11/1/18 Carmel High Girls win 12th State Title, MLS Playoffs Begin, Champs League Tues/Wed, Big 10 Tourney at Grand Park, CFC Training at Murray

Huge Congrats to the Carmel High School Girls Soccer team for winning Coach Frank Dixon’s 14th State Title this past Saturday night with a 2-1 overtime win over #7 Homestead at IUPUI Stadium in downtown Indy!  Lots of former Carmel FC girls on that team and in the program including former Carmel FC coach Carla Baker.


Carmel Girls Win State Title – Indy Star Rich Torres

Carmel Girls State Finals vs Homestead Replay


So its playoff time in MLS which means knockout rounds start this week.  Disappointed that Zlattan and the LA Galaxy did not win the last game they needed to get them in the playoffs.  Hopefully Zlattan will be back for 1 more season.  Also sad that Atlanta United didn’t win their last game to take home the supporters Shield to the team with the best overall regular season record – but I think that might be the kick they need to win it all this season.  I am picking an all Expansion Team final with Atlanta United vs Bob Bradley’s LAFC.  The Playoff Winner Take All Knockout Games are Wed with NYCFC hosting Philly at 7 pm on Fox Sports 1, and 9:30 pm Dallas and former CHS star and US National Team defender Matt Hedges will host Portland at 9:30 pm on Univision.  Thurs at 8 pm DC United and player of the year candidate Wayne Rooney face the Columbus Crew while LAFC will host Real Salt Lake at 10:30 pm on ESPN2.

Great to see Pulisic back in the starting line-up for Dortmund after battling injuries for a few weeks – he started twice last week including a securing a goal, an assist and drawing a penalty to have a hand in all 3 goals Wed vs Union Berlin in a German Cup game.  Dortmund and US Star Pulisic return for Champions League action this Tues 3 pm on TNT at Atletico Madrid right after Liverpool travels to Crevena at 12:55 pm on TNT.

Of course Dortmund will be on to the round of 16 if they win as group winners, while Atletico is thru with a win and Monaco and Brugge tie.  Liverpool is thru as the # 1 team with a win as they travel to Crevena on TNT at 1 pm Tues.  While the winner of PSG and Napoli will determine who goes thru in Group C at 3 pm Tues.  Wed Juventus and Ronaldo return to Man United for the 3 pm game on TNT – Juve will be thru as the top team with a win.  In the other TNT game Wed CSKA Moskva will travel to Roma who stands tied with Real Madrid for top slot.

This weekend we get Arsenal vs Liverpool on Saturday at 1:30 pm on NBC, after Pulisic and Dortmund host Wolfsburg on Fox Soccer at 10:30 am.  Sunday we get the first legs of Playoff Soccer in MLS with 3:30 (NY Red Bulls), 5:30 (Sporting KC), 7:30 (Atlanta United) and 10 pm (Seattle) games.


We have access to Murray Stadium the next two weeks and we will be offering free outdoor training sessions for Carmel FC travel players and our Select Players.

Here are the dates:

  • Monday (11/5),  5:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Wednesday (11/7),  5:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Thursday (11/8),  5:45pm – 6:45pm  *Goal Keeping Training Only
  • Monday (11/12),  5:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Wednesday (11/14),  5:30pm – 9:00pm
  • Thursday (11/15),  5:45pm – 6:45pm  *Goal Keeping Training Only

Here is the schedule for the training sessions:

  • Academy Sessions (8U-10U boys and girls) – 5:30pm to 6:30pm
  • 11U/12U Boys & Girls – 6:40pm to 7:40pm
  • 13U/14U/15U Boys & Girls – 7:50pm to 8:50pm
  • Goal Keeping training will be on Thursdays only
  • 5:45pm – 6:45pm (U11-U15, Boys & Girls only)

Big 10 Women’s Tourney at Grand Park This Friday/Sunday 11/2-11/4 

 Fri 11/1  (tix avail on site)

11 am #1 Penn State vs #5 Illinois

1:30 pm  #6 Nebraska vs #7 Minn

Sun 11/4           Championship Noon also on BTN

 QUARTERFINAL RECAP: All four Big Ten Women’s Soccer Tournament quarterfinals were decided in the 88th minute or later, with two games going to penalty kicks and three of the top four seeds (and quarterfinal hosts) ultimately falling. Top-seeded Penn State escaped the upset bug with a 1-0 win over No. 8 seed Michigan, thanks to Marissa Sheva’s goal with 1:52 left in regulation. Second-seeded Rutgers wasn’t as fortunate, with No. 7 seed Minnesota claiming a similar 1-0 win on a goal by Big Ten Forward of the Year April Bockin with 2:43 remaining in regulation.

The other two quarterfinals ended in draws and were decided on penalties. No. 3 Ohio State and No. 6 Nebraska played to a scoreless double-overtime draw before the Huskers upended the Buckeyes, 3-2 on PKs to book Nebraska’s first semifinal berth since 2013. Fourth-seeded Wisconsin and fifth-seeded Illinois finished 2-2 after two overtimes, with the Fighting Illini prevailing 3-0 on penalties to return to the semifinals for the first time in six years.


