How refreshing to see the MLS Cup Final in Atlanta with almost 80,000 fans on hand – a standing room only wild and crazy 5 stripes crowd on hand. And they said soccer wouldn’t work in the South eh? Atlanta United has been a model soccer expansion team and man have they done it both first class and the right way. It all started with my favorite US National Team defender Carlos Bocenegra being signed as their GM. What an amazing team and organization he has helped put together. This season almost winning the Supporter’s Shield (most wins in Regular Season) and now the MLS Cup in just their 2nd season in the league. Truly amazing – both the team, how they play and of course a soccer crazy Atlanta filling an NFL Stadium each and every week. The crowd on TV was impressive Saturday night on Fox as was Atlanta United’s play with the MVP Martinez extending his goals scored in 1 season record with an early goal and an assist on track to MVP for the game honors. He also had the top selling jersey in the US among all sports this past weekend. (First time a soccer team in the US has ever done that!!) The MLS Cup coverage on FOX had over 2 million tune-in (on US and Spanish TVs) making it the top rated Final since 1997. MLS is definitely trending up and with the Columbus Crew staying in town – and now Cincinnati FC coming on board next season – fans in Indy will have lots of options to catch an MLS game within an easy drive of town. (on a non-Indy 11 game-day of course)
Champions League has finished about like we expected as we head to the road of 16 drawing on Monday. Liverpool needed a 1-0 win and got that – just barely as new Goalkeeping Signing Brazilian Alisson made a spectacular extra-time point blank save to secure the win and their place in the Sweet 16. Dortmund won their game 2-0, and Pulisic played the full 90 to secure the top slot over my Atletico Madrid who tied to finish 2nd. Also advancing to the Sweet 16 is American Weston McKinney with German side Schalke.
Here’s The Full draw:
Schalke vs. Manchester City
Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus
Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund
Lyon vs. Barcelona
Roma vs. Porto
Ajax vs. Real Madrid
Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich
Congrats to Indiana University men for making their record 20th visit to the College Cup. They dropped a heartbreaking 2-0 game to eventual National Champs Maryland who defeated Akron for the title 1-0.
This weekend on TV Liverpool vs Man United leads the way on Sunday at 11 on NBCSN as the Reds look to hold onto the top slot they took over last weekend when Man City lost. Man City hosts Everton in another top matchup this on Saturday at 7:30 am on NBCSN. Sunday gives us Barcelona hosting Villarreal on beIN Sport at 12:30 pm. This week we get English League Cup play Tues/Wed as Leicester City hosts Man City Tues 45 pm on ESPN+ and Wed Arsenal hosts Tottenham at 2:45 pm. Also Tues we get the World Club Cup at 11:30 am on FS1.
Our Indy 11 are busy selling the best deal in town with Season Tickets for as low as $99 just in time for Christmas. Now they have Introduced their new jersey for the 2019 Season and its pretty spiffy. I kind of like the collar look for the first time ever in the club’s history. 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 !
2019 Carmel FC Winter Players League
Location: Off the Wall Sports
Address: 1423 Chase Ct., Carmel, IN 46032
Offered to: Carmel FC Academy Players, Travel Players & Select Players from 8U-14U
Dates: January 10th – March 15th (2019)
Days: Thursdays & Fridays
Cost: $125 per player
Thursday evenings: Games will be played from 5pm-8pm. Games will be 50 minutes in length, Fields 1 & 2 Age group: U8 Coed – U10 Coed.
Friday evenings: Games will be played from 5pm – 8:45pm. Games will be 50 minutes in length, Fields 1 & 2 Age group: 11U/ U12 Girls & U11/U12 Boys; U13/U14 Girls & U13/U14 Boys.
Space is limited and spots are filling up so sign up soon. Payment is confirmation of
registration.Please note that this is an optional activity we are offering our players. It is not required.To register:http://carmeldadsclub2016.org/form.php?id=39fcc6879909ac1f108c128c49f721d8
If you have any questions please contact Juergen Sommer, Director of Soccer Operations.
