11/14/18 US Men plays England in Rooney Finale Thur 2:45 ESPN2, IU Wins Big 10 Tourney, Carmel FC Night at Panera Fri 11/16

US Men Play England and Italy this Week

The US men – still with no word on who the head coach will be (Its Greg Burhalter from Columbus by the way) now that Columbus has lost in the MLS Playoffs I look for the announcement to come as early as this weekend.  England will play tribute to Wayne Rooney at Wembley when they face the US men on ESPN 2 Thursday at 2 pm (anyone want to catch lunch to watch Thursday?).  The US then will face Italy on Tuesday at 2:45 pm.  Of course Nations League soccer continues Thur thru next Tuesday with some huge games on ESPN+, along with some good friendlies on beIN sport including Mexico vs Argentina on Fri 7 pm.  (see full TV Schedule below) 

Champions League

Some unbelievable results in Champions League last week right after the leak that certain huge clubs in Europe might be planning a Super League to replace Champions League (read stories below).  First Liverpool lays an egg at Red Star 2-0 meaning qualification may well come down to the final round as they have 2 difficult games left.  Then Juventus loses to Man United in the last second 2-1 showing just how much they miss Buffon between the pipes. 

The Indiana U Men – won their 2nd Straight Big 10 Tourney – as our own Director of Coaching Juergen Sommer was on hand for the finals Sunday a 3-0 win over Mich.  Of course Juergen won a National Championship and was player of the Year during his years at IU before going on to success in the EPL.  IU hosts a first round NCAA Tourney game Sun in Bloomington! 

IU Wins the Big 10 Tourney with win over Mich at Grand Park –Kevin  Johnston special to Indy Star

Hoosiers Complete Goal 2 of 3 in Big Ten Tourney – Michael Ramirez – The Hoosier Network

4 Teams make NCAA Men’s Soccer Tourney

Carmel FC Night is this Friday night 11/16 4-8 pm at Panera Bread in Greyhound Pass –

20% of proceeds will go to the club – so make plans to drop by and grab dinner at Panera and help the club at the same time – be sure to mention Carmel FC when ordering !  

CARMEL FC PLAYERS Training at Murray 

Our Nov outdoor training sessions for Carmel FC travel players and our Select Players wraps up this week.  

Here are the dates:

  • Thursday (11/15),  5:45pm – 6:45pm  *Goal Keeping Training Only

USA

The Future of US Soccer Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie

Greg Berhalter Silent on Future amid links with US National Team – ESPNFC

US In need of Pulisic’s Creativity

Rooney to return for England farewell vs US at Wembley

Optimistic View of our New US Manager – Greg Berhalter  Stars and Stripes

Pulisic Wants Revenge for US World Cup Failure

Atlanta United’s Martino Never Contacted about US Job before Taking Mexico’s

USA Complete squad:for England and Italy Games Next Week

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 59/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0), Klinnsman

 Defenders (10): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 35/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 1/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 6/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 10/1), Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu/ESP; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; 6/0), Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers; 19/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 56/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 3/1)

 Midfielders (13): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 21/2), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 7/1), Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 1/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 5/0), Romain Gall (Malmö/SWE; 0/0), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 14/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 3/1), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 6/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 25/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 21/9), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 3/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 9/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 7/1)

 Forwards (2): Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 5/2), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 43/13) 

Champions League

Red Star’s Upset of Liverpool a reminder of What a Superleague Would Lose

Man U Stuns @ Juve

Atletico Gets Revenge on Dortmund in 2-0 win at home

– Latest Champions League tables

European Super League Details Leaked? ESPN

European Super League a serious problem for European Leagues ESPNFC    

UEFA President to fight European Super League FC

It’s time to fix — and save — the Champions League  ESPNFC

GAMES ON TV

Thur, Nov 15  

12 noon ESPN+     Poland vs Czech Republic (Nations League)

3 pm ESPN2           England vs USA Men  (Rooney last match)

Fri, Nov 16  

2:45 pm UD/ESPN3 Netherlands vs France  (Nations League)

2:45 pm ESPN3     Wales vs Denmark (Nations League)

3 pm beIN Sport   Brazil vs Uruguay

7 pm Univ Desp   Argentina vs Mexico

7:15 pm beIn Sport Chile vs Costa Rica

Sat, Nov 17 

12 noon FS2          USA U17 vs Korea U17 WWC

12 noon ESPN3     Turkey vs Sweden (Nations League)

2:45 pm UD/ESPN3 Italy vs Portugal (Nations League)

3 pm FS2                Germany U17 vs Cameroon U17 WWC

Sun, Nov 18

9 am ESPN3           England vs Croatia (Nations League)

2:45pm UD/ESPN+Switzerland vs Belgium (Nations League)

Mon, Nov 19

12noon ESPN3      Czech rep vs Slovakia  (Nations League)

2:45 pm Uni Des Germany vs Netherlands (Nations League)

Tues, Nov 20  

2:30 pm beIN Sport Brazil vs Cameroon

2:45 pm FS1           Italy vs USA Men

2:45 pm ESPN+     Portugal vs Poland

2:45 pm ESPN3     Sweden vs Russia

7:30 pm beIN Sport Peru vs Costa Rica

Wed, Nov 21

12 noon FS2          Spain U17 vs Canada U17 WWC

3 pm FS2                Germany u17 vs USA U17 WWC

Saturday, Nov. 24

11 am beIN Sport PSG vs Toulouse

12:30 pm NBCSN Tottenham vs Cheslea

2:45pm beIN Sport Atletico Madrid vs Barcelona

Sunday, Nov. 25

5 pm ESPN           Atlanta United vs NY Red Bulls MLS Con Champ Leg 1

7:30 pm FS1         Portland Timbers vs Sporting KC MLS Con Champ Leg 1

Tues, Nov. 27                Champions League

Weds, Nov. 28              Champions League

Thursday, Nov. 29

7 pm FS1                 NY Red Bulls vs Atlanta United vs MLS Con Champ Leg 2

9:30 pm ESPN       Sporting KC vs Portland Timbers vs MLS Con Champ Leg 2

Saturday, Dec. 8 (8 p.m.): (FOX, UniMas)

UD= Univision Desportes 

IU men’s soccer wins Big Ten tourney title, still has unfinished business at College Cup

Kevin Johnston, Special for IndyStar  Published 4:05 p.m. ET Nov. 11, 2018

WESTFIELD – Following the Indiana men’s soccer team’s victory Friday in the Big Ten conference tournament semifinals, left back Andrew Gutman explained that the second-ranked Hoosiers have three concrete goals this season: hoist the Big Ten regular-season title, win the Big Ten tournament and capture the College Cup.Gutman and his teammates can now cross item No. 2 off the list.ndiana routed Michigan 3-0 to win the Big Ten tournament at Grand Park on Sunday afternoon behind a complete team performance. The Hoosiers jumped out to an early lead before tacking on two more second-half tallies to seal it.

More: IU men’s soccer sinks Maryland in PKs, advances to Big Ten tournament final

Hoosiers striker Griffin Dorsey returned from his under-20 U.S. men’s national team call up and immediately stepped into head coach Todd Yeagley’s starting 11. It didn’t take long at all for him to make his presence felt.Trevor Swartz ripped a shot on target that forced Michigan goalkeeper Henry Mashburn into a difficult diving save, which left the Wolverines net wide open. Dorsey fired again on the rebound and the ball ended up right at the feet of Cory Thomas with no one around. Thomas, whose penalty conversion sent Indiana past Maryland in a shootout in Friday’s semifinal, calmly slotted it home to give the top-seeded Hoosiers an early 1-0 lead.Dorsey also assisted on Indiana’s second goal. His quality service to the head of teammate Jeremiah Gutjahr put the Hoosiers comfortably ahead 2-0 about midway through the second half. Minutes later, Indiana added a third when Austin Panchot connected with Spencer Glass for an easy tap in. “We found out yesterday,” Thomas said of learning about Dorsey’s availability. “Kind of kept it on the low. You don’t want to get the (scouting report) out there too early.”Michigan’s best chance of the match came late in the first half on a dangerous ball whipped in by Jack Hallahan. All alone at the edge six-yard box, Wolverines striker Zakyi Mohammed’s header trickled wide as he failed to make clean contact.Gutman, who was awarded the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year via a unanimous vote, was held relatively in check. He got forward on a few occasions, but Michigan mostly contained him by keeping an attacker pressed high on the right side and sending extra defensive help when he ventured upfield.“Hallahan is an absolute handful going forward,” Yeagley said. “We knew that if Andrew left spaces a little earlier, that transition potentially could be dangerous for us. Andrew, you know he loves to get forward, but he loves winning games more than getting forward. So, he knew that Hallahan was a handful and I thought he picked and chose his moments really well today.”But the Hoosiers still have some unfinished business to tend to regarding their third and final goal of the season after falling to Stanford in the 2017 national championship match.“Yeah, I think we know the goals,” Gutjahr said. “And I think we’re excited for the selection show tomorrow to see what our path is to get back there and make it happen.”“Honestly, we see it as a failure if we don’t win the next one,” Thomas added.The College Cup, NCAA soccer’s version of the Final Four, will be held Dec. 7-9 in Santa Barbara, Calif.

‘Let’s enjoy this one:’ Indiana soccer completes goal two of three in Big Ten Tournament

MICHAEL RAMIREZ

WESTFIELD, Ind. — Senior midfielder Frankie Moore held the Big Ten Championship trophy high and proud while his teammates rejoiced.The No. 2 Indiana Hoosiers had just completed the second of their three goals they set out to accomplish at the beginning of the season. The Hoosiers defeated Michigan 3-0 to win the Big Ten Tournament — the 13thin program history.Sunday’s result embodied Indiana’s 2018 season — a 3-0 win behind team play and a clean sheet. Sophomore attacker Griffin Dorsey and senior midfielder Cory Thomas were a headache down the sidelines for the Michigan Wolverines, and IU’s midfield controlled possession for most of the 90 minutes. Sophomore goalkeeper Trey Muse earned his 12th clean sheet of the season in a game where the Hoosier back line didn’t give up many chances.

IU’s three goals came from different goal-scorers each time, too. The elflessness displayed throughout the season was once again put on display Sunday afternoon.Thomas opened up the game in the seventh minute after senior midfielder Trevor Swartz fired a shot from the top of the box. The shot was blocked, then rebounded by Dorsey and fired at Michigan goalkeeper Henry Mashburn again. Mashburn was able to deflect Dorsey’s shot, but the ball then fell to Thomas, who tapped the ball into the back of the net.Not even 10 minutes into the Big Ten Championship, and Indiana was already ahead of Michigan. The Hoosiers kept that lead going into the halftime break, and they extended it in the 73rd and 75th minutes courtesy of senior and sophomore midfielders Jeremiah Gutjahr and Spencer Glass.When the final whistle blew, the Hoosiers were crowned Big Ten Champions — something they couldn’t claim at all last season.All of 2018, Indiana had three goals to accomplish throughout the season. The Hoosiers wanted to win both Big Ten titles and the national championship. Now with two under their belt, only the last goal remains left to be completed. “To make this run, and to win today against a good Michigan team, was fantastic,” IU Head Coach Todd Yeagley said. “I’m really proud of the two-for-two, but they know how hard it is to get back to that championship game. This is a confident group that’s really driven.”Thomas was named the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Tournament and senior Andrew Gutman was named Big Ten Defensive Player of the Tournament. Yet, neither seemed too interested in the awards they won. The only thing they wanted to win was the trophy they could hold with the rest of the team.Thomas said winning titles as a team has been the best part of his season.“It’s got to be the titles,” Thomas said. “We’ve got two and, honestly, we see it as a failure if we don’t win the next one.”All year, the Hoosiers haven’t been content with anything they have accomplished thus far. After clinching the Big Ten regular season title, multiple players weren’t satisfied with it. Yeagley said the team has kept its sights on all three goals throughout the year, and they haven’t gotten sidetracked no matter the result of any match.But now, the Hoosiers can enjoy what they have done so far. Yeagley had one message to the huddle of players surrounding the Big ten trophy after the match.“Let’s enjoy this one,” Yeagley said.