Atlanta United Throws Away Supporters Shield with loss to Toronto

Etiene goal gives Red Bulls 1-0 Win and Supporters Shield Triumph

MLS Bracket Challenge

Analyzing the 8 Knockout Round Team in MLS Playoffs

Why Your Team will Win the MLS Cup

France’s and Atleticos Greizman wants to End Career in MLS


UCL Who Needs What this Week to Go Thru ?

Real Madrid New Coach Santiago Solari

Last Matchday in 90 Seconds

Awesome Crowd was Key to Huge Dortmund win over Atletico says Pulisic

Schalke  Disappointed with Draw – Goal scored by American

Who Can Rescue Man United or Real Madrid’s Seasons?


US Pulisic Scores 1 and has Assist in German Cup Game

US Josh Sergeant Closer to Starting for Breman

Tragedy Strikes Leicester City Owner in Helicopter Crash

Man City Strikes Early in 1-0 win over Spurs

Player Ratings Man City vs Tottenham

New Arsenal Mgr Unai Emery’s Touchline Passion in contrast to Wenger

Arsenal’s 11 game Winning Steak ends with 2-2 Draw with Palace

Anthony Martial Saves Man United in 2-1 win over Everton

Suarez Scores Hat as Barca humiliates Real Madrid 5-1 in Classico

Ronaldo blames Real Prez for move to Juve

PSGs Tuchel stands up to Player Power Play in win

Mbappe doesn’t start for PSG but saves them in end

Top 5 Saves on Matchday 11 France


Wed,  Oct Sat 31 (MLS Playoffs)

7pm FS1                            New York City FV vs Phily Union

9:30 pm univision      Dallas (CHS Matt Hedges) vs Portland Timbers

Thurs, Nov 1 (MLS Playoffs)

3:45 pm ESPN+            Man City vs Fulham –League Cup

8 pm FS1 DC United (Rooney) vs Columbus Crew

10:30 pm ESPN2         LAFC vs Real Salt Lake

Fri, Nov 2

4 pm beIN Sport        PSG vs Lille

7:30 pm ESPN+             Louisville vs NYRB II  USL Playoffs

Sat, Nov 3   

8 am beIN Sport           Leganes vs Atletico Madrid

10:30 am Fox Soccer      Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Wolfsburg

10:30 am FS2                    Bayern Munich vs Freiberg

11 am NBCSN               Liester City vs Cardiff City

11:15 am beiN sport     Real Madrid vs Real Valladodid

12 noon ESPN+             Empoli vs Juventus

1:30 pm NBC            Arsenal vs Liverpool

1:30 pm FS 2                 Hertha vs RB Leipzig

3:30 pm beIN sport Rayo vs Barcelona

3:45 pm CNBC              Tottenham vs Wolverhampton

10 pm ESPN+                 Orange County vs Phoenix City USL Playoffs

Sun, Nov 4  

10 am NBCSN           Man City vs Southampton

11 am NBCSN         Chelsea vs Crystal Palace

12 noon FS 2            Werder Bremen (Sargent) vs Mainz

3:30 pm ESPN             NY Red Bulls vs TBD?   (MLS Playoffs)

5:30 pm ESPN?             Sporting KC vs TBD?

7:30 pm ESPN?             Atlanta United vs TBD?

10 pm ESPN?                 Seattle Sounders vs TBD?

Mon, Nov 5

3 pm NBCSN                   Huddersfield (Williams) vs Fulham (Tim Ream)

Tues  Nov 6   Champs League

1 pm TNT                   Crevena vs Liverpool

3 pm ??                             Atletico Madrid vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

3pm                                     tottenham vs PSV

3 pm                                    Napoli vs PSG

3 pm                                    Schalke vs Galastary

Weds  Nov 7   Champs League

1 pm TNT                     CSKA vs Roma

3 pm TNT                                                  Juve vs Manchester United  

3pm                                     Man City vs Shaktar  

3 pm                                    Viktoria vs Real Madrid

3 pm                                    Bayern vs Athens AEK  

3 pm                                    Benefica vs Ajax  

Thrs  Nov 8   MLS Playoffs

5:30 pm FSI                     Seattle Sounders vs TBD (Leg 2)

 Sat, Nov 10   

9:30 am Fox Soccer      Werder Bremen (Seargent) vs Mgladbach (Johnson)

12:30 pm NBC            Crystal Palace vs Tottehham

12:30 pm FS 2              Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Bayern Munich  

12:30 bein Sport        Atletico vs Athletic Club

Sun, Nov 11  

7:30 am NBCSN            Liverpool vs Fulham (Ream)

9;30 am FS1                    RB Leipzig vs Bayer Leverkusen

9:15 am NBCSN             Chelsea vs Everton  

11:30 am NBCSN         Man City vs Man United

2:30 pm ESPN+            Milan vs Juventus

3:30 pm ESPN             NY Red Bulls vs TBD?   (MLS Playoffs)

3:30 pm FS1                   TBD vs Atlanta United vs TBD? (leg 2)  

5:30 pm ESPN?             TBD vs Sporting KC vs TBD? (leg 2)


