8/31/18 US Star Clint Dempsey Retires, Indy 11 Tie Again Home Sat/Wed, Champ League Draw, Modric UEFA Player of Year, US Plays next Fri, Carmel FC Teams Win Tourneys

Just 1 week short of the International break which features the US National Team returning to the field vs a loaded Brazil squad next Friday night at 7:30 pm on FS1, one of its biggest stars Clint Dempsey has decided to hang up the cleats.  He will retire tied with Landon Donovan as the leading scorer in US Mens Soccer History with 57 goals.  In my mind Dempsey and Donovan are the greatest American field players to ever lace them up.  Of course Dempsey played more years in the EPL so maybe he gets the nod – certainly among the Euro Snobs I know.  Dempsey’s story is well known from the trailer parks of Nagoches Texas (outside of Dallas) to the World’s Biggest League – the EPL and Fulham football club where his goal took them to the quarterfinals of the 2nd largest club tourney in the world – the Europa League back in 2010.  The next season his 29 goals for Fulham helped him finish 4th in the voting for FA player of the year – YES an American finished 3rd in scoring in the EPL in 2010 – AMAZING. He made me wake up early on weekends to watch the EPL – as he and US Forward Brian McBride, US defender Carlos Bocenegra and GK Kasey Keller formed FulhaAmerica.  His exploits took him from MLS as a rookie at New England to the EPL, back to MLS as a super high paid star for the Seattle Sounders.  Interestingly despite his goal scoring expertise it was in a year he was injured that Seattle won the MLS Title 2 seasons ago.  Good luck You Great American Soccer Player Clint Dempsey – may the fish be always biting in your pond!!

Indy 11

So our Boys and Blue managed back-to-back ties this past week – the first a disappointing 1-1 draw on the Road after dominating Atlanta United 2 -the 2nd one however was spectacular as they scored in the 94th minute to tie the Pittsburg Riverhounds at home last night 2-2.  The 11 had 55 % possession and a 6 shots on goal to just 4 for Pittsburg – but it was last second goal by Jack McInerney his 2nd on the night that kept them from dropping down the table in the playoff watch.  The 11 stand in 6th place with 41 points just 5 pts off 2nd overall as they did not lose a game in the month of July.  Our Boys in Blue return home this Sat night at 7 pm and Wed at 7 pm at the Luke – 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.

World

So Real Madrid star Luka Modric who carried his team to the World Cup Finals edged Cristiano Renaldo and Mohamed Salah in EUFA Player of the Year voting this year.  Classic Sergio Ramos touching Salah’s shoulder on his return to his seat.  Of course Renaldo’s bicycle goal for Real vs Juventus in the Final 4 of last year’s Champions League was voted goal of the year.  On to the draw – interesting draw for the group stages that will be carried on Tues/Weds this season on TNT at both 1 pm and 3:30 pm.   Liverpool got no favors as 2nd place finishers last year as they get PSG and Napoli in their group.  TNT’s production has been ah SUBPAR at best so far – but at least they are carrying the games.  But the studio show is a joke with Tim Howard, Carlos Bocanegra and Stu Holden along with Hoops star Steve Nash and Fox host Kate Adobe in the most pathetic studio I have seen since my college days at UF.

EPL

Nothing like a 3-0 drubbing at home to turn the heat up on the Special One at Manchester United.  As a longtime casual Man United fan who has literally stopped cheering for them because I hate Mourino – I think its great.  This guy lost his touch 2 jobs ago and has no clue how to manage in 2018 in my opinion.  While watching his team has never been fun – his Real Madrid team scored the fewest goals in the Madradista’s history while he was coach – now its just downright ridiculous.  Sad times in this once proud franchises history.  Time to make a change I think!  Meanwhile Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea and yes Watford continue to roll on – while Man City, Leicester, Everton and of course Arsenal have all dropped games.  This weekend not much to watch as Man City vs New Castle United and US defender Yedlin at 12:30 pm on NBC is the best game to watch.  Leicester and Liverpool will start the day Sat with a 7:30 am match on NBCSN as well.

American’s in Germany

So the German Bundesliga started last weekend and man was it fun to watch young Christian Pulisic both start and really have an impact on the game for the winning home side.  He really takes guys on with his speed and footwork – reminds me of Landon Donovan (though Landon was stronger on the ball).  Especially fun was Pulisic taking the corner kicks where he placed some really nice balls including an assist on a header for goal. Pulisic still needs to get stronger – I still think Dortmund is the place for him as the EPL might just chew him up and spit him out.  He’s a technical player who often gets hacked and kicked not always getting the calls as he is so young.  Either way it sure was fun to watch an American doing well on a Champions League quality team at home in front of the Great Yellow Wall.  If you are a coach looking to get kids excited about soccer – have them start watching Dortmund games on Fox Sports 1 or 2 – the games are high scoring, the crowds ridiculous and Pulisic is something special.  Dortmund travels to Hanover at 2:30 pm on Fox Sports 1, where former US left back Steve Cherundolo is coaching the U17 squad.  I missed the battle of American’s Sat as US Center Back John Brooks scored the winning header for Wolfsburg vs Schlake and US Mid McKinney who played the entire game.   Sat Brooks and Wolfsburg will host Bayern Leverkusen at 9:30 am on FS1, before Stutgart faces Bayern Munich at 12:30 on FS2.  Sunday at noon on FS1 McKinney and Schalke travel to Hertha.

MLS

Atlanta United’s Martinez broke the record for goals in a MLS season (28 goals) with his sublime strike vs Orlando during a spellbounding Rivalry Week last week.  The week of rivalries saw NYCFC and NY Red Bulls tie, LAFC & the LA Galaxy Tie 1-1 and Seattle take a huge victory at Portland on Sunday evening.  With the playoffs just a couple weeks away key games like Wayne Rooney and DC United hosting Atlanta United Sunday night at 7 pm on FS1 will count more.  ESPN+ gives us games with playoff implications as Columbus hosts NYCFC Sat at 8 pm on ESPN+ with 1st round home field advantage at stake, meanwhile Carmel’s own Matt Hedges will lead Dallas vs Houston on ESPN+ Sat at 8 pm as Dallas looks to stay in the top 3.  Finally Zlatan and the LA Galaxy will look to end a 5 game no win streak with their playoff lives on the line Sat night at 10 on ESPN+ vs Real Salt Lake.    The US Ladies play Chile a double this week Fri night vs Chile 11 pm on ESPN2 and again vs Chile on Tues at 10 pm on ESPN2.

U15G

Coach Bill Spencer’s U15 & U14 Combo Team won the Jerry Yeagly Soccer Classic in Bloomington last weekend.

CFC -U13G
Congrats to Carmel FC 06 Girls Gold and coach Aaron Monk for winning the Club Ohio Fall Kickoff.
CFC_U15B GOLD
Congrats to John Barnes CFC U-15 Boys for finishing as Finalist in the Westside United MidWest Summer Classic this past weekend.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Score in 94th Minute to Tie Pitt at Home

Indy 11 Gives up Late one in 1-1 tie with Atlanta

Football Lines will be Visible at Games with New Indy Colts Turf Installed

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

Parking passes at Gate10  Events is $11 with advance purchase. $15 day of.  Save $$$ by buying early.

INDY 11 GAMES

Sat Sept 1 7 pm  Wish TV 8        Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Wed Sept 5 7 pm Wish TV 8      Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II

USA

Dempsey Personified US Soccers Dream – Jeff Carlisle EPSNFC

Dempsey’s Career Legacy Go beyond Stats and #s – SI Brian Straus

Is Dempsey the Best Ever US Player ? Jeff Carlisle

Dempsey’s Top 5 moments for Club and Country – Matt Pentz ESPNFC

Seattle’s Sigi Schmid on Clint –he was Iconic!

USMNT’s Brooks scores for Wolfsburg in Bundesliga opener

Yedlin Assist to Own Goal for NewCastle

US Players Abroad – SBI

US Defender Geoff Cameron on loan to QPR from Stoke

US Striker Josh Sargent to Stay with Werder Bremen after scoring goal for u23s

Brazil to Bring Stars to Play US in NY Next Friday night

US Depth Chart GK & Defense – Matt Doyle MLS.com
WORLD

Luka Modric wins Player of Year over Ronaldo

Modric Deserved the Trophy over Ronaldo – Marcotti ESPNFC

The Ultimate Defender Sergio Ramos touches Salah’s Shoulder at Awards Ceremony

Champions League Draw

Tough Draws for EPL Teams – ESPNFC

Liverpool and PSG have tough draw with Napoli in the Group

VAR Might Come to Champions League by QuarterFinals this Year

European Wrap-up – SBI

Bayern Munich looks set to run away in Germany once again

 EPL

Week 3 EPL What Did We Learn

Steps to Fix What’s Wrong at Man United – SI

US Yedlin goes from hero to Goat in Loss to Chelsea

Watch: Man City held at Wolves thanks to blatant handball goal

 MLS

Atlanta United’s Martinez sets MLS single-season goal record

Comparing the #s on Martinez Scoring Record

Games of the Weekend – Crew and NYCFC & Real Salt Lake and LA Galaxy

Power Rankings – Atlanta United on Top, NY Teams, Portland on Free Fall

Zlatan Sends Season Ticket Holders Message

Seattle on a 7 Game Tear down the Stretch

Clint Dempsey’s Legacy in Seattle Safe

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 31   

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1    Hanover (Bobby Woods) vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

2:30 pm ESPN+             Milan vs Roma

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Lyonnaise vs Nice

11 pm ESPN2          US Ladies vs Chile  (LA)

Sat, Sept 1     

7:30 am NBCSN     Leicester City vs Liverpool

9:30 am FS 1           Wolfsburg vs Bayern Leverkusen

9:30 am FS2            Frankfurt vs Werder Bremen ( )

10 am NBCSN                Chelsea vs Bournemouth

11 am bEIN Sport        Nimes vs PSG (Tim Weah)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Man City vs New Castle United (Yedlin)

12:30 pm FS 2              Stutgart vs Bayern Munich

2:30 ESPN+?                   Parma vs Juventus

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Leganes

7 pm Wish TV8             Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Sun, Sept 2    

8 am NBCSN           Cardiff City vs Arsenal           

9 am Fox Sport 1     RB Leipzig vs dusseldorf

11 am NBCSN         Watford vs Tottenham 

12n Fox Sports 1    Schalke (McKiney) vs Hertha 

12:30 pm beIN Sport               Barcelona vs Huesca

2:30 ESPN+             Sampandoria vs Napoli

7 pm Fox Sport1     DC United (Rooney) vs Atlanta United (Martinez)

Tues, Sept 4   

10 pm ESPN2          US Ladies vs Chile  (San Fran)

Weds, Sept 5   

7 pm My Indy TV        Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II

7 pm Yes Network   NYCFC vs New England

Thurs, Sept 6                 

2:45 pm ESPN2             Germany vs France (Eufa Nations League)

Fri, Sept 7

2:45 pm ESPN2      Italy vs Poland  (Eufa Nations League)

2:45 pm FS1?          Scotland vs Belgium

7:30 pm FS1           USMNT vs Brazil (Metlife)

10 pm FS1?             Mexico vs Uruguay

10 pm Lifetime        Portland Thorns v Seattle Riegn (NWSL)

Sat, Sept 8                      

9 am ESPNews               Northern Ireland vs Boznia

12 pm                                 Switzerland vs Iceland (Eufa Nations League)

12 pm                                 Finland vs Hungary (Eufa Nations League)

2:45 pm                             England vs Spain (Eufa Nations League)

Sun, Sept 9                     

12 pm ESPN News      Bulgaria vs Norway  (Eufa Nations League)

2:45 pm                             France vs Netherlands (Eufa Nations League)

2:45 pm ESPNnews   Cypress vs Slovenia (Eufa Nations League)

Mon, Sept 10               

2:45 pm                             Portugal vs Italy (Eufa Nations League)

2:45 pm ESPNews       Sweden vs Turkey (Eufa Nations League)

Tues, Sept 11

2:45 pm ESPNews       Spain vs Croatia (Eufa Nations League)

3 pm ??                              England vs Switzerland

8 pm beIN Sport??     Colombia vs Argentina

8:30 pm ESPN               USA vs Mexico in Nashville (anyone want to go?)

Weds, Sept 12   

7 pm ESPN+                    Penn vs Indy 11

Fri, Sept 14 

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1                        Dortmund (Pulisic)  vs Frankfort

2:45 pm beIN Sport  PSG (Weah) vs St Etienne

Sat, Sept 15     

7:30 am NBCSN     Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 am FS 1          Bayern Munich vs Bayern Leverkusen

12:30 pm NBC               Watford vs Man United 

12:30 pm Fox Soccer                       Mgladbach (Johnson) vs Schalke (McKinney) 

Thurs, Oct 11

7:30 pm FSI                     USA vs Colombia (Tampa)

Thurs, Nov 15

3 pm ESPN2                    England vs USA (Wembley)

Sat, Nov 20

3 pm ESPN2                    Italy vs USMNT

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

EPL Schedule

Clint Dempsey personified U.S. soccer’s dream: developing creative players with attitude, swagger

The end has finally come for the man they call “Deuce”.Clint Dempsey, arguably the greatest player the U.S. has ever produced, announced on Wednesday that he has retired from professional soccer, effective immediately.”After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” said Dempsey. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. men’s national team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”The memories of his exploits will be etched in the minds of those who watched him. Dempsey’s career ends with 57 international goals, tied with Landon Donovan for the most in U.S. men’s national team history. He bagged another 154 at club level.But Dempsey’s legacy will go well beyond numbers. In a country where the hyper-regimented aspects of player development are bemoaned, Dempsey was every bit a product of the pickup games he played in his youth back in his hometown of Nacogdoches, Texas. Whenever Dempsey took the field, he offered the possibility — and at times the reality and pure joy — of the unexpected, a rarity from a U.S. player. As former U.S. manager Bruce Arena so eloquently put it, Dempsey’s had the ability to “try s—.” His delightful chip in the Europa League round of 16 for Fulham against Juventus, a goal that helped propel the Cottagers on their way to the 2010 final, is the most notable example.Sure, other U.S. players have enjoyed stellar careers both at home and abroad, but Dempsey’s ability and style spoke to the broader dreams for the sport in this country: that the U.S. could produce a creative player with attitude and swagger, one who could compete at the highest echelons of the sport. His “Deuce face” that he trotted out during a World Cup qualifying against Jamaica back in 2012 is the stuff of legend.And no matter how many times Dempsey was written off, he would rise up to the top again. For all of the goals Dempsey scored in the Premier League, it’s worth remembering that just about every manager he played for with either Fulham or Tottenham consigned him to the reserves at one point, only for him to prove himself again and again.”I’ve always been a competitive person, wanted to be on the field,” said Dempsey prior to a home World Cup qualifier against Trinidad & Tobago last year. “Yeah, it was frustrating when the managers would change, you’d go to the bench and try to work your way back into the team. But it makes you stronger.”With numerous U.S. players getting chewed up by the meat grinder that is the top leagues in Europe, the fans loved him for that resilience. It allowed the broader U.S. soccer community to puff its chest out a bit, and say, “See? We can produce a player like Clint.”Dempsey showed his fortitude in other ways, as well. The loss of his sister, Jennifer, to a brain aneurysm when he was just 12 fueled his competitive fire, and made him play every game like it was his last. A heart ailment back in 2016 nearly ended his career, yet he returned for both club and country. There was simply no keeping him down.Perhaps the most sobering aspect to Dempsey’s retirement, beyond no longer seeing him on the field, is the realization that he remains very much an outlier, at least in terms of U.S. attackers. He and Landon Donovan — the source of constant comparisons for much of his career — are the only ones in the conversation as the country’s greatest attacking player. Christian Pulisic has accomplished much already with Borussia Dortmund, but he still has a way to go to catch up to the exploits of Dempsey. Otherwise the cupboard of creative U.S. players remains bare.Of course, a big reason why Dempsey is so celebrated is that he was unique. All he wanted to do was score goals, spend time with his family and go fishing. Now he’ll have more time to enjoy the last two on that list.

Is Clint Dempsey the U.S. men’s national team’s greatest player ever?

6:53 PM ETESPN

With the news of Clint Dempsey’s retirement from professional soccer, ESPN FC turned to several of its U.S. soccer and MLS writers to ask whether the U.S. men’s national team’s joint-leading goal scorer is also its greatest player ever.

Jeff Carlisle (@JeffreyCarlisle)

Answering the question of whether Dempsey is the greatest U.S. men’s player isn’t as easy as it sounds. There have been a few goalkeepers — Kasey Keller, Brad Friedel, Tim Howard — who have at least been Dempsey’s equal in terms of club career, and they give him a run for his money in terms of U.S. exploits, too. But scoring goals is the hardest part of the game, and for that reason Landon Donovan is the only other player who comes close to Dempsey. I think Dempsey did more with his club career and played at a higher level for longer, so when you look at what he accomplished for both club and country, you have to give him the nod as the greatest U.S. player ever.

Matt Pentz (@mattpentz)

I initially thought about pushing back against the premise of ranking something as inherently subjective as greatness, but what the heck, I’ll bite: Yes, with the qualifier that Dempsey is the greatest U.S. men’s national team outfield player of all time. In that specific conversation, it’s likely to boil down to Dempsey versus Donovan, the man with whom he will forever be tied with on the list of most prodigious American goal scorers. That debate is something of a matter of personal taste, but Dempsey’s time with Fulham in the Premier League — not just holding his own but starring in one of the world’s biggest leagues — edge him to the very top of my list.

Arch Bell (@ArchBell)

I do consider Dempsey to be the greatest U.S. men’s national team player of all time. The biggest stage in all of sport is the World Cup, and no U.S. player has delivered in that tournament like Dempsey did, scoring crucial goals in all three tournaments he played in. He also put the U.S. team on his back during its run to the 2016 Copa America Centenario semifinals with three goals. One must also take into account that he scored fewer goals from the penalty spot than Donovan and achieved that 57-goal mark in fewer games (136 total compared with Donovan’s 157). No doubt, he’s the best U.S. men’s player ever.

Noah Davis (@noahedavis)

Dempsey never seemed to care about our stats or our labels or our narratives. He cared about playing soccer his way, on his terms. That meant scoring goals — both in audacious, seemingly impossible ways and with scrappy efforts. He was a unique force in American soccer history, a creative attacking dynamo who grew up in a low-income family from the Texas hinterlands. Was Dempsey the greatest player in U.S. men’s national team soccer history? Who cares. I doubt he does. The program will never have another player like him — although it should strive as hard as it can to find many, many more. That’s all that matters.

Clint Dempsey’s Career, Legacy Go Well Beyond the Stats and NumberPauseMute

CThere will be no flashy farewell tour for American soccer’s foremost ambassador of confidence, clutch, skill and swagger. And for Clint Dempsey, that’s perfect.By BRIAN STRAUSAugust 29, 2018

The announcement was sudden, brief, and included a short statement of thanks that seemed somewhat boilerplate save for the tell-tale “y’all.” There was no soul-baring, one-on-one with a favorite broadcaster, and no weepy news conference—the sort where fellow greats and VIPs fill the room to enhance the occasion and pay their respects. There will be no farewell tour with gifts and video tributes from the opposition.That means it’s perfect. Leave the sentimentality and self-aggrandizement behind, and leave ‘em wanting more. Clint Dempsey retired Wednesday, effective Wednesday. Unvarnished to the last, the 35-year-old Seattle Sounders forward and U.S. national team icon simply and essentially hung a “gone fishin’” sign in his locker. He’ll let us figure out the rest.

And Dempsey left plenty to sort through as he exits the soccer stage almost as abruptly as he took it as a Revolution rookie back in 2004. His list of achievements is long and historic. Dempsey is a three-time U.S. Soccer player of the year, the co-leading scorer in senior national team history and the only American man to strike at three consecutive World Cups. He set a new standard for Yanks abroad, where he twice was named Fulham’s player of the season en route to becoming the top U.S.-born marksman in Premier League annals.

He won three Concacaf Gold Cups and the Bronze Ball at the ’09 Confederations Cup, where he scored in both the semifinal and final. And he mastered a moment like no player before or since, crafting indelible, viral images that captured the collective imagination, personified American ambition and left press conferences and farewell tours unnecessary.That last part, truly, is where Dempsey excelled. The man who shares the U.S. goal scoring record, Landon Donovan, was a more well-rounded footballer. Donovan was a better athlete and a more effective playmaker, and he could impact or shape a game in a greater number of ways. But while there was a sense for many that Donovan hadn’t plumbed the depths of his talent, that he could be somehow distracted or diverted, Dempsey attacked everything with vigor. For that, he’s more beloved. His story read like a classic American tall tale, in which the will and creativity leading to fame and fortune were forged by those three-hour drives to training, financial challenges, family tragedy and so many pick-up games in the East Texas dust.“There’s a few differences between me and Landon. I didn’t get started until late. I didn’t get started until I was 20. I turned 21 in my first MLS season, in March,” Dempsey said in 2012. “It’s always been a race against time, really, for me. It’s kind of my mentality, to make up for lost time. That hasn’t changed. That’s why I continue to push myself every year. I want to do something really special in my life. Not that we haven’t done special things already, but something really special, you know?”So Dempsey (and his parents) pushed himself to youth games in Dallas, over his sister’s untimely death and through Furman University, to MLS and England, and then past the heart trouble that nearly ended his career in 2016. He did so with unapologetic swagger and ultimate confidence, as each measure of success helped strengthen him for the next step.American soccer yearned for that—someone who refused to accept defeat, someone for whom all things were possible, someone who was resilient and unbowed and cowed by nothing. Dempsey ignored cultural and competitive boundaries. And he confronted every challenge and every defender with the desperation of someone with everything to lose, combined with the fearlessness of someone with nothing. His uncanny knack for finding that balance, along with that legendary swagger, manifested itself in unforgettable images, from “Deuce Face” and that jaw-dropping Europa League chip against Juventus, to his post-goal roar against Ghana in Natal and his assault on a referee’s notebook in Tukwila.He doesn’t need the staged photo-ops now. His whole career was an organic, authentic photo-op. And while he didn’t seek out press or any extra attention, he wasn’t shy about reminding you where he’d been and what he’d accomplished. If there ever was a U.S. forward who could tell you how many goals he’d scored on a Saturday wearing white in the rain, it was Dempsey. He didn’t have to pause and think to recall his honors or stats. They were purchased with blood, sweat and tears, and his pride in past achievements strengthened his resolve and fueled his hunger for more.He bemoaned the headwinds created by managerial turnover abroad, and the perception there of U.S. players. There were times when he grew frustrated by criticism. But he always fought through it, and did so with a blunt, human charisma admired by many. Not everyone could get away with the rap videos, or fishing talk or aloof hustles through the mixed zone. They’d be affectations coming from others. But Dempsey somehow made it work. When he was surly or combative, it was just Clint being Clint. He was still cool. Dempsey was even cool when he missed—he’d have the national team record to himself if he’d converted that penalty in a World Cup qualifier against Mexico in 2013. But, hey, “dos a cero.” A lot of people figured he must’ve missed on purpose.Dempsey, painfully, also would have the U.S. record if his shot in Trinidad hadn’t hit the post last October. Even Deuce wasn’t allowed to fashion his own ending. He missed Seattle’s 2016 MLS Cup triumph with the heart issue and had an eventful 2017, winning the league’s Comeback Player of the Year award, then enjoying a strong playoff run with the Sounders before a poor showing in the final. His national team year featured a Gold Cup triumph and four qualifying goals, but concluded with that stunning setback in Couva. This year, age and injury limited him to nine starts and one goal. He knew it was time.“After a lot of thought, my family and I have decided that this is the right time for me to step away from the game,” Dempsey said in his Wednesday statement. “I’d like to thank all of the teammates, coaches and support staff that I’ve worked with throughout my career. It has always been my dream to make it as a pro. I’m grateful to have been on this ride. I would like to thank all of the fans who have supported me throughout my career with the New England Revolution, Fulham, Tottenham, Seattle Sounders and the U.S. men’s national team. Y’all have always made me feel at home, and it is something that I will always remember.”nd he will always be remembered. Speaking to SI.com on Wednesday, U.S. coach Dave Sarachan said, “If you take the categories of a player—speed, power, agility, endurance—Clint wouldn’t win a lot of those categories. But it didn’t matter, because at the end of the day, he was so clinical in his approach to the game and his finishing ability.“He was his own guy as a striker, as a player, and he offered such a unique skill set. From day one, back when we were looking at him as a prospect for the draft and all the way through his career, the thing you’d always say—and our good friend and former [USA] assistant Mooch Myernick would always say—‘He just tries s-*-*-t.’ He can pull off plays in such a unique way, and his record speaks for itself, whether he’s playing in MLS or overseas. He’ll go down really as one of the best in U.S. soccer history.”Dempsey would remind you of his resume, but his career and charisma clearly added up to a whole lot more than that. He is American soccer’s foremost ambassador of confidence and clutch, skill and swagger, and for the foreseeable future, he’ll be its most compelling story.

One Clint Dempsey goal changed the way I thought about American soccer players

When Dempsey announced his retirement, the first thing I thought about was THAT GOAL against Juventus.

By Nate Scott@aNateScott  Aug 29, 2018, 4:20pm EDT

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It was the second leg of a Europa League competition between Fulham and Juventus, and American star Clint Dempsey — who retired from soccer on Wednesday with a simple Instagram post — had subbed into the game with less than 20 minutes remaining.Fulham and Juventus were miraculously tied on aggregate after a huge Fulham comeback, and with less than 10 minutes remaining, midfielder Dickson Etuhu played a bouncing ball up to the American. Dempsey, who had just substituted in for Fulham, took it out of the air well enough. One touch to settle away from the defense, then one touch on the right edge of the box. He snuck a glance at the net, saw that Juventus keeper Antonio Chimenti had drifted off his line. Then Dempsey chopped down with his right foot, and the ball sailed into the air, toward the back post.Craven Cottage, as one, held its breath. Was he? Could he be?Chimenti looked up and knew there was nothing to be done. The ball touched the post, then fell into the net. The stadium exploded. He had done it.

It feels wildly reductive to try and sum up a career as spectacular as Dempsey’s into one moment, but I promise it is done in good faith. There will be countless words written this week about his upbringing in Texas, the tragic death of his sister — a nationally ranked tennis player — at the age of 16, and how her death both allowed Dempsey to pursue his soccer dream and fueled him to achieve what no other American had ever achieved in the game before.There will be thoughts on his college career at Furman, his breakthrough in MLS with the New England Revolution, his amazing run late in his career with Seattle Sounders, his tenure with Tottenham Hotspur as well as Fulham in the Premier League. There should be books written about what he meant to the USMNT over the years, how he was quietly their most creative player and an important leader for the better part of a decade.But I want to talk about that goal. Let’s talk about that goal.

First, you need to understand the context. It was 2010. Clint Dempsey’s Fulham was playing Juventus in the Europa League. The tournament, the Champions League’s little brother, was a slight step down for a giant Juventus side in a rut and a cosmic leap forward for tiny Fulham, who were playing in their first European competition ever after sneaking into the Europa League thanks to a better-than-average Premier League season the year prior.Juventus were a world class club, and in the first match of the two-leg tie looked like it, winning 3-1 at home. The following game looked like a formality for the Italian side, and when David Trezeguet scored for Juventus in the second minute, it looked over. They had a 4-1 aggregate lead and an away goal. It was done.Then, in the 26th minute, Juventus star defender Fabio Cannavaro was issued a red card for a hard foul on Zoltan Gera. Playing up a man, Fulham scored. Then they scored again. And again. It was 3-1, and Juventus looked lost. Craven Cottage, Fulham’s small, old stadium by the Thames River, was rocking. Then, in the 71st minute, Clint Dempsey subbed on. And 11 minutes later he decided to chip a shot to the back post.

It’s tempting to just remember the goal for how important it was. The fact that it gave Fulham a win and catapulted them on a Europa League run that ended in a 2-1 loss in the final to Atletico Madrid.But we should also just appreciate the goal for what it was. Forget the context. Just watch it. There’s that first touch. Then the audacity. The chip is impressive, yes. But it’s the fact that he tried it, that he even thought to try it, that makes the goal so special.Some say it was an accident. A cross gone awry. To those people I say: Get the hell out of my article. Go on. Git. It wasn’t a cross. It was never a cross. He meant to do that.He meant to do that because that is what Clint Dempsey was. That shot is exactly what made him special, what separated him from so many Americans who came before him.Bruce Arena once said, lovingly, that Clint Dempsey was the type of player who “tries shit.” It sounds silly, but in the soccer world, I promise you it’s high praise. It meant that Dempsey was unafraid. He had vision. He had creativity. He was willing to make a fool of himself, something true of most great artists. He wasn’t content to make the right play. He wanted to make something beautiful.There are precious few American soccer players in our history who have been guys who were unafraid to try shit. Claudio Reyna tried shit. Nowadays, Christian Pulisic will try shit. Darlington Nagbe sometimes will. It’s a short list, something special and rare in this country. Soccer games are often rote affairs, players making the right decision over and over again, or trying to make the right decision and failing to.Sometimes, to break open a game, or to beat a team like Juventus, you need to make the wrong decision. You need to try some shit.

I’ve made the argument before that this goal was a tipping point in how Europeans viewed American soccer players. I’m not so sure that’s true now. Dempsey had been doing good work for Fulham for awhile when he scored that goal. Before him at the club, Brian McBride was a club hero. Americans had succeeded in the Premier League, even outside the goalkeeper position, and plenty of knowledgeable fans knew that.Dempsey’s goal didn’t convince Europeans that Americans could play soccer. Rather, I think it convinced a lot of Americans that Americans could play soccer. Here was one of our own, playing against Italian giants, and he had produced that. It was a moment of validation, of inspiration.Dempsey wasn’t some cliche of a soccer player, either. He was a kid from Texas who liked rap music and fishing and, in this game at least, had a black eye, and he had created a moment of beauty we never thought possible. For me, at least — an American soccer fan and Fulham nut who had grown up watching and playing in thousands of games — it’s the single most memorable and important goal in my life. It re-defined, for me, what I thought an American could do on a soccer field.

If you will indulge me, and go back to play the video a second time, I implore you not to watch, but rather to listen to the crowd as Dempsey shoots the ball. The murmur of the crowd goes dead as he puts his right foot through it. Pure silence. It lasts maybe a quarter of a second. Seriously, go listen. I’ve never experienced anything like it before. No one makes a sound.As it sails to the back post, you can hear as part of the crowd begins to understand what is happening. There’s a sharp inhalation. Had he? He couldn’t have … Then the ball hits the post. Another half moment, as a stadium processes it in real time, then the release.Four thousand miles away, in a dingy living room in New Orleans, the replay of the goal was playing on a loop on my laptop, fed from a grainy, illegal stream. There was no one around to watch it, though. I was already a half block away, running down the middle of street, surely freaking out my neighbors as I raised my fists to the sky and screamed the man’s name.

Sigi Schmid reflects on Clint Dempsey’s career: “He was iconic”

August 30, 20186:58PM EDTScott FrenchContributorCARSON, Calif. – Sigi Schmid praised Clint Dempsey’s “phenomenal career” and said it was “a privilege” to coach the American soccer icon with Seattle Sounders FC.Schmid, in charge of the Sounders when Dempsey joined the club in 2013 following eight seasons in England, called Dempsey “a fantastic player” who “deserved all the accolades he’s getting” following the LA Galaxy’s training session Thursday morning at StubHub Center.Dempsey, 35, announced Wednesday he was retiring from the game following a career in which he starred for two MLS clubs, made a massive imprint with Fulham in the English Premier League, and equaled Landon Donovan’s US national team record 57 goals, in 141 caps over 13 years.“He was iconic in the sense of he was the one guy who had really broken through [in Europe],” Schmid said. “Claudio Reyna had sort of broken through, and there’s guys like [Carlos] Bocanegra, but he was the one forward, along with [Brian] McBride, who had sort of broken through in Europe.“I think that was important, because that helped establish that, hey, Americans can play. And I think that opened the door for some other players to get over there later. Fulham, obviously, added some Americans [such as] Eddie Johnson [and brought in] players that played in MLS, like a Simon Elliott.”Dempsey scored 60 goals in 232 games over seven seasons with Fulham, twice winning club MVP honors, and added 12 more in 43 games with Tottenham. He returned to MLS in 2013, and the next year teamed with Obafemi Martins to lead the Sounders to the Supporters’ Shield with the first 20-win MLS season – and just one of two in all – in the post-shootout era.“I think him and Obafemi Martins, the year that they played together, it was magical,” Schmid, who coached Dempsey in Seattle from 2013 until his dismissal during the 2016 season, said. “It was the best two-tandem forwards I had ever coached, because they were just instinctually … it was like watching kids on the playground.”Dempsey, MLS’s Comeback Player of the Year last season after returning from a heart condition that forced him to miss the Sounders’ run to the 2016 MLS Cup title, retires as joint regular-season goals leader for Seattle with Fredy Montero, with 47. He also tallied six times in the playoffs for the Sounders – three last year to lead them into their second successive MLS Cup final – and finishes with 72 regular-season MLS goals in 186 games.He’s the only American male to score in three World Cups and his four World Cup goals for the USMNT are bettered only by Donovan’s five. He also scored three goals to lead the US to the 2009 Confederations Cup final, one of them in the 2-0 semifinal upset of Spain.“When you look at the goals he scored in World Cups and Confederations Cups,” Schmid said, “sometimes we wouldn’t have achieved what we did as a country without his goals.”Dempsey commonly is pitted against Donovan in the debate for the greatest American soccer player, and Schmid said he tries to “avoid those debates.”“For me,” he said, “that’s why Mount Rushmore has more than one face on it.”

USMNT’s Yedlin giveth and taketh away in wild finish to Chelsea’s win over Newcastle

For about 75 minutes, Chelsea’s visit to Newcastle United was as dull as could be. Then things really heated up over the last quarter of an hour — especially for U.S. international DeAndre Yedlin.Yedlin provided the assist that tied the game in the 83rd minute, but his own goal in the 87th ultimately sunk Newcastle and allowed Chelsea to win 2-1, the Blues’ first win at St. James’ Park in nearly seven years.Newcastle set up in a defensive shell, hoping to limit the damage of the more talented visitors. Yedlin in particular had a steep challenge at right back trying to contain superstar Eden Hazard and fullback Marcos Alonso, who loves to bomb forward down the left flank.Alonso drew a penalty in the 76th minute when he blew past Fabian Schär, forcing the Newcastle defender to scissor-tackle him from behind in the box. Hazard buried the ensuing penalty to give Chelsea its breakthrough.It took the Magpies less than 10 minutes to equalize. Yedlin won a ball in the air down the right side and whipped in a cross that Newcastle striker Joselu buzzed off his head and into the back of the net:There was a shout of controversy from Chelsea, as it appeared Yedlin elbowed Olivier Giroud in the face in the process of winning the ball. But no call was given and the goal stood.

Yedlin and Newcastle’s happiness turned to heartbreak shortly after, when Alonso fired a shot across the penalty area that appeared to be going wide before Yedlin’s reflexes betrayed him and he nudged the ball into his own net:Newcastle has a solitary point through three Premier League fixtures so far this season, a scoreless draw at Cardiff City last weekend. The other two games have been against Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, however, so the schedule has been tough. Yedlin himself escaped what could have been a serious injury in the opener against Spurs.Chelsea, meanwhile, now sits joint-top of the table with Liverpool and Watford, trailing Liverpool only on goal difference. The Blues have varied from impressive to simply resilient thus far under new manager Maurizio Sarri.On Sunday, luck played the determining factor — good luck for Chelsea, and bad luck for one of the USMNT’s best players.Joey Gulino is the editor of FC Yahoo and moonlights as a writer. Follow him on Twitter at @JGulinoYahoo.

All the stars: Brazil call strong squad to face USMNT at MetLife

August 17, 201812:41PM EDTTom BogertContributor

It will not be an easy start to the 2022 World Cup cycle for the US men’s national team. The US will face Brazil at MetLife Stadium on September 7 and after being knocked out in the quarterfinals of the 2018 World Cup, Brazil is bringing all their stars to New Jersey.razil announced their squad and it includes the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Casemiro, Thiago Silva and more. Of the players selected, 13 were on Brazil’s World Cup roster.The match against Brazil is the first of the US’ Kickoff Series, intended to prepare the US for the next cycle of World Cup qualifiers. After Brazil, USA will play Mexico on Sept. 11, in Nashville, Tennessee. They then face Colombia on Thursday, Oct. 11, at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa as well as another opponent during October that has yet to be determined. After that, it’s a match against England at Wembley Stadium in London on Thursday, Nov. 15. before visiting Italy on Tuesday, Nov. 20, at a venue still to be determined.The United States are yet to announce their roster for the upcoming friendlies against Brazil and Mexico. All friendlies will take place during FIFA international windows, meaning that the technical staff could call upon their first-choice group of players.

Luka Modric named UEFA Player of the Year ahead of Cristiano Ronaldo, Mohamed Salah

1:38 PM ETESPN

Real Madrid’s Luka Modric has edged out Cristiano Ronaldo and Mohamed Salah to win the 2017-18 UEFA Player of the Year award.Modric’s excellent season at the Bernabeu was recognised at the Champions League draw in Monaco on Thursday, with UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin on hand to present the prize to the Croatia international.Thursday’s win caps off a stellar 12 months for the 32-year-old, who also won the Golden Ball for his performances in helping Croatia finish as runners-up at the World Cup in Russia.Modric’s was one of many for Real Madrid on a trophy-laden night, with Blancos custodian Keylor Navas named as UEFA Champions League Goalkeeper of the Season ahead of Gigi Buffon and Alisson, Sergio Ramos recognised as the Defender of the Season over teammates Marcelo and Raphael Varane, Modric winning Midfielder of the Season ahead of Kevin De Bruyne and Toni Kroos, and Ronaldo pipping Lionel Messi and Salah to the Forward of the Season award.UEFA also named the Women’s Player of the Year at the ceremony, with Wolfsburg’s Pernille Harder beating Lyon duo Ada Hegerberg and Amandine Henry to the top prize.David Beckham was also recognised on the night, receiving the 2018 UEFA President’s Award from Ceferin for his “outstanding achievements, professional excellence and exemplary personal qualities,” while San Jose Earthquakes defender Guram Kashia won the inaugural #EqualGame award for his support of the LGBTQ community last season.

What you need to know about the UEFA Champions League group stage draw

Cristiano Ronaldo gets to play Manchester United again, Liverpool got screwed, and Group A is a hipster paradise.

