7/13/18 World Cup Finals Set France vs Croatia 11 am Sun on Fox, 3rd Place England vs Belgium Sat 9 am, CHS Soccer Camps next Week !!

Wow what about Croatia.  They become the 2ndsmallest country to ever make a World Cup Final – with just 4 million people.  (that’s 2.5 million fewer than Indiana).  Oh and Croatia has qualified for every World Cup since they became a independent country.  This team barely qualified for this World Cup as their new coach Zlatko Dalic who took over with 3 games left in qualifications – steered them from the brink of what the US did (not qualifying) to the Finals of the World Cup.  Don’t tell me that coaching doesn’t make a difference! This golden generation for Croatia led by the World’s Best midfielder Luka Modric’ (said Mo-Dridge) of Real Madrid, another fantastic midfielder in Ivan Rakitic and a Juve Forward Mario Mandzukic who found a way to score the final goal in the 115th minute.   The fact that they had to go to Extra Time in 3 straight games – winning 2 in PKs and this one in the final 5 minutes is just amazing.  Of course France will be favored on Sunday in the Final – but I am not going to pick against this seemingly team of destiny in Croatia – DO YOU BELIEVE IN MIRACLES? – It might just happen Sunday 11 am on Fox!  Saturday we’ll see which team England or Belgium can recover from the disappointment to try to claim 3rd place – at 10 am on Fox.  My pick for Golden Ball if France wins is N’Golo Kante – especially if he can shut down Modric.  If Croatia wins its got to be Luka Modric of course.  Kane will win the Golden Boot unless Mbappe can score 3 goals in the final (even though 3 of Kane’s 6 goals were PKs.  Golden Glove this is a 4 maybe 5 horse race in my mind between the winner between England/Belgium (Pickford vs Courtios) or France vs Croatia (Loris vs Subasic).  I also thought the Great Wall of Ochoa for Mexico and Denmark’s Schmeichel covered themselves with glory – however I think assuming Belgium win’s the 3rd place game its Courtois’ to lose.  Oh and after the World Cup – next week – we’ll review my favorite commercials of this World Cup!

Renaldo to Juventus

So I am not sure how I feel about my favorite Goalkeeper Italy’s Gigi Buffon leaving for PSG right before the Old Lady Juve –sign freaking Renaldo.  Are you kidding me – all those years of Juve losing in the finals, the final 4, the final 8 – often to their nemises Real Madrid and now Renaldo flips to Juve (Perhaps putting them over the edge just as GIGI LEAVES?? AARGGG!!!  Now I completely understand Renaldo leaving – listen I have been in the Bernabau and seen and heard first hand the “PRECIOUS” Madradistas – In my mind the WORSE FANS in Sports — whistle at Renaldo because he didn’t score in the first half of a game.  Let me see – 3 Champ League Titles, 2 LA Ligas, an Absurd 1 goal per game tally in all games played with Madrid and they aren’t happy with arguably the GOAT – Greatest of all time?  Now I don’t pretend Renaldo is perfect – but dude I would never boo him at my own stadium.  Boo the coach yes – but not Renaldo.  Not in Madrid.  Now he has the chance to prove he’s better than anyone – if he can help take Juve to the Finals of Champions League and Win – there will be no more Renaldo or Messi question??  It will be Renaldo doing it at 3 different clubs.  NEVER BEFORE DONE.  We’ll see.  Oh and I am sure Madrid will spend a ton of money to bring in someone else but with the mastermind Zidane and Renaldo GONE — they will not repeat.  Heard it here first!!  The inside story of Ronaldo’s transfer  I will say I am sorry to see Conte leaving Chelsea – but honestly it just wasn’t working there despite the title win in the first year.  He’ll land somewhere and win wherever he goes.

INDY 11

Indy recovered Sat on a comfortable night at Lucas Oil and came from behind to win 2-1 over Charlotte.  Huge late goal by subbing forward Ben Speas.  At 8-4-5 and ranked 5th in the East with 28 pts, the Indy 11 will travel to my old neck of the Woods Tampa Bay – or actually beautiful Al Lang Stadium on the Waterfront in St. Petersburg to face the Tampa Bay Rowdies next Saturday night at 7:30 pm and the game will be on MyIndy TV 23 in 1 of their rare road game coverages and of course on ESPN+. Our Boys in Blue return home Wed Aug 15 and of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

neymar alphabet

Staying on the Neymar Bashing – how’s this Alphabet of Neymar antics ??

WORLD CUP

Tale of the Tape in the Final

Euro 2016 Failure Shapes France’s World Cup Approach, Final Motivation

France missed an opportunity to lift a major trophy on home soil when it fell to Portugal in extra time two years ago. Les Bleus haven’t forgotten that feeling.by Brian Straus si

Luka Modric’s Croatia Success Story is a Complex One si — by Jonathan Wilson

 Laurens: France determined to go all the way this time
Project Russia: Which fans are left at the World Cup?
Predictions: Belgium vs. England, France vs. Croatia
Duerden: Dalic’s untraditional path to the World Cup
Vickery: Questions for South American nations

Marcotti: Pogba’s keep-it-simple but effective World Cup

 Ogden: Mbappe makes French the firm favourites in World Cup final
FiveThirtyEight: How Croatia and France made it to the final
Marcotti: France aren’t broken, so Deschamps won’t change
Laurens: Pamela Anderson and a water fight – how France celebrated

England No Longer a Laughing Stock – Ian Darke EPSN

READ MORE: ‘England still a long-ball team’ Croatia hit out at Three Lions
READ MORE: England player and manager reaction as Three Lions downed in Moscow
READ MORE: It doesn’t matter that football didn’t come home – it was the feeling that it might

Gareth Southgate got subsitutions, tactics wrong in World Cup defeat ESPNFC

Inter Milan and Bayern Munich dominate World Cup final

Marcotti: Croatia’s unbreakable resolve denies England
ESPN FC TV: How England lost their way vs. Croatia
Project Russia: Three Lions bow out of the World Cup
ESPN FC TV: Do Croatia have enough left to face France?
Ogden: England must ensure their Russia run leads to more
England Players Take to Twitter

Ames: France edge past disappointing Belgium
Project Russia: France go from strength to strength
ESPN FC TV: Yet again, Belgium cannot deliver

Project Russia: The best on-scene video

French Firemen use Neymar in Agony to plug First Aid Course

Cristiano Ronaldo on the move

Ronaldo to join Juventus: The latest news and reaction
MarcottiThe inside story of Ronaldo’s transfer
ESPN FC TV: Transfer changes European football landscape
ESPN FC TV: Will Ronaldo keep scoring goals in Serie A?
How the social media world reacted
What are the most expensive transfers of all time?

Source: Real Madrid Targets Neymar, Mbappe, Hazard as Ronaldo Replacements Grant Wahl si

Buffon signs with PSG

Indy 11

Indy 11 Fall to Charleston 2-1

Indy 11 Fade in Heat at Charleston 1-2 Bloody Shambles- James Cormack

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

USA

Why the Biggest Countries in the World – Like the US Fail with the World Cup  USA Today Martin Rogers

If Only the US wasn’t so America – We might win this thing – Parker Cleveland Stars and Stripes

Why Sampaoli would be a Disaster for USMNT

Jesse Marsch Hopes to be Manager of USMNT Someday – as he heads off the Europe to Coach RB Leipzig

Goalies

England’s Pickford Wants to Start and Win Golden Glove vs Courtois and Belgium

Goalies Battling for the Golden Glove

Best Saves Rounds 1 & 2 World Cup

England’s Pickford One of the Top Saves of the World Cup

Pickford’s Path to World Cup Hero

9 Saves  by Belgium’s Courtois Sit Down Brazil

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

Painting Success On and Off the Field – Indy GK

SUMMER CAMPS

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

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

Butler Bulldog Soccer Camps – full day $255

GAMES ON TV This Week

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             England vs Belgium WC 3rd place

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

8 pm ESPN+                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            Croatia vs France – WC Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                                               LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   –          US Open Cup

8:30 pm ???                   Chicago Fire vs Louisville City FC

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                                                  Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sat, July 21                

7:30 pm TV 23/espn+  Charleston vs Indy 11

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham 

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

10:30 pm ESPN         LAFC vs LA Galaxy (we should be at the game !)

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

 Indiana Soccer League Discounted Offer for Chicago Fire Games
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club would like to invite all families and members involved with ISL out for a Chicago Fire MLS match this Summer and Fall. 
On-field experiences for children age 5-17 before every match!  This offer includes discounted group ticket pricing for anyone interested.
Please email Stew with the Chicago Fire – Sgreen@chicago-fire.com – for more information about on-field experiences for kids for specific game days, or any other questions!
Saturday, July 21st at 6:00pm vs Toronto FC
Sunday, September 16th at 4:00pm vs Orlando City SC

 France vs. Croatia: Mbappe makes French the firm favourites in World Cup final

Jul 12, 2018Mark Ogden, Senior Writer ESPN FC

MOSCOW — It is a World Cup final that few would have predicted at the start of Russia 2018, but France will face Croatia in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday with the chance to become world champions at stake for both sides.Didier Deschamps, who captained France to World Cup glory in 1998, has seen his all-star team build momentum throughout the tournament, and they go into the final as strong favourites to win.But Croatia have displayed resolve, perseverance and quality to overcome Denmark, Russia and England (all after extra time) to get to their first ever final, and led by Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, they will believe they can take the World Cup back to the Balkans for the first time.So which team has the edge going into Sunday’s final?

World Cup 2018 must-reads

– Make your daily ESPN FC Match Predictor picks!
– World Cup fixtures, results and coverage 

– England can’t let this be another false dawn
– Croatia tell themselves to get up yet again
– FC TV: England lost their way vs. Croatia
– France, Deschamps won’t change approach now
– No sleep ’till Moscow: Fan travels through Russia

Goalkeeper

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has produced a few world-class saves — from Martin Caceres in the quarterfinal vs. Uruguay, and Toby Alderweireld against Belgium — to remind us all of his ability, but the Tottenham No. 1 went into the World Cup on the back of an unconvincing season for club and country.

Lloris can be unsettled when he has the ball at his feet, so Croatia will look to target this weakness and hope that their goalkeeper, Danijel Subasic, can maintain his remarkable form in Russia.

Subasic has been a hero of two penalty shootouts and played in the semifinal win against England despite having injured his hamstring in the quarterfinal against Russia. The Monaco keeper will pose a determined barrier against the French, but Lloris has grown into this tournament, and he is the best keeper in the final.

Edge: France

Defence

Between them, France and Croatia have conceded just nine goals so far at this World Cup, and three of those shipped by the French came in the remarkable 4-3 win against Argentina in the round of 16.

Croatia have not kept a clean sheet during the knockout stages and, against England, were troubled by the pace and movement of Raheem Sterling, Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli, with Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida enduring a tough opening hour against Gareth Southgate’s team before nerves set in.

France, with the blistering pace of Kylian Mbappe, will exploit Croatia’s weaknesses at the back and trust their own back line, marshalled by Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane, to win their battles.

Defensively, France have a strong advantage.

Edge: France

Midfield

Croatia are a match for any team in the world with their midfield triangle of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic, but they are up against a formidable unit in N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Blaise Matuidi.

This battle could boil down to Croatia’s streetwise experience against the energy, tenacity and power of the French.

Kante has been one of the stars of the tournament, while Pogba has quietly — unusually for him — gone about his business impressively.

Modric and Rakitic are world-class performers for club and country, though, so this will be the key tactical clash of the game.

Edge: Even

Forwards

France are blessed with some of the hottest attacking talent in the world right now and arguably possess the best options of any team in Russia.

Mbappe has already displayed his incredible ability at this World Cup, with Antoine Griezmann also impressing. The power and strength of Olivier Giroud has given France a crucial attacking dimension, while Deschamps can also call on Ousmane Dembele’s youthful talent and speed down the wing.

Croatia are at the other end of the scale, with battle-hardened veteran Mario Mandzukic leading the line. Wingers Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic are dangers — Perisic was outstanding in the semifinal win against England — and they will need to be on top of their game if Croatia are to have any hope.

Edge: France

Managers

Deschamps has all the pedigree you could wish for: a World Cup-winning captain in 1998 and a player who also won the Champions League twice, with Marseille and Juventus.On the other side, Zlatko Dalic was a journeyman midfielder who never represented his country and a man who only took charge of Croatia, following spells coaching in Albania, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, last October.Dalic has allowed his Croatia team to play to its strengths, however, and given senior figures such as Modric, Rakitic and Mandzukic a voice on and off the pitch.He has hugely overperformed to get Croatia to the final, so all the pressure on Sunday will be on Deschamps, whose last final saw France lose to Portugal in Paris at Euro 2016.

Edge: France

Intangibles

There are two big question marks hanging over this game: how tired are Croatia and can France hold their nerve to win the World Cup?Croatia have played extra time three times to get to the final, and their senior players looked to be out of steam during the semifinal win against England. Somehow they dredged up incredible reserves of energy to win the game, but how punishing will those extra periods prove?As for France, they should win comfortably due to their extra freshness and depth, but they failed to deliver on home turf in the Euro 2016 final, so will they choke again?

Edge: France

Prediction

France 3-1 Croatia

N’Golo Kante deserves the Golden Ball

France’s midfielder has been the best player at the tournament, and a big reason they’re going to a World Cup Final.

By Nate Scott@aNateScott  Jul 12, 2018, 9:50am EDT

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The best player at the 2018 World Cup has not scored a goal. He does not have an assist. He’s made no saves, had no moments that made SportsCenter’s top 10. He’s picked up one yellow card, but other than that, you won’t find him on the score sheet.His name is N’Golo Kante, he plays for France, and he deserves the Golden Ball.Kante will never win it, unfortunately, unless there’s some wild groundswell in the next half week. Defensive-oriented players don’t really win the Golden Ball, unless it’s Italy in ‘06 and we give it to Fabio Cannavaro because we didn’t know what else to do with that tournament.It will most likely go to Luka Modric, another wonderful player who has been the engine for Croatia en route to a surprise World Cup final appearance. If anyone aside from Kante is going to win it, I’m glad it’s Modric, one of the world’s more under-appreciated and brilliant players over the last decade or so, and playing his best soccer at age 33.But still, in my heart, this award belongs to Kante.Kante seems out of place, doesn’t he, in this France side? There’s the attacking brilliance and youthful flair of Kylian Mbappé, just 19 and ready to take over the world. There’s Paul Pogba, playing next to Kante, he of the perfect hair and long strides and gorgeous passes that only he could make.And then there’s Kante. He stands 5’6. He weighs maybe 150 pounds. If you aren’t looking for him, you might not notice him, and will just hear his name called every once in a while as he intercepts a ball and then passes it along to a teammate.Kante is the type of player one needs time to appreciate. This was true of him professionally — it took time for scouts and the world’s top clubs to realize just what a special player he was. A few years ago, Kante was playing in the French second division for Caen. He got spotted by Leicester City, they plugged him into the midfield, and then they went and pulled off modern soccer’s greatest miracle by winning the Premier League.Chelsea bought Kante, and then he went and became arguably their most important player. At every level he’s only seemed to improve. His vision, his understanding of the game, keeps getting better. He was always brilliant (one of my few prophetic moments in this dumb sport is when I said Kante could play for any team in the world when he was at Leicester, and I got laughed at), but he’s become even more so. And now he’s doing it at the World Cup.His position doesn’t help him get attention. It’s a thankless job, defensive midfielder, and one that fans need to watch for a long time to understand just how much one contributes to a team. It’s a common trope among club team fanbases that, at the end of a long season, they won’t vote the 20-goal scorer as their Fan Player of the Season … but rather give the honor to the defensive center midfielder, tried and true, never doing too much but bailing out their team time and time again.For most soccer players, the defensive center midfielder is usually their favorite teammate, because he allows everyone else to do what they want to do. He’s the garbage man, dealing with the other team’s best player, making the simple passes, letting you go and do all the fun stuff.But Kante goes beyond the standard defensive center midfielder role. He isn’t just tidy with the ball, isn’t just a decent tackler. Well, he is those things, but it takes watching him closely to understand just how much he influences a game.For one, he covers so much ground that other players are given the freedom to do basically whatever they want. One of the favorite games for people who watch Kante play a lot, especially in his time with Leicester City and Chelsea in the Premier League, is to just keep a half-eye on him when watching the action, then crack yourself up when he shows up in the play, completely unexpectedly, often like 70 yards away from where you last saw him.

A typical thing you might see: Watching the ball, watching the ball … Oh look, Kante just showed up on the right edge of the opponent’s box, to collect a rebound and make a smart pass off a cleared corner kick … Watching the ball, watching the ball … Ha! Ha! Hah! WAIT, KANTE IS NOW 85 YARDS AWAY AND JUST SNUFFED OUT A COUNTER ATTACK FOR THE OPPONENT. THAT WAS LIKE SIX SECONDS. HOW DID … IS HE NIGHTCRAWLER? WHAT THE HELL? AHAHA!

But what separates Kante isn’t just his ability to run, though God can he run, but rather his seemingly preternatural understanding of where a soccer ball is going to go. If you watch him play, you can see him reading passes two or three ahead of time, and adjusting his positioning to deal with it.You can see this in the stats. Here, from earlier in the tournament, on teams that had allowed attackers to bypass defenders. Look at France:

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Nine. NINE. That’s Kante. Well, it’s Didier Deschamps’ organization, sure, but it’s also Kante. Teams don’t bypass him because they don’t even dare at this oint. He closes everything out. Passing angles disappear. They don’t even think of dribbling at him because that never ends well.

The best thing about Kante isn’t what he makes happen, though, but rather what he doesn’t allow to happen. Yes, he can seemingly see passes before they come and can intercept them. But he also possesses the ability to see entire attacks taking form before they begin, and then snuff them out.