3A girls soccer state final: Carmel gets the job done

Rich Torres, Special for IndyStarPublished 10:29 p.m. ET Oct. 27, 2018 | Updated 10:36 p.m. ET Oct. 27, 2018

Carmel girls soccer wins state title

(Photo: Leah Klafczynski, Leah Klafczynski for IndyStar)


INDIANAPOLIS – After 80 minutes of regulation on Saturday night, Carmel girls soccer coach Frank Dixon delivered a message to junior forward Kelsie James and her teammates on the Greyhounds’ sideline.”He came over to us and said, ‘end it in the first overtime,'” James said. “It got me focused and settled in.”The team captain didn’t let her hall of fame coach down. James scored the fourth-ranked Greyhounds’ first goal on a penalty kick in the 51st minute and book ended the Class 3A state championship at IUPUI’s Carroll Stadium with the go-ahead goal in the 85th minute.James’ game-winner in the first overtime put Carmel up 2-1 over No. 7 Homestead in the first seven-minute overtime period, and the defense held strong in the required second to secure the Greyhounds’ 10th state championship and first since 2011 in 2A.”I knew it was going to be a battle in overtime, but I told myself I wasn’t going to let us go into PKs,” James said. “It was not going to happen. And so, finished business.”With the mantra, “unfinished business” this season, Carmel completed it mission by making good on late opportunities in the clutch.In the first half, the Greyhounds went on the attack, racking up 11 shots and five on goal, but nothing fell in for them despite consistently peppering Spartans’ goalkeeper Samantha Castaneda.The Carmel defense, which hadn’t allowed a goal since Sept. 20 against Brebeuf Jesuit, minimized UAB recruit Morgan Halliwill, who entered with 24 goals on the year.After 40 minutes, the match stood in a scoreless tie.”I always say I’m going to write a book, and it’s going to be, ‘you only get so many chances,'” Dixon said. “When we wasted those four or five chances in the first five minutes of the first half, I thought, we’re in a for a long night if we can’t put a ball in the net.”James put everyone’s minds at ease in the second half after Homestead’s Sophia White drew a yellow card. Facing backup goalkeeper Sarah Warren with Castaneda out following an ankle injury she endured less than 20 seconds earlier, James fired her goal into the upper left corner of the net.The Greyhounds held a 1-0 lead until the 61st minute when Halliwill returned the favor. Hit while in the box, Halliwill earned a penalty kick and converted to tie the match 1-1.”I switched formations to get a little bit more defensive, and then we gave away the PK in the box and that went out the window and we had to go back to what we were doing,” Dixon said.The routine was pressure — both on offense and defense — and it led to a pair of yellow cards for Halliwill, who was issued a red card in the 79th minute, ending her night.James nearly won the match in regulation with an indirect kick that hit the corner post with 1 minute remaining and another shot on goal with 18.3 seconds that Castaneda smothered for one of her nine saves.”During tournament time, I just go for it,” said James, who registered eight of Carmel’s 25 shots and five of its 11 shots on goal. “I play my hardest the whole game and don’t want to let down for the team.”With Homestead a player down and Castaneda slowed after returning midway through the second half, James found her moment.Ashley Witucki set the table with a cross pass, which James punched past Castaneda, who dove to tip the ball, causing it to drop in front of her.”We tried to take advantage of that. We knew she couldn’t move that quickly, so we tried to make her come off the line and go get balls,”Dixon said. “She did a really good job doing it, and I think we only caught her that one time.”James didn’t miss as the Valparaiso recruit was at the right place at the right time.”I knew it was going to go in. I knew the goalie was going to drop it,” James said. “She was unfortunately injured. She’s a good goalie, but she couldn’t move very well, and I felt like I was going to beat her fairly well.”The defense clamped down in the second overtime with Carmel outscoring opponents 15-1 through seven postseason match ups.  Homestead had won 11 straight going into the title game. Carmel won 11 straight to win state.  Carmel finished 20-1-2 to Homestead’s 18-4. The victory pushed Dixon’s career win total to 519, and ended the program’s drought. Carmel last reached the state finals in 2014, finishing runner-up. This time, the team took care of business.”You get less and less time to get them, so they’re even more special as you go along because you know sooner or later, you’re not going to get a chance,” said Dixon, who leads the state with 10 girls soccer state titles. “It’s hard to get back. It took us four years to get back here. There’s no guarantee I’ll get here again. I told (my athletic director) I want to catch Bud Wright. I guess we’ll start working on 11 now.”Find a photo gallery of Carmel vs. Homestead at IndyStar.com


