley: none

Think it’ll be the usual suspects. Don’t see a smaller nation making a huge dent in this World Cup.

Mark Ogden: Uruguay and Egypt

Uruguay are the perennial dangerous outsider, capable of beating any team on their day with a combination of skill, mental toughness, cynicism when required and goal threat. Egypt, meanwhile, are an African powerhouse and could make it to the last eight here if Mohamed Salah is healthy.

Shaka Hislop: Senegal

Africa’s second-highest-ranked team will surprise a few. Given a good draw as well with Poland, Colombia and Japan in Group H.

Stewart Robson: Uruguay

Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani and Diego Godin allied with an experienced coach in Oscar Tabarez make the South American team a dangerous opponent.

Paul Mariner: Colombia

The Colombians boast pace on the counterattack and are rock-solid in central defence.

Alejandro Moreno: Colombia

This squad is filled with skill and athleticism all over the field. If they defend well and David Ospina has a solid tournament in goal, Colombia has enough to scare the big teams.

Raphael Honigstein: Colombia

A manageable group followed by a decent shot vs. Belgium or England could see Colombia make it to the quarterfinals.

Julien Laurens: Senegal

I really fancy Senegal to surprise a lot of people. They are back at the World Cup for the first time since 2002, where they were wonderful and reached the quarterfinals. This is a golden generation for Senegal with lots of talented players, and coach Aliou Cisse was the captain of that team that reached the quarters in 2002.

Which country will flop?

Gab Marcotti: Germany

OK, we’re talking “flop” by German standards. And that means failing to make the semifinal for the first time since 1998. But hey, they set the bar very high. Joachim Low has had a tremendous run, but striking the right balance between youth and experience might be a big ask this time.

Craig Burley: Belgium

Belgium are full of talented individuals but have yet to prove themselves a contender on the international stage. Manager Roberto Martinez’s usual defensive carelessness will bite them against the real big boys.

Mark Ogden: Portugal and Mexico

Portugal may be the European champions, but they still rely too heavily on an aging Cristiano Ronaldo. As for Mexico, it will be the same old story of high hopes and early disappointment.

Shaka Hislop: Argentina and England

All eyes are on Messi, including those of his teammates. He can’t do it alone, though. Same old story for England.

Stewart Robson: Portugal

They may be the champions of Europe, but not enough creativity and an ultra-defensive approach will see them crash out early here.

Paul Mariner: Belgium

Loads of talent but with very high expectations around the world, the pressure will be too great.

Alejandro Moreno: Portugal

I don’t know how much is expected of them, but much like Greece years ago, Portugal is an unlikely European champion that will not be able to sustain that level of success in the World Cup.

Raphael Honigstein: Argentina and Portugal

Don’t see Portugal’s defensive approach being rewarded a second time. Argentina won’t flop in the sense of crashing out super early, but they will exit at the quarterfinal stage at the hands of Spain, if not in the round of 16.

Julien Laurens: Portugal

I don’t believe in them. I think they have a tricky group outside of Spain. Spain will beat them in their first game and a talented Morocco team and Iran could give them trouble. I don’t see Cristiano Ronaldo having a good tournament, either.

Who will win the Golden Ball (best player)?

Gab Marcotti: Luis Suarez, Uruguay

So difficult to call this. It’s usually from the World Cup winners, but Spain are so multidimensional that a goal-rich tournament and a run to the final from Suarez might just swing it his way despite Uruguay falling at the final hurdle.

Craig Burley: Neymar, Brazil

This has a chance to be his tournament. He needs to deliver and I think he will.

Mark Ogden: Neymar, Brazil

The guy who scores the most goals usually dominates the individual awards, so Neymar again. But Antoine Griezmann may be an outside bet.

Shaka Hislop: Neymar, Brazil

Neymar in the yellow of Brazil isn’t the arrogant and sometimes selfish player we see in the blue of PSG. He usually responds well to the pressure of his country.

Stewart Robson: Lionel Messi, Argentina

Why would you bet against the best player in the world over the past 10 years? Messi will take home the top individual hardware for the second straight World Cup and become the first player to win the award twice.

Paul Mariner: Antoine Griezmann, France

France is my pick to win it and Griezmann is their best individual. Griezmann was the best player at Euro 2016 and will do it again here, this time on an even bigger stage.

Alejandro Moreno: Neymar, Brazil

This is his moment. There is always pressure when you wear the No. 10 and captain’s armband for Brazil, but under Tite, Neymar seems to have embraced this responsibility. The World Cup stage will provide Neymar with the unique opportunity to take a big leap and put his name alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo at the very top of the game.

Raphael Honigstein: Antoine Griezmann, France

Griezmann’s goals will power France to the semis while Brazil’s stars, while deserving, are likely to split the vote.

Julien Laurens: Kylian Mbappe, France

He is only 19 and this is his first big tournament, but he is the type of prodigy we see only once every 20 years or so. The PSG youngster will play with freedom, without any pressure and will take the World Cup by storm.

Who will win the Golden Gloves (top goalkeeper)?

Gab Marcotti: Alisson, Brazil

He has all the tools to make this tournament his own defensively … at least until the semifinal.

Craig Burley: Manuel Neuer, Germany

Neuer had a difficult season with injuries, but I think if Germany do go all the way, he’ll have been a busy boy. Not convinced by the German defence, so success could hinge partly on the goalkeeper.

Mark Ogden: Jordan Pickford, England

The new England goalkeeper is confident, good with the ball at his feet and a risk-taker. He has the ability to be spectacular, too.

Shaka Hislop: Marc-Andre ter Stegen, Germany

With the lack of playing time for Neuer this season, I have a sneaky suspicion that Ter Stegen will get the nod. At Barcelona, he has established himself as one of the world’s best. Expect to see just that in Russia.

Stewart Robson: David De Gea, Spain

Not only does De Gea make match-winning saves, but he rarely makes a mistake.

Paul Mariner: David De Gea, Spain

He makes the key saves when called upon and, almost as importantly, is an error-free goalkeeper.

Alejandro Moreno: Thibaut Courtois, Belgium

Belgium is a sexy pick for many in and around the game. If Belgium advance deep into the competition, Courtois may have to come up with a few big saves and maybe even a memorable penalty kick shootout performance.

Raphael Honigstein: Alisson, Brazil

The most gifted of keepers, Alisson is set to have a breakout tournament.

Julien Laurens: Alisson, Brazil

The Brazilian had a superb season with Roma and has proved to be a wonderful shot stopper. In an attacking Brazil side, he will show how good he is in this tournament.

Player most likely to be red carded?

Gab Marcotti: Mats Hummels, Germany

What he lacks in pace he makes up for in reading the game. But you only get away with it for so long. And in a tournament marked by flat-out speed — and on a team that tends to play on the front foot and can get caught on the counter — he’s got to be among the candidates.

Craig Burley: John Stones, England

I like John Stones as he’s a flamboyant centre-half, but I think he takes too many risks and makes some bad decisions, both with and without the ball. Can see him making a daft challenge in desperation and seeing red.

Mark Ogden: Dele Alli, England

The England midfielder has insisted he will not fall foul of the officials in Russia, but opponents will be wise to his short fuse and we have yet to see evidence that Alli can count to 10 before reacting.

Shaka Hislop: Sergio Ramos, Spain

Sergio Ramos is always good for an error in judgement. With VAR he won’t be able to get away with things he often does.

Stewart Robson: Nicolas Otamendi, Argentina

A great season under Pep Guardiola but too many rash challenges from behind in an emotionally charged environment makes Otamendi a prime candidate to see red.

Paul Mariner: Dejan Lovren, Croatia

In Croatia’s group with Argentina, Iceland and Nigeria, the front players are too quick, technical and strong. He will struggle.

Alejandro Moreno: Sergio Ramos, Spain

There will be a lot of people watching Sergio Ramos very closely after the Champions League fallout. With VAR in play in the World Cup, maybe one of the multiple cameras catches Ramos doing something naughty.

Could Sergio Ramos’ temper and reputation get him in trouble in Russia? Photo by Shot for Press/Action Plus via Getty Images

Raphael Honigstein: Luis Suarez, Uruguay

Luis Suarez might just stumble and accidentally bite into someone again.

Julien Laurens: Pepe, Portugal

He is 35 and played only four games with Besiktas between March and May. He will be out of form if he starts for Portugal, and despite his experience, I expect him to get sent off.

Group winners (A-H)

Gab Marcotti: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Senegal

Craig Burley: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Colombia

Mark Ogden: Uruguay, Spain, France, Croatia, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Colombia

Shaka Hislop: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Stewart Robson: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Paul Mariner: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Alejandro Moreno: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium Colombia

Raphael Honigstein: Uruguay, Spain, France, Croatia, Brazil, Germany, England, Colombia

Julien Laurens: Uruguay, Spain, France, Argentina, Brazil, Germany, Belgium, Colombia

Group runners-up (A-H)

Gab Marcotti: Russia, Morocco, Peru, Nigeria, Serbia, Mexico, England, Poland

Craig Burley: Egypt, Portugal, Peru, Nigeria, Serbia, Mexico, England, Poland

Mark Ogden: Egypt, Morocco, Denmark, Argentina, Serbia, South Korea, England, Senegal

Shaka Hislop: Egypt, Portugal, Peru, Nigeria, Costa Rica, Mexico, Belgium, Senegal

Stewart Robson: Russia, Portugal, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Mexico, Belgium, Senegal

Paul Mariner: Egypt, Portugal, Denmark, Croatia, Serbia, Mexico, Belgium, Poland

Alejandro Moreno: Russia, Portugal, Denmark, Croatia, Switzerland, Sweden, England, Senegal

Raphael Honigstein: Russia, Portugal, Peru, Argentina, Switzerland, Mexico, Belgium, Senegal

Julien Laurens: Egypt, Morocco, Peru, Croatia, Switzerland, Mexico, England, Senegal

The unbearable hope — and inevitable pain — of supporting England at a World Cup

Jun 8, 2018Nick Hornby

 (Editors’ note: We asked Nick Hornby — novelist and screenwriter who wrote about his obsessive fandom of Arsenal in “Fever Pitch” — to reflect on what it’s like to follow England during a World Cup. This is the first of three pieces he’ll be writing for ESPN while England chases glory in Russia.)

“You’ve got to face the fact there may now be a meltdown. OK?,” said a senior member of the squad this week. “I don’t want anybody to panic during the meltdown. No panic. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic. It’s going to be all right in the end.”Yes, it’s time for another England World Cup campaign, and it doesn’t matter that the senior member of the squad is Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, or that he happened to be talking about the Brexit negotiations, now into what seems like their ninetieth year, and with no end in sight.An English World Cup campaign will almost certainly include a meltdown, and there will be panic, and introspection, and calls for something, anything, to be done to — or by, or for — somebody. But it’s going to be all right in the end. It’s just that as with Brexit, nobody knows when the end will be or whether any of you old enough to be reading this will live long enough to see it.England’s two friendly victories this past week, against a poor Nigeria team and a workmanlike Costa Rica, allowed the nation (or the nation’s football commentators, at least) to accentuate the positive. The thumping header with which Gary Cahill opened the scoring against Nigeria got them excited about set pieces; more ominously, it earned Cahill the man-of-the-match award. The willing, likeable but tortoise-paced centre-back is not the recipient one might have been hoping for in a home game against Nigeria, with Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Raheem Sterling all up the other end.In the game against Costa Rica, TV pundit and former England manager Glenn Hoddle enthused about the left-footed full-back Danny Rose putting a left-footed cross into the penalty area from the left side of the pitch. “Lovely to see,” said Hoddle. “Natural.”Nothing came from the cross and if you have a season ticket at Rochdale, you’ve probably seen something similar in every home game this season but keep it to yourself. England need to keep morale high and if that means praising an international footballer for kicking the ball with his stronger foot, then so be it. Pro bono publico, no bloody panic.In previous tournaments, it was possible to feel the disappointment turning to rage and bile even before a ball had been kicked. In 2014, the “Golden Generation” had almost vanished in a fog of under-achievement but Wayne Rooney, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard were still there. Two goals, two defeats and one goal-less draw later, they were home again, after the group stage, and England could draw a veil over another era of expectancy and failure.This time around, the players are not celebrities, not yet; those with no interest in football would be hard pushed to name a single member of the squad, let alone any of their wives or girlfriends. Several players — Marcus Rashford, Rose, Cahill, Danny Welbeck — can only occasionally push themselves into the first team at their clubs, and one of them, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, can’t force his way into his club at all: he’s spent the year on loan at Crystal Palace instead.So maybe — and this, inevitably, is an undertone in the conversation — that could work in England’s favour, right? A young, hungry and humble squad, nearly all of them belonging to a top four Premier League team; a modest, thoughtful, likeable coach … why couldn’t a team like that win the World Cup? Why couldn’t Dele Alli destroy Spain like he destroyed Real Madrid in the Champions League for Spurs?Then you remember who won the Champions League, and that the Spurs vs. Real Madrid game was a group match that didn’t count for much, and that when it came to the crunch, Spurs (who are providing five of the 23-man squad) conceded two late goals to a battle-hardened Juventus team and went out of the competition. Nobody in this England squad has ever scored a goal in the World Cup finals; then again, the national team have only scored 20-odd goals during the five tournaments that have taken place since Sterling was born.Usually in the build-up to an England World Cup campaign, expectations, both great and grim, come out in precisely the same place: we think we have more than half a chance either way.The second of the two friendlies this week was played at Leeds’ Elland Road ground and the difference between the atmosphere there and the atmosphere at Wembley for the Nigeria game was striking. The Leeds fans got behind the team and sang the National Anthem, giving the players a rousing send-off.The Wembley fans were much more apathetic, as usual, and though there are easy explanations — the rest of the country rarely gets to see the national team play outside the capital — this World Cup, and the whole idea of national identity, is taking place at a very peculiar moment in the nation’s history.There is a schism in the country just as there is in the United States; those who voted to leave the EU and those who voted to stay are snarling at each other with mutual incomprehension. The city of Leeds voted (only just) to stay in the EU but the north of England (and Leeds is very much in the north of England) voted overwhelmingly to leave.Meanwhile, 75 percent of Londoners voted to remain. England’s relationship with Europe is complicated (at least from our side — one suspects gloomily that it’s much more straightforward over the Channel) and it’s not hard to imagine that in the current climate, the England team means different things to different English people. If, as some fear, our far-right nutters clash with the Russian hard-right nutters, then feelings will become even more diffuse.Of course, it would be great if England won the tournament but that “if” is too small to the naked eye to be any use to the editor of this piece. What many of us crave is an England team we can like: one that plays fast, muscular, ambitious English football, beats the teams that are inferior to them and goes out bravely to the one that’s better.It’s not much to ask, but it would help an unhappy country to feel better about itself.

McCordsville/Ronald McDonald House – Greater Indy 3 vs 3 – June 23

www.3v3live.com  $200 per team up to six players. Each player will receive a t-shirt, top three teams in each division get custom medals, top four qualify for Regionals the road to Disney. Full details and fun details on our tourney https://www.3v3live.com/mcdonalds

INDY ELEVEN FRONT OFFICE GROWS WITH ADDITION OF NEW HIRES

By IndyEleven.com, 06/12/18, 8:45AM EDTShare

 Indy Eleven adds Vice President of Sales and Marketing, additional positions

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer announces the hiring of Josh Mason as its Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Mason, who attended Ball State University for his undergraduate degree and Indiana Wesleyan University for his MBA, will start July 1, 2018.“We’re very excited to have Josh join our Front Office staff,” said Indy Eleven presidet Jeff Belskus. “We’re very appreciative of [Indy Eleven owner] Ersal Ozdemir in making the investment to grow our organization.”Mason has spent the last 18 years in various sales and marketing roles with top brands including: Monarch Beverage, Miller Brewing Company and Starbucks Coffee Corporate. Most recently, Mason acted as Central Regional Manager for Enthuse Marketin, a New York based beverage marketing agency. “Josh brings many years of experience as a sales and marketing executive, and as President of the Brickyard Battalion,” Belskus said. In addition to his marketing experience, Mason is one of the founding board members of Indy Eleven’s supporters group, the Brickyard Battalion. Mason has been acting President of the non-profit organization’s board for the last four years. “We want to bring in someone in, like Josh, who is very passionate about this club and connected with our local supporters,” said Belskus. “Our supporters are very important to the organization. We want to continue building a stronger relationship with those who continue to support us.”Indy Eleven has also added Dan Dripps as its new Corporate Partnership Manager, and is in the process of adding two Ticket Account Managers and a new IT Director.

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INDY ELEVEN FRONT OFFICE GROWS WITH ADDITION OF NEW HIRES

By IndyEleven.com, 06/12/18, 8:45AM EDTShare

Indy Eleven adds Vice President of Sales and Marketing, additional positions

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer announces the hiring of Josh Mason as its Vice President of Sales and Marketing.  Mason, a Carmel FC Coach, who attended Ball State University for his undergraduate degree and Indiana Wesleyan University for his MBA, will start July 1, 2018.“ We’re very excited to have Josh join our Front Office staff,” said Indy Eleven presidet Jeff Belskus. “We’re very appreciative of [Indy Eleven owner] Ersal Ozdemir in making the investment to grow our organization.”Mason has spent the last 18 years in various sales and marketing roles with top brands including: Monarch Beverage, Miller Brewing Company and Starbucks Coffee Corporate. Most recently, Mason acted as Central Regional Manager for Enthuse Marketin, a New York based beverage marketing agency. “Josh brings many years of experience as a sales and marketing executive, and as President of the Brickyard Battalion,” Belskus said. In addition to his marketing experience, Mason is one of the founding board members of Indy Eleven’s supporters group, the Brickyard Battalion. Mason has been acting President of the non-profit organization’s board for the last four years. “We want to bring in someone in, like Josh, who is very passionate about this club and connected with our local supporters,” said Belskus. “Our supporters are very important to the organization. We want to continue building a stronger relationship with those who continue to support us.”Indy Eleven has also added Dan Dripps as its new Corporate Partnership Manager, and is in the process of adding two Ticket Account Managers and a new IT Director.

PREVIEW | TORVIND

By IndyEleven.com, 06/14/18, 4:45PM EDT

“Boys in Blue” to face Toronto FC II on mutual ground in New York

Saturday, June 16, 2018 – 7 P.M. EST  Marina Auto Stadium – Rochester, New York  

Watch/Listen Live: Local/National TV: N/A  Streaming Video: N/A

Follow Live: In-game updates: Follow @IndyElevenLive on Twitter  Official stats: USL Match Center

WEEK 14: SIGHTS SET ON ANOTHER WIN

Indy Eleven look to improve their 2W-1L-2D record on the road this weekend against Toronto FC II. The “Boys in Blue” are attempting to win their second game in a row, something the team has not done since the Week Four and Five victories.Indy Eleven (5W-4L-3D) currently sit at 10th in the Eastern Conference with 18 points. The “Boys in Blue” are three points off of third place, chasing Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC with 21 points. In their last outing, “Indiana’s Team” defeated 15th place Atlanta United 2, 2-0, which ended a four game winless skid. Goals from Indy Eleven midfielder Matt Watson and defender Carlyle Mitchel handed Indy the victory. The two goals were also the first of the season for each player. Indy Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams recorded his sixth clean sheet for “Indiana’s Team”, which ties Fon Williams for most clean sheets in the Eastern Conference.Toronto FC II (0W-11L-2D) currently sit at last place in the Eastern Conference with two points. The home team will attempt to get their first points since its draw with New York Red Bulls II on April 28. Toronto FC II nearly secured a point against Penn FC in their previous match in Week 13. The game was level at two when Toronto defender Robert Boskovic committed a hand ball in the Toronto 18-yard box resulting in a penalty for Penn FC. Penn substitute Jerry Ortiz scored the penalty and dashed hopes of a point for Toronto. The loss is now their seventh in a row and first under newly appointed head coach Michael Rabasca.Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie will aim to continue the attacking performance and defensive dominance displayed last weekend against a Toronto FC II team that has conceded the most goals, and scored the least, in the Eastern Conference. Rennie will rely on captain Matt Watson to keep his squad focused going into the Week 14 fixture.“You don’t underestimate anyone,” Watson said. “If we work hard, as hard as them or harder, then our talent will shine through.”

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW EUGENE STARIKOV

Indy Eleven forward Eugene Starikov returned to the pitch in last week’s matchup with Atlanta United. The reappearance of the forward, his first since Week Three, bodes well for Martin Rennie’s lineup. Starikov’s ability to return to action is timed perfectly, as teammate and forward Jack McInerney serves the second of his two-game suspension against Toronto FC II.Starikov adds pace and flexibility to Indy Eleven’s offense, with the ability to bounce between forward and midfield. Last season with NASL’s New York Cosmos, he made 25 appearances for th club and found the back of the net four times.

TORONTO FC II PLAYER TO WATCH: MF LUCCA UCCELLO

What Toronto FC II midfielder Lucca Uccello lacks in size, he makes up for in talent on the ball. The 5-foot-5-inch midfielder has been a positive light in a dark tunnel for Toronto FC II. He has started 9 out of12 games for the Canadian side. Despite his youth, the 20-year old midfielder has moved the ball well this season and averaged just over 80 percent passing accuracy.The Canadian born midfielder has been a threat in front of goal, having found the back of the net twice in 12 appearances. In addition to scoring goals, he can create them for his teammates as well. Uccello has tallied one assist so far this season and created 10 chances.

MATCHUP TO MARK: INDY OFFENSE FACES TORONTO FC II’S DEFENSE

Indy Eleven’s offense seems to be catching stride at the right time. In the last three games the “Boys in Blue” have found the back of the net six times. The team has also found the back of the net using various methods, keeping opposition defenses from being able to contain one aspect of the team’s offense. They’ve found the back of the net once from a penalty, once from a corner kick, twice from direct free kicks and twice from the run of play.Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie’s compact press has led to effective counter attacking play. The aim is to apply pressure in the midfield and attacking third taking away opponents time on the ball and forcing sloppy passes that lead to turnovers and goal scoring chances. The tactics proved fruitful as they led to midfielder Matt Watson’s first goal against Atlanta United 2.“I think we’ve always been better on the front foot as opposed to letting them have good possession around the half way line,” Watson said. “I think we’re always better when we win the ball high.”Toronto FC II will have to be weary of the counter attack deployed by Indy Eleven. During the 2018 season, Toronto has averaged a completion percentage of three-quarters of their passes per game. They also average 86 percent completion in their own half.The high pressure may be amped up against Toronto FC II, as the Canadian side has given up 10 goals in the last three games. Toronto has given up the most goals (30) in the Eastern Conference through the 2018 campaign.The “Boys in Blue” will aim for another three points and a chance at third place as Indy Eleven’s offense continues to pick up steam.

PLEASE NOTE: There will be no local/ESPN+ live stream available for this match. Be sure to follow @IndyEleven and @IndyElevenLive on Twitter for live updates at the “Boys in Blue” kickoff against Toronto FC II at 7:00 p.m. in Rochester, New York.

Catch “Indiana’s Team” when it returns to Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, June 30 at 7:00 p.m. for Pride Night against Penn FC. Fans can get their tickets starting at $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.

 

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

 

6/11/18  US Man Tie France 1-1, US Ladies beat China play again Tues Night 7 pm ESPN2, Indy 11 win 2-0, World Cup Starts Thurs.

So I didn’t plan to write today – after this fabulous weekend for the US Men, Ladies and the addition (finally) of New US Men’s General Manager of Soccer- Earnie Stewart – things are really looking up.  Listen I have said this before and I stand by it.  The loss generation of US Soccer has been replaced with the NEW HOPE.  This group of US players most between 18-23 years old – might well be our best group of US players ever.  Have they proved it yet – not necessarily but wins at the U17 and U20 World Cups and advancement to the final 4 of each – (only England did that too) this group of young American’s are showing that they might well be special.  Already 18 year old’s Christian Pulisic and Westin McKinnie are taking the US, and Europe by storm as both are now playing and starting for Champions League teams in Germany.  Now this result a 1-1 tie against a France team that many are picking for a Semi-Final World Cup run – shows just what the US is capable of.  Zack Stephan in goal was as much the difference as anything as he made save after save – 8 on the day- to keep the French at bay.  Now the US still has lots of work to do and that’s where someone like Earnie Stewart comes in.  For those who don’t know – Ernie Stewart has been named our new US General Manager.  I am not sure there is a better candidate for that role than Stewart.  He wore the US Shirt for 2 world cup cycles, he played in Europe and in the MLS – so he understands the commitment and travel involved with playing in Europe and wearing the US jersey. He has managed in both Holland and the United States – recently building a growing Philly Union squad using the youth system that is now starting to show dividends.  I think Earnie Stewart is the perfect man for this role – a dual National player who played as hard as any US player ever.  He will re-instill that love and commitment to country when wearing the red, white, and blue.  I know a World Cup over the next 3 weeks without the US is going to be really tough – but I truly expect the next 8 years to be an incredibly exciting time to be a US Soccer fan.

US Ladies Play China Tues Night, ESPN2

The US ladies eeked out a hard fought 1-0 win over China with a goal by Alex Morgan over the weekend and will look to keep their winning streak alive again tonight on ESPN2 at 7 pm against China as they prepare for the  2018 Tournament of Nations vs the best teams in the World in late July.  Don’t forget the US Ladies will play just 3 hours away in Chicago vs Brazil on Thurs, Aug 2 at 6:30 pm & on FS1.

WORLD CUP

So we’ll know if this week has really been a Great Week for US Soccer – on Wednesday Morning – 6 to 8 am when the World Cup in awarded for 2026.  If the United bid of the US, Canada and Mexico win the bid AS THEY SHOULD- then we have 8 years to get ready to host the greatest sporting event in the World.  Wow – wouldn’t that be fun!  Now as far as watching World Cup action – Fox and Fox Sports 1 will be the go to channels for all of the games and most of the coverage.  It all starts at 10:30 am on Fox and Fox Sports 1 on Thursday, June 14th with the World Cup Opening Ceremonies live from Russia. Don’t forget I have a World Cup Poolclick here to join.  Make yourself a login and play along. With the US out and my 2 other favorites Italy and the Netherland’s out I figured I better do something to give myself more reason’s to watch all the games.  Each day World Cup Tonight will be featured on Fox Sports 1 at 11 pm each night.  Also beIN Sports Soccer Extra will be there every night at 7 pm.  Not sure what the HELL ESPN is doing?  Sportscenter coverage I assume – but not having a 30 minute show each night just because you got outbid – well obviously ESPN is not really interested in soccer anymore.  I will have my full World-Cup Preview on Friday of this week.

Indy 11

Good win for our Indy 11 at home Saturday night with the 2-0 victory over Atlanta United.  (See stories below)  The Eleven will be on the road until they return June 30th for a Sat night match-up with ____ at 7 pm in Lucas Oil.