There was one moment in the first half of the semifinal between France and Belgium where I caught myself watching Kante. The ball was with Belgium’s defender Jan Vertonghen on the left side of the field, and Belgium were on a mini break. Vertonghen saw a pass ahead to his center midfielder, Mousa Dembélé. Kante, realizing his responsibility wasn’t Dembélé, started shifting to the opposite side of the field, and he did so before Vertonghen even made the pass. Why? He understood not only that Vertonghen was going to make that pass, but that Dembele would receive the ball, turn, then pass it out to the other side to the waiting Nacer Chadli, who was on the entire other side of the field, with space and time.It happened exactly as Kante saw it. Kante was already on his way to Chadli when the pass came in. Blaise Matuidi, France’s left wing, who moments earlier was a bit stranded, could now step hard on Chadli, because Kante, understanding the way the game is played, had come over to support him. Chadli was put under pressure by Matuidi, saw Kante coming with the double team, so he was forced to turn backwards and cycle the ball back to the defense. The threat was over.It was a nothing moment, one that will never be on a highlight tape. Kante didn’t score a goal. He didn’t even make a tackle. But Kante’s ability to understand what was happening that second early, and to cover that 8-10 yards of space before he needed to, meant that he was there to provide support to his teammate when Chadli received the ball. An imbalanced situation for Belgium suddenly became them passing it backwards, and France was able to get organized defensively.That’s what Kante does, over and over again, throughout the course of a match. He reads and senses. He makes the right decisions over and over again. He allows the other France players to take chances, and make deep runs, and fly into attack when they see fit, because he is soccer’s greatest security blanket.

He’s tidy with the ball, sure. He’s underrated going forward, too. But that’s not what separates him from the rest of the World Cup. His greatness makes France great. He’s the most important player on the World Cup’s best team. For that, he deserves the Golden Ball.

Jordan Pickford wants to start against Belgium and win the golden glove ahead of Thibaut Courtois

  • chief football writer2 JULY 2018 • 10:30PM

Jordan Pickford says that he wants to play for England against Belgium in Saturday’s third and fourth-place play-off in St Petersburg and hopes to be selected as the goalkeeper of the tournament.The Everton goalkeeper made a fine save late on from Mario Mandzukic before the Croatia striker eventually scored the winner in extra-time in Thursday’s semi-final but it has been a good tournament for Pickford, now firmly established as the No 1. His ability to play with his feet from the back has seen him promoted ahead of Jack Butland by Gareth Southgate, and his save from Mateus Uribe of Colombia in the second round is arguably the best of the tournament.Pickford said: “Hopefully I will get the nod against Belgium. I’d love to get the goalkeeper of the tournament. But we came to win this tournament. We can’t do that now but we want to finish third. It will be a tough test against Belgium again.

“Of course it will be hard to get ourselves up for it. That’s where character comes in. It’s another chance to show our togetherness. We want to finish a great tournament on a high.We can’t finish the best team in the world but we can still be the third best.”He added: “My overriding thoughts right now is that we did ourselves proud. The country believes in us again. Beforehand, I don’t think they were expecting too much from us. Now they have seen the character there is in this squad. They can see we are capable of progressing.“It was really moving. At 12.45am the fans are still out there chanting. That got to me. It shows how far we’ve come.”The Fifa golden glove award for the tournament’s best goalkeeper is not decided on clean sheets but by the Fifa technical study group. He will be up against Thibaut Courtois who said Pickford should have saved Adnan Januzaj’s group stage winner against England. Pickford said his greatest moment was the save from Carlos Bacca in the shoot-out that set up the victory on Eric Dier’s penalty. “It felt big at the time and it still feels big now. We won a shoot-out. And we won a knockout game.“The other memory is that I know I have played well in the tournament. But above all this World Cup is about a group of lads embracing every moment, enjoying ourselves and doing ourselves justice.”

 

Cristiano Ronaldo’s need for love, respect helped push him to Juventus

Jul 11, 2018Mark Ogden, Senior Writer, ESPN FC

Cristiano Ronaldo loves to be loved. Forget the trophies, the Ballons d’Or and the goals: when you peel back all of the superficial players, he is simply a guy who wants love and respect and, therefore, his move to Juventus ticks those boxes.When Ronaldo returned to Old Trafford in 2013 for the first (and so far only) time to face Manchester United with Real Madrid in the Champions League, Sir Alex Ferguson instructed the club’s PA announcer to break with tradition and read out the Real team second, with Ronaldo left as the last player to have his name read out. Alan Keegan, United’s PA man, followed Ferguson’s instructions and the reception Ronaldo was granted made hairs stand up on the back of 70,000 necks. Just as Ferguson anticipated, Ronaldo was so taken by the standing ovation that his focus was clearly distracted in the opening stages.Ronaldo is so often projected as the pantomime villain in his battle for supremacy with Lionel Messi that any kind of affection is soaked up, so it is perhaps no surprise that he has traded Real for Juventus having already been given the respect he so craves by the supporters of the Italian giants.Back in April, after Ronaldo’s stunning overhead-kick goal against Juve was greeted with a standing ovation in Turin, nobody could possibly have envisaged the 33-year-old signing for the Old Lady just three months later.

Cristiano Ronaldo on the move

Ronaldo to join Juventus: The latest news and reaction
MarcottiThe inside story of Ronaldo’s transfer
ESPN FC TV: Transfer changes European football landscape
ESPN FC TV: Will Ronaldo keep scoring goals in Serie A?
How the social media world reacted
What are the most expensive transfers of all time?

Unless he knew differently, Ronaldo himself is unlikely to have had the Italian champions as his first-choice destination should he leave Real, but the gesture from the supporters that night will have left its mark on the Portuguese forward. Juventus showed him respect when he was an opponent; just imagine how much he will be indulged as one of their own.The Ronaldo narrative always suggested that he would only ever leave Real for a return to Man United. After all, his former club made enough attempts to bring him back to Old Trafford, but on one occasion at least, Man United’s interest was used merely to get a better deal from Real. Memories of being used by Ronaldo left scars at Man United — they still tried again once more, without success — but at 33, maybe even the richest club in the world believed that the sums just did not add up to bring him back this time.Paris Saint-Germain have also flirted with Ronaldo, but their lavish investment in Neymar and Kylian Mbappe forced them out of the running. It meant Juventus suddenly presented itself as a much better move than Ronaldo could possibly have expected.The serial Italian champions are a huge club with a global fan base. They may not be Real or Man United, but they are not far behind, and Juve can offer Ronaldo another lorry-load of trophies over the course of his contract. Any move from Real is a step down, but Juventus is one step rather than several.At 33, Ronaldo may have had to consider a move to China or even the MLS if Juventus had not come along. Remaining at Real would have been another option, but it seems that neither Ronaldo nor the Spanish giants were amenable to that.Juventus is a storied club with iconic former players and Ronaldo will relish the opportunity to add his name to their roll of honour. Paolo Rossi, Michel Platini, Zinedine Zidane, Pavel Nedved, Roberto Baggio, Alessandro del Piero and Gianluigi Buffon all have their images plastered on the walls of Juve’s Allianz Stadium, and you can bet that Ronaldo will do something to earn his place alongside them. He may be 33, but he is still such a consummate, dedicated professional that Juventus can expect plenty of return on their investment.Ronaldo was the Champions League’s top scorer last season and he hit four goals at the World Cup, so he is still a goal scorer to be feared. And with Juventus desperate to win the Champions League after so many years of dominance in Italy, he will be given the stage to help inspire them to their long-awaited third European Cup.Maybe it is all about Ronaldo’s ego and the chance to win more trophies in Serie A, but it is not the one-team league that it has been for most of the seven consecutive seasons Juve have won the title. Napoli are a threat, with Carlo Ancelotti’s arrival as coach this summer highlighting their ambition, while Roma’s run to the Champions League semifinal last season underlined their determination to challenge Juve’s supremacy. Inter Milan are back in the Champions League, and AC Milan, subject to takeover talk, will always expect to be the best in Italy.So, Ronaldo has signed up for a challenge as well as a change of scenery. But he still has it in him to take another league by storm, and that is why Juventus have made such a bold move by signing him.

Why Jorge Sampaoli would be a disaster for the USMNT

Rumors are coming hard and fast, but this one would be trouble.By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 8, 2018, 1:06pm PDT

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The rumors about who could possibly become the next United States Men’s National Team coach are starting to come in bunches. Today, a report by Mundo Albiceleste, citing a TYC Sportsreport, claims that Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has received offers from U.S. Soccer, Mexico and Costa Rica to take over their head coaching positions.

Argentina coach Jorge Sampaoli has reportedly received offers to coach the United States, Mexico and Costa Rica. Now, we can easily dismiss this as a rumor, one that carries no legs for several reasons. Sampaoli is still the Argentina coach and while people expect him and Argentina to part ways, it hasn’t happened yet. Mexico still has their coach as well, with Juan Carlos Osorio also expected to leave but still holds the coaching position. New USMNT general manager Earnie Stewart doesn’t officially assume the role full-time until August 1st, and he is supposed to be responsible for all MNT coaching hires. But really, the main reason we should dismiss this rumor is simple: Jorge Sampaoli would be a disaster for the USMNT.For one, the baggage he carries is immense. Since he won the 2015 Copa America with Chile, he flamed out at Sevilla and took over an Argentine squad that was struggling in World Cupqualifying. While they eventually qualified thanks to some Lionel Messi heroics, they underperformed throughout his tenure. When they arrived at the 2018 World Cup, they did so as heavy favorites despite a pre-World Cup tour that saw them get smoked by Spain and have a friendly against Israel canceled over political protests.Then, there was the actual performance at the World Cup. Their 1-1 draw to Iceland and a 3-0 loss to Croatia in the group stage had his team on the verge of mutiny ahead of its final group stage match against Nigeria. His tactics were erratic, his substitutions were puzzling, and his decision-making was frustrating. Still, they somehow made it out of the group by the skin of their teeth.Argentina eventually met their end in the Round of 16 against France, a 4-3 defeat that was probably more lopsided than the final score. With the exception of just a few minutes of luck and brilliance on the part of the players, Argentina was no match for a French squad that dazzled from start to finish. La Albiceleste were out, a disappointing finish for the team who were the 2014 World Cup runners-up and runners-up in the 2015 Copa America and 2016 Copa America Centenario and were expected to at least return to the semifinals in this World Cup.Those don’t fare well for a stint with the USMNT. He’d also have to figure out a way to continue the development of the younger guys in the player pool, something he wasn’t the best at with Argentina. There, he took a golden generation of sorts and rode them until the wheels fell off…and fall off they did. The Argentine federation is in disarray, and many important players are now considering retirement. Sound familiar?When it comes to Jorge Sampaoli, of course he may have a decent resume coaching some big-time South American teams. But, the baggage he carries and his tendencies to have tenures built around turmoil rather than teamwork is something that should not be brought into a situation with the USMNT. There are other qualified candidates out there without the baggage, but as agents try to jockey their clients into prominent positions, know that these rumors will get people talking. But, for the USMNT’s sake, let’s hope Jorge Sampaoli becomes some other team’s problem and Earnie Stewart and U.S. Soccer say to his candidacy: NO WAY!!

 

USMNT July 13-15 viewing guide and open thread

One last chance for a World Cup bump

By jcksnftsn  Jul 13, 2018, 9:00am PDT

MLS and their television partners will try one last time this weekend to carry over audience from the World Cup into MLS action with two games on Sunday, the first starting on Fox immediately following their World Cup coverage. There are no Friday or Saturday network games this weekend so we’ll jump right into Sunday.

Sunday

Atlanta United v Seattle Sounders – 2:00p on Fox

Immediately following the conclusion of the World Cup coverage on Sunday Fox will roll into coverage of the MLS with a game featuring the Supporters Shield leaders, Atlanta United facing off against a disappointing Seattle Sounders side.Atlanta are 12-4-4 with identical home and road splits of 6-2-2 and coming off a road win against the Philadelphia Union with Josef Martinez scoring his league leading 18th goal 7 more than a trio tied for second place including American hero Gyasi Zardes! With Andrew Carleton remaining glued to the bench and Greg Garza and Darlington Nagbe both out with long term injuries the USMNT presence on this side of the ball is limited to Brad Guzan.Seattle’s season has been a disappointing one, having picked up only 16 points half way through their schedule after finishing last year with 53 points. Their results this season have them in 10th place in the Western Conference, 10 points back of the final playoff spot. At 35 Clint Dempseylooks to be regressing to a substitute role and has managed just one goal this season. Cristian Roldan has been a consistent presence in the lineup for the Sounders while younger brother Alex has appeared in 13 games including 7 starts.

Los Angeles Football Club v Portland Timbers – 5:00p on ESPN

Following the Atlanta v Seattle match you can flip over to ESPN to catch some West Coast action as this years “how can expansion teams be so good so fast when DC United is… that” team, LAFC, takes on the Portland Timbers.LAFC are coming off a 4-1 shellacking of Orlando City and sit in second place in the Western Conference just one point behind FC Dallas. Walker Zimmerman is the youngest of the LAFC Americans and most likely to be involved moving forward though the center back may not be more than an off-cycle / Gold Cup option if the young center backs playing abroad (Brooks, Miazga, EPB, etc.) continue to progress and be available as expected.

The Portland Timbers are also coming in off a win, over hapless San Jose, and are undefeated in their last 11 games. Unfortunately, their success cannot be attributed to any American development as the young Americans, Eryk Williamson and Marco Farfan, have failed to make an impact. Former U-20 member Zarek Valentin has started 15 games this season but at 26 years of age seems unlikely to break into the Senior team at this point.

Indy’s Battery Runs Low In Charleston – Charleston Battery V Indy Eleven REVIEW

By: James Cormack – Bloody Shambles Soccer

Indy headed southeast to Charleston to play their 5th match in 16 days with a chance of moving up another spot in the USL East standings if they could clinch a road win in South Carolina. The two teams locked horns in Indy’s last home match of May in a thrilling 3-3 tieAs expected with such a hectic period in the 2018 schedule we again saw some rotation to the starting lineup and as we saw against Charlotte it was backed up by a very strong bench. Even with injuries and knocks recently Martin Rennie has called on his depth to step up.Indy Eleven’s weekend game against Charlotte saw early departures for Justin Braun and Kevin Venegas and their replacements Ben Speas and Eugene Starikov started against Charlotte. Brad Ring who left the last game late with calf cramp took the bench.Seth Moses continued where he left off on Saturday at right back alongside Ouimette, Mitchell, and Ayoze. Pasher, Guerra, Matern, Watson and Starikov covered the midfield with Ben Speas playing forward and as usual Owain Fôn Williams in goal. I am not sure why and maybe I am mad, but the team and USL always display us as a 4-4-2 when we clearly are not. Is the starting lineup just based on D’s, M’s and F’s? No idea.As in the previous match the players starting are good enough to bring about a result, a mixture or starters, and some fresh leg rotation. With multiple games in a short period of time, it’s a sensible tactic to begin with when you have a bench stacked with outfield talent like Soony Saad, Jack McInerney, Zach Steinberger, Brad Rusin, Nathan Lewis, and Brad Ring.  Again it was a hot one around 90 degrees, and the first half saw both teams probing and feeling each other out patiently. There was no urgent attempt by either side to hit hard and early. Indy played and looked comfortable for most of the first half, perhaps becoming flat and static in the last ten minutes or so.After 22 minutes of give and take it was Charleston who found the first opening through Gordon Wild. Working inside Charleston’s right and untracked he received a pass from the wing, turned inside and struck a clean left footed shot into the far left corner of Indy’s net from about 24 yards out. Not much you can do about the clinical finish but the time and space he found deep in Indy’s half could have been limited and pressed by our midfield.Indy had a great chance to equalize with 30 minutes gone when Carlyle Mitchell connected with a corner delivered by Ayoze. His bullet header from a few yards out was denied by a great reaction save from Cuban stopper Odisnel Cooper.fter falling behind Indy Eleven continued a methodical and patient approach to the game but with around 10 minutes to go before the half the pass and move changed to a little pass and stand still, the team seemed tired and weary and waiting for the whistle.Whatever Martin Rennie had to say to galvanize his team at halftime worked as Indy Eleven started the second half with more urgency and aggression. Five minutes in Seth Moses made a drive into the left side of Charleston’s box and chipped a cross to the back post for Speas but Ben couldn’t get his bicycle high enough of the ground and his attempted shot found the topside of the net. Within ten minutes Indy Eleven did put the score level. From a central position ben Speas put a short pass through to split the Charleston defense, Eugene Starikov beat the offside trap and went one on one with Cooper. The keeper spread himself at Starikov’s feet but Indy’s number 9 calmly dinked a chip shot up and over to tie the game up. Starikov’s first competitive goal makes him the 12th Indy player to score in 2018.Indy continued to press and within moments could have taken the lead through substitute Soony Saad. A Carlyle Mitchell pass that went almost from the edge of one 18 yard box to the other was controlled by Saad and he pushed towards the Charleston goal. His first shot was saved by the sprawling Cooper which returned to his feet and his second attempt was cleared off the line by Taylor Mueller.It was by far a better half for Indy Eleven, but one man made the evening and the points his own. Gordon Wild again punished Indy, with a goal in each half he made the difference. His second perhaps not as spectacular as his first but it ended any hopes of Indy returning home with a point.ild was again in good space on Indy’s right this time, untracked and unmarked he received a pass from the middle of the field and managed to put a low shot with the left foot on the outside of Seth Moses and past Owain Fôn Williams into the far bottom corner of the net. 2-1 was enough to keep the three points in Charleston. Indy rallied in the second 45 and almost grabbed a point but again I feel a little bit of midfield being unable to regain their shape and press attackers allowed for a second individual goal in open play from Charleston’s number 15.Its been a difficult spell for Indy with an intensive June and July schedule, Charleston is a difficult side, so it is hard to criticize the result too much, they deserved it, we made mistakes. We drew 3-3 with them at a time where we knew we needed to change our effort to change our results and they were in second place. The win for the home side lifts them above Indy into fourth, the Eleven hold fifth place after Nashville fell 1-0 to Charlotte yesterday eveningThe game marked the first match past the halfway point for Indy, and the report card for the midpoint is most certainly not terrible. After 17 matches of the season we sat in the top half of the playoff positions, there have been some disappointing results against poor teams and great results against difficult teams such as Louisville and Nashville. As captain Watson has said previously you have to make those points yourself and make them as soon as you can and not rely on the results of others. We started the second half of the season with an away defeat against a difficult side, I am still confident enough in this squad to pick up the results they need going forward, and we can win away from home.Indy Eleven can take relief in having 10 days of much-needed rest before their next game, the first matchup of the season with old rivals Tampa Bay Rowdies in St.Petersburg. That match will be the first in a series of three away games before our Boys In Blue return to Lucas Oil Stadium on August 15th. After the Rowdies, Indy will play return matches against Bethlehem Steel and Louisville City FC.