The future of U.S. soccer? You’re looking at it right here: Tyler Adams and Weston McKennie

Back in August, Tyler Adams wanted to give a special shoutout to U.S. international teammate Weston McKennie for his birthday. He happened across a photo of the two of them when they were both in Bradenton, Florida, training with the U.S. under-17 national team.   “That photo came up and I just lost it,” said Adams via telephone. “I thought it would be hilarious to post.”

And with good reason. At the time, Adams was a good inch or two taller than McKennie, so he placed it side-by-side with a more recent shot, one in which the tables height-wise had definitely been turned.Wes hadn’t hit his growth spurt yet, not even close to it,” Adams said about the older photo. “Now he’s six feet tall.”When Adams posted the photos to Twitter, they had their intended effect.”It was definitely a shock because it was such a long time ago and you can see how far we’ve come,” McKennie said.It’s an understatement: the two boys have become grown men, and the growth hasn’t been just physical. When the first photo was taken, Adams and McKennie were just a pair of young players whose potential was only outdone by their dreams. Now the two midfielders are on the cusp of becoming mainstays with the U.S. national team, part of a generation aiming to blunt the stigma from the team’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup.There is a hope wrapped up in those photos that McKennie and Adams — and the rest of their teammates as well — can grow further and lead the U.S. to greater things.The two are making considerable headway at club level. McKennie has been getting steady minutes with German club Schalke, both in the Champions League and the Bundesliga, while Adams is the heartbeat of a New York Red Bulls side pushing towards a Supporters Shield and MLS Cup double. On top of that, Adams is widely reported to be heading to RB Leipzig this winter. Along the way, McKennie and Adams have forged a friendship that carries onto the field, a bond that began with the U-17s.

The U-17 residency program in Bradenton, Fla. is now one that has now been consigned to history. Starting in 1999, the U.S. Soccer Federation would gather roughly 30 of the top youth players in the country with an eye towards forming the backbone of the U17 national team. But with the advent of MLS academies, as well as the USSF Development Academy, the residency program outlived its usefulness and the program ended in 2017.

Regardless, it’s where the likes of Landon Donovan, DaMarcus Beasley, Jozy Altidore and Christian Pulisic spent some of their formative years; it gave up-and-coming players a taste of international soccer, as well as a glimpse of what life as a professional might look like, all while taking care of their schooling. It also included a competitive environment in which some players were away from home for the first time. That intensity can put a strain on relationships, but also form strong bonds.”Residency isn’t the easiest, because you’re at a time period in your social life where you’re missing out on high school and being back home, but you sacrifice that for being able to play soccer every day,” Adams said.”In my position, and for Weston as well, it was a big sacrifice. It’s so enjoyable because you’re around people that you like and who share the same passion as you. It was good to create such good friends because I feel like a lot of the kids that I went to residency with are still friends to this day. You form these good relationships.”Yet in the case of Adams and McKennie, it was one that took a while to germinate. Both players recalled the physical demands often didn’t lend itself to much hangout time. Initially, Adams wasn’t even a full-time participant in residency, jetting in for a week or two at a time before heading back to his home outside of New York City.”We were more mutual friends but we were always cheering for each other,” McKennie said. “Tyler was the more the chill, laid-back kid. We definitely had our fun times, our fun memories.”That is the way of friendships, be it over the course of a life or even a few years. They ebb and flow; some even vanish. As one’s job or city of residence changes, new relationships are formed and different roots are laid down. Interests can diverge and sever bonds thought to be unbreakable. Yet this was one connection that endured, even as Adams and McKennie took different paths towards becoming professionals.When Adams’ time with the U17s was up, he went back to the New York Red Bulls and began getting professional minutes with their reserve team. McKennie went back and played for FC Dallas’ academy before signing with Schalke. Nick Taitague, McKennie’s teammate at Schalke, proved to be the hub that kept the bond intact. fuel last year when the pair was among those called in for the friendly against Portugal. The match proved to be the international debut for both players, with McKennie scoring the lone U.S. goal in a 1-1 draw. The fact that McKennie wasn’t included in the U17 and U20 World Cup teams, of which Adams was a part, made their initial minutes at the senior level that much sweeter.

“It was just really cool, because we just had the same joy for each other,” Adams said. “You’ve reached another milestone, and to see each other and how we’ve grown is definitely very special.”

Their chemistry that was limited to time off the field now had more of an on-field component. Of the two, McKennie is the player with more of an attacking edge, though Adams has shown in recent months — last Sunday’s postseason triumph against the Columbus Crew in particular — that he’s making some headway in this regard.There is a stylistic synergy as well.”I think we’re both eager to press,” McKennie said. “We both like pressing and we both have a good set of lungs — we can definitely run for a while. I think that’s one of the things we talk about when we do talk about going into games and game plans. We know we like to press, we know what kind of style we like to play. We’re normally good together on the field. Whenever one guy goes up, the other has the other guy’s back. I think we definitely compliment each other.”Adams added, “I feel like we’re two very dynamic players and I think that’s something that maybe the U.S. hasn’t had in a long time. I think that having two midfielders like ourselves who can play and pivot off of each other is something that would definitely be unique going forward.”The upcoming friendlies against England (Thursday, ESPN2, 3 p.m. ET) and Italy will provide a measure of their progress, though the presence of Pulisic for just the second time this year will no doubt aid their respective causes.But there is also optimism, and Adams’ proposed move to Germany will offer the chance for a deeper connection, something beyond the group video chats now being held by not only McKennie and Adams, but also the likes of Taitague and Pulisic. Then there is the fact that after playing on the same team intermittently over the years, Adams and McKennie will find themselves being combatants instead of teammates.”We’re definitely tight now,” said McKennie of Adams. “He’s one of the few guys on the team that I’ve known since we were 14 years old — Timothy Weah, too, and Pulisic. And with Tyler possibly making a move here, we’ll probably have even more to talk about.”There will be more room for both players to grow as well.

 

LONDON — As Matt Miazga strolls through the U.S. men’s national team hotel near Heathrow Airport outside London, there are no outward signs that he’s going through one of the more difficult spells of his professional career. The American defender has always carried himself with a high level of confidence, and this day is no different. The tone in Miazga’s voice is one of optimism, with one phrase continually coming up in conversation.

“You’ve got to keep pushing,” he told ESPN FC in an exclusive interview.The 23-year-old’s mood is at odds with his current predicament at club level, though in one sense, he has little choice. The native of Clifton, New Jersey, is currently on loan with Ligue 1 side Nantes from Chelsea, but so far, it hasn’t gone as he hoped.Initially, Miazga was a consistent presence in Nantes’ defense, but some poor results saw manager Miguel Cardoso fired just eight games into the season. Miazga then made a poor first impression with new manager Vahid Halilhodzic in a 3-0 loss to Bordeaux, delivering a subpar performance and receiving a yellow card that saw him suspended for the club’s next match.Nantes’ form has improved since, with the club claiming 10 points from its past four league matches, but in the meantime, Miazga’s situation has deteriorated further. He hasn’t been in the matchday squad since the Bordeaux defeat, banished to the reserves instead. There have even been reports that his loan will be cut short in January amid questions about his attitude.But Miazga isn’t thinking about any of those things, and he isn’t about to give up, either.”You’ve got to learn, you’ve got to adapt,” he said. “Obviously you always want to be playing, you always want to be a part of it. I kind of got stuck in a bad-timing situation with the club, getting suspended and with a new coach [coming in]. Right now I’m not playing, so I have to continue to stay fit, control what I can control and be ready for when my chance comes again.”As for the rumors that the loan will be terminated early, Miazga responds with a laugh and a shake of the head.”I don’t know where those rumors came from but they’re obviously not true,” he said. “People saw that I was playing every game and then all of a sudden not playing, so people are going to make assumptions, make up rumors and random things up in their head and I guess publish it.”The reality is that’s not true: I’m on loan with Nantes until the end of the season. I lost my starting spot and I’ve got to earn it back. It’s as simple as that.”Such a comment might come off as spin, but there is some substance behind the statements due to the fact Miazga has been in this position before. Back in 2014 with the New York Red Bulls, he started six times in an eight-game midseason stretch before some costly mistakes saw him benched for the rest of the season. The following year, he rebounded and was an ever-present force in the Red Bulls’ Supporters’ Shield-winning campaign. The next season, his first on loan with Dutch side Vitesse after signing with Chelsea, Miazga also found himself out of the lineup early on only to come back and help the club win its first top-flight trophy in its 125-year history.

Miazga said that his benching in New York left a deep impression, and he watched how veterans like Kosuke Kimura conducted themselves when they were out of the lineup. It’s why he’s confident he’ll be able to work his way back this time as well.”Kimura was very helpful in terms of always working extra, always pushing yourself to your limits,” Miazga said. “Work hard and be ready for your chance. Every time [I’ve been benched] I’ve gotten out of the situation, so I’ve got to keep pushing. It’s as simple as that.”I’ve seen [bad attitudes] before in the past. You see different scenarios, different sports as well — a guy with a bad attitude can be a cancer to the team or can be a distraction to the team. You don’t want to be that. You want to continue to be positive, help the team any way you can, and continue to train hard and be ready for your chance. I made sure I stayed fit for an opportunity like this, to get called up again.”Without question, Ligue 1 is a considerable step up in quality from the Eredivisie, and even before France’s World Cup triumph last summer, Ligue 1 clubs have been lauded for the way they develop players. But there is more to a move than just dealing with matters on the field. There is a new culture to adapt to and, most crucially of all, a new language to pick up. The coaching change, one in which Cardoso’s staff spoke English but Halilhodzic’s is more limited, drove home that necessity, though it’s one that Miazga is well aware of.”I feel like when you’re in a different country, you have to really strive to learn their language and show your intent to immerse yourself,” he said. “They’re not coming to America to speak English, you’re going to France to play football in France. You should learn their language to be able to speak with people, your teammates, the physios.”Miazga said that he’s eschewing social media and texting in favor of more time practicing his French. He hopes to get his French to the level where he can “hold a decent conversation” by the end of the season, but in the meantime, he’s enjoying what his new surroundings have to offer.”Every day, you’re so excited to see something new, you’re always doing something new, meeting new people, seeing new things, new places, ideas,” he said. “Constantly in my head I’m always learning, just processing everything I see.”Miazga’s immediate focus is Thursday’s friendly against England, and it’s unlikely the defender will be overawed by the occasion. After all, he was on the field when the U.S. tied France 1-1 just before the World Cup. But given the immense talent at England manager Gareth Southgate’s disposal, the test should be immense even amid the hubbub caused by Wayne Rooney’s inclusion.”England has obviously evolved as a nation, making the semifinal of the World Cup this past [summer], and obviously they have world-class players playing at big, big clubs,” Miazga said. “It’s going to be a good challenge for us, and something that we’re all looking forward to, to be able to showcase ourselves in a top international game like this.”A good performance from Miazga might also serve another purpose: reminding his club coach of his potential. If that’s the case, then it gives Miazga another reason to keep pushing.