Christian Pulisic has goal and assist in Dortmund win against Union Berlin

4:36 PM ET

Borussia Dortmund needed a Marco Reus penalty late in extra time to beat second division Union Berlin 3-2 on Wednesday and book their spot in the DFB Pokal third round.The Berliners had twice come back from a goal down but Christian Pulisic, who scored the first goal and set up the second, earned a last-gasp penalty for Reus to convert and protect Dortmund’s unbeaten run in all competitions.The Bundesliga leaders were made to work hard against the gutsy Berliners, third in the second division, and had the 20-year-old American Pulisic to thank for the lead.Dortmund, whose defender Abdou Diallo left the pitch injured after 13 minutes, never really found their footing until late in the first half.Pulisic stabbed in on the rebound after Shinji Kagawa’s header was saved by Union keeper Rafal Gikiewicz in the 40th minute.Union hit the crossbar two minutes later with a superb effort by Kenny Prince Redondo and got a deserved equaliser through substitute Sebastian Polter who scored with his first touch.Their joy lasted only 10 minutes, however, when Pulisic sent Maximilian Philipp through with a superb pass and the forward drilled in an equally stunning finish.But Union refused to give up and were rewarded with another goal in the 88th as Polter’s header wrong-footed keeper Marwin Hitz.They hung on and soaked up the pressure in extra time before Pulisic was brought down for the penalty.

U.S.’s Josh Sargent moving closer to Werder Bremen start –

5:47 AM ETStephan UersfeldGermany correspondent

United States international Josh Sargent is moving closer to a senior debut for Werder Bremen, with coach Florian Kohfeldt confirming that the 18-year-old is “competing for a squad place.”Sargent, who joined Bremen earlier this year, has been playing for the under-23s since the summer, scoring six goals in 10 appearances.The 18-year-old forward, who has played for the first XI in friendlies, last week linked up with a senior squad flying high in the Bundesliga after taking 17 points from nine matches.”We’ll see about that,” Kohfeldt told reporters when asked whether Sargent could make the squad for the DFB Pokal match at Weiche Flensburg on Wednesday. “Josh is now someone who is competing for a squad place.”We wanted him to find his rhythm [in the U23s], and you can see that he has his qualities.”Kohfeldt warned that Sargent faced “prominent competition” from players including Max Kruse and Claudio Pizarro for a place in attack.”If Josh does not win minutes with us in the next two, three weeks, he will play for the U23s again,” he added.

Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge: Who brackets pick to win Cup

October 30, 20187:07PM EDTMLSsoccer staff

They may be the second best team in the MLS regular season after being nipped by the New York Red Bulls for the Supporters’ Shield on Decision Day, but MLS fans still think Atlanta United have the best chance of winning MLS Cup 2018.A total of 27 percent of bracket entries in the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge have the Five Stripes winning it all, compared to the 19 percent crowning the New York Red Bulls.The Eastern Conference powerhouses are the clear favorites, but the top candidate to win MLS Cup from the Western Conference is also a No. 2 seed, according to the fans: They give the Seattle Sounders (16 percent) a better shot at winning the league title than the West’s top seed Sporting Kansas City (13 percent).

  • Atlanta United: 27%
  • New York Red Bulls: 19%
  • Seattle Sounders: 16%
  • Sporting Kansas City: 13%
  • C. United: 8%
  • Los Angeles Football Club: 6%
  • New York City FC: 3%
  • Portland Timbers: 3%
  • Columbus Crew SC: 2%
  • Real Salt Lake: 2%
  • FC Dallas: 1%
  • Philadelphia Union: 1%

Who do you think will win MLS Cup? Be sure to fill out your bracket before the deadline at 4 pm ET on Wednesday, October 31. Prizes include season tickets to your favorite club or a VIP Audi driving experience on a Formula One track.


‘We threw it away’ – With playoffs looming, Atlanta United squanders first crack at MLS history

Goal.com Sun, Oct 28 11:34 PM EDT

A win Sunday would have been enough for the second-year club to lock up a trophy, but an uncharacteristic dud against Toronto FC served as a humbling

It was all there for the taking for Atlanta United. Sunday was a chance at a record, it was a chance at a trophy, and it was a chance to solidify a special end to a special regular season.

The 2018 campaign may still be special, trophies will someday come and records have fallen, and probably will fall, at Atlanta’s hands. But Sunday night proved little more than a wasted chance for a team that has wasted so few since joining MLS.With the Supporters’ Shield and a potential league record for points in a season on the line, Atlanta United fell completely flat on Sunday. The result was a 4-1 loss to a Toronto FC team that, for the first time all season, played like a group that wasn’t yet ready to concede the title of best ever.The loss was enough to end Atlanta’s Supporters’ Shield hopes and bump the second-year club behind the New York Red Bulls heading into what in all likelihood will be a postseason collision of two of the most thoroughly-dominant teams in the league’s recent history.But on Sunday, history was in their grasp and, for the first time in what felt like forever, Atlanta slipped up.“This was the most important game of the year and we didn’t play well enough,” said Tata Martino, who is entering his final days as Atlanta United manager following a recent announcement that he’ll be leaving the club at the end of the season, to MLSsoccer.. “We let all the hard work that we had done until that point go to waste.”We betrayed ourselves, threw away everything we had worked for this season,” he added. “It’s always a possibility that you can lose away at Toronto, the important thing is the way that we lost it today.”That “betrayal” started early. Just nine minutes into the match, Atlanta was already up against it as Lucas Janson scored to give TFC the lead. With the Red Bulls lurking just one point behind and facing lowly Orlando City, Atlanta knew a win would likely be the only path to a Supporters’ Shield.