By Kim McCauley@lgbtqfc  Aug 30, 2018, 1:29pm EDT

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32 teams learned their fate in the UEFA Champions League group stage draw on Thursday, and some are happier with their path to the knockout stage than others. The likes of Bayern Munich, Manchester City and Real Madrid will be thrilled that they have simple paths to a top seed and a quarterfinal appearance. Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Liverpool, Juventus and Manchester United will be less thrilled.

Here’s how the draw shook out and what you need to know.

Must watch: Ronaldo vs. United

Cristiano Ronaldo has faced off against his former club just once in the UEFA Champions League, in the Round of 16 in 2013. He knocked them out of the competition too, scoring in both legs. It’ll be exciting to see him grace the Old Trafford pitch again, and just like in 2013, he’ll be expected to get the better of the club where he became a star. Juventus and United will play twice, with the exact dates still TBA.

Toughest: Group C

Paris Saint-Germain and Liverpool might have both been strongly favored to win their groups in a different draw. 538 has both rated as top-7 teams in the world. They’ll not only have to deal with each other, but also with Napoli, who retained all of its key players after giving Juventus a run for its money in Serie A last season. Someone is going to be very bitter when they get knocked out, and will become the instant favorite to win the Europa League.

Runner up: Group B

While not as top-heavy as Group C, Group B does not have a weak link like Red Star. Instead, all three of the teams below Barcelona will feel like they can fight for second place. Tottenham Hotspur is the favorite, but Inter Milan added big names like Radja Nainggolan, Stefan de Vrij, Sime Vrsaljko and Keita Balde this summer. PSV held onto “Chucky” Hirving Lozano despite interest from bigger clubs, and he’s scoring at will in the Netherlands. No one will have an easy game in this group.

Hipster’s choice: Group A

If you’re more interested in up-and-coming stars and fun games than big names, Group A is where it’s at. Atlético Madrid might have its strongest squad ever, Christian Pulisic is still balling for Borussia Dortmund, and AS Monaco has reinvested the Kylian Mbappe money into a slew of entertaining young talents.

LOL: Group D

A couple years ago, UEFA changed the draw rules to give automatic Pot 1 placements to the champions of the top seven leagues. The seventh best league in Europe is the Russian Premier League, and its champion is Lokomotiv Moscow, who doesn’t have an impressive recent history in this competition. They got lucky in the draw too, so two of Lokomotiv, Porto, Schalke and Galatasaray are guaranteed to make the round of 16. If none of those teams makes the quarterfinals, expect increased calls for serious changes to the Champions League group stage.

UEFA Champions League groups

Group A

Atlético Madrid
Borussia Dortmund
AS Monaco
Club Brugge

Group B

Barcelona
Tottenham Hotspur
PSV Eindhoven
Inter Milan

Group C

Paris Saint-Germain
Napoli
Liverpool
Red Star Belgrade

Group D

Lokomotiv Moskow
FC Porto
Schalke 04
Galatasaray

Group E

Bayern Munich
Benfica
Ajax
AEK Athens

Group F

Manchester City
Shakhtar Donetsk
Olympique Lyonnais
Hoffenheim

Group G

Real Madrid
AS Roma
CSKA Moscow
Viktoria Plzen

Group H

Juventus
Manchester United
Valencia
Young Boys

Manchester United face difficult task; Liverpool may have to settle for second finds it tough to choose Man United to advance from Group H, noting the current negative climate of the club. (1:44)

3:15 PM ETMark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

The 2018-19 Champions League group stage, which begins next month, will more than a few several eye-catching games after Thursday’s draw pitted some of Europe’s biggest clubs against each other.Group H sees a reunion for Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba with Manchester United and Juventus respectively, while last season’s finalists Liverpool face a difficult task against Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade. Barcelona, meanwhile, have been drawn with Tottenham and Inter.ERTISEMENT

Elsewhere, holders Real Madrid — aiming for a fourth successive title — will be happy with their draw, as will English champions Manchester City and German title holders Bayern.With the group stage mapped out, who will make it through and keep alive their dream of lifting the European Cup in Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium next June?

Group A: Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Monaco, Brugge

Who will go through? 1. Atletico Madrid; 2. Borussia Dortmund

Europa League holders Atletico Madrid will be desperate to win this season’s Champions League due to the final being staged at their stadium in the Spanish capital, but Diego Simeone’s team have been handed a tough start.

Atletico, who have reached three finals and lost each time, won the UEFA Super Cup earlier this month and will be favourites to top the group and expect to leave the rest fighting for runners-up spot.

However, Borussia Dortmund have a strong European pedigree, while Monaco’s recent Champions League performances make them a dangerous opponent. Brugge’s best hope will be to snatch third and a place in the Europa League.

Group B: Barcelona, Tottenham, PSV Eindhoven, Inter

Who will go through? 1. Barcelona; 2. Tottenham

The group has serious pedigree, but beyond the names and history of the clubs involved, should ultimately see both Barcelona and Tottenham progress comfortably.

Barca will be favourites to qualify as winners — Ernesto Valverde’s team still possess awesome firepower in the form of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele — but Spurs showed last season, when topping their group ahead of Real Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, that they can beat the best on the big stage.

Dutch champions PSV will do well to finish in the top two under new coach Mark van Bommel. Inter are some distance from repeating their 2010 Champions League success and are likely to find life tough under Despite Group C consisting of PSG, Napoli and Red Star Belgrade, Paul Mariner feels Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool have enough to finish atop the group.

Group C: Paris Saint-Germain, Napoli, Liverpool, Red Star Belgrade

Who will go through? 1. Paris Saint-Germain; 2. Liverpool

Liverpool were fearful of a tough group after being placed in Pot Three and their nightmare became reality as Jurgen Klopp’s men were paired with PSG and Napoli.

PSG, with Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani in their ranks, will be favourites for first place and Napoli, under Carlo Ancelotti, have the ability to beat anyone. As such, while Liverpool’s run to the final last season will give them belief, it will be tough for the five-time European champions to make the knockout stages.

Red Star Belgrade, European Cup winners way back in 1991, have qualified for the Champions League group stage for the first time, but the Serbian champions can expect to be left behind in a three-way battle for qualification.

Group D: Lokomotiv Moscow, Porto, Schalke, Galatasaray

Who will go through? 1. Schalke; 2. Porto

This group might lack box-office glamour, but it gives each participant a clear route into the knockout stages.

Porto are the only former Champions League winners among the four teams, but their meek surrender against Liverpool in last season’s Round of 16 — Jurgen Klopp’s team won 5-0 at Estadio do Dragao — will give Lokomotiv, Schalke and Galatasaray confidence that they can overcome the Portuguese champions.

Schalke, runners-up to Bayern Munich in last season’s Bundesliga, will be favourites to top the group, but this one is wide open.

Group E: Bayern Munich, Benfica, Ajax, AEK Athens

Who will go through? 1. Bayern Munich; 2. AEK Athens

Bayern will expect to cruise into the Round of 16 and it will take a momentous shock for the German champions to miss out. They remain a formidable force under new coach Nico Kovac, but the battle for second ensures Group E will be one of the most unpredictable.

Benfica’s Champions League experience will count in their favour, but Ajax’s squad retains several of the players who were part of the club’s run to the 2017 Europa League final, so Erik ten Hag’s men cannot be discounted.

And AEK Athens, having won their domestic title for the first time last season since 1993-94, have displayed durability by overcoming Celtic and Videoton to reach the group stages; they go yet go further.

Group F: Manchester City, Shakhtar Donetsk, Lyon, Hoffenheim

Who will go through? 1. Manchester City; 2. Shakhtar Donetsk

Manchester City’s ambition to win the Champions League will not have been dented by this draw, which has handed Pep Guardiola’s team a straightforward route through.

Although Shakhtar Donetsk inflicted City’s first defeat last season, the Premier League champions will not fear any of their opponents. Lyon and Hoffenheim, making their first appearance at this stage, will be difficult opponents, but City have the ability to finish top with a 100 percent record.

If you are looking for drama, the race for the runners-up spot is likely to be the only source of excitement, with Shakhtar’s recent pedigree giving them the edge.

Group G: Real Madrid, Roma, CSKA Moscow, Viktoria Plzen

Who will go through? 1. Real Madrid; 2. Roma

With two of last season’s semifinalists — Real Madrid and Roma — the battle for top spot and the race for third are likely to be the tale of this group.

Real will be strong favourites to finish first, but Roma’s incredible quarterfinal elimination of Barcelona last term ensures that the Madrid giants will be wary of their trip to the Stadio Olimpico. However, neither club should fear elimination at this stage with CSKA Moscow and Viktoria Plzen making up the numbers in the group.

The big question from the Real vs. Roma games will focus upon how much the reigning European champions will miss the goals of Cristiano Ronaldo, following his summer sale to Juventus. Even without him, though, Real should cruise.

Group H: Juventus, Manchester United, Valencia, Young Boys

Who will go through? 1. Juventus; 2. Valencia

Cristiano Ronaldo facing Manchester United with Juventus, for whom United’s Paul Pogba used to play, will be the main draw, but the reality is that the two clubs and Valencia will be locked in a three-way fight for qualification.

Juventus, serial Italian champions and beaten finalists in two of the last four Champions League deciders, will be the team to beat, while United’s unpredictability under Jose Mourinho means the three-time European champions will be vulnerable vs. Valencia. United’s record against Spanish opposition is historically poor: Sevilla eliminated them in the Round of 16 last season.

Making up the numbers are Swiss outfit Young Boys, who have the ability to take points off their rivals and could take advantage of any complacency by snatching third spot. This, though, is a tough group to call.

Americans Abroad Weekend Rewind: Romain Gall, John Brooks, and more

By: Larry Henry Jr. | August 26, 2018 11:55 pm ET

American midfielder Romain Gall needed four matches to etch his name on Malmo’s scoresheet, as the 23-year-old bagged two goals on Sunday for the club.Gall helped Malmo to a 5-0 demolition against Sirius at Swedbank Stadion which propelled the team to fourth in the Allsvenskan. His first goal came in the 66th-minute as he slid home to double his side’s lead. Gall would double his tally on the afternoon, scoring from a tough angle in the 72nd-minute. Malmo would add a pair of late goals to ice the strong performance in front of their home fans. As for Gall, he will hope to put in similar shifts for his side, who are next in action this week in Europa League qualifying.Elsewhere, John Brooks registered a goal in his 100th Bundesliga appearance as Wolfsburg downed Schalke. Weston McKennie started and played 90 minutes on the other end of that match. Christian Pulisic started and helped Borussia Dortmund to a dominant opening day win at home.DeAndre Yedlin registered an assist for Newcastle, but saw an own-goal go off his leg in the Magpies loss to Chelsea. Mix Diskerud scored his first goal for South Korean side Ulsan Hyundai in their lopsided win over FC Seoul. Brendan Hines-Ike also registered his first point for Belgium outfit Kortrijk in their road success.Here’s a closer look at this weekend’s Americans Abroad:

France

LIGUE 1

Matt Miazga started and played 90 minutes in Nantes 1-1 draw with Caen on Saturday.

Timothy Weah did not dress in PSG 3-1 win over Angers on Saturday.

Theoson-Jordon Siebatcheu came off the bench and played 21 minutes in Rennes 2-2 draw with Marseille on Sunday.

England

PREMIER LEAGUE

Tim Ream did not dress in Fulham’s 4-2 win over Burnley on Sunday.

Danny Williams did not dress in Huddersfield Town’s 0-0 draw with Cardiff City on Saturday.

DeAndre Yedlin started, registered ONE assist, conceded ONE own goal, and played 90 minutes in Newcastle United’s 2-1 loss to Chelsea on Sunday.

EFL CHAMPIONSHIP

Antonee Robinson started and played 90 minutes in Wigan Athletic’s 1-0 loss to QPR on Saturday.

Gboly Ariyibi did not dress in Nottingham Forest’s 2-2 draw with Birmingham City on Saturday.

Eric Lichaj started and played 90 minutes in Hull City’s 2-0 loss to Stoke City on Saturday.

Geoff Cameron did not dress for Stoke City.

Duane Holmes did not dress in Derby County’s 2-0 win over Preston North End on Saturday.

EFL LEAGUE ONE

Lynden Gooch started, registered ONE assist, and played 90 minutes in Sunderland’s 2-1 win over AFC Wimbledon on Saturday.

Germany

BUNDESLIGA

Chris Richards did not dress in Bayern Munich’s 3-1 win over Hoffenheim on Friday.

John Brooks started, scored ONE goal, and played 90 minutes in Wolfsburg’s 2-1 win over Schalke on Saturday.

Weston McKennie started and played 90 minutes for Schalke.

Aron Johannsson did not dress in  Werder Bremen;s 1-1 draw with Hannover on Saturday.

Bobby Wood did not dress for Hannover.

Timmy Chandler did not dress in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-0 win over Freiburg on Saturday.

Caleb Stanko did not dress for Freiburg.

Fabian Johnson started, scored ONE goal, and played 83 minutes in Borussia Monchengladbach’s 2-0 win over Bayer Leverkusen on Saturday.

Alfredo Morales started and played 90 minutes in Fortuna Dusseldorf’s 2-1 loss to Augsburg on Saturday.

Christian Pulisic started and played 77 minutes in Borussia Dortmund’s 4-1 win over RB Leipzig on Sunday.

2. BUNDESLIGA

Terrence Boyd dressed but did not play in Darmstadt’s 3-0 win over Duisburg on Friday.

McKinze Gaines did not dress for Darmstadt.

Joe Gyau came off the bench and played 21 minutes for Duisburg.

Andrew Wooten came off the bench and played 24 minutes in Sandhausen’s 1-0 loss to Bochum on Friday.

Brady Scott did not dress in Koln’s 3-1 win over Erzgebirge Aue on Saturday.

Julian Green started and played 88 minutes in Greuther Furth’s 2-2 draw with Paderborn on Saturday.

REGIONALIGA

Josh Sargent started, scored ONE goal, and played 90 minutes in Werder Bremen II’s 2-0 win over Drochtersen/Assel on Sunday.

Jonathan Klinsmann did not dress in Hertha Berlin II’s 4-2 win over Viktoria Berlin on Sunday.

Mexico

LIGA MX

Omar Gonzalez started and played 90 minutes in Atlas’ 1-0 loss to Guadalajara on Friday.

Jose Torres came off the bench and played 27 minutes in Puebla’s 2-0 loss to Pachuca on Saturday.

Alejandro Guido, Rubio Rubin dressed but did not play in Club Tijuana’s 1-0 loss to Veracruz on Saturday.

Ventura Alvarado started and played 90 minutes in Necaxa’s 1-1 draw with Tigres on Saturday.

Eduardo Fernandez did not dress for Tigres.

Joe Corona dressed but did not play in Club America’s 2-2 draw with Pumas on Saturday.

Michael Orozco started and played 90 minutes in Lobos’ 2-0 loss to Queretaro on Sunday.

William Yarborough dressed but did not play in Club Leon’s 2-1 win over Toluca on Sunday.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN BREAK EVEN IN LATE DRAW AGAINST PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC, 2-2

By James Higdon, 08/30/18, 12:15AM EDT

The “Boys in Blue” extend unbeaten streak to seven

Indy Eleven extend its unbeaten streak to seven matches in a late draw versus a 10-man Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, 2-2. A brace from “Boys in Blue” forward Jack McInerney brings his goal count to nine on the season and a 3W-0L-4D record in the last seven fixtures.

Indy captured the lead in the fourth minute of play. Eleven midfielder Matt Watson bullied the ball from Riverhouds defender Andrew Lubahn in Indy’s defensive half to lob the ball forward. McInerney masterfully brought down the high ball 20 yards out from goal and beat Riverhounds goalkeeper Michael Kirk off his line for a shot at the open goal. McInerney almost caught Kirk off his line again two minutes later with a shot near the center line, but the ball bounced wide of the far post for an opposition goal kick.

“I think one of the things we forget with Jack McInerney is that by the age of about 23, he had scored around 50 goals in the MLS, or Concacaf, or Open Cup,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “He had a spell where he didn’t get to play too much. He was behind some fantastic player, not anything he was doing wrong. So when he came here it was a little bit of a rebuilding job for him and for us. Now, he’s doing what I think we all know he can do, which is score goals.”Riverhouds continued a highly possessive game in the midfield in an attempt to open up Indy’s backline, but it was a stoppage-time goal that brought the evening level for the first time. Riverhounds were awarded a free kick in the 47th minute at the edge of Indy’s 18-yard box following a heavy tackle by defender Karl Ouimette. A minute later, Pittsburgh midfielder Christiano Francois played an in-swinging ball for defender Joe Greenspan to head down past Eleven keeper Owain Fon Williams. The goal was Greenspan’s first of 2018.Riverhounds took the lead 14 minutes after the break. In similar fashion to Indy’s opening goal, Francois beat Fon Williams’ off his line almost 20 yards out from goal after gaining possession of the loose ball.The scoreline could’ve been vastly different for either team if not to impressive saves by both keepers. Kirk kept the ball from the back of his team’s net with saves in the 56th, 72nd and 77th minute. “Indiana’s Team’s” man between the post also recorded saves in the 67th and 77th minute to keep the scoring gap to a single goal.A night that could’ve easily been soured by a loss, McInerney managed to pull one more back for the “Boys in Blue” in the 96th minute. Eleven midfielder Ben Speas flicked a pass nearly 20 yards forward into Riverhounds’ penalty box. McInerney settled the ball around around Kirk as he charged out of goal and fired an angled shot on his second touch for the last-minute equalizer.The draw concludes game five of seven in 22 days for Indy Eleven, having yet to pick up a loss in that timespan.“I’m really, really happy with the ‘never say die’ attitude because we’re in a run of playing quite a bit of games at the moment but we’re now seven games unbeaten.” said Rennie. “In a game like that tonight when it’s kind of not going our way in the sense that we had good chances but the goalkeeper made great saves. Sometimes in those games you have to dig in and show your character and I thought we did that.”Indy Eleven are back at home this Saturday, September 1 for Public Safety Night. The “Boys in Blue” will kick off against Richmond Kickers at 7:00 p.m. Fans can get tickets to the upcoming match for as low as $15 by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.

Indy Eleven 2:2 Pittsburgh Riverhounds
Wednesday, August 29, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.  Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN 

Scoring Summary:

IND – Jack McInerney (Matt Watson) 4′
PGH – Joe Greenspan (Christiano Francois) 45+3′
PGH – Christiano Francois – 59′
IND – Jack McInerney (Ben Speas) 90+4′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Reiner Ferreira, Ayoze, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette; Dylan Mares, Nico Matern (Brad Ring 79′), Matt Watson (C) (Juan Guerra 79′), Eugene Starikov (Soony Saad 61′), Ben Speas, Jack McInerneyIndy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK); Brad Rusin, Kevin Venegas, Brad Ring, Juan Guerra, Soony Saad, Nathan Lewis

Pittsburgh Riverhounds lineup (1-5-4-1, L–>R): Michael Kirk (GK); Andrew Lubahn (Ray Lee 71′), Hugh Roberts, Joe Greenspan, Todd Pratzner, Jordan Dover; Christiano Francois, Ben Zemanski, Mo Dabo, Noah Franke (Kenardo Forbes 45′); Neco Brett (Tobi Adewole 85′)Pittsburgh Riverhounds bench: Nate Ingham (GK); Tobi Adewole, Ray Lee, Kenardo Forbes, Ben Fitzpatrick, Kay Banjo, Romeo Parkes

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8/24 MLS Rivalry Weekend – El Traffico 10:30 tonight, German Bundesliga Starts Today, Top Ranked CHS Girls host Carmel Invite Sat, Carmel FC Champs & GK Training Resumes

MLS Rivalry Week – El Traffico LA vs LA Tonight 10:30 pm ESPN

I know its Friday night – High School football night for some, Dinner and Movie for others?  Tonight – Do yourself a favor and Find a TV and turn it to ESPN at 10:30 pm ET tonight for EL TRAFFICO!  We were fortunate enough to be at the last one – a 2-2 thriller at LAFC as the Galaxy stole a tie in the 88th minute 2-2.  El Traffico III tonight at 10:30 pm on ESPN has the LA Galaxy facing LAFC in the Home Depot Center as the Galaxy look to end a streak of just 1 win in 6 games. Its truly a must win for Zlatan Ibrahimovic and the Galaxy as he mentions in this interview.  El Traffico is part of a pair of double headers as Orlando will face Atlanta United at 8 pm tonight on ESPN, and Sunday night we get the East contending NY Red Bulls vs Wayne Rooney’s DC United at 7 pm followed by the Grand-Daddy of all the Derby’s in the US – the Portland Timbers hosting the Seattle Sounders at 9:30 pm on ESPN.  Set those recorders, or buckle down and watch – it’s a huge weekend of soccer in MLS!

EPL Weekend #3

Not many big time games this weekend in the EPL as the best match features Man United hosting Tottenham on Monday afternoon at 3 pm on NBCSN.  Liverpool does host Brighton at 12:30 pm on NBC Saturday while 0-2 Arsenal, with the toughest early schedule in the EPL, will host West Ham United at 10 am on NBCSN looking for their first victory in the Unai Emery era.

German Bundesliga Starts Friday

The German Bundesliga starts Friday with young American’s scattered on rosters far and near.  Of course Dortmund and American budding superstar Christian Pulisic will look to make a push for the title under a new head coach, while Schalke and US youngster Aaron Mckinney look to enjoy Champions League for the first time in years.

Of course Bayern Munich will most certainly win the German league as they always do but I like Dortmund and Schalke to both make a push – though adding Champions League play to their schedule could be daunting this year.  Bayern Leverkusen also looks good as does up and comer Hoffenheim. (See the League Previews Below).  Of course games will be featured again this year on Fox Sports 1 and 2 mainly on Sat and Sun at 9:30 am with the occasional game on Fox Network and Fox Soccer.  Bayern Munich starts things off at home vs Hoffenheim at 2:30 pm on FS1, while Sat gives us American McKinney and Schalke traveling to Wolfsburg at 9:30 am on FS1, followed by M’Gladbach and American mid Johnson hosting Bayer Leverkusen at 12:30 on FS1.  Pulisic and Dortmund host RB Leipzig Sunday of Fox Soccer and Univision at 12 noon.

CHS Games

Huge Congrats to Carmel High School Coach Frank Dixon who recently won his 500th game for the lady Greyhounds.  Dixon has claimed 2 National Championships (2002 + 2011), 14 State Championships, 4 runner-ups and 22 Semi-State Championships in his years of coaching along with 23 Regional and 24 Sectional Titles in his 25+ years of coaching.  The #1 Ranked Team in the COUNTRY, the CHS Ladies will host the Carmel Invitational this weekend at Murray Stadium as they face 2A #2 Ranked Cathedral at 10 am and 17th Ranked Fishers at 7 pm.  The JV team will play Fishers at 10:30 am and Avon at 5 pm on the football practice fields above the football stadium.  Plenty of former Carmel FC girls on both rosters this season!  In addition anyone eating at Noble Romans West Main  on Saturday 8/25 and mentioning CHS Girls soccer will have a portion of their proceeds help fund the soccer program.  The CHS boys return home Tuesday to face Brebeuf at 7 pm after suffering their first loss on the season to Center Grove 0-1.  The boys take on traditional power Ft. Wayne Canterbury Fri 8/31 at Murray at 7:30 pm.

CFC_U14G
Congrats to Carmel FC 05 Girls Gold and coach Mark Stumpf as they won The Pikefest U15 Division last weekend with a bunch of 14 year olds. The girls finished 3-0-1 in the tourney.

Carmel FC Goalies don’t forget 2 Goalie trainings this Fall with GK coach Kristian Nicht, Juergan Sommer and Me – the ole ballcoach (man between us we have over 25 years of professional GK experience) has started back up.  Join us Weds at Shelbourne & Thurs at Badger Field  6-7 pm U11-U12  7 to 8 pm U13 – U19.

Fri, Aug 24                   German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1    Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

8 pm ESPN                     Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN            LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

Sat, Aug 25     

7:30 am NBCSN            Wolverhampton vs Man city 

9:30 am FS 1                  Wolfsburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

10 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs West Ham United

11 am bEIN Sport        PSG (Tim Weah) vs Angers SCO

12 noon ESPN2            Juventus vs Lazio

12:30 pm NBCSN        Liverpool vs Brighton

12:30 pm FS 1              M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen

2 pm ESPN+                  Napoli vs Milan

2pm GOLTV                   Benefica vs Sporting CP – Portugal

4 pm beIN Sport          Real Valladolid vs Barcelona

7 pm ESPN+                   Atlanta 2 vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

8 pm ESPN News         Washington Spirit vs Portland Thorns (Ladies) 

10 pm FS2                      Monterey vs Morillia (Mexico)

Sun, Aug 26    

8 am NBCSN                   Watford vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am FS1                    Mainz vs Stuttgart

11 am NBCSN                New Castle United vs Chelsea

12n Fox Soccer/Univ   Dortmund (Pulisic) vs RB Leipzig

2:15 pm beIN Sport  Sevilla vs Villaarreal

4:15 pm beIN Sport     Girona vs Real Madrid 

7 pm Fox Sport1          NY Red Bulls vs DC United (Rooney)

9:30 pm FS1                   Portland vs Seattle Sounders (Cascadia Cup)

Mon, Aug 27    

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Tottenham

Wed, Aug 29   

10:30 pm ESPN+          Portland Timbers vs Toronto FC

Fri, Aug 31   

11 pm ESPN2                 US Ladies vs Chile  (LA)

USA

US Skipper Sarachan says Bradley and others will have role for US moving Forward ESPNFC

US Boss Sarachan gives situation for USMNT Veterans

David Moyes New US Boss?

Michael Bradley Coy on US Call-up – Jeff Carlisle EPSNFC

US Rising Stars

Peter Vermes Deserves Chance as Next US Coach says Caleb Porter

Yanks Abroad – Stars and Stripes

US Ladies Name Training Camp Roster for 8/31 & 9/4 Friendlies

GOALKEEPERS (3): Adrianna Franch (Portland Thorns FC; 0/0), Ashlyn Harris (Orlando Pride; 16/0), Alyssa Naeher (Chicago Red Stars; 32/0)

DEFENDERS (7): Abby Dahlkemper (NC Courage; 22/0), Tierna Davidson (Stanford; 10/0), Hailie Mace (UCLA; 1/0), Kelley O’Hara (Utah Royals FC: 107/2), Becky Sauerbrunn (Utah Royals FC; 141/0), Casey Short (Chicago Red Stars; 24/0), Emily Sonnett (Portland Thorns FC; 20/0)

MIDFIELDERS (7): Morgan Brian (Chicago Red Stars; 77/6), Julie Ertz (Chicago Red Stars; 64/16),Lindsey Horan (Portland Thorns FC; 54/6), Rose Lavelle (Washington Spirit; 11/3), Carli Lloyd (Sky Blue FC; 257/100), Samantha Mewis (NC Courage; 37/7), McCall Zerboni (NC Courage; 5/0)

FORWARDS (6): Crystal Dunn (NC Courage; 67/23), Tobin Heath (Portland Thorns FC; 136/20),Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride; 145/90), Christen Press (Utah Royals FC; 103/44), Mallory Pugh(Washington Spirit; 35/11), Megan Rapinoe (Seattle Reign FC; 140/38)

World Cup Ref Chief – Collina dishes on VAR impact on Russia World Cup

World Cup Memories – Grant Wahl

MLS Rivalry Week

How MLS Rivalry Week compares with Europes Biggest Derbies – eSPNFC

El Trafico’s immediate intensity has put it in the spotlight in Los Angeles, MLS

LA, Seattle, NY Derby Hi-Light Rivalry Week in MLS – Jason Davis ESPNFC

Rivalry Week Viewing Guide – MLS.com

Zlattan Questions – Anything Can happen in El Traffico –

How Mexican Fans decide who to root for in LA

Austin Texas Group Releases MLS Name and Badge and Colors – ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

NYCFC 9 Man Group Draws NY Red Bulls Late in bitterly fought Derby

MLS Scoring Record Broken by Martinez of Atlanta

#s Behind Atlanta United’s Martinez Goal Record with 9 games left

Ibrahimovic: I’ll only play on turf in MLS playoffs

Labron’s Kids Choose a Side in LA Derby – LAFC

EPL

Same ole Arsenal – Pretty futbal but No Defense loses at Chelsea 3-2

WORLD

German Bundisliga Can’t compete with EPL at the Top for Competition

How Should Allegri use Juve’s new Star Ronaldo

Renaldo Fills the visitors Stands but not the Goal mouth in Juve 2-1 debut

Goalies

EPL Saves of the Week 2 Cech was spectacular, Schmiekel, Jordan Pickford, Lloris,

Save of the Week – National Womens SL –

Saves of the Week – USL

MLS Save

Buffon Was Spectacular for PSG in First Game

Indy 11

Indy 11 topple Toronto 3-2

Dramatic Goal in the 90th Minute Lifts Indy 11 over NC 3-2

Football Lines will be Visible at Games with New Indy Colts Turf Installed

Indy 11 Sends United Way Donor to MLS All-Star Game

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

Parking passes at Gate10  Events is $11 with advance purchase. $15 day of.  Save $$$ by buying early.

INDY 11 GAMES

Sat 8/25 7 pm ESPN+   Indy 11 @ Atlanta United FC 2 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/29 7 pm myIndy23          Indy 11 vs Pittsburg Riverhounds SC

Sat Sept 1 7 pm  Wish TV 8        Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Wed Sept 5 7 pm Wish TV 8      Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 24                     German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1      Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

8 pm ESPN                       Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN            LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

Sat, Aug 25     

7:30 am NBCSN            Wolverhampton vs Man city 

9:30 am FS 1                  Wolfsburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

10 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs West Ham United

11 am bEIN Sport        PSG (Tim Weah) vs Angers SCO

12 noon ESPN2            Juventus vs Lazio

12:30 pm NBCSN        Liverpool vs Brighton

12:30 pm FS 1              M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen

2 pm ESPN+                    Napoli vs Milan

2pm GOLTV                     Benefica vs Sporting CP – Portugal

4 pm beIN Sport          Real Valladolid vs Barcelona

7 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta 2 vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

8 pm ESPN News         Washington Spirit vs Portland Thorns (Ladies) 

10 pm FS2                       Monterey vs Morillia (Mexico)

Sun, Aug 26    

8 am NBCSN                   Watford vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am FS1                    Mainz vs Stuttgart

11 am NBCSN                New Castle United vs Chelsea

12n Fox Soccer/Univ   Dortmund (Pulisic) vs RB Leipzig

2:15 pm beIN Sport  Sevilla vs Villaarreal

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4:15 pm beIN Sport     Girona vs Real Madrid 

7 pm Fox Sport1          NY Red Bulls vs DC United (Rooney)

9:30 pm FS1                   Portland vs Seattle Sounders (Cascadia Cup)

Mon, Aug 27    

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Tottenham

Wed, Aug 29   

10:30 pm ESPN+          Portland Timbers vs Toronto FC

Fri, Aug 31   

11 pm ESPN2                 US Ladies vs Chile  (LA)

Sat, Sept 1     

7:30 am NBCSN            Leicester City vs Liverpool

9:30 am FS 1                  Wolfsburg vs Bayern Leverkusen

9:30 am FS2                    Frankfurt vs Werder Bremen ( )

10 am NBCSN                Chelsea vs Bournemouth

11 am bEIN Sport        Nimes vs PSG (Tim Weah)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Man City vs New Castle United (Yedlin)

12:30 pm FS 2              Stutgart vs Bayern Munich

2:30 ESPN+?                   Parma vs Juventus

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Real Madrid vs Leganes

7 pm Wish TV8             Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Tues, Sept 4   

10 pm ESPN2                 US Ladies vs Chile  (San Fran)

Fri, Sept 7

7:30 pm FS1                   USAMNT vs Brazil (Metlife)

Tues, Sept 11

8:30 pm ESPN               USA vs Mexico in Nashville (anyone want to go?)

Thurs, Oct 11

7:30 pm FSI                     USA vs Colombia (Tampa)

Thurs, Nov 15

3 pm ESPN2                    England vs USA (Wembley)

Sat, Nov 20

3 pm ESPN2                    Italy vs USMNT

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

EPL Schedule

El Trafico’s immediate intensity has put it in the spotlight in Los Angeles, MLS

Hoodzpah Design

8:40 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Most rivalries have a few common ingredients. Proximity is one, although it isn’t mandatory. Games involving the highest of stakes are another, but those can come and go. Time, however, is usually non-negotiable. Most derbies start from nothing, and with each passing match, a few more doses of color and venom are added.Yet El Trafico, the nascent derby between the LA Galaxy and LAFC, is bending — if not outright breaking — the rules of what constitutes a rivalry. The two sides have met just twice so far, but what games they have been. There was the inaugural clash back on March 31, when Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s two goals in his MLS debut capped a stunning comeback from three goals down to give the Galaxy a 4-3 win. Last month’s second installment didn’t lack for drama either, as two late goals from the Galaxy allowed them to salvage a 2-2 tie at LAFC’s Banc of California Stadium. So it’s okay to call El Trafico a full-fledged rivalry, right? Right?”It’s taking hold, but it also has the feel of being manufactured,” said David Carter, the executive director of the Sports Business Institute at USC’s Marshall School of Business. “In any town, in any sport, you can’t have a just-add-water rivalry. It takes time. The Celtics and the Lakers have hated each other for a really long time; the [same with the] Dodgers and the San Francisco Giants. You can try to launch a rivalry from day one, but the ones that truly matter or are organic have passed the test of time in terms of hatred and disdain, not a couple of months. It may grow to be one.”And lest anyone think Carter is simply being a buzz-kill, LAFC minority owner Nomar Garciaparra, who during his baseball career experienced some of the sport’s biggest rivalries, is of similar thinking.”I think it’s starting. I don’t think it’s totally there,” he said of El Trafico. “I just still think time needs to come into play, but I think it’s a very good start to one.”At the least, El Trafico‘s ability to burrow its way into the sports consciousness of Los Angeles in such a short amount of time is impressive, as was the atmosphere generated in the first two matches.”I think it all caught us by surprise,” said Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget of the emotion and attention of the first two matches. “I think we all knew it was going to be huge but I think it’s kind of created its own storm in a way. It’s definitely been bigger than what we all anticipated, but it’s been positive, man.”The world’s entertainment hub is notoriously fickle when it comes to its sports teams, and when LAFC was being forged there were doubts about how it could possibly get any traction in an area with now 11 professional sides across five sports, plus the collegiate heft of USC and UCLA, not to mention the glitz of Hollywood. There were also concerns that the Galaxy might suffer from LAFC’s presence, given the latter’s closer location to the city center.Yet LAFC’s arrival appears to have helped both teams. Friday’s match is sold out, the seventh capacity crowd this season out of 13 games for the Galaxy. Two of those have now come against LAFC.Without question, L.A.’s other intra-city matchups draw interest, be it baseball’s Freeway Series between the Dodgers and Angels, the NHL’s Kings-Ducks and even the NBA’s Lakers and Clippers. And while rivalries such as Lakers-Celtics and Dodgers-Giants still have the most cachet, El Trafico, rather than getting swallowed up, has carved out its own niche.”I think this thing has a different energy to it,” said Lletget about the matchup. “If you come to an LAFC-Galaxy game, I think everybody wants to be here now. I think if you’re not here you’re missing out in a way. So it’s, I think after the first one everybody felt ‘Oh my god, I’ve gotta go to the next one, gotta go to the next one,’ so it’s positive. It’s positive for our sport, it’s positive for our city, it’s positive for our clubs.”LAFC midfielder Benny Feilhaber explains the important role fans have in the El Trafico rivalry and why his side still have a lot to prove on Friday night.

LAFC counterpart Benny Feilhaber spent many of his formative years in the L.A. area, and played collegiately at UCLA. And while he doesn’t claim to be a fan of any L.A. teams, he knows how big those games can be.”For us to try and match that and be a part of it as well in the city is pretty special,” he said. “It’s just fun to be a part of sports in this city and to have two good teams to compete three times a year at the minimum, and maybe another time in the playoffs.”The energy of the respective fan bases has added to the buzz. Emotions did boil over to a degree during the July match, with video footage showing Galaxy fans being hassled outside the stadium, while inside Galaxy fans did damage to 79 seats. Both organizations and their respective fan bases have taken steps to make sure the passion is generated in the right direction. If it is, the rivalry can become even greater.”I think rivalries have history, but I think what also comes with it — from the rivalries that I’ve been a part of — is the passion of the fans, the way they feel when the two teams play,” said Garciaparra. “I think from the very first game in Carson, you felt that. It continued when they came to LAFC and I expect it again on Friday. That definitely sets the tone for it to be a very good rivalry going forward.”

LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic talks MLS: ‘Anything can happen’

9:17 AM ETESPN

LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic has played in some of the biggest rivalries in football. Now he is getting ready to play in the “El Trafico” local derby vs. LAFC. The Swedish striker joined Taylor Twellman in the Heineken ESPN FC Boot Room to chat about how he has taken to MLS. The following is an edited transcript of the chat.

  1. Friday night will be the third time LAFC and LA Galaxy have met this season. The first two games were filled with a ton of drama, what do you expect to happen?
  2. I think the same atmosphere, fantastic atmosphere. This time it’s our home field [advantage] and I expect good football. They are playing good, we are playing good, and [we are] two good teams. We are the rivals in L.A., but I think the rivalry is fresh because it’s the third game and they are new. The Galaxy has been there for many years.
  3. You’ve played in some of the biggest rivalries around the world. Are you surprised how quickly this one got going?
  4. It’s a new team, LAFC, and it came this year. It is the year I came also, so a lot of things are happening in MLS and the football is growing and the competition is growing — you just have to see the cities where it’s popping up and I’m not surprised. I think it’s good for the football, good for the fans, and good for the competition because it gives you more competitive games and more heated games where there’s a lot of emotions involved.
  5. You’ve played LAFC twice. Where do you think their biggest weaknesses are going into this game?
  6. I think they’re good in general. They don’t have one that’s better than the other one. I think it’s a good team. Everything is hyped for them, because it’s new. They have a big boost — new stadium, new players, new club, new coach — so everything is new … but they’re doing good things. There’s nothing negative to say about them or to complain about.play

Zlatan Ibrahimovic talks his continued love for video games, which all started at Ajax with his first ever game Pro Evolution Soccer.