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Tryouts for Carmel FC – @ Shelbourne Fields

This Monday and Tuesday – June 11 & 12 (U11-U13 5:30 pm- 6:45 pm), (U14-U19 – 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm)

Carmel FC Coaches Game @ Shelbourne Fields

Thursday, June 14th 6:30 pm

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 US Soccer

Earnie Stewart is first USMNT General Manager – SI Brian Straus

US Shows Progress after World Cup Failure – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

US Should Rely on this Younger Generation – James Tyler – ESPNFC

No Poor Showings for Players vs France – Sarachan says – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

US Men Close with nice Final Impression vs France – SI Avi Creditor

US Young Squad hangs on for Draw with France – Jason Davis ESPNFC

US Player Ratings Zack Steffan Shines – Jason Davis – ESPNFC

US Players Ratings vs France – NBCSports – Joe Prince Wright –

3 things we learned

US Soccer Team Shows Potential – US Soccer

Mbappe Spares France embarrassment with late Equalizer vs US – Daily Mail UK

How Good Can the US Be – Noah Davis – ESPNFC

Antonee Robinson Looks for Breakout for US – ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Tim Weah Credits Mom for Soccer Pursuit – not Chill Best Player Dad

Mexico’s Jon Gonzales – I felt like I turned my back on the US –


Hays: U.S. women still have work to do »

  Zerboni right at home in first start »

  Morgan’s header leads U.S. past China »

  Rankings: USA, Germany, England 1-2-3 »

  Hays: Lloyd joins rare company »

  Lloyd scores 100th international goal 

Hays: Dunn’s versatility a key for USWNT »

 

 Indy 11

Indy 11 Snap 4 Game Winless Skid with 2-0 downing of Atlanta United 2 – Kevin Johnston indy Star

Indy 11 2 Tough 2 B Bothered by Atlanta United 2 – Bloody Shambles – Rebacca Townsend

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

Flex Packs: Discount Indy 11 Flex Pack Tickets
Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

World Cup

Politics Out of The United Bid’s Control ESPNFC

England Team Preview = NBC Sports

World Cup Predictions – SI Planet Futbol

United States of El Tri – Mexico Owns US World Cup Spotlight – SI Brian Straus

Why America Should Root for Mexico in this World Cup – ESPN MAG

World Cup Rosters Are Announced – ESPNFC

France’s and Man United’s Paul Pogba is ready to Shine – ESPN Mag Feature –

Stay Messi my Friend – ESPN Mag –

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Tryouts for Carmel FC – @ Shelbourne Fields

This Monday and Tuesday – June 11 & 12 (U11-U13 5:30 pm- 6:45 pm), (U14-U19 – 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm)

Carmel FC Coaches Game @ Shelbourne Fields

Thursday, June 14th 6:30 pm

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GAMES ON TV

Tues, June 12

7 pm ESPN2        USA Women vs China

Thur, June 14        World Cup on Fox

10:30 am Fox         OPENNING CEREMONIES

11 am Fox              Russia vs Saudi Arabia

Fri, June 15           World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox Sport1     Egypt (Salah) vs Uruguay

11 am Fox              Morocco vs Iran

1 pm Fox                Portugal (Renaldo) vs Spain

Sat, June 16          World Cup on Fox

6 am FS1                France vs Australia

9 am Fox                Argentina (Messi) vs Iceland

12 noon FS1           Peru vs Denmark

3 pm FS1                Croatia vs Nigeria

7 pm ESPN+        Toronto II vs Indy 11

Sun, June 17         World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox 59          Costa Rica vs Serbia

11 am Fox Sp1   Germany vs Mexico 

2 pm FS1               Brazil vs Switzerland

  MON, JUNE 18
8 a.m. ET FS1 Sweden vs. South Korea
11 a.m. ET FS1 Belgium vs. Panama
2 p.m. ET FS1 Tunisia vs. England
    TUESDAY, JUNE 19
8 a.m. ET FS1 Poland vs. Senegal
11 a.m. ET Fox Colombia vs. Japan
2 p.m. ET Fox Russia vs. Egypt
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 20
8 a.m. ET FS1 Portugal vs. Morocco
11 a.m. ET Fox Uruguay vs. Saudi Arabia
2 p.m. ET Fox Iran vs. Spain
    THURSDAY, JUNE 21
8 a.m. ET FS1 France vs. Peru
11 a.m. ET Fox Denmark vs. Australia
2 p.m. ET Fox Argentina vs. Croatia
    FRIDAY, JUNE 22
8 a.m. ET FS1 Brazil vs. Costa Rica
11 a.m. ET Fox Nigeria vs. Iceland
2 p.m. ET Fox Serbia vs. Switzerland
    SATURDAY, JUNE 23
8 a.m. ET Fox Belgium vs. Tunisia
11 a.m. ET Fox Germany vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox South Korea vs. Mexico
    SUNDAY, JUNE 24
8 a.m. ET FS1 England vs. Panama
11 a.m. ET Fox Japan vs. Senegal
2 p.m. ET Fox Poland vs. Colombia
    MONDAY, JUNE 25
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Saudi Arabia vs. Egypt
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Uruguay vs. Russia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iran vs. Portugal
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Spain vs. Morocco
    TUESDAY, JUNE 26
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Australia vs. Peru
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Denmark vs. France
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Iceland vs. Croatia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Nigeria vs. Argentina
    WEDNESDAY, JUNE 27
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 South Korea vs. Germany
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Mexico vs. Sweden
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Switzerland vs. Costa Rica
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Serbia vs. Brazil
    THURSDAY, JUNE 28
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Japan vs. Poland
10 a.m. ET Fox/FS1 Senegal vs. Colombia
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 England vs. Belgium
2 p.m. ET Fox/FS1 Panama vs. Tunisia

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

SUMMER CAMPS

FC Barcelona Camp – Grand Park June 11-15 $499

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – June 18, 20, 25, 27 July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 11 am till 1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

McCordsville/Ronald McDonald House – Greater Indy 3 vs 3 – June 23

www.3v3live.com  $200 per team up to six players. Each player will receive a t-shirt, top three teams in each division get custom medals, top four qualify for Regionals the road to Disney. Full details and fun details on our tourney https://www.3v3live.com/mcdonalds

U.S. Soccer Hires Earnie Stewart as First USMNT General Manager

By BRIAN STRAUS June 06, 2018

Some uncertainty remains about the ultimate scope of the job, its purview and potential long-term impact. But we now have a face, name and vision to place alongside U.S. Soccer’s new technical title.Earnie Stewart, an influential midfielder in the 1990s-early 2000s who is currently the sporting director at the Philadelphia Union, was named the first U.S. men’s national team general manager on Wednesday. He’ll assume the new position August 1 after moving to Chicago. At that time, he’ll be the point man in the federation’s search for a permanent head coach. And Stewart said during a Wednesday conference call that, although the search will be characterized by “process over speed,” he’s already presented U.S. Soccer with a list of candidates.“Having played for the [USA] and seeing what the capabilities and possibilities were in the United States, this was something where I wanted to jump on board,” Stewart said in a Wednesday statement. On the call, the 49-year-old Netherlands native, who was capped 101 times by his father’s homeland, said he was “extremely proud and honored to be named the general manager of the U.S. men’s national team.”The position was created by the federation’s board in December, a couple months after the USA was eliminated from this summer’s World Cup. The fallout from that historic failure resulted in coach Bruce Arena’s resignation, the election of a new U.S. Soccer president—Carlos Cordeiro—and the search for GMs for the both the men’s and women’s senior teams (the latter is expected to be appointed before the end of 2018). Cordeiro pledged during his presidential campaign to involve additional people in soccer decisions and in April, he announced the creation of a board-level technical committee empowered to weigh in on appropriate matters and lead the search for the new GM. Previously, former president Sunil Gulati and CEO Dan Flynn had almost total de facto control of those processes and appointments.Cordeiro said Stewart’s appointment “is a further step in our commitment to ensure that soccer operations are run by soccer experts.”Stewart now is just one of several “soccer experts” at the federation. He won’t have full control over the governing body’s entire sporting structure, instead focusing on the senior men’s team and its coach, culture, logistics, style of play and player pool. The limits on the GM position’s power, the extent of which still seems somewhat theoretical, reportedly scared off some potential candidates. The GM won’t have the final say over the Olympic and junior national team coaches, for example, or certain development initiatives. But Stewart insisted Wednesday he was satisfied with the conversations that took place during an “extensive interview process” and that he felt he could make an impact.Stewart will report to Flynn, and the board will give the final thumbs up or down on Stewart’s coaching choice. Considering his August start date, which Flynn said was designed to accommodate Stewart’s transition from the Union, that choice won’t be made until well after the World Cup’s conclusion.“I don’t know many organizations where someone can just come in and pick whatever he wants,” Stewart said regarding the federation’s collaborative process. “I will be responsible in making sure I do the recommendation towards the board and Carlos when it comes to the U.S. men’s national team coach. That will be my responsibility, and obviously in that process I’m a person that’s always been known to collaborate, and that’s the way the U.S. Soccer Federation will work. In that search, I’ll make sure to speak to those that are very important in the search process and together, in the end, we’ll come with a recommendation toward our board to make the best decision.”Clearly, in practice, Stewart must have significant latitude and influence in the search process. Otherwise, his position is cosmetic. On Wednesday, Flynn said Stewart’s appointment was for the “long-term,” designed to transcend given coaches and competitions. “At the same time,” Flynn added, “we need to see progress between now and 2022.”Said chief sport development officer Nico Romeijn, “It’s a long-term position. It’s about overseeing the whole program. It’s looking at style of play, the player pool—not only the current player pool, but we’re looking at 2022 and 2026 … [The GM] should be the sounding board and counsel of the men’s national team coach. He will also be involved in the daily environment and the creation of the best conditions for players.”Stewart said in a Q&A published by U.S. Soccer that the most important qualities he’s looking for in a coach are people-management skills, and the ability to communicate and implement tactical principles and a consistent style of play during the short period in which a national team is together. Style of play was a hot topic during Wednesday’s call. Style isn’t about formations or lineup choices, Stewart said, but rather, “the style goes toward the values—what we want to see on the field from our players.”He said establishing a long-term style of play wouldn’t be a hindrance in finding the right coach, who would “have the autonomy within the style of play to play in different formations.”Stewart said, “You’ll get an understanding, and I think it’s great that the coach knows exactly what we want to see on the field. … Everybody wants to work here. I don’t think there will be many coaches that will say, ‘No’, because the United States has values about what they want to see when they step on the field and what they want to see from their players. On the contrary, when you come with a plan, a lot of people will want to jump on board because there’s a plan, a vision, and an identity.”Stewart revealed in the Q&A that he also was preparing to “get to know this whole player pool,” from the senior side to the youth, and hoped to visit U.S. players and their clubs for conversations. Until now, there’s been no one at the federation responsible for keeping track of potential internationals’ long-term progress and eligibility, or with establishing consistent communication protocols. Mexico’s GM was instrumental in the January switch of former U.S. midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez, for example. A coach is worried about the next camp and the next tournament. The GM can peer around corners, keep potential players in the loop and, Stewart said, help them stay apprised of their short- and long-term roles.The GM position may evolve as needs, results or politics dictate. Some have expressed concern that the role won’t have the desired impact at a federation that’s been slow to open up. But Stewart’s hiring is a step, and the spotlight and onus now are on U.S. Soccer as much as the new GM.Stewart’s comfort with the big picture, and among the primary reasons he’s a hire who comes with the benefit of the doubt, is rooted in a lifetime spent in European and American soccer. The son of a U.S. serviceman, Stewart enjoyed a productive 16-year career in the Eredivisie and MLS, and he played 101 times for the USA. He was a member of three World Cup squads and was U.S. Soccer’s player of the year in 2001. After retiring, Stewart returned to the Netherlands and held technical positions at VVV Venlo, NAC Breda and finally AZ Alkmaar, which was a Europa League regular under his watch. He then took over in Philadelphia prior to the 2016 MLS campaign.His performance with the Union can be graded only in context. It’s a budget-conscious club, and although Philly hasn’t won a playoff game with Stewart at the helm, it’s made progress as a talent incubator. He’s also chosen to stick with coach Jim Curtin, whom he didn’t hire, despite the well-liked manager’s failure to finish higher than sixth in the Eastern Conference during this three full seasons on the bench (Philly is 5-6-3 so far this year and in seventh). That suggests Stewart believes in seeing a process through, and that continuity is more important than ego or quick fixes. If that’s true, that’ll serve him well in a much-needed position that’s going to take shape on the fly.

U.S. shows progress vs. France; hope grows for future, post-World Cup woe

Jun 10, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer – ESPNFC

LYON, France — In the aftermath of the United States’ failure to qualify for the World Cup, caretaker manager Dave Sarachan has been in experimental mode as the men’s national team seeks to move on. After six games, it was possible that the result would not pass muster but, instead, the U.S. is finding a mix worth keeping around for a while, albeit one in need of more refining.Saturday’s 1-1 draw with France was the latest confirmation of that progress. Sure, France dominated the ball, but the U.S. hung in there defensively, got an opportunistic goal from Julian Green and then, after conceding an equalizer to Kylian Mbappe, rode Zack Steffen’s goalkeeping late to secure the draw.”It’s wonderful,” midfielder Wil Trapp said. “It’s not always going to be pretty. We understood that. Look, it’s one of the best teams in the world, favorites for the World Cup, and I thought we adjusted really well. We scored the goal first, shocked them a little bit, and then weathered the storm.”Granted, it probably won’t be Sarachan who gets to do the additional tweaking. There is a chance that he hangs around until the next round of friendlies — against Brazil and Mexico in September — but, with general manager Earnie Stewart on board and leading the search for a new manager, it’s also possible that one will have been hired by then.Either way, the team moving forward with more hope than it had in October, or even before Saturday’s game. The concern prior to playing France wasn’t that the U.S. would lose, but rather by how much. Instead, the young side simply went about its business, while Sarachan dug even deeper into his youthful roster as well as his tactical bag of tricks.Neither DeAndre Yedlin nor Jorge Villafana appeared until late in the match, with Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore getting the starting nod as wing-backs in a 5-3-2 and both held up well.”We have a young group that’s hungry and willing to fight for each other and I think that showed today,” Moore said.The same is true of the central three of Cameron Carter-Vickers, Miazga and Tim Parker. Even when Miazga had to leave the match in the second half with a head laceration, Erik Palmer-Brown entered the game and filled in ably. A stumble by Carter-Vickers contributed to Mbappe’s equalizer, but afterward, Steffen was there to help preserve the result, especially when he dove to his right to deny Nabil Fekir’s free kick. The match proved to be tougher for midfielders Trapp, Tyler Adams and McKennie. A few wayward passes set up some dangerous counterattacks for France but the trio did grow into the match, using its defensive effort as a springboard for the attack.”I think in the first half, we were a little nervy with a different formation and trying to break down plays and find passing angles,” Trapp said. “But I think as Tyler, Weston and I started to rotate more, we started to unsettle them a little bit more and find better spots.’And so the France result sits alongside other confidence-building performances that have taken place in this period. Yes, these games were all about learning lessons and, in the 2-1 defeat to Republic of Ireland, there were a few sharp ones.However, it’s beneficial when the bulk of what’s learned is accompanied by some encouraging results. It validates hard work and a way of doing things, and that is what has happened in this squad.”I think it’s a huge step for us as professionals, and as a group, not listening to outside noise,” Trapp said. “And believing in ourselves and believing in each other in adverse situations, that’s a huge experience for young players, and of melding together and continuing to grow.”These are times of high curiosity and low expectations. The results have little in the way of stakes attached to them and the same will be true later this summer and into fall, with friendlies vs. Argentina, Colombia, England and Italy also in the offing.There will be a desire to see further progress, even if the opposition is of a high caliber. But this young U.S. side has moved forward over the last eight months, at times against difficult opponents. There is excitement to see how much farther it can go.

Next generation has shown the U.S. should trust in youth

4:25 PM ETJames TylerSoccer

For the first time in a while — eight months, at least — the future looks brighter for the U.S. men’s national team. For that reason, the service given by the old guard should remain exactly where it is: in the past. Now is the time for the next generation, several of whom wrestled France’s stars to a creditable 1-1 draw in Lyon on Saturday.If U.S. Soccer is to take a meaningful step forward, following the gut-punching misery of October’s defeat to Trinidad and Tobago and failure to reach the World Cup in Russia, which starts Thursday, it must end the careers of nearly all the players who were part of that debacle in Couva.Granted, France missed enough chances to win several games, but even if you discount the result itself, there was plenty of spirit and optimism to suggest that the U.S. should just move forward from here without the majority players that got them into this strange and uncertain mess. Heck, one of the exceptions to that, Christian Pulisic, wasn’t even playing against the 1998 World Cup winners.Goalkeepers tend to play into their late 30s, but just because Gianluigi Buffon can do it doesn’t mean that the older U.S. shot-stoppers should, at least not at international level. The acrobatic confidence of Zack Steffen against a bleuassault was pleasing to the eye; he’ll surely let in some goals for the national team over the course of his career, but he seems capable of shrugging off a setback.Meanwhile, the defense was battered with 19 shots as France enjoyed 70 percent of possession, but a trio of inexperienced center-backs — Tim Parker, Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers — kept their cool and strained just enough to put France in difficult shooting positions. On the outside, the athleticism of Antonee Robinson and Shaq Moore ably covered up the fact that they’re still learning their responsibilities.The three-man midfield was predictably overrun thanks to a lumpen 5-3-2 formation, but Weston McKennie, Wil Trapp and Tyler Adams atoned by using their stamina and hustle to fill space, deny passing lanes or simply swallow up French attackers to prevent them from clear shots on goal. It wasn’t pretty, and more confidence and calm in possession would also help, but it’s something upon which to build.The U.S. forwards were poor — Bobby Wood tried gamely but strayed offside on what could have been a vital second goal — given the lack of support they received, but Julian Green, back in the fold after a seemingly eternal absence, pounced on his one clear-cut chance and made the hosts pay. That’s all you can really ask for. So who cares if the Americans had only two shots all game and just 30 percent of possession? To frustrate one of the front-runners to win the whole thing in Russia carries its own cultural cachet, and as this group spends more time playing together at the international level (especially when Pulisic returns to the fold), from such green shoots can things truly grow.And therein lies the vital point: Time together is needed before qualifying for the 2022 World Cup begins at the end of next year; the best way to do that is to put the national team’s future at their feet. Arguably the biggest failing of recent years is the attempt to straddle two worlds, balancing the demands of the here-and-now and a CONCACAF trophy or two, with bedding in players to take the team forward.For example, the 2017 Gold Cup was a successful one for the U.S., but the fact that Bruce Arena called for the cavalry — Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and Tim Howard were among those brought in for the knockout rounds — was a grim message. Namely, “Thanks for your help, but we’ll take it from here.” Such shifts should not happen again.Observers have looked at the way Germany rebuilt in the 2000s after its own international humiliation as the template for how the USSF should remake itself. I think that is the wrong approach. Instead, the U.S. should look at how Chile did things.Marcelo Bielsa’s arrival in 2007 was met with skepticism, but he quickly transformed a conservative style of play and trusted in a promising crop of young players — among them Alexis Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and Gary Medel — who finished third at that year’s Under-20 World Cup. Over time and with consistency, that groundwork yielded success after Bielsa’s exit, including two trips to the World Cup round of 16, back-to-back Copa America titles and a runner-up finish at the 2017 Confederations Cup.The tenets of Bielsa’s coaching went beyond the wacky 3-3-3-1 formation: By drilling his players on their effort, intensity, footballing intelligence and positivity, he created a fearless group — consisting of many largely unheralded players — who took the game to any opponent.”He delivered a message,” author Armando Silva said. “We can play as equals, we can take on the more historically powerful teams and cause them problems, or at least try to, instead of living in constant fear of being thrashed.”The current U.S. squad is experimental and still finding its feet, but the vital thing is that it lacks institutional muscle memory: These players have not carried the weight of a nation by, say, losing to Ghana or missing a chance to beat Belgium at World Cups, or finishing fourth in a Gold Cup that you’re hosting.They have not yet been burdened by the emotional strain of life in the USMNT fishbowl, where a draw against Honduras is used as a bludgeon on social media. As such, there is a blank canvas for the next manager beyond caretaker Dave Sarachan, who deserves credit for leaning on the kids in 2018, to imprint. They’re young, eager, hungry and malleable. Let them fly free.

U.S. get big confidence boost from 1-1 draw vs. star-studded France

Jun 9, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

, France — The U.S. men’s national team played France to a 1-1 draw in an international friendly on Saturday. Julian Green scored just before half-time, but France dominated possession throughout the match and finally found an equalizer through Kylian Mbappe in the 79th minutes. Here are three thoughts from a credible result for the U.S. overall.

  1. USMNT nearly pulls off a shocker

On paper, the game set up as a total mismatch. The average age of the U.S. starting lineup checked in at 22 years, 183 days, their second-youngest in the modern era (1990-present). Only the U.S. lineup in the recent friendly against Bolivia was younger — by just 23 days. Meanwhile, France featured a lineup littered with stars playing at some of the biggest clubs in the world.Yet the Americans hung tough, and while no one will doubt who the better team is overall, the U.S. by no means embarrassed itself on the night.The U.S. began the match playing in an unfamiliar 5-3-2 formation, and the hosts were soon overloading the wings, looking threatening in possession. Paul Pogba hit the post in the fifth minute and Olivier Giroud had a free header from a set piece that was right at U.S. keeper Zack Steffen.The Americans weren’t helping themselves, with some sloppy play in midfield that sparked some French counterattacks, but the home side couldn’t convert. Antoine Griezmann earned some clear opportunities as the half went on but was unable to find the target. Credit was due to the U.S. defense, which, after looking wobbly early on began to look more organized as the half progressed.The visitors then took a shock lead just before the break. A cross from Shaq Moore was poorly dealt with by Djibril Sidibe and Green was quick to pounce, firing home past Hugo Lloris at the near post. The goal dismayed the crowd who serenaded the home side with whistles and boos as the half ended.The U.S. thought it was two goals up just minutes into the second half as Bobby Wood slotted Moore’s cross home, but he was called offside, a constant problem for him on the night.The Americans looked to have suffered a blow when Matt Miazga, who performed well, was forced off after a clash of heads, but Erik Palmer-Brown entered the match and the U.S. still looked solid.The parade of substitutions didn’t do much to alter the match. France still dominated and the only question was whether the U.S. could hold on. Ultimately it couldn’t. Substitute Benjamin Pavard found space down the right wing, and with Cameron Carter-Vickers losing his footing, his cross found Mbappe who fired home.With the dam finally broken, France went for the winner and nearly found it when Nabil Fekir’s free kick was headed for goal, only for Steffen to deny him with a superb two-handed save. Steffen continued his fine play in the closing stages, delivering a string of superb saves to preserve the result.Given that a blowout seemed likely once the team sheets were released prior to the match, this is a result the U.S. will gladly take. Some of its young players gained valuable experience, and better yet, it’s of the kind that will increase confidence rather than deflate it.

  1. U.S. defense acquits itself well

After playing some version of a 4-1-4-1 for almost the entirety of his tenure, Sarachan trotted out a 5-3-2, with Moore and Antonee Robinson as wing-backs. The U.S. looked overwhelmed early on, and with the midfield slow to provide defensive help out wide, Moore and Robinson looked vulnerable at times. But after about the 15-minute mark, the U.S. was more on the same page, and looked more organized.Granted, they were bound to concede chances against a team of France’s quality, but the U.S. hung tough. Tim Parker and Miazga in particular stood tall, putting out countless fires.For Miazga, this kind of performance has been building for a while. He has spent the last two years at Dutch side Vitesse and has steadily added more composure to his game. Unfortunately for Miazga, his night ended prematurely when a clash of heads with Giroud forced him to be substituted.Parker was something of a surprise given that this was just his second international appearance and first start. But he was everywhere on the night, especially in the opening exchanges when the Americans were looking shaky.oore, Robinson, Palmer-Brown and Carter-Vickers did their collective bit as well. Moore was even one of the better attacking options on the night, continually testing France left-back Benjamin Mendy.Finally, honor is due to Steffen as well. The goalkeeping position looks wide open, but given the way he performed on a reasonably big stage, he has taken the lead in the ongoing U.S. goalkeeper battle.If there was one negative on the night, it was the lack of precision by the U.S. midfield. To be fair, the three-man unit of Wil Trapp, Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie defended like demons, but their passing in the middle third was suspect at times, which in turn led to a few counterattacking opportunities for the home side. It’s true that the result is encouraging, but the U.S. will ultimately want to contest such matches on more level terms, and that starts with taking better care of the ball.

  1. Questions for World Cup-bound France to ponder

Les Bleus had been feeling pretty good about themselves thanks to their two previous results, a 3-1 win over Italy and a 2-0 victory over Ireland that wasn’t that close. Have those good vibes evaporated following Saturday night’s draw?On the plus side, France still dominated, and had Griezmann been a bit more clinical on the night, there might have been a few more cheers instead of jeers. But France’s World Cup opponents will take note at how vulnerable Les Bleuslooked at times on the left side of their defense. Bunkering down just might work if that is what is called for.Of course, in a week’s time, when France opens against Australia, this result will largely be forgotten, especially since it managed to get a draw as opposed to a loss. But in the meantime, it’s likely that France’s confidence will have taken a minor hit, though that might not be the worst thing. At the least, there will be no reason for overconfidence.

USMNT Closes Camp, Awkward Period With Nice Lasting Impression vs. France

By AVI CREDITOR June 09, 2018

What most expected to be a one-sided rout wound up being quite the lasting impression. A young and wide-eyed U.S. men’s national team held firm in the face of a world-class France team in Lyon, completing its training camp with a 1-1 draw against Les Bleus on Saturday. France dominated the ball (outpossessed the U.S. 70 percent to 30) and had the lion’s share of chances (outshot the U.S. 19-2), as expected, but the Americans defended with numbers, and goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up big when called upon to ensure all of that amounted to a single goal. Julian Green’s goal out of nowhere–the first U.S. goal ever scored aginst France–opened the scoring just before halftime, but Kylian Mbappe’s equalizer in the 78th minute gave France positive momentum it can take to Russia, while avoiding being sent off with jeers from its own supporters.Here are three thoughts on the surprise result and its possible implications:

A STRONG WAY TO FINISH

This was by no means a perfect game for the U.S., but given the expectations–especially after how things looked against Ireland last week–there was reason to walk away feeling somewhat optimistic. The USA’s 5-3-2 setup–a first deviation from the 4-1-4-1 that has become a staple under interim manager Dave Sarachan–meant the Americans were entering the match ready to concede the ball, and that’s how things played out. Midfielders Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams did yeoman’s work in applying support for the five defenders behind them, and while France whipped in 19 shots, only a handful of them required Steffen to exert himself. We’ve seen this script play out before with U.S. teams in the past. Overmatched in talent, the U.S. defends its heart out and hopes to nick a goal. That came, this time, from Green, who pounced on a terrible Djibril Sidibe touch off a seemingly harmless Shaq Moore cross and beat Hugo Lloris with a first-time finish inside the near post.Was the match a total success? It depends what your hopes were. Intriguing talents Keaton Parks and Andrija Novakovich were healthy scratches, and Tim Weah, who has the most familiarity with France’s stars of anyone, didn’t get off the bench. Only so many can get on the field, but if the point of this camp is seeing what you’ve got, one could argue that some stones were left unturned. The U.S. also did a rather terrible job of relieving the pressure on itself. On a pair of first-half ocassions Matt Miazga attempted to complete passes through the lines and play out of the back, only for unforced errors on the receiving end to cede possession. That’s no way to beat a powerhouse. Every touch has to be crisp, or you risk being ripped apart by a punishing opposition.But Steffen was a rock in the back and has cemented his status as the No. 1 goalkeeper going forward, and the team spirit and fight that U.S. fans have come to recognize (and miss over the course of the last year-plus) were evident again. The end goal, of course, is to be even with or superior to a side like France, not to accept being second-best and absorb its possession and pressure. Perhaps in a few years’ time, this young core will grow to be at that level. In the meantime, it was a strong way to finish a two-week camp.