Columbus Crew’s Gregg Berhalter silent on future amid links to USMNT job

Nov 11, 2018ESPN

Columbus Crew SC coach Gregg Berhalter declined to speak about his future or the United States national team’s coaching vacancy after his team was eliminated from the MLS playoffs on Sunday night.Berhalter, who for months has been widely considered the favorite to become the next U.S. coach, watched Columbus let a slim first-leg lead slip away in a 3-0 defeat to the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But asked after the game if he wanted to comment on his future plans, Berhalter said simply, “No.”However, Berhalter later wiped his eyes when asked how he would want his tenure as Crew SC coach to be remembered if Sunday did his mark his final game in charge after five years.”I don’t think we need to talk about that right now,” he said after a beat. “What’s in Columbus is identity, the way they’re playing. We’ve given the players belief and made them better, and that’s what we’ve done for a long time.”The job of permanent U.S. coach has been vacant since October 2017, when Bruce Arena resigned following the team’s World Cup qualifying failure. Since then, Dave Sarachan has managed the team on a caretaker basis.U.S. general manger Earnie Stewart said in September that he hoped to fill the position by the end of the year, and the end of Columbus’ season could lead to some movement.Stewart has said he a specific profile in mind for the next manager.”It’s somebody that has to have a ‘We’ mentality, who wants to work together,” Stewart said in September. “That’s important. In this day and age I don’t think one person can do the whole job, especially a country as big as this.”Stewart and Berhalter played on the U.S. team together, though Stewart has cautioned that their relationship is more professional than overly friendly.

Christian Pulisic returns to U.S. squad for England, Italy friendlies

Nov 6, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Christian Pulisic headlines the 28-man squad named by United States caretaker manager Dave Sarachan for upcoming friendlies against England and Italy.The U.S. will take on England at the famed Wembley on Nov. 15, and will then play Italy in Genk, Belgium five days later.”These last two matches provide a fantastic set of challenges and experiences, so we’re excited to bring in this group of players for another huge opportunity,” said Sarachan. “We continue to build with a core group that has developed throughout the last year, while including some players who we haven’t seen in some time.”Injuries and club commitments have limited Pulisic to just one U.S. appearance this calendar year, a May 28 match against Bolivia. But now the Borussia Dortmund midfielder appears to be healthy enough to take part in the last two U.S. matches of 2018. The squad is weighted slightly in favor of foreign-based players, with 16 of the 28 invitees playing abroad. Of the 12 MLS-based players, seven belong to teams still competing in the MLS Cup playoffs. This could explain the reason for the slightly greater squad numbers compared to previous camps, as those seven will arrive at camp later than others given that the second leg of the conference finals will take place this weekend.”These are important matches and we only have so many opportunities every year to bring our players together,” said Sarachan, speaking about the decision to include players involved in the MLS playoffs. “This is a FIFA window and we are one of many countries playing matches during this time, so you want to include players that you feel are vital to your program. There are other leagues around the world that have games right before and after these windows, but I feel when the national team calls, there is still an importance to bringing players that we feel will be significant to the team now and in the future.”Sarachan will also use the expanded squad to take a look at more Europe-based players. There are no specific plans to release players in between games, though circumstances could dictate otherwise.One notable absence is Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley. Two reasons were given by Sarachan for his exclusion: that the younger midfielders on the squad are in greater need of minutes at international level, and that Bradley hasn’t had much rest in two years due to his involvement in MLS Cups and the CONCACAF Champions League.”At this stage, it made sense to give [Bradley] some extra time off and also allow these games to be a platform for players that lack that kind of experience,” he said.Otherwise, Sarachan has continued to call in the core group of young players he’s developed over the past year. This includes Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Nantes defender Matt Miazga, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams, Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, and Paris Saint-Germain forward Tim Weah.All told, 17 of those named in the squad took part in the previous national team camp back in October. The average age of the squad is 23 years, 241 days, with the average number of caps 13.Four players on the squad play in the U.K. They are Wigan Athletic defender Antonee Robinson, Swansea defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, Fulham midfielder Luca De La Torre, and Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin.Midfielder Romain Gall is the lone first-time call-up on the squad. Gall, 23, has recorded 15 goals in 27 league and cup matches for Swedish sides Sundsvall and Malmo in 2018.

Complete squad:

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 59/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew; 6/0)

Defenders (10): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 35/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 1/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 6/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 10/1), Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu/ESP; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; 6/0), Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers; 19/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 56/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 3/1)

Midfielders (13): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 21/2), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 7/1), Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 1/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 5/0), Romain Gall (Malmö/SWE; 0/0), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 14/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 3/1), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 6/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 25/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 21/9), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 3/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 9/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 7/1)

Forwards (2): Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 5/2), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 43/13)

Christian Pulisic’s return is sorely needed for U.S. side lacking creativity

Nov 6, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The year of discontent for the U.S. men’s national team is almost over.Caretaker manager Dave Sarachan named his 28-player roster for friendlies against England on Nov. 15 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2) and against Italy five days later. It figures to be the last time Sarachan engages in this exercise for the U.S.To be fair, Sarachan was handed a thankless job last year, and he’s conducted himself with aplomb. His decisions to go with mostly young players have induced a collective nodding of heads. A total of 50 players have been used during Sarachan’s tenure, with 19 making their international debuts. The team has gotten some decent results along the way, although it’s clear that there is a long way to go for many of these players. For these two games, it will help to have Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams all back in the fold. The trio, which figures to form the core of the U.S. midfield for the next cycle, missed the last round of games in October due to injury. That they will (hopefully) be back ought to give U.S. fans a glimpse of what is to come.Pulisic’s return is undoubtedly the most welcome, although McKennie and Adams will be critical as well. The U.S. has shown a distinct lack of creativity for much of this calendar year, and with Pulisic limited to just one U.S. appearance in 2018, that burden has been left to others with predictable results. With the Borussia Dortmund attacker back, it will be interesting to see what the knock-on effect will be on the offensive contributions of McKennie and Adams, who have both shown an ability to score from late runs into the box.There are other attack-minded players who will be worth a look. It seems like every month there’s a new player brought into the fold with an eye-catching skill set. Last month it was Jonathan Amon. This time around it’s Malmo’s Romain Gall, whose numbers — 14 goals in 30 matches across two teams in 2018 — have piqued some interest. Gall’s career had seemed to stall during a two-season stint with the Columbus Crew, but his game has been reborn in Sweden, and his ability to run at defenses and strike at goal makes him intriguing.Sebastian Lletget, a player whose slick passing has always made him an interesting option, is back in the frame as well. The tendency has always been to look at him as a purely attacking option, but the last few months of the MLS season with the LA Galaxy saw him perform well in a deeper role beside Jonathan dos Santos, giving the U.S. added versatility.

Darlington Nagbe is another player returning to the fold, but he remains something of an enigma, a player who everyone wants to be a No. 10 but is more of a linker instead.Then there’s Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent and Paris Saint-Germain’s Tim Weah. Sargent has been getting steady playing time with the team’s reserves, although his promotion to Bremen’s first team has been teased for some time now. Of late, Weah hasn’t been even getting time with PSG’s reserve team, but both players figure to get extended minutes for the U.S.One player who won’t be joining up with the U.S. is Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley. The reasons given for his exclusion centered around giving minutes to younger players and allowing Bradley to take some time off. The second of those explanations is the one more grounded in logic. If playing time for younger players was a concern, why call him back in during the October window? But it’s clear that after playing virtually nonstop for the past two years, Bradley could use a rest.The concerns for Sarachan — and whoever succeeds him — are a bit different on the defensive side of the ball. Matt Miazga has been a mainstay for Sarachan ever since he took over, but poor form and change of coach at Nantes have consigned the center-back to the team’s reserves, leading to speculation that his loan from Chelsea might be terminated early. A couple of respectable performances for the U.S. might catch the eye of another team if his way at Nantes remains blocked. At minimum, he should get the chance to get some more reps with Wolfsburg center-back John Brooks.

Wayne Rooney to return for England farewell vs. U.S. at Wembley

Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Wayne Rooney will win his 120th England cap later this month after Gareth Southgate sanctioned a farewell appearance for the DC United forward against the United States at Wembley on Nov. 15, the English Football Association (FA) has announced.The former Manchester United and Everton captain — England’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals — has not represented his country since lining up against Scotland at Wembley in November 2016.

– Rooney’s record-breaking England career in numbers

Rooney, 33, who had by that stage lost his regular starting spot at United under Jose Mourinho, was then omitted from a series of squads by manager Southgate before announcing his international retirement in August 2017, having initially targeted this year’s World Cup in Russia as his swansong.But with Rooney ending his England career having made more appearances than any other outfield player, as well as eclipsing Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of England goals, Southgate and the FA have agreed to give Rooney the honour of a farewell appearance, at the same time as handing supporters the opportunity to show their appreciation of the former England captain.The game against the U.S. — three days before the decisive Nations League clash with Croatia at Wembley — has been designated as a charity fundraiser by the FA. Some of the monies raised will go towards the Wayne Rooney Foundation.

Despite Rooney’s impressive form in the MLS since moving to DC United in July, where he helped the team into the playoffs after scoring 12 goals in 21 games, his return to the England set-up is purely on a one-off basis, sources have told ESPN FC.Rooney will be presented with an award in recognition of his contribution before the game, but sources have told ESPN FC that he will not play the full 90 minutes and that he will not be considered for the game against Croatia.Rooney’s MLS season is now over after the team’s defeat in the knockout round against Columbus Crew last week, but he told ESPN last month that he will not seek a loan move back to Europe during the closed season, opting instead to focus on the start of the 2019 MLS season next March.

 

Indiana University 2018 Big 10 Champions 

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11/8/18 MLS Playoffs tonite/Sun, Big 10 Men’s Tourney Fri/Sun at Grand Park, US plays next week, Champs League Results, Carmel FC Trainings next week

MLS

Ok so I know a lot of you do not watch MLS soccer – its not as good, the players are no where as good as Europe – etc etc etc.  Well i am hear to tell you – if you haven’t watched MLS PLAYOFF SOCCER – You are Really missing out.   Last night’s battle between the oldest Rivals in US Soccer – Seattle hosting Portland winner advances to the conference finals – WAS SPECTACULAR.  Seattle scored in the 2nd half to tie it up on aggregate 2-2 – then Portland scored the go ahead goal with just 5 minutes to play plus 6 minutes of injury time.   That 11 minutes of soccer was the most exciting soccer I have witnessed this year – Seattle attacking, Portland countering, finally the home squad hitting a stinger when Riu Diaz scored his 2nd of the night on a screaming shot from the top of the box. Then 2 more minutes of up and down play – 40,000 plus fans of both teams jumping and screaming, rooting their teams on.  It ends in a 2-2 tie on to Extra time.  In Extra time Portland again takes the lead just 2 minutes in – then a hand ball in the box by Portland (the 3rd on the night finally this time given a penalty) allowed Lidero to tie it up once again for the Sounders from the penalty spot.  Finally Portland won it in PKs at 1:40 am!  Love MLS playoff soccer!

The 2nd legs of the other 3 semi-finals are all Sunday afternoon starting at 3 pm on ESPN with Salt Lake @ Sporting KC  & NYCFC @ Atlanta down 0-1 at 5 pm on ESPN, and Columbus up 1-0 @ NY Red Bulls at 7:30 pm  on FS1.

US Men Play England and Italy next Week

The US men – still with no word on who the head coach will be (Its going to be Gregg Berhalter from Columbus by the way) just waiting for Columbus to lose in the MLS Playoffs first.  England will play tribute to Wayne Rooney at Wembley when they face the US men on ESPN 2 Thursday at 2 pm (anyone want to catch lunch to watch ??).  The US has a young crew with many oversea’s US players being called up.

Big 10 Men’s Soccer Tourney at Westfield’s Grand Park Fri/Sun  

Quarterfinals: Two Big Ten Men’s Soccer Tournament quarterfinal games needed extra time to determine a winner, No. 1 Indiana versus No. 8 Northwestern and No. 4 Michigan State against No.  5 Maryland. Indiana advanced with a 2-1 victory and Maryland won 1-0.  No. 2 Wisconsin went down 2-0 against No. 7 Rutgers in the first 14 minutes, but rebounded to move on to the semifinals with a 6-3 win. No. 3 Michigan advanced with its 3-1 victory against No. 6 Penn State.  Carmel FC Director of Soccer Operations Juergen Sommer (a former National Champion Goalkeeper at IU) will be on hand for the coin toss of the Championship Game on Sunday afternoon!  Tickets are available at the gate  on-site, for $12 for adults, $7 for youth, high school and college students with school ID and $1 for veterans and active military.