GAMES ON TV
Sat, Dec 15
7:30 am NBCSN Man City vs Everton
10 am NBCSN Tottenham vs Burnley
12:30 pm NBCSN? Fulham vs West Ham United
12:30 Fox Sp 2 Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Werder Breman (Stewart)
Sun, Dec 16
8;30 am NBCSN Brighton vs Chelsea
9 am FS1 RB Leipzig vs Mainz
8:30 am CNBC? Southhampton vs Arsenal
11 am NBCSN Liverpool vs Man United
12:30 pm beIN Sport Barcelona vs Villarreal
Tue, Dec 18
11:30 am FS1 River Plate vs Al Ain *FIFA Club World Cup: Semi Final 1
2:30 pm FS1 Dortmund (Pulisic) vs Dusseldorf
2:45 pm ESPN+ Leicester City vs Man City – League Cup
Wed, Dec 19
11:30 am FS2 Kashima vs Real Madrid – World Club Cup
2:30 pm FS1 Bayern Munich vs RB Leipzig (Adams)
2:45 pm ESPN+ Arsenal vs Tottenham – League Cup
Fri, Dec 21
2:30 pm FS1 Dormunt (Pulisic) vs M’gladbach (Johnson)
2:45 pm NBCSN Wolverhampton vs Liverpool
Sat, Dec 22
7:30 am NBCSN Arsenal vs Burnely
9:30 am FS1 RB Leipzig vs Werder Bremen (Stewart)
10 am NBCSN Chelsea vs Leicester City
11:30 am FS1 FIFA WORLD CLUB CUP FINAL Real Madrid? vs ??
12:30 pm NBCSN? Cardiff vs Man United
12:30 Fox Sp 2 Frankfurt vs Bayern Munich
2:30 pm EPSN+ Juventus vs Roma
3 pm beiN sport PSG vs Nantes
11 am NBCSN Everton vs Tottenham
Wed, Dec 26 -Boxing Day
7:30 am NBCSN Fulham vs Wolverhampton
10 am NBCSN Leicester City vs Man United
10 am NBCSN Liverpool vs New Castle United (Yedlin)
12:15 NBCSN Brighton vs Arsenal
2:30 pm NBCSN? Watford vs Chelsea
Sat, Dec 29
10 am NBCSN Tottenham vs Wolverhampton
10 am NBCSN Leicester City vs Man United
12:15 NBCSN Liverpool vs Arsenal
Sun, Dec 30
7 am NBCSN Crystal Palace vs Chelsea
9 am NBCSN Southampton vs Man city
11:30 am NBCSN Man United vs Bournemouth
Tue, Jan 1
7 am NBCSN Everton vs Leiscester City
10 am NBCSN Arsenal vs Fulham
12:30 NBCSN Cardiff vs Tottenham
Wed, Jan 2
3pm NBCSN New Castle United (Yedlin) vs Man United
Thur, Jan 3
3 pm NBCSN Man City vs Liverpool
Right now, Atlanta United is on top of MLS. But with an offseason of change ahead, how will the champions replace their most influential characters? Jeff Carlisle
After two plus decades of coming within touching distance of glory but falling short, Atlanta has a champion again in the form of Atlanta United.
Portland has been an impressive road team throughout the playoffs, but it was beaten by a decidedly stronger Atlanta United at MLS Cup. Jeff Carlisle
Josef Martinez was instrumental as Atlanta United secured the MLS Cup in just its second season on Saturday, defeating the Portland Timbers 2-0.
After losing 2-0 in MLS Cup, Portland Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese lamented the “foul that wasn’t a foul” that led to Atlanta’s second goal.
The former Sweden international was already under contract for 2019 but had long chafed over a deal that paid him just $1.5 million in 2018. Jeff Carlisle
MLS commissioner Don Garber used his annual State of the League address to raise the possibility that the league could continue to expand.
FC Cincinnati added five players to its roster on Tuesday, with its selections in the 2018 expansion draft, while executing two trades. Jeff Carlisle
CHAMPIONS LEAGUE SWEET 16
Schalke vs. Manchester City
Atletico Madrid vs. Juventus
Manchester United vs. Paris Saint-Germain
Tottenham vs. Borussia Dortmund
Lyon vs. Barcelona
Roma vs. Porto
Ajax vs. Real Madrid
Liverpool vs. Bayern Munich
On Tuesday, an 85th-minute equaliser from Lucas Moura earned a 1-1 draw against Barcelona at the Camp Nou and a place in the round of 16.
Tottenham played admirably at Barcelona, with Harry Kane and Christian Eriksen particularly convincing, but they could only manage a late draw.
Jasper Cillessen was absolutely superb between the posts and was unlucky to concede late as a rotated Barca side settled for a 1-1 draw.
Liverpool needed to beat Napoli to move on in the Champions League, and Alisson’s save ensured they did. Could it prompt a deep European run?