Current USL Eastern Conference  Standings as of July 12th, 2018 (uslsoccer.com)

If you are planning to attend the August 5th Match in Louisville keep your eyes out for travel and ticket information from the Brickyard Battalion and don’t forget to pick up tickets for Indy Eleven’s next home match against North Carolina FC at BYBTix.com. And don’t forget to check out the World Cup FInal Watch Party with the BYB, SH19 and Indy Eleven at Union Jack Pub in Broad Ripple on July 15th.

PAINTING SUCCESS ON AND OFF THE FIELD

By Drew Kamaski, 07/11/18, 12:00PM EDT  “Boys in Blue” Owain Fon Williams isn’t just a skilled goalkeeper, but a talented painter, too

Owain Fon Williams grasped his palette in one hand. In the other hand, he gripped his paint brush as he stroked the canvas gently. As the assortment of colors blended together, grey mountains covered in white moonlight filled the frame. In the middle stood a quarryman, modeled after his grandfather, who inspired a series of Fon Williams’ paintings.Fon Williams has painted as long as he can remember. He began painting as a child in the town of Penygroes, Wales, a small Welsh village with a total population of 1,793 people.“My mom and dad would just give me paper and some paint and I used to paint away,” said the Welsh keeper. “I’ve done it since I was a kid.”Fon Williams didn’t play FIFA and Fortnite during his adolescent years, instead he painted the majestic landscapes that surrounded his home in the Gwynned region of Wales.“Growing up I didn’t have console games,” the Indy Eleven starting goalkeeper said. “I’ve been lucky enough to grow up in a loely area with mountains and seascapes. Whether I painted whatever I was into or just goalkeeper gloves, I always wanted to paint something.”As he grew older, Fon Williams became more involved with the pitch, and less involved with the canvas. Now, 12 years into an illustrious football career, Fon Williams finds himself stateside with Indy Eleven. Despite the rigorous life that comes with being a professional footballer, he never forgot his love for painting.His first serious painting was of a Highland bull. He took the painting to a local framing shop in Nantlle Valley, Wales. There he discovered the focus of the first half of his next collection of paintings – quarrymen.“My grand-dad was one many years ago,” said Fon Williams. “The industry has died now but if anyone was to go to Wales, especially North Wales, you wouldn’t be able to walk two steps without seeing the blue slate and the work these men did many years ago.”The other half of his works depict the goalkeeper’s time with the Wales National Team in one of Europe’s most renowned contests, the UEFA European Championship.Wales made its first ever appearance in the tournament in 2016. The Dragons pushed on to the semi-finals of the 2016 Euros, defeating the tournament favorite, Belgium, in the quarterfinal.“It was like a dream, to be honest,” the understudy to Wales International goalkeeper Wayne Hennesey said. “To beat Belgium in the quarter finals 3-1 showed the character and spirit we had in the team to fight back from down 0-1.”Fon Williams’ and Wales’ Euro 2016 run came to end in the semi-finals. A strong Portuguese side ended the Cinderella run for Wales. Goals from Cristiano Ronaldo, who Fon Williams labled“The Master”, and Nani defeated the small country from Southwest Great Britain.If not for injuries to Welsh teammates Aaron Ramsey and Ben Davis, Fon Williams believes the outcome would’ve been different.Despite the loss, Fon Williams focuses on the positive experiences of the Euros. He stays in touch with teammates from Wales’ 2016 Euros squad through WhatsApp.“I’ve grown up with Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen, Gareth Bale,” Fon Williams said. “We still keep in touch. That’s down to the bond we had with that kind of brotherhood. That gang-like mentality was kind of bred into us and made it so special.”Fon Williams discovered more than a bond with his teammates at the Euros; he discovered a wealth of knowledge.Wales head coach Chris Coleman nagged the team about little details according to Fon Williams.Coleman emphasized little goals that were set in place to help the team succeed. The Wales gaffer challenged the team to concede less free kicks, corner kicks, and crosses into the box if they were to advance.Now on loan from Scottish Championship club Inverness Caledonian Thistle, the Welsh goalkeeper is bringing those little goals and that bond to Indy Eleven.“When I joined here at Indy Eleven, we had a team gathering and the coaches spoke of the little goals Indy Eleven has,” Fon Williams said. “I know how something works with the little goals. Hopefully we can reach some of those goals.”Completing game-to-game goals is a short term task for Indy Eleven, a team comprised of mostly new faces. What will take time for Fon Williams and the “Boys in Blue” is developing the chemistry the Wales National Team possessed in France.“It’s not something you can buy that will happen overnight,” Fon Williams said. “We’re a new team. We’ve only been together a month or two. Some of us have never met each other let alone played with each other.”Fon Williams believes responsibility and accountability on the pitch will help the team develop a strong core as Indy Eleven seek in their first ever USL campaign.“That’s how that bond, that unity kind of starts,” Fon Williams said.Five games into the season, the bond has grown stronger after every game as the new squad adjusts to life in Indianapolis.For some players, coming to the Circle City was the benefactor of needing a place to play. For Fon Williams, a long-term stay in the States was a part of the plan for quite some time.“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” said the Welsh International. “I’ve been coming here on holiday for about 10 years or more because I love the states, I love the people.”Fon Williams attributes his move to the generous hospitality he’s experienced and the growth of the game. He planned to surround himself with good people and feels he has done that here in Indianapolis with Indy Eleven.“The hardest part of the transition from life in Great Britain to life stateside has been the time difference,” Fon Williams said.A change in his biological clock isn’t going to keep Fon Williams from taking Indy Eleven as far as he can.“It’s a phenomenal team on the up that’s actually going to go somewhere,” Indy Eleven’s man between the sticks said. “I want to be as successful as I possibly can and I feel that Indy Eleven, as a team, have that fight in their belly.”Fon Williams has performed well with “Boys in Blue” in five games. He’s kept a clean sheet in three of the five matches while only conceding two goals on the season.After the final whistle blows and Fon Williams takes off his gloves, he goes back to the canvas. ne of his goals as an Indy Eleven player is to paint a mosaic of Indy Eleven’s crest.“If the supporters can fancy doing something with me, I’d like to do a mosaic of our crest, the Indy Eleven crest.”It is a massive undertaking that will require extreme amounts of supplies, time, and effort, but a goal Fon Williams is determined to achieve.“With something like art you can bring a lot of people together. If I can bring those people in and get them on board then happy day,” Fon Williams said.The professional goalkeeper finds solace in painting. Rest and relaxation is the most important part of his recovery.For Fon Williams, this is located in front of a canvas with a palette and brush in hand.“I find it very therapeutic for me,” said Fon Williams. “Even if it’s only an hour or two that I can pick up my brushes, knives, or whatever and start painting, I can switch off and I’m fresh back into my work.”

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

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7/10/18 World Cup Semi-Finals Eng vs Croatia Wed, Belgium vs France Tues 2 pm on FOX, Indy 11 Win on road Wed Night

So we are down to the Semi-Finals of a World Cup that most experts agree has been the most exciting EVER!  How about shootouts deciding 2 of the 4 Semi-Finalist — wow!!  Anyone feel like joining us at the Stacked Pickle off of Old Meridian across from Meyers Wed 2 pm for the England game?  England advances and the cry of is it Coming Home?  (Remember England invented the game and the cry of bring it home as been there since their 1966 World Cup Win).  Russia who many considered to be one of the weakest host countries ever took heavily favored Croatia to penalty’s (both team’s 2nd straight penalty shootout) in an epic battle to the death with both team’s players utterly exhausted after the game.  The most compelling games of the Quarterfinals Brazil vs Belgium (2-1) and England vs Sweden 2-0 both somewhat surprising but not shocking.  I like Belgium to squeeze by France perhaps in penalty’s as both teams are fantastic, while Saturday England will survive a tired Croatia 2-0.  Man has fantastic Goalkeeping make a difference this world cup or is it me?? Wow –  I have a solid group of Saves from the World Cup – check out to see them all – http://theoleballcoach.com.  Oh and I love the continued dogging of Neymar with the Neymar Challenge taking off Worldwide  and this which includes this KFC Ad in South Africa.  Speaking of Commercials what are your favorites?  For me the new Coke Commercial, the Holyfield Bite Comercial and this new Wish One featuring Buffon are near the top.  Here are some of the older ones Top World Cup Commercials so far.    

Tues, July 10

2 pm Fox                Belgium vs France (WC Semis)

Wed, July 11

2pm  Fox               Croatia vs England (WC Semis)

INDY 11

Indy recovered Sat on a comfortable night at Lucas Oil and came from behind to win 2-1 over Charlotte.  Huge late goal by subbing forward Ben Speas.  At 8-4-4 and ranked 4th in the East with 28 pts, the team is on the road Wednesday night on ESPN+ as they travel to Charleston for their 6th game in 15 days.  Join the BYB for the Watch party in Broad Ripple at Union Jack Pub or Union Brewing Company in Carmel if over 21.  The Indy 11 return home Wed Aug 15 and of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

Buffon to PSG

So I am not sure how I feel about my favorite Goalkeeper Italy’s Gigi Buffon coming out of pre-retirement to sign with Paris St. Germaine.  In one sense – PSG was seriously a great goalkeeper away from advancing a few times in the past.  Their inability to get to the Quarterfinals a huge issue for one of the highest payrolls in the world.  But is Buffon at 40 years old – (still unquestionably a top 10 keeper) really good enough to help get PSG into the Final 4 of Champions League?   I am not sure but I will certainly be rooting him on!

World Cup Cool Stuff

Coke Commercial  

Holyfield Bite Comercial

Top World Cup Commercials so far   

Neymar Challenge Takes Over the World

Neymar Challenge Commercial and More

 World Cup

Facts – Belgium and France

Why France Will Win – Yahoo Soccer

Let’s just go straight to penalty kicks

Don’t get too cocky yet, England fans

After so much humiliation, England a source of pride, unity

England inspire nation as Premier League stars shine

England Star Players as kids

Croatia defender ruffles Russia with political comment after World Cup win

 Belgium boss Roberto Martinez exclusive interview 
Why former France Star Henry’s allegiance is with Belgium 

Ogden: Who will reach the World Cup final?
Kuper: Why it is folly to buy players who starred at a World Cup
Project Russia: Host nation’s Cinderella run to remember
Photos: No sleep til Moscow — fans’ travels through Russia

Ogden: Southgate’s new-look England have changed perceptions
Marcotti: Croatia’s resilience propels them into the semifinals
Project Russia: The England dream continues
#FCExtraTime: Penalties, Subasic, Martinez and ‘Three Lions’
England fans balance weddings and World Cup
Strini: Brazil leave Russia with bittersweet emotions
Laurens: France acting like a team that believes

Ames: Belgium’s Martinez got the better on Tite and Brazil
Project Russia: Brazil ousted, all access at their hotel
Marcotti: France go through but have room for improvement

World Cup breakout star XI

Belgium’s Golden Generation Shines Brightest in Ousting Brazil From World Cup SI by Jonathan Wilson

The Factors and Figures Behind Europe’s World Cup Dominance Trend

England Coasts, Croatia Perseveres as Both End World Cup Semifinal Droughts – Grant Wahl SI

Cratia Win Over Russia Explodes World Cup Viewership; Best Since 1990 – Update

Belgium’s Win Over Brazil Breaks Ratings & Streaming Records For Fox Sports

Why Soccer Players Flop – and why they aren’t the only ones to Blame – FC Yahoo Henry Bushnell

Indy 11

Indy 11 beats Charlotte 2-1

Come From Behind Victory Thrills the Crowd – Bloodyshambles – Rebecca Townsend

USA

Pulisic Shows CBS What he Can do on the Pitch

Why the Biggest Countries in the World – Like the US Fail with the World Cup  USA Today Martin Rogers

Goalies

England’s Pickford One of the Top Saves of the World Cup

Pickford’s Path to World Cup Hero

9 Saves  by Belgium’s Courtois Sit Down Brazil

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

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

Tues, July 10         

2 pm Fox                Belgium vs France (WC Semis)  

Wed, July 11         

2pm  Fox               Croatia vs England (WC Semis)

7 pm ESPN+/Utube Charleston vs Indy 11

8:30 pm ESPN+             Chicago vs Philly Union

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

8 pm ESPN+                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                                               LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   – US Open Cup

8:30 pm ???                   Chicago Fire vs Louisville City FC

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                                                  Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham 

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

10:30 pm ESPN         LAFC vs LA Galaxy (we should be at the game !)       

Indiana Soccer League Discounted Offer for Chicago Fire Games
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club would like to invite all families and members involved with ISL out for a Chicago Fire MLS match this Summer and Fall. On-field experiences for children age 5-17 before every match!  This offer includes discounted group ticket pricing for anyone interested. Please email Stew with the Chicago Fire – Sgreen@chicago-fire.com – for more information about on-field experiences for kids for specific game days, or any other questions!
Wed, July 11 at 7:30 pm vs Philly Union

Saturday, July 21st at 6:00pm vs Toronto FC
Sunday, September 16th at 4:00pm vs Orlando City SC

World Cup semifinals: Pressure on Belgium’s golden generation, England can outlast Croatia

Mark Ogden, Senior Football Writer

With the quarterfinals done and dusted, there are just four teams left standing at the 2018 World Cup.Out of Belgium, France, England and Croatia, who will book a place in the final on July 15?

Belgium vs. France, Saint Petersburg

It’s a game between two European neighbours and arguably the two teams that have produced the most outstanding performances so far.Belgium’s so-called golden generation have fallen short in recent tournaments, failing to deliver at the past two European Championships and the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, but their destruction of the Brazilians in the quarterfinal was the performance of a team that believes it can become world champions.France, who laboured through their group with only three goals in three games against Australia, Peru and Denmark, showcased their incredible depth of talent when teenager Kylian Mbappe led their second-round dismantling of Argentina in Kazan.

France are perhaps peaking ahead of their time, with Didier Deschamps’ young team viewed by many as not likely to mature into potential World Cup winners until Qatar 2022.Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Samuel Umtiti, Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann will almost certainly all be around in four years’ time, but for Belgium, this World Cup has to be their moment. With so many players in or approaching their 30s, Roberto Martinez’s men have to grasp this opportunity or risk seeing it evaporate forever.But Belgium — led by outstanding efforts from Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku — were so hot against Brazil, they go into this game against their big-brother neighbour as favourites.France have the greater pedigree — winners in 1998 and finalists in 2006 — but Belgium are the team that seems to have come together at just the right time in Russia.The Belgians, having kept Neymar quiet against Brazil, must find a way to do the same with Mbappe, but Vincent Kompany’s return to fitness ensures that Martinez can rely on the Manchester City captain’s experience to marshal the defence.

France, in turn, have to find a way to nullify De Bruyne and Hazard, but the Belgians possess more match winners.Do they have the mentality to beat France in a huge game? That is the only real question.

Winners: Belgium

Croatia vs. England, Moscow

An unlikely semifinal matchup at the start of the tournament, Croatia and England now stand on the verge of the World Cup final after negotiating a favourable route to reach this stage of the competition.England have eliminated Colombia and Sweden, while Croatia, so impressive having won their group with three victories, have been taken to penalties by Denmark and Russia in the knockout rounds. But having twice endured the draining yet ultimately successful ordeal of extra time and penalties, the big question over Croatia going into Wednesday’s semifinal will be how much they have left in the tank.Will goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, the shootout hero against Denmark and Russia, be fully fit after appearing to injure his hamstring late in Saturday’s game against Russia?

England have no such fitness concerns after coasting to a 2-0 quarterfinal win against Sweden in normal time in Samara, but manager Gareth Southgate does have tactical questions to answer before the Croatia clash.  Should he break up the attacking midfield trio of Jesse Lingard, Raheem Sterling and Dele Alli to accommodate an extra holding midfielder (Eric Dier) to help snuff out the threat of Luka Modric, or did their combined performance against Sweden make a change a gamble?  If it boils down to a football contest in Moscow, Croatia’s ability on the ball will be a huge test for England.  The two countries have a colourful history, having met seven times since Croatia earned its independence in the early 1990s.  England won 4-2 at Euro 2004 in the only meeting at a major tournament, but the most famous encounter was in November 2007, when Croatia’s 3-2 win at Wembley denied England a place at Euro 2008 and earned manager Steve McClaren the nickname of the “Wally with the Brolly” after he forlornly patrolled the touchline under an umbrella.The past two meetings have ended in big wins — 4-1 and 5-1 — for England, so Southgate’s men will have no fear on Wednesday, and their extra energy could be decisive.

Winners: England

Key battles in World Cup semifinals

By Joe Prince-WrightJul 9, 2018, 12:39 PM EDT

With the 2018 World Cup semifinals taking place on Tuesday and Wednesday, the focus is switching to where each of the games will be won and lost.Below we focus on France vs. Belgium and Croatia vs. England, as some pivotal battles will take place across the pitch to decide who makes the final on Sunday in Moscow.Take a look below as we break down the big battles to watch. My goodness, this will be epic.

France vs. Belgium (Tuesday, 2 p.m. ET in Saint Petersburg)

N’Golo Kante vs. Kevin De Bruyne
With KDB deployed further forward against Brazil for Belgium, the battle between the Man City playmaker and Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante will be intriguing in front of France’s back four. De Bruyne may play a little deeper against France but that still lines up a collision course with the most destructive holding midfielder on the planet in Kante. His main job will be to stop Belgium from launching their blistering counters and keeping De Bruyne locked down is key to halting those attacks. What a battle this will be.