Fri 1 pm on BTN  #1 Indiana U vs 5 Seed Maryland/ 3:30 pm BTN #2 Mich vs #2 Wisc

Sun 12 noon BTN Championship Game

Champions League

Some unbelievable results in Champions League this week right after the leak that certain huge clubs in Europe might be planning a Super League to replace Champions League (read stories below).  First Liverpool lays an egg at Red Star 2-0 meaning qualification may well come down to the final round as they have 2 difficult games left.  Then Juventus loses to Man United in the last second 2-1 showing just how much they miss Buffon between the pipes.

 INDY 11 $99 Season Tickets

Ok for folks looking for great Christmas ideas – the Indy 11 have come out with a family Season ticket plan that simply rocks.  $99 Season tickets in the South End Zone, or $150 in the BYB.  Seriously -these are level 1 seats for the full season for less than 1 Colts or Pacers game.  If you put just $50 down on Reserved Seat Tickets that start at just $289 before Nov 26th you get the bonus of Free Parking ($15 per game value).  All Season ticket holders get Exclusive Meet the Team Events, More Games on Saturdays less on Weds, Ticket Exchange Program (mix and match your games if you miss a game get double seats for another game of choice, 20% off team merchandise.  Click here for more info or Call 317-685-1100 for more details and tell them the Ole Ballcoach Sent you !

 CARMEL FC PLAYERS

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 (11/12),  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)

USA

US In need of Pulisic’s Creativity

Rooney to return for England farewell vs US at Wembley

Optimistic View of our New US Manager – Greg Berhalter  Stars and Stripes

Pulisic Wants Revenge for US World Cup Failure

Atlanta United’s Martino Never Contacted about US Job before Taking Mexico’s

US Women play in Europe this Week

USA Complete squad:for England and Italy Games Next Week

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 59/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew; 6/0)

 Defenders (10): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 35/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 1/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 6/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 10/1), Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu/ESP; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; 6/0), Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers; 19/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 56/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 3/1)

 Midfielders (13): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 21/2), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 7/1), Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 1/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 5/0), Romain Gall (Malmö/SWE; 0/0), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 14/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 3/1), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 6/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 25/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 21/9), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 3/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 9/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 7/1)

 Forwards (2): Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 5/2), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 43/13)

 Champions League

Red Star’s Upset of Liverpool a reminder of What a Superleague Would Lose

Man U Stuns @ Juve

Atletico Gets Revenge on Dortmund in 2-0 win at home

– Latest Champions League tables

European Super League Details Leaked? ESPN

European Super League a serious problem for European Leagues ESPNFC   

UEFA President to fight European Super League FC

It’s time to fix — and save — the Champions League  ESPNFC

MLS

Biggest Take-Aways for the MLS Semi-Final First Legs – SI

Real Salt Lake Boots LAFC from Playoffs in Thrilling Knockout Match

Berhalters Gamble Works out for Crew SC in 1 leg of East Conf Semis – Kevin Johnson Soc Sakes

538: Who is likeliest to make Conf Championship?

Injury letoff, response boost Sounders for Leg 2

How each Leg 1 turned on a key coaching call

Wiebe: Who’ll win MLS Cup? The haters will say…

Power Rankings – Greg Doyle MLS.com

EPL

Ibra – EPL Overrated

EPL Big 6 demoralizing for small Clubs and Fans

Man U Paul Pogba and Mourino Relationship 1 of Happiness

Indy 11

Indy 11 Season tickets for just $99 if U order by 11/26

Meet the Team Events, Free Parking for the Games ($85 savings), More Games on Saturdays less on Weds, Ticket Exchange Program (mix and match your games if you miss a game get double seats for another game of choice, 20% off team merchandise. Call 317-685-1100for more Details and tell them the Ole Ballcoach Sent you!

11 Reasons to Get Your Indy 11 Season Tickets today with Mike Henn

USL Championship Features Louisville vs Phoenix Rising & Drogba Thurs Eve 8 pm on ESPN2

 GAMES ON TV

Thurs  Nov 8   MLS Playoffs

10:30 pm FSI                Seattle Sounders vs Portland (Leg 2)

8 pm ESPN 2                Louisville FC vs Phoenix Rising USL Champ Game

 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 Columbus   (MLS Playoffs)

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

5:30 pm FS1?           Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake(leg 2)

Thur, Nov 15  

2 pm ESPN2           England vs USA Men  (Rooney last match)

Tues, Nov 20  

2:45 pm FS1           Italy vs USA Men

Sunday, Nov. 25

Conference championship first legs

Thursday, Nov. 29

Conference championship second legs

Saturday, Dec. 8 (8 p.m.): (FOX, UniMas)

MLS Cup final

Christian Pulisic returns to U.S. squad for England, Italy friendlies

Nov 6, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

Christian Pulisic headlines the 28-man squad named by United States caretaker manager Dave Sarachan for upcoming friendlies against England and Italy.The U.S. will take on England at the famed Wembley on Nov. 15, and will then play Italy in Genk, Belgium five days later.”These last two matches provide a fantastic set of challenges and experiences, so we’re excited to bring in this group of players for another huge opportunity,” said Sarachan. “We continue to build with a core group that has developed throughout the last year, while including some players who we haven’t seen in some time.”Injuries and club commitments have limited Pulisic to just one U.S. appearance this calendar year, a May 28 match against Bolivia. But now the Borussia Dortmund midfielder appears to be healthy enough to take part in the last two U.S. matches of 2018. The squad is weighted slightly in favor of foreign-based players, with 16 of the 28 invitees playing abroad. Of the 12 MLS-based players, seven belong to teams still competing in the MLS Cup playoffs. This could explain the reason for the slightly greater squad numbers compared to previous camps, as those seven will arrive at camp later than others given that the second leg of the conference finals will take place this weekend.”These are important matches and we only have so many opportunities every year to bring our players together,” said Sarachan, speaking about the decision to include players involved in the MLS playoffs. “This is a FIFA window and we are one of many countries playing matches during this time, so you want to include players that you feel are vital to your program. There are other leagues around the world that have games right before and after these windows, but I feel when the national team calls, there is still an importance to bringing players that we feel will be significant to the team now and in the future.”Sarachan will also use the expanded squad to take a look at more Europe-based players. There are no specific plans to release players in between games, though circumstances could dictate otherwise.One notable absence is Toronto FC midfielder Michael Bradley. Two reasons were given by Sarachan for his exclusion: that the younger midfielders on the squad are in greater need of minutes at international level, and that Bradley hasn’t had much rest in two years due to his involvement in MLS Cups and the CONCACAF Champions League.”At this stage, it made sense to give [Bradley] some extra time off and also allow these games to be a platform for players that lack that kind of experience,” he said.Otherwise, Sarachan has continued to call in the core group of young players he’s developed over the past year. This includes Columbus Crew goalkeeper Zack Steffen, Nantes defender Matt Miazga, New York Red Bulls midfielder Tyler Adams, Schalke midfielder Weston McKennie, and Paris Saint-Germain forward Tim Weah.All told, 17 of those named in the squad took part in the previous national team camp back in October. The average age of the squad is 23 years, 241 days, with the average number of caps 13.Four players on the squad play in the U.K. They are Wigan Athletic defender Antonee Robinson, Swansea defender Cameron Carter-Vickers, Fulham midfielder Luca De La Torre, and Newcastle United defender DeAndre Yedlin.Midfielder Romain Gall is the lone first-time call-up on the squad. Gall, 23, has recorded 15 goals in 27 league and cup matches for Swedish sides Sundsvall and Malmo in 2018.

Complete squad:

Goalkeepers (3): Brad Guzan (Atlanta United FC; 59/0), Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge/BEL; 2/0), Zack Steffen (Columbus Crew; 6/0)

Defenders (10): John Brooks (Wolfsburg/GER; 35/3), Reggie Cannon (FC Dallas; 1/0), Cameron Carter-Vickers (Swansea City/WAL; 6/0), Aaron Long (New York Red Bulls; 1/0), Matt Miazga (Nantes/FRA; 10/1), Shaq Moore (Reus Deportiu/ESP; 3/0), Antonee Robinson (Wigan Athletic/ENG; 6/0), Jorge Villafaña (Portland Timbers; 19/0), DeAndre Yedlin (Newcastle United/ENG; 56/0), Walker Zimmerman (LAFC; 3/1)

Midfielders (13): Kellyn Acosta (Colorado Rapids; 21/2), Tyler Adams (New York Red Bulls; 7/1), Luca de la Torre (Fulham/ENG; 1/0), Marky Delgado (Toronto FC/CAN; 5/0), Romain Gall (Malmö/SWE; 0/0), Julian Green (Greuther Fürth/GER; 14/4), Sebastian Lletget (LA Galaxy; 3/1), Weston McKennie (Schalke/GER; 6/1), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United FC; 25/1), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund/GER; 21/9), Kenny Saief (Anderlecht/BEL; 3/0), Wil Trapp (Columbus Crew SC; 9/0), Tim Weah (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 7/1)

Forwards (2): Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen/GER; 5/2), Bobby Wood (Hannover 96/GER; 43/13)

Christian Pulisic’s return is sorely needed for U.S. side lacking creativity

Nov 6, 2018Jeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

The year of discontent for the U.S. men’s national team is almost over.Caretaker manager Dave Sarachan named his 28-player roster for friendlies against England on Nov. 15 (3 p.m. ET, ESPN2) and against Italy five days later. It figures to be the last time Sarachan engages in this exercise for the U.S.To be fair, Sarachan was handed a thankless job last year, and he’s conducted himself with aplomb. His decisions to go with mostly young players have induced a collective nodding of heads. A total of 50 players have been used during Sarachan’s tenure, with 19 making their international debuts. The team has gotten some decent results along the way, although it’s clear that there is a long way to go for many of these players. For these two games, it will help to have Christian Pulisic, Weston McKennie and Tyler Adams all back in the fold. The trio, which figures to form the core of the U.S. midfield for the next cycle, missed the last round of games in October due to injury. That they will (hopefully) be back ought to give U.S. fans a glimpse of what is to come.Pulisic’s return is undoubtedly the most welcome, although McKennie and Adams will be critical as well. The U.S. has shown a distinct lack of creativity for much of this calendar year, and with Pulisic limited to just one U.S. appearance in 2018, that burden has been left to others with predictable results. With the Borussia Dortmund attacker back, it will be interesting to see what the knock-on effect will be on the offensive contributions of McKennie and Adams, who have both shown an ability to score from late runs into the box.There are other attack-minded players who will be worth a look. It seems like every month there’s a new player brought into the fold with an eye-catching skill set. Last month it was Jonathan Amon. This time around it’s Malmo’s Romain Gall, whose numbers — 14 goals in 30 matches across two teams in 2018 — have piqued some interest. Gall’s career had seemed to stall during a two-season stint with the Columbus Crew, but his game has been reborn in Sweden, and his ability to run at defenses and strike at goal makes him intriguing.Sebastian Lletget, a player whose slick passing has always made him an interesting option, is back in the frame as well. The tendency has always been to look at him as a purely attacking option, but the last few months of the MLS season with the LA Galaxy saw him perform well in a deeper role beside Jonathan dos Santos, giving the U.S. added versatility.

