9/28 Indy 11 Win Head to Cincy Sat 7 pm My Indy TV, Champions League Tues/Wed, Modric wins Player of Year, Huge Games on TV – Liverpool-Chelsea Sat 12:30 NBC, Madrid Darby Sat 2:45 pm beIn Sport, NY vs Atl Sun 1 pm ESPN, Full TV Schedule

Indy 11

The Eleven will be on the road Saturday at 1st place Cincinnati at 7 pm on MyIndy TV and ESPN+.  I was at the huge game Wednesday night as our 11 beat Tampa Bay 2-0.  Again I am going to say this folks – if you haven’t been to an Indy 11 game in Lucas Oil Stadium – you need to make plans to go next Saturday night.  The stadium is fantastic – hands down the best stadium that any USL team plays in.  With the open roof on Wednesday night, fast and easy concessions, clean and plenty of bathrooms, easy parking for just $15 right next to the South Gate – honestly folks it’s a GREAT NIGHT OUT!!   The 11 are right in the race for playoff position as they stand In 5th place overall (the top 8 qualify – the top 4 host games).  It won’t be easy as our boys in blue will face the top 3 teams in the league down the stretch 2 of them on the road.  Fans are encouraged to travel to Cincinnati (ticket info) this Saturday night 7 pm and to Louisville where the team will play its final regular-season game on Oct. 13. The Brickyard Battalion is organizing carpools for both here:   The final home game of the season is next Saturday, October 6th 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 Leagues

So a handful of huge games overseas this weekend as Liverpool will travel to Chelsea with first in the EPL on the line at 12:30 on Saturday on NBC.  Juventus is hosting Napoli for top slot in Italy on Sat at 12 on ESPN+, but in my mind the  biggest game oversea’s this weekend is the Madrid Derby as Real Madrid will host Atletico Madrid on Saturday at 2:45 pm on beIN Sports.  The Madrid teams have taken unexpected losses on the young season in La Liga so the game is huge for both teams.

MLS

The top 2 teams in MLS Atlanta United and the NY Red Bulls will face off Sunday afternoon 1 pm on ESPN as the Supporters Shield, presented to the team with the most overall points in MLS, will be up for grabs.  Just 5 games last in the regular season as teams are battling for playoff position down the stretch.   The US Open Cup was played Wed night on ESPN as Houston defeated Philly 3-0, I sure would love to see this played on a weekend some day.  I don’t ever expect the US Open Cup to be England’s version of the CUP???  But it would be really cool if at least ESPN+ would pick up the early round games when the D2 & D3 teams battle MLS squads to get some of the excitement of the underdogs.  Heck just last season USL leader Cincinnati made the Final 4 of the Open Cup.  Looking ahead to this weekend we get the battle for first on Sunday at 1 pm on ESPN followed by 2nd place Sporting KC and 5th place Real Salt Lake battling for Western Conference playoff position on FS1 at 5 pm.

Carmel High School

The 4th ranked Carmel High Girls finished the regular season with 3 straight wins to finish 13-1-2 overall and will play on Tuesday in the toughest sectional in the nation at Guerin starting Tuesday night.

Indy 11

Indy 11 Preview @ Cincy Game Sat

Indy 11 defeat Tampa Bay Rowdys 2-0

Indy 11 Beats TB – Bloody Shambles

USL Unveils New Structure of 3 Leagues

Indy 11 lose to Pittsburg on Road 2-3

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for 10/06 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.

World

Modric Wins FIFA Best Award

What to Watch For EPL this Weekend – ESPNFC

Making sense of Barca and Real Madrid’s shocking midweek defeats in La Liga

MLS

MLS Power Rankings

Houston Wins US Open Cup 3-0 over Philly

What Open Cup glory means to the Dynamo

NY Red Bulls vs Atlanta United Preview

Warshaw: Tale of the Tape for Red Bulls-Atlanta

Sporting, RSL renew rivalry in critical West clash

Goalkeepers

Brad Guzan’s Spectacular Save

Nick Rimando’s Great Save vs Atlanta

Save of the Week – National Womens SL –

Saves of the Week – USL

GAMES ON TV

Sat, Sept 29    

7:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Man United  

9:30 am FS 2                  Schalke (McKinney) vs Mainz

10 am NBCSN                Man City vs Brighton  

10 am CNBC                   Huddersfield (Williams) vs Tottenham

10:15 am beIN Sport                        Barcelona vs Athletic Club

12 pm ESPN+                 Juventus vs Napoli

12:30 pm NBC         Brighton vs Tottenham

12:30 pm Fox Sport 2 Bayern Leverkusen vs  Dortmund (Pulisic)

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Atletico Madrid vs Real Madrid  (Madrid Derby)

7:30 pm ESPN+            Columbus Crew vs Colorado

7 pm My Indy TV/ESPN+     Cincy vs Indy 11

Sun, Sept 30     

8:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Chelsea  

9:30 am FS 1                  Frankfort vs Hannover 96 

11 am NBCSN                 Cardiff City vs Burnley

12 noon FS2                   Ausburg vs Freiburg

1 pm ESPN                       NY Red Bulls vs Atlanta United 

3 pm bein Sport          Lille vs Olympicque Marselle

5 pm FS1                           Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake

Tues, Oct 2   Champions League   

12 noon TNT                   Champs League Game Day kicks off

12:55 pm TNT                Hoffenhiem vs Man City

1 pm                                    Juve vs  Young Boys

3 pm TNT                                                  Man United vs Valencia  

3 pm                                    CSKA Moscow vs Real Madrid

Weds, Oct 3 Champions League   

12:55 pm TNT                PSG vs Crvena Zvezda

1 pm                                    Man City vs Olympique Lyonnais  

3 pm TNT                          Tottenham vs Barcelona

3 pm                                    Napoli vs Liverpool  

3 pm                                    Atletico vs Club Brugge

7 pm myIndytv             Louisville vs Indy 11

8 pm ESPN+                    DC United vs Min United

Thurs, Oct 4

7:30 pm FS 2                 USA Ladies vs Mexico

Fri, Oct 5

3 pm NBCSN                   Brighton vs West Ham United

Sat, Oct 6     

9:30 am FS 2                  Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Ausburg

10 am NBCSN                Liecester City vs Everton 

12:30 beIN Sport        Aleves vs Real Madrid

12 pm ESPN+                 Juventus vs Udenes

12:30 pm NBC?      Man United vs New Castle (Yedlin)  

12:30 pm Fox Sport 2  Bayern Munich vs Borussia Mgladbach

7:30 pm ESPN+            LAFC vs Colorado

7 pm My Indy TV/ESPN+ Indy 11 vs Bethlehem Steel (last home game )

9:30 pn ESPN+              Real Salt Lake vs NY Red Bulls

Sun, Oct 7     

7 am NBCSN                   Fulham vs Arsenal  

9:30 am FS 1                  Hofenheim vs Frankfurt 

9:15 am NBCSN            Southampton vs Chelsea

12 noon FS2                   RB Leipzig vs Nurnberg

11:30 am NBCSN         Liverpool vs Man City

1 pm ESPN                       DC United vs Chicago Fire

3 pm bein Sport          PSG vs Olympique Lyonnais

5 pm FS1                           Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake

7:30 pm FS1                   Panama vs USA Ladies

Wed, Oct 10

7:30 pm Fox Sport2  Trinidad and Tobago vs USA Ladies

Thurs, Oct 11

2:45 pm ESPNNews   Russia vs Sweden (UEFA NL)

7:30 pm FSI                     USA Men vs Colombia (Tampa)

9 pm FS1                          Costa Rica vs Canada Ladies

Fri, Oct 12

1:45 pm beIN Sport?                        Saudi Arabia vs Brazil?

2:45 pm ESPN2            Croatia vs England (UEFA NL)

Sat, Oct 13

9 am EPSN news          Slovakia vs Czech Republic  (UEFA NL)

2:45 pm ESPN+            Netherlands vs Germany (UEFA NL)

2:45 pm ESPN 3           Ireland vs Denmark (UEFA NL)

7 pm My Indy TV/ESPN+ Indy 11 @ Louisville

Sun, Oct 14

9 am EPSN3                     Romania vs Serbia  (UEFA NL)

12 noon ESPNews      Russia vs Turkey (UEFA NL)

2:45 pm ESPN                Poland vs Italy (UEFA NL)

Mon, Oct 15

2:45 pm ESPN2             Iceland vs Switzerland (UEFA NL)

2:45 ESPN+                     Spain vs England  (UEFA NL)

Tues, Oct 16

1:45 pm ??                      Brazil vs Argentina (friendly)

2:45 pm EPSNews       Ukraine vs Czech Republic  (UEFA NL)

2:45 pm ESPN+             France vs Germany (UEFA NL)

2:45 ESPN+                     Ireland vs Wales  (UEFA NL)

7:30 pm                            USA Men vs Peru

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

PREVIEW | #CINVIND

By IndyEleven.com, 09/27/18, 7:45PM EDT  “Boys in Blue” to face FC Cincinnati for the third, and final time, in the 2018 USL regular season

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview   Indy Eleven at FC Cincinnati  – #CINvIND
Saturday, September 29, 2018 – 7:30 P.M. EST   Nippert Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio
Watch/Listen Live: Local/National TV: MyWNDY-23 Streaming Video:  ESPN+ ($)

WEEK 29 | PART TWO – CINCINNATI

Indy Eleven face FC Cincinnati for the third, and final time, in the 2018 USL regular season. The previous two meetings between the sides resulted in “Boys in Blue” defeats, as they aim to claim one final victory against their neighboring state rivals in the three-game regular season series.Indy Eleven (13W-9L-9D) rose to fifth in the Eastern Conference table, with 48 points, after defeating Tampa Bay Rowdies, 2-0, Wednesday night. Defender Karl Ouimette scored the game’s opening goal, and his third of the season, off a corner kick played in by Ayoze, who recorded his seventh assist of the season. Forward Elliot Collier scored the game’s second goal and the Chicago Fire loanee’s first as a “Boy in Blue”.  Goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams recorded his 11th clean sheet in the contest and his second in the last five matches. The victory is the first for the “Boys in Blue” after falling in their previous two USL games. FC Cincinnati (22W-3L-6D) remain at the top of the table after handling Richmond Kickers in a 4-1 victory, making the MLS bound team the 2018 USL regular season champions. Midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma scored a brace that brought him to third in the Eastern Conference scoring chart with 16 goals this season. Cincinnati’s second leading goal scorer, midfielder Nazmi Albadawi, found the back of the net as well, bringing his total to 10 goals in 2018. Goalkeeper Evan Newton conceded his 16th goal of the season, keeping him short of recording his ninth clean sheet. The win improves Cincinnati’s win streak to nine games.Indy head coach Martin Rennie will need a strong showing from his defense, as his side goes up against the league leading goal scoring team in FC Cincinnati, who have netted a total of 66 times in the 2018 campaign.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH | MF MATT WATSON

FC Cincinnati’s success has relied heavily on its midfielders. The team’s two highest goal scorers are both midfielders, and much of the team’s success comes through the midfield. It will be the responsibility of Indy Eleven midfielder, and captain, Matt Watson to disrupt Cincinnati’s midfield in order for the “Boys in Blue” to claim points.Watson’s main strength is reading plays before they happen and making crucial interceptions in the midfield springing counter attacking opportunities that lead to goals. Only one other player on Indy Eleven, defender Karl Ouimette, outnumbers Watson’s 45 interceptions, most of which come in the midfield as opposed to Ouimette’s which come in the back third. In order to stop Cincinnati’s potent midfield maestros, Watson will ned to play a major factor in the middle third.

FC CINCINNATI PLAYER TO WATCH | MF EMMANUEL LEDESMA

Arguably the Eastern Conference, and USL, MVP, FC Cincinnati midfielder Emmanuel Ledesma is having the season of a lifetime. The midfielder leads the USL in assists with 15, and is third in the Eastern Conference and tied for fourth in USL in goals scored with 16. Ledesma’s dual threat of being able to score and set up a teammate on any given day makes him arguably the most dangerous midfielder in the game.Even more impressive is the wicked strikes that come off the midfielder’s left foot. When given time and space, the 26-year-old Argentinian can unleash absolute stunners just as he did in the team’s previous matchup against Richmond Kickers. Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams will need to be on his toes for every second that Ledesma is on the pitch.

MATCHUP TO MARK | INDY DEFENSE VS CINCINNATI OFFENSE

The previous two fixtures in 2018 between Indy Eleven and FC Cincinnati were both tightly contested, dramatic affairs. The first meeting resulted in a 1-0 Cincinnati win, and the second a 3-2 Cincinnati victory. With the playoff race in the East as tight as it’s been all season, the “Boys in Blue”, who are five points off third place, need three points against Cincinnati now more than ever.In order to claim three points, “Indiana’s Team” will need to halt a FC Cincinnati offense that is currently blazing. Cincinnati has scored the most goals in the Eastern Conference and USL, finding the back of the net 66 times. Three players on their squad, midfielders Ledesma and Albadawi and forward Danni Konig are in double digits in goals scored in 2018, with 16, 10 and 10 respectively. Midfielder Corben Bone trails the trio by one with nine goals this season. Even more remarkable for the Cincinnati offense is the fact midfielder’s goal scoring tallies drastically outweigh that of the side’s forwards. Cincinnati has been potent in front of net in their last five matches, scoring 12 goals.Rennie will need his backline and midfield to be ready. In the first two meetings, Cincinnati racked up 24 shots combined, but were only able to put seven on target and force Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams into three saves. The “Boys in Blue” have kept 11 clean sheets in 2018, and conceded 37 times. Two of which have come in the last five matches for “Indiana’s Team”, along with allowing five goals in the five game stretch. That goal-per-game average nearly matches the total number of goals conceded by Indy on the road, allowing 17 goals in 15 road games.

Luka Modric wins FIFA The Best award, ends Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi duopoly

Sep 24, 2018ESPN

Real Madrid’s Luka Modric claimed FIFA’s The Best award for 2018 to end Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi’s decade-long hold on world football’s top player prize.The Croatia midfielder won with 29 percent of the votes, coming in ahead of Ronaldo (19 percent), Mohamed Salah (11.2 percent), Kylian Mbappe (10 percent) and Messi (9 percent), who along with Ronaldo skipped the ceremony.Modric was presented with the award following a ceremony in London on Monday night.”This award is not just mine. It is my teammates’ from Real Madrid and Croatia. Without my coaches, I would not have won this and without my family I would not be the player I am today,” said 33-year-old Modric.Ronaldo and Messi had won every FIFA World Player of the Year award, which was renamed the FIFA Ballon d’Or in 2010 and The Best in 2016, since 2007 when Kaka was victorious.Modric becomes the first Croatian player to win the award after an outstanding year for club and country.He was instrumental in winning Real Madrid’s third Champions League title in as many seasons, while he captained Croatia to their first World Cup final, winning the Golden Ball at the tournament.Modric ousted former teammate Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Salah on the final three-man shortlist to win, after beating the same pair to win UEFA’s Men’s Player of the Year award for the 2017-18 season.Ronaldo scored 44 goals

In addition to the top player award, Salah’s curling, left-footed strike in an Oct. 12, 2017 match against Everton won the Puskas Award for the best goal.

France boss Didier Deschamps took home the prize for best manager after leading Les Bleus to their second World Cup title with a 4-2 triumph over Croatia in the July final.

Deschamps’ victory was the second straight year a French coach has won the award. Former Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane was honored in 2017.

Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois was voted the best goalkeeper. The former Chelsea man helped Belgium to the semifinals of the World Cup before losing to eventual champs France.

Lyon’s Reynald Pedros won women’s coach of the year, Peru fans won the FIFA fan award, the FIFA Fair Play honor was given to former VVV-Venlo striker Lennart Thy, and Brazil’s Marta was named the female player of the year for the sixth time.

David De Gea, Dani Alves, Sergio Ramos, Raphael Varane, Marcelo, Luka Modric, N’Golo Kante, Eden Hazard, Lionel Messi, Kylian Mbappe and Cristiano Ronaldo were named to the FIFPro World XI.

Real Madrid’s Thibaut Courtois knows better than most what the derbi means to Atletico

4:05 AM ETSid LoweSpain writer

eal Madrid’s goalkeeper leaps through the most significant moment in the club’s history. Take any photo, watch any video, and there he is, right in the middle of the most viewed and perhaps the most iconic image in their 116-year existence, the climax on a night of drama, suspense, nerves and then explosion, joy unbound. The long wait over, an obsession for more than a decade, there was glory at last.For them.For him, it was bloody awful — and they’re not slow to remind him of that. Sergio Ramos defeated him that day. Now Thibaut Courtois has to see him every day when he turns up at work. “They still joke about it,” he says.On the night that Real Madrid won their 10th European Cup, Courtois was the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper, defeated as they took the decima. Of the Madrid team that night, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Luka Modric, Raphael Varane, Isco and Dani Carvajal are still around, but it’s Ramos you have to look out for. Ramos you have to embrace too when you’re new at Valdebebas.Not that they always beat him, and he could remind them of that. That season, he was a league champion — he has won the title as many times as any Real Madrid players have in the past five years — and the year before he won the Copa del Rey. Against Real Madrid. At the Santiago Bernabeu. It was one of the greatest moments in Atletico’s history: the first time they had beaten Real in 25 games and in the 21st century.At the celebrations, Courtois stood on a balcony, thousands of supporters spread out below him, took the microphone and sang a rude song about what Real Madrid fans might do as their rivals celebrated.”I was young and I got carried away with the moment,” he said when he joined Real Madrid this summer for €35 million. “I said sorry then and I say the same again; it’s not like me to do that.”Courtois had long wanted a return to Madrid; his desire to move away from Chelsea and back to the Spanish capital had become an open secret. No one bothered to try to hide it anymore. “Everyone knew but we just couldn’t say so in the media,” he said. In fact, he had pretty well said so in the media too.There were personal reasons — his kids and his former partner lived in the city — and professional ones too. Despite his past at Atletico, on the day of his presentation, he kissed the Real Madrid badge. “This is where I always wanted to be,” he said. He remembered having an Iker Casillas shirt when he was little; he had probably acquired it after Madrid had played at Anderlecht, if memory serves, he said. His time at Atletico had been good. He had been there on loan for three years — and he was the one who made it that long, twice insisting on staying in Spain when Chelsea wanted him to return to England — but he was here now.That past was swiftly left behind. Outside, at least. It could have been difficult to turn up with Keylor Navas around too. For three years, Madrid had tried to replace the Costa Rican; for three years, he had resisted, winning the Champions League. Zinedine Zidane had defended him, but Zidane was now gone. The dressing room admired him still, although the club had assumed that, signing made, he would be likely to depart. “I have the same desire to die as I do to leave the Bernabeu,” Navas said. So he stayed.Madrid had two goalkeepers, both of whom wanted to start; they would compete. At every news conference, Julen Lopetegui was asked. The questions got reframed and asked over again — with the wording changing, but not the answer: “This is more normal inside than you seem to want to see it from the outside; things are simpler at professional level than is often sold.” Far from a problem, he kept saying, what he has is “two magnificent solutions.”Madrid had rotated their goalkeepers before — Casillas played in that Lisbon final, while Diego Lopez was the goalkeeper in the league, for example — but Lopetegui, a former goalkeeper who knows what it is like to spend a very, very long time sitting on the bench, not playing, would not say what his policy was. Even when Navas was chosen for the Champions League game against Roma, he didn’t reveal his cards, nor confirm that there was a competition for each man. “It’s simple: We choose and we have good options,” he said.In an interview this week, Courtois said: “It’s the coach’s decision, but nothing has been agreed. There’s nothing fixed in terms of a rotation or anything like that.”For the first three games of the season, Navas started. As Courtois had returned late from the World Cup, that made sense: Navas started the UEFA Super Cup and against Getafe and Girona. During the international break, which followed the trip to Girona, Navas stayed behind rather than join up with the Costa Rica national team. That was seen as a way of keeping a hold on his place, or at least not offering the manager an excuse to leave him out of the next game, but Courtois started against Leganes and Athletic Bilbao. Against Roma, it was Navas. Then Courtois started in Seville. And now, on Saturday night, it is Atletico. Navas or Courtois? A Madrid derby is big anyway; Courtois knows better than anyone in the Madrid dressing room what it means to Atletico. He has beaten Madrid, and lost to them too; that night is the most painful they have suffered. He has played derbies with Diego Godin, Filipe Luis, Koke and Diego Costa, and has worked under Diego Simeone — the manager who has now gone five consecutive league visits to the Bernabeu without loss. There is a plaque with his name on it outside the Wanda Metropolitano. Scuffed and spat at now, but it’s there.This derby has become bigger than it looked like being. This time last week, Atletico were seven points off the top. In the summer, everyone agreed that they were candidates — maybe even more so than the season they actually won the league. They had kept Antoine Griezmann, kept Jan Oblak, and signed well. They had spent more money than Real Madrid — a fact not lost on Madridistas, seeking to undermine the underdog discourse from across the city — and had arguably the best squad they have ever had.And yet they seemed to be going through a familiar start, a familiar process, struggling with the same doubts about their identity apparent in the past three years; the evolution into something slightly new looking set to give way, for another season, to a return to what they know, as if they weren’t entirely convinced by the new direction they were taking, the path to follow. Defeated by Celta Vigo, they scored a very late equaliser against Eibar that did not hide the disappointment. Nor did it change the table.The derby appeared set to be the game that might — silly though it sounds so early — almost end Atletico’s league campaign. Lose, and they would be 10 points off, all over so soon? But then Barcelona dropped five points from six and Madrid were hammered in Seville on Wednesday, the big two defeated for the first time. With Atletico easing past Huesca, resting players in the second half, this looks very different now. Win and they’d be level with Madrid. And they know Madrid well. They know Madrid’s goalkeeper even better.

Lack of depth draining Barca’s titulares

“This might sound opportunistic, but is there a problem with Barcelona’s strength in depth? Can you rotate as you would like? Only, every time you do, it seems that it doesn’t work,” Ernesto Valverde was asked after FC Barcelona’s 2-1 defeat at Leganes on Wednesday. “You’re right,” he replied, “it isopportunistic.”It might well be, but it is hard to avoid the conclusion that it is right. That night, he had left out Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba, only to be forced to play them as the game slipped away from Barcelona in the second half, turning to his titulares to try to get his team out of trouble, and getting back to his proper players is a pattern that is repeating itself this season. Take Real Sociedad, for example. Or the introduction of Ivan Rakitic and Philippe Coutinho against Girona.Everyone wants to rotate, and after last season, especially. Suarez admitted that he “regrets” playing against Leganes just days before Barcelona went to Rome in the Champions League, but Valverde does not appear entirely convinced. And maybe that is not surprising; maybe he has a reason to be distrustful. Before Leganes, seven players had played at least 80 percent of the minutes, while Alba and Suarez were among four players who had played every moment. That night, he left them out of the starting 11, seeking rest and recovery, only to have to get them back on again.So far, it simply isn’t working, and the new signings have yet to make any real impact, while there is little real contribution from the squad players who are not natural starters. Sergio Busquets also seemed to hint at his concerns after Leganes when he replied “next question” to enquiry about rotation. But then, it’s not just about them. After all, it’s not like all the titulares are very much better. Lionel Messi also has played every minute, while the other player is Gerard Pique — and he it was who gave away the second goal against Leganes and was at fault for two the week before.

Madrid derby a chance for Antoine Griezmann to let his play do the talking

3:51 PM ETJoseph WalkerAtletico Madrid blogger

Last week Antoine Griezmann caused quite a stir when, in an interview, he claimed he was now “sitting at the same table as the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.”

Frankly, it could not have been worse timed, with Atletico in something of a rut, having just scraped a last minute 1-1 draw at home to Eibar after a chastening away to Celta Vigo before the international break. Griezmann had just one La Liga goal to his name and was not exactly setting the world on fire, either. Not to mention FIFA’s “The Best” awards were about to take place and the Frenchman was absent from the top three shortlist — headed up by Ronaldo.There is no doubting that over the past couple of years Griezmann has shot to global superstardom. His own toe-curling “La Decision” documentary when he announced he would be staying at Atleti was evidence of that, while nobody can doubt the starring roles he has played in France’s last two major tournaments, culminating in this summer’s World Cup success.But to liken himself to Messi and Ronaldo? Two players widely acknowledged to be the best to have ever played the game. That is not the kind of thing that Los Rojiblancos fans wanted to be reading after an underwhelming start to a season in which big things were expected of Diego Simeone’s new-look side.Like La Decision, it was perhaps an example of those around the player not giving him the best advice, or perhaps suggesting better timing for the interview.They also drew a stinging rebuke from Real Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, who said “Ignorance can be brash. When I hear this guy speak, it reminds me of players such as [Francesco] Totti, Raul, [Gianluigi] Buffon, [Iker] Casillas, [Paolo] Maldini, Xavi or [Andres] Iniesta, players who have won many awards and titles but never a Ballon d’Or.”While the most-red carded player in La Liga history is not exactly the most moral of arbiters around, given some of his past actions and comments, his point was valid.However, a week or so can be a long time in football, and since making those comments fortunes have indeed picked up both for Griezmann and Atletico Madrid.A commanding Champions League victory over Monaco, in which Griezmann teed up the opener and was the best player on the pitch, was backed up by another standout display away at Getafe, where he played a major part in Thomas Lemar’s goals.He returned to the scoresheet against Huesca on Tuesday night and — with results going their way — Los Colchoneros remarkably find themselves only two points off top spot despite their initial teething problems.This weekend will see Griezmann meet Ramos in the season’s first Derbi Madrileno as Atleti visit a Real Madrid side coming off of a 3-0 thrashing by Sevilla in midweek.After appearing way off the pace and a little bit directionless not so long ago, Los Rojiblancos can actually leapfrog their great city rivals with a win.You can bet that Griezmann will be that little extra motivated following the Real skipper’s public dressing down and will be out to prove a point in that sense. There is also the small matter of fact that this is a fixture that Ronaldo used to love playing — and scoring — in.After comprehensively beating the Bernabeu outfit in the European Super Cup in August, Atleti will fancy their chances again this weekend in a fixture that has seen both club and No. 7s alike excel in recent seasons.Simeone has not lost in his last five La Liga visits to the Bernabeu — winning three and drawing two — and is 90 minutes away from equalling the longest ever run of away sides securing at least a point across the Spanish capital.To put that into context, the current record was set between 1942 and 1948 by Valencia. This, the same Atleti that Madrid fans once taunted by holding up a banner that said “Wanted: a real rival for a proper derby” when they went 14 years without a win in the fixture. How times have changed.Griezmann himself has good memories too, scoring in his last three league appearances at the Bernabeu and first really announcing himself as an Atletico player back in 2015 when they hammered Carlo Ancelotti’s side 4-0 at the Vicente Calderon.If he is to back his words up with actions — and make Ramos eat his at the same time — then perhaps we can just start to think that his claims about being at the very top of the game were not so fanciful after all.

Premier League W2W4: Liverpool face stern Chelsea test; Man United need to end disruptive week

3:28 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writerAhead of each round of fixtures in the Premier League, W2W4 looks at the main storylines to keep an eye on.

Liverpool’s defence faces its biggest test

What can we glean from Wednesday’s Carabao Cup game between Chelsea and Liverpool that has relevance to their Premier League match on Saturday evening? Given the players involved, not much. Maybe five or six of the 22 that started at Anfield will line up at Stamford Bridge.

One thing does stand out though is just how quickly a player like Eden Hazard can change a game. Chelsea’s Belgian genius came off the bench to score an astonishing goal to secure their victory, and while we don’t really need more evidence that Hazard is pretty useful, he keeps providing it anyway.Jurgen Klopp was philosophical after the game, bowing to Hazard’s quality.”Eden Hazard at full speed in the box is not easy to stop,” the Liverpool boss said, and he could console himself with the knowledge that it was his second-string back four that was trying the other night. On Saturday, the A-team will return.But will they fare any better? The back five of Alisson, Trent Alexander-Arnold, Joe Gomez, Virgil van Dijk and Andy Robertson have proved very effective so far this season, conceding just two goals in the league, but they haven’t come up against anyone this good yet. Liverpool’s defence is an area of strength where previously it was one of weakness, but facing Hazard represents the biggest test yet of that new-found fortitude.

Can Manchester United react positively to a damaging week?

Apparently Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho are friends now, with explanations offered and accepted for that training ground argument the morning after their Carabao Cup defeat to Derby County. But more than complaining about an Instagram post, Mourinho’s most damaging public utterance might have occurred the previous evening, when in his postmatch interview he said he thought United were “in trouble” when Phil Jones and Eric Bailly stepped up in the penalty shoot-out.

Why would you say that, other than to try shifting the blame to someone else? Why undermine the confidence of two first-team players? It’s not the first time that Mourinho has done this, shamefully throwing Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial under the bus at the end of last season. If it hasn’t happened already, Mourinho will lose the trust of his players, something he used to so obviously have in his early days of management.After such a disruptive week, United need a win against an improving West Ham on Saturday, but in publicly embarrassing his players, Mourinho hasn’t done their chances any favours.

Might Phil Foden get a league start for Manchester City?

Your heart doesn’t exactly bleed for Pep Guardiola. The Manchester City manager has been without Kevin De Bruyne since August, but happens to manage probably the only team in the Premier League who could lose their most influential player, and carry on without blinking. With David Silva, Bernardo Silva and Ilkay Gundogan, Guardiola has some pretty solid senior options to fill-in for De Bruyne — but you can certainly add Phil Foden to that list now.Of course, it was only against Oxford United, but Foden’s performance in midweek earned further comparisons to Andres Iniesta, comparisons Guardiola was quick to avoid. Foden is clearly ready, even at 18, for the highest level, and it’s only a matter of time before he starts a game in the Premier League. Could it be this weekend against Brighton?

Will Wes Morgan return for Leicester?

Wes Morgan is available again for Leicester, following a one-game suspension for his red card against Bournemouth. He played in their Carabao Cup game against Wolves in mid-week alongside Jonny Evans, but Harry Maguire, fresh from signing a new contract, will surely return to the team for this weekend’s trip to Newcastle.The question for Claude Puel is, who will Maguire replace? Hopefully, almost for the sake of his dignity as anything else, it won’t be Morgan, and Evans and Maguire become their first-choice pairing. The central defender’s race looks run, his peak years well behind him and it would probably be best for everyone if he was gently phased out of the team.

Huddersfield can’t write-off another game against a big boy

After Huddersfield’s first game of the season, a 3-0 defeat to Chelsea, David Wagner was asked about his side’s tough start to the campaign. They faced Manchester City after that, and Wagner commented that they would “just have to win the games in between” those against the Premier League’s best. Alas, they didn’t: they’ve played four times since, against Cardiff, Crystal Palace, Everton and Leicester, gaining two points and scoring two goals in the process.Wagner’s attitude smacked of defeatism, of writing off games against the best and concentrating on more “winnable” fixtures: that his side failed to win them indicates he may have been unwise to do so. This weekend it’s another big team, with Tottenham paying a visit to John Smith’s Stadium.Wagner and Huddersfield can’t afford to shrug and think “what can you do?”, because after six games without a win, a relegation scrap is looming.

Mourinho’s battle with Pogba shows the Special One is not so special anymore

3:00 PM ETGabriele MarcottiSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Jose Mourinho once told me that if you are unhappy with a player, there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, you have to know their personality and know what buttons to push.”If it’s John Terry, then I might get in his face, shout at him and tell him he’s a [expletive],” he said to me and Gianluca Vialli when we were writing “The Italian Job.” “But if it’s William Gallas, I can’t do that. I will lose him if I do that. I might need to put my arm around him, be supportive, reach him in a different way.”You wonder what then Mourinho would make of himself today if he could time travel and meet his future self, 13 years into the future.(Or if somehow, to go all Charles Dickens for a minute, the ghost of his long-time assistant Rui Faria were to materialize one night in Mourinho’s suite at The Lowry Hotel and take him to meet the Ghosts of Jose Past, Jose Present and Jose Yet to Come.)My guess is that his younger self would wonder what the heck the older version is doing.Of course, it is not as if 2005 Mourinho was a saint. He could be as Machiavellian as anyone.In that sense, he might even have approved of the execution of the latest Paul Pogba bust-up and the way it was orchestrated. Because let’s be clear, however you feel about Pogba, this was stage-managed.Start with the fact that there is no such thing as the “vice captaincy” or “second captaincy” at Manchester United. The club captain is Antonio Valencia, and in his absence, Pogba has worn the armband on several occasions. But so too have other players; in fact, Mourinho said in the summer that a whole range of guys — from Chris Smalling to Juan Mata to Ashley Young — would be captain when Valencia was not around.