Raphael Varane vs. Romelu Lukaku
The power of Lukaku against the finesse of Varane. Lukaku has scored four times for Belgium at this World Cup but you can argue that his hold-up play and the timing of his runs has been even more impressive. Varane scored in France’s quarterfinal win over Uruguay and the Real Madrid center back has looked as calm and composed as always at the heart of the Les Bleus defense. Lukaku will try and bully Varane who loves to step high and intercept balls into a targetman.

Kylian Mbappe vs. Vincent Kompany
In all honesty we could have picked any one of Belgium’s back three with Jan Vertonghenand Toby Alderweireld expected to start alongside Kompany, but there’s no doubting that Mbappe will try to target Belgium’s veteran leader in Kompany. Mbappe, just 19 years old, has searing pace and with Belgium eager to attack he may get plenty of chances to rip their defense open on the break, just like he did against Argentina. Kompany has proven his fitness but the Man City skipper has shown a few shaky moments so far. His nous and supreme reading of the game is undoubted and he will need all of it to shut down Mbappe.

Croatia vs. England (Wednesday, 2 p.m. ET in Moscow (Luzhniki)

Luka Modric vs. Jordan Henderson
This may be the biggest challenge of Henderson’s career. The Liverpool skipper has been a rock in front of England’s fluid three-man defense but he will have the unenviable task of stopping Modric from dictating the tempo of the game. Real Madrid’s magician has won the Man of the Match award in three of his five games at the World Cup and is a serious contender for the Golden Ball as the best player at the 2018 tournament. If Henderson can’t stop Modric linking up with his central midfield partner Ivan Rakitic then England is in big trouble. Dele Alli and Jesse Lingard won’t offer Henderson much defensive help in midfield, so maybe Eric Dier will come in to help shore things up. Modric is the man of the moment.

Dejan Lovren vs. Harry Kane
This particular battle hasn’t gone well for Lovren in recent times with Kane bullying him at Wembley Stadium last season en-route to a 4-1 win for Tottenham against Liverpool. Kane leads the World Cup with six goals but what has been more impressive is the way he has lad the line, held up the ball and taken a battering for his team. Lovren played superbly for Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final and has played well for Croatia in this tournament, despite the occasional slip-up. Lovren will have to play a near perfect game to stop Kane given his current form. This battle will perhaps be the key to determining who reaches the final.

Ivan Perisic vs. Kieran Trippier
An intriguing battle this will be down England’s right flank. Trippier has been a revelation at right-wing back but Perisic will be a huge test for the Tottenham full back. The Inter Milan star not only has the ability to score and create goals at key moments but his work rate sees him buzz down the left channel tirelessly and Trippier will not be able to switch off for a minute. That channel between Trippier and Kyle Walker has been a slight problem for England at times as Walker pushes forward from center back and Croatia may look to thread balls to Perisic as soon as they can when launching counter attacks.

Why they’ll win the World Cup: France

Nicholas MendolaNBC Sports•Jul 7, 2018, 1:15 PM

First of all, relax — This is part of a four-post series making the case for each of four World Cup semifinalists in their respective bids to win the 2018 edition of the tournament.

That said, let’s talk about why France will be lifting the World Cup trophy on July 15 in Moscow.

Why France will win the tournament: Following a 2-0 defeat of Uruguay in Friday’s quarterfinal, manager Didier Deschamps noted that Les Bleus relative inexperience peeks out at times.That might be helping France, who has built its tournament acumen back up following the embarrassment of 2010 in South Africa. France lost to eventual champions Spain at EURO 2012, then again fell to a champion when Germany knocked the French out at the quarterfinal stage of the 2014 World Cup.The French then (mostly) bossed the home EURO 2016 and the final despite losing to Eder‘s extra time tally in setting the stage for this summer in Russia.France has survived legacy-desperate Lionel Messi and Argentina (just, really) and a feisty Uruguay despite still waiting to get consistent star turns from Samuel Umtiti and Hugo Lloris (though the backstop made a magnificent save late in the first half Friday versus the South American side.Olivier Giroud, a man known for big goals, also is still waiting to break onto the score sheet. France has thrived through a kid (Kylian Mbappe), a dominating should-be Ballon d’Or candidate (N’Golo Kante), and two stars attackers doing it loudly (Antoine Griezmann) and quietly (Paul Pogba).Throw in Raphael Varane, and France has been steady up the middle. If they can get past Belgium, which this post assumes they do thanks to the title, find us a team on the other side of the bracket equipped to punish the French. England? Sweden? Russia?No, it would come down to Croatia. And right now we’d sign up for that feast of football… and expect Les Bleus to emerge victorious.

 Factbox: Belgium and France World Cup semi-final history

Reuters•July 9, 2018

ST PETERSBURG (Reuters) – Belgium and France meet in the World Cup semi-final at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on Tuesday.

It will be only the second semi-final appearance for Belgium, but for France it is a sixth:

BELGIUM

– Belgium’s only previous semi-final appearance came at the 1986 finals, where Diego Maradona turned on the second half magic and ensured for Argentina a place in the final with both goals in a 2-0 victory.

– In that tournament, Belgium squeezed through the first round in third place in their group after losing to hosts Mexico, before needing extra time to beat the Soviet Union in the last 16 and penalties to overcome Spain in the quarter-finals.

– Defender Eric Gerets rated the class of 2018 as more talented footballers than his 1986 team mates but said he did not believe they had the same fighting spirit until he saw their 2-1 win over Brazil in Friday’s quarter-final.

– After losing in the 1986 semi-final, Belgium faced France in Puebla for the bronze medal in the third place playoff and were beaten 4-2 after extra time despite taking an early lead.

– Belgium made it to the last eight at the last World Cup in Brazil but their hopes of a semi-final spot were snuffed out by one early Gonzalo Higuain goal for Argentina.

– There are 15 players from the 2014 Belgian squad who have returned for the tournament in Russia, having picked up considerable experience in the meantime.

FRANCE

– Just Fontaine’s record of 13 goals in a single tournament from the 1958 finals still stands as he helped propel the French to their first-ever semi-final, where they lost 5-2 to Brazil in Stockholm, with teenager Pele scoring a hat-trick.

– France lost on post-match penalties to West Germany in Seville in the 1982 semi-final, best remembered for an unpunished kung-fu style challenge by goalkeeper Harold Schumacher on France’s Patrick Battison that saw the Frenchman stretchered off 10 minutes after coming on as a substitute with a cracked vertebra and damaged teeth.

– Four years later in Mexico, France were again semi-finalists but once more thwarted by the Germans, losing 2-0 in Guadalajara.

– France won the World Cup when they hosted the 1998 finals, beating Croatia in the semi-final 2-1 with both goals from defender Lilian Thuram, but they had big defender Laurent Blanc sent off, meaning he missed the final win over Brazil.

– Current coach Didier Deschamps captained France that year as they lifted the trophy for the first time. He is now seeking to return to the final as he chases the double of winning the World Cup as both a player and a coach.

– France’s fifth semi-final appearance came in 2006, when Zinedine Zidane’s penalty was enough to beat Portugal 1-0.

England inspire nation as Premier League stars shine

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By Joe Prince-WrightJul 9, 2018, 10:58 AM EDT

England have reached their first World Cup semifinal since 1990 and in doing so they’ve inspired an entire nation to once again believe in their national team.After plenty of heartbreak over the past five decades since their only major trophy, the World Cup in 1966, England is united behind the Three Lions.Ahead of the 2018 World Cup tournament, nobody either at home or abroad gave Gareth Southgate‘s young side much hope of advancing to the latter stages.But with the Three Lions, the youngest team left in the competition, facing Croatia in Moscow on Wednesday for a place in the final, an entire nation is behind their likable, hard-working squad.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“Football’s Coming Home” is the new mantra for every English man and woman, even if many started signing it ironically as they didn’t believe this would be the case at all. The song, originally released to help England win on home soil at EURO ’96, has now surged back to the top of the charts in the UK amid the patriotic euphoria surrounding captain Harry Kane and Co.“It’s amazing to meet any heroes from ’66 and it gives you so much inspiration, obviously it’s been a long time since England have done well in a major tournament,” Kane said. “As a player and as a professional I know that I have a job, on and off the pitch, to inspire people and inspire kids watching this tournament. It’s amazing because I was one of those kids growing up who wanted to play for England. So to be here now, leading this team out, I’m so proud.”Pride. Unity. Respect. All three have been forthcoming in recent weeks as England’s youngster have eased into the semifinals in Russia. Most of their fans have looked on delighted, yet slightly bemused, as all they’ve known is heartache and disappoint as the “golden generation” of David Beckham, Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard came and went without a trip past the last eight of a major tournament.On the streets of England the words “it’s coming home” is being muttered, yelled and sung by millions as the Three Lions, for once, have inspired a nation with huge watch parties up and down the land leading to pints of beer flying into the sky in celebration time and time again.Even Southgate, who got the England job after being promoted from the U-21 boss following Sam Allardyce’s disgraceful sacking, has become a symbol of hope as his kind, courteous demeanour has been a breath of fresh air. He looks, and acts, like your favorite uncle as his waistcoats have become legendary and #GarethSouthgateWould sums up his character perfectly.With England, and the rest of the UK, currently embroiled in political turmoil regarding Brexit and a deteriorating relationship with Russia, the national team have brought the nation together at least for a few weeks.Southgate hit the nail on the head when he spoke about England fans from different backgrounds now feeling that this is their team with his players representative of the multi-cultural British society.“We are a team with our diversity and with our youth that represents modern England,” Southgate said. “In England we’ve spent a bit of time being a bit lost as to what our modern identity is and I think as a team we represent that modern identity, and hopefully people can connect with us.”And it’s not just the English national team who have benefited from fielding youngsters used to playing in the hustle and bustle of the Premier League.Both Belgium and France, who face off in the other semifinal in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday, have been led by young squads, many of whom flourish week in, week out in England’s top-flight.In total there are 40 Premier League players remaining at the World Cup out of a total of 92 players. That’s quite remarkable.England have 23 PL players. Belgium have 11. France five. Croatia one.

When you look at the Europe’s other top leagues, 12 players from La Liga remain, plus nine from the Bundesliga, 12 from Ligue 1 and eight from Serie A. The Premier League has been one of the biggest winners from this World Cup, as stars such as Harry Kane, Eden HazardKevin De BruyneRomelu LukakuPaul Pogba and Hugo Lloris have shone.

Tottenham Hotspur has more players remaining at the World Cup than any other club on the planet with nine and you can point to the likes of Jurgen KloppPep Guardiola and Mauricio Pochettino mangaging in the Premier League in having a huge impact on how England have fared due to their faith in giving young English players a chance to shine.The financial muscle of the Premier League makes it tough for young Englishman to break through, but we are starting to see that the ones who do make it are not only worthy of their spot on the national stage but also the global one.England have given their nation reason to dream and the Premier League stars who litter the final four will make sure those dreams continue to be met in stadiums across the country for the 2018/19 campaign and beyond.Even if football isn’t coming home, the state of the English national team and the Premier League is very healthy indeed.

England Coasts, Croatia Perseveres as Both End World Cup Semifinal Droughts

By GRANT WAHL July 07, 2018

MOSCOW — England and Croatia set up a World Cup semifinal showdown on Wednesday after England beat Sweden 2-0 and Croatia eliminated Russia on penalties after a crazy 2-2 tie that included two goals in extra time.The World Cup hosts needed a 115th-minute goal from Mario Fernandes to stay alive, but it couldn’t conjure a second straight PK triumph in a row. Croatia, however, could. Fernandes missed everything on his spot kick, tilting the balance Croatia’s way, and Ivan Rakitic scored on the clinching kick for a second consecutive match, allowing Croatia to go through on a 4-3 edge. It marks Croatia’s second trip to the semifinals–the other came 20 years ago–and is the culmination of another talented side having its golden generation meet its potential after Belgium secured its last-four berth on Friday.

England, Croatia, Belgium and France make up an all-European semifinal, with the latter two kicking off the last four on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg.But before then, here are my three thoughts on the day:

• THIS ENGLAND TEAM HAS A FRESH KIND OF APPEAL

England is in the men’s World Cup semifinals for the first time since 1990, but the appeal of this particular England team lies in much more than just the length of its tournament run. This is a refreshing, young team. It’s one that has a clear identity, one that has put in the time to build chemistry on and off the field and one that has worked on combination plays that you can see on set pieces and during the run of play. That was the case against Sweden on England’s first goal, yet another set-piece strike off a corner kick, and it was the case on the second goal, which scorer Dele Alli said was a combination with passer Jesse Lingard that they had worked on in practice sessions.Another aspect of England’s appeal is its likeability. Most of that comes from the players. The captain, Harry Kane, is leading the Golden Boot race with six goals, and his youth, his normal-guy-ness and his ability to handle pressure-packed situations have won him even more fans globally during this World Cup. Across the board, players like Lingard, Raheem Sterling, Kieran Trippier, Ashley Young, John Stones and Jordan Pickford just seem like team-first personalities instead of what we have seen at times in the past from England players at World Cups.Then there’s the coach, Gareth Southgate, who has pushed so many of the right buttons during the tournament, preparing his to take advantage of set pieces better than any team in the World Cup and defusing situations off the field—the Sterling tattoo story, the leaked lineup story—that would have caused bigger problems in previous World Cups.England may not be the best team in this World Cup, but it has a real chance to win the World Cup, and that’s a credit to the selfless work of the coach and his players.

  • WILL ENGLAND HAVE A SIGNIFICANT ADVANTAGE ON REST IN THE SEMIFINALS?

You can be certain that it will be a talking point heading into the semifinal: England played only 90 minutes on Saturday, and it will face a team that has played 120 minutes in each of the last two games. But my sense is that while it will be a talking point, it’s not that big a deal when it comes down to it.Consider that England also played 120 minutes against Colombia and went to penalties in the round of 16, and having a full three days off between the quarterfinals and semifinals should be enough time for players to recover. The questions for Croatia will surround starting right back Sime Vrsaljko, who was forced off with an injury in extra time, and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, who appeared to tweak his hamstring at the end of regulation before toughing it out through the shootout.

  • LUKA MODRIC IS STRANGELY UNDERRATED

It’s crazy to write that about a player so vital to Real Madrid, but it’s true. Modric hasn’t gotten enough credit for his role in his club’s three straight Champions League titles, and now he’s not getting enough credit for being the best player of this World Cup (so far).In a wild victory on penalty kicks against Russia, the fantastic Modric took over the game in the latter stages, and his energy output and surpassing skill were evident at a time when other players were struggling to move. He had some good fortune in the penalty shootout, when Igor Akinfeev got a hand to his kick only to put it off the post and in, but his leadership and control were vital for Croatia to see out the result.Croatia is now in its second World Cup semifinal in the country’s history, the last time coming in 1998, and it will be fascinating to see how England tries to contain Modric in the midfield. It could well determine which of the two sides advances for a final berth that few saw as a real possibility before the tournament began.Grant Wahl has covered soccer for 22 years at Sports Illustrated. His new book, Masters of Modern Soccer, details the craft of soccer position by position. You can order it here.

The Factors and Figures Behind Europe’s World Cup Dominance Trend

By BRIAN STRAUS July 08, 2018

  1. PETERSBURG — For Uruguayan coach and soccer sage Óscar Tabárez, this story really isn’t much of a story.“Don’t ask me something that is self-evident. I think there are other things that are worth commenting on,” he said following La Celeste’s round-of-16 loss to France.The question, from a Bolivian journalist, was about what had gone wrong with South American soccer. Why was the continent that had produced Pelé and Messi, Uruguay’s garra charrúa and Brazil’s joga bonito—and which as recently as 2002 had won more World Cups than Europe—now struggling to contend at the very highest level? Why were European teams on the verge of an unprecedented fourth straight title?Tabárez correctly pointed out that Brazil remained alive at the time, and insisted, “We can’t take this match today as a point of reference.”A few hours later, however, Brazil was out—defeated by Belgium, a small European nation whose best World Cup was a fourth-place finish back in 1986.The big picture, for those looking for one, was best summed up by the well-known Spanish daily, Diario AS. A few days after its front page lamented “El Fin De Una Generación”—the end of a generation—AStrumpeted sustained hegemony. La Furia Roja were out. But Europe remained dominant.“EUROMUNDIAL” was the one-word headline superimposed over a picture of dejected Brazilian players.The World Cup is European. Again.