The response wasn’t there.  Marky Delgado scored in the 21st to double Toronto’s lead and all but bury Atlanta’s hopes while late goals from Janson and Sebastian Giovinco were just an exclamation point on what ended up feeling like an Atlanta United collapse. “We knew what this game meant for us, in terms of winning the shield and everything that came with it,” goalkeeper Brad Guzan said. “We just didn’t show up.”“It’s rough at the minute,” he added. “We didn’t expect this from ourselves. There will be some conversations, tough [ones]. We need to make sure we put things right and put this behind us.”The club can take some solace in the fact that, by and large, the loss shouldn’t impact too much when it comes to the MLS Cup playoffs. Atlanta will still have home-field advantage if the club reaches the MLS Cup final and will still have a coveted first round bye. Aside from a flip-flopped home game in a two-legged clash with the Red Bulls should both sides reach the conference finals, Atlanta’s path to a trophy remains largely the same.

There’s also the record set by the club’s striker, although that loses a bit of its luster given the result. Josef Martinez’s second half penalty kick goal was the striker’s 31st of the season, further adding to the record haul for the Venezuelan while sealing a nine-goal gap between Martinez and Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the Golden Boot. Martinez broke the single-season mark in August with his 28th, but has scored just three in the eight matches since.

Etienne goal gives Red Bulls 1-0 win, Supporter’s Shield

The Associated Press Sun, Oct 28 6:01 PM CDT

New York Red Bulls midfielder Derrick Etienne (7) drives with the ball before scoring a goal on Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono during the second half of a soccer game, Saturday, Sept. 22, 2018, in Harrison, N.J. The Red Bulls won 2-0. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

HARRISON, N.J. (AP) — Derrick Etienne scored a slick goal in the 53rd minute to give the New York Red Bulls a 1-0 victory over Orlando City and the Supporter’s Shield for the best record as the Major League Soccer regular-season ended Sunday.Driving left in the box, Etienne atoned for a missed penalty kick in the first half by drawing the ball back to his right, leaving him room to go far corner for his fifth goal of the season.

The Red Bulls (22-7-5) won their fifth straight to reach 71 points, the first team to ever crack 70 points in the regular season. Atlanta entered Decision Day with 69 points, tied with last year’s Toronto team for the most in the regular season, but lost at Toronto 4-1.The Red Bulls, who earned the Supporter’s Shield for the third time in six seasons, are the sixth team in league history to average at least two points a game.Luis Robles only had to make one save to give him his league-leading 14th shutout.Orlando City (8-22-4), which beat the Red Bulls 4-3 in their first meeting, lost their 14th straight on the road, tying the 2005 DC United for the second-longest streak of futility away from home.

Wiebe: Why your (playoff) team will lift the 2018 MLS Cup

October 31, 20182:34PM EDTAndrew WiebeSenior Host & Producer

Can your team win MLS Cup? Sure, why not? It could happn. It probably won’t, though – better to get that out of the way now.

That’s how I started this column back in March, in which I did my best to make a case for all 23 teams to win MLS Cup. Let’s just say there were some serious logical fallacies in there. Looking at you Colorado RapidsSan Jose EarthquakesOrlando City and eight other clubs for whom the dream is dead. Better luck next year.For the 12 who qualified for the Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs – in my book, the bare minimum it takes to call the league season a success – there’s another case to be made for lifting the Phillip F. Anschutz trophy on December 8. There’s also a chorus of haters waiting to bring everyone down.Here we go, from No. 12 to No. 1 in the Supporters’ Shield standings, all in 280 characters or less because we’re all addicted to Twitter and nobody’s got time for 5,000 words on a Wednesday gameday. Don’t forget to get your Audi 2018 MLS Cup Playoffs Bracket Challenge set and join the ExtraTime Radio league.

Real Salt Lake

They’ll Win Because they’ve done it before. Remember ’09? RSL eked into the final playoff spot and won it all. Rusnak = Javi, Savarino = Espindola, Beckerman/Rimando = Beckerman/Rimando and … there is no Saborio equivalent. If they can get past the KO Round and get a home game, they’ve got a shot.

Haters Will Say Those “1 in a million” odds aren’t going to go their way twice, and LAFC already dropped five on them earlier this season at the RioT, and won 2-0 in Los Angeles. No playoff team has taken more road Ls (11) than RSL. Rested or not, Knockout Round is the logical end of the road.

Philadelphia Union

They’ll Win Because Corey Burke and Fafa Picault get stupid hot, and whoever pairs in central defense (pick from Auston TrustyMark McKenzieJack Elliott) goes full Maldini. The Union can draw on their USOC run. That will give them the drive (and necessary pragmatism) to grind out an MLS Cup shocker.

Haters Will Say it’s a step too far. If Philly couldn’t finish the Open Cup job in Houston after a raft of home games, what makes anyone think they can get past NYCFC at Yankee Stadium then the Shield-winning Red Bulls then likely ATLUTD or D.C. United and finally MLS Cup on the road? Dream on.