THE END OF THE TRANSITION PERIOD

Sarachan has steered the U.S. ship in extraordinarily brutal circumstances, and he’s largely, and eventually, done what most in the U.S. supporter peanut gallery wanted. Perhaps not to the full degree, but the list of young players who have received their first caps in the past few months is extensive. He proclaimed that he was setting out to give players a glimpse of what to expect in a national team camp, and while that doesn’t necessarily mean going out and playing all 90 minutes regardless of training performance or opponent, those players have now had a taste.There are few consequences now, of course. It’s widely expected that the U.S. will go in a different direction when it hires a full-time coach, something that now falls under new general manager Earnie Stewart’sumbrella. Without that big unknown answered and without a single competitive match for another year, it’s hard to completely judge just how impactful these last six months were.More tough friendly matches are coming, though, with a fall slate that is expected to include Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Italy and England likely to test this young core even more. Player selection will be up to the new manager, but there’s reason to believe that a lot of the players called in during the March and most recent camps will figure into the picture. Will veterans like Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey, Jozy Altidore and others join them? That’s a question for a to-be-hired coach to answer.At last, though, the awkward transition period of purgatory is over. The 2022 cycle begins in a couple of months, and for a program looking forward to getting over its most unthinkable setback, it’s most certainly welcome.

REASON FOR FRENCH WORRY?

France probably expected to steamroll this USA team, and to a large extent it did–everywhere but the scoreboard. Green’s opener right before the halftime whistle brought on the boo birds, though, and the inability to fully break down the U.S. should give reason for pause, given what France can expect in Russia from its group opponents.There’s also the matter of Olivier Giroud, who walked off the field bloodied following a head-to-head collision with Miazga (who reportedly required 15 stitches of his own and has been entered into U.S. Soccer’s concussion protocol). If he’s not ready to go, that takes away an important aspect of Didier Deschamps’s team. Naturally, there are stars in droves waiting in the wings, but none who really play like Giroud. If nothing else, his absence allowed Mbappe to be a more central figure, and he came through with the equalizer.There’s also Lloris, who is a superb shot-stopper but has been prone to the occasional blunder for club and country. While he likely wasn’t expecting Green to win the race to Sidibe’s poor touch and fire away, he has to have his near post covered. That’s a bad goal to concede. The World Cup often comes down to fine margins, and Les Bleus, who will still be among the favorites regardless of the result, have some tidying up to do once they touch down in Russia.

Zack Steffen shines, Julian Green scores as U.S. youngsters earn plucky draw with France

Jun 9, 2018Jason Davis

mistake by France to squeeze out an encouraging 1-1 draw at Groupama Stadium in Lyon.

Positives

With another young lineup put out by caretaker coach Dave Sarachan, the Americans stayed organized and focused for most of the 90 minutes.The French were largely limited to long shots for much of the match, with the trio of center-backs in the 5-3-2 formation doing good work defending deep to prevent chances from inside the box.With the U.S. wilting late in the second half, goalkeeper Zack Steffen came up big with several important saves.

Negatives

Although expected, the lack of possession and real attacking teeth for the Americans will be something of a black mark on the performance. The U.S. finished the match with just over 30 percent possession and managed just two shots. Bobby Wood and Julian Green struggled to get on the ball, with the midfield mostly concerned with defending.

Manager rating out of 10

5 — Sarachan’s defensive setup proved good enough to secure a surprise draw, but with the USMNT in a rebuilding phase, he might have taken the opportunity against one of the best teams in the world to be a bit more aggressive. The experience earned by the litany of young players in the squad will serve them well moving forward, something Sarachan should get some credit for.

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

GK Zack Steffen, 8 — Faced no serious danger in the first half, but came up big with several important saves in the last 45. Hesitant on at least one cross, but was not forced into difficult decisions on many occasions.

DF Shaquell Moore, 5 — Mixed bag over the course of nearly 75 minutes. Provided the cross that led to the U.S. goal, but struggled with 1v1 defending and was occasionally overaggressive.

DF Cameron Carter-Vickers, 5 — Looked composed and relatively comfortable in the first half before fading in the second. Forced to move to the middle of three center-backs with a half-hour to go. Lost Kylian Mbappe on France’s goal.

DF Matt Miazga, 6 — Forced off early in the second half after a clash of heads with Olivier Giroud. Part of a fairly composed group that held the French attack goalless during his period on the pitch.

DF Tim Parker, 7 — Best defender on the field for the United States. Solid positionally and read danger well. Made several important interventions with the U.S, sitting deep.

DF Antonee Robinson, 6 — Grew into the game slowly in just his second appearance for the USMNT. Pushed up into the attack intelligently and provided one excellent cross in the first half.

MF Wil Trapp, 6 — Only Misplaced a few passes on the day while playing the holding midfield role. Found Moore in space leading to a goal that was correctly ruled out for offside early in the second half. Less effective when fatigued in the last 15 minutes.

MF Tyler Adams, 6 — Covered ample ground with the United States playing on the back foot for most of the match. Played confidently and handled defensive work against the likes of Paul Pogba impressively.

MF Weston McKennie, 5 — Only missed two passes, but had limited influence with the ball. Collected three defensive interventions, but was also guilty of turning the ball over on occasion with sloppy play.

FW Julian Green, 7 — Put the United States up just before halftime with an opportunistic strike. Made the most of limited touches and looked to be the most dangerous American on the field, whatever that is worth.

FW Bobby Wood, 4 — Starved of service, but was ineffective when on the ball. Struggled to keep possession with his hold-up play, and made poor decisions off the ball when the Americans attacked. Had the ball in the back of the net early in the second half but was correctly flagged for offside.

Substitutes

DF Erik Palmer-Brown, 5 — Did not look out of place after being forced on with a half-hour to go. Pulled out of position on one occasion and was sloppy with his passing when taking possession in the back.

MF Joe Corona, 5 — Helped with defending by tracking back on multiple occasions, but lost Thomas Lemar on a France chance in added time.

FW Josh Sargent, N/R — Mostly limited to defending in 15 minutes, but again showed his strength with his back to goal. Played a flick on for Adams that almost led to a chance late in the match.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, N/R — Played stay-at-home defense with the Americans trying to close out a narrow win.

DF Jorge Villafana, N/R — Struggled with 1v1 defending. Beaten by Nabil Fekir when one-on-one in the 88th minute.

Player ratings: How did USA fare v. France?

Joe Prince-Wright,NBC Sports Sat, Jun 9 7:28 PM EDT

The U.S. men’s national team were just over 10 minutes away from beating France in Lyon on Saturday, as a virtual USMNT U-23 U.S. side drew 1-1 with one of the favorites to win the World Cup.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Julian Green’s goal right on the stroke of half time put the USMNT ahead (against the run of play), but Les Bleus equalized late on through Kylian Mbappe to deny the U.S. what would have been a shock victory.

Below is a look at the standout performers for Dave Sarachan’s side as they signed off for the summer with a gutsy display.

USA

Zack Steffen: 8 – It seems like the USMNT’s No.1 jersey is now his and the Columbus Crew star looked steady, assured and confident throughout. A late double save from Fekir and Dembele sealed his superb display.

Shaq Moore: 7 – Recovered well after being pinned back early on by Benjamin Mendy‘s marauding runs. Dangerous cross into the box created the chance for the USA’s opener and he crossed for Wood’s offside goal too. Strong display from the Levante right back who gave away a few free kicks cheaply.

Cameron Carter-Vickers: 8 – Led the defense and made some great tackles when covering behind the five-man defensive unit. Kept Olivier Giroud fairly quiet and was calm in possession. Mature, commanding display from the 20-year-old.

Matt Miazga: 6 – Really good in possession with some lovely long passes out of the back and solid enough positionally. Replaced early in the second half after a nasty clash of heads with Olivier Giroud as a corner came in.

Tim Parker: 6 – Caught out of position a few times and one moment of naivety almost let Kylian Mbappe in during the first half, but put his body on the line in a typically committed display.

Antonee Robinson: 6 – Didn’t really get the chance to get forward but solid enough defensively. Did enough to warrant enough chance despite France’s equalizer coming from his side of the pitch.

Will Trapp: 5 – Tidier on the ball than his other midfield partners but the USMNT skipper struggled to impact the tempo of the game.

Tyler Adams: 6 – Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante are tough to lock down and Adams’ duel with Kante in particular was tasty. His engine is incredible and he kept popping up to keep things ticking over nicely.

Weston McKennie: 4 – Struggled to get on the ball and gave Pogba a little too much time to pick his passes. A learning experienced for the youngster who had a few heavy touches.

Bobby Wood: 4 – Strayed offside as he thought he had scored the USA’s second goal and he really should have been able to delay his run. The Hamburg man worked hard, as always, but didn’t get much service.

Julian Green: 5 – Scored a shock opener right on half time with a snapshot at the near post but had one bad giveaway and barely touched the ball in the first half apart from his fourth goal for the USA. Quiet second half.

Subs
Erik Palmer-Brown on for Matt Miazga (60′) – 6 – Sat in alongside Parker and CCV and was solid enough.
Joe Corona on for Julian Green (70′) – 5 – Flashed an effort across goal late on but caught out defensively. DeAndre Yedlin on for Shaq Moore (74′) – 5 – Didn’t get a chance to impact the match.
Josh Sargent on for Bobby Wood (74′) – 6 – Looked lively in his brief cameo and set up Corona for a chance. Jorge Villafana on for Antonee Robinson (82′) – 5 – Didn’t have much time to make an impact.

The U.S. men missed the World Cup. What does the future hold from here?

 explains why focus in squad selection should be players eligible for the Olympics. (4:35)

Jun 9, 2018Noah Davis

When the 2018 FIFA World Cup kicks off on June 14, it will be the first tournament since 1986 without the United States national team. That’s the bad news: an unmitigated failure at the top of the American men’s program. Soccer, however, goes on.There will be life after the 32 squads leave Russia and another World Cup just four years away. The big question is how good can the U.S. be, assuming the squad qualifies for Qatar? The answer is that there are signs of life and in some ways, missing out on the 2018 event might — I stress might — speed the process along. “You have to qualify for the World Cup. There’s no way to go around it,” said Tab Ramos, U.S. youth technical director. “But I do believe from where I’m sitting at the youth levels, this is going to open opportunities that should have been given already … The fact is that this has opened the door and sped up the process to take advantage.”There’s always a generational switch and a re-evaluation of talent after a World Cup, but the act of not reaching the tournament in Russia forces those decisions to come sooner. It’s given some younger players a chance to play for the national team before they would have otherwise while also prioritizing a look into the current pool, especially after such an epic failure.Two players who fall into the latter category are Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore, leaders on the 2018 qualifying campaign that came up short. Determining what (if any) role they will play going forward is one of the first questions the new coach needs to answer.To get a sense of where they might stand, I called up a couple of scouts who work domestically and abroad. (They were offered anonymity in exchange for their unvarnished opinions.)”Realistically in four years, Michael’s 34 and Jozy’s 32,” one scout said. “I think we are going to need them especially through qualifying. But are we going to be able to rely on them like we would have this year? It’s tough to say.”

Another took a more hard-line approach.

“Let’s give Michael all his due for what he’s done in the past, but if we’re going to be moving forward and doing what’s best for the future, I think from day one the new coach is bringing in the young players, and players like Bradley and [Jozy] Altidore should not be involved,” he said. “They had their opportunity.  The truth naturally lies somewhere in the middle. Altidore and Bradley — along with others like Omar Gonzalez, Matt Besler, Jorge Villafana, Graham Zusi, Eric Lichaj, Alejandro Bedoya, Geoff Cameron and Brad Guzan — have small roles to play in the future, especially in the short term, but they shouldn’t be key cogs by the time the U.S. is closing in on Qatar. (The older generation like Tim Howard, Clint Dempsey, Jermaine Jones, and DaMarcus Beasley should have played their last meaningful games.)

So, then: Where should the U.S. start building?

That process begins with one person: Christian Pulisic. It might seem obvious but the Borussia Dortmund star is the best and most dynamic player on the American team; he’s the key to the future. He’ll initiate the attack, provide the spark and potentially be the first true American superstar.”The team has to revolve around him and what he does,” Ramos said. That’s a lot to ask of a 19-year-old, and he’s going to need help. Look no further than another teenager, Schalke’s Weston McKennie, to provide some of that support.”A healthy Weston definitely will be involved,” one scout said. “He can be a top-of-the-line starter right now.”Other players with more national team experience who should be a major part of the mix going forward are John Brooks — “I don’t think we are going to turn away a healthy John Brooks,” one scout said — and DeAndre Yedlin, who became just the fourth American field player to start 30 Premier League games in a season. Kellyn Acosta boasts a versatile skill set and a deadly free kick. Matt Miazga has the inside track on a center-back role, but he will face challenges from emerging talents like Cameron Carter-Vickers and Erik Palmer-Brown, both of whom will compete for roles in the middle.”There are a lot of guys who did well with us that have not taken a huge step yet, but I think will,” Ramos said. “For me, Palmer-Brown is a center-back and yet goes to CONCACAF U-20 Championship and gets the Golden Ball playing as a defensive mid. I think that’s pretty significant. He’s been to the last two World Cups. He was a great captain of the last run when we ended in sixth place. I think down the road he’s one that challenges for a spot in two or three years down the road. He has to.”Ramos also cited Keaton Parks, the 20-year-old Benfica midfielder who recently got his first cap, as someone who could make an impact.Nineteen-year-old New York Red Bull dynamo Tyler Adams continues to improve dramatically as well, covering a ridiculous amount of ground in midfield and could form a wrecking crew with McKennie alongside him. Scouts do question his ability to pass in tight situations, noting his struggles against a physical and technical Venezuela team in the U-20 World Cup, and wonder if right-back is ultimately Adams’ best spot. But as another scout said, “It’s very easy to throw him out as a right-back whenever. What separates Adams from a lot of top youth national team players is he has that attitude. He wants to be the best. He wants to be better.”Further down the pecking order, but pushing for spots and certainly in the mix for the future, are players like Josh Sargent — “One of the purest strikers that we have coming up in the system right now,” one scout said — and Tim Weah, who is working with David Hernandez at PSG. They’ve gotten tastes of the highest level but need to keep improving. Andrew Carleton, the bright young thing with Atlanta United, is another player in that category, although he’s further behind.”I like [Carleton], but he’s more show than substance, ultimately, at the high level,” a scout said. “I don’t think over time he will really make it stick.”This year is a big one for all three as they attempt to build some momentum.”Sometimes because you’re a young player, you get put on the first team and your only job on the first team is not to screw up,” Ramos said. “Now you need to step it up. If you’re a player like Carleton, Weah or Sargent, if you’re going to go to the first team, you need to make plays. You need to win the game. You play in positions that require you winning games. Not just passing the ball to the next guy who’s open. So that’s the next step.””The advantage that they are getting now is not going to make a difference if they don’t take advantage at their clubs.”A final factor in the success of the American squad going forward is going to be finding a capable leader, as the group that failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup lacked such a figure.”You had guys like Clint [Dempsey] and Tim [Howard] who are exceptional at what they do, but they are not natural leaders and they aren’t really looking to be that,” one of the scouts I talked to said. “You’re looking to take ownership of that, but they don’t, so who are you left with? Bradley, who certainly wants to be that guy, but within the dynamic might not be that guy, and then Jozy, who people know isn’t that guy.”oing forward, Pulisic would be a natural choice because of his impressive talent, but it’s an open question whether he wants to wear the armband. Ramos does believe he has the personality to be a leader.While someone like Wil Trapp might fit the bill — a “23-year old who acts like he’s 30” with a natural disposition to lead — he likely won’t be a sure-thing starter. Elsewhere “there are quite a few guys who don’t need to wear the captain’s band to be a leader: Weston [McKennie], Tyler [Adams], Kellyn [Acosta],” said Ramos. “They all have great leadership qualities, as do Carter-Vickers and Miazga.”The point is that the players and the capabilities are there. It’s just time to realize the potential. The American team can be good, but for that to happen, the younger generation needs their time to come fast.

A few other names to watch

Four years is an eternity in international soccer. (In June 2014, Christian Pulisic was still playing for the PA Classics, eight months removed from joining Borussia Dortmund.) With that in mind, here’s an additional Starting XI of players with a chance to contend for a spot on the 2022 World Cup squad. Some of these players have earned national team calls, while others are barely playing for their club teams, but all got at least one mention from the experts who talked for this story.

Goalkeeper: Alex Bono (Toronto FC)

Defenders: Antonee Robinson (Everton), Miles Robinson (Atlanta United), Tim Parker (New York Red Bulls), Danilo Acosta (Real Salt Lake)

Midfielders: Lynden Gooch (Sunderland), Emerson Hyndman (AFC Bournemouth), Chris Durkin (D.C. United), Luca de la Torre (Fulham)

Forwards: Brandon Vazquez (Atlanta United), Nick Taitague (FC Schalke)

Antonee Robinson was raised in Liverpool, ready to break out for U.S.

Jun 7, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

LYON, France — When Antonee Robinson was growing up in Liverpool, England, he would overdose on American television, spending his days glued to the Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. He counted “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody” and “Hannah Montana” as his favorites. He couldn’t get enough of Star Wars, either, taking on the nickname “Jedi” when he was 5 years old, one that has stuck to this day.”I don’t remember it but my mum tells me that I watched those shows so much that I used to talk with an American accent. People used to ask if I was American when I was younger,” he told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview. He then grinned: “That’s pretty embarrassing.”Rest assured, Robinson’s accent now is Liverpool through and through, but his American connection remains, and he recently made his first forays with the U.S. men’s national team. The Everton left-back got his first experience with the U.S. during a camp prior to last March’s friendly against Paraguay. Then on Memorial Day he made his international debut, playing the whole 90 minutes in a 3-0 win over Bolivia, a stint that saw him assist on Timothy Weah’s second-half goal.”Obviously, you don’t expect to just turn up and be a member of the team straight away,” said Robinson. “You’ve got to work your way in and then earn the trust of your teammates and the manager. I feel like I’ve done as much as I can to show that I want to be in this team and I want to get a starting place.”obinson’s American ties run deeper than just his affection for the country’s pop culture, though. His father, Marlon, was born in England but spent some of his formative years in White Plains, New York. The elder Robinson later played collegiate soccer at Duke University from 1981 to 1984; it proved to be enough time to acquire U.S. citizenship, which he eventually passed down to Antonee. The younger Robinson even recalls family trips to New York for Christmas and vacations in Florida.I do feel like I have that connection,” he said.It’s one that was almost buried. There are obstacles to be overcome in every international career, but Robinson has had more than his share; he also has the scars to prove it. As he sits down in the lounge of the U.S. team hotel, one can’t help but notice the 5-inch surgical scars running down the front of each knee. The one on his left knee was needed to repair a fractured patella he suffered in 2014. A year later, he was forced to undergo micro-fracture surgery on his right knee, which sidelined him for the entire 2015-16 season.Robinson said it was the support of his father that kept him going. Marlon Robinson had seen his own career ended by a broken ankle and didn’t want to see his son’s career ruined in the same way.”He’d say how he didn’t have the physios that we have, and he didn’t have the attitude,” the younger Robinson said. “He would always say to me, ‘You’re lucky — you’ve got someone to tell you that you need a strong mental attitude and to come back stronger.'”Everton, who signed Robinson as an 11-year-old, stuck by him through all of these travails, and the defender has been able to stay healthy since then. The 2016-17 campaign was spent with Everton’s U-23 team, allowing him to log minutes and prove his fitness. This past season, he spent the year on loan with second-tier Bolton Wanderers, with the club avoiding relegation on the last day of the campaign thanks to a 3-2 win over Nottingham Forest. Survival was achieved thanks to two goals in the last four minutes, plus the fact that both Burton Albion and Barnsley lost.”It was ridiculous,” said Robinson. “When were 1-0 up, we celebrated as if we’d won the World Cup final. Then we dropped back to 2-1 down and you’re just thinking, ‘How has this happened to us?’ Thankfully we stuck in it, we kept our heads up and got the win.”The escape has allowed Robinson to enjoy his most recent involvement with the U.S. team with a clear head, enabling him to sharpen some aspects of his game in the process.”Everything speeds up,” said Robinson about his time with the U.S. squad. “Even though we’ve got a pretty young group, the first thing I noticed when I came into camp was that everyone was quicker, sharper to the ball. There’s a lot of energy, and obviously a different style of play to how we played at Bolton. I think it’s a lot more possession, passing and moving the ball. Everyone is really confident as well, so you know you’ve just got to be yourself out there.”Whether Robinson sees the field in Saturday’s friendly against France is still unknown, though it seems likely that caretaker manager Dave Sarachan will opt for the more experienced head of Jorge Villafana. But Robinson is looking ahead as well. There’s a new manager, Marco Silva, to impress at Everton. Robinson is also age-eligible to take part in the 2020 Olympics.”From a young age, it’s always been a dream to go to the Olympics,” he said. “It’s not really been on my mind in recent years because I’ve never really thought a lot about it, but then coming back to the U.S., and knowing that I’m eligible for the next one — it’s in Tokyo, a place I’d love to go — is really exciting. I hope I go to that.”All in all, he sounds like a player who is more than comfortable to be called an American.

2026 World Cup vote: Politics out of United Bid’s control – U.S.’s Cordeiro

MOSCOW — For months, the leaders of the United States-led North American bid for the 2026 World Cup have been doing everything they can to convince the 200-plus global soccer federations to vote for them instead at Wednesday’s FIFA Congress.”We’ve been working basically nonstop,” U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro said here on Sunday night. “But there are some things out of our control, too.”At the top of that uncontrollable list? Politics. Because while Cordeiro reiterated on Sunday that no federation has questioned him directly about the Trump administration or its policies, he conceded that it is impossible to know how the ever-charged atmosphere around President Trump will affect the voters and the countries they represent.In many ways, it is the only significant wild card in this race.”We don’t control a lot of things, including what’s happening in Singapore,” Cordeiro said, referring to President Trump’s scheduled meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un this week. “Geopolitics is outside our terrain. And there’s always risk.”Because Wednesday’s vote is an open ballot, there has always been the concern that how a country feels politically about the United States (or Canada or Mexico or Morocco) could affect how that country’s federation president chooses to vote.And, with President Trump in the news for any number of controversies — including North Korea discussions, intense interactions with G7 countries and even a back-and-forth with the Canadian prime minister — politics provides a never-ending stream of news, much of it potentially awkward for the so-called United Bid.This week’s uncertainty comes after Trump in May questioned why the U.S. should support other countries who might lobby against the North American bid. Cordeiro then had to say Trump’s comment was not a threat.The irony, Cordeiro said, is that the Trump administration has provided “amazing” support to the bid, offering ironclad guarantees about visas, infrastructure and other details that were key to the United Bid receiving such dominant marks in FIFA’s technical evaluation of the two bids.On Monday, Cordeiro and other bid leaders will make a final pitch to each of FIFA’s confederations. Then there will be a bit more hand-shaking and late-night lobbying before Wednesday’s decision, where — assuming all eligible nations cast a vote — the magic number for victory is 104 votes.After several months of campaigning (the United Bid estimated it has met with 150 federations in person), Cordeiro struck a confident tone — “We can’t think about losing” — but is also leery of assuming anything. After all, it was just eight years ago that the United States thought it was going to win the hosting bid for the 2022 World Cup, only to lose to Qatar in a decision that has since led to multiple corruption investigations.”I feel we have a path to victory,” Cordeiro said, adding that he believes there will be “surprises” when the ballots are made public and everyone can see how widespread the United Bid’s support runs.Several small-but-important details about the ballot itself were handled on Sunday, including FIFA’s ratification of both bids as well as whether four American protectorates — American Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico — will cast ballots or have to abstain as the official bidders do. According to Cordeiro, it appears that as each of those countries has an independent soccer federation, all will be able to cast a vote.There was also a ceremony to determine the speaking order when the bids address the Congress on Wednesday. After a drawing of lots, the United Bid will go first.

Eleven snap 4-game winless skid behind Watson, Mitchell strikes

Kevin Johnston, Special to IndyStarPublished 10:45 p.m. ET June 9, 2018 | Updated 10:53 p.m. ET June 9, 2018

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INDIANAPOLIS – The Indy Eleven were one of the surprises out of the gates in the USL Eastern Conference this season, racking up road results early on while only losing twice to one of the league’s elite teams in FC Cincinnati.Then came a rough spell. The Eleven went winless over a four-game stretch prior to Saturday’s match against Atlanta United 2, falling out of the all-important top eight — the playoff zone — in their conference.Indy snapped out of its funk Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium with a convincing 2-0 win over Atlanta in front of an announced 10,034 supporters. Eleven captain Matt Watson stepped in front of a lazy pass by a United defender and slotted the ball past opposing goalkeeper Paul Christensen for Indy’s first goal. Defender Carlyle Mitchell added the second on a corner kick by Ayoze.”It feels good,” said Indy coach Martin Rennie of ending the slide. “I thought we played well tonight. It’s probably our best performance together so far this season.”Atlanta saw plenty of the ball, holding a 63 to 37 percent possession advantage in the first half. The visitors’ problem, however, was turning that edge into anything remotely productive. Before the break, United only recorded two shots — zero on goal.Indy was content to allow United to pitter-patter around with the ball in exchange for being the more direct side. Indy’s offense wasn’t dynamic, as its often failed to be this season, but it did generate the more quality chances of the two teams.Atlanta finished with 58 percent of the possession, but only put one shot on target compared to Indy’s seven. United also completed 160 more passes than the hosts, most of which led to aimless position with no end product.Indy midfielder Seth Moses made a rare appearance in the starting 11. He turned in a solid shift at right midfield, contributing on both sides of the ball.”That was uplifting, man,” Moses said of the result. “I hope after tonight we celebrate together, we all laugh and smile together, and we keep going. This is just the beginning.””I thought (Moses) did well,” Rennie added. “He was good in his pressure. He helped us down that right side. We didn’t really give up any chances down there and I thought he created a few opportunities.”Indy (fives wins, three draws, four losses, 18 points) will return to action against cellar-dweller Toronto FC II next Saturday on the road. TFC II, the reserve side of defending MLS champion Toronto FC, has been dreadful this season through 13 games with no wins, two draws and 11 losses.

2018 World Cup team preview: England

Andy Edwards,NBC Sports 16 hours ago

Getting to know England: It’s been 28 years since England last reached the semifinals of the World Cup, but — and stop me if you’ve heard this before — this might just be the year the Three Lions reclaim their place as one of the world’s very best.For the first time this decade, injuries to key players aren’t a problem. For the first time this decade, the stars appear to be held to the exact same standards as everyone else on the roster. For the first time in nearly two decades, the squad is young (average age: 25.6 years old), ambitious, cohesive and full of ideas. For the first time ever, expectations are extremely low and these Three Lions will outperform what is currently thought possible.

What group are they in? Group F, where they’re second favorites to finish first, with an outside shot at beating Belgium to the top spot. That England-Belgium matchup will likely determine first place on the final day of the group.