In part, this is a story about sample size. When does a pattern emerge? Tabárez certainly was correct when he suggested that the 2-0 win by that specific French squad over that specific Uruguayan squad was emblematic only of the fact that France was better that day in Nizhny Novgorod. After all, La Celeste already had eliminated the reigning European champion, Portugal, in this World Cup’s second round. One game, team or tournament isn’t sufficient to create a trend. And if one of Brazil’s numerous second-half chances goes in against Belgium, perhaps we’re not even having this conversation.But they didn’t, and so European rule has become one of the themes of the 21st World Cup here in Russia. When Brazil secured its fifth star in 2002, no continent (meaning, Europe or South America) had won more than two in a row. And Europe hadn’t claimed consecutive titles since Italy went back-to-back in the grainy, black-and-white days of 1934 and 1938.But now, with France and Belgium (Wednesday in St. Petersburg) and Croatia and England (Thursday in Moscow) set for the semis, a UEFA country will be crowned world champion for the fourth straight time. And the fact that four nations will have built that streak is a testament to the continent’s depth. Since Brazil’s fifth title, European sides will have taken seven of the eight available spots in the World Cup final (Lionel Messi’s Argentina claimed the eighth after defeating the Netherlands on penalties four years ago), 13 of the past 16 semifinalists and 11 of 12 medals.Yes, Europe gets more teams than each of the other five confederations. But its rate of advancement and success is higher than the 43.75% of the field it occupies. A continent’s World Cup allotment should be evaluated in part by the performance of the bottom teams, not the top, because any increase will come from there. And there’s no depth of talent and potential like the depth in UEFA. Among those 13 recent European semifinalists are nine nations. Over the past four tournaments, 16 European countries have advanced past the group stage. Some that aren’t good enough to qualify in one cycle may be primed for a deep run only four years later.That ’02 World Cup won by Brazil looked like it might represent the turning of the page, staged as it was in the new football frontier of Japan and South Korea. France’s title defense began with a loss to Senegal, an African debutant. Seven non-UEFA nations qualified for the round of 16. And thequarterfinalists included Korea, Senegal and the USA. It appeared the olde world order was on the verge of subversion.Instead, in hindsight, 2002 looks like an outlier, or maybe even a last hurrah. Europe has assumed control, with only the occasional foray by Brazil or Argentina threatening its dominance. It could be luck. It could mean nothing. It could be a temporary, self-sustaining trend sparked by internal competitive combustion that’ll inevitably wane or reverse, kind of like the NFC’s 13-year Super Bowl streak over the AFC that ended in the late ‘90s.Or, it could be the result of a genuine evolution in the sport, a quasi-permanent seizure of the continental balance of power resulting from factors as diverse as player recruitment and movement, youth development and sport science, finance and marketing, or even coaching and tactics. The best clubs, leagues and players are in Europe, whether they were born there or not. And now the best national teams are as well.When Tabárez brushed off the Bolivian reporter’s question, it wasn’t because it had no merit. It was because the answer was “self-evident.”Said Tabárez, “You have said European football is stronger … and saying that, means ignoring football reality, from a financial point of view [and] from a historical point of view.”Recent history certainly suggests that the global game has been reshaped by the money and power flowing to a narrowing number of leagues and clubs. At its apex, soccer is more elite than ever, even as the sport’s base expands. The global demand to watch these top teams on TV fuels massive rights and sponsorship fees. In the 2016-17 season alone, the 20 clubs in England’s Premier League produced revenue of around $6 billion. Money from continental competition pours in as well. UEFA estimated that next season’s Champions League, Europa League and Super Cup would generate around $3.8 billion. According to Deloitte, the sport’s top 20 clubs—all European—earned revenue in excess of $9 billion in 2016-17.The last time a club from outside Europe finished in the top 30 of Deloitte’s revenue ranking was 2014 (No. 24 Corinthians).

A lot of that money is spent on stuff that improves domestic soccer, from coaching education and facilities to technology and nutrition. It’s all significant, and you’d have to think that eventually the investment shows on the field. Fans in North and South America, Africa and Asia want to watch Barcelona play Manchester City, and the money flows from their TV networks and corporate partners—essentially their own pockets—into European soccer, likely making the players developed by its clubs even better.Wealth in general probably is a factor as well. Of the planet’s top 30 countries in GDP, 14 are European. Latin America, the only region that currently can challenge Europe’s footballing obsession and depth of talent, is home to three. On a per-capita basis, the highest-ranking Latin American country in 2017 was Chile, at 56.Meanwhile, the top talent from outside Europe, especially from Latin America and Africa, is scouted, recruited and signed at increasingly younger ages. This obviously is a generalization, but perhaps there are enough players leaving non-European homes, and at an earlier age, to impact chemistry or tactical cohesion back with their senior national sides, which gather and play only intermittently. Even though European nations make up less than half the World Cup field, around 74% of the tournament’s rostered players are on the books at European clubs.For example, Brazil’s 2002 winners featured 13 players from its domestic Serie A. This summer’s quarterfinalist had three. Tite’s Brazil was good enough to win it all, and three also is the number of domestic players on the Argentina team that came so close in 2014. That’s a reminder that none of these issues, on its own, comes close to a potential explanation. But maybe in combination, they paint an impressionist picture. It’s worth noting that African countries like Senegal, Nigeria, Cameroon and Ivory Coast have been loaded with players starring for clubs in quality European leagues, but there’s been next to no World Cup dividend. For some reason, talent flowing into Europe seems to benefit mostly Europe. Perhaps it raises the bar for domestic development as much as it helps those incoming foreigners, all while weakening imports’ connection with home ever so slightly.None of these are definitive reasons. But to whatever extent Europe’s four straight World Cup titles constitute a trend, it seems that it may be partially fueled by these dynamics.Another potential influence is tactics and style of play, which at a World Cup may shade toward the things at which more European sides stereotypically embrace. In short, defensive structure, set pieces and vigor are probably easier to implement in a few short weeks of national team training time than complex attacking patterns or individual game-breaking skill and flair. The fact that this has been the World Cup of the set piece, penalty kick and own goal is illustrative. There certainly have been South American sides with grit (see, Dunga), and tiki-taka powered Spain to a star in 2010 (although one could argue that pressing and possession are as much about defense as attacking). But we’re talking about a small shift in what works at the World Cup that might benefit European teams just enough to offer another slight nudge toward a title.Possession hasn’t necessarily been helpful here in Russia. According to TruMedia Networks, the top six teams in average possession at this World Cup already have gone home. Interestingly, Croatia, England, France and Belgium rank 7th through 10th, respectively. Uruguay, the CONMEBOL side that held the ball the least, still stands 19th overall. Four years ago, Germany finished second in the possession standings at 60%, but none of the other semifinalists were in the top eight.South American teams have more of the ball than European teams on average (53% to 50%) since Brazil won in 1994. And European sides appear to be more comfortable without it. Across the past nine tournaments, 10 UEFA teams have gotten out of their group with less than 45% possession. South American sides have managed that just twice. In short, apart from Spain’s legendary 2010 side, it’s going to be tough to “Olé” your way to the World Cup trophy. This tournament is just as likely to reward bare-bones soccer.All of which may mean little when so many games are decided by such miniscule margins. Or, perhaps all of it, in concert, moves those margins just enough. Four straight is four straight, and 13 of 16 is 13 of 16. And so for some, like Tabárez, the definition of World Cup success may have shifted slightly as well.“Today we have lost,” he said after falling to France. “But it seems the four games we won before this one are worth nothing. That’s not true. Today we played against opponents that were stronger than we were. We have to admit it and we have to congratulate them. That’s all we can do.“And I think the world has seen what we have achieved,” he continued. “The world knows what we were able to do and they also know what kind of country we are. We’re a small country, and of course certain things are more difficult for us than for other countries like France or Germany or England.”

Why the world’s biggest countries fail with the World Cup

Martin Rogers, USA TODAYPublished 3:30 p.m. ET July 8, 2018 | Updated 6:01 p.m. ET July 8, 2018

SportsPulse: Fox Sports’ Cobi James breaks down Belgium’s win against Brazil and France’s triumph over Uruguay.USA TODAY Sports

MOSCOW — Nowhere does the idea that “size matters” feel more out of place than in soccer.Lionel Messi, all five feet and seven inches of him, is one of the sport’s all-time greats. Even seemingly towering goalkeepers stand no taller than your typical NBA point guard.Yet size seems to be even less of an advantage when it comes to factors of national population. Indeed, in relation to the World Cup the bigger a country is, the more likely it will be sitting at home watching on television.Compared to their lofty standing in tables detailing the sheer scale of humanity, the planet’s largest countries punch well below their weight in the global game. And yes, count the United States squarely among the underachievers – this year at least.The four most populated nations on earth make up nearly 44 percent of all the humans in existence. However, not one of those countries is present at the World Cup, and most of them didn’t even get a sniff of it.So why is it that the likes of the U.S., China, India and Indonesia are bad enough to be excluded from a field of 32 that included Iceland, Uruguay, Panama and Croatia, whose numbers combine for slightly more than the state of North Carolina?“They share large populations which would make you think that they’d all be capable of producing highly talented players (from that) big pool,” Stefan Szymanski, co-author of the book Soccernomics, told USA TODAY Sports. “The reasons are all different.”

India, the biggest country on earth, has never truly prioritized soccer. While India got through a playoff against Nepal, it placed bottom of its first qualifying group for this World Cup behind Guam, population 162,000 and not even an official country.

Indonesia took part once, as the Dutch East Indies, back in 1938. It played one game, got hammered 6-0, and has been nowhere near since. In 2014, it lost all six games in its qualification group, conceding 26 goals in the process. It was likely spared further embarrassment this time by being suspended by FIFA for government interference in its soccer federation.

China has played once at the World Cup, back in 2002, losing all three games without even scoring a goal. This time it got a qualifying win over South Korea, but still finished fifth out of six teams in its Asian pool.

As for the United States, you know what happened there and we don’t need to talk about it. We do? Okay, well, needing only a tie against Trinidad and Tobago (population 1.3 million and having lost eight in a row), the Americans stumbled to defeat and missed out. Panama (population of 4.1 million) qualified from the CONCACAF region instead.“Not that soccer’s not played (in the U.S.), but it’s not an important activity,” Szymanski added. “It hasn’t been. The potential is there because it has a wealthy economy, but schools, colleges, people…have mainly been interested in other big sports rather than soccer. That may change in the future, but that’s been the way it has been.”All of the populous nations mentioned also occupy huge areas. Smaller geographic nations can benefit from elite players being able to collect in close proximity.The four semifinalists come from the 78th (Belgium), 128th (Croatia), 21st (France) and 22nd (England – though stated population is for the United Kingdom) most populated nations on the planet. Brazil (5th) is the most populous country at the World Cup and got bumped by Belgium in the quarters.“Our team are like brothers,” Icelandic soccer agent Magnus Magnusson said. “One of the disadvantages of being so small is obvious – you have less players. But the big advantage is these guys have played together since they were young.”Being an underdog can also foster spirit.

“We have big hearts and we fight for our people back home,” Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said.In many countries soccer is not just the national sport, but the only one that truly has a serious following. In India, the same can be said instead for cricket – at the expense of all else. India did qualify for the World Cup once, in 1950. It promptly withdrew – for reasons that are still entirely unclear – and didn’t participate in the tournament.   Indonesia finds things tough due to factors both economic and geographical. It is spread out over several islands, making it hard to pull together strong and cohesive national teams at all age group levels.Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines, Ethiopia and Bangladesh all have more people than any of the semifinalists. None of them have ever played in a World Cup.The U.S. qualified for the seven World Cups before this one and is unlikely to miss out again in four years’ time. The Americans aside, China is the most viable high-population nation to do something about its soccer struggles. President Xi Jinping has taken up the soccer cause as a personal pet project, ordering that it be made part of the national school curriculum and encouraging major businesses to invest as a way of currying favor.After years of being a corrupt joke, the Chinese league has gotten serious by investing huge sums in signing elite international players. Xi’s blueprint is to qualify for a World Cup, host a World Cup and eventually, one day, win one.Given China’s economic clout and ability to rally behind a cause, at least two of those outcomes seem plausible.Yet ultimately, the impact population has on soccer success boils down to a simple reality. However many people might live in a country, only 11 of them can be on the field at any one time.Contributing: Jack White

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN CLAIM THREE POINTS AGAINST CHARLOTTE INDEPENDENCE, 2-1

By Trey Higdon, 07/08/18, 12:00AM EDT

“Indiana’s Team” ends third home match in seven-day span with a win

Indy Eleven close out their third home game in a seven day span with three points after downing a 10-man Charlotte Independence squad, 2-1. The “Boys in Blue” came back from a one goal deficit with strikes from forward Ben Speas and defender Carlyle Mitchell.“We had a lot of adversity in that game,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “We had two players go off in the first fifteen minutes, we lost a goal and were down, but we managed to keep fighting and get the win. We showed a lot of character and confidence and we’re really happy with that.”The night started in favor of the visitors after “Indiana’s Team” was forced to make two early substitutions within the first 20 minutes of play. The first of the two subs occurred in the 10th minute when Indy forward Justin Braun hobbled out of play while tracking the ball into Charlotte’s 18-yard box. The speedy forward was immediately opted out of the game upon inspection from the team’s medical staff. The second occurred seven minutes later when forward Eugene Starikov came on in place of defender Kevin Venegas.Both sides had solid looks at goal in the first half, but neither side could find the back of the net.Charlotte’s first attempt came in the 15th minute. Independence midfielder Cordell Cato managed to settle a falling ball inside Indy’s keeper’s box. A slight nudge from Cato created an opportunity at goal for Charlotte forward and former Eleven frontman Eamon Zayed. The Irishman tried to catch Eleven goaltender Owain Fon Williams off his line but the the Wales international did well to deflect the strike up field.Charlotte managed to find their lead in the 50th minute. A pass from Charlotte defender Sam Vines found forward Jorge Herrera’s legs in the center of Indy’s 18-yard box. The 37-year-old’s right-footed strike from the top of the box split between Mitchell and defender Karl Ouimette and in goal near the right post. The goal placed Herrera as Charlotte’s leading goal scorer with nine goals in 2018.Charlotte’s lead lasted 12 minutes before Indy’s pressing resulted in a response from Speas. In the 62nd minute, Speas volleyed a shot past Charlotte goalkeeper Andrew Dykstra from a midair chain between defender Ayoze and Starikov. The goal marked Speas’ first of 2018 and his first since August 26, 2017 against former rivals Jacksonville Armada FC.The level scoreline turned into a lead for Indy in the 70th minute. A corner kick from Ayoze squared the pass to the top of the six-yard box where Mitchell headed the airborne ball into the upper left corner of the goal. The goal makes for Mitchell’s second of the season, nearly mirroring his first against Atlanta United 2 in Week 13.Charlotte made a last ditch effort to equalize in the 90th minute when Cato struck from the corner of the six-yard box. Fon Williams denied Cato’s shot with a sprawling save, securing three points for the home team.Right now we’ll enjoy this game. Then, we’ll start thinking about Wednesday’s game,” Rennie said. “There is a little break after that which will be well deserved and well-earned but before that break we have to make sure we do well in the next game against Charleston.”The “Boys in Blue” hit the road for the remainder of July. “Indiana’s Team” will return to Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday, August 15 to take on North Carolina FC for Networking Night. Fans can get tickets by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.
USL Regular Season    Indy Eleven 2:1 Charlotte Independence
Saturday, July 7, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.   Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 
Scoring Summary:

CLT – Jorge Herrera (Sam Vines) 50′

IND – Ben Speas (Eugene Starikov) 62′

IND – Carlyle Mitchell (Ayoze) 70′
Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas (Eugene Starikov 17′); Brad Ring (Juan Guerra 90′), Matt Watson (C), Nico Matern, Seth Moses, Soony Saad, Justin Braun (Ben Speas 10′)Indy Eleven bench: Lundgaard (GK); Brad Rusin,Tyler Pasher, Ben Speas, Juan Guerra, Eugene Starikov, Jack McInerney

Charlotte Independence lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Andrew Dykstra (GK); Bilal Duckett, Lee Jung-Soo (Greg Jordan 73′), Joel Johnson, Sam Vines (Mutaya Mwape 86′); Kay Voser (Jake Areman 82′), Kevan George, Cordell Cato, Alex Martinez; Eamon Zayed, Jorge HerreraCharlotte Independence bench: Brandon Miller (GK); Jake Areman, Greg Jordan, Mutaya Mwape, Ricardo Perez

Buffon: Champions League not an obsession for me or PSG

Associated Press•July 9, 2018

PARIS (AP) — Despite it being the only trophy missing from a glittering collection, veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon says the Champions League is not “an obsession” for him after joining Paris Saint-Germain.The 40-year-old Buffon completed his free-agent move last week after 17 years with Juventus, during which he became established as one of the best goalkeepers in the world.Buffon won his ninth Serie A title this season, leading the Bianconeri to a fourth successive league and cup double.He also won the World Cup with Italy in 2006 and the UEFA Cup with Parma in 1999, but has never lifted the Champions League, losing three finals with Juventus.”I don’t think it’s an obsession for me and neither for Paris Saint Germain,” said Buffon at his first PSG press conference on Monday. “I accepted this offer because I think there are the conditions here for me to grow as a player and a person.”I think I can also help PSG to grow a bit on the pitch and then we can aim for even more important goals. But when the season begins you can’t think of enveloping all this in the aim for the Champions League because that would be complete craziness and we’re not crazy here.”French champion PSG has spent more than 1 billion euros ($1.175 billion) on players since Qatar Sports Investments took over in 2011 with the aim of turning it into a world-class team.The club has so far failed to transfer its domestic dominance onto the international stage. It was eliminated from the Champions League at the round of 16 this season, having reached the quarterfinals the previous four years.Buffon will miss PSG’s first three matches in the 2018-19 Champions League, after being suspended for his red card in this season’s quarterfinal defeat against Real Madrid and for comments about the referee.Buffon, who made 656 appearances for Juve, was expected to retire at the end of the season and had said he was “planning a different future” until PSG made contact in May.He has penned a one-year deal, with the option for an additional season, and has no idea when he will hang up his boots.”I’ve stopped making these calculations because when I was 30 I thought I had two or three more years, then when I got to 34 I thought I had one or two years maximum, then I got to 37, 38 and now I’m 40,” said Buffon.”Until this year I played in the national team too and when someone plays in the national team it means they’re at the top level. I don’t want to ask myself this question again because I think it’s wrong and I think it creates a negative situation for myself that I don’t need.”Buffon, former captain of Juve and Italy, retired from the international stage in November after the Azzurri lost a World Cup playoff to Sweden, although he returned for a couple of friendlies.He made 176 appearances for Italy — a European record — and was voted Serie A’s goalkeeper of the year 12 times.Buffon has never played for a club outside Italy. He even stayed with Juve when it was demoted to the second division in 2006 following the Calciopoli refereeing scandal, which also saw the Bianconeri stripped of two Serie A titles.