Mourinho rightly knows the armband is just a piece of cloth: If you are not a leader, it will not turn you into one. Equally, though, by announcing Pogba does not have the traits of a captain, the United manager is not only humiliating him but going further by taking away a second captaincy that doesn’t actually exist. The only purpose served was to make the point that Pogba is unfit to lead.The 2005 Mourinho would have been on board with that and might have said exactly the same thing. Except, you would imagine, he would have done it in private and to Pogba’s face because, unless the player had some unusual inclination toward public humiliation, that is not the way to motivate performance.And what happened on Tuesday was a public humiliation. While it might have taken place within the Carrington training ground, it was in front of Pogba’s peers and teammates; when something like that happens in front of so many people, it is pretty much guaranteed to leak out.Mourinho has been around long enough to know that, and what is more is the quote that “players were happy with the decision” offers a clear clue that the leak did not come from Pogba’s end. It was designed to get out and have maximum resonance.And just in case anyone missed the point, the following day only reinforced things when video emerged of a tense exchange between Mourinho and Pogba. Rights holders are allowed to film training once a month and they only get 15 minutes. Club press officers babysit the camera operators, so the coaching staff are fully aware when they turn up and when they leave.You can even throw in the story, which by sheer coincidence appeared on Thursday, that Pogba marched into executive vice chairman Ed Woodward’s office just before the club’s opening game of the season and told him he had agreed personal terms with Barcelona and wanted to leave.(What’s more, it does not ring true. Pogba’s agent Mino Raiola is paid when deals are done and demanding a move hours before the Premier League transfer window closes is not the way to do that. From the United perspective, there would be no time to find a replacement, and they are under no financial pressure to sell. Barcelona, meanwhile, had spent $70 million to add Arthur and Arturo Vidal to add numbers to an already deep pool of central midfielders.)Once again, the 2005 Mourinho might have approved of all this. However, he would have been befuddled by the end game. After all, old school Mourinho knew not to pick fights he was unlikely to win, just as Machiavelli instructs.Indeed, it is difficult to even define victory in this case.To some, who believe Pogba is the root of all the club’s problems, it is getting him out of the team so that United will flourish and win silverware this season.To others, who think this is actually a complex psychological ploy, wherein Mourinho drags someone through the mud and then builds him up again, thereby winning his loyalty forever, it’s another Luke Shaw situation; Pogba’s teammate went from this to this.To others still — most ominously of all — it is the manager’s attempt to get himself sacked. It might not be ideal, but a payoff of nearly $45m, plus two trophies to show for two full seasons despite a raft of spinnable excuses, from Pogba’s presence to Woodward’s transfer meddling and the dumpster fire of a squad he inherited from Louis van Gaal — heck, that’s not so bad.All three “victory” scenarios are somewhat far-fetched and you wonder if they are worth the negatives, the main one being the depreciation of Pogba’s transfer value, which is exactly what happens when you call your club’s priciest saleable asset unfit to be captain. That depreciation would only be compounded if Pogba turns into a bit player.Moreover, it would also boomerang back on Mourinho, because as we have seen with Woodward’s attitude toward Anthony Martial, he does not like offloading talent at a reduced price simply because the manager does not particularly rate the player. It is hard to see who would pay in for Pogba if Mourinho tries to force a sale.

Perhaps this was a message to the entire squad — many of whom like Pogba — that they too can be thrown under the bus whenever the manager feels like it. We have seen glimpses of it with Shaw and Martial and, after Tuesday’s Carabao Cup defeat to Derby, the name-checking of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones and their supposed inability to convert penalties. Indeed, since Tuesday’s training ground incident, sources have told ESPN that several senior players are “angry and frustrated” with their manager.

It might also signal to future employers that Mourinho will give them the Woodward treatment, by speaking out in public if they don’t deliver on his transfer shopping list and flexing his muscle to force a decision between two of their biggest financial commitments.

Old Trafford was a place to restore his reputation after the acrimony that followed his exits from Real Madrid and Chelsea. That is why Woodward hired him and why many, including yours truly, thought he was the right appointment. It was the perfect match of two fallen giants with plenty still to give, something the 2005 Mourinho would have understood.This Mourinho seems to swerve and claw and zigzag, like a desperately tired fox chased by hounds. Unsure of where he’s going and having forgotten where he’s been.

Juventus wants to be great in Europe but must conquer Napoli first

Sep 27, 2018Wright ThompsonSenior Writer, ESPN The Magazine

TORINO — On a chilly night in the shadow of the Alps, Juventus easily dispatched Bologna, 2-0, and finally Serie A could focus on the biggest match of this young season: Napoli’s return to Juventus on Saturday. Down beneath the stadium, with midnight approaching, Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri took his seat for post-game questions. Somehow, two reporters managed to not ask about Allegri’s next opponent but the third got straight to the point: Napoli was seeking its second straight win at Allianz Stadium.”The head-to-head matches are always complicated,” Allegri said. “Napoli is the antagonist of Juventus right now.”The teams are once again ranked one and two, where they’ve been for much of the past two years. At the end of last season, Napoli came to Torino and beat Juventus. That night felt like the end of one era and the beginning of another — which it turned out to be, although not in the way anyone expected. I was in town for the match and when the final whistle blew, the Juve crowd filtered bitterly and silently into the parking lots. The great Gigi Buffon, in his last regular season appearance at home, stopped shot after shot but even he couldn’t beat Napoli alone.That night didn’t mark the end of a dynasty at all.Napoli didn’t turn its victory into a championship. Juventus hung on for a seventh straight scudetto and then rearranged Italian football by signing Cristiano Ronaldo. Now Buffon is wearing a PSG kit, a deeply strange thing to behold, like Frank Sinatra in bell-bottoms or something, and Ronaldo is preening in black and white.On Wednesday night with Ronaldo leading the attack against Bologna, the game was over in the first 16 minutes. Watching him play in person remains a joy: he’s constantly pressing, making beautiful passes to teammates, trying to get clear for a shot. He creates space and chaos and both of Wednesday’s goals resulted from his aggression, even if he didn’t actually put either in back of the net himself.It’s also clear that some of his teammates haven’t yet gotten accustomed to playing with him. Early in the match, open on the right side of the goal, Ronaldo called for the ball, but Rodrigo Bentancur didn’t see him. Ronaldo waved his arms in frustration. He plays a game invisible to many of the players around him, exposing the line between great and very good. Until the end — fino alla fine — Ronaldo never stopped attacking. The last thing that happened before the whistle was him firing a shot on Bologna’s goal. He’s relentless.The scene at Allianz Stadium Wednesday night was familiar: the stadium DJ’s love of Steppenwolf and AC/DC, the roaring and constant songs and chants from the ultras in the Curva Sud. One of the great pleasures of Torino is that it never seems to change. The slow pace of lunch at Da Angelino, where regulars eat ravioli and wild game roasted in Barolo, and the lingering, vermouth-laced cocktail hour in the main square mark time as something to be ignored not feared, as does Juventus holding its place at the top of Serie A.And yet things feel different this year.Just six weeks into the season, the rest of Italian football is working to make sense of the Ronaldo signing. It’s never been more clear that Juventus will spend whatever it takes to compete with the biggest clubs in the world (they agreed on a transfer fee of €100 million for Ronaldo alone). It’s funny. The owners of sports teams work so hard to be private and inscrutable, and they don’t seem to realize how their deepest insecurities are on public display.The Agnelli family, owners Juventus and founders of Fiat, have suffered indignities as the Italian automotive industry has struggled. Juventus has won seven straight league titles but only two European Cups (their last one coming in 1996) while also losing seven finals, the most recent in 2017. It seems obvious that the family’s worst fear — being provincial — is Juventus’ fabulous success in Italy but its continued frustration in Europe. Watching the Agnelli family run the team is like reading a diary. The striving and longing is palpable and when they finally win the Champions League again, it will almost certainly bring more relief than joy.Juventus seems desperate for others to see them as big as they see themselves.The European final remains many months away.The Serie A campaign is the most current and pressing fight.The morning after the Bologna match, the Juve vs. Napoli battle dominated the front page of the salmon-colored La Gazzetta dello Sport, the headline announcing that early in the season, the championship match had already arrived. Allegri was thinking of what lineup he’d deploy, waiting until Friday’s training to make a decision. The first six weeks have been a prelude for this showdown between the top two teams in Serie A.There’s pathos to go around.Juventus needs to prove that it belongs with the biggest clubs in Europe. Napoli longs to defeat the northern clubs, who have some fans who look down on the poorer southern Italians. This approaching match appears to be part of the global business of sport, but all that is merely a façade for the old and powerful forces on display.

In the Italian capital, Roma and Lazio are defined solely by the derby

4:55 PM ETJames HorncastleESPN.com writer

The Rome derby never ends,” the legendary former Lazio striker Giorgio Chinaglia mused. “It’s infinite. You start talking about it a month beforehand and continue thinking about it for weeks afterwards.”The Eternal City sees and hears nothing else. Switch on the radio and tens of different stations are babbling about it 24/7. Go down to the local bar for some refreshment and you can bet the derby is the cause of animated conversation over coffee. Hail a cab and the taxi driver wants to know who you’re rooting for and why this or that player isn’t starting.Escaping it isn’t easy. Giorgio Morini, a midfielder who played for Roma in the 1970s, tells a story about taking his wife out to the zoo with the intention of getting away from it all for an afternoon. “It sounds incredible,” Morini said, “but even in a place usually visited by kids all you heard was people talking about the derby.” He left thinking the animals would be too if only they had the power of speech.It has a pressure-cooker effect. The tension builds and builds until the steam bursts out with an ear-piercing whistle.”Thank goodness there are only two derbies a season,” Lazio’s talismanic former centre-half Alessandro Nesta consoled himself. “I think I’d die if there were 10. Nothing is more stressful than the derby.”Spare a thought for the players’ families at times like this. “I wish this blessed derby would never come because my husband is obviously more agitated than usual,” complained Simonetta Cordova, the wife of ex-Roma captain Franco Cordova. “When I pop into the butchers or go shopping I always get given the same advice to pass on: ‘Signora, tell your husband on Sunday we have to win.'”At times it can feel like nothing else matters. On the eve of a derby in 1999, Sven-Goran Eriksson, the last Lazio coach to deliver the Scudetto, was asked for his impressions of the rivalry. “Today I bumped into a fan who said to me: ‘Mister, I couldn’t give a toss about the title, we have got to win the derby and that’s it.’ Naturally I am of a different opinion, but this gives an idea of how this game is felt in the city.”Ever since the derby appeared on the fixture list in December 1929, it has invariably been the measure of whether a season When Capello led Roma to glory in 2001, the team was motivated in no small measure by the desire to get even with Eriksson’s Lazio and put an end to how unbearable it was to have their “cousins” lording being champions of Italy over the city’s Romanisti all year. The sooner they did it, the better, and the satisfaction of winning the league was made double simply on account of them replacing Lazio as the No. 1 club in the country. The same can be said of the one and only Coppa Italia final to feature a Rome derby back in 2013. Lazio’s victory tasted all the sweeter, come as it did at Roma’s expense.To some, this is indicative of a small-town, provincial mentality that has held Rome’s clubs back. The idea of Roma Caput Mundi — Rome the capital of the world — has perhaps contributed to a mindset believing that anything outside the Aurelian walls is irrelevant.Italy coach Roberto Mancini, who played in Lazio’s Scudetto-winning side at the turn of the millennium, understood where fans were coming from but couldn’t help thinking that considering it the be-all and end-all only narrowed their focus. “I’d like to remind everyone we won the Scudetto at Samp in the year we lost the derby. If you want to win something that really matters, you need to get away from looking at things this way.”Some managers have set out to achieve that by treating the derby as if it were just another game. Your standard Sunday fare. “It’s no different from all the other games,” claimed Zdenek Zeman, a member of an exclusive club of managers who have stood on both sides of the divide. That was a big mistake. One that Simone Inzaghi and Eusebio di Francesco would never make. Having played in it themselves, Lazio and Roma’s current coaches know what this rivalry is all about. It’s an advantage principally because it allows them to relate to their players and what they are going through at the moment.The derby is always a chance for someone to become a hero, and boy have there been some unlikely ones over the years. Paolo Franzoni was a no-name player who had just joined Lazio from second-division side Brindisi in 1973. “I’d only just set foot in Rome.” The next thing he knew, he was coming on for an injured teammate and within 55 seconds he’d scored. “My head was spinning.” Needless to say, goals in this game have a higher currency than others. Just as a Scudetto in Rome is worth 10 in Milan or Turin, “two goals in the derby are better than eight in the league,” former Roma midfielder Massimiliano Cappioli used to say.But there’s always a flip side, namely that mistakes on which derby games turn are impossible to live down. They stay with you for years. “I didn’t sleep a wink, I was up all night, tossing and turning, trying to find a reason why. I was in pieces,” a distraught Marco Lanna recalled after giving away a last-minute penalty in 1996 for handball. Sure enough, Beppe Signori stepped up to the spot and in trademark no-run-up style, buried it to seal a 1-0 win for Lazio.These are the emotions the Rome derby provokes. It has led Lazio managers to dive into fountains, Francesco Totti to take a selfie under the Curva — not to mention dedicate his spare time to thinking about what taunt he’d like to print on a t-shirt that he’d reveal in the event he scored. It has produced some of the best fan choreographies in world football. The film Gladiator frankly has nothing on it.”Initially when I walked out on the pitch, my legs would be trembling,” the former Roma striker Andrea Carnevale reminisced, “then once the smoke from the flares evaporated, that’s when I went on the assault.”So as Senad Lulic and Daniele De Rossi lead their teams out on Saturday, one in the midst of a four-game winning streak, the other sincerely hoping a 4-0 win against Frosinone kick-starts their season, remember they are walking into a maelstrom of emotion that neither you nor I can comprehend, where the distance between euphoria and despair is as thin as the line they are about to cross. This is the Rome derby.

INDY ELEVEN DEFEAT TAMPA BAY ROWDIES, 2-0

By James Higdon, 09/27/18, 12:30AM EDT

The “Boys in Blue” continue to fight to secure playoff spot after a 2-0 clean sheet against the Rowdies

Indy Eleven wheel away victorious after shutting out long-time East coast rivals Tampa Bay Rowdies, 2-0. The three points nudge the “Boys in Blue” back into fifth place after suffering back-to-back losses in the previous two matches.“I was really pleased,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “I think in our last two home games, we’ve had two of our best performances. I think other than a couple little let downs in the Pittsburgh game, we’ve been on a run. So, it’s a ood time to be playing well.”Both sides displayed high energy in the opening moments as players made aggressive moves on either side of the pitch. An on-frame header by Eleven forward Jack McInerney in the 21st minute, which was deflected by Rowdies midfielder Afrim Taku, gave “Indiana’s Team” the first look at goal. Tampa Bay responded six minutes later when Eleven goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams brilliantly forced Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti’s one-touch shot from the top of the 18-yard box, ricocheting off the right post.The stalemate didn’t last as the “Boys in Blue” found the opening goal in the 37th minute. Defender and assist leader Ayoze played an in-swinging ball from the corner to the center of the six-yard box where defensive partner Karl Ouimette headed the shot into the lower left corner of the net. The goal was Ouimette’s third and Ayoze’s seventh assist of the season. Additionally, all three of Ouimette’s goals have been assisted by Ayoze from corner kicks.Tampa Bay tried to find the equalizer in the last moments of the first half. Rowdies midfielder Junior Flemmings beamed his shot towards goal from outside Indy’s box, but Fon Williams read the play well and knocked the attempt out of play. The Welshman recorded his 11th clean sheet of the year after a four-save performance.Indy Eleven sealed their victory in the 75th minute when forward Elliot Collier capitalized on a loose deflection inside Tampa Bay’s box. The shot, which was initially played into forward Jack McInerney, created the opportunity for the Chicago Fire loanee’s first goal for Indy.  The win inches the “Boys in Blue” closer to securing a playoff spot. For Rennie, the key to doing so will be retaining his side’s momentum in the final three matches of the season.“It’s really about continuing the momentum and when you have a good win you have to continue on for the next one,” Rennie said. “So, that’s what we’re looking for. It’s improvement. It’s confidence. It’s believing that they can do it.”The Circle City side will travel to the Buckeye State this Saturday to take on the newly crowned 2018 Eastern Conference Regular Season Champions, FC Cincinnati. Then, “Indiana’s Team” will return home one more time in the 2018 regular season to host Bethlehem Steel FC on Saturday, October 6. Fans can get tickets to the last home game of the year for as low as $15 at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.

USL Regular Season    Indy Eleven 2:0 Tampa Bay Rowdies
Wednesday, September 26, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.  Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, IN 
Scoring Sumary:

IND – Karl Ouimette (Ayoze) 37’
IND – Elliot Collier 75’

Indy Eleven lineup (4-4-2, L–>R): Owain Fon Williams (GK); Reiner Ferreira, Ayoze (C), Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette; Dylan Mares (Matt Watson 68’), Nico Matern, Seth Moses, Kevin Venegas; Elliot Collier (Soony Saad 84’), Jack McInerneyIndy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK); Brad Ring, Brad Rusin, Matt Watson, Juan Guerra, Ben Speas, Soony SaadTampa Bay Rowdies lineup (4-5-1, L–>R): Daniel Vega (GK); Papé Diakité, Zac Portillos, Tarek Morad, Hunter Gorskie; Junior Flemmings, Lance Rozeboom (Joe Cole 78’), Afrim Taku (Alex Morrell 72’), Dominic Oduro, Kwadwo Poku (Jaime Chavez 65’); Sebastian Guenzatti   Tampa Bay Rowdies bench: Akira Fitzgerald (GK); Kyle Porter, Alex Morrell, Leo Fernandes, Martin Vingaard, Joe Cole, Jaime Chavez

USL UNVEILS NEW STRUCTURE: ONE CENTRAL BRAND, THREE LEAGUES, EVOLVING FOR THE FUTURE

By IndyEleven.com, 09/25/18, 1:15PM EDTShare

USL Championship, USL League One and USL League Two will debut in 2019 season

TAMPA, Fla. – On a historic day for the evolution of soccer in North America, the United Soccer League has unveiled a new structure and brand identity for each of its top three leagues ahead of the 2019 season. “Today’s announcement comes at the dawn of an exciting new era for our sport,” said USL CEO Alec Papadakis. “The USL has spent the past eight years transforming our league to meet the evolving needs of our team owners, players, coaches, fans and partners. We have established our place in the U.S. soccer landscape while blazing the trail for professional soccer’s future by introducing a new third division, completing the nation’s professional soccer structure. “We are bringing three leagues under one central brand that will uniquely represent the USL’s vision for the future and give rise to local passion in new cities currently without professional soccer. The new brand and logos are inspiring and convey a new direction. They are innovative and modern and tell a story but more importantly, refuse to let others define us. The USL will now be modeled after a tried and respected international structure. One central brand, three leagues: USL Championship – the pinnacle of competition; USL League One – the foundation of professional soccer; and, USL League Two – the Path to Pro.“We are repositioning the competition under MLS with a new strategy, new names and logos,” concluded Papadakis. “As we look to the future, the USL is ready to put its fingerprints on U.S. Soccer’s drive toward becoming the best in the world, and its pursuit of winning a FIFA Men’s World Cup.” The new structure and branding will go into effect in advance of the 2019 season, at which point the USL will also unveil a modernized league website in order to showcase new, engaging digital content and help to better tell the organization’s story as it continues to push the limits of what is possible for professional soccer in North America.
United Soccer League

The USL’s new corporate logo symbolizes the growth of professional soccer in North America, incorporating 13 stripes to represent the U.S. flag. The blue letters pay homage to the league’s past while the new, modern logo and the white sphere represents a soccer ball in motion – propelling our sport forward into the future.
USL Championship

The pinnacle of competition – the USL Championship features a new gold design and represents the ultimate goal for players, coaches, fans and communities, all of whom aspire for excellence both on and off the field.The USL Championship is one of the most successful professional soccer leagues in the world, reaching a population of more than 84 million across more than 35 markets in 2019, and fueling the growth of the game across North America. At its core, the Championship is community. It’s the commitment of passionate and financially secure owners and talented players to embrace their hometowns, to create opportunity and to grow together through the beautiful game.
USL League One

The foundation of professional soccer – USL League One makes its mark with a vibrant, colorful identity, as it gears up for its debut in the 2019 season with league leadership and ownership that will forge a unique identity – driven by determination, unity and inspiration.League One brings discovery – delivering professional soccer to communities without a team, offering the first chance for new fans to dance and sing for 90 minutes, to fall more in love with the game every single week. League One also provides the opportunity and the first step in the professional ranks for players and coaches yearning to climb and pursue their dreams.
USL League Two

The #Path2Pro – the PDL will become USL League Two – the elite pre-professional tier in North American soccer and the established developmental platform for U-23 and collegiate players, fans and communities.Maintaining its heritage with a bold, red logo, League Two will continue to forge the game’s future, delivering the first taste of premier competition in an authentic national soccer environment with a hyper-local focus. It is the gateway to stardom for those who prove they belong and have the desire to advance into the professional ranks, providing more than 70 percent of players selected in the MLS SuperDraft over the

Hump Day Happiness In The Circle City

By REBECCA TOWNSEND (aka The Pitch Bitch)  http://bshambles.blogspot.com

Looking for redemption for the 3-1 loss suffered during their July 21 visit to Tampa Bay, Indy Eleven met the Rowdies at Lucas Oil Stadium Wednesday night with a lineup designed for defensive impenetrability while maximizing the host’s capacity to spread the field and counterattack.Focus and intensity ensured Indy Eleven eluded some of the gremlins that have cost the team victories in games past. The Boys in Blue made it through the opening minutes of the game — and the opening minutes of the second half — without being scored on. And those successes stuck, allowing the Eleven to claim victory — and for keeper Owain Fôn Williams to record his 11th clean sheet of the season. (Head coach Martin Rennie believes Fôn Williams either tied or set the club clean sheet record with the evening’s result.)
Fôn Williams is tied for seventh in the entire USL for number of saved goals at 77 (including two blocked penalty kicks). (The Tulsa Roughnecks FC’s Fabián Cerda leads with 104.)

Indy’s defense was entirely no-nonsense straight from the start. Reiner Ferreira sent Junior Flemmings crumbling to the carpet on a couple occasions in the game’s opening minutes. Captain Ayoze showed commanding control of his flank and the rest of the back line, in lock-step and interchangeable flow with the midfield and even the forwards, all followed suit by putting immediate and effective pressure on Tampa’s possession, absorbing everything they could bring and then redistributing for the counterattack from all directions of the field.”Patient passing; low, accurate switching of fields…still more, patiently unzipping their backline,” Pitch Bitch game notes read. “Maybe now test with some shots.”That may be the Bitch’s greatest input at this point: Let’s be even more confident in the attacking third. Let’s test the hell out of our opposing keepers and D with some wicked hard shots from all around the 18 perimeters! And then crash the box! Keep their defense frantic! The clinical un-stitching with close-range destruction is also beautiful to behold. Have fun finding balance. Keep bringing your highly fit relentless intensity.  Carlyle Mitchell gets credit for so much, but to choose a highlight: Picture him in the first half, flying backward through the air for a floating heading clearance of a ball that was going to drop over every other defender and land about 10 yards out from Indy’s goal with a swarm of Rowdies rushing in to finish? Nice.

Midfielders Nico Matern, Seth Moses and Dylan Mares all came out hard, defending like animals and then building consistent and effective counterattacks. Matern, in particular, was called out by coach Rennie after the game for having one of his best-ever matches.Matern’s play “was a key factor in us improving our possession and keeping the ball going,” Rennie said.Tampa Bay’s play of the game came in the 26th minute when Rowdies forward Sebastian Guenzatti took a wicked one-touch volley from the top of the box, forcing lightening fast reflexes from Fôn Williams, who just managed to the tip the ball off the post and out of harm’s way.”Great shot! Great save!” says commentator Brad Hauter, also the coach of DePauw Men’s Soccer.Ten minutes later Indy defender Kevin Venegas cracks a shot of his own, forcing Tampa keeper Daniel Vega into a diving save to tip the ball over the crossbar. The defense continued its offensive onslaught of first-half fury when Karl Ouimette bagged his third goal of the season, which also happened to be his third header into goal from an Ayoze corner kick.How did it feel?”Amazing!” Ouimette said following the game, calling Indy Eleven’s 2-0 victory over the Rowdies “a big step up from past games.”The game’s positive results were clear, he said, especially from the perspective of a defender whose first objective is to win and second is to record a shutout. “We scored a goal and we didn’t sit back too much,” he said, “We defended wellthroughout the game. We were able to dominate and put up pressure and impose our style of play. That was a big plus for us today. And, obviously, scoring on a personal side is always good!”The team has “amazing players..such nice guys and we have each others’ backs,” he added. “Lots of teams have internal negativity. Not here. We want to help each other succeed.”Ouimette attended a post-game press conference with one of the team’s most recent signings, Elliott Collier, who came to the Circle City on loan from Chicago Fire. Collier scored the night’s second goal after beautiful teamwork set up Jack McInerney to tangle Tampa’s defenders and leave a deflected ball rolling straight into Collier’s path at which point the New Zealand native buried left-footed, one-touch shot.Tense moments about 10 minutes into the second half when an errant call from officials left Tampa Bay setting up for an undeserved penalty kick, which if netted would have tied the score. The center official intervened, however, and reset the play where with a drop ball instead. Thereby a riot was prevented. Thank you refs!

Perspective on Potential Post-season Action
The team’s playoff dreams are still in play. They currently sit at 5th place in the USL’s Eastern Conference. The top eight teams from each conference will square off to see who will face the best of the Western Conference and claim the USL’s 2018 Championship.Three games remain, including two road games against teams that sit at the first and third spots on the table. This upcoming Saturday’s (Sept. 29) road trip to FC Cincinnati presents a huge challenge and opportunity. Cincy has invested in a roster that will help them make the transition into the MLS next season. As a result, they’ve remained the Eastern Conference leader all season long — and they’ve beat Indy twice; a 0-1 defeat for Indy’s first-ever home game played at Lucas Oil Stadium, followed by a 2-3 result in Indy one month later.

The challenge lies in beating a team that has consistently dominated all competition. The opportunity lies in knowing that Indy improved its form from the first game to the second against Cincy. Plus, Indy Eleven has been improving as a unit all season and FC Cincinnati hasn’t contended with them since early May. The prospect of tearing down the top dog is too tasty, especially on its home field. Huge egos are designed by God to rupture. The Eleven just may end up doing the Lord’s work by checking their neighbor to the southeast with a healthy dose of revenge. How fun would it be to send those guys packing to the MLS with a 2-2 record against Indy? A regular season victory this weekend would give Indy one and then they can follow with an even sweeter playoff victory! A prescient piece of Scripture comes to mind: “Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.'” (Matthew 19:26)So when haters try to talk “odds” or “reason” or “logic” or “MLS caliber” … just remember Jesus — and the Blues Brothers. (“We’re on a mission from God.”) And keep playing your flippin’ hearts out! We take no result as a fore-drawn conclusion.Jimmy Cliff also comes to mind: “The harder they come, the harder they fall.”
Humbling the haughty and earning some payback for letting those jokers come over here and steal Indy’s first home game victory — all while building confidence as the team prepares for winning playoff form? Sounds like solid motivation for Saturday’s match.”I feel we’ll reward the fans with the way we play,” Collier said. “You get the fans behind you, you can shake the other team, as well. So come on out and we’ll have a good time
Cincinnati and Louisville will be a preview of the playoffs, Collier said. “Everyone is going to go at it,” he said. “Those environments can be tough but we’re going to go out and do what we can (in terms of perfecting the Indy system)… As good as the players are here, I think they’re even better people. Bring a bunch of really good soccer players and really good people together, you’ll have a good environment to build off.”

Words of wisdom from Coach Rennie

Here are some tasty nuggets gleaned from Rennie’s post-game comments.”Good performance. We possessed the ball well and created some good chances.e managed to win the ball higher up pressure on the ball reduce the chances the opponent had to attack us.””In the last two home games, two of our best performances.””We’ve been on a good run. It’s a good time to be playing well, it’s a good time to be gaining confidence and that puts us in a good position.”(Heading into Cincinnati:) “We have high-quality players who can get the job done for us. We have a short turnaround but ultimately it will be an exciting weekend for us.”
“It’s really about continuing the momentum … we’re looking for improved confidence.””The game will take care of itself … a lot on the line … good players with good experience…I’m sure they’ll relish the opportunity and make the most of it.”
Moving forward

Supporters are encouraged to travel to Cincinnati (ticket info) this weekend and to Louisville where the team will play its final regular-season game on Oct. 13. The Brickyard Battalion is organizing carpools for Cincy here: https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSdsh6da2VlW67jjKj2KpeM0GsHPOqk9zZZfaBNOqgrn2vIQJQ/viewform.The final regular-season home game is set for Sat., Oct. 6 against Bethlehem Steel FC. (The game will be broadcast on MyIndy 23 TV. Tell your local bartender to tune in!) Kickoff  is 7 p.m.Fee-free tickets are available for purchase through the Brickyard Battalion supporters club at BYBtix.com. The team has plenty of good deals, as well, at IndyEleven.com.

 

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

 

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9/21 CHS Ladies Pack the House Sat Night – CFC Free Admin with Jersey, Indy 11 home Wed 9/26

Carmel High School

The 4th ranked Carmel High Girls face Zionsville Sat at home at Murray Stadium all at 7 pm.  Saturday night is PACK THE HOUSE NIGHT- SENIOR NIGHT.  Free admission if you wear your Carmel FC or Carmel Dad’s Club Jersey!!

chs_packhouse922

Indy 11

The Eleven will be on the road Saturday at the 2nd place Pittsburg 7 pm on ESPN+ before returning home Wed night, Sept 26 vs the Tampa Bay Rowdies as the 11 present Faith and Family night. 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.   Just 2 home games left before the playoff so get plans to catch a game before the playoffs get underway.

Champions League

Ok so Champions League is back with all its glory – US youngster Christian Pulisic scored on his 20th birthday to lift Dortmund to their 1-0 win Tuesday.  Liverpool won a classic over PSG (without Buffon) 3-2 as they came back and Fermino scored a wonder goal in darn near the 90th minute at home at Anfield.  The usual suspects all won except the English squads of Tottenham a 1-2 loser on the road to ____ and Man City dropped their 4th UCL game in a row this one at home 2-1 to ____ as Pep watched from the stands finishing out his ban. Speaking of bans – Renaldo got a Red Card and was kicked out – his first time ever in a Champions League game – as he reacted to defender flopping by him by rubbing his head.  (Red Card – I don’t think so – but they could give him a 2 game suspension – (lets hope not as Juve and Renaldo are set to play at Man United in 2 games).  Mighty hard to watch the games – I got the two games each day on TNT – but watching online was tough on Univision – I got just 1 or 2 other Spanish language only options.  Not sure yet how they heck to see the games but I hate it !! Daggum TNT screwing up a good thing on Fox Sports.

MLS

Former MLS Champion Toronto FC lost to Mexico’s Liga MX Champion Tigres in Wednesday Night 3-1 in the Campeones Cup game between last year’s Champions of MLS and Liga MX.  Good game but Toronto just isn’t nearly as good as last year’s team.  This weekend Sunday evening we get 2 teams playing for their playoff lives as Seattle hosts the LA Galaxy and Zlattan at 7 pm on FS1. Not many good games in Europe – see the full TV schedule below.