Monday, June 18: Tunisia vs. England, Volgograd, 2 p.m. ET
Sunday, June 24: England vs. Panama, Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET Thursday, June 28: England vs. Belgium, Kaliningrad, 2 p.m. ET

Projected lineup (3-5-2) – Check out the 23-man squad list in full

— Pickford —

— Walker —— Stones —— Cahill —

— Dier —

— Trippier —— Alli ——  Henderson —— Rose —

— Kane —— Sterling —

Star player: Harry Kane – 30 goals in the Premier League, plus another 11 in the Champions League and FA Cup — 2017-18 was the first time Kane surpassed the 40-goal mark in a season, but not the first time he’d come close (35 last season). Since becoming Tottenham Hotspur’s main man in the 2014-15 season — just after the last World Cup — he’s scored 135 goals in 187 appearances across all competitions (105 in 139 in the PL). Arguably the best no. 9 in the world, the next month could be Kane’s arrival to super-duper-stardom.

Manager: Gareth Southgate – The former England defender (57 caps) has been in charge since Roy Hodgson departed post-EURO 2016, and guided the Three Lions to an unbeaten qualifying campaign, with draws away to Slovenia and Scotland. The 47-year-old has been pretty consistent in playing a back-three, affording an extra body in midfield and typically deploying a partnership up top rather than a lone figure.

Secret weapon: Raheem Sterling – It’s a bit rich to call a player who’s coming off of a 18-goal, 11-assist season (in the PL; 23 and 12 in all competitions) a “secret” weapon, but with all the attention Kane’s getting — and rightly so — it feels like Sterling’s something of a forgotten man. His versatility and ability to operate in all different areas of attack — wide right as a winger; wide left as an inside forward; through the center as a second striker off a bigger man in Kane — make him the perfect piece to shift around the field when Southgate looks to change shape.

Prediction: The round of 16 is the bare minimum expectation, and they’ll get there, at which point it’s all about the matchup in the knockout rounds. Finishing second means a likely meeting with Germany in the quarterfinals, while winning the group would likely set up a battle with Brazil for a place in the semifinals.

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6/7/18  Indy 11 home vs Atlanta Sat, US Ladies Thurs 9 pm FS1, USMNT vs France ESPN2 3 pm Sat, World Cup Preview, Carmel FC Tryouts Mon/Tues 6/11-12

INDY 11 Home Sat 7 pm 

Our Indy 11 will return to the field this Saturday, June 9th  at 7 pm with a home match-up with Atlanta United.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code – It will be the last chance to catch our Indy 11 in person until June 30th.

USMNT loses 2-1, Plays France Sat 3 pm ESPN

WORLD CUP TEAMS ON TV THIS WEEK

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The youthful USMNT got a wake-up call in Ireland over the weekend as the experience of the Irish side came to bear in a 2-1 defeat for the Red, White and Blue.  The US got on the board first late in the 1st half as Bobby Wood poached another goal for country on a corner kick. But in the end – the experience of the Irish squad — including the retiring John O’Shea who left after his _____  cap/game for the Green was too much as 2 second half goals gave them the win.  The young US team struggled – US Goalkeeper Bill Hamid had a forgettable day as his blunders cost the US both goals.  Obviously, at least early on, the move to Europe, where he has yet to break into the starting line-up, has not helped Hamid to this point.  The step-up in competition also showed in the midfield as youngsters McKinnie, Will Trapp, and Tyler Adams were often over run – and in the center of D where Carter-Vickers, and Matt Miazga struggled especially in the 2nd half. Winger Tim Weah looked good again and had a chance or two that could have given the US the win. Overall – a good learning experience for the US  – who honestly played well enough to secure this victory.  Off to France now where a match with a team expected to fight for a Semi-Final berth in the World Cup awaits.  It will be interesting to see how we hold up against some of the best young players in the world like Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Antoine Greizmann and more on Saturday afternoon at 3 pm on ESPN.   Of course the US Ladies have a double with China this Thurs 9 pm on FS1 and next Tues at 7 pm on ESPN2 here are 3 keys to the challenge as they prepare for the She Believes Cup in July.

WORLD CUP TEAMS ON TV THIS WEEK

As the World Cup is just around the corner with a June 14th start on Fox – we get lots of teams playing this week in their last warm up games before the cup.  Thurs we get England vs Costa Rica at 3 pm on FS1, and Portugal vs Algeria at 3:15 on beIN Sport.  Friday gives us Germany vs Saudi Arabia at 1:3o pm on ESPN Desportes and Poland vs Chile at 2:45 pm on beIN Sport.  Sat has the US vs France of course at 3 pm on ESPN, along with Spain vs Tunisia at 2:45 pm on ESPN Desp. Of course the World Cup itself starts next Thursday, June 14th at 11 am on Fox with the home side Russia taking on Saudi Arabia. Friday gives us Egypt and Mo Salah we hope vs Uruguay on FS1 at 8 am, Morroco vs Iran at 11 am on Fox, and the biggest game of the first weekend at 1 pm on FOX as Portugal and Renaldo faces Spain and all of their superstars like De Gea, Sergio Ramos, Gerald Pique and too many more to list.  Big time Big Game!!  Big Games Saturday include Argentina and Messi vs European overachiever Iceland at 9 am on Fox and Croatia vs Nigeria at 3 pm on FS1.  Sunday we get THE OTHER SHOWDOWN in Round 1 – defending Champs Germany vs America’s Team Mexico at 11 am on Fox Sport 1.  See the entire schedule and a boatload of Stories, previews and predictions below.  And of course don’t forget I have a World Cup Poolclick here to join.  Make yourself a login and play along. With the US out and my 2 other favorites Italy and the Netherland’s out I figured I better do something to give myself more reason’s to watch all the games.  J  I will share my favorites to advance, get to the final 4 and win in next week’s edition of the OleBallcoach on Friday.  Until – Enjoy the Biggest Sporting Event in the World – and lets hope like heck we hear on Wednesday at 6 am that the US will host the 2026 edition!

 Carmel FC

So a huge congratulations to my coaching buddy – Jeff Oberndorfer – his U-18/19 boys wrapped up their season last week undefeated in this their last season together. I had the privilege to coach on the same field with Jeff and share many a scrimmage along the way – the ultimate professional he keeps his practices loose but intense and did a heck of job with the 1999/2000’s. This team was our second full group from our second “official season” of travel soccer at Carmel FC starting at then U10 going thru now the U19’s.  Jeff’s team’s many accomplishments included having players on Guerin, Carmel, Park Tudor and Brebeuf High School teams, multiple tournament wins, a run to the Challenge Cup final weekend 2 years back, and President’s Cup Finals last spring. It all culminated with a league title run and undefeated season this spring. at U19. Congrats on a great season  – You Represented Carmel FC Well !!  U19 Team Pictures

Here is the full U19 Group with Head Coach Jeff Oberndorfer (right) Asst Dan Rowe (Lft) U19 Boys Originals

Special congrats to these 5 players (L to R – Chad Oblazney, Eric Banda,  Bennett Lawlor, Wes Watson, and Will Oberndofer GK who started their Carmel FC careers as U10 boys and stayed with us the entire time thru U19. (Our 1st U10 team to play their way all the way thru with Carmel FC).

Carmel FC folks a reminder to please sign up before tryouts on Monday so we can get a feel on #s of players coming out.  Also Coaches – our Annual CFC Coaches Game will be Thursday after Tryouts – Thurs June 14th at 6:30 pm at Shelbourne.  Please RE: if you can play – managers and Asst coaches also welcome and of course your players can come cheer you on!

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Tryouts for Carmel FC – @ Shelbourne Fields

Mon/Tues June 11 & 12 (U11-U13 5:30 pm- 6:45 pm), (U14-U19 – 7:15 pm – 8:30 pm)

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Carmel FC Coaches Game @ Shelbourne Fields

Thursday, June 14th 6:30 pm

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GAMES ON TV

Thur, June 7  

3 pm FS1                   England vs Costa Rica

3:15 pm beIN Spt     Portugal vs Algeria

9 pm FS1                   US Ladies vs China

Fri, June 8  

1:30 pm ESPN3/Des Germany vs Saudi Arabia

2:45 pm beIN Spt     Poland vs Chile

8 pm ESPN+              Philly vs Toronto FC

Sat, June 9  

2:45 pm ESPN3/Dep Spain vs Tunisia

3 pm ESPN           France vs USA Men

5 pm ESPN             Columbus Crew vs NY Red Bulls

7 pm Myindy23  Indy 11 vs Atlanta United (BYB @Union Jack Pub)

Tues, June 12

7 pm ESPN2        USA Women vs China

Thur, June 14        World Cup on Fox

11 am Fox              Russia vs Saudi Arabia

Fri, June 15           World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox Sport1     Egypt (Salah) vs Uruguay

11 am Fox              Morocco vs Iran

1 pm Fox                Portugal (Renaldo) vs Spain

Sat, June 16          World Cup on Fox

6 am FS1                France vs Australia

9 am Fox                Argentina (Messi) vs Iceland

12 noon FS1           Peru vs Denmark

3 pm FS1                Croatia vs Nigeria

7 pm ESPN+        Toronto II vs Indy 11

Sun, June 17         World Cup on Fox

8 am Fox 59          Costa Rica vs Serbia

11 am Fox Sp1   Germany vs Mexico 

2 pm FS1               Brazil vs Switzerland

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

SUMMER CAMPS

Carmel High Girls Middle School Soccer Camp  Ages middle schoolers – June 18, 20, 25, 27 July 16, 17, 18, 19 at Murray 3-5 pm $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Skills Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 at Murray 8:30-10:30 am $85

Carmel High Boys Soccer Tactical Camp Ages 8-14 July 16-19 @ Murray 11 am-1 pm $85

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

McCordsville/Ronald McDonald House – Greater Indy 3 vs 3 – June 23

www.3v3live.com  $200 per team up to six players. Each player will receive a t-shirt, top three teams in each division get custom medals, top four qualify for Regionals the road to Disney. Full details and fun details on our tourney https://www.3v3live.com/mcdonalds

Indy 11

3 Keys to the loss vs Charleston Battery

Indy 11 Schedule

USL Standings

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

Flex Packs: Discount Indy 11 Flex Pack Tickets
Soccer Saturday – Radio Show 9-10 am on 1070 the Fan

Don’t forget to catch the BYB Facebook Live prior to every game!  Join us at Gate 10 and be a part of the audience.

Louisville FC dumps NE Revolution out of US Open Cup

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

Park and Tailgate for indy 11 Games with the BYB – Parking in the Gate Ten BYB Section is $4 cheaper per game than the stadium’s South Lot- and OBVIOUSLY more fun! Located at 343 W McCarty Street, Gate Ten is just across the street from Lucas Oil Stadium. Gate Ten—the 2018 official home of the BYB–is convenient and affordable. Parking is $11 per car for single games!  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.

 USA

Who Would have Been on the a US World Cup Team this Summer – yahoo – Doug McIntyre

Own Goal The Inside Story of Why the US Didn’t Make the World Cup – the Ringer

North American Bid – Outscores – High Risk Morocco Bid

USA vs France Preview – Dylan Butler MLS.com

US Shows Inexperience in Late Loss to Ireland – Jeff Carlisle – ESPNFC

Player Ratings – Jason Davis – ESPNFC

Player Ratings – Greg Seltzer – MLS.com

Why Big Clubs covet Chrisian Pulisic’s Potential – ESPNFC Raphael Honiqstein

5 Things to Know – US Ladies vs China Thurs Night

Malory Pugh out with Knee Injury

US Ladies – Rose Lavelle Joins US WMNT Camp Prior to China Game

Hope Solo – calls for More Women to Stand Up for Equal Pay – ESPNW

Youth Technical program with Tom Byer in Seattle Cancelled by US Soccer–Grant Wahl SI

 World Cup

World Cup Predictions – SI Planet Futbol

United States of El Tri – Mexico Owns US World Cup Spotlight – SI Brian Straus

Why America Should Root for Mexico in this World Cup – ESPN MAG

World Cup Rosters Are Announced – ESPNFC

France’s and Man United’s Paul Pogba is ready to Shine – ESPN Mag Feature –

WORLD CUP PREVIEW all 32 Nations – ESPNFC

Team by Team Game Schedules

World Cup Odds CBS Sports

 YAHOO FC Team previews

Group A: Russia | Saudi Arabia | Egypt | Uruguay
Group B: Portugal | Spain | Morocco | Iran
Group C: France | Australia | Peru | Denmark
Group D: Argentina | Iceland | Croatia | Nigeria
Group E: Brazil | Switzerland | Costa Rica | Serbia
Group F: Germany | Mexico | Sweden | South Korea
Group G: Belgium | Panama | Tunisia | England
Group H: Poland | Senegal | Colombia | Japan

Group previews

Group A | Group B | Group C | Group D | Group E | Group F | Group G | Group H

Exploding Heads ESPNFC group previews VIDEOS

Group A: Intimidating crests & Salah’s meteoric rise

Group B: Ronaldo quiz & Carlos Queiroz ‘exclusive’

Group C: French Mourinho & undercover research

Group D: The World Cup’s nice group

Group E: Be very afraid of Brazil’s squad

Group F: The best team with the worst nickname

Group G: Can we just talk about England?

Group H: Poland’s crest, Senegal’s nickname & conundrums

Argentina – Team Guide – The Guardian

Austrailia Team Guide

Denmark Team Guide

Egypt – Team Guide

France – Team Guide – The Guardian

Iceland  Team Guide– The Gaurdian

Morocco Team Tuide

Peru Team Guide

Portugal Team Guide

Russia – Team Guide

Saudia Arabia Team Guide

Serbia Team Guide

Spain – Team Guide – The Guardian

Uruguay Team Guide

Champions League

Top 10 Goals of the Season

Squad of the Season

INTERNATIONAL CHAMPIONS CUP SKILLS CHALLENGE

The International Champions Cup Skills Challenge is a FREE event, coming to Chicago at Toyota Park on June 10th! Participants will engage in four challenges, receiving points based upon their performance in dribbling, shooting, juggling and passing. Top participants will be awarded in each of the three age groups (U12, U16 and Open age) in male and female divisions. Winners will receive two match tickets to the International Champions Cup match between Manchester City and Borussia Dortmund on 7.20.18 and will be awarded their trophy during halftime! Click Here to Register

FIFA: North American 2026 World Cup bid outscores ‘high-risk’ Morocco

Jun 1, 2018Associated Press

FIFA judged Morocco’s 2026 World Cup proposals to be “high-risk” in three areas and offered significant praise for the North American bid, which outscored its rival by a wide margin in an inspection evaluation report published on Friday.The joint bid from the United States, Canada and Mexico scored 4 out of 5, while Morocco scored 2.7 following FIFA inspections.Morocco’s risks relate to stadiums, accommodation and transport. No part of the North America bid was flagged a high risk, and FIFA said it “has a clear lead” to advance the governing body’s mission to “push new boundaries in terms of sports-related technology and engagement” since stadiums and hotels already exist.FIFA’s five-man panel could have disqualified Morocco had the North African country scored less than two overall, and less than two on key measures, including stadiums.The FIFA Council has to approve both candidates at a June 10 meeting in Moscow. The final vote of up to 207 member federations is on June 13, and the inspection task force scores can be ignored when making their decision.The 2026 World Cup is the first tournament FIFA has confirmed will expand from 32 to 48 teams — putting increasing demands on the stadiums and facilities required to stage 80 games.While Morocco has said it needs to spend almost $16 billion on infrastructure for the 48-team World Cup, including building or renovating all 14 stadiums, North America does not require any tournament-specific building work.”The amount of new infrastructure required for the Morocco 2026 bid to become reality cannot be overstated,” the bid evaluation task force said. “The Morocco 2026 bid and United 2026 bid represent two almost opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to the nature of their bids.”The North Americans scored the only maximum 5 mark for its ticketing and hospitality plans, which helped drive a forecast revenue for the tournament of $14.3 billion, “significantly higher” than Morocco’s $7.2 billion. However, the lowest mark out of 5 for either bid in each of nine categories is 2.0 for the North American bids’ projected organising costs, which were driven up by having 16 stadiums instead of the minimum 12.In 20 categories evaluated for risk, the North American bid had three medium-risk areas — government support, human rights and labor standards, and organizing costs — and 17 low-risk. Morocco had the three high-risk sections, 10 medium-risk — also including human rights and labor standards — and seven low-risk.Guillermo Cantu, general secretary of the Mexican football federation, said FIFA’s ratings reflected well on the United bid.”It’s a candidature with very low risk, practically none,” he said. “It is good for us because it confirms that we have a responsible candidature, with stadiums already constructed, base camps operating and all the communications and lodging ready and operating. In the next eight years, there will be an improvement in infrastructure in stadiums in all North America.”FIFA ordered more-rigorous inspections after criticism of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup votes in 2010, with a five-man delegation this time paying the countries weeklong visits in April.FIFA sent a second group of officials to Morocco after finding deficiencies in their bid offering, including the stadiums proposed. The Associated Press also revealed that Morocco did not declare its anti-LGBT law to football’s governing body in the human-rights risk assessment included in the bid book.”The documents submitted do not specifically discuss risks to some potentially affected groups, such as representatives of the LGBTI+ community,” the FIFA report said. “Also absent from the documents is a comprehensive methodology to prioritize risks.”The new batch of technical staff being deployed from FIFA headquarters to Morocco did not make a similar follow-up visit to North America after the task force inspected the rival bid’s facilities this month.But the North American campaign has been dogged by questions on the impact of policies from the Trump administration, including attempts to implement a ban on travel by residents of six majority-Muslim countries. The U.S. has offered fresh guarantees to FIFA that there will be no discrimination around entry to the United States at a World Cup in 2026.”Due to new entry regulations that are currently being proposed in the United States in relation to citizens from certain countries, there are significant risks to discrimination-free entry to the country,” FIFA said.Scores out of 5 (the various categories carry a different weighting in the overall score):

Overall score: United bid 4.0, Morocco 2.7

Infrastructure

Stadiums: United bid 4.1, Morocco 2.3
Team facilities: United bid 3.7, Morocco 2.9
Accommodation: United bid 3.9, Morocco 2.6
Transport: United bid 4.3, Morocco 2.1
Telecommunications: United bid 4.0, Morocco 3.5
Fan Festival locations: United bid 3.6, Morocco 3.2

Commercial

Organising costs: United bid 2.0, Morocco 3.0
Media and marketing: United bid 4.9, Morocco 4.6
Ticketing and hospitality: United bid 5.0, Morocco 2.4

Which USMNT players would have been selected for the World Cup?

Doug McIntyre  FC YahooJun 4, 2018, 5:34 PM

Imagine for a moment that the U.S. national team’s fateful loss in Couva, Trinidad, eight months ago never happened. That Bruce Arena’s side had managed just one more stinking goal—or at the very least, that one of the equally unlikely results in Costa Rica and Mexico that conspired against the Americans on that October night had gone slightly differently — and that they instead secured a spot at an eighth consecutive World Cup.What would Arena’s 23-man U.S. roster for Russia 2018 have looked like? Now that FIFA’s deadline for teams to submit their final squads for the tournament has arrived, let’s break down the likely picks using a mix of history, current form and a recent conversation with the former U.S. boss and others involved with or close to the program. (Players with a * next to their name were included in the 2014 World Cup squad.)

Goalkeeper (3)

*Brad Guzan, 33 years old, Atlanta United (MLS) – He backed up Tim Howard for most of Arena’s first year in charge, but the smart money was on Guzan leapfrogging Howard before the main event kicked off. He’s been solid in Atlanta this season even if his save percentage is only middle of the pack in MLS.

*Tim Howard, 39, Colorado Rapids (MLS) – A fan of the saying “father time is undefeated”, there’s no doubt Howard began to show his age late last year. His experience is unmatched, though, and in a pinch the 2010 and 2014 starter still would’ve been more than capable of manning the net in Russia.

*Nick Rimando, 38, Real Salt Lake (MLS) – The consummate pro and locker room favorite would have had no problem accepting the cheerleading assignment that comes with the No. 3. role.

No room for Alex Bono, Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath, Zack Steffen:

It’s entirely possible that Steffen, the frontrunner (as of today) to backstop the U.S. during the 2022 cycle, would’ve made Arena’s 23 on the strength of his strong start to the MLS season with the Columbus Crew. The 23-year-old certainly would’ve pushed kept Guzan and Howard on their toes. However, Arena went with experience in the No. 3 role twice before; he took Tony Meloa over a young Howard in 2002, while 33-year-old Marcus Hahnemann served as third string in 2006. Bob Bradley and Jurgen Klinsmann employed a similar strategy in 2010 and ’14, picking Hahnemann and Rimando respectively.

efenders (8)

Tyler Adams, 19, New York Red Bulls (MLS) – He’s a natural central midfielder, and that’s where Adams’ sky-is the-limit future lies for the national team. But with the U.S. in desperate need of right back depth, the technically sound, tactically aware and mentally tough teenager probably would’ve gotten his Cup chance on the back line.

*Matt Besler, 31, Sporting Kansas City – While Besler would be on the bubble, his play so far in KC (only one MLS team has surrendered fewer goals than Sporting) and his ability to provide emergency cover at left back could’ve helped him survive the cut.

*John Brooks, 25, Wolfsburg (Germany) – A thigh injury cost the country’s most naturally gifted defender most of his first season with Wolfsburg, but the rangy Berlin native returned to the lineup just in time to help the Bundesliga mainstay narrowly avoid relegation.

*Omar Gonzalez, 29, Pachuca (Mexico) – He had a nightmare in Trinidad, and then lost his starting role in Liga MX. But he won it back by season’s end and has been a longtime favorite of Arena’s. The coach is loyal to a fault. You have to think Gonzalez would’ve gotten the benefit of the doubt.

Matt Miazga, 22, Vitesse (Netherlands) – A month after the qualifying failure, Arena went on television and suggested that Miazga would have been a starter alongside Brooks in Russia. It’s hard to see his opinion changing after Miazga helped humble Vitesse reach next season’s Europa League.

Tim Ream, 30, Fulham (England) – Ream rebounded from a poor performance in his last U.S. appearance (the 2-0 home loss to Costa Rica last September) by leading Fulham back to the Premier League. Arena noticed. And like   Besler, Ream’s experience at left back doesn’t hurt.

Jorge Villafana, 28, Santos Laguna (Mexico) – He would be the starting U.S. left back because of a lack of competition as much as anything else. But Villafana is also right in his prime, and he just won a Liga MX title with his club.

*DeAndre Yedlin, 24, Newcastle United (England) – Right back Yedlin is as entrenched at his position as any player in the national team pool. A surprise inclusion four years ago, his experience and all-world wheels would have been vital to the U.S. in Russia.

No room for DaMarcus Beasley, Geoff Cameron, Cameron Carter-Vickers, Timmy Chandler, Eric Lichaj, Walker Zimmerman, Graham Zusi:

Cameron was in Arena’s doghouse before he lost his job with relegated Stoke City, one of the two worst defensive teams in the Premier League last season. Converted winger Zusi never seemed completely comfortable at right back. Lichaj was an unused sub in five of Nottingham Forest’s last seven games. Chandler’s club from has never translated to the national team, plus he didn’t play a minute for the U.S. in 2017. Arena liked Zimmerman, and the LAFC center back could’ve edged out Besler or Gonzalez. But that would’ve been a surprise. Carter-Vickers isn’t ready. And at 36, four-time World Cup vet Beasley’s legs appear to have finally deserted him, at least at the sport’s highest level.

Midfielders (8)

Kellyn Acosta, 22, FC Dallas (MLS) – Acosta has played well for hometown club FCD lately after returning from hernia surgery. He could’ve filled in at fullback if necessary, too.

Paul Arriola, 23, D.C. United (MLS) – As one of the few natural wingers in the U.S. player pool, the speedy San Diegan would’ve been in contention to start on the right side this summer.

*Michael Bradley, 30, Toronto FC (MLS) – The U.S. captain wasn’t great during qualifying but he was lights out for the Reds during last year’s MLS Cup run and this spring against a trio of Mexican foes in the CONCACAF Champions League.

Sebestian Lletget, 25, LA Galaxy (MLS) – Arena fast-tracked his former Galaxy handyman into the U.S. squad in early 2017 only for Lletget to suffer a season ending foot injury in a qualifier against Honduras. But he’s started 11 of 14 games so far this year, including eight of the last nine.

Weston McKennie, 19, Schalke (Germany) – In his first full season in the Bundesliga, the hard-tackling future U.S. captain helped Schalke to a second-place finish (and the Champions League spot that comes with it).

Darlington Nagbe, 27, Atlanta United (MLS) – The silky smooth Nagbe has started all 14 games for the domestic league’s top team following six seasons in Portland.

Christian Pulisic, 19, Borussia Dortmund (Germany) – Obviously.

Kenny Saief, 24, Anderlecht (Belgium) – His age, ball skills, ability to play out wide and easygoing attitude would’ve been enough for Saief to claim a spot on Arena’s roster.

No room for Alejandro Bedoya, Marky Delgado, Benny Feilhaber, Sacha Kljestan, Christian Roldan or Danny Williams:

Arena never seemed to appreciate Bedoya and didn’t start the 2014 vet once during qualifying. Williams still isn’t fully recovered from the broken leg he suffered in March playing for Premier League side Huddersfield. MLS playmakers Kljestan and Feilhaber, at ages 32 and 33, were never serious contenders for Russia, while Delgado and Roldan lacked experience this time around.

Forwards (4)

*Jozy Altidore, 28, Toronto FC (MLS) – Altidore was in some of the best form of his career late last year and early this one despite playing with a broken foot for the better part of eight months. Although he finally underwent surgery to repair it in May, one would think it could’ve waited until after the World Cup.

*Clint Dempsey, 35, Seattle Sounders (MLS) – The joint-top scorer in U.S. history is goalless through six games with the Sounders, but maybe that wouldn’t be the case with a trip to a fourth World Cup up for grabs. Either way, a lack of better options combined with Dempsey’s nose for goal and the way he accepted (if not embraced) a supporting role under Arena would’ve gotten him to Russia.

Bobby Wood, 25, Hamburg (Germany) – After a trying year during which he scored just twice for HSV, joining the national team ahead of his first World Cup would’ve rejuvenated the Hawaiian striker, who has two goals in his last two U.S. games.

Gyasi Zardes, 26, Columbus Crew (MLS) – The top American scorer in MLS this season, Zardes is enjoying a career year after moving from the Galaxy last winter. With 37 caps, he also offers valuable international experience.

No room for Dom Dwyer, Aron Johannsson, Jordan Morris, Josh Sargent:

Morris was a no-brainer before he suffered a season-ending knee tear in February. Dwyer was a long shot even before he missed Orlando’s last three games with an injury. (He’s only played seven matches in 2018.) Johannsson is hurt, too. Sargent, Ar-Jo’s teammate at Werder.Doug McIntyre covers soccer for Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @ByDougMcIntyre.

France vs. United States | 2018 International Friendly Match Preview

June 6, 201812:44PM EDTDylan ButlerContributor

France vs. United States   Groupama Stadium — Lyon
Saturday, June 9 — 3 pm ET  WATCH: ESPN, UniMás, UDN

After a 2-1 loss to Ireland last Saturday in Dublin (a step up in competition from the 3-0 win over Bolivia on Memorial Day) the young US national team will face the ultimate test Saturday when they take on World Cup contender France in Lyon.The match will be the final for Dave Sarachan’s side until a busy fall, which includes a friendly against Mexico on Sept. 11 in Nashville and reportedly matches against Brazil, Colombia, Argentina, England and Italy.“France is going to be a really good test for us and a very good experience for everyone on this team. We’re all excited,” Columbus Crew SC goalkeeper Zack Steffen said. “I think we just go in with our game plan and want to show everybody who’s watching what we’ve got and go in and play as a team, work for each other, have fun and enjoy the experience.”