“The goal Mo scored — what a goal, unbelievable. And the save Ali made — I have no words for that,” Klopp said at his post-match news conference.
Alisson and Mohamed Salah both turned in inspired performances as Liverpool clung to a 1-0 win over Napoli to move on to the UCL round of 16.
Borussia Dortmund deepened AS Monaco’s misery with a 2-0 win that ensured they finished top of Champions League Group A ahead of Atletico Madrid.
Atletico Madrid were denied top place in Group A of the Champions League on Tuesday after a goalless draw away at Club Brugge in Belgium.
Inter Milan were knocked out of the Champions League after they could manage only a 1-1 draw at home to Group B’s bottom club PSV Eindhoven.
Tuesday night at the San Siro could serve as a “how-not-to” manual for clubs attempting to seal a place in the Champions League knockout rounds.
Porto got a 3-2 away victory over Galatasaray in their final Champions League group match on Tuesday but the Turks stayed third in Group D.
IU Soccer National Title Quest Ends with College Cup loss to Maryland 2-0 Barry Punzal Special to Indy Star
Alisson’s stoppage-time save could come to define Liverpool’s season
Dec 11, 2018Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC
They like a defining moment at Anfield, especially when it comes to the Champions League, and they now have one to cling to all the way to Madrid next June, thanks to Alisson.You get what you pay for, and Alisson — who cost a then-world-record-for-a-goalkeeper £67 million when he arrived from AS Roma during the summer — earned his place in Liverpool folklore with the stoppage-time save from Arkadiusz Milik that proved the difference between success and failure in Group C. Had Milik’s effort ended up in the back of the net, Liverpool would have been facing a Europa League campaign in the second half of the season.But thanks to Alisson getting in the way of the shot — Milik directed his effort too close to the Brazil No. 1, but he still had to be in the right place at the right time — Liverpool can look forward to next Monday’s draw for the Champions League round of 16 with hopes still alive of a place in next June’s final at Atletico Madrid’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.”I have no idea how Alisson made a save like this,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the game. “It was amazing.”Champions League glory can often be decided by such fine margins, as Liverpool know better than most.This 1-0 victory over Napoli came 14 years to the day after Steven Gerrard’s late goal against Olympiakos at Anfield confirmed a crucial 3-1 winning margin that took Rafael Benitez’s team into the knockout stages on goal difference ahead of the Greek champions. Six months later, Liverpool were lifting the European Cup for a fifth time in Istanbul after their remarkable fight back against AC Milan, and it could all be traced back to Gerrard’s goal against Olympiakos.Will Alisson’s save prove to be as pivotal as Gerrard’s goal? Time will tell, but there was another pivotal moment in last season’s campaign, and that also involved a goalkeeper. On that occasion, Loris Karius’ failure to hold onto Gareth Bale’s long-range strike in the final against Real Madrid in Kiev put the Spanish team 3-1 ahead and out of reach.Big moments decide big games, and Liverpool discovered in Kiev the cost of not having a world-class goalkeeper.Against Napoli, they enjoyed the flip side. They spent big to get their man in the summer, and he repaid a huge chunk of his fee with the save from Milik that took Liverpool into the business end of the Champions League.Mohamed Salah’s first-half goal had given Liverpool a 1-0 lead that they knew would be enough to secure qualification, and it was a sensational goal by the Egyptian. Salah forced Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly into his one mistake of the night by ghosting past the Senegalese international before beating David Ospina with a low, right-footed strike.On its own, that moment of magic would deserve to claim any headlines, but Alisson’s save was the decisive contribution. Milik was unmarked inside the 6-yard box when he received the ball. He shot goalward, but Alisson spread himself to smother the shot and was able to block it with his outstretched right leg.
A year ago, Liverpool were preparing to sell their best player by sanctioning Philippe Coutinho’s £142 million transfer to Barcelona. At the time, it looked as though Liverpool were selling the family silver and surrendering once again when a giant club came along to take their top talent, with Coutinho following the likes of Michael Owen, Xabi Alonso, Fernando Torres, Luis Suarez and Raheem Sterling out of the door at Anfield.But instead, Klopp was allowed to reinvest the Coutinho money by signing Virgil van Dijk for £75 million in January and Alisson in the summer. With the money they banked from Coutinho’s sale, Liverpool recruited Van Dijk and Alisson, and they have become a stronger team as a consequence. The two players have given Liverpool a solidity at the back that is borne out by the fact that this 1-0 win was their 15th clean sheet in their past 19 home games.