Indiana Soccer League Discounted Offer for Chicago Fire Games
The Chicago Fire Soccer Club would like to invite all families and members involved with ISL out for a Chicago Fire MLS match this Summer and Fall. 
On-field experiences for children age 5-17 before every match!  This offer includes discounted group ticket pricing for anyone interested.
Please email Stew with the Chicago Fire – Sgreen@chicago-fire.com – for more information about on-field experiences for kids for specific game days, or any other questions!
Wed, July 11 at 7:30 pm vs Philly Union

Saturday, July 21st at 6:00pm vs Toronto FC
Sunday, September 16th at 4:00pm vs Orlando City SC

ATP_Gen_350x250

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

 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

7/5/18 World Cup Round of 8 – TV Game Schedule, Indy 11 unbeaten streak end at 5 games-discount tix for Sat 7 pm game 

So we are down to the Round of 8 the Quarterfinal of the World Cup and wow!!  3 Games go to Shootouts and England actually wins a shootout?  Imagine that.  Russia who many considered to be one of the weakest host countries ever – is alive and looking strong off their shootout win over Spain.  The most compelling games in Quarterfinals are Brazil vs Belgium in a showdown between Top 3 ranked teams, and England vs Sweden.  Interesting that Fox is taking the Quarterfinals to Fox Sports 1 on Friday they do return to Fox on Saturday however.  I like France to squeeze by Uruguay and Belgium to upset Brazil Friday, while Saturday England will survive Sweden and Croatia should beat Russia.  Goalies I have a solid group of Saves from the World Cup – check out to see them all – http://theoleballcoach.com.  Oh and I love the practicing the Neymar Video.  (thanks Tom!)   Check out this KFC Ad in South Africa.

Fri, July 6         

10 am Fox Sport1   Uruguay vs France  (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox Sport1     Belgium vs Brazil (WC Round of 8)  

Sat, July 7         

10 am Fox             Sweden vs England (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox               Russia vs Croatia (WC Round of 8) 

INDY 11

Indy falls to Ottawa 0-1 in heartbreaker as its 5 game unbeaten streak is broken Wed night at Lucas Oil.  The 11 face Charlotte Sat at home at 7 pm.  Of course discount tickets below $15 are available Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.  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.  So I hope to be there again Sat night – hoping for a little AC – this time as the game we attended on the 30th was mighty hot.  That being said – folks if you haven’t been to an Indy 11 game since the move to Lucas Oil – you gotta get out and see a game.  Lucas Oil is fantastic – the food, the bathrooms, heck the stadium is truly spectacular and the viewing experience is solid – we just need to get more fans into the games.  I can’t imagine just how awesome it would be with 25,000 fans on hand like Cincy does.

MLS

Here’s the MLS rankings as we ready for some Saturday games including LAFC at Orlando City on FS1 before the big Hudsen River Showdown between the New York Red Bulls and NYCFC Sunday at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1. Interesting news that the LA Galaxy are hoping to sign US and Stoke City defender Geoff Cameron soon – also will we see DC United’s Rooney this weekend?  Oh and Don’t believe the Pulisic to Tottenham rumors coming out today!

cfcJuly4
Carmel FC players take part in July 4th Celebration at Carmel Fest !  

 World Cup

Fox Sets Streaming Record During the World Cup on Monday’s Brazil vs Mexico Game

US World Cup Ratings Down 42 Percent without American Team –NBC

Belgium Must Bench a Star to Beat Brazil in the Quarters – yahoo

Comparing the Quaterfinalist

WC Final 8 – Matchups and Predictions  Yahoosports

England Finally Breaks the Curse

GK Pickford Saves England in Foul Infested win over Colombia

Maradona Takes Aim at US Ref Gieger as he Claims Colombia were Robbed by Ref

Key #s in England Shootout Win

Ogden: England through after finally winning a penalty shootout
ESPN FC TV: England break their penalty curse
Project Russia: Is football coming home to England?
Marcotti: Sweden move on by doing things the “Janne Way”
Vickery: Neymar a selfish brat or misunderstood genius?
Ames: Neymar delivered the good and bad as Brazil cruised past Mexico
Miller: Belgium’s dramatic win over Japan could spell trouble for Brazil
Postcard from Russia: A different kind of sporting experience in Moscow
ESPN FC TV: What’s the deal with Neymar? 
Wayne Rooney talks to ESPN: England must play with freedom

Borden: Russia defy expectations vs. Spain as fairy-tale run continues
Hornby: England to bring the World Cup home?
Marcotti: Modric vanquishes ghosts of penalties past
Laurens: France in dreamland after unforgettable World Cup win
Vickery: Argentina at a crossroads after World Cup demise
Dana: Sampaoli’s Argentina tenure spluttering to an inevitable conclusion

Ogden: Ronaldo’s ambition means he could play at Qatar 2022
Marcotti: Should Messi’s failure to win a World Cup affect his GOAT claim?
Ames: Mbappe announces himself with Ronaldo-like performance
In pictures: Maradona watches as Argentina crash out
Ogden: Cavani outshines Ronaldo but injury could dampen Uruguay’s long-term hopes   Japan leaves Locker Room Spotless after World Cup Loss

US

US Has Regret for the Past and Hope for the Future – Noah Davis – ESPNFC

Don’t Believe the Pulisic to Tottenham rumors coming out today! – Stars and Stripes

Indy 11

Indy 11 Fall to Ottowa

Indy 11 Ayoze Named USL Team of the Week

Indy 11 Tie 1 to 1

Indy 11 – kiss their Sister with A Tie – BloodyShambles.com

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

USL League Standings

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

MLS

Questions That will Define Each MLS Team in 2nd half of 2018 ESPNFC

5 Years In What is Duece – Clint Dempsey’s MLS Legacy?

MLS Power Rankings

Goalies

Best Saves – Round 3 World Cup

Best 50 Saves of the World Cup so Far

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 – 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

Weds, July 4       

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Ottawa Fury

Fri, July 6         

10 am Fox Sport1   Uraguay vs France  (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox Sport1     Belgium vs Brazil (WC Round of 8)  

Sat, July 7         

10 am Fox             Sweden vs England (WC Round of 8) 

2 pm Fox               Russia vs Croatia (WC Round of 8) 

4:30 pm FS1               LAFC vs Orlando City

7pm Fox Sport South Philly Union vs Atlanta United

7 pm ESPN+, TV23  Indy 11 vs Charlotte

7:30 pm ESPN News  Orlando Pride vs Washington Spirit (NWSL)

10:30 ESPN+                  Vancouver vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 8         

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

Tues, July 10       

2 pm Fox               World Cup Semi’s  

Weds, July 11       

2 pm Fox               World Cup Semi’s  

7 pm ESPN+/Utube Charleston vs Indy 11

8:30 pm ESPN+             Chicago vs Philly Union

Sat, July 14         

10 am Fox             World Cup 3rd Place Game

7 pm Yes                           NYCFC vs Columbus Crew

7 pm ESPNNews          Utah Royals vs Orlando Pride (NWSL)

8 pm ESPN+                    Dallas (Matt Hedges) vs Chicago Fire

Sun, July 15         

11 am  Fox            World Cup Final

2  pm FOX                        Atlanta vs Seattle  

6 pm ESPN                     LAFC vs Portland

Wed, July 18   – US Open Cup

8:30 pm ???                   Chicago Fire vs Louisville City FC

Fri, July 20                  ICC – International Champions Cup Starts

9 pm ESPN2                 Sevilla vs Benfica

9 pm ESPN2                    Man City vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)  

Sun, July 22                ICC – International Champions Cup

4 pm ESPN                       Liverpool vs Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic)

Wed, July 25             ICC – International Champions Cup

7 pm ESPNU                    Juventus vs Bayern Munich  

8 pm ESPN+                    Borussia Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Benfica

8 pm ESPN 2                  Man City vs Liverpool

10 pm ESPN 2               Roma vs Tottenham  

11 pm ESPN                    Milan vs Man United

Thur, July 26             

8 pm ESPN                  Orlando City vs NYCFC

10:30 pm ESPN         LAFC vs LA Galaxy (we should be at the game !)       

World Cup on Fox TV Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

 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.

INDY FALLS IN INDEPENDENCE DAY CLASH TO OTTAWA FURY FC, 0-1

By Trey Higdon, 07/04/18, 11:15PM EDT

“Indiana’s Team’s” undefeated streak halts at five

Indy Eleven’s undefeated streak is halted at five after falling to Ottawa Fury FC, 0-1. A critical error saw Ottawa pick up its fourth win on the season.“We had a lot of chances, a lot of possession, a lot of balls in the box, but we couldn’t manage to score,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “Unfortunately, that’s the way soccer goes some time. You don’t always get what you deserve, but credit to Ottawa. They came in and got what they wanted out of the game and we have to improve.”It was an aggressive start to the evening after three yellow cards were issued between both teams within the first 30 minutes; Two to Ottawa and one to Indy. Fury forward Chris Haworth was issued the first caution after a hard challenge on defender Ayoze saw the Spaniard tumble out of bounds. The second was issued to Ottawa forward Adonijah Reid and third to Eleven midfielder Juan Guerra for bad fouls.The “Boys in Blue” found their first opportunity in the 17th minute with a strike outside the six-yard box from Ayoze. The angled shot flew towards center net, but Fury goalkeeper Maxime Crepeau was far enough off his line for a close-quarters deflection away from goal.Aside from a close run at goal from Indy, the visitors found the lead 11 minutes later. In the 28th minute, Ottawa midfielder Kevin Oliveira stepped up to a free kick from outside the 18-yard box. The ball flew high towards the far post before taking a poor deflection off the outside of defender Carlyle Mitchell’s left boot and into the net for an own goal.Indy forward Jack McInerney came looking for another equalizer to match his previous from last Saturday against Penn FC. Ayoze fed a direct line near the left edge of the pitch in towards forward Eugene Starikov. The ball popped up off the head of Fury defender Thomas Meilleur, followed by Eleven midfielder Matt Watson before McInerney found space for a bicycle kick. McInerney’s foot made solid contact outside the six-yard box towards goal, but Crepeau quickly threw his hands down or a last-second save.Ottawa nearly doubled their lead in the 66th minute after a header from Fury forward Tony Taylor that ended wide right. The shot was setup by Oliveira.Two crosses from returning midfielder Tyler Pasher almost found their marks in the final minutes of second half stoppage time, but a strong defensive effort from Ottawa’s backline nullified “Indiana’s Team’s” attack.It was ‘one of those nights’ for Coach Rennie and his squad. Though Indy didn’t manage to collect any points, the Circle City squad is on the cusp of finding its ideal pace.“I think that obviously we’re right on the balance of what we want to do and being not quite where we want to be,” said Rennie. “I think the last two games are examples of that. It’s like we go to Nashville and get a great victory and we come back and in two games we pick up one point. So that to me is the balance of how close we are to being exactly where we want to be and exactly how close we are to not being where we want to be.”The “Boys in Blue” return home for the final of a three home game week this Saturday, July 7 at 7:00 p.m., to take on the Charlotte Independence for the second time in 2018. Fans can get tickets to weekend clash by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.
USL Regular Season   Indy Eleven 0:1 Ottawa Fury FC
Wednesday, July 4, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.   Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 
Scoring Summary:

OTT – Carlyle Mitchell (IND OG) 28′

Discipline Summary:

OTT – Carl Haworth (Yellow) 9′

OTT – Adonijah Reid (Yellow) 20′

IND – Juan Guerra (Yellow) 26′

OTT – Eddie Edward (Yellow) 69′

OTT – Onua Obasi (Yellow)79′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Brad Rusin, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern, Matt Watson (C) (Soony Saad 59′),Juan Guerra, Jack McInerney; Eugene Starikov (Tyler Pasher 73′), Ben Speas (Justin Braun 73′)Indy Eleven bench: Jordan Farr (GK); Brad Ring, Seth Moses, Tyler Pasher, Zach Steinberger, Soony Saad, Justin Braun

Ottawa Fury FC lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Maxime Crepeau (GK); Eddie Edward, Colin Falvey, Thomas Meilleur, Onua Obasi (Sergio Mansio 90+1′); Chris Mannella, Jamal Dixon, Kevin Oliveira; Carl Haworth (C ) (Jimmy Sanon 68′), Adonijah Reid (Kyle Porter 70′), Tony TaylorOttawa Fury Fc bench bench: David Monsalve (GK); Sergio Manesio, Kyle Porter, Christian Portilla, Nana Attakora, Jimmy Sanon, Gaberial Balbinotti

INDY ELEVEN REMAIN UNDEFEATED IN 1-1 DRAW AGAINST PENN FC

By Trey Higdon, 06/30/18, 11:45PM EDT  A late equalizer from forward Jack McInerney earns Indy a level result

Indy Eleven make a comeback in the final minutes of the night to end level against Penn FC, 1-1. A goal in the 80th minute from forward Jack McInerney sees the “Boys in Blue” extend their undefeated streak to five matches.Much of the action in the first half was found in the midfield as both sides traded possession. Both teams were able to make deep runs into each other’s 18-yard boxes that resulted in easy clearances or pickups by both Indy Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams or Penn FC man between the posts, Romuald Peiser.Indy came close to securing a first-half lead in the 27th minute. Eleven forward Justin Braun was on the receiving end of a passing play between midfielders Seth Moses and Matt Watson deep in Penn FC’s defensive half. Braun jolted into the right edge of Penn’s 18-yard box, followed by a quick pass inward. McInerney maneuvered quickly around Penn defender Kyle Venter to meet the ball with with a falling shot, but both players made contact with the ball to force it over the crossbar.Chippy play saw several players issued yellow card throughout the evening, which included Indy Eleven’s Watson, substitute defender Brad Rusin and Penn FC midfielder Dan Metzger. Additionally, Eleven defender Karl Ouimette accumulated two yellow cards, which saw the Canadian international exit the match with a red card in the 76th minute.Ouimette’s first yellow card in the 50th minute saw Penn awarded a controversial penalty kick. Ouimette and Penn forward Aaron Dennis locked legs near the top of Indy’s 18-yard box. As both fell forward into the box, the match official blew his whistle and pointed to the spot. In the 51st minute, Penn forward Lucky Mkosana stepped up and buried his shot into the upper right corner of the goal as Fon Williams dove to the left.As the match edged into the final 10 minutes playing down a man, Indy found the equalizer that salvaged a point. In the 79h minute, “Indiana’s Team” was awarded a free kick nearly 30 yards from Penn’s goal. McInerney took a right-footed shot, which sent the dead ball arching over Penn’s defensive wall and into the lower left edge of the goal, just out of Peiser’s reach. McInerney’s goal brings Indy Eleven’s total for the season to 20.Although Indy Eleven didn’t walk away with three points, Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie remains positive about remaining undefeated.“We didn’t give up hardly any chances so I think we did that well,” said Rennie. “Obviously we scored a good goal and had a couple chances to score another but there’s always room for improvement. I think it’s positive for us to stay on an unbeaten run now for five games and look forward to the next one.”
USL Regular Season  Indy Eleven 1:1 Penn FC
Saturday, June 30, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.    Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 
Scoring Summary:

PEN – Lucky Mkosana (PK) 51′

IND – Jack McInerney 80′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern (Brad Rusin 81′), Matt Watson (C), Juan Guerra, Seth Moses (Eugene Starikov 58′); Jack McInerney, Justin Braun (Ben Speas 63′)Indy Eleven bench: Jordan Farr (GK); Brad Ring, Brad Rusin, Ben Speas, Eugene Starikov, Zach Steinberger, Nathan Lewis

Penn FC lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Romuald Peiser (GK); Marco Franco, Kyle Venter, Ken Tribbett (C),Pedro Galvao; Richard Menjivar, Dan Metzger (Saalih Muhammad 79′), Paulo Junior (Issac Osae 55′), Fredrick Opoku; Lucky Mkosana, Aaron Dennis (Prince Baffoe 83′)  Penn FC bench bench: Sean Lewis (GK); Harri Hawkins, Jake Bond, Saalih Muhammad, Calvin Rezende, Prince Baffoe, Issac Osae 

Fox set a streaming record during the World Cup on Monday

Fox Sports has done a lot of work to deliver live streaming coverage of the

Fox Sports has done a lot of work to deliver live streaming coverage of the World Cup in Russia, but it seems to be paying off. The network announced that the Brazil-Mexico match was its top authenticated streaming event ever with 1.4 million unique visitors, and that Monday was its best all-time streaming day with 2 million viewers. That trumps its previous all-time high of 1.8 million unique visitors set just a week ago on June 27th.On regular TV, 4,181,000 Fox viewers, peaking at 5,373,000, saw Mexico play Brazil, according to Nielsen — numbers that are pretty great for not-exactly-soccer-mad America (though half of what Telemundo did). Soccer also drove more than half (55 percent) of Fox’s 632 million streaming views for all sports in June. That means, despite a lot of hand-wringing when the US was eliminated from World Cup qualifying, the $200 Fox spent to get the 2018 World Cup rights now seems like a wise bet.

US World Cup Ratings Down 42 Percent Without American Team

The 48 group stage broadcasts on Fox and FS1 averaged 2,069,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media ResearchPublished at 12:22 PM EDT on Jul 4, 2018

In games involving the U.S. team in previous World Cups, the average declined 28 percent from the 2014 tournament in Brazil.  Ratings include only television viewers and not those who viewed digital streams.Most group-stage kickoff times this year were morning EDT, starting as early as 6 a.m.

The lack of a U.S. team caused a big viewership drop for World Cup telecasts.

The 48 group stage broadcasts on Fox and FS1 averaged 2,069,000 viewers, according to Nielsen Media Research. That is down 42 percent from the 3.54 million average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC four years ago and down 15 percent from the 2,429,000 average on ESPN, ESPN2 and ABC eight years ago.

Excluding games involving the U.S. team in previous World Cups, the average declined 28 percent from the 2014 tournament in Brazil and was up 1 percent from the 2010 tournament in South Africa.

Most group-stage kickoff times this year were morning EDT, starting as early as 6 a.m., and the latest matches began at 2 p.m. Games in 2014 started mostly from noon to 4 p.m. EDT, while in 2010 games there were many matches at 10 a.m. and some as early as 7:30 a.m.  nste Together After Stunning Upset Over Germany

Twenty-six group-stage matches were aired on Fox, up from six on ABC in 2014 and four on ABC in 2010.Ratings include only television viewers and not those who viewed digital streams.Spanish-language coverage for Telemundo and Universo, both part of Comcast Corp.’s NBCUniversal Inc., averaged 1.96 million viewers, including digital streaming. That was down 26 percent from the 2.64 million average on Univision and Unimas four years ago and up 7 percent from the 1.84 million average for Univision’s networks in 2010.