Darlington Nagbe is another player returning to the fold, but he remains something of an enigma, a player who everyone wants to be a No. 10 but is more of a linker instead.Then there’s Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent and Paris Saint-Germain’s Tim Weah. Sargent has been getting steady playing time with the team’s reserves, although his promotion to Bremen’s first team has been teased for some time now. Of late, Weah hasn’t been even getting time with PSG’s reserve team, but both players figure to get extended minutes for the U.S.One player who won’t be joining up with the U.S. is Toronto FC’s Michael Bradley. The reasons given for his exclusion centered around giving minutes to younger players and allowing Bradley to take some time off. The second of those explanations is the one more grounded in logic. If playing time for younger players was a concern, why call him back in during the October window? But it’s clear that after playing virtually nonstop for the past two years, Bradley could use a rest.The concerns for Sarachan — and whoever succeeds him — are a bit different on the defensive side of the ball. Matt Miazga has been a mainstay for Sarachan ever since he took over, but poor form and change of coach at Nantes have consigned the center-back to the team’s reserves, leading to speculation that his loan from Chelsea might be terminated early. A couple of respectable performances for the U.S. might catch the eye of another team if his way at Nantes remains blocked. At minimum, he should get the chance to get some more reps with Wolfsburg center-back John Brooks.

Wayne Rooney to return for England farewell vs. U.S. at Wembley

Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

Wayne Rooney will win his 120th England cap later this month after Gareth Southgate sanctioned a farewell appearance for the DC United forward against the United States at Wembley on Nov. 15, the English Football Association (FA) has announced.The former Manchester United and Everton captain — England’s all-time leading scorer with 53 goals — has not represented his country since lining up against Scotland at Wembley in November 2016.

– Rooney’s record-breaking England career in numbers

Rooney, 33, who had by that stage lost his regular starting spot at United under Jose Mourinho, was then omitted from a series of squads by manager Southgate before announcing his international retirement in August 2017, having initially targeted this year’s World Cup in Russia as his swansong.But with Rooney ending his England career having made more appearances than any other outfield player, as well as eclipsing Sir Bobby Charlton’s record of England goals, Southgate and the FA have agreed to give Rooney the honour of a farewell appearance, at the same time as handing supporters the opportunity to show their appreciation of the former England captain.The game against the U.S. — three days before the decisive Nations League clash with Croatia at Wembley — has been designated as a charity fundraiser by the FA. Some of the monies raised will go towards the Wayne Rooney Foundation.

Despite Rooney’s impressive form in the MLS since moving to DC United in July, where he helped the team into the playoffs after scoring 12 goals in 21 games, his return to the England set-up is purely on a one-off basis, sources have told ESPN FC.Rooney will be presented with an award in recognition of his contribution before the game, but sources have told ESPN FC that he will not play the full 90 minutes and that he will not be considered for the game against Croatia.Rooney’s MLS season is now over after the team’s defeat in the knockout round against Columbus Crew last week, but he told ESPN last month that he will not seek a loan move back to Europe during the closed season, opting instead to focus on the start of the 2019 MLS season next March.

Red Star’s upset of Liverpool a reminder of what football stands to lose with a super league

Nov 6, 2018Nick AmesESPN.com writer

BELGRADE, Serbia — What would football be without nights like this?

Red Star Belgrade had not enjoyed a victory of this significance since their European Cup win in 1991, and the timing could hardly have been better. On a week when details of the big guns’ apparent plans for a continental super leaguehave dominated the news agenda, the Serbian champions served up a vibrant, wild demonstration of everything the sport cannot afford to lose.

Perhaps the executives and money men who would like to create a closed shop among the elite should be made to watch Tuesday’s 2-0 victory over a rattled Liverpool side on a loop, and at full volume. It hammered home a vital, increasingly urgent fact: that the soul of football is worth fighting for.Before kickoff, Red Star’s supporters cheered members of the team that, 35 years ago to the day, won 2-1 at Anfield. In those days they would go toe to toe with the best every season. Those players’ names were read out one by one on the public-address system; at full-time it was Vladan Milojevic’s class of 2018, rank outsiders in a fiendish Group C, who were being hailed in sequence over the loudspeaker.”This generation will become equal to others in the club’s history,” Milojevic said afterward. They are in this famous old institution’s pantheon now and, at least until their visit to Napoli in three weeks, can keep dreaming of a previously unthinkable place in the knockout stage.That kind of dream would be dead if clubs from England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France cleaved off to play among themselves. One version of the proposed new setup would, it appears, include guaranteed immunity from relegation for 20 years.

On Tuesday’s lacklustre showing, it was possible to see how this might appeal to Liverpool, who are among those believed to want a slice of the cake. Although they missed the game’s first big chance through the recalled Daniel Sturridge, they did not really get going in the opening period and paid a heavy price — beaten to every ball by 10 whirling dervishes in red and white stripes, finding themselves picked apart far too easily and failing completely to deal with the towering target man Milan Pavkov, whose two emphatic finishes settled the issue.”The second goal was out of the blue,” Jurgen Klopp said of the 25-yard piledriver that turned the Marakana into a cauldron of bedlam. “That’s not cool in a game like this, an atmosphere like this, a situation like this.”The noise was deafening, as it had been from the moment the teams emerged to a silver-and-red tifo display that covered the entire stadium. Red Star warm up for big games on their practice pitch, adjacent to the ground, only taking the long walk through one of football’s most hair-raising tunnels when it is time for kickoff. It creates a delicious extra frisson of suspense among the Delije, the ultras who stand behind the north goal, and the fans to either side; it also ensures the team are roared out when they finally emerge and that a raucous, intimidating tone is set from the start.Klopp stressed his team had not been fazed by the atmosphere, which had been heavily discussed in the buildup and never let up. “It was a good football atmosphere, noisewise and singingwise, not a problem,” he said, noting how the temperature rose as Red Star scented blood. That eliminates one potential excuse for a performance that clearly troubled him.

·        

“We made life a bit too easy tonight,” he continued. “They were not as lucky as they should be if they win against us.”That was right and, despite dominating the second half, Liverpool posed a consistent threat only in the final 10 minutes. On the back of this and a similarly pallid display in another football hotbed, Napoli’s Stadio San Paolo, it suggests an issue that needs correcting when they face the might of Paris Saint-Germain later this month. If Liverpool are not to fall well short of last season’s Champions League heroics, they need to rediscover a semblance of their swashbuckling, fearless best form.Here it was Red Star who had the swagger, the strut and the hard work to go with it. In the latter stages, each bulldozing challenge, each successful clearance was greeted by mini-celebrations from those who had prevented Liverpool from breaking through yet again. “I think even bigger victories will come, I’m not just satisfied with this one,” Milojevic said. Red Star’s return to the top has left romantics misty-eyed, and much bigger battles are to come if it is to be sustained.But more raw, visceral, old-fashioned football nights of this measure would help underline the point that they must simply not be lost to corporate greed.At Milojevic’s prematch news conference Monday, Red Star’s press officer had blocked questions (on UEFA’s request, he claimed) about any potential super league. The thought occurred at the time that it was a short-sighted move: Surely the clubs who would be cast into the ether by such a breakaway need to be allowed a voice at this point more than ever. What nobody knew then was that they would state their own case — and that of football’s supposed also-rans — in such overwhelming fashion the following day.

Paul Pogba underwhelms but Man United grab lucky late win at Juventus

5:10 PM ETMark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC

TURIN, Italy — Three thoughts from the J Stadium as two late goals gave Man United a 2-1 win Wednesday at Juventus.

  1. Heroic United stun Juve with late fightback

Manchester United turned the clock back to 1999 by turning defeat into victory against Juventus with a dramatic late victory in Turin.Juan Mata’s 86th-minute free kick and an Alex Sandro own goal in the final minute gave Jose Mourinho’s team a crucial win against the Italian champions, which could see United qualify for the Champions League knockout stages with a home victory against Young Boys later this month.

Nineteen years after Sir Alex Ferguson’s Treble winners overturned a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2 in Turin, Mourinho’s men showed similar fighting spirit to win this game. It had appeared to be lost after Cristiano Ronaldo, kept quiet by United for the majority of the game, made his one decisive contribution when, in the 65th minute, he volleyed Leonardo Bonucci’s long pass beyond goalkeeper David de Gea to register his first Champions League goal of the season.The goal looked to be enough to win the game and secure top spot and qualification for the knockout stages with two games to spare for Massimiliano Allegri’s team. But Mata hauled United level with his free kick before Sandro bundled in Ashley Young’s late, in-swinging set-piece.United had been unfortunate to fall behind to Ronaldo’s goal, and a draw would have been a fairer result on the night. Yet with Juve hosting Valencia later this month, a win for the Italians combined with a United victory against Young Boys at Old Trafford will ensure both clubs make it into the round of 16.

  1. Sanchez states his case to play through the middle

Alexis Sanchez has been a major disappointment in a Manchester United shirt since arriving from Arsenal in January, with not even his staunchest supporter able to suggest any different. But one argument in the Chile international’s defence is that he’s not been handed the chance to play on his best position by Mourinho.Mourinho has consistently stuck with Romelu Lukaku as his centre-forward, choosing instead to use Sanchez out wide, but with Lukaku injured, Sanchez was given his chance through the middle against Juventus and he impressed. It was clear at times that his confidence is still low: after all, he entered Wednesday’s game having scored just four times in 27 appearances, and his appearances this season have been sporadic at best.But Sanchez offers totally different qualities to Lukaku, and they were on show in Turin. Lukaku is one-dimensional, a classic striker in the sense that his first thought is always to head for goal. Sanchez, meanwhile, is more prepared to assess his options, hold up the ball and bring teammates into play. There was more of a thread between United’s attacking players against Juve than there is when Lukaku plays.Lukaku’s injury means he is a doubt for Sunday’s trip to Manchester City, so Sanchez might get another outing at the Etihad. He still needs to sharpen his fitness and intensity, but if he gets the game time, Sanchez can still be the big-game player Mourinho expected him to be when he signed him.

  1. Pogba goes missing back “home”

Paul Pogba really wanted to own the stage back on his old turf with United against Juventus, but he went missing again Wednesday night.Having spoken bullishly in the prematch news conference about his form, happiness and United’s prospects of winning a major trophy, Pogba was applauded back to Turin by the Juventus fans before the game. But two years after leaving in an £89 million move to United, Pogba did little justify his fee or make the Juve fans yearn for his return.This was Pogba on one of his bad days. He failed to track Juventus runners and he was poor in possession. He really should have approached the game determined to show his old fans what they were missing, but he was simply swallowed up Juve’s midfield of Miralem Pjanic, Sami Khedira and Rodrigo Bentancur.Pogba has talent, that is without question. He has won big honours for club and country and can be a game-changer, but fails to deliver too often. His late involvement in Sandro’s own-goal winner for United wasn’t enough to make Pogba stand out.It is on nights like these that Pogba should demand to be centre of attention, but he was a bit-part player again.

European Super League a ‘serious’ problem for professional football – leagues group

Nov 6, 2018Reuters

A breakaway European Super League would have “serious and lasting implications” for professional football across the continent, the European Leagues group (EL), which represents domestic leagues, said on Tuesday.German magazine Der Spiegel and European Investigative Collaborations, a network of international media, reported on Friday that plans for a Super League involving clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester United were back on the table.Citing leaked documents, Der Spiegel said a fresh plan had recently been drafted for Real Madrid by Spanish company Key Capital Partners. The plan foresees 11 top European clubs creating a Super League in 2021.Key Capital Partners and Madrid have not commented on the report, while the European Club Association, which represents more than 200 European clubs, said it was not aware of discussions by clubs to develop a breakaway league.The EL, which represents 25 domestic leagues including England’s Premier League, Germany’s Bundesliga and Spain’s La Liga, voiced its “strong opposition” to any such plan on Tuesday.”The European Leagues note the ongoing rumours and speculations around the possible creation of a European Super League by the big European professional clubs,” it said.”[EL] has consistently voiced its strong opposition to the creation of any ‘closed and franchised style’ Super League.”The Leagues supports the European sports model based on a pyramid structure where the mechanisms of promotion and relegation and the sporting merits of clubs are at the core of any competition.”The statement said domestic football was at “the heart of the game throughout Europe” for players, clubs and fans.”Proposals for a closed Super League will have serious and lasting implications for the long term sustainability of professional football in Europe,” it said.It said it “fully supported” European football’s governing body UEFA in the organisation of the Champions League and Europa League and “shares with UEFA the common principle of protecting and enhancing competitive balance in European football.”The EL recently presented its own suggestions for the format of European club competitions in the next three-year cycle, starting in 2021, which it said would ensure a more equal distribution of revenue.According to Der Spiegel, the 16-team Super League would replace the Champions League from 2021 and include 11 “founders” who could not be relegated for the firt 20 years.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin to ‘fight’ European Super League

Nov 5, 2018Stephan UersfeldGermany correspondent

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has said he will “fight against” the idea of a European Super League as long as he is at the top of European football’s governing body.