Van Dijk, who was fortunate to escape a 13th-minute red card for a bad tackle on Dries Mertens, is a totemic figure who has organised the once-leaky back four. The yellow card he received for the Mertens foul will see him suspended for the first leg of the round of 16, and Liverpool will miss him.
With Alisson behind the back four, Liverpool have a last line of defence up there with the best in the world. His save from Milik evoked memories of Peter Schmeichel at his best at Manchester United or Gianluigi Buffon in his pomp for Juventus. It was that good and that important.
Was it a defining moment? It could well be. With Alisson in goal, Liverpool know they can beat anybody.
Can Liverpool complete power shift over Man United? Will strain show for Spurs?
5:37 AM ETNick MillerESPN.com writer
W2W4 previews the week’s Premier League action by highlighting its most compelling storylines
Can Liverpool complete the power shift over Manchester United?
This season has been defined by moments of progression for Liverpool. Every time they keep a clean sheet, every time they close out a game in a calm and mature fashion without conceding two late goals, every time they keep pace with and now overhaul Manchester City, it represents another step forward from the thrilling but flawed team of last season.However, one of the things remaining on their checklist is beating Manchester United, something they haven’t done in the league since a few weeks before David Moyes was sacked in 2014. Liverpool are, this season, an objectively better team than United: they have a a manager still at something like his peak versus one who looks like he should find a job he enjoys more. A team maturing versus one which seemingly refuses to learn. One at the top of the league versus one already 16 points back in sixth.The point of a rivalry as big as Liverpool and Manchester United is not just to be better than the other lot, it’s to let them know you’re better with such emphasis that they can’t forget it. League positions are not immediately, viscerally obvious: a fan of the inferior team can come up with a million ways to write that off, or ignore it, but beating them in a derby, and beating them emphatically, it’s not as easy to forget that.Even if Liverpool lose on Sunday, they will still be the superior team. But if Jurgen Klopp’s side do win, it not only represents another way in which they are streaking ahead, but shouts it in the face of their rivals.
Will any Arsenal defenders make themselves known?
Theoretically, a trip to Southampton shouldn’t be that tricky for Arsenal. This is, after all, a side who haven’t won a league game since September hosting one who haven’t lost one of any kind since August. But Unai Emery will travel to the south coast a little light on defenders. Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi are suspended, Rob Holding is out for the season, Nacho Monreal has only played 42 minutes since the start of October, Konstantinos Mavropanos was last seen being sent off in May, and Laurent Koscielny only returned on Thursday in the Europa League, after seven months out.So Emery will have to gamble significantly on half-fit (at best) players, mix and match with someone like full-back Stephan Lichtsteiner in the middle or a combination of both. Again, theoretically, Southampton are not the most fearsome opponents, but Ralph Hasenhuttl has now had a little time to work with his troops, and they already looked refreshed in defeat to Cardiff last weekend. It could be a trickier afternoon for Arsenal than you might think.
Will Spurs start feeling the strain?
It’s around this point of the season when the thinness of Tottenham’s squad might start to look most apparent. Mauricio Pochettino’s side are in the middle of a run that sees them play 12 games in 38 days, the sort of run that will test any squad to cracking point. Pochettino indicated that this run might be a problem by resting Harry Kane for their last league game against Leicester, and Tuesday’s intense encounter with Barcelona will have taken plenty out of his players.aturday’s contest against Burnley is another fixture in which Pochettino might be tempted to rotate, but the trouble is Spurs don’t really have the players, other than maybe in the attacking trio behind Kane, to chop and change too much. Sean Dyche’s side have shown signs of life recently, the win over Brighton last time out finally rewarding them, so this will be a tricky affair for this weary Spurs.
Palace have to deal without Zaha … again
Roy Hodgson tends to smile thinly and look as if he’d rather be anywhere else when he’s asked about Crystal Palace’s reliance on Wilfried Zaha. Perhaps it’s because he knows very well how serious the problem is, but this week it might have been because the problem presents itself once more: Zaha is suspended for their game against Leicester, meaning they have to try to win without him, something they haven’t managed in the league since September 2016.In fairness, Palace haven’t been winning much with their talisman in the team of late, so perhaps being without him won’t make much difference. But should they lose to the Foxes, they will have collected just five points from 11 games, the sort of record that gets trigger fingers twitchy in boardrooms. Palace need to learn how to win without Zaha, and it needs to be now.