  1. With only one win in your last six games, is it a must-win game for the Galaxy?
  2. I think the remaining games we have are all important games. There is no game more important than the other one. Of course, this one is two teams from L.A. — you win to say who is the boss in the town — but at the end of the day it’s the three points that are important and [reaching] the playoffs. That is what counts in the end. If you win this one and lose the rest, this win doesn’t matter.
  3. What’s been the biggest struggle, from your point of view, for the Galaxy?
  4. It’s been a lot of up and down. Some games we’ve been doing very good; some games less good. Basic mistakes we make that we pay for, cost us a lot. Like conceding goals and then we have to chase the goals. And we haven’t been on top — I mean, our level hasn’t been up where normally it should be. And the consequences are we are losing the games and paying for it.
  5. Are you surprised?
  6. I think every team is working the same. You have a period where you do good, then you have a period where you do less good. For example, you take Wayne Rooney’s team, DC United. They were doing bad, suddenly he comes and they’re doing good and they’re in the picture. So it’s very up and down.

There is no [like Europe] feeling where you have two or three teams that are very stable and are dominating the league. I don’t see anyone — maybe Atlanta is doing better than the other ones — but that is the same thing like LAFC: a new team, everything is a boost, everything is “wow” for the moment.

  1. Do you think the Galaxy can right the ship and make the playoffs?
  2. I think so. We have a very good team. The opponents who play against us, they respect the team. We give them a hard time, and I think when we lose a game it’s not like we’re outplayed, except for the last game where the result speaks for itself. It’s only about the small details: organization, small, basic mistakes, small details that make a big difference.
  3. You’ve played 19 games in MLS. What’s your biggest takeaway about the league?
  4. I find it very exciting, in the way that anything can happen. Crazy results. I see the atmosphere is nice, at least the games I’ve been playing. I cannot judge the other games. And I like the way the game is played — not always, but as a striker it’s very good because you get a lot of chances and it’s all about focusing and scoring your goals. And the chances will come, whatever happens, wherever you play, the chances will come.

Report: David Moyes could become new USMNT boss

Joe Prince-WrightNBC Sports•Aug 19, 2018, 8:59 AM

David Moyes is reportedly a frontrunner to be named as the new head coach of the U.S. men’s national team.The Times is one of a few outlets in the UK who claim that Moyes is interesting U.S. Soccer officials, with Dave Sarachan still in charge on an interim basis after he took up that role last November following Bruce Arena stepping down.Here’s more from The Times on Moyes potentially heading to the U.S.“It is understood that United States Soccer Federation officials have been alerted that the former Everton, Manchester United and West Ham manager would be interested in becoming the permanent replacement for Bruce Arena. Former Chicago Fire coach David Sarachan was put in interim charge after Arena was fired last October for failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia. Moyes, 55, increased his stock last season in a short-term deal with West Ham when he led them to safety, finishing in 13th place in the Premier League.”Pro Soccer Talk has contacted U.S. Soccer for a comment on this report but is yet to receive a response.Moyes, 55, has restored his reputation somewhat after keeping West Ham in the Premier League last season after inheriting a precarious situation mid-season. But is he really the right man to turn the USMNT’s fortunes around?The former Everton, Manchester United, Real Sociedad and Sunderland boss has endured mixed fortunes since taking charge of United in 2013. He was fired by United less than a year into the job after being hand-picked by Sir Alex Ferguson and he was then fired by Sociedad and left Sunderland after they were relegated from the Premier League in 2016-17.From his time at Everton, we know that Moyes can organize teams and make them better defensively and that’s something the USMNT need moving forward. However, with no experience of Major League Soccer or the CONCACAF environment it is tough to see the new hierarchy in charge of U.S. Soccer appointing someone like Moyes.Would new USMNT General Manager Earnie Stewart look to someone like Moyes to revive the fortune of the U.S. national team? It seems like a coach with experience of MLS or someone with a better track record of developing youngsters would suit the current needs of U.S. Soccer better.Moyes is currently out of a job and cynics amongst us would suggest these reports could be about getting his name back out there and in the frame for another position. There is a lot of negativity around Moyes after he struggled at United five years ago, but we must not forget his penchant for setting up teams with a solid foundation. That’s not the most desirable skill for a manager to have these days but it would be a valuable asset as the USMNT aim to qualify for the 2022 World Cup after the debacle of not reaching the tournament in 2018.With a young squad set for a gruelling schedule of friendlies over the next few months, Sarachan could still be handed the reins for the U.S. on a permanent basis. It’s more likely that the USMNT will appoint a new permanent boss after the friendlies against Brazil, Mexico, Colombia, England and Italy over the next few months.Until then the likes of Juan Carlos Osorio, Gregg Berhalter, Tata Martino, Caleb Porter and Peter Vermes will continue to be linked with the role. You can add Moyes to that list too.

Michael Bradley, USMNT veterans will still have role in team – Dave Sarachan

5:59 PM ETAssociated Press

United States coach Dave Sarachan is not committing to when or how veterans such as Michael Bradley and Jozy Altidore will be brought in to the national team again.The coach said on Wednesday that he spoke recently with Bradley, one of two Americans to play every minute of the 2010 and 2014 World Cups for the U.S.Sarachan said he’s made it clear in the months he’s been in charge that the focus is to look at younger players for a team that missed this year’s World Cup, but that the older players will still have a role to play.”We’re not discounting the value of veteran leadership, and Michael falls into that category,” said Sarachan, whose contract was extended in June through the rest of this year. “There will be a time, I’m sure, when we’re going to count on those players like Michael to be a part of this. We had a good conversation, and I think he understands where we are.”Bradley will be 35 when the U.S. hopes to be back in the 2022 World Cup. Altidore was among the veterans not invited to a January training camp despite his 41 goals in 110 appearances with the national team.Fabian Johnson is another veteran not likely to be brought in. John Brooks, 25, probably will be brought in at some point.”If he’s healthy, that’s been an issue, [Brooks] would have a little bit more of an opportunity in the near future to be a part of some rosters,” Sarachan said.The U.S. will play its next competitive match in June in the CONCACAF Gold Cup. The Americans have six friendlies line up, starting Sept. 7 against Brazil in East Rutherford, New Jersey, and the Brazilians are bringing veterans like Neymar and Robert Firmino.Sarachan said Christian Pulisic will be in the U.S. squad on Sept. 11 when the Americans play Mexico in a friendly in Nashville, Tennessee. Pulisic last played for the U.S. in May.The Americans also play Colombia on Oct. 11 at Tampa, Florida; England on Nov. 15 at London; and Italy on Nov. 20 at a site to be determined.For now, the focus is on youth with 18 players having made their debuts in the U.S.’s last six matches, including 10 age-eligible for the 2020 Olympics.The squad for the September games also should feature Tyler Adams, Weston McKennie and Matt Miazga. Sarachan said defender DeAndre Yedlin also should be available if he gets through this week after sustaining a right knee injury earlier this month playing for Newcastle in the Premier League.Sarachan, who took over as interim coach when Bruce Arena quit last October after the Americans failed to qualify for the World Cup, has led the U.S. to two wins (Paraguay and Bolivia), one loss (Ireland) and three ties (Portugal, Bosnia-Herzogovina and France ).A search for a full-time coach will be lead by former U.S. midfielder Earnie Stewart, who started as general manager officially Aug. 1.For now, Sarachan said the roster is a work in progress.”I would say that the roster, if you followed our team over the last six friendlies, will be composed pretty similarly to what we’ve done in the past,” Sarachan said. “But I feel very confident that the group we’re going to bring will be very competitive.”

Yanks Abroad: Goals, Assists, & Injuries

While it feels like everyone is injured or absent for some reason, there was still plenty of action to follow.

By Cody Bradley@ThatCodyTho  Aug 20, 2018, 2:45pm PDT

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The injury list is piling up with our Yanks Abroad missing action due to various issues. Everyone in the Premier League is sidelined as well as Chandler in Germany in Saief in Belgium. But we have plenty of positives to talk about, including a real life contribution from Bobby Wood!

Andrija Novakovich
The Fortuna Sittard forward scored a very nice goal in a 2-1 loss to PSV Eindoven. More on him right here.

Lynden Gooch
The Sunderland man picked up an assist and played all 90 minutes of a 3-0 win over Scunthorpe in England’s third tier. (VIDEO)

Bobby Wood
Wood came off the bench in the 65th minute for Hannover and got an assist in the 6-0 Cup win over 3rd tier Karlsruher.

Kevin Lankford
Lankford got this first professional goal on Sunday after coming off the bench for Heidenheim in a 5-2 German Cup win.

Jonathan Amon
Entered at the half to score in stoppage time of Nordsjaelland’s 2-0 win over Vejle. More on him in Youth Update.

Christian Pulisic
He got the start and subbed out in the 80th minute of Dortmund’s extra-time, German Cup win over Julian Green’s Greuther Fürth side on Monday. BvB needed a stoppage time equalizer to extend to extra time, and then finally scored the winner in the 120th minute.

Weston McKennie
The 19 year old went 90 minutes for Schalke as they eliminated Schweinfurt (4th tier) from the German Cup by a final of 2-0.

Tim Weah
He was given the start up top in between Neymar and Angel Di Maria. But he was only able to make it the first 45 minutes before being subbed out in favor of Kylian Mbappe, who promptly scored two goals to get the 3-1 win. Weah got just 9 touches the whole half, and completed 3/6 passes. He committed two fouls and lost 3 duels. He did contribute one key pass, though.

Matt Miazga
Miazga made his debut for Nantes over the weekend in a 2-0 loss at Dijon. The Chelsea loanee, like the rest of his team, did not play very well. He finished with 88% passing, but wasn’t able to contribute much.

John Brooks
Wolfsburg got a 1-0 Cup win over 4th tier Elversberg on Saturday. Brooks played all 90 minutes at CB.

Eric Lichaj
Lichaj was actually one of the better players for Hull City on Saturday. The right-back played the full 90 minutes winning 11 duels and four clearances in a 1-0 loss to Blackburn.

Antonee Robinson
The left-back for Wigan Athletic turned in pretty solid numbers in Saturday’s 2-2 draw with Nottingham Forest. Robinson did well on both sides of the ball, contributing a key pass and was successful with all four take-ons he attempted.

Brendan Hines-Ike
Over in Belgium, Brendan played 90 minutes for Kortrijk in a 2-0 loss to Oostende.

Julian Green
Green played the full match, including extra time as Greuther Fürth lost a German Cup heartbreaker to Borussia Dortmund on Monday.

Emerson Hyndman
He started was subbed out in the 64th minute of Hibernian’s 3-2 Scottish League Cup win over Ross Country.

Omar Gonzalez
The Atlas man went the distance in a 1-0 loss to Morelia in Mexico.

DeAndre Yedlin
His injury wasn’t as serious as it looked, but his knee kept Yedlin out of Newcastle’s 0-0 draw with Cardiff. He reassured fans on social media that he will be back soon. Newcastle will want him back in the lineup immediately after the disappointing point at home vs Cardiff.

Tim Ream
Ream has missed the first two matches of the Premier League season as he works his way back from a thigh injury. He is a key piece of the puzzle for Fulham and his absence has been noticeable in two losses (especially the 2-0 loss at home to Palace).

Danny Williams
Good news here on the injury front. Williams made his return to the lineup for the first time since last season. Thankfully, he didn’t actually appear in the 6-1 pounding Huddersfield Town took at the hands of the champs, Manchester City.

Kenny Saief
He left USMNT camp with a injury to his right leg back in June and has not made an appearance since. He missed Anderlecht’s 2-0 win over Mouscron on Friday.

Timmy Chandler
Timmy underwent surgery on Friday and will be out for six months.

Geoff Cameron
Just a quick reminder about Cameron. He hasn’t been on the roster for any of Stoke’s first three matches in the 2nd tier, and he’s rumored to be leaving the club before the end of the month.

How MLS Rivalry Week compares with Europe’s biggest derbies

11:50 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent hen it comes to to rivalries, Major League Soccer is at a major disadvantage in comparison to its counterparts in Europe and South America. With a few exceptions, most clubs in the North American league are drawing upon no more than 22 years’ worth of animosity to define their most despised adversaries, while those in the sport’s traditional hotbeds can call on a century or more.Some do have another decade or two of bad blood to heat up their meetings, and those with even less history are still finding ways to amp up the antipathy.There is the gnarled oak that is the Portland Timbers vs. Seattle Sounders match-up, a rivalry that dates back to 1975 if you include its matches in NASL. The young offshoot that is the Hudson River Derby has emerged between the New York Red Bulls and New York City FC. The mere sapling that is El Trafico, the rivalry between the LA Galaxy and LAFC, is growing as if it had consumed a few boxes of Miracle-Gro, if the first two epic matches are anything to go by.

Of course, the roots in MLS don’t run as deep as they do elsewhere. The league has even seen fit to cannibalize a few of its better rivalries, with matchups such as the Red Bulls and D.C. United or the California Clasico between the Galaxy and the San Jose Earthquakes shunted aside in favor of promoting sexier pairings in New York and Los Angeles.Yet for some of the league’s most notable imported players, the new rivalries have been embraced, even as its stars acknowledge that there is still room for them to grow.That growth process is being accelerated by the advent of Rivalry Week, the league’s annual promotion the hostility that exists between its clubs. It’s on this sort of stage that players can make a name for themselves.Seattle Sounders midfielder Nicolas Lodeiro knows as well as anyone how an epic derby performance can change a career. He remembers scoring as a 20-year-old for his beloved Nacional against bitter rivals Penarol in a 3-0 victory back in Uruguay. Six years later, he scored the lone goal for Argentine side Boca Juniors to win 1-0 at River Plate’s Estadio Monumental.”There were no fans for Boca, only River, and after the goal the entire stadium was silent,” Lodeiro told ESPN FC with the help of a translator.Lodeiro notes that Saturday’s match at Providence Park against the Timbers will be “like any Clasico, it’s very difficult.” Yet there are differences to what he has experienced elsewhere.”In South America, the Clasicos, it’s more than just the game,” he said. “It continues with your life outside of the field, with your family, and with the people every day. There’s a lot of things in play than just the game in South America. Here there is a lot of passion, a lot of rivalry, but it’s only on the field.”Even on the field, the differences can be stark. Galaxy defender Ashley Cole recalled that the craziest derby he ever took part in came in November 2001, when he was playing for Arsenal against Tottenham Hotspur. The match, which ended in a 1-1 draw, marked the first time that Sol Campbell played at White Hart Lane for the Gunners after moving the previous summer from their bitter London rivals Spurs, where he had spent nine seasons.”Already the hatred was there, and it was always an amazing atmosphere at White Hart Lane,” said Cole. “[Campbell] going back there for the first time, it was amazing, but it was scary in a bad way. Poor Sol Campbell got abused. It was electric, you had goose bumps, the hair was standing up on my arms and my legs. It was scary at times, but what a game to play in.”Of course, El Trafico can’t rely on the 109-year history of the North London Derby, but Cole will be among those taking part in Friday’s edition at StubHub Center (10:30 ET, ESPN/ESPN Deportes). With LAFC still in the midst of its debut season, the match will be just the third meeting between the intra-city rivals. But thanks in part to the jaw-dropping performances of Galaxy forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and goals galore on both sides, the matches have been filled to the brim with drama.Cole admits he’s been impressed at how quickly the intensity between the two teams has been ratcheted up.”For LAFC to have the big fan base and the passion, they have surprised me,” he said. “And yeah, when they came here the first time the atmosphere was electric. Without having any [previous] incidents, the rivalry is still big.”All that’s needed is more time to add memories, controversy and generally feed the rivalry beast.”A few years down the line, there’s going to be more reason to dislike each other,” said Cole. “We’re so close to them, but we need some incidents to spice it up even more, to make it better. Hopefully in years to come this game can become that.”Another of the league’s young derbies has precisely that spice, and the added element of more on the line than mere bragging rights.That’s the case with Wednesday’s Hudson River Derby at Yankee Stadium. Both teams are in contention for the Supporters’ Shield, with NYCFC sitting in third place in the overall standings, one point behind the Red Bulls, as both teams try to chase down first-place Atlanta United.So, even as important as a victory is, it is that trophy that is on the mind of NYCFC captain David Villa, who has experienced arguably some the world’s biggest rivalries, including El Clasico of Real Madrid and Barcelona.The most difficult derby that you play is Barcelona and Real Madrid,” he told ESPN FC via telephone. “To be on the roster of one of those teams is really difficult for any player, but the other derbies I played were very intense as well.”The rivalry is good for soccer here, but for me it’s one game. I know that for the fans, for everyone in the club and around the team it’s really good, and it’s a different game. But finally for us it’s against one of our big rivals, not only for the city but for the [Supporters’ Shield] as well and we need to beat them in this way.”My focus when I started in the league wasn’t to beat the New York Red Bulls. It’s to beat the Red Bulls, to beat Philadelphia, Atlanta, everyone playing in the league because we want to take the silverware, and to take the silverware you need to beat everyone.”

Portland-Seattle, New York Derby and LA Galaxy-LAFC headline MLS Rivalry Week

Aug 20, 2018Jason Davis

Rivalry Week is upon us, which means it’s a good time to review the history of some of Major League Soccer’s most intense battles. Not all rivalries are equal, but each has its own unique origin story, big moments and players who command the spotlight.

New York City FC vs. New York Red Bulls

How it started

When NYCFC entered Major League Soccer in 2015, the possibility of an intense rivalry with the New York Red Bulls had plenty of people excited. Two teams separated by just a few miles in the country’s biggest metropolitan area had all the makings of a regular battle for New York soccer supremacy.It wasn’t until the NYCFC’s inaugural win against the Red Bulls that the heat increased to “derby” levels. The New Jersey-based club owned the first three meetings in 2015 and started the 2016 series with a 7-0 destruction of NYCFC at Yankee Stadium.In the next meeting, NYCFC scored a 2-0 July win in front of more than 33,000 at Yankee Stadium, with Jack Harrison scoring. Since, the rivalry has been an even split with each team winning three games and the teams playing to a draw once.

Best moment

Last year’s August match at Yankee Stadium produced an epic battle between two of the greatest goal scorers in MLS history. David Villa scored the first hat trick in Hudson River Derby history, while Bradley Wright-Phillips bagged two goals in a 3-2 NYCFC victory.Villa contributed on the defensive end as well, making a brilliant play to block Wright-Phillips from close range when the Red Bulls striker had a chance to give his team the lead.There’s only one choice for the most influential man in the Hudson River Derby, and it’s Wright-Phillips.The Englishman scored the first goal in the history of the rivalry (inside of five minutes, no less) and has scored an additional 10 since. His total of 11 goals in 12 games in all competitions outpaces the total of the second-leading scorer on the list, Villa, by seven goals.

The quote

“I was brought up to not like Man United. I would hope my children do not like NYCFC.” — Bradley Wright-Phillips

LA Galaxy vs. LAFC

How it started

It’s still just Year 1 of the L.A. rivalry creatively dubbed “El Trafico” by the fans, but the seeds of something special have been planted. Friday’s edition will be the third and final meeting of the season (barring a playoff clash) and will need a heavy dose of drama to match the first two games in the series.Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s arrival in MLS and L.A. coincided with the first-ever El Trafico game on March 31. The Swedish superstar entered the match at the StubHub Center with his new team down two goals, scored twice in 15 minutes, and led the Galaxy to victory.

The best moment

The best moment the L.A. derby has offered so far can only be Ibrahimovic’s midfield strike to level the inaugural edition. In front of a full house at the StubHub Center, Ibrahimovic lived up to every expectation with an absolute wondergoal. LAFC goalkeeper Tyler Miller will want to forget the moment, but for MLS fans in North America and soccer fans around the globe, the goal and that moment sparked an interest in a crosstown matchup that will carry over to each new edition.Through two games, it’s actually LAFC’s Mexican star Carlos Vela who has the most goals in the rivalry with three. But the choice for the most influential player has to go to Ibrahimovic, the man who stole the show back in March and helped lead another comeback in a draw at Banc of California Stadium on July 26.Ibrahimovic’s dramatic arrival on the scene and influence in the 2-2 draw at Banc of California Stadium put him at the center of the evolving contretemps, but it’s the Swede’s personality and penchant for cutting and audacious statements that will draw the most attention.

The quote

“This is still fresh, this derby. LAFC is a new team. We cannot talk historically about previous games, only about the game we had [in March], but in time [there will be] more talks about it, what happened before, and you get new moments from that derby.” — Zlatan Ibrahimovic

Seattle vs. Portland

How it started

There are older rivalries between teams born in the MLS era, but no American soccer clash has more history than the Cascadia Derby between the Sounders and Timbers. The first match between the clubs took place back in 1975; that same year, the Timbers knocked the Sounders out of the NASL playoffs.Both clubs played in the old North American Soccer League, then when that league ended, revived the derby in the loer divisions. After a few seasons of meeting only in the U.S. Open Cup, the rivalry moved to MLS in 2011 when the Timbers joined Seattle in the top division.The easiest way to explain the origins of the Sounders-Timbers rivalry is simply that when it comes to everything — soccer included — Seattle and Portland just don’t get along.

The best moment

The biggest stakes for any Cascadia Derby came in the MLS Cup playoffs back in 2013. A conference semifinal series between top-seeded Portland and fourth-seeded Seattle started at CenturyLink Field, where the Timbers had never led, much less won.On the back of goals from Ryan Johnson and Darlington Nagbe, with a big hand from goalkeeper Donovan Ricketts, Portland won the match 2-1. The Timbers would go on to win the second leg 3-2 and take the first — and thus far, only — MLS playoff meeting between the two teams.

The key man

Clint Dempsey has a penchant for scoring goals in the rivalry and he doesn’t hesitate to let Timbers fans know about it when he does. In 14 games against Portland, Dempsey has scored nine goals. The co-all-time-leading scorer in Sounders history has scored more against the Timbers than any other team.Dempsey is filling a substitute role for the Sounders at this point in the season, but it would be folly to write off the possibility of him playing a big role in any game where Seattle takes on the Timbers.

The quote

“All I got to say is, now that we won one, Portland can’t say s—!” — Clint Dempsey after Seattle’s 2016 MLS Cup title

Austin group releases Major League Soccer franchise name, badge, colors

9:56 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The latest sign that the Columbus Crew are moving to Austin, Texas, was revealed on Wednesday, as the proposed team’s name, colors and crest were released by Precourt Sports Ventures, the current owners of the Crew.The name of the presumptive MLS team will be Austin FC, and the crest features a pair of bright green, intertwined oak trees on a black background with the name “Austin” at the top. The tag line “Grow The Legend” accompanied the announcement.According to the Austin American-Statesman, the reveal was attended by approximately 300 people, including PSV owner Anthony Precourt, at a downtown Austin establishment. At the event, the team left open the possibility for a team mascot and nickname and said it would welcome community input. “Given the historical and ongoing market challenges, Precourt Sports Ventures must prepare for every potential scenario for the Club in 2019 and beyond,” said Precourt in a prepared statement. “Should Austin be granted the requisite approvals ahead of the 2019 season, it will be imperative to launch with momentum and a presence to ensure the long-term sustainability and viability of the Club. Normal business operations shall continue in Columbus for the balance of the 2018 season where winning an MLS Cup remains the objective.”The Austin City Council recently approved a term sheet negotiated with PSV to build a $200 million, 20,000-seat stadium on a 24-acre site in north Austin. The vote authorizes the negotiation and execution of agreements with PSV for construction, lease, and occupancy of the venue with the goal of completing construction in time for the 2021 MLS season.There are still additional obstacles to overcome. The office of Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine in conjunction with the city of Columbus is suing PSV under the so called Modell law that requires sports teams that have received state funding to provide six months notice of any intention to relocate and allow local investors the option of acquiring the team. A hearing is set for Sept. 4.

PAthetic Manchester United prove Jose Mourinho warning true in Brighton embarrassment

1:00 PM ETRob DawsonManchester United correspondent

BRIGHTON, England — Three points on Brighton 3-2 Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday afternoon.

  1. Jose Mourinho warning appears true

Jose Mourinho said this season would be tough for Manchester United, but he probably did not expect to be proved right quite so quickly.Through the summer and during the first week of the new Premier League season, he has painted a bleak picture of United’s prospects. Even a 2-1 win over Leicester on opening night did little to improve his mood.”I think it’s going to be a very hard season,” he said in an interview on Friday. And judging by the performance against Brighton at the AMEX on Sunday afternoon, it looks like he is right on the money.In the space of two minutes and 23 seconds during the first half, United went from control to calamity. After 24 minutes, Solly March crossed from the left and Glenn Murray nipped in front of Victor Lindelof to cleverly clip his finish over David De Gea. Then from the re-start, Eric Bailly gave away a needless corner and some penalty box pinball ended with Shane Duffy scoring a second after expertly controlling Anthony Knockaert’s miscued shot.United came back from two goals down to win twice last season, and when Romelu Lukaku headed in his first goal of the season from close range it looked like it might be on again. But just as it looked like Mourinho’s team were thinking about settling down, De Gea clipped a sloppy pass towards Fred in the centre of midfield, Dale Stephens slipped in Pascal Gross and Bailly brought him down. Gross got up to beat De Gea from the spot and the Brighton players trooped off at half-time with the fans singing “we want four.”It didn’t come, but it didn’t matter. Neither did Paul Pogba’s late penalty after Duffy had brought down substitute Marouane Fellaini in stoppage time.By the end the home supporters had changed their tune to: “Can we play you every week?” and “you’re going down with the Palace.”It’s not quite that bad for Mourinho but his preseason prediction is already coming true.

  1. United’s centre-backs a shambles

Mourinho wanted a central defender in the final weeks of the transfer window, and despite interest in Harry Maguire, Toby Alderweireld, Jerome Boateng and a host of others, nothing happened.If the United manager wanted to make his point to Ed Woodward, he need only post of video of the first half here to the chief executive’s office at Old Trafford.He picked Lindelof and Bailly against Brighton, and after 45 minutes they had helped cost United three goals.Lindelof was at fault for the first, letting Murray steal in to score. Bailly, not to be outdone, gave away a corner in the buildup to the second and then chopped down Gross in the box for Brighton’s penalty just before half-time.Both signed by Mourinho for a combined fee of £60 million, they have started the season as first choice, but it would be no surprise if they were both sat in the stands when Tottenham turn up at Old Trafford on Aug. 27.For now, Mourinho will have to make do with what he has got. Chris Smalling, trusted to play nearly 50 games last season, was on the bench while Phil Jones, who started the FA Cup final in May, was not in the squad at all. Marcos Rojo is another option, but the Argentina defender is still nursing an injury picked up at the World Cup.There are problems at the other end, too, and United managed just three shots on target while Lukaku was limited to just 24 touches all game.

  1. Brighton off to a flyer, home form key

Brighton had the eighth best home record in the Premier League last season with seven of their nine wins coming at the AMEX. Their form on their own pitch will be key again is they are going to survive again, and Chris Hughton could not have asked for a better start. It was a 1-0 win over United here in May that secured their top-flight status last season, and this could turn out to be just as significant.After the demoralising defeat at Watford on the opening weekend, it was vital that Brighton got up and running as quickly as possible. The Premier League can be an unforgiving place when you get stuck in a run of poor form, but Brighton can head to Liverpool on Saturday with confidence that they can upset Jurgen Klopp’s side.Only four teams managed to win at Brighton last season and it will be a difficult place to play this season, too. In a tight, compact arena, the fans can get on top of opposing teams, and Brighton gave them enough encouragement in the opening exchanges against United to get them into the game early.If they can do that more often than not this season, they should win enough home games to stay in the league for a third successive campaign.

Cristiano Ronaldo conundrum: How should Max Allegri use Juventus’ star?

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After Cristiano Ronaldo’s Juventus debut, the FC crew ponder what his best position is in Max Allegri’s squad: the No. 9, false 9 or a winger. (2:51)

11:19 AM ETGabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Let’s get the disclaimer out of the way first: Juventus were a very good team without Cristiano Ronaldo, and they will almost certainly be an even better one with him. They are overwhelming favourites to win Serie A, and while the Champions League — like all knockout competitions — is tricky to predict, they have to be among the favourites to win that too.The question, though, is how much better they will be and, crucially, what manager Massimiliano Allegri — with the collaboration of Ronaldo and others — can do to get them to maximise potential. In other words, you got yourself a CR7 unit (or, more accurately the CR7 unit.), now what do you do with it?It is not quite as simple as it sounds. Ronaldo, at this stage of his career, is not an orthodox player like, say, a Robert Lewandowski or a Kevin De Bruyne. You don’t simply drop him into a predefined role that already exists because what he does is nearly unique and in any case, did not exist at Juve.For nearly all of the nine seasons he spent at Real Madrid, he lined up on the left wing, wide of a mobile centre-forward (for a while it was a Gonzalo Higuain/Karim Benzema platoon, later the Frenchman took over full time). Ronaldo’s style — and his body — evolved over the years, but his level of production remained high.His first five years in Madrid were “peak Cristiano.” He was a fixture as a wide forward, often picking the ball up deep, taking on opponents — he averaged more than six dribbles a game — and relying on his athleticism to get into shooting positions. Heat maps from that era show that he spent some 60 percent of the time in the left-side third of the pitch.However, things changed after 2014. After suffering patellar tendinitis in his knee, he slimmed down, sacrificing muscle to maintain quickness even as he moved into his thirties. Moreover, his positioning changed: Heat maps have him at 44 percent on the left, 37 percent centrally and 21 percent on the right. In some ways, that increased movement enabled him to find more mismatches. He could — and still can — overpower most full-backs and outrun most central defenders.The first issue for Allegri is whether to let his new No. 7 play the way he did in Madrid — adjusting around him as a result — or to find him a new role. Many projected Juventus lineups opted for the latter, as did the first hour or so of Ronaldo’s Serie A debut vs. Chievo last Saturday. He lined up as a lone front man, with fast wingers either side in Juan Cuadrado and Douglas Costa, plus Paulo Dybala in the hole as part of a 4-2-3-1 formation.You can see the logic: Plenty of service from the wings to exploit his aerial prowess and Dybala creating behind. It may yet work, though whether a two-man midfield of Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira (or Emre Can) provides enough defensive cover, particularly with attacking full-backs like Alex Sandro and Joao Cancelo, remains to be seen.Make no mistake about it. Ronaldo has the trappings of a centre-forward. He is devastating in the air, his movement in the box is exceptional and his finishing is outstanding. The funny thing about him is that while his critics question the number of bad shots he takes — during a lean spell in La Liga early last season, for example — the numbers are pretty telling.His expected goals per shot over the past five years is .143, which is comparable to Higuain, the guy he replaced and a prototypical penalty-box poacher. And that’s with all the long-distance/bad-angle/low-percentage shots. In other words, Ronaldo does not just score a ton of goals because he is firing away all the time, he generally takes very good shots from very good positions. But the issue is whether you want a player who turns 34 in February taking lumps on his own up front from nasty centre-backs and especially in a hyper-tactical league like Serie A, where even the smaller sides can be hugely annoying to play against.It’s not that he can’t do it — he can do most things on a football pitch better than most footballers — but that the risk, in terms of injury, bookings and frustration, may not be worthwhile as Juventus look to protect and maximize their $100 million-plus investment.Then there is the issue of what Ronaldo prefers. There is a reason why Real Madrid so rarely played him as a lone centre-forward and it’s not because Benzema was the second coming of Marco van Basten. Plenty close to Ronaldo suggest that he simply did not see himself up front on a regular basis, except perhaps in a front two.The obvious alternative is a 4-3-3, plug and play, replicating what he had at Madrid. Allegri can then add Blaise Matuidi and his driving runs to the middle of the park (or Can or Rodrigo Bentancur or whomever), put Ronaldo left and deploy Mario Mandzukic through the middle.It makes a ton of sense given that Mandzukic has the physical presence, work rate and tactical awareness to complement Ronaldo the way Benzema did in Madrid. Alas, though, every rose has its thorn. Mandzukic is 32, has started more than 28 league games in a season just once and had his preseason cut short due to Croatia’s run to the World Cup final.

As such, it is a big ask to for him to lead the line and do the grunt work week in, week out. Yes, you can have him in that role for big games, but that means finding someone else to do the job the rest of the time. There are no other centre-forwards with Serie A experience on Juve’s books apart from Moise Kean, but he is 18 and could go on loan. That means there is no Plan B, other than a wholly different formation.The other issue with 4-3-3 is the third slot up front. If your benchmark is talent, Dybala goes there, but it remains to be seen whether such a move gets the best out of him. Or you alternate one of the three remaining wingers — Cuadrado, Federico Bernardeschi and Douglas Costa — which means there is a challenge to keep everyone happy in terms of minutes.Too negative? There is some good news. Allegri is one of the most pragmatic and tactically creative managers out there. He is not wed to a system, he has played them all, and more than most, he is not afraid to experiment. As for keeping everyone happy, while he bristles at being called a “man-manager” because he wants folks to appreciate his tactical nous, he is as good as they come in that regard.There might be other solutions, which seem far-fetched right now, but that Allegri could pull out of his hat. Dybala as a “false nine,” for example, or Ronaldo playing in a front two with a winger recycled as a second striker.If the real benchmark for Juventus this season is the Champions League, then the club’s manager has six five months or so — until the knockout phase begins — to figure it out. Whether it is a different formation or simply building the chemistry required to accomodate Ronaldo, who tends to move around the pitch wherever his instinct takes him, albeit usually starting from the left wing, there is time to work on things.And if all else fails and Allegri feels that only a 4-3-3 with Ronaldo wide works best, there is always the option of going into the transfer window in January. Juventus do not need a world-class striker, just a willing, hard-working, blue-collar body who can give Mandzukic days off.

Peter Vermes deserves chance to be next USMNT coach – Caleb Porter

Aug 16, 2018ESPN

Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes “deserves the shot” to be the next coach of the United States men’s national team, his contemporary Caleb Porter told The Athletic.

Porter, who stepped down as coach of the Portland Timbers last November, also said he believes he’s a candidate for the position, which has been filled by Dave Sarachan on an interim basis since the resignation of Bruce Arena last year.But Porter said Vermes, who serves as both the coach and technical director of Sporting KC, should be the top choice among domestic candidates.”If you’re going American, Peter Vermes, for me, he is the guy that deserves the shot,” Porter said. “I believe that. That guy deserves to carry the torch of our national team. Peter Vermes, in my opinion, based on what he’s done in our league, he’s proven it as an American coach.”If you don’t go with Peter Vermes, I think, based on what I’ve proven, I’m in the mix with another two or three guys who deserve consideration and I’d be open to talking.”In addition to coaching his MLS team from the sideline, Vermes’ duties include managing the club’s roster as well as scouting and overseeing the academy.Despite holding discussions with U.S. Soccer earlier this year, Vermes in May signed a new contract with SKC that ties him to the club until 2023. He said at the time he would lean toward remaining with SKC over working for the national team.Vermes helped SKC win MLS Cup in 2013 and has also won the U.S. Open Cup three times. He also won MLS Cup as a player in 2000, when he was named the league Defender of the Year. He earned 66 caps with the U.S. national team and played at the 1990 World Cup.Porter said he was re-energized after taking a “mid-career sabbatical,” and said he had to leave Portland because he “didn’t have anything left to give.””I just kept feeling like I’ve done what I could do in the club and I’ve given what I can give to the club and I’ve accomplished what I can accomplish in the club,” Porter said. “As a young coach, I would have never admitted this, but an experienced coach that is comfortable in their skin realizes when maybe it’s time for a new coach and it’s the right thing for the club.”

World Cup 2018 Never Stopped Captivating En Route to Crowning Champion

By Grant Wahl  July 16, 2018  SI

MOSCOW — There has been a tendency in soccer circles in recent years to look down on the international game—and, by extension, the World Cup—as an inferior brand to the European club game. The reasons are straightforward. Players are together more often with their clubs, the coaching is better, and the rhythms are more regular. The club game is the spouse we see every day. The international game is our best friend from college who visits once a year and knows how to have a great time (but is a little flaky on the fundamentals). Debbie Downers who have maligned soccer involving national teams. Was the level of play as high as the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds? Probably not, but it was plenty high—thanks largely to the quality of the world’s finest players, from the old standbys (Croatia’s Luka Modric, Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo, Argentina’s Lionel Messi) to the newly-emergent A-listers (the French 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé, Belgium’s Eden Hazard) to the tournament’s one-man telenovela (Brazil’s Neymar, when he wasn’t writhing on the ground like a Pentecostal parishioner speaking in tongues).

What made this the most entertaining World Cup of modern times—and the best since at least 1986—was the relentless drama, surprises and emotions of it all. It was a World Cup of Overflowing Feelings, which closed any gap in technical quality with the club game. We’ll never see a player crying tears of joy after a Champions League group stage win, but that’s exactly what Neymar and Mexico’s Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernández did after World Cup group stage victories. Germany became the fourth of the last five defending champions to go out in the group stage, making you wonder if it might be more than a coincidence. Heavyweights Spain, Brazil, Argentina and Portugal were all gone by the quarterfinals. Croatia, the little checkerboard engine that could, was the best team during the group stage and erased deficits in all four of its knockout-round games, from the round of 16 to the final.Goals may not have been at a record high, but late game-winners were. Buoyed by set-piece goals (another trend), England went all the way to the semifinals, won a penalty shootout (!) and was (gasp) totally likeable as a team.