GAMES ON TV

Sat, Sept 22     

7:30 am NBCSN            Fulham vs Watford  

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenheim vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

10 am NBCSN                Liverpool vs Southampton 

12:30 pm NBC               Brighton vs Tottenham

12:30 pm beIN Sport                       Gatafe vs Atletico Madrid

12:30 pm Fox Soccer                       Schalke (McKinney) vs Bayern Munich

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Espanol vs Real Madrid

7:30 pm ESPN+            Columbus Crew vs Colorado

7 pm eSPN+                    Pittsburg vs Indy 11

Sun, Sept 23     

8:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Chelsea  

9:30 am FS 1                  Bayern Leverkusen vs Mainz

11 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Everton

12 noon FS1                   Frankfurt vs RB Leipzig

1 pm ESPN                       Philly Union vs Sporting KC

2:45 pm beinSport    Barcelona vs Girona

7 pm FS1                           LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

7 pm ESPN+                    Vancuover vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Weds, Sept 26  

7 pm myIndytv             Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies

8 pm ESPN+                    DC United vs Min United

 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

USA & MLS 

David Moyes wants US Job

Pulisic scores Goal in his 100th game for Dortmund in Champions League on his Birthday

Pulisic Scores Birthday Winning Goal vs Brugge – ESPNFC

Tigres trump Toronto 3-1 in Campiones Cup

The story behind NC Courage’s record-breaking season

Everything you need to know ahead of the NWSL Championship

September is Youth Soccer Month

Champions League

European round-up: Messi hat-trick as Ronaldo sees red 

Pogba and Messi in Champions League team of the week

7 stars set to burst onto the European scene in a big way

Was Mo Salah Pissed After Fermino came on and scored for him?

 GOALIES

Neuer Triple Save off PK for Bayern

Great Saves Champions League – Roma

Great GK Saves in Sept

Degea Great Saves vs Watford

Cortouis Dances

Gigi Buffon Great Saves in 1st 5 games for PSG

Cool GK Drill

Indy 11

Preview of Indy 11 vs Pitts

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for 9/26 Game!   (Code 2018Indy)

Forward Eugene Starikov on USL Team of Week

Indy 11 Flow the Goals in Pounding of Red Bulls – Bloodyshambles

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.

Get Your Tickets to be with the BYB

The Boys in Blue get a week-long rest after a 22-day, 7 game stretch. The BYB will be following the team for two away games this month. For those who cheer the team on from Indiana, there will be watch parties and home games to get your beautiful game fix.  9/26 v Tampa Bay Rowdies (7pm) is Faith & Family Night. Don’t wait, get your BYBTIX today.  It is also the evening for us to celebrate the original live mascot, Loki/Victorio. Watch for more information as the date approaches.

9/22 Sat 7 pm watch party v Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Union Jack in Broad Ripple ~watch for the BYB as we drown out the Puddle Poodle fans with our traveling crew.

9/26 Wed 7 pm Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies Home

indy11926game

WATCH: Christian Pulisic Scores Champions League Game-Winner on 20th Birthday

By EMILY CARON September 18, 2018  https://www.si.com/soccer/2018/09/18/christian-pulisic-champions-league-soccer-birthday-goal

American soccer sensation Christian Pulisic scored an absurd (and sort of accidental) game-winning goal in the Champions League on his 20th birthday.Pulisic netted the only goal of the match in the 85th minute for Dortmund, giving BVB a 1-0 win over Belgium’s Club Brugge. Pulisic, who came off the bench in his return to action after a muscular injury, provided the energy manager Lucien Favre was seeking, as he pressured the defense on a clearance attempt and blocked it with his shin. The ball looped over the goalkeeper and under the bar for the strike that wound up being the game-winner and the second Champions League goal of Pulisic’s burgeoning career.The match was also Pulisic’s 100th career appearance with Dortmund, and the win helped BVB keep pace with Atletico Madrid–a 2-1 winner over Monaco–atop Group A in the Champions League.

Tigres trump Toronto as Reds’ woeful 2018 continues in Campeones Cup

Sep 19, 2018Arch Bell

Here are three points on Tigres’ 3-1 Campeones Cup win over Toronto FC on Wednesday at BMO Field.

  1. Tigres’ quality rises to the surface

You could say that this was a classic Tigres performance. First there was a feeling-out period, and then once the weaknesses were properly identified, Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti’s men went to work.The lack of communication on a Toronto FC back line consisting of Nick Hagglund, Michael Bradley and Eriq Zavaleta played right into Tigres’ hands. The Mexican side used the wings to great effect, and it was from the left flank that Jesus Duenas scored the first of his two goals. His run was timed to perfection, catching Gregory van der Wiel and Zavaleta flat-footed, and there was only so much Bradley could do as Duenas finished with aplomb past Alex Bono. It wasn’t like Tigres were bombarding the TFC goal in the first half. Before the Duenas goal, the only real chance was Eduardo Vargas firing wide after a Hagglund giveaway and a pair of testing free kicks that evoked memories of Bono’s Champions League final first-leg gaffe against Chivas.Star striker Andre-Pierre Gignac wasn’t even that effective, but the class and quality of the men in yellow, combined with Toronto’s vulnerable back line, would bear out. That was evidenced by the Reds’ failure to clear a corner kick, which played right into Duenas’ wheelhouse, and Bono had no chance to save the right-footed rocket.

The brace was just reward for Duenas, a player who quietly has been a consistent performer throughout Tigres’ recent run of titles. It also must be pretty nice for Ferretti to look down at his bench and see the likes of Enner Valencia or Jurgen Damm available to play, and it was pressure from the former that eventually led to the Zavaleta own goal that put the nail in Toronto’s coffin.

  1. Toronto’s season in a nutshell

This match pretty much summed up 2018 for Toronto FC.A defense that was so solid last season — 37 regular-season goals conceded — has been leaky throughout 2018, giving up 55 goals thus far in MLS. That played out on Wednesday night for Greg Vanney’s squad, as the lack of defensive solidity reared its head, and a team as talented as Tigres was simply not going to let that go unpunished.It was ball-watching on the first Duenas goal and a failure to clear lines on Duenas’ sizzling second, and then the Zavaleta own goal was the perfect capper to what was a miserable evening.It was also the same old story on the injury front for Toronto. Truth be told, when Sebastian Giovinco had to leave the field late in the first half, TFC’s comeback chances were slim to none, even with the scoreline just 1-0.The Italian served up the two corner kicks that led to TFC’s best chances in the first half: a mis-hit Hagglund header and a Jay Chapman header that hit the crossbar. Without Giovinco on the field, Jozy Altidore was ineffective.If there was one positive to be taken for Vanney, it was the late spurt once Tosaint Ricketts came on for Altidore, but it was never going to be enough against a Tigres team well steeled in winning finals.

  1. The Pizarro difference

While Ferretti rolled out a starting XI that featured many of the same names from last spring’s CONCACAF Champions League clashes, there was one notable difference: Guido Pizarro. The Argentine plays a crucial role for the Felinos in defensive midfield, but he wasn’t on the field back in March. After four years in Monterrey from 2013-17, Pizarro spent the 2017-18 season with Sevilla before returning to Liga MX in June.Pizarro was a huge part of those 2015 and 2016 Aperture-winning sides, plus he helped Tigres reach two Champions League finals and a Copa Libertadores final. This is all to point out that Pizarro handles his duties extremely well and always seems to deliver in big games for Ferretti.Wednesday night was no different. Sitting in front of Tigres’ defense, Pizarro ensured that Toronto FC barely got a whiff of Tigres goalkeeper Nahuel Guzman in open play. The fluidity that Toronto showed in the first leg last March was nowhere to be found. One has to wonder, if Pizarro had been on the field six months ago, perhaps things would have been different.

The “Boys in Blue” to take on Riverhounds SC for the third time in 2018

REVIEW:

Indy Eleven Gameday & Match Preview
Indy Eleven at Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC  – #PGHvIND
Saturday, September 22, 2018 – 7:00 P.M. EST

Highmark Stadium – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania      ESPN+  

WEEK 28: DOWN TO THE LAST FIVE MATCHES

Indy Eleven’s inaugural 2018 USL season dwindles down to its last five games, as the “Boys in Blue” take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC in both team’s third matchup of the season. Only five points separate the two sides, who’ve drawn both matches they’ve played against each other this season.Indy Eleven (12W-8L-9D) remain fifth in the Eastern Conference with 45 points after suffering their first loss since going nine games undefeated. Penn FC scored the lone goal in a 1-0 defeat in the 57th minute. The “Boys in Blue” conceded their 34th goal to Penn FC midfielder Paulo Junior, after a shot from the right side of the 18-yard box deflected off Indy goalkeeper Owain Fon Williams’ hand and into the net. Leading goal scorers and forwards Jack McInerney (9) and Eugene Starikov (5) were unable to add to their tally. “Indiana’s Team’s” road record drops to 5W-4L-5D after the defeat. Indy has scored and conceded 14 goals on the road in 2018.Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC (13W-4L-11D) are currently third in the Eastern Conference with 50 points after a late comeback led to a 2-2 draw against Louisville City FC. A Louisville City own goal got the comeback started in the 86th minute. Five minutes later, forward and Captain Kenardo Forbes leveled the game with a spot kick and his third goal of the season. Leading goal scorer and forward Neco Brett (14) was unable to find the back of the net in the draw. Pittsburgh goalkeeper Daniel Lynd couldn’t add another clean sheet to the 11 he’s tallied in 2018. Pittsburgh returns home, where they possess an 8W-2L-6D record.A victory against Pittsburgh would mean Indy would be victorious in the series, as either side is yet to defeat the other.

INDY ELEVEN PLAYER TO WATCH: FW JACK MCINERNEY

The last time Indy Eleven faced Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC, late theatrics from forward Jack McInerney rescued a point for the “Boys in Blue”. McInerney scored a brace in the last fixture against Riverhounds SC. One of those goals came in the 94th minute, when he clinically finished a ball played in by midfielder Ben Speas.McInerney has been the forward in form as of late. He leads “Indiana’s Team” in scoring with nine goals total, six of which came in the last 10 games. The 26-year-old will need to find that form again against the toughest defense in the Eastern Conference if the “Boys in Blue” are to come home with three points.

PITTSBURGH RIVERHOUNDS SC PLAYER TO WATCH: FW CHRISTIANO FRANÇOIS

Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC forward Christiano François hasn’t been the star forward for the Riverhounds, but has positively impacted games in a quiet manner. The forward has only found the back of the net four times during the 2018 season, but has found a way to impact games when his team needs him most.For example, in Indy Eleven’s second fixture against Pittsburgh, François played in a perfectly weighted free kick that found the head of teammate Joseph Greenspan to level the game at one. Francois also scored the goal that gave Riverhounds SC a 2-1 lead in the 59th minute, when Brett was having a quiet night. The odds of Brett having another quiet night are most likely low, but if he does, François will be there to pick up the slack.

MAtcUP TO MARK: INDY DEFENSE VS. PITTSBURGH DEFENSE

Indy will face Riverhounds SC at Highmark Stadium in Pennsylvania, where the Riverhounds have only conceded six times on their way to an 8W-2L-6D home record. The Pennsylvania team has conceded a total of 19 goals in 2018, the least of any USL side and earned 15 clean sheets, the most of any USL side. Despite the solid record defensively, the side’s defense has been trending downward lately.In the first 23 games of the season, Pittsburgh conceded 11 goals and earned 15 clean sheets. In the last five games, they’ve conceded eight goals and kept zero clean sheets, the worst of any five game stretch in 2018. The Riverhounds also conceded more than one goal only three times in their first 23 games. The Quaker State side has equaled that number in the last five, allowing two goals a total of three times. One of the games where Riverhounds allowed more than one goal was in the Week 25 matchup against Indy Eleven.This is good news for Indy head coach Martin Rennie. It means his streaking offense should be able to break down the Riverhounds back line. Rennie will still need to be careful defensively though. Riverhounds SC has scored 22 of their 38 goals at home in 2018. They also possess the third highest goal scorer in the Eastern Conference in forward Neco Brett and the man with the fourth most assists in the East in midfielder Kenardo Forbes.Rennie will need to make sure his backline is tactically sound to stop Pittsburgh. Indy started the season with one of the strongest road records, keeping four clean sheets and allowing only one team to score in their first five road matches. In the last five road matches, the “Boys in Blue” have kept two clean sheets and allowed four goals.
Don’t miss a second of the action! Fans can catch all Indy Eleven matches online on ESPN+ for just $5 a month. New users can access a seven-day free trial by visiting plus.espn.com.

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

9/17/18 Champ League Tues/Wed, CHS Ladies Pack the House Fri Night 9/21 – Free Admin with Jersey, Indy 11 home 9/26


Carmel High School

The 4th ranked Carmel High Girls face #3 Noblesville tonight away and #19 Brebeuf Thurs and Zionsville Sat at home at Murray Stadium all at 7 pm.  Saturday night 9/21 is PACK THE HOUSE NIGHT- SENIOR NIGHT.  FREE ADMISSION if you wear your Carmel FC or Carmel Dad’s Club Jersey! 

chs_packhouse922

Champions League Group Stages

So Champions League group stages are back –not sure yet how the heck to watch the games.  First things first – find TNT on the your Cable because that is the channel that will be carrying Champions League this season unfortunately.  As much as folks complained about Fox Sports coverage – wait till you see TNT’s coverage.  They are running 30 minute pregame and post game shows – with Tim Howard and Stu Holden and others but man the production coverage is ah interesting.  Anyway the new 1 pm games are welcome as we’ll get to see 1 game at 1 pm and the other at  3 pm this year rather than having all the games kickoff at 2:45 pm on 2 channels.  Now the catch is TNT is only going to show 1 game at a time on TV – (I have no idea how to watch the 2nd game – Univision online maybe?  I will update you if I figure it out this week). Meanwhile we do get some beautiful games this week Tues gives us Liverpool hosting PSG at 3 pm on TNT, while Monico travels to Atletico.  Barcelona will host PSV on TNT at 1 pm Tues, while Wednesday gives us defending Champs Real Madrid vs Roma on TNT at 3 pm while Valencia hosts Juve.

Indy 11

The Eleven will be on the road Saturday at 2nd place Pittsburg at 7 pm on ESPN+ before returning home Wed night, Sept 26 vs the Tampa Bay Rowdies as the 11 present Faith and Family night. 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.   Just 2 home games left before the playoff so get plans to catch a game before the playoffs get underway.  

MLS

Former MLS Champion Toronto FC will take aim at Mexico’s Liga MX Champion Tigres in Wednesday Night’s Campeones Cup game at 8:15 on ESPN2.

GAMES ON TV

Tues, Sept 18  

1 pm TNT                          Barcelona v PSV

1 pm                                    Inter vs Tottenham

3 pm TNT                            Liverpool vs PSG

3 pm                                    Monico vs Atletico Madrid

Weds, Sept 19  

1 pm TNT                          Ajax vs AEK Athens  

1 pm                                    Man City vs Olympique Lyonnais  

3 pm TNT                           Real Madrid vs Roma  

3 pm                                    Valencia vs Juventus  

8:15 pm ESPN2                  Toronto vs Tigres Campeones Cup 

Sat, Sept 22     

7:30 am NBCSN            Fulham vs Watford  

9:30 am FS 1                  Hoffenheim vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

10 am NBCSN                Liverpool vs Southampton  

12:30 pm NBC               Brighton vs Tottenham

12:30 pm beIN Sport    Gatafe vs Atletico Madrid

12:30 pm Fox Soccer  Schalke (McKinney) vs Bayern Munich

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Espanol vs Real Madrid

7:30 pm ESPN+            Columbus Crew vs Colorado

7 pm eSPN+                    Pittsburg vs Indy 11

Sun, Sept 23     

8:30 am NBCSN            West Ham vs Chelsea  

9:30 am FS 1                  Bayern Leverkusen vs Mainz

11 am NBCSN                 Arsenal vs Everton

12 noon FS1                   Frankfurt vs RB Leipzig

1 pm ESPN                       Philly Union vs Sporting KC

2:45 pm beinSport    Barcelona vs Girona

7 pm FS1                           LA Galaxy vs Seattle Sounders

7 pm ESPN+                    Vancuover vs Dallas (Matt Hedges)

Weds, Sept 26  

7 pm myIndytv             Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies

8:30 pm

8 pm ESPN+                    DC United vs Min United

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

Champions League

US Christian Pulisic due back for Dortmund Champions League Clash Tues

Champions League Questions

Can Real Madrid win without Renaldo?

Rest Harry Kane for Tottenham vs Inter Milan – Are You Crazy?

Liverpool Skip UCL to Win the EPL – No Way Says Gary Neville – We are Contenders for Both

Buffon Travels with PSG Tim Weah Stays home however in clash with Liverpool Tues 3 pm

Klopp Defends Neymar Dives

Renaldo Finally Scores Goals for Juve

Gareth Bale – Anger fueled UCL Final Bike in Final last Year

Champions League Times Change

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TFC want to show in Campeones Cup CCL run no fluke

Long-term Campeones Cup broadcast deal signed

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Seltzer: The top 10 Liga MX vs. MLS encounters

Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic to return for Champions League clash

4:21 AM ETStephan UersfeldGermany correspondent

United States international Christian Pulisic is set to return to Borussia Dortmund’s squad for their Champions League match at Club Brugge.Pulisic is set to return to the BVB squad after missing the last two league matches with muscular problems, having last played in the 4-1 win over RB Leipzig on Aug 26.The 19-year-old will make his 100th senior Dortmund appearance on Tuesday if selected.Having started their Bundesliga campaign with two wins and one draw, Dortmund will look to return to winning ways in Champions League, where they have not won since a 4-0 victory over Benfica on March 8, 2017.But they will be without forward Paco Alcacer and midfielder Thomas Delaney.When departing for Brugge early on Monday, Dortmund were without Alcacer — who scored on his debut for the club on Friday, but he also picked up a muscle injury — and Delaney, who is also nursing a minor injury.

Champions League questions: Can Madrid win without Ronaldo? Can Juventus win with him?

From a neutrals point of view, the FC panel feel the 2018/19 Champions League group stage will be full of mouth-watering fixtures. (5:09)

11:59 AM ETMichael CoxESPN.com writer

  • FacebookThe Champions League group stage begins with 31 teams attempting to deny Real Madrid a fourth straight triumph. All of the main contenders have questions to answer, so we asked Michael Cox to look at one key issue for each of the likely challengers.

CAN GARETH BALE COMPENSATE FOR LOSS OF RENALDO

The major surprise from the European Cup holders’ summer was not that Real Madrid sold Cristiano Ronaldo, but that they did not really replace him. Kylian Mbappe, Eden Hazard and Neymar seemed the obvious choices, but instead Madrid are taking the very un-Real approach of expecting others to step up. Fortunately, there is certainly the potential within the ranks for individual development.Gareth Bale will relish the opportunity to become the main man, while Karim Benzema can focus on scoring himself rather than teeing up Ronaldo and Marco Asensio is one of Europe’s most talented youngsters. Isco, meanwhile, might become a key tactical weapon rather than flitting around, almost separated from the tactical system. Ultimately, though, Ronaldo scored a goal a game, so every attacker must improve his goal return to compensate.

DOES RONALDO AFFECT JUVES TACTICAL DISCIPLINE ?

Juventus have regularly reached the latter stages of the Champions League in recent years and were beaten finalists in 2015 and 2017. Their advantage over every other side in the competition is their tactical acumen: their defensive ability combined with the flexibility that comes naturally to Italian sides. But will the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo affect that?Ronaldo is not particularly keen on taking defensive responsibility and, while he is considered an outright centre-forward rather than a wide player, Juve boss Max Allegri has sometimes asked strikers to retreat into a deep block. That is a relatively unfamiliar role for the ex-Real Madrid man and so, while Juve have more star quality, they have perhaps lost some tactical harmony.

CAN LIVERPOOL COMPETE ON 2 FRONTS?

Liverpool played in May’s Champions League final and have improved this season but their status as Premier League title contenders means that Jurgen Klopp’s resources will be stretched, given the Reds will be desperate not to drop any points in their bid to dethrone Manchester City.That scenario could make it difficult to compete on two fronts, especially as their manager’s high-energy system drains legs and there is suspicion it increases the likelihood of injuries. Liverpool have a better squad — newcomers like Xherdan Shaqiri and Fabinho have been unable to break into the first XI — but it is notable that Klopp’s sides have usually mounted a serious challenge at home or abroad, rather than both.

WHAT SYSTEM DOES KOVAC USE WITH BAYERN MUNICH? 

We have become so accustomed to the same old names touring Europe’s major clubs as manager that, when one of the big sides takes a chance on the boss of a smaller side, it comes as something of a surprise.

Niko Kovac impressed while in charge of Eintracht Frankfurt — his parting gift in May was a German Cup final win over Bayern — but expectations are greater at Bayern in terms of tactics and man management. Ultimately, Kovac has not yet been tested against Europe’s elite and, as Carlo Ancelotti found last season, the Bayern dressing room can be difficult to win over.

WHO WILL DOMINATE BARCA MIDFIELD ??

It felt strange when Xavi Hernandez left Barcelona three years ago and it feels more odd now that his old mate Andres Iniesta has also departed. Although not always a regular last season, he often saved his best performances for big games, dictating the midfield passing with grace and patience.

Without him, Philippe Coutinho provides flashes of inspiration more than metronomic passing quality, while Ivan Rakitic always seems better playing a supporting role rather than leading the midfield. Sergio Busquets operates in a very different role to Iniesta, so it might be down to Lionel Messi to play deeper than ever, starting moves more than

CAN MAN CITY DEFEND WELL ENOUGH TO COMPETE IN UCL? 

Winning a knockout competition usually depends upon keeping key clean sheets along the way, but Manchester City have never looked entirely convincing at the back under Pep Guardiola. He has created a technical side that plays without a conventional defensive midfielder and has increasingly attempted to use technical centre-backs.

John Stones and Aymeric Laporte have been favoured this season, but Stones remains liable to mistakes and Laporte is a similar operator rather than a defensive rock. City conceded three goals against Liverpool in the first half hour of last season’s quarterfinal, essentially putting an end to their Champions League ambitions. They will need to be more solid this time around.

WILL MOURINHO EVEN BE HERE FOR KNOCKOUT STAGE FOR MAN U? 

The obvious question remains the most important factor in assessing Manchester United’s likely European performance. Mourinho’s “third-season syndrome” caused problems during his time at Real Madrid and Chelsea, and United’s form so far this season has been thoroughly unconvincing, with their manager still uncertain about his preferred combinations in midfield and in defence.Mourinho made his name in this competition, triumphing with Porto in 2004 and winning his second European Cup with Inter in 2010, but nine seasons since his last Champions League success, he must prove he can compete with Europe’s best and lead a club for a sustained period.

IS PSG TESTED ENOUGH IN ITALY TO COMPETE IN ULC?   

Not since Porto beat Monaco in 2004 has a club from outside Spain, England, Germany and Italy reached the Champions League final. PSG might seem the most likely to “break in” but, despite their riches, the French giants have not been able to progress even as far as the semifinals. A major reason for this is that they are simply not tested enough in Ligue 1, even if it does keep them physically fresh.PSG’s domestic games are not only too easy to sustain the requisite level for Champions League winners, but they are also entirely difficult tactically; they always dominate possession and usual have to break down a deep defence. In Europe, when pressed and outpassed and on the back foot, PSG can be exposed.

IS HARRY KANE TOO TIRED FOR TOTTENHAM? 

It seems bizarre to speculate about a possible decline in Harry Kane’s scoring ability, considering last season was his most prolific to date — he netted 41 goals in all competitions — and he won the World Cup’s Golden Boot in the summer. However, he looks less mobile and sharp and his shot totals have declined significantly: An average of almost five per game in last season’s Premier League has dropped to half that number.There is more to his game than goals and he has played a good supporting role for a strike partner with more energy: Raheem Sterling for England and Lucas Moura at club level. But Spurs have come to depend upon Kane’s prolific scoring ability and, if he does not find top form in the spring, it is difficult to imagine them going deep in the Champions League.

WHAT ROLE DOES GREIZMAN PLAY FOR ATLETICO MADRID  ? 

The nature of Antoine Griezmann’s decision about where to play this season left a bitter taste, especially given he chose to announce it in a video on social media, but the decision itself was a huge boost to Spanish and European football. Rather than becoming yet another big name at Barcelona, he remains the only true superstar at Atletico.

That is crucial for Diego Simeone’s side, an otherwise solid, brilliantly organised team that would lack individual magic without the French forward. Griezmann can play upfront alongside Diego Costa but has increasingly showed an ability to drop deep, orchestrate play and provide penetrative passes. That role might be more important in the Champions League, as Atletico attempt to break down tighter defences than they encounter in La Liga.

CAN ANCELOTTI HELP NAPOLI PLAY NOW THAT WE KNOW THEY ARE GOOD? 

Carlo Ancelotti essentially made his name by succeeding in European competition, taking Milan to two European Cup triumphs before winning another with Real Madrid. Indeed, his sides have often fared better in the Champions League than in domestic league play. However, in recent years Ancelotti’s overall tactical acumen has been questioned.Last season’s failure at Bayern Munich, from where he was sacked before the end of September, was particularly notable. His players felt that training sessions lacked the requisite intensity and complexity and there is a sense that Ancelotti remains a laissez-faire manager in an era that demands game plans that are more intricate. Napoli’s new manager is seeking to prove he has not been left behind.

Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino: ‘Crazy’ to rest Harry Kane against Inter Milan

9:43 AM ET

Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has said it would be “crazy” not to play Harry Kane against Inter Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday.England striker Kane struggled to make an impact in Saturday’s Premier League home defeat to Liverpool but has denied that he is suffering from burnout after the World Cup.And Pochettino, speaking at a news conference ahead of the game at the San Siro, said Kane — who has scored twice in the Premier League this season — would be starting.”I think we would be crazy to think different. I don’t know what you expect from me, or what you think my answer should be,” he said.”He’s one of the best strikers in the world. I don’t care that he wasn’t great [against Liverpool]. He’s going to score goals and he’s going to perform in the way that we want and expect, no problem.”Pochettino said he did not feel Kane was struggling after the World Cup, adding: “If you say it’s only Harry, I don’t like it when people point the finger at some players.”It’s always collective and we need to help him, to give the ball in a better position for him. But it’s a collective thing, not just Harry.”It’s not a problem. Of course there is a challenge with nine players [having been] involved until the end of the World Cup, but I’m not going to complain.”When you win, you win. When you lose, yes of course you need to talk about different things, but I’m not worried.”We are going to win a lot of games. We have trust in the squad. Of course we need to improve, but we’re in a very good way.”Meanwhile, Inter boss Luciano Spalletti rejected suggestions that Kane looked tired, saying his movement is that of a striker at the top of his game.”No, I don’t agree,” Spalletti told a news conference when asked whether Kane appeared to be struggling. “We’ve watched Tottenham’s games and we saw him working hard in every situation. In terms of metres run, he has the numbers you’d expect from a strong striker.”Tottenham rely heavily on him because he’s someone who can drop short, but then often the move ends with a cross to him. He’s good at finding the players who run off him with his layoffs.”

Liverpool to skip the Champions League? No thanks, Gary Neville – we’re contenders

9:18 AM ETSteven KellyLiverpool blogger

Jurgen Klopp sounded as nonplussed as everyone else when asked how what he thought of Gary Neville’s theory regarding Liverpool’s strategy for the season.

The former Manchester United defender-turned pundit had suggested Liverpool should forget the Champions League, “kick it into touch” and focus all their energies on the Premier League. Such comments were ill-timed at best and provocative at worst — though many supporters assumed the latter since relations between Liverpool and United are always strained.Klopp simply asked how such a plan could even be activated. He also made a remark about it being something that could only be hatched up at a desk, not by somebody who actually has to do the job. Whether that was an indirect barb aimed at Neville’s failed attempt at coaching Valencia for four months, only the German can say for certain. But the reality for Klopp isn’t any less disconcerting.His first full season at Anfield ended with a top-four place, aided significantly by having no European commitments — unlike his main rivals.His second saw further progression. Liverpool remained in fourth spot for the Premier League but augmented that with a fine Champions League campaign that ended with defeat in the final.For Klopp’s third full season, it would be a big step backwards if Liverpool were to just focus on one competition, however prestigious.The club’s owners made their own statement with over £250 million spent on Virgil van Dijk, Naby Keita, Alisson and others; if the team are to progress, there must be a proper title challenge as well as a long run in Europe.It’s obviously a monumental task, but there is no rational alternative. Football clubs, at this level anyway, must keep going forward. Treading water is no longer an option.Try telling those Liverpool fans packed into Anfield on Tuesday for the first group match against Paris Saint-Germain that it doesn’t matter, that three points against Southampton this Saturday were more important. You’d be laughed out of the ground.Was Neville’s idea ever a serious one? It could be taken as a criticism: that Liverpool don’t have the squad to compete on two major fronts. But the Reds’ European record is far superior to that of United — the one area where they still have bragging rights.Klopp taking it easy on the continent this season still wouldn’t help United though. Neville claims his days of “hating Scousers” — as the Old Trafford chant regularly contended — are over. But he freely admitted that Liverpool’s current quality wasn’t to his liking. The largely indignant reaction to his words have no doubt been music to Neville’s ears, particularly as there is every chance Liverpool might not make much progress in this year’s competition anyway.They’ve drawn a far stronger group than last year. Maribor were easily dispatched last time, while the top-seed ranking of Spartak Moscow felt more like a bureaucratic stipulation than a measure of quality. Liverpool proved that emphatically by thumping Russia’s champions 7-0. It was with the group’s other team, Sevilla, that Liverpool had their problems.This time, PSG’s star-studded forward line of Kylian Mbappe, Neymar and Edinson Cavani are more than a match for Liverpool’s own breath-taking forward line. Napoli have been excellent for years, their quality helping Maurizio Sarri secure the coveted Chelsea job. Red Star Belgrade aren’t the same side that won the Champions League in 1991, but Serbia is certainly no easy place to go.Were Liverpool to fall at the first hurdle, they’d inevitably have to revise their approach like any other club. History isn’t on their side. Given straight entry into the Champions League group stage, they’ve failed on all three occasions to progress any further: 2002, 2009 and 2014.So far this season, one game a week has been manageable. Five wins out of five is proof of that. Now comes the hardest part of any season at the highest level. There’ll be two games a week for most of the next three months, followed by the traditional Christmas fixture overload.Far from capitulating and saving his best players for one competition, Klopp needs to juggle his squad judiciously and hope injuries are kept to a minimum. Sacrificing Europe couldn’t be done without making it obvious. Even if they finish third in their group, they’d still have to drop into the Europa League and fulfil those fixtures anyway.Ultimately Liverpool fans will be delighted their club is playing on the minds of rivals. Jose Mourinho’s insistence that Liverpool should be under pressure to challenge for the title was a transparent attempt to deflect from his own arduous circumstances. Has Neville suggested Manchester United should sacrifice Europe in order to give local rivals City a greater fight for the Premier LeagOscar Wilde once wrote “there’s only one thing worse than being talked about, and that’s not being talked about.” Liverpool are in a good place. Any unease in their rivals is resounding proof of that.

Gianluigi Buffon travels but US Timothy Weah out of PSG squad for Liverpool clash

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With Neymar and Kylian Mbappe watching from the stands, Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a simple win over Saint-Etienne at the Parc des Princes. (2:17)

11:22 AM ETJonathan JohnsonPSG correspondent

Experienced Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon has travelled with his teammates to Liverpool for Tuesday’s opening Champions League Group C encounter despite the first of a three-match suspension for the Italian legend.Buffon, 40, and compatriot Marco Verratti are both banned for the Anfield clash with last season’s beaten finalists because of suspensions incurred last campaign, while Dani Alves and Layvin Kurzawa are both out injured — and U.S. international Timothy Weah is not included.PSG coach Thomas Tuchel is able to call on star attacking trio Kylian Mbappe, Edinson Cavani and Neymar, while captain Thiago Silva has shaken off a knock from last week’s home win over Saint-Etienne to be present in the squad and Lassana Diarra is also there.