The latest batch of Football Leaks stories released by German magazine Der Spiegel claimed on Friday that plans for a European Super League with 11 founding members: Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain, Juventus and Bayern Munich remain intact.The report added that, from as early as November 2018, the 11 teams could sign a “binding team sheet” and commit to the new European Super League from 2021.”It would damage football worldwide,” Ceferin told kicker. “It would be boring.”To see Juve vs. Bayern every week would be more boring than let’s say Juve vs. Torino. It’s no question for me that I will fight and do all I can against such a league for as long as I am here.”If we are talking about a closed system, we can forget about solidarity and the development of football. In the long run, the clubs would be the losers.”Bayern CEO Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, meanwhile, rejected reports of the club’s push for such a league.”I am not aware of any Super League news,” he was quoted as saying by kicker. “We neither have any knowledge about this nor have we participated in any talks. That’s out of the question for us.”

Ex-Manchester United forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic calls Premier League ‘overrated’

 Nov 5, 2018

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has said the quality of the Premier League is “overrated” but that very few can handle the pace required to succeed in English football’s top flight.Now at LA Galaxy, Ibrahimovic spent 19 months at Manchester United between 2016 and 2018 — scoring 29 goals in 53 appearances in all competitions with much of his time blighted by a serious knee injury. Previous to that, he had played in his native Sweden, the Netherlands, Italy, Spain and France.Ibrahimovic, 37, said a lot of people tried to persuade him not to join United as he could produce a low mark in a career which had seem him win 13 league titles up to that point; but he was determined to prove them wrong.”I’d had a long career before I came — different kinds of countries, different kinds of clubs,” he told FourFourTwo. “People said: ‘You don’t need to go to ngland, because if you fail in England, people will always say you weren’t good enough.'”Everybody was against it. And guess what? That made me motivated. That gave me adrenaline. I liked the Premier League. I found it very motivating and very exciting.”It gets a lot of attention, although I feel the quality is a little bit overrated — the individual quality, the technical part. But the rhythm is high. Even if you are the best, if you can’t handle the rhythm, the pace, then you will not succeed, because the pace is very high.”Ibrahimovic’s first season ended prematurely with his knee injury after he had scored 17 league goals and helped United win the League Cup and Europa League, and he struggled to recapture his best form when he came back.He made just seven more appearances before joining LA Galaxy in March 2018 — and said his Premier League rivals were fortunate not to have faced him when he was 10 years younger.”I’m super proud and super happy that I went to United — it was the right club,” he added. “We won, and I did what I did before I got injured.”I had an excellent time — great memories. I’m attached to United forever. The supporters are amazing: wherever I went, I saw red shirts, which was fantastic. It’s a very important moment in my career.”As I said when I was in England, you’re lucky I didn’t come 10 years ago, because if I did what I did at 35 years old, imagine it if I was 25. Then it would have been a different story.”I came there and they said I came in a wheelchair. All the people that talked, in the whole Premier League, I put them in a wheelchair. That’s what I did.”

11/6/18 Champions League Tues/Wed, MLS Playoff Spectaculars, Indy 11 $99 Season Tix Specials in Nov, Carmel FC Training

Champions League

Barcelona sits top of the table with Inter Milan in 2nd as Barca hosts the 3 pm game Tues at 3 pm on TNT.  Of course Dortmund and US youngster Christian Pulisic will be on to the round of 16 if they win as group winners vs Atletico at 3 pm Tues online – 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 on TNT as GK Gigi Buffon returns from his suspension from last season for PSG.  Wed Juventus and Renaldo return to Juve 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.   For those who are frustrated like me trying to find your favorite team’s games – try visiting https://www.univision.com/deportes and see if your cable allows you to log in and watch for free – I have been able to watch all the games online along with the TNT games on TV.  Yes it stinks –but it has worked for me.  Email if you need my login to try to watch!  I hate this new set up!

MLS

The MLS Playoffs have been great so far as LAFC was surprisingly eliminated early and Columbus has a 1-0 lead on MLS wins leader NY Redbulls after the first leg.  Seattle will host Portland down 2-1 in aggregate on Thurs eve at 10:30 pm on FS1.  While the 2nd legs of the other 3 semi-finals are all Sunday afternoon starting at 3 pm on ESPN with Columbus @ NY Red Bull & NYCFC @ Atlanta 5 pm on ESPN, and 7:30 pm Salt Lake @ Sporting KC on FS1.

 INDY 11 $99 Season Tickets

The USL Final featuring defending Champs Louisville City hosting former Chelsea Star Drogba and Phoenix Rising will take place Thurs night at 8 pm on ESPN2.  Ok for folks looking for great Christmas ideas – the Indy 11 have come out with a family Season ticket plan that simply rocks.  $99 Season tickets in the South End Zone, or $150 in the BYB.  Seriously -these are level 1 seats for the full season for less than 1 Colts or Pacers game.  If you put just $50 down on Reserved Seat Tickets that start at just $289 before Nov 26th you get the bonus of Free Parking ($20 per game value).  All Season ticket holders get Exclusive Meet the Team Events, More Games on Saturdays less on Weds, Ticket Exchange Program (mix and match your games if you miss a game get double seats for another game of choice, 20% off team merchandise.  Click here for more info or Call 317-685-1100 for more details and tell them the Ole Ballcoach Sent you!

Indy11_Seasontix

 CARMEL FC PLAYERS

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)

 Champions League

How teams can Qualify for the Knockout Rounds this Week ESPNFC

European Super League Details Leaked? ESPN

It’s time to fix — and save — the Champions League  ESPNFC

Man United in awe of Juve but can win in Turin Smalling Says

Liverpool Omits Shaquiri for Red Star Belgrade Trip

Spurs Season like a House of Cards – Pochettino Says ESPNFC

Barca Are UCL Favorites but Look out for Juve – Allegri Says

– Latest Champions League tables

– Upcoming group fixtures

– Champions League statistics

MLS

Biggest Take-Aways for the MLS Semi-Final First Legs – SI

Real Salt Lake Boots LAFC from Playoffs in Thrilling Knockout Match

Berhalters Gamble Works out for Crew SC in 1 leg of East Conf Semis – Kevin Johnson Soc Sakes

538: Who is likeliest to make Conf Championship?

Injury letoff, response boost Sounders for Leg 2

How each Leg 1 turned on a key coaching call

Wiebe: Who’ll win MLS Cup? The haters will say…

Power Rankings – Greg Doyle MLS.com

Indy 11

Indy 11 Season tickets for just $99 if U order by 11/26

Meet the Team Events, Free Parking for the Games ($85 savings), More Games on Saturdays less on Weds, Ticket Exchange Program (mix and match your games if you miss a game get double seats for another game of choice, 20% off team merchandise. Call 317-685-1100for more Details and tell them the Ole Ballcoach Sent you!

11 Reasons to Get Your Indy 11 Season Tickets today with Mike Henn

USL Championship Features Louisville vs Phoenix Rising & Drogba Thurs Eve 8 pm on ESPN2

Defending Champion Louisville City FC to Host Drogba, Phoenix Rising FC for 2018 USL Cup

Sights & Sounds – Louisville City FC Claims the Eastern Conference

 GAMES ON TV

Tues  Nov 6   Champs League

1 pm TNT                   Crevena vs Liverpool

3 pm TNT                                                  Inter Milan vs Barcelona

3 pm Uni Desp        Atletico Madrid vs Dortmund (Pulisic)

3pm                             Tottenham vs PSV

3 pm Univision OL 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  

Thurs  Nov 8   MLS Playoffs

10:30 pm FS1                    Seattle Sounders vs Portland (Leg 2)

8 pm ESPN 2                Louisville FC vs Phoenix Rising USL Champ Game

 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 pm ESPN             NY Red Bulls  (0) vs Columbus (1)  (MLS Playoffs)

pm ESPN               Atlanta United (1) vs NYCFC (0)  (leg 2)  

7:30 pm FS1           Sporting KC vs Real Salt Lake (leg 2)

Thur, Nov 15  

2 pm FS1                  England vs USA Men

Champions League: How teams can qualify for the knockout rounds

Dale JohnsonGeneral Editor, ESPN FC

The top two teams qualify for the round of 16, with the third-place team dropping into the Europa League and the bottom club eliminated from Europe.If two teams are level on points, head-to-head record is the first tie-breaker.

GROUP A

Borussia Dortmund are almost home and hosed with a 100 percent record, three points clear of Atletico Madrid. Dortmund’s place in the knockout rounds will be confirmed if they win at Atleti on Tuesday or if Monaco vs. Club Brugge — who both have a slim chance of progressing — is a draw that day. Atleti have a five-point cushion to the group’s bottom two teams, and they can book their place with a home win over Dortmund next time out if Monaco vs. Club Brugge is a draw. The only realistic chance for the bottom two is that Atleti lose to Dortmund.

GROUP B

The group is a carbon copy of Group A. This time, Barcelona have the 100 percent record and will be through if they win away to Inter Milan, who have six points, or Tottenham vs. PSV Eindhoven is a draw. Inter, meanwhile, will be through if they beat Barca and Tottenham vs. PSV Eindhoven, who both have one point, is a draw. Spurs or PSV must win and really need Inter to be beaten at home.

GROUP C

Liverpool, on six points, have the edge, but this group is exceptionally tight, and no team can advance on Matchday 4. It is very evenly poised with Napoli on five points and Paris-Saint Germain on four. With Napoli hosting PSG next time out, Liverpool know they can take a firm grip on the group by winning away to Red Star Belgrade, who have one point, but the Serbian outsiders could give themselves a chance with a shock win against the Reds.

GROUP D

Porto are well placed in the group on seven points and will expect to take a giant leap toward the knockout rounds when they host Lokomotiv Moscow, who have lost all three of their matches, on Tuesday. But they cannot secure qualification until Matchday 5. Schalke, on five points, and Galatasaray, on four points, meet in Germany in two weeks, and the Bundesliga outfit know they will almost be through if they can win that match.

GROUP E

Ajax and Bayern Munich are in control of the group, on seven points with identical records and four points ahead of Benfica. Ajax will book their place in the round of 16 if they can win at Benfica on Wednesday, and that result would also allow Bayern to secure safe passage with a victory at home to rock-bottom AEK Athens. While a draw at home to Ajax would keep Benfica mathematically in the hunt, they need to win that game to bring themselves truly back into contention. AEK will have to win all three of their remaining games to have a chance of going through.

GROUP F

It is tighter in this group, with Manchester City a point ahead of Lyon and both Hoffenheim and Shakhtar Donetsk a further three points back. But City can book their place with a win at home to Shakhtar, should Lyon pick up a victory at home to Hoffenheim. Lyon cannot qualify on Matchday 4, but Hoffenheim would be eliminated if they lose to Lyon and City beat Shakhtar. However, if Hoffenheim or Shakhtar can pick up an away win next time out, it will make the group very interesting.