Columbus Crew SC

They’ll Win Because It’s fate. After the toughest year in club history off the field, Gregg Berhalter and the boys cook up the perfect reward for Crew SC supporters. Justin MeramPipa Higuain and Pedro Santos turn the clock back to 2017, and 3G cooks up the perfect tactical plan round after round.

Haters Will Say no team scored fewer road goals this season than Columbus (11), and you think they’re going to Audi Field and knocking LuchoRoo and D.C. United off their perch as league darlings? Please. Ain’t gonna happen. Their season ends on Thursday night.

D.C. United

They’ll Win Because The Law Firm of Rooney, Acosta, Canouse & Hamid has quality, momentum and home-field advantage on their side. Check out the matchups. Semifinals against Red Bulls? You can’t hold them back, c’mon. Next up Atlanta? Benny vs. Tata = W. Bring the raccoons to the parade. They’ve earned it.

Haters Will Say They’ve won just once away all year. Red Bull Arena and Mercedes-Benz Stadium don’t have the same juju as Audi Field. Rooney’s magic has to fade at some point, right? You can get to Lucho Acosta by kicking him, which will happen a lot in the playoffs. Their luck will run out.

Portland Timbers

They’ll Win Because Diego Valeri is healthy this year, Sebastian Blanco can win a game singlehandedly and Diego Chara lives to smother your happiness, assuming you aren’t a Timbers fan. Gio’s got titles. He knows there’s no need to overcomplicate things. Solid defensive block and counter … all the way to MLS Cup.

Haters Will Say You can’t play Real Salt Lake every game. Since winning 3-2 at Seattle back on June 30, the Timbers’ only wins against playoff teams are the Union and Crew SC at home and the recent double vs. RSL. That’s two No. 6 seeds and a No. 5. Same period, other playoff teams: 0-3-2.

New York City FC

hey’ll Win Because They’re finally healthy (ish). Did you read what David Villa said about Yangel Herrera? You should. NYCFC were already nails at Yankee Stadium. Now they’ve got their most influential player back in the nick of time. Jesus Medina is back, too. And everyone is doubting them. Good mix and a good read on it to boot.

HATERS WILL SAY Dome hasn’t found the answers, Villa isn’t the Villa of old and 2 wins in 10 (against Chicago and Philly … at home) aren’t indicative of postseason success. It’s too much to ask of Herrera to dominate games. Medina will be rusty. Same old, same old for the blue side of New York, which is to say … playoff flame out.

FC Dallas

They’ll Win Because They’re consistent, if unspectacular. The backline isn’t gonna make boneheaded errors, and Maxi Urruti and Michael Barrios go HAM. Dated reference? Fair, but you could say the same about Urruti the goalscorer. May is a long time ago. Basically, Dallas find a way to score, and that sluggish second half doesn’t matter.

Haters Will Say Dallas can’t score and that sluggish second half matters. Forget MLS Cup, the Timbers are going to win in the Knockout Round because they have better attacking players and won’t give Dallas space to break into on the counter. Even if Dallas win, they’re not on the same level as Sporting, Seattle or LAFC.


They’ll Win Because That’s what Bob Bradley does in expansion seasons. Coaching matters, and Bradley’s gonna gameplan like there is no tomorrow. Also, they’ve got the best collection of top-end attacking talent in the Western Conference. Vela, Rossi, Diomande and a couple former MVP candidates in the midfield.

Haters Will Say The backline can be shaky, and they can’t hold leads. And when you can’t hold leads, particularly at home, you lose in the playoffs. That could apply to the Knockout Round, but it most definitely applies to home-and-home series in which road goals matter a whole hell of a lot.

Seattle Sounders

They’ll Win Because they’ve had the best half-season in MLS history, they know exactly what it takes to get to MLS Cup and they have Stefan FreiChad MarshallOzzie AlonsoCristian RoldanNico Lodeiro and Raul Ruidiaz up the gut. That’s a #squad. Roll the balls out, let these guys do their thing and have a parade at the end.

Haters Will Say What are they even good at? Do they have an identity? Whoops, that was Bobby Warshaw circa four months ago. Don’t worry, he’s come around.

They’ll be eliminated because they come up against a team as good or better (Sporting? LAFC? East top two?) and just can’t get it done on the day. The Sounders have weaknesses – every single team in MLS does – but I find it near impossible to pick against them in the playoffs.

Sporting KC

They’ll Win Because They’re balanced. No more defense and timely goals win championships … or perhaps more accurately, get you eliminated in the Knockout Round. Bad jokes aside, this version of Sporting can shut you out and blow you out. They’ve got loads more attacking quality and they’re deeper than ever before, plus the back six and Tim Melia are rock solid.

Haters Will Say Seth Sinovic is the key to everything and he’s missing the first leg of the conference semis. I’m only partially kidding. Dude only scores in the playoffs. Look it up. Haters will say that they still don’t have a primary goalscorer. It’s true. They’ve got a whole bunch of sporadic scorers, and that’s been more than enough. But in the playoffs when there’s no room for a dry spell?

Atlanta United

They’ll Win Because they’re the most talented team in MLS, and they keep things tight in the first leg of the Conference Semifinals to buy time for Miguel Almiron. He helps finish off either NYCFC or D.C. United, then Atlanta get two weeks to rest up and recover for the Red Bulls, who bottle it like usual. MLS Cup at MBS? That’s a win.