Youth academy graduate Garissone Innocent has been drafted in to ensure that there is a third goalkeeper behind Alphonse Areola and Sebastien Cibois, while fellow homegrown gems Stanley N’Soki and Moussa Diaby have also made the cut. Summer signings Juan Bernat and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting are in the group but unregistered Jese Rodriguez, and youth academy products Antoine Bernede, Colin Dagba and Kevin Rimane miss out along with Weah.Without Buffon, Verratti, Alves and Kurzawa, Tuchel is far from at full strength, but the German manager should still be able to align a good starting XI against former Borussia Dortmund predecessor Jurgen Klopp.

Antoine Griezman: I am at the top with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Kylian Mbappe

ESPN FC’s Shaka Hislop wonders if Antoine Griezmann’s recent trophy success is enough to catapult him into the Ballon d’Or discussion. (3:59)

5:18 AM ETRobbie DunneReal Madrid blogger

Antoine Griezmann has said that although he is a different player to Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, he is “at the top” in football.Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann, a World Cup winner with France, is targeting the Ballon d’Or after the disappointment of not being nominated for FIFA’s The Best award.”There are different ways to look at football,” he told Diario AS. “It’s obvious that I’m a different player to Cristiano, Messi, Neymar or [Kylian] Mbappe.”I’m at the top but I can get better. I want to be the most complete I can be. I’m not going to score 50 goals, but I look to help in attack and work for the team.”Asked whether he was dining at the same table as Messi, he said: “Yes, I think so. But I know other players will emerge for sure. At that table, there are nice pictures I have, and I enjoy it there, but I know that I can get better.”Having turned down a move to Barcelona in the summer, Griezmann said he believed in the prospect of future success with Atletico.”Saying no to Barcelona shows Atletico’s greatness, [coach] Diego Simeone, my teammates,” he said.”If they were bad, I’d be gone. But I have confidence in Simeone, in the club and in my teammates. I want to make them grow and I have confidence in them to make me grow.”We have helped each other a lot and everything is very positive so that this keeps improving.”Griezmann missed out on nomination for The Best award despite his World Cup and Europa League wins and said it was a shame that no France player had made the list.”There’s nothing we can do,” he said. “It’s FIFA’s award and it’s a pity that there were no World Cup winners nominated. We had a great World Cup and the whole team deserved an award.”I think the Ballon d’Or has more prestige, more history. I have it in the back of my head. I have three months to give everything, and then we’ll see what happens.” Griezmann has scored just once for Atleti this season as they have taken only five points from 12 in their worst start under Simeone, but after suffering a tough period last year he said he believed things could turn.”I was quite bad,” he said. “I don’t know, I saw everything very bad. I was thinking that it was everyone else’s fault and I didn’t feel good.”When I’m not feeling good off the field, on the field I’m worse too. But with the help of Simeone, my teammates, Godin, who I spent a lot of time with, and with the help of my partner…we turned it around.”Diego Costa arrived, who helped me on the field, and it got better from January until now.”Griezmann added that Simeone “asks me to play between the lines and not to drop too deep, but sometimes I see the team needs a pausa [someone to slow things down], and I will drop in that case.”When I see my teammates defending, I don’t say to myself that I will stay up front and they’ll bring the ball up to me. I prefer to help for the good of the team.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp defends Neymar over dive claims before PSG game

9:11 AM ETGlenn PriceLiverpool correspondent

LIVERPOOL — Jurgen Klopp has defended Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar over accusations he goes to ground too easily.Neymar drew widespread criticism for his theatrics during this summer’s World Cup, with the Brazilian later admitting he sometimes exaggerated his reactions.But speaking ahead of Liverpool’s Champions League encounter with PSG on Tuesday night, Klopp said Neymar is well within his right to defend himself when targeted by opponents.”When I saw a few things at the World Cup, I know people were talking about that when it looked like he made a bit more of situations,” Klopp told a news conference on Monday. “It was, for me, a completely a normal reaction because players are really going for him. That’s the truth.”He wants to protect himself and I understand that as well. If an opponent gets a yellow card then he’s much closer to a red card. So I see it from that perspective.”I thought it’s smart that he saves himself. He doesn’t have to be worried because we don’t go for him against us. We play football and we want to win the ball.”We don’t try to act in these kind of things. We try to avoid passes to him and him winning challenges and all that stuff, which is a big job to do, to be honest. I’m not sure if it is even possible to avoid his quality 100 percent. I’m pretty sure it’s not.”At the World Cup, he was not fit. He already had an injury and everybody could see that, but nobody asked him. When he played he really tried to take responsibility to play for his country [while] not being fit. Belgium played an outstanding game against Brazil, but if Neymar is fit then Brazil wins it. That’s how it is. He was injured and he had to save himself a bit. That’s all.”I don’t think he’s a person who wants to act because if you are like that then you cannot play the football he plays.”I don’t think about these kind of things, to be honest. He got rested at the weekend so he will be 100 percent fresh for us. He’s not injured anymore so we will see the full package of Neymar — the football package. We still have to cope with that and that’s what we try to do.”Jordan Henderson, meanwhile, stressed that Neymar’s perceived diving has not been part of Liverpool’s preparation for the Group C opener.”That’s not something we’re really thinking about, to be honest,” the Liverpool captain said. “Neymar’s a world-class player and a tough opponent.”I’m sure it’ll be difficult as a team for us to stop him but we’re capable of stopping him and the rest of the team because we’ve proved that against top players before.”He obviously gets kicked a lot, so he needs to try and use it as best as he can. For us, we just need to treat it as a normal game. He’s just one of many good players in the team. It won’t just have to be him, we’ve got to stop the whole team, which will be difficult. But we’re a good team as well and we can certainly cause them problems.”Meanwhile, Roberto Firmino remains a doubt for Liverpool’s European opener with the eye injury he sustained against Tottenham Hotspur on the weekend.Hospital examinations confirmed Firmino suffered an abrasion of the eye after being caught by Spurs’ Jan Vertonghen in the second half at Wembley.”If we play today, no chance,” Klopp said. “But we all hope that he has a chance for tomorrow.”First of all, that’s good news that it will be close. I think everybody who saw the picture after the game was shocked.”We had first contact with him after he was in hospital and that was a big relief for all of us.”It’s painful, nobody wants to have that, nobody needs that. He will be fine — we only don’t know exactly when. It’s another 30 hours until the game, so we

Champions League 2018-19 – Group A Fixtures

Fixtures — Champions League

Atletico Madrid won the Europa League against Marseille last season after crashing out of the Champions League group stage and Diego Simeone’s side will be eager to emerge as a strong force in the competition.The Liga side have typically done well in past years to go far in the competition, but they’ve fallen to city rivals Real Madrid at the final stage twice.Borussia Dortmund have been handed a particularly unfavourable draw once again, as they too were eliminated in the group phase last year – unable to overcome the likes of eventual winners Real as well as Tottenham, who ended up as table-toppers.Club Brugge and Monaco are underdogs in this year’s Group A though they are two sides not to be underestimated. The French side finished second in their domestic league last season, only one spot behind the force that is Paris Saint-Germain.

Champions League 2018-19 – Group A Squads

Atletico Madrid:  Adan, Jan Oblak; Diego Godin, Filipe Luis, Santiago Arias, Stefan Savic, Juanfran, Lucas Hernandez, Jose Maria Gimenez; Thomas Partey, Jorge Koke, Saul Niguez, Thomas Lemar, Rodrigo Rodri, Gelson Martins, Vitolo, Cristian Rodriguez; Antoine Griezmann, Nikola Kalinic, Angel Correa, Diego Costa, Dario Poveda, Borja Garces, Victor Mollejo

Borussia Dortmund:  Roman Burki, Marin Hitz; Dan-Axel Zagadou, Abdou Diallo, Achraf Hakimi, Raphael Guerreiro, Jeremy Toljan, Manuel Akanji, Lukasz Piszczek, Marcel Schmelzer, Julian Weigl, Omer Toprak; Thomas Delaney, Mario Gotze, Marco Reus, Sergio Gomez, Mahmoud Dahoud, Christian Pulisic, Shinji Kagawa, Axel Witsel, Jacob Bruun Larsen; Jadon Sancho, Francisco Paco Alcacer, Maximilian Philipp, Marius Wolf

Monaco:  Daniel Subasic, Diego Benaglio, Loic Badiashile; Antonio Barreca, Jemersen, Djibril Sidibe, Julien Serrano, Andrea Raggi, Kamil Glik, Benoit Badiashile Mukinayi, Amamy Toure, Benjamin Henrichs, Yannis N’Gakoutou-Yapende, Jean Eudes Aholou, Kevin N’Doram, Marcos Paul Rony Lopes, Youri Telemans, Adama Traore, Youssef Ait Bennasser, Aleksandr Golovin, Nacer Chadli, Samuel Grandsir, Han-Noah Massengo, Tristan Muyumba; Radamel Falcao, Stevan Jovetic, Jordi Mboula, Pietro Pellegri, Moussa Sylla, Sofiane Diop, Gobe Gouano

Club Brugge:  Karlo Letica, Ethan Horvath; Luan Peres, Benoit Poulain, Matej Mitrovic, Dion Cools, Stefano Denswil, Saulo DeCarli, Brandon Mechele, Clinton Mata, Sofyan Amrabat, Krepin Diatta, Siebe Schrijvers, Marvelous Nakamba, Thibault Vlietinck, Hans Vanaken, Ruud Vormer, Mats Rits, Arnaut Groeneveld; Wesley, Jelle Vossen, Rezaei Kaveh, Emmanuel Bonaventure

Toronto FC take aim at Tigres, Campeones Cup: “It’s a game we’ve earned”

September 17, 201810:30AM EDTJames GrossiContributor

TORONTO – Fresh off extending their playoff hopes for another week with a rollicking 5-3 home winover the LA Galaxy on Saturday night at BMO Field, the same questions remain for Greg Vanney as Toronto FC prepare for a cup final on Wednesday night.Tigres UANL come to town midweek for the inaugural edition of the Campeones Cup, a match that pits the MLS Cup champions against the Campeon de Campeones from Liga MX (8:15 pm ET | ESPN2, Univision in USA; TSN, TVAS in Canada).“That’s the million-dollar question,” said Vanney post-match about his team selection. “We’ll have some rotation. [But] there is still a trophy on the line, we still want to go for it; it’s a home game. We’ll do so understanding that we have an important game on Saturday as well.”Toronto’s league push for survival continues this weekend with a tricky away fixture against the New York Red Bulls (Saturday, 5 pm ET | TSN –        full TV and streaming info).“This is an important game, for the league and our fans,” added Vanney of Campeones Cup. “This is a cup that is going to become important over the years.”That it falls in such a busy, crucial spell does not distract from the glistening trophy that was displayed on the touchlines at halftime and around BMO Field on Saturday.“It’s tough, but it’s an important fixture,” said Alex Bono. “Another chance to add hardware to our trophy case. For us, that’s been special – we’ve been really good at doing that the last few years. When there is an opportunity to add a trophy, we’ve taken advantage of that. It’s a good opportunity, a unique opportunity, we’ll go into it trying to take a trophy home.”Under Vanney’s tenure, TFC have won an MLS Cup, a Supporters’ Shield, two Eastern Conference Championships and three Voyageurs Cups. They were penalty-kick shootouts away from winning the Concacaf Champions League in April, and another MLS Cup in 2016.“It’s a game that we’ve earned with everything that we put into last year,” said Michael Bradley. “Around the world these types of games are big games, prestigious games, games where the spotlight comes on bright. We’re very much looking forward to it.“It’s a chance to lift another trophy,” he added. “It’s a very good team, we know them. We’re going to recover and get ready for an exciting game.”With the focus on the league, Vanney has not invested much time on scouting Tigres, a side with whom Toronto played two epic legs in the CCL quarterfinals in March.“I haven’t much, in terms of their performances or their results,” said Vanney. “I looked at their roster just to see which guys were back.“They certainly didn’t get any worse and added a couple more guys that will probably make them better,” he observed. “They’re going to be as strong, and deeper, than they were when we faced them six months ago. It will be interesting.”To keep their postseason aspirations alive, Bradley said that Toronto have adopted a “knockout mentality.” That could serve them well on Wednesday.And both sides will come in with a chip on their shoulder: Tigres for having been knocked out of CCL by TFC, and Toronto with how the shootout ended in Guadalajara and how their season has gone since.“It’s going to be a tough game,” said Jonathan Osorio, the 2018 CCL Golden Boot winner. “It’s the first time that this cup has happened. It’s very exciting for both leagues, very good for North America. It’s going to be a game both teams are going to want. Every team plays to win trophies; this is another trophy.“Tigres has been a great team for the last few years now,” he added. “Those two games against them were very tough, very intense, high-tempo games. I don’t expect anything different when we play them in the Campeones Cup.”

 

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9/14/18 US Youngsters beats Mexico, Indy 11 lose play Sat , Liverpool @ Spurs Sat, Champ League Tues/Wed, CHS Girls Pack the House Fri 9/22 Free Admin with Uni

CHS

The 4th ranked Carmel High Girls face #3 Noblesville 9/17 away and #19 Brebeuf Thurs and Zionsville Sat at home at Murray Stadium all at 7 pm. Saturday night is PACK THE HOUSE NIGHT- SENIOR NIGHTFree admission if you wear your Carmel FC or Carmel Dad’s Club Jersey!! Just $5 for adults.

USA vs Mexico

So the US beat Mexico for the first time in a while at home in Nashville on Sept 11.  I thought the US military presence and the 9/11 tribute along with the tribute to Dempsey were cool.  The Game – well this was Mexico’s Youngsters vs the US youngsters and honestly it was a very even game.  I thought Mexico was a little better in the 1st half as caretaker manager Dave Sarachan started 4 defensive mids in the game.  Don’t ask me what the heck the proves – seriously 4 d-mids in the midfield?  Obviously it was a cluster on disorganization until Weston McKinney of Schalke got hurt (bruised knee-should be ok) and the US were forced to sub.  On came Julian Green and wham we shot 3 times in the last 8 minutes until the half.  After half Green came out as a forward running off Bobby Wood and things started to open up.  The combination of Mexico going down a man after a straight red card – and the insertion of natural left back Antonee Robinson for Leijah and everything changed.  Robinson served no fewer than 3 perfect crosses leading to the game winning goal for Tyler Adams in the 65th minute.  The US attack came alive with the man advantage and they should have scored another to give us that ever popular dos a cero finish.  Instead we got Uno a Cero – and of course any win over Mexico is a good thing anywhere, anytime!  Overall I thought the D looked good with Miazga cementing his spot on the back line while Carter Vickers also played well.  New Goalie Zach Steffan of Columbus made a mistake with a handball outside the box but overall he played very well and made some key saves.  Its definitely time to sign a new head coach – Sarachan has does a fine job but his personel decisions over the past few games has been CLUELESS.  4 Dmids vs Mexico?  Maybe vs Brazil but not Mexico?  We need to find other creative players besides Pulisic who can make things happen – playing 4 Dmids does nothing to help us do this?  I also would have like to have seen back-up GK ____ get a half of play.  Continued really weird decision by Sarachan just reminding us exactly why HE IS NOT THE GUY to take this program forward.  Hopefully that new US Coach decision will be made before the new International window in November.

EPL Huge Games

So 2 huge games between contenders this weekend as League Leaders and undefeated Liverpool and Mo Salah and Mane travel to face Tottenham and Harry Kane on Saturday at 7 am on NBCSN.  CNBC gives us Chelsea hosting Cardiff City at 10 am, while Man City will host Fulham at 10 on NBCSN before surprisingly undefeated Watford will host Man United at 12:30 pm on NBC.  Nothing worth watching Sunday.

Champions League Group Stages Sort-of

So Champions League group stages are back – Unfortunately I don’t think you can see most of the games.  Yes TNT outbid Fox Sports and will officially carry like 2 games a day only 1 at a time however.  So while the rest of the World gets to chose from Barcelona and Messi or Tottenham and Harry Kane Tuesday at 1 pm  – we in the US will get just the Barcelona vs PSV game on Tues on TNT.  Yes it seems after getting Champ League and Europa League soccer for the last few years on cable TV on Fox 1 & 2 and Fox Soccer – we in the US now get screwed unless you are willing to pony up and pay for ONLINE only coverage.  Makes me sick and I am not sure I will be promoting these games as much anymore.  In a good way Champions League has added 1 pm games to the 3 pm line-up which gives us 2 good games per day – unfortunately there are 3 good games on at 3 pm and 2 at 1 pm– good luck watching them.  I will see if any bars are showing the other games and let you know as watching my precious Atletico Madrid vs Monaco is going to have me teed off on Tuesday I assume.  Interesting the rumors amid Spain’s La Liga statement they may bring a regular league game to Miami next year that the Champions League Final might come to New York City in 2021.

Indy 11

Our Boys in Blue at 12-9-8 have fallen to 5th overall in the USL with their1st loss in 9 matches this on the road at Penn 0-1 Wednesday night.  The Eleven will be on the road Saturday at the 2nd place Pitts7 pm on ESPN+ before returning home Wed night, Sept 26 vs the Tampa Bay Rowdies as the 11 present Faith and Family night. 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.   Just 2 home games left before the playoff so get plans to catch a game before the playoffs get underway.  

GAMES ON TV

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 am beIN Sport      Atletico Madrid (Greisman) vs Eibar)

7:30 am NBCSN     Tottenham vs Liverpool

9:30 am FS 1          Bayern Munich vs Bayern Leverkusen

10:15 am beIN Sport  Real Sociadad vs Barcelona

10 am CNBC            Chelsea vs Cardiff City

10 am NBCSN         Man City vs Fulham  

12:30 pm NBC               Watford vs Man United 

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

2:45 pm beIN Sport  Athletic Club vs Real Madrid

3:30 pm Univision      Colorado vs Atlanta United

7 pm ESPN+                    Toronto vs LA Galaxy

7 pm eSPN+                    Pittsburg vs Indy 11

Sun, Sept 16     

8:30 am NBCSN      Wolverhampton vs Burnley

9 am ESPN+            Juve vs Sassuolo

9:30 am FS 1           Werder Bremen vs Numberg

11 pm NBCSN                Everton vs West Ham United

1 pm ESPN                       DC United (Rooney) vs NYRB

5 pm FS1                           Chicago Fire vs Orlando City

Tues, Sept 18  

1 pm TNT                          Barcelona v PSV

1 pm                                    Inter vs Tottenham

3 pm TNT                           Liverpool vs PSG

3 pm                                    Monico vs Atletico Madrid

Weds, Sept 19  

1 pm TNT                          Ajax vs AEK Athens  

1 pm                                    Man City vs Olympique Lyonnais  

3 pm TNT                          Real Madrid vs Roma  

3 pm                                    Valencia vs Juventus  

Weds, Sept 26  

7 pm myIndytv             Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies

8 pm ESPN+                    DC United vs Min United

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

USA

US Beats Mexico 1-0 3 points Arch Bell ESPNFC

US Boss praises Tyler Adams in Victory over Mexico Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Player Ratings – Jason Davis ESPNFC

Growth of Adams and Miazga and Rivalry with Mexico offsets Dull Play – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Mexico lost Focus after Miazga mocking of Lainez

US played a Dirty Game – Says Mexico – ESPNFC

Mexico vs US 5 minutes – Highlights

Mexico Player Ratings

Weston McKinney leaves game with Knee Sprain

Pulisic Probably out for Frankfurt game for Dortmund

WORLD & EPL

W2W4 – EPL This Weekend

Expect Goals in Battle of Klopp Liverpool vs Pochettino Spurs

Champions League Draw

Tough Draws for EPL Teams – ESPNFC

Liverpool and PSG have tough draw with Napoli in the Group

Liverpool will start Alisson in Goal for Champs League

Renaldo should help Juve win Champs League

Champions League Group Stages Start Tues/Wed Fantasy Picks

Usain Bolt Would be a Good Defender

Champions League Final in NY 2021??

Tues, Sept 18  

1 pm TNT                          Barcelona v PSV

1 pm                                    Inter vs Tottenham

3 pm TNT                         Liverpool vs PSG

3 pm                                    Monico vs Atletico Madrid

Weds, Sept 19  

1 pm TNT                          Ajax vs AEK Athens  

1 pm                                    Man City vs Olympique Lyonnais  

3 pm TNT                          Real Madrid vs Roma  

3 pm                                    Valencia vs Juventus  

Goalies

Great Saves during the International Break Areola, Donarumma, DeGea,

France vs Germany GK Areola or Neuer?

US GK Steffen vs Brazil saved by Miazga

US GK Zach Steffen Great Saves vs France

Zach Steffen Top GK for MLS Columbus Crew

EPL Saves of the Week 3  Foster, Putricio

Hart Saves PK for WestHam

Save of the Week – National Womens SL –

Saves of the Week – USL

MLS Save

Indy 11

Indy 11 lose 0-1 at Penn

Forward Eugene Starikov on USL Team of Week

Indy 11 Flow the Goals in Pounding of Red Bulls – Bloodyshambles

IIndy 11 Discount Tickets for 9/26 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.

Get Your Tickets to be with the BYB

The Boys in Blue get a week-long rest after a 22-day, 7 game stretch. The BYB will be following the team for two away games this month. For those who cheer the team on from Indiana, there will be watch parties and home games to get your beautiful game fix.  9/26 v Tampa Bay Rowdies (7pm) is Faith & Family Night. Don’t wait, get your BYBTIX today.  It is also the evening for us to celebrate the original live mascot, Loki/Victorio. Watch for more information as the date approaches.
9/22 Sat 7 pm watch party v Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Union Jack in Broad Ripple ~watch for the BYB as we drown out the Puddle Poodle fans with our traveling crew.

9/26 Wed 7 pm Indy 11 vs Tampa Bay Rowdies Home

indy11926game

Click here for Discount Tickets for the Game and enter 2018 INDY as the promo code.

Premier League W2W4: Can Liverpool win at Spurs? Will Watford stun Man United?

3:14 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writer

Ahead of each round of fixtures in the Premier League, W2W4 looks at the main storylines to keep an eye on.

  1. Liverpool can prove just how much they’ve improved

It’s always difficult to get a handle on the truth when teams win games while not playing especially well. Do we assume that those results were semi-flukes and that a crash is coming? Or is it a sign that if they can collect maximum points without reaching their own maximum, then the rest of the league had better watch out? It’s not that Liverpool have been bad in their four fixtures so far, simply that there’s been a strong sense there is plenty more to come from them.The trip to Tottenham at the weekend obviously represents their toughest test of the season so far, but it’s also a useful barometer for how much the Reds have improved on last term’s biggest weakness: away games at their immediate rivals. It’s just over a year since they were battered 5-0 at Manchester City, and around 11 months from the day Spurs took them apart at Wembley. Last season Liverpool lost five league games, and four of them were against rivals (add the 2-1 loss at Manchester United and the 1-0 defeat to Chelsea at Stamford Bridge to the list).In theory, everything is there. Liverpool now have arguably the best defence in the Premier League (assuming Alisson’s aberration against Leicester last time out was merely that) and a midfield improved by Naby Keita and eventually Fabinho, while that whirling, twirling, goalscoring forward line is still in place. Saturday is the time to turn theory into reality, and prove that those first four games have merely been them warming up.

  1. What’s eating Harry Kane? Is anything eating Harry Kane?

It’s been a weird six months or so for Harry Kane. Over most of that spell, Kane has looked sluggish, often off the pace, seemingly a man either playing through an injury or an extended period of bad form. But in that time, he’s won the Golden Boot at the World Cup, bagged two in Tottenham’s first four matches, dismissed the admittedly slightly silly notion of an “August curse” with a goal against Fulham and scored at Old Trafford.But he undoubtedly doesn’t look himself. The problem isn’t fatigue, according to Mauricio Pochettino anyway. “We know Harry Kane well and have worked with him the last more than four years, and we know this is not a situation that worries us,” he said on Thursday. So who knows what the problem really is. Who knows if there is actually a problem. What we do know is that if he excels against that brilliant Liverpool back five on Saturday, the problem can’t be that big.

  1. Would Watford beating United even be an upset?

It’s easy to forget that Watford were heading for relegation when Javi Gracia arrived in January. Now, having avoided the drop comfortably, they go into Saturday’s game against Manchester United with a perfect record from four games, and among the finest compliments that could be paid to Watford and Gracia is that it probably wouldn’t register as an upset if they won. Last weekend’s win at Burnley will convince precisely nobody that things are fine and dandy at United, Jose Mourinho’s side still looking barely anything like a side that could challenge for the league title. Throw their defeat at Vicarage Road last season in alongside Watford’s fine form, and you’ve got the strong potential for this to be an implausible fifth win from five for Gracia’s men.

  1. Will Burnley’s slow start become a crisis?

This week Joe Hart insisted there is more to come from Burnley. There had better be, really — otherwise this is going to be a very long season ahead for Sean Dyche’s men, who have gained just a single point from their four games so far. Last season, a game against a newly promoted side might have looked appetising for the more established Clarets, but only one of them and this weekend’s opponents Wolves have looked like they belong in the top flight so far this season.The distraction of the Europa League was the reason that many thought Burnley might struggle, but with that out of the picture and a week or so to breathe during the international break, Dyche’s side now have no excuses. Should they lose to Wolves, everyone will wake up to the potential season of struggle at Turf Moor.

  1. The latest step towards VAR is taken

The most interesting part of this weekend might not happen on the pitch, but rather in a windowless room somewhere in west London. For the first time in the Premier League, video assistant referees will be trialled in five games on Saturday to fully test whether the system can be made to work in concurrent games, as opposed the single cup matches for which it has been used in England so far.This is most certainly a dry run, because there will be no contact between the men watching the Premier League’s bank of VAR monitors and anyone at any of the grounds. Indeed, one wonders just how much use the trial will be, given that one of VAR’s key components is how it meshes with the officials at the games. But this feels like a box-ticking exercise, necessary admin on the path towards VAR being implemented in all 380 Premier League games over a season. VAR is coming, whether we like it or not.

U.S. boss Dave Sarachan praises ‘winner’ Tyler Adams in victory vs. Mexico

1:02 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan hailed the contribution of midfielder Tyler Adams in leading his side to a 1-0 victory over archrival Mexico on Tuesday night.The New York Red Bulls midfielder scored the only goal, latching onto a low crossing pass from Antonee Robinson and side-footing home from 12 yards past Mexico keeper Hugo Gonzalez in the 71st minute. The goal came just four minutes after Mexico forward Angel Zaldivar was sent off for a late tackle on U.S. midfielder Wil Trapp.”This kid’s a beast,” Sarachan said of Adams. “I mean, when you look at data and analytics and at the volume of work he does in 90 minutes … you guys on the outside see a good part of it, but the data backs it up. He’s just a winner, this kid.”The goal was Adams’ first at the international level and came in just his seventh international appearance. But the 19-year-old has been making an impression on Sarachan in all facets of his game.”I think I’ve been really pleased in terms of [Adams’] growth with the ball in tight spots,” Sarachan said. “We know he can run and cover ground and win tackles and compete. But at the next level, can you have a presence with the ball in picking your spots? It just keeps getting better.”It’s not perfect, but I think he’s shown that he’s emerging. Everyone’s starting to look up to him a little bit. When the game was getting crazy, Tyler was trying to calm it down; real good night for him.”For his part, Adams said he was thrilled to stand out.”It was a gritty game like I expected. Obviously, getting a sniff of that at the youth national team level, I kind of knew what to expect because [there were] a lot of young faces from their team as well. So going out there and competing was the most important part,” Adams said.”Obviously to grab my first goal is pretty cool on this day, but to recognize all the people as well that went through such a tragic day, it’s nice for us to get a win. The U.S. is all about pride and character, and I think we showed our character today.” For many of the U.S. players, the match was a first encounter with Mexico at the senior level and the win was even more emotional given that it came on the 17th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that took nearly 3,000 lives.”Playing here against Mexico on 9/11, it was an important night on many fronts, but from a soccer perspective, overall again I was pretty pleased in terms of the effort, and in terms of the collective, the way we made it hard on Mexico to create a lot of chances,” Sarachan said. “I thought the first half, once again it could have been a little better in terms of our use of the ball and being a little dangerous.”The U.S. was forced into a 40th minute substitution when midfielder Weston McKennie was forced out of the match with a left knee sprain. Sarachan brought on Julian Green and then switched to a 4-4-2 formation to start the second half. The forced change ended up benefiting the Americans as it not only increased the effectiveness of the U.S. attack, but it helped defensively as well, as Trapp had Adams deployed alongside him.”I had toyed with the idea of playing two forwards to start the match,” Sarachan said. “Weston took a knock. We kept an eye on him and he did need to come off and we felt that by adding Julian [Green], it was just another player that could hold up play for us. And I knew with Wil [Trapp] and with Tyler [Adams], they could certainly cover the middle of the midfield. I thought [adding Julian] gave us a little more of an opportunity to be dangerous going forward.”The game, which had been fairly subdued for the first 65 minutes, came to life after a confrontation between U.S. defender Matt Miazga and Mexico midfielder Diego Lainez. The flashpoint was followed quickly by Zaldivar’s red card and Adams’ goal.For the U.S. it proved to be a positive introduction to a rivalry that has been plenty heated over the years. Sarachan, a veteran of many past encounters with El Tri, was pleased that his side kept its cool.”This group definitely got a real taste of [the rivalry] over the last 72 hours after the Brazil match. As I’ve said, a lot of these young guys have played Mexico at the youth level, so it’s not new to them, but we knew that at some point in the game, things might boil over and I think our guys showed great composure.”I think that’s one of the things going into games against CONCACAF opponents is having composure in moments where it could lead to maybe a red card or something. They got a good taste of it today.”For Sarachan, the win ended the current fixture window on a positive note.”We’ve talked a lot about the tactics and the soccer, but the thing that we tried to keep talking to this group about is: What’s the identity of this team? When fans watch this team, what do they come away with? We nitpick on the technical side, but you saw a team tonight that played aggressively, competed hard and won most of their duels. I think that’s been a constant over the time I’ve had the group and over the past two games against Brazil and Mexico.”I thought tonight was a little bit better with the ball. Still an area to improve, for sure. But this team, it was a real collective effort from the first guy to the 22nd. As a staff, what else can you ask for?”

Tyler Adams gives U.S. youth a 1-0 win over Mexico in fiery friendly

11:34 PM ETArch Bell, U.S. writer

Three points from Nissan Stadium as the U.S. claimed a 1-0 win over rival Mexico in Tuesday’s international friendly.

  1. U.S. doesn’t dazzle but does enough to win

There was a lot of talk following the U.S. defeat against Brazil about this young group of Yanks needing to be braver and more creative in attack. But for 67 minutes playing 11-on-11, they were anything but on Tuesday night in Nashville, Tennessee.This time, a lack of experience cannot be faulted. Yes, this was another young U.S. squad on the field, but it wasn’t like Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Andres Guardado and Rafa Marquez were playing for El Tri. This was an equally inexperienced Mexico side, and after being on the end of a 4-1 pasting from Uruguay on Friday night, the visitors were the better side for a good chunk of the match.For the U.S., “going forward” (if you can call it that) consisted of the defense circulating the ball around before one of the center-backs — usually Matt Miazga — hoofed it up to Gyasi Zardes surrounded by two Mexican defenders. Unsurprisingly, possession would be lost and Mexico would go back to being in control and the U.S. would invite further pressure. The one time Zardes did hold up the ball, he drew a foul to give the U.S. its best chance of the first half with a dangerous free kick from right outside the Mexico area. That was pretty much it in attack, outside of a quick spurt before halftimeThe lack of any U.S. threat played right into Mexico’s hands. The El Tri midfield dominated and had all the time it wanted to switch and spread out the field, allowing the likes of Jose Abella and “wonderkid” Diego Lainez to operate down the right flank and look for the deep runner

The only time U.S. fans were treated to any spice was when Miazga and Lainez were barking at each other midway through the second half. Angel Zaldivar’s 67th-minute red card then tipped the balance in the U.S.’s favor. After struggling against Brazil, Antonee Robinson came off the bench and showed why he can be a part of the national team’s future by getting forward and crossing for Tyler Adams, who did well to convert following a long sprint into the penalty area.It was a nice moment for this young group of Yanks — beating Mexico is always a positive — but it does not cover up what was largely a listless performance.