Cardiff need to improve their away record
Things have started to look up in the past few weeks for Cardiff. The team widely tipped to plummet straight back from whence they came by, well, pretty much everybody, have won three of their past five and are inching up the table. One point that should be made, though: they have won all of those three at home, whereas they have only collected a single point on their travels. A rampant away record isn’t necessarily required for survival (Brighton were the worst team on the road last season and survived handily), but it certainly helps, and it also takes some pressure off those home games.They might have a chance this weekend. Watford have been vulnerable lately, only collecting two points from their past six games — the brilliance of their early season form merely a memory. A win for Neil Warnock’s side would really start convincing people they could stay up.
Man United’s lack of team spirit, Mourinho’s negativity explains wide gap to rivals Liverpool
Dec 13, 2018Mark OgdenSenior Writer, ESPN FC
The last time Manchester United went into a league game against Liverpool with a bigger deficit than the 16-point gap between the two clubs, the men from Anfield were just weeks away from clinching their 18th — and last — English league championship.Back in March 1990, when Alex Ferguson’s relegation-threatened team were languishing in 16th position of the old First Division, two points above third-bottom Manchester City, United faced Liverpool at Old Trafford no fewer than 21 points behind their century-old rivals.Liverpool would win that game 2-1 and leave United in even deeper trouble at the foot of the table, so while the picture looks bleak right now under Jose Mourinho, it has been much worse at Old Trafford in living memory. But everything United do or achieve is measured against Liverpool, both in the present and in the past.United have won 20 titles to Liverpool’s 18, while Liverpool have five Europeans Cups compared to the three won by United and both sets of supporters proudly boast about those respective tallies.Right now, though, United are on the downside of the comparison with Liverpool, with Jurgen Klopp’s team going into this weekend’s clash at Anfield as the unbeaten Premier League leaders.Liverpool look to be the real deal, with optimism high on Merseyside of a first title since 1990, but United are a club and a team that appears to be drifting dangerously off course under Mourinho.Things were bad for United under David Moyes in 2013-14, but back then, they only trailed Liverpool by 11 points when they met during the closing weeks of the season, so Mourinho’s team are plumbing new depths in the Premier League era.But how has it come to this? Only last season, United finished in second place in the Premier League, six points clear of fourth-placed Liverpool, so the points swing since May has been dramatic and, from a United perspective at least, alarming.The difference, from a football standpoint, is that one team — Liverpool — has become a formidable unit thanks to its sense of the collective under Klopp, whereas United are now limping along with an expensively-assembled squad of individuals that Mourinho has been unable to mould into a cohesive unit.Liverpool’s famed front three of Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane have, in the opinion of many observers, so far failed to replicate their goalscoring heroics of last season, yet they go into the United game having scored 20 league goals between them, despite not hitting their best form.United’s front four of Romelu Lukaku, Alexis Sanchez, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have scored 17 combined Premier League goals in comparison, but it is further back that United really fall short in relation to Liverpool.The tight defensive unit marshalled by Virgil van Dijk has conceded just six goals in the league so far, with only one of those coming at Anfield. United, meanwhile, have no Van Dijk-like figure to knit it all together at the back, which is why they have shipped a remarkable 26 goals in just 16 league games so far.But United’s defenders, who have been publicly dismissed as not being good enough by Mourinho this season, are only part of the problem. In front of them, they are protected — or not, as would seem to the case — by a dysfunctional midfield inhabited by players who are either not good enough or not trusted by Mourinho to do what he asks of them.If the midfield is a team’s engine, United’s would be that of an unreliable old family car with too many miles on the odometer, with Liverpool instead being blessed by a powerful, energetic, if slightly functional, motor driven by the ultra-reliable Jordan Henderson, James Milner and Georginio Wijnaldum. Reliability and energy are two crucial qualities that United do not possess in midfield.Paul Pogba, if he plays on Sunday, would be able to stake a claim to being the most talented midfielder on the pitch this weekend, but Mourinho simply cannot get the best out of him. Pogba is careless in possession, he slows the team down and, while he is capable of moments of brilliance, he has become a player this United team cannot accommodate successfully.Nemanja Matic is proving too slow and immobile to make a positive impact, while Ander Herrera is not good enough to affect a game against a top quality opponent like Liverpool. Fred, the £53 million summer signing from Shakhtar Donetsk has become Old Trafford’s “Invisible Man”, and Marouane Fellaini is too often used as a desperate Plan B in the closing stages, when every other avenue has proven to be a dead end.Klopp has been able to build a team at Liverpool that works as a collective unit, with overlapping full-backs complementing the forwards when attacking and midfielders prepared to work at both ends of the pitch. As a team, Liverpool have become greater than the sum of their parts, but United are now a group of underperforming individuals who appear to have forgotten the old maxim that there is no “I” in team.But it all comes back to the men in charge of the team and tactics.Klopp exudes passion and belief in his players and they share a bond with the ex-Borussia Dortmund coach, perhaps best exemplified by his on-pitch celebration with goalkeeper Alisson following the stoppage-time victory against Everton earlier this month.Liverpool’s players want to play for Klopp and are motivated to do so, but that cannot be said for United under Mourinho. Where Klopp is positive and upbeat, Mourinho is critical and dour and there is no warmth shown towards the Portuguese from his players. Liverpool have found themselves with the perfect blend under Klopp, while it is all going sour under Mourinho at United.Back in 1990, there was light at the end of tunnel under Ferguson. At present, Mourinho is taking United deeper into the gloom with his team and the mood around it becoming the direct opposite of Klopp’s at Anfield.That is why United are now so far behind their old rivals.