GROUP G

Real Madrid and Roma are well placed on six points, two better off than CSKA Moscow. No team can qualify on Matchday 4, though bottom club Viktoria Plzen will be eliminated should they lose at home to Madrid and Roma win in Moscow. CSKA probably need to avoid defeat to Roma to stay in with a realistic chance of making it through, while victory would move them into the top two.

GROUP H

Juventus have a 100 percent record and will be through should they win at home to Manchester United on Wednesday. United, meanwhile, have just a two-point cushion over third-placed Valencia and could be overtaken should they lose in Turin. The final-day meeting of Valencia and United on Dec. 12 looks like it will be decisive, but Young Boys will have a say if they pull off a shock in Spain on Matchday 4.

European Super League plans detailed by leaked email sent to Real Madrid – reports

Nov 2, 2018ESPN

A leaked document sent to Real Madrid last month appears to show that plans are still ongoing for a long-speculated European Super League featuring the continent’s top football clubs.An Oct. 22 email to Real Madrid from Madrid-based investment firm Key Capital Partners included a “binding term sheet” of 11 clubs and five “initial guests” to form a breakaway, private league, according to multiple news outlets that received the document among thousands of others from the “Football Leaks” whistleblower platform.Reports of a potential new league for Europe’s top clubs have persisted for years, most notably in 2016 when officials from English clubs met in Londonwith American businessman Charlie Stillitano, the founder of the International Champions Cup summer tournament in the United States.Information regarding that meeting was also included in the “Football Leaks” documents, German magazine Der Spiegel reported. And though nothing ever came of those talks, the email to Real Madrid purports to show that the idea of a Super League is far from dead.

According to Der Spiegel, the term sheet in the email awaited signatures dated November 2018 from 11 “founders” — Spain’s Barcelona and Real Madrid; England’s Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City and Manchester United; Italy’s Juventus and AC Milan; France’s Paris Saint-Germain; and Germany’s Bayern Munich.Under the plans outlined in the documents, those clubs would register a company to organize the “European Super League,” of which they would be members for 20 years, ineligible for relegation. To begin, the founders then would be joined by five other guest clubs — Atletico Madrid, Borussia Dortmund, Inter Milan, Marseille and Roma.It also mentions a second league of teams that could face those initial guests for a chance of promotion to the Super League.The plan outlined in the documents reportedly makes no mention of UEFA, European football’s governing body, which organises the Champions League. While such a Super League likely would replace the Champions League, it is not known how it would affect clubs’ domestic leagues.Der Spiegel reported that Real Madrid and Key Capital Partners declined to comment. But the magazine also quoted Borussia Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke as saying the documents prove it is “clear” that discussions are ongoing.”I also believe that a few of Europe’s large clubs are clearly working on it,” Watzke said, though he noted that the plans are “not very concrete.”Watzke also said Dortmund under no circumstances would leave the German Bundesliga, but beyond that, the club would “keep all its options open.”

 

It’s time to fix the Champions League or start a European mega-league

Oct 2, 2018  Brian Phillips, Special to ESPN FC

There’s a strange kind of conceptual bloat that tends to infect international soccer competitions, which is fascinating because it so often works against the nature of the competitions themselves.You start with a simple idea — say, let’s figure out the best club team in Europe. Only then you try to draw up the tournament, and there’s a lot of arguing; before you know it, you’re trying to remember whether the sixth-rated confederation per UEFA coefficient receives one or two automatic byes to the subgroup qualifying pre-phase, or whether the losing team with the highest goal differential parachutes directly into the Europa League’s third knockout round-robin or has to play Borussia Monchengladbach first and it all seems a little too abstract. And somehow, just while you were trying to Google this, you’ve accidentally watched three Heineken commercials and you wonder whether it wouldn’t be a good idea to turn off the soccer and do something comparatively easy, like learn advanced number theory.I’m thinking about number theory, and also Heineken, because the Champions League roars expensively back to life this week, with Matchday 2 of the group stage. The Champions League is not, obviously, the worst exemplar of the kind of bloat I’m talking about. Format-wise, it’s positively straightforward compared to the Europa League, a tournament of such ghastly intricacy that future generations will use it to predict the end of the world. (“When Feyenoord enters the sixth house…”)But the Champions League, in its own, peculiarly vexed relationship to the fun it is nominally offering its audience, makes for a revealing case study in the way money, politics and media — and the competing interests surrounding each — can warp the essentials of the modern soccer competition.The form of the tournament itself means we’re forever watching matches whose stakes aren’t as high as they could be. The group stage, as it plods on, guarantees that the smaller clubs get a lot of TV time but the bigger clubs always have the best chance to advance. The two-legged knockout rounds work to preserve stability, and its accompanying ad revenue, over surprise. There’s nothing wrong with this, exactly. But it does sometimes make the Champions League look like a kind of drab hybrid, poised between the true free-for-all of a single-elimination knockout tournament and the shameless maximalism of a corporate super league.Is the Champions League fun? Obviously, in one sense, it must be. It’s the one venue where big European clubs from different countries play one another for stakes anyone cares about, and that inevitably comes with a lot of excitement, a lot of atmospheric drama (something the tournament duly exploits via its faux-operatic anthem, which sounds like a song a feather boa wrote about itself), and a lot of intriguing games.And sometimes these games are amazing. Liverpool vs. PSG, during matchday one, was a happy riot from start to finish, even if it symbolically seemed to pit two of the most corrupting influences in contemporary soccer (“the inertial power of established clubs” on the one hand versus “new money” on the other) against each other. There’s something weird, though, about the way the Champions League seems to regard its own capacity for delightfulness — the way it seems to see fun as a resource to be carefully amortized for the audience over a long period of time, as if it were managing a trust fund for an impetuous teenager. “No, Eric,” the Champions League always seems to be saying, “you can’t have a jet-ski until you get into Dartmouth.” The thrill of Liverpool vs. PSG was always moderated by your awareness of the context of the group stage, where matches are important but not tooimportant, and by your corresponding sense of the long, slow road ahead, where any number of shortcomings and reversals could be met and overcome on the way to the final.Think about this for a second. What’s the most exciting kind of game in sports? A final, right? And after that, a single-elimination knockout match, like the ones in the later rounds of the World Cup. That’s where the stakes are highest: The winner advances, the loser goes home.I don’t know about you, but as a sports fan, I am way more into excitement than patience or careful math. But in the Champions League, as in most big soccer tournaments, the function of the format’s complexities is almost always to diminish, rather than intensify, the tension of the individual match because the format is almost always working to lower the stakes. Instead of being sent home, the loser of a group-stage match is only somewhat disadvantaged in a multiphase round-robin mini-tournament that nearly always includes some relative minnows against whom the big clubs can sort out their problems. And even later, in the knockout rounds, the format gives teams two games rather than one to determine which side advances.If the single-elimination format makes for the most exciting sports tournament, why doesn’t the Champions League simply switch to life-or-death knockout games? That may seem like a naive question, but really, you’d think an athletic competition that needs a hundred sopranos to announce its advent would try to be as thrilling as possible.But here’s where things get interesting, because, of course, the Champions League has many reasons not to want to be thrilling, and nearly all them speak to the importance to the tournament of considerations other than fun. Week to week, in other words, the Champions League has strong incentives not to care very much whether you enjoy it.The first of those incentives is also the most defensible: fairness. Actually, maybe a better word would be “accuracy.” One of the reasons a single-elimination tournament is so deliriously entertaining is that it maximizes the chances for upsets — think of the early rounds of the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball tournaments.Generally speaking, the longer two teams spend playing each other and the more times they play, the greater the odds that the more skilled team will win. Upsets are fun for fans, but if you’re constructing a tournament with the goal of actually identifying the best team, they’re a design flaw. Let the teams play more games, and even if each game feels less urgent, as it inevitably will, you will increase the chances that Real Madrid end up as champions a hundred consecutive times and drive everyone crazy — and that you will therefore, somehow, because the world is mysterious, have achieved the scientifically correct result.Of course, there are other reasons why the Champions League might want to minimize the possibility of upsets. Keeping the fan bases of big clubs interested for as long as possible doesn’t hurt TV ratings. High TV ratings don’t hurt MasterCard commercials.Perhaps most significantly, the Champions League is a desperate ongoing compromise between the most popular and powerful European associations (your Spains and Englands) and the smaller ones. The biggest clubs are forever threatening to trigger UEFA’s doomsday scenario by forming a breakaway European Super League, a threat that helped trigger the most recent round of format changes. Beginning this year, all four of the top clubs from all four of the top associations have guaranteed spots in the group stage, whereas previously, only some of them had guaranteed spots, and the others had to qualify via a system of what I visualize as scholastic debates in Latin.The smaller clubs are forever threatening UEFA, too — I don’t know to do what, exactly, but they complain a lot in the press.This four-dimensional diplomatic compromise that UEFA has cobbled together to keep all of its constituencies happy has meant tilting the competition massively in favor of the clubs that already have the most advantages while still giving the smaller clubs lots of games to play. Everybody gets something. The corporate behemoths get to take turns lifting the trophy, while the also-rans get to lose extensively, and profitably, on TV.There’s nothing necessarily wrong with this arrangement; it’s hard to see how else you could satisfy all the clubs once you accept that satisfying all the clubs is something you need to do. But it does sit a little oddly under the glossy skin of epic warfare that has been the Champions League’s brand. UEFA is deploying a lot of trumpets for what’s essentially a gradualist exercise in predictability and continuity. The opening credits may be lasers and glitzy chaos, but the tournament itself values stability over everything else; it turns even most of its legitimately thrilling matches into cautious data points. It’s a gladiatorial contest devised by an accounting consultancy.I sometimes think the problem with 21st-century soccer isn’t that money has transformed everything but that money has transformed things only halfway. You could say, I guess, that there are two kinds of fun in soccer. There’s the old kind, where the game is rooted in the community, the clubs are authentic expressions of supporter culture and something is meant to be at stake other than advertising revenue, and then there’s the new kind, where everything is mediated and packaged for TV and what’s enjoyable is the shiny commercial spectacle.he Champions League wants to be both things at once, which is why it pretends to care about small clubs while ultimately catering exclusively to rich ones. But the result is that little shiver of alienation you feel during the group stage, when you know you’re being asked to invest your feelings in something that’s been very exactly calibrated to be slightly less than honest. If I ran soccer, the European club championship would be open to a thousand teams every year. Each round would be a one-game knockout, and every so often we would get to watch the beautiful and hilarious spectacle of a Belgian Third Division B team knocking off Manchester United, though admittedly it’s no longer clear that this would qualify as an upset.Short of that, though? I think the Champions League might be more fun if it more flly embraced its evil nature. We’re here to buy shirts, watch Playstation commercials and see Chelsea play Juventus — and unless you happen to be a Club Brugge fan, it’s not clear where or how Club Brugge factors into any of those priorities.For that matter, why not have a breakaway European Super League? Everyone would be furious about it, and then it would be spectacularly popular. Could we devise a whole season in which Manchester City only played Barcelona? Can you fit a trumpet inside another trumpet? Could Manchester City somehow play itself?Tournament designers have to balance a lot of factors. But human nature is the loudest soprano of all.