  1. Trapp as the No. 6 is not working

Wil Trapp is a favorite of still-interim coach Dave Sarachan, but Tuesday night only reinforced what was seen on Friday: playing him as the defensive midfielder in the 4-1-4-1 is not working.

Trapp’s distribution was lacking against Brazil; too many of his passes between the lines failed to reach their targets. While one could cut him some slack for Brazil’s working him over in midfield — Brazil does that to a lot of players — his lack of influence against Mexico was alarming, even though Trapp’s teammates weren’t exactly lining up to receive the ball. Things got better for Trapp in the second half, but the humbling pressure he received from Lainez and his inability to link raise red flags for his role moving forward.Perhaps that role will be given to Adams or another player in the pool — wouldn’t Jonathan Gonzalez have been nice? — but there is enough of a body of work at this stage to conclude that Trapp is not the solution in a critical position.

  1. Lainez is the real deal

There were moments last Friday against Uruguay when Lainez showed why the likes of AS Roma are on the hunt for his services, and he backed that hype up against the U.S. on Tuesday, too.In the opening 45 minutes, he was the best player on the field. His move to break Trapp’s ankles toward the end of the first half will be the meme of the night, but there were plenty of other instances in which the 18-year-old put his stamp on the affair, including some aggressive play to fend off several U.S. players and win back possession.The exchange of words with Miazga will go down as one of those ridiculous “It’s Never A Friendly When These Two Teams Meet” narratives going forward, but one has to like the spirit of the young Club America man facing up to the bigger and taller Miazga. That fearlessness will serve him well as he looks poised to be a part of this rivalry for years to come.

Antonee Robinson 6/10 for sparking U.S. victory over Mexico as a sub

12:22 AM ETJason DavisU.S. soccer writer

It took 70 minutes for the fire to show up in the latest edition of the “CONCACAF Clasico,” but when it did, it sparked an American goal and an eventual 1-0 win for Dave Sarachan and his young squad.

Positives

After more than an hour of limited attacking success, the U.S. took control of the game after Angel Zaldivar’s red card. With no reason not to push their advantage, the Americans used the width provided by left-back Antonee Robinson and a late-arriving midfield run from Tyler Adams to make it count. The U.S. was generally solid defensively, with Mexico limited to 10 shots over 90 minutes.

Negatives

The American attack was rudderless until Mexico’s red card opened up space. When the U.S. was able to get on the ball — and it was not nearly enough — the plan seemed to be to knock it around the back before playing a low-percentage long ball to Gyasi Zardes. The lack of creativity allowed Mexico to dictate terms and exploit gaps in the American defense.

Manager rating out of 10

4 — Sarachan’s lineup included a known-quantity veteran in Eric Lichaj playing out of position on the left, a choice that allowed Mexico to dominate in that area of the field. The interim head coach’s decided lack of fire at halftime — after 45 minutes of little to no threat from the attack — was disappointing. The first substitution was forced on him, but Sarachan does get some credit for introducing Robinson and changing the Americans’ fortunes. The choice to insert Julian Green centrally and leave Kellyn Acosta wide was a head-scratcher.

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

GK Zack Steffen, 6 — Made a solid save off a header in the first half. Lucky to avoid a card — possibly red — when he appeared to handle the ball outside of the box.

DF Shaquell Moore, 5 — Played a passable game on both sides of the ball. Did well in a couple of one-on-one defensive situations.

DF Cameron Carter-Vickers, 6 — Did not stand out, which is a good thing for a center-back.

DF Matt Miazga, 6 — Brought energy and fight to the game, with his confrontation with Diego Lainez helping turn the game in the USMNT’s favor. Beaten occasionally but responded well.

DF Eric Lichaj, 3 — Miscast as a left-back behind Timothy Weah, which allowed Mexico plenty of space to attack up the USMNT flank. Committed numerous silly errors with distribution, leading to turnovers.

MF Wil Trapp, 4 — Rarely influenced the game from his deep position, with passes that failed to stress Mexico’s midfield. Struggled with defensive moments, especially when isolated.

MF Kellyn Acosta, 5 — Committed several turnovers with loose passes when miscast on the right side. Struggled to provide width. Sprung Robinson for the cross that led to the U.S. goal.

MF Tyler Adams, 6 — Excellent run from deep resulted in the lone goal of the game. Looked most influential and involved once U.S. went up a man.

MF Weston McKennie, 4 — Came off five minutes before halftime with an injury. Never found the game on either side of the ball. Missed several chances to set up the U.S. break with loose passes.

MF Timothy Weah, 5 — Mishit several crosses, but seemed to be the only American looking to shoot. Had no connection with Lichaj behind and disappeared for large stretches.

FW Gyasi Zardes, 5 — Set on an island for an hour and forced to battle with defenders for 50/50 balls in the air. Won a foul in a dangerous area with a smart dummy but was limited in influence otherwise.

Substitutes

MF Julian Green, 5 — Entered for McKennie in the first half and played in a central position. Added an edge to the U.S. attack but was often too slow with the ball.

DF Antonee Robinson, 6 — Changed the game when introduced for Lichaj in the 56th minute. Provided an excellent cross on the ground to set up Adams’ goal.

FW Bobby Wood, NR — Managed a few touches in a cameo, was unable to turn on the ball when set up with a chance in the 81st minute.

MF Christian Roldan, NR — Two touches for the midfielder in a few minutes.

DF DeAndre Yedlin, NR — Contributed two defensive interventions in limited time.

Growth of Tyler Adams, Matt Miazga and rivalry with Mexico offset U.S. dull play

9:31 AM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — For 65 minutes, Mexico and the U.S men’s national team played one of the dullest matches in the rivalry’s long and storied history.The match was ragged to say the least. While Mexico midfielder Diego Lainez showed off some slick dribbling moves at times, El Tri was largely kept at bay by a U.S. defense led by Matt Miazga and Cameron Carter-Vickers. But that was more than could be said for the U.S. attack, which looked lethargic and predictable, especially in the first half.Then the match came to life, and a rivalry that is very much in a state of transition received an injection of fuel in the form of some new heroes and villains. Miazga tangled with Lainez in an amusing exchange that saw the 5-foot-5 Mexico midfielder square up to the 6-foot-4 Miazga. Miazga then poked fun at his lack of height.

It wasn’t quite U.S. defender Oguchi Onyewu staring down Mexico forward Jared Borgetti during a World Cup qualifier back in 2005, but the exchange still had the same effect. The U.S. team kept its composure while Mexico lost its. El Tri forward Angel Zaldivar was sent off for a late challenge on Wil Trapp two minutes later, and a match that had already begun to tilt in the U.S. team’s favor soon saw the home side running downhill. In the 71st minute, substitute Antonee Robinson broke down the left wing and his centering feed found the late arriving Tyler Adams to convert with a first-time finish.”I feel like after the 60th minute, when I start to make those late runs, that midfielders can’t really track me,” said Adams. “It was good timing, and the ball just trickled right to me. It was one of the weirdest things. Watching it was like in slo-mo, the ball just came to me and I was able to finish it.”The U.S.-Mexico rivalry has long been characterized by the dynamic that while El Tri had the skill, the U.S. had the mental edge. That changed during the last cycle, with Mexico excelling on both fronts and winning a World Cup qualifier on U.S. soil for the first time in more than 40 years. And while this was nothing close to Mexico’s first team, the same was true for the U.S, and collectively it grasped the game’s mental challenges better than its rivals.”It was normal. We talked a little smack. It’s part of the game,” said Miazga about his set-to with Lainez. “It’s mental warfare. We got in their heads and they got a red card right after that. You saw what happened. We took control and we won the game.”Adams, for one, appreciated Miazga’s willingness to engage in some jawing.”Typical Miazga, I love that from him,” he said. “It gets the guys going. He’s not [going] to back down from someone like that. At the end of the day, your teammates see that, and you want to keep going and back your guy up. And the next tackle is going to be a tough one. That’s another one that you want to win that one and we were aggressive … For us, we kept our composure to the best of our ability, no stupid yellows and we moved on from it.”The goal also amounted to a bit of redemption for Robinson. The U.S. defender was given a torrid time last Friday by Brazilian attacker Douglas Costa, who torched him in the run-up to the Selecao‘s first goal. Coming on as a substitute, Robinson rebounded to play a critical role in the match.”I didn’t have it too much on my mind, the Brazil game,” said Robinson. “I just thought I’ve got to go out and do my best whenever I’m needed.”There is a strong impulse to dismiss friendly results, but this one has value. It adds an additional building block or two as this program lurches forward and tries to rebuild. And it provides some needed experience for encounters with El Tri down the road.But there is also no reason to get carried away. The soccer the U.S. played was downright brutal at times, and it’s worth noting that it took a forced substitution — Weston McKennie going off with a sprained left knee and being replaced by Julian Green — combined with a change of formation at halftime for the U.S. to begin to get on top in the match.The change involved Green operating as a second forward and it was clear that having an extra body in the attack in closer proximity to Gyasi Zardes made the U.S. more dangerous. The move had the added benefit of placing Adams alongside Trapp. In the first half, Trapp was asked to provide the primary shield in front of the back line and he was neither mobile enough to track the likes of Lainez — who looks an immense talent — nor rugged enough to win his individual duels.With Adams by his side in the second half, Trapp stepped into passing lanes more confidently and was overall more of a defensive presence. It seemed to lift his attacking game as well.And so for what seems like the millionth time, the U.S. showed once again that it is much more comfortable operating out of a two-striker alignment. U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan said he had “toyed” with the idea of playing with a second forward prior to the match, before ultimately deciding to start the game with the 4-1-4-1 that has been used during the bulk of his tenure. But it’s pretty clear that in the absence of a creative force like Christian Pulisic, the U.S. simply has to have an additional forward on the field to generate any kind of sustained attack.

The use of two holding midfielders will also need to be examined, as well as Trapp’s place in the lineup. Historically he has fared better with someone at his side, and these days with the Columbus Crew that man is the Brazilian Artur. Having someone like Adams next to him on a full-time basis might have the same effect.

That will be on Sarachan’s mind when the team reconvenes next month for friendlies against Colombia and Peru. But so will the growth of players like Adams and Miazga, who look to be mainstays in this rivalry for years to come.

Mexico lost focus after Matt Miazga mocked Diego Lainez, needs ‘Tuca’ Ferretti’s guidanceTaylor Twellman explains why the United States’ win over Mexico didn’t answer all the questions about the rebuilding USMNT squad. (1:33)

9:46 AM ETTom MarshallMexico correspondentEmail

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The United States’ 1-0 victory over Mexico will be remembered mainly for Matt Miazga mocking Diego Lainez’s height in the second half.It was an incident and a photo that will go down in the collective consciousness of the relatively young U.S.-Mexico soccer rivalry. It gave a spark to a game that threatened to be stale. The giant U.S. defender making fun of the skillful, diminutive 18-year-old laid down a marker for the new generation in a Clasicothat needed a jump start.

The moment was especially poignant because Club America’s Lainez is not just a teenage hopeful, but Mexico’s brightest young talent; a player who received an offer from Serie A side Roma a matter of weeks ago and whose dribbling dazzled against the U.S. And while U.S. fans applauded Miazga for his bravado, Mexico fans could rightly be impressed by Lainez’s maturity in playing down the importance of it all.”The [incident] with the two-meter center-back and the beloved little [Lainez] will be useful to him,” said 64-year-old Mexico interim coach Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti in a news conference after the game. “He’ll remember it the rest of his life and it’ll help him.”Ferretti is right. It will be an incident that Lainez won’t forget and, underneath the portrait of calm he showed as he gave interviews after the defeat, there’ll be a steely resolve insideLainez’s time to prove that talent beats size when it comes to soccer will surely come further down the road in games against the United States.But what that road will look like for Lainez and Mexico is the real issue at present. The Miazga story was the main headline, but there were deeper takeaways on the night from El Tri‘s perspective.Mexico has now lost four consecutive games for the first time since 2001, and while that is no cause to panic — given that only two or three of the 19 players available on Tuesday for El Tri would likely be in Mexico’s “A” squad — a 4-1 loss to Uruguay and a 1-0 defeat to the United States is not a great start for this group of youngsters.As Ferretti suggested, these players need to be “polished” and it was concerning that after the Miazga incident, Mexico’s players seemed to lose focus, with Angel Zaldivar seeing red two minutes later in the 67th minute and the team going on to concede a goal in the 71st.Ferretti accepted Mexico lost control a little after the incident and said it was “normal” after the red card.In reality, it was a lack of game intelligence that — coupled with the loss to Uruguay last Friday — really drove home the fact that the absent Europe-based players really are a long way ahead of this new generation, however much potential it has.Ferretti has got the narrative just right. He’s pleaded for patience from the press for this group of players and the reaction to two losses has been a long way from the hostility handed out to former coach Juan Carlos Osorio.A Mexico red card helped turn the tide in the United States’ favor, as Tyler Adams’ first international goal stood up as the winner in Nashville.What we don’t yet know yet is whether Ferretti will be given the keys to manage the generational change El Tri requires. We’ve heard the Brazilian come closer than ever to accepting his interest in the job, but it’s no guarantee given that Tigres are unlikely to let him leave easily.And the Mexican federation also needs to think long and hard about whether Ferretti is the right manager.Certainly, the last week has been substantially different than under previous coach Osorio. There was a more closed feel to the national team and no real access for the press, but Ferretti has been jovial and engaged in news conferences, joking around and participating in training ahead of the U.S. game. He even laid down his authority when he sent Hirving Lozano, Erick Gutierrez, Guillermo Ochoa and Raul Jimenez back to Europe instead of hanging around for the U.S. game.On the pitch, Ferretti swapped from a 4-2-3-1 formation against Uruguay to a loose 5-3-2 against the United States, showing versatility, but missing out on the results. And the possession-based style we’ve seen for years at Tigres was evident, although it will take time to get up to full speed with that.The overriding question resolves around Ferretti’s future, with the youngsters showing enough to suggest that the raw material for a gradual generational change is there. The key now is finding someone to manage it.

Mexico’s Angel Zaldivar on red card: U.S. played ‘dirty game’

1:36 AM ETTom MarshallMexico correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Angel Zaldivar was sent off for Mexico’s 1-0 loss to the United States on Tuesday and pulled no punches in criticizing the opposition’s attitude.

The Chivas forward saw red in the 67th minute, two minutes after 6-foot-4 defender Matt Miazga had appeared to mock 5-5 Mexico forward Diego Lainez about his height.

Miazga was then photographed waving off Zaldivar as he left the field, something which irked the 24-year-old.”You see what their values are, they don’t know how to win,” Zaldivar told Univision afterward. “They poked fun, [and] tried to play a dirty game that honestly we don’t think is how you should play. That’s their game and we couldn’t do anything about it.”Mexico coach Ricardo “Tuca” Ferretti suggested that the incident will serve Lainez moving forward.”The [incident] with the two-meter center-back and the beloved little [Lainez] will be useful to him,” said the 64-year-old. “He’ll remember it the rest of his life and it’ll help him.”Ferretti added that he was disappointed in the loss but confident that the young group of players have a bright future.”I’m upset, honestly,” said Ferretti in the post-match news conference. “I feel bad. But this is about results and performance and I think that a lot of players have made us realize that there is raw material that needs to be polished, molded and given the opportunity it deserves.”Ferretti said that Mexico had been marginally the better side until Zalivar’s red card — which the coach said could’ve been a yellow — and that the United States hadn’t caused much danger until Tyler Adams’ goal in the 71st minute.”Until the sending off it was a good game from both [teams], with the flow in our favor,” stated Ferretti. “If my memory serves me their first chance was the goal and it was one game until the red card. Having a player less is complicated, it happened today and the numeric superiority came into effect.”The current Tigres manager was once again asked about his future and replied that he has already talked about what would be required for him to take over on a permanent basis.”We all know the situation,” Ferretti said. “Hopefully there is a decision soon one way or the other. The cards have been laid on the table.”Ferretti had stated on Monday that there is a buy-out clause in his contract with Tigres, although ESPN Mexico reported Tuesday that the Mexican federation is not willing to pay it.

 

Advanced scouting: Top fantasy soccer picks for every Champions League tier

Gareth Bale is one of the best players in the world, so it’s no surprise to find him among our top picks for Champions League fantasy. KIKO HUESCA/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock

1:53 PM ETDavis Mattek

The Champions League group stage begins on Tuesday, September 18 and with it, the most exciting and competitive soccer tournament in the world gets underway. The World Cup every four years is fantastic but the high-level play in the UEFA Champions League dwarfs what was on display this summer in Russia. The best players in the world, with their most optimal sets of teammates, take the field.A few things you need to know before entering the eight-tier ESPN Fantasy game for the Champions League: The group stage games are normally quite high scoring as there are matchups where clearly superior teams from England, France, Spain, Germany and Italy play smaller teams from other European nations. The best plan is to play attackers from heavy favorites in the betting markets and rack up goals, assists, shots on goal and chances created as our game rewards those stats much more heavily than defensive stats.What follows are notes to help you make your selections in all eight tiers of the first set of choices for Matchweek 1.

Tier One Forward

This is likely the tier that your captain is going to come from, as it contains the games’ best. Barcelona is the biggest favorite in the betting markets and they have a projected goal total of over 3 (around 3.3 projected goals). Lionel Messiis the cream of the crop that includes Neymar, Luis Suarez and Kylian Mbappe. Neymar does all things for PSG but has a much tougher matchup against Liverpool while Barca plays PSV Eindhoven, a team from the Netherlands. Messi scored 6 goals with 2 assists in 8 UCL starts last season while shooting 4.4 times per contest. Messi is also likely the best choice for your captaincy.

The second tier of forward is more difficult as we go away from the true superstars of the game. Lorenzo InsigneMemphis Depay, and Alexis Sanchez have the best chance of accruing what we call “peripheral” statistics. That means outside of just goals and assists, they will create chances, get shots on goal and generally provide value to your fantasy team even if they are unable to get on the score sheet. Depay has a tough matchup against Manchester City but he is his team’s primary free-kick and corner-kick taker which adds assists and chance created points. Insigne is on the road against Red Star Belgrade, a team that Napoli should be much better than, but playing on the road in Eastern Europe is notoriously tough. The best pure goalscorer on the slate is Robert Lewandowski but if he doesn’t score, he is likely sitting on your lineup with a lackluster score on the road against tough Portugese side Benefica.

Tier One Midfielder

For many people, this tier will be the hardest decision they have to make. Christian Eriksen is the primary engine in Tottenham Hotspur’s attack and they play at home against mediocre Italian side, Inter Milan. David Silva and Raheem Sterling offer a lot of passes completed and chances created upside for Manchester City (particularly Silva), while Phillipe Coutinho has the same cushy matchup as a massive favorite that Messi does. However, the class of this group is likely Gareth Bale who is classified here as midfielder and has nine appearances for club and country this soccer season and has 8 goals and 2 assists, including 3 goals in 3 La Liga starts. Bale is one of the five best footballers in the world while healthy and a home matchup against a dilapidated Roma side is not discouraging for his value. If not for Messi in this slate, Bale would be my captain selection.

Tier Two Midfielder

This is an incredibly deep tier of players and I expect that it will be one of the most wildly different among fantasy managers. There is not one clear player that leaps out over the rest. Arturo Vidal is the biggest name and has the great matchup against PSV, but he is less of an attacking player and more of a pure central midfielder. Vidal’s upside lower than someone like Isco or Marco Asensio, two attacking midfielders for Real Madrid. Isco is my favorite selection of this group as he is the creative engine for Madrid with the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo, but I see merit in Asensio as a differential, Arjen Robben as a high upside play for Bayern Munich on the road against Benefica, and also Dele Alli as a potential goals plus assists plus chances created monster, if he is fit to play for Spurs.

Tier Three Midfielder

Educated soccer fans will get a fairly decent edge when we get to Tier Three. We are presented with two Shaktar Donetsk mids in Alan Patrick and Maycon, both of whom have an advantageous matchup against Hoffenheim. Patrick is a huge sleeper in this tier as he is fresh from Brazil and seems to be Shaktar’s next in the line of talented young Brazilians that stretches from Douglas Costa, Luiz Adriano, and Willian. Manuel Fernandes is a similar value as he takes all of the set pieces and is the primary creator for Lokomotiv Moscow who have an easier matchup at home against Turkish side Galatasaray. I also think Benefica central midfielder Pizzi is a high upside play as he has been tearing up his home league and the UCL qualifiers with 6 goals and 2 assists in club play so far this season. Pizzi also takes corner and penalty kicks for Benefica.

 

Tier One Defender

Benjamin Mendy for Manchester City is the cream of this crop. He has been an attacking force for the best attacking team in the EPL so far in 2018 and plays more like a winger than a defender. Sergio Ramos does take penalty kicks for Real Madrid and will get some blocks and interceptions and Joao Cancelo for Juventus is a very attacking-minded fullback but this tier starts and ends for me with Mendy.

Tier Two Defender

Alex Telles is the primary set piece taker for FC Porto and is very talented from open play as well. Telles had 3 goals and 13 assists in his league campaign last season and will post stats more like a central midfielder than a defender. Lukasz Pischek is another talented attacking defender but his set piece role will be non existent and the club does play away in Belgium. Most of the other options here are center backs (who will not generate many offensive stats) or full backs for teams who are not expected to attack very often.

Goalkeeper

While there are more ways for goalies to get points than in other fantasy scoring systems (smothers, claimed crosses and punches) the best way for goalies to get points will be through saves and clean sheets. We do want some save opportunities as just 10 points for a clean sheet is not great. David De Gea plays for a strong Manchester United team but they do seem to funnel shots his way and he is the best GK in the world, making him the top option. Man City’s Ederson has very strong win-to-0 odds as does Barca’s Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN FALL FOR FIRST TIME IN NINE MATCHES AGAINST PENN FC, 0-1

By James Higdon, 09/12/18, 10:45PM EDT “Boys In Blue” concede second half goal in close contest against Harrisburg side

rough night for Indy Eleven as they fall on the road to Penn FC, 0-1. A second-half goal by Penn midfielder and former “Boys in Blue” midfielder Paulo Junior saw Indy’s unbeaten streak halted at nine. The loss marks the first for the Circle City side since falling on the road to the Tampa Bay Rowdies on July 21.“It was a game where I thought that in the first half we actually played quite well,” said Indy Eleven Head Coach Martin Rennie. “We created a few decent openings, but we didn’t manage to take chances that we had created in the half.  We felt that overall the conditions were quite difficult, and I think they [Penn FC] adapted and adjusted to those conditions a little better than we did.”Both sides held off minimal scoring opportunities throughout the first half. Penn came out strong with a solid first look at goal in the eighth minute by forward Aaron Dennis that went just wide of the right post. Nine minutes later, Penn midfielder Richard Menjivar played an in-swinging cross from the corner to the top of Indy’s six-yard box, where defender Tiago Calvano leapt up for a header. The Penn Captain’s attempt narrowly missed its mark as it lofted out around the left post.Where Penn asked questions, Indy responded. Indy’s first look at goal came in the 25th minute when defender Ayoze’s 40-yard free kick rocketed towards goal. Though the cross was on target for goal and for defender Karl Ouimette to follow up with a header if necessary, Penn goalkeeper Romuald Peiser managed to get his gloves on the ball first. Forward Eugene Starikov, who scored two of Indy’s three goals last time out, followed up with an attempt four minutes later. The 29-year-old controlled a cross by Eleven goaltender Owain Fon Williams deep into Penn’s half for a chip over Peiser, only for the shot to veer around the back post.Eleven forward Jack McInerney had his sights set on the leading goal in the opening moments of the second half on a breakaway play, but the striker’s low shot was denied. Seth Moses found a similar chance at distance in the 82nd minute, but the low strike flew directly into the keeper’s arms. Though Penn had several opportunities in the second half, the Harrisburg based side managed to only capitalize on one chance in the 57th minute.  Paulo Junior beat the ball around Eleven defender Reiner Ferreira with a slight touch, freeing the former “Boys in Blue” midfielder for a shot to the far post. The goal, assisted by Penn defender Harri Hawkins, was Paulo Junior’s third since joining Penn in June.“I think ultimately we lost the game because Paulo Jr. got free and scored a good goal.  There wasn’t really too much between the teams other than that,” Rennie said. “Obviously we are disappointed tonight because it didn’t go our way.  It was the first time that we have lost in a long time, so we need to brush ourselves off and now come back and go on a really good run between now and the end of the season.” The “Boys in Blue” are on the road again 10 days from now to take on Pittsburgh Riverhounds SC. After that, “Indiana’s Team” return home on Wednesday, September 26, for Faith and Family Night against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Fans can buy tickets to the midweek match at IndyEleven.com/Tickets or by calling (317)685-1100.

USL Regular SeasonIndy Eleven 0:1 Penn FCWednesday, September 12, 2018 – 6:30 p.m.FNB Field – Harrisburg, PA 
Scoring Summary:PEN – Paulo Junior (Harri Hawkins) 57’

Indy Eleven lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Owain Fon Williams (GK); Reiner Ferreira, Brad Rusin, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette; Ayoze (Dylan Mares 66’), Nico Matern (Nathan Lewis 86’), Matt Watson(C); Eugene Starikov, Ben Speas (Seth Moses 66’), Jack McInerneyIndy Eleven bench: Ben Lundgaard (GK); Brad Ring, Dylan Mares, Juan Guerra, Seth Moses, Soony Saad, Nathan Lewis

Penn FC lineup (5-3-2, L–>R): Romuald Peiser (GK); Harri Hawkins, Tiago Calvano (C), Kyle Venter, Marco Franco, Miguel Jaime, Richard Menjivar; Walter Ramirez (Lucky Mkosana 70’), Dan Metzger (Haruna Shaibu 90+1’), Paulo Junior; Aaron Dennis (Prince Baffoe 88’)Penn FC bench: Sean Lewis (GK), Saalih Muhammad, Prince Baffoe, Calvin Rezende, Lucky Mkosana, Haruna Shaibu, Jorge Rivera

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

 

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9/11/18 USA vs Mexico Tonight 8:30 ESPN/ Indy 11 Wed 9/12 6:30 with BYB at Union Jack or on ESPN+

So I am going to assume we will get a highly motivated young US squad tonight as they face our nemisis and greatest rival in Soccer Mexico tonight at 7:30 pm on ESPN on 9/11 in Nashville.  Not sure how many US fans will be there – tickets still in the $85-$130 range for level 1 seats and $55 in LEVEL 3 – mighty expensive. Still I suspect we will get a much nastier US team tonight.  I thought the US boys played well against Brazil last Thursday in a 2-0 loss that should have been 1-0 as that penalty call as pathetic.

Tomorrow night we get the Indy 11 traveling to Penn as they look to continue to battle for playoff position as they now stand at 4th in the league but with only a 2 pt lead on 4 other squads.

USA

Has US vs Mexico Lost some of its Bite? ESPNFC Jeff Carlisle

Future is Now for USA vs Mexico Rivalry – SI – Planet Futbol

Youthful US Team Gets a Lesson from Brazil – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

US Must Get More Creative on Offense – ESPNFC

9/11 Match Will be Emotional and Powerful says Trapp

What We Learned from USA vs Brazil – Stars and Stripes

Best Kept Secret LOL – Greg Berhalter Leading Candidate for USMNT

Indy 11

Indy 11 Flow the Goals in Pounding of Red Bulls – Bloodyshambles

Indy 11 Claim 3 Pts at Home vs NY Red Bulls II

Indy 11 Discount Tickets for 9/26 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.

Get Your Tickets to be with the BYB

The Boys in Blue get a week-long rest after a 22-day, 7 game stretch. The BYB will be following the team for two away games this month. For those who cheer the team on from Indiana, there will be watch parties and home games to get your beautiful game fix.  9/26 v Tampa Bay Rowdies (7pm) is Faith & Family Night. Don’t wait, get your BYBTIX today.  It is also the evening for us to celebrate the original live mascot, Loki/Victorio. Watch for more information as the date approaches.

9/12 Wed watch party v Penn FC (6:30pm) at Union Jack in Broad Ripple
9/22 Sat 7 pm watch party v Pittsburgh Riverhounds at Union Jack in Broad Ripple ~watch for the BYB as we drown out the Puddle Poodle fans with our traveling crew.

U.S.-Mexico rivalry: Has it lost some bite or is it as strong as ever?

5:54 PM ETJeff CarlisleTom Marshall

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Landon Donovan being hit with urine bags at the Azteca, Rafa Marquez head-butting Cobi Jones and the legend of Dos a Cero. Clint Dempsey, Brian McBride’s goal in the 2002 World Cup last 16 or El Tri scoring four unanswered goals to win the 2011 Gold Cup. These are the moments and personalities that have come to define the U.S.-Mexico rivalry, but not one of the players involved will be in the starting XIs on Tuesday in Nashville (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET).Tuesday’s game is a bit of a clean slate, with new faces and new (interim) managers figuring each other out. Unfamiliarity tends not to breed contempt, so will just their third meeting since 2015 — and, it must be stressed, in a friendly — be as epic and full-blooded as those games in the past?The biggest stars of the current crop — Christian Pulisic and Hirving Lozano — won’t be present in Nashville, and so the likes of Tim Weah and Diego Lainez will do their part. But with the generational shift comes the sense that something has been lost in terms of the pure animosity that characterized the rivalry for decades, although it wouldn’t take much to ignite tempers anew.ESPN FC’s Jeff Carlisle and Tom Marshall talked to people on both sides of the rivalry to get a sense of where things are heading.

There’s still some fire

For the current crop of U.S. players, many of whom are still finding their feet at the international level, perhaps all that’s needed is a bit more time and exposure. A player like New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams has already experienced it: He was part of the U.S. under-20 squad that won the 2017 U-20 CONCACAF championship, defeating Mexico 1-0 along the way.Is it as intense as a match at the senior level? Perhaps not, but it gives players a taste of what is to come when there’s a World Cup spot or trophy on the line.”You can tell that those games are bit different than every other game you play in,” Adams said. “That Mexico game just had a different edge to it. Right from the first whistle, guys were laying in tackles. At that point in the game you can tell it’s going to be really scrappy, it’s going to be tough and it’s going to be hard to find a win.”‘s something different. The players from before are no longer there, but it remains a Clasico because we’ve played each other at youth levels,” Seattle Sounders midfielder and holder of four U.S. caps Cristian Roldan said.Players who came through the El Tri ranks in similar fashion agree.”As much as it may be a friendly, a game against the United States is more than a simple game,” Santos Laguna and Mexico defender Jose Abella said.Yet players from the most recent era of the rivalry feel like U.S. vs. Mexico is waiting for the next player to redefine it.

A rivalry waiting for its next heroes and villains?