Man United supporters frustrated at present but can look to past for Anfield inspiration
Andy MittenManchester United writer
Three long-standing Manchester United fans just made the train out of Valencia on Thursday morning, having gone first to the wrong train station. Dave, Graham and Eddie from Knutsford, 20 miles south of Manchester, have been watching United away in Europe for decades. Eddie’s first European away game was at Ajax in 1976, a £19 return coach trip from Manchester to Holland. Graham’s was a preseason trip to Nuremberg in 1980.”We hitched it from Knutsford Services on the M6; it took us a couple of days to get to Germany and few more to get back.”Dave’s debut was a journey to Eindhoven in 1984 on an Interrail ticket which was shared among friends.The trio drove to Budapest in 1993 in a Bedford van. One had access to red diesel and put several five-gallon drums in the back, ensuring they got to Hungary and back for free. They parked the van outside the United team hotel and followed the team bus under police escort to the stadium, where, despite having no tickets, they were escorted to the main stand to sit with the players who weren’t playing.They’ve broken down on Paris’ ring road, seen two Champions League wins and the Cup Winners’ Cup lifted. Between them, they’ve attended over 400 European away games with Manchester United.They still love the buzz, visiting beautiful cities like Valencia where Wednesday saw bright sunshine and temperatures of 21 degrees Celsius — a fine summer day in Manchester. They meet up with friends they’ve known all their lives, but as a flag that is seen at United games states: “If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor.”
It’s United being poor on the pitch which is sorely vexing United fans. The 2,000 Red Devils fans in Valencia didn’t walk around with their heads down. They had a great time, they know they’re fortunate to attend such matches and despite all the club’s problems, their team are still playing top level European games in magnificent cities and stadiums like Mestalla. These fans wouldn’t have such privileges if they supported the vast majority of English football clubs. But they also know that they’re following a team in flux.”My loyalty is to the club, to my mates, to our community,” declares Eddie, whose first season ticket in the Stretford End cost £6 in 1976. “I don’t care that much about the players — we don’t get near them these days. They’re in a bubble.” The actual games can be the low point of European trips — as Wednesday night in Valencia was.”Another [Jose] Mourinho performance,” is Graham’s verdict.”We missed a chance to win the group,” adds Eddie. “I can’t see where this team is going.””The football is dire,” agrees Dave. “I was encouraged when we won two trophies in Mourinho’s first season, that hadn’t been done before by a new United manager and it was a decent achievement, but we haven’t kicked on. We have a minus goal difference. We’ve bought poorly, especially compared to City who buy well. I’m not convinced at all. “”I’ll still stick up for Jose,” Eddie cuts in. “I think he might turn it around, but he’s made some bad buys. What was the logic in signing Fred?”Liverpool await next. The trio have been going to Anfield with United since the 1970s. “Trips there were lively then,” recalls Graham. “We’d get the service train to Lime Street. There would be 400 United on the train and we’d be met by loads of police when we arrived. They were needed because Liverpool were always waiting for us.””I’ve been on the Kop watching Manchester United,” Eddie tells me. “I stood near the bottom and we didn’t last long. The Scousers soon realised who we were. Liverpool were the best team in Europe for much of the 70s and 80s, but United had a real good record there. We’d beat Liverpool but then lose to Middlesbrough. That’s why they won league titles and we went 26 years without winning the league.”With their side clear underdogs for Sunday’s game, they’re hoping for some of that 80s spirit. Liverpool have gone 28 years since being the champions of England, surpassing even United’s title drought.Under Sir Alex Ferguson, United have sailed past Liverpool’s once seemingly insurmountable haul of 18 league titles to 20, an incredible haul. Ferguson knocked the Liver bird so firmly off its perch that it has been struggling to fly back up since, but it’ll soon be six years since United’s last title. Sixteen points behind the Scousers after only 16 games, United have little chance this year. Liverpool, the club’s greatest historical rivals, in contrast, are second favourites. Jurgen Klopp’s side have conceded only six goals, Mourinho’s 26.Dave points out why. “They play with pace, a high tempo — they’re good to watch. They have a buzz at Anfield that we don’t have at the moment. Liverpool are most similar to United in terms of success, history and fan base. Scousers and Mancs are pretty similar — I work with a lot of Scousers and they love their football like we do. But while Klopp has improved them a lot, they still haven’t won a trophy.”