United States Outlook

A modest four-match unbeaten streak came to an end last Saturday in Dublin when Alan Judge netted the 90th-minute winner to send the US to a 2-1 defeat to Ireland. The Yanks led 1-0 at the break thanks to Bobby Wood’s 12th international goal in first-half stoppage time.Graham Burke leveled for Ireland, which bounced back from a 2-0 loss to France to improve to 6-2-2 all-time vs. the United States.New York Red Bulls defender Tim Parker, Fulham’s Luca de la Torre and Levante’s Shaq Moore each came off the substitute’s bench in the second half to make their USMNT debuts, while midfielders Julian Green (right foot) and Kenny Saief (right knee) were held out of the squad due to injuries.

France Outlook

This match serves as the World Cup sendoff for a France squad that has lofty expectations in Russia later this month. Didier Deschamps’ team ran roughshod over Ireland, winning 2-0, on May 28 with Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and Nabil Fekir from Lyon striking before halftime.They followed that up with a 3-1 victory over Italy in Nice on Friday with Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti and Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann gave France a two-goal lead before the half-hour mark. Leonardo Bonucci pulled the Azzurri within a goal in the 35th minute, but Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele put the game away with a 63rd minute goal, his second for Les Bleus.

History

The United States are 0-3-0 all-time against France and have been outscored, 10-0. Loïc Rémy came off the substitute’s bench to score the 72nd-minute winner in a 1-0 victory for Les Bleus in front of 70,018 fans at Stade de France on Nov. 11, 2011

Players to Watch

United States — Zack Steffen. After a rusty Bill Hamid made some blunders, including one that resulted in Ireland’s equalizer, fans on social media were clamoring for Steffen in net against France. The Crew SC goalkeeper has been outstanding in MLS play, having set a club shutout streak that spans five matches and 505 minutes.

France — Paul Pogba. The midfielder had an uneven first year with Manchester United, butting heads with Jose Mourinho on more than one occasion. While his return to the Reds will be one of the summer’s biggest questions, there is no doubt Pogba can be extremely influential with France. A return to his prior form at Juventus could put France on the podium next month.

United States’ loss to Republic of Ireland proves there’s a lot of work to do

Jun 3, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer

The United States got a bit of a reality check in its 2-1 defeat to the Republic of Ireland. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

Granted, there were reasons to be disappointed at the result. The U.S. actually took the lead in first-half stoppage time on a real poacher’s goal from Bobby Wood. That the U.S. failed to build on that advantage, or at least manage the scoreline better is cause for a furrowed brow or two.But in many ways, this match served its purpose, if for no other reason that to temper expectations a bit, and paint a sharper picture of where exactly the players on the current roster stand, even as they gained more experience. Certainly after the 3-0 cakewalk over Bolivia a bit of irrational exuberance ensued, though to be clear it wasn’t coming from caretaker manager Dave Sarachan, nor did it emanate from the players. But in the wake of Saturday’s defeat it’s clear that this group has a ways to go.On this day it was telling that while there were some moments of impressive play, they were only that — moments.There were no real standout individual performances from the match, and there were some critical breakdowns. Bill Hamid will shoulder most of the responsibility for the first goal, having attempted to come out for a cross and not getting anywhere near it. But Alan Judge’s game-winner was more down to the collective. The U.S. found itself outnumbered on the right wing, and no player took charge to address the situation. Tyler Adams was the wrong side of James McClean, and sure enough a teammate found McClean with the ball, allowing the Ireland midfielder the freedom to run at Matt Miazga, who bit on the West Brom player’s feint. With only Hamid to beat, Judge — who also was untracked — intervened and fired home for the winner.Granted, the parade of substitutions that often accompanies a friendly can compromise defensive organization. In this case it certainly didn’t help.”I think the guys will learn,” said midfielder Weston McKennie in the post-match mixed zone. “A lot of the guys play over in Europe anyway so we’re learning tactically.”And the guy’s that are playing in MLS are still learning tactically and knowing how to play in these situations, so I think it’s OK.”But this was as much about focus as anything, and while the stakes were small, the lesson was still harsh, at least in the context of this game.”We were playing against a very experienced Irish team and we’ve just got to learn and stay concentrated for 90 minutes,” said Wood.So this is where this crop of players is right now. Talented? No doubt. Plenty of promise? Yes. That was the case before these last two games, and it’s just as true now. But there will be plenty of mistakes along the way. There may even be a heavy defeat or two.That is what possibly looms next weekend, when the U.S. will take on a France side that is talented enough to win the upcoming World Cup. There will be high-caliber opponents all over the field from Antoine Griezmann to N’Golo Kante to Kylian Mbappe and so on. Staying healthy will be a primary concern for Les Bleus, but there will also be a desire to impress France manager Didier Deschamps.That makes for a daunting task. The U.S. has acquitted itself reasonably enough by playing its kids be it at home or on the road. Without question it should continue to do so. Just be ready for a rollercoaster ride once the next World Cup cycle begins in earnest.

Young U.S. side shows its inexperience, takes a step back in defeat to Ireland

Jun 2, 2018Jeff CarlisleSoccer  ESPNFC 

Ireland defeated the U.S. men’s national team 2-1 at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in an international friendly on Saturday.Bobby Wood put the U.S. ahead just before halftime with an opportunistic goal, but Graeme Burke notched the equalizer for the home side in the 57th minute, touching home Darragh Lenihan’s strike. Substitute Alan Judge then scored the game winner in the 90th minute to give the home side a dramatic victory.Here are three thoughts from the match.

  1. U.S. fades in second half

Saturday’s match was always going to be a tougher encounter than the holiday cruise that was the 3-0 win over Bolivia earlier this week. Ireland was not only playing at home but also fielded a much more experienced side than Bolivia did. Sensing this would be the case, U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan responded in kind, going with a more experienced crew that saw eight changes to Monday’s lineup. International veterans DeAndre Yedlin, Jorge Villafana, and Wood all started the match, as did players like Bill Hamid, Wil Trap and Matt Miazga, who have accumulated plenty of club experience.The first half proved to be a fairly drab encounter, as the U.S. struggled to string many passes together and Ireland carved out an edge in possession. The right side of the U.S. defense looked suspect, with Yedlin struggling with his distribution and Cameron Carter-Vickers seeming a step slow to every ball. The U.S. did create a few chances in the opening 45 minutes. A half-cleared corner was blasted goalward by Tyler Adams in the 23rd minute, only for Rubio Rubin’s deflection to go wide of goal. Yedlin did get involved in a good opportunity two minutes later, touching a loose ball to Wood that saw the Hamburg forward curl his shot just wide.Ireland had some opportunities as well. James McClean had a shot from distance that was parried away by Hamid in the 20th minute. Hamid then failed to collect a cross late in the first half, but Ireland couldn’t capitalize.It was left to the U.S. to jump on top in first-half stoppage time. Trapp’s free kick was headed toward goal by Matt Miazga, and Wood was first to pounce on the loose ball, prodding home from close range.The level of U.S. play eroded in the second half, however, as the Americans struggled to maintain possession. Ireland equalized in the 57th minute from a set piece that was largely down to an error by Hamid. A corner was played back and then served in by Callum O’Dowda. Hamid came out for the cross but was left stranded by a wall of bodies. That allowed Kevin Long to head back to Lenihan whose shot was deflected home by Burke.The U.S. went close a couple of times through Wood and Timothy Weah, but then caught a break when Lenihan had a goal disallowed for offside when replays appeared to show him in an onside position.The home side then bagged a late winner. McClean maneuvered around Miazga, allowing Judge to step in and blast his shot past Hamid and just under the bar.The fact that a young U.S. side accumulated more international experience will go down as a positive, but the match was also short of memorable performances. That is to be expected when dealing with inexperienced players, and may serve to rein in some of the exuberance that was evident following the Bolivia match. The next test will be even tougher, a friendly against powerhouse France in a week’s time.

  1. Wood once again finds comfort with U.S.

There’s no disputing just how brutal a club season Wood had. He managed just three goals in 25 league and cup appearances, one that saw Hamburg get relegated from the Bundesliga for the first time in its history. The fact that he was sent off in the season finale against Borussia Moenchengladbach only added salt to a gaping wound. Yet Wood has usually managed to find some semblance of form with the U.S. no matter how things were going for his club. Back in March he scored the lone goal from the penalty spot in a 1-0 win over Paraguay. Against Ireland Wood came through once again with an opportunistic strike, and went close on a few other occasions. Granted, friendly success doesn’t quite make up for the struggles Wood has experienced with his club, but it at least provides a ray of light as the current campaign comes to a close.Much now remains to be decided about Wood’s future. Is he better off trying to regain his club form with Hamburg in the 2. Bundesliga, or should he move on elsewhere? He’ll have the next few months to decide.

  1. Hamid shows rust

Dublin’s Aviva Stadium will not go down as Hamid’s favorite venue. Back in 2014, Hamid was in goal for a 4-1 drubbing at the hands of the Irish. His performance on this day wasn’t quite as bad, but it was by no means a positive performance. Hamid looked particularly suspect in the air. Only some poor finishing let him off the hook for his aforementioned first-half fumble, and his decision to come out to try and claim O’Dowda’s cross left the goal wide open, allowing Ireland to equalize. Hamid steadied himself and improved from that moment onward, but the damage was done.It’s clear, at least so far, that Hamid’s move to Danish side Midtjylland has yet to pay off. He made just three league and cup appearances since making the decision to move away from D.C. United during the winter, and the lack of first-team game action was evident.Prior to the Bolivia match, Hamid stated how he felt the move had helped him by getting him out of his comfort zone and showing him a different style of soccer. That’s all well and good, but without consistent playing time with his club, it’s going to be difficult for Hamid to make a case for playing time at international level, especially with the likes of Zack Steffen showing continued improvement.

Timothy Weah impresses again, Bill Hamid fails to convince in U.S. loss to Ireland

Jun 2, 2018Jason Davis

goal late in the first half through Bobby Wood, the Americans conceded twice in the second half to fall 2-1.

Positives

Another batch of young American players got their chance to step into the senior team as head coach Dave Sarachan continues the process of refreshing the talent pool. Mixing in a few more experienced hands, Sarachan got a chance to see potential partnerships in midfield and defense that might play a role in the squad moving forward.

Negatives

Whether it was the changes made to the lineup or the turnaround from Monday, this version of the USMNT lacked the necessary cohesiveness to control the game. A tendency to play backward colored the proceedings for the Americans and while the midfield trio of Tyler Adams, Weston McKinnie and Wil Trapp all had reasonably good performances individually, they did not combine effectively.

Manager rating out of 10

5 — The choice to start Bill Hamid proved to be a poor one for Sarachan, though the desire to see as many players as possible excuses it somewhat. Could have made changes to encourage more service for Timothy Weah on the wing, where the best U.S. moments originated. Used five of six available subs, finding minutes for a good portion of the roster. If there’s any gripe, it’s that some of those substitutions should have come earlier.

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

GK Bill Hamid, 2 — Culpable on Ireland’s first goal after a poor decision to come off his line. Struggled with balls in the air on multiple occasions and did not distribute well.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, 4 — Made several big mistakes with the ball in the first half. Caught out of position on occasion, putting the U.S. under pressure. Contributed just one cross.

DF Cameron Carter-Vickers, 3 — Poor day all around. Struggled in possession under pressure, especially in the first half. Picked up a yellow from a late challenge. Slow with his decision-making.

DF Matt Miazga, 6 — Solid for most of the match, stepping up and snuffing out danger on multiple occasions. Regressed in the final 10 minutes, including whiffing in the box on Ireland’s winner.

DF Jorge Villafana, 5 — Put in his usual fine defensive performance without offering much going forward. Took the easy route when playing out of the defensive third too often.

MF Wil Trapp, 6 — Solid but not spectacular, especially in the first half. Provided good set-piece service at times, but missed on a few in the second half. Passed well, but without much forward thrust.

MF Timothy Weah, 7 — Should have done better with a late chance, but was positive and dangerous for most of the match.

MF Tyler Adams, 7 — Missed just five passes on the day while playing a smart midfield. Might have pressed higher more often. Lacked a clear understanding with teammates to build moves in the final third.

MF Weston McKennie, 6 — Quiet over 90 minutes playing in front of Trapp higher up the field than on Monday against Bolivia. Pressed sporadically. Good moment late when a positive touch led to a shot on goal.

MF Rubio Rubin, 5 — Active, especially in the first half. Did not make much of an impact in the final third, registering no passes into the penalty box. Took two shots cutting inside on his right foot.

FW Bobby Wood, 5 — Scored to close the first half by capitalizing on a mistake by the keeper off of Miazga’s header. Failed to make his touches count, ineffective as target forward.

Substitutes

DF Tim Parker, 5 — Mostly composed when the game was stretched and the U.S. was under pressure. Not complicit on winning goal. Forced to scramble into emergency defending more than once.

DF Shaq Moore, NR — Showed speed and positivity up the wing, immediately getting into the attack upon introduction. Defended adequately.

FW Josh Sargent, NR — Had more good moments as a target in 20 minutes than Wood in 70.

MF Luca De La Torre, NR — Played positively from the moment he entered the fray.

MF Joe Corona, NR — Limited contributions in 10 minutes on the field.

USMNT Player Ratings: Not much to celebrate in sobering loss at Ireland

June 2, 20188:35PM EDTGreg SeltzerContributor

A green US national team side was brought down to Earth from last week’s win over Bolivia in Saturday’s 2-1 collapse to friendly hosts Ireland.The young Nats had far more trouble running their game plan against the firmer opposition provided by an Ireland side holding a huge experience advantage. Bobby Wood opportunistically put the visitors up on the edge of halftime, but they acquiesced control of play in the second half and were eventually punished for it near full time.With nothing at stake from the result, we can safely consider the contest a lesson for the kids.

Bill Hamid (3.5) – Perhaps it has something to do with the fact that he’s mostly watched from the bench since moving to FC Midtjylland in January, but Hamid had some obvious struggles commanding his area. His weak attempt at tracking down a serve into the box effectively teed up Ireland’s equalizer.

DeAndre Yedlin (4.5) – Though he offered some positive attack work in the opening half-hour, Yedlin virtually disappeared on the ball from there. It wasn’t any better on the defensive end, where the Newcastle man had repeated troubles in his corner and gave up a danger free kick while helping in the middle due to wild tackling form.

Cameron Carter-Vickers (5.5) – The young center back was uneasy on the ball throughout his hour of work, but did bring a foreboding presence to his side of the box.

Matt Miazga (5) – It was a tale of two halves for the Chelsea defender, who ably cleared danger at the back and notched a flick-on assist before the break. Miazga was much busier after intermission, and some mistakes followed. Though he worked his way up to 10 clearances, it mattered not when he was skinned alive in the box on Ireland’s winner.

Jorge Villafaña (5) – It was not a great night for the left back. He was either safe (in both the good and bad sense) or loose with the ball and did not have enough impact defensively.

Wil Trapp (5) – The Columbus Crew SC skipper was solid enough on the ball for his role, but it became progressively easier for the home side to knock on the gate to the defense as the game went on. The question of whether Trapp can provide enough steel to play defensive midfield at this level remains wide open.

Tyler Adams (5) – The New York Red Bulls ace had his stray moments of excellence on both sides of the ball, but his influence vanished for long stretches. Aside from a worthy set-up move near the hour, Adams was often invisible after the break.

Weston McKennie (4) – The best of McKennie’s attributes went missing for most of the night. He wasn’t standing Ireland up in midfield, had too many cheap giveaways and wasn’t breaking the lines with his usually incisive passing game.

Timothy Weah (5.5) – The pacy winger ate ground on the rush without truly threatening goal during the opening frame. Weah faded badly after the interval, yet managed to find his best chance of the night – which he promptly missed high. As with all the youngsters listed, there should be better nights ahead.

Rubio Rubin (5) – The Tijuana attacker suffered for the lack of flank push provided by Villafana. That was just part of the recipe for his overly bland showing.

Bobby Wood (6) – Getting straight to the point, Wood’s nice ninja attack tally brought his grade up to average. You’ve heard of scoring against the run of play? Well, this goal was against the run of the performance, which largely lacked his usual defender-disturbing runs.

Coach Dave Sarachan (5.5) – I’m not going to be too hard on the coach for this one. This game was always going to be a challenge for his green side. There shouldn’t be too much griping over his lineup or subs, but it might have been nice to shift tactics when the game was getting away from them during a tough second half.

Subs:
Tim Parker (6) – 
It was not an entirely clean shift from the Red Bulls center back, but he gets a passing grade for his debut. Parker racked up nine total defensive stops in just a half-hour.

Shaq Moore (6) – The Levante right back showed that a) his physical skills are promising & b) plenty of polish is still needed.

Josh Sargent (5.5) – The teen striker certainly didn’t do anything egregious, but he also was unable to find the right runs and receiving spots to unsettle Ireland’s defense.

Luca de la Torre (6) – The debutant pitched in with a few nice link passes and a few defensive actions in 13 minutes of play. It’s too bad he wasn’t getting much help on the left side.

Joe Corona (-) – Only a few game incidents for the midfielder in a 10-minute cameo.

Who Will Win the 2018 World Cup? SI’s Expert Predictions and Knockout Brackets

 

By SI.COM STAFF June 04, 2018

The World Cup kicks off June 14 in Moscow with a meeting between the two lowest-ranked teams in the field, which, in some ways, is quite appropriate. The competition is meant to be a crescendo, one whose drama and defining moments don’t occur until the very end. With the way the draw and schedule worked out, that’s precisely how Russia 2018 is shaping up to play out.Russia vs. Saudi Arabia will be a massive 90 minutes for the host nation, which can set its tone for the tournament in front of its partisan crowd. But once it’s over, the focus will shift to the traditional powers and the individual superstars who figure to have plenty of say in determining the 2018 world champion. At least that’s how we see things going. In anticipation of the 32-team, month-long battle for international supremacy, SI’s Avi Creditor, Luis Miguel Echegaray, Brian Straus, Grant Wahl and Jonathan Wilson size up the tournament field and make their picks for who will get out of each group and how the knockout stage will unfold–from the round of 16 to the moment the trophy is lifted July 15 at the same Luzhniki Stadium where all of the drama will kick off.

AVI CREDITOR

Group Winners: A – Uruguay | B – Spain | C – France | D – Croatia | E – Brazil | F – Germany | G – Belgium | H – Colombia

Group Runners-Up: A – Egypt | B – Portugal | C – Peru | D – Argentina | E – Costa Rica | F – Mexico | G – England | H – Senegal

The World Cup field seems pretty straightforward, with most groups having a clearly defined top two. There’s room for some slight surprises–and juicy storylines–to develop, though. Like how about Argentina finishing secondin its group and going into the same quadrant of the bracket as Portugal for a potential Messi-Ronaldo quarterfinal showdown? And after that, how about the potential for an Argentina-Brazil semifinal, which would be their first World Cup showdown since 1990? And what about a Paolo Guerrero-sparked Peru getting out of its group and making some noise as this year’s Costa Rica, going on an inspiring quarterfinal run?

Ultimately, the bluebloods will decide the winner, and we’re left with an incredible final four. Argentina and Brazil provide an all-South American semifinal on one side, while Spain and Germany make for an all-European one on the other. Ironically and poetically, a more balanced and multi-pronged Brazil will advance due to Argentina’s over-reliance on one star, while Spain has the skill and depth to break down a resolute defending champion in Germany. Neymar makes the difference in the final, lifting Brazil to its record sixth title–60 years after Pelé carried the Seleção to their first.

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LUIS MIGUEL ECHEGARAY

Group Winners: A – Uruguay | B – Spain | C – France | D – Argentina | E – Brazil | F – Germany | G – Belgium | H – Senegal

Group Runners-Up: A – Egypt | B – Portugal | C – Peru | D – Nigeria | E – Switzerland | F – Mexico | G – England | H – Colombia

There are two World Cup predictions I feel very strongly about: Radamel Falcao will score more goals than anyone in the group stage, and, for the first time since 1958, Brazil will win the World Cup on European soil.With all due respect to Serbia, Switzerland and Costa Rica, the group is Brazil’s for the taking, meaning the Seleção can ease Neymar back into the lineup and get him ready for the knockout stage.Brazil, however, is not just about the PSG star. This is a loaded team in every facet, and thanks to Roberto Firmino and preferred starter Gabriel Jesus, there is serious competition in the No. 9 role, something that has been missing for a long time. Thanks to coach Tite, this squad is as creative as it is disciplined, and the latter will be the deciding factor in the knockout rounds. After beating Mexico in the round of 16 (sorry, El Tri fans), Belgium awaits in the quarters, and this is where I think experience overrules talent, as Brazil beats Roberto Martinez’s side. The harder test will come in the semis when France comes knocking, but this goal-fest will go in favor of the South Americans, and you know what that means? The final presents an opportunity for redemption against Germany and a chance for Brazil to heal the wounds from 2014’s shocking 7-1 semifinal exit on home soil.In the end, Brazil writes a new ending against Joachim Low’s squad and wins its sixth World Cup.

BRIAN STRAUS

Group Winners: A – Uruguay | B – Spain | C – France | D – Croatia | E – Brazil | F – Germany | G – Belgium | H – Poland

Group Runners-Up: A – Egypt | B – Portugal | C – Denmark | D – Argentina | E – Switzerland | F – Mexico | G – England | H – Colombia

Past performance never guarantees future results, but in searching for patterns that might help predict a World Cup, it’s worth looking at what we’ve learned from recent editions.World Cups aren’t won by second-tier countries led by golden generations. They’re won by nations that produce talent far more consistently, without dramatic peaks and valleys. World Cups are won by teams on the rise that have paid their dues, not by sated or aging stars. And they’re won with world-class resilience and depth. Champions evolve during a tournament and have options available as they adapt, and they need talent in reserve in big moments. Germany’s Cup-winning goal in Rio was scored by a sub and set up by a midfielder who relieved the guy playing in place of the injured starter.There will be three teams in Russia with enough talent, depth, fortitude and pedigree to win–Germany, Spain and France. Germany, who’s bringing back less than half its 2014 squad, will edge Spain in one semi. France, whose ‘B’ team might make the final four, will knock out Belgium’s golden generation in the other. In the final, a French team bursting with talent that will have hit its stride—both in the long-term and during a tournament in which it faces a few tactical questions—will triumph. Les Bleus will come in waves, and they have the hunger, quality and flexibility to triumph.

GRANT WAHL

Group Winners: A – Uruguay | B – Spain | C – France | D – Croatia | E – Brazil | F – Germany | G – Belgium | H – Colombia

Group Runners-Up: A – Russia | B – Portugal | C – Denmark | D – Iceland | E – Switzerland | F – Mexico | G – England | H – Senegal

Spain will win its second World Cup in three cycles by relying on an experienced core balancing solid defense (goalkeeper David De Gea; center backs Sergio Ramos and Gerard Piqué), a masterly midfield (Sergio Busquets, Andrés Iniesta, Thiago) and an emerging front line (Marco Asensio, Isco, Diego Costa).Their ball control will wear out defending champ Germany in the semifinals and then, in the final, Belgium, which will outlast a slew of talented teams in the Red Devils’ half of the draw: Brazil (upset by Mexico), France (which has at least one stinker every five games) and Uruguay.Ultimately, the teamwide strength of Spain will prevail in a tournament of surprises over the individual stardom of Brazil’s Neymar, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Argentina’s Lionel Messi (who will go out in the group stage as Argentina finishes behind Croatia and Iceland).

JONATHAN WILSON

Group Winners: A – Uruguay | B – Spain | C – France | D – Argentina | E – Brazil | F – Germany | G – Belgium | H – Colombia

Group Runners-Up: A – Egypt | B – Portugal | C – Denmark | D – Croatia | E – Switzerland | F – Mexico | G – England | H – Senegal

World Cups are not rational and there is something very strange about the fact that in a competition that even in its expanded form lasts only seven games, there has not been a surprise winner in the mold of a Denmark or Greece in the Euros. The only real shock winner, in fact, was West Germany in 1954, and subsequent history indicates what a shock that was. The World Cup is long overdue for a surprise.Having said that, there are four squads that have quality and depth far in excess of their rivals, and the way the draw has worked, Spain, Brazil, Germany and France can all avoid each other before the semifinal; although Spain, in particular, may fear the quarterfinal where Argentina probably lies in wait (Spain’s recent 6-1 friendly win over Jorge Sampaoli’s side notwithstanding). This is a Spain team rejuvenated under Julen Lopetegui, and given Brazil’s issues at right back in the absence of Dani Alves and the way Spain seems to be coming into form at just the right time, it is my favorite to win in Moscow on July 15.

Paul Pogba -Ready To Shine in World Cup

After a hellish club season, Paul Pogba is determined to reclaim his joy in Russia. And if he happens to disprove his critics — and his coach — in the process? Even better.y Wright Thompson18This is the cover story for ESPN The Magazine’s June 18 World Football issue. Subscribe today!

Paul Pogba stands in his kitchen and mists himself with cologne. The Pogmood is Pogtense. A strong Arabian musk crossed with bright athletic notes might chase away his uneasy feeling. He gives a generous spray on each side of his neck, one spray for each arm, with a torso shot or two for good measure. You can always smell Pogba before you see him. Its work done, the fragrance bottle goes back into his white snakeskin dopp kit, which he can always identify as his because of the enormous gold-plated No. 6 on the side. Like all people who started in obscurity and live in fear of returning to it, his name and image are never far from his line of sight: excessive branding as a sophisticated method of clawing at a crumbling cliff’s edge. It’s a Tuesday between the end of Manchester United’s season and the team’s FA Cup final down in London, and Pogba had been feeling good until he opened a text message from the team. Now he’s thrown off-center, and this creates widening ripples in the Pogforce.

“The club changed all the travel plans,” his manager says. “They unbalanced him.”

The Red Devils are now leaving tomorrow at 7 a.m., the whole trip pushed up a day. Since players are due at pre-World Cup camps, losing a day means losing time to close up houses and carefully pack. Pogba, just 25, lives in a Manchester suburb that’s home to dozens of current and former Premier League stars who whip around the leafy streets in luxury cars. Hanging around his house today are his Parisian boyhood friend and gofer Mamadou, his Bolivian-model girlfriend Maria Zulay Salaues, his Brazilian manager who lives in Monaco and speaks six languages, and, of course, his cook, who hails from Naples and chatters away in Italian as she futzes around the kitchen.