“The [Javier Hernandez] ‘Chicharitos,’ the [Miguel] Layuns, for as much as they say this is a rivalry, they didn’t have the moments that Rafa Marquez had,” ex-U.S. forward and current ESPN analyst Herculez Gomez said. “They didn’t really see this dominance over the U.S. and see it snatched out of their hands. And the Landon Donovans for the U.S. are gone.”For well over a decade, Donovan was public enemy No. 1 south of the border, defining the rivalry, and with good reason. Six of his 57 international goals came against El Tri, including his first in an October of 2000 friendly as well as his last in a World Cup qualifier in 2013. Then there was the biggest dagger of them all, the header that clinched victory in the round of 16 at the 2002 World Cup. And yes, all of those U.S. wins came with the “dos a cero” scoreline.Donovan drew even more ire when he reportedly urinated on the Estadio Jalisco field before a practice session in the run-up to an Olympic qualifier. It wasn’t until very late in his career, with a stint at Club Leon and an ad campaign urging U.S. fans to cheer for Mexico at the 2018 World Cup, that the ire directed at Donovan began to subside.Then there was Marquez, Mexico’s counterpoint. The Michoacan native was 23 when he head-butted Jones and received a red card as El Tri slumped to a 2-0 loss to the United States at the 2002 World Cup. Frustration got the better of Marquez again in 2009, when he kicked out at U.S. goalkeeper Tim Howard and again saw red as Mexico lost 2-0 to the U.S. in World Cup qualifying in Columbus, Ohio.Marquez might be the most detested Mexico player in history for U.S. fans, but perhaps there is an element of jealousy mixed in with the hate. No U.S. player in history has come close to enjoying the kind of success at club level as Marquez did at Barcelona, where he won two Champions League titles and La Liga four times.The current Atlas sporting president also had the last laugh, at least on the field. With pretty much his last touch in a Mexico shirt against the United States, Marquez headed in from a corner to hand El Tri a famous 2-1 victory in World Cup qualifying — and doing it in the Columbus stadium the U.S. had thought made it invincible.But with Marquez and Donovan retired, there is a sense those battles on the pitch are also gone — for now, at least.”I don’t want to say [the rivalry] gets diluted in a sense, but you definitely feel like those bad-blood moments [are gone],” Gomez said. “I don’t know how many players on both rosters have really [experienced] that.”Francisco Gabriel De Anda, a former Mexico defender and part of the 1998 Gold Cup-winning squad, agreed.”The intensity has lowered a lot. Before the 2002 World Cup and in the years after the rivalry grew a lot because of what happened in Korea and Japan. I think the rivalry has shrunk, and when you go to the United States to play in Columbus, it’s not so complicated. And when they come to Mexico there isn’t the same hostility, the atmosphere around the game isn’t as hostile, so I think the rivalry has decreased a lot.”For the longest time, Columbus was the U.S.’s not-so-secret weapon; now known as Mapfre Stadium, it added plenty to the rivalry’s mystique. It was first used against Mexico during a 2001 World Cup qualifier and was referred to as the “La Guerra Fria” due to the freezing February temperatures that El Triwanted no part of.Goals from Josh Wolff and Earnie Stewart paced the U.S. to a 2-0 win, and was the genesis not only of Dos a Cero but of using Columbus as the preferred venue to play Mexico in competitive matches. The juju was so strong that there was belief that it was actually keeping the margin down; case in point was when Clint Dempsey missed a late penalty during a World Cup qualifier in 2013 that would have made the score 3-0.”I was behind that goal, I remember it,” former U.S. international Frankie Hejduk said during a 2016 interview. “It was already 2-0 at the time, it was going to be 3-0. He hits a solid shot, but there was a little wind, and the wind [whispers] ‘Dos a Cero.’ And he missed the penalty.”Even though the curse of Columbus has been broken, the clash still carries bite wherever the games are played. Players currently featuring in top European leagues and experiencing rivalries there still think their CONCACAF clash has bite.”I think definitely it’s a different aspect when you play club and country,” said Weston McKennie, who plays for German club Schalke 04 and who’s arguably the future of the U.S. midfield. “Of course the Schalke-Dortmund rivalry is one of the biggest ones in Europe, but I think coming in with your national team to play Mexico is a different feeling than that.”Of course I have sense of what rivalry is now that I’ve played in the derby, but it’s something I’m really looking forward to, especially playing on 9/11, it will have significant meaning I think.”

A rivalry that must be experienced

those who have already experienced a U.S.-Mexico match, there is general agreement that there’s only so much you can do to prepare teammates for what lies ahead. U.S. defender DeAndre Yedlin said that at some point the players simply have to experience it for themselves.”When I played in my first one, I asked around, ‘What’s it like?'” he said. “The guys would try to explain it to me, but you can’t get a good grip on it until you actually play in it. I’ll let them experience it for themselves and they’ll do just fine.”Yedlin certainly has plenty of experience now, having played against Mexico six times, including the 1-1 draw in the Estadio Azteca back in June 2017. That match marked just the third time the U.S. avoided defeat in that venue in a World Cup qualifier.U.S. coach Dave Sarachan added, “You’ve got to live it. You can teach players history, which I try to do, and give them a real perspective. Now when they get on the field and really feel it, I think this rivalry will begin to heat up even more for these guys.”Yet there’s also an element of intrinsic motivation. Club America’s Edson Alvarez sees the fact that Mexico has a large fan base in the United States as an extra motivation to defeat the Stars and Stripes on their turf.”It is a strong rivalry and I think even more for Mexicans that live in the United States,” Alvarez told ESPN FC. “So it means a lot for me because we are the Mexican national team, their team. To play the United States in their country and win against their team, it’s very satisfying. To give Mexicans living in the United States a victory is great.”Even though players are divided on where the rivalry stands in 2018, the fans are no less emphatic about how they feel.”This goes beyond a game,” said Sergio Tristan, founder of U.S.-based Mexico fan club Pancho Villa’s Army. “Losing to the U.S. as a Mexican-American, you don’t hear the end of it because we live, work and play soccer with their fans on a weekly basis. It’s personal. We expect to win, and we want these young kids to get a taste of victory against our rivals early on.”A win this week cements a winning mentality against the U.S. for the next generation.”How will it play out among the home fans in Nashville? Dan Wiersema, communications director for the American Outlaws, said that the group was originally allocated enough tickets for three sections for Tuesday’s game but sold out only two of them.Wiersma acknowledged that there have been concerns about ticket pricing: Tickets in the supporters’ section for Tuesday’s match are $78 for AO members and $85.50 for non-members. (The cost is considerably lower, around $33, for next month’s match against Colombia.) But with the pain of World Cup qualifying failure still present, there is also a bit of a wait-and-see approach from some members.”It sure would be nice to get a victory,” Wiersema said. “That would feel like we could truly hit the reset button — beat our regional rivals, feel a bit of love in our hearts again.”

U.S. must get more creative vs. Mexico; who will fill Brooks void: W2W4

5:22 PM ETJeff Carlisle, Arch Bell and Jason Davis

U.S. faces Mexico in Nashville, Tennessee, on Tuesday (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET) in a friendly but with seemingly plenty still on the line. How will Dave Sarachan, Tim Weah & Co. fare against El Tri in their first meeting since June 2017? Jeff Carlisle, Arch Bell and Jason Davis pick out what to look for on the U.S. side.

The goal is clear: Create more in attack

Friday’s 2-0 defeat to Brazil witnessed the kind of U.S. attack to which we’ve grown accustomed over the years: huff, puff and hope to score on set pieces. Granted, that’s often the case when you’re limited to 35.4 percent possession, but heading into Tuesday’s grudge match against Mexico, the aim for the U.S. will be to show that its corps of young attackers can threaten the opponent in a wider variety of ways.U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan admitted as much in Monday’s news conference, though to hear him tell it, the key for an improved offense will be a more cohesive, aggressive defense.”In terms of just the movement off the ball, when we do look to step and apply pressure, it has to be a little more of a collective effort as opposed to individuals on their own because what happens is now space opens up for teams that are good with ball that can pick you apart a little bit,” he said.Where that happens will be interesting to watch. Mexico isn’t on par with Brazil, mind you, but El Tri is plenty adept at playing a possession game and threading passes into dangerous spots.So will the U.S. press high or retreat into a low block? It’ll certainly have to do plenty of the latter at some point, and it seems sensible to go for that option rather than press high. But if the U.S. needs more of a collective effort in defense, it will need the same in attack.That process starts by taking better care of the ball when possession is gained, which in turn should allow some of the faster wide players like Antonee Robinson, DeAndre Yedlin and Shaq Moore the chance to break on the counter. Central midfielders like Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams will need to contribute to the attack as well. It’s the best way for this crop of young U.S. players to get back on an upward trajectory. — Jeff Carlisle

How will the defense shape up without Brooks?

Arguably the best performer for the U.S. in Friday’s 2-0 loss to Brazil was center-back John Brooks. This was the Brooks who was very good during the 2016 Copa America Centenario, not the error-prone player from 2018 World Cup qualifying. But Brooks won’t be available on Tuesday against Mexico, leaving a pretty sizable gap in the middle of the U.S. defense.Fortunately for kinda-sorta interim boss Dave Sarachan, Matt Miazga will be around to anchor the back. The Nantes man ranked right up there with Brooks for man of the match honors against the Selecao and he is fully deserving of another start against El Tri.But who will fill in for Brooks on Miazga’s left? Perhaps a pairing with New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long might be in the making. Long has been good this season, and having the experienced Miazga (even though Miazga is two years younger) alongside him would temper any nerves.Viral moment aside, DeAndre Yedlin did little of note in attack for the U.S. and was plagued by a few too many giveaways at right-back. Still, he’s the most experienced player on the current squad and should get the nod over alternatives like Moore or Eric Lichaj. Because of club issues, Moore has yet to play a single official minute for Spanish second-division side Reus, while it is at the other full-back position that Lichaj could get the nod.The question is whether Sarachan should continue with Robinson, who struggled against Brazil, or play it safe with the versatile and more experienced Lichaj. It’s no secret that left-back has been a weakness for the U.S. for pretty much forever and Robinson has the wheels to help in attack, something that is sorely needed as evidenced by Friday’s blunt performance.It might not be popular with fans, but sticking with Robinson and instilling some confidence would be worthwhile in the long term. As the United States and Mexico face off in Nashville, Herculez Gomez ponders whether the longtime rivals have more in common than they think.With so many new faces getting their chance at the dawn of a new cycle, we’re not lacking for areas of focus with a young U.S. national team. Everything is a work in progress, including the Americans’ confidence. Before they earn their way back to the World Cup — the most obvious goal during this “reboot” — they’ll need to re-establish a place among the elite of CONCACAF. Mexico represents the best the region has to offer even as El Tri goes through its own process of injecting younger players into the national team mix.eating Mexico on American soil could set the tone for the next four years and build the crucial belief the U.S. needs for the new cycle. The rivalry has long been a part of the identity of the United States and falling behind the Mexicans so obviously has been damaging to the national team’s psyche.Players who are expected to be part of the core for the next four years for the U.S. will have their first chance to strike a blow against the country that the Americans are most often measured against. The lack of competitive stakes makes it tough to pin down the value in most friendlies, but games against Mexico in any context mean more. For players like Zack Steffen, McKennie, Adams and Miazga, Tuesday’s match will ramp up the nerves and serve as a test of their ability to rise to the occasion. The next head coach, still unknown at this point, could use the information provided by Tuesday’s performance in determining whom can be trusted when the games actually matter.Without a significant veteran presence in this current squad, it is incumbent upon someone to step into a leadership role. Yedlin is the most experienced and Wil Trapp has been given the armband; they, or others, must take charge and help maintain composure and focus in a game where emotions will be running higher than they might in the average friendly.The Americans don’t have a match that means anything competitively until next summer’s Gold Cup. For the time being, the closest they can get to a game that matters is any match against Mexico. Can the young group with the interim head coach beat Mexico and use the victory to launch into the new cycle? — Jason Davis

The Future is Now for the USA vs. Mexico Rivalry

QUICKLY The stakes are low and the cast of characters has changed, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing on the line when the USA and Mexico renew their rivalry in Nashville.By AVI CREDITOR September 11, 2018

For the last number of years, the USA-Mexico rivalry has been defined by a pretty set cast of characters. Sure, some names have come and gone, but, over the last four years anyway, the nucleus has been rather stable.Bradley. Dempsey. Altidore. Howard. Chicharito. Guardado. Marquez. Ochoa.On Tuesday in Nashville (TV coverage begins at 8:30 p.m. ET, with first kick expected after 9), none of them will be involved as both Concacaf foes look toward the future. As is the case after one World Cup cycle concludes and another begins, new faces are ushered in as teams cast an eye on who may be key components of another qualifying run. Nothing is set in stone regarding the past rivalry stalwarts, some of whom may still have roles going forward (save for Dempsey and Marquez, who have retired). And with a pair of interim managers at the helm, it’s quite possible that much of what happens at Nissan Stadium will have little bearing going forward.It’s still USA vs. Mexico, though, and there’s no such thing as an empty rivalry bout. Here are three subplots to keep an eye on in the latest edition of their storied history:

JONATHAN GONZALEZ, IN THE FLESH

The Jonathan Gonzalez USA-Mexico story diverged into a number of directions when the California-born announced his allegiance to El Tri at the beginning of the year. And while the conversations had in the aftermath were necessary and asked some tough questions of the U.S. federation, they often steered beyond the player itself and veered into bigger-picture themes.Well, here, for the first time, Gonzalez will get to show the U.S. and its supporters what they’re missing. A former teammate of Tyler Adams on the U.S. U-20 national team and a halftime substitute vs. Uruguay on Friday, Gonzalez is expected to play a big role under interim manager Tuca Ferretti in this match. It hasn’t exactly been nine months of meteoric growth for Gonzalez since his allegiance change. He wasn’t taken to the World Cup by Juan Carlos Osorio (given Mexico’s midfield options at the time, his inclusion always appeared to be a bit of a long shot), and he had to earn his place again in Monterrey’s starting lineup (in the current Apertura campaign he’s started all of Los Rayados’ eight matches) after it switched managers. He’s fully in frame for the 2022 cycle, though, and he’s out to earn his place on the national team he selected. The boo birds might come out from the U.S. faithful (and even then, they might be outnumbered in the stands by cheers from the devoted El Tri fans who will surely turn out in droves), and they’re entitled to do that, but it’s not as if his choice was an acrimonious one. Gonzalez described the difficulty in his choice and the confidence he has in it for ESPNFC this week, and he’ll surely have a bit of added motivation to show well against the team he could have been playing for instead.

THE FUTURE IS NOW FOR THE RIVALRY

Gonzalez is far from the only rising star involved in this game. There’s Cruz Azul midfielder Roberto Alvarado and Club America forward Diego Lainez, two youth stars who have come through Mexico’s impressive youth system and appear set for larger roles with the senior national team–all while being ogled by European clubs.On the U.S. side, there’s no Christian Pulisic or Josh Sargent, but their young counterparts like Tim Weah, Weston McKennie and Adams are set to be fixtures from here on out. There’s no real nastiness or lingering bitterness between this cast of actors yet, and this will be their first attempt to establish themselves against the players they’ll be compared to and surely be seeing in qualifiers, Gold Cups and beyond in the coming years.

THE USA HASN’T BEATEN MEXICO IN OVER THREE YEARS

The USA’s all-time record vs. Mexico isn’t great, with the Americans staring at a 19-37-14 all-time clip entering this match. Since the turn of the century, though, fortune has favored the Americans, to the tune of a 13-7-6 mark. The most recent history belongs to Mexico, though. El Tri has gone 2-0-1 in the last three meetings, starting with the Concacaf Cup playoff in October 2015 that sent Mexico to the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup and continuing with a 2016 triumph in Columbus that forever altered the aura surrounding their bogeyman World Cup qualifying destination.Opportunities to play against one another don’t come along that frequently, and there’s no guarantee they’ll meet in next summer’s Gold Cup, either–they haven’t played on that stage since 2011. So with a chance to get one on the all-time scoreboard and to end a few-year streak of futility, the U.S. would be hard-pressed to put some emphasis on the result, no matter the circumstances around the match–for psychological reasons, if nothing else.

U.S.’s 9/11 match against Mexico ‘powerful, emotional, exciting’ – Wil Trapp

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Sep 10, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — United States captain Wil Trapp said the team’s Sept. 11 match against rivals Mexico will be “powerful, emotional and exciting” for the team.On Tuesday, the U.S. will face Mexico in a friendly that will take place at Nashville’s Nissan Stadium (8:30 p.m. ET on ESPN). The day will mark the 17th anniversary of the terrorist attack that saw two jetliners crash into the towers that comprised the World Trade Center, resulting in the collapse of both buildings.Another plane was also flown into the Pentagon on the same day and a fourth plane crashed in Somerset County, Pennsylvania after passengers thwarted an attempted hijacking. In total, 2,996 people were killed in the attacks.”Any time you get to play Mexico it’s a special day,” said U.S. captain Wil Trapp. “To be playing on 9/11 is even more powerful, emotional, exciting I think for all of us as players because of what that day means to our country, what it symbolizes in terms of what happened as well as the heroism that came out of it. It will be an exciting game for us as players, there will be a lot of emotions wrapped into it.”In a bid to drive home the day’s significance, U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan took the players to the 9/11 Memorial in New York City prior to last Friday’s friendly against Brazil.”It was very powerful,” said Sarachan about the visit during Monday’s news conference. “We all know the ages of these guys, some of them were one year old…some were under the age of six. But I think they walk away from that with a greater understanding of the sacrifice that took place that day, and the game [Tuesday] on 9/11 wont’ be lost on the players.”Trapp said that visiting the memorial was “an emotional rollercoaster in a lot of ways.” The team was accompanied by first responders who shared their memories of the day, and for Trapp hearing their stories was the most powerful aspect.”Policemen that were in the rubble, digging people out, it was incredible to talk to them,” said Trapp.Trapp was eight years old at the time of the attack, and recalled watching what transpired on television before being sent home from school for the day.”You’re trying to put things together in your mind, but you still don’t understand what’s going on,” he said. “They send you home from school, you talk to your parents about it, and then it starts to take more shape.”He added, “The power of what happened and how we responded as a people — firefighters, policeman, normal citizens — it just brings a pride to how Americans can rally together and make a terrible day one that we saw the best in people.”As for what will take place Tuesday, Trapp acknowledged that he and his teammates will be playing a game, but they will also be representing their country on what remains a day fraught with emotion.He said, “9/11 is such a day that will live in infamy in our country, and our responsibility is to step out onto the field with pride and bravery.”

U.S. boss Dave Sarachan: We must show no fear, create more vs. Mexico

10, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan said that part of what he has tried to establish since taking over late last year was “getting our identity back.”The U.S. is set to face arch-rivals Mexico in a friendly on Tuesday (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET), one that’s likely to see several U.S. players experience the rivalry for the first time. Speaking at his pre-match news conference ahead of the game, Sarachan stressed what that identity consists of.”It’s going to look like a team that’s going to compete, that plays with no fear, is aggressive, that’s not afraid and I think when we get beyond that into the tactics and systems, that will all be an organic process as we develop players,” he said. “The foundation of being a U.S. soccer team and what that brings each and every time is critical and I think this group has sort of established that.”Sarachan later clarified his remarks to state that the team’s identity has had those qualities in the past, but needs to be instilled from the beginning when working with younger players.”I don’t think if you look at last year, or [the last] two or five years, that the team didn’t compete or play with heart,” he said. “But I think with the young group that needs to be reinforced each and every time we get together and that’s still an important component to what we’re about.”In terms of Tuesday’s match, 15 players on the current 22-man roster will be facing Mexico for the first time at the senior level. But Sarachan isn’t concerned about that level of inexperience, especially since some have played against Mexico at the youth level.”I think these players understand the significance,” he said.Sarachan said he plans to make between four and six changes to the lineup that started against Brazil. Wolfsburg defender John Brooks and D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola, who both started Friday’s 2-0 defeat at MetLife Stadium, have already been released back to their respective clubs.He’s also looking for an improved performance from his attack.”I think a few things that we talked about — and hope to improve upon — is having the game a little bit more on our terms, and by that I mean in terms of a little bit more possession, a little more quality when have the ball, a little more imagination and creativity when we get into good sports going forward,” he said.”The balance of when we don’t have the ball versus not having the ball the other night against Brazil was a little tipped, and we knew that. I thought defensively our shape and collective effort against Brazil was good, and I expect the same against Mexico. But I’d like to see us be a little more useful with the ball, get into a little more advanced positions and threaten a little bit more.”Sarachan added that on the defensive side of the ball, he’d like to see his side have more coordination in terms of when to press the opponent.”It has to be a little more of a collective effort as opposed to individuals on their own because what happens is now space opens up for teams that are good with ball that can pick you apart a little bit,” he said.”Having watched the film, I thought in a general sense we were pretty good but I think that part can be improved, and this group has played enough together in the system that we play where I think they understand the improvements that need to be made on that end.”Tuesday will likely see Mexico midfielder Jonathan Gonzalez play against the country of his birth. Gonzalez, a dual U.S.-Mexico national, opted to pledge his international allegiance to El Tri last year, a move that saw the U.S. Soccer Federation come in for considerable criticism given that the player had represented the U.S. at the youth level.

Sarachan insisted that Gonzalez’s decision was personal, and that the player had “a good understanding of weighing out his options.””Every person has to make those important decisions, and Jonathan had to make his,” said Sarachan. “I don’t think any more beyond that to be honest. I think it’s obviously worked in the reverse cases for us as well. As we move along, there’s probably going to be more examples of that.”In the case of Jonathan, he made that choice, it was a personal decision that he had to make, and there’s not much more to it in my mind. We’ll be approaching this game and looking at personnel and looking at Jonathan and evaluate him because he’s on the other side. Personal decisions, I respect that.”

Youthful U.S. get first real reality check as Neymar, star-studded Brazil put on a show

Sep 7, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — Three points from MetLife Stadium on Brazil’s 2-0 win over the United States in an international friendly.

  1. Youth is served for U.S. while Brazil feasts

The talent gap between the two sides was laid bare as the respective lineups were handed out. Brazil had five players who were regular starters during the 2018 World Cup, and another five who were reserves. Right-back on the night Fabinho was the lone interloper. The U.S. featured five outfield starters currently playing in one of the top five European leagues, but the vast majority of the players starting the match are still finding their way at the international level.Of course, much the same was said before last June’s 1-1 tie with France, though Les Bleus dominated that match. This encounter started in much the same fashion with Brazil patiently moving the ball and probing for openings. On the rare occasions when the U.S. got the ball, it couldn’t keep possession for any appreciable amount of time.The difference on this night was that it didn’t take long for Brazil to translate its dominance into goals. In the 11th minute, Douglas Costa collected the ball on the right wing, and with Antonee Robinson overcommitting and taking a bad angle, the Brazilian raced down the right flank to deliver a cross that Roberto Firmino duly volleyed into the open net from point-blank range.Brazil continued on as it had before, and it wasn’t until just over 30 minutes had passed that the U.S. had enough confidence to believe it could actually threaten the visitors’ goal. Weston McKennie was twice thwarted by the Brazil defense. His first chance was blocked by Thiago Silva after good work from Wil Trapp and Julian Green during the buildup, while his second opportunity from a corner saw his shot go straight into the gut of goalkeeper Alisson.

The United States were given a real reality check by Brazil at MetLife Stadium. Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

That proved to be a brief respite as Brazil continued to attack the left side of the U.S. defense, doubling their lead just before half-time with the help of a highly dubious penalty decision. Trapp was judged to have hauled down Fabinho as he darted in from the right wing, though there appeared to be minimal contact. Neymar calmly slotted home the ensuing spot kick and Brazil were cruising.Not much changed in the second half. It took a save from Zack Steffen combined with a fantastic clearace from Matt Miazga to deny Neymar a second after another lovely pass from Costa. Neymar then went close again a few minutes later with a shot from distance.For the U.S., McKennie threatened from another set piece midway through the second half, but his effort went wide, while Trapp had a long-distance effort that forced a sharp save from Alisson.As is often the case, the U.S. battled hard, but this match served as reminder that this young group has a long way to go.

  1. Youthful U.S. given first real reality check

During Sarachan’s now seven games in charge, there have been moments when his young side has showed its inexperience. The loss last June to Ireland comes to mind when game management was an issue.Yet this was the first time this group has been humbled. Brazil is one of the best sides in the world. But it’s also difficult to find many positive performances among the U.S. contingent on the attacking side of the ball.Steffen impressed once again in goal and had no chance on either of Brazil’s two on the night. Miazga, while beaten on the opening goal, improved as the game went on. Trapp hustled and had a few bright spots in the attack and was unlucky to concede the penalty. McKennie had some dangerous moments in front of goal, and Tyler Adams did his bit to break up some Brazilian attacks.The USMNT’s limitations in attack were once again evident however, with set pieces providing the best and really the only opportunities on the night. There was little created from open play, and wide players like Paul Arriola and Green offered little.Matters will no doubt improve when Christian Pulisic returns to the side, but the U.S. needs more than just one attacking orchestrator. Despite all of the playing time given to young players over the last 10 months, the questions of who can join Pulisic in providing a consistent creative threat seems no closer to being answered.With a game against archrivals Mexico just four days away, this group of players will now need to regroup quickly. It’s possible the game will be easy to shrug off. It was Brazil after all, and there will be no shortage of adrenalin against Mexico. But El Tri has shown itself to be team that can dominate possession as well, and it is bound to receive considerable support from the crowd. It will be up to the team’s senior leadership — a group that includes DeAndre Yedlin and Trapp — to lift the team’s spirits and move it back in a positive direction.

  1. Neymar flashes the style; Firmino, Costa repay Tite’s faith

Neymar was the star attraction heading into this match, and he had his moments when he entertained the announced crowd of 32,489 fans. That included a trademark flop in the first half in which U.S. defender Yedlin could be heard asking the referee, “Did you watch the World Cup?” (It was a foul though.) But there was also the usual assortment of tricks and flicks, and it took Miazga’s aforementioned clearance to deny the Brazil captain a goal from open play.But the biggest winners on the night for Brazil were Firmino and Costa.It’s worth noting that neither player started a game at the recently concluded World Cup. Though they each were impactful coming off the bench, they were deemed second choice to the likes of Gabriel Jesus and Willian, respectively.In this match, Firmino and Costa justified their spots in Tite’s starting lineup, granted, the duo will face tougher matchups than what they saw on this night. All the more reason to show well with the Brazil-hosted Copa America less than a year away.Costa simply had his way with U.S. left back Robinson, continually shaking free to either deliver a pinpoint cross or cut inside to send the U.S. defense into scramble mode. Firmino’s first-half goal was one of the easiest he’ll ever score at international level, but his movement to shake free from the attentions of Miazga was nonetheless effective. Costa continued his domination into the second half and nearly set up Neymar for a second before Miazga’s clearance.With Brazil set to face El Salvador on Tuesday in Landover, Maryland, that seems a likely stage to give minutes to some less experienced players. But when the games get tougher, both Firmino and Costa have done enough to keep their spots in the lineup.

USA vs. Brazil: What We Learned

The USMNT fell against a star-studded Brazil side on Friday. It happens. But the real question is, what did we learn from that test to the young American squad?

By Adnan Ilyas@Adnan7631  Sep 8, 2018, 7:30am PDT

The United States trotted out a squad with only 4 players with more than 10 caps against a Brazilside angry from a disappointing World Cup and stocked with European stars. As a result, the game was mostly defensive for the USMNT, with the Americans barely holding 35% of the possession. But, for the most part, the youngsters held on, losing 2-0 from an early goal and a suspect penalty. Here’s what we learned from the whole affair.

Antonee Robinson is Fast. He’s not Douglas Costa Fast.

Earlier this year, Antonee Robinson burst onto the national team scene with quick and exciting bursts up the left flank. It looked like the USMNT might have finally found an answer at left back that truly worked. Well, this match against Brazil showed that Robinson is still a work in progress. Players with tremendous speed often rely heavily on their pace, especially on defense. Alas, Robinson was not an exception, at least not in this match. And, it turned out, Brazil has a number of fast players, with arguably the fastest, Douglas Costa, lined up against Robinson. That situation was highlighted early with the opening goal. Costa peeled out wide, received a long pass, and then burned Robinson down the flank to put in a sublime cross that Fermino buried into the net. And that was merely the start. Brazil systematically attacked down the wing, especially down the US left side. And Robinson was repeatedly exposed, though the team didn’t concede from play again. The good news is that, at 21, Robinson has time to grow. He actually showed some growth during the game, taking up better positions as the match progressed, and even making an important stop on a break away. There’s still a lot to look forward to with this young player.

Miazga Took Center Stage

While Robinson had a tough time out on the left, the center backs had a much better showing. While Brooks was left in the cold by Firmino on the opening goal, the pairing, and Miazga in particular, had a good display. While Brazil found purchase on the wings, the center was left almost entirely impassable. Time and time again, Neymar would attempt to dribble through to goal, only to run into the brick wall that was Matt Miazga. His passing was mostly good and his positioning was great. In general, Miazga made Yedlin and Brooks look better. Which is exactly what the USMNT needs considering how much flux the position has been in over the last few years.

Artist’s Block

While the defenders were mostly on top of things in the back, defending alone won’t win you games. Unfortunately, the US was limited and lackluster in attack. In particular, there was a clear gap in the connection between Bobby Wood and the midfield line. In total, Wood attempted 12 passes, completing 11 of them. Only one was in the final third, and only one was a forward pass. All told, the USMNT generated just 2 shots on target, and only threatened whatsoever off of set pieces. This team has a huge, glaring Pulisic-shaped hole. And this game goes to show just how badly the team needs to learn to distribute the scoring and chance creation because, if Pulisic, who is out from this international week due to an injury, were to miss a crucial game, this team could be in trouble.

People Aren’t Buying It (OBC -ah empty stadiums in Europe too dude – less than ½ full!!)

We’ve talked about how the USMNT has attendance problems before, but surely, this time, for a game against the celebrated Brazilian national team, the most successful international team in the world, surely the stadium would be packed, right? Er, nope.  This has been a systemic problem for years. The team does not draw well enough to fill the stadiums the team plays in and, as a result, the stadium is left half empty, even with the scores of Brazil fans. At this point, soccer is popular in this country. We cannot blame the populous for not caring because we have seen repeatedly, whether by looking at MLS attendance numbers, World Cup viewing numbers, international club viewing numbers, or by other visiting national teams, that people really do want to watch soccer. USSF is not doing a good job organizing and promoting these games and they are charging too much. At some point, this sort of a bad look needs to sink in. But yes US Soccer is charging too damn much for tickets for games like this.  OBC Make Level 3 seats $10 each – and fill it with soccer kids – work with local soccer clubs to fill the upper level.  Then charge out the ass for Level 1.

DeAndre Yedlin Cut His Hair

The US is not exactly known for its hair game. Indeed, we are better known for having excellent but bald players, specifically in goal. And, probably since the amazing debacle in 2002, the USMNT’s players have mostly leaned towards the conservative side for their choices in hairstyle.That is, aside from DeAndre Yedlin.Yedlin was one man willing to experiment with his hair. He was willing to go for the wild and the creative. Blonde highlights? No problem. Dreads? Can do. It was a single solo effort to at least try to elevate the American hair game.Until now.

Gregg Berhalter leading candidate for USMNT?

