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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