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.
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 Pool – click 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.
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.
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
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
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|
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.