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These four friends, along with his mom and two brothers, protect him from the circling wolves of criticism. He’s in that dangerous career zone in which his immense potential, long the source of his wealth and fame, could become the central exhibit in the case for his failure. Manchester United bought him in 2016 from Juventus for upward of 89 million pounds, the largest transfer fee in history at the time, and he’s worn that scarlet number around his neck. Tabloids compare him to the other biggest busts in football history. Sometimes he doesn’t even start.It’s not all his fault. Most people can see that Pogba’s free-flowing game doesn’t fit with manager Jose Mourinho’s conservative style. He’s a sequined jacket in a hit man’s closet. These could be his final days living in this house and city as he decides whether to run again or stay and fight for his future. Russia is coming at the perfect time for him. No other player on the planet needs the psychic reboot of a World Cup as much as Pogba. “He is at an important crossroads,” says Mamadou’s brother, “Papis” Magassa, who coached Pogba in their neighborhood in Paris.Today’s anxiety over schedules and packing clashes with the boyish spirit of the house, which is a bedroom poster dream of where a footballer might live. Nobody should ever feel sad in such a ridiculous place. Big windows look out onto trees and hedges. The kitchen glows green when the afternoon sun shines through the limbs and branches. Out front rises a towering fir tree just like those in the common area of the French public housing complex where Pogba grew up. The interior is decorated with pictures, trophies, murals and, obviously, his interlocking “PP” logo. He’s got the logo on his pool table and on his custom black-and-gold foosball table and on the four throw pillows fluffed and ready on his giant L-shaped couch. A logo is on the center of his small, caged indoor football pitch — which is where the indoor pool used to be — and there are paintings of him in celebration on the wall. He’s got the logo in his ears, one on each earring, in case he happens upon a mirror. Some people design for comfort or aesthetics. His house is designed for confidence, a place where he can celebrate one of those missile shots he calls a PogBOOM! The white marble floors shine. The lines are cold and modern. The stairs are hard plastic trays filled with fake diamonds, and in the stairwell, a huge taxidermied lion rests its left paw on a soccer ball, as if it might launch a well-timed and kingly cross to a streaking kudu.”I make it the Poghouse,” Pogba says.AS HE SAYS this, Pogba is facing his enormous fish tank. The Pogtank! He’s a Pisces, Mamadou explains, hence the fish. They dart in and out of the tower of coral, hiding in the shadows and zooming through the blue light, oblivious to faces pressed against the glass watching them swim. The new Taurus moon tells all Pisces to trust their inner voice, to let the past go and look toward a clear future. All of which is ridiculous because what kind of lunatic actually believes in hoscopes — and yet the fish tank.This is an odd and important time to drop into Pogba’s world, which is exactly as weird and singular as you’d want it to be. The last Premier League season, which ended two days ago, exposed clearly the conflict that will dominate the rest of his career: Can the joy and whimsy that define his play survive the pressures seeking to harden him into something serious and mathematical? If Pogba succumbs to Mourinho’s system, he might become the best player of his generation. Or he might lose the most important part of himself and his game. “It has to be fun,” Pogba says. “It started like that. It started fun. So why does it have to change?”Friends describe him as one of the happiest people they’ve ever met, a trait he inherited from his mother, who looks on every good thing in her life as a blessing to be celebrated. The people closest to him believe his joy serves as a kind of pilot light for his talent. Two of those people stood in their kitchen two days ago, on the morning of Man United’s final league game, and remembered Pogba saying years ago, “I’ll play football wherever it makes me feel happy.”Paul and Carol Dalby served as Pogba’s host family when he first came to England as a teenager to attend the Man United academy. He spent three years there before joining Juventus in 2012. They remember the drama of his departure, after he fell out of favor with Sir Alex Ferguson and was allowed to leave for nothing. Pogba confided in the Dalbys at the time, “I like them, but they don’t seem to like me.” When he signed with Juventus, they knew before nearly anyone in the world, and when Pogba struggled to deal with the aggressive Italian fans — one time in Turin, a Juve fan got into the passenger seat of his car at a red light to take a selfie — he’d talk to them about it. Once when Juve came to play Man City, Pogba asked the Dalbys to visit him at the team hotel. Sitting in the second-floor restaurant overlooking the river in the old textile mill town, he shared his frustrations.”What are you going to do?” they asked. “You don’t seem too happy at Juventus.”

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When he left Italy, he returned to a feeling as much as a geographical location, something deeper and more personal than chasing dollars and prestige. It seems strange that he should be searching for something most observers think he’s already found. He makes millions a year playing a game — and yet that seems to be the central question. Is it still a game? Grown men have been fighting one another in court and in public over his talent since he was a boy. His second agent and his first engaged in a yearslong dispute over the first contract Pogba signed, a predatory deal in which he relinquished the rights to his own name and likeness. He tries not to let messy international commerce dampen his enthusiasm. That gets harder with each passing season.It’s been especially hard during this season that just ended.On the morning of United’s final league game, the Dalbys thought about the difficulty of watching a young man they consider an adopted son be trashed day after day. They’ve bristled at how easily critics, even former United players who should know better, engage so guiltlessly in a market in which players are characters and not former 16-year-old boys a long way from home, asking Carol and Paul for seconds of pasta.”It’s so cruel, you know?” Carol says. “It’s so cruel. He’s just been battered.”

That day found them writing the obituary and eulogy for Paul Dalby’s brother, who died suddenly while on vacation in Spain. When Pogba heard the news, he reached out. When he scored in a United game a few days later, he sent the Dalbys a note saying that the goal was a gift for their grieving family and that he’d be delivering the shirt he wore while scoring. He stops by whenever he can — not long ago, he and Zulay showed up for a visit wearing matching bright-red Adidas tracksuits. The Dalbys could only smile and shake their heads. That’s the Pogba they’ve always known. They remember him rushing to the fridge in the morning to find the word of the day, which he’d use in conversation. Even when Pogba got a flat in Manchester, he would still spend lots of time with his “second family,” as he’s written on some signed shirts they keep. They made sure he didn’t live on just Chinese takeout.Pogba is family to them. He bounded around their home with the same youthful enthusiasm that he took to the pitch, where he’d bounce before games, smiling and joking with teammates and opponents alike. He found the purest expression of his inner self on the field. At least he once did. “He used to prance around the pitch,” Paul Dalby says. “A little bit of that has left him now.”They can take one look at him and know how he’s doing. Earlier this year, Carol walked through the room where their big television played the United game. Paul grew up watching Bobby Charlton and George Best and loves to see his local club play. Almost accidentally, Carol caught a glimpse of Pogba on the pitch.”He doesn’t look very happy,” she said.”He’s not,” he said.

Own Goal: The Inside Story of How the USMNT Missed the 2018 World Cup

In October, the United States failed to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in more than 30 years. A loss to Trinidad and Tobago sealed their fate, but according to players, coaches, commentators, and executives across American soccer, the disaster doesn’t come down to just one unfortunate result. No, it was the culmination of nearly a decade of mismanagement that broke the team’s spirit and condemned them to failure.

By Andrew Helms and Matt Pentz  Jun 5, 2018, 6:20am EDT

The players smelled it. In the locker room at halftime, the stench of impending failure hung as heavily as the humid Caribbean air. Try as he might, U.S. men’s national team head coach Bruce Arena could not keep the desperation from creeping into his voice.If we get one goal, the veteran American coach said to his defeated-looking team, we’re going to get a second. Just keep pushing forward.“You could see him getting agitated,” midfielder Benny Feilhaber recalled. “He would be positive, and all of a sudden, he would level up, and sort of start getting louder. ‘Come on, guys, come on.’ It was definitely his body language, but it was also his tone of voice, going from trying to be calm to being more aggressive, and going back and forth. You could tell that the coaches were kind of on edge. Maybe even more so than the players.”Needing only a draw to advance to the World Cup in Russia, the team had traveled to Trinidad for their final qualification match on October 10, 2017. Success was so assured that only 1,500 spectators even bothered to show up. But after conceding two freak goals in the first half, the U.S. found itself on the brink of disaster. What Arena himself once deemed “unthinkable” was becoming reality: The United States men’s national team was just 45 minutes away from missing the World Cup for the first time in more than 30 years.In one corner of the cramped locker room sat a glowering Geoff Cameron. The veteran Premier League defender was irate from being left on the bench during the past two matches — a decision all the more galling now that his replacement, Omar Gonzalez, had opened the scoring with a horrifying own goal.Cameron’s anger was just one example of tension inside the U.S. locker room. According to several close observers, the environment around the team during the past few years could be “toxic” at times, a lingering aftereffect of the inconsistent and culture-degrading management style of Arena’s predecessor, Jürgen Klinsmann, who had been fired one year before. Arena had labored to rebuild team chemistry, but that had proved to be more challenging than the veteran coach had expected.Michael Bradley had long known that the team’s fragile identity could derail qualification. Moving around the room, the captain and central midfielder tried to rally his teammates, beseeching them to raise their collective games. But he was also one of the most polarizing figures in the fractured dressing room: His massive seven-figure MLS salary and sometimes overbearing leadership style grated on teammates. Although Bradley knew that all of their legacies were on the line, he was an imperfect messenger.Christian Pulisic, only 19 and already the team’s best player, sat in concentrated silence. He’d joined the team at the start of the qualification campaign and was on the verge of single-handedly propelling the group to Russia, notching seven goals and assisting on seven more. As the USMNT took the field for the second half, he tried to once again drag his beleaguered teammates to the World Cup. After just 90 seconds, he sliced through the Trinidad and Tobago defense and scored a goal to pull the U.S. within one.But the second goal that Arena had promised never came. Clint Dempsey’s 77th-minute shot off the post was the closest the team came to equalizing. When the whistle blew, Pulisic sank to the turf, exhausted and angry, having experienced his first major failure as a professional player.“The image that will stay with me was our best player, Christian Pulisic, the kid that had done so much, seeing him in the showers, fully clothed, with his hands in his face just crying,” remembered 31-year-old midfielder Dax McCarty.Back in the United States, the reactions were similarly bleak as fans grappled with not only the qualification failure but also just how badly the U.S. had played in a match that sealed their World Cup fate. Landon Donovan watched events unfold from a friend’s couch in California, feeling as though he’d been punched in the gut. “It was a physical illness,” the U.S. legend said. “I think a lot of people felt the same way. I was sick to my stomach. It was hard to process just how much this would impact U.S. soccer.”

In Charleston, South Carolina, longtime American soccer executive Kevin Payne watched the defeat alone at a bar. “I felt the same way that I felt when I woke up the morning after Election Day,” he said. “Like my world has been unmoored, and how did it happen?”With all of its advantages over its continental competitors, how did the U.S. fail to qualify for the World Cup? The question has divided the American soccer community ever since. Some have blamed the player development system. Others have questioned Arena’s tactics. And some have just said that the U.S. had a bad game on a hot night in Trinidad.“You don’t make wholesale changes based on the ball being 2 inches wide or 2 inches in,” said then–U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati on the night of the collapse, referencing Dempsey’s near equalizer.“That’s when you start feeling sorry for yourself. Then you start thinking, ‘Holy shit, we just let down our entire country.’” —Dax McCarty

Behind the scenes, though, the disaster that unfolded in Trinidad was not the result of one shot hitting off the post or one poor tactical decision. The failure to qualify for the World Cup was the direct result of seven years of mismanagement at the highest levels of U.S. Soccer, which fostered disunion among the team’s players and ultimately doomed them to defeat.“We put Band-Aids on things all the time and hope that they change and that things turn around,” USMNT defender Brad Evans said. “All of these successes were just Band-Aids for a failure that was going to potentially happen, and it did.”This insider’s view of the epic American World Cup collapse — from the boardroom to the locker room — is based on interviews with more than 40 current and former players, coaches, and sources close to U.S. Soccer leadership, conducted in the aftermath of the U.S. defeat. Many spoke on the condition of anonymity in order to describe scenes honestly, expressing fear of negative consequences for their careers if they spoke on the record.Taken together, their accounts reveal that the seeds of the World Cup failure had been planted years earlier, in 2011, when U.S. Soccer president and Columbia University economist Sunil Gulati landed Klinsmann, a former World Cup–winning player with an elite international reputation, to become the new coach of the U.S. team. Yet Klinsmann’s methods — laudable in theory — decimated the team’s culture. Despite hearing about these problems from some men’s national team players and from U.S. Soccer staff members, Gulati and the federation’s leadership failed to react in time.Even with the dysfunction at every level — from the executives down to the coaches and the players — the team was still one game away from qualification. Playing without energy or hunger when both were needed, they lost to a vastly inferior opponent. That result will follow them around for the rest of their playing days. But the failure was far from theirs alone.“The thing that I thought about, selfishly, was that there goes my only chance to represent my country in the World Cup,” said McCarty, who watched the disaster unfold from the bench. “That’s when you start feeling sorry for yourself. Then you start thinking, ‘Holy shit, we just let down our entire country.’”

Act 1: Hope and a Honeymoon With Jürgen

The road to Trinidad began in the summer of 2010. In a hotel in Vancouver, Jürgen Klinsmann laid out his bold vision for the future of American soccer. Around him sat U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati, U.S. Soccer CEO Dan Flynn, and then–D.C. United president Kevin Payne, all listening with rapt attention.At the time, Gulati was mulling a coaching change for the U.S. men’s national team. Bob Bradley had just completed a four-year tenure as manager that ended with the U.S. team’s ouster in the round of 16 at the 2010 World Cup. Soon afterward, Gulati had flown to Vancouver to meet with Klinsmann, a former German superstar with the same relentless sunniness that characterizes his adopted home of California.“Bob was the head coach,” remembered Payne. “And Sunil asked me to come along and just give him my impressions of Klinsmann.”For Gulati, there was a lot to like about Klinsmann. He had played in World Cups and in the Champions League, and he was viewed as an iconoclastic thinker, willing to challenge convention and make difficult, if unpopular, decisions. He’d earned that reputation managing his home country to a third-place finish at the 2006 World Cup, a performance that had led to Gulati’s first unsuccessful attempt to make Klinsmann his coach.Among top-level European managers, Klinsmann also had the advantage of understanding the eccentricities of American soccer. Klinsmann had lived in Southern California since 1998 and had embraced his adopted home, learning about the college soccer system, MLS, and the millions of kids running around pristine suburban fields. His son Jonathan, a goalkeeper, competed in U.S. Soccer’s Development Academy, the top American youth league, designed to provide young players with a professional-caliber training environment.Most importantly for Gulati, though, Klinsmann represented something larger: a chance to turn the latent potential of American soccer into actual power.Then in his fifth year as the president of U.S. Soccer, Gulati had done just about every job in the sport. He’d driven buses and bought balls at Kmart during national team camps. As deputy commissioner, he’d designed Major League Soccer’s signature single-entity structure, in which each team is owned by the league’s group of investors. Elected U.S. Soccer president in 2006 after running unopposed, Gulati, along with Flynn, had built the nonprofit organization into a juggernaut with a $100 million annual budget and 140 full-time employees.“You knew your role. You knew exactly what was going to be asked of you. You were going to have to go out there and be a motherfucker.” —Herculez Gomez, on playing for Bob BradleyOn the field, Gulati wanted to push the American team from international soccer’s middle class into the sport’s elite, but he wasn’t convinced that his current coach was up to the job. The father of U.S. midfielder Michael and a well-respected figurehead within American soccer circles, Bradley had followed a well-trod path to the national team gig. Like his national team predecessor Arena, he’d risen through the ranks, from collegiate soccer to MLS and then to the U.S. job. And like Arena’s teams, his squads didn’t always play the flashiest soccer, but they did tend to transcend their lack of elite talent with a collective fighting spirit.“You knew your role. You knew exactly what was going to be asked of you. You were going to have to go out there and be a motherfucker,” said Herculez Gomez, a forward for the national team under Bradley.During his tenure, Bradley led the U.S. team to regional victory at the 2007 Gold Cup and to a second-place finish in a major international tournament, the 2009 Confederations Cup, with a Cinderella run that included a 2–0 victory over the world’s no. 1 team, Spain. But after a World Cup performance that featured plenty of grit and guile but not enough aggressive soccer for Gulati’s taste, the federation president was ready to consider alternatives, which is why he’d flown to Vancouver to hear out Klinsmann.In 2010, the German’s vision for the national team was incredibly ambitious. He wanted the U.S. to play proactive, possession-based soccer and no longer rely on goalkeeping and counterattacks. He wanted both youth teams and the senior national team to build a uniquely American soccer identity, fusing together all the disparate cultures of the country’s melting pot. Above all else, he wanted to rid the U.S. team of its inferiority complex, its self-defeating mind-set that it couldn’t contend with the best teams from Europe and South America.

t was a heady vision, and one that appealed to Gulati’s desire to revolutionize American soccer. “I don’t think it was any secret that [Gulati] did want Jürgen to take the job,” said Mike Edwards, the vice president of U.S. Soccer from 2006 to 2016. “Each president wants to put their own stamp on things.”But Klinsmann’s asking price as well as demands for control were too much for Gulati. Klinsmann wanted the authority to hire not just the senior team’s technical staff and coaches but also the permanent staff of the federation, from the press shop to the trainers and the equipment managers — employees that had traditionally remained in their positions regardless of who ran the men’s team. Moreover, Klinsmann wanted to circumvent the federation’s power structure. “Really, [Klinsmann] didn’t want to report to anybody. He wanted to report to Sunil,” remembered Payne. It was an organizational structure that would have bypassed Flynn, the chief executive of U.S. Soccer. The deal fell apart.Reluctantly, Gulati extended Bradley’s contract in August 2010, and the hiring process revealed a bigger truth about the way decisions have historically been made inside U.S. Soccer. Gulati and Flynn — despite having never played or coached the sport at a high level — had the unilateral authority to hire the national team coach. Even the organization’s vice president at the time, Edwards, was not involved in the decision-making.Over the next year, Gulati’s eye continued to wander toward Klinsmann. And luckily for Gulati, Klinsmann’s job prospects had cooled since his 2006 World Cup triumph. His last head-coaching gig, as the manager of Bayern Munich, had ended in the spring of 2009 after only nine months. At the time of his dismissal, Barcelona had just demolished Bayern in the Champions League quarterfinals, and his team — perennial title contenders — sat in third place in the Bundesliga and were in danger of missing out on European competition. The Bayern leadership pulled the plug with just five matches remaining in the season.“Jürgen really has a magnetism to him that makes people want to get in there and listen to what he has to say. I think he was the right guy at the right time to bring us a shot of enthusiasm.” —Mike Edwards

After failing to ink a deal with U.S. Soccer in 2010, Klinsmann was hired as a consultant to fix MLS club Toronto FC. Acting as a headhunter, Klinsmann recommended that TFC hire Dutch manager Aron Winter and former New England Revolution assistant Paul Mariner. But both of his picks flopped, and the team remained mired at the bottom of the league.By June 2011, Klinsmann was itching to get back into the coaching game but lacked the bargaining power he had once commanded. It was then that he landed an invitation to a state dinner in Washington in honor of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He reached out to D.C. United’s Payne, requesting a meeting while he was in the nation’s capital.Before agreeing to the meeting, Payne called Gulati, wanting to know what to say if Klinsmann brought up the U.S. job. Bradley had a contract that ran through 2014, and his team was slated to play their first match in the Gold Cup the same night as the state dinner. What do you want me to do? Payne asked Gulati. I can just tell him there’s nothing to talk about.“And Sunil said, ‘Tell him if he does want to have a conversation, it’s got to start and end at this number,’” Payne said. “‘Not at his number.’”Payne met Klinsmann for breakfast at the swanky W Hotel, just steps from the White House. Payne relayed Gulati’s message, and Klinsmann agreed to the lower salary figure.

(Klinsmann did not respond to multiple requests for comment for this story.)

From there, Klinsmann’s agent reached out to U.S. Soccer to express interest in the job, and after Bradley’s team lost the 2011 Gold Cup final to Mexico, Gulati was ready to listen. Over coffee in Frankfurt during the Women’s World Cup, Klinsmann and Gulati met to discuss the terms of a deal. More important than haggling over salary, Klinsmann agreed to operate within the federation’s existing organizational structure, the principle reason negotiations had failed in 2006 and 2010.Just a year after offering his current coach a new four-year contract, firing Bradley and hiring Klinsmann would be a massive decision, the biggest of Gulati’s tenure. It would represent a new start for the men’s team: a shared ambition to break its current identity and to build something newer, stronger, and better in its place. For Gulati, it also meant that its success — and its potential failure — would be his responsibility.On July 28, 2011, one month after Bob Bradley’s team lost to Mexico, Gulati fired the veteran American coach. The next day, Klinsmann was announced as the new manager.At the time, the excitement inside American soccer was palpable. To many, the future in which the U.S. could one day win a World Cup suddenly seemed within reach. “Jürgen really has a magnetism to him that makes people want to get in there and listen to what he has to say,” said Edwards. “I think he was the right guy at the right time to bring us a shot of enthusiasm.”And for a little while, at least, things appeared to be going well. In March 2012, the U.S. beat Italy on Italian soil, which the team had never done. That summer, the Yanks dropped Mexico in Mexico for the first time in 25 tries, breaking a decades-long curse. More than anything, most players involved with the national team program seemed to benefit from the fresh vibe. Where Bradley was strict and taciturn, Klinsmann was warm and bubbly, tanned and full of energy. He had a way of putting players at ease.“It was tough to feel uncomfortable around him,” said Feilhaber.

He cajoled America’s top players to get out of their “comfort zones” and to play in Europe’s top leagues. It was the ethos that had defined his own career as a player — a relentless hunger to achieve, a visceral hatred of inertia — and Klinsmann attempted to implant that mind-set inside his new players. “He said it privately in meetings to a lot of players, he said it in front of the group during team meetings, and he said it publicly,” remembered Donovan. “He never shied away from that message.”Klinsmann was also able to persuade a number of German-based players with American heritage to don the red, white, and blue, and he brought his energy and ideas to how things were run inside U.S. Soccer. He wasn’t afraid to be critical of how the organization made decisions, pushing the leadership on player development initiatives and coaching education just like he pushed the players on the senior team to take their game to the next level.“For a lot of us … we were all really hungry at the time and really wanted to prove that we belonged,” Evans said. “We worked our tits off to be there, and we got results.”At the time, no one could have could imagined that five years later the Klinsmann experiment would end in failure, and its two chief architects would be out of work.

Act 2: How to Lose a Locker Room

The road into Stanford University, lined with Canary Island palm trees, welcomed the U.S. men’s national team to their training camp before the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Thirty players arrived on the campus in Palo Alto on May 14 to fight for a spot on Klinsmann’s final roster, but only 23 would board the team’s plane to Brazil.Training was intense. The group was composed mostly of familiar faces — Landon Donovan and Clint Dempsey, Tim Howard and Michael Bradley — but there were a few new ones, too. Bayern Munich’s 18-year-old German American Julian Green was a surprise inclusion. Despite his impressive club pedigree, he had made his senior international debut only one month prior and had featured just once as a substitute for his club. To the team’s close-knit veterans, he was an obvious threat to a seat on the flight to the World Cup.“Nobody was prepared for what was coming. If you can prepare yourself for a disaster situation, it’s easier to cope with than things just happening, like a car crash.” —Brad EvansOn May 22, the players were expecting just another typical practice day. Instead, it quickly became an inflection point in Klinsmann’s tenure and a symbol of the larger battle that Klinsmann, who’d recently signed a contract extension, was waging for control of U.S. Soccer.The final roster wasn’t supposed to be announced until a week later, but that day, a few players were pulled aside as they walked off the practice field, about to be culled from the herd in shock. The setting was too informal, and the process too rushed, for Klinsmann to offer anything but a platitude on the side of the pitch for all to see: You know, I’ve just got to go with my gut here. We’re not going to bring you to the World Cup.“Nobody was prepared for what was coming,” said Evans, who was one of the cuts. “If you can prepare yourself for a disaster situation, it’s easier to cope with than things just happening, like a car crash. I think the way it was gone about was wrong.”Defender Clarence Goodson, another of the cuts, asked Klinsmann for an explanation. “I told him very calmly that I didn’t agree and asked for his reasoning. I felt I should be starting, not trying to make the team,” Goodson said in an email. Klinsmann told him that they could speak after the World Cup. “I said to him, ‘Let’s be honest. My U.S. career is over.’ Still, he refused to give me an explanation, which of course is his right as the coach, but I felt in the moment that I deserved better.” Klinsmann and Goodson have not spoken since.The early roster cuts weren’t just a surprise for the players. No one in U.S. Soccer had been briefed, including Gulati and Flynn. As the dejected players walked off the pitch, it slowly dawned on federation staff that Klinsmann wasn’t just dropping a few players from the group of 30; he was announcing the final 23-man roster for Brazil.The manner in which players were informed was not the only point of contention. Veterans like Evans and Goodson were regarded as key locker-room leaders. In their place was a cohort of German Americans including John Brooks, Fabian Johnson, and Green — on paper, talented players, but subject to occasional grumbling about their commitment to the squad. The complaints about German American players could have xenophobic undertones, but over time — rightly or wrongly — Klinsmann’s perceived preferential treatment for this group of players would damage team morale.

The last player to learn that he would not be traveling to Brazil was also the most controversial: Landon Donovan. The forward had stayed after practice to hit a few free kicks, and when Klinsmann called for Donovan, shivers of panic went through U.S. Soccer staff. Most of the cuts so far had been players on the fringe of the roster, but Donovan was the most famous American soccer player alive and the team’s all-time leading goal-scorer. It was his last-second goal in 2010 that had propelled the USMNT into the knockout round. Then on the wrong side of 30, he was no longer quite the player he once was, but few inside the locker room believed the team was better off without him.Donovan and Klinsmann had butted heads for years, dating back to when the coach put his reputation on the line to bring the forward to Bayern Munich. On loan in 2009, Donovan made only six substitute appearances and didn’t score a goal. The episode played a major role in fracturing the club’s faith in Klinsmann’s judgment before his firing.Their personalities didn’t mesh, either. As new-agey as Klinsmann could sound, he was a ruthless competitor. For all of his talents, Donovan just wasn’t built like that. He thrived in MLS, with the national team, and in loan stints with Everton, playing situations in which the introspective forward felt within his comfort zone. He once took a self-imposed sabbatical from the sport to recharge his burnt-out emotional batteries in Cambodia.“The single dumbest thing that Jürgen Klinsmann has ever done. Period. I don’t know anybody that agreed with that decision. No one. And I was furious.” —Richard Groff, on leaving Landon Donovan off the 23-man roster for Brazil

Later on the same day of the cuts, Klinsmann’s son Jonathan taunted Donovan on social media, and though his tweet was quickly deleted, it was clear to many involved that the decision was personal.The team was universally shocked. If it could happen to Landon, it could happen to any one of us. Around American soccer, the outrage was swift and widespread.“The single dumbest thing that Jürgen Klinsmann has ever done. Period,” said Richard Groff, a former member of U.S. Soccer’s board of directors. “I don’t know anybody that agreed with that decision. No one. And I was furious.”Cutting Donovan brought into public view the behind-closed-doors battle for control of U.S. Soccer that was waged during the Klinsmann years. Gulati and Flynn had hired Klinsmann to revolutionize American soccer, but the initial stumbling block over control during his hiring process foreshadowed the fault lines of an eventual conflict. Dropping the team’s highest-profile player before the World Cup wasn’t a random act; it was part of Klinsmann’s plan to assert control over the team’s culture. “Everybody thinks this whole, like, California, blond surfer-dude attitude is Jürgen. [But] he is very German. I mean really German. Really rigid on a lot of things,” said Payne.For those inside U.S. Soccer and for many of the team’s veteran players, the problem was not that Klinsmann wanted to enact change, but that his plans lacked continuity. Many of Klinsmann’s innovations — from motivational speakers to yoga classes, fitness regimens, strict nutrition controls, and constantly evolving tactical schemes — were introduced one day and forgotten the next. It was hard for players to tell whether a Klinsmann decision was calculated “creative disruption” or just the whim of a coach who woke up with a new idea.Klinsmann’s divide-and-conquer tactics had started long before the Donovan decision. In March 2013, he axed veteran defender and captain Carlos Bocanegra, a popular figure who had kept the locker room united during the changeover from Bradley to Klinsmann. It was similar to one of the decisions he made as Germany’s head coach, when he sacked legendary goalkeeper Oliver Kahn and stripped him of the captaincy.“I saw it firsthand. The training sessions were incongruous. They were muddled. They didn’t make sense, and they didn’t prepare the team for the weekend. The players didn’t know what positions they were playing until the day of the game. I mean, it was a mess.” —Kyle Martino

Klinsmann’s messaging also created tension. Early and often, the manager implored American players to mirror his mind-set: ruthlessly competitive, never satisfied, and always looking to play in bigger and better leagues. His goal was to challenge the symbiotic relationship that had developed between MLS and U.S. Soccer, and the league bristled at any suggestion that it was not an appropriate destination for national team players. Rightly or wrongly, USMNT players in MLS felt devalued.These slights could have been tolerated if the team had played like the one Klinsmann described in public — an attack-minded, progressive force — but by the time he cut Bocanegra in 2013, many of the players had begun to question Klinsmann’s tactical acumen. The group had struggled through the preliminary round of qualifying, not clinching progression until a win against Guatemala in the final game. Then, they lost the opening game of the final qualification round, the Hexagonal or “Hex,” to Honduras in San Pedro Sula. In a blockbuster piece in the Sporting News by Brian Straus published after the Honduras match, multiple U.S. national team players blasted Klinsmann and his assistant Martin Vasquez anonymously, arguing that both lacked the tactical sophistication to lead the team.Their complaints echoed those of Philipp Lahm, a German national team star and fullback for Bayern Munich during Klinsmann’s brief tenure there. In his 2011 autobiography, published after U.S. Soccer had hired Klinsmann, Lahm blasted his coaching methods. “We practiced little more than fitness [at Bayern]. Tactical things were neglected. The players had to get together before [games] to discuss how we wanted to play,” Lahm wrote. “After six or eight weeks, all the players knew it wouldn’t work with Klinsmann. The rest of the season was damage limitation.”NBC Sports’ Kyle Martino had also been hearing complaints from players about Klinsmann and Vasquez’s tactical shortcomings. The week after Straus’s piece came out, Martino traveled to California to watch the team practice. “I saw it firsthand. The training sessions were incongruous. They were muddled. They didn’t make sense, and they didn’t prepare the team for the weekend,” he recalled. “The players didn’t know what positions they were playing until the day of the game. I mean, it was a mess.”