World Cup quarterfinals: What to watch and predictions for each matchup

After three weeks and 56 matches, the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup are set. A tournament that began with 32 teams is now down to just eight. Defending champion Germany is out, along with perennial favorites Argentina and Spain. Of the eight sides remaining in Russia, only two were among the pre-tournament favorites and several have already exceeded expectations to make it this far. Here’s what to watch for in the upcoming quarterfinals, when to watch, and our predictions for who makes it through to the semis.

Uruguay vs. France – Friday, July 6, 10:00 a.m. EST

In Friday’s first quarterfinal matchup, two of the three remaining sides in the tournament to have previously lifted the World Cup face off against each other. Unlike Uruguay, France came into this tournament among the favorites. After a slow start that saw Les Bleus labor to victories over Australia and Peru, and play out a boring stalemate with Denmark, Didier Deschamps’ team finally caught fire in a seven-goal Round of 16 thriller that saw it knock Lionel Messi’s Argentina out of the World Cup.Teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe was the star of that show, bursting down the field with belief-defying speed to win the penalty that opened the scoring and netting two second-half goals to effectively end Messi’s hopes of ever winning a World Cup. With the likes of Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi and Olivier Giroud, France boast one of the most formidable attacks left in Russia.But if France is an unstoppable force, Uruguay might be the closest thing to an immovable object we’ve seen in this World Cup. The South American nation, which last won the World Cup in 1950, has a lockdown defense anchored by the Atletico Madrid centerback pairing of Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez. In four matches at the World Cup, Uruguay has given up just one goal. With Luis Suarez and Edinson Cavani spearheading the attack, it also boasts what could be the deadliest strike partnership in the tournament.The worry for Uruguay is whether Cavani will be able to recover from the injury that saw him limp off against Portugal. Even if Cavani is fit, this France team has quality in every area of the pitch and seems to be hitting its stride at just the right time.

Prediction: France over Uruguay, 2-1

Brazil vs. Belgium – Friday, July 6, 2:00 p.m. EST

After not entirely convincing in the group stage, Brazil looked comfortable in the Round of 16 as it brushed aside the same Mexico side that opened its tournament by beating Germany. Having seen the team largely being carried by Philippe Coutinho in the early going, the match against Mexico gave us a glimpse of what a fully fit and motivated Neymar is capable of. With players like Coutinho, Neymar, Willian and Gabriel Jesus, Brazil’s attack is second to none. But its defense is equally formidable, with just one goal given up so far at this World Cup.But Belgium has been almost as impressive, coming through the group stage unscathed and fighting back from two goals down to win its knockout tie with Japan. Striker Romelu Lukaku is two goals behind England’s Harry Kane in the race for the Golden Boot and the 12 goals Belgium has scored have come from seven different players.The concern for Belgium is that we’ve seen it leak goals against far lesser teams than Brazil. Fighting your way back from two down to Japan is one thing, doing it against Brazil is entirely different. If Brazil scores first, Belgium could find itself exposed as it presses for an equalizer. Belgium is also a team that enjoys possession, and as we saw against Mexico, this is a Brazil team that looks very comfortable letting the opposition possess, soaking up pressure and then choosing its moment to strike.

Prediction: Brazil over Belgium, 3-2

Sweden vs. England – Saturday, July 7, 10:00 a.m. EST

If there is a team in this World Cup that’s passed every test it’s been faced with, it’s Sweden. Playing in its first major tournament since the international retirement of talisman, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Sweden came through a difficult qualifying campaign and topped its group convincingly. The Swedes may not be spectacular to watch, but coach Janne Andersson’s players have bought into his gameplan and stuck to it. Despite benefiting from a lucky deflection in getting past an arguably superior Switzerland team, Sweden is here in the quarterfinals and has no reason to fear anyone, least of all England.That’s not to take anything away from Gareth Southgate’s likable team, which has made a good account of itself in this tournament, perhaps without being entirely convincing. Yes, England made easy work of lowly Panama, but it struggled to beat Tunisia, lost to Belgium’s reserves and required penalties to get past a Colombia team sans James Rodriguez. Although the fact that it did emerge from the shootout victorious could put wind in the sails of an England team that’s not short on talent but historically suffers from fragile confidence. The England we know gets easily rattled, this Sweden team seemingly does not. If things don’t go their way early on, it could be tough going for Southgate’s team of Premier League stars. Unless this truly is the “new England” team we’ve been assured it is.

Prediction: Sweden over England, 1-0

Russia vs. Croatia – Saturday, July 7, 2:00 p.m. EST

These are two teams no one really expected to still be around at this stage of the tournament, Russia in particular. But having already exceeded expectations by getting out of its group and knocking Spain out in the Round of 16, the host nation can play with a certain freedom, and perhaps a certain confidence. But just how far that confidence will get Russia against the team with the best midfield in the World Cup remains to be seen.Luka Modric has been an absolute orchestra conductor at the center of the park for Croatia. His tandem with Ivan Rakitic was instrumental in the 3-0 destruction of Argentina in the group stage. Disregarding Russia having squeaked past a Spain team that was clearly not itself on penalties, the one time we saw Russia go up against a truly quality team in this World Cup was when it got swept aside with relative ease by Uruguay in the group stage. Croatia, like Russia, may have required penalties to reach this stage, but the quality of Modric, Rakitic, and Co. should be too much for a Russian side that’s overly dependent on athleticism and has essentially ridden its luck so far.

Prediction: Croatia over Russia, 3-0

How do the World Cup quarter-finalists compare?

Kieran CANNINGAFPJul 3, 2018, 6:48 PMSaint Petersburg (AFP) – Just eight teams remain from the 32 who started the World Cup in Russia.AFP Sport looks how each side are placed ahead of the quarter-finals on Friday and Saturday.

Uruguay v France (Friday 1400 GMT, Nizhny Novgorod)

Uruguay

One of only two teams to win all four games so far, Uruguay boast one of the meanest defences in Russia marshalled by talismanic captain Diego Godin, and a lethal strikeforce in Edinson Cavani and Luis Suarez.Cavani’s fitness is the big concern ahead of Friday’s meeting. The Paris Saint-Germain striker limped off with a calf injury after scoring twice to end Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal’s World Cup dreams in the last 16.

France

After cruising through the group stage in underwhelming fashion, France kicked through the gears thanks to Kylian Mbappe’s blistering pace to blow Argentina away in a 4-3 World Cup classic in the last 16.A very different task awaits in breaking through Uruguay’s brick wall of a defence that will not allow Mbappe the same space to exploit. But as legs start to tire in the latter stages, France’s strength in depth could start to make the difference.

Brazil v Belgium (Friday 1800 GMT, Kazan)

Brazil

Along with Uruguay, Brazil share the best defensive record, having conceded just once in four games so far and are slowly starting to hit their stride at the other end of the field too as Neymar struck his second goal of the tournament in the last 16.After a disappointing 1-1 draw against Switzerland, 2-0 wins over Costa Rica, Serbia and Mexico have taken Brazil into a seventh straight quarter-final and they remain the favourites to erase the scars of a humiliating 7-1 semi-final thrashing at the hands of Germany four years ago.

Belgium

Belgium will be the true test of how good the Brazilian back line is in Kazan on Friday, but coach Roberto Martinez has some big decisions to make after a stunning comeback from 2-0 down in the final 21 minutes avoided a shock exit to Japan in the last 16.Japan picked the holes in Martinez’s attack-minded 3-4-2-1 system and the Red Devils had to rely on their superior physical power in the latter stages with Jan Vertonghen and Marouane Fellaini heading home before Nacer Chadli completing the comeback at the end of a stunning counter-attack.Martinez must now find the right balance to harness the best from Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku without leaving Belgium exposed.

Sweden v England (Saturday 1400 GMT, Samara)

Sweden

They are not the prettiest side, but Sweden are extremely effective and happy to play the role of underdog, having seen off the Netherlands and Italy in qualifying and Germany in the group stages.Their run to the last eight for the first time since 1994 has been built on three clean sheets in four games, but while hard to break down, they lack a potent force up front.

England

Freed from the curse of the penalty shootout after they beat Colombia from the spot, England will be favourites to reach a first World Cup semi-final since 1990.For 92 minutes in Moscow, the Three Lions kept their cool as Colombia lost theirs and played with a patience in possession rarely seen by England sides in recent years.Yerry Mina’s stoppage-time header threatened to change all that, but a first World Cup win on penalties in four attempts gives Gareth Southgate’s men reason to believe this time really will be different.

Russia v Croatia (Saturday 1800 GMT, Sochi)

Russia

The hosts have delighted their public by surpassing all expectations to make it to the last eight thanks to a stunning penalty shootout elimination of 2010 winners Spain.Russian players were on their knees in exhaustion after defending for 120 minutes in Moscow with just 26 percent possession and they must now summon another huge physical effort, with Croatia expected to dominate the ball once more.

Croatia

Arguably the outstanding performers of the group stage, Croatia were made to suffer to make it past Denmark on penalties.Luck often has not accompanied Croatia in the knockout stages after bright tournament starts, but having bounced back from the blow of Luka Modric’s missed penalty four minutes before the end of extra-time in the last 16, the time for a highly talented generation may have come.

Jordan Pickford saves England, John Stones impresses, Dele Alli struggles

5:27 PM ET  -=  Liam TwomeyChelsea Correspondent

Jordan Pickford was the hero as England overcame Colombia in a dramatic penalty shootout in Moscow to earn their first victory in a knockout match for 12 years and book their place in the World Cup quarterfinals.Harry Kane’s second-half penalty opened the scoring in the 57th minute after he was hauled down by Carlos Sanchez at a corner kick, but Yerry Mina’s towering header in injury time sent the match all the way to penalties.Jordan Henderson missed for England, but Mateus Uribe struck the crossbar before Pickford saved from Carlos Bacca, giving Dier the chance to send England their first tournament shootout triumph since Euro 96.

Positives

This team proved it can emerge victorious — eventually — in the heated cauldron of knockout football, after what was as much a test of emotional control as technical quality. Colombia tried to turn this game into a petulant scrap and then threatened to break England hearts, but they gathered themselves and managed to banish a torrid history of shootout misery.

Negatives

Much of England’s best moves from open play come to nothing — David Ospina was tested almost as rarely as Pickford — and they will need more than set pieces to get past Sweden. They also wilted badly, if understandably, in the wake of Mina’s goal.

Manager rating out of 10

7 — Southgate’s game plan was borne out by 92 minutes of control and undone by one set piece. His players’ resistance to Colombian provocation also spoke well of their manager, but England still do not create enough. But Dier and Marcus Rashford, two of his substitutes, were key to a shootout victory for which he promised his team were ready.

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

GK Jordan Pickford, 8 — So well protected by his back three for most of the night that his workload consisted of long-range shots from Juan Quintero. He made a brilliant late save to keep out Uribe’s long-range screamer, but could do nothing to deny Mina’s towering header. Made himself a hero in the shootout.

DF Kieran Trippier, 7 — Less of a factor going forward than in the group games, but his brilliant set-piece deliveries again represented his team’s biggest attacking threat and led to Kane’s penalty. Just too short to stop Mina’s header going in off the crossbar, but scored a fantastic penalty.

DF Kyle Walker, 6 — Generally more solid with his positioning and decision making than previously in this tournament, but was very fortunate not to bring about a Colombia equaliser when he gifted the ball to Bacca in his own half, only for Juan Cuadrado to bail him out by blazing over.

DF John Stones, 8 — Produced one of the most convincing performances of his career at the heart of the England defence, snuffing out danger early and winning the majority of his duels in the air and on the floor. Also resisted the wilder impulses in possession that have led people to doubt him.

DF Harry Maguire, 8 — Excellent in possession and calm with his decisions even when pressed. Did more than his bit to keep Radamel Falcao and later Bacca in check and was also a big threat to Colombia from attacking set pieces. Needs to work on his diving, though.

DF Ashley Young, 6 — Never gave an inch to Cuadrado and picked the right moments to dash forward into crossing positions, though none of his forays yielded significant chances. Was perhaps lucky not to be sent off when his studs caught Wilmar Barrios on the ankle in extra time.

MF Jordan Henderson, 6 — Passed reliably when he got the ball, but Colombia largely took him out of the game. His attempts at more ambitious distribution often went astray. Allowed himself to be drawn into a running battle with Barrios, with both fortunate to avoid red cards. Also telegraphed his penalty, which Ospina saved.

MF Jesse Lingard, 6 — A willing and intelligent runner as ever, but made all the wrong decisions on the ball and his touch failed him at key moments. Made up for a bad attacking night somewhat by relentlessly tracking back to help his defence.

MF Dele Alli, 5 — Protected against Belgium with this game in mind, but still doesn’t look right. He was a step slower than everyone else on the pitch and his passing was disappointingly sloppy. Replaced by Dier on 81 minutes as part of Southgate’s vain attempt to see the game out.

FW Raheem Sterling, 6 — Consistently made himself available to receive the ball and protected it under serious physical pressure. Also kept his head in the face of relentless provocation from Colombian players and staff. It was not his night in terms of end product, though, and he was rarely on the same wavelength as Lingard.

FW Harry Kane, 7 — The coolest head on the pitch, nervelessly winning and converting his penalty after a monumental delay. Provided a good focal point, but it is hard not to conclude that his tendency to drop deep to aid England’s possession game contributed to their toothlessness from open play. But did anyone ever doubt he would score in the shootout?

Substitutes

MF Eric Dier, 6 — Brought on for Alli with 10 minutes left to shore up the midfield alongside Henderson but offered little. Repeatedly gave the ball away, was slow in the tackle and missed a clear header from an excellent Trippier corner in extra time… only to redeem himself with the winning penalty.

FW Jamie Vardy, 6 — Brought on for Sterling with two minutes of the 90 minutes to go, he didn’t get much opportunity to make an impact beyond one volley straight at Ospina from an offside position.

DF Danny Rose 6 — Occasionally drifted too far upfield to be a realistic outlet for the back three as Colombia pressed, but his fresh legs were dangerous going forward and one low shot from a tight angle went just wide.

FW Marcus Rashford, 6 — Brought on in extra time to take a penalty, he dispatched his brilliantly.

England penalties: 11/11 in open play, 11/19 in shootouts

Jul 3, 2018Debayan SenSenior Assistant Editor

England are in the World Cup quarterfinals, and they did it – believe it or not – by winning a penalty shootout. ESPN brings you all the key numbers.

1

England won a penalty shootout at the World Cup for the first time in their history, on their fourth attempt. Interestingly, they have converted all of their 11 penalties in regular play, the most in World Cup history by a team that has never missed. Their 100 percent accuracy in open play drops to a little over 50 percent in shootouts, where they have converted just 11 of their 19 kicks.

6

Harry Kane has gone up to second among all scorers at World Cups for England, with his sixth goal in just his third match of the 2018 campaign. He has gone past Geoff Hurst, and now only trails Gary Lineker (10) among England scorers. He is also just the second England player with six goals in one World Cup after Lineker, who won the Golden Boot for his six goals in 1986.

12

England have advanced to the World Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 12 years, following a round of 16 win over Ecuador in 2006. They were then eliminated on penalties by Portugal in the quarterfinals, and they lost 4-1 to Germany in the round of 16 four years later. Matthew Upson’s 37th-minute strike in that match in Bloemfontein was the last knockout goal scored by England, before Kane’s penalty conversion.

2

Yerry Mina is just the second Colombian after James Rodriguez to have scored in three successive matches at the World Cup for Colombia. Rodriguez went on to score in five consecutive games of the 2014 World Cup, and finished as the Golden Boot winner with his six goals.

24

Sweden have made the quarterfinals after 24 years, having finished in third place in 1994. Emil Forsberg’s winner also marks the first time since 1994 that they have scored more than five goals in a World Cup — the 15 they scored in United States is still their record. It is also the first time since the 1958 edition that they hosted, that Sweden have won consecutive games in one World Cup.

3

Harry Kane is now the first Englishman to have converted three penalties — not counting kicks taken in a shootout — and the first to have done so in one World Cup since Bulgaria’s Hristo Stoichkov in 1994. Johan Neeskens of Netherlands also converted three in 1974, whereas both Rob Rensenbrink of Netherlands (1978) and Eusebio (1966) converted four in one tournament. Gabriel Batistuta of Argentina also has four converted penalties overall in World Cups.

9

England’s nine goals scored at the 2018 World Cup are now the second best they have ever achieved in one World Cup, going past the eight goals they scored in both 1954 and 1990. Their record for most goals in one campaign remains 11 in 1966, the only year they have won the World Cup.

8

The England-Colombia match saw eight players (six for Colombia and two for England) being shown the yellow card, the joint most in this tournament. Both France-Argentina (round of 16) and Belgium-Panama (group stages) saw eight yellow cards shown to the two teams, while Argentina’s clash with Croatia in the group stages saw seven cards produced.

50

Sweden have become the 11th team to have played their 50th World Cup game, though they are one of only three teams to have played 50 or more matches without winning a single tournament — Mexico (57) and Netherlands (50) are the other two teams to have that record.