By LaRoja96 on Sep 8, 2018, 3:25pm PDT 23 

I gotta tell you guys something that’s really gonna blow you’re minds. Ready? Ok! What I have to tell you is that since October 10, 2017, the USMNT still doesn’t have a head coach! Cue the dramatic music! But seriously, we still don’t have a head coach.Ever since October of last year, Bruce Arena’s former assistant Dave Sarachan was appointed by US Soccer as the Interim Head Coach of the USMNT to lead them through several friendlies that US Soccer had scheduled. During his time at the helm, Sarachan has laid the foundations for the next generation of USMNT players, giving debuts to about 18 players, some of the notable ones being Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, Josh Sargent, Timothy Weah and throwing Zack Steffen(who has been tipped to be the #1 goalkeeper going forward) in the mix as well. This was something we fans have desired since the failure in Trinidad and Tobago. Sarachan has done an honest job steering the ship and has kept all of his rosters young, one of the reasons I call Sarachan Grandpa Sarachan. Let’s be real, we all know he gave the young guys some hard candy along the way along with juice boxes and orange slices.USMNT General Manager Ernie Stewart has been the man leading the charge to find Dave Sarachan’s replacement before the end of the year, most likely by November. I know what you are all thinking “why is this process taking so long?” “We need a Head Coach now!!” Yes yes I know some people here and on American Soccer social media have grown a bit impatient waiting for the new head coach to be hired, but the kind of coach Stewart has said he wants to hire is a “legacy coach”, a coach that can leave a lasting effect on the USMNT for years to come even after said coach leaves. In a way, Jurgen Klinsmann was supposed to be that kind of coach for the team but didn’t work out as well as former USSF President Sunil Gulati had wanted.During the search for a new head coach, plenty of names have been throw around to see who would make the best candidate. I’m sure the names you all heard thrown around were Tata Martino, David Moyes, Juan Carlos Osorio, Carlos Queiroz, Jorge Sampaoli and even MLS American coaches such as Gregg Berhalter, Jesse Marsch, Peter. Vermes, Greg Vanney, free agent Caleb Porter and even current U20 Head Coach Tab Ramos. Shoot even Jose Mourinho was thrown into the mix as funny and unrealistic as that will be. Stewart has claimed that the coach must speak English which to a certain degree makes sense since the players and coach must have better communication with each other.As I said above, Stewart will make the hire before the end of the year which points to an MLS coach possibly being hired. Juan Carlos Osorio, after leaving the Mexico job had been considered somewhat of a favorite for the job but is now the head coach of Paraguay. So after him, who else is the favorite for the job? According to people from ESPN, beIN Sports USA and even Ives Galarcep from Goal.Com, the one name at this moment of time who is considered a favorite for the job is current Columbus Crew Head Coach Gregg Berhalter. Berhalter is a coach who has been considered by some to one day coach the USMNT however after the failure, some people had considered a favorite to take the job sooner rather than later.Berhalter, since coming to Columbus has managed to get his team playing pretty soccer, despite the teams very limited budget in buying better players. Berhalter has also been called by many as “the striker whisperer” with his own tactics helping the striker score a lot of goals(for those unfamiliar with Berhalters tactics, here’s a video explaining it https://youtu.be/nKCW4mvhbxE). His system involves using a 4 2 3 1, with the defenders pushing high. A formation like this could perfectly suit the player pool to its full potential. With everything that’s going on right now, it does seem like the stars are aligning perfectly for Berhalter to be the next USMNT Head Coach(and no his brother Jay Berhalter won’t be involved in the search).what do you guys think! Will Berhalter be the next USMNT Head Coach? Would you like it or hate it? Leave your comments below and I’ll talk to you all later.

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

 

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9/6/18 USA vs Brazil Fri 7:30/Mex Tues 8:30, World Nations League Starts Today, Indy 11 Win at home as playoffs loom  

USA

So the US will bring a youthful group into their friendlies with Brazil Friday night 7:30 pm on Fox Sports 1 in NJ, and vs Mexico in Nashville at 8:30 pm in Nashville on ESPN.  Sad to see the injured Pulisic will be not with the team again – but it is really nice to see center back John Brooks back into the fold along with Acosta in the middle.  Will be interesting to see how Dave puts up top with Woods, Zardes and Weah available.  Also what’s our center mid and D mid look like with this young group without Pulisic?  Interesting set of games vs 2 Powerhouse teams – we’ll see if the youngsters can play like they did in France last time out when they grabbed the tie?

WORLD

Excited to see how this Nations League thing looks today as the best teams in Europe begin play this weekend.

MLS

So I got a chance to watch DC United and Wayne Rooney this weekend as they just destroyed 2nd place Atlanta United and man talk about well used Allocation money.  Rooney has lit a fire under this squad as they have won 4 games in 6 as they soar up the Eastern conference standings from last to just 2 games off the last playoff spot.  Perhaps more though – the DC fan based as been re-energized – it was another packed house and it sounded like an EPL game on Sunday night on FS1.  Great to see the passionate fans of DC United packed into the new stadium – the Screaming Eagles are back man.  Oh and Bill Hamid back in goal is spectacular!  You will get a chance to see DC United twice in the next week as they face NYCFC this Sat at 4 pm on Univision and ESPN+, and again next Wed vs Minn United at 7 pm on ESPN+.

Indy 11

Our Boys in Blue have moved up to 4th overall in the USL with their big win over NYRB II at home Wednesday night.  The Eleven will be on the road for a couple of weeks now before returning home Wed night, Sept 26 vs the Tampa Bay Rowdies as the 11 present Faith and Family night. 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.   Just 2 home games left before the playoff so get plans to catch a game before the playoffs get underway.   

CHS

The 4th ranked Carmel High Girls picked up a huge 1-0 win over the #6 Ranked team in the State Penn this past weekend.  They’ll face #2 Noblesville 9/17 away and  Brebeuf at home next week Sept 20.

indy11926game

USA

Weah and US Youngsters Look to Impress vs Brazil – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Pulisic Out hurt, Tim Weah in for US vs Brazil/Mex – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Without Pulisic Brooks and Acosta Return as US faces Brazil and Mexico Brian Struas SI

Youth Leading the Way but Acosta and Brooks Still have  a Role or US – Jeff Carlisle SEPSNF

Why is US Still Looking for a Full time Coach? – Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

3 GK vie for Open spot for USA Men

John Brooks to Miss Mexico Game to return to club

What’s the State of the US Team heading into huge Friendlies this week

US Callup May Cost Bobbby Wood at Hannover

18 year old Josh Sargent scores for Werder Breman U23s for 5th time

US Can Be a Top 3 Soccer Country Infantino Says at White House

US Ladies Blank Chile as Lloyd Scores Twice

US Ladies win 2 as World Cup Field Takes Shape – Graham Hayes ESPNW

U.S. roster to face Brazil, Mexico

Goalkeeper: Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)

Defense: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Matt Miazga (Nantes), Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu), Tim Parker (New York Red Bulls), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)

Midfield: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Julian Green (Greuther Furth), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain)

Forward: Andrija Novakovich (Fortuna Sittard), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

WORLD

Nations League Gets Started Today

What is the Nations League and How Does it Work? – Dale Johnson ESPNFC

Why a Global Nations League would Outshine the World Cup – Simon Kuper EPSNFC

MLS

Miami Expansion Team unveils name and logo —

Rooney & Villa face off for just 2nd time Ever

Orlando’s Stajduhar Cancer Battle

Goalkeeping

France’s GK Areola was spectacular in Goal vs Germany

Areola Great Save Again

Life as a Third Choice Keeper in the EPL

Indy 11

Indy 11 Claim 3 Pts at Home vs NY Red Bulls II

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.

indy11926game

GAMES ON TV

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)

4 pm univsion               NYCFC vs DC United (Rooney)

10 pm ESPN+                 Portland vs Colorado

Sun, Sept 9                     

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

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

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

Mon, Sept 10               

2:45 pm ESPN +           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 ESPN+                    England vs Switzerland

8 pm beIN Sport??     Colombia vs Argentina

8:30 pm beIN sport Brazil vs El Salvador

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

Weds, Sept 12   

6:30 pm ESPN+             Penn vs Indy 11

8 pm ESPN+                    DC United vs Min United

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) 

Sun, Sept 16     

8:30 am NBCSN      Wolverhampton vs Burnley

9:30 am FS 1           Werder Bremen vs Numberg

11 pm NBCSN                Everton vs West Ham United

1 pm ESPN                       DC United (rooney) vs NYRB

5 pm FS1                           Chicago Fire vs Orlando City

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

Christian Pulisic out, Tim Weah in for U.S. roster to face Brazil, Mexico

Sep 3, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

U.S. caretaker manager Dave Sarachan has continued with his youth movement for the upcoming international break in naming a 24-man roster for friendlies against Brazil and Mexico, although as expected, the list doesn’t contain injured Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic.All told, 14 of the 24 players named are 23 or younger, while the split between domestic players and those playing abroad is relatively even, with 11 players performing in MLS. Ten of the players are even age-eligible to take part in the 2020 Olympics. “For these matches against Brazil and Mexico, the theme remains the same in that we are using the opportunity against these high-powered opponents to continue building on the foundation that we’ve laid,” said Sarachan. “We felt it was right to continue allowing this group to get valuable experience for the big picture that includes competitive matches in the future with the Gold Cup, Olympic qualifying and World Cup qualifying.”An undisclosed muscle ailment has sidelined Pulisic for the two games. The injury is not believed to be serious, but it was enough for him to miss the Sept. 7 match against Brazil in East Rutherford, New Jersey, followed by the game against archrival Mexico in Nashville, Tennessee, four days later.”I was excited to have Christian be a part of these games in September,” said Sarachan. “As we all know too well, injuries happen and you can never predict timing. It’s disappointing that we won’t have Christian involved.”I know that he wanted to be a part of things, and we certainly wanted him here, but unfortunately he won’t be available. That said, we haven’t had Christian in with the group aside from one game in the past six friendlies, so I feel confident that this group will continue to build on what we have started.”The roster does see the return of some players who were part of the team’s failed qualifying attempt for the 2018 World Cup. Wolfsburg defender John Brooks, healthy after an injury-hit campaign last season, and Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta make their first appearances since the Americans’ 1-1 draw with Portugal in November. Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes, D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola and LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget are also back in the frame after lengthy absences. They join veterans such as Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin, fresh off scoring his first Premier League goal on Saturday, as well as Hannover forward Bobby Wood.Conspicuous by their absences are the Toronto FC pair of midfielder Michael Bradley and forward Jozy Altidore, but Sarachan appeared to leave the door open for them and other players to be brought back into the team later this year. Last month, Bradley told ESPN FC that there had been discussions between him and Sarachan about his possible involvement for the two upcoming games. Now it is clear that any possible return will have to wait.”With six games remaining in 2018, we felt that at the beginning of the Kickoff Series we wanted to continue where we left off with the makeup of the group,” said Sarachan. “Moving forward into October and November, we will look at a broader mix of players.”Overall, we don’t view the pool in categories by age. We look at what we think is the right blend that will help our team progress and ultimately get results.”Earlier this year, Paris Saint-Germain attacker Tim Weah and Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent both made their international debuts. In the European club season that has just begun, Weah has seen time with PSG’s first team while Sargent has been playing with Bremen’s second team. This time around, only Weah was called in.”Weah has been included in our roster primarily because he is coming off a very good preseason with PSG’s first team, has logged a lot of first-team minutes and already has a goal to his name this season,” said Sarachan. “With consideration for the senior national team, Timmy has earned the right to be called in.””The decision to leave Josh Sargent off this roster was one made primarily because he is still getting integrated with Werder Bremen,” added Sarachan. “He’s working his way into the first team but has yet to feature for them. The feeling is that he is getting valuable playing time with the club’s under-23 team, evidenced by the minutes he’s played and goals he has scored so far this season. I felt it was best to allow him to continue to train with the first team with the hope of getting minutes in friendlies during the international break.”

U.S. roster to face Brazil, Mexico Friday & Tues

Goalkeeper: Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew SC)

Defense: John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Matt Miazga (Nantes), Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu), Tim Parker (New York Red Bulls), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)

Midfield: Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Julian Green (Greuther Furth), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders FC), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain)

Forward: Andrija Novakovich (Fortuna Sittard), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew SC)

U.S. midfield under the lens vs. Brazil, Tim Weah looks to mimic the rise of teammate Neymar

6:09 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The U.S. men’s national team will face Brazil on Friday at MetLife Stadium in their first match since the conclusion of the 2018 World Cup. The match will mark caretaker manager Dave Sarachan’s seventh game in charge, and he’ll be hoping his youthful side (average age 23) will show well against a Brazil team featuring Neymar and Philippe Coutinho.Here’s what to watch for.

  1. U.S. looking for progress from young midfield

The Americans’ 1-1 draw with France last June was encouraging on some levels, given the pedigree of the opposition and the youthfulness of the U.S. team. The defense and the goalkeeping of Zack Steffen stood out, but France dominated the match territorially, and over the course of the match the play of the U.S. midfield was uneven.With that in mind, the U.S. is hoping to show more fluency when it has the ball. That amounts to a massive challenge for U.S. midfielders such as Weston McKennie, Tyler Adams, and Wil Trapp.”I think we just look at being stingy, being difficult to play against,” Trapp said. “We know that Brazil brings different challenges than France did, than Ireland did. But also building upon: How can we be more dangerous moving forward, scoring goals? Yes, we scored in France, but we also look at it as an opportunity where we could have been better attacking.”Sarachan stressed that his side would need to find “the right balance” between attack and defense, and while Brazil’s roster isn’t comprised completely of A-team players, there is still more than enough talent to trouble the U.S. defense.”You look at the quality of their players in terms of breaking down players 1v1, they can go from zero to 60 in an instant just on the amount of game-changers they have on the field at any one moment,” Trapp said.

  1. Weah hoping to follow in the footsteps of club teammate Neymar

It was eight years ago that Neymar made his international debut against the U.S., scoring his first international goal in a 2-0 win at the same venue where Friday’s match will be held. That no doubt will provide an inspiration for his club teammate and U.S. forward Tim Weah.Yet a look at the lineups from that day reveals a cautionary tale as well. The other Brazilian goalscorer was Alexandre Pato, who at the time was just 20 years old but already on the post-Milan downside of his career.Despite scoring his first Ligue 1 goal last month for Paris Saint-Germain, Weah is at a point in his career where he’s not nearly as hyped as Neymar was back then with Santos. But being the son of a former Ballon d’Or winner — and current president of Liberia, George Weah — carries with it a unique burden.”I can’t imagine that’s an easy thing,” Sarachan said. “But he comes off as though he’s trying to be his own self and find his own way, and that’s a pretty mature way to look at things.”Weah’s comments hint strongly at a player with his feet firmly on the ground, able to tune out any outside noise. “Whatever I do, there’s always going to be hate, always people saying, ‘He’s not as good as his dad,'” he said earlier this week. “I just stay focused on my game. Right now, the national team is the most important thing to me, and that’s what I’m focused on. Whether my name is Weah or something else, I always want to give 100 percent.”Of course, Neymar isn’t the only club teammate Weah will be facing, as Thiago Silva and Marquinhos will also both be suiting up for Brazil.”We actually had a chat with all three of them before I came to camp,” Weah said earlier this week. “We laugh about it all the time, we joke about it. It’s a really cool vibe with all those guys, they love me, I love them, and they’re like my brothers. This is my first time being opponents with them, so it’s going to be a great experience.”But then, Weah couldn’t help letting some youthful exuberance seep out.”I hope they’re ready for us. We’re going to be a challenge for them,” he said.

  1. For Brazil, no time to ease off

The match will be Brazil’s first since the disappointment of its World Cup quarterfinal exit to Belgium, and while there is a tendency to shrug off post-World Cup friendlies, there is plenty of work to do for Brazil’s manager, Tite.The 2019 Copa America is less than a year away, and with Brazil hosting the tournament, the usual pressure to perform well is ratcheted up a level or two. For that reason Tite — who after agreeing to stay on with the Selecao is eager to see what he can do over a full cycle — will be looking to get some answers. In particular he’ll be looking to see if inexperienced national team players like Arthur, Fabinho and Richarlison can become long-term options for Brazil.But Tite will have plenty of familiar faces at his disposal as well. Beyond the aforementioned Neymar and Coutinho, Brazil’s squad is loaded with 2018 World Cup participants. Thiago Silva will anchor the defense, Real Madrid’s Casemiro figures to feature in central midfield, and the likes of Willian, Roberto Firmino and Douglas Costa will all be available in attck. Given the youthful nature of the U.S. team, that presents a formidable challenge indeed.

Without Pulisic, Familiar Faces Return as a Youthful USMNT Braces for Upcoming Friendlies

By BRIAN STRAUS September 02, 2018  SI

The games—next Friday against Brazil and Sept. 11 and Mexico—will be about the men on the field. Sunday’s roster announcement, however, is as much about the man who’s missing.Neither Christian Pulisic’s stature nor his potential is at risk. The 19-year-old Pennsylvania product—he’ll turn 20 in a couple weeks—remains the leading light of his generation and the player around whom the next era of the U.S. national team will revolve. But that era, at least as far as the Borussia Dortmund midfielder is concerned, is slow getting started.Pulisic has played just once for the USA since last fall’s World Cup qualifying disaster in Trinidad—and it was a listless performance at the end of a long club season—and he’s out of the team again this week thanks to a muscular injury suffered while on Bundesliga duty. His next chance to play for country will come in the October friendlies against Colombia and Peru. That means that over the course of an entire calendar year, which amounts to more than a third of his pro career, he’ll have worn a U.S. jersey for only 89 minutes.It’s far from scandalous, but it’s almost unheard of for such a key player to remain out of the international loop for so long. There are obvious explanations, from the lack of a summer tournament to Pulisic’s club commitment and injury. He’ll have missed only seven matches. But as coach Dave Sarachan begins to build up the national team’s next generation—once again, his roster is dominated by youth and features 15 men (of 25) who are 23 or younger—Pulisic is missing out on some of the chemistry and culture under development. When he’s ready, and if and when there’s a permanent coach, he’ll almost certainly and seamlessly slide right back in. But the wait is a bit frustrating and strange, and it’ll be worth watching how and where he fits once he’s ready.”I was excited to have Christian be a part of these games in September,” Sarachan said Sunday. “As we all know too well, injuries happen and you can never predict timing. It’s disappointing that we won’t have Christian involved. I know that he wanted to be a part of things and we certainly wanted him here, but unfortunately he won’t be available.“That said, we haven’t had Christian in with the group aside from one game in the past six friendlies, so I feel confident that this group will continue to build on what we have started.”Sarachan has given 18 players their senior U.S. debuts since taking over on an interim basis last fall. Although he’s said on several occasions that re-integrating veterans will be important as next summer’s Concacaf Gold Cup approaches, this week isn’t that time. The USA will train at the New York Red Bulls’ facility in Morris County, NJ, as it prepares for Brazil, which is bringing the likes of Neymar, Philippe Coutinho, Roberto Firmino, Arthur, Willian and Thiago Silva to the Meadowlands. There’s an imbalance on paper, but Sarachan said he has confidence in his young group. They’ve barely trailed during their 2-1-3 stretch, and showed well (without Pulisic) in a 1-1 draw with impending World Cup champion France in June.”Over the course of the past friendlies we have established a core of players that I felt good about offering opportunities,” Sarachan said. “For these matches against Brazil and Mexico, the theme remains the same, in that we are using the opportunity against these high-powered opponents to continue building on the foundation that we’ve laid. We felt it was right to continue allowing this group to get valuable experience for the big picture that includes competitive matches in the future with the Gold Cup, Olympic qualifying and World Cup qualifying.”So if all goes well, Pulisic will return to a team that’s developing a core and a sense of tactical and interpersonal identity, even if there’s a transition in management (GM Earnie Stewart has been on the job officially for a month). For now, here’s a look at the men who will be in New Jersey and Nashville (for the game against Mexico) this month.

GOALKEEPERS

Alex Bono (Toronto FC), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew)

Steffen, 23, has emerged the clear No. 1 here, although there’s arguably more competition in the player pool than there will be in camp. Brad Guzan, 33, remains part of the long-term picture, and Bill Hamid, 27, soon may get consideration again now that he’s getting minutes in D.C.Steffen has played 225 minutes across three games for the USA this year, yielding one goal.

DEFENDERS

John Brooks (VfL Wolfsburg), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City), Eric Lichaj (Hull City), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls), Matt Miazga (Nantes), Shaquell Moore (Reus Deportiu), Tim Parker (New York Red Bulls), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United)

The story in back is the return of Brooks, who was limited by injury to four caps last year. He missed the qualifying stretch run, and hasn’t been in with the national team since the November friendly against Portugal—Sarachan’s first match in charge. But he’s been a regular for Wolfsburg at the start of the German season and when healthy, seems a likely U.S. starter.“John Brooks had a difficult season with an extended injury last season with Wolfsburg,” Sarachan said. “To his credit, he put in a lot of work in the offseason, had a strong preseason and has also started off well in their opening game, contributing with a goal and playing 90 minutes in their win against Schalke. Given all that, I’m pleased that he’s able to be back with the group. Center back is an important position and he’s proven that he’s very capable at this level.”

Sarachan’s best XI almost certainly features Ligue 1 newcomer Miazga alongside Brooks, with Yedlin (who scored his first Premier League goal this weekend) at right back. It’s a bit more uncertain at left back. Robinson, 21, got the start against France and has been ever-present so far this season for Wigan. He’ll likely feature in the friendlies. Lichaj is primarily a right-side player, but can switch and did so against Portugal last November. The first-choice left back for much of 2017 was Jorge Villafaña, who just returned to the Portland Timbers and wasn’t brought in by Sarachan.

Long is the only one of the 25 call-ups making his senior camp debut. Long and Parker, who made his U.S. debut before the World Cup, have been key contributors this season at Red Bull Arena.

MIDFIELDERS

Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls), Paul Arriola (D.C. United), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy), Weston McKennie (Schalke 04), Cristian Roldan (Seattle Sounders), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain)

The midfield is this team’s strength, even in Pulisic’s absence, and it gets better with Acosta’s apparent return to form. His move to the Colorado Rapids, even though it involved a precipitous slide down the standings, has provided a spark, and Acosta is in camp for the first time this year.It’ll be interesting to see how he looks with McKennie, another FC Dallas product. The pair played together at the center of a 4-1-4-1 against Portugal last fall. In a similar alignment, which Sarachan has often preferred, Trapp likely would be the defensive midfielder (it was Danny Williams in Portugal). Roldan can play there as well (or McKennie could slide back).“He has worked his way back to good form,” Sarachan said of Acosta. “The change of scenery to Colorado seems to have worked out in that he’s a consistent starter, logging 90 minutes and back to the strong form that we remember seeing during qualifying and the Gold Cup last year. We’re happy to have him back with us.”The wide options are enticing, starting with Weah and Adams (who can play anywhere), and now including Lletget, another player returning to the U.S. fold after a significant layoff. The creative, hard-working midfielder’s international ascendance was derailed by an injury suffered against Honduras in March 2017. The 18-year-old Weah, meanwhile, already has two goals for PSG.Speaking of Lletget, Sarachan said, “He has put himself back at a level to help contribute to the national team. Having a guy like Sebastian gives us different options and he offers a unique skill set to us in midfield.”

And regarding Weah, the manager said, “[He] has logged a lot of first-team minutes and already has a [league] goal to his name this season. … Timmy has earned the right to be called in.”

FORWARDS

Andrija Novakovich (Fotuna Sittard), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96), Gyasi Zardes (Columbus Crew) 

The U.S. is thinner up front, and Sarachan has deployed the team primarily in a 4-1-4-1 to compensate, in part. Jozy Altidore will turn 29 in November and likely will get another crack down the road, while the likes of Pulisic, Weah, Green, and others can attack from more withdrawn positions. Meanwhile, Sarachan is continuing to give Wood the chance to get back on track while looking at a promising target forward prospect Novakovich.    Wood, 25, scored in the friendlies against Paraguay (penalty) and Ireland and is getting his feet under him at Hannover. Novakovich also made a move, to Sittard in the Eredivisie, and already has two goals.Zardes, meanwhile, has been brilliantly efficient in Columbus, where he leads all U.S.-eligible MLS players with 15 league goals. That’s as many as he scored in 2015-17 combined for the LA Galaxy.

Sarachan saw fit to address Josh Sargent’s absence. The 18-year-old just kicked off his senior club career at Werder Bremen, but he’s already got a senior international goal—he scored against Bolivia in May. Sargent has four goals in six games for Werder’s reserves, who play in Germany’s regionalized fourth tier.

“The decision to leave Josh Sargent off this roster was one made primarily because he is still getting integrated with Werder Bremen,” Sarachan said. “He’s working his way into the first team, but has yet to feature for them. The feeling is that he is getting valuable playing time with the club’s U-23 team, evidenced by the minutes he’s played and goals he has scored so far this season. I felt it was best to allow him to continue to train with the first team with the hope of getting minutes in friendlies during the international break.”Like Pulisic, it would be intriguing to see Sargent in with the national team. But in both cases, there will have to be delayed gratification.

U.S. youth a priority, but experience of Brooks, Acosta still matters

Sep 2, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Little by little, the veterans for the U.S. men’s national team are coming in from the cold.For the entirety of caretaker manager Dave Sarachan’s spell in charge, his emphasis has been on youth. It’s an approach that is as logical as it is necessary: After the debacle of the 2018 World Cup qualifiers, it was important to turn the page and begin to usher in a new generation of players.The roster that Sarachan named for the upcoming friendlies against Brazil on Sept. 7 and Mexico four days later is consistent with that approach. Fourteen of the 24 players named are 23 or younger and include 16 players with seven or fewer international appearances. Included in that latter category is New York Red Bulls defender Aaron Long, the only uncapped player on the roster. The biggest absence, of course, is Borussia Dortmund midfielder Christian Pulisic, who is sidelined by a muscle injury that a U.S. soccer spokesperson characterized as “not significant,” but there are a few returnees that Sarachan has opted to bring back, the most notable being Wolfsburg defender John Brooks and Colorado Rapids midfielder Kellyn Acosta.Both players have the ability to be future mainstays. Whether they reach that level remains an open question.Brooks endured an injury-hit 2017-18 club season with Wolfsburg that not only limited him to just 12 league and cup appearances, but caused him to miss the fateful last World Cup qualifier as well. Beyond his club struggles, Brooks’ form with the U.S. has been all over the place and seems to hint at a player who doesn’t travel particularly well. His best moments with the U.S. have come after lengthy camps such as the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Copa American Centenario. During shorter international windows, he’s much been more inconsistent as well as prone to injury or illness, as evidenced by him missing the final four World Cup qualifiers.A return to the level he showed at the Copa America, when the Americans reached the semifinals, would be most welcome for Sarachan and whoever succeeds him. The early returns this season are encouraging.”To his credit, he put in a lot of work in the offseason, had a strong preseason and has also started off well in their opening game, contributing with a goal and playing 90 minutes in their win against Schalke,” Sarachan said about Brooks. “Given all that, I’m pleased that he’s able to be back with the group. Center-back is an important position and [Brooks has] proven that he’s very capable at this level.”Acosta’s performances with the U.S. have been steadier, although in a more limited role, mostly as the central midfield sidekick to Michael Bradley. But his play with FC Dallas earlier this year was so poor that he was eventually benched and then traded to the Colorado Rapids. The trade has had the desired effect in that it looks to have rejuvenated Acosta.”[Acosta] is a consistent starter, logging 90 minutes and back to the strong form that we remember seeing during qualifying and the Gold Cup last year,” Sarachan said.One of the wild cards in the group is LA Galaxy midfielder Sebastian Lletget, who broke his foot back in March of 2017 just minutes after scoring his first international goal against Honduras. His craftiness on the ball is something the U.S. has lacked at times. The fact that he played for Sarachan while the U.S. manager was an assistant in L.A. doesn’t hurt either.”Not only do I know him personally but professionally, I believe he has put himself back at a level to help contribute to the National Team,” Sarachan said. “Having a guy like Sebastian gives us different options, and he offers a unique skill set to us in midfield.”Of course, the center of midfield has become a bit more crowded with the emergence of Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams — both of whom are on the current roster — but there are no guarantees in terms of which players will emerge and who will fall by the wayside. The last cycle in particular saw far too many fall into the latter category. The more competition there is, the better.Sarachan appears mindful of the progress of some of some of his younger players as well. While Paris Saint-Germain’s Tim Weah was included, Werder Bremen forward Josh Sargent wasn’t.”The decision to leave Josh Sargent off this roster was one made primarily because he is still getting integrated with Werder Bremen,” said Sarachan. “I felt it was best to allow him to continue to train with the first team with the hope of getting minutes in friendlies during the international break.”In addition to Brooks, Acosta and Lletget, the likes of D.C. United midfielder Paul Arriola and Columbus Crew forward Gyasi Zardes have also been recalled after long absences. But not every veteran has been welcomed back, although in some cases that seems a matter of time. Midfielder Michael Bradley told ESPN last month that there have been discussions between him and Sarachan; the U.S. manager seems open to his return for as long as he remains in his post. Jozy Altidore also still appears to have something to give to the U.S. even as both he and Bradley remain lightning rods for what took place during World Cup qualifying.But experience will be needed at some point during this cycle, if only to pass the torch onto players like McKennie, Adams and defender Matt Miazga. The future will divulge exactly when that is.

U.S. men’s national team is still searching for a full-time coach. What’s taking so long?

1:04 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

It’s telling that about six months ago, U.S. Soccer Federation news releases stopped referring to Dave Sarachan as the “acting head coach” of the men’s national team. It wasn’t that Sarachan was in the running for the full-time job, but it was more an acknowledgement that a permanent hire — if there is such a thing in the world of coaching — wasn’t going to get made anytime soon.Sarachan’s spell in charge has now stretched to 10 months, a span that will include nine games after upcoming matches against Brazil on Sept. 7 and Mexico four days later. And as the timeline for hiring a new manager has gone on and on and on, Sarachan’s contract has been extended multiple times and now stands to run until the end of 2018. With that reality come the inevitable questions. When exactly will the USSF hire a full-time manager? Why is it taking so long? And, of course, whom will they hire? The answer to the second question lies partly in the upheaval since that night in Couva, Trinidad, last October when the U.S. failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup. That ultimately begat Sunil Gulati’s decision not to run for re-election as USSF president, and not wanting to make a decision as a lame duck, the decision of men’s national team manager was left to his successor. Along the way, it was decided that whomever was elected would appoint a general manager of the U.S. national team to oversee the search.

Carlos Cordeiro was duly elected as USSF president, and in parallel with the mad dash that occurred in order to secure the hosting rights — along with Canada and Mexico — for the 2026 World Cup, Earnie Stewart was hired as GM in early June. Except Stewart’s tenure didn’t begin (officially, at any rate) until Aug. 1 amounting to another delay, though he could be seen making the rounds in the days leading up to the MLS All-Star Game.So here we are, into September, and a U.S. Soccer spokesperson has confirmed that no interviews have been held, keeping with Stewart’s statement upon being hired that, “It will be process over speed.” One USSF source said the search could drag into November or December.As for what Stewart has been doing with his time, sources indicate he has been reaching out to former players, coaches and executives and getting their input on what they would like to see in a coach. His remit also includes spelling out the broad strokes in terms of style of play; this has figured into Stewart’s conversations as well.There is a question of how much say Stewart will ultimately have in terms of the decision. He will be the one to make a recommendation to the USF hierarchy and board of directors, but it will be USSF CEO Dan Flynn who will do the negotiating in terms of a contract. It may be that Flynn has the final say.For now it is up to Stewart to lead the search. One source indicated that Stewart is leaning toward making a “legacy hire,” one that would leave a lasting imprint on the national team program, as opposed to one whose sole aim is to get the U.S. men back qualifying for World Cups. Granted, legacy was what Gulati had in mind when he hired Jurgen Klinsmann back in 2011, though the USSF technical hierarchy — which, in addition to Stewart, includes chief sport development officer Nico Romeijn and chief soccer officer Ryan Mooney — has stressed that the working environment will be collaborative in nature as opposed to having the manager or the GM make all the decisions.Such an approach points away from proven international managers such as Louis van Gaal and Dick Advocaat, who would no doubt want total control of all team-related matters. That said, Frank de Boer, whom Stewart knows well, is one name that keeps popping up and he’s available, though his most recent managerial stint with Crystal Palace ended after a mere five games.If that doesn’t sound inspiring, it merely points to the fact that the U.S. job isn’t one to attract a slew of international candidates with impressive résumés. Sure, there is less pressure than in other more soccer-mad countries but it isn’t the kind of stepping stone for a manager on the outside to get back to the European elite.It’s also one not worth waiting around for as former Mexico manager Juan Carlos Osorio, whom sources say was very interested in the U.S. job, has already signed on with Paraguay. Opinions vary as to whether the USSF missed out or dodged a bad hire but at minimum it would have been prudent to talk to a candidate that is as familiar with the U.S. setup as Osorio.With all that in mind, the signs are pointing to the hiring of a manager currently in MLS or at least one with strong ties to the league. Sources have said Stewart prefers a manager familiar with CONCACAF, MLS and the current player pool.Of the coaches currently operating in MLS, Atlanta United’s Tata Martino has the most impressive résumé given his vast experience managing not only Barcelona and Argentina, but also more modest sides like Newell’s Old Boys. But his inability to communicate in English remains a huge stumbling block, not so much in terms of talking to the team — Atlanta seems to have done just fine under such a scenario — but there is a public facing aspect to the job that requires proficiency in English. That could be seen as too big an obstacle and while his contract is up at the end of the season, he seems to be enjoying his time building a juggernaut in Atlanta.LAFC manager Bob Bradley has the most experience of any American given his stints overseas. While Bradley suffered during his time with Swansea City, then of the Premier League, his spell with the L.A. expansion club has been superb. And with Gulati now gone — he was the one who dropped the hammer on Bradley’s stint as U.S. manager back in 2011 in favor of Klinsmann — the dynamics for a return are better than they might have been otherwise.Bradley is no doubt a better manager than he was back then, except that the U.S. has already gone back to an old standby once already with Bruce Arena, an appointment that ended in the aforementioned qualifying failure. The desire to start fresh is likely too strong to overcome.That leaves Columbus Crew manager Gregg Berhalter as the front-runner; in fact, the job appears to be his to lose. His experiences as a player and coach tick plenty of boxes. He spent the bulk of his playing career abroad and secured the UEFA A coaching license, in German no less. He did have a relatively unimpressive spell in charge of Swedish side Hammarby but has since enjoyed a successful five-season spell with Columbus, reaching an MLS Cup final while operating under considerable financial constraints as well as the club’s overt attempt to relocate to Austin, Texas.Berhalter has also drawn praise from MLS international managerial contingent — be it Martino, former NYCFC manager Patrick Vieira, or current Blues boss Domenec Torrent — for his attacking style and tactical acumen. The only question is whether the presence of Berhalter’s brother Jay as USSF chief commercial officer might create the appearance of a conflict of interest, though the credentials compare well to the competition.There are other American candidates as well, including Sporting Kansas City’s Peter Vermes, current RB Leipzig assistant Jesse Marsch and Toronto FC manager Greg Vanney. Current U.S. U20 manager Tab Ramos also figures to get an interview given his links to the younger elements of the current U.S. player pool, though his lack of experience managing at the club level figures to be a mark against him.Of that group, Vermes in particular seems to be the manager most likely to get strong consideration but the SKC manager has operated in a situation where he has had full control of all technical matters, which is at odds with how the USSF says it wants to operate.Meanwhile the search goes on. So too does the wait for a new manager.