Then there was Russia. On the field, home-fan expectations of a national embarrassment gave way to deserved pride among ordinary Russians, as their team advanced from the group stage (predicted by some), eliminated Spain on penalties in the round of 16 (predicted by almost nobody) and played some terrific attacking soccer in a quarterfinal exit on penalties against Croatia.Off the field, the World Cup organization was solid. There were no significant instances of hooliganism. And the visiting fans from around the world—most of them from Latin American countries, not from Europe—appeared to have just as big an impact on the host Russians as Russia did on its visitors. Moscow’s Nikolskaya Street, a pedestrian-only thoroughfare near Red Square that was lit up at night like a winter wonderland, became a festive gathering place where fans and locals chanted and sang until the early-rising sun was already high in the sky by 6 a.m.For someone who might have questioned whether they should come to Russia—that included me, a first-time Russia visitor, at one point ahead of the tournament—the answer, ultimately, was yes. Travel is, as ever, human connection, understanding, barriers broken. Ordinary Russians were terrific: Warm, welcoming and genuinely curious. Yet it was hard not to be made uncomfortable by FIFA president Gianni Infantino cozying up to Vladimir Putin, acting as though this World Cup had changed everyone’s opinions about the Russian dictator, which couldn’t be further from the truth.In historic terms, World Cup 2018 will be remembered for the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee. After fears before the tournament that VAR—we like saying vahr, not the less efficient vee-aye-ar—would be an unmitigated disaster, it turned out to be a net-positive. Nearly all the big calls were done right. Even if you disagree with referee Néstor Pitana’s handball penalty call on Ivan Perisic in the final(and reasonable people could be found on both sides of the debate), at least Pitana had the chance to use all the available evidence to make his decision. Video review is not perfect. Referees were reluctant to use it to call wrestling-move penalties in the box. And with the prevalence of set-piece goals, we were left frustrated that VAR is not allowed to review plays that lead to dangerous restarts—such as the nonexistent foul on Antoine Griezmann that gave France the free kick that resulted in its first goal in the final. Whenever a goal is scored, every moment on the play leading to the goal is reviewed by VAR; that should be the case for moments that lead to goals scored on set pieces, too. Getting VAR right is an ongoing process, though, and there’s no denying that it’s here to stay.At least France, the champion, did enough in the rest of the final to show that its victory was owed to its play and not to the decision of a referee. France was not the most entertaining team at this World Cup—that would be Belgium, the third-place finisher, which was undone by a French corner kick in the semifinals—but how often does the most entertaining team ever win the World Cup? The pragmatism of French coach Didier Deschamps meant this would be a balanced team, one that often relied on the counterattack and willfully chose not to maximize its overflowing attacking talents.The French collective was what mattered most. Paul Pogba bought into what Deschamps was selling and became a rock, the leader. N’Golo Kanté had a forgettable final, but his overall contribution was immense. And there were some sublime moments of speed, vision and skill from Mbappé—particularly against Argentina and Croatia—that signaled this teenager might really be the heir to Messi and Ronaldo.France was the second-youngest team at the World Cup (behind Nigeria), and Les Bleus will now have the chance to create their own era, much as Spain did from 2008 to 2012 and France itself did from 1998 to 2000. The talent pipeline in France is established, almost industrialized at this point. But there are no guarantees. One of the greatest things about this World Cup, and about soccer itself, is its constant ability to surprise, to show that nothing is inevitable or preordained.That’s why we watch.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN TOPPLE TORONTO FC II, 3-2

By James Higdon, 08/23/18, 12:30AM EDThare”Boys in Blue” hand Toronto FC II second series defeat of the season

Indy Eleven come away with three points at home after defeating Toronto FC II 3-2, for the second time this season. The win marks “Indiana’s Team’s” third consecutive win at home, two of which came after a four-match stint on the road.The new turf seems to be the key difference in Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie’s side. Six goals have been scored over the last two matches. Last Wednesday was the first time Indy Eleven played on the new turf following the team’s previous 2-1 win over Charlotte Independence on July 7.“I think since the surface has changed you’ve seen a difference in our play,” Rennie said. “You’ve seen a difference in the chances created, goals we’ve scored. You’ve seen a lot more from people like Ben Speas and Jack [McInerney], as well.”Toronto started seeking out chances in the early minutes, but it was Indy forward Ben Speas who found the first goal of the match. Speas sank his shot from the center of Toronto’s 18-yard box with his first touch in the 18th minute. The goal was assisted by service from Eleven midfielder Nico Matern with a 36-yard pass from Indy’s own half. The goal was Speas’ third of the season, scoring all three in the last three home matches.Five minutes, later Eleven forward Jack McInerney delivered the “Boys in Blue’s” second goal. Striking partner Soony Saad played a square pass to the middle of Toronto’s penalty area. TFCII defenders Tim Kubel and Lars Eckenrode both attempted to settle, but a poor giveaway rolled in place for McInerney to hammer in the lower left corner of the net. The 26-year-old currently sits atop Indy’s goal scoring chart for 2018 with seven to his name, tallying four in the last month.Toronto continued to test Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Willaims. Their efforts proved fruitful with two goals to level the score before the end of the first half. Toronto’s first goal occurred in the 29th minute with a free kick at the top of the 18-yard box by midfielder Tsubasa Endoh. The Tokyo, Japan native placed his shot over Indy’s defensive wall with pinpoint accuracy into top left corner of the goal. The goal was Endoh’s first since signing for Toronto on August 2.Toronto’s equalizer was struck by Jordan Hamilton 30 yards out from goal in the 34th minute. Hamilton’s opportunity came after miscommunication between Speas and Eleven midfielder Matt Watson resulted in a loose ball. The distant strike was Hamilton’s fourth of the season and his 12 with Toronto FC II since 2015.Indy original and returning midfielder Dylan Mares reopened his account with the game-winning goal in the 58th minute. Saad’s pass in the midfielder split through Toronto defenders to a backtracking Mares. A lengthy, unopposed run by Mares led to his shot at the top of Toronto’s penalty box. The strike flew by TFCII keeper Caleb Patterson-Sewell as he dove for the save in the right side of the goal.“Ben [Speas] was on my left side and he drew some people away and so did Soony [Saad],” Mares said. “Soony stretched them and they just kept moving back and back and it allowed me to open up and pick out the side net. It was well done by everyone else. They gave me the space to create an opportunity.”“Indiana’s Team” has 3W-2D record in its last five matches, collecting 11 out of 15 possible points. The win sees Indy remain in sixth places in the Eastern Conference standings as they continue to push for playoff contention.The “Boys in Blue” hits the road again this Saturday, August 25, to face Atlanta United FC 2. Indy will return home on Wednesday, August 29th against Pittsburgh Riverhounds to kick off a three-home game stretch in a seven days. Fans can get tickets to the upcoming home fixtures by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.

USL Regular Season
Indy Eleven 3:2 Toronto FC II
Wednesday, August 22, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN

PREVIEW | #ATLVIND

By IndyEleven.com, 08/23/18, 7:30PM EDT  Indiana’s Team” looks to extend winning streak in rematch against Atlanta United 2

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview Indy Eleven at Atlanta United 2 – #ATLvIND  Saturday, August 25, 2018 – 7:00 P.M. EST 
Coolray Field, Lawrenceville, Georgia  Watch/Listen Live: * Local/National TV:  N/A  * Streaming Video: ESPN+ ($)

WEEK 24 | THROUGH THICK AND THIN

Indy Eleven face Atlanta United 2 for the second time in 2018 on the road this Saturday, August 25. The match is set to kickoff at 7:00 p.m. at Coolray Field in Lawrenceville, Georgia. The previous meeting took place in Week 13, where “Indiana’s Team” registered a 2-0 victory at home.Indy Eleven (11W-7L-6D) remain at sixth in the Eastern Conference with 39 points after defeating Toronto FC II, 3-2. The victory against Toronto marks the third straight home win for the “Boys in Blue” and the first goal of the season for midfielder Dylan Mares, who re-signed with Indy on August 20. Midfielder Ben Speas opened the scoring and netted his third goal of 2018, all of which came in the last three home games. Forward Jack McInerney netted the second of the game and his seventh of the season. He remains the team’s leading goal scorer by three goals. The victory brings “Indiana’s Team” record to 3W-1L-1D in the last five home games. Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie’s offense continues to fire on all cylinders after last night’s tally brings Indy Eleven’s goal scoring total to nine in the last five outings.Atlanta United 2 (3W-13L-7D) are currently one spot above Indy Elevens most recent opponent, last-place Toronto FC II, in 15th place with 16 points. Atlanta suffered a 5-1 drubbing in their first Week 24 fixture against Eastern Conference leaders FC Cincinnati Wednesday evening. Atlanta defender Shawn Nicklaw scored Atlanta’s only goal, and his first goal of the season, in stunning fashion. Forward Jon Gallagher played a back pass to Nicklaw, who then unleashed a nearly 40-yard shot into the top right corner of the net. The loss moves Atlanta United 2’s record in the last five matches to 4L-1D. The team’s last win came on July 11, in a 2-1 victory against Bethlehem Steel FC at home.Coach Martin Rennie will aim to improve his team’s recent away record of 3L-2D in the last five road fixtures. Atlanta United 2 will be a tough task at home, as all three of their wins have come when playing at Colray Field. The MLS2 team has netted 15 goals and conceded 18 in 12 matches at home.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF DYLAN MARES

Indy Eleven midfielder Dylan Mares surely didn’t have the worst debut in the world in the Week 24 clash versus Toronto FC II. Mares laced up for “Indiana’s Team” for the first time since 2016, and netted a goal in the 58th minute that would win the match.The 26-year-old picked up the ball near half field and began a run down the left flank. After carrying the ball 25-yards, Mares cut in on his right foot and struck a clean, powerful shot that found its way into the right corner of the net returning the lead to Indy Eleven. Mares added firepower in front of net and his technicality on the ball injected some creativity back in head coach Martin Rennie’s lineup.

ATLANTA UNITED 2 PLAYER TO WATCH | FW JON GALLAGHER

An unfamiliar face found the back of the net in Atlanta United 2’s 5-1 defeat against FC Cincinnati in their first Week 24 fixture. Defender Shawn Nicklaw tucked home a wonder strike. Yet, the goal wouldn’t have happened if not for the visual awareness of forward Jon Gallagher.Gallagher, who leads the team in scoring with six goals in 2018, received the ball at the top of FC Cincinnati’s 18-yard box. With nowhere to go in front of him, the 22-year-old Irishman played a release pass to Nicklaw which freed him for his strike. The assist is Gallagher’s second on the year, showing the young forward can both score and find space for teammates in front of net.

MATCHUP TO MARK | INDY FW MCINERNEY VS. ATLANTA 2 DF COCHRAN

Indy Eleven’s offense has been finding the back of the net fairly regularly as of late. Nine goals in the last five games is a fairly stellar scoring track. In Week 24, the “Boys in Blue” will face Atlanta United 2 on the road, where Atlanta 2 has given up 18 goals in nine home games.Indy Eleven forward Jack McInerney will look to exploit a defense that has allowed two goals conceded per home game. After some forward rotation by Coach Rennie and a fixture loaded schedule, McInerney is seeing playing time regularly and finding the back of the net consistently. He’s found the back of the net four times in August and recorded an assist to go along with it. His recent form has brought him as sole owner of Indy Eleven’s leading goal scorer for the season.Averaging two goals conceded per home fixture can be tough on a team. Especially when some of the goals conceded feel like they shouldn’t have happened. For example, FC Cincinnati’s first goal in the previous game against Atlanta 2 was a deflection that found its way in the net. Defender A.J. Cochran has done his best to lead the backline despite defensive struggles. The 25-year-old leads his team in every defensive category this season. His ability to read passing lanes and intercept attempts to play players in stands out most for Cochran, as he recorded five interceptions against FC Cincinnati.In order for McInerney to break through the backline of the Atlanta 2 defense, he’ll have to be fed in well as Cochran will be waiting to intercept lazy passes. Midfielders playing precise passes and freeing up McInerney will depend on his runs off the ball.

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8/17/18 Indy 11 win & host home games next 2 Weds, La Liga, Serie A Start, What Leagues are on Which Networks, Full TV Game Schedule

INDY 11

So my buddy Paul and I made it out for the Huge come from behind win for the Indy 11 over North Carolina last night 3-2 with the winner scored in the 90th minute! But there is one thing I don’t understand?  Fans why aren’t you going to Indy 11 games anymore?  Really I want to know – sure it was a solid crowd for a Wed night – but if Cincinnati can put 25K in an outdoor university stadium downtown why can’t we do 10K PLUS in 1 of the nicest NFL stadiums around?  Ticket pricing is reasonable (cheapest seats $15 or cheaper with specials), the stadium is fantastic –with great concessions, easy parking, great bathrooms and what is truly one of the nicest stadiums around.  The BYB supporters section behind the goal provides a solid atmosphere – and the team is in playoff contention and playing pretty good soccer.  So why don’t you go??  I can’t help but think if we don’t start filling at least ¾ of the lower bowl – our Eleven may not play here again – and man this is a big time stadium with great big replay screens, and lots of things to do inside the stadium.  Indy 11 casual fans, rec players, travel players, parents of soccer players – you need to get to a game while we still have a competitive team playing in a fantastic venue – or we might just not have them anymore.

The Eleven are about to embark on a run of 6 games in 21 days that will probably determine if the team makes the playoffs. Two of the games are on Wednesday nights and special pricing is in play to see those games for as low at $10 per ticket.  Our Boys in Blue return home the next 2 Wed Aug 15 + 22 + 29, + Sat Aug 25 + Sept 1 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.  

Sat 8/18  2 pm ESPN+                     Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/22 7 pm MyIndy23         Indy 11 vs Toronto FC II

Sat 8/25 7 pm ESPN+                    Indy 11 @ Atlanta United FC 2 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/29 7 pm myIndy23          Indy 11 vs Pittsburg Riverhounds SC

Sat Sept 1 7 pm  Wish TV 8        Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Wed Sept 5 7 pm Wish TV 8      Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II

World Leagues Where Can You Watch Them?

The European Leagues are all starting their seasons either last week, this weekend or next weekend – now the question is where are the games Televised?  Of course American soccer MLS and USL (the league the INDY 11 is in now), and NWSL (women’s league), and of course the US National teams continue to be featured on US TV on ESPN, Fox Sports 1, Yes TV and Lifetime (NWSL) along with ESPN and Fox Sports online.  The new ESPN+ carries some MLS and all the USL games including the away Indy 11 games and costs $5 a month for online coverage.  (Yes I broke down and signed up to watch our Indy 11 and some MLS games especially Columbus and Chicago.)

NBCSN and NBC continue to show the English Premier League EPL- with just a few American’s playing with the occasional game on CNBC and MSNBC now and again with games on Sat and Sunday mornings starting as early at 7:30 am and continuing thru the 12:30 kickoff often on NBC. They also often have games on a Monday afternoon (Monday night football) and the occasional Friday afternoon (Friday night football) at 2:45 pm.  NBCSN have good show’s before and after the games along with the Goal Zone which reviews the goals each day.  Now if the game is not being featured on TV you have to order the NBC Gold Package ($50) which does allow you to watch the games not shown along with replays of all the games each club (4 each) will have games on NBC Gold only unfortunately.  Also online is TalkSport – where you can listen to the Radio version of the EPL games as broadcast in England.  (You will often see me on Saturday’s plugged in to my cell listening to a game).  American’ players Deandre Yedlin starts at right back for New Castle United, Danny Williams plays Dmid for Huddersfield (the coach is also a former US National Team player David Wagner), and Fulham has American defender Tim Ream and MF Luca de la Torre.  Sitting the bench are Arsenal’s MF Gideon Zelalem, Cardiff City’s GK Chris Konopka and Man United’s defender Matthew Olosunde.  See full season previews below but I like Man City and Liverpool to battle for the top slot in the EPL while Tottenham and either Man United or Chelsea will finish top 4.  I think Arsenal plays better overall in their first season after Wenger but will be on the outside looking in at the end of the season.

The Bundesliga continues to be on Fox Sports 1 & 2 & Fox Soccer with the most American’s in any league being featured starting next weekend.  The Bundesliga is perhaps the most underrated of Europe’s top three leagues, providing exciting, attacking football, albeit with a predictable champion. Fox doesn’t do a great job with its Bundesliga rights, but it does an adequate job and it actually shows them on TV and gives you the ability to watch online via your cable login.  Fox typically broadcasts Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund matches along with other teams at 9:30 am and 12:30 pm on weekends outside of the 2:45 pm Friday and Monday matches.  Now Fox Sports losing their buts on the World Cup without the US – seems to have resulted in Fox giving up on soccer.  They lose the Champions League, Europa League, and the FA Cup.

Serie A Kicks off Season on ESPN+ this Weekend

The big move of the summer was of course multi-time player of the Year and the leading scorer in Champions League Christiano Renaldo from Real Madrid to the Italian League Serie A’s Juventus.  The move has lead to ESPN signing a contract to show Serie A games on ESPN+ starting with the game on Saturday at noon between Juve and Chevio, Lazio follows at 2:30 pm.  Sunday gives us Torino vs Roma at Noon on ESPN News with all the other games at 2:30 on ESPN+.  I like Juventus of course to win the League with the addition of scoring machine Renaldo-  I look for Napoli to finish 2nd if they can find a good goalkeeper while Roma and Inter Milan will battle for that 3rd Champions League spot.

Spain’s La Liga Kicks off Friday on beIN Sport

beIN Sport continues to carry La Liga Spanish and Ligue 1 French soccer this season (LA LIGA Starts Friday) – they also have one of the best Review shows on TV The Extra at 7 pm and various other times EVERY day. Most Spanish and French games are in the afternoon in the US on Sat and Sundays and some Fridays.  beIN sports has my favorite announcing team in Phil Schoen and Rocky Ray Hudson.  Most of the time, beIN will broadcast the Real Madrid and Barcelona matches each weekend with a smattering of some of the other top few teams like Atlético Madrid, Villarreal and Valencia. LaLiga will continue a schedule that includes a 3 p.m. EST game on Friday, Saturday matches at 7 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m., Sunday matches at 6 a.m., 10 a.m., 12:15 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. and a Monday match at 2:30 p.m., with occasional midweek matches.  I think my Atletico Madrid– will finally break thru and win the Spanish League this season – as the full team returns including French World Cup winner Antoine Greizmann and backstop Oblak, with some added firepower for the Man in Black Diego Simeone –Now is the time for the people’s team to make the breakthrough and unseat the traditional champions with much bigger payrolls – Real Madrid and Barcelona.  Their 4-2 win over Real Madrid in the EUFA Supercup was impressive Wed!

Gol TV carries live Portegues soccer and the occasional German game.  All of the main channels have apps that allow you to watch online – so download those apps today and catch a game on the phone if you like.  (Email me if you want to borrow my login – I have them all).  (see more Season previews below on http://theoleballcoach.com-

EPL Weekend #2

We have some big games in Week 2 of the EPL as teams battling for a top 4 spot – each with new coaches will face off as Chelsea will host Arsenal at 12:30 pm on NBC, after my ole favorite – FULHAM America – faces Tottenham at Wembley at 10 am on NBCSN.  US defender Tim Ream will have his hands full with Harry Kane and the Spur stars.  Not sure if US defender Deandre Yedlin will be back from his knee knock for New Castle as they travel to Cardiff City at 7:25 again on NBCSN.   ESPN gives us Seattle the hottest team in MLS hosting the LA Galaxy (Zlatan) at 4 pm.   While Sunday we get top ranked East teams Atlanta hosting Columbus on ESPN+ at 4 pm and DC United and Wayne Rooney hosting NE.  Monday Liverpool will feature at 3 pm vs Crystal Palace.  (Bill we watching at pub?)

Carmel FC Goalies don’t forget 2 Goalie trainings this Fall with GK coach Kristian Nicht and Me – the ole ballcoach starts back up – Weds at Shelbourne & Thurs at Badger Field  6-7 pm U11-U12  7 to 8 pm U13 – U19.  Also some teams are still looking for players for the Travel season reach-out to the ole ballcoach if interested.

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

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

Game Day Nutrition for Youth Soccer Players 

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

GAMES ON TV This Week

Fri, Aug 17                 

2:45 pm ESPN3            Schweinfurt vs Schalke (Mckinney)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Stade Reims vs Olympique Lyonnais (French)

4:15 pm beIN Sport     Real Betis vs Levante (Spain)

7 pm SEC Network     Florida vs Washington

Sat, Aug 18    

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Cardiff

10 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Fulham (Tim Ream)

10:50 am beIN Sport    EA Guingamp vs PSG (Tim Weah)

12 noon ESPN+            Juventus (Renaldo) vs Chievo (La Liga)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Chelsea vs Arsenal 

1:55 pm beIN Sport     Monaco vs Lille (French)

2 pm ESPN+                    Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

2:30 pm ESPN+            Lazio vs Napoli (Serie A)

4 pm ESPN                    Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy (Zlatan)

4:05 pm beIN Sport      Barcelona vs Alaves (SP)

7 pm Yes Network     Philly Union vs NYCFC

10 pm FS2                       Monterey vs Pumas (Mexican)

Sun, Aug 19    

8 am NBCSN                   Man City vs Huddersfield Town (Danny Williams)

11 am NBCSN                Brighton vs Man United

12 noon ESPN News    Torino vs Roma (Serie A)

4 pm beIN Sport          Real Madrid vs Getafe

4 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England

7 pm SEC Network+  Florida vs Fla Atlantic

Mon, Aug 20    

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 France vs Spain WC Semi-Final

2 pm beIN Sport         Valencia vs Atletico Madrid

3 pm NBCSN                   Crystal Palace vs Liverpool

Wed, Aug 22    

7 pm FS 1                     NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – NY Darby

7 pm myindytv/espn+ Indy 11 vs Toronto 2

Thurs, Aug 23    

7 pm ESPN+                    Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

10 pm FS2                       Tijuana vs Santos Laguna (Mex)

Fri, Aug 24                     German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1      Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

7 pm ESPN                       Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN              LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

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US Players in Europe

These Are the Oversea’s US Players to Watch – Brian Straus SI

Yanks Abroad: Goals around the globe

Tim Weah scores in PSG’s season opener

USA 2-2 tie with Spain not enough to advance out of group at U20 Women’s World Cup

USMNT Weekly Youth Update: Emmanuel Sabbi hot streak continues

Emmanuel Sabbi should be the next young attacker to get a USMNT chance

U.S. Soccer Development Academy Must Expand

EPL

DeAndre Yedlin Knee Injury not Serious – New Castle Confirms – ESPN

5 Things we Learned this Weekend in th EPL – yahoo soccer

Pogba’s Powerplay at United?

Sessegnon – Fulham were taught Premier League lesson by Crystal Palace

EPL Season Predictor – 538

EPL Preview – the Ringer Audio

WORLD

Where to Watch the European Games this Season

Where to watch UEFA Champions League and Europa League on US TV and streaming-World Soccer Talk

Turner TV Hi-Jacks Champions League and Europa League Games from Fox

ICC Cup Folks to Partner with La Liga to Bring a Regular Season Game to the US

Costa and Atletico Madrid deliver Statement Win in Supercup over Real Madrid 4-2

LA LIGA PREVIEW – Is It Finally Atletico’s Year to Topple Real Madrid and Barcelona? – ESPNFC Graham Hunter

La Liga Preview SI

Who had Better Signings in La Liga Race?

Coutinho Will Never Replace Iniesta at Barca – and that’s just Fine

Messi Captures Record 33rd Title with Barca in Spanish Supercup win as Captain

Allegri Eyes Champions League as Renaldo Scores in 8 min of first game for Juventus

Renaldo’s Move to Juve could be a Boost to Serie A

Goalies

EPL Saves of the Week 1

Best Saves of the World Cup

Save of the Week – National Womens SL –

Saves of the Week – USL

MLS Save

Golden Glove Winner Courtois Moved from Chelsea to Real Madrid for Family Reasons

Mattia Perin out to Prove Worthy Heir to Gigi Buffon for Juve and Italy

Bilbao GK Kepa Arrizabalaga becomes most Expensive GK with $71 Million Dollar move to Chelsea

Former Roma GK Allisson a Steal for Liverpool at $66 Million

Top Fantasy GK Picks for the EPL

Top Save totals at World Cup by GK

MLS

Jose Altidore draws interest of Serie A and Ligue 1 Teams – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Would you rather have Zlatan or Rooney?

Anthony Precourt Gets 1 Step Closer to Pimping out the Columbus Crew to Austin Tx  dead spin Bill Haisley

Seattle Hosts LA Galaxy and Zlatan Sat Aug 14 4 pm on ESPN riding a Winning Streak

Can Martinez break the MLS scoring record Sunday?

Discuss: Revs or D.C. a more likely playoff team?

Another late run? Seattle swear it’s not by design

2019 CONCACAF Champions League Qualifying Process is Qualified

Power Rankings: NY teams put the heat on ATL

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Indy 11

Dramatic Goal in the 90th Minute Lifts Indy 11 over NC 3-2

Football Lines will be Visible at Games with New Indy Colts Turf Installed

KEYS TO THE MATCH | #LOUVIND

Indy 11 Add New Players from MLS

Indy 11 Sends United Way Donor to MLS All-Star Game

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

Parking passes at Gate10  Events is $11 with advance purchase. $15 day of.  Save $$$ by buying early.

INDY 11 GAMES

Sat 8/18  2 pm ESPN+                     Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/22 7 pm MyIndy23         Indy 11 vs Toronto FC II

Sat 8/25 7 pm ESPN+                                               Indy 11 @ Atlanta United FC 2 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

Wed 8/29 7 pm myIndy23          Indy 11 vs Pittsburg Riverhounds SC

Sat Sept 1 7 pm  Wish TV 8        Indy 11 vs Richmond Kickers

Wed Sept 5 7 pm Wish TV 8      Indy 11 vs NY Red Bulls II

GAMES ON TV

Fri, Aug 17                 

2:45 pm ESPN3            Schweinfurt vs Schalke (Mckinney)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Stade Reims vs Olympique Lyonnais (French)

4:15 pm beIN Sport    Real Betis vs Levante (Spain)

7 pm SEC Network     Florida vs Washington

Sat, Aug 18    

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Cardiff

10 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Fulham (Tim Ream)

10:50 am beIN Sport      EA Guingamp vs PSG (Tim Weah)

12 noon ESPN+            Juventus (Renaldo) vs Chievo (La Liga)

12:30 pm NBCSN        Chelsea vs Arsenal 

1:55 pm beIN Sport     Monaco vs Lille (French)

2 pm ESPN+                    Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

2:30 pm ESPN+            Lazio vs Napoli (Serie A)

4 pm ESPN                       Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy (Zlatan)

4:05 pm beIN Sport        Barcelona vs Alaves (SP)

7 pm Yes Network     Philly Union vs NYCFC

10 pm FS2                       Monterey vs Pumas (Mexican)

Sun, Aug 19    

8 am NBCSN                   Man City vs Huddersfield Town (Danny Williams)

11 am NBCSN                Brighton vs Man United

12 noon ESPN News       Torino vs Roma (Serie A)

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Real Madrid vs Getafe

4 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta United vs Columbus Crew

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England 

7 pm SEC Network+  Florida vs Fla Atlantic

Mon, Aug 20    

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 France vs Spain WC Semi-Final

2 pm beIN Sport         Valencia vs Atletico Madrid

3 pm NBCSN                   Crystal Palace vs Liverpool       

Wed, Aug 22    

7 pm FS 1                      NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – NY Darby

7 pm myindytv/espn+ Indy 11 vs Toronto 2

Thurs, Aug 23    

7 pm ESPN+                    Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

10 pm FS2                       Tijuana vs Santos Laguna (Mex)

Fri, Aug 24                     German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1      Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

7 pm ESPN                       Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN            LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

Sat, Aug 25     

7:30 am NBCSN            Wolverhampton vs Man city 

9:30 am FS 1                  Wolfsburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

10 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs West Ham United

12 noon beIN Sport  Juventus vs Lazio

12:30 pm NBCSN        Liverpool vs Brighton

12:30 pm FS 1              M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen

7 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta 2 vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

8 pm ESPN News         Washington Spirit vs Portland Thorns (Ladies) 

Sun, Aug 26    

8 am NBCSN                   Watford vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am FS1                    Mainz vs Stuttgart

11 am NBCSN                New Castle United vs Chelsea

12 noon Fox Soccer  Dortmund (Pulisic) vs RB Leipzig

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Girona vs Real Madrid 

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England 

7 pm Fox Sport1          NY Red Bulls vs DC United (Rooney)

9:30 pm FS1                   Portland vs Seattle Sounders (Cascadia Cup)

Mon, Aug 27    

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Tottenham

Fri, Sept 7

7:30 pm FS1                   USA vs Brazil (Metlife)

Tues, Sept 11

8:30 pm ESPN               USA vs Mexico in Nashville (anyone want to go?)

Thurs, Oct 11

7:30 pm FSI                     USA vs Colombia (Tampa)

Thurs, Nov 15

3 pm ESPN2                    England vs USA (Wembley)

Sat, Nov 20

3 pm ESPN2                    Italy vs USMNT

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

EPL Schedule

 RECAP | INDY ELEVEN CLINCH THREE POINTS AGAINST NORTH CAROLINA FC, 3-2

By James Higdon, 08/15/18, 11:45PM EDT

Dramatic ending sees “Indiana’s Team” march away with a homecoming win

Indy Eleven claim three points in a homecoming fixture against North Carolina FC, 3-2. Goals from forwards Eugene Starikov and Ben Speas, and a dramatic late goal from midfielder Juan Guerra, sees the “Boys in Blue” jump to fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings.“Indiana’s Team” gained the upper hand early in the evening. A well-placed cross from Eleven forward Jack McInerney from the right edge of the pitch found Starikov at the top of Carolina’s six-yard box in the seventh minute. The Ukrainian forward scored his third goal of the season after his sliding shot edged around NCFC defender DJ Taylor. McInerney nearly got the first a minute prior after service from defender Kevin Venegas found him in front of NCFC’s goal, but a misplaced touch sent the attempt just wide of the post.

“He [Starikov] was out for two and a half months. You didn’t get to see him and we didn’t really get to use him.” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “Now we’re seeing the benefit of having him on the field and he’s scoring.”After a number of offensive pushes, NCFC came close to leveling the one-goal lead in the 21st minute. NCFC midfielder Kyle Bekker linked up with unmarked midfielder Marcel Kandziora inside Indy’s 18-yard box. Attempting to catch Eleven keeper Owain Fon Williams off his line, Kandziora chipped his shot high towards the net. The Welshman managed to get a touch, but it wasn’t enough to divert the ball from goal. The score looked to be even before a miraculous goal line clearance from Eleven defender Carlyle Mitchell kept the ball from crossing over. Kandziora came knocking again in the 28th minute with a shot 19 yards out, but ended wide of Indy’s frame.Indy responded to NCFC’s onslaught of chances by doubling its lead. In the 31st minute, Venegas bodied the ball away from Kandziora in Carolina’s defensive half. Speas waited nearby to receive the turnover. With three quick touches, Speas registered the match’s second goal, and his third in 2018, from 27 yards out.“It was a spectacular goal and he’s capable of that and we just want to see him on the ball more,” said Rennie. “He defended a lot too.”Refusing to end the first half scoreless, North Carolina narrowed the gap with a stoppage time free kick. The free kick opportunity came after a yellow card offense from Mitchell outside Indy’s 18-yard box. The linesman blew his whistle as defender Aaron Guillen and Bekker stood over the dead ball. Guillen charged past the ball as Bekker curled his shot into the lower left corner of Indy’s net.Both teams found and left chances in front of goal throughout the second half until NCFC hit its equalizer in the 77th minute. Carolina substitute defender Wullito Fernandes’ square pass bounced into Indy’s six-yard box where substitute forward Marios Lomis nodded the ball between the posts.In dramatic fashion, Indy managed to net one final goal, and the winner, in the 90th minute when Juan Guerra made the most of a deflected shot inside NCFC’s 18-yard box. The goal was Guerra’s first since joining the “Boys in Blue” earlier this year.Coach Rennie partially credited the new turf in Lucas Oil Stadium to tonight’s victory.
“It was a much better game tonight and there was much more passing and interchanging,” Rennie said. “The surface does play a lot better so that’s one big plus. The players made the most of it and I thought they did a good job.”Indy hit the road three days from now to take on Ottaway Fury FC for the second time in 2018. Shortly after, the “Boys in Blue” return to home turf once again to face Toronto FC II on Wednesday, August 22, at 7:00 p.m.. Fans can get tickets to the midweek fixture by visiting IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (37)685-1100.

USL Regular Season -Indy Eleven 3:2 North Carolina FC
Wednesday, August 15, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.  Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana 

Scoring Summary:

IND – Eugene Starikov (Jack McInerney) 7′
IND – Ben Speas (Kevin Venegas) 31′
NC – Kyle Bekker 45+1′
NC – Marios Lomis (Wullito Fernandes) 77′
IND – Juan Guerra 90′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Reiner Ferreira, Carlyle Mitchell, Ayoze, Kevin Venegas; Nico Matern, Matt Watson (C), Ben Speas (Seth Moses 62′), Juan Guerra; Eugene Starikov (Elliot Collier 84′), Jack McInerney (Soony Saad 74′)  Indy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK); Brad Ring, Karl Ouimette, Seth Moses, Zach Steinberger, Soony Saad, Elliot Collier

North Carolina FC lineup (4-5-1, L–>R): Alex Tambakis (GK); DJ Taylor, Tobin Connor, Michael Harrison, Aaron Guillen; Austin da Luz, Kyle Bekker, Steve Miller (Marios Lomis 45′), Marcel Kandziora (Wullito Fernandes 74′), Andre Fortune; Donovan Ewolo (Daniel Rios 87′)

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As the USMNT Turns Toward the Future, These Are the Overseas Players to Watch

By BRIAN STRAUS August 13, 2018

If a new global soccer cycle wasn’t set in motion the moment Hugo Lloris lifted the World Cup four weeks ago in Moscow, then it certainly began this weekendThe Premier League, Ligue 1, Eredivisie and Argentine Superliga campaigns kicked off. Germany and Spain staged their super cup games (UEFA’s version is Wednesday). Bayern Munich won by five goals, Cristiano Ronaldo found the net for Juventus (yes, it was an intra-club exhibition, but all of CR7’s bianconeri firsts will be momentous) and Arsenal’s title hopes were dashed. So it’s official. The page has turned and the new quadrennium is upon us.For U.S. national team watchers, that dawn should bring a slight sigh of relief. The pain caused by missing the World Cup was real, but the grinding-your-teeth-as-Panama-plays-Belgium portion is in the past. The World Cup cycle is over for everybody, and all but France—that leaves 210 nations—move forward with questions or concerns. So the USA is no longer an outlier, and it may even have had a slight head start thanks to last fall’s qualifying failure. A bunch of new American internationals made their senior debuts in the ensuing friendlies. Meanwhile, the U.S. Soccer Federation, under a new president, appointed its first national team GM. Earnie Stewart is on the job and has been charged with identifying the next full-time coach.

That search continues as the European and Latin American seasons begin, and the U.S. national team’s impending overhaul—not to mention the increasing spending power of many MLS clubs—ensures they’ll be seasons like no other. The days of following key U.S. veterans in Europe are over. That’s in part because many returned to MLS, and in part because now, there aren’t really that many key U.S. veterans. With a new coach coming, four years to go before the next World Cup and 10 months before the next official competition, there’s not much sense in relying on older players at this point. In fact, you’d probably need only one hand to count the men over 25 who should play a key role over the next 18 months.The U.S. national team is young. So is its foreign contingent. European clubs with the resources to invest in (or gamble on) American talent, not to mention their incentive to develop it and the logistical ease of giving young players a taste of first-team action, have become attractive options—especially as more MLS teams seem to rely on imports. While there’s been a drop in the number of established U.S. players abroad, there are more potential stars overseas than ever. Watching Americans in foreign leagues now is as much about keeping track of the national side’s future as its present.“We all that sense that there’s a small nucleus of veterans, and it’s probably one of the first times in a long time—if not the first time—we’re starting with a bunch of fresh faces,” Schalke 04 midfielder Weston McKennie, 19, told SI.com this spring. “[There are] a bunch of fresh faces at once. It’s kind of like building an actual new foundation of a house that’s been broken down.”McKennie, an FC Dallas product who’s impressed in his four appearances with the senior U.S. side, said there’s no definitive right or wrong when it comes to choosing Europe or MLS at the start of a career. It depends on the player. But he was clear when asked why Germany has been right for him and his good friend and Revierderby rival, Christian Pulisic of Borussia Dortmund.“You see that Dortmund sees a future in the player, sees the development [possibility] and does everything they can to develop that person. If they think he’s ready, they’ll move him up,” McKennie said. “Over here [in the USA], it’s a little bit harder. You have college. You have eligibility rights. That’s one of the differences in Europe. If a player is 15 years old and you have an injured player on the first team in Europe, you can move that 15-year-old onto the roster for that weekend. In America, you can’t do that because he can’t go to college then, and doesn’t want to risk that future at 15.”McKennie and Pulisic are among the more than two dozen U.S.-eligible players now in Germany, where clubs spend more time and money on development than just about anywhere in the world. The pair has compatriots in England, France and several other significant European leagues, and there are a couple up-and-coming players to watch in Mexico as well.As the season begins, here’s a look at the present and future national teamers with big years ahead for foreign clubs.

FRANCE

We’ll start with the country that won the World Cup, and a player with sensational pedigree who’s already starting to make his own name—forward Timothy Weah. The New York City-born son of former FIFA World Player of the Year George Weah, 18-year-old Tim plays with enough skill and confidence to stick around at a loaded Paris Saint-Germain side that’s gunning for a Champions League title.  Once the season is in full swing, he’ll likely have to settle for spot duty behind the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappé and Edinson Cavani. But Weah has made the most of his opportunities so far, scoring in PSG’s Trophée des Champions defeat of Monaco and then Sunday’s Ligue 1 opener, landing himself a spot on the cover of L’Equipe.

At some point, Weah may go up against U.S. defender Matt Miazga, whose loans away from parent club Chelsea took him to the Netherlands and now to Nantes. The 23-year-old has seven U.S. caps and is one of several center backs 25 or younger competing to anchor the American back four. Miazga won the KNVB Cup with Vitesse Arnhem and even captained the team, but Ligue 1 will represent a step up. Miazga was in the 18 but didn’t play in Saturday’s 3–1 loss to Monaco.

ENGLAND

The number of U.S. players in the Premier League is low, and may drop further temporarily as we wait to hear how much time Newcastle United’s DeAndre Yedlin will miss after suffering a knee injury on Saturday. The right back is 25 but has 52 caps already—experience that would be valuable to an incoming U.S. manager.

Yedlin is the only established EPL American who has an obvious national team future. Fulham’s Tim Ream, 30, and Huddersfield Town’s Danny Williams, 29, may be too old to play a part in the U.S. rebuild. Instead, it’s worth paying attention to how Tottenham Hotspur defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, Manchester United defender Matthew Olosunde and Fulham midfielder Luca de la Torre—each is 20 years old—progress with their clubs. Carter-Vickers spent time last season at Sheffield United and Ipswich Town and could be headed back out on loan.

In the lower tiers, Wigan Athletic left back Antonee Robinson, an Everton loanee, and skillful Sunderland midfielder Lynden Gooch have international potential and will be getting minutes. That’ll keep them on the U.S. radar, and Gooch’s strong start in League One may attract interest from above.