Haters Will Say “Hahahahahahaha [deep breath] Hahahahahahaha”

That’s literally what they’ll say on Reddit and Twitter. They’ll say it because Miguel Almiron wasn’t ready to be Miguel Almiron again, Josef Martinez’s historic season sputtered at exactly the wrong time and Tata said adios before the job was done. Don’t worry Five Stripes faithful, you’ll be fine.

New York Red Bulls

They’ll Win Because they’re MLS’s best team. Most points ever, and nobody understands their collective ethos/identity better than these Red Bulls. That goes a long way in the playoffs, when the games get more physical and the margins narrow. Then there’s the legacy aspect. This club isn’t lacking for motivation or pressure.

Haters Will Say “That’s so Metro.”

Need I say more?


Champions League permutations: Who needs what to go through?

Friday 26 October 2018

  • Dortmund, Atlético, Barcelona, Inter, Ajax, Bayern, Manchester City and Juventus can all go through next time: here’s how.


Borussia Dortmund, Atlético Madrid, Barcelona, Internazionale Milano, Ajax, Bayern München, Manchester City and Juventus could all book their UEFA Champions League round of 16 places with two games to spare on matchday four while ten other clubs are fighting to keep their hopes alive. UEFA.com explains the permutations.

All information in this article is subject to final confirmation from UEFA. These examples may not cover all potential situations.


Group A: Monaco (1 point) v Club Brugge (1) [18:55CET], Atlético Madrid (6) v Borussia Dortmund (9)

  • Dortmundwill be through as group winners with victory.
  • Atléticowill be through with a win if the other game is drawn.
  • Monacowill be unable to finish in the top two if they fail to win and Atlético gain victory.
  • Club Brugge will be unable to finish in the top two if they fail to win and Atlético gain victory.

Group B: Internazionale Milano (6) v Barcelona (9), Tottenham Hotspur (1) v PSV Eindhoven (1)

  • Barcelona will be through as group winners with victory.
  • Inter will be through with a win if the other game is drawn.
  • Spurs will be unable to finish in the top two if they fail to win and Inter gain victory.
  • PSV will be unable to finish in the top two if they fail to win and Inter gain victory.


Group C: Crvena zvezda (1) v Liverpool (6) [18:55CET], Napoli (5) v Paris Saint-Germain (4)

  • Crvena zvezda will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and Napoli win.

Group D: Schalke (5) v Galatasaray (4), Porto (7) v Lokomotiv Moskva (0)

  • Lokomotiv will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and there is a winner in the other game. Lokomotiv will also be unable to finish in the top two if they draw and Schalke win.


Group E: Benfica (3) v Ajax (7), Bayern München (7) v AEK Athens (0)

  • Ajax will be through if they win.
  • Bayern will be through with a win if Benfica lose.
  • Benfica will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and Bayern win.
  • AEK will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose, or if they draw and Ajax avoid defeat. Group F: Manchester City (6) v Shakhtar Donetsk (2), Lyon (5) v Hoffenheim (2)
  • Manchester City will be through if they win and Hoffenheim lose.
  • Hoffenheim will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and City win.

Group G: CSKA Moskva (4) v Roma (6) [18:55CET], Viktoria Plzeň (1) v Real Madrid (6)

  • Plzeň will be unable to finish in the top two if they lose and Roma win.

Group H: Valencia (2) v Young Boys (1) [18:55CET], Juventus (9) v Manchester United (4)

  • Juventus will be through if they avoid defeat, and confirmed in first place if they win.

Standings are provisional until all matches have been played.

Luis Suarez scores hat-trick as Barcelona humiliate Real Madrid in El Clasico

Daniel Zeqiri,The Telegraph Sun, Oct 28 1:35 PM EDT

Barcelona 5 Real Madrid 1

Luis Suarez stepped up in the absence of Lionel Messi to score a hat-trick in a humiliating El Clasico for Real Madrid and their beleaguered head coach Julen Lopetegui. Barcelona controlled the first period with ease, building a two-goal lead by the break through Philippe Coutinho and a Suarez penalty awarded by a Video Assistant Referee review. Marcelo’s goal during a flurry of Madrid pressure at the start of the second period briefly raised hopes of a comeback before a Suarez double and Arturo Vidal header sealed the game as the visitors fell apart. The result leaves Lopetegui in a seemingly untenable situation after Madrid’s heaviest Clasico defeat in three years and Barcelona building a seven-point lead over their old rivals in the league. Madrid midfielder Casemiro told Spanish television after the match: “This 5-1 sums up our season so far. We have played well in some spells, But that is this season – we are a disaster, all playing very bad, all of us.”