Goalkeeper trio called into US camp know they have a unique opportunity

September 5, 20184:35PM EDTDylan ButlerContributorHANOVER, N.J. —

It’s a door that hasn’t really been open for almost a generation.Tim Howard and Brad Guzan clearly established themselves among the pecking order of US national team goalkeepers over the last decade. Before that, it was Kasey Keller and Brad Friedel, and before that Tony Meola. But now a new, younger generation is getting their chance to prove themselves on the international stage. That includes the trio of Alex Bono, Ethan Horvath and Zack Steffen who are among the 25-man roster for upcoming friendlies against Brazil Friday (7:30 pm ET | FS1, UniMás, Univision Deportes) at MetLife Stadium and next Tuesday against Mexico in Nashville. Each are under age of 25, with six combined caps among them. And yet the door for all of them, it would appear, is wide open.“There’s always open competition, even with the veteran guys,” US coach Dave Sarachan said before training Wednesday. “I think we have a good core of young goalkeepers and I think the margins between what we would consider the starter for Friday [and] the next guy that wouldn’t start is very thin. I’m encouraged, but they’re young and they need experience.”The goalkeepers themselves are trying not to put too much emphasis on a somewhat rare opportunity to establish themselves for the year to come. “If you’re looking at it that way then I think it’s only going to cloud your judgement and cloud your mind of what you should be focusing on,” Toronto FC‘s Bono said. “For me it’s about coming in one training session at a time and making sure I’m preparing myself and making sure that I’m making the guys around me better.”At first glance, the favorite would be Columbus Crew SC‘s Steffen. The 23-year-old has three caps, including a spectacular performance in a 1-1 draw against France in Lyon in early June.“It’s a feeling of motivation to get out there and get better and push yourself each day to learn from the coaching staff and players on the field,” Steffen said Tuesday. “We have a long road ahead of us and every spot is open for grabs. We just got to go into training everyday and train like you want to be out there.”After a stellar MLS Cup-winning season a year ago, the 24-year-old Bono has had a rollercoaster third season with Toronto. Clint Irwin has started the last two games — a pair of losses to the Portland Timbers and LAFC — and the defending champions have struggled throughout a trying campaign.

But he views the change of scenery with the USMNT as a positive and something he hopes he can take back with him for the stretch drive of the MLS season. “Obviously I want to have success when I’m in Toronto,” Bono said. “It’s not something that’s easy to push aside, but the change of environment is definitely nice to refresh and get a new staff and some new guys around you to kind of reset yourself and make sure when I get back to Toronto, I’m bringing that confidence back with me and getting geared up for the rest of the season.”Just like the rest of the young core who are hoping to be the backbone of the 2022 World Cup qualifying cycle, the goalkeepers see these games as a chance to prove they belong. “I think it’s important for us as young players within the national team to take with us that it’s our path to create for ourselves,” Bono said. “We have to rely on ourselves to make sure that we continue to get called in and we continue to progress with the national team.”

International break W2W4: Nations League takes its first steps, world champions meet

Sep 5, 2018Nick AmesESPN.com writer

With the international break upon us, and friendlies and Nations League action beginning on Thursday, Nick Ames looks ahead to the biggest story lines of the week of international football.

UEFA’s new brainchild takes its first steps

European football’s governing body must have been doing cartwheels at the way in which this summer’s World Cup breathed life back into international football. It means the first round of Nations League fixtures holds genuine allure, with the prospect of the matches themselves providing more talking points than the competition’s labyrinthine structure. If games like France vs. Germany, England vs. Spain and — next week — Portugal vs. Italy serve up some memorable action, then the prospects will look good, although there are questions lower down the ladder, too.

UEFA Nations League full draw
Watch on ESPN networks in the U.S.
Schedule: Sep. 6 | Sep. 7 | Sep. 8 | Sep. 9 | Sep. 10 | Sep. 11

For teams like Luxembourg and Moldova, who face each other in League D on Saturday, the stakes are higher than you might expect. Fare well in the next 10 days and suddenly a shot at backdoor Euro 2020 qualification looks a distinct possibility. Fail to pick up points and the risk is that by the end of this international break that prospect has already receded, leaving the losers with what would effectively be four unappetising friendlies against lowly opponents.This competition’s format allows traditional minnows a realistic chance of the limelight, but for many of them the danger is that it will not stay interesting for very long. The immediate measure of its success, though, will no doubt be the extent to which it captures the big guns’ imaginations.

Old and new world champions meet

How quickly the mood has changed around both Germany and France. Thursday’s hosts have spent their summer soul searching after their disastrous World Cup exit, and Joachim Low was in full “mea culpa” mode in dissecting their downfall last week. The row around Mesut Ozil’s departure from international football has hardly helped either, and Germany could do with a win — or at least a rousing performance — in Munich to stop the storm clouds growing darker. The fact that their opponents have only just replaced them as world champions should focus a few minds.For their part, France still feel jubilant after their triumph in Moscow and will not want to let up now. They did not always thrill on their way to the trophy but were worthy winners. Such is their depth of quality that they should be aiming to achieve the kind of dynastic success that once seemed to be within Germany’s grasp. That will be the next big test for Didier Deschamps, who answered many of his critics with his own performance in Russia. The Allianz Arena, and the curtain-raiser to a brand-new competition, would not be a bad stage to announce that France are in this for the long haul.

England seek to build on summer of smiles

The feelgood factor around England’s national team sprang up from almost nowhere, and Gareth Southgate wants to keep the good times rolling. He has been faithful to the core of the squad that took them to the semifinals in Russia, missing only Ashley Young — who has been dropped from the squad — the injured Raheem Sterling and recent virtual retirees Jamie Vardy and Gary Cahill.Continuity is king for now and, on Saturday, Spain will provide an opportune test of the lessons they learned during the summer. A harsh reading of England’s performance would be that they ultimately fell short when they faced opposition of genuine quality — in the form of Belgium, twice, and Croatia — so it would do no harm to set down a marker now against visitors with their own point to prove.Spain, now under the charge of Luis Enrique, need to clear the cobwebs from a World Cup that was effectively over when Julen Lopetegui was sent home on its eve. It is a new era for them after the international retirements of Gerard Pique, Andres Iniesta and David Silva; winning at Wembley would not be a bad way to show that their new coach can manage the transition.

Denmark dispute spills into farce

So far so good, then, where Nations League storylines are concerned. How strange and unfortunate that it is Denmark, not exactly a football country you would associate with upheaval, who stand to add a farcical element to proceedings.Unless a dispute surrounding their first-choice squad’s commercial rights is solved — and time is fast running out for that — they will field a team of low-ranking domestic-based players for a friendly with Slovakia and a Nations League tie with Wales. Instead of Christian Eriksen and Kasper Schmeichel, their opponents can expect to face players from the Danish second tier and, according to some reports, the country’s futsal squad. The latter should, at least, not be found wanting technically.There will be a familiar face in the dugout, with former Arsenal midfielder John Jensen stepping in for Age Hareide, who will not take up his own position either. How unseemly it all appears, although the door has been left open for a last-minute change of heart.”Let’s renew the old [commercial] deal by one month,” Eriksen said. “Sign up and we will sit on the plane immediatelyCameroon, newly coached by Clarence Seedorf and his assistant Patrick Kluivert, will be well advised to take their Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Comoros seriously. As things stand, they are effectively a “ghost” team in Group B, their qualification for next year’s tournament assured through their status as hosts. But the doubts about that are growing: the Confederation of African Football president, Ahmad Ahmad, admitted last month that he is “not sure Cameroon is ready to host the AFCON,” with a number of stadiums running late and facilities for the expanded tournament barely up to scratch. Instability in the English-speaking areas of the country is also an issue.A decision should be made by the end of the month, with Morocco mooted as a late stand-in. It certainly adds to the early pressure on the Indomitable Lions’ Dutch pair.There are big games elsewhere, too. Nigeria must win in Seychelles to keep pace with Libya and South Africa in Group E, while Ivory Coast and Egypt are seeking three points against Rwanda and Niger respectively to make amends for poor starts of their own. The big hitters will not want to miss out on next summer’s carnival. Where it will take place, though, is anyone’s guess.

What is the UEFA Nations League and how does it work? A complete guide

4 Sep, 2018Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The UEFA Nations League will begin this week, and you can check out the draw. Here’s a guide for all you need to know about the new competition.

What is the UEFA Nations League?

It is a competition between the 55 member nations of UEFA, created because “UEFA and its associations wanted more sporting meaning in national team football, with associations, coaches, players and supporters increasingly of the opinion that friendly matches are not providing adequate competitionfor national teams.”

So this means there are no more international friendlies?

There will definitely be far fewer, though there are still a couple of spaces in the calendar. For instance, the top nations will play four fixtures across three international weeks over the next three months, and this will leave two spare dates for international friendlies.

However, Euro 2020 qualifying takes place through 2019 in March, June, September, October and November with two games each month, so the majority of teams (and almost all major nations) will not have free international dates for friendlies next year.

When does it start?

The group games will all be played on the six international dates between September and November 2018.

Matchday 1: Sept. 6-8, 2018
Matchday 2: Sept. 9-11, 2018
Matchday 3: Oct. 11-13, 2018
Matchday 4: Oct. 14-16, 2018
Matchday 5: Nov. 15-17, 2018
Matchday 6: Nov. 18-20, 2018

What format does it take?

The 55 nations were split into four “Leagues.” The strongest nations are in League A, and the weakest in League D.

League A and B: Four groups of three nations (12 teams)
League C: Three groups of four nations, and one group of three (15)
League D: Four groups of four nations (16)

Teams within each group will play each other home and away over the three international weeks.

What about promotion and relegation?

Yes. The winners of each group in Leagues B, C and D will move up, while the nations bottom of Leagues A, B and C will drop down for the next edition of the Nations League, which will be 2020-21.

Will there actually be UEFA Nations League champions?

Yes. The four group winners from League A will playoff in knockout format — semifinals, third-place match and final — in June 2019, with all four matches being played in one host European country chosen from the finalists. Italy, Poland and Portugal have all submitted bids, and as these three countries are in the same Nations League group one will definitely host the finals. Only nations in League A can go on to be overall Nations League champions.

Finals draw: early December 2018
Finals: June 5-9, 2019

How were teams ranked?

The pots are based on UEFA’s national association coefficient rankings released on Oct. 11, 2017. This is different to the FIFA Ranking, only factors in competitive games and gives more credit for scoring goals and deducts points for conceding them.

Why take the Nations League seriously?

Firstly, it will decide each nation’s ranking for the Euro 2020 qualifying draw — so 10 of the 12 nations in League A are guaranteed to be top seeds, but Leagues B and C will each split almost down the middle to create the lower-ranked pots. The better you perform in the Nations League, then you might get a more favourable draw in Euro 2020 qualifying.Also, there is the “second chance” via the Euro 2020 playoffs (see below) as another carrot, creating a safety net if your Euro 2020 qualifying campaign goes badly wrong.But it does remain to be seen just how seriously the bigger nations will take it, considering they are highly likely to be to seeded in the Euro 2020 qualifying draw anyway, and they will feel they are going to make the finals regardless.

So what happens with Euro 2020 qualifying?

A few things. First, rather than starting in September 2018 as it usually would, it is pushed back to March 2019 through to November 2019.

Secondly, as stated above, the final positions and records from the UEFA Nations League will be used to rank nations for the Euro 2020 qualifying draw, which takes place on Dec. 2, 2018. So the four group winners from League A, who go through to the playoffs, will be ranked 1-4, and the other nations from League A will fill places 5-12. That will go down to the worst team in League D in 55th. These positions will be used to form the draw pots.This is where it gets a little more complicated — so stay with us.The qualifying draw will create five groups of five teams and five groups of six teams. The four group winners from League A will be drawn into a group of five, enabling June 2019 to be left free for the UEFA Nations League finals.Now it gets even more complicated…

How do the Euro 2020 qualifying playoffs work?

In qualifying for Euro 2016, the eight best third-placed teams from regular qualifying went into November playoffs (similar to the World Cup qualifying playoffs last November).For Euro 2020, the playoff teams will be plucked from the UEFA Nations League. The winners of the four groups in each League will by right go into the playoffs. However, 20 nations will have already booked a place in the finals via regular qualifying, and many of these are likely to be UEFA Nations League group winners too, so it will be the best-placed nation in each group that has not yet qualified who enters the playoffs. If every team in a group/league has qualified, then the next best performing team from that League, or the League below, will take part in the playoffs.

Important dates:

UEFA Euro 2020 play-off draw: Nov. 22, 2019
UEFA Euro 2020 play-offs: March 26-31, 2020

Deep breath. We’re nearly there….

These 16 nations, four from each League, will then play off against other teams from their own League in March 2020 for the final four places at Euro 2020. Thus, one nation each from Leagues A, B, C and D who failed to qualify directly for Euro 2020 will go through via the playoffs.

Will this make any difference?

Yes it will. Most importantly it’s going to give nations who never previously had a real shot of qualifying a chance to make Euro 2020 — and subsequent finals if the idea is a success.Take a look at the nations in League D — and remember that four nations from that League will enter the March 2020 playoffs with the winners guaranteed to go to the finals. These are worst 16 teams in UEFA, and one of them is going to qualify — Azerbaijan, FYR Macedonia, Belarus and Georgia are currently the highest-rated nations. It’s a similar story for League C, with most nations having rarely, or never, appeared at a finals — one of these teams will be there too. It gives hope to Scotland that they can qualify for their first tournament since 1998.

Is the competition a one-off?

No, the next Nations League is due to begin in September 2020, with new divisions based on promotion and relegation, though there is no information at present about how this could affect qualifying for the 2022 World Cup.

Why a proposed Global Nations League would outshine the World Cup

9:15 AM ETSimon KuperESPN.com writer

We’ve entered a new era in soccer. It’s the debut of the UEFA Nations League, a competition of national teams played throughout the continent. There’s everything from England-Spain at Wembley in the league’s top division, to Liechtenstein-Gibraltar in Vaduz in the bottom one. Meanwhile, international soccer officials are plotting to spread the Nations League across the planet. The idea is that every continent would host its own Nations League, and these would culminate in something even more interesting: a Global Nations League for the winners from each continent.This is a big deal — so big, in fact, it might one day even marginalize the World Cup.

The Nations League would mostly change the sport for the better. National-team soccer, overshadowed by clubs for at least 10 months a year, aims to come roaring back. So what is happening, and why?About five years ago, some officials at the European soccer association UEFA, including its then secretary general, Gianni Infantino, cooked up the UEFA Nations League. The plan was to clear out the dead space in international soccer. For decades, Europe’s national teams spent too much time playing languid friendly matches or dreary qualifiers: Germany thrashes San Marino, France beats Luxembourg, and nobody cares.The UEFA Nations League will be more competitive and exciting. It divides countries into four divisions, based on strength. The top division this fall includes groups like France-Germany-Netherlands, and Spain-Croatia-England. In the fourth division, you’ll find groups such as Azerbaijan-Faroe Islands-Malta-Kosovo.In June, the four winners of the top groups will play off to see who wins the Nations League. The tournament will also help allocate some qualifying spots for Euro 2020. Everyone will have something to play for: teams that finish bottom of their group in the Nations League will get relegated; in the lower tiers, the top teams will get promoted.Fans will probably love it. Far more people care about national teams than clubs: TV audiences for big World Cup matches dwarf those for big Champions League matches. The only problem is the lack of supply of top-class international soccer. England and Spain, for instance, haven’t met in a competitive match since 1996. Their encounter at Wembley on Saturday will have fans buzzing worldwide.The Nations League won’t mean more games for international players, just better games. If it succeeds, the format could quickly become unstoppable. CONCACAF, the confederation for north and central America, has decided to launch its Nations League in 2019. The biggest Asian federations are thought to want a version, too.Then the winners of each continental league would meet in the global Nations League. Imagine a short eight-team tournament once every two years featuring, say, Brazil, Argentina, Japan, the U.S., Morocco, France, Spain and Germany. It would replace the mostly ignored, lossmaking and frankly pathetic Confederations Cup.The only question is who would own the Global Nations League. When the Europeans of UEFA came up with the idea, they wanted to organise it among continental confederations, leaving almost no role for FIFA. But then Infantino, who in 2016 had become president of FIFA, decided to kidnap the plan. He saw the Global Nations League as a new source of funds for FIFA, which has long been almost a single-product company: it gets 90 percent of its revenues from the men’s World Cup. And FIFA needs cash, given that it has lost several mostly western sponsors following its corruption scandals.By this spring, a consortium of huge investors had agreed to put up $25 billion to fund Nations League on every continent, plus the Global Nations League and a bigger, better Club World Cup. Infantino called it “the — by far — highest investment soccer has ever seen.”Under FIFA’s plan, the eight countries that played in the Global Nations League could expect to make $37.5 million to $75 million each. For comparison: Germany got $4.1 million for winning last year’s Confederations Cup. In return for all this lovely new cash, the consortium expected to control Nations Leagues until 2033. However, in true opaque FIFA tradition, Infantino refused to reveal who his funders were. At a meeting in Bogota, Colombia in March, he nonetheless pressured FIFA’s ruling council to rubberstamp his plan within 60 days. The council said no, for the moment. UEFA was irritated, too. “We had an idea about a possible Global Nations League,” its president, Aleksander Ceferin, told the German magazine Kicker. “We first presented it to the FIFA president, then to national associations and to clubs. And all of a sudden FIFA comes and says they are ready to sell it, our idea, to a fund without any explanations. It is really a strange offer.”Meanwhile, my colleagues at the Financial Times newspaper broke through the shroud of non-disclosure agreements to reveal that FIFA’s scheme was funded by Japanese tech conglomerate SoftBank with other investors from China and Saudi Arabia. In reality, most of the influence is Saudi. The soccer-mad petro-state is jealous of its tiny neighbour Qatar, host of the 2022 World Cup. The Saudis want to make a landgrab of their own, including hosting the first Global Nations League. Infantino is a frequent visitor to the Gulf state, where he has become chummy with the ruling young crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman (“MBS”).

UEFA Nations League full draw Watch on ESPN networks in the U.S.
Schedule: Sep. 6 | Sep. 7 | Sep. 8 | Sep. 9 | Sep. 10 | Sep. 11

Given the squabble over ownership, the Global Nations League may not even happen. If it does — and the idea is so lucrative that it probably will — it wouldn’t start until about 2022. But once the global event embeds itself in the calendar, it has the potential to surpass the World Cup in prestige and attention (much as the World Cup from 1930 surpassed the Olympic soccer tournament).Right now, the World Cup is by some estimates the most watched event of any kind. But its status is shakier than it looks. Its average audience per match has fallen this century in countries such as Portugal, Spain and Argentina, chiefly because many games have disappeared from free-to-air TV onto pay channels.And FIFA has made another decision that seems almost designed to put off fans: starting in 2026, it is expanding the World Cup from 32 to 48 teams.The Euros, also recently expanded, have shown that more means worse. The average group game at 24-team Euro 2016 attracted 23 percent fewer viewers than at 16-team Euro 2012, according to consultancy Futures Sport. That was partly because most of the eight additional qualifiers were weak teams playing defensive soccer. At Euro 2016, average goals per game dropped to 2.12, a 20-year-low for the competition. A 48-team World Cup will probably also feature lots of boring Cinderellas. There simply aren’t enough good national teams to justify such a big tournament. This summer’s World Cup showed that Africa and Asia, in particular, don’t deserve more berths: only one of these continents’ 10 representatives, Japan, even squeaked into the second round.”There is nothing bigger in terms of boosting soccer in a country than participating in a World Cup,” Infantino has said. But not if it’s a dull World Cup, which would be outshone in quality by a Global Nations League. Viewers may get into the habit of watching the World Cup only from the knockout stage. And very few countries have the stadiums to host a 48-team competition.FIFA expanded the World Cup chiefly for the money. The bigger tournament will produce more income from broadcasters, sponsors and ticket sales. Much of that cash will go to the 211 national federations. But a bigger World Cup means a diminished World Cup. Luckily, fans should be able to console themselves with the Global Nations League. Its winners may eventually come to be regarded as the true world champions.A decade from now, we may look back on September 2018 as the month that soccer changed … for the better.

U.S. women prep for qualifying as 2019 World Cup field takes shape

By Graham Hays | Sep 5, 2018espnW.com

Labor Day weekend marks at least the symbolic end of summer in the United States, but recent days found the soccer world already hard at work on preparations for next summer.With European qualifying now complete, save a four-team playoff for one final spot, we know 15 of 24 teams that will compete in the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France. We also now know the path the U.S. women will need to navigate in CONCACAF qualifying next month to add their own reservation. From qualifying drama across the Atlantic Ocean to new schedule entries for the United States and final warm-ups for qualifying against Chile, here’s a look at what changed in the past week.

U.S. women (still) control their own path to France

At least if things go terribly wrong for the United States in qualifying, it can still salvage matters with a result against Trinidad and Tobago in its final group game. That always works out well.

The truth is that as much as the recent U.S. men’s qualifying disaster was a reminder not to take even seemingly simple qualifying assignments for granted, the draw for the CONCACAF Women’s Championship is necessary but not illuminating. Mexico, Panama and Trinidad and Tobago join the United States in one group in Cary, North Carolina, while Costa Rica, Cuba and Jamaica join Canada in Edinburg, Texas.

Who has qualified for the 2019 Women’s World Cup?

Asia (5): Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand

Europe (8): England, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Scotland, Spain, Sweden

South America (2): Brazil, Chile

Yes, the U.S. women got arguably the least favorable draw possible. It not only ended up in the same group as Mexico but opens with that game, thereby missing out on any chance to play itself into the tournament. But the team most likely to get in the way in the group stage was never Mexico or any of the six teams that joined the United States and Canada in the field. The biggest risk at that stage has always been, and remains, the U.S. women getting in their own way.As long as that doesn’t happen, this is all a matter of scheduling. Dating back to 2010, when then-host Mexico famously stunned the Americans in qualifying, the United States is not only unbeaten in 10 games against its neighbor but outscored it 43-4. Yes, Mexico scored three of those goals in a pair of games this year and was entertaining in the process, but it also conceded 10 goals.And imagine a disaster scenario in which the U.S. women lose to Mexico in the opening game of the group, finish second and then lose to Canada in a semifinal. They would still need only win the third-place game to reach the World Cup — or lose that game and beat Argentina in a playoff. If they somehow failed to do any of those things, there would be much bigger problems than missing one World Cup.CONCACAF is still too top heavy, with too many paths to the World Cup, for the United States to fail.If only that didn’t sound so familiar.

USWNT warms up for qualifying

Two comfortable wins against Chile, already booked to its first World Cup, offered nothing that suggested the United States is ill prepared for its own upcoming qualification endeavors.The Americans at peak form might have finished a few more chances — and arguably did finish more than the referee allowed in an opening game that begged for video replay. But even with Megan Rapinoe injured, the available rotation was both abundant and effective around Alex Morgan and Julie Ertz, who are locks down the spine of the field. Rose Lavelle played a lot of minutes and created a lot of defensive disarray. Carli Lloyd looked more and more comfortable in a No. 9 role in the second half of each game. Any extended absence for McCall Zerboni, who left Tuesday’s game with a broken elbow, is deeply depressing with regard to someone whose particular skill set and personality were carving out a place on the roster (and worse news, still, for the NWSL’s North Carolina Courage ahead of the playoffs). But that mixing and matching in midfield and the forward line is likely to continue through qualifying and beyond. It’s a feature, not a bug.What Kelley O’Hara’s return at right back after a six-month absence underscored was how much the back line also remains a rotation, which seems at least unusual if not also a little worrisome.O’Hara and Crystal Dunn seem at the moment like the odds-on favorites to start at outside back next summer, but they have yet to play on the same back line this year. Dunn and Rapinoe have developed good chemistry on the left side but Dunn and Tobin Heath, the other player who will see time on the left side, have barely played together since Dunn’s return to defense. (It’s worth noting, in the spirit of all ideas eventually being new again, that Dunn also played outside back the last time the U.S. women warmed up for qualifying in 2014, but was subsequently injured.)Tierna Davidson and Becky Sauerbrunn, who Julie Foudy identified Tuesday as the favorites to start at center back next month in an assessment many would reasonably sign on to co-sponsor, have started together just five times. For that matter, Sauerbrunn and Abby Dahlkemper, who spent 2017 developing chemistry, have started together as center backs just once in 2018.And that isn’t even getting to Casey Short, who came out Tuesday with an apparent injury, and Emily Sonnett, who figures to see ample minutes in qualifying with O’Hara still rounding into form.Chile didn’t pose the back line many problems. It remains to be seen how many CONCACAF opponents, save Canada, will pose. But it also remains to be seen if the United States will settle on a favored four any time soon.

RECAP | INDY ELEVEN CLAIM THREE POINTS AGAINST NEW YORK RED BULLS II, 3-0

By James Higdon, 09/06/18, 12:00AM EDT   “Indiana’s Team” retain nine-game undefeated streak with a clean sheet

ndy Eleven march away with three points after a clean sheet victory over New York Red Bulls II, 3-0. The “Boys in Blue” end a seven-game stretch in 22 days with a win after a brace from forward Eugene Starikov and a goal from defender Reiner Ferreira in the first half. The team remains unbeaten in nine games, having last lost against Tampa Bay Rowdies on July 21.“I think it was one of our best performances of the season,” said Indy Eleven head coach Martin Rennie. “I think we started the game well. We scored three great goals and managed the game and defended very well after that.”“Indiana’s Team” obtained the lead just 101 seconds after the match started. Eleven midfielder Dylan Mares chipped a pass deep into New York’s penalty box after winning possession near the edge of the field in the opposition’s half. Starikov was on the receiving end of the pass when he managed a shot as he slid into the six-yard box. The Ukrainian’s light touch was just enough to put the ball into the lower left corner of the net. The goal was Starikov’s first of the night and Mares’ first assist since returning to the Circle City last month.Red Bulls II attempted to respond in the fifth minute. Forward Andreas Ivan put his free kick attempt on target from the top Indy’s 18-yard box, but Eleven keeper Owain Fon Williams leapt up and knocked the shot away from the frame. The 31-year-old keeper also managed a massive save in the 60th minute with Red Bulls II midfielder Andrew Tinari’s shot off a crossbar deflection.Fon Williams’ stellar performance, which included four saves throughout the 90 minutes, saw the Welshman tally his 10th clean sheet of 2018.Indy’s lead doubled in the 21st minute. Midfielder Matt Watson played a cross forward into New York’s box after gaining control of defender Carlyle Mitchell’s interception. There was only enough time for the ball to bounce once before Starikov rushed in for another shot on goal, this time into the upper left corner of the goal.“He’s been scoring quite a lot when he’s been available,” said Rennie. “Unfortunately, he’s had a few injuries and he was out for a long time. Once we got him back he started scoring and once we got him back he was off for a little bit with a fever, but stopped him playing for a couple games. So he’s not had that kind of rhythm but showed what he can do and that was clinical for us.”Starikov’s two goals were his fourth and fifth on the season, respectively. With five goals, Starikov is Indy Eleven’s second highest goal scorer of the season, trailing behing forward Jack McInerney’s nine on the year.Indy scored its third and the final goal of the match in the 43rd minute. Midfielder broke away on a solo run into New York’s half. His eventual shot was knocked out of the Red Bulls II box by keeper Evan Louro, only to be collected by Mares. Quick passing play to midfielder Seth Moses led to another short pass to Ferreira at the top of New York’s box. Ferreira fought through three defenders for his shot that landed in the bottom right corner of the net.The goal was Ferreira’s first and Moses’ first assist since the pair signed with the “Boys in Blue” before the start of the season.Indy’s 3-0 victory concludes the longest run of back-to-back games in the club’s history. The team resumes play in seven days on the road against Penn FC, giving the team much needed downtime before continuing its playoff push.“I think first of all its get some good rest. Be thankful that we’ve gone unbeaten in nine games, in that seven game spell. Be thankful that we’re moving at the right time and becoming a stronger team,” Rennie said. “At the same time, we’ve got a lot of work to do and to build on what we’ve been doing well. We’ve got a lot of improvement I think we can make and it puts us in a good place. I think it gives us that kind of confidence boost I think we needed because we’ve had to grind so hard for every single point we’ve got.”The “Boys in Blue” return home on Wednesday, September 26, for Faith and Family Night against the Tampa Bay Rowdies. Fans can claim tickets to the midweek match at IndyEleven.com or by calling (317)685-1100.

USL Regular Season –Indy Eleven 3:0 New York Red Bulls II
Wednesday, September 5, 2018 – 7:00 p.m.  Lucas Oil Stadium – Indianapolis, Indiana

Scoring Summary:

IND – Eugene Starikov (Dylan Mares) 2′
IND – Eugene Starikov (Matt Watson) 21′
IND – Reiner Ferreira (Seth Moses) 43′

Indy Eleven lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Owain Fôn Williams (GK); Reiner Ferreira, Carlyle Mitchell, Karl Ouimette, Brad Russin, Dylan Mares, Nico Matern (Brad Ring 65′) , Matt Watson (C), Eugene Starikov (Jack McInerney 75′), Seth Moses, Elliot Collier (Soony Saad 83′)Indy Eleven bench: Lundgaard (GK); Brad Ring, Ayoze Garcia, Ben Speas, Juan Guerra, Soony Saad, Jack McInerney

New York Red Bulls II lineup (4-3-3, L–>R): Evan Louro (GK), Lucas Stauffer (Niko De Vera 90′), Kevin Politz, Ndam Hassan(C), Ethan Kutler, Chris Lima, Andrew Tinari, Jose Aguinaga, Andreas Ivan (Jared Stroud 58′), Anatole Abang (Tom Barlow 72′), Brian WhiteNew York Red Bulls II bench: Scott Levene (GK), Niko Ve Vera, Jordan Scarlett, Steven Echevarria, Jared Stroud, Amando Moreno, Tom Barlow

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