GERMANY

Steady speculation about a Premier League move for Pulisic didn’t pan out, which means the attacker will remain in Dortmund until at least the winter. But the pressure isn’t any lighter at the Westfalenstadion, where BVB has struggled to keep with up Bayern and where Pulisic didn’t make much obvious progress in his second full pro season. That’s not a slight against him. He’ll turn 20 next month. But now entering his third Bundesliga campaign, and with the USA’s future clearly tied to his growth and performance, he’ll have to take another step forward—whether it’s to spark the attack for Dortmund or entice offers from even bigger clubs.

McKennie is a midfield dynamo who scored in a friendly win over Fiorentina this weekend. His development seems inexorable, and he’ll be worth watching as a likely starter during Schalke’s Champions League campaign.

Among younger U.S. vets in Germany, both Wolfsburg defender John Brooks and Hannover 96 forward Bobby Wood, each 25, will be looking to bounce back from difficult 2017–18 seasons. They’ll both almost surely remain part of the national team picture, assuming Brooks’s health and Wood’s production rebound. On the younger side, striker Josh Sargent, 18, already has three U.S. caps and one goal even though he’s yet to make his official debut with Werder Bremen. He’s played and scored for the club’s U-23 side, but it’s unclear how or if he’ll be used when Bundesliga play begins at the end of the month.Nürnberg’s Timothy Tillman, Bayern’s Chris Richards and Schalke’s U.S. pair of Haji Wright and Nick Taitague are among the other new names to file away. In the 2. Bundesliga, Julian Green (Greuther Fürth) and Joe Gyau (MSV Duisburg) remain active.

ELSEWHERE

Right back Shaquell Moore made his senior U.S. debut in June and will spend 2018–19 on loan from Levante to Reus Deportiu in Spain’s Segunda División. Moore’s league season begins Sunday at Las Palmas.

In the Netherlands, center back Erik Palmer-Brown is on loan from Manchester City to NAC Breda. He didn’t play in a 5–0 loss to AZ Alkmaar to open the Eredivisie season, which may be a good thing. Forward Andrija Novakovich, who got his first U.S. minutes in March, tallied an impressive 22 goals last season for Telstar in the Dutch second tier. He’s now moved up a level with newly-promoted Fortuna Sittard, going 90 minutes in their 1–1 draw at Excelsior on Saturday.

In Belgium, winger Kenny Saief, 24, remains an intriguing player who’ll spend his first full season at powerhouse Anderlecht. His introduction to the U.S. setup has been limited by injuries. Goalkeeper Ethan Horvath, who has been beaten to the national team No. 1 shirt by the Columbus Crew’s Zack Steffen, remains at Club Brugge.

Where in Europe will you find American players?

The continent has a lot of soccer, and everywhere you turn, there will be an American to watch

By Donald Wine II@blazindw     Aug 10, 2018, 8:00am PDT

The opening of the 2018-2019 European club seasons are starting all across the continent, and several fans in the United States are ready to see more soccer hit their TVs on weekend mornings. Many people have their favorite teams, whether they happen to be in the Premier League, Bundesliga, La Liga, Serie A, or another league in the world. Others are happy playing the role of neutral when watching the major European clubs battle for trophies and international glory.

Still, when you’re watching these matches, you probably gravitate in some way towards matches that feature an American player, whether it’s a star like Christian Pulisic or a young emerging talent like Timothy Weah. So, while it’s by no means an exhaustive list, consider this your go-to list of American players in leagues all across Europe. Some of these players may feature primarily for their club’s reserve or youth team, but they are all listed under the main club they are currently with or play on loan:

Austria

Rheindorf Altach – F Josh Gatt

Belgium

First Division A

Anderlecht – MF Kenny Saief

Club Brugge – GK Ethan Horvath

Kortrijk – D Brendan Hines-Ike

Lokeren – MF Juan Torres

Gent – MF Ben Lederman

Denmark

Superliga

Nordsjaelland – F Jonathan Amon

Hobro – MF Emmanuel Sabbi

Aalborg – GK Mike Lansing

England

Premier League

Arsenal – MF Gideon Zelalem

Newcastle United – D DeAndre Yedlin

Tottenham Hotspur – D Cameron Carter-Vickers, GK Brandon Austin

Fulham – D Tim Ream, MF Luca de la Torre

Huddersfield Town – MF Danny Williams

Cardiff City – GK Chris Konopka

Manchester United – D/MF Matthew Olosunde

Championship

Stoke City – CB Geoff Cameron

Hull City – D Eric Lichaj

Wigan Athletic – D Antonee Robinson (on loan from Everton)

Nottingham Forest – MF Gboly Ariyibi

Queens Park Rangers – D Giles Phillips

Derby County – MF Duane Holmes

League One

Sunderland – MF Lynden Gooch

Rochdale – GK Brendan Moore

France

Ligue 1

Paris Saint-Germain – F Tim Weah

Nantes – D Matt Miazga (on loan from Chelsea)

Rennes F Theoson- Jordan Siebatcheu

Ligue 2

Auxerre – GK Quentin Westberg

Germany

Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund – MF Christian Pulisic, MF Junior Flores

Schalke 04 – MF Weston McKennie, F Haji Wright, MF Nick Taitague, MF Zyen Jones

Wolfsburg – D John Brooks

Hannover 96 – F Bobby Wood, D Chris Gloster

Werder Bremen – F Aron Johannsson, F Josh Sargent, F Isaiah Young

Eintracht Frankfurt – D Timmy Chandler

Freiburg – MF Caleb Stanko

Borussia Mönchengladbach – D/MF Fabian Johnson

Fortuna Düsseldorf – MF Alfredo Morales

Hertha Berlin – GK Jonathan Klinsmann

Nurnberg – MF Timothy Tillman

Bayern Munich – D Chris Richards (on loan from FC Dallas)

  1. Bundesliga

Greuther Fuerth – F Julian Green

Sandhausen – MF Andrew Wooten, D Ken Gipson

Duisburg – MF Joe Gyau

Heidenheim – MF Kevin Lankford

Darmstadt – F Terrence Boyd, MF McKinze Gaines

Jahn Regensburg – F Jann-Christopher George

Holstein Kiel – GK Kenneth Kronholm

Union Berlin – D Lennard Maloney

Champions League Coverage Set To Get Screwy The Same Way EPL Coverage Has

Billy Haisley8/17/17 11:31am

In their infinite wisdom, NBC recently saw fit to take a good and beloved Premier League broadcast strategy and make it bad and hated by cleaving its once-unified televised and streaming services into two smaller and less satisfying parts, and charging for each separately. Turner, which recently bought Champions League broadcast rights starting with the 2018-19 season, has a similar money-grubbing plan, which will neuter Champions League coverage in the U.S. even more than NBC’s decision has done to the Premier League.For all the problems with NBC’s new, crippled Premier League coverage, at least their televised product is still more than acceptable. On any given weekend, most of the matches that the majority of EPL fans would be most interested in watching will be found somewhere on TV. Only about one-third of the league season’s matches will be stuck behind the streaming paywall, which means for many cable-subscribing fans of the Prem, the over-the-top streaming service is a luxury rather than a necessity they need to pay for in order to follow the league.This is not the case with Turner’s plans for the Champions League. Here’s some goober at the New York Times explaining Turner’s scheme:

Turner Broadcasting was a surprise winner earlier this year in the bidding for rights to the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s top club soccer competition. But what the company plans do with the rights may be even more surprising: Launch a stand-alone sports streaming service next year that will broadcast the vast majority of the games.  Many of the most important Champions League games, including the semifinals and final, will still be broadcast on cable television. But starting next summer, more than 80 percent of the matches will only be available to fans who pay for the new subscription service — the latest move by a media organization to monetize unused parts of a multimillion-dollar sports rights deal.

That’s right: Fox Sports’ eminently accessible strategy of consistently televising at least two Champions League matches every matchday, and allowing you to stream every other UCL match online just by logging into their website with your cable info if neither of the televised games tickle your fancy, has now been sliced all to hell.

That cable subscribers will only be able to watch 20 percent of the applicable Champions League matches on TV isn’t really the problem, since that was more or less the case with Fox’s coverage, too. The problem is that if you want to watch one of those other games, you’ll now have to pay a fee to stream them when before streaming came free—as it should—with your cable subscription. Not only does this make the cable-only option untenable as a way of following the UCL season, the over-the-top service by itself isn’t a satisfactory substitute, either.Turner, like NBC, will not let its over-the-top subscribers stream the matches they televise. During the group stages and early knockout rounds, then, subscribers will often miss out on the big, juicy matchups Turner deigns to televise unless they subscribe to yet another service like Sling, which will allow them to watch games on Turner TV stations on their desktops at work. Nor will they be able to stream the later rounds of the knockout stages like the semifinals and the final. Thus, the over-the-top service has the appearance of being a good way for cord cutters to get the soccer they crave, but in reality is just another way to charge extra by compelling any serious fan to stump up for multiple services.

The specifics of Turner’s plans are even worse:

Of the 340 annual Champions League and Europa League matches that Turner acquired — games that have become a midweek afternoon staple for American fans — only about 60 will appear on television, mostly on truTV. The semifinals and finals of the Champions League will air on either TNT or TBS, as will the Europa League final.

Through the Champions League group stage in the fall, Turner will televise four matches a week — two each on Tuesday and Wednesday, at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Eastern time. Beginning with the knockout stage in February, Turner will televise two matches a week, one each on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Look at this horseshit! Group stage matches and even the semifinals and the final will be shown only on channels like truTV and TNT, which means that those hoping to go the stream-only route won’t be able to catch the biggest games of the season without ponying up twice one way or another. And for the TV-only crowd, Turner’s decision to only show a single game each matchday during the knockout rounds practically guarantees that they will miss out on some critical, competitive Round of 16 and quarterfinals matches and instead will have settle for whatever Turner’s bean-counters think will get the most ratings and thus will decide to televise.

That’s probably the biggest problem here—the matches Turner will and will not choose to air. It’s safe to predict that Turner’s match selection hierarchy will look something like this: 1) show the game that involves an English team; 2) pick the one in which Barcelona or Real Madrid play; 3) choose the one with another big-name club like Juventus or Bayern Munich; and 4) air whichever match looks to be the most competitive on paper. By constraining access to all their matches so stringently, Turner is sure to fail to cater to the desires of a huge number of fans.

If you’re a fan of a team outside England, even if it’s a big club like Bayern, you can be sure you’ll miss out on at least a couple of your squad’s games as Turner favors ones involving big British and Spanish teams. If you root for an even smaller club that nonetheless usually finds its way pretty deep into the competition—Benfica, say—then you might as well start saving up for the streaming service now, because your boys definitely won’t be getting on TV very often. And if you don’t have a particular horse in the race and would prefer to just watch the best match on offer, you’re going to find yourself shaking your head in disgust as some boring Manchester United vs. Ludogorets match bumps the Atlético Madrid vs. Napoli game that will obviously be the better spectacle. Viewer choice is critical in the Champions League, and starting next season Turner will have nearly eliminated it entirely unless you pay their ransom.Just like with NBC’s restrictive EPL coverage, it’s unclear whether Turner is making the right call here even in terms of their own bottom line. It might be economically prudent to squeeze all the juice out of the limited number of soccer super-fans who will have to pay the company twice in order to get all the soccer they want, but maybe it’s smarter to flood the growing market of diehard and casual soccer fans with as much product as possible so as to build a broader consumer base. All we know is that this is definitely a trend, and for fans, it’s a trend that really stinks.

Diego Costa, Atletico Madrid deliver statement of intent in Super Cup vs. Ronaldo-less Real Madrid

Aug 15, 2018Dermot CorriganMadrid correspondent

TALLINN, Estonia — Three thoughts on Europa League winners Atletico Madrid’s 4-2 win over Champions League holders Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup.

  1. Atletico finally get one over their local rivals

Atletico Madrid finally won a European “derbi,” with extra-time goals from homegrown midfielders Saul Niguez and Koke sealing a 4-2 UEFA Super Cup win over Real Madrid. Wednesday night’s thriller at Tallinn’s A. Le Coq Arena swung back and forth and into extra time, with Diego Costa netting twice for Atletico before Europa League holders Atletico finally got on top of triple-Champions League winners Madrid to take an extra sweet victory given all the history and local rivalry involved.It took just 49 seconds for Costa to rampage his way through the entire Madrid defence and hammer Atletico in front, with the equaliser near the half-hour mark coming when Gareth Bale’s superb curling right-footed cross was deftly headed home by Karim Benzema.The game continued to ebb and flow after the break, with the energy and skill levels surprisingly high given how the World Cup had affected both sides’ preseason preparation. Although Atletico’s new midfielders Rodri and Thomas Lemar were impressing, veteran defender Juanfran’s handball from a corner led to a penalty that Blancos skipper Sergio Ramos coolly converted for 2-1.That should really have been that, especially given Atletico’s history of five losses from five previous competitive European “derbis.” But Simeone’s side continued to battle on. With just over 10 minutes remaining Costa equalised, finishing from close range after excellent work from Juanfran and substitute Angel Correa.Early in extra time, Ramos was at fault as Atletico won the ball at the edge of the Madrid box, and substitute Thomas Partey crossed for Saul to flash home a superb volley. Another replacement, Vitolo, then swept a pass to Koke who arrowed a low shot past Navas for 4-2.In the 2014 and 2016 Champions League finals, Atletico came up just short, with Madrid’s greater strength in depth and experience being key. That the last three Rojiblanco goals Wednesday night were all laid on by substitutes was a sign that, even though this was “just” the Super Cup, Diego Simeone’s side can now claim to be top dogs in the Spanish capital.

  1. Bale and Benzema stand up, but need help

Losing the first big game of the post-Cristiano Ronaldo era is a big problem for Madrid’s new coach Julen Lopegetui, even if both Benzema and Bale showed they can deliver more now that they are out of the Portuguese’s shadow.The understanding between the two remaining members of the “BBC” trio was clear for Madrid’s equaliser, with a fully primed Bale sprinting away from Atletico’s World Cup-winning left-back Lucas Hernandez, and Benzema peeling away intelligently from marker Stefan Savic to find the space he needed to nod cleverly home. That was far from the only time the pair combined well.Benzema was also on the scene in forcing Juanfran into the spot kick early in the second period (although skipper Ramos showed he now tops the Bernabeu’s pecking order by grabbing the ball to convert). At 2-1 up, Bale worried Atletico with a driving run past five defenders before his shot was blocked, while in the very last move of normal time the Welshman almost set up a dramatic winner only for Marcelo to miskick his attempted volley.Emerging star Marco Asensio did not do badly in Ronaldo’s spot in attack, but Lopetegui sending on unproven youngster Borja Mayoral in extra time showed that Madrid have not yet fully covered the loss of the reigning Ballon d’Or winner. Real Madrid president Florentino Perez may still be persuaded to get his chequebook out before La Liga’s transfer window closes on Aug 31.

  1. Real can’t stop Costa

The game began with a bang with Costa bouncing away from both Ramos and the equally sluggish Raphael Varane before lashing a shot high past Keylor Navas, who had left a glimmer of a gap at his near post. It was the quickest goal ever scored in a UEFA competition final, and set the tone for the night.Costa also soon got involved in a running battle with regular sparring partner Ramos, who with his arm caught his international teammate in the face. Actual strike partner Antoine Griezmann was less influential, and withdrawn early, clearly not match fit after only recently returning from a holiday after winning the World Cup.Atletico continued to press at 2-1 down, and Griezmann’s replacement Correa laid on an equaliser for Costa, who again showed hunger and aggression to be on the spot to fire home. The Brazilian-born forward also won the ball back for Atletico’s clinching fourth goal, in what was a man-of-the-match performance.Last season’s return from Chelsea did not go exactly to plan for Costa, not helped by six months on the sidelines due to Atletico’s FIFA transfer ban. Wednesday night’s display showed he is ready to roar in 2018-19 — and after Atleti’s summer he has plenty of teammates around him to help out too.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s arrival will show the world that Serie A is full of drama

Aug 14, 2018James Horncastle

The impatience for Serie A to start is palpable in Italy. This country has always been football crazy, but the sense of anticipation is heightened this year. For a start, last season felt like the best in a long time.It was the most compelling of Europe’s top five leagues. More or less everybody had something to play for right until the end. The title race was alive going into May, and you didn’t know who had qualified for the Champions League or Europa League, not to mention who had stayed up until the final day. The tifosireturned to Italy’s stadiums in droves, boosting attendance figures and recreating the atmosphere that makes watching football in the bel paese such a special experience.When it was over, withdrawal symptoms immediately kicked in, partly because Italy’s football lovers anticipated that this would be a long summer. Mediaset’s coverage of the World Cup in Russia received higher-than-expected viewing figures, but Italy’s absence from the tournament for the first time in 60 years left fans bereft of a team to be emotionally invested in.The longing for Serie A to return only intensified once Cristiano Ronaldo signed for Juventus. That he chose the Old Lady and Italy was a huge compliment, a gesture that encouraged the optimists to think this is the most significant step yet in restoring Serie A to its former glory. The same could be said for the return of Carlo Ancelotti, who ended his nine-year tour of Europe’s blue-chip clubs and replaced Maurizio Sarri at Napoli.Still, not everyone saw it that way. In fact, some pushed back against the notion that the league — not just Juventus — would benefit as a whole from Ronaldo’s presence. Everyone would have gotten a better deal had the transfer gone through before the domestic TV rights were sorted out. But it wasn’t to be.La Repubblica columnist Angelo Carotenuto compared Juventus’ move for Ronaldo to Christopher Nolan’s film Interstellar: the clearest sign yet of the Bianconeri‘s intention to leave the crop plights and dust storms of Serie A behind for a new planet, where one day all of Europe’s elite teams will play in a Super League.Until then, debate is raging in Italy’s piazzas and bars about the treatment Ronaldo will get in Serie A. How many goals will he score in a country in which there is a tradition of world-class defending and shut-down tactics? In Spain they associate the triumvirate of Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema with all-star attacking play. In Italy, it’s legion-of-boom style defence featuring Leonardo Bonucci, Andrea Barzagli and Giorgio Chiellini.

While there are grains of truth in stereotypes, they don’t tell the whole story. Serie A has experienced a shift in emphasis in recent seasons. There were 2.68 goals per game in the supposedly faster, looser Premier League last season. It might surprise you to learn that in Serie A the ratio was exactly the same.Graduates of Italy’s Coverciano coaching school aren’t rejecting tradition, but a new generation of managers is taking its cues from the legacy of Arrigo Sacchi and the times in which we live. The world has become smaller, and exposure to other leagues is greater than ever, which has helped turn the tide from the “keep it tight”, counter-attacking methods of yore to prioritising expansive, proactive, attacking football.Antonio Cassano is probably right, rather than just plain provocative, when he says, “Ronaldo will score 40 goals.” But the likes of Gonzalo Higuain, Mauro Icardi, Edin Dzeko, Dries Mertens, Andrea Belotti and Ciro Immobile will have something to say about the bookies making the five-time Ballon d’Or favourite to top the scoring charts. It’s up to them and the teams they spearhead to rise to the challenge.

Of course, seven consecutive Scudetti give the league a one-sided appearance, and it never helps when a season ends as predicted. But the last campionatowas delightfully competitive. After Liverpool, it’s fair to say that the most memorable performances in Europe last season came from Juventus and Roma, who made the Champions League semifinals for the first time in 34 years. Inter and Milan finally look to be in good hands, with wealthy backers delegating key decisions to the right people. The top six all have talented coaches. No one looks out of their depth.

Inter seem to have done the most to close the gap, luring Stefan de Vrij and Radja Nainggolan from the Eternal City, while also beating some of Europe’s biggest clubs to the signing of potential breakout star Lautaro Martinez. A lot is expected of Luciano Spalletti in his second season at San Siro. In Higuain, Milan have finally found an heir worthy of Pippo Inzaghi’s No. 9 shirt. Roma have assembled a team full of potential with a very high upside indeed. As for Napoli, it’s up to Ancelotti to stop a team that was so much greater than the sum of its parts under Sarri from regressing to the mean.The fascination doesn’t end with the upper class. The Inzaghi brothers, Pippo and Simone, will face off against each other in the ultimate sibling rivalry when Bologna play Lazio on Boxing Day. Justin Kluivert joins the father-and-son club of which Giovanni Simeone and Federico Chiesa are already part. Which reminds us: For all the attention garnered by the signing of a 33-year-old, Serie A feels like a young league, and not just because the only foreign manager in the top flight, Udinese boss Julio Velazquez, is only 36. Fiorentina’s team should probably still be in school it’s so fresh-faced.  Encouragingly for Italy coach Roberto Mancini, talent is coming through. The under-19s finished runners-up at the Euros this summer, a year after Italy’s U20s reached the semis of the World Cup. Chiesa, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Nicolo Barella, Moise Kean and Alex Meret are the faces of a promising new generation.Romantics will be thrilled to see Parma back just three years after going bust and having to start over in Serie D. Emanuele Calaio’s WhatsApp messages almost threw their promotion into doubt, a reminder that chaos and controversy are never far away in Serie A and act as major protagonists in the drama it generates. Chievo feared relegation amid the suspicion aroused by the vast amounts of money they have made from trading unknown youth team players in recent years. Milan were thrown out of Europe and reinstated only after the repossession of the club by the Elliott hedge fund. Teams up and down the country, most notably Bari and Vicenza, keep going bust.The spotlight turned on Serie A by Ronaldo will illuminate the good, the bad and the ugly. It’s a weird and wonderful league. Now all that’s left to do is get the season started.

Ronaldo-Less Real Madrid, Atletico Seek to Dethrone Barcelona in La Liga

By LUIS MIGUEL ECHEGARAY August 14, 2018

For a second straight summer, La Liga is dealing with the aftermath of losing one of its most talented and marketable superstars, but its teams aren’t coming close to standing pat.A year after Neymar bolted Barcelona for PSG and weeks after Cristiano Ronaldo left Real Madrid for Juventus, it’s been a busy offseason for teams in Spain’s top division, with La Liga clubs investing nearly €700 million, including transfer fees and annual contracts, on players. The number will almost certainly rise, given that the transfer window doesn’t close until Aug. 31, and given that Real Madrid has yet to replace the Ronaldo with an attacking superstar.While the usual suspects (Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid) make up for almost half of the league’s spending, having brought in players such as Malcom (Barcelona), Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid) and Thibaut Courtois (Real Madrid), Sevilla, Valencia, Villarreal and Real Betis look to crash the top-three party with ransfers of their own. Meanwhile, at the bottom of the table, newly promoted Huesca prepares for its first campaign in La Liga.Here are the major talking points ahead of the 2018-2019 season in Spain’s top flight.

BARCELONA STAYS THE FAVORITE

Despite losing legendary midfielder Andres Iniesta, Ernesto Valverde’s side starts the campaign as favorite to retain the league title. This summer, Barça conducted plenty of business by reconfiguring the squad and trimming its underperformers. Players such as Yerry Mina, Lucas Digne, Andre Gomes, Gerard Deulofeu and Aleix Vidal added depth at Camp Nou, but didn’t really give anything extra when needed, especially during busy periods when the club was forced to play in league, cup and UEFA tournaments. It could be argued that Mina, who arrived last summer, wasn’t given the proper time to prove his worth, but he’s already been replaced with the signing of Clement Lenglet from Sevilla. Paulinho, who moved back to China, was a key piece in his one season at Barcelona, but his replacement, Arturo Vidal, is arguably a more complete midfielder. It all depends on the veteran’s fitness, but if he stays healthy, then Vidal should deliver.Elsewhere, Malcom and Rafinha provide more clout in the middle and wide areas, but the biggest talking point is Arthur, the ex-Gremio star who has been given the No. 8 shirt this season–a symbol of confidence from his manager.  There are comparisons being made to Iniesta, as the 21-year-old Brazilian captivated fans this preseason with his vision and ability to move the ball with simplicity. Time will tell if he can make it count in Europe, but as far as Valverde is concerned, Arthur is ready.

As Lionel Messi takes over as club captain, it seems as if the Blaugrana–who nearly went the whole 2017-18 domestic campaign undefeated and already have the Spanish Super Cup in tow–will retain the title, but, just like with Manchester City, the chief goal is to win the Champions League.

THE BATTLE FOR MADRID (AND THE LEAGUE)

Real Madrid begins life in the league without Ronaldo and with a new manager, Julen Lopetegui, hoping to adjust to a new philosophy and not only retain the Champions League title, but also deliver a league trophy for its fans. Despite the change in personnel, however, Lucas Vazquez believes the team’s objectives never change.”I think Real Madrid’s identity stays the same. In the end, our goals are to fight and give it our all,” he told SI.com. “While it’s true some things may change when you have a new manager, we still want to do our best and win as many titles as possible.”The obvious focus is now on Gareth Bale, who has had a tremendous preseason. After his sensational bicycle kick goal in the Champions League final, Bale has the opportunity to command the spotlight left behind by the Juventus-bound Ronaldo.”It’s been very good so far with the new manager,” Bale told SI.com. “Obviously we’ve been working very hard, but training has been very enjoyable and we’ve had some good results. It’s been very good with the new boss. Just anxiously waiting to start the season.”If we can take anything from the summer, we should see Lopetegui starting Bale on the right wing of a three-headed attacking midfield that also includes Marco Asensio and Isco, but with a lot of freedom to run and alter his movement. It will be interesting to see how much 18-year-old Vinicius Junior plays. His talent is undeniable, but the team has to be careful and not overwhelm the attacker with the pressures of playing for Madrid too soon. Though, judging by his summer performance, he seems more than ready.   Courtois’s arrival will take undoubtedly take headlines as well, as Keylor Navas will fight for his place with the Belgian star. Lopetegui faces a dilemma on who to start in the UEFA Super Cup on Wednesday, but more importantly, how will the manager deal with the rotation if Navas stays with Los Blancos?

Across town, you’d be wise not to sleep on Atletico Madrid. Once the Antoine Griezmann drama was settled earlier this summer with “La Decisión,” Diego Simeone’s squad went to work in the transfer market. If we were to judge the season on paper alone, it seems as if Atleti could give Barcelona a bigger headache than Real this season.Gelson Martins, who arrived on a free transfer from Sporting in Portugal, is a dangerous winger who in many ways fits Simeone’s counterattacking system. Rodri, Antonio Adán and Nehuen Perez also joined the team, but it’s Thomas Lemar who can really help this season. The 22-year-old French attacking star, who was part of Didier Deschamps’ World Cup-winning squad, joined the Spanish club from Monaco for a reported €60 million and will replace the production of Yannick Carrasco, who alongside Nicolas Gaitan, left the club for China. Lemar is extremely veratile, able to play anywhere across the midfield and will fit nicely inside Simeone’s 4-4-2 or 4-3-3 preferred formations. Nikola Kalinic, the Croatian striker who moved from AC Milan, is also a good addition. The question remains: Can Real or Atleti dethrone Barcelona?

THE PARTY CRASHERS

Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and Real Betis have aspirations of crashing the elite’s party, and judging by the moves made this summer, it seems as if Marcelino’s Valencia is the likeliest of the bunch to do so. Having finished fourth and only three points behind Real Madrid in 2017-2018, Valencia is poised to make noise. The addition of Michy Batshuayi on loan is an astute one, while the signings of Kevin Gameiro and Russia World Cup hero Denis Cheryshev (who returns on loan after a previous stint with the club) and potential signing of Goncalo Guedes–who starred on loan at Valencia last season–adds even more firepower into the mix.Aside from being part of the greatest unveiling of a player signing ever, it will be interesting to see how Santi Cazorla’s return fits with Villarreal.

Meanwhile, Real Betis, which was one of six teams that defeated Real Madrid last season but conceded the most goals out of any team that wasn’t relegated, used the window to bring in more defensive players such as Portugal midfielder William Carvalho and Sidnei, who moved from Deportivo la Coruña after being relegated. Sevilla suffered similar problems as Betis, conceding too many goals and losing 14 matches last season. This will be an interesting time for the team, as its new manager, Pablo Machín, led Girona to La Liga promotion in 2016-2017 and guided the club to an impressive 10th-place finish last season, the best performance by a promoted club in the last 23 years. Losing midfield stalwart and World Cup winner Steven N’Zonzi to Roma won’t help, though.

VAR

After making its debut during last Sunday’s Supercopa de España between Barcelona and Sevilla in Tangier, La Liga will implement video assistant referees for the first time.According to Spain’s football federation (RFEF), league referees have taken on intense training in order to prepare for VAR, hoping to learn from the failures and successes from this summer’s World Cup in Russia.Some of La Liga’s stars were heavily involved in VAR decisions at the World Cup, and now they’ll compete on a weekly basis with the added technology.

INTRIGUE AT THE BOTTOM

At risk of not falling behind before the season even gets going, the newly promoted teams (Rayo Vallecano, Huesca, Real Valladolid) have been active in the transfer window, mainly taking advantage of loan signings as they get ready for the top flight. Peruvians now have to reasons to love Vallecano. First, the team’s kit is almost identical to that of the national team, and second, Luis Advincula, who had an impressive World Cup with Peru, joins Vallecano on loan from Tigres. Labeled as one of the fastest–if not, the fastest–player in the world, Advincula’s unveiling brought a frenzy of Peruvian players in Madrid.

Who’s The Favorite And Who’s A Sleeper In The English Premier League?

If you’re not rooting for Manchester City, this probably isn’t your year.By Terrence Doyle

 

The Premier League, which kicks off Friday afternoon, is often regarded as the most competitive league in the world, if not the best. In fact, both of those assumptions might be false: While the Premier League boasts four of the top 10 and six of the top 15 teams in the world according to our Soccer Power Index rankings, only one other team cracks the top 50.1

This imbalance shouldn’t come as a shock: Aside from Blackburn Rovers in 1994-95 and Leicester City in 2015-16, only four teams have won the Premier League since its inception in 1992-93. And if you look at the table for every Premier League season — especially for the past decade — the top six spots are more likely than not occupied by some or all of the same six teams currently ranked in the world top 15.

If you’re hoping that the upcoming season will offer some vicissitude at the top of the table, don’t hold your breath: According to our Premier League predictions, Manchester City is a good bet to repeat as champions. And the five spaces below the Citizens will likely be occupied by — you guessed it! — Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea, Arsenal and Manchester United. After we ran 20,000 simulated seasons, the closest any team got to the top six was Crystal Palace — still 16 points off the pace.

The top six teams in the Premier League are among the richest sports franchises on earth. All that money means they can afford to pay often ludicrous fees to attract the world’s best players. Money turns into results in major competitions, and results in major competitions turn into more money. And that new money turns into the buying of yet more of the world’s best players, and the top six feedback loop endures. Let’s look at how each of the top six teams — and a few others — spent this summer, and what it means for their chances at winning the Premier League title.

Who got better?

Liverpool paid a then-record fee for 25-year-old Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson Becker, who led the Italian Serie A in save percentage per 90 minutes during his first year as Roma’s No. 1. He wasn’t at his best during the World Cup, but Liverpool is hoping that if given the chance in a big situation, Alisson will perform better than Loris Karius did. Liverpool also added Guinean midfielder Naby Keita, Brazilian midfielder Fabinho and Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri, making its total spend the largest in England. Adding a defensive-minded midfielder like Fabinho and a world-class keeper like Alisson should help bolster a Liverpool defense that, at times, left something to be desired during the 2017-18 campaign — and it should give the Reds a real shot at challenging for the title.

It seems impossible, but defending champion Manchester City also got better, finally landing longtime target Riyad Mahrez. It’s not clear where the former Leicester City maestro will play — Leroy Sané, Raheem Sterling and Bernardo Silva did a pretty good job patrolling the wings last season, after all — but it never hurts to have a winger on your squad who’s proven he can score 15 goals and assist on 10 more. Not a bad pickup for a team that broke the all-time Premier League goal record a season ago.

Despite the departure of longterm manager Arsene Wenger, hopes must be high in Highbury: Arsenal found a potential replacement for the aging Petr Cech in German keeper Bernd Leno, and the addition of Uruguayan holding midfielder Lucas Torreira should help shore up its defense, which conceded the most goals of any of the top six squads last season. Fan favorite Jack Wilshere departed for West Ham United, but injury issues have long relegated him to “could have been” status anyway.

Everton hasn’t finished inside the top six since 2013-14, but Toffee fans will be pleased with their team’s transfer window successes. The club paid Watford a lot of money for the swift and tricky Brazilian winger Richarlison,2and also added French wingback Lucas Digne. If Evertonians were displeased with the park-the-bus soccer employed by Big Sam Allardyce, they should be happy that this year’s squad will feature some players who like to go forward. Signing Colombian center back and World Cup standout Yerry Mina means they won’t suffer at the back, either. Everton will probably still finish between seventh and 10th, but it should look better doing so.

 

Who stayed mostly the same?

Manchester United is hoping to unseat rivals Manchester City and win its first title since 2013,3 but it faces one problem: The Red Devils didn’t do much during the transfer window. Portuguese right back Diogo Dalot might be the eventual heir apparent to captain Antonio Valencia, but at the tender age of 19 years old — and with just six first-team starts for Portuguese club Porto — he doesn’t transform United into champions from also-rans. Former Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder and Seleção member Fred should help in the center of the pitch — he is equally capable of going forward and dropping back behind his midfield partners to help in defense, and he can play with both feet — but his high price tag carries an intense weight of expectation. Ask Paul Pogba4 how that plays in Manchester.

Who stayed mostly the same but feels worse?

The boys from White Hart Lane spent zero dollars during the transfer window. Tottenham wanted midfielder Jack Grealish but ultimately couldn’t come to terms with Aston Villa. Spurs don’t really need Grealish — they had the second best possession rate per 90 minutes in the middle third in 2017-18 — but their depth may be a problem, particularly at the start of the season.

Meanwhile, Chelsea experienced one of the most tumultuous summers in recent memory — which is saying a lot, given owner Roman Abramovich’s apparent penchant for drama. Manager Antonio Conte got the sack despite delivering a championship in 2016-17, and truant goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois forced a sale to Real Madrid. The Blues better hope that Kepa Arrizabalaga, for whom they paid a now-record fee for a keeper, is ready for the Premier League grind. Otherwise they may be forced to rely on this guy.

Who got significantly worse?

This will be the first season since 2012-135 that Leicester City will be without Mahrez, which means that the Foxes probaby stand little chance to repeat their unlikely 2015-16 run to the Premier League title. While Leicester still has goal poacher Jamie Vardy, it failed to re-sign Nigerian striker Ahmed Musa (who, by the way, had a very good World Cup). James Maddison is a nice signing and should make up for some of the offense lost with Mahrez’s departure, but don’t expect another Cinderella run from the Foxes.

The woes of Newcastle United start and end with its agreement to a permanent deal that sent its best option at forward, Aleksandar Mitrovic, to newly promoted Fulham. The Magpies must be hoping that the strike trio of Matt Ritchie, Salomon Rondon and Ayoze Perez — who scored 18 goals combined last season — is enough to account for the potential production lost from the young Serbian hitman.

Who could play Cinderella?

Fulham can find the net — it scored 1.57 goals per 90 minutes last season, the second most in the English League Championship, exceeding its expected goals rate of 1.47. Teenage phenom Ryan Sessegnon scored on 37 percent of the shots he took last season and outperformed his expected goals tally by 5.5, while Mitrovic — who impressed at the World Cup — contributed 12 goals of his own. Adding Andre Schurrle on a two-season loan will only increase Fulham’s firepower. The club also went all in on midfielder Jean Michael Seri, a player who has been linked to seemingly every big club in Europe over the past few seasons.

And let’s not forget about Crystal Palace, the world’s 48th best team according to our SPI rankings. The Eagles got off to a historically atrocious start last season before righting the ship and finishing in the middle of the table. Additions Max Meyer and Cheikhou Kouyaté should help stabilize a midfield that had the eighth worst possession rate per 90 minutes last season, while Manchester United castoff Wilfried Zaha’s return to Selhurst Park continues to bear fruit. Zaha has scored 22 goals from the wing in the past four seasons, and at 25 years old, he is entering the prime of his career. The Eagles will likely go as far as Zaha can take them.

U.S. Soccer doesn’t need to hire a USMNT U-23 coach

The best candidate is already employed.By Rob Usry@RobUsry  Aug 10, 2018, 7:00am PDT

The U.S. Soccer men’s coaching landscape is a total mess right now. While the senior team has an interim manager and a search for a permanent name is nderway, thanks to a recently revealed hiring freeze, several youth teams are without leaders as well. The U-23 team will soon need someone to begin reparations for Olympic qualifying and the federation may not have to look very far for the best candidate for the job.Qualifying for the Olympic games has been a well-documented nightmare for the U.S. men’s program, having failed to do so in the last two times of trying. If for nothing more than pride, you can bet that a lot of attention and resources will be spent on making sure it doesn’t happen for a third straight tournament.Current USMNT interim manager Dave Sarachan took over the position from Bruce Arena with very little fanfare and plenty of cynicism. However, the veteran of American soccer has quietly done a very good job transitioning the U.S. player pool from repetitive and tired veterans to new and exciting young prospects.Tim Weah, one of those new up-and-coming talents, went on record this summer in praise of Sarachan. The PSG forward even went as far as saying that the interim tag should be lifted from his coach’s title.While it’s highly doubtful that the USSF would ever make the 64-year-old the permanent senior team manager, strictly based on public perception after a bitterly disappointing World Cupqualifying failure, it makes perfect sense to reward him for his good work in the last year.The hiring freeze has hurt any chance of the U-23 crop getting together early and getting familiar with each other. But what if you didn’t have to hire anyone at all? Sarachan is the best and most logical candidate for the job. And it just so happens that most of the players he’s incorporated to the senior team are eligible for the U-23 team as well, thus solving the issue of familiarity.Sarachan’s time as interim USMNT manager have brought encouraging results, both on the scoreboard and in figurative terms. A young and hungry crop of prospects are fighting to prove themselves every time they are called upon. In his six friendlies in charge, the inexperienced sides he’s thrown out there have all looked organized and competitive. They’ve only lost once in those matches and even managed a draw against the World Cup champions. Of course it’s irresponsible to put too much credence into friendly results, but that’s all we have to go on at this point. Beyond the scorelines, each team Sarachan has assembled appeared to have a good understanding of tactics and responsibilities.When peering out into the coaching landscape, there are no obvious candidates to take on this important job. Tab Ramos himself has plenty of Youth National Team coaching experience (with mixed results) but it seems he has plenty on his plate already, including coaching the U-20 team. Georgetown’s Brian Wiese is a logical option if you want to go the college route, although that didn’t go too swimmingly the last time with Caleb Porter. Someone like John Wolyniec of New York Red Bulls II has a reputation for developing young players, but has little experience coaching at this type of level.Sarachan has a desire to stay on as USMNT manager, but realistically he has slim to no chance of that happening. He’s also shown a willingness to work with young players. This proposition seems like the best compromise for all involved. The players get a coach who they’ll accept as a leader won’t need to adapt quickly to. Sarachan gets a reward for his good work in a difficult time. And U.S. Soccer gets a coach who gives the program a realistic chance of qualifying for the Olympics for the first time in 12 years.