Lopetegui’s side started the match in startlingly naive and passive fashion, with Jordi Alba raiding their right-flank where utility defender Nacho was playing at full-back. Alba provided the opening goal when he cut-back to Coutinho from the bar-line, and the former Liverpool man swept past Thibaut Courtois.  Saurez won the penalty he converted, darting across Rapheal Varane with a near-post run. Despite obvious contact from the defender, referee José María Sánchez Martínez waved away appeals for a penalty before changing his decision after consulting VAR.Lopetegui switched to a back three at half-time with Casemiro moving back into defence, and Lucas Vazquez replacing Varane. The alteration paid dividends when Marcelo got on the end of Isco’s cross from his new, advanced wing-back position and turned home at the second attempt. Karim Benzema headed over unopposed from six yards, and Real rued not capitalising on that short period of dominance as Barcelona slowly re-established their superiority. The game was effectively over when Suarez showed magnificent reflexes and striker’s instincts to turn home Sergi Roberto’s cross with a stunning header from fully 14 yards. A sumptuous dinked finish over Courtois secured the hat-trick, before fine work from substitute Ousmane Dembele assisted Vidal’s headed goal to complete the rout.

 Unai Emery’s touchline passion encapsulates how far Arsenal have shifted since Arsene Wenger

Sam Dean,The Telegraph Mon, Oct 29 5:57 AM EDT

On the touchline, Unai Emery is so fun to watch that, in the spring of 2015, Sevilla’s media team fired up their cameras and decided to do nothing else. For their entire game against Barcelona, a single lense was fixed on Emery, the then Sevilla manager. Looking at it now, it feels similar to when broadcast companies track a player, except this time the subject of the footage is wearing a suit and is confined to a dugout. Coach-cam, rather than player-cam.The resulting video is still available online. It’s worth a watch, not least because of the remarkable array of contorted body positions and poses that an impassioned Emery manages to display throughout a match fraught with tension. Sevilla concede two early goals (to Lionel Messi and Neymar, no less) but fight back to claim a draw.Much like his team, Emery starts off slowly. His game begins with nothing more dramatic than a waving of the arms, his finger extended in a point. But he soon gets into his rhythm, dropping into a squat and beating his knees with his fists. Next he alternates his fist pumps, throwing one into the air after another like an overeager dad at a school disco. A pirouettefollows, and so does an exaggerated folding of the arms when an appeal goes against his side.When the late equaliser arrives, Emery launches himself into the arms of his assistants, roaring and skipping in delight. These are the delirious actions of a man totally plugged into the game, a coach completely wired on the excitement and passion of football.Emery has yet to reach a state as frenzied as this at Arsenal, but he is getting closer by the week. In Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace, a game high on stress and low on composure, he was as animated as he has been at any stage in his short Arsenal career. He ordered every movement, berated every player and reacted to every twist with such energy that you wondered how his body coped with the strain.Earlier in the season, Match of the Day drew up a ‘heatmap’ for Emery in his technical area. Against Palace, it might have burned through the screen. Ask Alexandre Lacazette, who felt the full force of Emery’s emotion deep in the second half after a poor pass had led to the home side’s equaliser. The Arsenal head coach clapped his hands to Lacazette’s face, screamed some choice words of encouragement and then slapped the striker on the cheek.The first reaction upon watching this was to marvel at Emery’s intensity. The second was to think back to how Arsene Wenger would carry himself on the touchline and realise how quickly times have changed at Arsenal. The Frenchman enjoyed the occasional outraged stretch of the arms, but he preferred to sit back and let his players perform, his face often as long as his coat. Emery, by contrast, demands more in every moment.The Arsenal hierarchy knew about the Spaniard’s touchline demeanour when they were considering Wenger’s replacement this summer. The process to appoint the new head coach was painstaking and detailed, and one of the qualities the club was looking for was “winning spirit”. Emery wears that spirit louder and prouder than most.It is easy to see the arguments in favour of appointing someone of Emery’s obvious energy. Few observers of Arsenal in recent years would disagree that some of the players would benefit from a more intensive and demanding style of management. There will be mistakes under Emery — from the players and from him, of course — but there will not be any coasting in these first few months. Emery’s ruthlessness with his substitutions, particularly with his willingness to hook Mesut Ozil if things are not going his way, is indicative of that.

There is, however, an obvious question that needs asking. How much do the players actually listen? Are they fully aware of what Emery is bellowing from his technical area? They certainly cannot be seeing each hand movement or hearing each command. How much is it all for show?Perhaps the answer is another question. Does it matter? Does it matter if the players do not take on every message, or do not listen to every positional demand? They will certainly hear some of it, even if it takes Emery grabbing them by the sides of their face, as he did with Lacazette. And we know they are listening occasionally at least, because Granit Xhaka made a point of celebrating with Emery after scoring his rasping free kick at Selhurst Park.“I chose to shoot because the coach asked me why I didn’t take the corners or the free kicks in the first half,” Xhaka said, while Emery added: “At half-time we spoke about this situation. He has good quality from free kicks and also to try to make more crosses. I tried to push him to do that.”The nature of the draw with Palace brought all this into sharper focus. It was chaotic, tempestuous and far too open for Emery’s liking. But it also gave him a greater taste of the turbulent world of Premier League football ahead of this weekend’s potentially nerve-shredding encounter with Liverpool. Last season, this fixture ended in a breathless 3-3 draw. If the same happens again, Emery will be hard to miss.


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