Tottenham’s season is like House of Cards – Mauricio Pochettino

9:39 AM ETBen PearceTottenham correspondentEmail

Tottenham Mauricio Pochettino has said football is becoming as political as a series of House of Cards.Pochettino is having to cope with a lengthy injury list, a lack of summer signings and delays to the club’s stadium construction project.”It’s a weird season but I look so happy now because the new season of House of Cards has started,” Pochettino told a news conference ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League showdown with PSV Eindhoven. “Yesterday I watched three episodes. “I learn a lot from this series. I recommend it. I think it represents very well sometimes how we are. Sometimes football is so political, and it’s going in this direction.”Which character am I? I don’t know, it’s difficult to say. It’s dangerous to say this or this one. It’s fiction but it can translate to many businesses.”Pochettino is missing eight players against PSV, with Jan Vertonghen, Eric Dier, Danny Rose, Mousa Dembele and Victor Wanyama all injured, while Hugo Lloris is suspended and Juan Foyth and Georges-Kevin Nkoudou are both ineligible in the Champions League.Dembele limped off with an ankle problem in the opening minutes of Saturday’s 3-2 victory at Wolves, but Pochettino played down the injury.”The most important thing is he didn’t suffer an injury to his bone, and that is good,” Pochettino said. “Maybe his ligament is damaged but after the scan today we will know better.”Dembele has become the third central midfielder to suffer an injury in the last week, leaving Pochettino short of options at a busy time, but Dele Alli is available after being rested against Wolves and Victor Wanyama’s knee injury is not serious.”He [Wanyama] got a knock against West Ham,” Pochettino said. “Today he was training and close to being available. Maybe for Saturday he will be available [against Crystal Palace].”Could Dele play 90 minutes? It’s possible. He needs to work a lot to get in his best condition to build his fitness. We’re helping him.”Tottenham face an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages, having only picked up one point from their opening three Group B fixtures. But Pochettino says Spurs’ situation will have little effect on his team selection.”I don’t have too many players to select or not select!” he said. “Now we’re only 18 or 19. There’s a small chance to go to the next stage — that’s the reality. We know very well we need to win tomorrow.”With Lloris suspended, Pochettino added: “There are three different options — Michel Vorm, Paulo Gazzaniga and Alfie Whiteman. I still haven’t decided who is going to play. But sure it will be one of the three names. Each has a 33 percent possibility.”For me it’s not that they own the No. 1, the No. 2, the No. 3 [shirts]. Football is dynamic and we change a lot the things. Our decision is always to be fair for everyone.”The Wembley pitch was in a poor condition when Spurs hosted Manchester City last Monday, following three successive weekends of NFL action.A UEFA pitch inspection is likely to take place on Monday afternoon, but Pochettino said: “I think it’ll improve a little bit — they’re working so hard to improve it.”I saw pictures; I think it’s better. The condition will be the same for both sides. There’s nothing to complain about.”

Barcelona are Champions League favourites but Juventus can win it – Allegri

Nov 2, 2018Ben GladwellItaly correspondent

Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri has said Barcelona, not his team, are favourites to win the Champions League.The arrival of Cristiano Ronaldo and three successive victories in the tournament this season have seen Juve tipped as winners after two final defeats in the last four years.The first came against Barcelona in Berlin in 2015, and Allegri believes the La Liga champions will again be the team to beat.”Barcelona are No. 1 candidates — just look at the way they play,” he told a news conference on Friday.I feel I am coach of a side who can win it, but you can’t take it for granted that we will. We are among the top four candidates, but we need to keep calm.”Earlier this week, Allegri said winning the Champions League was his priority and “the only thing that can improve us” after seven straight Serie A titles.”In March a different Champions League starts, and that is when you need a bit of luck because the Champions League is a competition that gets decided by minor incidents,” he said.’m sure we’ll see Barca going all the way to the end.”Juve host Manchester United on Wednesday, when a win would book their place in the round of 16 with two games to spare.However, Allegri said he was more concerned about their forthcoming league game against Cagliari on Saturday.”All I am asking my team is to win it,” he said. “We saw against Empoli that no game is easy, while for everybody who faces us, the Juve game is always a big one.”We need to win and not drop any points because Napoli and Inter are there. Cagliari are tough opponents and we need to win it and prepare well for Wednesday.”Giorgio Chiellini and Federico Bernardeschi are out of Saturday’s Allianz Stadium clash, but Sami Khedira and Mario Mandzukic are both in the squad.

Manchester United’s Paul Pogba excited by Juventus return: ‘Turin is my home’

Nov 1, 2018ESPN

Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba has told RMC he regards Turin as “home” as he prepares to return to Juventus in the Champions League next week.Pogba, who rejoined United from Juve in what was then a world record deal, played for the Serie A club between 2012 and 2016, winning four Serie A titles and two Coppa Italias.The France international said he had predicted that United would be drawn in the same Champions League group as Juve, who beat them 1-0 at Old Traffordlast month. “I expected it, it was mad,” he said. “I’d spoken about it with my brother last summer. I said to him: ‘Imagine we’re in the same group as Juve.'”For me, it’s a pleasure. Turin is my home — that’s where I scored my first professional goal.”Pogba said he remained in touch with some of his former Juventus teammates and had learned from legendary players including Andrea Pirlo.”[Juan] Cuadrado, [Paolo] Dybala, [Leonardo] Bonucci … I hear from them, we speak from time to time. We were a family, so of course we stay in contact,” he said.”When you’re alongside players like Pirlo, Gigi [Buffon] or [Giorgio] Chiellini, you can only learn.”Every day, in training, you try to observe them. Even as an established player, you can always learn from those sorts of men.”Pogba said he was targeting victory in the Champions League, calling it “a trophy I think about, I always have it in mind.”

Biggest Takeaways From the MLS Conference Semifinal First Legs

  • Columbus continued neutralizing its chief threats, Portland came back on an injury-riddled Seattle, Atlanta received contributions from an unlikely scorer and Sporting KC received an instant impact from an opportunistic substitute to open the MLS conference semifinals.

By AVI CREDITOR November 04, 2018

MLS’s hectic midweek knockout drama gave way to more measured and tempered first legs of the conference semifinals on Sunday, when all eight teams remaining were in action, looking to take steps forward on the road to MLS Cup. The drop in gripping action is normal when shifting from single-elimination knockout matches to two-legged series, with the combination of tired legs (from the teams not fortunate to have first-round byes) and the teams’ lack of willingness to gamble and leave themselves susceptible to series-killing mistakes typically resulting in lower scoring, more cagey theater in playoff series openers.Half of the midweek winners capitalized on their recent momentum in hosting those opening legs, with the Columbus Crew toppling the Supporters’ Shield-holding New York Red Bulls, 1-0, and the Portland Timbers coming from behind to beat the Seattle Sounders, 2-1. Both the Red Bulls and Sounders entered the postseason on five-match winning streaks, while the Red Bulls had lost twice since July 14 and the Sounders had lost twice since July 4. So needless to say, these were not the results the higher seeds desired or expected.

On the flip side, Atlanta United and Sporting Kansas City handled business on the road and will go home for the second legs with the odds in their favor, with the former conquering NYCFC at Yankee Stadium, 1-0, and the latter drawing Real Salt Lake 1-1, taking the away-goal edge into its home game.Here are the major takeaways from the opening legs to the four series:

IDEAL RESULT FOR BERHALTER’S CREW

If Gregg Berhalter is indeed going to be the next U.S. men’s national team manager, as has been speculated by plenty for some time, he’s doing a nice job going in with a head of steam. After devising a tactical game plan to largely remove D.C. United’s star tandem Wayne Rooney and Luciano Acosta in the knockout round, Berhalter pushed the right buttons again on Sunday.

He took the calculated risk of keeping 34-year-old Federico Higuain on the bench to start the match, which came three days after a grueling 120 minutes in the nation’s capital. After his side saw out a scoreless first half, he turned to his veteran playmaker to make a difference. That he did, turning a slick back-heel pass into Gyasi Zardes’s path inside the Red Bulls box. Zardes scored, and that was that.he match–not to mention the series–was nearly changed on a pair of late saves. Losing 1-0 on the road isn’t the end of the world for the Red Bulls, but it was very nearly 2-0, when Pedro Santos found space to rip from the edge of the box, forcing Luis Robles into a diving save that preserved the scoreline.

On the other end, the one time Kaku and Bradley Wright-Phillips were able to link up in a dangerous area resulted in a glanced header by the latter, who looked likely to even the score at the death. That is, until goalkeeping hero Zack Steffen made an instinctive, diving save to his left, pawing the ball to safety.To concede an away goal and settle for a draw at that juncture could have been a dagger for the Crew. To keep the Red Bulls scoreless and turn up the pressure on the MLS Cup-hungry side heading into the second leg, on the other hand, is the ideal outcome for Berhalter’s well-drilled side.

SEATTLE’S DREAM START TURNS INTO AN INJURY-LADEN NIGHTMARE

After 10 minutes in Portland, Raul Ruidiaz had scored, and the Sounders were enjoying a perfect start: the lead plus an away goal and carrying full momentum on a team that just endured through a hard-fought win in Dallas a few days prior. But then Cristian Roldan, the influential midfielder, went out with a groin injury. And with about 10 minutes to go in the first half, center back rock Chad Marshall, the heartbeat of MLS’s second-best defensive unit, injured his right knee making a seemingly innocuous pass out of the back. Factor in that Portland scored twice directly off giveaways, through Jeremy Ebobisse and Sebastian Blanco, all while this was happening, and Seattle’s brilliant start turned south real quickly.To Seattle’s credit, it weathered the storm. The 2-1 loss, given everything that transpired after the opener, was not a worst-case scenario, and Portland will surely rue not going for the jugular against an opponent that was ripe for the picking. The problem for the Sounders, though, is that unlike the three other conference semifinal series, there’s less rest in this one. Seattle will host the second leg Thursday night, not next Sunday, and if Roldan and Marshall can’t go, it’ll require a major turnaround against a team–and more specifically a dominant midfield–that holds the early advantage.

ATLANTA’S NEUTRALIZER FOR NYCFC’S SMALL FIELD: SET PIECES

Atlanta United is a team that thrives off space and dynamic combinations, and with that not entirely feasible during a physical and choppy match on NYCFC’s narrow, slippery set-up in the Yankee Stadium outfield, Tata Martino’s side needed a Plan B. That turned out to be excelling on set pieces.

Atlanta had one apparent goal off a set piece taken off the board via VAR and another would-be goal off a set play shanked by Leandro Gonzalez Pirez before finally breaking through off another corner. Josef Martinez’s initial volley off the corner was saved, but the rebound fell nicely on the doorstep for Eric Remedi, who touched home the first goal of his professional career for the opener and crucial away strike. If NYCFC wanted to win this series, it really needed to hold serve at home and use its confines to its advantage. The task will be immense to top Atlanta at what will surely be a rocking Mercedes Benz Stadium next Sunday.

INSTANT IMPACT CHANGES SKC’S OUTLOOK

Sporting KC manager Peter Vermes was hoping for an impact out of second-half substitute Diego Rubio, but he couldn’t have possibly anticipated it coming so soon.Less than a minute after the Chilean stepped onto the field, with his side trailing 1-0 at No. 6 Real Salt Lake, he was on the scoresheet, pouncing on a blocked Nick Rimando clearance and firing home with his first touch of the game. While he’ll garner all the praise for the crucial away goal, which totally changes Sporting KC’s series outlook, it’s his countryman, Felipe Gutierrez, who deserves ample credit as well. It was his hustle and block that altered Rimando’s clearance, and his sly seal off of Kyle Beckerman that created Rubio’s unimpeded shooting lane. The draw gives SKC the slight edge going home, thanks to the away goal, and it’ll have the benefit of knowing one of RSL’s chief attacking threats won’t be available to play in the return leg. Albert Rusnak was one of five RSL players carrying yellow cards into the conference semifinals, after Thursday’s action-packed win over LAFC. So his needless tackle on Graham Zusi less than half an hour into Sunday’s bout ruled him out for the second leg, due to card accumulation. One look at what he was able to do in opening the scoring in the first leg, and you can see what RSL will be missing.The draw is clearly not the worst-case circumstance for RSL, but knowing that Rusnak won’t be playing in the second leg all while conceding the road goal on an entirely unnecessary sequence has it feeling like more of a loss than a tie for the lowest seed remaining in either conference.

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