Eddie dares to voice the unthinkable. “It would be a nightmare if Liverpool won the league.” Given a choice between Liverpool and City winning, I’d go for City. Liverpool are United’s greatest rivals. Liverpool have done well to keep their fan base for so long.”|Graham doesn’t feel able to answer the question. “Choosing between whether I’d like City or Liverpool to win the league is like choosing what I want to die of,” he concludes, shaking his head as the train nears Barcelona ahead of a flight back to Manchester. All agree that United need to come out fighting.
Where could Pulisic land in January: Chelsea, Liverpool, Man United or Bayern?
e Christian Pulisic is most likely to go should he leave Borussia Dortmund this campaign. (2:55)
1:56 PM ETRaphael HonigsteinGermany writer
“We will not sell a player in winter who’s essential to us achieving our sporting aims, of course,” Borussia Dortmund’s Michael Zorc told Sport-Bild in relation to Christian Pulisic this week. “I strongly expect Christian to be wearing the BVB shirt in February,” the sporting director added.The league leaders’ overriding concern is to ensure that the squad stays strong and deep for the second half of a campaign that promises to deliver silverware for the first time since 2012. At the same time, the wording of Zorc’s statement reveals an amount of flexibility on two fronts.In purely financial terms, a significant offer for a player unwilling to extend his contract beyond 2020 will be hard to turn down. Secondly, it’s debatable just how “essential” the 20-year-old is actually still regarded by his coach Lucien Favre. Pulisic has played regularly, chipping in with decent numbers (three goals and four assists in 16 games), but he’s neither an automatic starter nor among the club’s most prolific forwards. For the right price, Dortmund could well be tempted to let him leave six months early.But given the choice, where should he go? Here’s a look at the four likeliest contenders for the 20-year-old’s signature.
Why it could work: Maurizio Sarri’s possession football, once fully formed, will provide an ideal environment for Pulisic’s qualities. As an attacking midfielder who’s neither a true No. 10 nor an orthodox winger, he’s arguably best suited to a slightly slower build-up game, where his ability to take up intelligent positions between the lines will come to the fore. Manchester City aside, Chelsea play the most cultured game in the Premier League, and there’s likely to be a real need for his type of services in the wake of Eden Hazard’s expected departure. Transitioning from Favre’s Dortmund, a team employing similar patterns of play in possession, would be pretty a frictionless affair. The pull of London, too, will prove huge.
Why it wouldn’t work: Sarri has been too busy re-imagining the Blues’ approach post-Antonio Conte to spend any significant time honing younger players. Callum Hudson-Odoi and Ruben Loftus-Cheek have only featured marginally, and the pressure to compete in the most competitive league as far as Champions League places are concerned will ensure that patience will remain in short supply. A high transfer fee will mitigate these disadvantages — Sarri would be more or less forced to play him — but Pulisic’s development might be smoother in a team that doesn’t expect goals and assists in every single game. He’s still growing and inconsistent. As Kevin de Bruyne and Mohamed Salah can attest, Chelsea haven’t always done well when it comes to giving highly talented younger players enough time to hone their skills.
Why it could work: The success of Xherdan Shaqiri has proven that Jurgen Klopp’s high-octane game can benefit from the addition of a different type of forward. What Pulisic lacks in directness, he makes up for in short diagonal movement and passing. Liverpool are easily the most accomplished Premier League side among the contenders for his signature, and there’s a strong chance that the combination of a functioning team and excellent man-manager will see him vastly improved in a short space of time. The Reds’ U.S. owners will furthermore help him utilise his huge marketing potential.