Five things we learned in the Premier League

AFPAug 12, 2018, 1:42 PM

London (AFP) – The Premier League is back, with the opening weekend producing impressive displays from title contenders Liverpool and champions Manchester City, while Manchester United and Chelsea also made winning starts.Here are five things we learned from the first weekend of the new top-flight campaign:

Silva service lifts City

“Right now, it’s Bernardo and 10 others,” Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said when asked about Bernardo Silva’s sublime display in the champions’ Community Shield win over Chelsea last weekend. Portugal midfielder Silva didn’t always start last term but he was a blur of energy and efficient passing in City’s engine room against Chelsea and Guardiola rewarded him with a place in Sunday’s 2-0 victory in their Premier League opener at Arsenal. Guardiola’s faith wasn’t misplaced as the 23-year-old once again produced a tireless performance and rarely misplaced a pass. The influential effort was capped in the 64th minute when Silva cleverly peeled away from his Arsenal marker to meet Benjamin Mendy’s cross with a fine finish that flashed past Gunners goalkeeper Petr Cech.

Still not so United

Despite getting off to a winning start against Leicester on Friday, all is still not well at Manchester United between star midfielder Paul Pogba, manager Jose Mourinho and executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. Mourinho named Pogba captain and hailed a “monster” performance after he took responsibility to open the scoring from the penalty spot. French World Cup winner Pogba, though, wasn’t so effusive in his praise for his boss, claiming “if you’re not happy, you cannot give your best” and that if he voiced his true feelings he would be fined. Meanwhile, Mourinho again let his frustration at not being backed by Woodward in the transfer market be known. Woodward is adamant Pogba is not for sale despite rumoured interest from Barcelona. But at the moment all three seem locked in an unhappy marriage ahead of a season that Mourinho himself has predicted will be a “difficult” one.

Keita’s new kingdom

Liverpool have had to wait a year to get Naby Keita after sealing the deal to bring him from RB Leipzig 12 months ago, but on the evidence of a storming display from the Guinean in Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing of West Ham it’ll be worth the wait. Keita started the move for Liverpool’s opener and possessed the pace and skill to consistently drove through the heart of West Ham’s pedestrian midfield. Jurgen Klopp now has new found wealth of midfield options with Fabinho also joining from Monaco, Adam Lallana returning from injury and captain Jordan Henderson getting back to fitness after his exertions at the World Cup with England. Keita, though, could be the real difference maker in turning a 25-point deficit to champions Manchester City last season into a title challenge.

Sarri’s Hazard warning

Maurizio Sarri admits Eden Hazard needs more time to get back to his very best despite an impressive 15-minute cameo as a substitute in Chelsea’s 3-0 win at Huddersfield. Hazard has been linked with a move to Real Madrid and only returned to training with Chelsea a week ago after helping Belgium finish third at the World Cup. The midfielder’s future may not be sorted out until August 31, when the transfer window closes in Spain. But his quality was there for all to see during his brief appearance on Saturday, with a fine run from midfield taking out several Huddersfield players before he slotted in Pedro to score Chelsea’s third goal. “I think that Eden in this moment cannot play for 90 minutes. He has to improve, to have training,” Sarri said. “I think the best thing is for him to play 15-20 minutes when the opponents probably are tired.”

Spurs show steel

Tottenham may not have spent anything in the transfer market and had to play several of their stars who have just returned from well-earned breaks post the World Cup. But they coped easily enough with Newcastle in their 2-1 win at St James’ Park. Spurs are the only top tier team not to have made a signing since the end of last season and manager Mauricio Pochettino will need a tougher test than this to assess whether fatigue will be a telling factor for his squad this term.

World Cup ref chief Pierluigi Collina dishes on VAR impact at Russia 2018

2:00 AM ETGabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FCEmail

A month has passed since the end of the World Cup in Russia, hailed by many as one of the best ever. Gab Marcotti caught up with Pierluigi Collina, chairman of FIFA’s referees committee and the man in the middle for the 2002 final between Brazil and Germany, to talk about officiating, video assistant referees (VAR) and the future.

When you look back at 2018 and the fact that relative to previous World Cups, it had perhaps the least amount of refereeing controversy, to what do you attribute it? Could it be chance? Was it VAR?

First off, I can’t believe it’s already over. But no, I think 64 games is a good sample size. And I’m delighted that the good feedback we received came from those who follow the game professionally. I’ll get to VAR, but there are a number of things we did which, I think, helped us tremendously.

For a start, referees are athletes, just like footballers. So we had a dedicated medical staff and physiotherapists supporting them throughout the tournament, particularly in recovering quickly from minor injuries.

In the same way that too much time off can make a player rusty in terms of match rhythm, we had a problem since there was a five-week gap between the end of the club season and Russia 2018 during which referees couldn’t officiate, since a World Cup referee can’t take charge of a friendly involving a World Cup-bound team.

So we organized a tournament at Lokomotiv’s ground in Moscow involving local teams, just so the referees could work and stay sharp. This was key too.

We also studied the teams differently. We brought a couple of licensed coaches into our staff and some professional match analysts. Their job was to scout the teams ahead of time.

How did that help you?

The idea was to give our guys a chance to understand how a game was likely to be played tactically and, therefore, how play was likely to unfold. That’s a big advantage for a referee, because it means he can anticipate situations.

It’s especially true on set pieces. The match analysts studied them and prepared reports for referees, so that they had a better sense of how corners and free kicks were likely to be approached. They knew what to focus on, what was most likely, what certain teams and players’ tendencies were going to be. This was an important change.

Remember, at a World Cup you have referees from six different continents, all with different experiences and backgrounds who work with different styles of football. It’s important to give them all the support they need.

Let’s get to VAR. I get the impression that old-school referees, like the Collina of 20 years ago, might not have been in favor.

After a VAR referral, Nestor Pitana awarded France a penalty in the World Cup final that Antoine Griezmann converted. David Ramos/FIFA via Getty Images

I want to be honest here: When you have a background like mine, as a referee who came of age in a certain period and enjoyed making decisions on the pitch on his own, [VAR] might not be easy to accept.

But, equally, if the ability of a referee to officiate a game is going to be judged after the fact based on video replays from multiple angles, then referees should have those replays from multiple angles too. … I said that a long time ago, and I still believe it.

I know some people are philosophically opposed to VAR because they don’t think technology has a place in football. I can respect that. But we must be open-minded and ready to implement what can be really useful and helpful.

Before VAR, you were involved in another key officiating change, that of additional assistant referees (AARs) at UEFA.

As I said before, because of my own background as a referee, I liked making decisions on my own. But then [UEFA president Michel] Platini asked me to help shape the change. A bit like VAR, it was an answer to a need: To reduce mistakes on the pitch.

And the idea was that with two extra officials who watched the game from a different angle we could reduce — not eliminate, but reduce — mistakes on the pitch. It’s still in use in UEFA competitions.

Yet in many ways, it has been supplanted by VAR.

Obviously, over the years things change. AARs improved things, but clearly it’s not comparable to what VAR can offer today. Two extra sets of eyes can’t match dozens of cameras with the possibility of freeze-framing, watching over again … there’s a substantial difference. Believe me, VAR is like a parachute, and it’s better to have it when [you] need it.

For the past 18 months, you were doing double-duty: You were at FIFA and, at the same time, you were, until last month, UEFA’s chief refereeing officer. It seemed weird to some that, while FIFA was pushing VAR, UEFA was opposed.

Some said I was schizophrenic for that very reason … the reality is that they were two different contexts. Introducing VAR across UEFA competitions presents a different set of challenges compared to a World Cup.

My successor at UEFA is Roberto Rosetti, who I brought in to drive the VAR implementation at the World Cup, and I think we’re getting to the stage where the conditions are right for VAR in the Champions League and Europa League, too. … Obviously, the decision will be made by UEFA, but if they choose to do it, they’ll be ready.

You were on the International Football Association Board (IFAB) committee that helped lay down the VAR protocol. What were the early discussions like?

I remember at the very first meeting, I emphasized that the final say for any subjective decision that required interpretation had to be down to the referee on the pitch and not the VAR. I felt strongly about this, given my background. I didn’t want the referee to be a mere executor, controlled by a joystick by someone outside the field of play.

Back to the World Cup. One of the frustrations with VAR is that sometimes it is not clear why it intervenes or does not intervene and, when it does, what is actually going on.

First of all, I want to emphasize that VAR is always watching. You only need to look at the number of “silent checks” [when VAR evaluates an incident and does not deem it worthy of an on-field review].

Beyond that, communication is important, and I think we took an important step in Russia with on-screen announcements, both in the stadium and for [TV] viewers. It’s only right that people understand what is going on.

Often, however, they don’t. I think back to the World Cup final and the penalty that was awarded to France after Ivan Perisic handled the ball. The penalty was awarded by the referee, Nestor Pitana, only after VAR called for an on-field review. I understand that it’s down to interpretation, but it certainly did not look like a clear error.

I think those who watched it closely knew the referee could not have seen it since there were bodies in the way. And because he did not see it, VAR gave him the opportunity to review it. Then his interpretation was to give a penalty.

What other benefits do you think VAR brought at the World Cup? We saw fewer protests from players.

That’s one, and I think it offsets those who say reviews delay the game. Players have been very accepting of VAR. But one other important aspect is deterrence. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that we had more set piece goals and fewer off-the-ball incidents. Knowing you are watched at all times means your attitude is going to be different.

When you were still an official, FIFA’s referee committee was made up mostly by football administrators and there were only a few former referees involved. Now you’re virtually all ex-referees.

That was one of things I asked when I took the FIFA job. The referees’ committee should be made up only of specialists; it’s a technical role that shouldn’t belong to those in the politics of football. Today the head of referees from each confederation sits on the committee and that’s a big step forward.

You talk about the importance of quality; if quality is most important, will we ever see, say, a Spanish referee taking charge of Spain vs. Germany? Or will we always be fixated on nationality and neutrality?

I think that’s a utopia. No matter how professional or talented a referee is, he’d have difficulty. Imagine an official making a mistake that hurts his own country.

But we’re already taking steps forward. I’ll give you an example. Japan qualified ahead of Senegal for the knockout phase and it was very close. For Japan’s next match, against Belgium, we appointed a Senegalese referee, Malang Diedhiou, because we thought he was best for the job.

In the past, that might not have happened, people might have talked about him feeling pressure to avenge his country. Which, of course, when you think about it, is absurd.

Similarly, as far as “confederation neutrality” is concerned, we had South American referees appointed to officiate South American teams [against teams from other confederations, which previously had only been the case with European referees].

Players make mistakes and referees make mistakes. But I guess there are some big differences. One is that people don’t pay to watch referees, they pay to watch players. The other is that it’s easier for a player to redeem himself for a mistake.

Well, some of us watch referees more than players, but, yes, it’s a key difference. A player can miss a sitter and then score a hat trick. A referee who incorrectly awards a penalty and then is flawless the rest of the game will still be remembered and criticized for the mistake … That’s why we’re trying, every which way, to help limit errors.

MLS Power Rankings: New York teams challenge Atlanta United’s dominance

August 14, 20189:45AM EDTAlicia RodriguezContributorOnly MLS league games will be reflected in the rankings. Rankings are voted on by MLSsoccer.com editorial staff; words by Alicia Rodriguez.

BIGGEST MOVERS: PHI +3; HOU, NE -3

1ATL

LAST WEEK: 1  HIGH: 1 | LOW: 7

10 more games…can Atlanta United maintain their lead on top and clinch the Supporters’ Shield? They’re technically behind the Red Bulls in points per game, so it probably won’t be easy, but the Five Stripes need at least one trophy to really commemorate this initial spell for the club.

Previous: Idle | Next: vs. CLB on 8/19

2 NY Red Bulls

LAST WEEK: 3

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 7

But the Red Bulls don’t look like they’ll be going quietly in order to pave the way for Atlanta. They’re 8-2-0 in their last 10 games, so if they keep up that stellar pace they could be lifting their third Shield in late October. A grueling road game in Vancouver will be a good test this week.

Previous: Won 1-0 at CHI | Next: at VAN on 8/18

3 NYCFC

LAST WEEK: 4

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 6

 

NYCFC post a good win in Toronto, which, yes, did include a very early red card to Jozy Altidore. But credit to the front office for picking up the likes of Ismael Tajouri-Shradi – he may not have the name recognition of previous signings, but he’s on a scoring pace of a tick under a goal every other game.

Previous: Won 3-2 at TOR | Next: at PHI on 8/18

4 Portland

LAST WEEK: 2

HIGH: 2 | LOW: 18

The streak had to end at some point, and Vancouver’s battling performance (and a wayward penalty by the usually reliable Diego Valeri) snapped Portland’s unbeaten run at 15. With a big two-game week here, it could be a pivotal juncture in the Timbers’ campaign.

Previous: Lost 2-1 vs. VAN | Next: at DC on 8/15; vs. SKC on 8/18

5 KC

LAST WEEK: 7

HIGH: 1 | LOW: 15

If at first you don’t succeed, go back on the road? Sporting have won their last two away from home, on conference opponents, and an efficient victory against a rotated LAFC lineup shows Peter Vermes’ group may be out of their summer slump for good.

Previous: Won 2-0 at LAFC | Next: at POR on 8/18

6 FC Dallas (Matt Hedges)

LAST WEEK: 5

HIGH: 4 | LOW: 18

Two losses in a row, although the latest, on the road against a surging Sounders team, isn’t a huge upset. But Dallas’ cushion at the top of the Western Conference is down to three points, so they can’t afford to keep dropping points.

Previous: Lost 2-1 at SEA  | Next: vs. MIN on 8/18

7 Columbus Crew

LAST WEEK: 9

HIGH: 2 | LOW: 12

The week off seemed to do Columbus good, as they returned to action and defeated the Dynamo, albeit by the skin of their teeth. Questions persist about whether this team is truly a contender, but might their game in Atlanta at the weekend be a preview for another playoff clash between the teams?

Previous: Won 1-0 vs. HOU | Next: at ATL on 8/19

8 LAFC

LAST WEEK: 6

HIGH: 3 | LOW: 17

LAFC are only three points out of second place in their conference, but five games winless in league play leaves them drifting just above the playoff line. Once thought to be a sure thing for the playoffs in their first year, if they stumble in a double-game week, that certainty may vanish.

Previous: Lost 2-0 vs. SKC | Next: vs. RSL on 8/15; vs. COL on 8/19

9 Seattle Sounders

LAST WEEK: 10

HIGH: 4 | LOW: 21

The Sounders’ rally isn’t quite done, but unbeaten in eight, with five wins in a row, they’re just three points out of the playoff spots now. A home game against the Galaxy remains a marquee match-up, and a win there could move them above the playoff line.

Previous: Won 2-1 vs. DAL | Next: vs. LA on 8/18

10 LA Galaxy

LAST WEEK: 8

HIGH: 6 | LOW: 14

The Galaxy posted a home draw against Minnesota that feels like a loss, and yet more injury concerns for key players could set them back again. The voters still believe LA are a top 10 team, but they may not find a way to climb much higher as their inconsistency continues.

Previous: Drew 2-2 vs. MIN | Next: vs. COL on 8/14; at SEA on 8/18

Football lines will be visible on turf in Lucas Oil Stadium for next seven matches

For the rest of 2018, National Football League lines and configuration will be visible on-field during Indy Eleven home matches. The change comes after new turf was installed in Lucas Oil Stadium last month. “We’re thankful for the opportunity to play our home games on the new turf,” said Indy Eleven president Jeff Belskus. “Unfortunately, painting over the football lines was not acceptable for all parties. As a result, we’ll be playing with football lines visible for the rest of the year.”
This is the first year Indy Eleven has played in Lucas Oil Stadium after moving to the United Soccer League in January of this year. “Indiana’s Team” agreement is with the Capital Improvement Board to play in the 70,000 seat stadium. The CIB was formed in 1965 by the Indiana General Assembly and empowered to finance and manage capital improvements throughout the city of Indianapolis. Indy Eleven have seven more home matches in 2018; August 15 against North Carolina FC, August 22 against Toronto FC II, August 29 against Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, September 1 against Richmond Kickers, September 5 against New York Red Bulls II, September 26 against Tampa Bay Rowdies and October 6 against Bethlehem Steel FC

INDY 11 — Four matches in the next eighteen days!

Our Indy Eleven currently occupy the 8th and final playoff spot, however, have many games in hand on the teams ahead of us in the standings currently. These home games could ultimately decide our playoff fate over the coming weeks.Get your BYBTIX for the next four home games HERE! Don’t forget that you save $8 per ticket off the online and box office price by buying from us!

Wed, August 22   7PM kick off     v. Toronto FC II

Wed, August 15   7PM kick off     v. Pittsburgh Riverhounds

Wed, Sept 1         7PM kick off     v. Richmond Kickers

Parking passes at Gate10Events is $11 with advance purchase. $15 day of.  Save $$$ by buying early.

A letter to our former President and the all of the BYB  Joshmason

I’ve put this off for far too long at this point, but I wanted to publicly thank Josh Mason for all of the work he has done for the Brickyard Battalion over the past seven-odd years. As we recently have celebrated our seventh year in existence on August 3rd, one does not have the time to list all of the wonderful things Josh had championed for the BYB during his tenure as a board member. He leaves a legacy that includes two Brickyard Battalion-inspired beers, Full 90 by Flat 12 and our current partnership with People’s Brewing with our Battalion Ale. As you can imagine, getting a brewing company to brew a beer specifically for a lower division soccer supporters group and team is few and far between. The connections Josh has made over the years, both professionally and personally, led to the success of this venture. This only touches the surface of many of the projects owned and countless hours Josh has spent to enable our ability to support our club. His professionalism will be something that will be difficult to emulate.Thankfully, he made the career choice to move to the front office of our Indy Eleven. We know the energy and passion he has for our club will lead to many great things off the pitch and certainly his dedication will contribute to results on the pitch as well. I do, however, feel sorry for him as now he gets to feel the wrath of our own Peter Evans who pulls no punches when it comes to ensuring our support culture is treated like a top priority for the team, off the pitch. Just ask Tom Dunmore or Andy Piggush, those calls and texts will come at any hour of the day or night. Good luck! All jokes aside, we couldn’t have asked for a better person to work with between the BYB and front office, and we look forward to an even stronger relationship with the front office going forward.We will have a few board seats open in the coming months, including Josh’s vacancy. Please be on the lookout for future BYB meetings that will include an invite to any and all Indy Eleven supporters. We will need your help! If you’ve ever wanted to become more active in our supporters group and help us provide the best atmosphere for our club to thrive, keep an eye out on future emails/social media posts with more details to come.Until then, the best thing you can do is continue to buy tickets through our BYBTix initiative. Interest has waned slowly since our incredible success with our first home match against Cincinnati. We have 39 tickets to sell per match to break even and with the majority of our remaining home games on Wednesdays, it’s a tough sell. Please pass along the link to co-workers, friends and family.

All the best,
Andrew Retz
New President, Brickyard Battalion

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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

 

8/10/18 EPL Season Starts, Indy 11 at home Wed Eve 7 pm, MLS features Indy players on TV Sun

INDY 11

The Indy 11 tied defending Champs Louisville 2-2 at their place last weekend as a vocal crowd of BYB fans were on hand!!  Congrats to GK Fon Williams as his steady play in the win at Bethlehem led to his making the USL team of the week.  Our Boys in Blue return home this 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.

EPL KICK OFF WEEKEND

The full season kicks off this weekend with Man United facing Leicester City Friday 3 pm on NBCSN, Newcastle hosting Tottenham Sat at 7:30 am and Everton hosting Wolverhampton Saturday at 12:30 on NBC followed by Goalzone (a 30 minute gameday wrap up show).  Sunday we get the meat of the best games with Liverpool vs West Ham at 8 am on NBCSN, and Arsenal facing Man City to follow at 11 am all on NBCSN.  While it is great to see EPL soccer on TV in the US and NBCSN has done a fine job and NBC – I am still disappointed that on opening weekend we have 4 of the 5 games at 10 am on pay per view – NBCsportsgold only.  As a longtime Fulham America fan – I am sad I can not see their return to the EPL today. (see Season previews below – I will make my picks after weekend 1 like normal)

MLS HomeGrown TV

The MLS TV slate this weekend features a trio of homegrown Indy players as Sunday’s tripleheader starts at 4 pm on ESPN with Westfield star Eriq Zavaleta (yes son of the owner Carlos Zavaleta of Indiana Soccer Academy) the 6th year pro who won a NC at Indiana University has settled in as a starting Center Back for the defending MLS Champion Toronto.  Toronto hosts NYCFC riding a 6 game unbeaten streak as the oft injured Jose Altidore has returned to the line-up.  At 8 pm DC United with new signing Wayne Rooney at the brand new Audi Field will host Orlando City and Carmel native and Guerin star Cam Lindley on Fox Sport 1.  The 2 bottom of the East Teams are headed in opposite directions as DC United is in better form with a Draw and Win while Orlando has lost 4 of their last 6 matches.  Finally former Carmel High State Champion and starting Centerback Matt Hedges will travel with his league leading FC Dallas squad to face Seattle at 10 pm on FS1. Seattle the hottest team in MLS with 4 straight wins and no losses in their last 8 games is a powerhouse at home at Century Link Field in front of their Gang Green home supporters – a must see for the what is arguably still the best home setting in US soccer.

4 pm ESPN                    Toronto (Eriq Zavaleta) vs NYCFC

8 pm Fox Sport1         DC United (Rooney) vs Orlando City (Cam Lindley)

10 pm FS1                     Seattle Sounders vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

EPL – Starts this Weekend

EPL Season Predictions EPSN

Liverpool Still has Holes to fill

Chelsea Fans Happy to See Courtois exit

Arsenal Will Never Be the Same – if Takeover happens

The Luck Index: The findings and methodology 
– Man United luckiest, Liverpool unluckiest 
– Index proves luck doesn’t even out over time

MLS

Power Rankings After Week 23 MLS

Cincy Approaches 25K for Season Tix Sales for 2019

MLS Power Rankings

Doyle: Complete guide to the Week 24 MLS slate

Kick Off: What you need to know today

Hot Sounders look to keep rolling vs. FC Dallas

Sounders, Loons talk after Seattle’s last-gasp win

Whose stock rose and whose fell in Week 23?

FCD’s Pareja backs Gonzalez despite howlers

Bono: Sleeping on Toronto FC “is ridiculous”

Transfer window winners/losers + Acosta interview

Get deep inside the All-Star Game action

Indy 11

Indy 11 Gets Draw on Road at Louisville 2-2

Indy 11 Sends United Way Donor to MLS All-Star Game

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

Indy 11 GK named to USL Team of the Week 20

Indy 11 beat Bethehem

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

WORLD

SUPERCUP 8/15 Wed 3 pm -Real Madrid vs Atletico Notes

GAMES ON TV This Week

Fri, Aug 9     EPL Starts

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Leicester City      

Sat, Aug 11     EPL Starts

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United vs Tottenham

10 am NBCSN                Huddersfield Town vs Chelsea

12:30 pm NBCSN        Wolverhampton vs Everton

Sun, Aug 12     EPL Starts

8 am NBCSN                   Liverpool vs West Ham United

11 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs Man City

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

3 pm bein Sport          PSG vs Caen

4 pm ESPN Des/+        Barcelona vs Seville – SUPER CUP

4 pm ESPN                    Toronto (Eriq Zavaleta) vs NYCFC

8 pm Fox Sport1          DC United (Rooney) vs Orlando City (Cam Lindley)

10 pm FS1                      Seattle Sounders vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Mon, Aug 13            

7:30 am Fox Sport 2 USA U20 Ladies vs Spain U20 

7:30 am Fox Soccer Japan U20 Ladies vs Uraguay U20  

10:30 am FS 2               Germany vs Haiti

Wed,  Aug 15

3 pm TNT?                       Real Madrid vs Athletico Madrid UEFA Super Cup

7 pm myindytv             Indy 11 vs North Carolina   

10 pm ESPN2                 LAFC vs Real Salt Lake      

Thurs, Aug 16           

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC QF

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 Womens WC QF

Fri, Aug 17                 

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC QF

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 Womens WC QF

2:45 pm FS2?                Schweinfurt vs Schalke (Mckinney)

7 pm SEC Network     Florida vs Washington

Sat, Aug 18    

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United (Yedlin) vs Cardiff

10 am NBCSN                Tottenham vs Fulham (Tim)

12 noon beIN Sport      Cheivo vs Juventus

12:30 pm NBCSN        Chelsea vs Arsenal  

2 pm ESPN+                    Ottawa vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

4 pm ESPN                       Seattle Sounders vs LA Galaxy (Zlatan)

7 pm Yes Network     Philly Union vs NYCFC

10 pm FS2                       Monterey vs Pumas (Mexican)

Sun, Aug 19    

8 am NBCSN                   Man City vs Huddersfield Town (Danny Williams)

11 am NBCSN                Brighton vs Man United

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Real Madrid vs Getafe

7:30 pmFS1                    DC United (Rooney) vs New England  

7 pm SEC Network+  Florida vs Fla Atlantic

Mon, Aug 20    

10 am FS2                        U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

1:30 pm FS2                   U20 Womens WC Semi-Final

2 pm beIN Sport         Valencia vs Athletico Madrid

3 pm NBCSN                   Crystal Palace vs Liverpool       

Wed, Aug 22    

7 pm FS 1                       NYCFC vs NY Red Bulls – NY Darby

7 pm myindytv/espn+ Indy 11 vs Toronto 2

Thurs, Aug 23    

7 pm ESPN+                    Chicago Fire vs Columbus Crew

10 pm FS2                       Tijuana vs Santos Laguna (Mex)

Fri, Aug 24                     German Bundesliga Starts

2:30 pm Fox Sport 1      Bayern Munich vs Hoffenheim

7 pm ESPN                       Orlando City (Cam Lindley) vs Atlanta United

10:30 pm ESPN            LA Galaxy vs LAFC (El Traffico 3)

Sat, Aug 25     

7:30 am NBCSN            Wolverhampton vs Man city 

9:30 am FS 1                  Wolfsburg vs Schalke (McKinney)

10 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs West Ham United

12 noon beIN Sport      Juventus vs Lazio

12:30 pm NBCSN        Liverpool vs Brighton

12:30 pm FS 1              M’Gladbach (Johnson) vs Bayer Leverkusen

7 pm ESPN+                    Atlanta 2 vs Indy 11 (watch w/BYB @ Union Jack)

8 pm ESPN News         Washington Spirit vs Portland Thorns (Ladies) 

Sun, Aug 26    

8 am NBCSN                   Watford vs Crystal Palace 

9:30 am FS1                    Mainz vs Stuttgart

11 am NBCSN                New Castle United vs Chelsea

12 noon Fox Soccer  Dortmund (Pulisic) vs RB Leipzig

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

4 pm beIN Sport         Girona vs Real Madrid 

7 pm Fox Sport1          NY Red Bulls vs DC United (Rooney)

9:30 pm FS1                   Portland vs Seattle Sounders (Cascadia Cup)

Mon, Aug 27    

3 pm NBCSN                   Manchester United vs Tottenham

Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

“DEAR INDY ELEVEN FANS…”

By Martin Rennie, 08/08/18, 12:30PM EDT    An open letter to the fans from Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie

Dear Indy Eleven Fans,

I hope you’re having a great summer and I trust you are looking forward to the rest of our 2018 USL season. We have just passed the midway point in our schedule so I wanted to take the chance to thank you all for the tremendous support you have given to me, my staff, my players and our families. Indianapolis truly is a great city and the Indy Eleven family is something that we are all very proud to be a part of. For most of us, this is our first season with Indy Eleven, so thank you for making us feel welcome.When most USL teams were beginning their training camps for the 2018 season, Indy Eleven had just appointed me as Head Coach following a turbulent offseason for the club where there was a phenomenal amount of work to be done. We have had to contend with a new stadium, league, coaching staff, players and all the uncertainty that the previous offseason delivered. For our club to be where it is at this point in the 2018 season is an incredible feat, and it shows the passion and commitment that we all have for this club.Before Indy Eleven kicked a ball in the 2018 USL season, I had heard great things about the unwavering support the Indy Eleven fans were well known for. Now that I have personally experienced this support, I can only say that our fans have delivered way beyond my expectations. From the ‘You Better Run’ tifo in our home opener to the roar that greeted our winning goal in our most recent home game, our fans have been with us every step of the way. You have inspired us to do more than at times seemed possible.We have built a strong foundation with the team so far this season and we have adapted to our new surroundings. We have set a new franchise record for road wins this season and it is now our goal to make sure we set that bar as high as we possibly can for the future. We also recognize that we have to make our home stadium a fortress that becomes far more difficult for opponents to play in. As a team, we need to be in the face of the opposition from the first whistle playing with confidence and passion that matches what we see from our fans in the stands.

Off the field, there is also much work to be done to take Indy Eleven Soccer operations to a much higher level. We want to be able to support the Indiana soccer community in a more meaningful way. Our vision is focused on partnering with local clubs and coaches to support them in developing young soccer players all across Indiana. As I have coached around the world, I have seen the power that the game of soccer has to unite communities, teach valuable life lessons and deliver joy to its participants. We plan to have our players and coaches pass on their knowledge and experience to any players, teams, administrators or coaches who have an interest in partnering with us.

I really believe that this is an exciting time for Indy Eleven and for soccer in our community. We are part of a stable league in the USL that has been around for more than 30 years. Our club has established itself in this market despite many obstacles and has become stronger than ever. The future is bright for Indy Eleven. I am very happy to be a part of it and I am very thankful that you are a part of the team too. Together, we are building a soccer organization that many communities around the country could only dream of.  As we stick together and help one another there is no doubt in my mind that the best days for Indy Eleven are in front of us.

Eleven Forever, Martin Rennie   Head Coach, Indy Eleven

Premier League preview: ESPN FC’s writer predictions for 2018-19

lay

The Exploding Heads are back for another Premier League season and share their rather hilarious outtakes of what to expect this season. (2:34)

5:47 PM ETESPN

The Premier League is back! Which club do our writers think will win the title in 2018-19? Who will finish in the coveted Champions League spots? Which three clubs will go down? And who will finish as top scorer and player of the year? We asked our writers, here are their answers.

Gab Marcotti

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Bournemouth
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku, Man United
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Mark Ogden

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Bournemouth, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Virgil van Dijk, Liverpool

Graham Hunter

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Shaka Hislop

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Crystal Palace, Watford
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Tony Evans

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Brighton, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku, Man United
Player of the Year: Raheem Sterling, Man City

Steve Nicol

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Fulham
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Michael Cox

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Craig Burley

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Nick Miller

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Man City surpassed 100 goals and reached 100 points while running away with the 2017-18 title. Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Paul Mariner

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Brighton, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Nick Ames

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Ian Darke

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Man City 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Southampton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Richard Jolly

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Adam Hurrey

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Newcastle
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Julien Laurens

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Fulham, Brighton, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Stewart Robson

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Newcastle
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Harry Kane, Tottenham

Raf Honigstein

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Bournemouth
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

James Horncastle:

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Southampton, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Paolo Bandini

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Man United
Relegated: Southampton, Watford, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Roberto Firmino, Liverpool

Mattias Karen

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Brighton, Cardiff City, Wolves
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Jonathan Smith

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Newcastle, Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Rob Dawson

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Dan Thomas

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Southampton, Brighton
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Glenn Price

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Man City 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Newcastle. Brighton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Sadio Mane, Liverpool

Liam Twomey

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Scott Patterson

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Watford, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Romelu Lukaku, Man United
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Janusz Michallik

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Watford
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Simon Curtis

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Bournemouth, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: John Stones, Man City

Kevin De Bruyne lost out to Mo Salah for PFA Player of the Year in 2017-18. Will he win it in 2018-19? Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Brian McBride

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Brighton, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Mark Worrall

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Arsenal 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Newcastle, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Luke O’Farrell

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Fulham
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Steven Kelly

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Tottenham 3. Liverpool 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Southampton, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

James McNicholas

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Leroy Sane, Man City

Alexis Nunes

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Leroy Sane, Man City

Musa Okwonga

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Man City 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Southampton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

David Mooney

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

David Wagner and Huddersfield impressively survived Year 1 but could they be in relegation trouble in 2018-19? Chris Brunskill Ltd/Getty Images

John Crace

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Tottenham 4. Liverpool
Relegated: Cardiff City, Bournemouth, Huddersfield
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Sebastian Salazar

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Cardiff City, Watford, Brighton
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: David Silva, Man City

Phil Lythell

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Chelsea
Relegated: Cardiff City, Brighton, Huddersfield Town
Top scorer: Sergio Aguero, Man City
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Tom Adams

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Tottenham 4. Arsenal
Relegated: Watford, Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Herculez Gomez

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Chelsea 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Watford, Brighton
Top scorer: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool
Player of the Year: Mohamed Salah, Liverpool

Ben Pearce

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Liverpool 3. Man United 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Brighton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Adrian Healey

Top four: 1. Liverpool 2. Arsenal 3. Man City 4. Man United
Relegated: Cardiff City, Huddersfield Town, Crystal Palace
Top scorer: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Arsenal
Player of the Year: Sadio Mane, Liverpool

Andy Mitten

Top four: 1. Man City 2. Man United 3. Liverpool 4. Tottenham
Relegated: Huddersfield Town, Cardiff City, Southampton
Top scorer: Harry Kane, Tottenham
Player of the Year: Kevin De Bruyne, Man City

Agree? Disagree? Have your say in the comments section below and join the debate on ESPN FC.

Jurgen Klopp spending puts Liverpool in title contention but squad still has holes

Aug 8, 2018  Steven KellyLiverpool blogger

After an active transfer window and a successful preseason, optimism at Liverpool is higher than for many years. That has translated into giddiness in some quarters. Some fans are even predicting a title win, never mind a challenge.That may just indicate a desire to meet outsiders’ estimates of Liverpool’s chances head on. If the Reds should slip below inflated expectations this season, mockery would be unavoidable anyway — so why worry about it?Be as realistic as you like, point out the 90 points needed to even threaten a challenge has never been achieved by any Liverpool team. It still wouldn’t dampen the positivity, and nor should it.The first choice side is clearly going to be very good. Were that the deciding factor in a title battle, Liverpool could stand their ground with anyone. Yes, even Manchester City who’ve already lost three times to the Reds in 2018.Bill Shankly once said the league was a marathon not a sprint. Factors other than ability will be decisive during a long, arduous campaign.Luck and fitness will certainly play a part. With Jurgen Klopp’s high-octane style there’s bound to be more than the odd casualty. Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain is already sidelined for the season.Modern football long since moved into the squad era, never to return to a simpler time when Liverpool won the 1965-66 title with just 14 players while also reaching a European final.To be successful you need an entire second XI that’s talented enough to perform well in the Premier League if it were a separate entity.Do Liverpool have that? By buying quality players in the summer they’ve certainly strengthened but will it be enough to justify the hype?They could improve in certain areas. Fans will pray Alisson stays fit, reducing the need to see if Loris Karius can maintain sufficient focus during what will probably be a largely inactive year.Klopp might have been indulging his unique sense of humour by making Alberto Moreno captain for the last preseason friendly, a 3-1 home win against Torino.The Spaniard seemed to have fallen from grace after a strong first season showing from Andrew Robertson. When rarely called upon, Moreno didn’t cover himself in glory. Should the Scot suffer a difficult second season, there would be little faith in the alternative.At centre-half there are continued physical doubts over Joel Matip and Joe Gomez, hence the earlier than usual appearance of upcoming youngster Nathaniel Phillips. During the Torino game Marko Grujic and Fabinho also filled in at centre half — grim reminders of Lucas Leiva’s sticking-plaster attempts to play that role.Central midfield looks like being a strong area, but finding the right three players and the appropriate blend may be tricky for Klopp. Choice is good, but you can be spoilt for it sometimes.Liverpool’s magical forward line appears to have no problem whatsoever, but they’re such a unique combination that any deviation from the usual three stars may cause confusion and weakness.Xherdan Shaqiri and Daniel Sturridge have both looked good during the summer matches, perhaps solving another problem from last season when few changes from the substitutes’ bench filled supporters with hope.Sturridge’s long run of fitness difficulties may create scepticism on that score, unless there’s finally been an acceptance of a peripheral role by a footballer who can be one of England’s deadliest strikers on his best day.Squad rotation is never easy. To compete for the title, Klopp would need to get at least 90 percent of his changes absolutely spot on.So many factors come into play. It isn’t just about ability. Fitness is often considered the main reason for change, but you also depend on the character of certain players to accept they won’t play a lot but must perform to their utmost whenever selected.There is also the manager’s assessment of the opponent, whether change can be risked against certain teams which “shouldn’t” present much of an obstacle. Over the years, those have been the games that numerous Liverpool managers have had most difficulty with.Klopp’s early transfer business was clearly planned, to try and get his team to hit the ground running while the World Cup messes around with everybody’s normal summer preparations.Liverpool’s spending has captured the imagination and catapulted them forward as main contenders, despite coming a fairly distant fourth last time.The colossal burden of intricacies involved in winning 80 percent of the available points is frightening, but even that might end up not being enough.Preseason confidence is justified however and a little luck with injuries would go a long way towards making the Reds true contenders.The size of the task and the number of things that need to go the club’s way to succeed should never be underestimated or ignored, however.

Thibaut Courtois tarnishes Chelsea legacy as fans rejoice at Madrid move

Aug 9, 2018Mark WorrallChelsea blogger

Thibaut Courtois was Chelsea’s problem child, but thankfully for the club’s supporters he’s not their issue anymore. Finally, after what feels like an eternity of his whinging and whining, the goalkeeper has realised his “dream” of being transferred to Real Madrid.

There was always a chance that the drawn out saga centred around Courtois’ desire to return to the Spanish capital would become bitter and twisted. No other player in the Chelsea history has polarised fan opinion in the way the Belgium international has. Indeed, no other Blues player has seen the vestiges of support for his cause evaporate into nothing in such spectacular fashion as it did when the news broke on Monday that Courtois had failed to report back to Chelsea for preseason training.

