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.

 

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