Why it wouldn’t work: The competition for starting places he has encountered at Signal Iduna Park this season will be just as tough at Anfield, if not tougher. There’s no natural position in Liverpool’s default 4-3-3 formation for him; he will have to rely on Klopp’s nascent transformation into a 4-2-3-1 team in order to become a mainstay. In addition, the strength of his supposed friendship with Klopp has been overstated. Their relationship is good but won’t afford him any special dispensation in a squad bursting with more-incisive and prolific attackers.
Why it could work: American-owned United, like Liverpool, naturally covet Pulisic as one of the emerging superstar brands in the U.S. On the pitch, however, they need him even more than their Merseyside rivals. Jose Mourinho’s team are in desperate need of a player who’s both quick and able to bring coherence to their rather random attacking game. Neither Alexis Sanchez nor his predecessor Henrik Mkhitaryan have been able to find the kind of solutions needed against defensive opposition; Pulisic’s intricacy would make a tremendous contribution and could soon prove invaluable. Continued doubt about Paul Pogba’s future at Old Trafford would strengthen his hand, too.
Why it wouldn’t work: Man United are unlikely to make it into the Champions League next season and don’t look as if they’ll be able to get any closer to City and Liverpool any time soon. Their game plan lacks clarity; attacking midfielders, in particular, routinely find themselves isolated and chasing second balls from deep starting positions. There’s also strong suspicion that Mourinho prefers warriors to artists. Young, technical players don’t necessarily thrive in the Portuguese manager’s dressing room, and few have become significantly better duding his spell at Old Trafford.
Why it could work: The impending departure of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery creates an opening for creative players of Pulisic’s ilk. He could also leverage Bayern’s longstanding interest in signing a prominent American player that could further their growth prospects in the U.S.: the rebuilding process at Sabener Strasse affords a real opportunity to become one of the faces of one of Europe’s most successful sides, with all the financial and sporting opportunities that would entail. Bayern’s more measured attacking game provides a very good fit as well.
Why it wouldn’t work: There’s no guarantee that the aforementioned changes at Bayern won’t extend to the coaching staff by the time Pulisic would swap yellow for red, which makes it difficult for any player to properly evaluate their opportunity for personal development in the near future. In either case, the Bavarians face an uphill battle to remain competitive in Europe as the ancient regime of Karl-Heinz Rummenigge and Uli Hoeness looks for successors while the Premier League’s firepower becomes more pronounced. What’s more, a move to England will probably sit better with Pulisic’s personal sponsors.
Chelsea look the best fit as things stand, slightly ahead of Liverpool. It’s just as well, too, considering the Blues are considered in pole position, having pushed hardest to secure an agreement with Dortmund.
No. 1 Hoosiers Fall to No. 15 Maryland, 2-0, in College Cup Semifinal
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. – A historic season for the No. 1-ranked Indiana Hoosiers came to a close on Friday night in Santa Barbara, Calif., as the Hoosiers fell to No. 15 Maryland, 2-0, in the College Cup semifinals.
• In the 37th minute, the Terrapins (12-6-4) scored off a corner kick, as Matt Di Rosa’s shot took a deflection and found the back of the net.
• Indiana (20-3-1) pressed forward offensively in the second half, out-shooting Maryland, 11-4, in the frame. For the match, IU out-shot UM, 15-10.
• Four players had two shots for the Hoosiers in the match, with both Justin Rennicks and Griffin Dorsey each getting a shot on-goal. Andrew Gutmanalso had a shot on-goal for the Hoosiers.
• Maryland added an insurance goal off a free kick in the 79th minute as Donovan Pines toe-poked it across the line.
• Indiana finishes the season with an overall record of 20-3-1. IU’s 20 victories on the season were the most for the program since going 21-3 in 1999.
• The Hoosiers won both the Big Ten regular season championship (15th time) and Big Ten Tournament championship (13th time) in the same season for the first time since 2006.
• Indiana advanced to the NCAA Tournament College Cup for the second-straight season and for a NCAA-record 20th time in program history.
• The back-to-back College Cup appearances for IU was the first since 2003-04.
• Indiana was seeded No. 2 overall for the 2018 NCAA Tournament, marking the 14th time in the last 16 years since the current seeding format began in 2003 that IU has earned a top-16 seed.
• The berth for the Hoosiers was the team’s 32nd-straight bid to the NCAA Tournament and the
43rd overall in the program’s history.
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