Having spurned the opportunity to talk with new Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri, a further no-show by Courtois on Tuesday brought about a social media meltdown as supporters unified to denounce the keeper for the ultimate cardinal sin in their eyes — disrespecting the club.

It had all started out sweetly enough in 2011 when Courtois was signed from Genk for a fee of £7.9 million. Viewed as the long-term successor to Petr Cech, who was still at the peak of his powers, a loan deal with Atletico Madrid was agreed. The young keeper, 19 at the time, would end up spending three seasons with the Rojiblancos — a hugely successful period for the club who won La Liga, the Copa del Rey, the Europa League and were runners-up in the Champions League final.

So far so good, but when Jose Mourinho called Courtois back to Chelsea in the summer of 2014, that’s when the tribulations started. The keeper had been stand-offish about coming to Stamford Bridge and refused to sign a new contract unless he was given assurances by Mourinho he would be first choice between the posts. The arrogance of youth held sway, the Special One buckled, and Cech — then just 32 and still viewed by many Chelsea supporters as the best keeper in the world — was marginalised and would eventually be sold to rivals Arsenal.Courtois signed a new five-year deal, but the circumstances didn’t sit easy with fans and as a consequence many questioned whether or not playing for Chelsea meant anything to him.Of course he was shown plenty of welcoming love by the fans, the chant “Thibaut, Thibaut!” would echo around Stamford Bridge, but that didn’t stop Courtois at every given opportunity, particularly when away on international duty with Belgium, talking about his love of Madrid.Yes, there was sympathy for his domestic situation, as he had a Spanish girlfriend and two children back home, but there was no need for Courtois to constantly repeat himself. Chelsea had bent over backwards to accommodate his wishes, even shunting aside goalkeeping coach Christophe Lollichon — brought in originally to work with Cech — so the apparent lack of loyalty rankled.Real Madrid making no secret of their ambition to sign Courtois didn’t help matters and once again the Belgian stood off signing an improved contract with Chelsea, making a series of “wait and see” non-committal comments.Although he played a major part in winning two Premier League titles, many fans wondered if he’d actually improved as a goalkeeper. As it transpired, his Achilles’ heel was exposed earlier this year during a Champions League tie with Barcelona in the Camp Nou when Lionel Messi beat him twice by putting the ball through his legs. The keeper’s disclosure this was his area of weakness drew ridicule and scorn from fans, but he seemed unfazed by it. By the end of the season it was a case of enough-is-enough

Sarri hit the nail squarely on the head when he said he only wanted players “with a very high level of motivation”. That was never going to be Courtois, and his inability to meet the new boss face-to-face bore all the hallmarks of cowardice.When the news broke on Tuesday that Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga was set to sign for Chelsea, the sense of joy among fans was palpable even if the fee was an astronomical £71.6m.Finally, closure over Courtois was in sight. In the end it mattered little to them that the deal agreed with Real for the Belgian to get his move to the Bernabeu amounted to just £35m, sweetened with a one-year loan of Croatia international midfielder Mateo Kovacic.Football is a simple business. Supporters need to feel an affinity for a player, and that’s a two-way street. When a bond is established, it can override all manner of problems.Unfortunately, Courtois never really got to grips with this concept at Chelsea because deep down his heart never looked in it at the Bridge. It didn’t have to end this way, but it has and the manner of Courtois’ departure has all but ensured his legacy will remain tarnished.

Arsenal takeover by Stan Kroenke kills part of club’s soul

Aug 8, 2018Tom AdamsArsenal blogger

What is a football club? Is it the bricks and mortar that provide its physical structure? The players and coaches who are responsible for shaping its fate and pursuing its ambitions on the pitch? Or the supporters, who through their collective expression of identity and deep emotional attachment supply a club with its soul?If you lean towards the third option, it’s hard not to feel that a part of Arsenal’s soul died this week.Arsenal, which with its marble halls and conception of doing things the “Arsenal way” has always had a fond sense of its own history, will never quite be the same again after the news emerged that majority shareholder Stan Kroenke had toppled the last remaining barrier to sole ownership by convincing Alisher Usmanov to sell his 30.05 percent stake in the club for around £600 million. With 97 percent of the club now in his possession, Kroenke can and will force the remaining shareholders to sell up.

For the first time since a group of workers at the Woolwich Arsenal Armament Factory joined together to form a football club in 1886, Arsenal will be the sole private interest of one individual. Supporters who were proud to be shareholders and act on behalf of their contemporaries in a custodial role will have their investment forcibly removed from them. A Rubicon has been crossed.In practical terms, it will essentially be business as usual — at least for now. Arsenal’s refusal to allow Usmanov onto the board means that Kroenke has effectively been running the club as he likes in any case. This is no leap into the unknown under a new owner; indeed, Arsenal fans are only too aware of Kroenke’s hands-off approach. His desire to run Arsenal as a self-sufficient entity without needing to dip into his own pockets is well established.But if it carries minimal practical weight, the emotional toll exacted by this week’s announcement is nevertheless substantial. The Arsenal Supporters’ Trust described it as a “dreadful” development for the club. Leader of the opposition Jeremy Corbyn has voiced his regret that “this sale will bring to an end the longstanding official role of Arsenal supporters in the running of the club.”Even if supporter oversight and investment in Arsenal had waned in the face of Kroenke’s expanding ownership and stony-faced silence, it still existed in a very real sense. Minor shareholders could still attend Annual General Meetings (AGMs) and voice their concerns, asking probing questions of the Arsenal hierarchy. They feel they had some say, however small, in the direction of the club.Even if their questions were sometimes met with an arrogant response from various chairmen, the AGMs maintained an important link between the club and its supporters: a reminder that Arsenal was at heart a collective enterprise still beholden to its community. Mirroring the wider trend in football, that link will now be severed entirely. Arsenal, a whole club with a verdant history and millions of supporters around the globe, will be the sole property of one man. Frankly, it’s unthinkable.When Kroenke made his first investment in Arsenal, purchasing 9.9 percent of the club in 2007, then-chairman Peter Hill-Wood, bristling with indignation, said the other shareholders would be “horrified to see the club go across the Atlantic.” Hill-Wood’s suspicion of Kroenke mellowed pretty quickly as the American began working alongside him on the board and started buying up his shareholding, but today his words ring true in a very real sense.

Divorced from any oversight from supporters at home, and with no requirement to open up the financials in public fashion, Kroenke can effectively decide the future of the club from his base in Delaware. Arsenal can now be officially registered in America. In an administrative sense, they can become every bit as American as the other assets in his portfolio: the Los Angeles Rams, the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Rapids.The days when football clubs were run as benevolent social institutions, of and for the local community, are long gone. Full supporter ownership of a sports behemoth valued at £1.8 billion by the Kroenke takeover is a utopian dream rendered impossible by the financial realities of an engorged industry. But before this week, Arsenal at least paid lip service to the notion that supporters could match emotional investment with financial investment and have some sense of ownership over their club. Now, those supporters are utterly powerless.Of course, Arsenal will carry on. Games will be won, lost and drawn, players will be moved in and out, matchday tickets will be purchased and message boards and social media sites will be a constantly flickering hive of debate, impassioned argument and general ridiculousness. If Arsenal are wildly successful under Unai Emery, then most people probably won’t even care. But underneath it all the fabric of Arsenal, and that fundamental relationship between a club and its supporters, has changed forever.

Armchair Analyst: Your complete guide to the Week 24 MLS slate

August 10, 201810:38AM EDTMatthew DoyleSenior Writer

Just a bit of housecleaning before we dive in: I’ll be on vacation next week, so talk to Wiebe and Warshaw about Week 25. On a scale of Nigel De Jong to Mauro Diaz, how much will you miss me?Let’s take a look at what’s coming up in Week 24:

Saturday Slate

Columbus Crew SC vs. Houston Dynamo
7:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

There are a couple of other X-factors kicking around, one being the lack of a healthy No. 10 for Crew SC, and the other being Houston’s weary legs after a long and successful Wednesday night of U.S. Open Cup action. The first might mean that Meram plays centrally as a 10, and the other should mean three points for Columbus regardless.

New England Revolution vs. Philadelphia Union
7:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

As with Houston, we should all expect the Union to come into this game with weary legs after serious midweek action. Philly did have a bit of a stroll – it was a 3-0 USOC win over a Fire team that was inferior for the full 90 – but those minutes add up, especially when heading out on the road for a game that is, frankly, ginormous.Philly need to bottle what it was they had against Chicago and somehow take it with them to Foxborough. They utterly dominated central midfield on Wednesday night, knocking the ball around a ton and generating chance after chance both into and out of Zone 14.Obviously that’s harder to do against a Revs team whose whole gameplan is build upon disruption. Rule No. 1 under Brad Friedel thus far has been “get pressure to the ball,” and his team has bought in.The problem is that when they’re not able to get pressure to the ball, they’re not able to keep it out of their own net. I’m not sure how close Michael Mancienne is to full fitness, and I’m sure they signed him for a lot of reasons, but here’s the big one: They have to defend better in the 18. If he can help with that, he’ll play.If he can’t help with that, and the Revs don’t get three points here, it’s very, very difficult to figure out their path to the playoffs. I’m not going to call this “do or die time,” but rather “don’t and probably die.”

Chicago Fire vs. New York Red Bulls
8:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Chicago lost on Wednesday, and then on Thursday outright waived two rotation players: right back Kevin Ellis (who’s started 19 games), and center mid Tony Tchani (who was mostly disappointing after a solid 2017 season in Vancouver). They sit in 10th place in the East, have won once in the last two months, and it seems safe to say that things are broken for them.To put it gently: There’s not a single thing they seem to do particularly well. This team was so dynamic building through the middle, so lethal up top last year, but age, injury and attrition caught up to them and smothered them. Philly was able to do that on Wednesday:nd that’s what the Red Bulls will attempt to do on Saturday. I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see Chris Armas experiment, at least a little bit, with a two-striker look since Chicago have so much trouble tracking runners in their defensive third.

Colorado Rapids vs. San Jose Earthquakes
9 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Did anyone look at this game coming up and think it would feature two teams attempting to build a winning streak? The Rapids and Quakes have both been, let’s say, “not good” for a long while, but both were “quite good” last weekend.There’s nothing much I can add to my colleague Bobby Warshaw’s take on how Kellyn Acosta and the 4-4-2 diamond have transformed Colorado over the last couple of weeks. I will just say that 1) watch out for El Homie on the overlap – if you take that away, I think the Rapids won’t be able to invent any sort of creative thrust no matter what formation they play, and 2) I still want to see Acosta get on the ball more. My biggest complaint about his game is that for a player so gifted, he spends far too much time as a passenger.I’m still solidly in “continue to wait, continue to see” mode about the Quakes. The defense definitely does seem better organized since Guram Kashia arrived, and after a month of nothing the attack finally took advantage of some gifts in Frisco. That was all very nice, and something to build upon, but I’m not rushing out to buy stock just yet.

Real Salt Lake vs. Montreal Impact
10 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

I’m kind of wracking my brain trying to come up with what, exactly, to say about this one that I haven’t said before a million times. There are obvious things that need to go right for RSL: the central midfield has to stay together defensively, and Corey Baird has to drag the opposing center backs all over to create unexpected angles for the wingers, and the fullbacks have to push into the attack and add a bit of variation to things.When all that happens, and they play at home, they win. It’s straightforward at this point.The same is mostly true for Montreal, who’ve sunk back to earth over the last five weeks (1-2-2 record) after a very nice June. They’re still defending deep, absorbing pressure and hitting on the break. Push too high and let Saphir Taider hit one of his heat-seeking outlets, and they will get out and get after you.At the same time, you’ve got to force them to really, really defend in their own 18 because they’re not particularly good at it. They especially struggle tracking outside-in runs from opposing wingers, which should play to RSL’s strengths.

LAFC vs. Sporting KC
10:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

One of the big questions all year for LAFC has been “can they do it without a true defensive midfielder?” Mark-Anthony Kaye was the closest they had – he was more of a pure central midfielder, though one with more defensive responsibilities than the other guys in Black-and-Gold – but now that he’s done for the year it’s the likes of Benny FeilhaberLee Nguyen and Eduard Atuesta trying to keep things tight through the middle.None of those guys is a ball-winner, and that matters. First, because it means they have to defend by having the ball. Second, because it means they are starting to look more and more vulnerable when they don’t:Those are Houston’s key passes (yellow arrows) and assists (blue) from Wednesday night’s 3-3 USOC semifinal thriller (which the Dynamo won in penalties). And that’s a ton of chances to give up out of Zone 14.SKC haven’t been great lately, but they just brought Krisztian Nemeth back, Johnny Russell‘s expected to play this weekend, and Gianluca Busio is clearly an upgrade over Yohan Croizet at attacking midfield. They are built to punish the type of loose defensive play LAFC showed on Wednesday in Texas.

LA Galaxy vs. Minnesota United
10:30 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Zlatan Ibrahimovic vs. the Minnesota United backline. Darwin Quintero against the LA Galaxybackline.No real need to overthink this one. Just make sure you adjust your fantasy teams accordingly.

Portland Timbers vs. Vancouver Whitecaps
11 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Portland’s approach under Gio Savarese so far: First do no harm.Portland never, ever beat themselves by giving you extra possesssions, and they still usually have plenty going forward they can use to beat you. That now includes Jorge Villafaña, who should provide an attacking dimension from left back that Zarek Valentin has mostly lacked, and Lucas Melano, a pure speed option in the attack.The ‘Caps are weary and wounded after a heartbreaking draw-that-felt-like-a-loss against TFC in the first leg of the Canadian Championship on Wednesday. They also have, by the numbers, one of the very worst defenses in the league.They are also a potentially tricky matchup for the Timbers, who are 21st in MLS in possession and generally have not wanted to have a ton of the ball. Vancouver are 22nd in MLS in possession and seems to want absolutely, positively nothing to do with having the ball or carrying play. There is every chance they will park the bus to the best of their abilities, hope that holds, and then try to get into space on the counter.

Sunday Tripleheader

Toronto FC  vs. NYCFC
4 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

TFC should be happy enough with Wednesday’s result, but they didn’t look great – sluggish all over the field, still a little unbalanced in midfield, and generally just looser defensively than you’d want to see from a team that desperately needs to keep picking up wins if they’re going to make the playoffs.For as much as the narrative has shifted over the past three weeks, the Chicago Fire are the only MLS team Toronto have beaten in the last two months. Last weekend’s result at Atlanta was great, and the last 10 minutes were legitimately impressive, but they’re not there yet. And now they have to fly back across the country on short rest to prove, against another of the league’s very best teams, that I’m being needlessly skeptical.We shall see.And the way we shall see is via what happens in central midfield. Yes, David Villa‘s likely back for this one (I doubt he starts), but that’s almost an afterthought compared to what’s happening in the middle of the park for NYCFCEbenezer Ofori didn’t even make the 18 last week, and Domé Torrent’s tactical switch (detailed HERE) paid no dividends.

To be clear: Give the Reds that much time, space and running room, and NYCFC will lose 4-3.

D.C. United vs. Orlando City
8 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

D.C. should press as high and hard and viciously as possible. The Orlando City defense is a mess – they’re on track to break Minnesota United’s mark for worst single-season defense in league history – in just about every facet of the game. If I’m Ben Olsen, I’m taking the risk of letting them run in behind because the payoff (multiple chances against a scrambling, disjointed backline) is worth it.

Seattle Sounders vs. FC Dallas
10 pm ET | Match Preview | TV & streaming info

Lest anyone missed, it, here’s how Seattle have flipped the game the past couple of weeks:

I’d expect them to once again selectively use the 4-4-2 this weekend. And I expect Dallas to try to absorb and counter for the entire 90 minutes here.One thing to keep an eye on: How aggressive will Jesse Gonzalez be in coming off his line? He got burned twice last week as he tries to evolve into a more modern goalkeeper, and games like that can damage anyone’s confidence.It may not be that big a deal since, as I said, I suspect the Dallas backline will be defending in his lap. But it’s worth thinking about at least a little bit.

MLS Power Rankings for the week of August 7, 2018

 

Portland Timbers players celebrate Dairon Asprilla’s second-half goal in a 3-0 win over the Philadelphia Union in an MLS soccer match at Providence Park in Portland, Oregon on Saturday, Aug. 4, 2018.  By Kevin Lindstrom , Special Contributor Contact Kevin Lindstromon Twitter:@Kevin3rdD

You can really see which teams are hitting their stride going into the last stretch and those who … well, lose to the last place team in the league. Sorry, FC Dallas, but that was really bad, and it was not the first time they had laid an egg like that. Just the first time they did it to a team in the bottom tier.  FC Dallas is not alone, though. A number of teams, including some good ones, had poor showings. And some teams with very poor records showed that they have some life in them yet. Specifically, as we have noted the past few weeks, watch Seattle and Toronto closely. They may or may not make the playoffs, but they are clearly not the dumpster fires they had been for much of the season.

Top Shelf

1 – Atlanta United (Previously 1). While they may not be hitting as many highs as they were earlier in the year, their lows are home ties to teams with good rosters. Especially after this weekend, we feel confident our Shield pick will make it stick.

2 – Portland Timbers (3). Philadelphia may not be a top tier team, and they had to travel cross country, but a 3-0 win is still pretty convincing.

3 – New York Red Bulls (4). LAFC may be in the top end of the next tier rather than a top team, but that does not mean a win over them is not of note. It seems the Red Bulls have transitioned away from Jesse Marsh rather well.

4 – NYCFC (5). A home tie to a middling Vancouver makes it hard to move them up. Well, except for over the team that lost to the last place team in the league. (Sorry to the FCD faithful, but it really was that bad of a loss).

Quality

5 – FC Dallas (2). Those lingering questions. They are going to keep this team from doing something special unless they can find answers. Yes, they deserve credit for making good moves in the summer, but the jury is still out on whether those new pieces can integrate successfully this season, and whether this team can overcome what appears to be a significant lack of composure under a variety of circumstances.

6 – Los Angeles Football Club (6). It is hard to really criticize an expansion team for not doing more when they are doing so well in the standings, except that LAFC started so well. How much of this is players transitioning back from summer play, and how much of it is the league figuring out how to beat Bradley’s boys?

7 – Sporting Kansas City (9). How much of this was Houston sliding and how much of this was Sporting stepping up? Remains to be seen. But a road win might be what gives Kansas City some mojo back.

8 – Columbus Crew (8). In other circumstances, not playing can lead to moving up or down. Not this week.

9 – LA Galaxy (7). The Galaxy need to send a thank you basket to Frisco. Even with a rejuvenated Rapids team, that just isn’t a loss a good MLS side should take.

10 – New England Revolution (10). A tie against Orlando. Really tough to gauge what that means, other than the Revs are what they have been consistently all year – inconsistent.

11 – Real Salt Lake (12). It was Chicago, so let’s not get too excited folks. And it was at home, where RSL has been very effective, but it was still a positive result.

12 – Houston Dynamo (11). “A home loss to Philadelphia? Not good, Kemosabe. Then they lose at Portland? This team is running out of opportunities to get it going.” And then they lose to Sporting. Danger, Will Robinson.

Middling

13 – Seattle Sounders (15). Speaking of danger, MLS had better take note of the Sounders. They are gaining momentum by the week. If they can beat FC Dallas this weekend, it would be hard to argue against them being the hottest team in the West.

14 – Toronto FC (18). See Seattle Sounders. With all the quality at the top of the East, it is hard to say they would be the hottest team in their conference, but with a few more results, they can be back to being something dangerous.

15 – Montreal Impact (13). “The Impact are very much not a top half team.” A 1-1 tie with D.C. certainly seems like a closing argument for the prosecution.

16 – Vancouver Whitecaps (16). Very much like the Revs, Vancouver has been an up and down team this year. This week? A 2-2 tie with a resurgent NYCFC.

17 – Philadelphia Union (14). And reality sets in for the young team. They are clearly better than they were to start the year, but they are not good enough to hang with the really good teams.

18 – Minnesota United (17). It has to be disheartening to see a team you were ahead of for much of the season road past you at home…

Dregs

19 – Orlando City SC (20). I am not sure a 3-3 home tie is better than a 2-1 road loss in all circumstances, but we are seeing signs of life from Orlando that we just aren’t seeing from the Fire.

20 – Chicago Fire (19). We moved you down into this bracket last week, Chicago, and all you did was confirm the decision.

21 – D.C. United (21). If they continue to battle, they could pass Chicago.

22 – Colorado Rapids (22). The gap between the Rapids and D.C. was wider before this weekend. It is much tighter now.

23 – San Jose Earthquakes (23). How much of that was San Jose and how much of that was FC Dallas remains to be seen. But since that was the Earthquakes first win since MAY, we hesitate to put much stock in it. Credit for the win – we certainly noticed. But it is going to take more than that to move out of the bottom rung.

Toronto FC vs. New York City FC
2018 MLS Regular Season — Week 24

BMO Field — Toronto August 12  4 pm ET WATCH: ESPN, TSN4

Fresh off putting themselves in the driver’s seat to win another Canadian Championship title, Toronto FC return home to meet a New York City FC squad aiming to make up ground in their Supporters’ Shield pursuit Sunday at BMO Field.

TFC rallied to draw Vancouver Whitecaps FC in the opening leg of the CanChamp final at BC Place on Wednesday, while NYCFC also drew the ‘Caps in league play last Saturday at Yankee Stadium.

New York City have lost just once in regular season action to Toronto (3W-4D), though that lone win came in the most recent game in Toronto (July 2017).

Toronto FC

Toronto (6-11-5) are now unbeaten in six games across all competitions following a wild 2-2 draw in the opening leg of the Canadian Championship final at BC Place Wednesday night.

After Kei Kamara put the ‘Caps in front on a 24th-minute penalty kick, Jonathan Osorio leveled two minutes later. It appeared Erik Hurtado scored the late winner to put Vancouver in front, 2-1, in the 84th minute, but a Doneil Henry own goal deep in second-half stoppage time gave the Reds a much-welcome second away goal.

“The scoreline is in our favor with two road goals,” Greg Vanney said. “That’s a decent road result. We go home now with a need to try and win the game or keep the game in a good position for ourselves. The vision of the game wasn’t necessarily what we anticipated, but it’s the result that matters when you go home.”

  • Suspended: D – Chris Mavinga
  • Suspended after next caution: F – Sebastian Giovinco
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: D – Drew Moor (quadricep strain)

Projected Starting XI
(3-5-2, right to left)
GK: Alex Bono — Gregory van der Wiel, Eriq Zavaleta, Nick Hagglund — Michael Bradley — Auro, Victor Vazquez, Jonathan Osorio, Justin Morrow — Sebastian Giovinco, Jozy Altidore

  • Notes: Toronto FC are 3W-2L-1D in MLS play when Jozy Altidore has started this year. They have won as many matches in the 16 games he has missed (3W-9L-4D). … TFC have not tasted defeat in their last three MLS games (2W-1D), tied for their longest stretch this season without a defeat.

New York City FC

NYCFC (13-5-5) squandered a chance to move within two points of Atlanta United when they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw against the Whitecaps last Saturday night at Yankee Stadium.

After falling behind on a Nicolas Mezquida goal, Jesus Medina leveled in first-half stoppage time and Valentin Castellanos put NYCFC in front just after halftime before Hurtado leveled late for the Whitecaps.

“They can play in different ways. Toronto for now is the champions of MLS, never forget it,” Dome Torrent said. “I respect a lot this team and their coach because he was the best manager last year. That means, it’s a top team for me. It’s not easy to play the Concacaf [Champions League] and after that the MLS. But maybe right now they are in the best moment because they improved a lot. They changed some players and I think right now they are much better than, I don’t know, two weeks ago.”

  • Suspended: None
  • Suspended after next caution: M – Tommy McNamara
  • International duty: None
  • Injury Report: OUT: M – Yangel Herrera (ankle injury), D – Cedric Hountondji (hamstring avulsion); QUESTIONABLE: GK – Sean Johnson (shoulder injury)

Projected Starting XI
(4-3-3, right to left)
GK: Brad Stuver — Anton Tinnerholm, Maxime Chanot, Alex Callens, Ben Sweat — Jesus Medina, Alex Ring, Maxi Moralez — Valentin Castellanos, David Villa, Jo Inge Berget

  • NotesMaxi Moralez created seven chances last weekend against Vancouver, his third game this season with 7+ chances created in a match. Only two other players have done so twice. … New York City FC have won just one of their last eight MLS road games (5L-2D), conceding 2+ goals in all but one of the eight matches.

All-Time Series

  • Overall: Toronto FC 1 win, 14 goals … New York City FC 3 wins, 15 goals … 4 draws
  • At Toronto: Toronto FC 1 win, 5 goals … NYCFC 1 win, 3 goals … 1 draw
  • Last meeting at TorontoToronto FC 4, New York City FC 0 (July 30, 2017)

CHICAGO FIRE FORWARD ELLIOT COLLIER AND MIDFIELDER DIEGO CAMPOS JOIN INDY ELEVEN ON LOAN

By IndyEleven.com,     “Indiana’s Team” adds MLS talent to its lineup

Indy Eleven Professional Soccer acquires forward Elliot Collier and midfielder Diego Campos on loan from Major League Soccer’s Chicago Fire. Collier joins the “Boys in Blue” pending league and federation approval, while Campos joins pending league, federation and visa approval.“We’re excited to have Elliot and Diego be available for us,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “They’ve both done very well in their rookie year so far with Chicago. They’re exciting attacking players who have good quickness and good ability to beat people moving forward. They’re a threat in the box, as well.”Collier, 23, was drafted in the third round of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft as the 49th overall pick. The forward played four seasons at Loyola University, making 69 appearances, registering 15 goals and 11 assists in that time. In his junior and senior seasons, Collier was named to the First Team All-Missouri Valley Conference and to the United Soccer Coaches’ (USC) First Team All-West Region in 2016. Prior to Loyola, Collier played for New Zealand side Hamilton Wanders AFC in 2012, where he tallied eight goals and ten assists.Campos, 22, was selected in the second round (38th overall) of the 2018 MLS SuperDraft from Clemson University where he scored 23 goals and added 22 assists in 81 games for the Tigers. native of San Jose, Costa Rica, Campos has one goal and two assists in 21 league appearances and one goal in three Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup matches this season.Per club policy, terms of player contracts with Indy Eleven will not be released.

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8/3/18 MLS Heats Up, Indy 11 on TV Sun 5 pm, EPL Community Shield, WORLD CUP WRAP-UP

So we had an absolute blast at EL TRAFFICO – LAFA vs the LA Galaxy in the new LAFC home next to USC’s Coliseum.  The crowd was electric as we stood in the supporters section for LAFC.  LAFC got off to a tremendous start with a goal off a header in the 5th minute then another just 30 minutes in.  But the Galaxy behind my man Ibra came to life late as he assisted one goal, nearly scored twice and nearly set up another down the stretch before the Galaxy tied it in the 90th minute.  Talk about drama!!  It was up and down football – both teams attacking at breakneck speed in the last 30 minutes.  A great comeback for the Galaxy and a disappointment for the home fans but man what an atmosphere – I was repping my Indy 11 – as you can see in the pics below.  Great times at EL Traffico in LA!  Check out some of these videos from the stands – like I was in Europe!

lafc

So with the world Cup wrapped up its time to turn our attention to MLS, here are the midseason grades as the MLS Allstar Game is just wrapped up. Some surprising teams on top of the divisions as defending champs Toronto and Seattle sit near the bottom in each division and teams like the NY Red Bulls and Philly Union battle amongst the top teams.  Of course as surprising as anyone is new expansion team LAFC lead by former US boss Bob Bradley and the guy who I still think is the best soccer coach the US has produced.  His LAFC is battling for first along with Dallas (Carmel High Matt Hedges) and Sporting Kansas City.  In the east its last season’s expansion surprise Atlanta United – at the top with NYCF and the Columbus Crew.  This weekend we get Atlanta United vs Toronto Sat on ESPN at 4 pm, while Sunday gives us New York Red Bulls vs LAFC Sun at 6 pm on Fox Sports 1 and both coaches Bob Bradley and Chris Armas appreciate each other.

INDY 11

The Indy 11 will travel to Louisville FC on Sunday at 5 pm on MyIndy TV 23 in 1 of their rare road game coverages and of course on ESPN+ or join the BYB in Broad Ripple at Union Jack. Congrats to GK Fon Williams as his steady play in the win at Bethlehem led to his making the USL team of the week.  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.

USA

Huge Congrats to the US Ladies who bring home the Tournament of Nations Cup with their huge win over Brazil 4-1 Thursday in Chicago.  The ladies finished 2-0-1 overall and outscored Australia in overall goals to win the trophy.  Next up on the ladies side – the U20 Girls are in the U20 World Cup starting next week on Fox Sports 2. (see schedule below on the OBC).  Speaking of US Soccer – the US Men are playing Mexico in Nashville on Sept 11 Tues 7:30 pm – anyone interested in going down that night – I have access to American Outlaw Tickets behind the Goal.

ICC – on ESPN

Ah with about a month until the European Season’s kick-off its time for the International Champions Cup here in the states on ESPN.  This is always a fun way to see the best teams in the world as Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus, Liverpool, Man United, Man City, Dortmund (with US star Christian Pulisic), Bayern Munich, PSG and more all come to the states on the ESPN networks.  (See the full TV schedule below on the oleballcoach). Of course with the World Cup break for many players – not sure how many starters will get 1st half minutes –but still fun to tune in and see your favorite European team.  ICC Notes

WORLD CUP

So Croatia ran out of both luck and energy in the final as France showed their young but true class in a 4-2 win.  The final had it all – a VAR call, a PK, goals off set pieces and more, but in the end France and that midfield held steady in limiting Luka Modric and company.  Of coure Modric still rightful won the Best Player award, while Mbappe took home the Silver Ball for young player of the tourney.  Cortouis (SP) won the golden glove in a close one over the finals GKs.  That dribbling gaff may have cost Loris the Golden Gloves – fortunately for him it didn’t cost him the game.  In the 3rd place game – Belgium’s Golden Generation of course overpowered a VASTLY OVERATED English team that could only score on set pieces and PKs.  Congrats to Harry Kane for winning the Golden Boot for scoring no goals with his feet in the run of play.  In fact 3 of his tourney leading 6 goals were PKs.  I was all about the feel good of England but lets be real they backed into the Semi-Finals and got beaten by the only 2 decent teams they played there.  Still it was a young team and Southgate did a fine job coaching up the set pieces.  Let’s see if they get out of the group stage of the Euro’s in 2 years before we crown this team just yet however.  Man the Euro’s should be good in 2 years by the way – a pissed Italy, Dutch, Germany, Spain along with England, Croatia, France, and Belgium WOW!

I meant to include this last week – this was my favorite World Cup Song-One World the one with RedOne, Adelina & Now United – BeIN Sports has been using it all month – much better than the official 1 I think than the Official Live It Up with Will Smith and Era Istrefi.  Overall I thought Fox did a fine job of covering the World Cup in this first go round.  Too bad of course the US was not in it which cost them ratings for sure – but the coverage with 1 hour pre-games, often 30 minute post games, a 1 hour late night show each night along with a highlights show and multiple replays on Fox Sports 1, 2 and Fox Soccer.  The US watched in droves – especially the final 8 on.  Of course having exciting soccer with goals scored in Extra time and shootout, no nil-nil ties, and a 4-2 Final don’t hurt.

So how about the official announcement that World Cup 2022 in Qatar will be from Nov 21 – Dec 18 – or right in the middle of football season.  Interesting how that will do in the US – one of the great things about the World Cup is it takes place during the DEAD Sports Summer Time – no football, no hoops, just boring baseball and WORLD CUP.  Also how will that affect the major European Leagues – they can’t be happy about this – as that will shut down the leagues from early Nov – till the end of December. Should be interesting.  Start saving up now for the US games in 2026 – tickets are expected to cost between  $400-$600 each.

EPL KICKS OFF NEXT WEEK

Wait it seems like just yesterday that the EPL Season ended but its back- with the Community Shield Kicking things off this Sunday at 10 am on ESPN+ maybe? I can’t believe this isn’t on cable TV somewhere?  Of course the full season kicks off next weekend with Man United facing Leicester City next Friday 3 pm on NBCSN, Newcastle hosting Tottenham next Sat at 7:30 am, Liverpool vs West Ham on Sun 8 am, and Arsenal facing Man City to follow at 11 am all on NBCSN.  (see some previews below – full preview next week)

CONGRATS HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS

Finally congrats to all those making their respective high school teams across the area – Carmel FC is proud to be so well represented on High School rosters across town including the 11 boys who made the Freshman boys team, 2 on JV and 1 on Varsity at Carmel High and the many who made the CHS Ladies teams, Guerin High, University and more.  For those who did not make it – please don’t give up on soccer – its soooo hard to make the Carmel teams with so very many students trying out.  Carmel FC with Travel and Select Teams – and of course Carmel Dad’s Club with Rec Soccer is still here to help you play the game you grew up loving!!

Indy 11

Painting Success On and Off the Field – GK

Indy 11 GK named to USL Team of the Week 20

Indy 11 beat Bethehem

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

Indy 11 Game Schedule

USL League Standings

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

USA  

US Ladies Defeat Brazil 4-1 in Chicago to Win Tournament of Champions!

US Youngsters You Haven’t Heard of

The World Cup is Coming to America – Indy 11

US Players to Watch on TV this Weekend

MLS

Juve Wins MLS Allstar Game in Penalty’s

Garber “hopeful” Crew will stay in Columbus 

Stejskal: Cincy lay out ambitious vision for 2019

Long Term Plans for US Soccer Leagues MLS/USL/USL 3 ? Nick Mendola –NBC

Atlanta United vs Toronto Sat ESPN 4 pm Preview

New York Red Bulls vs LAFC Sun 6 pm FS1 Preview

Parkhurst: “Goal is definitely Supporters’ Shield”

Rooney gives DC United hope with first win at home

Toronto to Face Tigres in UANL Campeones Cup

Atlanta Uniteds DP Approach is Changing the Game in MLS – Fast Company

Zlatan Does it All – Including Sales Calls

EPL + World

Can Arsenal Return to Top 4 – NBC

Can Liverpool Win the League? – NBC

Way Too Early EPL Predictions

Bonucci back to Juve, Higuaine to AC Milan in Swap

Chelsea Looks at Pulisic from Dortmund

Legue 1 Season Info

Goalies

Alison’s Tough Road to Liverpool as a #1

World Cup GK Ratings

Best Saves Rounds 1 & 2 World Cup

Save of the Week – NWSL –

MLS Top Saves of Week

Saves of the Week – USL

WORLD CUP

World Cup Tourney Top 11?

Ogden: Belgium ease past England to claim third
Ogden: Hazard’s value, reputation have never been higher

Vickery: Questions for South American nations

Project Russia: Has VAR been a success at the World Cup?
Photos: How the World Cup is made

The World Cup of Set Pieces: How Teams Are Living Off Dead-Ball Plays

Englands World Cup Run, Southgate represent More for a Nation in Political Upheaval  SI

GAMES ON TV This Week

Saturday, Aug 4

8 am beIN Sport          PSG (Tim Weah)  vs Monaco – Legue 1 Super Cup

International Champions Cup 
2:05pm Internazionale vs Olympique Lyonnais ESPNESPN Deportes,
6:05pm Real Madrid vs Juventus ESPN2ESPN Deportes,
8:05pm Milan vs Barcelona ESPN News/Deportes,

4 pm ESPN      Atlanta United vs Toronto FC

8pm Yes Network   NYFC vs Vancouver Whitecaps

Sun, Aug 5th

10 am ESPN +??    Chelsea vs Manchester City

5 pm MyIndy TV         Indy ll @ Louisville FC

6pm  FS1       NY Red Bulls vs LAFC

Mon, Aug 6               

7:30 am Fox Sport2   Nigeria U20 Ladies vs Germany U20

10:30 am FS2                 Paraguay U20 ladies vs Spain U20

1:30 pm Fox Sport 2     USA U20 Ladies vs Japan U20  

Wed, Aug 7         

7 pm Ussoccer.com     Philly Union vs Chicago Fire – US Open Cup

9:30pmUssoccer.com  Houston Dynamo vs LAFC– US Open

Thur, Aug 8                

7:30 am Fox Sport2   China U20 Ladies vs Germany U20

10:30 am FS2                 Japan U20 Ladies vs Spain U20

1:30 pm Fox Sport 2   USA U20 Ladies vs Uraguay U20  

Fri, Aug 9     EPL Starts

3 pm NBCSN              Manchester United vs Leicester City      

Sat, Aug 10                 EPL Starts

7:30 am NBCSN            Newcastle United vs Tottenham

10 am NBCSN                Huddersfield Town vs Chelsea

12:30 pm NBCSN        Wolverhampton vs Everton

Sun, Aug 11     EPL Starts

8 am NBCSN                   Liverpool vs West Ham United

11 am NBCSN                Arsenal vs Man City

2:30 pm FS2                   Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich  Super Cup

3 pm bein Sport          PSG vs Caen

4 pm ESPN Des/+        Barcelona vs Seville – SUPER CUP

4 pm ESPN                   Toronto vs NYCFC

8 pm Fox Sport1          DC United (Rooney) vs Orlando City (Cam Lindley)

10 pm FS1                      Seattle Sounders vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Mon, Aug 13            

7:30 am Fox Sport 2 USA U20 WC Ladies vs Spain U20  

7:30 am Fox Soccer Japan U20 Ladies vs Uraguay U20

10:30 am FS 2               Germany vs Haiti

Wed,  Aug 15

3 pm TNT?                     Real Madrid vs Athletico Madrid UEFA Super Cup

7 pm myindytv             Indy 11 vs North Carolina   

10 pm ESPN2                 LAFC vs Real Salt Lake      

Thurs, Aug 16           

10 am                                U20 Womens WC

1:30 pm                            U20 Womens WC

 Indy 11 Game Schedule

MLS TV Schedule

The “Boys in Blue” head south to take on the 2017 USL Champions

WEEK 21: BEST OUT OF 3 – GAME TWO AGAINST LOUISVILLE CITY FC

Indy Eleven face Louisville City FC for the second time in the 2018 USL campaign on August 5. The first meeting between the two rivals took place in Week 8 when the “Boys in Blue” defeated Louisville 1-0, at Lucas Oil Stadium.Indy Eleven (9W-7L-4D) are currently sixth in the Eastern Conference with 31 points. The “Boys in Blue” downed Bethlehem Steel FC in their previous outing on the road, 1-0. The match seemed destined for a draw until Zach Steinberger’s 86th minute corner kick found an unmarked Jack McInerney who headed the ball home. The goal is McInerney’s fourth of the season, placing him in a three way tie for top scorer with defender Ayoze and forward Soony Saad. Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams also recorded his eighth clean sheet in 2018, earning him a spot in the USL Team of Week in Week 20. The victory marks Indy Eleven’s second win in their last five matches, three of which have been on the road.Louisville City FC (10W-4L-5D) is currently fourth in the Eastern Conference with 35 points, just four points in front of sixth placed Indy. Louisville defeated struggling Ottawa Fury FC, 3-0, in their last fixture. Louisville captain and midfielder Paolo DelPiccolo opened the scoring in the 13th minute after he finished a corner played into the box with a diving header. Defender Paco Craig scored the second in the 47th minute and midfielder Devon Williams scored the third of the match and his first of the season 10 minutes later. Louisville goalkeeper Greg Ranjitsingh recorded his sixth clean sheet of the season in the shutout. Louisville defender Alexis Souahy will be unavailable for the fixture against Indy Eleven as a result of a red card received in the 77th minute.The “Boys in Blue’s” match at Louisville will be the last of a stretch of four games on the road. Indy head coach Martin Rennie will hope to return to Indy with at least half of the available points from the four-game stint away from home.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: MF MATT WATSON

Indy Eleven midfielder and captain Matt Watson influenced the match against Bethlehem Steel FC for a full 90 minutes, arguably having his best performance of the season despite not directly influencing the scoreline. The Englishman’s dominance in the midfield can easily be accredited as a key reason “Indiana’s Team” brought back three points from Pennsylvania.Watson completed over 90 percent of his passes throughout the game and created two opportunities for teammates. The 33-year old veteran midfielder displayed his defensive abilities, netting four interceptions and a tackle. Indy will need another dominant midfield performance from Watson in order to hand Louisville only their second loss at home.