Don’t believe the Christian Pulisic to Tottenham transfer rumors

Silly season is really silly.By Donald Wine II@blazindw  Jul 5, 2018, 11:46am PDT

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News reports have swirled over the past 36 hours regarding a $58 million bid that Tottenham Hotspur has offered to Borussia Dortmund for United States phenom Christian Pulisic. The reports were everywhere, from here to Europe.But, each of these reports is claiming the German outlet Kicker was the source of the report without a link to the article that referenced the proposed bid. Indeed, a quick search on Kicker yields nothing on a possible Pulisic-to-Spurs bid. Still, online media is going along with the rumor, even with nothing to source the information. So, how did a rumor with no foundation grow legs so quickly?It’s because it’s silly season, that time of year when transfer rumors and news come fast and in numbers. It’s almost like some outlets have a dart board that have star players, big clubs, and huge numbers, and they throw darts until a story comes up that they can run with. How many rumors have you seen today about Real Madrid or Barcelona or PSG or Chelsea or Juventus? Plenty. Nothing really set in stone until these clubs issue official statements.And for American fans, Pulisic is a name that brings attention. Rumors of his transfer to LiverpoolArsenal, and Tottenham have been swirling for months, and each time it brings fans to a frenzy about where is best for Pulisic to play soccer. Back in May, Christian Pulisic’s father labeled the rumors of his son moving from Dortmund to Liverpool, Arsenal or Tottenham as “hogwash,” adding: “[T}here’s nothing concrete. Right now, Christian plays for Dortmund and that’s where he is planning on playing again next year.” Nothing has changed, and until there is something with more substance, the current transfer rumors surrounding Pulisic should be disregarded.So, that’s where we are. Christian Pulisic is still a Borussia Dortmund player. He will remain there until a day that Dortmund and Pulisic decide that it’s best that he continue his career with another club. The rumors are going to continue to come with reckless abandon over the coming weeks until the transfer window closes at the end of August. Until then, listen to the words of Jay-Z:“So don’t believe everythin’ your earlobe captures, it’s mostly backwards, Unless it happens to be as accurate as me, And everythin’ said in song you happen to see, Then actually, believe half of what you see, None of what you hear, even if it’s spat by me”

Four years after Howard’s saves and Wondo’s miss, U.S. has regret about the past, hope for the future

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Dan Thoymas, Kasey Keller and Kate Markgraf discuss Bruce Arena’s latest comments and how the USMNT should feel watching the World Cup from home. (8:19)

Jun 30, 2018Noah Davis, ESPN.com freelance columnist

On July 1, four years ago, Belgium bulldozed the United States men’s national team in the Round of 16 at the 2014 World Cup. The final scoreline, 2-1, did not reflect the match that millions watched; Jurgen Klinsmann’s side was outshot 38-15 with Tim Howard forced into 15 saves, the highest number in a single game since at least 1966 when FIFA started keeping track of the statistic.The U.S., thanks to its goalkeeper’s heroics, miraculously hung on through regulation before conceding to Kevin De Bruyne in the 93rd minute and substitute Romelu Lukaku 12 minutes later. While Julian Green’s volley provided a bit of solace near the death, it was a comprehensive beatdown.

Yet the red, white, and blue nearly won the thing in regulation, when Chris Wondolowski’s half-volley in the third minute of second-half stoppage time skied over Thibaut Courtois’ crossbar and into the Salvador night. The U.S. was inches from the quarterfinals.While the Americans were clearly second best — despite that miss — the tournament as a whole gave reason for optimism. Klinsmann led his team out of a brutal group after the squad defeated Ghana in dramatic fashion and dominated Portugal for long stretches before finishing with a 2-2 draw against the soon-to-be European champions, then lost 1-0 to eventual champion Germany.And it wasn’t merely the results that were exciting; so too was the fact that young talent played key roles. Twenty-one year old John Brooks scored the game-winner vs. Ghana and looked poised to establish himself in one of the starting center-back roles. DeAndre Yedlin, 20, offered tantalizing speed on the right wing, and Fabian Johnson, Jozy Altidore, Omar Gonzalez, and Michael Bradley provided a solid spine in the 24-to-26-year-old range. Green was the youngest goal scorer at the World Cup.Although they were not in Brazil, players such as Cameron Carter-Vickers, Matt Miazga, Kellyn Acosta, Rubio Rubin, Paul Arriola, and Gedion Zelalem were close to breaking through and led the U.S. to a quarterfinal finish at the 2015 Under-20 World Cup. There was hope and excitement.Then, well, we all know what happened: Four years of fits and starts, featuring some highlights — the emergence of Christian Pulisic, the 2016 Copa America Centenario — and many more low points — 4-0 in Costa Rica, “Couva” entering the U.S. fan lexicon — that resulted in the squandering of almost half a decade.In retrospect, the signs were there in Brazil. According to WhoScored.com, the Americans played 34 percent of the tournament in their own third, more than any other team. Klinsmann’s side spent just 22 percent in their opposition’s third, tied for fourth worst behind Algeria, Iran, and Italy, a trio that went out in the group stage.The U.S. conceded 23.5 shots per game, five more than the two teams tied for the second most: Ecuador and Switzerland. FIFA.com’s statistics credited 27 saves, 21 tackles won and 19 blocks, a World Cup high of 67 attempts some 50 percent more than the tournament average of just under 45. Being the best defensive team is hardly the proactive soccer Klinsmann promised.But while optimism about prospects following 2014 was misplaced, so too is any pessimism four years later. In Pulisic, the Americans have a talent more accomplished at an international level than any young player in the history of the program.Meanwhile, 19-year-old Weston McKennie, a vital cog in the midfield of Bundesliga runner-up Schalke, is not far behind his close friend. Tyler Adams covers enough ground for two players, and Tim Weah shows tantalizing flashes of game-breaking creativity, and Josh Sargent could break out in Germany next season. The teens can ball.As can the slightly older generation. Miazga, still just 22, dominated while on loan to Vitesse in the Eredivisie and possesses the line-breaking passing that has required from an elite center back. Brooks, Carter-Vickers, and Erik Palmer-Brown will challenge for spots. Major League Soccer continues to produce young player with potential while Yedlin’s development continues in Europe, as does that of Benfica’s Keaton Parks, Andrija Novakovich at Fortuna Sittard, Anderlecht’s Kenny Saief and more.Even Green is back in the mix after a couple of years wandering the soccer wilderness. There is plenty of work to be done, questions to be answered, leaders to be found, but these are good places to start. They are building blocks that make a far stronger base than the Americans had following the 2014 World Cup.But, while all that is true, the fact remains that a so-far excellent and exciting tournament is going on in Russia without the U.S.; that’s tougher to take than Wondo missing that sitter.

Questions that will define each MLS club in the second half of 2018

Jul 3, 2018Matt PentzESPN FC

With some teams having already played more than half their games, and with Major League Soccer having come out the other side of its World Cup break, this feels like an appropriate juncture to take a hard look at where everybody stands. At the halfway point, which burning question is likely to define the rest of each club’s season?

Atlanta United: Can offense win championships? The Supporters’ Shield leaders boast an explosive attack which is a sight to behold. Can they lock things down at the other end of the field come playoff time, or might they pour in enough goals that it doesn’t even matter?

Chicago Fire: What happened to last year’s hot start? Around this time a year ago, the Fire’s turnaround story was the toast of the league. Then they lost six of seven, were routed by the New York Red Bulls on home turf in the playoffs and have since struggled to replicate those heights.

Colorado Rapids: How on earth did the Rapids make the conference finals in 2016? That’s about all I’ve got on this one.

Columbus Crew SC: Which city will the club call home next season: Columbus or Austin? Until that is resolved, all on-field concerns are secondary.

D.C. United: Can United make the most of its fresh start at its new stadium? Even with Wayne Rooney in the fold, there are ominous signs that D.C. is not entirely ready for its close-up.

FC Dallas: Are the chemistry issues resolved? Last season’s summertime swoon is even more inexplicable now that FCD has recovered its mojo. Are the underlying issues truly a thing of a past, or might Dallas again start to splinter?

Houston Dynamo: Can the Dynamo take the next step? Western Conference finalists in 2017, the Dynamo again look like a playoff dark horse. Can they find another gear and join the ranks of legitimate title contenders?

LAFC: Is this the Western Conference front-runner? Expansion team or not, a strong case can be made that this group has a higher ceiling than anybody else on their side of the bracket.

LA Galaxy: Are the wheels going to fall off? They’re certainly wobbling on their axles.

Minnesota United: How long will Loons fans remain patient? The club’s slow-and-steady team-building approach asks a lot of supporters to stay engaged with this second-year franchise.

Montreal Impact: How bad can it get? One of the league’s worst goal differentials (-9) hint that the Impact haven’t yet scraped rock bottom.

New England Revolution: Do the Revs have enough talent to sneak into the playoffs? So far, first-year coach Brad Friedel has done a remarkable job.

New York City FC: What is this club’s identity post-Patrick Vieira? For a coach who spent only two and a half years in the Big Apple, Vieira certainly left his fingerprints all over NYCFC’s vision of itself.

New York Red Bulls: What is this team’s ceiling? Jesse Marsch touts this as the best team he’s ever had. For a franchise crying out for some positive history, does that equal some long-overdue silverware?

Orlando City SC: What now? Having now fired coaches midseason in two of their four MLS campaigns, I’m not even sure the Lions’ ownership group could give much of an answer to that question.

Seattle 2-3 Portland: Mabiala lifts Timbers – Via MLS

Diego Valeri pulled the strings and Larrys Mabiala popped up with two goals to see Portland walk away from Seattle with a 3-2 victory.

Portland Timbers: Is this hot streak sustainable? The Timbers come out of the World Cup break unbeaten in 10 across all competitions, which catapulted them up the standings following a slow start.

Real Salt Lake: Move forward or blow it up? Despite sitting in fifth in the West coming out of the break, RSL seems to be going back and forth with that question.

San Jose Earthquakes: Does North America’s longest outdoor bar serve hard alcohol? That’s about the only way Quakes fans are making it through October.

Seattle Sounders: How much of a difference can one player make? Raul Ruidiaz is exactly the type of player the Sounders need, but his midseason signing might come too late to save a team sitting 11 points out of a playoff place.

Sporting Kansas City: Why should anyone believe this year is different? The first-place team in the West has started hot before, but seems to always falter down the stretch. Until Sporting keep the good vibes going into October, a degree of skepticism is necessary.

Toronto FC: When is TFC finally going to turn it on? If the defending champs wait too long, the gulf with the East’s playoff contenders will be too wide to bridge.

Vancouver Whitecaps: What are the limits to the Whitecaps’ approach? Carl Robinson has wrung a lot out of a bare-bones roster, but there’s a sense that the natives are getting restless with ownership’s lack of financial commitment.

Kick Off: MLS today

July 4, 201810:38AM EDT Greg SeltzerContributor

Here is everything you need to know about MLS and North American soccer this morning:

Dynamo storm back late for draw

Houston’s goose surely looked cooked midway through stoppage time of their Tuesday game against LAFC, but the hosts rallied in just two minutes to rescue a 2-2 tie. Adama Diomande turned provider with assists on each of the goals that had the away side up two, only for Mauro Manotas and Philippe Senderos to author the unlikely comeback. RECAP

Conference leaders make tricky trips

Supporters Shield table-toppers Atlanta United will put their seven-game road unbeaten run on the line in Wednesday’s tilt at FC Dallas (8 pm ET | TV & streaming info). It should be an emotional night for the hosts, who have just completed the sale of playmaker Mauro Diaz to UAE club Shabab Al-Ahli.

Galaxy aiming for playoff zone, Cameron

The LA Galaxy welcome D.C. United for a July 4 kickabout at the StubHub with a chance to rise above the playoff line with a win (10:30 pm ET | TV & streaming info). According to Yahoo’s Doug McIntyre, the Galaxy are proving dogged in their pursuit of Stoke City’s US defender Geoff Cameron. READ MORE | PREVIEW

Atlanta back atop Power Rankings

After a one-week absence, Atlanta United reclaimed the penthouse in our MLSsoccer.com Power Rankings. Chicago and Montreal each rose four spots, while Toronto’s three-rung drop was the biggest of the week. READ MORE

World Cup: Svensson, Sweden to final eight

Seattle midfielder Gustav Svensson stepped into Sweden’s lineup on Tuesday, helping his country clinch a World Cup quarterfinal date against England with a 1-0 win over Switzerland in St. Petersburg. The Sounders man ably deputized for suspended teammate Sebastian Larsson to help oust the world’s sixth-ranked side. READ MORE

Warshaw: My midseason award favorites

Now that we’ve reached the midway point of the season, Bobby Warshaw has offered up his picks for MLS award front-runners to date. He also chooses a midseason Best XI, which unsurprisingly includes three Atlanta United stars. READ MORE

If you can’t get enough midseason analysis, Warshaw and Armchair Analyst Matt Doyle also ran the rule over all 23 teams, finding one positive and one negative for each team, no matter their record. READ MORE

MLSsoccer.com Must-Watch  Top 5 MLS goals scored by Americans in 2018 pres. by Target REDcard

 

Wiebe: Five years on, a look at Clint Dempsey’s legacy in Seattle

June 29, 20184:43PM EDTClint Dempsey seems perfectly comfortable with his place in history.When you’ve scored in three World Cups, blazed a trail the size of Texas through the English Premier League, sit (tied) atop your national team’s all-time scoring chart and made a successful comeback from a potentially career-ending heart issue, you don’t need someone else’s perspective.“I’m at peace with what I’ve been able to accomplish,” Dempsey said last December, in the days before the Seattle Sounders lost MLS Cup 2017, and I believe him.He scored his first MLS goal since that interview on Saturday, a sliding finish at CenturyLink Field that gave Seattle a hum-drum draw against Chicago in the midst of a season that’s tested the patience of the Rave Green faithful. It was the 35-year-old’s 47th regular-season goal for the Sounders, tying Fredy Montero for the club record, one Dempsey will surely own outright soon enough.It’s been almost five years since Dempsey arrived in Seattle. Five years is a long time. Long enough to win a few trophies. Long enough to play in and miss a World Cup. Long enough to become the second-longest tenured Sounder behind MLS original Ozzie Alonso.Long enough for us to wonder how will he be remembered in the Pacific Northwest once the time feels right, perhaps as soon as this offseason, to trade the daily grind of professional soccer for family time and fishing.I’m no Sounders fan. And I’m damn sure not Clint Dempsey. I won’t claim to know or understand how either feels. But with a Cascadia derby on deck for Saturday afternoon (4:30 pm ET | FOX – Full TV & streaming) – and Deuce often one to step toward rivalry-ruling opportunity – I do know which moments I remember most vividly from Dempsey’s time in Seattle.#DempseyWatch

Years before #BarcoWatch took over Soccer Twitter™, #DempseyWatch helped coin the genre.

MLS is a much different league now than it was in Summer 2013, when word started trickling out that the US national team star’s time with Tottenham could be coming to an end, a return stateside with the Sounders the likely next destination. It was by far the biggest story in American soccer that summer.As the rumors heated up, photos of Dempsey at various airports trickled into the social media conversation. Sounders sleuths tracked his movement from Heathrow Airport in London to the West Coast. By the time Dempsey removed his hoodie to reveal a Seattle jersey at halftime of a blowout victory against FC Dallas on August 3 of that year, the club had inked their new star to a deal that made him the highest paid player and biggest incoming transfer in MLS history.There was elation, from Sounders fans in particular, but there was also serious blowback, from the internet trolls all the way up to Jurgen Klinsmann. A top-tier player, arguably the country’s most accomplished in Europe, returning to MLS in his prime? One year before the World Cup no less?That decision, just as much as the goals he’d go on to score, is part of Dempsey’s legacy. When he signed that contract, the trajectory and perception of the league changed.For MLS, Dempsey was the personification of the “league of choice” mantra. If he could do it, why couldn’t others like him? His signing provided precedent for the moves that followed, bringing the biggest USMNT stars – Michael BradleyJozy Altidore, Jermaine Jones, Tim HowardAlejandro Bedoya – to MLS from Europe.For Seattle, Dempsey represented raw ambition. Along with Obafemi Martins, signed earlier that year, the more than $30 million outlay, according to reports, showed a desire not just be among MLS’s biggest spenders in but at the very top of the hierarchy. That the Sounders were the club to pull it off only reinforced the growing sentiment that there was an MLS super club in the Pacific Northwest, a giant both on the field and off.I remember being thrilled by the transfer coup, and a bit gob-smacked as well. No more setting alarms to watch Deuce do his thing in England. American soccer fans could watch the national team’s biggest star every week in person.

Oba-Deuce

Trust me, you should watch this goal. And this one. And this one. For sure this one, too.These are among the many masterpieces of Oba-Deuce, the sort of attacking partnership that left spectators and opposing defenders slack jawed just about every time they took the field.These goals are everything Dempsey came to represent in Seattle during his first two full seasons. Every time he took the field, there was buzz. There was anticipation. There was the possibility that, with or without Martins’ assistance, he’d do something we’d never seen before.There was plenty of success, too. That fourth goal I told you to watch? It was the game-winner in extra time of the 2014 U.S. Open Cup. That same year, the Sounders lifted the Supporters’ Shield, a fitting tribute to the folks who packed CenturyLink and made it all possible.Above all, there was swagger, a brash confidence unique to Dempsey. Don’t drag me, he seemed to be saying to those who doubted him or his decision to return. I make the big bucks, and I’m worth every penny.Then he brought that same swagger to the 2014 World Cup while repping the Sounders and Seattle.

Tear it all down

We remember the goals, but we also remember the outbursts. Dempsey has a knack for delivering spectacularly on both fronts.The only three red cards of his MLS career have come, one per season, over the last three years. Before that, however, is the moment that will stick with me forever.There’s not much I can say about this one. You’ll just have to watch it. It will almost certainly be the first and only time you’ll see a referee’s notebook ripped to shreds on the field.

Can’t Tell Me Nothing

Dempsey did not play in MLS Cup 2016, his heart condition forcing him to watch from the stands as Seattle put together a historic run to the playoffs and then eked out the only domestic championship to elude them.Never one to go missing in the big moment, Dempsey made his mark during the club’s victory parade a few days later. “Now that we’ve won one,” Dempsey said, “Portland can’t say [drawn out expletive].”The Cascadia rivalry matters to Sounders supporters, and it matters to Dempsey. He’s saved his best for the rivalry games, scoring nine goals (three game-winners) in 11 games.I’ll leave you with this, Dempsey’s three-goal outburst in April 2014 to snatch a sure victory from the Timbers’ grasp. Perhaps there’s more like this left to come. Rui-Deuce anyone?

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.

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