Martino took these reflections to the airwaves, arguing that Vasquez lacked the qualifications to prepare the team, and the next day he got a call from Klinsmann. “Basically, he tried to bully me to get me on board. He started by trying to intimidate me a bit,” said Martino. “And then he did this, ‘Kyle, you’re an important figure in soccer, people listen to you. You can’t say things like that because it’s going to be damaging to the team. Next time, please call me beforehand.’”It didn’t end there. Klinsmann then rescinded Martino’s invitation to a media roundtable, a warning sign to any future critics. Only after NBC responded to U.S. Soccer and said that it supported Martino and would not be sending anyone to cover future U.S. Soccer events was his access returned.

Despite the dispute, Klinsmann heeded Martino’s advice in the run-up to the World Cup. He fired Vasquez, replacing him with national team veteran Tab Ramos and bringing in former German national team coach Berti Vogts as an adviser.“That is a massive window into the psychology of Jürgen Klinsmann and the authority he had been given by [U.S. Soccer],” said Martino. “He was out to control everything. That ordeal was the first time I was truly concerned the emperor had no clothes.”On its face, the 2014 World Cup was a net win for Klinsmann, the group’s collective frustrations taking a backseat as the team competed in the world’s biggest sporting event. Despite having been drawn into what some considered the Group of Death, with Germany, Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal, and longtime bogeyman Ghana, the U.S. advanced out of the group stage, and was a close-range shank from Chris Wondolowski — a forward who made the roster over Donovan — from reaching the quarterfinals.Yet for all the talk about revolutionizing the team’s style of play, the U.S.’s round of 16 match against Belgium was a step backward. The Belgians dominated from start to finish, firing off a mind-boggling 38 shots, 26 of them on target. If not for Tim Howard recording a tournament-record 16 saves, it would have been a rout rather than a near miss.After the World Cup, Klinsmann continued his plans to disrupt American soccer. He called up Miguel Ibarra from a second-division side, the NASL’s Minnesota United, and Jordan Morris from Stanford — moves that were widely interpreted as shots at MLS. He even went after the big-money MLS homecomings of national team stars like Dempsey, Bradley, and Jozy Altidore, sparking a war of words with powerful MLS commissioner Don Garber in the fall of 2014.“I wouldn’t have done this to your father, and I’m not doing this now. I just want to score goals and go fishing.” —Clint Dempsey to Michael Bradley, according to multiple sources“I think at the beginning, Jürgen did a good job. Jürgen talked a lot about systemic change … [but] he didn’t understand that it works a lot better if you can try to achieve some consensus as opposed to just dictating how to do things,” said Payne.Inside the team, the four-plus years of inconsistent tactics and messages began to take a toll. Players described routinely having to figure out positions in the tunnel on the way onto the pitch. “The thing that got talked about the least in the national team for five years was soccer,” said a source close to the team. When asked about the struggles, players articulated that it wasn’t any one issue but instead a compounding frustration, slowly rising in temperature, like a pot of water about to boil. The question of whether or not Klinsmann should be the coach became a serious discussion point for those on the team.A few weeks before a friendly with Chile in January 2015, veterans Michael Bradley and Clint Dempsey had a conversation about the state of the team. Dempsey, a quiet Texan who was the team’s captain, led with his play on the field, not with his words. When Gulati reached out in 2010, asking him to discuss the state of the team under Bob Bradley, he never picked up the phone or returned the calls.

Now, posed with a question about what should happen with Klinsmann, Dempsey wanted no part of it. “I wouldn’t have done this to your father, and I’m not doing this now,” he told Bradley, according to multiple sources within the team. “I just want to score goals and go fishing.”“Throughout the last cycle, there were tough moments that led to hard conversations. As captain, different things came to me. I never shared who was involved or what was said, and I’m not going to start now.” —Michael BradleyThe game in Chile, however, did nothing to quiet the unrest. Despite having hardly so much as practiced the formation, the U.S. came out in a three-defender setup with Jermaine Jones, a midfielder, operating as a center back and attacking midfielder Mix Diskerud deployed in a defensive role. The lack of preparation was obvious in the 3–2 defeat. After training the following day, Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore, and Jones took a few extra laps around the practice field and vented about the nonsensical tactics, the team’s plummeting morale, and Klinsmann’s role in all of it.It was only the start of the 2018 World Cup qualification campaign, but something was amiss inside the group. Over the next year, the team’s veterans would continue to talk; the water was boiling over.Michael Bradley provided the following statement about this period: “Throughout the last cycle, there were tough moments that led to hard conversations. As captain, different things came to me. I never shared who was involved or what was said, and I’m not going to start now. After the game in Trinidad, I answered every question. I took responsibility and said we have nobody to blame but ourselves.”When the results were good, Gulati and the federation had been willing to tolerate the tension Klinsmann created because it had some positive benefits. But as the team trended in the wrong direction, Gulati would be forced to make a choice about his embattled coach.

Act 3: Gulati Can’t Quit Klinsmann

The 2015 Gold Cup had been a struggle from the start. The American team looked disjointed during the group stage, eking out results against regional minnows Honduras and Haiti. A blowout in the quarterfinal over Cuba felt cathartic, but then the U.S. lost its semifinal clash with Jamaica. The defeat was historic: The team had never lost to Jamaica on home soil.In a regional tournament that the United States usually wins or loses in the final to archrival Mexico, Klinsmann’s team placed fourth after losing a consolation match to Panama. In the aftermath, Klinsmann blamed the poor results on referees, and privately told U.S. Soccer officials that he believed some of the matches were rigged.“Sunil keeps very close counsel, and I think that did not serve him well over time.” —Mike Edwards

For those inside the federation, alarm bells were ringing. They’d heard the grumblings about player discontent going back years. Gulati himself had heard much of it firsthand. He had a long history of backchanneling with players to keep a pulse on what was going on inside the locker room, a tactic that some in American soccer circles believed undermined the authority of his coaches. In 2014, women’s national team coach Tom Sermanni had been fired after what some viewed as a players revolt.As 2016 began, the Klinsmann question vexed Gulati. He polled U.S. Soccer’s leadership and players, outside confidantes, and even some journalists about what to do regarding his embattled coach. Gulati had gambled heavily on Klinsmann, and even as reports filtered back to him that Klinsmann wasn’t working out, Gulati was hesitant to make a change.“Sunil keeps very close counsel, and I think that did not serve him well over time,” said Edwards, the former U.S. Soccer vice president. “People have their style, and until now the [U.S. Soccer] membership tended to defer to the president, particularly on the men’s coach.”Just a few years before in 2013, Gulati had doubled down on his bet. At the time, the German’s stock as U.S. coach had never been higher. After the tumult around the Straus story, Klinsmann took a more active role in planning training sessions and rebuilding team morale. That, alongside the potential of missing the World Cup, motivated the group. That summer, a U.S. B team won the Gold Cup. Then, the U.S. rallied from their early stumbles in World Cup qualification, finishing in first place in the “Hex,” the final six-team qualifying stage. It was the best run of results during his five-and-a-half-year tenure.In November 2013, Klinsmann made his power play, asking Gulati for a contract extension that would grant him more money and more power. In addition to coaching the senior team through the 2018 World Cup, Klinsmann wanted the job of technical director. The position would give him more control over the direction of all U.S. youth teams and a wide perch to affect player development. Most importantly, Klinsmann wanted the new deal done before the 2014 World Cup.For advice, Gulati reached out to Payne. Gulati feared that Klinsmann could quit if not given a new deal. At the time, rumors were flooding the tabloid press in England that Klinsmann might land the Tottenham job or take over the Swiss national team after the World Cup.“If we had known that armed with that, he was going to become what he became — that he was going to say ‘Fuck you’ to everybody and leave Landon Donovan off the World Cup team and create the seeds of dissension that plagued him for the remainder of his tenure, then I would have said, ‘Don’t give him the extension yet.’” —Kevin Payne

Payne said he warned Gulati about expanding Klinsmann’s role to technical director, saying, “Just understand that he’s not going to do the work.” But he asked Gulati a simple question: Are you happy with Klinsmann’s performance? “And he said, ‘Yes, I am. The things that we’ve hired him for, he’s done. He’s raised the profile of the program. He’s had a pretty open door, and he’s been open to a lot of different players. He’s gotten us results in places that we’ve never got results before.” Moreover for Gulati, Klinsmann was now the face of U.S. Soccer. To give up on him would be to admit the failure of Gulati’s grand vision.On December 12, Gulati announced Klinsmann’s contract extension. The deal gave Gulati the right to terminate the agreement should the U.S. stumble in the World Cup, but it showed that the federation and U.S. Soccer would continue to be synonymous with Jürgen Klinsmann.Payne now says that he gave Gulati the wrong advice. “If we had known that armed with that, he was going to become what he became — that he was going to say ‘Fuck you’ to everybody and leave Landon Donovan off the World Cup team and create the seeds of dissension that plagued him for the remainder of his tenure, then I would have said, ‘Don’t give him the extension yet. And if he wants to go [after the World Cup], then let him walk away.’”To follow up the failure at the 2015 Gold Cup, the team lost at home to Mexico in the 2015 CONCACAF Cup, costing the United States a spot in the Confederations Cup. Meanwhile, Klinsmann continued his public clash with MLS commissioner Don Garber and repeatedly failed to accept responsibility for his team’s lackluster results.Inside U.S. Soccer, the tensions that Payne had warned Gulati about were growing. Klinsmann clashed with chief operations officer Jay Berhalter, a rising power inside U.S. Soccer, who had assumed the day-to-day duties that many within U.S. Soccer thought Klinsmann was neglecting as technical director. According to sources close to the team, CEO Dan Flynn was growing weary of the drama and ready to fire Klinsmann, but Gulati still wavered, hoping the project could be salvaged.“I think the mind-set of all of us at U.S. Soccer was that we can’t not qualify for the World Cup,” said Edwards. “It clouds your thinking of the immediacy of the need to resolve a problem.”By March 2016, a moment of reckoning had arrived. The senior team lost to Guatemala for the first time in 32 years. The loss put the U.S. in danger of missing out on the “Hex.” Just a few days later, the U.S. under-23 Olympic team, coached by Klinsmann’s hand-picked assistant Andi Herzog, failed to qualify for the Olympics for the second time under Klinsmann’s watch.A month later, Gulati finally made his move — well, almost. As described in detail in Bruce Arena’s forthcoming book, What’s Wrong With US?, the veteran American coach was first approached by Gulati and Flynn soon after the team’s disastrous March. (An advance copy of the book was sent to The Ringer by Arena’s agent, Richard Motzkin.) On April 25, the group met secretly in Chicago, and Gulati and Flynn agreed in principle to fire Klinsmann and bring in Arena.

Arena was the closest thing American soccer had to a Grand Pooh-bah. He had won five MLS Cups, the most in league history. He’d already headed up the national team once, from 1998 to 2006, leading a memorable run to the quarterfinals in 2002, the team’s best showing at a World Cup in the modern era. At the time of his meeting with Gulati and Flynn, his L.A. Galaxy team had won three of the previous five MLS championships and looked like legitimate contenders to make it four out of six.Yet the 64-year-old couldn’t resist giving it one more shot with the national team. He remained upset about his team’s three-and-out performance at the 2006 World Cup and wanted a shot at redemption. Furthermore, answering his country’s distress call in a time of need appealed to his ego. Protecting previous accomplishments wasn’t enough to keep Arena from one final shot at World Cup glory.In Chicago, Arena did not want to sign a contract until his agent and U.S. Soccer power broker Motzkin was looped in, so the trio agreed to regroup the next afternoon. Inside U.S. Soccer, preparations were being made. Federation staff had drafted a press release and were ready to send it out to their media contacts to announce the massive decision once they got the OK from Flynn.Awaiting a phone call the next day, Arena instead received a vague note from Flynn saying that his appointment would have to wait. Flynn, unbeknownst to anybody outside the U.S. Soccer hierarchy, was awaiting a heart transplant that could save his life. Flynn received word of a potential donor the morning after the initial meeting with Arena, and immediately flew to Kansas City for emergency surgery. His recovery timetable was eight weeks, minimum, before he could return to work.The decision to hire or fire Klinsmann now rested solely with Gulati. Klinsmann’s failures in March and subsequent refusal to accept responsibility for the team’s struggles had prepared him to pull the trigger. But with Flynn incapacitated, he began to waver.In his book, Arena describes a phone call with Gulati. Everyone now knew about Flynn’s previously secret heart problems. Sensing Gulati’s hesitations, Arena told him that he would understand if he held off on making such a decisive move until Flynn returned to work. “Listen, Sunil, do you feel uncomfortable about this?” Arena said. “Forget about it. Don’t worry about it.”By the time Gulati was finally ready to fire Klinsmann, the situation would be worse. Instead of taking over for the full Hexagonal cycle, Arena would be given only eight games with a team that lost its first two matches. There was still some margin for error; it just wasn’t big enough.

Act 4: Arena and the Old Guard Come Close

In November 2016, at the end of a practice session ahead of what would be Klinsmann’s final match in charge of the U.S. national team, defender Timmy Chandler gave a younger teammate some telling advice. Forward Bobby Wood was nursing minor knocks suffered from the previous match — a disappointing 2–1 loss to Mexico on home soil — and Chandler told him not to risk aggravating his injuries. Wood was still establishing himself as a regular starter in Germany’s Bundesliga. Why, Chandler posited, risk that by overexerting yourself for your country when your club team was paying most of your bills?Wood ignored Chandler’s advice and started the match, but the exchange symbolizes the state of the team that Arena would inherit. Historically, the USMNT had been known for its grit and fight — a team that exceeded the sum of its parts. But Klinsmann’s tenure had cracked that collective spirit, and it was exposed in ruthless fashion in the match against Costa Rica. It wasn’t just that the team lost 4–0; it was how the side capitulated under pressure. The humiliating defeat exposed the team’s broken culture, and most importantly revealed that most of the group had given up on Klinsmann.One week after the loss to Costa Rica, Gulati fired Klinsmann, in late November, and brought in Arena seven months after he had initially planned to hire him. To announce the decision, the U.S. Soccer press shop had it easy. It merely changed the date on the press release it had prepared in April.

Gulati’s rationale for hiring the former national team coach was simple. Arena was the coaching antithesis of Klinsmann, known for his strong ability to speak bluntly with players. Everyone on an Arena team would know their role. There would be no surprises and no miscommunication. Plus, despite the poor start, the United States was still one of the top three teams in the region and had more than enough individual talent to qualify.However, the decision to go back to a known quantity in Arena revealed Gulati’s insular management style. Having waited so long to replace Klinsmann, Gulati was wary of handing the team over to another high-profile foreign coach, and there wasn’t enough time to entrust an up-and-coming American manager with such a major rescue job. He needed a quick fix to salvage World Cup qualification now that his team was down 2–0, and his only option, according to a source familiar with Gulati’s thinking at the time, was to recall a former U.S. national team manager. It was a shortlist of two: Arena and Bob Bradley. Relations with Bradley, however, were still strained following his unceremonious 2011 dismissal, leaving Gulati — in his mind — with no choice but to hand the job to Arena.The new coach’s plan to get back on track was straightforward. Arena wanted to resurrect the camaraderie that had characterized the group he’d managed in the first decade of the 2000s. Whereas under Klinsmann there were mixed messages, Arena was clear-cut about his demands and expectations. Even at the expense of raw talent, Arena dropped many of the players whose commitment to the team had previously been questioned, including Chandler.For much of the group, the training camp in January 2017 was a breath of fresh air. With Klinsmann gone, it was as if a weight had been lifted; spirits were light. And for the most part, Arena’s strategy worked. The U.S. defeated Honduras and Trinidad at home, and earned tough road draws at Panama and at Mexico’s Azteca. For a while, the Americans looked on a comfortable track toward qualification.Helping power the resurgence was Christian Pulisic. Only 18 years old when he first appeared under Arena, the Hershey, Pennsylvania, native emerged as one of the most promising prospects in U.S. history. As a fast, aggressive dribbler, he’d broken into the starting lineup at Borussia Dortmund, one of the biggest clubs in the world. Still in his late teens, Pulisic had already accomplished more than most American outfielders ever had, and his status on a German Bundesliga powerhouse immediately earned him the respect of his much older peers.“We were pushing the guys in front of us, the older guys. We were going to fight for our positions. I don’t know that there is that right now.” —Brad Evans, on the difference in playing under Klinsmann and ArenaAs a standout youngster, however, Pulisic was very much the exception rather than the rule. According to those familiar with Arena’s thinking at the time, he was reluctant to introduce new faces. With only eight games remaining in qualification, he instead leaned heavily on veterans he believed he could trust.“We were pushing the guys in front of us, the older guys,” Evans said of the early days under Klinsmann. “We were going to fight for our positions. I don’t know that there is that right now. I don’t know that there are those guys pushing the ones in front of them, trying to push them off.

Arena’s delicate balancing act between fixing the team culture and getting the most out of an already shallow talent pool was personified by Geoff Cameron.A standout defender in the Premier League, Cameron had been one of the few top American players to remain in Europe during Klinsmann’s tenure. Bradley, Dempsey, Altidore, Jones, and later Howard and Brad Guzan had all repatriated back to MLS on big-money contracts, but Cameron continued to grind out results with Stoke City. Although Cameron recognized Klinsmann’s limitations as a manager, he’d appreciated how the German had pushed American players to challenge themselves at the international standard, the level he played at week in, week out in the Premier League.

From the start, his relationship with Arena was rocky. Cameron and some other players didn’t respect the level of experience that Arena’s assistants brought to the team. Although coaches Richie Williams, Matt Reis, and Kenny Arena (Bruce’s son) had all played in MLS, none had played in Europe’s top leagues or in a World Cup. As tensions at practice sessions grew, Arena’s staff came to believe that these players were more interested in earning a ticket to the World Cup than in the overall health of the squad, reminding them of the troubles during the Klinsmann years.

As it was before, when the results were good, team chemistry wasn’t as much of a problem. According to one source, Cameron’s attitude was exceptionally positive during the team’s hard-fought draw against Mexico. But when the squad struggled, like in its 2–0 loss at home to Costa Rica in September that again put qualification in doubt, the locker-room problems resurfaced.Tensions with Cameron climaxed during the team’s next qualification match, a must-win against Panama in October. Before the match, rumors around the team swirled that Cameron would get sent home. According to a source close to the team, Cameron himself asked about leaving after hearing from Arena that he would not be starting the match.But Cameron elected to remain with the squad, and in the middle of the resounding 4–0 victory — which put the U.S. within one point of qualification for Russia — Cameron allegedly grumbled to his benchmates about his lack of playing time even as his teammates dominated on the pitch. Word of his complaints reached Arena’s staff, which sealed Cameron’s fate: He would not play in the final match against Trinidad.Reached for comment, Cameron’s agent strongly denied that the player complained about playing time on the bench, and said that Cameron has been universally committed to the national team.With one match to go and needing only a draw to advance, the U.S. coaching staff discussed shuffling the lineup ahead of the fateful game in Trinidad in October 2017. Some suggestions included adding an additional central midfielder to support Bradley in the center of the pitch, or giving some of the starters from Panama a rest in order to let players with fresh legs deal with the sultry Caribbean climate.Ultimately, Arena elected to use the same lineup he had against Panama four days prior. He reasoned that an overly defensive lineup would signal to his team that he was playing only for a draw. Furthermore, all the starters from the Panama game wanted to play again. Instead of shuffling the lineup, and at the risk of fatigue after such a quick turnaround, he would bring out the same team that had won so convincingly in Orlando.From the opening whistle, it was clear that Arena had miscalculated. The U.S. played slowly and without energy. It confounded the coaching staff and players on the bench. “It was clear to me when we took the field that we were playing like we already qualified for a World Cup,” said McCarty, who started the match on the bench. “Trinidad looked like the team that was trying to qualify. I was shocked at the level of passivity.”In the 17th minute, disaster struck. What initially looked like a harmless Trinidad cross ricocheted off defender Omar Gonzalez’s shin and spun over a helpless Howard for an own goal. But instead of being spurred into action, the U.S. slipped deeper into its shared malaise. Twenty minutes later, T&T defender Alvin Jones fired a speculative shot from more than 35 yards out that swerved around a befuddled Howard into the top corner to make it 2–0. A sparse home crowd, filling only a portion of Ato Boldon Stadium, roared its delight.Multiple American players described the sensation as something like sleepwalking through a nightmare. At halftime, Arena tried his best to wake the team up and to keep the rising panic he felt growing in his chest from showing through.

With the unthinkable just 45 minutes away, there remained realistic hope that they would be granted a reprieve thanks to other results. Even if the United States lost, they would be eliminated outright only if Panama and Honduras both won, too. At halftime, Costa Rica led in Panama City and Mexico was up on Honduras. When Pulisic pulled a goal back for the U.S. less than 90 seconds into the second half, there was another collective exhale.But the worst-case scenario unfolded. Panama was mistakenly awarded a game-tying goal that never crossed the line, and Honduras edged in front of Mexico in San Pedro Sula with two quick goals. Those on the field in Trinidad had no idea — only the players on the bench were given updates of what was happening elsewhere. When midfielder Benny Feilhaber entered as a sub in the 83rd minute, the USMNT was still alive. When the final whistle blew, it took only a glance at the faces of his teammates on the sideline to confirm the worst: Panama had scored again.Arena wrote in his book that he experienced a moment of peace as the match ended, “knowing we had given everything for this struggle.” He consoled himself with a note of encouragement sent to him by Garber — a Churchill quote — and a bottle of wine at the hotel bar with Reis, his goalkeeping coach. To this day, Arena is defensive about his decisions, accepting responsibility in word then proceeding to blame others for the result in Trinidad.“It is incumbent upon everybody in U.S. Soccer to make sure no other group of players ever has to feel that way again.” —Dax McCarty

In a sense, he’s not wrong. The failure to qualify for the World Cup was a collective failure of the entire American soccer community. It was a flawed outsider, Klinsmann, and his divisive leadership that clashed with an insular organization — led by Gulati — that was unwilling to loosen its grip on power or admit to its own mistakes. It was Arena’s overreliance on veteran players and his inability to reunite a divided locker room in a short period of time. The centralized power structure, and the small size of the media corps covering it, encouraged an echo chamber where the thought of missing the World Cup was considered impossible until it happened.And, of course, a core group of U.S. national team players failed to get a result when they needed one. The burden of failure has fallen most heavily on their shoulders. For many veterans, the 2018 World Cup would have been their last shot to play in the world’s biggest sporting event. To be the team to have fallen short for the first time in 32 years was devastating for all of them.Asked if there was a single snapshot of that night burned into their memory, multiple players recall the sight of Pulisic, the most blameless person in the entire catastrophe, still in full uniform, weeping in the shower.“You just feel sorry for the kid, because a talent like his deserves to be seen on the world stage this summer,” McCarty said. “It is incumbent upon everybody in U.S. Soccer to make sure no other group of players ever has to feel that way again.”

Act 5: More Hope, but No Change

After the defeat, American soccer’s power brokers fought off widespread calls for institutional reform, reasserting their power in the wake of failure.At first, there were a few superficial fixes. Arena stepped down from his post a few days after the T&T loss, and U.S. Soccer announced that a new position of general manager would be created to oversee the hiring and firing of the national team coach.Gulati, however, attempted to survive the blowback. In November 2017, he began plotting his reelection as U.S. Soccer president, and even started to reach out to potential new men’s national team coaches, including the recently available Martin O’Neill, whose contract with Ireland had just expired.But Gulati misread the roiling anger among fans. A few members of the American Outlaws, the largest American soccer supporters club, with more than 30,000 members and 200 chapters worldwide, were even discussing a plan to protest outside U.S. Soccer headquarters in Chicago if he did declare his candidacy.Gulati ultimately decided against running, opening the field for presidential hopefuls as wide ranging as former women’s national team goalkeeper Hope Solo to reform-minded candidates like former national team members and current broadcasters Kyle Martino and Eric Wynalda.Yet, when the dust settled, Gulati’s former no. 2, Carlos Cordeiro, won the day, with the help of Carlos Bocanegra, the former national team captain whom Klinsmann had axed. On election day, Bocanegra, now an executive with Atlanta United of MLS, steered the decisive votes with the help of MLS commissioner Don Garber.Despite the fanfare about the new general manager job, the position remains vacant. Several MLS executives have interviewed for the job, including current front-runner Earnie Stewart of the Philadelphia Union, Claudio Reyna of New York City FC, and Bocanegra. Press reports indicate that some candidates believe that U.S. Soccer’s leaders have not imbued the position with enough power to make real change, and others see the role more cynically, as an ideal scapegoat should a failure like Trinidad ever happen again. The job could be filled in the coming weeks, and recently U.S. Soccer announced that Bocanegra, rather than continuing his candidacy, would lead the committee responsible for making the pick.The knock-on effects of the USMNT’s elimination continue to reverberate beyond U.S. Soccer HQ. Citing a loss of ad revenue, FourFourTwo, the British magazine, essentially shuttered its U.S. branch, putting several of the country’s top soccer journalists out of work. Soccer bars in places like Seattle will miss out on an estimated $20,000 in revenue on days the U.S. would have played. And many U.S. national team players also suffered multimillion-dollar personal financial hits on endorsement deals that hinged on qualification.Despite the World Cup setback, Gulati, Garber, and others within the soccer bubble have played down the negative consequences of failure, insisting instead that soccer in America is still on the rise. While that remains largely true — investments in player development are churning out more high-quality players than ever, MLS continues to expand, and soccer is increasingly popular among young Americans — missing out on the tournament is a gigantic setback for U.S. Soccer’s quest to convert new fans.Every four years, the World Cup affords the sport a chance to move from a sporting subculture into the mainstream. Players appear on nationally broadcast morning and late-night shows, on billboards in Times Square, and on global advertising campaigns. With a team that would have been led by Pulisic, the most talented player the country has ever produced, it’s easy to imagine that the 2018 World Cup would have been the most successful off-the-field event in American men’s soccer history.Yet, even if the U.S. had managed to earn that measly draw against Trinidad, the team would still have been riven with divisions and competing against the world’s best teams while led by an aging core. Though Arena may have been able to use the prospect of playing in a World Cup to rebuild team morale and reunite the squad, leading this U.S. team through a World Cup would have been one of the biggest challenges of his coaching career.Seven months after the Trinidad game, we now have a more complete picture of what went wrong. But where do we go from here? The answer isn’t much clearer than it was that night.