LOUISVILLE CITY FC PLAYER TO WATCH: MF OSCAR JIMENEZ

Louisville City FC midfielder Oscar Jimenez currently leads the team in assists with six. Two of those assists came in the previous fixture against Ottawa Fury FC. The 28-year old has only averaged a 72 percent passing accuracy so far in 2018, which lived up to the billing against Ottawa as he averaged 71 percent, but what makes Jimenez dangerous is his set piece ability.Jimenez’s assists against Ottawa both came from dead ball situations. The first was an in-swinging corner kick played right into the edge of the six yard box that left the goalkeeper stranded in no man’s land. The second was an in-swinging free kick from near half field that found the feet of defender Paco Craig near the penalty marker. Indy defenders will need to be weary of Jimenez’s perfectly weighted passes from set pieces in order to defeat Louisville.

MATCHUP TO MARK: INDY GK OWAIN FON WILLIAMS VS. LOUISVILLE FW CAMERON LANCASTER

The “Boys in Blue” shut out Louisville City FC the first time the two teams played in Indianapolis. Now, Indy travels to Kentucky to face a LCFC side that has scored the fourth most goals and possesses the third best goal scorer in the Eastern Conference. Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams kept another clean sheet in Indy’s previous match against Bethlehem Steel FC. The 31-year-old recorded four saves on his way to shutting out the third highest scoring team in the Eastern Conference with a stellar record at home. Now in Week 21, Fon Williams faces Louisville City FC, another team with an incredible home record and high powered offense. The Welshman tallied two saves and a punch against the Kentucky based team the first time around. He’ll need to repeat his Team of the Week performance from Bethlehem against a Louisville side that has scored 20 goals at home this season.In order to add his ninth clean sheet to his 2018 USL season total, Fon Williams will have to stop the power house that leads the Louisville City offense, forward Cameron Lancaster, from finding the back of the net. Lancaster wasn’t able to net against Indy in Week 8 or against Ottawa Fury FC last time out, but has tallied 10 on the season so far. That tally sees him as joint owner of third most goals scored in the Eastern Conference and sole owner of most goals scored on Louisville City FC. Lancaster came on as a sub in the fixture against Ottawa, but expect the 25-year-old Englishman to play the full 90 minutes as he did in Week 8 against Indy Eleven.

2018 MLS All-Star Game breaks ASG attendance record with 72,000

August 1, 20189:25PM EDTMLSsoccer staff

UPDATE: The official announced attendance was 72,317, breaking the record for the highest attendance at a standalone MLS All-Star Game and becoming the second-largest attendance of any All-Star Game across North American sport leagues.Major League Soccer announced on Wednesday afternoon that the 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target is sold out. Some standing-only tickets were still available through Ticketmasterat the time of the announcement for the Mercedes-Benz Stadium-hosted event, pitting the squad representing MLS against defending Serie A champions Juventus. This means that the 2018 edition of the annual match is expected to surpass the prior attendance record, set in 2010, for a standalone MLS All-Star Game. The 2010 match in Houston, which pitted the MLS All-Stars against Manchester United, drew 70,728 fans. The record for MLS All-Star Game attendance remains 78,416, set at the inaugural edition of the match in 1996 — part of a doubleheader that also featured Brazil’s national team vs. the FIFA World Stars. Atlanta United already has hosted the top five single-game crowds in regular season MLS history, most-recently breaking their own record for largest such crowd when 72,243 watched their 1-1 draw with the Seattle Sounders on July 15.

MLS All-Stars leave Juventus impressed with physical, technical quality

August 2, 201812:06AM EDTNick RosanoSenior Editor

ATLANTA – Wednesday evening’s 2018 MLS All-Star Game presented by Target left a strong impression on the visiting Juventus players and coaching staff, and not just because of the atmosphere created by the 70,000-plus fans packed into Mercedes-Benz Stadium, but also because of the quality of opposition they faced.The MLS All-Stars held their own against Juventus, the seven-time defending Serie A champions and one of Europe’s most successful clubs, playing them to a 1-1 draw in regulation before falling, 5-3, in a penalty shootout. The All-Stars created plenty of quality scoring chances, forcing Juventus starting golakeeper Wojciech Szczesny into a couple of quality saves in the first half and forcing a clearance off the line of a Diego Valeri shot in the second. Afterwards, the Juventus players asked were very complimentary of their opposition.“I think there’s quite a lot of good players,” said Juventus midfielder Emre Can after the game. “As a team they were just good and you could see in the game that they are in good shape. It was a good game.”Juventus head coach Massimiliano Allegri also came away impressed with the quality of his team’s opponents, even with the constantly rotating substitutions providing him only a brief glimpse of the opposition players.“It’s hard to say, only seeing most of them for 30 minutes, but I’ve seen some very good players, some very fast ones, very technically well prepared,” Allegri told reporters when asked which players had impressed him. “I think that they can have a future in Europe.”All-Star goalscorer and MVP Josef Martinez, formerly of Juve’s city rivals Torino, left a lasting impression despite playing just under a half-hour in the game, showing off the tenacity and hunger to score that has made him the runaway Golden Boot leader and left him poised to shatter MLS single-season scoring records.“He played 20 minutes, but within 20 minutes he showed that he is very good, Martinez,” said Juve’s Dutch youth international Leandro Fernandes. “I think [Alphonso] Davies is a good player. All are good, but especially those two for me.”

USA wins the Tournament of Nations: four things we learned

After a long time in the wilderness, the US is finally starting to play like the best team in the world

By Charles Olney@olneyce  Aug 3, 2018, 1:00pm PDT

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The United States concluding the Tournament of Nations last night in resounding fashion with a 4-1 victory over Brazil that secured a first place finish in the event. Here are four things we learned from these matches.

Jill Ellis is finally playing to her strengths, and it’s producing much better results

The US spent some time in the weeds over the past couple years, in a period of ‘experimentation’ that often felt ill-considered and poorly executed. During that period, the players often appeared lost, playing well below their intrinsic ability, and struggling to impose themselves on games. The offense in particular was far more stagnant than it had any right to be considering the personnel available. And whatever stability was occasionally found was quickly disrupted as key players fell to injuries or loss of form. The results weren’t terrible, but the performances were far below what US fans have come to expect. Despite endless promises of a new, silkier, more possession-oriented style of play, success always seemed to be just beyond the horizon, with old habits dying hard: play getting shuttled around the midfield, and offensive buildup remaining stagnant. In the last year, however, they’ve generally settled into a system—a relatively straightforward 4-3-3, with a defensively-minded holding player at the pivot of the midfield, and with attacks generally being led by quick movement down the wings. This system is hardly the most innovative, but when you have the best players in the world, innovation can be less important than simple effectiveness. That’s particularly true when your head coach is a good player manager, and tolerable when it comes to broad themes, but not particularly strong on intricate design.Moreover, by settling the style of play, this new approach finally seems to have created some space for the creativity of the players to shine through. The US is still relying on speed and athleticism, but it’s also increasingly giving its more technical players opportunities to shine. This is still not Guardiola’s Man City or Sasaki’s Japan, but the US is now dominating not just by force by also sometimes by style. They’re controlling possession, creating channels with off-the-ball movement, and moving the ball quickly through tight spaces. Witness the interplay between Heath and Lavelle against Brazil or the emerging relationship between Dunn and Rapinoe on the left.This is still very much a Jill Ellis team, which means intense focus on racing up and down the wings and a midfield that’s more focused on disruption than possession. But it’s far more successful iteration of the model.

The defense is shakier, but they’re more than making up for it

Through eleven games in 2018, the US has only managed to keep three clean sheets. But it’s hard to get too upset about this new defensive frailty, given the accompanying offensive explosion. After all, conceding one but scoring four creates a greater margin for error than those narrow 1-0s results they spent so many years eking out.This is not to say that there is no reason for concern. The US was shockingly exposed on a number of counterattacks during the tournament, in games they were otherwise dominating. That is a real problem, and certainly something that the team will be working on in future training camps. But to a certain extent, this is simply a feature of their high-pressing, aggressive tactics, which push the game heavily into their opponent’s half and create those spaces that can occasionally be exploited.It’s a tradeoff worth accepting, but they’ll need to get better at executing if they want to protect those leads they plan to acquire. That means:

  1. Dropping to shield space rather than attack the ball when their opponents are coming at them, at least until you reach the vicinity of the goal (see the Brazil goal)
  2. Greater willingness to give away tactical fouls where necessary to break up plays before they become truly dangerous (see the Australiagoal)
  3. Getting better at setting up the counterpress for when possession is lost. Too often the team overcommits to the attack, leaving holes exposed which opponents can quickly punch through

Each of these is achievable. And while they won’t prevent this sort of attack entirely, they’ll do a bit more to manage the risk.

The midfield is alright, mostly

Many followers of this team (including your truly) have spent years fixated on the broken midfield. Those problems persist, but finally seem to at least be under control. In this 4-3-3, Ellis generally designates one player to serve as the pivot, in more of a traditional holding role, asking the others to move more horizontaly to link with the wide attack. At times, this can make building through the middle quite difficult. But Ellis has never cared much about that sort of development, and at least this system grants its midfielders more options to shield possession where needed, and then link with their wide support further upfield.That means that while the midfield remains a weak point, it’s only weak in relative terms. The structure enables more fluidity than the old double-pivot that so often stagnated in previous years. By sacrificing a bit of defensive solidity, the US has gained quite a bit more flexibility.It also helps that the midfield options have expanded significantly. Installing Julie Ertz as the #6 at this tournament last year made a huge difference, and she continues to be a critical contributor. Meanwhile, Lindsey Horan is in the midst of a breakout season—very impressive considering the quality of performance she was already offering before this year—and offers more physicality and insightful movement to the midfield. Absent significant developments, Ertz and Horan seem like locks for the World Cup next summer.But the US is blessed with a wealth of other options, who provide different skills, giving Ellis tools to tweak her team’s play without fundamentally shifting the structure.There’s Rose Lavelle, finally finding her way back into form after a year spent on injury walkabout, reminding us of just how exciting she was last spring. She made an immediate impact against Japan when she entered as a sub, but her true potential was made clear in the Brazil game, where her combinations with Tobin Heath on the right were wonderful—the sort of intricate play the US has so long been missing.Then consider McCall Zerboni, who is busy proving that her 2017 performance was anything but a fluke. She picked right back up in 2018, and showed over the course of several appearances here that she can be a valuable contributor: offering bite, aggression, and flexibility to the US midfield. Against Brazil, Zerboni allowed Ertz to push further upfield, to excellent results. Against Japan, she offered vertical movement that put the defense under serious pressure   Morgan Brian also seems to have finally turned a corner in her recovery. She’s still a step or two off her peak, but is far closer than she’s been over the past 24 months. The acceleration still isn’t quite there, and the touch still seems a little rusty. But the vision and awareness remains off the charts. In the past couple years, she’s been in and out of national team camps based primarily on talent and potential, rather than on form. At this point, the performances are good enough to say that she deserves a spot in the rotation even if there’s no further improvement. And if she canmake that next step back, she could return to being one of the world’s elite midfielders.Finally, remember that the US barely used Sam Mewis in this tournament—arguably their best player in 2017. When she completes her recovery, it will be hard to argue against her inclusion.For a team that spent so long struggling to build a coherent and sustainable midfield, the US suddenly finds itself with a wealth of options. There are still plenty of question marks here (will Lavelle and Brian be able to return to their absolute peak? Will Zerboni be able to maintain her form? Will Mewis get healthy enough to play a full consistent 90?) but the future seems a lot rosier here than it did even a few months ago.The competition is fierce, but the US should be considered favorites to retain the World Cup next summer

After a difficult season in 2017, the US women were teetering on the edge. The gap between them and the rest of the world seemed to have closed entirely, or maybe even shifted to the other side. They had sputtered in She Believes and the Tournament of Nations and seen some of their key rivals expose their frailty in the process. The mystique of the US was gone.One year later, things seem to have settle back into familiar patterns. At this point, it would be exceptionally hard to argue for anyone besides the US as the world’s top team—after a year in which they have gone undefeated while running a gauntlet of matches against virtually every serious competitor.The performances haven’t always been pretty, but the results have been good. And increasingly the style seems to be filling in behind the results. The US decisively outplayed their opposition this week, exposing Brazil and Japan as far weaker teams than one might have guessed from their rankings, and putting Australia under serious pressure as well.The level of parity in women’s soccer has never been higher, and it would be foolish to treat success as a foregone conclusion, especially in a single-elimination tournament. After all, the US nearly lost to Australia this week, in a game that they actually played quite well. But all things considered, the US remains the team to beat.

USWNT defeats Brazil 4-1 to clinch Tournament of Nations title

Associated PressAug 3, 2018, 7:30 AM EDT

BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. (AP) Julie Ertz, Tobin Heath and Alex Morgan scored second-half goals and the United States took control to beat Brazil 4-1 on Thursday night for the Tournament of Nations title.Heath’s curling goal in the 62nd minute put the United States up 3-1 and gave the team the margin it needed to edge defending tournament champion Australia. The Matildas edged Japan 2-0 earlier in the day at Toyota Park, putting pressure on the Americans to beat Brazil by two goals to finish atop the table.Morgan helped secure the title with her 90th international goal in the 77th minute and the Americans extended their undefeated streak to 19 matches. The United States has not dropped a match since losing 1-0 to Australia in the Tournament of Nations last year.There was concern in the final moments when Morgan was stretched off with an apparent injury, but she was on her feet for the trophy ceremony following the game. Morgan had four goals in the tournament.“Brazil’s so technical, so we knew that they were going to bring it. There’s a lot of things that we can learn as well,” Ertz said. “This tournament was huge for use in terms of progress, obviously with qualifying coming up. We’re got to tweak a few things but I’m just so proud of this team and how hard we work for each other.”The United States, ranked No. 1 in the world, is gearing up for World Cup qualifying in October. The Americans hope to defend their title next summer at the World Cup in France.Brazil, ranked No. 7 in the world and led by five-time FIFA World Player of the Year Marta, has already qualified for France.The Brazilians struck first with an own goal that hit Tierna Davidson in the 16th minute. But Lavelle tied it with her third international goal in the 33rd minute.“I think we knew we couldn’t take our foot off the pedal, even though they got that goal. We knew we still had to keep being aggressive and be on our front foot and attacking and not let it get to us,” said Lavelle, who started. “Thankfully it worked.”Ertz pulled the United States in front with a sliding goal off Heath’s cross to the far post in the 53rd minute before Heath added her own goal.Alanna Kennedy and Sam Kerr each scored for Australia in the opening game at Toyota Park. The eight-ranked Matildas have a secured a spot in the World Cup.Japan, ranked sixth, has also qualified from France.

Watch US youngster Tim Weah for – Paris Saint-Germain v Monaco – 8a on bein Deportes

The French Super Cup pits the Ligue 1 winners against the Coupe de France winners. Because PSG won both competitions last year they will face off with Monaco, who finished 2nd in League 1, for the Super Cup trophy Saturday morning.With several PSG players, including Angel Di Maria returning for availability in their last International Champions Cup match Timothy Weah did not get the start on Monday but he did come off the bench in the 45th minute as PSG held on to defeat Atletico Madrid for their first win in the tournament.Weah has made a good impression on manager Thomas Tuchel this preseason:

“The build-up to Timothy’s goal against Bayern was remarkable. Now he must use this quality not just for himself, but also for the team in order to become a dangerous, confident and professional player: these are the next steps for Timothy to take. ”He is intelligent and wants to learn, so Timothy holds all of the cards here.”However, with a number of stars, including Neymar and Kylian Mbappe still making their way back to the team Weah will have his work cut out for him if he’s going to see the field for PSG this season. He may have another opportunity to impress on Saturday with Neymar’s status unknown and Mbappe still away from the team.

 

Liverpool confident of challenging for title

By Joe Prince-WrightAug 2, 2018, 9:31 AM EDT

Adam Lallana believes “the signs are really good” for Liverpool to “get to the next step” and win a trophy under Jurgen Klopp.Liverpool have reached three major finals since Klopp took charge in October 2015 and although they’ve lost all three they’ve made major strides forward over the past 12 months with back-to-back top four finishes in the Premier League and finishing runners up in the UEFA Champions League in 2017/18.So what’s the goal for this season? Lallana was asked if Liverpool are the biggest contenders to reigning champs Manchester City for the PL crown in 2018/19.That’s not for us to say, that’s for other people to speculate. But, of course, we are going to be in the pack who want to chase down City,” Lallana said. “Hopefully, Liverpool and three or four of the other top teams can squeeze a few more points out of City this year. That would make it more interesting.”Lallana’s optimism is certainly shared by neutrals, pundits and supporters of the Anfield club, with Liverpool’s impressive summer spending set to give them a whole new dimension this season.With Alisson arriving in goal, Fabinho in holding midfield, Naby Keita in central midfield and Xherdan Shaqiri as a back-up attacking midfielder, Klopp has upgraded in key areas and added plenty of strength in-depth.Sure, it’s cost him $325 million over the past 12 months (if you count Virgil Van Dijk‘s $100 million arrival in January) but Liverpool now look like genuine title contenders and they certainly gave Man City plenty of problems in their record-breaking title campaign last season.The pressing and pace of Sadio ManeMohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino totally threw off City in a 4-3 defeat at Anfield in the league, while Liverpool beat them 5-1 on aggregate over two legs in the UCL quarterfinals to assert their dominance.Although Lallana is correct to hope for help from the other title contenders in taking points off City, Liverpool must take care of business against bottom feeders in the PL. Last season they lost against Swansea and drew with fellow-relegated teams West Brom (twice) and Stoke.For all of their high-pressing and speedy forward play, Liverpool must develop a Plan B this season if they’re going to chase down City. With Keita, Shaqiri and Fabinho on board, their options in midfield have been bolstered and with Alisson (the most expensive goalkeeper in history) in goal they should eradicate costly errors.

Season Preview: Arsenal to return to top-4?

By Daniel KarellAug 3, 2018, 9:00 AM EDT

Arsenal at a Glance:

Premier League (and old First Division) titles: 13 – last in 2003/2004 season.

FA Cups: 13 times, last in 2016/2017.

League Cups: 2

FA Community Shield: 15 (last in 2017).

Top Four Finishes: 20-in-a-row between 1997 and 2017.

It’s a new era at Arsenal.

After 20 years at the club, Arsene Wenger stepped down at the end of last season, in which Arsenal failed to break into the top four for a second consecutive season, allowing for a fresh set of eyes to come in and manage the side. In comes veteran Spaniard Unai Emery, who perhaps couldn’t live up to expectations in France but certainly beat the odds over and over again with Sevilla and Valencia in Spain.

Emery’s attention to detail and defensive focus could pair well with Arsenal’s wonderful abundance of creative, playmaking midfielders. But based on Arsenal’s preseason performances, there’s still plenty of work to be done at both ends of the pitch.

Arsenal will finish top four because….the new signings gel and add strength in depth to what is an already very strong squad. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hits the ground running in his first full-season at the club with 20 or more goals, partnering at times with Alexandre Lacazette or trading spots with him between the heavy workload of matches. More importantly, the summer signings of Sokratis, Lucas TorreiraMatteo Guendouziand Stephan Lichtsteiner help shore up Arsenal’s leaky defense after a few months of struggles to start the season. Torreira, affectionately called “pac-man” for his ability to eat up attackers all over the field, morphs into the best defensive midfielder Arsenal has seen since the days of Patrick Vieira.

Arsenal will miss out on the UEFA Champions League because….defensive problems remain. While the team is beautiful in its attack, Emery is left pulling all the hairs out of his head wondering why Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis can’t figure out how to play together and defend as a unit. With Laurent Koscielny set to miss a large chunk of the season coming back from his torn Achilles injury, Arsenal miss his defensive leadership. In addition, both Lacazette and Aubameyang struggle to score in the big games, making Arsenal fans continue to suffer as the team fails to live up to expectations.

Best possible XI: List the team’s strongest lineup for this season when everyone is fit

———————Leno———————-

—-Bellerin—-Mustafi—Sokratis——Kolasinac

—————Torreira——-Xhaka——————

——-Mkhitaryan——Ramsey———-Ozil——

———————Aubameyang———————

Transfers In: Stephan Lichtsteiner (Juventus), Matteo Guendouzi (Lorient, $9.1 million), Lucas Torreira (Sampdoria, $34.4 million), Bernd Leno (Bayer Leverkusen, $25 million), Sokratis (Borussia Dortmund, $23 million)

Transfers Out: Per Mertesacker (retired), Santi Cazorla (Villarreal, free), Jack Wilshere(West Ham, free), Jeff Reine-Adelaide (Angers, undisclosed)

Ranking their offseason: A-

Arsenal found itself outside the Champions League for the second straight season, and with a new manager entering, the club could have been in for a rough summer. Instead, it’s been very good so far by all accounts. Arsenal spent strategically and already, Guendouzi looks like a strong signing, having performed well as a holding midfielder in multiple preseason matches. Leno looks like the future goalkeeper the Gunners have been wanting with Torreira and Sokratis shore up a creaky defense. In addition, the Gunners were able to hold on to Aubameyang, Lacazette, and though his future is still up in the air, Aaron Ramsey so far. Through preseason, it’s clear that Arsenal needs to work more defensively, but in terms of the attacking side they’re looking good enough to start the season.

Star player: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: The French-born Gabon International was a star both domestically and in Europe for Borussia Dortmund. If he can produce at his old level, Arsenal will be just fine.

Coaches’ Corner: Unai Emery: The 48-year-old manager comes from Paris Saint-Germain, where he gained valuable experience coaching some of the biggest names in world football. But the majority of his coaching success has come in Spain. With Valencia and Sevilla, Emery constantly beat expectations and helped his side play better than the sum of its parts. If he can pull that off for Arsenal, he will quickly win over fans.

PST predicts: After a strong offseason, Arsenal look set to return to the club’s old glory as a regular top-four team. The spine of the squad was improved, which should give players like Mesut Ozil, Henrik Mkhitaryan and Alex Iwobi the freedom to attack down the wings and through the heart of the opponent’s defense. The new manager should refresh the player’s attitudes and deliver a fitter, more defensively-sound squad, which will help in terms of getting back in the Champions League. Arsenal may still be a bit away from challenging for a league title, but they’re not that far off.

Alisson a boost for Liverpool but Premier League title talk is premature

7:29 AM ET blogger

Liverpool’s move for Alisson Becker triggered a massive reaction among supporters. This was the clearest indication to them that Liverpool meant business at last, perhaps even enough to end a 28-year league title drought.That seems presumptuous, though, completely ignoring the reigning champions and their 100 points. And Manchester City haven’t stood still either, signing Leicester’s Riyad Mahrez. They’ve sold nobody and can look forward to a full season from Benjamin Mendy this time around. Liverpool already have a fair amount of ground to make up.The Reds’ latest big move will add around £60 million to what was already a significant increase in Jurgen Klopp’s spending at the club. It’s almost like he’s served his apprenticeship. Even his success at Borussia Dortmund and two cup finals for Liverpool in his first eight months weren’t enough to prise open each club’s coffers.Having significantly improved Liverpool since the cup final, it’s now been deemed time to cut loose and spend whatever it takes so Klopp can make the crucial next step forward. Before Alisson, the ambition might still have been consolidation. It was unlikely they’d get to the Champions League final again but reaching another knockout stage would’ve been acceptable. Remaining in the top four of the Premier League would have been the priority, assuming Chelsea and Arsenal would make serious attempts to clamber above the Reds.Without challenging for the title yet, Klopp has moved Liverpool into a similar position to Gerard Houllier in 2002, Rafa Benitez in 2009 and Brendan Rodgers in 2014; runners-up who were spoken of as future title winners. That’s why some supporters will hold fire on the supercharged optimism, for now at least.Liverpool’s spending indicates a seismic shift in ambition, but it’s wiser to reflect on what they also lost in 2018. As team carried on performing well for the second half of last season, it’s almost forgotten they sold Philippe Coutinho in January. As the squad looked tired and depleted by May, his absence was felt more. There were also times Liverpool found themselves deadlocked in matches and looked around in vain for some Brazilian magic from outside the area.They’ve also lost Klopp’s trusted assistant Zeljko Buvac, and no-one knows how much that will influence the team in the future. Emre Can left for Juventus and there’s been sad news about Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who’s now expected to miss virtually all of the coming season because of injury. Adam Lallana had a poor, injury-ravaged campaign in 2017-18 and it wasn’t a given he would return to his previous excellent form under Klopp.Loris Karius’ mistakes against Real Madrid in the Champions League final pretty much demanded a change of goalkeeper anyway. If it hadn’t been Alisson, it must surely would be somebody else.Given all these departures, absences and failures Liverpool couldn’t afford to do nothing. Football is unforgiving and you need to keep spending just to remain at par. Progress requires much more.There is also the theory that their amazing forwards dragged Liverpool beyond their true level last season. A huge 91 goals were scored collectively by Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane. It’s so rare that people were bound to speculate on whether the Reds could count upon it again. Salah may re-join the ranks of the mortals next season, although that was often predicted throughout his miracle debut year and he was only eventually stopped by Sergio Ramos’ wrestling hold.It’s great to see fans bumptious and optimistic, but a calmer more clinical analysis on what’s happened in 2018 may avoid disappointment further down the line. Of course, if Liverpool aren’t done spending yet and Lyon’s Nabil Fekir also came, forget trying to stifle optimism. It would gain express-train momentum by then and probably couldn’t be stopped anyway.Liverpool’s ability to keep opponents from scoring was the biggest headache last year. Record fees for a centre-back and goalkeeper are real statements of intent. Is simple expenditure enough? Last season, Klopp needed to affect minor change in game management, where Liverpool were a few goals ahead but still clung desperately to victory before the final whistle — not always successfully. Meddling with a working formula has its dangers. Klopp may just opt out, claiming superior footballers in positions once considered weak improves matters anyway.But whether you’re preaching caution or telling Liverpool to make more space in their trophy cabinet, you can’t deny how exciting the new season looks. The manager has been backed properly and few can complain about lack of spending now. It’s not Manchester City levels certainly, but there was never a chance of that happening.Gradual improvement, the sale of Coutinho and a lucrative Champions League run brought all this about and Klopp deserves this belated acknowledgement of his excellent efforts.

If he does not have another good season, it will come as a major shock. In fact, much more than “good” will be expected.

Liverpool’s Alisson travelled a hard road to world’s most expensive goalkeeper

With Alisson’s move from Roma to Liverpool now official, the ESPN FC guys discuss where the club will finish with the Brazil goalkeeper on board. (2:37)

Jul 20, 2018

  • Marcelo Gomes, Rafael Valente and Vladimir Bianchini, ESPN Brazil

There were plenty of obstacles that almost took Alisson, starting goalkeeper for Brazil, off the pitch. Now 25, he has dealt with issues regarding his weight, height and his family’s finances, while also challenging his initial choice as a player, in order to become the player he is today. This is his story, as told by those who saw him as a child, rising in the football world.Alisson was born in Novo Hamburgo, in the Porto Alegre metropolitan region. Alisson Becker carries German genes in his DNA. His grandparents even live on a street named after his great grandfather: Gustavo Becker.That last name, which actually means “Baker” in Portuguese, became a symbol for the family, which proudly took on the tradition of producing (and tasting) lots of baked goods. And that’s where Alisson’s first big challenge started.”Alisson was a glutton,” Antonia, Alisson’s grandmother, says with a laugh. “As soon as he went home, he was headed straight to the kitchen. He asked me to bake some sweet bread for him. I prepared those with cinnamon, sweet herbs and the like. It was so delicious, and he loved it all.”Alisson had a sweet tooth and all of his grandmother’s recipes became a real temptation.”He loved to taste homemade dough, and he asked me to do it for him,” Antonia continued. “However, he loved to eat everything fried; whether it was dough, cheese, rice, everything. He also loved candy. During his vacations, I used to take him and [his brother] Muriel to the market. I bought chocolate and I told him: ‘Alisson, that’s not for you to eat!’ To which he said: ‘Oh, Grandma, please let me have a taste here, since mom’s not around!'”The problem was that the eating habit he developed as a small kid was also present when he started to play football. He already had an issue with his height; despite the fact he was actually taller than other kids defending the posts on the field, he was shorter than the rest of the keepers. Considering he was also struggling with the scale, it was logical that he would end up being relegated when he started to play at Internacional.

Let’s forget for a second about that calm and composed Alisson we are used to seeing between the posts nowadays. In front of his family, especially in those days, he showed an emotional side that he kept away from the public. He used to cry a lot.”During those days, he used to cry a lot because of his weight problem. We used to tell him that he needed to lose some pounds. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t play football ever again. Sometimes, he would return from practice in tears,” said Leandro Becker, the newly minted Liverpool keeper’s uncle.Becker saw up close how Alisson was born to play football. However, his initial stints on the pitch were away from the goalkeeping position.”He tried out to be a winger with Internacional,” Leandro says. “However, it was a matter of a few matches. Let’s say that, during the first or second week, I can’t recall exactly, his coaches asked him to play as a keeper since he was taller than the rest of the goalies there.”Alisson’s inspiration to become a goalie was already at home. His father used to play the position in pick-up matches with friends. His brother, Muriel, five years his senior, was already a strong presence in the Internacional system. Alisson’s first taste of the red was when he saw his brother train at the pitches then located next to the Beira-Rio Stadium.”I had the chance of meeting Alisson before he started to play,” recalls Daniel Pavan, goalkeeper coach at Internacional and credited by Alisson himself as the person who discovered his talents. “He used to join Muriel at his practices. Then, someone used to hand him a football, so he could play and have some fun. Then, he started to show a lot of interest in his brother’s position. The inspiration for Alisson to become a keeper was seeing his brother training.From the age of 10, he became a part of the Inter system. He already started to show technical skills which put him apart the rest of kids his age.” Pavan, who also attempted to become a keeper when he was younger, joined Internacional in 1995, when he was just a student. He did not train Alisson during his first two years at Internacional; however, he was there alongside him since he turned 13 and was there with him at a crucial time in his surging career.”He was quite chubby,” Pavan recalls. “It was a matter of genetics, combined with the fact he loved to eat. He loved to have a soft drink and a cookie. As soon as the training session was over, he already had one of each in his hands.”At the same time, his development was a bit slower than usual. He was a bit shorter and chubbier. He wasn’t a starter or a first substitution, either. However, people could see he had technical abilities which made him stand out from the rest. Thanks to our department’s studies on him, we knew he was going to grow up and gain some height and, with that, he would become leaner.”However, since his parents started to see that he did not play in the matches, they wanted to take him away from football. They thought he did not have a future as a player. They thought it was just a waste of time. Sometimes, in order to join some tournaments, he had to lose school time. That happened back when he was 12 years old and about to turn 13. They went and had a chat with me. They thought Alisson should dedicate himself to his academics, since they saw Alisson in here every day and they thought he was not having any benefits from it.”To make things even worse, Alisson’s dad, Jose, was unemployed.Jose worked at a shoe company, which went out of business. Since he was making a considerable financial effort in order to have his two children training in Porto Alegre every day, his money constraints reinforced the idea that maybe it was better to have his youngest son removed from football.”Despite all that, I managed to convince [his parents] that things would get better, that Alisson would mature as a player and that he had a huge technical upside and potential,” Pavan says. “Thank god, they listened to me.”Suddenly, it all came together. A year-and-a-half, about two years later, Alisson stretched out. He gained 16 centimetres in height and won his battle against the scale. He went on to become a starter at the base team, and then he joined the Brazilian national side at his age category. It was the start of a successful career.”Because of Pavan’s involvement in such an important moment in Alisson’s life and in his role in the national team, both remain friends to this day. They exchange text messages and words of encouragement and root for each other’s success.Nowadays, Pavan, Antonia and Leandro are all proud to see that the short, chubby kid from Novo Hamburgo, who used to cry a lot, is now the first name mentioned whenever the Selecao play. They hope that, one day, he will return with a World Cup for Brazil in his hands.

What’s the long-term plan for MLS, USL, and USL D-III?

By Nicholas MendolaJul 31, 2018, 7:45 PM EDT

The Premier League previews have yet to begin, Major League Soccer is on its All-Star break, and international soccer is gone for a spell, so allow this writer to take you on a tangent.For about as long as the promotion and relegation war cry has methodically danced around social media, I’ve had a difficult time believing Major League Soccer expansion would stop anywhere short of a similar system to the one employed by the rest of the world.

[ MORE: Phoenix, SD get Garber bump ]

As MLS partnered with the USL raised its maximum number of teams to its present stated goal of 28, it became clear that one of two things would happen:

  1. The number of teams would grow
  2. The league would eventually employ a system of pro/rel

Whether that’s years or decades away, it’s hard to say. What’s easy is that MLS knows it can capture the interest of two markets that are currently keeping it arm’s length at best by switching up its system: Soccer fanatics ignoring the growing quality of MLS play because pro/rel is their priority, and casual sports fans curious about an experiment.I’d put myself at about 90 percent confident of that before something clicked following this article on SocTakes which lays out the growth of the USL and the challenges still facing its individual owners.The strength of any group of teams lies within its league, and I’m not talking about the chemistry between its group of owners. The people who control and work for the actual league have to possess power, with a reservoir of funds, and avoid the arrogance that comes with the first two.Make no guarantees on the third part, especially given that the second part of the famous “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” line is “Great men are almost always bad men.” That’s not a shot at anyone specifically, just a judgment on the nature of business here.The only option outside of the pro/rel model that includes league growth eliminates plenty of draw for the top flight: Either clubs begin playing each other once a year, with no return date until the next season, or they expand the conferences with limited interplay and another unbalanced schedule

Nuh-uh.Clearly the USL is building up power and reserves, as MLS has done that already. Most of its top-end teams aren’t amongst the MLS B-sides and have the look of top-tier sides (FC Cincinnati, Sacramento Republic, Phoenix Rising).At some point, the MLS-B sides are going to disappear or head to USL D-III (or IV). The bottom half of USL average attendance is littered with those squads, even with high-performing on-the-field sides Real Monarchs and Red Bulls 2.  Neutral fans don’t want that. Shoot, I wouldn’t want to market that my local team is facing a must-win match against some MLS club’s guys 25-40. [ MORE: Garber “hopeful” Crew will stay in Columbus ]

So MLS “stops” at 28 teams. There’s 20-26 in USL, who will announce promotion and relegation between it and D-III. USL D-III will have another 20, and the way out of that place will be promotion.That’s where the experiment begins, with USL teams and the American soccer landscape seeing if pro/rel really is something that drives crowds.

This happens out-of-the-way of MLS, as owners continue to build up reserves to eventually serve as parachute payments for relegated teams. That money becomes available because MLS lifts its cap and entire salary structure. Teams like the LA Galaxy, Red Bulls, and NYCFC can spend and sell as much as they like and are buttressed by their academies.This lifts parity, once considered the jewel of the league, and makes the race to avoid the bottom a real thing. The MLS teams are still superior in salary and talent to the USL teams, so instead of Bottom 3 down, Top 3 up, MLS deploys some sort of promotion/relegation playoff similar to Germany.Naturally, the teams toward the bottom of MLS are going to be the ones who refuse to spend. So, yeah, it could be a San Jose having to deal with upstart FC Cincinnati for the right to get a top flight spot? Something tells me the spending will increase. Fight or flight (back to the bottom).Can it all be so simple? I really do think so. Maybe MLS can continue to expand, a couple of markets at a time, for 10 years. It can add to the schedule, maybe 40 games, but there’s a finite number of games it can add and have each team play home-and-away.

And wait til you tell a team owner from the East that it might not see Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the two or three seasons he’s here because of an unbalanced schedule. I don’t want to be in the room for that.MLS is growing in renown, and will continue to do so for some time, but it’s not going to reach its potential without building legitimate powers via letting big spenders spend. The Supporters’ Shield will become a bit less interesting for some clubs, but the final playoff spots and the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup will become even more prestigious.  As for the pro/rel part, it’s one of the things keeping nascent leagues alive with hope, and clubs/fans outside its system refusing to play ball. It makes too much sense and, over time, we’ll find out it was the plan all along. And the arguments from the peanut gallery, including this King Peanut, will keep things buzzing while it waits for its roll out.  The longer the league waits, the better chance a competitor tries and it gets some momentum. With the NASL lawsuits on the stove now and NISA without a leader, there’s no competition. That’s not to say an upstart rival league couldn’t be squashed by MLS, but why risk it?It’s going to happen, really. Otherwise, why would Alexi Lalas say things like this to his boss?

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