Andrew Helms is a writer in New York.  Matt Pentz is a Seattle-based writer whose work has appeared in The New York Times, the GuardianHowler Magazine, and ESPN. He is also the author of The Sound and the Glory, a forthcoming book on the Seattle Sounders to be published by ECW Press in March 2019.

United States of El Tri: Mexico Owns America’s World Cup Spotlight

  • Mexico’s national team regularly outdraws the USMNT on U.S. soil and its national league dominates the U.S. TV ratings race. Their popularity in the USA is nothing new, but El Tri having America’s World Cup spotlight to themselves has taken it to another level.By BRIAN STRAUS May 30, 2018

The man they call El Matador signed autographs and posed for selfies. Luis Hernández greeted fans who could recall every one of his 35 goals for Mexico, and some who hadn’t been born when the forward retired in 2004. It was a Thursday afternoon, and a couple hundred supporters turned out to celebrate a national icon, many wearing green or carrying props—a replica World Cup trophy, an oversized cutout of Hernández’s smiling face…

They waited for El Matador outside a Wells Fargo bank adjacent to a San Jose strip mall, yards from a Ross Dress for Less and 500 miles north of the Mexican border, at the intersection of two nations that often run in parallel, one just as authentic and American as the other.Hernández tried to explain the crowd of Mexican-Americans gathered on a weekday in March, one day before El Tri faced Iceland in a Bay Area friendly.“The passion of the fans here, they live it more,” he said in Spanish. “They feel love for their land and for the Mexican national team.”But the word he used for land, tierra, refers to more than the square mileage enclosed by a border or the prevailing bureaucracy. A nation is just as much about tradition and shared memory. Sports can be incredibly effective at tapping into the reservoir of what Hernández called sentimentalismo. It’s so intuitively obvious, it’s become a marketing cliche. Red Sox Nation and Raider Nation don’t exactly have seats on the U.N. Security Council, but everyone understands what those slogans represent.Because their sentimentalismo is real and undying, and because they number in the millions, Mexico fans show up time and again in the U.S., to stadiums or strip malls, in the cities you’d expect and others—Charlotte, Nashville, Seattle—you might not. That connection between country and nation is only deepening this spring, as their team prepares for a World Cup that its main on-field rival will miss. El Tri, in fact, are an integral part of American soccer—so much so that since the start of 2010, Mexico has played more than twice as many times on U.S. soil as on its own. That’s an astonishing, unique and counterintuitive bit of trivia that speaks to the power of national identity as well as to the raw popularity of the team that binds a diaspora. The Mexican national soccer team may be the most broadly popular sports outfit in the United States.

 

Like so many of his countrymen, Javier Hernández, the star striker for the Mexican squad heading to Russia, has family in the U.S. His aunt lives in San Francisco. The 30-year-old who goes by Chicharito is a footballing icon. He’s prolific, charismatic and cosmopolitan, the leading scorer in El Tri history and a man who’s played for some of the world’s biggest clubs. And he made his national team debut in Dallas, in a 2009 friendly against Colombia. As he sat in a conference room inside his team’s hotel in San Jose—abutting the Plaza de César Chávez—a couple dozen fans gathered in the courtyard below, hoping to glimpse one of their heroes walking across the second-floor skyway.It was common for Mexican players of El Matador’s generation to spend most or all of their pro careers at home; the soccer culture was insular. But Chicharito’s national team is full of players from European leagues or MLS—men who speak English and who are citizens of a shrinking world. For Chicharito, staging national-team matches in the U.S. makes sense.“Why not? We are neighbors. We’ve been close since the beginning of the world,” he said earnestly, tapping on a table for emphasis. “It’s different [playing here]. You can see now people waiting for us, just for a picture, for an autograph. Then, you go to the stadium, and it’s full—completely full.”That leaves an impression. “It makes a sound around the world,” he says.Chicharito claimed he’s had teammates in Europe who saw highlights during an international break ask for clarification about where his game took place.“They ask me, ‘You play in Mexico?’ No. We play in USA.”At the end of that week in San Jose, El Tri defeated Iceland before nearly 69,000 fans at Levi’s Stadium. Chicharito & Co. then left for Dallas, where more than 79,000 attended a loss to Croatia. Combined U.S. TV viewership for those two exhibitions on Fox (which has been paying to broadcast Mexico games in English since 2016) and Univision exceeded 4.5 million. The next two most-watched games that week were Liga MX affairs. A U.S.-Paraguay friendly ranked fifth, at 925,000.“There’s no denying the Hispanic demographic in the United States,” says David Neal, who experienced its heft at Univision before becoming VP of production for Fox Sports in 2012. “It’s the latest growing demo and shows no signs of slowing down. That’s a simple fact. You would be in error to not pay attention to that simple fact, and it coincides with the explosive growth of the game.”The atmosphere and attention surrounding El Tri in the U.S. is such that Mexico’s coach, Juan Carlos Osorio—a Colombian who graduated from Southern Connecticut State and managed the Chicago Fire and the New York Red Bulls—believes these American-soil friendlies help prepare his players for a World Cup. For El Tri exhibition matches in Mexico, he says, “the crowds are very low and there is no football environment.” But an engaged throng of 70,000 can test a player’s nerves.It’s also lucrative. There’s been a cultural and economic awakening in the U.S., where an increasing number of brands have embraced the power of the Latino and Mexican-American markets. El Tri’s 2018 U.S. tour has 15 corporate sponsors, each hoping to reach a greater portion of a country that has the second-largest Spanish-speaking population on the planet. According to Census Bureau data, in 2016 there were more than 36 million U.S. residents who identified as Mexican or Mexican-American. That’s more than 11% of the country—and according to Soccer United Marketing, there are that many, or more, El Tri fans in the U.S.“One of the biggest misconceptions,” though, says SUM senior vice president Camilo Durana, “is that [this Mexican] fan base is only first-generation [immigrants]. In reality, we find that only 28% are first-generation, and 72% are second-generation or higher. A lot of our fans are bilingual, bicultural and, in many cases, English-preferred.”Our fans? Well, yes. Because SUM, which is part and parcel of MLS, is in business with the Mexican federation (FMF). Since 2003, SUM and the FMF have worked together to stage roughly five friendly matches per year across the U.S. (Add in official tournaments such as the Concacaf Gold Cup, which is also promoted by SUM and played in the U.S., and you get that crazy stat about the number of El Tri games north of the border.) SUM pays the Mexican federation an appearance fee and in turn sells sponsorships and tickets. Fans flock in from an average of 30 states and participate in tailgates, parties and promotional events like El Matador’s at the bank. A pregame walk through the parking lots surrounding Levi’s Stadium in March was testament to SUM’s research: They were filled with green jerseys and unaccented English.

“There are not only bigger numbers of die-hard Mexico fans in American than there are [U.S.] fans, but the passion that they have is unlike anything other sports in this country can understand. And you see it every time Mexico plays in the States,” says Landon Donovan, who lived and breathed the USA-Mexico rivalry throughout a record-breaking 14-year international career.

At many Mexico games, Sergio Tristan is one of those fans. His parents arrived from San Luis Potosí during the immigration boom that began in the 1970s. Those families crossed the border, settled in tight-knit communities, maintained native traditions and labored to give their children a better life. Born and raised in Austin, Tristan is now a Texas graduate, a lawyer at a government agency and a U.S. Army veteran—an El Tri fan with a Bronze Star. He’s had his patriotic credentials challenged, he says, but he insists there’s nothing wrong with loving two nations in a world of fluid cultures and permeable walls. In 2013, Tristan founded Pancho Villa’s Army, a supporters club for U.S.-based Mexico fans that has 5,000-plus members. PVA travels the country and the world—there will be roughly 80 of them in Russia—to support El Tri.“We are dipped in both cultures—we eat burgers the same way we eat tacos; our education is in English, and we consume our media in English—but we’re also Mexican,” Tristan says. “Mexico games aren’t just soccer games. [They’re] a moment in time where we can be proud of our culture and surround ourselves with our language, food and music, and hang out with people just like us.”The communities Tristan’s parents and their peers built, he says, have mostly bled into the American fabric. Sundays scheduled around church, barbecues and televised Mexican league matches are now the stuff of wistful memory. But when Mexico plays, there’s a chance to reconnect. For a couple of hours, whenever and wherever El Tri take the field, those Sundays are relived.“It’s really our final link to where we come from,” Tristan says, “and to the identity our parents gave us.”

That’s a powerful thing. By now you’ve heard the stories of dual-national players, often American-born, facing the difficult decision between playing for the U.S. or Mexico. Familiarity and fusion have added unexpected wrinkles to the on-field rivalry.“The world in general is smaller and more connected, but the soccer world especially. What you learn quickly is you end up playing with a lot of different players, or you have friends who’ve played with certain players. The nastiness in that way has changed,” says Donovan, a Southern Californian whose life-long exposure to Mexican culture, and his increasing comfort, helped lead him to return to the field with Club León this year.“The connection is there. Even the rivalry we have against the USA, talking about soccer is like the only thing that can tear us apart,” Chicharito says.The battle for hearts, minds and points now plays out on increasingly equal footing, and sometimes that parity leads to unexpected expressions of unity. In November 2016, three days after the election of an American president who was promising to build a U.S.-Mexico border wall, the two national teams posed together, arms linked, for a photo before their World Cup qualifier in Columbus, Ohio. It was an emotional display of common bonds—“You need to separate that we are human beings,” Chicharito says—sparked by a FaceTime call from U.S. midfielders Michael Bradley and Jermaine Jones to Jones’s future L.A. Galaxy teammate, Mexican forward Giovani dos Santos.“Everybody wants to talk about ‘We need a soccer culture,’” says Bradley, the U.S. captain. “Well, guess what? Part of our soccer culture is that there are millions of people across our country who come from other places, and these people have strong ties to other teams. That’s us. That’s unique. And I don’t think that’s anything anyone should be up in arms about.”In other words, cheering for a foreign national team in your own country is quintessentially American. No one expects staunch U.S. fans to don green-and-red lucha libre masks and wave Mexican flags this summer, but those same diehards understand the reason their team hosts qualifiers against Mexico in a small stadium in central Ohio. You may not be a Mexico fan, but you probably have neighbors or coworkers who are. And at the World Cup, El Tri will be something very close to this country’s team.FMF general secretary Guillermo Cantú played in a few of those rough-and-tumble U.S.-Mexico games of the early 1990s. He was born in Torreón, then went to high school in Massachusetts. After trying to lead El Tri to the trophy in Russia, he’ll continue to work on the joint bid to bring the tournament to the U.S., Mexico and Canada in 2026. He said the photogenic moment in Columbus left him in tears.“We’ve come a long way since [I played],” Cantú says. “We’ve learned a lot of things. We respect each other. But that’s what happens when you actually meet people and have a conversation.”This summer, he notes and hopes, presents an opportunity for strengthening the U.S.-Mexico relationship.“Just open the door and start looking for the guys in green. It’s very easy, especially in the World Cup. There will be many, many green shirts,” Cantú says. “Just follow them. If you don’t like the party…”

Why Americans should root for Mexico this World Cup

8:00 AM ETGustavo Arellano, ESPN the Magazine

Read this piece in Spanish here. It appears in ESPN The Magazine’s June 18 World Football issue. Subscribe today!

“Traitor,” my high school sweetheart’s father scoffed when I admitted to rooting for Mexico against the U.S. “Ingrate,” my college boss said. “Fool,” an ex-colleague remarked after some Dos a Cero match.Throughout my life, I’ve had to explain to exasperated U.S. fans why I side with Mexico against their team. You know, Mexico, our fiercest rival in soccer and beyond, whose corrupt government forced my parents to flee 50 years ago to el Norte, where they created better lives for my siblings and me. “You should support the U.S.,” these people whine. “You were born here.””Exactly,” I reply. “That’s why I root for Mexico.”The reasons are simple: Mexicans on both sides of the border like winners (how American of us, right?), and Mexico has historically dominated the U.S. in soccer. And this World Cup, Mexico is in and the U.S. isn’t — for the first time since 1986.Yes, we Mexican fans will blow our vuvuzelas extra loud this year, just to annoy the U.S. that much more. I feel for you, my fellow Americans, the humiliation is real. But I’ve got a simple solution: Join us.Wake up and smell the tacos. With the U.S. out, El Tri are the only team that should matter to anyone who bleeds red, white and blue. So, Americans, be turncoats and repeat after me: ¡Viva México! With those easy words, you took the first step toward the most patriotic thing you’ll do all year.Granted, rooting for Mexico is always political. But the agenda I offer isn’t liberal or conservative. It’s all about making the U.S. better — by helping Mexico when it needs us most. And that means acknowledging some fundamental truths that Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and Americans have long avoided.The most important one: Mexico is by far the most popular soccer team in los Estados Unidos. El Tri get twice as many TV viewers as the USMNT, and Mexican first-division matches whip MLS games by nearly the same margin. Because it often sells out NFL stadiums, the Mexican team has been forced to play four times as many friendlies in el Norte in the past decade as in Mexico, 61 to 15. On the same March day when El Tri played Croatia in front of a sold-out Cowboys stadium, the U.S. was lucky to get 10,000 in a stadium outside Raleigh, North Carolina, against Paraguay.

U.S. companies also desperately want a slice of the Mexican-American quesadilla. El Tri count as official sponsors an airline (Delta), a soda (Coca-Cola) and even a sour cream (Daisy) — and sour cream isn’t even Mexican!Fox Sports, which paid $425 million for the English-language rights to el Mundial, created a #rootforyourroots campaign in an obvious play for Mexican-American viewers like me. Never mind that we’ll all be watching Telemundo just to hear Andres Cantor’s melodious goal call.To support Mexico, then, is to support America’s team. And what a team! Maybe the best Mexican squad ever. With exciting young wingers Hirving “Chucky” Lozano and Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, it dominated qualifying: six wins, three draws, one loss.There’s more! A successful Mexico means CONCACAF could finally boast its own World Cup champ, which would improve U.S. soccer culture and create a better squad. The next generation of U.S. players would learn from the El Tri way, not from the plodding side that couldn’t even beat Trinidad and Tobago to qualify.Americans love when chronic underachievers finally win it all, and Mexico offers a particularly good case. It has made every knockout stage since 1994; only powerhouses Germany and Brazil have done the same. But then Mexico goes on to lose in each round of 16, nearly always in heartbreaking fashion: 2-0 to the U.S. in 2002; a 20-yard golazo by Argentina in extra time in 2006; in 2014, two goals by the Dutch in the last six minutes.Anguish doesn’t begin to describe what fans like me have felt all our lives. Our only solace all these decades? Being better than the U.S., but even that’s getting old.Mexico is ready for victory, Americans. It can do without your support, but I’m confident your cheers will push El Tri over the top. And as FIFA officials mull which country will host World Cup 2026, there’s a good chance a joint bid by Mexico, the U.S. and Canada could win. If we get it, we must show the world we can work together (with the Great White North serving as our mutual good-humored friend, as always).And if the bid isn’t successful? Let’s show FIFA what it missed at this World Cup.Maybe soccer isn’t your thing, or my argument didn’t sway you. Perhaps this will? If you join Mexico for the Mundial, you’ll help patch up the most frayed relationship since Drake and Rihanna.And we need to. Latinos are now the largest minority in the U.S., with Mexicans constituting a big chunk of that burrito. It’s not good for Mexicans and Americans to keep viewing each other with skepticism. Only fútbol diplomacy can thaw our eternal cold war; nothing else has worked so far: trade agreements, Señor Frog’s, Guillermo del Toro. Rooting together becomes an exorcism for both parties to forget the past.Americans need to take the first step. They owe it to Mexicans, you know? There’s that whole stole-half-our-country thing, and then there’s Landon Donovan. Some things are unforgivable.Gringos, jump into the fiesta! Enjoy a fantastic Mexican tailgate: the succulent carne asada tacos, the ice-cold caguamas (40-ounce beers), the brass bands we call banda sinaloense. Mexican fans will teach Americans every Spanish insult imaginable, including all the conjugates of madre (mother), the most vulgar word in our arsenal. (In exchange, may gringos teach Mexicans to stop using that homophobic chant during goal kicks, por favor.)I confess: I root for the U.S. against Mexico from time to time. El Tri can get too complacent, and who better to offer a reality check? See how easy it is to cheer for your frenemy? So follow the Mexicans, Americans. The U.S. can only improve with an ascendant Mexico and vice versa. Let’s have a great time together and hope the USMNT returns in 2022.And if it doesn’t? ¡Viva México!

 Top ten goals of the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League

1 Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus 0-3 Real Madrid) – quarter-finals, 03/04/2018
UEFA Technical Observers say: An extraordinary display of technique and athleticism.

2 Gareth Bale (Liverpool 1-3 Real Madrid) – final, 26/05/2018
UEFA Technical Observers say: The crucial goal to make it 2-1 in the final, another brilliant acrobatic finish.

3 Gonzalo Higuaín (Juventus 2-2 Tottenham) – round of 16, 13/02/2018
UEFA Technical Observers say: Made the finish to this pre-planned free-kick look easy; it was anything but.

4 Antoine Griezmann (Atlético 2-0 Roma) – group stage, 22/11/2017
UEFA Technical Observers say: Another fabulous bicycle kick.

5 Edin Džeko (Chelsea 3-3 Roma) – group stage, 18/10/2017
UEFA Technical Observers say: A superb lofted through pass and an even better volleyed finish.

6 Gareth Bale (Dortmund 1-3 Real Madrid) – group stage, 26/09/2017
UEFA Technical Observers say: Excellent technical side-footed volleyed effort.

7 Fred (Shakhtar 2-1 Roma) – round of 16, 21/02/2018
UEFA Technical Observers say: Perfectly precise free-kick to complete comeback.

8 Kevin De Bruyne (Manchester City 2-0 Shakhtar) – group stage, 26/09/2017
UEFA Technical Observers say: Great long-range shot.

9 Lorenzo Insigne (Napoli 3-0 Shakhtar) – group stage, 21/11/2017
UEFA Technical Observers say: Wonderful finish from distance.

10 Cristiano Ronaldo (Real Madrid 3-2 Dortmund) – group stage, 06/12/2017
UEFA Technical Observers say: Powerful curling shot with little back-lift.

UEFA Technical Observers in Kyiv
Jerzy Engel (POL), Thomas Schaaf (GER), Mixu Paatelainen (FIN), Peter Rudbæk (DEN), Cristian Chivu (ROU), David Moyes (SCO)

THE LEGEND THAT ALMOST WASN’T

By Drew Kamaski, 06/06/18, 3:15PM EDT   A look at Indy original Brad Ring’s journey to 100 games with “Indiana’s Team”

Indy Eleven midfielder Brad Ring stood near midfield with one son in his arms. To his right, Indy Eleven President Jeff Belskus held a framed jersey that read “Ring 100”. On his left, Juli , his wife, held a bouquet of flowers in one hand and their daughter in the other. Their eldest son stood at her side. Belskus presented the jersey to Ring, who then kissed his wife and daughter and hugged his sons.The framed jersey celebrated Ring’s 100th appearance as an Indy Eleven player; A feat only one other player, Don Smart, has reached with the club. Ring’s 100th appearance came against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in Week Nine of Indy Eleven’s inaugural USL season and Ring’s fifth season with the team.“The biggest take away from having 100 appearances with one club is the commitment,” Ring said. “I’ve been committed to the club, the fan base, and the city from day one.”he night of the ceremony would also mark another milestone for the 31-year-old. Ring would make his 102nd appearance for the “Boys in Blue”, as Captain, against Bethlehem Steel FC. The start would earn him the top spot on the list of all-time appearances as an Indy Eleven player, overtaking Smart.“Brad is a legend on and off the field,” Smart said. “I’m very happy and proud to be his teammate for 4 years and want to congratulate him on the accomplishment.”Ring’s journey with Indy Eleven began in 2014. However, his flight to professional soccer, and life in Indiana, began in 2005 at Indiana University in Bloomington.“Indiana University was a huge part of my foundation as a professional soccer player,” Ring said. “That’s where I started to see the game as a career, not just as fun to play.”Ring was a key part of Indiana University Men’s Soccer during his time in Bloomington. The defensive midfielder finished his collegiate career with 78 appearances, 14 goals, and eight assists.The stellar performances during his tenure at Indiana’s oldest university earned him the chance to take his soccer career to the professional level. But fate nearly kept Ring from seizing the opportunity.“My senior year at Indiana University I battled with a lower abdominal injury which ended up keeping me out of the MLS [Major League Soccer] Combine,” Ring said.Luckily, the Rockford, Illinois native was drafted 17th overall by the San Jose Earthquakes in the 2009 MLS Super Draft despite the injury.San Jose’s team doctors determined that Ring wasn’t receiving enough blood flow to his hips and would need potential career-ending surgery to fix the issue. He was left with two options: risk the surgery and his professional career or seek a second opinion.Ring chose the latter of the two and concluded the best path to recovery was to completely deactivate his body. For eight months, Ring swam laps and did yoga.“We choose to opt out of surgery and simply turn everything off,” Ring said. “It was a difficult time because I was putting my dreams on hold and my future was unclear.”

The gamble paid off. The following season, Ring returned to preseason traiing and signed his first professional contract with San Jose, pain free.Soon after, Ring was traded to MLS side Portland Timbers, where he spent the 2013 season. His career with Portland lasted one year, but the short stay with the West coast side resulted in his return to the Hoosier state.Ring’s return to Indiana didn’t land him back in Bloomington, but rather 57 miles north in Indianapolis. The midfielder signed with Indy Eleven in 2014, when he became one the members of the club’s inaugural team.“Joining an expansion team is always a bit of a gamble because you don’t know what to expect,” Ring said. “But everything worked out better than expected and I’m thrilled to call Indy home.” Ring is now the last remaining member of the 2014 inaugural team. He may not be Indy Eleven’s most prolific goal scorer, but his leadership in training and on the pitch makes him a vital squad member.Ring has also adopted a leadership role off the pitch and has become one of the leading community, athlete advocates in Indianapolis. The midfielder dedicates time to Ring’s Reading Program, an initiative he created in 2016.Ring’s goal is to share the benefits of an active lifestyle to children. During the program, he spends time reading books to young students, promoting the importance of exercise, and eating healthy.Perhaps the most special thanks during Ring’s 100th game ceremony came from the supporter group that religiously cheers their “Boys in Blue”, the Brickyard Battalion.Ring has long been a fan favorite of the Brickyard Battalion. So much so, the supporter group lifted a tifo that bore Ring’s 100 appearances during the pre-match ceremony.The tifo wasn’t the Brickyard Battalion’s only show of gratitude for Ring that night. The dedicated group of fans also wanted to display their appreciation of Ring’s willingness to give back to the community.Mike Williams, a supporter of the team since its founding, organized an event labeled Brad Ring Reads 100 Books.“I wanted to do something to support his reading initiative,” Williams said. “I wanted to help him in what he does out in the community, which is read books at elementary schools.”The idea was to donate 100 books to Ring’s Reading Program. Come time for the ceremony, the supporter group surpassed its initial goal, and collected a total of 135.With the all-time appearances record to his name, a strong communal presence, and five years and counting with Indy Eleven, Ring has solidified his nickname as the “Legend”. He will remain just that; a legend, to the fans during, and after, the existence of “Indiana’s Team” and Ring’s career.I would like to finish my career here with Indy Eleven,” Ring said. “Hopefully holding up a trophy with my teammates.”

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KEYS TO THE MATCH | #INDVCHS

By Drew Kamaski, 06/01/18, 3:15PM EDTShare

Our three keys from our last home match against Charleston Battery

Set Pieces & Dead Ball Situations

Indy Eleven and Charleston Battery played one of the most exciting USL games in the Eastern Conference this season in last Wednesday’s six-goal thriller. The “Boys in Blue” converted three times, each conversion came from a dead ball situation. “Indiana’s Team” has been potent from set pieces and dead ball situations this season, finding the back of the net six times.In the most recent match against Charleston Battery, the “Boys in Blue” converted one penalty and scored two world class free kicks. The first goal came from forward Soony Saad’s foot from nearly 40 yards out in the 43rd minute. Defender Ayoze followed up Saad’s goal by tucking away a penalty to level the game at 2-2 late in the second half. The Spaniard then converted a beautifully struck free kick to the top left corner, giving Indy a 3-2 lead in the dying moments of the match.“We scored three great goals. Two world class goals,” Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie said. “The goals we scored from the free kicks were literally as good as you’re going to get.”

PUT THEM THROUGH THE RING-ER

The “Legend” had another stellar performance in the Indy Eleven midfield against Charleston Battery in Week 12. Midfielder Brad Ring captained the “Boys in Blue” for the entire 90 minutes against the Battery in a 3-3 draw.Ring was most influential in the passing game. He martialed the ball through the midfield with ease, completing just below 90 percent of his passes. Even more impressive was his passing accuracy in the opposition half, completing 84 percent of his passes and finding two chances.

TWO GAMES, TWO GOALS

Indy Eleven forward Soony Saad struck a free kick from much too far out to be taking shots on goal once again. Similar to his goal against Nashville SC, he let a rip from between 35-40 yards out. Except this time, the Lebanese international found the top right corner of the goal, leaving Charleston Battery goalkeeper Joe Kuzminsky flat footed.Saad’s stunning goal is his fourth this season and second in as many games. The former University of Michigan standout appears to be hitting his stride after finishing a close in shot to the top right corner against Red Bulls II in Week 11 and finding the back of the net against Charleston Battery in Week 12. Saad is now tied for most goals on the team (4) with defender Ayoze  .Catch “Indiana’s Team” live and in person on Saturday, June 9 at 7:00 p.m., as they take on fellow USL inaugural side Atlanta United 2. Tickets are available as low as $15 at IndyElevenTickets.com or by calling (317)685-1100.

BYB PRIDE RAISER  – SUPPORT INDY PRIDE WITH EVERY
INDY 11 GOAL IN JUNE

UPDATE:  as of June 5, BYB members have pledged $107 per goal.

The BYB prides itself in fostering an environment that welcomes all individuals to our section. This year, the Brickyard Battalion is participating in PRIDE RAISER to support the LGBTQ community in Indiana. We are hoping you will join the Brickyard Battalion’s Board of Directors in pledging a few dollars for every goal scored by Indy Eleven in the month of June (4 games). All pledges will go to support Indy PrideMake A Pledge Today

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